Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Banned Books Week

It's Banned Books Week this week, so why don't you celebrate your freedom to read by picking up a banned book? Here is a list of books that were challenged or banned in 2008. In celebration, libraries and bookstores around the country are holding various events that you might want to check out. Some of my favorite books of allll time are on the list: Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep, Lois Lowry's The Giver, Toni Morrison's Beloved, Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, pretty much all of the Harry Potter books. And, one of Julia's favorites, Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower. There are some really good books on the list.

Isn't it interesting that we go watch movies with violence and sex all the time without a second thought, yet books get banned or challenged for a gamut of things, like one "inappropriate" sex scene or curse word whatever? My favorite book, J.D. Salinger's A Catcher in the Rye, holds the distinction of being the most censored book AND the second most taught book in the US. And the main reason for censorship? Vulgar language. If I recall correctly, Holden says the F-word once in the entire novel. The fact that these books have been banned or challenged for whatever reason (whether you think the reasons are valid or not) makes them that much more intriguing, no? Books can be exciting!! :D Yeah?? Happy reading.

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Email of the Day: This is Your Nation on White Privilege

Whilst talking politics with one of my bosses, he shared an email he had received from a relative. I know, I know .. email chain forwards are a bit 90's, but this particular email made a lot of interesting points, and I figured hey, politics will pretty much be on everyone's minds for the next few weeks to follow, in hopes that voters will be armed with some knowledge.

THIS IS YOUR NATION ON WHITE PRIVILEGE (UPDATED)
September 13, 2008, 2:01 pm
By Tim Wise

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their fuckin' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s--while if you're black and believe in reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), you're a dangerous and mushy liberal who isn't fit to safeguard American institutions.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto is “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college and the fact that she lives near Russia, you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.
White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is when you can take nearly twenty-four hours to get to a hospital after beginning to leak amniotic fluid, and still be viewed as a great mom whose commitment to her children is unquestionable, and whose "next door neighbor" qualities make her ready to be VP, while if you're a black candidate for president and you let your children be interviewed for a few seconds on TV, you're irresponsibly exploiting them.

White privilege is being able to give a 36-minute speech in which you talk about lipstick and make fun of your opponent, while laying out no substantive policy positions on any issue at all, and still manage to be considered a legitimate candidate, while a black person who gives an hour speech the week before, in which he lays out specific policy proposals on several issues, is still criticized for being too vague about what he would do if elected.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.
White privilege is being able to go to a prestigious prep school, then to Yale and Harvard Business School (George W. Bush), and still be seen as an "average guy," while being black, going to a prestigious prep school, then Occidental College, then Columbia, and then Harvard Law, makes you "uppity" and a snob who probably looks down on regular folks.

White privilege is being able to graduate near the bottom of your college class (McCain), or graduate with a C average from Yale (W.), and that's OK, and you're still cut out to be president, but if you're black and you graduate near the top of your class from Harvard Law, you can't be trusted to make good decisions in office.

White privilege is being able to dump your first wife after she's disfigured in a car crash so you can take up with a multi-millionaire beauty queen (who you then go on to call the c-word in public) and still be thought of as a man of strong family values, while if you're black and married for nearly 20 years to the same woman, your family is viewed as un-American and your gestures of affection for each other are called "terrorist fist bumps."

White privilege is when you can develop a pain-killer addiction, having obtained your drug of choice illegally like Cindy McCain, go on to beat that addiction, and everyone praises you for being so strong, while being a black guy who smoked pot a few times in college and never became an addict means people will wonder if perhaps you still get high, and even ask whether or not you may have sold drugs at some point.

White privilege is being able to sing a song about bombing Iran and still be viewed as a sober and rational statesman, with the maturity to be president, while being black and suggesting that the U.S. should speak with other nations, even when we have disagreements with them, makes you dangerously naive and immature.

White privilege is being able to say that you hate "gooks" and "will always hate them," and yet, you aren't a racist because, ya know, you were a POW, so you're entitled to your hatred, while being black and noting that black anger about racism is understandable, given the history of your country, makes you a dangerous bigot.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism and an absent father is apparently among the "lesser adversities" faced by other politicians, as Sarah Palin explained in her convention speech.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain…
White privilege is, in short, the problem.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

[Feature] Fall Activities in NJ/NY

Autumn, Fall, whatever you call it, it's my most favorite season of the year. Sure, it might have to do with the fact that I was born and raised in the Garden State, but nothing is more awesome than seeing the beautiful Fall foliage, with all of its vivid colours of red, orange, yellow, and brown.

Besides nestling in a nice comfy chair, wearing pj's and your favorite college hoodie, and reading your favorite book whilst sipping on some hot chocolate, there are vast Fall activities that make the season feel especially awesome.

So get out your jackets and accessorize with that pretty scarf that you just bought - it's time for some Fall fun!

Six Flags: Fright Fest
Sure, you might say that you're too old for roller coasters (or you're afraid of heights?), or too old for the park in general (too many youths running around, I know that feeling) .. but Six Flags is pretty much at its best during Fright Fest. It might be the inner child in me who LOVES Halloween and being secretly intrigued by all things deemed "spooky," but the overall atmosphere of Six Flags during Fright Fest is pretty darn fun. From their red color-dyed fountain, to the random costumed employees (the dude with the chainsaw usually gets REALLY into it) .. it's fun to just go with a group of friends and walk around and see the different, Halloween-themed booths and attractions at "the Northeast's Biggest Halloween Party."

Apple Picking in NJ/NY
For as long as I can remember, Fall always meant apple-picking with the Park family. I remember long car rides, then reaching a fairly agricultural area in Jersey, armed with ladders, barrels, and those weird tools to help you reach apples all the way at the top of the tree. It felt a little bit like child labor, especially because the grownups were encouraging my cousins, siblings, and me to fill as many bags as apples as possible. Our reward? Apples, apple cider, and picking out our very own pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.
Now, I find myself having that urge to go load up to go drag some people out for a scenic drive to the countryside, to go pick us some apples! (Also, yay for baking apple pies with them!)

Drive-In Movie Theater
This is one event that I have been dying to do. I've always loved the idea of drive-in theaters, and was very disheartened to find the old drive-in theater on 303 to be replaced by an agricultural depot (why, oh why, would you still keep up the old sign for the drive-in theater, though??).
Anyway, drive-in theaters are awesome, especially because they're pretty much dying out in our neck of the woods. The closest theater I can find is in Warwick, which is pretty much an hour drive away; but nonetheless, I definitely plan to see a double feature at a drive-in theater!

Go OUT
As mentioned earlier, Fall is all about enjoying the foliage and general splendor of the crisp weather before it gets too cold. And the basic theme behind all of the Fall activities mentioned is to just go out! Go on a weekend road trip with friends to upstate NY, Canada - whatever floats your boat. Go hiking along the trails in Bear Mountain, or just go through a drive to visit the more agricultural aspect of New Jersey. Flea markets are also pretty cool to hit up (I got my old, 1950's typewriter down at Englishtown, NJ for $25!), and you also see a lot of other cute, little roadside stores along the way, too!

So go out, go for a drive, pick some apples, be a kid again with Halloween-festivities .. just go and enjoy the weather!

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Friday, September 26, 2008

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

Forecast
Fri: 64°/60°, Windy and cool, with rain
Sat: 66°/60°, Cloudy with a little rain
Sun: 73°/62°, Mostly sunny

See
Eagle Eye (starring Shia LeBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson)

Miracle at St. Anna (starring Derek Luke, Michael Ealy)

Towelhead (starring Aaron Eckhart, Toni Collette)

Choke, limited (starring Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Houston)

Blindness, limited (starring Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover, Gael Garcia Bernal)

Looks like the studios are throwing a few movies at us, for the first week of fall .. pick your poison.

Events
New York Film Festival
The 46th New York Film Festival starts this weekend! Check out films by innovative minds and up-and-coming virtually unknowns. Here's the screening schedule.

Also, be part of Mp3 Experiment 5 this Saturday if you want to be part of something awesome:
Date: Saturday, September 27 (rain or shine)
Location: Governor’s Island
Time: The event will begin at exactly 3:15 PM. Arrive early and remember to budget time for weekend subway service delays and lines to get on the ferry. The event will be over at 4:06.
Wear: A Red, Blue, Yellow, or Green t-shirt.
Bring: An umbrella and an uninflated balloon.

For more instructions, click here.

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If I Had 700 Billion Dollars

Oh If I had 700 Billion Dollars
Well I'd buy you a 27 story tower (2 Billion Dollars according to Forbes)
And If I had 698 Billion Dollars
I'd buy 200 million dollars of furniture for you new house
And If I had 697.8 Billion Dollars
I would buy you the Bugatti Veyron, a nice, reliant, $1,192,057 automobile
If I had 697.7 billion dollars we wouldn't need to walk to the store cause we can buy Target ($38.9 Billion Market Cap)
If I had 658.8 billion dollars we can buy Procter & Gamble because it costs more ($207.9 Billion)
If I had 450.9 billion dollars we wouldn't have to eat Kraft dinner
But we would buy Kraft ($50 billion)
of course we would, so we would just eat more
And buy really expensive ketchup like the HJ Heinz Co. ($16 Billion)
And if I had 434.9 Billion dollars, I'd buy your love (Say about $1 million according to the original song, over a 60 year period. Pretty cheap compared to everything else)
If I had 434.3 Billion Dollars
If I had 434.3 Billion Dollars
If I had 434.3 Billion Dollars
I'd still be richer than anyone else in the entire world

Damn...it doesn't rhyme

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Petition of the Day: McDonald's Breakfast All Day

You know what always tastes good? McDonald's breakfast menu. I was thinking about this one morning and it got me craving a Sausage McMuffin with a hash brown side.

But sadly, while it was morning for me, it was already lunch time for McD's. And that made me sad.

So I thought, "They should really fix that. They need to make breakfast items an all day thing. Hell, I should make an online petition for my breakfasty goodness cause!"

So I went online, but it turns out somebody beat me to it. As of this writing, the McDonald's Breakfast Menu Extension Petition has 435 signatures.

I signed it. And if you want breakfast all day, sign it too.

Because greasy sausages and fake eggs shouldn't be limited to morning hours!

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Letterman Tees Off on McCain

John McCain was scheduled to be on the Late Show with Dave Letterman on Wednesday of this week. Unfortunately for Letterman, McCain decided to suspend his campaign and told Dave that he was headed for the White House to work on the bailout. However, Letterman got word that McCain had actually ditched him for an interview with Katie Couric. To quote George Costanza, Letterman was angrier than "an old man trying to send back soup at a deli." Was McCain wrong for cancelling his Late Show appearance? If he were really on his way to Washington DC to deal with the crisis, I'd say no. However, the interview with Couric does seem a little shady.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Worst Possible Thing That Could Happen To A Man (Possibly NSFW)

This story got me so freaked out, I had no choice but to post it.

Philip Seaton, some guy from Kentucky, went to his doctor to get circumcised, and when he woke up after the surgery, he found that HE WAS PENIS-LESS!

Apparently, the surgeon, Dr. John Patterson, decided to cut Seaton's manhood after finding a cancer on it. He did this all without getting the patient's consent, which is why he is getting sued.

There are no words to describe the anguish and sheer shock I would feel if I woke up to find that my penis was gone.

Poor guy.. asked for trim, they gave him a crew cut.

Click here
to read/watch the full story.

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FREE Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt Day!


Throughout the month of September, Cold Stone Creamery will be selling Make-A-Wish wall stars to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Be sure to visit your local Cold Stone Creamery to try two new flavors, Nutter Butter® and Marshmallow, and the very special “Make-A-Wish Creations” inspired by Jack and Emily, two Wish Children.

To cap off this special month, don't miss the 7th Annual World’s Largest Ice Cream Social at participating Cold Stone Creamery locations nationwide, a special night to join together and share the simple pleasures of life with a FREE ice cream and family fun. On September 25th from 5:00 - 8:00PM, guests will be treated to a 3 oz. serving of Jack or Emily's Creation. All donations will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. (from coldstonecreamery.com)

Also, in other news ..

Whilst hanging out with a friend in Palisades Park yesterday, my friend got the sudden craving for frozen yogurt. As we were walking towards Fruits Gelateria .. we walked past the Red Mango that has been in setting up shop in town. My friend, who is a die-hard fan of Red Mango, jumped for joy when she saw people inside the store..so we ran inside .. only to see the store owners staring at us in shock, as they were making last minute adjustments to the store before it's grand opening.

The Red Mango Store in Palisades Park is officially opening today! If you go in today, you get a free serving of their frozen yogurt, with one topping.

So go out in the cold weather and get your serving of FREE ice cream or frozen yogurt today!

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Yogurt of the Day: Brown Cow w/ Fruit & Whole Grains


I love yogurt. My favorite is the Greek kind, but I can pretty much go for any type at any time. I've discovered a new yogurt that has been making my mornings very happy- yogurt with whole grains mixed into it. Ok, so it's like having plain old yogurt and mixing in your own grains, but Brown Cow with Fruit & Whole Grains is SO good. Yogurt in delicious flavors- my favorite is the raspberry pear- mixed with delicious grains- hulled barley, rolled oats, quinoa, sunflower and flax seeds equals double deliciousness. Liberte is also FANTASTIC, a little less sweet than Brown Cow, but bigger grains and a crunchier texture. YUM. I get my Brown Cow/Liberte from Whole Foods.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Who do you support?

The historic '08 elections are... a month and some days away. If you are over 18 and are not registered/planning to vote, please re-think it. We live in a country where every citizen is given the right to have a voice and a say on how things are run, and you're throwing away that opportunity? I don't care if you live in a state that already swings heavily towards one party; every vote counts. Have you never seen Swing Vote?? (Yeah, me either. =P) Registration deadlines vary by state; NY is 10/10, NJ is 10/14. If you haven't already, register at Rockthevote.com.

But, even more importantly, do some research before you vote. Don't support a candidate because you think it's the "cool" thing to do, or cause your friends are, or cause the writers of this blog tell you to. These elections are exciting because so many issues are on the line- economy, Iraq, health care, immigration. You must have an opinion on one thing or another, no? To see where you stand on these issues and which candidate most matches your philosophy, take this quiz: Match-o-Matic. You get a series of statements made by either McCain or Obama, and you click on the one you agree with. They don't tell you who said what, which makes the quiz even more interesting. When the faces and names are taken away and you are left with just philosophies, you might be surprised at what you think you believe in, but actually do instead.

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Day of the Day: September 24

September 24 is the 268th day of this (leap) year and my birthday. In honor of the fighting 268th I've decided to do a little research.


Key Events
1789- The U.S. Congress passed the First Judiciary Act. The act provided for an Attorney General and a Supreme Court.
1869- "Black Friday." Lots of people lose money when some rich people try to take advantage of the gold market. (Sound familiar?)
1934- Babe Ruth plays his last game as a Yankee. 74 years later, wah wah wah...
1968- 60 Minutes Debuted. Old people rejoiced.

Key Birthdays
Sir Arthur Guinness, Brewer
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Novelist
Jim Henson, Puppeteer
Phil Hartman, Actor
Kevin Sorbo, Hercules
Rafael Palmeiro, Habitual Liar and Steroid User
Paul Hamn, Silver Medalist
Morgan Hamn, Tag Along
Randy Foye, Fantasy Basketball sleeper pick

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

10 Questions by Time is a Great Time Killer

I stumbled upon this yesterday, and it ended up eating almost an hour of my time yesterday... Time magazine has a lot of interesting videos on their website. In particular, they have a section in their magazine called "10 Questions" where readers submit questions to ask a celebrity or influential figure. I'm not sure how long they've been doing this, but they started recording their interviews and posting them up.

They videos are fun to watch and there are some pretty interesting people that get interviewed.

So far, my favorite videos are Ricky Gervais (funny and jerk, something he recognizes himself), Bill O'Reilly (I almost thought, "He's an okay guy." But then it changed pretty quickly), and Anthony Bourdain (highlight: he encourages smoking).

Along with them, you can find interviews with Korean superstar Rain (*shudder*), Alec Baldwin, Sir Richard Branson, Natalie Portman, Sean Combs, and Rachel Ray.

If you want to watch the vids, click here, then go to the "Entertainment" tag.

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Cutest Photos Ever! #830

As part of my daily routine for surfing, Cute Overload is one of the first sites I check up on for updates. Yes, I know, I know .. I always rave about this stinkin' site. But on a day when I'm feel super under the weather, the following photos featured in the site (aptly titled "Doppelgängeroverloäd") made me smile:




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Party of the Day: Harry Potter Anniversary at Scholastic Headquarters

To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the release for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone TODAY, the Scholastic Store headquarters will be hosting a read-a-thon for the novel (Harry Potter Cover to Cover Day). The first 100 readers will get a free copy of the 10th anniversary edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, whereas all participants of the read-a-thon will not only get to sit in the same seat that JK Rowling, herself, sat in when reading at Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall - but you get a free mystery souvenir! And there will be a few mystery celebrities there to participate in the reading fun...

The read-a-thon begins at 8AM, but you might want to be there earlier!(blog.scholastic.com)
--
Yes, yes, I am a nerd -_-

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Monday, September 22, 2008

[Feature] It's time for a little self-control


Back in June, Steve Jobs made my dream come true by announcing the new iPhone 3G, at a mere $199 per pop. That was like getting an iPod cheap, except it would be a smart, nay genius, phone that would do SO MUCH MORE than just being a plain old iPod. While I had deemed the $500+ price tag for the first iPhone a way unnecessary expense for my modest budget, the announcement of this cheaper-and-better model made my heart flutter with hope. Come July, I would finally be getting one. I had grandiose plans of what I'd do with my phone- Facebook/Urbanspoon/Twitteriffic apps, check. Personalized ringtones ripped from my iTunes collection, check. Unlimited text messaging?? I was so prepared to never talk to anyone other than through text messages again.

Except... It turns out that when you're a current AT&T customer in the middle of a 2-year contract, there are a lot of fine print to sort through in your quest for an iPhone. The kicker for me being that I get to pay $200 extra dollars for the phone of my dreams, which is kind of an ironic and cruel punishment for being a loyal, pre-existing AT&T customer. Thanks, guys, I'm so glad I stuck with you all these years!

I cried about this a little. Well, not literally, but enough to annoy the people in my life with all my 'BUT I WANT AN IPHONE NOW' talk/whine. To prevent myself from giving in and getting one, I brought in the big guns- mainly instituting a slap bet with Julia, in which she was allowed to slap me if I broke down and got one. And for all of you who are rolling your eyes and being like 'it's not that great, there are better things to covet,' stop right there, I've already stopped listening to you.

The thing is, I can totally go get one right now, there's nothing holding me back (except the wrath of Julia's palm on my cheek). But I'm holding out, until at least my birthday in December (best.birthday present to myself.ever), OR if I'm really good, February '09, when I'm eligible for a phone upgrade. It seems so torturous, since I want it so much and can technically afford to go get one. However, here is why I'm holding out: self-restraint. I'm not very good at this. Say I've already had a ginormous breakfast of the Michael Phelps diet proportions. Dangle a biscuit in front of me, and I'm a goner. Say I make a (futile) no-shopping-this-week pact with myself. I'm bored at lunch, so I stop by J.Crew because looking never harmed anyone, and I leave the store with a shopping bag in hand. See where I'm going with this? I tell myself I'm NOT going to do things, and then I weasel my way out of it with irrational rationalizations.

Well not this time! If there's anything my desire for an iPhone taught me, it's that sometimes, my love for materialistic possessions outweigh my power of self-control and will. There was a time period when it seemed like EVERYONE I KNOW (and their moms) were getting an iPhone, and I was dreaming of one constantly. Obsessive? Yeah. Here we are weeks later, and I still REALLY REALLY want one, but I no longer dream about it constantly. You know, just at night when I close my eyes.

So from here on out, I am instituting my version of Lent, called JENt. (I know it's corny, ok??) I am practicing an intense 73ish-or-possibly-more days of self-restraint. The time will be used to think about my upcoming purchase, whether I really want it (the answer is YES), to save up money, give Apple time to come out with a better/cheaper one in time for the holidays, so forth. I think it's good to take a step back from the things you think you want and can't live without, and have a period of reflection, which is basically what real Lent is about. Also, the period of waiting will make the iPhone purchase that much sweeter. Cue heavens-opening-up music.

Now, I'm going to be annoying here and ask you to also think about giving up something with me. It's SO much more fun to have company when doing something, yeah? Also, misery loves company...what? I didn't say that..

But seriously. While I hold off on buying the iPhone until December/later, why don't you try putting a hold on something you're kinda sorta obsessed with, or partake in an act that will shake things up a bit in your life? My friend Ashley planted this seed in my head, and she's offered to give up handbag shopping during that period. If you know us girls at all, that is a big deal. My friend Leslie is giving up bacon. Yes, I don't know if I can go that long without bacon either. Fellow blogger Jorge is giving up eating pizza; it's his favorite food. I was touched by the support! Your period of Jent doesn't have to be quite so long- 73 days is practically the double of 40 days of normal Lent. But I think sometimes we all need to practice a period of self-discipline, which is why I'm advocating this.

It's going to be hard. I gave up coffee this past Lent and it wasn't easy. But I think you'll start to realize that maybe the things you think you absolutely need in your life, aren't so needed. And at the end of it all, you can be proud that you stuck to what you set out to achieve and climbed your Mt. Everest, whatever it may have been. So... Take my challenge. We're all in this together, and I promise it'll be rewarding.

Oh, and in the meantime, if you have an iPhone, try not to flaunt it in front of me TOO much. While I am SO happy! for you, I'd much rather be the one doing the flaunting. Hey, at least I'm being honest.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

What are you doing this weekend?

Forecast
Fri: 66°/52°, Sunny
Sat: 72°/59°, Mostly Sunny
Sun: 80°/60°, Partly Cloudy

See
My Best Friend's Girl (starring: Dane Cook, Kate Hudson, Jason Biggs)

Lakeview Terrace (starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington)

Ghost Town (starring: Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni)



Events
Free Bike and Kite Weekend @ Governor's Island
This weekend, visitors to the island can borrow a bike for up to an hour, and the first 250 visitors of each day will receive a free kite to fly.

San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy

The 81st annual San Gennaro festival is taking place now, through Sunday. New York's oldest and biggest street festival, includes live music entertainment and lots of food. Definitely try the various canolis.

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Awesome Website: HALT

With it's mission statement simply stating: "To inform and warn men everywhere to the evils of Lifetime Television," I was sold on the website, Husbands Against Lifetime Tv (HALT).

I mean, reading the site creator's horror story, I couldn't help but to feel for the poor fellow:

One day like any other day, I was innocently working up in my office. My wife was watching a Lifetime TV movie. A typical man-hating cheese flick where the wife catches her husband pulling a Lewinski with his secretary. The woman proceeds to take her revenge and take her husband to the cleaners. Of course making all men look lower then sludge in the process. This same premise is regurgitated in many different forms on Lifetime! After the movie was over my wife promptly came upstairs to my office and wacked me across the back of the head saying "If you ever did that to me I’d give you a Bobbit and feed it to the dog". Naturally I recoiled at the thought of that. I proclaimed my innocence and cursed the wicked evil channel that is Lifetime TV! (husbandsagainstlifetimetv)

Fight the good fight, man.

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2008 Emmy Predictions

The 2008 Emmys are on this Sunday, and it's one of my favorite awards shows of the year cause it celebrates my favorite entertainment medium, television. YAY. The Emmys are fun for a variety of reasons: a) I like TV. b) It's probably the most unpredictable awards of the bunch. c) When the Emmys get it wrong, boy do they get it wrong (Boston Legal for Best Drama, really??), and vice versa. This year, they're shaking things up a bit. First of all, they added Outstanding Reality- Competition Program as a category, which is long overdue since like it or not, reality TV seems to take up much of the programming on your screen these days. So, in honor of that, the Emmys have handed over hosting duties to... the 5 nominated Outstanding Reality Show Hosts. Ryan Seacrest is a veteran at these things. But Heidi Klum as host? We'll see.

So, the fun part of these awards is predicting who will win. Here is a nifty ballot- Emmys Ballot, see how well you do. My personal predictions on some of the categories, after the jump.

I think 30 Rock will sweep in all the major categories it's been nominated for: Best Comedy, Best Actor for Alec Baldwin, and Best Actress for Tina Fey. The only thing that would cause Alec Baldwin to lose is all the recent negative publicity he's gotten for being quite the whiner, but I think he deserves to win for this clip alone. Brilliant.

I would LURVE to see the Office win, cause it's my favorite show ever and nothing makes me laugh out loud like it, but I think 30 Rock will take it. Outstanding Drama is a little harder, and it's a toss up between Lost, which enjoyed a critically acclaimed return this year, and another critics darling, Mad Men. I'll have to give it to the latter, cause it's garnered buzz that just won't go away. The only person I'm really rooting for to win is Neil Patrick Harris for How I Met Your Mother, who I think deserves it the most, and I think has a good shot, unless Jeremy Piven from Entourage takes it (again...). Go Barney!

The Emmys are on Sunday night, 8PM, on ABC.

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Shoes of the Day: Custom Slip-offs

I am a huge fan of custom and DIY stuff. One of the coolest thing I have seen is Slipoffs.com.

Site owner and artist Shauna Mae Luedtke takes Vans slip-ons (or any shoe made of canvas material) and creates custom-designed artwork on them. You can basically ask for anything you want on your shoes, and designs range from designy, to funny, to kind of weird (see photos above).

At $180 a pair plus $30 to ship to the US, the pricing can be a little steep. But considering that they are hand drawn (she spends 5 to 10 hours on each pair) and one-of-a-kind, it's totally worth it. Also, I think they would be great gifts.

If I got a pair, it'd probably want something designy on it.. maybe rolls of unraveled film or something. I mean, that or a pair sparkling unicorns shoes.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Really Want a Chevy Volt!

Earlier this week, Chevrolet officially unveiled the Volt, and I want one. Bad.

Why, you ask, am I going crazy over an American car? Why does it get my eco- and tech- senses tingling? Oh, let me count the ways:

  1. It runs on a rechargeable battery that lasts 40 miles.
  2. After the battery dies out, it uses gas to charge the battery (not actually run the engine).
  3. You can plug it in any regular electrical outlet to charge the battery.
  4. While in all-electric mode (the first 40 miles), it'll get the equivalent of 100 miles to the gallon!
  5. Even during 100-200 mile trips, you'll still get 35-50 miles to gallon.
  6. On average, it'll cost about two to six cents of electricity per mile.
  7. It looks pretty good, for a Chevy :x
  8. The interior looks especially sexy!
The Volt is going to be released in 2010, which is still some ways off. That's a good thing for me, though, because it'll take 40,000 green ones to pick up this super green car.

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Most Useless Phrase/Mini-Rant of the Day: "No Offense!"

THE most useless phrase in the English language, in my opinion, is "No offense." (see also: "Don't take this the wrong way, but...") Really? Cause when you have to preface whatever you're about to say with that, you really do mean 'Yes offense." Some examples: "No offense, but your boyfriend is not cute." Huh. So, I really shouldn't feel bad that I'm with someone who is not up to your physical standards? Sure. "No offense, but your blog is boring." Hmm. Thanks for the constructive feedback, buddy! It's nice to know you appreciate my hard work.

Am I being too sensitive? Yeah, maybe. But the thing is, it's just not a nice thing to say. And like I said, totally useless, as the phrase is just a thinly veiled excuse for you to be rude. You can be more tactful when disagreeing with someone's opinion of something. Yes, I would like for you to tell me when I'm being a complete a-hole or something important like that. No, you don't really need to tell your girlfriend her favorite pair of shoes are fugly. Sometimes it's ok to not share your opinion, as valuable as it is. So... let's be a more tactful, sensitive-to-others type of people and retire that phrase from our everyday vernacular. No offense, but I think you're an insensitive idiot when you keep using that phrase. Wait, are you mad that I think you're an idiot? But I said no offense!!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Save Of The Day

Why the Fed Pulled the Trigger on AIG

The government spend 85 Billion dollars in order to rescue insurance giant AIG from bankruptcy. The reason is because if AIG went down the "sky is falling" chants would rain down on wall street. Fear not, panickers. The sky is indeed falling but not as fast and it probably won't come all the way down. AIG will still have to sell off a lot of assets because help from the government does not come cheap. The government bail out also means the government now owns nearly 80 percent of AIG and the 85 billion dollar loan has to be repaid in two years with an 11.4 interest rate. Yikes.

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McDonald's Commercial: Apparently, Most Women Are Posers

I loves me a good commercial. One of my very first blog post was a bunch of European Ikea commercials (which attests to my theory that European commercials are a bit more racy than ours), and I have this weird, obsessive fondness for good commercials, probably due to Super Bowl commercials and working in marketing.

The latest commercial I saw that made me want to post isn't because it's a great one. Rather, it just makes me think about how some commercial do tend to reflect on the current times, whether intentional or not:

Seeing women admit that they don't really know where Paraguay is, but pretending to be intellects to save face at a jazzy cafe/coffee shop doesn't scream out OMG BEST COMMERCIAL EVER to me. Rather, it just makes me think about the country's current perception about "intellectual" women, a la Sarah Palin and it makes me sad.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Saturday Night Live Recap

Saturday Night Live premiered this weekend with host Michael Phelps and musical guest Lil' Wayne.

If you missed it, you missed a pretty solid show. Tina Fey came out as VP candidate Sarah Palin, William Shatner had a cameo, and if you looked carefully, you could see Food Network star Guy Fieri in the front row.

Luckily, NBC is slowly moving it's huge conglomerate butt towards the 21st century, so they've begun uploading some sketches on their video site, Hulu.

Here's a recap of some of the best skits from last week's SNL....









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Upcoming 08 Albums!

There are 3 months left in 08, and some big music names are releasing albums in this last quarter of the year. My favorite is Britney's 6th studio album release, which is being released on her 27th birthday and 2 days before my own. Can we say HELL YEAH??

There's nothing like holding a newly-purchased CD in your hands, and the anticipation that comes with it. The fact that CDs and their tightly wrapped and heavily stickered plastic covers are super hard to open is an entirely different matter. But not everyone feels the way I do about buying CDs, as we've all heard about the troubles record companies face in selling records in this day and age. Coldplay's super successful Viva La Vida energized the music industry this summer, let's see if these highly-anticipated upcoming releases can keep the momentum going.

September
22nd: The Killers - Day and Age
30th: T.I. - Paper Trail

October
7th: Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul
28th: John Legend - Evolver, Pink - Funhouse

November
4th: Fall Out Boy - Folie a Deux
11th: Ludacris - Theater of the Mind
18th: Beyonce - TBA

December
2nd: Britney Spears - Circus
9th: 50 Cent - Before I Self Destruct
16th: Kanye West - 808s and Heartbreak

Also rumored this year: Dr. Dre, Black Eyed Peas, Jay-Z, Guns N Roses, among others.

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Commercial of the Day: Everybody Farts



Pretty self-explanatory, but I thought it was certainly a different way to..erm..promote a hotel. But man, some of those flatulent examples were crazy strong winds! :x

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

[Feature] Global Warming: Is It Hot Air?

For years I've been taught at school about the devastating effects Global Warming has on our planet. I've been taught to hate factory smoke stacks. I watched an Inconvenient Truth and was terrified at the idea of a post apocalyptic era in which the Earth is so hot Neutragena SPF 75 isn't enough. But what if everything I had been told was wrong? It wouldn't be the first time the overwhelming majority had taught me untruths, Columbus did not discover America, Alexander Graham Bell did not event the telephone, etc...



The Case Against Global Warming
Despite popular belief, skepticism in human triggered global warming is not strictly reserved for the far right conservatives. There are scientists who don't agree with the most popular views of global warming. The case against global warming begins with the debate of how much influence human beings have on the Earth's climate. It is argued that most of the green house effect, the process that causes global warming, is due to water in the atmosphere in the form of water vapor and water droplets in clouds. In fact, those who oppose global warming claim that up to 95% of the green house effect is due to heat being retained by water vapor. This leaves a mere 5% for other greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and an even smaller percentage, less than 1% is CO2 that is actually emitted by human activity. It's hard to put the blame solely on human activity if human emissions make up less than one percent of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The Earth, after all, has gone through plenty of global climate changes even long before humans were around.

The Case For Global Warming
Humans have been assaulting the atmosphere with CO2, increasing the amount of CO2 in the air by roughly 30 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Human activity has undoubtedly increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This increase in CO2 has coincided with the fastest rise in global temperatures in recorded history. In fact, the 10 hottest years in recorded history have all come after 1990. Further evidence of global warming comes in the way of weather phenomenas, such as hurricanes. While global warming does not create more hurricanes, warmer ocean waters increases the force of these storms. The amount of category 4 and 5 hurricanes has increased significantly over the past five years.

How Inconvenient is the Truth?
I can't tell you with 100 percent certainty what the truth is. I completely understand that global temperatures would fluctuate over time with or without humans on the planet, but if I had to make an educated guess, I would say that we are having an effect on our planet. The correlation between green house emission from human sources and the recent rise in global temperatures seems too strong.
Regardless on what side you stand on the issue, there is no excuse for not being environmentally aware. People have done plenty of damage to the Earth already (eg. deforestation, ozone depletion) and now is not the time to excuse reckless activities. The major causes of CO2 emissions in the US come from coal power plants and automobiles, both of which create large amounts of air pollution. Not only is a push for cleaner energy beneficial to our environment, it is also good for our economy because it creates a new business sector and gives us more choices for our energy consumption.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

Forecast
Fri: 73°/68°, PM Showers
Sat: 83°/71°, PM Showers
Sun: 88°/72°, Isolated T-Storms


See
Burn After Reading (starring See Image to the Left).
Righteous Kill (starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro) Al, Robert, please read over the script before you accept.
America, I know what you'll really be watching is football. The Sunday night game is Pittsburgh favored over Cleveland by 6, I'll take Pittsburgh. The Monday Night game is Dallas favored over the Eagles by 7. I think Dallas wins, but the Eagles cover.
Events
Just when you thought you'd seen it all, Target is set to open four bodegas in Manhattan. What's a bodega you ask? Think of a bodega as a grocery store tailored for Latin people. Latin people will be very disappointed to find that most of the stuff at the Bullseye Bodegas is for wearing and not for eating. The Bullseye stores will be open from September 12 through September 15.

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Deal of the Day: Free File Hosting for Life!

Filesavr.com is offering everyone 250gbs of free file hosting for life, a service that normally costs $10 a month. Apparently, it's their way of thanking the blog and Digg communities. I don't really get it, and honestly, I never heard of them before this deal, but whatever. Free is free right?

To jump on this deal, follow this link and sign up. You have until September 15th to do so.

I signed up already, but have yet to upload anything. I'll be utilizing their services soon, for sure, though.

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The Results Are In..

"The" is King! "I" Settles For Talking About Itself
According to the Wall Street Journal the most used word in the English language is "the." "The" is the most frequently used word in newspapers, the Oxford English Corpus, and the the British National Corpus. The latter two are compilations of texts such as the 9/11 Commision Report. However, it is only the fourth most used word in conversation behind "I", "you", and "and".

Miami, Most Attractive City In America
Miami was chosen as the city with the most beautiful city by Travel and Leaisure Magazine. New York finished first shopping, arts, diverse residents, and skyline. And yet, it still can't help but wonder if wearing a little more lip gloss would have swayed the beautiful vote to its side.

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Mitch Hedberg has a New Album Out!

This is an odd sentence to write.. Mitch Hedberg, the hilarious comedian who unfortunately passed away in 2005, released a new album this week.

Do You Believe in Gosh was recorded two months before his untimely death. The 56 minute album has about 40 minutes of previously unreleased material as well as some classic Mitch Hedberg jokes.

As someone who was a big fan of his, it's really nice to hear his off-beat non-sequiturs again, one last time. Do You Believe in Gosh? is classic Mitch Hedberg, so it's something definitely worth picking up. Give it a listen today.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Customer Is Always Right?

The following took place last month. The setting is good ole Fitness Factory on Grand Avenue in Palisades Park. My friend Sang has been given a free week pass by one of his friends and is attempting to swipe in early one morning. One of the staff members, let's call her Jane, stops him.

Jane: Can you swipe in again.
Sang: Swipes.
Jane: Your trial has expired.
Sang: What do you mean? It can't be expired. I got it two days ago.
Jane: It says it's expired.
Sang: Can you check your paperwork?
Jane: If the computer says it's expired, it's expired.
Sang: Don't you have copies of your records?
Jane: Do you have the receipt?
Sang: I didn't get a receipt.
Jane: Yes, you did.
Sang: No one gave me one.
Jane: Yea, you got no one.
Sang: Uhh...no I didn't?
Jane: Hold on let me talk to my supervisor. 2 Minutes later. The problem is that the free week trial is only available if you haven't been a member of the gym in the past six months.
Sang: Well that shouldn't be a problem. The latest time I could have been a member was August of last year.
Jane: Do you want me to check the computer!?
Sang: Yea, check the computer!
Jane: Reads a bit. It says here May 2006 to October 2006. Well the computer might be wrong, I mean like you said, you were here last year.
Sang: No. I said the latest I could have been a member was last year.
Jane: Hold on. Comes back 2 minutes later. Can I see your license?
Sang: Gives license.
Jane: Oh, see. The trial is only available for Palisades Park residents.
Sang: Wtf. I live in Ridgefield, it's literally a block away and nobody brought this up when I signed up.
Jane: But supervisor feels bad so he'll give you a free day pass today.

You tried your best to reason with them Sang and you failed. The lesson is, never try to reason with a Pal Park business ever again. Eventually, someone at Fitness came to their senses and called Sang and informed him they had renewed his free week pass. I think we all have similar experiences with shady, local businesses. Next time a well placed phone call to the Better Business Bureau should help them get their act together.

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Remembering Today: 102 Minutes That Changed America

It was senior year in high school, we were in AP English when a teacher walking by told us that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I remember being confused, not being able to fully comprehend what happened or understand the gravity of the situation. Less than an hour later, in AP Calc, a classroom of 20+ high school students fell silent and watched in horror as the second of the two towers fell. The world was never the same again.

I don't have to explain what today is, and what it means to people. Whether you were directly affected by the events of September 11th or not, you have to admit that it completely changed EVERYTHING we know. Tonight, the History Channel airs a documentary called "102 Minutes that Changed America," at 9PM without commercial interruption. The documentary was produced solely using video and audio sources from real people who were shooting as the events unfolded. The clips are shown in sequential and chronological order, and without narration or commentary. Over the 102 minutes, we get different perspectives of different people in different locations, all witnessing the same terrifying event happen before them.

The entire documentary looks like scenes straight out of Cloverfield, but the pure panic, fear, and confusion in people are all too real. There is an interactive map with clips on the History Channel 9/11 minisite; the NYU dorm clip was particularly affecting for me. These clips are not easy to watch. In fact, they're absolutely horrifying and heartbreaking. But as difficult and painful it is to watch, this is a powerful historical archive that permanently documents the significance of the events of 7 years ago- for those of us who lived through it, and for future generations to see.

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Obsession of the Week: Twilight Series

Yes, I've gone to the dark side.

After hearing about this particular series for months, I finally gave in. It was innocent - curiosity got the best of me. I had nothing else to read, the current book I was reading was mindless (augh, it got so bad that I started reading chick lit!) .. and then I was hooked.

I actually feel a bit ashamed for admitting to it because a) it's about vampires. I mean, not really cool (especially from a girl who loves the Harry Potter series, in all its wizardly goodness). And b) this was the book that people have been calling the "new" Harry Potter series! I was appalled. Nothing could compare.

But after finishing the Twilight series, I'll admit that it was a good read. I mean, the last book didn't really draw me in as much as the first one did, but it did its job: it kept me reading. And I guess it that sense, I can see the parallel to the Harry Potter series, as it kept the reader wanting more.

But unlike the Harry Potter series, it definitely isn't a book for all - a lot more females read this book (I seriously have not met a male reader), probably because of the whole Romeo & Juliet-esque romance, with the two main characters being somewhat of a pair of star-crossed lovers. Not to say that boys won't enjoy a good romance, but in that sense, Harry Potter has its mass appeal.

Overall, the Twilight series is a good read in its own way. And that's good enough for me.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Moment Of The Day

Today is my mom's birthday. Ever since I can remember my dad has woken my sister and me at like 5 o'clock in the morning in order to sing her happy birthday and give her flowers. This year was no exception. As I was muttering the song with my bed sheet still wrapped around me I thought of two things, a) If I was doing this when I was baby (who in their right mind would wake a sleeping baby. YEA, A BABY!) and b) my dad has some serious dedication. So fellas, if you're in a relationship, remember to not stop trying. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MA!

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Who Wears Short Shorts?

I'm horrible at locating a good majority of the 50 states, let alone naming every corresponding capitol. But really, having lived in NJ for pretty much my whole life (well, with the exception of living in North Carolina for a year or two), none of the other states outside of the tri-state area mattered. Especially the middle of the country. I would never want to live there..I imagine a total culture shock.

And the following video just completely represents why I would never venture out to live in the middle, landlocked states in the US:



I mean, to think: this is a real person in a real situation, being reported in the local news. Sadness.

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30 Rock is the New Will & Grace!


Stunt casting is a well-known phenomenon in Hollywood, especially in the TV world, when producers bring in the big names to boost ratings or give their shows a much-needed buzz. Probably the biggest stunt casting this year so far was Britney Spears's two appearances on How I Met Your Mother. But before Britney and before HIMYM, there was a show known for its stunt casting, and it was Will & Grace. To name a few of the stars who had made an appearance on the show in its 8 year run: Britney, Jack Black, Macaulay Caulkin, Ellen DeGeneres, Matt Damon, Madonna, Demi Moore, Seth Green, Luke Perry, J.Lo, Janet Jackson, Elton John. And I've only named a couple. =P While stunt casting can be fun and bring tons of publicity for the show, it can totally backfire by making the show look desperate and therefore, have fans screaming that it "jumped the shark."

One of our favorite shows, 30 Rock, has been making headlines recently for its stunt casting, and the season hasn't even begun yet. In the first 2 seasons, 30 Rock has had an impressive number of big names already- Al Gore, Conan O'Brien, Jerry Seinfeld, LL Cool J, Paul Reubens (aka Pee-wee Herman), David Schwimmer, to name a few. Well, what can you expect in the coming season? First there was news that Will Arnett would be returning. Cool, LOVE HIM. Then came word that Jennifer Aniston will be playing Tina Fey's character's ex-roommate, marking her first return to TV since Friends. And last week, it was reported that media goddess herself, Oprah Winfrey, is in final talks to make an appearance. Hey, 30 Rock! You're SO the new Will & Grace.

Except... I for one, am very excited. I'm excited about TV season in general, and the return of the show. Stunt casting is only stunt casting when the show is in the creative dumps and the producers are scrambling to substitute star power in place of quality. 30 Rock has had a stream of guest stars since the beginning, and creatively, it's still been the same hilarious show. And since brilliance doesn't always translate into ratings gold, I hope these stars give the show the push it needs to give it a season pass on people's Tivos. 30 Rock returns Thursday, Oct. 1.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An Open Letter to Britney Spears

Dear Britney,

Exactly a year ago today, I wrote you an open letter to voice my frustrations with you, my favorite pop star, after a disappointing comeback "performance" at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. By the time that happened, you were already in the middle of a shame spiral, and it was just a nail in the coffin for people writing you off as a giant has-been. And up to that point, while I was pretty adamant that you'd turn your life around and show these naysayers what you're capable of, I was also pretty tired of explaining to people over and over again that you were just going through tough times. So when you took the stage to "perform" Gimme More, and embarrassed yourself in front of millions who had been waiting for you to fall flat on your face, I was ready to give up as well. It was one thing for me to want you to be a semblance of your former self, so that I could say 'talk to the hand cause the face ain't listening' to every person who told me your days of glory are long gone. But it was completely another thing for you to actually take the initiative to turn your career and your life around.

Well, what a difference a year makes. Earlier this year, your started taking baby steps to a solid comeback. Slowly but surely, the "What crazy thing did Britney do today" started being replaced with things that were a little less drama-filled, a little more normal- here's Britney going to the gym, here's Britney hitting the studio, here's Britney playing with her kids. And in the midst of you looking a little bit less like a train-wreck and more like your old self, came word that you'd be guest-starring on How I Met Your Mother. And well, you did a pretty good job. That was followed by a second appearance on the show, which led to things like these really cute promos for this year's VMAs, as well as... the VMAs themselves.

Brit Brit, you did me SO proud. You didn't perform, like I secretly hoped you would, but that's ok! We got you and Jonah Hill, a surprisingly fun pairing, and we got you looking pretty, being normal and charming, AND winning all 3 awards you were nominated for. Is this the comeback of the century? No. But it's a small and steady step towards one. I hope your big night reminds you of why you do what you do, and why you are the biggest pop star in the world. I for one, am looking forward to the new and improved Britney Spears, and looking forward to people agreeing with me for once on how awesome you are, instead of, you know, the opposite. It's Britney, Bitch!

xoxo,
Your Fan Foreverrrrr.

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Book of the Day: Twilight

After a whole summer of rereading some oldies, but goodies, and going through mindless other books, I finally found something worth reading.

I was pretty reluctant to read Twilight, but once I started, it was hard for me to stop. I'm currently on the final book of the series, but really, the first book stood out by far for me.

And of course, it helps that the movie is coming out soon (replacing Harry Potter's original release date), and that the actor who played Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) will be playing the lead role of Edward Cullen (he was pretty hawt in the Harry Potter films, but not too sure about his chalk-white vampire look for the Twilight movie..).

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Monday, September 8, 2008

[Feature] Lessons I Learned in August

For me, last August was the most hectic months I've had in a long time. I went through a lot of pain, physically and financially. But in the end, it seems like it worked out for the better and I learned a few important lessons along the way. It all started with a job interview... [cue Wayne World-style flashback fingers]

Lesson One: Don't Wear Old Contact Lenses
I wanted to make sure I looked as presentable as possible for my interview, so I wore my contacts.

The thing is, I hadn't worn my contacts... in a long time. Like, so long I'm too embarrassed to say how long it actually was. But it was in the months range.

I had done similar things before, so I thought nothing of it. I just had clean the lenses as thoroughly as possible and slap them on. I'll be fine, right?

Wrong. WRONG.

I was fine for the interview and only had a little irritaiton. But by the end of the day, my one eye was bothering me so much, I had to take my contacts out. Normally, taking off my contacts would stop the pain, but this time it didn't. My eye became so scratchy, painful, and red that I couldn't even keep it open.

Apparently, I had developed something called a Corneal Ulcer, which in layman's terms means, ow my eye hurts a lot for a couple of days. Basically, the dirty contact lens I wore cut my cornea and filled it with dirty bacteria which started eating my eyeball. Corneal Ulcers can lead to blindness, which isn't as fun as Korean drama parodies make it out to be. Luckily, I opted to go to the emergency room pretty quickly, which made it something much easier to deal with.

So lesson #1: Don't wear dirty contacts. They rape your eyeballs. Older contacts makes you 10 times more likely to develop a corneal ulcer than new contacts.

It's cheaper to constantly buy new contacts then risk wearing old ones and paying for a hospital bill. Which leads me to my second lesson learned....

Lesson Two: Hospitals are Expensive.
Okay, I know this isn't a revolutionary discovery, but it's always worth reiterating: doctors drain your wallet. Especially if you're uninsured :(

After going to the ER, I had to make two visits to an opthamologist to make sure my eyes were healing up properly. During those two visits, I got about 10 minutes of face time with my doctor and had to pay $225 in total for it. Holy cow.

I later received my ER bill, which came out to $900 ($600 for the stay, $300 for medicines/shots).

And just when I thought it was over, the ER doctor sent me a bill for $220! What?!?! Doesn't the hospital pay him? Isn't that what the ER bill was for? Apparently not.

Needless to say, I was flabbergasted and my bank account cried itself to sleep that night.

Lesson Three: If You're Poor, the Government Can Help You.
This is the point in the article where things start looking up. Seeing as $1300 is not really affordable for me, I felt pretty screwed. Luckily, I remembered a lesson I learned while interning for my congressman: if you're poor, the government will help you out. Seriously, cynical people think the government only steals from you, but the truth is you can make it work for you.

Because I'm uninsured and make very little money, I applied for the state-run Charity Care, which is the New Jersey Hospital Care Payment Assistance Program. They are there to pay for some or all of your hospital bills if you cannot afford to pay for it yourselves. All you have to do is fill out an application that verifies your income and makes sure that you've been living in the state for three months. The process is fairly quick, as bureaucracies go, and extremely helpful for people like me. For more information about Charity Care, visit their website or call 1-866-588-5659.

I just recently gave in my application, so all I can do now is wait. Hopefully, I'll have learned all my lessons for a lot less money than expected!

Here's to more adventures, government assistance programs, and life lessons!

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Friday, September 5, 2008

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

Forecast
Fri: 90°/70°, Mostly sunny

Sat: 77°/68°, Heavy rain/ winds
Sun: 80°/62°, AM clouds/PM sun

See
Bangkok Dangerous (starring Nicholas Cage, Shaun Delaney, and Steve Baldocchi)

(ed. yep, summer blockbuster season is very much over.)









Events
Free Gym Class Heroes Concert
LG is hosting an unsigned band competition today at 5:00 pm with special guest Gym Class Heroes. They'll be at the South Street Seaport, so it'll be a great chance to listen to some new music and get to see Gym Class live.

Free Museum Weekend
As previously mentioned, Bank of America card members can get into select museums for free on the first weekend of the month. A day at MoMA, New York Aquarium, or Liberty Science Center is a great way to spend a rainy Saturday.

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Attack of the Sequels: Monster-Mania!

In a past feature, I wrote about how Hollywood seems to be running dry when it comes to the original movie department. Last night, while talking politics and such with a friend (talking about Sarah Palin jokes, how Jamie Lynne Spears sent Palin's 17-year old pregnant daughter some baby gift), we were talking about how great of a movie Juno was, and how it was the only movie we could both think of that had a great trailer, and how the movie met our expectations. We discussed how for most movie trailers, they either make us not want to see the movie, or how movie trailers usually exceed our expectations for the actual movie (which usually end up sucking). Oddly, we then came to the conclusion that the reason why Juno might've been a great movie was because it was original, compared to the many remakes and sequels of the recent years.

And of course, more classic movie series are being sequel'ed:

Who You Gonna Call?

Columbia Pictures is getting serious about scaring up a new installment of its blockbuster "Ghostbusters" franchise. The studio has set "The Office" co-exec producers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky to write a script for a film designed to bring back together the original cast of Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson. (variety.com)

Guess Who's Coming To A Screen Near You?
Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form have been set by New Line to relaunch the movie series centered on the iconic killer [Freddy Kreuger], who haunts the dreams of teenagers and kills them in their sleep. The trio will create a new franchise based on Wes Craven’s 1984 film “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” (variety.com)

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Free makeup!


A sweet deal in anti-trust settlement

This is kind of old news, but I forgot to write about it, so here it is. As part of a massive settlement from a class-action suit filed in 2003, millions of consumers (ie, YOU AND ME) will be eligible to receive free makeup and perfume from department stores in January. The department stores named in the suit include Macys, Bloomingdale's, Filene's, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue, and they were accused of violating antitrust laws and conspiring to fix prices. All the defendents are of course denying any wrongdoing, but nonetheless, they are agreeing to give away more than $175 million in products to consumers who purchased specific brands of makeup, moisturizers, and fragrance products at their stores between May 29, 1994 and July 16, 2003.

I think it's safe to say that in those 9 years, most of us have bought a cosmetic product or two at those stores. The best part is that you don't even need a receipt as proof that you had purchased something during those times, all you have to do is visit http://www.cosmeticssettlement.com/ and register to receive an email when the products are being given away. Or you can also call 1-877-604-5776 to receive your notification card. It can't get any simpler than that.

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