Friday, March 30, 2007

Going For The Gold

Ed Note: I may not have blogged much this week, but hey-when I blog, it's always extra-long reading. And that's got to count for something, right?

I love, love, love to travel. But despite my propensity to jump on a flight to just about anywhere in the last few years, I’ve never achieved “elite” status with an airline. The reason: I’m cheap, and loyalty has always mattered less to me than finding a good deal. The closest I ever got to airline commitment was with the now-defunct Independence Air, which I flew so much in six months that I got a free ticket. Of course, a month or so after I actually got the ticket, Independence Air shuttered its doors, I lost my ticket, and I was burned on the experience.

Last fall, I decided to suck it up and try again—this time with American Airlines. I had booked AA for a cheapie Thanksgiving trip to Paris, and I knew the earned miles would put me about a third of the way to a free domestic airfare. My plan of attack seems to be working—mostly because Dallas is an AA hub and offers the most nonstops (at decent prices) to the places I’m going. I’ve earned enough miles for one off-peak international airfare or two domestic trips.

But “elite” status has still evaded me. The perks—free upgrades to first class when available, bonus miles for each fare you book, and discounts—are nice although certainly not necessary, but I’m a sucker for wanting what I can’t have.

Which is why, when I read this article in Budget Travel magazine about American’s secret 90-day Challenge, I got excited. It’s not advertised anywhere—you have to call them to sign up— but basically, if you earn 5,000 points in a span of 90 days, you’re automatically “gold” for the rest of the year. Sweet! The catch is that miles don’t necessarily equal points. For a deep-discount economy fare, for example, one mile equals only half a point. And given my aforementioned cheapness, I usually book the deep-discount fares.

But, I figured, if there’s any time this year to give it a shot, now’s the time. I’m in the airport right now waiting for a flight to Mexico with my husband to celebrate his 30th birthday. In the next 90 days, I already have trips planned (and mostly booked) for Louisville, St. Louis, Chicago, and Paducah. I have two other trips in discussion—to New York for work, and to Nashville for a friend’s bachelorette party. If I can’t get 5,000 miles in the next three months, when will I be able to do it?

But if, as the deadline gets closer, and it looks like I might fall just short of elite status, I’m pretty sure I’ll freak out and just book another trip. So if I show up in your town or at your doorstep unannounced at the end of June, at least I’ve given you a little warning.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Karl Rove Rap

I'm speechless.... really

Karl Rove dances

Just say no! to Circuit City

Have you heard about the new Circuit City firing policy? Basically, fire the people that have worked there a long time, have the most product knowledge, and are most loyal to the company--and replace them with cheaper entry-level paid workers. Sounds like a GREAT policy. No wonder Best Buy is king in that retail sector!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Calories are Evil, yet Delicious

So, I have this horrible habit of having to know exactly how many calories are in everything I eat--down to doing the math to find out how many calories are in EACH pretzel sitting in the bag in the office kitchen. This makes it easy for me to become devastated when I find out how many calories are in my favorite foods.

Sometimes, this knowledge causes major changes. For instance, I know that the lowest calorie danish in the Starbucks pastry cabinet is the croissant. I tend to opt for that, although sometimes I can't resist the cinnamon scone. And my friends can tell you that I haven't had Chipotle since looking at the evil Chipotle Burrito Calculator... argh. 1410 calories in one burrito... I think I'll pass.

So, today when the Diet Detective Newsletter came through my inbox with an article titled: Some of America's Worst Calorie Rip-Offs, I had to look. Most of the stuff in there shouldn't surprise anyone. I mean seriously, of course the Hardee's Monster Thickburger has 1410 calories and 107 grams of fat (yes, that's insane). But much like the devastating blow of learning Chipotle is incredibly bad, I learned that Kung Pao Chicken is horrible!!! More than 1200 calories and 80 grams of fat.

At least I'll never have trouble resisting the China Buffet ever again... sigh...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Kentucky Idol

Kentucky Idol is what you would call a reality show based on the search for UK's next head basketball coach--because an idol is exactly what that person becomes in the fine Commonwealth of Kentucky. I'm a lifelong Kentucky basketball fan, and I think it's ridiculous. And when I say lifelong fan, I mean it.

Rick Pitino was named head coach in 1989--my dad and I listened to the press conference on my way to get my tonsils removed. I vividly remember the town going silent after the infamous "shot" by Christian Laettner of Duke (I hate Duke) with 2.1 seconds left in overtime in 1992. You can watch it here, if you can stand the pain. And in 1998, during my senior year of high school, I rioted on UK's campus (don't tell my mother) and actually saw the madness created by wild college revelers first hand.

So, after 10 years of Tubby, and I loved Tubby, it's time to start again. Mark Story, a columnist for the Herald-Leader did a great item on what it takes to be a Kentucky coach. Check it out. Basically he says the person needs to be a bit of a jerk. Here's my favorite part: the job description:

Wanted: Head men's basketball coach, University of Kentucky. Must employ up-tempo style of play. Must recruit with a relentless fervor. Must consistently beat Louisville, Indiana, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and everyone else. Consistent Final Four appearances mandatory. One final requirement: It helps to be a jerk.

Of course as the world knows, the jerk of choice is one Billy Donovan from Florida... you know, that former UK assistant who is about to lead his team to a consecutive national championship. (Yes, I'm so bold as to make that prediction.) Other favored choices include Rick Pitino for a second coming, and I'm glad he's not interested. Once is enough. John Calipari at Memphis says he's not interested either. And thank god Thad Matta from Ohio State isn't interested... we just shouldn't taint our beautiful bluegrass with any fugass former Buckeye leaders. (Me no like Ohio State). Anyway, I'm sure this will get very interesting next week, after the Final Four. Call me crazy, but I still bet Billy Donovan with his enormous widow's peak will be in Lexington next year. Bye Bye Gators!

Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon

In addition to my affections for true crime, Veronica Mars and Larry Dobrow… I also have a slightly geekier (if that’s even possible) obsession: personal finance. Now, I’m not as nutty about personal finance as I am about my other obsessions—namely, because numbers typically give me a headache.

Three years ago, when I was working an entry-level journalism job (with an accompanying entry-level salary) in New York City, Suze Orman’s terribly titled book “The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke” helped turn my financial life around. My credit card debt was getting higher than I was comfortable with, and the 401k information the HR rep put in front of me on the first day of my job might as well have been written in a foreign language.

Now, I’ve never been one to take all the rules of any one plan on blind faith—indeed, there are some Suze-isms that I still ignore (not to mention she seems like a freaking whackjob on her TV show)—but it gave a numbers-idiot like me a great outline for how to tackle my debt and put my priorities in order. I’m far from perfect—I still have a weakness for getting out the charge card at Anthropologie, but I was also recently able to set up Roth IRAs for my husband and I with relative ease.

Getting to my point (does anyone else notice how I’m consistently terrible about burying the lede?): Suze Orman writes a series of columns for Yahoo! Finance to promote her new women-targeted book. I’ve been keeping up with them—because, like I said, I’m generally a Suze fan—but unfortunately, the columns seem low on advice and strategy and high on talking about women’s “attitudes” toward money. This article, for example, discusses “summoning the eight qualities.” And from my perspective, it’s about as useless as it sounds. I get that many women (myself included) sometimes make poor financial choices based on emotions. But I’m also not an idiot. I know when I’m making a financially poor choice. I guess that I think if Suze wants us embrace “modern attitudes” toward our finances, couldn’t she at least operate on the assumption that we’re already modern, reasonably self-sufficient women in the first place?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Technical Difficulties

Loree and I haven't given up you, we promise. Loree's just been working crazy hours and I have been recovering from a nasty run-in with bronchitis...

The most important news in MY world right now. Tubby Smith heading to Minnesota. I don't blame him. More on that to come.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Political commentary I can support

Really, no intro can do this justice. Just watch and enjoy!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Eat Local--from your own backyard

Ok, so I'm planting a garden. Yes, me. And yes, a garden... where plants are expected to grow, thrive, produce edible fruits and veggies, and feed me. It's crazy, right? I mean, I have trouble keeping my living room clean, yet I'm going to keep delicate plants alive. (Trust me, I feel your skepticism).

Those of you who know me well know that each summer I set a goal... something to get me outside and moving around; something new to try. Last year, I took up cycling, trained for a century ride, and bonded with my bike. This year, I'm going to grow my own food.

Besides the satisfaction of learning gardening, it's a small exercise in eating local. If you haven't heard of the eat local movement, it's very cool and growing pretty rapidly. I first read about the movement several months ago when an article about it came through on one of the many e-newsletters I read each day. I was fascinated by the concept and was kind of disgusted to find out the average dinner travels 1,500 miles from field to plate. As a person who is always touting the moral reasons to choose fuel efficient vehicles, I thought it was time to do my small part and grow a few vegetables of my own. I'm also going to make more of an effort to shop at Farmer's markets this summer.

Eating local isn't that simple though. There's a lot of discussion about whether it's better to eat organic foods shipped from miles and miles away or locally grown foods that use pesticides. Time Magazine had a great article about this issue. I think I'd look for local organics, but opt for local non-organic over organic food flown from far away.

I'll keep you posted on my gardening adventures. My first stop is buying this book. It seems like a good beginner's guide. Wish me luck!!!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Save Veronica Mars

Veronica Mars is the best show on television. If this were any other discussion, I’d be willing to open this up to debate, but unfortunately this is not debatable.

After three seasons of low-ish ratings and a admirable fight to stay on the air, it once again looks like VM might be getting canceled. And, if it’s not, it may be coming back in a crazy new format, four years into the future, with the focus on Mars as an FBI agent. Normally, I’d say that I’d rather them just cancel it than try something totally new, but to be honest, I’d probably be entertained watching Kristen Bell just brush her teeth. She’s just that good.

Canceling Veronica would be a grave mistake, because, after all, it is the best show on television. So, if you love VM like I do, or just want to avoid seeing me irreparably crushed, you’ll follow the instructions of E! Online columnist Kristin Veitch and send a Save Veronica postcard to CW chief Dawn Ostroff. Address below:

Dawn Ostroff
President of Entertainment
The CW Television Network
4000 Warner Blvd., Bldg 168
Burbank, CA 91522-0002

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Calling All Coffee Lovers...

Tomorrow is Starbucks Annual Coffee Break! Go to your nearest SB between 10 a.m. and noon to get a free cup of joe.

I love free stuff!

It's 3.14

Yep, that's right folks. Math nerds across the world are giddy today. It's Pi Day. The Pi Day Web site has a full message board called "I love Pi because..." Many emotions are expressed by Pi enthusiasts...

Righteous indignation:

it makes people at school look rather stupid. I have one of the pi shirts from ThinkGeek, and whenever I wear it, there are always at least 5 people that say, "Are those all of the numbers of pi?" A, they're digits, not numbers, and B, PI IS INFINITE!

Religious zealotry:

I love Pi because I believe God put it there to give us a tiny, tiny glimpse of infinity. The circle also illustrates this. How else can we begin to start to imagine His ineffable character? And He's so much more beyond this....


I love pi because I, too, am irrational. (We have a lot in common.)

Existential realization:

I love pi because it's more real than i.

i = sqrt(-1)

Oh so many reasons to love pi. March 14 is also Albert Einstein's Birthday. Coincidence, I think not.

The New Larry Dobrow Feature--You Pick the Logo!

After toying around with turning my cyber obsession with Larry Dobrow into a regular feature—and getting some image assistance from handy blog commenter Leah—I’ve decided to go for it. I have some ideas, content-wise, about how to approach this feature, but first… the logo.

My Photoshop skills are rudimentary at best, but, like my love for Larry, I figured that pure and simple was the best approach. Here are three potential logos—vote for the one you like best, and it’ll make its appearance at the end of this week with the new feature. And one day, when Larry Googles himself, sees this blog, and puts the wheels of that restraining order in motion, he’ll hopefully see this entry, and discover that it all started from a place of childlike innocence.

Here, your three choices.

1. Classic Larry. Slightly enlarged but otherwise untouched, this image of Larry perhaps shows him in his most natural setting, smiling (laughing, almost!) after sharing a quick-witted remark with a coworker, or even an espresso with a close friend.

2. Hearts On Fire Larry. Straight from the pages of MediaPost or CBS SportLine to Teen Beat, this is the Larry that’s displayed on the walls of teenagers who summer at journalism camp, or on the computer screens of women who spend far too much time on the Internet.

3. If I Still Had A Locker, This Picture Would Be In It Larry. Bold and unfiltered, my cyber affection for Larry just can’t be restricted!

So, you guys pick the logo. Vote in the comments below!

That Mustache Still Freaks Me Out

John Waters was on The Daily Show last night, hyping his new CourtTV show, ‘Til Death Do Us Part. I’ve never seen Waters interviewed before, but I figured he’d be a little more creepy and less affable that he actually appears to be. Needless to say, being the true crime junkie that I am, I’m kind of jazzed about the new show, a scripted series featuring stories inspired by real-life doomed unions that ended in murder.

Plus, Waters mentioned that Cry-Baby—the Johnny Depp/Ricki Lake vehicle that just gets better with age—is getting the musical treatment! I used to watch that movie all the time on USA’s Up All Night during high school. Once it hits Broadway, I’ll be ready to plan a trip to New York.


I've read stories about this happening in the past, and I find it fascinating, although I'm not really sure why. I've taken Ambien before to help me get to sleep at night, and while I've never gotten behind the wheel (that I know of) I've definitely had conversations that I don't remember after it's kicked in. Weird stuff.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Dick Cheney Resignation Watch

So, as you've probably heard, speculation that Dick Cheney is going to resign as early as this week is floating around. And while that sounds just dandy to me, I'll believe it when I see it. Many reports say the blood clot in his leg will force him out--because the country deserves a healthy VP or something lofty and patriotic sounding. (We deserve a human VP too, but I digress) My favorite of the flying rumors though is that Cheney is going to resign so Condoleezza Rice can take the Vice President slot and give the Republicans a chance to win in 2008. There's even a book about it!

My favorite exerpt from the online description:

In Condi vs. Hillary, he (author Dick Morris) reveals how Hillary Clinton has nurtured presidential ambitions for decades, and describes how years ago Hillary enlisted him to take secret polls on her behalf. He reveals what Bill Clinton really thinks of a potential President Hillary, and speculates on the agendas she would further in her campaign. And he contrasts Hillary's record with that of Condoleezza Rice, whom he calls "America's Margaret Thatcher" and whose presidency, he says, would enrage the liberal establishment and "shatter all the glass ceilings in America."

As Morris warns, the next president of the United States must choose between furthering the steady course set by George W. Bush, or backsliding into the corrupt vulnerability of the Clinton years.

While I love the Hillary/Condi speculation, I think Cheney's master plan is to resign, move to Dubai with his beloved Halliburton, and build an Orc army to take over the world. But that's just my humble opinion.

Law & Order: Executive Branch

My undying love for Law & Order may not be enough to make me switch political parties, but I was mildly delighted to read this morning that actor Fred Dalton Thompson (District Attorney Arthur Branch in the L&O-verse) is contemplating a White House run.

A quick run-through of where Thompson—a former Republican senator from Tennessee—stands on a variety of issues confirmed that we agree… on nothing. But, should he become the Republican candidate for the presidency, the smear tactics sure to come could be entertaining. Just wait until the Democrats play up the fact that Arthur Branch fired ADA Serena Southerlyn—just because she was a lesbian.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

True Crime At The Movies

One of the best true crime books I’ve read in the last year is Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town. Despite my affinity for true crime reading, it’s not a book I would normally have picked up—I typically go for the more sensational stuff.

Anyway, I happened to be in Austin for the weekend last fall with my husband, and we were checking out a local independent bookstore; I was out of vacation reading material already, and Tulia was a highlighted staffer’s pick in the true crime section. I scanned the blurb on the back, thought it looked interesting enough, and made the purchase.

Needless to say, I was captivated. I finished reading the 450-page book in less than two days. The book tells the story of a 1999 drug bust that resulted in the arrests of approximately 15 percent of Tulia’s black population. The charges were based on the undercover work of a shady cop, and numerous convictions resulted from his testimony—despite the fact that none of his 100-plus drug buys (mostly cocaine, which was suspicious in and of itself in such a small, impoverished town) were ever corroborated.

It’s an amazing story of small-town politics, corruption and eventual justice. So I was pleased to read in this week’s Entertainment Weekly that a movie based the Tulia scandal is in the works, with Halle Berry set to star as an NAACP lawyer who intervenes to aid the wrongfully convicted. The movie is set to start shooting in May—and assuming a Jerry Bruckheimer-esque producer doesn’t jump in and add a wacky courthouse explosion to the mix, it should be worthwhile viewing.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Lennie Briscoe, We STILL Love You!

Thanks to NKYGal for bringing this to our attention on her kick-ass blog:

Jerry Orbach's wife has been trying to get a NYC street named after her late husband, and our favorite Law & Order actor of all time. Loree and I blogged frequently about Jerry aka Lennie Briscoe on our first blog outing Precinct27. We even swore we each were going to buy a print of this lovely piece of artwork, titled Lennie Grabs a Dog.

I for one think my first born will be named Lennie, especially if my first born is a girl. I knew a female Lennie in grad school. She was very cool. I believe it was short for Lenora.

The New Wilco -- Let the Countdown begin!

So, as I've mentioned before, the new Wilco album, Sky Blue Sky, comes out on May 15! I can't wait. (And I may not have to. I hear Greg has an early release copy). Regardless, you can download the first single, What Light, thanks to MySpace. I think it's great. Check it out!

Thursday, March 8, 2007 and my dietary downfall

I love The site sends me an e-newsletter each week, around 4 p.m., when I'm starving, with delicious recipes. I immediately leave work and go to Burger King, Wendy's or Big Boy (an entirely separate story) to get something that by no means can be categorized as "eating well" but tastes so good that I'm tempted to just give up and revel in my ever-expanding girth.

Hence, I have decided that, with it's delicious recipes for Eggs Italiano, Scallop Piccata on Angel Hair, and Broccoli Chowder is a malicious guerrilla marketing group for the fast food industry. The emails are so perfectly timed to drive the reader to starvation that there's no other explanation. The need for immediate gratification can ONLY serve to send people through their local drive-thrus--I'll have a BK Big Fish myself, with Diet Coke, of course.

What Makes The Top 25?

I’ve been on a big-time true crime reading kick lately—in the last six months, I’ve read Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, plus books about the Black Dahlia and the Zodiac Killer, just to name a few. So I was definitely intrigued when I read Time magazine’s feature on the “Top 25 Crimes of the Century.”

Obviously, the criteria for a Top 25 crime is pretty vague—and they chose to omit crimes including genocide and mass suicides—but they put together a pretty interesting list, I thought. Alongside obvious picks like Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy, for example, the magazine also profiled The Great Train Robbery of 1963 and the theft of “The Scream.”

But, I have to admit I was surprised at inclusion of some crimes at the expense of others. Why profile Andrew Cunanan and the Versace murders, for example, but not the Zodiac Killer? Why include the collapse of Barings Bank but nothing on the Boston Strangler? And I think everyone can agree that Mary Kay Letourneau is way creepy (not to mention worth her weight in Law & Order: SVU episodes), but Top 25 material? Really?

Reading Larry Dobrow

I continue to heart Larry Dobrow. The intro to today's review of Hallmark Magazine:

I don't go to industry functions because one, I never get invited anywhere and two, I generally dislike other people. But when the opportunity to attend a lightly-appetizered preview of the upcoming "Larry Sanders Show" DVD presented itself last night, I took the party pants out of cold storage and girded myself for some painful social interaction.

And farther down into the actual review....

Even its live-happier tips transcend the trappings of the genre. Ordinarily, I'd no sooner read a story sub-headlined "15 ways to rediscover what makes you laugh, sing, dance, feel, believe - and be gloriously yourself" than bury a swizzle stick deep in my ear canal, but the feature offers a trio of well-observed, non-maudlin essays about faith, exercise and journal writing. The mag also relates a handful of DIY-themed tales, like one about a woman who built her town's library from scratch, that somehow manage not to scream WE SHALL INSPIRE YOU! DON'T FIGHT IT, BITCH.
Despite the fact that I have a sad feeling that none of our readers have the affinity for Larry that I have, I may just make this a regular feature. Now, I just need to find a picture of him that I can Photoshop a creepy little heart around so I can have a proper logo. Ten bucks says that Larry Dobrow files a restraining order against me in the next six months.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Remembering Book It!

When I was a nerdy third-grader with frizzy hair and a bit of a lazy eye problem, I could use all the help I could get. Lucky for me, there was Book It!, Pizza Hut’s program that rewards young readers with free pizza.

I loved (still do) to read, so I got mad pizza. Granted, it didn’t make me any more popular (still hasn’t), but Book It! was pretty awesome because it made me feel like someone else besides my mom though t it was cool that I liked to read. Plus, the pizza was tasty and I remember getting a big-ass purple Book It! button and stickers when I read extra books.

Anyway, I’m generally for taking measures to make sure kids have healthier eating options, including taking junk food and soda out of schools, but I was sad to read that an organization is criticizing the program and calling for its end. It seems like Book It! has been successful, and a good incentive to get kids reading. A solution that might (but probably won’t) make everyone happy? Instead of giving kids a voucher for a free personal pan pizza, give them a voucher that’s redeemable for one of several items on the Pizza Hut menu, including one or two healthier options.

Joe Torres: Where Is He Now?

Some friends and I have recently spent some time reminiscing about our favorite Nickelodeon shows of yore, including classics like Hey Dude! And Salute Your Shorts. Anyway, I was saddened—OK, kind of fascinated—to learn that there’s an Internet rumor that Joe Torres, the actor who played wise Native American Danny Lightfoot on Hey Dude!, died a couple of years ago due to kidney failure.

Like most internet rumors, this one doesn’t seem to have been verified one way or the other. A wikipedia entry devoted to Torres says that he was last spotted in a Tucson bar called The Golden Nugget, but how to know for sure that it’s true?

Anyway, I need answers. Also, I’m bored and I have an obsession with TV procedurals where everything is wrapped up all nice and pretty in an hour. I’m betting that this mystery could be solved quickly enough with some deft Internet sleuthing and a couple of well-placed phone calls, but I think Danny deserves a more grand gesture. So, I’m more or less envisioning hopping on a plane to Tucson, where he was allegedly last seen, armed with a fake FBI badge. Then, I’ll interview friends and family who may have seen him last to get their take on the situation. And, if he’s not dead, we still need to find him, so I think I’ll need someone to come along with me to canvass for evidence and take DNA samples. Who’s with me?

Monday, March 5, 2007

Can you Digg it?

I know when it comes to technology and the Web, I can be kind of slow, so I'm probably telling you something that's going to make you ask what planet I've been on for the last 6 months. I have discovered Digg in the last few weeks, and I love it. For the three people in the world who haven't experienced the great world of Digg, it goes a bit like this--according to the site creators themselves:

"Digg is a user driven social content website. Ok, so what the heck does that mean? Well, everything on Digg is submitted by our community (that would be you). After you submit content, other people read your submission and Digg what they like best. If your story rocks and receives enough Diggs, it is promoted to the front page for the millions of visitors to see.

What can you do as a Digg user? Lots. Every person can digg (help promote), bury (help remove spam), and comment on stories... you can even Digg and bury comments you like or dislike. Digg also allows you to track your friends' activity throughout the site — want to share a video or news story with a friend? Digg it!"

One of the more amusing things about the site, in my opinion, is the tendency to nerdy tech stories. For instance, this is the current top story: World's Dorkiest Tattoo. Indeed this story is dorky. It involves some sort of HTML (I think) tattoo on some guy's neck.

I enjoy the site because you can find some interesting international news that you really don't see anywhere else, since I'm not really seeing a ton of diggs from main stream media outlets. The stuff I'm interested in is still pretty scarce, since the techies are clearly the early adopters of this site, but as it gets more popular, I'm sure the proportion of news I find interesting will increase.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Life, looming death, and music

Mosh pits are scary. I should know--I was nearly crushed by a burly, large, drunken man yesterday on the outskirts of one at a Flogging Molly concert. The show itself was fantastic. It was full of Irish anthems for the recovering Catholic, with titles like Rebels of the Sacred Heart driving the largely Catholic-raised, tattoo and piercing covered crowd to rowdy dancing and pushing. A good time was had by all. But as I was sneak attacked by the drunken mass of sweaty man, I thought--Is this really just the practice round?

It's the practice round because a Flogging Molly concert isn't nearly as rowdy as the Dropkick Murphy's concert I'll be attending next Sunday. And, I wasn't actually pushed into the full madness on my first outing--a jump I've promised to try and take next week. So, if my first rowdy concert experience is any indication of what's to come, it's inevitable that this is my last week on earth. I will most certainly be crushed by a rogue crowd surfer.

With the impending doom looming, I've decided it's only fitting that I would die at a concert-- nearly crushed and taking a kick to the head during a raucous Irish jig. My life can be mapped with music.

Laura-- the early years

The first song I remember loving was Hazy Shade of Winter by the Bangles. I remember buying a 45 for my Fisher-Price record player at the Disc Jockey. I was so proud of it, and I got to show it off to my second grade teacher Mrs. Dunn, who just happened to be in the store at the same time. I think I listened to that record repeatedly for at least a year.

Other important songs of my elementary years included Kokomo by the Beach Boys, Walking on Sunshine by Katrina & the Waves, Cheeseburger in Paradise by Jimmy Buffet, and Livin' on a Prayer by Bon Jovi.

Once I reached middle school, it was cool to like music--being that I was a weeble shaped child and not very cool, this is when I went through my country phase. I did love the New Kids on the Block and Vanilla Ice (mainly because you HAD to in those days), but I was deeply enamoured with Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Clint Black, Wynonna Judd, and so many more. A highlight of the country years was a 7th grade trip to Rupp Arena with my friend Amanda to see Clint Black and Wynonna during their Black and Wy tour. In a first experience with rowdy concert-goers, a drunk woman sitting behind me proceeded to braid my and Amanda's hair.

By 8th grade I was exiting my country phase and enjoying Salt-n-Pepa (yes, I still know all the words to Shoop), Aerosmith's Get a Grip album, and Warren G's Regulate the G-Funk Era.

Creating the Laura of Today

High School marked an important shift in my musical taste. It's the time I discovered some of my all-time favorites and learned about the joys of classic rock. During these years, Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins and Garbage reigned supreme, with smatterings of Led Zeppelin (Over the Hills and Far Away is still my all time favorite song), Pink Floyd, Janice Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. High School was the gateway to a tendency to explore the bands less known-- a tendency that lasts even today, and makes me want to attend numerous concerts at the South Gate House and 20th Century Theater.

I don't know exactly when I discovered my one true love--Jeff Tweedy and Wilco, but we've been together ever since, and I can't wait for the new album Sky Blue Sky to come out on May 15. Wilco is chill, mid-tempo indie rock music. The concerts fit my personality and my concert going style of absorbing sounds and dancing in my own space without touching others. I've been to concerts of all types over the years. I love live music. It's only fitting that a concert will be the source of my demise in more than a financial way.

If only I could see Wilco perform one last time. Start preparing your online tribute to my wonderfulness now. My estimated time of death is 10:45 p.m., Sunday, March 11.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Tasty Delights

Yeah, so I love fast food. A lot. For awhile, I kind of pretended I didn’t, because Fast Food Nation was all popular, and I try to be the kind of person that’s generally pro-public health or whatever. Plus, once you get out of college, apparently you’re supposed to really get into things like dinner parties and entrees that are actually eaten with a fork.

But, a couple of years ago, I decided that nine times out of 10, I’d prefer a greasy Quarter Pounder to steak tartare and hey—it’s a lot cheaper.

This week, my pals over at Consumerist (starting now, I think I’m just going to start pretending I’m actually really good friends with the bloggers that I like) posted a guide to secret menu items at some of the best—and tastiest—fast food establishments. Take a look and see what you might be missing. And is it just me, or is the picture of that freaking ginormous burger making anyone else hungry?

Reading Larry Dobrow

Larry Dobrow has my dream job. Incidentally, Larry Dobrow deserves my dream job, because he’s a funnier, sharper, all-around better writer than I am. And that’s cool. That just means that I harbor an inappropriate— bordering on the line of stalker-ish—cyber crush on Larry Dobrow. For those keeping score at home, and who may now be tsk-ing because they know that I’m married, please note that crushes are acceptable within a marriage if they are prefaced by a modifier: see also “girl crush,” “celebrity crush,” etc.

Anyway, I have no idea what Larry Dobrow looks like (although I’ll admit to having Googled him), but I have joked (half-joked?) about building a shrine to him under my desk.

Larry Dobrow writes magazine reviews for MediaPost. Funny, insightful magazine reviews. Reviews that, week after week, contain at least one sentence that make me laugh out loud. Sometimes, when I read Larry Dobrow’s reviews, all is right with the world. Sometimes, when I read Larry Dobrow’s reviews, I forget that I live in Texas.

This week, Larry Dobrow reviewed the teen-targeted publication Your Prom.

A couple of choice bits:

-It (Your Prom) ranks as the rare title which boasts so little content that nearly every item can be referenced on its cover. Indeed, Your Prom is more or less a catalog, albeit one with a total absence of even slightly overweight women and a surfeit of prommed-up white chicks slathered in whorey makeup.

- For a guy just a bit outside the mag's target audience, there's a lot to learn. Owing to my refusal to appear in public after getting "the world's suckiest haircut," the "prom personality" quiz brands me as a "pessimistic partyer." My prom horoscope suggests that I should "channel my inner Beyoncé" in the months ahead, a contingency for which the tri-state area is profoundly unprepared.

If you haven’t developed an intense cyber crush on Larry Dobrow based solely on the above two tidbits, that’s cool; you and I probably were never that close anyway. If you want more Larry Dobrow goodness, go here to sign up (it's free!) to get the reviews emailed to you.

How Liberal (or Conservative) are you?

I'm a perfect 10 (out of 40) on the political spectrum according to a quiz created by Victor Kamber and Bradley S. O'Leary, who have written a number of books on the subject figuring out where you are politically. Apparently this quiz appeared in a 1994 edition of USA Today Weekend. This would explain the individuals on the spectrum and the fact that Hillary, who matches up with my number 10 is so far left.

While many wouldn't agree, I think Hillary has worked quite hard to move herself a little more toward the center for this presidential election. I myself probably prefer 1994 Hillary a bit better--so lining up there is fine.

Also, the questions on this thing aren't the best. Many of them require yes or no answers on issues that may fall into the "yes, but" or "no, but" category -- probably pushing many people farther toward one particular side of the spectrum than they are. But, all science and timeliness (or lack thereof) aside, it's pretty fun.

The full spectrum goes like this, with Jesse Jackson as a zero and Ronald Reagan a 40:


My blogging comrade Loree was a 9. Most others I've polled so far have fallen in the 10-20 range. Let us know in your comments how you score and what you think about the spectrum.
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