Sunday, December 20, 2009

the parks.
the food.
the gardens.
the markets.the country.the shopping.the history.

things i'll miss.

Friday, December 18, 2009

this week's music,
accompanying the perfect cup of tea
and winter clementines:

pitter-pat - erin mccarley
lolita - sky ferreira
help, i'm alive - metric
white christmas - otis redding
perfectly lonely - john mayer
home - edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros
no children - the mountain goats

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

John Lennon Reincarnate

Counting down the days until Sam Taylor-Wood's directorial debut is released. Nowhere Boy tells the story of John Lennon's story of growing up and falling in love with music. Releases in the UK on December 26th.

Pogo takes music and scenes from movies and cuts and splices them together to make these bizarrely amazing and entertaining little videos. "Alice" has always been my favorite by this "mash-up" artist (I don't really know if he would be called that), but recently I've been listening to "Expialidocious" more.

Monday, December 14, 2009

pop battle

Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" may be everywhere you turn from the radio to Gossip Girl, but take a look at iTunes' Top 20. Who's currently number one? Ke$ha. Her hit "Tik Tok" has climbed it's way up and everyone's waking up in the morning feeling like pdiddy.

Unavailable on iTunes, Ke$ha's got some other songs out there too. But will they be able to box Gaga out when she undoubtedly has yet another hit? Ke$ha's "Your Love is My Drug" sounds a bit too much like Katy Perry's "Waking Up in Vegas" and lacks the originality (and even absurdity) of Tik Tok. But, her "Kiss N Tell" has the full force pop that has won Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and even Lady Gaga the crown.

She's got attitude and is on the pop radar. So if she can get another single out there then maybe she'll be the next bubblegum diva. But until then I think Lady Gaga is still ruling the empire. Keep tuned for a revolt.

Men Who Stare at Goats

When I walked out of Grant Heslov's Men Who Stare at Goats I wasn't completely sure of what I had just seen. The trailer and even opening scenes present the story as true (based on Jon Ronson's book of the same title), but how could it be possible? I was pretty sure I was being fooled. But further investigation has proven that it is in fact completely true.

Perhaps it was watching the movie in a theatre full of British movie goers (who take any opportunity to laugh at Americans), the hilarity of Jeff Bridges and George Clooney, or simply the ludicrousness of the film's premise that made it so impossible to believe. But the movie (book and even three-part documentary all based on the same story) about the US Army's research of New Age, "peaceful," and even psychic tactics of warfare is completely true.

The movie trails journalist Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) on a trip to Iraq to prove himself as a serious writer. Delayed in Kuwait, he meets Lyn Cassady (Clooney), a former soldier in the US New Earth Army. Wilton learns about this completely bizarre sect of the US Army that has tried to hone skills such as invisibility, cloud-bursting, and walking through walls for warfare. The film moves in and out of Cassidy's story of the New Earth Army's formation and his own personal journey.

The cast encapsulates the ridiculousness of the film sublimely. Clooney is self aware and goofy (not as suave as usual, but that works), and Bridges epitomizes the hippie mentality, while Stephen Lang reveals the seriousness that some took to the New Age practice.

Though the plot's linear, it jumps around from idiocy to idiocy making it somewhat hard to follow. Viewers will definitely laugh, but may not completely understand why.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Anthem of Right Now

Been there, done that,
messed around
I’m having fun
don’t put me down,
I’ll never let you sweep me off my feet,
I won’t let you in again,
the messages I’ve tried to send,
my information's just
not going in,
burnin’ bridges
shore to shore,
I’ll break away from something more.

Bulletproof - La Roux

Girl Meets Dress

How many black-tie events do you really go to? And to the few you are luckily invited to, are you really going to wear the same dress? Is it worth dishing out hundreds on a new dress to wear only once? No. It's not. You have to save your money for more practical things than ball gowns, even though they may be the most fun.

Well, lucky European and UK girls can now rent their party dresses (and bags). Girl Meets Dress's tagline is Borrow, Party!, Return. Good deal. 3. 1 Philip Lim dresses can be rented from £69 to £169, Diane Von Furstenberg from £60-£100. There's a wide variety of designers to suit almost anyone's taste and dresses for all different occasions. Whether you're looking for a cute cocktail dress, a sophisticated floor length ballgown, or a dress for a daytime affair, you'll find it on Girl Meets Dress.

All you have to do to "hire" a dress is chose your style and size, how many nights you'll want it for (price goes up the longer you have it), fill out the billing and shipping information, and the dress will be sent to you for free! Once you've done your partying it you can simply ship it back in the prepaid package that's provided and voila! You've had a fabulous night (or day) in a fabulous outfit, and you don't have to eat bread and water for the next month to compensate for your splurge. Oh, did I mention this works for purses too?

Can this please come to the States? Is there one already here? I'd love to know...I do have a black-tie wedding to attend soon...

Monday, December 7, 2009

color. curvy women. sparkles. creatures. twists and turns. wild abandon. inspiration. big. love and heart break. bright pink. niki de saint phalle.

Leave it only to a modern art lover to stumble upon a modern art exhibit in the city of classic art - Rome. Immediately attracted to t
he bright pink and yellow poster with its curvaceous dancing women, my friend and I entered the Fondazione Roma Museo completely naive. We were thus transformed and inspired by Niki de Saint Phalle's art. It ate us up and then spit us back onto Rome's busy street with a brighter, curvier, more spectacular view of the things and people around us.

I will not try to dissect what it was that created this transformation. Instead I can only urge you to see her work for yourself and to experience de Saint Phalle's big, colorful, fabulously gaudy statues, drawings, and paintings. She made me believe I could be an artist, that my life is beautiful and worth the same documentation that hers did.

English food has a bad (dare I say terrible?) reputation. Because of this people just assume that all the food in England (or even the UK) is awful. People cringe when you tell them you're living there and feel bad that you must suffer so. But I am here to refute the argument that British food is dreadful. I've already posted about the popularity and deliciousness of the baked bean and I've recently discovered the true brilliance of another favorite on this side of the pond. The baked potato. I first noticed it when my flatmates were discussing the proper length to cook a potato in the microwave (approx 8-10minutes). They loaded it with butter and had it for lunch. Interesting. I am definitely not unfamiliar with the baked potato. My dad grills a great potato (or sweet potato) in the summer, and mom wraps them in aluminum foil and cooks them in the oven. We usually just smother it with butter, sour cream, and maybe chives - but that's all.

I had the great pleasure of discovering (with some help of a guide book) The Baked Potato Shop in Edinburgh, Scotland. A vegetarian restaurant that focuses mostly on the potato but also sells samosas, filled pittas, and sausage rolls. The best part though is definitely the potato fillings. A novice to stuffing potatoes, I was amazed at the options the wooden board behind the counter gave me. From hot fillings to cold, from the normal to the quite exotic. At first I ordered timidly, just the cheese filling with butter and salt. Delicious. Next time I was a bit more adventurous. Vegetarian chili full of beans, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes. A different kind of delicious. I could have chosen Greek salad (feta with tomato, cucumber, and olives) or avocado salad or Mexican salad (corn, beans, etc) or mushrooms or cheese and beans (of course they put baked beans in a potato!), but I was happy with my choices. Less inviting options were cheese, onion, and pineapple, or vegetarian haggis (I'm not sure how sheep's heart, liver, and lungs can be vegetarian...) or fruity coleslaw - but each to his own.

Moral of the story. Though some choices may have been unappetizing and unconventional, the stuffed baked potato is plus for British/English/UK food. I can't wait to get back to the states and make a baked potato bar for my friends. Must share the wealth! So next time you think you're fridge or cupboard is out of food and the few potatoes you do have look uninviting think again.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I want to admonish myself for posting about music more than usual but what can I say? I love music. It knows what to say, it doesn't talk back, it can bring back memories and even feelings. So no shame in my current preoccupation with music. Here's what I'm into NOW.

One Red Thread - Blind Pilot
A friend recommended Blind Pilot to me because he knows about my soft spot for folk music. From the slow crescendo of the guitar into the peaceful lull of their voices, I was hooked. The chorus of the song is powerful but understated. Not quite as folksy as I can get but still quite good. I must explore Blind Pilot further.

Wear My Kiss - Sugababes
Judge as you may from the picture...or song title...or even the band name, but this stuff is addicting. It's sassy. And thought it may be a bit corny, it definitely imbues the listener with some spunk (but maybe that's just me).

Say Yes - Langhorne Slim
This one's getting his own post. Coming soon. Listen to Say Yes for now.

Day Glo - Iglu & Hartley
I highly doubt you've ever heard of these chaps. I hadn't, neither had my friend who happened upon their cd completely by chance (literally, she won it in an auction). Turns out they're a "pop rock" band from LA (if that picture didn't give it away). Extreme pop mixed with some white boy rapping sums them up pretty well. They've got a late '80s flare and are pretty damn catchy. A good song to listen to before a night out.

Blood Bank - Bon Iver
Bon Iver's silky, yet husky soothing voice conjures bizarre yet beautiful images. His songs tell stories of people meeting, love, and heartbreak. He manipulates breaks in the music to maximize the listener's attention, but never overdoes it. His songs are beautiful and understated.

Release Me - Agnes
While visiting a friend in Rome this song was constantly on repeat. Her friends declared it her anthem, she called it her soundtrack. And I promptly adopted it upon my return. It may be meant for the dance floor but Agnes can serenade me anytime. The quick beat gets me moving and puts me in a great mood every time. If Sugababes have sass, then Agnes has gumption and chutzpah, and makes her audience feel that too. I will put a pop warning on this: not for anyone hates the bubblegum genre.

© Cesare Naldi