March 2010


Oh, Lady GaGa. I have such mixed feelings about you. Vanessa Grigoriadis over at New York Magazine wrote this piece about how a girl from New York named Stefani Germanotta has transformerd herself into The Artist Currently Known as Gaga. I read it today, and it really helped me figure out why I can’t decide if I love her or hate her. Basically she is a talented art school student with the money backing to see her artistic vision through completely. But she’s also a poor little rich girl who grew up in New York City wanting to be a celebrity. She produces some extremely catchy songs that I can’t get out of my head for days, and actually sings live (quite well) while dancing around on stage. Still, something about her gives me the impression that she thinks she is smarter or more substantive than other pop performers. Maybe she really is, but it’s a pretty hard argument to make when the majority of her songs have a dance beat and are about getting drunk in da club. I’ve decided to write some type of a point/ counter-point post to see if, at the end of the day, I am truly one of Lady GaGa’s “little monsters” or not. Ahh, she counts Oprah among her fans, that’s a point. But on the other hand, the woman gets a point deducted on behalf of whatever poor sap had to sit behind her at the 2009 VMAs.

Lady GaGa is one of the more unique voices/images out there in the entertainment world today, and you have to give the girl credit for fully committing to her character. Err, except that she doesn’t want you to. This isn’t a persona, you see; Lady GaGa purports to “dress like this all the time.” Though the aforementioned New York Magazinge article goes a long way toward debunking this self-perpetuated GaGa myth of always being this Ziggy Stardust entity, I can’t totally hate on her for pretending. I look at this as one of the greater gifts she has given her fans, as it has inspired me to think of her washing the dishes dressed as Kermit the Frog, or trying to scarf down a Subway sandwich while red lace covers her entire face.

Next up, I have to give GaGa credit where credit is due. Her recent collaboration with Beyonce, “Telephone,” inspired this gem:

Based on that video, I’m tempted to like her more than I dislike her, until I’m reminded that, despite the love the Muppets have shown her, she has shown little in return:

Dear Lord. In case you think nothing could make me more angry than seeing Lady GaGa wearing a coat of dead Kermit The Frogs (R.I.P.) with her usual “I’m smarter and more creative than you, that’s why I’m wearing this and why you think it’s dumb” smirk, think again. Because this happened:

This video of her palling around with Paris Hilton while complimenting Paris’s song “Stars Are Blind” as “one of the greatest records ever” would be hilarious if it were an SNL parody. Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s Lady GaGa fawning over a tabloid fixture’s uninspired attempt at making music. I’m sure Lady GaGa knows it’s not a great record, let alone one of the greatest records ever, but her flattering Ms. Hilton is just part of what she seeks above anything else; to be famous.

I think the conclusion I’ve reached is that while I’m able to enjoy her catchy songs, respect her powerful singing voice, and enjoy the theatrics that is Lady GaGa, I’ll always be a bit put off with how she seems to seek celebrity status above anything else, while at the same time trying to distance herself from other pops tarts who do the same.

Seems like an open shut case to me, until I come upon this photograph:

I’ve noticed that GaGa has been covering up more and more lately. It’s all clear to me, finally. Lady GaGa is working her ass off so that she can retire at the age of 25, collecting millions, while a team of short women and smallish gay men travel the planet, pretending to be her. Turns out she’s a genius, and for that, I respect her.

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Today’s post will be brief. I’ve been busy working over the weekend while trying to celebrate the rare Spring-like weather that has descended upon my city, so now my Tuesday feels like a Friday, but not in a good way. Hopefully I’ll think of something witty and worthwhile to write soon, but in the meantime you will just have to listen to three songs I like, all called “Oh My God.” In case you are wondering what inspired this, I’m in the process of convincing a friend that zOMG stands for “Zombies, Oh My God!” Enjoy.

“Oh My God” by Ida Maria:
Everything about this song by Norwegian singer Ida Maria
screams “OMG”  – from the frantic pace to the simple but panicked lyrics, to the start and stop style of the video.


 
 
 

“Oh My God” by Mark Ronson featuring Lily Allen
This was originally done by Kaiser Chiefs but I prefer this version. It’s taken from “Version” which is one of my favorite albums from the past couple of years.


 
 
 

“Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.” by Ryan Adams
I feel like I’m cheating since this song isn’t exactly titled “Oh My God,” but it’s way too good to exclude.  Ryan’s habit of releasing roughly an album per year makes it hard for me to weed through all of his stuff to find what I like, but gems like this make it worthwhile.


 

Top o’ the morning to ya! I love St. Patrick’s Day so much that this is already my second day of the year spent celebrating. My first was March 6th up in Hoboken, NJ, and it was intense. I have work today, which means this I will be going straight to an Irish pub when the clock strikes 6:00PM, and then back to my house, where I have some leftover Guinness cupcakes, Irish Soda Bread, and a 6-pack of Killian’s Red waiting for me.  Now THAT is the luck of the Irish.

For this post, I decided to compile a fairly random collection of some of my favorite Irish things.

To begin, my favorite Irish Movie, “In America
Care of Wikipedia
Anyone who has not seen this movie should do themselves a favor and rent it as soon as you can. It is the story of an Irish family who immigrates (illegally, via Canada) to New York City. Their story is, in a lot of ways, fundamentally American. It’s all about a family’s quest to find a better life for themselves that they feel only Manhattan can deliver. But it is also a wonderful Irish story, with fantastic characters who struggle to fit into their new home while maintaining their customs and keeping their family structure as it was in Ireland. Plus, the little girls and their accents are absolutely adorable.

Favorite Irish Drinking Song: “Wild Rover
Simply put, this song makes me want to drink. I first became acquainted with it while on a pub crawl with my dad and big sister (I have a cool family). We had a two-piece Irish band, complete with a fiddle, that followed us from bar to bar (I think it was a way of announcing that the ‘drunks had arrived’ to the locals). They were wise enough to save “Wild Rover” until bar number three, when we all felt comfortable throwing our arms around each other and singing in unison. If you’ve ever been at an Irish bar when this song came on, I am sure you know what I’m talking about. If not, listen to the Dropkick Murphies cover below, throw back a Smittwick’s or two, and pretend to know what I’m talking about.

Most Underrated Irish Drink: Magner’s Irish Cider

We all know about Jameson Irish Whiskey and Guinness Stout, unless we’ve been living in a cave (or convent). But while living abroad, I was introduced to Magner’s Irish Cider (called Bulmer’s in Ireland) and fell in love. It’s a sweet drink, and you might be tempted to call it girly, but you would be mistaken. Until you have sat in a pub in Cork, Ireland and watched 200 pound men get sloshed off of it, I recommend reserving judgment.

Care of Wikipedia

My first experience with Magner’s came when I ordered it from an Irish bartender in Belgium. When it arrived, I noticed there was no foam at the top of my glass. “Sir,” I called to him, “my beer is flat.” He stared at me, then broke his silence with “no, it isn’t.” I looked at the beer, looked at him, and smirked. He grabbed the beer from me, and while maintaining eye contact, took a gulp. He then loudly told me (and, in effect, the entire bar), “that’s damn good Irish cider, love!” I was schooled that day.

Favorite Irish Friend: Finn!
Pintje followers who read my Oscar blog post are familiar with my snarky and fabulous friend, Finn. The girl is as Irish as the day is long, so I’m happy to go on the record saying she is my favorite Irish friend. She visited me in college for St. Patrick’s Day and brought with her a shirt with my name ironed on the back and “Lush O’ The Irish” on the front. Now that is a good friend. Finally, in case you needed more convincing, please note that she began Hoboken St. Patty’s Day like this:

Photo care of Finn

That’s it! I hope everyone has a fantastic, fun, and safe St. Patrick’s Day. Please feel free to leave your celebration plans or personal picks of all things Irish in the comments below. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Irish proverbs:

May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.

There are lots of things that come to mind when most people think of St. Patrick’s Day. Green beer, leprechauns and bagpipes would probably be on most folks’ Top Five lists. I assure you I will cover all that and more tomorrow. But for today, I thought I’d blog about two things I baked up to get me in the celebrating spirit. This post is about Guinness cupcakes and Irish Soda Bread.

To begin, yes, you read that correctly. This cupcake recipe is a great way to take care of that last Guinness bottle you have laying around from your party, or a way to get your fix of the famous stout without having to compete in a race against the clock to prevent yourself from drinking curdled milk (do not even get me started on that tradition). Here’s how I started:

(Which of these things is not like the other!?) Anyway, I took the recipe basically item for item from this website, so I won’t try to lay claim to it by regurgitating it on my blog. I will note that I used salted butter by accident (whoops!) and that the recipe actually yielded 40 cupcakes, not 24 like it states. I also forgot to cool the cream cheese frosting after whipping it up (or rather, I didn’t realize that was actually necessary), so I wasn’t able to top each little dessert with the sweetness it deserved. Regardless, I brought these to work and they were a big hit. They don’t come out too sweet or too chocolaty; the Guinness really helps mellow all of the stronger flavors. I baked some with cupcake tins to bring in to work, and made the other half of the batch right in a greased cupcake pan, so they came out with no tins at all (pictures below, taken by my lovely roommate). This was my favorite way because to me they look like little mini glasses of Guinness: dark and heavy bodied bottoms with a light, fluffy head. Yum yum yum!

Next, I called my Grandma and asked for her Irish Soda Bread recipe. After thinking about it, I decided not to post the actual recipe because frankly, it was nice of her to share it with me and I didn’t ask for permission to share it with anyone else. So, instead, here are a bunch of recipes that looked really great: this one got high reviews on FoodNetwork, these scones are a little unorthodox but look incredible, and this recipe isn’t too far off from the one I used.

Mine didn’t come out quite as planned, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise since I rarely bake and have only made bread once before. To begin, I didn’t make the loaves tall enough, so once finished and slices, each piece looks more like biscotti than sliced bread. Second, the texture came out too gooey and wet, which is part of why I had trouble shaping it. I thought this was strange since the only liquid the recipe called for was 2 cups of buttermilk. Still, the flavor was there, and now my kitchen smells like my Grandparent’s house in my childhood. I’m including a photo I took from up above to show the ever-important cross I cut in the middle, per my Grandma’s instructions.

Everyone should try to get their hands on some Irish Soda Bread this week, especially if they can’t get close to some bangers and mash or corned beef and cabbage. OK, all this talk of food is reminding me I have leftover cupcakes. Not for long!

I love Late Night with Jimmy Fallon more than I am ever willing to admit out loud. He doesn’t fill the giant hole in my heart left by CoCo‘s absence, but I grew up with him on Saturday Night Live, and I fully sympathize with his inability to relay a funny thought without having to try and stifle a giggle with his fist. A while back, Jimmy tried to reunite the cast of Saved By The Bell. Thought he was able to produce this memorable photograph, which has cemented in my brain the idea that Mark-Paul Gosselaar made a deal with the devil to retain his boyish good lucks, the effort was ultimately a failure. A year later, however, Jimmy pressed on and was able to reunite the cast of California Dreams (!) and have them sing their show’s theme song live on the air (!!). Here is the video:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I was a huge fan of California Dreams.  It was essentially Saved by the Bell, except the teens were supposed to be in a band, and it came on 30 minutes later, which is perfect for me since I’m such a late sleeper. No one scene from California Dreams left as strong of impression on me as the episode in which 90 pound Tiff gets caught juicing for her high school beach volleyball team. It was like the infamous SBTB caffeine-pill episode, only even more outlandish, if you can believe it. Please, please watch this video and see what I mean. It is literally like watching a parody from Saturday Night Live, only it really happened, and as  a 10 year old, it instilled in me a very confusing message about who exactly was using steroids:

Being the avid fan that I was, I often hummed the theme song in my head while I walked down the halls of my elementary school. Once, when I was in the second grade, my friend Jeff stopped me and asked if I was singing the theme song to “that dumb band show.” I knew exactly what show he was referencing, and nodded my head yes. “You know they don’t even play their own instruments, right?” I stared at him, dumbfounded. “Yes they do, idiot. That’s like my favorite part of the show.” Jeff stared deep into my eyes and said “the girls’ hands are too small to even hold the instruments.” I could feel my eyes welling up with tears because, dammit, I knew he was right. Why did they make the blond girl play the bass?? Her arms couldn’t even reach the frets! After all this time, Jimmy Fallon has validated what Jeff said that fateful day. He asks if the reunited “band” would like “a little help from the Roots ,” and when the camera flashes to grown up “Tiff,” I must admit that even with 15 years to practice, I do not believe there is any sound coming out of her bass guitar.

On another note, please turn to minute 2:07 of the Hulu/Fallon video. I don’t know what “Sly” has been doing to pay the bills since the cancellation of this show, but if his repertoir has not included earning money as a Tom Cruise impersonator, he is looking that gift horse straight in the mouth. And with that, I am off to Google Sweet Valley High for the rest of the night. See you all in the comments!

Avid readers of this blog (hello? any of you out there?) may have noticed that someone by the name of Finn is a hilariously snarky and frequent commenter. What they may not know is that she is also a dear friend of mine, and that our conversations are often the inspiration for my blog entries. It seemed fitting, then, to call in her help to tackle his year’s Academy Awards! I’ll let Finn start things off with her feelings about George Clooney and his date.

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Finn: During Alex Baldwin and Steve Martin’s opening segment, the camera flashed to an angry George Clooney. The joke was about Toyotas, and he didn’t seem to think it was particularly funny. Maybe he’s a stockholder? Scratch that, he seems not amused by any jokes. Seriously, I think the bitchy Italian on his arm has killed his sense of humor. He usually eats these kinds of events up and usually has a few solid one liners, but instead he sat there looking sullen as she sat next to him looking bored and above it all. Newsflash, bella: you are the Italian equivalent of Carson Daly. Even Carson would crack a smile and even be slightly engaged (albeit in his own toolish way), if he were invited to the Oscars. (Note: it ought to go without saying, but he NEVER will be. Ryan Seacrest would throw such a fit if Daly tried to crouch in on his red carpet territory.)

Pintje: Clearly, both Finn and I have strong feelings on George Clooney and the women he brings into his life. Man oh man, do I love George Clooney. And I agree with my friend in that Elizabetta Canalis rubs me the wrong way. When you are dating a man who is known across the globe by his first name (or, when people are being formal, “Gorgeous George”), you should smile a little. Life is not so bad for you.  As for why George himself was grumpy, I did a little internet research. He was nominated for Best Actor but said openly that not only did he not think he would win, he had actually, as a Member of the Academy, voted against himself and for Jeff Bridges. Keeping all of that in mind, George took the Oscars for for it it ultimately is; a big party. So, he goes into Party George mode.  He threw on a tux, brought his hot date and his sense of humor, and the dude got drunk. Obviously, this makes all of the weird faces he was making all night make a lot more sense. I mean, I’m sure the red carpet was a lot more bearable with his flask tucked away in his inner pocket. But boy, does my heart go out to him for the next five hours he spent sitting drunk in the front row of an Awards Ceremony. That sounds considerably less fun.

Pintje: Now, on to a woman we all love. My favorite dress for the night was Sandra Bullock’s Marchesa frock, pictured above.. While I think Carey Mulligan of ‘An Education’ had the stand-out female performance of the year, Sandy is so damn likable that I found myself smiling from the second her name got called until I was wiping tears away during her acceptance speech. While I also liked Kate, Rachel, and Meryl, to name a few, Sandra’s was the look that blew me away when I first saw it on the red carpet. I loved the old school feel the dress itself had, and how she paired that with her modern hot pink lips and simple hair. Most importantly, I guess, she looked comfortable and happy. She was able to move around freely, since the dress wasn’t so tight that it forced her into bad posture (I’m looking at you, Miley). So I’m going to be bold here, apparently, and put Sandra Bullock as my best dressed of the night.

Finn: Speaking of Sandra Bullock, she has helped me decided on my new path in life. When I grow up I want to Kate Winslet in my 30’s, Sandra Bullock in my 40’s, Meryl Streep in my 50’s and Helen Mirren in my 60’s. And I could not have been happier when Sandra Bullock won for Best Actress because I agree, this chick is so incredibly likable. She has played the rom-com genre for, possibly, all it’s worth and obviously those characters were never going to get her to Oscar night. But it’s awesome that she got the perfect role for her down home Texas personality. This was probably her one and only chance to get attention as an individual actress (because let’s not forget she was in the ensemble of Crash … I love love love that movie). I also could not be more obsessed with her happy little life with her bad boy biker husband Jesse James (who, judging from the tears of pride in his eyes last night while she was accepting her award, is more of a softie when it comes to her than he lets on). Shortly after accepting her little gold man, Sandra said to reporters about the hubs: “”Did he cry? He doesn’t cry. He had something in his eye. It’s very dusty from the dance music. I’d never divulge what Jesse says unless he divulges it first. It’s between me and the man.” That is the cutest thing you have ever read, until you read what he said about her: He admitted he was “feeling everything” and was incredibly proud of his wife of five years. “It’s 10 [p.m.] now, we usually go to bed around 9, so we’re partying,” he added. “She looks amazing. I like her like this or first thing in the morning, equally as well.” Seriously, if getting married later in life means that? Wow. Clearly they have figured out something that the rest of Hollywood just can’t seem to get, because they are the greatest couple in that town, hands down.

Pintje: Now, it wouldn’t be Pintje’s Picks without at least one downer. For my bad moment of the night, I choose Elinor Burkett running on stage to accept the Oscar for Best Documentary Short. If you are wondering why this qualifies as a downer, it’s because she wasn’t supposed to accept the award at all. While she was a producer on the award-winning film, she has had both legal and creative differences with the movie, and so Roger Ross Williams was to accept this Oscar. Yikes! I guess the biggest issue I have with this whole situation is, have we learned nothing at all from Kanye West? Nothing!? In her defense, she might have literally not known about the Kanye West / Taylor Swift feud. If that’s the case, I like to imagine that the post-Award Show conversation with her agent went something like this:

Elinor: “Hey! People have been saying that I really ‘pulled a Kanye’ up there! That’s good, right?”
Agent: “Ummm, well, do you know who he is?”
Elinor: “Actually, I didn’t, but someone Googled him for me, and it turns out he’s a really popular singer of some sort.  And I’m the new him! People have also been throwing around the name Taylor Swift, but I doubt anyone has ever heard of her.”

Finn: Well, I’ll end us on a high note (pun intended). Woody Harrelson, you have come leaps and bounds from Cheers. Also his suit is by Burberry and made of hemp – of course it is.

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Well, that’s it folks! As always, I look forward to some discuss in the comments section. Finn and I had too many thoughts to cover by ourselves, and look forward to any help you can offer. :)

I love the Oscars. I love the stars, the dresses (both good and bad), the thank you’s to Mom and Dad, the timid but funny jokes the hosts make: I love it all! This year, the Oscar Committee has decided to extend the field of nominees for Best Picture from 5 to 10. Accordingly, I have not seen all of the nominated movies so I don’t feel that I can make an educated decision about which movie is most deserving of being named alongside such great cinematic feats as Bridge Over the River Kwai and Braveheart. I can, however, say with great confidence which movie belongs nowhere near Mr. Oscar: Avatar. As such, I have decided to dedicate this post to the reasons that Avatar should not win.

First off, I saw this movie in 3D with my boyfriend on opening night and must say that I really did enjoy myself. I also enjoyed How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days. Enjoyment is not the issue. My concern is that this movie lacks that je ne sais quoi that a Best Picture ought to have, and fills that hole with predictable dialogue and one dimensional characters. My second disclaimer, although I think this should go without saying, is that since I am going to mock this movie,  you may want to refrain from reading any further if you have not seen the movie yet and really want to enjoy it. That is not to say there any spoilers, since the predictable plot precludes spoilers from being possible. Anyway, enjoy!

1.) The ingredient that the humans are trying to obtain on the planet Pandora, but cannot, is called unobtainium. Could you imagine if, back when Superman was created, his writers decided that he could only be destroyed by the element known as ThisThingKillsSuperman? Nope! Not quite as special!

2.) I am not the PC police, nor am I someone who thinks that thematic elements of Avatar were overtly or subtly racist. I think people that saw this film through that lens are giving Cameron more credit than he deserves. Despite the fact that this movie took him ten years to create, I hypothesize that he is, in a word, lazy. Probably what I had the most trouble accepting was that this visionary director could create an entire new species of 10 feet tall blue aliens who connect their tails to other creatures in order to communicate, but he still needed to give them loin cloths? And face paint? And dreadlocks with feathers and beads, for God’s sake? If your film is about your creative vision, James, you should probably not have an end result that looks like Pocahontas mated with a smurf.

3.) For those of you who think I just created libel in claiming that James Cameron is unimaginative and, in a sense, lazy, please take the following into consideration. The Na’vi people of Avatar communicate and reproduce based on their tails, and yet Neytiri (played by the gorgeous actress Zoe Saldana and thus the “hot alien”) has breasts. Why? Well, rather than be crass, I will allow Mr. Cameron to explain it himself.

4.) I am all for art imitating life. I think it’s really special when a movie can narrow in on something marked happening in that time and place and represent it metaphorically. Avatar, in case you were wondering, is not an example of this. The references to the Iraq War are so overt it is as if James Cameron was concerned that the American people were quite literally unaware that their country is at war. Try and imagine, for a second, if Arthur Miller had inserted a line into The Crucible so that Abigail Williams accuses a woman in Salem of being a witch, and, on top of that, probably a communist! Take that, House Un-American Activities Committee! That is how I felt when a character in Avatar remarked that in order to “fight terror with terror,” they would deliver some “serious shock and awe.” Then again, with a bad guy that looks like this, I should have known subtlety was not Mr. Cameron’s key objective.

5.) Finally, since I think I have nerded out enough with reasons 1 – 4, James Cameron does not give a good acceptance speech. I held a small Golden Globes watching party this year, and we voted on “Best Acceptance Speech” as a category (don’t judge, it was incorporated into a drinking game). Cameron was not even nominated! After the “I’m King of the World” speech he delivered after winning Best Director for Titanic, my only hope is that if he does by some miracle with Best Picture this year, he will not deliver the speech in the Na’avi language. Unfortunately, I can’t put it past him.

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Finally, some points have been made better elsewhere, and StuffWeLike.com did an excellent and very funny comparison among Avatar and a few other movies.

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That’s it! As is always the case, whether you strongly agree, or disagree, or if you want to opine on who might come best dressed this year, I would love for you to leave it in the comment. I know I ripped on this movie, but come on, it’s what I do.