Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Music Tuesday: A Little Pop, A Little Rock, and A Little Breaking Dawn Soundtrack

I am a bad blogger. Writing approximately 10 blogs since summer is out of character for me (and those that have followed me for the past year and a half have noticed my lack of posts. I mean, my horror themed movie blog is still not finished! It will get posted soon, I promise!

Anyway, I do have several videos to share with you today... so let's get to listening!

Christina Perri "A Thousand Years"



I fell in love with Christina Perri's voice when I first heard her single "Jar of Hearts." I have since heard two other songs, but they did not get the radio play. Then, this song showed up in the past few weeks. It is a beautiful song and I'm glad it is featured on the Twilight: Breaking Dawn soundtrack. This song deserves to be heard by many people. :-)


Bruno Mars "It Will Rain"



For a minute, I thought "Yes! No Twilight images in this video." Then I saw it at the 1:26 mark. Bruno Mars on a Twilight soundtrack stands out, but then again, this is a more romantic film in the saga... with the wedding and honeymoon.

This is one of those songs that I fell in love with the first time I heard it. It harnesses on my hopeless romantic side. I cannot get enough of this song right now (which is why I made the impulse purchase to buy the soundtrack last week, lol).

Katy Perry "The One That Got Away"



It's amazing when you can get emotionally invested in a video that lasts less than 5 minutes. That is what happened to me when I first watched this video. The song is beautiful, but the video helps make it unforgettable. I loved seeing the "present day" and past that tell the entire story. I especially loved that Katy Perry added snippets of Johnny Cash music to the video.

Kelly Clarkson "Mr. Know It All"



It took me a couple weeks (after hearing it on the radio dozens of times) to realize this was Kelly Clarkson. For a second, I thought it was Jessie J. Anyway, our original American Idol is back with another powerful single on a new album. I am looking forward to listening to the rest of the album. :-)


Britney Spears "Criminal"



I have owned Britney's Femme Fatale album for a while, but I just haven't been able to get into it like her other albums. When "Criminal" was released, I first heard it when watching this video for the first time. If this song came out when I was dating my ex-husband, it would have been "my song," sadly... lol. I enjoyed that Britney went darker for the video concept. Very entertaining.


Daughtry "Crawling Back to You"



I can still remember how upset I was when Chris Daughtry was voted off American Idol. A friend of mine told me not to worry... he was going to be fine. Daughtry continues to prove that true. I sing along to this song every time it comes on the radio, as I do with every other Daughtry song. I love how they kept the video simple... just the band and the song. Doesn't get better than that!
David Cook "Fade Into Me"



As much as I love David Cook, you would assume that I have had his sophomore album by now. Nope. That is sad, based on my standards. I do love this song and need to listen to it more. Like with Daughtry's video, I love that this went for simplicity... images of recording the album, walking around some city, and performing at various venues. I'm curious to see if any Kansas City concerts were included.

Nickelback "When We Stand Together"



Whatever little rock edge Nickelback had is now gone. This is a pop song. Enough said.


I hope to see you guys next time... hopefully next week! There are a few music videos that I'm waiting to be released... and you will see those videos soon!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Movie Monday: Films For Fall and Winter

Good evening, everyone! I had a busy weekend so sleep was a priority over writing (and publishing) my blog earlier today.

This week, I'm going to showcase several movie trailers that will be coming to theaters in the remaining weeks of 2011 (Yes, we are down to the final 10 weeks of the year. Scary.). I am looking forward to watching many of these films (and will likely have to treat my child to a couple as well). I have these trailers in order of release date, so get ready to mark down some of these in your calenders!


The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (Limited Release- currently in theaters)



Oh yes, there is a sequel to last year's gross-out film. Having watched the first film recently (the review will be part of my Horror themed blog next week), I am interested in seeing how things will be elevated for the 12 person human centipede (last movie was just 3). The new "villain" Martin is so disturbing in the trailer that I know I'm going to love to hate him. I tentatively have plans to see this on Friday night, so you might get a double dose of Human Centipede reviews.... if you can handle it.

Being Elmo (October 21st)



Aww... a documentary about Kevin Clash's journey as the man behind Elmo. I have to see this!!! :-D

Paranormal Activity 3 (October 21st)



Another sequel of a movie I watched recently. I haven't seen the second one, so I will skip this one for now. I have heard that they get scarier so here's hoping!

In Time (October 28th)



Intriguing concept. I might have to shell out some money to check this out.

Puss N Boots (October 28th)



A spin off of the Shrek films. It looks cute. Based on the preview, I expect to see a lot of references to Zorro and Desperado. Gotta love adult humor in kid's films! :-)

Tower Heist (November 4th)



First thoughts: this looks Oceans Eleven meets Beverly Hills Cop. I doubt it will be as badass as either of those films, but it looks entertaining enough.

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas (November 4th)



Bring on the stoners, Neil Patrick Harris, and lots of laughs... in 3D! I hope there's a Midnight showing :-D

Melancholia (November 11th)



Well, that was interesting. It certainly got me curious about seeing this movie...

Jack and Jill (November 11th)



Now I will know what it's like to see Adam Sandler dressed in drag... and act in drag. I can wait to see it when it comes out on DVD.


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I (November 18th)



I hate to admit this.... I'm probably going to see this in theaters. I mean, I have to see how they will portray Bella's pregnancy and the VERY graphic birth of the half-vampire baby. Considering it is rated PG-13, the birthing scene won't do justice to the book.

The Muppets (November 23rd)



I grew up watching the Muppets. Now it's my turn to show another generation (my child) why I love Kermit and Company so much.

Oh, and stare at my "future husband" Jason Segel. Yum. ;-)


My Week with Marilyn (November 23rd)



Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. I wouldn't imagine her but now that I've seen the trailer, I think she can pull it off wonderfully. This looks really good.

Arthur Christmas (November 23rd)



I can wait until it comes out on DVD. It looks cute though.

New Years Eve (December 9th)



I think I just experienced deja vu. Take the plot (and some of the actors) from Valentine's Day, change the holiday, and you get this movie. If the next film is Cinco de Mayo, I might have to shoot myself.

Young Adult (December 9th)



This could become a guilty pleasure movie for me. I love the plot and that the main character immediately has the "popular bitch" label she gained back in high school. This is a movie that I can see as part of many Girls Night Out endeavors.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked (December 16th)



Another Chipmunk sequel. Lots of pop culture references. And Lady Gaga music is included. Dammit... this will likely be the first Chipmunk film I will see in theaters. The joys of parenting...

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (December 23rd)



Note to self: read the book before going to see this movie.


I see some Box Office hits in here. I also see a couple possible Academy Award winners. Now, to wait for some of these films to make it to the theater...

*Plays Jeopardy theme*

Monday, October 10, 2011

Movie Monday: GeneCo, 90's Oliver Stone, The Worst Play Ever, and the LA Version of Coyote Ugly

I have been delaying this blog for several weeks now, because of YouTube.

I have been following this recent copyright bill/law that affects how users can add videos to sites like YouTube. Videos that are not their own (like movie clips, music videos, etc.). I had a video on my account of a performance from Lilith Fair last year that Sony had contacted me about, since it was of an artist under their record company. They did not ask me to remove it, but to credit them and to not allow others to share or embed the video. I went ahead and deleted it.

How does this relate to today's blog? Well, this new bill/law has made it more difficult to add movie clips to the movies I review. I have spent random evenings trying to find anything I can use and almost resorted to using the movie trailers instead. It's been frustrating for me. So, if you notice more trailers and less movie clips included in my future Movie Monday blogs, you will understand why.

Now... review time!

Repo the Genetic Opera



In the not too distant future, there was mass hysteria over failed organs. Out of this crisis came GeneCo, a company that helps finance body organs to those in need. However, if you cannot pay for the organs, the Repo Man comes to repossess them. In the midst of this "revolution," a young woman named Shilo (Alexa Vega) discovers the truth behind her family and the rare disorder that's kept her sheltered her entire life.

Yes, this is a musical. A CULT musical... meaning you are either going to love it or hate it. For this girl, I have actually watched it several times now. Some of the musical talents of the actors are not the best, and some of them (Hello, Sarah Brightman) are some of the best in the business. I love how it's dark, gory, and came from Darren Lynn Bousman (who did the Saw movie series). I really liked seeing the mix of comic book animation and colorful live action sequences. My personal favorite number: Zydrate Anatomy (which I have found Rocky Horror pre-show numbers to this song... from many casts). If you can handle a rock opera styled musical with lots of dark and twisted elements, then I suggest giving this movie a try. Rating 4 out of 5 stars


Natural Born Killers



Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) met one fateful day that forever changed the course of their lives. They fell in love and went on a cross-country murder spree along Route 666, until poisonous snakes led them to law enforcement. As they spent time in prison, media journalist Wayne Gale (Robert Downey Jr.) wants to glorify their "legendary" status to the masses... which leads to an unpredictable series of events.

This is one of those movies I have missed watching over the years. If I had any idea that Quentin Tarantino was the writer, I would have made an effort to watch it sooner than I did. It does feel like one of his films, but it wouldn't have been as good if not for Oliver Stone. The duo created a masterful movie that encompasses a lot of the "feel" of the early to mid-1990's, especially with the use of color. I loved how well Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr. and Tommy Lee Jones did with their characters. I recommend that this movie be put on everyone's Bucket List. Rating 5 out of 5 stars

The Producers



Max Bialystock (Nathan Lane) has found himself with another flop on Broadway. As he tries to sort his affairs with his accountant, Leo Bloom (Matthew Broderick), an ingenious idea comes to mind. There is a way to create a flop and make more money than investing in what could be a hit. Max and Leo decide to produce the worst play possible... Springtime for Hitler. However, while coming up with a great scheme, unpredictable things happen... all the way to showtime.

I have not seen the original play or 1968 film (or maybe I have but was too young to remember) but Mel Brooks did well. To poke fun of the workings of a stage musical, then to get major success off of The Producers was absolutely brilliant. The musical is funny, has excellent comedic timing, and is extremely entertaining. For Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane to partner up in the remake (onstage and on film) was absolutely perfect. I cannot think of anyone else to play opposite each other than those two. I was also impressed with Will Ferrell and how he stepped out of typecasting to play Franz Liebkind. This is a musical that any theater person, or musical lover, needs to watch. Rating 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Burlesque



Ali (Christina Aguilera) is a farm town Iowa girl who moves to Los Angeles to live the dream life. She is hired at a burlesque lounge as a waitress. Ali soon falls in love with the art of burlesque and aspires to become one of the dancers. When one of the dancers leaves, Ali gets an audition... and a spot in the show. While Ali adapts to her new position at the lounge, club owner Tess (Cher) is trying to figure out how to keep her business afloat, between a wealthy businessman (Eric Dane) trying to buy the property and foreclosure notices. Tess finds hope in Ali, when she surprises everyone with her standout voice.

When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I immediately thought "This is going to be the L.A. version of Coyote Ugly." Turns out I was right. This is one of those movies that is so predictable but you cannot help adding it to you "guilty pleasure" list. I think Christina did very well for her feature film debut... it's showing that she has talent in other things besides singing. I did think it was cheesy for Cher to have musical number in the middle of the movie, but it didn't surprise me. Stanley Tucci, just like in The Devil Wears Prada, does awesome as the gay assistant/buddy... and has some of the best comeback lines.

Now, the title Burlesque is misleading. Those who have been to actual burlesque shows know what I'm talking about. Burlesque is more seductive and has partial nudity. This movie is basically about Cabaret dancing. I still liked it. Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars


Next week's Movie Monday blog (or in 2 weeks... depends on how many movies I watch) will be a themed blog. I have to pay respects to horror movies in October... it just goes hand in hand. Anyway... be prepared for some horror movie goodness!!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Speedo Fun, Love Cookies, Overcoming Bullies, and More!

Wow... have I found some great songs and... interesting.... videos recently. I hope you guys are ready for what's to come in this weeks New Music Tuesday blog!

*** Warning **** The first video has been labeled by YouTube for "mature audiences only." You'll see why...

LMFAO "Sexy and I Know It"



Right about the one minute mark is when I realized why this video has an 18 and over age restriction on it... and I liked it!!! Hehe. The song is catchy and fun, and I loved that LMFAO had a lot of fun making the video. I will not look at a Speedo on a guy the same way again ;-)

Timbaland feat. Pitbull "Pass At Me (Explicit Version)"



Timbaland bringing some Latino spice to his addictive beats... impressive! The video is just okay to me... I'm starting to get tired of seeing the same "remote island/boat/dancing with the natives" concept. If this is the beginning of a new Timbaland album, I cannot wait to hear the rest!


Sean Paul feat. Alexis Jordan "Got 2 Luv U"



I didn't like the song right away... it seemed too busy. But as the song went on, it started to grow on me. It's not my favorite of Sean Paul's (I really loved his Dutty Rock album). The video is okay... just another one of those fabulous looking clubs with attractive people dancing in it. Oh, and what's with his Mohawk... definitely different than dreadlocks.

Jennifer Lopez "Papi"



I am hit or miss when it comes to Jennifer Lopez's music. This one is a hit for me. Not only is the song fun and danceable but the video is hilarious!!! I loved the concept :-)

Jessie J "Who's Laughing Now"



Well, well, well... Jessie J gets a little personal with her latest single. It doesn't surprise me that a lot of celebrities were bullied as kids (then adored by those who bullied them when they reached fame), but I applaud Jessie J for making a song about it... especially since it will reach out to those who are bullied themselves. I enjoyed the video and how the "kid Jessie" dealt with her bullies. Bravo Jessie J!!!


Musiq Soulchild "Yes"



Did anyone else noticed the dedication at the beginning of the video? I actually got excited over it, just because Musiq created this beautiful video to make people realize that breast cancer isn't a deal breaker in relationships. If you are suffering from any form of cancer and there is someone who wants to be with you and to be support, then that's real, deep love. I highly respect Musiq for doing this. The song is just as beautiful as the video. :-)

Patrick Stump feat. Lupe Fiasco "This City"



I downloaded this song several weeks ago on ITunes... it was one of their free songs. I loved it! I was excited to hear it on the radio soon after. Now... a video. It is visually stimulating. The views of the city in black and white, the multi colored backgrounds, and the 3D projections... all very pleasing.

With that said... while looking at Patrick's suit jacket, I couldn't help but compare his look to Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Picture Show... something about the shoulder pads....
Blink 182 "Up All Night"



Yay! Blink 182 has returned!!! It was a long time coming, especially after the deadly airplane accident that almost took Travis Barker's life. I love that their music has matured over the years (much like their fans... or so I assume). The song has a great message to it... just listen to the lyrics. I enjoy seeing this adolescent party evolving around the band. I never went to any of those kind of parties as a teen (and didn't feel like I missed out, either) but I was certainly entertained.


Until next time....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Literary Thursday: Carrie Bradshaw Begins Life in New York City

As I was ready to write this blog in the afternoon, I came across some technical issues. Since Facebook has been making a lot of changes to their site, it somehow affected the speed and functionality of my Internet. I got frustrated since I was ready to spend some time writing today. Needless to say, I did not get the chance until I got home from working tonight. Since it's not Midnight yet (as I am typing this), I am still able to publish a Literary Thursday blog for you this week. :-)

"Summer in the City" by Candace Bushnell




In the sequel to The Carrie Diaries, we reunite with Carrie Bradshaw just hours after arriving in New York City, in which she was robbed and had one phone number to call for help... Samantha Jones. As Carrie and Samantha begin their longtime friendship, Carrie falls in love with living in the big city. She attends her writing seminar, experiments with fashion, goes to parties with celebrities, and begins a relationship with Bernard- who is a well known playwright and is recently divorced. Carrie also meets a young, red headed woman named Miranda Hobbes, who found her stolen purse in the garbage. It becomes very clear to Carrie that she was meant to be a New York City girl, but can her writing abilities keep her in the city?

When I read The Carrie Diaries last year, I loved reading about Carrie from her high school days. When I noticed there was a sequel, I bought it immediately. I liked this book so much more than the original, mostly because you see more of the Carrie Bradshaw that we all know from the Sex and the City novel/tv show, especially her sense of humor, her unique fashion style, and how she questions relationships of all kinds.

Samantha is already the sexually charged, strong, work oriented woman that we already know. However, it surprised me to see that she was in a long term relationship in the book. Miranda, upon meeting her, was involved in a protest. That does not surprise me that she would be the type to protest over things she believed in at a young age (you know, before diving into a career in law that consumes a lot of her time). She was very much an independent woman from the start, and it was very evident in the book.

I loved how Candace Bushnell incorporated some minor characters from the series/book into this novel. For instance, Capote Duncan. I recall that he was known as a toxic bachelor from Sex and the City. He was one of the bigger characters in this novel, and it brought some interesting insight to Carrie's lifestyle and to how she interpreted relationships.

For anyone that is a fan of Sex and the City, I highly recommend reading both of the prequel books. They are light reads, very entertaining, and you get to see the naive sides to the women that we fell in love with 10 years ago. Rating 4 out of 5 stars

Monday, September 19, 2011

Movie Monday: Zombies, Bridesmaids, Competitive Teachers, Death Traps, and Sex!!!

I have a confession to make. I have not been watching any new movies the past few weeks. For one, I have been reliving my pre-adolescent days by watching The 90's are All That, a TV block on the TeenNick channel dedicated to the Nickelodeon television shows of the 90's. I also had been investing my time (and some money) at Borders (R.I.P.). Between those things, my child, and work, I have just not been into watching new movies lately.

Then, my friend Aggy posted a website link to my Facebook about a website she's been using to watch television shows that are on cable. I told her I would check it out. As soon as I got on the page, I realized that it wasn't just for television. I found a website to watch movies that are currently in theaters. After the initial feeling of guilt for gaining access to these films, I have enjoyed movies that I have debated on seeing at the theaters.

Get ready for some reviews on a lot of recent movies in the foreseeable future... including today!


Shaun of the Dead



Shaun (Simon Pegg) is at a crossroads in life. He is working at a mediocre job, his roommate Ed (Nick Frost) does not contribute toward rent or bills, and his girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) dumped him over the dismal efforts he made toward their anniversary dinner. As he devises a plan to win Liz back, the townspeople have turned into zombies. Shaun and Ed find themselves finding refuge from the zombies while protecting their friends (and Shaun's family) from the same fate.

As a fan of horror movies, I have been recommended to watch this movie from several people over the past couple years. I knew it had a cult following. This is one of those movies that I fell in love with in the first five minutes. I loved the characters, the plot, and the fact that it was a comedy. I cannot find anything that I hate about this movie. Watching Shaun go to the store for a few things- while being completely oblivious to the zombie invasion- was absolute perfection. When Shaun and Ed are sifting through vinyl albums to throw at one of the zombies, I was cracking up. To think of trivial things like that while under a distressing situation is pure comical goodness. I highly recommend this movie! Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Bridesmaids



Annie (Kristen Wiig) has reached a low point in her life when her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) chooses her to be her maid of honor. Annie soon realizes that Lillian's friend Helen (Rose Byrne) is trying to destroy and upstage her wedding responsibilities. As planning for the big day goes forward, Annie tries to prove to Lillian that she can handle things, despite being broke.

Hollywood is an industry where comedies are normally male driven (or features just the main character as a woman). This movie is one of the few standouts for women in comedy. I have not enjoyed a comedy like this since The Sweetest Thing (with Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, and Selma Blair). This is also the first time that I have really enjoyed a character played by Kristen Wiig. I got a lot of laughs from the bridal shop scene and the opening scene (can you say most awkward sex ever???). This movie was more entertaining than I expected. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Bad Teacher



Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) had her dream lifestyle with her fiance/sugar daddy. But when he suddenly dumps her, she ends up with nothing. When the school year starts up at the junior high, she meets a new substitute teacher, Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake). In order to impress him, she decides to get breast implants. To afford the surgery, Elizabeth gets involved in as many fundraisers as she can, which includes attempting to get the teacher's bonus for having the class with the highest state test scores. However, fellow teacher Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch) is onto her game and will stop at nothing to prove that Elizabeth is deceiving everyone.

When this movie was announced, I was in love with the concept. I also loved that I would get to see Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake together in a movie (that wasn't about ogres). Oh, and Jason Segel... RAWR!! This movie was exactly as I expected from this kind of raunchy comedy. It was interesting to see Justin Timberlake play a more timid, straight-laced guy but it worked well for him. It was pretty predictable, but I enjoyed the little twist at the ending... I didn't expect it, which made it more enjoyable to me. If you want a movie with some good laughs and a few one liners worth repeating, check this out! Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Final Destination 5



While leaving for a work retreat, a group of coworkers find themselves escaping from a suspension-bridge collapse after Sam (Nicholas D'Agosto) has a premonition of their brutal deaths. Over the following weeks, each of the survivors are dying off in freak accidents. Sam realizes that there is a design and death is after them, unless they succeed in the loophole that allows them to cheat death.

Final Destination 4, in 3D, was a success... so it's not surprising that they made another sequel aimed for the extra dimension. Now, I didn't see this film in 3D but I assume it would have been very interesting to watch. It was obvious that the deaths were intensified compared to the first three films (I mean, it has to in order to keep audiences coming back). I wasn't as fond of this one but the eye surgery scene is one of the few (out of all the films) that actually creeped me out. I'm a little trepidatious about having that procedure done to me someday because of this movie. The ending was the best part, and for me to reveal why would be a major spoiler alert. You'll just have to watch it to see what I mean. Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Friends With Benefits



Dylan (Justin Timberlake) is a workaholic. So is Jamie (Mila Kunis). Both of them get dumped by their significant others. While Dylan makes a business trip to New York City to meet Jamie for a business proposal, he decides to take the job and move across the country. Dylan and Jamie become friends and enjoy the city life together. One night, they decide to avoid all the Hollywood movie cliches and have a sex-only relationship. They both realize that even with the simplest of ideas, things become complicated and threaten their friendship.

I had made a prediction that Friends with Benefits would be better than No Strings Attached. While I enjoyed both movies, it became clear that my prediction was accurate. The jokes were funnier, the supporting cast were more entertaining (thank you Jenna Elfman, Woody Harrelson and Patricia Clarkson!), and overall this movie felt like it had more life in it. I loved how flash mobs were incorporated in several parts of the film (I have a fondness for them). I also got to see Justin Timberlake's ass... and it was very nice! Yes, the plot was predictable but I don't care... all that matters is that I was entertained. Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars


Oh, how good it feels to write about movies again! I apologize for having several weeks go by without a Movie Monday blog, but I promise that you will have another blog to look forward to next week! See you then! :-)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Literary Thursday: Stephen King Discusses Writing

I am sad.

When I was a senior in high school, a new shopping center opened. In the shopping center was a bookstore, Borders. That store became my "spot," a place where I could spend hours browsing the aisles in peace. It was somewhere I would go when I wanted to enjoy moments of solitude. That store closed its doors for good this week. I will miss it dearly, especially since it was only a few minutes away from my house.

With that said, I have invested in a lot of books. I think I lost count around 60 (if you think I'm kidding, come to my house and look at my bookshelf- and the pile of receipts from the past two months). What does that mean for you? A lot of Literary Thursday blogs in the foreseeable future. I already have six or seven books ready to review, but to not overwhelm my readers, I will post each review one at at time (since I tend to be more descriptive when reviewing books). Enjoy the first of many reviews coming in the next several weeks!


"On Writing" by Stephen King



Stephen King has written a part-biography/ part resourceful novel that explores the art of writing. He divides the novel into many parts: his childhood/early start in writing, struggling to establish himself as a writer, advice/useful tips for any aspiring writer, and how he was able to pick himself back up from a near-fatal car accident in 1999.


Well, I am 27 years old and have never read a novel by Stephen King... until now. I'd say I picked the perfect first novel for me to read. Yes, I am aware that this is not one of his infamous fiction stories, but it was exactly what I needed to read several weeks ago. I became a fan of his writing when I read his columns in Entertainment Weekly. They were funny, well written, and made me realize that I am as much of a pop culture geek as him. I also realized that one of my top 10 favorite movies is based on one of his short stories (The Shawshank Redemption). Anyway, about the novel...

I loved how Mr. King explained certain aspects of his adolescence and how they contributed to his writing (and to future characters). While reading it, I caught myself reminiscing about how my passion for writing developed over the years. Then, when he explained the struggles of raising a family while struggling as a writer, I was able to relate what he went through.

My favorite part of the book (which also had a huge impact on me) was his section about the art of writing. I took so many things he discussed to heart and have already applied them toward my writing/lifestyle. The most important thing he said was that if you do not have time to read, then you do not have time to write. Reading is a key element to writing because you constantly see how sentences are structured, how conversations between characters are executed, and it helps with your imagination when it's time to write something. Adverbs will never look the same after reading this book. I promise.

I recommend this book for any writer out there. He has a lot of good advice and he makes it entertaining, unlike reading a textbook on writing skills. It's personal and educational... the best of both worlds. Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


See you guys next week!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Bush, RHCP, Avril Lavigne, and More!!!

Happy Tuesday everybody! I hope you are all doing well. I know I have been enjoying the gorgeous weather Kansas City has had to offer the past week. When I have been indoors, particularly at work, I have been keeping myself satisfied with new music and hits that I had forgotten about over the years. As far as new music goes, I have a handful of songs and videos to share with you this week. Please, enjoy!

Bush "The Sound of Winter"



New music from Gavin Rossdale & Co. I am in love. :-)

NEEDTOBREATHE "Slumber"



I could compare NEEDTOBREATHE's vocals to Mumford & Sons, but the accompanying music is more pop sounding. I enjoy the combination and will be looking into other music of theirs I found on YouTube.

Red Hot Chili Peppers "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie"



I first heard this song a couple weeks ago, while at work. I love the familiarity of hearing a RHCP song... they just have their own unique style that's immediately recognizable. I know that some of their videos are absolutely awesome but I love that they went low key with this one. It helps introduce the new music to their fans. This is a really good song!

Scars on 45 "Heart on Fire (Grey's Anatomy version)"



Grey's Anatomy (one of my favorite shows) not only grips audiences with stories of strange medical cases and a lot of sex, but it has also made an impact in the music industry (example: Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars). I hope Scars on 45 benefits from their song featured in the show (and on the latest soundtrack, which came out today) because they are talented :-)

Avril Lavigne "Wish You Were Here"



It seems, to me, that her marriage coming to an end worked well toward a new album. Anyone that's had their heart broken can relate to this song, especially at the beginning of a breakup (where all your thoughts are consumed with the other person). Love, and loss, can produce some pretty powerful emotions....


And this concludes New Music Tuesday. Stay tuned for next week's blog!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Returning with 10 Explosive Songs

If you haven't noticed, I have not posted any blogs in, well... three weeks. I needed a break from writing. Part of it had to do with readjusting to my son's school year schedule. He and I needed to return to a routine that didn't involve sleeping in every day. Now that I'm back in the groove, I can focus on writing again. For those that missed reading my blogs, I apologize.

I have been keeping up on researching new music, so some of these videos are ones that you may have seen already. Others are new discoveries surrounding the Mtv Video Music awards, which I watched on Sunday evening (and did about 100 tweets on my Twitter account- still debating on writing a blog over the show). Be prepared for a lot of artists you recognize or listen to...


Florence + The Machine "What the Water Gave Me"



Yay! New music from Florence + The Machine! I became a fan last year, after "Dog Days Are Over" was nominated for a VMA. I like how the lyrics and music combine to make powerful songs. There is no denying that there is pure talent and I am excited to hear more music from this yet-to-be-released album.

Oh, and is it just me or does she look like a mix between Zooey Deschanel and Chloe Sevigny in this video???

Paramore "Monster"



You know, contributing to the Twilight soundtrack really worked to Paramore's benefit. They gained a multitude of fans (including me- Stephanie Meyer has some badass taste in music). Speaking of soundtracks, this song was released earlier this summer as part of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I didn't discover this song until two weeks ago, when the video played on the Mtv Hits channel. Better late than never... especially since I really like the song.

Lady Gaga "You and I"



Okay, I was going to have a New Music Tuesday blog for you last week, but this music video stopped me from posting it. I couldn't find the words to describe what I had just seen. I expected the erratic outfits and the possibility this video would be filmed somewhere out in the country. What I didn't expect was to react with "So this is what a bad version of the Footloose remake looks like."

I can say I FINALLY got weirded out by a Lady Gaga video. I did like seeing her in drag- which the likeness grew after her Video Music Awards performance (loved that she stayed in character the entire time and I was amused by a lot of tweets making fun of her as Jo Calderone). I love seeing her in the middle of the corn field with the piano (and herself as Jo)- that could have been the entire video.

Jay-Z and Kanye West "Otis"



If the Otis Redding sample doesn't pull you into this song, I don't know what will. It makes the song an instant "modern classic." Kanye and Jay-Z collaborate very well. Great song guys and you two did a great job performing this at the VMA's!!!

Beyonce "1+1"



First reaction to this video: Every man's wet dream come true. The video is so sexually charged that you feel like you are seduced by Beyonce herself. The lyrics contribute to this... "make love to me." Oh yeah... this video will make women fall for her. Also, congrats to Beyonce and Jay-Z for what will be a very talented (and very spoiled) baby-to-be. :-)

Rihanna "Cheers (Drink to That)"



Rumors are that Rihanna is expected to release a new album, much like the way Lady Gaga did with The Fame, then The Fame Monster. Either way, the trend to release another album, while still having singles top the charts from the current one, seems to be going strong. One of these times, a pop artist is going to check themselves in for exhaustion... and I will be waiting to see that headline all over the social media sites. As far as the song itself, it's alright. I do like the Avril Lavigne sample in the chorus but the song, to me, seems like it could be easily forgettable.


Nicki Minaj feat Rihanna "Fly"



This video reminds me of the movie Wall-E, without the robots. Nicki and Rihanna look absolutely gorgeous!!! I really like the song. Nicki has the ability to be able to rap alongside some of the biggest rappers today, but she can also pull off a softer, melodic side. I think I found my next music purchase.

Bad Meets Evil feat. Bruno Mars "Lighters"



This is currently my favorite song of the moment. When I realized this was the second single from the Bad Meets Evil album, I made the trip to Target to buy the album within a week. Between the beautiful chorus sung by Bruno Mars and the career reflections of Eminem and Royce da 5'9'', I enjoy listening and singing to the song. I just cannot get enough of this song!!!

Wiz Khalifa "No Sleep"



Bold statement of the week: I like this song better than "Black and Yellow."


OK Go and the Muppets "Muppets Theme Song"



Combining the unforgettable videos of OK Go with the Muppets.... highly entertaining!!! If anyone watched this video and have not watched any of OK Go's videos, you need to look up their videos now. This music video will be funnier if you do so. This video got me excited for the upcoming Muppet film, due out in late Fall.


All righty... that's a wrap for this week. See you again in seven days!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Music Tuesday: OK Go, Shaggy, Tech N9ne, Urkel Goes Cee Lo, and a Video Debut of a Song I Featured Last Week

I turned into a workaholic... well, for a week. Since I was kid free for 10 days, I decided to take advantage of picking up extra shifts at the grill and bar, especially over the weekend. Now that I've caught up on rest and relaxation, I can share some new music with you guys (which I had only started researching last night). Please, enjoy the five songs/videos I have included in today's blog!!!!


OK Go and Pilobolus "All Is Not Lost"



When I heard that OK Go had made another unique video, I had to look for it! I love how the group and other individuals created a kind of visual art using bodysuits and glass, especially when creating words and moving patterns. I admit that I was paying so much attention to the video that I have no idea what the song is about. Time to give it another listen!

Shaggy "Sugarcane"



Well, Shaggy has returned. I enjoyed his music from my high school days and this single brings that familiarity back to my ears. However, the beginning of this song seemed a little busy and loud. It calmed down later. I was highly amused by the video. I have tasted actual sugarcane before and it was very sweet but I don't see myself running off with the guy that provided me the treat. :-)


Tech N9ne "Mama Nem"



I've been listening to Tech N9ne's music for years now, but I have not called myself a real fan since I have not invested in any of his music. I've always liked his music. This song, however, is making me want to go to the store and buy his latest album. I thought it was very sweet to write a song for his Mom. I loved seeing the pictures of Tech N9ne and his family over the years... it made the song and video more personal. :-)

Cee Lo Green "Cry Baby"



Well, hello Jaleel White! After my initial reaction to seeing the former Steve Urkel in the video, I became engulfed in the song and video. This is one of those times in which you forget about the actor and just see the story unfold in front of you. I love how Cee Lo Green incorporates old school Motown for his videos. I was excited to see the video and was not disappointed.


Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera "Moves Like Jagger (Director's Cut)"



A blend of the old and new... I loved how this video turned out!!! First, there's footage of Mick Jagger when the Rolling Stones were emerging as a band. It blends into modern day where individuals are wearing vintage clothing. Then, Adam Levine and company emerge. My addiction to this song now has a great video to enjoy!


Well, that's all for this week... see you guys next time!!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Carolina Liar, a Collaboration Thanks to The Voice, DEV, and Ellie Goulding

Before I go into my normal weekly blog, I need to address something...

Saturday (July 30th) was the one year anniversary of starting my blog page. Wow. I've been writing on a regular basis for an entire year. I could not be happier. I also want to thank my friends, acquaintances and readers for taking time to enjoy what I have to write. There will be plenty of blogs in the future, and hopefully I'll see myself sending in a draft of a novel to a publishing company. Again, thank you to everyone who has enjoyed my blog.

Now, it's Tuesday and I have new music to share!

Carolina Liar "Drown"



I really enjoy the song... it's got a great message while accompanied with an alternative/rock edge. The confetti surrounding the band and their instruments leave a nice, colorful touch to the video before the day glow paint explodes all over the place. Who says you can't make a cool video with craft supplies??? LOL


Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera "Moves Like Jagger"



This song has become my new addiction. Whenever it comes on the radio, I turn it up! The combination of Adam Levine and Christina Aguilera's voices are explosively amazing. The song makes me want to get up and dance..... okay, move like Jagger. ;-)


DEV "In The Dark"



Recognize the voice??? DEV collaborated with Far East Movement for their single "Like a G6." This is a song I expect to hear in any dance club across the globe. I like the monochromatic color scheme in the video but am unsure how the snake and tarantula fit into the concept of the video (well, at least apart from the hundreds of arms). A unique video, yes, but a total pop/club hit.

Ellie Goulding "Lights (Bassnecter Remix)"



This is one of those songs where I enjoy the music more than the artist. I know Ellie is talented because I have heard her on several songs in the past few months. I am just not that into the lyrics. However, I see that her appearance at Kanrocksas this weekend will gain a lot of new fans (Oh, and I will not be at the two day festival... I chose to make money instead).

Well, that wraps up this week's edition of New Music Tuesday. See you guys next week and please keep yourself cool in this unbearable heat across the country!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Music Tuesday: G. Love, We the Kings, and Some New (and Unusual) Artists and Bands

Good afternoon! I hope everyone is doing well.

I have found a handful of new songs for you this week. A few of the artists/groups are new to the music scene, while others have not been exposed to the mainstream radio stations (which isn't a bad thing). Please enjoy what I believe will be a lot of new discoveries for you...


G. Love "Just Fine"



G. Love is an artist I discovered in the spring, after finding one of his cd's in my house (my family has a friend that likes making copies of cd's for us). I love how his music is simple and very down to earth. I know a lot of people who will be able to relate to this song. It's very beautiful and I'm definitely investing in this new album. I highly recommend checking out more of his music... it's worth it :-)


We The Kings "Friday is Forever"



According to music, Friday is a pretty popular day (Rebecca Black had to start the trend, didn't she?). Does anyone else have the urge to gather a bunch of friends, drive to the beach, and use this song as a reminder of how awesome of a day you will have/just had? This is definitely a feel good song for the end of summer.

*I've known about We The Kings for a few years now (thanks to David Cook), but now I know that they are a very talented group of guys.


Cherri Bomb "The Pretender"



Rocker girls doing a cover of a Foo Fighters song... badass! I like them a lot. :-)


All Time Low "Forget About It"



All Time Low has joined the "use concert footage for a music video" club. I like how they added some animated lyrics to the video... it helps make it stand out. I really like the song. It makes me want to sing along with a group of friends while gathered around a bonfire and having lots of drinks. It's just a feel good song that you want to sing!


Jacob Latimore "Nothing on Me"



You know, for a 14 year old (nearly 15), Jacob has moves! Some users on YouTube are calling him the black Justin Bieber... yeah, I can see that. I love the beat of the song and it goes well with all the dancing in the video. Excellent combination. Only time (and a fanbase) will tell if he's going to stay in the spotlight...


Teddybears featuring Cee Lo Green and the B52's "Cho Cha"



The collaboration of Cee Lo Green and the B-52's with an artist I haven't heard of... I knew I was in for something interesting. After watching the video... interesting is an understatement. I immediately got the creeper/borderline pedophile vibe from the guy, and it did not settle well with me. By the end of the video, I was cheering the girl on for seeking vengeance on the guy (after her transformation). The song is pretty catchy, though. I'll have to look into more music from Teddybears.


That's it for this week's New Music Tuesday... see you next time!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New Music Tuesday: A Few Indie Rock Artists, Gavin DeGraw, Gym Class Heroes, Cobra Starship and DJ Khaled

Well, summer is definitely here. Most of the country is suffering high temperatures, heat advisories, and little precipitation. Kansas City is no exception. My fellow residents and I will be suffering the heat all week and seeking out a lot of quality time at the pool or in air conditioning. It's just miserable, but no different than any other summer. For those staying indoors like myself, please enjoy several new music videos while drinking lots of water and refreshments!

Cults "Go Outside"



I posted the song several months ago, hoping the video was just around the corner. Oh well, it's here now! Some of you may recognize the song from television commercials. I like how they used old news footage and other footage (from the late 1970's) to make their video. It makes the nostalgic feel more unique. :-)

The Wooden Birds "Two Matchsticks"



I am really getting into Indie Rock lately. This song is peaceful, yet upbeat and makes me want to nod my head along to the music. The video is very unique. I love how the candle wax transforms the logs into animate objects. There are times I'm so focused on the video that I am not paying attention to the song. Very pleasing to the eyes and ears!

Faded Paper FIgures "METROPOLIS"



The first thing I noticed about the song was how it reminded me of the music in the children's show Yo Gabba Gabba. Add the robotic individual surrounded by people, and I got that same feeling toward the tv show. Then, when the robot goes to work, I think about the movie Office Space (that movie will always make me think of cubicles differently). Overall, I really like this song and the video is entertaining :-)

Gavin DeGraw "Not Over You"



I fell in love with this song from the first verse. I'm happy that Gavin is back with new, and really awesome music! The video is very sweet. I like seeing the video played out in a split screen, between Gavin and the women of his interest. I cannot wait to hear this song on regular rotation on the radio!!!

Gym Class Heroes feat. Adam Levine "Stereo Hearts"



Another split screen format video, but this one is much more entertaining! I love how Gym Class Heroes and Adam Levine collaborated to make such a beautiful and catchy song! I did catch the Katy Perry reference that Travie McCoy made in the lyrics, but what better therapy to put his pain in his lyrics? I love seeing the lyrics in the video. Not only will I be learning the lines easier, but they were executed in an artful and fun way. This song is awesome and perfect for the end of summer.
Cobra Starship feat. Sabi "You Make Me Feel..."



I like the idea of going to a club and taking pics in a photo booth describing how you feel that night. For two people to find each other through using the same descriptive word was sweet. I recommend paying attention to the random people getting their pictures taken... you may see some cameos (*cough* Robin Williams *cough*). The song is also sweet, and one to easily find yourself dancing to in a club.

DJ Khaled feat. Drake, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne "I'm On One"



Before I discuss the song/video, I need to point something out. Why is there this mega trend with rap artists constantly collaborating with each other on multiple tracks? I like all the artists, but to see more collaborative singles than of singles featuring an individual artist is starting to get a little ridiculous. End rant.

I thought this song was pretty catchy. I loved Drake's lines the best, especially about the mixed drinks. The video is okay... nothing really special about it. I'll stick with the song.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Movie Monday: A Battle at Hogwarts

The weekend is over. For many of you, it's back to the grind. For me, I have a day to relax after having four busy, yet fun days. My "weekend" started Thursday night, after finding last minute tickets to a Midnight showing of the movie I have been most excited to see this year....


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II



Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermoine (Emma Watson) are still on the hunt to find all of Voldemort's (Ralph Fiennes) Horcruxes. They come up with a plan to break into Bellatrix Lestrange's (Helena Bonham Carter) vault in Gringott's, with the help of one of the goblins. After a complicated journey to London, the trio find themselves back in Hogsmeade where they plan to sneak into Hogwarts to find another Horcrux. They know they don't have much time, since Voldemort will know of their whereabouts. When Harry reveals himself in the Great Hall, Headmaster Snape (Alan Rickman) leaves the school grounds. As both sides prepare for battle, Harry, Ron, and Hermoine must finish destroying all the Horcruxes in order for Harry to defeat Voldemort... or die trying.


Eight months ago, I was celebrating my 27th birthday with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I. I absolutely loved it and could not wait for Part II to come out. I was impressed to see that the first minute of Part II was a repeat of Voldemort seizing the Elder Wand. Out of all the Harry Potter films, this one was the most action packed and the most emotionally gripping. I know that a lot of you are probably thinking that it's emotional because it's the final film. While that is true, it is also very emotional for other reasons.... mainly with the montage of Snape's past memories (I was crying by the end of the montage). It was VERY well done. You know that you are watching a great film when you not only get sucked into the action, but you find yourself getting emotional over a character's feelings toward someone else.

As for the action sequences, I doubt anybody was disappointed. The scene in Gringott's was exactly as I expected (with the exception of several characters omitted from the scene- compared to the book). Once Harry, Ron, and Hermoine ended up in Hogsmeade (which was about 1/2 hour into the movie), I had a brief absence of mind in realizing that we had already made it toward the beginning of the final battle. I loved that so much of the film was dedicated to all of the activity that happens in and around Hogwarts.

Another surprise that I loved about this film was the addition of several new actors/actresses to the film series. So many smaller characters were introduced (or current characters with childhood counterparts) and each one of them contributed to the film very well. I also loved that the final film brought back so many characters from all of the films (dead and alive). It made that feeling of the final film more obvious and put a smile on my face to see each past character come back.

What I love about going to see movies like Harry Potter on opening day/night is the audience participation. I'm not talking about Rocky Horror Picture Show kind of participation, but being with a group of dedicated fans and reacting together to certain elements of the film together. For instance, one of the best lines in the final book is said by Mrs. Weasley (and had it's own Facebook page shortly after the book was released). When she said the line in the film, the audience and I cheered and applauded it. It's moments like that one that make me excited to go to Midnight Showings (and I take advantage of several each year).

Out of all of the Harry Potter films, both Deathly Hallows films were my absolute favorite. It makes me wish that Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince were also split into two films (more so Order of the Phoenix because that was really lacking a lot of what I loved about the book). For those who have never read any of the books (and I know a few friends who haven't), this final film will impress you beyond anything you've seen in the prior films. I might have to see this movie again... but this time in 3D!! Rating 5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Skylar Grey's First Single, Sade, Beyonce, and Funeral Party

Good morning to my friends and readers! Compared to my massive New Music Tuesday blog from last week, this one is relatively smaller. I only have four new songs this week and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!!!


Skylar Grey "Dance Without You"



After noticing Skylar's vocal talents on Dr. Dre's "I Need a Doctor" and Diddy Dirty Money's "Coming Home," I wanted more. So imagine how excited I was to find this music video a few days ago. I like how her solo work is vastly different than the singles she has been featured on. Her music reminds me of a mix of 90's Jewel and Alanis Morrisette. I love that the video takes place in an exam room of a mental hospital.... it helps make the impact of the lyrics more powerful. I wish the song was a little bit longer, since it's just under three minutes. I am looking forward to what the future holds for Skylar Grey.

Sade "Love is Found"



Sade has one of the most beautiful voices in the music industry right now. I first recognized it a few years ago, watching the first Sex and the City film. With her latest album release, I have been able to listen to a lot more of her work and have enjoyed it. The video is unique with her singing in a studio with dancers behind her and on the screen. Adding the black and white color scheme and it makes the song and video feel more classic.

Beyonce "Best Thing I Never Had"



This is probably the most beautiful hate song I have ever heard. If you feel deceived by the video, don't... I will explain. You see Beyonce and her man at a school dance, where he's dancing/flirting with other women. You also see Beyonce getting ready for her wedding day, which brings back memories of her ex and how she is happy that she saw him for who he was. If she didn't, she wouldn't be marrying the man that is perfect for her. I love how beautiful the video is... Beyonce has natural beauty, inside and out.

Funeral Party "Finale"



This song and video reminds me of living in a college town where some fraternity or sorority is having a mega party with a band. I don't mean that in a bad way. The song is catchy and would go great in such a setting... and lots of beer. Then again, I could also see the scene played out at some underground bar in New York City. Good job, Funeral Party. Oh, and interesting name :-)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Movie Monday: Pregnancy, Unique Individuals, Racism, Minions, and a Teen Gone Demon

Happy Monday afternoon everybody! I hope you guys are doing what you can to keep yourself cool this summer. The KC metropolitan area is under a heat advisory so I am determined to stay indoors. Knowing that today is free Slurpee day at 7-Eleven is appealing to get out of the house, but I think I will pass on the icy goodness this year. Anyway, I have five movies to review for you this week. Please, enjoy the clips and reviews!!!


Juno



Juno (Ellen Page) is a 16 year old high school student who discovers that losing her virginity got her pregnant. After considering an abortion, she decides to look into adoption. After she finds a possible family, she reveals to her parents and boyfriend Paulie (Michael Cera) of her pregnancy and her intentions for the baby. As she moves forward with the pregnancy, she deals with scrutiny by her classmates and friends and develops a friendship with the adoptive parents, Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark Loring (Jason Bateman).

I have had several friends tell me I HAVE to see this movie. I liked this movie a lot more than I thought. I really loved the friendship that Juno and Mark had with each other, bonding over music and rock bands. Juno is one of those fearless, unique people... you have to have a friend like that to make life just that more interesting. I admired her decision to give up the baby for adoption and to immediately take action in finding a family. It's not usual to see that in a 16 year old. Oh, Juno made slushees cool, unlike Glee. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Garden State



After a several year absence from his hometown, Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) comes home to attend his mother's funeral. As he is visiting with family and friends, he feels out of place and developed sporadic headaches. He decides to visit a local doctor, where he meets a girl named Sam (Natalie Portman), who has a unique way of living that intrigues him. Andrew decides to stop using all of his medications and stay in town for a few more days to spend time with Sam and his buddy Mark (Peter Sarsgaard).

I had no idea that Zach Braff had written and directed this film, but he certainly made an amazing one! It made me appreciate myself more for looking at people as awesome, unique individuals. It shows that two people with a lot of personal problems can find a relationship with one another. I loved how Sam strives to be the most unique person she could be and did not care what anyone else thought about herself. She opened Andrews eyes to a whole world of possibilities in which he was never going to be the same again. Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars


A Time to Kill



In the town of Canton, Mississippi, the community is torn apart over a series of crimes. A young black girl named Tonya (RaĆ©Ven Larrymore Kelly) is kidnapped and raped by two racist white men. The men are arrested and sit in jail until their preliminary hearing. As they are walked to the courtroom, Carl Hailey (Samuel L. Jackson), Tonya's father, emerges from a closet and shoots both men to death and injures a police officer. Carl asks his friend Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) to defend him in court. Freddie Cobb (Keifer Sutherland) asks the KKK to help him and his family get the justice they deserve after his brother and friend were murdered. As the community prepares for the trial, those that are defending Carl and his family find themselves in danger.

This is one of those movies I wished was part of my junior high or high school curriculum. It is one of those movies that can lead to many discussions and easy material to use to write a term paper. The film stirred a lot of controversy in the town and made everyone question the racial implications surrounding both crimes. I thought the story was executed very well... there was just enough side story but not too much to bore or confuse anyone watching the film. You saw both sides of the crimes and understood why the the jury ended up with the final verdict. This is one of those films that should be seen at some point in a person's lifetime- preferably sooner than later. Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Despicable Me



Gru (Steve Carrell) is a criminal mastermind that wishes to steal the Moon. In order to accomplish this, he must get a weapon inside the home of his nemesis, Vector (Jason Segel). After several failed attempts he finds out that Vector has a sweetness for cookies, sold by three little orphan girls. Gru decides to adopt the girls in order to execute his evil plan, but has no idea what is in store for him otherwise.

I came across this movie one night and my son walked in at the very moment I found it. He and I spent the rest of the evening enjoying the film while having fits upon fits of laughter (more him than me- I have never seen him laugh so much and so hard at a movie, EVER). The plot is easy to follow for all ages and there are a few movie/music references that all adults will enjoy. I don't see how anyone would not love the Minions, with all their silly antics. They are one of the best things about this movie. I definitely recommend this for a family night film or for anyone who is still a kid at heart. Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Jennifer's Body



Needy (Amanda Seyfried) and Jennifer (Megan Fox) have been best friends since they first played in the sandbox together as little girls. They go to the local bar one night to check out a band, and end up fleeing the building after it catches fire. Jennifer goes with the band and freaks Needy out until she shows up, covered in blood, at her house hours later. Jennifer shows up at school the next day looking like nothing happened, but has an insatiable appetite for human flesh. The entire town quickly realizes that the high school males are in danger and Needy knows why.

For a movie that has been dubbed the worst one out there... I would have to disagree. I've seen worse. I'll admit that there were many things that made me laugh in its ridiculousness, but as a whole, I was actually liking the movie. The characters in the film were extremely stereotypical when it came to high school standards. The acting was pretty decent and I thought Megan Fox did a lot better in this film than the Transformers movies. I also geeked out when there was a Rocky Horror Picture Show reference, when one of the students asked out Jennifer to go to a midnight showing. Many of you may think this film is stupid (or will if you ever decide to watch it) but I cant help but like it. Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Literary Thursday: Mockingjay

I borrowed, I read, I conquered. In less than a month, I read The Hunger Games trilogy. I started the series, knowing it was aimed for young adults, that it might be along the lines of The Twilight Saga... in regards to how it would be portrayed as innocent. Oh, how relieved I was to discover I was very, VERY wrong. Before I get off subject, I'm going to move forward with the review of the final book... Mockingjay.

I need to apologize on the tardiness of this blog post. Between working on the last of the Musical blog challenge, working on my weekly blogs, and developments in my personal life, I just haven't been motivated to finish this entry. Better late than never!

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins



A month after the unexpected end to the Quarter Quell, Katniss Everdeen explores her home in District 12, which was destroyed by the Capitol. She, others from 12, and several rebels have been living in District 13, which was supposedly destroyed 75 years ago. They are becoming accustomed to the military-styled life, under the care of district President Coin. As many of the districts are rebelling against the Capitol, District 13 has taken charge of the ultimate goal: to overthrow the Capitol with Katniss at the symbol of the rebellion... as the Mockingjay.

When I first started reading the series, I read a couple reviews about how their government parallels to our current situation in the United States. I do recognize some of that, but the way these books are written seemed more like a caste system, with social status and occupation playing huge roles in each of the districts. This book is solely focused on rebelling against the government and attempting to overthrow them.

Compared to the first two books, this one has a completely different tone to it, but it transitions very well for the reader. The transition from innocent teen to wise young adult is remarkable with Katniss. Sure, she's still stubborn and acts out impulsively, but she's looking at the big picture with a logical, matured attitude. During the rebellion, Katniss also realizes things about herself... good and bad. Having a lot of periods of solitude contributed to her own self discovery, which has helped her focus on the tasks she will be doing as the Mockingjay. She also works on her trust issues with people in general. She needs to rely on others and work as a team to accomplish their goals during the rebellion... especially those that she felt she betrayed in the past.

One of the biggest things I have learned about trilogies (thanks to the movie Scream) is that in the third one, something is revealed that changes the course of things. Rules change. True colors are shown. This book fits that mold. I'm not going to give any spoiler alerts, but the events that unfold in the last 100 pages were things I never would have predicted... and I liked the element of surprise. It made the end of the book more exciting and interesting than I could have ever imagined. Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Blog Award? For Me?? Sweet.

So, my dear friend from high school, Aggy, has given me a blog award. The "Stylish Blog Award." How very exciting for me!!! In honor of this, I am supposed to show my appreciation by telling my readers seven things about myself.

**Hey... I've needed to write something personal about myself for a while now. Might as well take advantage! **

1. I have wanted to get a tattoo since I was about 16 years old. That's when I decided that I would get a panda (my favorite animal) but I haven't chosen the exact design that I want. Once I find one, I will wait at least six months to make sure that I can live with that decision. Then, I have no idea where I would want it. Near a shoulder blade? Maybe. One of my hips? Possibly. I'll figure it out someday, LOL



2. I have never, ever mowed the grass. My Dad always mows the lawn at home and my-ex husband did when we were married. Of the few times where I would have had to do it myself, someone seemed to have stepped up before I did. For example, after my Dad had bypass surgery, I was going to take care of the lawn. However, two of our neighbors took turns in taking care of it until my Dad started doing it again. I'm not against mowing the lawn, but maybe someday I will find myself behind the mower.

Oh, and sitting on my Grandpa's lap when I was a toddler doesn't count... even if the grass was actually getting cut when bonding with him :-)

3. I have been thinking about signing up for Burlesque classes. Being involved in The Rocky Horror Picture Show has introduced me to a lot of people involved in burlesque. Back in December, I talked with a woman who teaches Beginning Burlesque with the Kansas City Cabaret and expressed my interest in signing up. At the time, my work schedule prevented me from it, but since that is changing (and I will be making more money) I am going to see what I can be available to do.

I already have a stage name... Sunshine Daydream. :-)



4. I love having a lot of color in many aspects of my life. If you look in my closet or dresser, you will see a lot of color variety. If I go clothes shopping, I tend to look for colors I might be lacking. Earlier this year, I purchased a dark yellow tank top, hot pink panties, dark blue jeans, emerald green panties, Irish knee-high socks, a bright purple tank top, and two black work t-shirts... all because I was lacking those colors in my wardrobe (okay... a couple were more about necessity, but the color thing still applies, LOL).

5. I have painted my fingernails and toenails less than five times in my life. It's just one of those girly things that I never got into. When I did, they were always either dark colors (blue, purple) or one of those silver or gold accents.

6. I've started couponing. The main reason for doing so is not to hoard hundreds of sticks of deodorant or condiments, but to be able to save as much money as I can with a very small income. Since my hours were cut twice in June, I was down to having significantly low paychecks every two weeks. Using coupons, combining them with in-store sales, and investigating which stores allow double coupons have resulted in some pretty awesome deals for me. I've always been about saving money, but this really helps out when times get tough.

7. I really, really REALLY want to attend a gay wedding. I could even go as far as be part of the wedding party. With more states allowing gay marriage, I hope to see that trend continue so I can see some of my friends get the chance to celebrate the day in front of friends and family :-)



And now, to give shout outs to seven other blog writers that I feel are worth reading (in no particular order)...

1. My buddy Valorie, who was inspired to blog because of me (hey, she said it!) and has already written a great entry that combines hilarity with something we all can relate to.
2. TOAR aka Thoughts of a Randomista. She writes some blogs that are hilarious, others that get me thinking about my childhood and teen years, and can do a good serious minded blog. I never know what I'm going to find next on her blog.
3. Uncovering Pamela- a social network buddy/ fellow KC native that writes about the struggles of weight loss and of her life
4. Single Dad Laughing- a hilarious and heartwarming blog by a single father living in Utah (I have posted several of his entries on my Facebook from time to time)
5. Darnack, another social network buddy of mine that started blogging because of me. He's definitely a nerd and a gamer, and happily expresses those things through his writing.
6. Nicole Alicia, another Kansas City woman (like myself) who blogs about a lot of different things.
7. And, of course, Aggy herself, who not only was the reason behind this blog, but she is a brilliant writer and does great illustrations with her blog entries (not to mention I did a guest blog for her last month).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Music Tuesday: Limp Bizkit, Lady Antebellum, Coldplay, and SO MUCH MORE!!!

Happy Tuesday everyone! I hope all the fireworks and festivities from last night have not affected your hearing. I have found a LOT of new music over the past several days and hope you guys are ready for some new summertime hits. Oh, and by some hits, I mean eleven. :-)


Limp Bizkit "Gold Cobra"



Several months ago, Fred Durst tweeted that a new album was in the works. I was very excited to hear about that and have been waiting for the day to listen to the first single, Gold Cobra. From the first line, I found myself reliving my junior year of high school and wanting more. I admit that it's not their best, but a great way to get their fans pumped for new music. The video is hilarious. Welcome back, Limp Bizkit!!!

Matt and Kim "Block After Block"



When I saw this video, I realized that I recognized the song and artist. I had this song in my ITunes library, courtesy of a free "Made in Brooklyn" playlist I took advantage of downloading (my personal philosophy-take advantage of free music. It's an awesome way to discover new songs and if it sucks, it didn't cost you anything). The song is catchy and unique. I love watching the video as Matt and Kim (and others) run around New York City like it's their own playground.

Coldplay "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall"



I will admit that I took notice of the video before the song. It's just so damned colorful!!! It made me want to paint, draw with sidewalk chalk, and color... also known as bringing out the kid in me. It disturbed me a little bit to see Chris Martin in the beginning of the video. The camera effects were making him look like he was shaking off some sort of drug and he needed more to regain composure. The song was pretty good... catchy enough for it to get stuck in your head after listening to it on the radio.

Katy B feat. Ms. Dynamite "Lights On"



A few weeks ago, I posted DJ Earworm's latest mashup. I noticed a female pop singer that I did not recognize so I looked her up. Katy B. had a few songs on her YouTube account and this is the song that was featured in the mashup. It's an okay song... one that I might dance to at a club but also one that I'm not jumping at the opportunity to add to my music library either.
Enrique Iglesias feat. Usher and Lil Wayne "Dirty Dancer"



Well... I think Enrique was going for as close to soft core porn as he could with the video. That woman can really work a stripper pole... I could not look away! It's been interesting for me to see Enrique transform from singing beautiful ballads to creating some of today's best club/dance music. He does it well. Add Usher and Lil Wayne to the song and it's a very enjoyable song to dance to.

David Guetta feat. Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj "Where Them Girls At"



I must admit, this summer has some really great songs to dance to in a club, including this song. I like how David Guetta collaborates with a bunch of artists to help create his music. It's always pleasing to hear a new hit of his. I love the video and how it makes music travel through bubbles. A cool, childlike concept. Did anyone else think that when everyone popped the bubbles and started dancing, it reminded you of when Elaine danced on Seinfeld? It did for me... LOL

Tinie Tempah feat. Wiz Khalifa "Till I'm Gone"



So far, every song I have heard from Tinie Tempah has had someone collaborate with him. Just an observation. I'm digging this song, even though it's a little sad. I'm glad that he's getting more of his music out before he takes the stage at Kanrocksas next month. He'll definitely have a good following that will be singing along to his music while he's performing. Oh, and nothing says summer like walking around a city with palm trees :-)

Lady Antebellum "Just a Kiss"



Yay! New music from Lady Antebellum!!! I really like the song and how the lyrics are absolutely beautiful. I also love the video of two young adults traveling throughout Europe. They were having fun, enjoying the historical and pop culture landmarks, and falling for each other. Very pleasing to the eyes and the ears.

Kristin Chenoweth "I Want Somebody (Bitch About)"



I'm not at all surprised that Kristin is establishing a mainstream singing career, but I didn't necessarily expect it to be country... considering her talents performing in Broadway musicals. I thought the video was pretty cheesy. The song is alright... cutesy but not something that I will play over and over again.

Jason Aldean "Dirt Road Anthem"



The song... driving on a dirt road and reflecting on past memories. I can completely relate to that... as can many others. I like how the video was filmed in black and white... it made the message of the song feel more nostalgic that way. I might have to add this song to my ITunes... I am in need of some recent country songs.

Shania Twain "Today is Your Day"



I have not heard any new music from Shania in years. This song is very inspirational, especially toward women. I read that this song is being used for some program for the WE channel (which I can totally see that). I'm glad to see that she's back in the music business, especially after all the relationship drama that has happened in her personal life. I hope that helps inspire some powerful songs in the future.

I hope to hear from everyone next week for another edition of New Music Tuesday!!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Movie Monday: Disney Movies (Including Two Currently In Theaters)

This week's movie blog unintentionally turned into a themed one. I took my son to the drive-in the last weekend of June for a double feature of Disney movies. Then, a couple days ago, I was picking out a movie to watch and realized that, it too, was a Disney flick. By that point, I decided to keep the theme going and found one more Disney movie in my collection that had gone unwatched.

Now, to explore talking modes of transportation, Jack Sparrow, a movie adaptation of a C.S. Lewis novel, and a patriotic film sequel.


Cars 2



Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) has been happily living in Radiator Springs and has just won his 4th Piston Cup, which was renamed in honor of Doc Hudson (who passed away). As he returns home, there is major news of an alternative fuel sources called Allinol and an international race has been announced to support the new product. Lightning enters himself into the race after Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) defends his friend against Italian race car Francesco Bernoulli (John Tuturro). However, Mater finds himself working with Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) as an American spy to uncover a very sinister plan that is putting all of the race cars in danger.

There is a reason why Disney/Pixar films are popular... they are always entertaining, have plenty of humor for kids and adult, and it is guaranteed to be an overall great film. This movie is a great way to introduce spy movies to a new generation (like my son). I loved that the movie focused more on Mater than Lightning. It was a breath of fresh air to see the shift in lead characters. The story was pretty easy to follow, but I can see how some younger kids may not quite understand everything that's going on with the espionage-related subplot. It was very cool to see many parts of Europe and Asia done in the world of cars.. especially Japan. I will always love and recommend Disney/Pixar films to people of all ages. This is one that I recommend you check out while it is still in theaters. Rating 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides



Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) has returned to save Mr. Gibbs (Kevin McNally) from execution. As they are reunited, Jack runs into Angelica (Penelope Cruz), a former flame and daughter to the notorious pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane). Both of them know Jack has a map that leads to the Fountain of Youth and force him onto Blackbeard's ship.

I will not be rating this film since I was not able to finish watching it. The movie was only halfway done by one in the morning (the night I saw it), and I needed to get my son home and put him to bed. From what I saw, I enjoyed it and am looking forward to seeing the rest. Fans of Jack Sparrow won't be disappointed but those who loved the Will and Elizabeth story may feel like something is missing from the film. I will leave this review as "TO BE CONTINUED..."

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe



There is a war and the Pevensie children are sent away to the country to stay with a Professor (Jim Broadbent). As they explore the mansion, the children decide to play a game of hide-and-seek. Lucy (Georgie Henley) seeks shelter in a wardrobe, which leads to the land of Narnia. She befriends a creature named Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy) who tells her that a woman by the name of White Witch (Tilda Swinton) is trying to take over the land and has killed those who defy her. Lucy attempts to get her siblings to come with her, but they don't believe her until they find themselves hiding in the wardrobe. As the White Witch tries to kidnap the children, they seek the true ruler of Narnia, Aslan (Liam Neeson) and decide to fight with him.

I was not surprised that Disney wanted a piece of the "book series to movies" pie. As someone who only read about 1/3 of the first book as a child, I think they did a pretty good job depicting C.S. Lewis' fantasy book. I liked that Narnia and the creatures were very natural looking, compared to looking very CGI. The only trouble I had with the film was trying not to compare it to Epic Movie, which the main storyline of the parody revolved around this film. I will learn, from now on, to be sure to see the original movie before the parody. I recommend this movie to those that loved the books and to those who love epic battle movies that want to introduce their children to something that will be enjoyable for everyone. Rating 4 out of 5 stars

National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets



Two years after helping discover a massive treasure, Benjamin Gates (Nicholas Cage) is presenting pages from John Wilks Booth's diary. A man named Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) presents a missing page from the diary, which holds life-altering information about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Benjamin seeks out Riley (Justin Bartha) to help decipher the validity of this page, which leads to discovering more clues. Abigail (Diane Krueger) joins in on the investigation. Benjamin devises a plan to kidnap the President (Bruce Greenwood) to seek out The Presidents Book, which is rumored to hold the deepest secrets of the country's history... and possibly clues toward another hidden treasure.

I loved the first movie. It was a perfect blend of comedy, action, and full of historical facts about the United States... exactly what I would expect from a Jerry Bruckheimer film. However, the second one was not as good. I know that sequels try to duplicate what you love about the original and hype it up a bit. I did not see any of that with the sequel. The clues needed to find the treasure included breaking into Buckingham Palace, The Oval Office, and "kidnapping" the President to seek out the infamous book. It was on the ridiculous side. I'm definitely going to watch the original more often than this film. Rating 2.5 out of 5 stars


Happy 4th of July to my friends and family!!! Please, be smart and stay safe on this holiday! See you guys again next week for another Movie Monday blog! :-)