Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Summer of Sam

Every summer, I get obsessed with a food product, usually something summer-specific, like peaches. When I'm in a food phase, I prefer foods that incorporate that flavor above all other foods. Peach cobbler. Peach pie. Peach martini. Frozen peaches. Canned peaches. Peach jam. Peach sorbet. Deeeelish.

I'm done with fruit, though. This summer is going to be my Summer of Sam Adams Summer Ale. I'm not trying to shill for the company (though if you're listening, publicists, I could totally use a free case), but I had a draught of it at a bar for the first time on Monday, and then again from the bottle at a rooftop barbecue I went to, and it was nice -- a refreshing blend of wheat and citrus. Though I prefer Boulevard when it comes to my wheat beers, or Hoegaarden if I'm not in the Midwest, I'll take Sam Summer Ale any day of the week. Or every day of the week. Because in the summer, who's counting?

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Sins of the Father: Douchebaggery

I am pretty psyched about Dr. Blogstein's Radio Happy Hour tomorrow night. Dr. Blogstein and I will be talking to the creator of HotChicksWithDouchebags.com, and that, my friends, is awesome. Check out the link for more details. Here in the tri-state area, douchebaggery is rampant and unregulated, and I think someone needs to start cracking down. "DB1," the man behind the site, is the first person I know of who has at least tried to put a stop to this epidemic.

Check us out Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EST to hear it firsthand. Click here to listen.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Sincerity Assault

I'm going to get hella sincere on y'all for a second, okay? (And I swear I haven't had more than a glass and a half of this pleasant, subtle, inexpensive Chilean pinot noir.)

The past few weeks have been a major adjustment period, as you all know, but a major savior in all of this has been New York City.

If you've never lived here, know that New York is the town that can kick your ass and take your lunch money one day and then save your bacon the next.

I can't count the number of times I've been at some horrible hipster party on the LES some Saturday night, standing in the corner while drinking a bottle 0f Bud Light and trying to appear fascinated by a weird neon-colored painting on the wall because no one thinks I'm cool enough to talk to. I've been dissed out loud at fancy job interviews and forced to smile through the remainder of them. I've had $25 in my checking account that had to last one week.

But these past few weeks, there has been something uplifting about the city that's not unlike a heavenly hammock of distraction. I was downtown in the early evening today, and I looked up at the short-ish brick buildings and the new summer clothing everyone walking down the street was wearing, I felt the weight of the totally decent bottles of $1.99 malbec I had just procured from Astor Wines in my palm, and I caught a glimpse of myself and my oversized sunglasses in the bar Butter's reflective glass, and I became sublimely, inexplicably happy.


That this is my life -- carrying good wine through Astor Place like I owned it. That I came from a nondescript town deep in cow country that no one's heard of and that -- years later, despite near-poverty and random, assorted disappointments -- I am Still. Fucking. Here. That I have developed that exoskeleton that every New Yorker knows about. Not only that, but I function. There's cause and effect at play between me and the city, and it gives back now. I've worn it down with persistence, and it sort of likes me sometimes, when I'm not annoying it by talking too much or asking it for favors. It lets me win at five-card stud occasionally, and I walk away, counting my bills.

I refused to be swallowed up, a Jonah in the city's belly, and I wasn't. That deserves another glass of pinot. Or two.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Swimming with the Smalleys

I went swimsuit shopping today, and, according to all women's magazines and every single Cathy cartoon ever published, women are supposed to hate that, right? We're supposed halfheartedly pull on a dozen different suits, none of which fit, and run out of the dressing room, traumatized and crying, and straight into the arms of Ben and/or Jerry.

Yes, it's a bummer. No one likes to be nearly naked in front a full-length mirror while wearing white socks and standing under ultrafluorescent lights. But, as I found today, there's a way to skew the experience in your favor.

I went to Macy's to find a decent swimsuit. Macy's puts all their ladies' swimsuits on the tippy-top 8th floor, to create a sort of hushed, closed-off chamber of torture. That means every single woman in the dressing room is trying on a swimsuit, just like you are. When I went into the fitting room and shut the door to my stall, I couldn't help but overhear a conversation between two women who were trying on swimsuits in the adjacent room.

"Girrrrl, you look good!," one said. "So sexy! You have GOT to get that one."

"You like this one?" the other said. "What about the other one? What about her?" (Somewhat endearingly [and perhaps crazily] they were personifying the suits. Each swimsuit was a "her.")

"Oh, girl, maybe get that one, too, but you GOT to get the first one," her friend said. "You look sooooo good! I'm sorry I'm staring, but you do!"

This went on for a good 10 to 15 minutes.

What struck me, though, was that as I was trying on my suits and listening to their conversation, I started feeling positive about myself and how I looked. I mean, yes, not every bathing suit fit me perfectly, but, in general, the more I heard, "Girrrrrrl, you look goooood!" from the next stall, the better I felt. That got me thinking: What if, instead of weight loss commercials and women's-magazine diets and pictures of the Olsen twins, we got steady confirmation of our worth, our beauty, and our sexiness? Granted, I don't know how we can do this without turning American values on on their head. Maybe start with a podcast? (Ha.)

Related to that, I read the "manifesto" of new Gawker Media blog Jezebel today, and, lordy, I sincerely hope the ladies who edit the blog can succeed in figuring out a way to combine traditional women's interest topics (celebrity, fashion, etc.) with feminist rhetoric and have it come out on top (so to speak/that's what she said), popularity-wise. Until time tells, I'll keep reading. Good luck, gals.

But anyway, back to the swimsuit: I walked out with this bikini in hand, a smile on my face, and an unusually positive feeling about my body image, thanks to the ladies in the stall.

P.S. Tune in Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EST to Dr. Blogstein's Radio Happy Hour to hear Blogstein and me do our usual song and dance and talk with several special guests.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Stupidity Has No Limits

It's the moment we've all been waiting for: The Barbie Bandits are back! Well, in interview form, anyway. Heather Johnston, one of the two women, appeared on an interview with Good Morning America aired this past Friday to...um...sound progressively stupider, it would seem.

Sad Fact Number One:

And after getting lost on the way to the bank, they initially went to the wrong bank branch.

"We took a wrong turn somewhere, ended up going to a completely different Bank of America," Johnson said.

So, yes, not only did these idiots rob a bank with a completely flimsy and somewhat cracky plan, they WENT TO THE WRONG BANK AT FIRST. If there were such thing as criminal school, these two fail. F-minus on their stolen report cards.

Sad Fact Number Two:

Johnston laughed about what she and Miller did after the robbery: "Go straight to the mall." The first thing they did was visit an upscale hair salon to get highlights in their hair.

"Some of the stuff we did was pretty ignorant," she said.

You think?! Maybe?! Even as a casual observer of the legal system and the inner workings of criminal minds (usually via Law and Order), I know you should at least attempt to go to Mexico with that shit. Right? Or try to "launder" it somehow?

Sad Fact Number Three (But Somehow also the Simplest, Most Honest Thing I've Ever Heard a Parent of an Accused Criminal Say in an Interview):

Johnston's mother, Lisa Johnston, wept as she told the TV interviewer how she had hoped to instill positive values in her children by doing something special with them every day.

"I hoped that would instill and pretty much guarantee me wonderful adults," she said. "But I guess there's no guarantee."

Ain't it the truth.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Music Endorsement

Generally, I dislike it when people purport to tell me what kind of music to listen to. It's pompous, it's usually condescending, and, frankly, what if I simply don't care for the musical stylings of whatever new hipster band is gracing the iPods of Williamsburg's trust-fund finest?

Now that I have that out of the way, I'm going to turn the tables and contradict myself, all in one fell swoop: I think you should seriously consider purchasing Arcade Fire's newest album, Neon Bible. I've been listening to it for the past several weeks, and it's beautiful and catchy and moving and all of the things a good album should be. It reminds me of buying an influential album on cassette tape at age 14 and listening to it over and over on my Walkman. I dig the religious undertones, the good lyrics, and the nice mix of slow and fast.

Clearly, I am not a music critic, but this is the album I keep selecting on my iPod to listen to on my way to work. When I hear it, I sometimes feel like I'm sitting down over coffee at Steak 'n Shake with someone from my Midwestern hometown, talking about all the megachurches and their crazy billboard-like signs, and what it means to us now. To me, it's worth the $12 price tag to have that experience.

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If there is anything worth spending two and half minutes of your time on today, it is this video. Make sure you have the sound on. (Thanks to S in Minnesota for this.)

The Landlord

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

We have $50, Do I Hear $55?

Who doesn't love the "date auction" convention in most early-1990s sitcoms? "Saved by the Bell" had one. "Blossom" had one. "Full House" had one. Who can forget refined Rebecca Donaldson offering up the contents of her entire checking account to win a date with Uncle Jesse? Any sitcom that was worth its salt had a dating auction that caused at least one cast member to reveal his or her feelings for another cast member.

That rampant plot-point success is what Dr. Blogstein and I are striving to bring to you, with Blogstein's (rather clever) campaign to sell me out. Well, in not so many words. Check out Blogstein's campaign to pawn me off on eligible bachelors in the tri-state area with The Dating Jane, which will come to fruition on Dr. Blogstein's Radio Happy Hour once we have enough outstanding bachelors to vie for my affections. So, guys, if you've ever pined for my verbage, please send an e-mail and a photo (natch) to Dr. Blogstein telling him why you're the one for me.

If you like early-1990s sitcoms, I know you love "The Brady Bunch," which is why you should absolutely tune in TONIGHT at 9 p.m. EST to Dr. Blogstein's Radio Happy Hour. We'll be interviewing "The Brady Bunch"'s lesser-known Cousin Oliver, who's sure to have insider info on the sitcom we've put in the American television canon. (If there is such a thing.)

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

She Got Game

Being successfully single isn't something one can just swoop right back into after years of being part of a couple. Or so I learned this past weekend.

I traveled to Maryland this past weekend to visit my friend J (and say hi to Neil) and attend one of J's legendary parties. She's quite the socialite, and a diverse crowd always turns up at her soirees. The evening began, and I started talking to two cute cops. They were men of few words -- tough guys' guys who were kind and shy and sweet. I loved that because the men I tend to meet in New York are creative types who talk a lot about concepts and ideas. The thought of conversing with men whose job it is to hustle and protect and do was incredibly hot. So I tried to flirt. And failed. Miserably. Instead of coming up with witticisms or cute questions to ask them, I clutched my cup of Yuengling and shifted from foot to foot in my bright, crazy-print new dress (which I realized too late is a little more Paris Hilton-esque than I had intended), trying to think of something to say.

Then it hit me: I have no game.

I think I lost a bit of moxie somewhere in that stretch of time in a relationship when impressions and appearances don't matter as much, so you say what you want and do what you want and generally backslide into being a regular gal, minus your usual dose of sparkly wit or biting humor. I'm gonna have to get that back at some point, but it'll happen. Incrementally, but I'll get there.

Also, I want to update my Typing Pool Breakup Song List, which -- thanks to all the incredibly smart, sympathetic, and music-savvy people who read this blog -- has become what I like to call "awesome."

Here's the new rundown:

1. "Here I Go Again," Whitesnake (a surprisingly good breakup song)
2. "Greenville" Lucinda Williams
3. "On My Own," Peach Union
4. "Smile," Lily Allen
5. "Song for the Dumped," Ben Folds Five
6. "Ex-Girlfriend," No Doubt
7. "More Adventurous," Rilo Kiley (courtesy S in Minnesota)
8. "Don't Stop Believin'," Journey (or any Journey, if you get right down to it) (courtesy Dr. Blogstein)
9. "Wang Dang Doodle," Koko Taylor (courtesy Phil)
10. "Alone Again, Naturally," Gilbert O'Sullivan (courtesy Dave)
11. "Message in a Bottle," The Police (courtesy Neil)
12. "Erased," Annie Lennox (courtesy Madame X)
13. "Kiss You Off," Scissor Sisters (courtesy Anndi)
14. "I'm Coming Out," Diana Ross (courtesy Tisha)

Consider my iPod filled.

To cap this list off, I was listening to Tori Amos's (quite decent) new album, American Doll Posse, today, and these lines from the song "Bouncing Off Clouds" seemed appropriate:

"Make it easy, make this easy, it's not as heavy as it seems...
Well, you can stare all day at the sky,
But that won't bring her (him) back,
That won't bring her (him) back
You say you're waiting on Fate,
But I think Fate is now
Waiting on us."

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Distraction Needed

I'm packing my week with plans, projects, and activities. If I make lots of plans, it's less likely that I'll end up a puddle of mush next to an empty sixer of Bud Light, crying about my failed relationship.

So distraction it is. To that end, S in Minnesota sent me this painting game, which made me really happy. (Try it: You'll see.)

Also, my friend S in D.C. sent me this story from the Times about hella expensive weddings, and the thought that I will be exempt from shelling out $50,000-plus for a New York wedding in the near future made me happy for about two seconds. Until I realized I'm back to square-frigging-one dating-wise.

But unfortunately I can't play the painting game or cackle about shopaholics all week, so I need help from you guys. I need some suggestions for classic, listenable breakup songs. They can be empowering, sappy, or kick-ass, but "listenable" is key: no Britney or similarly sucky Hillary Duff crap, and, for God's sake, no "I Will Survive."

Here's the list I've been working on:

1. "Here I Go Again," Whitesnake (a surprisingly good breakup song)
2. "Greenville," Lucinda Williams
3. "On My Own," Peach Union
4. "Smile," Lily Allen
5. "Song for the Dumped," Ben Folds Five
6. "Ex-Girlfriend," No Doubt

Now's your chance to shine, dear readers. Take some pity on me, put a good song in the comments, and if you're in a relationship, take a second to appreciate it. Before it implodes. Kidding. ("But it all was buuuuulllllshiiiiit!" --Adam Sandler's little ditty in "The Wedding Singer")

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Monday, May 07, 2007


I had a couple of drinks at an Irish pub tonight, and I saw a guy about my age sitting at the bar, pint of beer in hand. A see-though blue plastic sack was draped over the back of his chair. I tried to make out what the cylindrical object inside it was. Coffee. A tin of it. Maxwell House, I recall. There was something supremely sad about that to me. I didn't know this man. I'd only seen him once. But already I knew how his night would end and how his morning would begin.

I don't want to be that way now that I'm single.

I stepped off the train near home tonight, and I felt a surge of satisfaction with my lot in life (okay, maybe that was the Harp draughts talking, but bear with me here). I wanted to French-kiss the people who exited my subway car. I wanted to tell the blond woman on the bench near me how much I liked her bag. I wanted to dance through Koreatown, drinking up the lights, so happy to be a red blood cell in the city's artery.

I am lucky. No matter what happens to me, I am going to try hard to remember that.

P.S. Listen to my show tonight, Dr. Blogstein's Radio Happy Hour, at 9 p.m. tonight. The player is in the margin of my blog, but click here to listen in real time.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Four Fundamentally Wrong Aspects of the Movie "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days"

Chick flicks are really not my thing. I like them if they're well made (see: Working Girl), but if they're thrown together and cliched, they're reeeeeaaaalllly bad. And unfortunately, that definition comprises most of the genre (see: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days).

I settled in with a bottle of red and the remote this weekend only to find How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days playing on the We network. Considering my mental state (not totally balanced, but more on that much later) and my unwillingness to rise from the couch and my wine glass to pop in another DVD, I made the decision to watch it despite the fact I absolutely hated it when I saw it the first time. Choosing to watch the movie was much like confronting an old foe: "Ah, subpar chick flick. We meet again, yes? You want to convince me of your quality, you say? We'll see about that. Oh, yes, we'll see about that." Do I need to mention that I'd been into the wine already?

What I found surprised me a little. The movie wasn't quite as bad as I'd remembered, if only for the mildly entertaining performances by Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, who is apparently required to ride a motorcycle in every leading-man role he signs on for. Actually, it's not hard for me to watch McConaughey in anything. You could sit me down in a dark theater to view a film of McConaughey watching paint dry, and I'd probably still consider it $11 well spent.

That is not my central point, though. My central point is that the first time I watched HTLAGITD, I did not live in New York. Now, I live in the city and was able to spot the wild inaccuracies that dot the movie. I'm not even talking your standard "Friends" inaccuracies, such as renting a huge apartment on an out-of-work actor's salary or the fact that everyone, including extras, is model-attractive. Let me break it down:

1. Kate Hudson's attempt to write "serious articles" for Composure magazine
-There is no way in hell that any woman working at a women's glossy in the city would whip up a little Word document on "serious issues" and try and give it to the editor in chief like there's a place for it in the mag. "Hey, Kate White, here's a little piece on genocide in Darfur I've been knocking around for the past week. Wanna put it in the mag, maybe next to the teal-bracelet roundup?" (This problem was familiar to me. See: Thirteen Going on 30 and her crazy ideas for the magazine.)

2. Depiction of Staten Island
-In the movie, Matthew McConaughey is supposedly from Staten Island. I sat up when I heard that, because I didn't remember that detail from my first viewing. So he takes Kate Hudson there (across the Verrazano on his motorcycle, natch). In movie-speak, "Staten Island" must mean "West Texas," because his entire family has a Southern accent, is white, and is playing cards on the back deck over some nice brews. What the hell? Even saying he lived in Jersey would have been slightly more believable.

3. Composure magazine's printing schedule
-I rolled when Kate Hudson waltzed into the editor in chief's office and said, "I can't do this article." As. If. She. Had. A. Choice. And then EIC Bebe Neuwirth said something like, "The cover is already at the printer, so have a draft on my desk in 48 hours." From what I understand of the magazine industry, there is no possible way the cover could be "at the printer" before stories were even in. Doesn't work that way. Also, giving Kate Hudson TWO DAYS to write the rest of the piece? That's an eternity in medialand. Bebe would have flipped out and made her turn it in in 15 minutes. And then, the "article" she finally turns in? Notsomuch a service piece. At all. Especially for a "how-to" reporter. (This problem was also familiar to me. See: Never Been Kissed and what passes for immersion journalism at the end of the film.)

4. Use of taxis
-Apparently, Kate quits Composure, and, the very next day, goes to Washington for an "interview." What kind of interview? We can't know. But I certainly hope it's for a "serious journalist" position. That's not even the problem, though. As Matthew McConaughey chases her down (on his motorcycle, natch) she's in a taxi. A taxi? To Washington, D.C.? That'll be $5,000, please. And even if I misunderstood and she were on her way to La Guardia, that doesn't make sense, either. She'd obviously take the train or bus rather than a plane. But the train wouldn't make for a very good McConaughey-on-motorcycle scene, now would it?

So, after my movie-viewing death match with HTLAGITD? Yep, it's still awful, just in different ways.


My intelligence: 0 HTLAGITD: 2

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Oh, Paris

Regarding Paris Hilton's jail sentence (woo-hoo!), her mother, Kathy Hilton, had this to say:

"This is pathetic and disgusting, a waste of taxpayer money with all this nonsense. This is a joke."

Actually? I think every single taxpayer in California just sat back, smiled, and said, "This is the absolute best possible use of my taxpayer dollars to date."

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Oh, Britney

You guys have to forgive me for not posting as frequently or as well. I've been insanely busy lately, but I'm not too busy to share my thoughts on the comeback Britney Spears has been trying to make for the past two years or so. Here's the video from her "performance" in San Diego on May 1:

I had to watch this video three times. Why? Because I realized that its awfulness transcends a mere, "That was unfortunate." It was so bad, in fact, that it was bad on multiple levels:

1. Choreography
Who the hell got paid thousands to phone this routine in? This isn't dancing. It isn't even good stripping. It's...awkward...and seems almost mime-like at times, as if she's acting out the words the way a kindergartener would. Plus, it looks like Britney can't even keep up with the (decidedly younger and thinner) bleach-blondes around her. That is a shame.

2. Clothing
Memo to Britney Spears: No matter how much weight you lose, you will never, ever look:
a.) as good as you did when you were 19.
b.) fashionable in back-alley hooker getups.
c.) hip again.
You need to stop dressing yourself. Period. Get a stylist. Shut your mouth and stop fighting the people you pay to help you. Become familiar with the names of high-end designers who can dress you well -- you know, the expensive, tailored clothing you and your royalties can afford to buy, not the halter tops that are available on shopkitson.com. And wear some clothing that doesn't show your now-unremarkable stomach. Britney: I now have a better body than you. And I'd venture to say that a lot of normal American women do, too. It's time to file away those memories of your 2000 VMAs body and create a more sophisticated image. No, really. It is.

3. The Sad Factor
If you look closely (try watching the video on the Post's website -- it's a little clearer), you can see Britney's face light up when the crowd screams as she shakes it. And that made me sad. First, because the crowd is never going to scream for her the way they used to as long as she tries to resurrect that dated act. (Memo No. 2 to Britney: Midriffs and miniskirts are not news anymore. See: "The Search for the Next Pussycat Doll.") And second, because that kind of praise -- that applause for churning out crappy music and slapping on a coat of ass-bouncing to round it out -- is likely all the praise she's known in her life so far. She hasn't won points for much else, except maybe her charity work. It just makes me sad.

But should we be criticizing Britney? Or should we take a good, long look in the mirror and admit it: This is what happens when a hugely rich nation co-opts a little girl and packages her and markets her and sells her out until she becomes so enormously successful in such a short amount of time that she completely loses all grasp of normalcy, then tries in vain to create a family for herself, fails miserably at that normalcy she never understood, and finally attempts to return to the only (appearance-obsessed) world she ever knew.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"You Know What's Hip? Starbucks."

I just love this old-ish video from E!'s Starveillance. The quality's not so hot, and you can stop watching at about the two minute and 50 second mark, but I assure you that those three minutes will be funny. Especially if you like making fun of the Olsen twins.

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