Friday, February 29, 2008

Spotlight: Tina Fey

With the writers' strike over, I was delighted to hear that for the very first week back on-air, Saturday Night Live was to be hosted by none other than Tina Fey! Of course, I made immediate plans to go see SNL .. well, live .. but due to prior commitments, I was unable to go; however, thanks to living in the wonderful age of the Internetz, I was able to see Ms. Fey's hosting skillz0rs.

Known as the first female head writer for Saturday Night Live from 1999 until her departure in 2005, Tina Fey is a "jack of all trades" type; an Emmy/Golden Globe/SAG winning writer/comedian/actress, she currently co-produces/writes/stars in the multiple award winning tv series 30 Rock. That's a whole lot to say for this little lady from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania.

What makes Tina Fey so awesome, you ask? Well, first off, if you ask any female you know (with a decent sense of humor), she'll probably admit to having a slight woman-crush on Tina Fey. She's smart, funny, and is a pretty damn good writer. For all the fellas out there: remember when you first realized how hawt Lindsay Lohan was in Mean Girls? Yup, you could thank Tina Fey for that - she wrote the script for it. Sure, Lindsay Lohan was nice to look at throughout the movie, but if the script hadn't been good, you would have spent most of the time wishing for the movie to end. Also, Tina Fey isn't so bad on the eyes either. Even Maxim realized this, after putting her on their "TV's Least Appealing Ladies" list; after realizing how dumb they really are, they placed her in another one of their [stupid] lists, "5 Women We're Not Supposed To Want (But Do)." Hm .. seems like Maxim is admitting to being wrong a lot these days, no?

And let's not get started with 30 Rock. If you've read my past post on 7 Reasons Why You Should Watch Season One of 30 Rock, you'll know how much I adore the show. Quirky characters, quotable lines, unnoticeable dirty jokes .. this show has got it all. And it really makes you appreciate Tina Fey, as it is based loosely around her hectic life when she worked as head writer for a sketch comedy show (you guess it), SNL.

Tina Fey is the new, kick-ass kind of woman that women everywhere should be looking up to. She's smart, funny, and that all sort of makes her hawt in a way, that even most guys are confused about feeling some sort of attraction to her.

Tina Fey - Bitch Is the New Black (SNL)


Tina Fey - American Express Commercial

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ABC to offer shows on-demand

ABC to offer shows on-demand

A testament to where television is heading, ABC announced on Monday that they will start offering their hit shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives over video-on-demand cable services for free through participating cable companies. Viewers will just have to sit through 2-5 minutes of commercials (which you can't fast forward through), but compared to the 17 or more minutes of ads for an hourlong program on regular live airings, it's a pretty good deal.

This is exciting because as anyone who has HBO/Cinemax/Showtime/premium channels knows, being able to watch a show/movie/program anytime you want is pretty darn awesome. With the advent of DVRs, networks are struggling to find ways to sell ad space where viewers will actually sit through commercials instead of fast forwarding through them. This seems like a winning solution for both the advertisers and the network, as well as for TV fans, who can now watch shows on their own schedule without having to worry about recording or catching an airing. No word on when this will go into effect or what shows they'll offer on-demand, but hopefully all the other networks will follow suit as well. The media landscape is rapidly changing, folks, and we're along for the ride.

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Coming Next...

Gilly Hicks

I'm not a shopper, I hate malls, outlets, etc... However, being that it is a slow day for me, I'm shamelessly catering the shopaholics that read our site. Gilly Hicks is the underwear brand from clothing powerhouse Abercrombie & Fitch that is projected to give Victoria Secret a run for their money. Although stores are currently hard to find, Gilly Hicks will be opening a store in Garden State Plaza soon.

Gillyhicks.com
Be warned. NSFW. This site is a wardrobe malfunction away from being pornography.

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I lost to THESE guys?



As some of you may know, the Mega Millions Lottery recently got up to $270 million dollars. Ever since It hit $100 mil, I've been playing.
Since I am still writing on this blog instead of sunbathing in Dubai, I clearly did not win.

Nope, it was won my Robert and Tanya Harris of Georgia.
As I watched their Today Show interview, all I could think to myself is: I lost to these guys?

First of all, Georgia. Georgia. Is that even a real state? Gosh, nobody from Georgia deserves to win the Mega Millions.

Secondly, if I had won, I would be tearing it up. Literally. I would be throwing chairs, destroying the set, yelling, and generally being an ass on national television.
And when Meredith Vieira would try to calm me down, I'd just say, "Suck it, Katie Couric!" and start dancing.

In short, I would be entertaining.

But nope, I had to lose to American Gothic over there. They couldn't pay me their lottery
winnings to listen to their story again. Talk about boring.

And, hey Rob.
Bobby.
Bob-o.
You just won the lottery. That is a good thing. At least throw on a smile. Show some respect for the rest of us who wasted our money on worthless pink paper.

Seriously, if that's them winning the lotto, I'd be scared to see them at a funeral.

Sigh. When I win the Mega Millions (yes, I said when), you will all know how happy I am by the endless stream of screaming and cursing that will be flowing from my mouth.

Rob and Tanya, you guys should skip buying the house and invest in some laughing classes.

Seriously, I lost to these guys?

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kosomi Trivia Challenge

Since most of the kids had half a day today and were done with their homework by the time I got there, I decided to buy a box of Kosomi and play trivia games with them. Yes, I still get paid for doing this. The following are some of the choice question/answers from the game.


Who hit the longest home run in Major League Baseball history?
-"Michael Jackson."
Me: "Not even close."
-"Oh, Michael Jordan!"
Me: "Oh boy"

What country is Christopher Columbus from?
-"Mexico?"

Who was the only actor to win two Oscars for Best Actor in the 1990s?
-"Is it a male?"
Me: "Yes."
-"Black?"
Me:"No."
-"Elvis Presley?"

Complete the line. Life is like a box of chocolate...
-"...if you eat too much, you get fat."

PS: Kosomi is a deliciously simple Korean cracker loaded with sugar.

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Music: Jimmy Eat World - Chase This Light

Album: Chase This Light

Artist: Jimmy Eat World

Release Date: October 16, 2007

Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Rock





Formed in Mesa, Arizona in 1993, Jimmy Eat World's beginning was a humble one. With modest attention from the indie scene (even though they were major label "sell-outs," signed on with Capitol Records), they were set on the side while their label focused on more important artists. Not to be discouraged, Jimmy Eat World negotiated with Capitol to release a self-titled EP with indie label Fueled By Ramen. In hopes of airplay and exposure, they sent out their EP to several radio stations, only to get on regular rotation. Finally recognizing the band's potential, Capitol immediately set out for the band's full album release. Since then, they've been the little band that could: dropped from Capitol in 2001 and continually trying to find their place. Yes, they've come a long way from Arizona.

Chase This Light is Jimmy Eat World's sixth album, and was self-produced with help from various top producers in the market. However, even with big names and finally making an album the way they could, Chase This Light seems to fall flat. Yes, their first single "Big Casino" is catchy .. but Jimmy Eat World fans can't help but to wonder what happened to their beloved punk-rock roots. Their same titled track, "Chase This Light" relies on too many "Oh's" and it's hard to imagine how these now grown men went about writing such lyrics for what seems like a page out of a teenage boy's journal. The seemingly autobiographical lyrics reek of emo and not enough rock. Relying on catchy choruses and autobiographical emo-ness, the album sounds very repetitive and it's hard to determine where a track ends and when a new track starts.

Personally, I loved Clarity, Bleed American, and Futures; those were great albums, and I still play singles off of them to this day. But after waiting so patiently for their sixth album, I can't help but to feel put-off by Jimmy Eat World. Maybe next time, Jimmy Eat World, but not this.

Recommended Tracks: Carry You, Big Casino

Grade: D

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Book: Annie Leibovitz's A Photographer's Life

Title: A Photographer's Life: 1990-2005

Author: Annie Leibovitz

Release Date: October 3, 2006

Genre: Art, Photography

No. of pages: 472


Annie Leibovitz is arguably one of the most prolific, well-known photographers working today, and if you've ever glanced at a Vanity Fair or Vogue cover, then you've most likely seen her work. Every year that Vanity Fair has had their Hollywood issue fold out cover is every year that Leibovitz has photographed Hollywood's finest and brightest for the annual issue, which you can check out here.

While she may have made a name for herself by photographing famous people (everyone from Nicole Kidman to Johnny Cash to President Bush and his cabinet), A Photographer's Life is filled with more intimate photographs of her family and her late partner, Susan Sontag, interspersed with her portraits of famous subjects. On a side note, Susan Sontag was a literary theorist, writer, filmmaker and activist, whose essay "On Photography," is one of the most analyzed and discussed essays about the art of photography.

Anyways, in the introduction, Leibovitz writes, 'I
don't have two lives. This is one life, and the personal pictures and the assignment work are all part of it.' That pretty much sums up the book. It's really interesting to see the juxtaposition of the photographs that have made her who she is as a person (the documentation of her family and close relationships), as well as a careerwoman (the photographs of the famous people that have made her famous).

And while she is best known for the glossy, glamorous photograph
s that don magazine covers and billboards, the photos that particularly struck me were the everyday documentation of her private life. There is joy in photographs of family reunions, her children, and births, but she also is very frank in photographing her loves in their moments of illness, grief, and deaths. The snapshots of Sontag lying in her hospital bed, as well as shots from her funeral are so matter-of-fact that you almost don't realize the gravity of the situation.

Those who are just fans of Leibovitz's famous work will probably not derive much enjoyment from this collection. After all, more than half the photographs are either ordinary photos of Sontag or ordinary photos of her family. But to appreciate her as an artist, I feel like A Photographer's Life is an important collection
. Throughout the book you see the love she has for her career in her public body of work, just as clearly as you see the open expression of love she has for the people in her life in her private body of work. It's a really interesting coffee table book that deserves a look-through.

This is not in the book, but here is one of my all-time favorite works of hers, from a Vanity Fair cover a few years back. Awesome. Or should I say, hotness.



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Mythbusters: Can you increase the range of a car alarm remote with your head (and why)?


Have you ever walked away from your car only to forget whether or not you’ve locked your car?
Or how about being in a parking lot but forgetting where you’ve parked?

In both these cases, you’ve probably wanted to use your car alarm remote to lock your door or find your car. But if you’re too far away for the remote to reach, there’s a neat little trick you can do.

If you put the key fob under your chin, it will increase the range by a couple of yards.

There is no question of whether this is a myth or not. It is definitely true. Not only is there plenty of video evidence on the web, but it’s a simple enough experiment that you can try on your own car.

However, figuring out why this works is something there is less agreement on....

Some people say that it “has nothing to do with your head” but that since the remote gets lifted higher up and positioned vertically, it has fewer barriers to pass.

Others have claimed it’s because you’re “tuning / detuning the antenna to a slightly different frequency.

As it turns out, it works because “your body picks up the radio signal and acts like a large aerial, transmitting it more effectively to the car.” Basically, by putting the remote on your body (any part of the body, not just your head), your body becomes a big antenna.

New Scientific’s explanation is corroborated with Varipose’s colorful diagrams of how a body reacts to a car alarm remote.

Now, I don’t claim to understand the science behind any of this, and maybe my sources are wrong and it doesn’t have anything to do with your head. However, if I had to choose between believing a blog commenter or a fact-checked magazine and a scientific product, I would always choose the latter.

PS. Thanks to ask.metafilter.com for the New Scientific link. Metafilter: the only place where people consistently back up their anecdotal observations with citations.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

2008 Academy Awards Wrap Up

So I was 5-2 in my Academy Awards predictions, but it's all good because I'm thrilled that Marion Cotillard won Best Actress for her amazing performance in La Vie en Rose.

But of course, the Oscars are so much about the fashion. While I didn't love love love any particular dress this year, there were standouts. The colors of the evening were definitely black and red. I normally don't like black or white gowns (give me color!!), but it is the color of the dress worn by my pick for Best Dressed.

Look how pretty and feminine Jennifer Garner's Oscar de la Renta gown is, despite the dark color. She's perfectly accessorized (re: not overdone) in her elegant Van Cleep & Arpel choker and matching clutch. Well done, Jen Garner, you've come a long way.

More of the highlights, as well as my pick for the Worst Dressed, after the jump.


I'm actually not a huge fan of Cate Blanchett's style most of the time, but I think she looks super cute here in her Dries van Noten gown. She's 7 months pregnant and rocking it. The eggplant/purple color looks good on her, and the detailing of the dress- the beaded halter, the embroidery at the bottom, is what makes the gown pop. It's totally Bohemian chic meets red carpet style.







I hate Katherine Heigl. She can do no right in my eyes. She needs to just shut up and act, and not be so damn opinionated about everything. But I have to admit that she looks really good at most red carpet events. She knows what works on her body- long, flowy gowns. The Oscars were no exception. She's wearing a red gown by Escada and she looks good, with the short curly hairdo and red lips. Just stand there and look pretty, Katherine, k?






Cameron Diaz has a lot of things going for her: toned arms, rock hard abs, long legs. I like when she wears short cocktail dresses because they highlight her mile-long legs, but I also like when she dons full length gowns. Basically, she can pull anything off. Pink is one of my favorite colors, and this soft shade of pink is one of my favorite shades for the red carpet. It looks good on everyone. This Dior gown is strapless (which is my favorite) and intricate with all its ruffles and wrinkles, and I love it.






















Ok, so I totally have a girl crush on Marion Cotillard. She's pretty and she's legitimately talented. I didn't love her Jean Paul Gaultier gown at first, as it's a little mermaid-esque. But then she got up to get her award and I saw the back, and I thought, huh. Not bad, not bad at all. Sometimes, the best part of a dress is something not seen right away, and the criss-cross back is what clinched the deal for me.


And the Better Luck Next Year pick goes to...

Oh Tilda. I don't know if you're in this garbage bag of a dress because you didn't expect to win, but someone should've told you that you just never know when it comes to these things. Like I said, I hate black gowns, but that is the least of this Lanvin gown's worries. It's shapeless, it's almost velvety (velvet, velour, and anything along those lines should not be worn, period. We're no longer in the 50s/70s.), and because she's so pale, she just looks like a weird, gigantor of a ghost or something. Please, when you present next year, don't go for the shapeless boring dress.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

[Feature] 90’s Flashback: It’s All Downhill from Here

When I was a kid in the 90’s watching tv shows, I would watch these perfect characters and would just assume that the actors and actresses playing these parts were equally perfect.
In some cases, this was true – Winnie Cooper (aka Danica Mckellar) went on to graduate from UCLA and has created her own math theorem – but for others, success in the small screen has not translated to successes in real life.

Because I’m cynical and it’s generally more fun to read, here are the 90’s actors that have had less than stellar careers after their initial fame.


Jaimee Foxworth – AKA Judy Winslow from Family Matters

Jaimee Foxworth was the youngest child in the Winslow family. However, when Steve Urkel started getting more and more popular, they made more time for him by cutting her out of the show completely and without any explanation.

From there, the young actress had a steep downfall as she went through alcoholism, depression and the loss of her $500,000 trust fund. She hit rock bottom in 2000 when she went into the pornography business under the name Crave. She made seven pornographic films and quit.

Since then, she’s been on Oprah, the Tyra Banks Show and Celebrity Rehab, talking about her struggles.


Dustin DiamondAKA Screech from Saved by the Bell
Dustin Diamond went from being the funny, jungle-fevered, dork in our favorite teenage sitcom to being kind of a scumbag as an adult.

After Saved by the Bell (Screech made it all the way to Principal’s Assistant in Saved by the Bell: The New Class), he did a lot of small work. Most notably, he was on Celebrity Fit Club, where he was a jerk and got in a shouting match with Judge Harvey Walden.

In 2006, he started telling everyone that he was broke and that his house was facing foreclosure. He claimed that he needed to come up with $250,000 in 30 days or he would lose his house. To raise money, he set up a website and starting selling “D-shirts” and almost even had a fundraiser show.

In the end, though, it turns out that a lot of his story was false and some people didn’t get their shirts. Diamond himself admitted later that he wasn’t broke, but that his mortgage broker tried to rip him off.

In his latest attempt to sleeze-it-up, a sex tape of him and his wife was released in 2006.
In it, he not only has sex with her, but apparently does (gives her?) a dirty sanchez. Yuck. The funniest part of the tape release was that his manager was hoping that the video would be good publicity for him.
Sleeze-tastic.


Tracey Gold – AKA Carol Seaver from Growing Pains
Tracey Gold played the smart daughter in the Seaver family.
Aside from being the honors student, she was also the punch line to the fat jokes the other children would say on the show.

As it turns out, Gold took a lot of those fat jokes personally.
Also, it didn’t help that she had already had a history of eating disorders before her time on the show. The result was that she became anorexic.

In all honesty, that kind of makes me feel bad for her. As a young actress, I’m sure it was hard for her to go through that ordeal. That’s not what really gets her on this list.

However, in 2004, she was arrested for driving under the influence after she got into a car accident with her husband and her three children in the car. What’s even worse is that one of her children was only four months old.

Teenage anorexia after being made fun of on national TV? Sort of understandable. Driving drunk with your children in the car? Not so much.



Honorable Mentions
These actors and actresses have gone through some hardships and mishaps, but for the most part, have led typical lives. They are honorably crazy.


Austin St. JohnAKA The Red Ranger in Power Rangers

There are some rumors that the Red Ranger has done gay pornography. There is no conclusive evidence, but the pictures above are proof enough for some people. I have to admit the resemblance is flamboyantly striking.


Jodie Sweetin – AKA Stephanie Tanner from Full House
Jodie Sweetin seems to have had a mixed life so far. After Full House, she graduated Chapman University cum laude. But then she became addicted to meth and almost died. She has now beat her addiction and is back on TV, hosting shows and starring in a pilot titled Small Bits of Happiness.




Kirk Cameron – AKA Mike Seaver from Growing Pains

While still doing the show Kirk Cameron converted to Christianity.
Good for him. The only problem is that after converting, he became a jerk. He didn’t want any adult themes on the show, so when they tried writing a show about his girlfriend giving him a key to her apartment, he made them rewrite the whole script because it implied they might have sex. He got so worked up that he called the ABC executives pornographers.

He regrets his actions now and has apologized to everyone involved.



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Friday, February 22, 2008

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

Forecast
Fri: 32°F, Snow/Wintry Mix
Sat: 30°F, AM Snow Showers
Sun: 40°F, Sunny

See

Be Kind Rewind (starring Jack Black, Mos Def, Danny Glover, Mia Farrow)


Charlie Bartlett
(starring Anton Yelchin, Robert Downey)


Vantage Point (starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forrest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver)



Do

Camelback Ski Area
Where: Tannersville, PA
When: Weekend

It's snowing, it's cold, it must be time to go skiing/boarding. I'm very much a classic sport (baseball, basketball, etc...) kid but I must admit snowboarding is pretty fun and a hell of an exercise.


Events
Concerts for those of you who prefer to stay indoors.

The Roots: The Apollo Theater, Friday at 7:30PM and 11:00PM, $31.50-$41.50

Atlas Sound:
Mercury Lounge, Saturday at 11:00PM, $14

Strawberry Fields (Tribute to The Beatles): B.B. King Blues Club, Saturday a 12:00PM, $37.50

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Snow Day Activities


If you're one of the lucky ones to have a snow day from either work or school, chances are, you're probably still in your pajamas, lounging around your room. Yes, it is pretty chilly outside. But that shouldn't keep you from being a hermit all-day long.

As a firm believer in not "wasting a day away," here are some semi-productive ways to go about your snow day.

01. Missing a day of work might mean missing out on a day's worth of pay. If you're a healthy and strong individual, gear up in your winter best and equip yourself with a shovel. It's time to go around town and knock on the doors of homes with driveways that have yet to be cleared up. Chances are, they are more lazy than you, and would be willing to pay you to clear up the driveway and/or sidewalk. A few driveways/sidewalks later, you might have made more than you would on an average work day.

02. Go sledding. It's probably the most fun winter activity you did growing up, but you're never too old to go sledding! Relive your youthful days by grabbing a sled or any sort of sled replacement (a clean, garbage bin lid would suffice; or for you college dormers, try to "borrow" a tray from the dining hall), and find the nearest hill for thrills. You'll probably even see a few people around, so go socialize as if you were a young kid again.

03. Lemonade stands are for summer days. Hot chocolate stands are for wintry days. Go to an area where as mass of people are either sledding, shoveling, or having snow fights and offer a cup of hot chocolate for a reasonable price. No need to set up an actual stand; instead, get a large thermos full of hot chocolate and styrofoam cups. Again, a way to make a bit of pocket money, as well as a chance to meet some people.

04. Try to build an igloo or some other sort of structure. As kids, we've built forts to protect us from snowball fights. But now that you are older and perhaps equipped with some logic, building an igloo or some type of cooler snowman would be an idea to entertain. Round up some of your friends and go wild. Think "Calvin and Hobbes" proportions. Or even a walk-through maze, with that handy snow shovel.

05. Snow ball fights. Need I say more?

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The Weather Sucks by the Numbers

According to Weather.com for the next 10 days we're getting pretty crappy weather. If it's over 40 in any of the next 10 days it will be accompanied by rain. The average for precipitation for February is 3 inches. We've already had 6 this month. We've had 13 days of precipitation vs the 9 sunny days we've had. Bad weather has a very depressing effect on the human psyche so lets hope that in 2 weeks we can see some 50 degree sun.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Review: Country Pancake House

Restaurant Name: Country Pancake House
Cuisine: Breakfast
Location: Ridgewood, NJ
Price Range
: $7-$13
Info:
140 E Ridgewood Ave

Ridgewood, NJ 07450
(201)444-8395

Whenever I’m in the mood for some pancakes or breakfast in general, the only real choice there used to be around here was IHOP. And you know what? IHOP sucks. It’s overpriced and the pancakes are so spongy that they soak up all the syrup, which is not a good thing.

Luckily, I found Country Pancake House in Ridgewood, New Jersey. This little breakfast joint is the best breakfast place I have ever been to.....

Three things make this place amazing: their variety, their serving size, and their price.

Their menu is beyond extensive. There is a page and a half’s worth of different pancake options (banana-strawberry, chocolate, wheat, and lots more) and three more pages worth of other breakfast options from omelets to frittatas.

The crazier thing is their serving sizes. They give you so much food, they don’t even expect you to finish -- the staff regularly walks around handing out take-out plates. If you order pancakes, you can get them as four regular sized pancakes, or two huge record-sized pancakes. Their omelets are just as impressive because they give you the omelet, two pancakes and delicious home fries.

Oh yeah, and every table gets complimentary fresh-baked corn bread.

All of this giant-sized food comes at a surprising low price. Entrees go from $7 - $13, meaning that huge omelet meal comes to you for a measly $10.

Of course, I’m not the only person who knows about how great Country Pancake House is, so if you go any time before 2pm (especially on weekends), expect a wait.

The hectic atmosphere also causes service to be a bit sub-par. It may take a while for a waiter to get to your table and on more than one occasion, they’ve forgotten small requests (such as asking for extra butter).

But, overall, it’s hard to complain about the service when the food is so great.

I highly recommend their fruit pancakes (their banana pancakes are my favorite) and their broccoli and cheese omelet. One thing to avoid, though, is their cinnamon apple pancake – the fresh cinnamon stings more than spices and their apples are a bit too soggy.

All in all, Country Pancake House is the perfect breakfast nook. While the service suffers due to the crowds, it is easily made up for by their scrumptious food and even more scrumptious prices.

Atmosphere: B+
Food: A
Service: B-
Overall Rating: A

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

While You Were Sleeping

Barack Obama Wins 10th In A Row
With victories in Wisconsin and Hawaii has won his 10th primary/caucus in a row. His lead over Hillary Clinton in pledged delegates is now 142. A victory in Texas and we can pack our bags ladies and gentlemen. If Barack is able to pull out what would be a stunning upset (Eli Part 2), it would be and indictment on a very well organized campaigns. Hillary deserved better campaign management.

As for the republicans, McCain wins and Huckabee is still in the race. Why? The world may never know.

New Government In Pakistan
The people of Pakistan have voted to oust for prime minister, Pervez Musharraf (left) out of office. Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party took a majority of the votes while the Pakistan Muslim League finished in second. Both parties have been very critical of Musharraf's government. This creates an interesting dilemma for the current US government who has had a very cozy relationship with the former Prime Minister.




Stock Market: "Help! I've Fallen And I Can't Get Up!"

Oil prices go up, stock prices and the US Dollar go down. Everyone's a loser! Except for Canada, Europe, Exxon, BP, Chevron... Theres a lot of reasons why the economy is struggling and I'm not going to bore you to death with the minutia of this issue. It's time to get innovative America. Lets please go to the forefront of the alternative fuel industry. If not for our planet, lets do it for our economy.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Spice Girls Concert Review

Monday, February 18, 2008. 8PM at Madison Square Garden, NYC.

First off, anyone who knows me can tell you that the last concert you'd expect me to review is that of the Spice Girls. But I'll be the first to admit it: yes, in my shameful 6th grade past, I enjoyed the girl-power jams by this power-pop group. I thought that I had left that dark part of my past behind me, but a surprise early birthday gift to see the 5 gals in concert left me with no shame at the end.

As mentioned earlier, I was at complete shock to be sitting in MSG at the Spice Girls concert. From what I saw and heard, tickets sold out like hotcakes, and the seats I sat at were pretty decent (thanks again, Jannie!).

Of course, after becoming a mega part of 90's pop culture, the Spice Girls have a huuuge [and obsessive] fan-base. I saw girls my age and older wearing clothes that they shouldn't be wearing, with their undies showing like they were Paris Hilton or something. Anything from skin-tight, Union Flag designed bodysuits to sequined short dresses seemed to be the attire of the night (I felt so out of place with my skinny jeans, a nice shirt I recently bought, and boots - and that was me being dressed nicely!). In the vast sea of estrogen, there were a few guys who were either hardcore fans or there to [ironically] hit on these female fans who so ardently sang along to the Spice Girls' songs of female power. I actually saw a guy pointedly take a picture of one of the scantily clad girl's butt!

The actual show in itself was very entertaining and enjoyable. And yes, this comes from a not-so-crazed fan. The Spice Girls were all at the top of their game, looking good and sounding even better live. But when it all came down to it, Sporty Spice really blew my mind with her vocal range - damn, she can sing! If I learned anything from that concert, it was that Sporty Spice has got an amazing voice; she sang in most of the sets, and seemed to carry the songs.

By now, everyone probably has read about at least one leg of the Spice Girls tour. Yes, they performed all of their hit songs and more. Yes, Posh does a runway walk; Sporty sang "I Turn To You"; Ginger sang "It's Raining Men." And yes, the girls brought up all their children when singing "Mama." But what made this NYC show different was Posh's youngest son, Cruz, breaking it down on stage. He literally boogied down, causing the girls to stop singing 'cause they were watching/laughing at the little Spice kid imitate moves as if he were a NYC street performer. Definitely a cute, memorable moment.



Also, when Posh's kids were leaving the stage, it was funny to see the eldest Beckham child using his wheelies (those sneakers with wheels in the heel part) to glide across the stage.

All in all, the Spice Girls concert was definitely a great treat. Whether you were a fan or not, there's no denying that these girls (well, women, now) have talent as entertainers. They've got the voices, the looks, the dances, and the cute little break-dancing babies that make for an awesome show.

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To Flouride or Not to Flouride?

British sink their teeth into debate over flouride

So my friend Vicki sent me this article last week, and I thought it was hilarious. Probably cause most of the US actively practice water flouridation (67% of American communities, to be exact) that we don't think twice about it, but some people in the UK are genuinely upset about the possibility of introducing flouride into their water. I see both sides of the argument, as nationalizing flouidation will cost the UK roughly $80 million over the next 3 years. But uh, as for it being a "fundamental human rights question," as John Graham, an opponent and a member of the National Pure Water Association, thinks it is, I think that's taking it a little bit to the extreme. I don't know, who am I to say that he's being ridiculous (but just a bit, no??), but this whole debate is very interesting.

Here are some more facts about water flouridation, courtesy of Wiki:
- 42 of the 50 largest US states have flouridated water
- in US cities with a population over 50,000 people, it costs $0.31/person, per year to have water flouridation
- 10% of the population of the UK and Spain receive flouridated water
- 70.5% of the population of Chile receive flouridated water
- high levels of flouride intake has been associated with bone weakening and even bone cancer (though evidence is considered weak)
- the growing use of bottled water over tap/drinking water has caused some bottlers such as Dannon to add flouride to their water

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Monday, February 18, 2008

[Feature] Dear Hollywood, From Your Dissatisfied Lover

What was the last movie you ever watched in theaters? I bet you that chances are, you probably saw a remake of an older, successful film or an adaptation of some sort of literary work.

These days, amongst the sea of reality tv competition shows, it seems like America is always trying to find the next best thing: singers, dancers, models, apprentices, gladiators,…you name it, there is a chance that America is looking for the next top whatever. But even in the midst of trying to find something new, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are trying to find the next innovative thing; rather, we’re looking for a fresher face that could represent the same thing. ‘Cause what worked the best in the past is the safest [and most lucrative] bet, right?

In the case of movies, it seems like Hollywood is taking a step backward. Looking at this past weekend’s top 3 films, 2 of the 3 were based on novels (Jumper is based on the 1992 same titled sci fi novel, and The Spiderwick Chronicles is based on a popular children’s book series). I guess it’s good to see that at least someone in Hollywood is keeping up with their summer reading list; though, maybe they should consider taking a summer make-up course in creative writing…oh snap. Yes, I said it.

After the success of the American remake of the Japanese film, Ringu (better known in America as The Ring), Hollywood seemed to go on a crusade to remake and adapt every and any possible successful source of media in the past. Ocean’s 11, once made famous by the Rat Pack of Hollywood, will now be known as the 2001 caper with Hollywood hunks, George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Children [and adults] across the world feel no need to read the Harry Potter series, after seeing and anticipating the highly successful movie adaptations. Did your English teacher assign you “Pride and Prejudice” to read? Fear not: rather than reading those pesky Cliffnotes on Jane Austen’s classic novel, you can see the film adaptation with Keira Knightley!* I mean really, Gawd forbid you read Cliffnotes, right?

Hollywood, why can’t you just give it a try? We’re in no rush to see a new movie about the same old thing. It’s like being in a relationship with no spice – we love to be surprised. We’d love to be titillated. We’re willing to try anything new; yes, Cloverfield was nice and different. The mysterious viral campaign behind it kept us intrigued. But even that was playing it a bit safe – the whole new view of shaky camera angles made us a bit sick. And we saw it a few years ago…maybe The Blair Witch Project might ring a bell? And a monster attacking New York? A bit reminiscent of Godzilla or whatever, but it worked. But how about something more fresh?

All in all, we’re willing to give it another try, Hollywood. You see, despite your recent [horrible] action [flicks], we still can’t help but to think back to the better memories. Remember the look of surprise on our face when you served us The Usual Suspects? We held your hand tight when Luke learned that Darth Vader was his father. And yes, you had us at “Hello” with Jerry MacGuire.

We’re ready when you are.

*Writer’s note: Please read “Pride and Preudice.” It’s such an awesome book, and [arguably] one of the best works of literature.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

What are you doing this weekend?

Forecast
Fri.: 47°F, cloudy
Sat.: 33°F, mostly sunny
Sun.: 44°F, mostly cloudy

See
Opening this weekend:

Step Up 2 (starring: Robert Hoffman and Briana Evigan)

Definitely, Maybe (starring: Ryan Reynolds, Rachel Weisz, Abigail Breslin)

Jumper (starring: Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson)


Events


Free skating at Wollman Rink in Prospect Park
Where: Wollman Rink (Parkside/Ocean Aves)
When: Friday, 15th, 8:30a-9p
Cost: Rink- free; Skate rentals- $6



Eddie Izzard Stand Up Comedy Show
Where: Union Square Theater
When: Friday, Saturday, 10:30p
Cost: $40
The Riches star and British comedian is doing stand up at the Union Square Theater this weekend, as well as this coming Tues-Thurs. It's ongoing until March 8. Tickets available through Ticketmaster.com

Barney's Warehouse Sale
Where: 255 W. 17th St
When: Feb 14-Mar 2
What: 50-75% off regular prices

Enjoy the long weekend! :)

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The Power of the Internet: Free Magazines

Little known fact about me: I have a subscription to Maxim until the end of time, and I haven't paid a single cent.

How? All you have to do is visit deals sites (I personally use Slickdeals), which have forums dedicated to this kind of stuff.

If you're patient enough, you can find free subscriptions to lots of popular mags (Wired, EGM, Lucky, Nylon, etc) or extremely lower prices for expensive magazines (I got 1 year of Time for $5).

Oh, and if you're worried about these being scams, you have to understand how magazines make money. They don't make it off of readers, they make it off of advertisers. These companies give out subscriptions so the magazine can turn to an advertiser and say, "look, we have 300,000 readers, you should give us more money to put your ad in our mag." Thus, they want people to subscribe.

So help celebrate Life in Boxe's media month by subscribing to free magazines!

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

V-Day

The history of Valentine's Day starts in the days of ancient Rome where a pagan festival that occurred in February once again involved people getting naked and doing all sorts of crazy things. In 270 AD, a Catholic priest named Valentine of Rome was executed by emperor Claudius II. The Church honored him on February 14 along with two other individuals named Valentine. There is no factual connection with their deaths and romantic ideals.

The first link between Valentine and love starts with Geoffrey Chaucer in a poem he wrote referencing the anniversary of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. Chaucer mentions Valentine's Day four times in his 699 line poem, The Parliament of Fowls. Problem is that their anniversary was on May 2. Chaucer was probably talking about some other Valentine's Day (there were multiple at this time). Readers got confused and eventually a long and elaborate myth about priest Valentine of Rome was started.

February 14 has now become Hallmark's bitch. Flower and Candy shops rake in on made up romantic history. I'm not impressed by most holidays (if you think Valentine's Day history is disappointing you should check out Christmas). I understand V-Day is what we make of it, I just question whether it is worth celebrating. I'm not a fan. Maybe I need a better story, maybe I'm just too cynical, or maybe you can only appreciate this if you actually have someone else to appreciate it with.

Maybe I'm just jealous?

Damn.

Happy V-Day ya'll.

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[Mini-Feature] Best Love & Anti-Love Songs

Whether you love everything about Valentine's Day or loathe it, it's hard to escape what the holiday has become in our culture. In honor of your love or hate for Valentine's Day, Life in Boxes presents our picks for the best love and anti-love songs. You pick what you feel like listening to on this day (or any other day).

Jen's Picks:

Best Love Song:
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
Probably not a typical love song, but singer Karen O's pleas of Wait! /They don't love you like I do is desperate and heartbreaking. Anyone who has had to say goodbye to someone they love can relate to this song.

Best Anti-Love Song:
Kate Nash - Foundations
My favorite song at the moment, Foundations is super catchy and Nash is a fantastic storyteller. It's about being stuck in a relationship and not being able to get out of it- My fingertips are holding onto the cracks in our foundation / and I know that I should let go but I can't. Usually in songs like this the person realizes he/she's with the other one because of some redeeming quality; there's none here. This is an anti-love song at its finest.

Jorge's Picks:

Best Love Song:
Yellow - Coldplay
There's hardly a wrong answer to this. Love is not simple so depending on the situation there is a song for it. Like Maps, Yellow has the tempo and rifts that mirror heartbeats. While Maps struggles with saying goodbye, Yellow makes saying hello to your significant other feel new every time.

Best Anti-Love Song:
The Weakerthans - Left and Leaving
Wait for the year to drown / Spring forward, fall back down / I'm trying not to wonder where you are. A beautifully written song that cuts through you like a verbal scalpel. A sobering reminder that love ain't always grand.


Julia's Picks:

Best Love Song:
Simple, Starving To Be Safe - Daphne Loves Derby
Time for a double-header. Just to reiterate, I love DLD. This is the first song of theirs that I fell in love with, with it's simplistic lyrics about being in love with someone - before any sort of complications get involved: Oh, how can I survive without your love, and the hope you bring?/Oh, even when the world is breaking down/I know I have you, and that's all I need. Never has a song captured the simplistic nature of young love, with a simple strum of the guitar.

Best Anti-Love Song:
Hopeless Love - Daphne Loves Derby
The title says it all. We've all been there, thinking the same things: Hopeless love, why did you carve your home in me?/This broken heart is too weak to hold your weight/And how I regret the day we met/Help me forget your name. You said it, Kenny.

Yuri's Picks:

Best Love Song:
Such Great Heights - The Postal Service
This is the type of song that you think about immediately after you find someone that you really, really like because you think that everything between you two are perfect. So you really believe the lyrics, And I have to speculate that God himself / Did make us into corresponding shapes like / Puzzle pieces from the clay. Ah, young love.

Best Anti-Love Song:
Song Cry - Jay-Z
Jay-Z gets deep with this song about love lost. It may seem like he's just really sad, but when he says, I can't see it coming down my eyes / so I gotta make this song cry, you realize that he's probably just as confused as he is depressed.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

White Castle to the Rescue


Yep, so Valentine's Day is only a couple of hours away.....
What do you mean you forgot? Holy crap, man, what are you going to do? If you think you're going to get a restaurant reservation now, you're in for a rude awakening.

Actually, there is one place that probably still has some spots available....
White Castles all around the country are offering "candlelit, tableside feasts" from 5-9pm tomorrow. All you have to do is go to their website and make reservations.

There's no better way to say "I love you" than with flowers, chocolate, and a crave case of jalapeƱo burgers.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Enlightenment

Yesterday, I had a conversation with one of the fourth graders that I tutor. He asked me if I remembered the twin towers. I told him that I did remember and how different and weird it was not seeing the towers in the skyline during the months that followed 9/11. He then told me that it was because of all those Muslims that tried to kill us. I told him I didn't know what 9/11 was really about, but it was not Islam. He then asked me if it was true that Muslims wanted to kill us all. I told him no, and explained that the deplorable actions of a few individuals should not be used to scapegoat an entire religion.

Wow. I'm really not sure if I got through to him. All I kept thinking as he was talking was, "Holy crap, what are we teaching these kids?" They have no real recollection of what happened and honestly, my 10 minute explanation is not enough. I pray for a little more perspective for this world.

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The Aimee Mann Christmas Trilogy: Part I

Pretty much everyone at my office knows how much I heart The Office - I guess my Dwight bobblehead, Michael Scott bobblehead, Dundie Award, and constant Office references gave it away. Anyway, a coworker of mine linked me to the viral video known as the Aimee Mann mockumentary, or the Aimee Mann Christmas Trilogy. The trilogy has three parts to it, but oddly, only the first part is available, whereas the rest are M.I.A (missing in action, not the [music] artist).

There are a bunch of celebrity cameos, including John Krasinski (my coworker knows me so well!), Patt Oswalt, Paul Tompkins, Weird Al ... whereas the other parts have cameos by Ben Stiller, Fred Armisen, and Will Ferrell.

Anyway, check out the first part .. if you find the other parts available on teh Internetz, let me know!

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Monday, February 11, 2008

[Feature] 2008 Academy Award Predictions


The Academy Awards are always an exciting event, and my favorite among all of the award ceremonies in a given year. I was a little nervous in the beginning of the year because the prolonged writer's strike left the show's fate in jeopardy (no writers would equal no traditional ceremony), but it looks like we're ok to go on that front. It's especially exciting this year because some of the major categories have no clear-cut frontrunners while many of the categories have all but locked down winners (which means more chances for upsets). And of course, the always funny Jon Stewart is hosting.

I do this every year, but I make my predictions beforehand based on buzz, results of other awards shows leading up to the Oscars, and my opinions on who should win based on the films and performances I have seen. This year I feel pretty good about my picks, but we shall see how embarrassingly off I am on the night of the awards, because upsets are bound to happen. Here are, without further ado, my predictions for the main categories.

Best Picture
Nominees:

Atonement
Juno

Michael Clayton

No Country For Old Men

There Will Be Blood

Atonement had the most buzz very early on in the season, heading into the Golden Globes with the most nominations of any movie this year. T
hen somewhere along the way, momentum got lost. The film is still nominated for 7 Oscars, but it was snubbed for the main acting categories for its stars Keira Knightley and James McAvoy, as well as for its director Joe Wright. No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood have picked up steam where Atonement has lost it, and they are the two most likely in this category to win. If there is a split between Academy voters for those two films, there is a slight chance Juno could sneak in and take it, but like Little Miss Sunshine of last year, that will probably be unlikely.
Should win: Juno (for its critical and mass appeal and success)
Will win: No Country for Old Men



Best Actor
Nominees:
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood

Johnny Depp, Sweeny Todd

Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah

Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises


This is the only category where the 4 other nominees should just feel honored to have been nominated in the first place. Daniel Day-Lewis, the reclusive actor who only chooses to make one film every couple of years, has pretty much won every acting award this season for his performance as a greedy oil tycoon. George Clooney received the best reviews of his career for Michael Clayton, so if by some miracle Day-Lewis doesn’t win, Clooney will. But the chances of that happening are slim to none.
Should win: Daniel Day-Lewis

Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis



Best Actress
Nominees:
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: the Golden Age

Julie Christie, Away From Her
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, Juno

Julie Christie has swept most of the awards in this category for her performance as an Alzheimer’s patient in Away From Her. But unlike the Best Actor category where Daniel Day-Lewis is a shoo-in, there is a good chance the award can go to 2 other actresses i
n this category. Christie’s strongest contender is French actress Marion Cotillard, who won international raves for her performance as troubled French singer Edith Piaf. She also was a surprise winner at last night's BAFTAs (the UK equivalent of the Oscars), which is a good indicator of the actual Oscars. Cotillard would have a better chance if a) more people saw the movie, and b) if the movie was better than it actually is (my review here). 20-year old Ellen Page fully embodies the character of Juno in the movie of the same name, and she has a good chance of taking the award. But Academy voters usually don’t award comedies or comedic performances, even though her performance is strong enough.
Should Win: Marion Cotillard
Will Win: Julie Christie



Best Supporting Actor
Nominees:
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s
War
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton


Again, like the Best Actor category, there’s not much speculation for Best Supporting Actor. Javier Bardem has won pretty much every thing under the sun for his performance in No Country For Old Men. Everyone else should just practice their “It’s an honor just to be nominated…” speech. However, if anyone can take the award from Bardem, Ben’s little bro Casey probably has the best chance. He had two strong performances this year, in The Assassination of.. as well as in Gone Baby Gone. The Academy might decide to reward him for it, but it’s unlikely.
Should Win: Javier Bardem
Will Win: Javier Bardem



Best Supporting Actress
Nominees:

Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Saorise Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

This is probably the most unpredictable category, where at least 4 of the nominees have a good chance of winning. Cate Blanchett I think has the strongest chance, helped by her recent Golden Globe win, also because she won’t win Best Actress, so the Academy will probably reward her in this c
ategory instead. I wouldn’t count out Ruby Dee, who just won the SAG for her performance in American Gangster, and of course, having a legendary status always seems to help. Saorise Ronan is probably too young, though her character/performance is central to everything that happens in Atonement. Tilda Swinton just won the BAFTA for her performance in Michael Clayton, but that's the only major award she's won in this category. That leaves Amy Ryan, who has had buzz building around her for her performance in Gone Baby Gone. But aside from winning a couple of national critic’s choice awards, she lost out on the Golden Globe and the SAG, which doesn't bode well, but who knows.
Should Win: Amy Ryan
Will Win: Cate Blanchett



Best Director
Nominees:
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Ethan and Joel Cohen, No Country For Old Men
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton

Jason Reitman, Juno
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly


The Cohen brothers’ film took top honors at both the DGAs and the SAGs, so they probably have the best chance at winning. The Academy could also go with Anderson, whose film has been critically hailed all around (much to the strength of Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance). The dark horse here is Julian Schnabel, for his critically acclaimed (ok, so all these films are critically acclaimed) vision, and because he was the surprise nominee in this category.
Should Win: The Cohen Brothers
Will Win: The Cohen Brothers



Best Original Screenplay
Nominees:
Brad Bird, Ratatouille

Diablo Cody, Juno
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Tamara Jenkins, The Savages
Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl

This is one of my favorite categories. Like I’ve said before, you can make a bad movie out of a good screenplay, but you simply can’t make a good movie with a bad screenplay to begin with. I know I keep making these Little Miss Sunshine-Juno parallels, but the movies have so much in common- indie darlings turned modest mainstream hits, uncharacteristic Best Picture nominees, and after the night of Feb 25th, both Best Original Screenplay winners. Much of the movie’s praise comes from Cody’s funny and tight script, and she has become one of the most buzzed about stars in Hollywood because of it. Gilroy would have the next best chance for Michael Clayton, but expect Cody to win this.
Should Win: Diablo Cody
Will Win: Diablo Cody

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When Will Your Favorite Shows Return??

Great news, fellow TV fans! The 3-month old writer's strike is expected to reach a conclusion as early as this Tuesday, bringing thousands of out-of-work writers, actors, producers, and behind-the-scenes workers back to the grind. Here is a handy dandy guide to when your favorite shows are expected to return, courtesy of TV Guide's Mike Ausiello:

After the WGA Strike: When Will Your Favorite TV Shows Return?

I am most happy about my FAVORITE, the Office, which is expected to shoot 5-10 new episodes to finish out the season. YAY OFFICE THURSDAYS! Everyone, clap your hands say yeah.

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Friday, February 8, 2008

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

Forecast
Fri.: 45°F, mostly cloudy
Sat.: 48°F, showers
Sun.: 36°F, windy

See
Opening This Weekend:

Wild West Comedy Show (starring Vince Vaughn)

Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins (starring Martin Lawrence, Margaret Avery, Joe Bryant)

Fool's Gold (starring Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson)

Sorry folks, maybe next weekend.



Events

Hot Chocolate Fest
Where:City Bakery (3 West 18th b/w 5th & 6th) is hosting their annual hot chocolate festival until the 29th.

A different hot chocolate special will be offered everyday- varieties include cinnamon hot chocolate, mango tea hot chocolate, beer hot chocolate, you name it.



Valentine's Jewelry Making Event
Where: 303 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215
When: Sunday, Feb 10. 2-4PM

Make your own Valentine's Day Jewelry at Brooklyn Flirts' Home Ec class. Price is $75 plus supplies.


Super Pet Expo
Where: NJ Convention Center, Edison
When: All Weekend

The ultimate Pet expo comes into the area. If you need to buy something special for Spike, Fido, Shadow this is the place to go to.


Princeton Ski Shops Annual Giants Stadium Sale
When: Feb 4-9
Where: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford

Princeton Ski Shops is having their end of the season inventory blow out; up to 80% off all kinds of ski/snowboard gear, and there's even a free shuttle bus service from NYC.

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Jesus Walks, Kanye Blogs


I really like celebrity blogs. Tons of celebrities are going online and communicating directly to fans.

The trouble is, a lot of the celebrity blogs that I like to read (mainly John Mayer's and Zach Braff's) are either dead or have not been updated for months.

One person, though, consistently updates his blog is Kanye West.
Seriously, it's a great blog. Sometimes it's just a link to a cool designer or product, but other times it's, like, pictures of him playing Connect 4 with Beyonce.

Other celebrities need to jump on the bandwagon and start consistently posting because at least they'll have some control over how they're portrayed in the media, as opposed to other people just writing junk about them.

And in case you just plain don't like Kanye, here's a list of a bunch of other celebrities that blog.

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