Wednesday, April 8, 2015

We Heart NOLA, 2015 Edition


New Orleans, we just can't quit you. It's been about a month since we returned from our last visit, and all I can really think about is how to get back just as soon as I can.
                                             Look how lovely...Can you possibly blame us?


It is clear we might all have a serious problem. When we talk about driving somewhere, Franco will add, "and maybe then to New Orleans?" as his contribution. The other day I asked him what he wanted for lunch and he said, "Maybe some gumbo."
                                                 Look how delicious…can you blame him?

If it weren't for the hurricanes and my legit fear of weather, the relative cost involved, having to live in Louisiana -- which, if you look at a map, is quite far away from my Mountaineers and Steelers -- and the fact that I don't have any clue what I would do for money, I think this family could move there in a second. When we walked the French Quarter, I saw a few condos for rent and later Zillow-ed them to find out how much it would cost to live out my fantasy. (Answer: A little bit.) It does not stop the dream, for dreams can't be bound to silly real-life facts like money. Come on!

I don't know when we will return to the Big Easy, but it certainly won't be soon enough. Even though I have been there so often, so recently, there are still a million things I haven't done. (Right now, I also am reading Five Days at Memorial which means my already uncontrolled Katrina addiction is running rampant.)

I promise you, NOLA, we will be back just as soon as possible. Until then, we all shall hold tight to this little memory the wait staff at Commander's Palace bestowed upon Franco since he fell asleep before dinner's end:
                             Yes, that is a loaf of bread wrapped up as a crab. And now, I will eat it…

Oh NOLA…until we meet again.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscar Sunday 2015

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Oscar Sunday, a hallowed and holy time in this household, is upon us. And our most fabulous patron saint of hosting, Neil Patrick Harris, is probably only half as excited as I am for the big night! (It is not will he dance, but how often? It is not will Franco and I re-watch said dance numbers, but how many times in a row? The mysteries abound.)

Because I am always super prepared for any event that is not really all that important in the grand scheme of life, I have seen all eight nominated Best Picture films and a vast majority of nominated performances. I will now grace you with a brief synopsis of my thoughts on the impending matter at hand:

American Sniper: Let me just put out there that I watched this film before the internet firmly instructed me how to feel about it. I really like it in a The Hurt Locker kind of way -- a movie about a man in the war, not a war movie.  However, it has a very un-The Hurt Locker-ish ending, which I understand is out of Clint's control. But geez louise. I don't think it is the best film (more on that in a minute) but it's worthy nonetheless.

Birdman: This is the best film, hands down, the end. I love it in a way I have not loved a movie in a few years. Consequently, and this is a scientific fact, it now has zero chance of winning the big prize, as I have bestowed upon it my Oscar curse of doom. (See: Black Swan, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Into the Wild, Pulp Fiction, Moulin Rouge, et. al. At least the film will tomorrow be in the good company of these other masterpieces.) Birdman is a movie apparently made just for me, in the vein of movies I adore, to haunt me into a state of obsession. And so I say: Thank you, Mr. Inarritu, a million times over! (And, again, I'm really sorry about that whole curse of doom thing…)

Boyhood: Love. I want to give that little kid and his grown-up kid self and all his developmental stages in between a great big hug. It's pure genius and forward-thinking outside of the creative box, so it's precisely the opposite of anything the Academy will reward. But, I have already watched it twice and will likely come back to it many times in the future. It's a keeper.

The Grand Budapest Hotel: The least Wes Anderson-y of all the Wes Anderson movies, and, for me, that is a good thing. It's just a fun romp with a fantastic finale. And at the end, I did not feel the need to take the bridge or protest injustices or feel bad about the human race. So, good job.

The Imitation Game: That Cumberbatch kid could really make something of himself. I am a sucker for biopics anyway, and this is a very good one. I quite enjoyed this movie while simultaneously hating a good deal of history and society at large, so there's that.

Selma: White people suck, 2015 edition. Also..and how can I put this nicely…Alabama is quite unpleasant at times. Plus, Oprah.

The Theory of Everything: Gorgeous, stimulating, full of interesting ideas, thought-provoking, and simply lovely. Eddie Redmayne doesn't sing, but he is still terribly good in a brilliant English way. I adore it.

Whiplash: Golly. Who would have predicted a movie about drums could make us all so anxious? Apparently, there are now no activities in which kids can participate without abuse from troubled adults riddled with serious issues. And Juno's dad is a straight-up dick with no redeeming qualities. Yay for people.

It is a strong year, and I am happy for that. Still, the Academy already has made glaring errors. I am as upset as every other red-blooded American about The Lego Movie's snub. (Darn darn darny darn darn!!) And Julianne Moore as the only nominee from Still Alice? Travesty. Though if she does not win tonight, then there really should just be no more Oscars for anyone ever. She is just beyond.

The anticipation is almost too much. But, somehow, we will last another ten or so hours until showtime.   And then tomorrow I can grumble about all the things the Academy got wrong, again. It 's fabulous.

Cheers!








Thursday, November 20, 2014

Life Lessons: I Have a Problem

Yes, like Jay Z. and Ariana Grande before me, I have problems. But, there is only one about which I intend to blog tonight:
 I am wholly addicted to John Green books. And I don't want any help, thanks anyhow.

I have no good reason behind my vice. Sure, these works are pretty good, but they are not the best literary masterpieces to ever grace my bookshelf. For some likely abnormal reason, at my mid-advanced place on life's timeline, these books loudly and clearly speak to my soul.

I started with The Fault In Our Stars. It took me way longer than mostly everyone else to read it, and I have no good reason for that either.  My intrigue piqued earlier this year with the Entertainment Weekly article about the movie where John Green, on set with Shailene and Ansel, cried during all the emotional scenes as they were filmed. I am glad I put my mind to reading the book before seeing the movie because doing so the other way around would have robbed me of a fantastic experience I will forever remember. Seriously and melodramatically, the day I read the last 3/4 of that book is one of the best days of my life. Immediately thereafter I watched the movie and…you can guess.

The obsession is still ongoing. To give you a whole picture, I have a two-almost-three-year-old boy in this house who loves the movie almost as much as I do. He got sick the other night and begged me to watch "Fall In Our Stars" to make him feel better. (We did not because: 1. The Steelers were playing MNF, making a movie about kids dying from cancer only the second most depressing thing we could do at that moment in time -- though, somehow, that game ended with less tears than the movie does, and 2. I feel this request odd for a toddler and kind of creepy, and 3. We already had watched it twice in the past day and a half.)

I can't let it go. I  respond to analytical queries in my life with lines from the book, like "The world is not a wish-granting factory." This one is my favorite, right behind "I fell in love the way you fall asleep. Slowly, then all at once." (I may only do this in my head, so as not to completely give away how far I am down this particular rabbit hole…)

I watched John Green talk about filming the movie in Pittsburgh (!!!!) and how he loves Pittsburgh (!!!!!) and how he believes that one of life's great joys is the full onslaught of Pittsburgh emerging from the Fort Pitt Tunnel as you enter the city from the south. (As I heard him say that last part, I realized that John Green and I are kindred spirits of the highest order. Then my head metaphorically exploded right off my body.)

It almost took over, so I quickly moved onto Paper Towns.  While not quite the genius of TFIOS, it still quenched my thirst for this particular genre of adolescent angst. It haunted me differently and offered my overactive mind a lot upon which to dwell. It also reaffirmed that I especially love the way John Green ends his novels: without a big dramatic flourish, but satisfying nonetheless.

Naturally, I became fascinated with paper towns in real life -- a foreign concept to me until now -- and as I googled, I stumbled upon a TED Talk John Green gave on the subject.  John Green in real life is sort of geeky and cute, like I pictured Q in Paper Towns until I saw they cast Isaac from TFIOS in the upcoming movie, and instead began picturing Q as Nat Wolff -- or the other way around. Whichever, I will certainly be on the lookout for that premiere next year, even if I do kind of detest Margo Roth Spiegelman in her entirety.

Now, I've started Looking For Alaska. It can be slightly difficult to get on a roll due to my (and Franco's) consistent TFIOS movie views, along with all the other non-frivolous things grown-ups apparently need to do daily. But, I will get to it. And to Will Grayson, Will Grayson after that. Once I put my mind to a full-on obsession, I am nothing if not committed.

Okay? Okay.





Thursday, September 18, 2014

Flying South to the End of Your Life

I am now officially forty years old. It turned out to be a fabulous birthday weekend filled with friends and family in my favorite place in the whole wide world -- Pittsburgh. I had once planned to celebrate in another of my treasured locales, Las Vegas, but when some invited guests (i.e. My Mother) refuse to board the plane, it can be hard to conveniently get across the country. In the end, it worked out to be one of the best ideas I have ever had, if I do say so myself.
                Kennywood's Potato Patch cheese fries for dinner? Yes, yes, a thousand times -- YES!

The entire weekend proved (unintentionally) to be an endurance test. We did Kennywood, the Pittsburgh Zoo, the Pittsburgh Duck Tour, fireworks on the North Shore, and a Pirates game complete with tailgating on Federal Street. And I managed to drink my fair share of beer in there, too, just to make it more of a challenge. It was magically awesome in every way.

                                                                     Let's Go Bucs!

So now, we are all back to normal. Which, if you know us, means we are on the go in a big, big way for football season -- a different kind of endurance test, mentally and physically, when the teams you follow intend to stress you into an early heart attack each weekend. I am old now, but neither the Mountaineers nor Steelers seem to care for my overall well-being in the slightest. At least for now, the least likely sports contender of all -- the once lowly Pirates -- is proving the most dependable. (No breath shall be held, as we all know how that sort of thinking usually turns out…)

Being forty does not feel too much different than thirty-nine, which seemed similar enough to thirty-eight. But, in aggregate, I guess I do feel older. I know that forty is the new twenty-three or whatever, but I am glad to be out of my twenties. And thirties. This is going to be the decade when I decide what I want, for good, and make it happen. Since I have never really had very many of my own, heart-felt goals, it feels like a good time to begin.

I am determined. To do exactly what, I don't exactly know. But I will do it. Because, even though I half-ass it through life, I usually do so successfully. At the last minute.

And, the last minute is getting closer and closer. No time like the present to finally figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life. If I ever do solve the riddle, I might eventually write about it. In an untimely manner.

Old people can be difficult, you know.





Sunday, May 18, 2014

Life Lessons: Insomnia

When I can't sleep, I like to peruse silly websites to occupy my brain until it mercifully decides to wind down. One of my old tried and true allies has been the website TWOP (Television Without Pity.) It is snarky, sassy, funny, mindless fun. For some reason, as of a few weeks ago, the site is shut down for new content, which stinks for me right about now. At 1:00 am on the dot, I am reminded of other things I love, hate, and despise. I will now list these in no particular order and for no particular reason other than the obvious. (See title of blog.)

My Likes:

**Sam Harris. Look him up. He is smart.

**PostSecret and Frank Warren. I got to hear him speak at Appalachian State last fall, an event seriously on my bucket list. (My bucket list clearly is not what you might call lofty.) I have been obsessed with those books for a very long time. I love the idea of anonymous secrets and a secret-keeper. Every Sunday I wait for the new secrets on the blog. (I have already used this Sunday gem up in the wee hours of today.) A new book will be released in November 2014, for which I am almost giddy with anticipation.

**Old lady nightgowns. Besides being comfortable and perfect for my sense of style, I find them incredibly convenient to have around so that at whatever age it is appropriate, I can begin wearing them around town. That will be heavenly. (I am not there yet, but I will also deem the time when I am there. Thank you.)

**Vintage gloves. I wear these about town already because I can't get enough. I am always on the look-out for new ones as they tend to wear out easily in this modern era. Having said that, it is a darn good thing they only set you back roughly $3.00 a pair.

**Psychoanalysis. Of myself or you or anyone else. But mostly of myself.

**Nostalgia. In small doses until it leads to depression, at which point it might lead into...

My Dislikes:

**Insomnia at inopportune times.

**People. But not any of you fine folks, naturally. Just the annoying ones.

**Bacon, syrup, and ketchup. That's right -- go ahead and boot me out of the good old US of A. I don't like these things. Deal with it. (Or don't. I can't tell you what to do.)

**The Counting Crows. Blech.

**To see anyone bite into frozen things like popsicles or ice cream. (Shudder…)

My Loathes:

**Law school, the decision to attend law school, the legal profession, being a lawyer, regret over being a lawyer, having to tell people I am a lawyer, etc.

**That is all I could really think of for this one because nothing is on par with that or trumps that.

And there you go. Now, you can sleep peacefully knowing these facts. I, however, am no closer to sleep than I was exactly 23 minutes ago when I started this post. You will have that, I suppose.

Sweet dreams and whatnot you lucky devils...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Life Lessons: Teen Mom 2 Edition

Now, I know what you are thinking about this post: What took you so long?

No, really, I know. I do not need any virtual sideway stares at my choice of crap programs. In fact, I quit the whole Teen Mom franchise (mostly) about a year ago. I mean, I still kept up with the antics by way of snarky websites and watched the various interviews when I needed a fix. I just did not watch the show. It became too much, even for me.

So why in the world did I fall off the wagon? I will give it to you in two words: Robin Thicke.

In addition to whatever other social ills for which he is blamed, he is also behind my renewed DVR-ing of Teen Mom 2. Let me explain…no, there is too much. Let me sum up. (That never gets old.)

My friend Megan and I had tickets all lined up for Mr. Thicke's show at Harrah's in Cherokee. She drove here from the North Carolina coast so we could swoon like regular old fangirls at his extreme good looks. (And talent. Obviously.) And then, without even so much as a consult with us, he cancelled. To try and win back his lovely wife, Paula, with whom he fell out after some alleged questionable hand placement, possible strip club misdeeds, and Miley.

To cope, we did what any 30-something-year-old ladies would do. We drank wine, checked websites for marital updates, and watched YouTube videos of Janelle from Teen Mom 2 explaining how it's not just some random concert, it's Ke$ha (now Kesha, after the dollar sign got left behind in rehab…true story) and that's why she had to get those feathers in her hair and could not turn herself into jail that one time, like 100 arrests ago.

And then, after that fateful night, we had to watch the new episode of Teen Mom 2 and now, I am once again hooked. So, damn you Robin Thicke --  but not too much because he did reschedule the show and we eventually got to swoon appropriately. He even wore his wedding band to go along with the hotness, so I really hope those crazy kids make it work.

And now, after so much pomp and circumstance, here are the lessons learned from (as ol' Scotty P. so lovingly puts it) those little sluts:

**If you are a teenage girl about to have sex, just do not do it. Otherwise, there is that off chance you might get pregnant and be forced into the apparent obligatory dress code: ridiculous multi-colored dyed hair, full-body tattoos (which may or may not contain an homage to the kid), ugly face/ear/who-knows-where piercings, cartoonishly awful eye makeup, plastic surgery, and a lawyer on retainer. Not only is the actual kid a bit of an inconvenience at that age, but all that extra garb must be quite cumbersome to boot.

**With all the cursing, fighting, and general lunacy that goes on around their own toddlers, these girls must presume the kids deaf. Why else would anyone act like that? Unless they have the mentality of a child -- oh, yeah. Right.

**One baby is hardly enough. Neither is one Baby Daddy.

**If you happen to watch with your own 2-year-old (likely not recommended but darn good fun) be prepared for commentary such as, "Why is that baby crying?" and "That kid needs a new house" and "Where'd that baby go? and, finally, "Hush!" (It is similar to my own commentary, actually. Very astute that one.)

**My faith in humanity already hangs by a frail string. This show does not help one little bit.

Does that mean I am once again finished? Nope. I will continue on with this train wreck. (But I draw the line at Teen Mom 3. That is just insanity and I do have standards.)

However illogical it might seem, if the Powers That Be happen to bring back unnaturally red-headed Maci, porn star Farrah, crazy CatelynnAndTyler, and free-jailbird Amber -- well, I might have a party! I would have few friends to invite, since most of those who live within driving distance of me are smarter/more mature/actual adults than I am…

But -- I could always count on my sister and Megan to join! What do you say girls? I don't need an answer -- I know you are both in for the win!

Come on MTV. Help some addicts out!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Life Lessons: The Academy Awards Edition 2014

It's Oscar Sunday, bitches! That means it is a holiday for us. I will begin said celebration with self-congratulations to all adults of this household for seeing the nine Best Picture nominees.

And now, a primer of what I learned from this year's crop of contenders:

1. American Hustle: I really need to get as skinny as Amy Adams so I, too, can wear those plunging necklines with super long necklaces. I should also consider a perm. This movie is just plain fun. (Also, Christian Bale = a good motivation for the aforementioned diet.)

2. Captain Phillips: Don't go boating in Somalia. Also, Tom Hanks is awesome, all the time, in every way.

3. Dallas Buyers Club: I like serious McConaughey as much as I like hunky, stoner McConaughey. (And, no matter what fashion choices appeal to me -- and not like I could -- don't try to get that skinny.) Jared Leto is an interesting fellow in so much of his work, and his presence continues to impress. He got to keep both arms in this one, unlike my previous favorite (Requiem For a Dream) so good for him.

4. Gravity: Despite my prediction of a ninety minute panic attack, I quite enjoyed myself. Still, George Clooney or no George Clooney, I can't go to space. Or even Space Camp. It would not turn out.

5. Her: Spike Jonze has an interesting idea of mens' pants in the not-too-distant future. I already hate technology, so his cautionary tale is not lost on me. Plus, Joaquin might be crazy, but so what? He makes everything better.

6. Nebraska: "Beer ain't drinkin'." Words to live by right there. Bruce Dern and June Squibb might be the couple of the year.

7. Philomena: It is indeed "a gold star day" if you can watch Judi Dench onscreen. This one sneaked up on me in a good way. And that ending? With the nuns? Geez Louise, in comparison, my self-restraint needs some work.

8. 12 Years a Slave: White people suck.

9. The Wolf of Wall Street: I love Leo more and more all the time. Especially now that we are all "more mature." I particularly love Leo and Marty together.  Also, it's probably good for us collectively that Quaaludes are extinct.

I don't have predictions because everything and everyone is so good. I will lose my mind if Leo wins -- just because. I like Cate Blanchett, but love Amy Adams -- and I'm still bitter about Junebug. Ol' Fassbender should at least get a hug for his realistic portrayal of douchebaggery. Now, I can't think of his hotness the same way again. I don't even know how they made Gravity without actually going to outer space for real. That much genius makes my head hurt.

I am sincerely excited to see how it all turns out. I will miss Seth McFarlane's biting wit and boobs song, though Franco still plays that one semi-regularly, so we are covered. Good luck to all the fine, deserving contenders! I am sure, even having said that, the Academy will screw something up. But that's tradition, right?

Bring it on! And enjoy the show!

About Me

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Steph's days are complete with little Franco/Mr. Buddy Pants, Pittsburgh Steelers football, Penguins hockey, all things WVU, cold beverages, new handbags, shoe-shopping, pups, and lots and lots of movies. And, of course, her glorious, nutty family.