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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad Men Recaps

I'd like to quickly apologize for my lack of consistent Mad Men recaps, and I want to assure you I will be back on schedule next week. More importantly, however, I'd like to congratulate Mad Men on Two Prime Time Emmys - Best Writing and Best Dramatic Writing. Additionally, I'd like to congratulate the actors for their individual nominations. Now, back to the recaps:

EPISODE 402 - "Christmas Comes But Once A Year."
It's Christmas time at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, but nobody seems to be filled with "jolly" spirits. In fact, there's even been a few naughty folk destined for coal in their stockings.

Don Draper, our beloved anti-hero, is beginning to fray around the edges as Christmas rolls around as he will not be home with his children. Alone in his sullen apartment, Draper clings to anything he can for that familiar feeling, often casting reason aside and courting anything with skirt and a slight interest in him, whether it be personal or professional. After forgetting his keys in his office, Draper's young secretary, Allison, returns them to him when Don again grasps for comfort and after initial hesitation, she gives in. It is not lost on Don or Allison that this was not a smart idea.

Freddy Rumpson is back from JWT with a large account, Pons, under his arm. He's clean and sober now, but he carries a chip on his shoulder re-entering the firm, particularly a dislike for Pete Campbell.

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce has started using an outside firm specializing in the role of psychology as it is pertinent to advertising. During a presentation by the agency's attractive female specialist, Don walks out of the meeting (apologetically) avoiding a questionnaire delving into his childhood and his relationship with his father. Through the last three seasons, we have come to recognize this is one thing Don is not willing to share with anyone.

Lee Garner Jr., the man from Lucky Strike cigarettes, is in town and ready to be pampered as Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's largest leg to stand on. His connection to the firm, Roger Sterling, seems finally forced to dance for his dollar, and by the hand of Garner, is pressured into the Santa costume at SCDP's Christmas party (which had to be upgraded due to Garner's unexpected presence in New York during the holiday). A few snide remarks sets the stage that the emotions are building in Roger Sterling.

EPISODE 403 - "The Good News."
Joan Holloway, whose husband has decided to join the military as a surgeon, privately reveals to her doctor that she is working towards starting a family and wonders if any of her previous "operations" would be a problem in conceiving. Luckily (because she's GORGEOUS and otherwise would be an utter shame) every thing is fine. She butts heads with Lane Pryce, the financial partner in the firm, when she asks for a few days off following the holiday. The exchange does not go as she had planned, and after a rather contrite interaction, both are left flustered. Pryce tries to remedy the situation by sending flowers to Joan while also sending flowers to his wife back in London, but a secretarial mishap by Sandy results in the flowers (and thus, the cards) being sent to the other woman. As a result, Sandy is fired. Despite the setback, Joan keeps her spirits up but unfortunately sees what her husband Greg Holloway is made of when he stitches up a deep cut on Joan's finger.

With Christmas come and gone, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is emptying out for the new year. Don Draper needs the vacation, so he's flying out to Acapulco to get some sun. Once in California, Don heads to see the original Mrs. Draper, Anna Draper, sporting a recently broken leg. Resorting back to his old life, Draper falls into rhythm as "Dick Whitman" to Anna and her sister and niece, who are taking care of her while she's injured. Naturally Don is drawn to the niece, a smart and attractive college girl. After being turned down while dropping her off, Don finds himself struggling with the truth about his own life. She tells Don that Anna, the only connection Don has to "Dick Whitman" and his former life, is sick with cancer (unbeknownst to her) and doesn't have much time left. Don can't deal with the idea of "losing" another person he loves, so he decides to delay the Acapulco trip for a few more days until he can get a better grip on Anna's situation. But this is one situation that Don can't control, no matter how hard he tries, so he gives in the moral good, leaving Anna's for what appears to be, the last time, and heads home to New York.

"I know everything there is to know about you, and I still love you." - Anna Draper

With Lane's family back in London (and now on rocky ground with his wife, due to the mix up among other things) Don takes Lane under his arm for the evening; drinks, a movie, a dinner (a priceless scene in which Lane stands up, slaps a large T-bone steak against his belt, and shouts to the entire restaurant about his "big Texas belt buckle! Yeehaw!") and in true Draper fashion, the night ends for the gentlemen with two call girls. The following morning, Lane is appreciative of Don's gesture and reimburses him for the "company."

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce says goodbye to 1964, and hello to 1965.

EPISODE 404 - "The Rejected"
With more restrictions on cigarette advertising, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is working to calm down the riled up Lucky Strike.

The Pons Cole Cream campaign Freddy Rumpson is spearheading with Peggy Olsen is in full swing, complete with test groups. When the women in the office are pulled in for the group, Dr. Faye Miller, pulls on the heart strings of the women until the session turns into a full blown female sob-fest. An unfortunate victim of the emotional test group is Draper's young secretary, Allison. Overwhelmed by her own intimacies, Allison storms out of the test group and "spills the beans" to Peggy about her post-Christmas party relations with Don Draper. Allison assumes Peggy is in the same highly turbulent Draper-obsessed boat, but Peggy takes offense and storms out, affording no assistance to the ailing girl. Allison musters enough strength to confront Draper's nonchalance, and resigns from her position as his secretary. And when she asks him for a letter of recommendation, her emotions flare, and Allison storms out leaving curious stares and broken glass in tow.

Draper returns to work to meet his new secretary, a much older woman named Mrs. Blankenship. It is obvious she is a little rusty on the details of being a secretary, but there's no doubt Draper will not make the same mistake again.

Roger Sterling and Lane Pryce incite Pete Campbell to retire the Clearasil account because of a conflict of interest with Pons. Pete was only able to bring Clearasil to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce because one of the managers of Pons is Pete's father-in-law, Tom. When Pete meets with his father-in-law to break off the account, Pete fumbles around the point until Tom interjects, breaking the news that Pete and Trudy Campbell are having a baby. Baby news trumps any other news, and Pete misses the opportunity to break off the account. A few days later, while Trudy's parents are invited over for dinner, Pete steps up and doesn't just break off the Clearasil account, but expresses his desire for more of Vick's accounts, including cough drops. Tom, clearly, is hurt by Pete's decision.

"Every time you jump to conclusions Tom, you make me respect you less." - Pete Campbell

Kenny Cosgrove, one of the former Sterling Cooper employees shedded when they made the break to a new firm, is "on the up" with another firm. Harry Crane, the head of the television department, convinces Pete Campbell to accompany him to a lunch with Ken to celebrate Ken's upcoming marriage. At lunch, while Crane is answering the phone, Ken confronts Pete on some slanderous speech Pete had apparently spread about Ken. Once resolved, their conversation revolves around Cosgrove's lack-luster position at his new firm despite the rumors, and the strategy behind his accounts, including Mountain Dew.

Peggy Olsen makes a new friend, Joyce, an assistant photo editor at Life Magazine. Joyce shows up to SCDP one day and invites Peggy to a party downtown at a photographer's loft. Once at the party, Peggy attempts to mesh with the others by talking art and smoking pot, but rubs the host and other artists the wrong way when she talks about advertising their art. Joyce tries to make a move on Peggy, but Peggy tells her about her boyfriend, and they laugh off the awkwardness. The police show up to break up the party, and Peggy is forced into a closet with a journalist and in the heat of the moment, they kiss.
The following day at work, when Peggy finds out that Pete is having a child, history gets the best of her. Joyce arrives to take Peggy out to lunch at the same time the men are headed out, and as Pete and Peggy lock eyes through the office's glass door, it's obvious both are trapped in endless questions of "what ifs" and "if onlys."

Peggy: "I have a boyfriend."
Joyce: "He doesn't own your vagina."
Peggy: "No... but... he's renting it."

EPISODE 405 - "The Chrysanthemum And The Sword."
Apparently there's another firm in town that is nipping at the heels of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, in particular, a man named Ted Shaw declared to the New York Times that he is going to take down Don Draper.

With Honda Motorcycles - a $3 million dollar account - searching for an advertising firm to help expand their American market, everybody at the firm is in support of the chase except for Roger Sterling, who's experience in World War II has reared its' ugly head in opposition to Pete's new "yellow friends." Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce goes ahead with the meeting, and after some anecdotal formalities (entertaining subtitles were supplemented), they sit down and discuss the regulations for their presentation. Shortly before the meeting ends, Roger marches in (deliberately uninvited due to his prior behavior), rudely degrades Honda's representatives then marches out.

After the meeting, Pete Campbell confronts Roger about his rage and the firm's diminishing need for Roger as Lucky Strike progressively amounts to a lesser percentage of the firm's total billings. Roger's emotions peaked and nearly resorts to blows with the young executive Campbell.

Roger gives a half-assed apology about his behavior, but the firm continues to brainstorm about the project. But Draper's creative brilliance comes through when he decides to bluff the other competing firms into thinking SCDP is producing an incredible thirty second spot, undoubtedly exceeding the $3,000 limit (keynoted with a scene of Peggy driving a Honda scooter in circles around an abandoned soundstage). When Draper arrives for the Honda presentation, he "withdraws" from the competition and gives Honda their money back, a clever move intended to make Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce stand out based on a sense of respect and moral tradition, one he hopes will win over Honda. In the end, it was merely a test, but Honda was impressed with Don's presentation and respect, and Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce was given first shot at Honda's new car - a motorcycle with doors (57 horsepower).

"Since when is forgiveness a better quality than loyalty?" - Roger Sterling

Don leaves his neighbor, the nurse, in charge of the kids while he's on a date, but unbeknownst to her, Sally Draper drastically butchers her own hair in the bathroom, claiming her intention was to become "more beautiful" like the girls she knows her father sees. When Don learns of Sally's new "do," he erupts, as does Betty who slaps Sally across the face when Don drops her off at home. But Sally's outcry doesn't end there. One night, while at a friend's house, Sally experiments with her own sexuality through masturbation, and is walked in on by her sleeping playmate's mother. Shocked, she brings Sally home early and tells Betty about the incident, who is instantly mortified and embarrassed. The mystery of Sally's behavior continues to puzzle the adults, with Don and Beth pointing the fingers of responsibility at each other.

Contrary to all prior behavior, Don opens up to Dr. Faye Miller, the psychiatric analyst, and divulges the series of chips on his shoulders regarding his children, Betty, psychiatry, and the trials and tribulations of the recently divorced ad man.

Betty goes to visit a psychiatrist to discuss Sally's behavior and to set up some appointments, but after a short talk, Betty reveals her own pent up issues, and the doctor recommends she have some counseling sessions as well.

EPISODE 406 - "The Waldorf Stories"
When Roger Sterling's wife's 24 year old brother comes in interviewing for a job, he has little to offer but knockoffs of the idiom, "... cure for the common..." Don Draper and Roger share a chuckle about the kid's general ineptitude, but soon the smiles fade as Roger pulls the trigger - the kid gets a job, that's that. But getting his extended family jobs is not all Roger seems to be up to these days, he's dictating notes for an autobiography, recalling countless stories from his younger years. While digging up his glory days for his book, it becomes more and more evident he is not completely over Joan Harris.

Still riding high on the success of their Glo Coat commercial, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is nominated for the Clio, an advertising award. In anticipation of the awards that evening, the firm started early with the drinking. The boys at SDCP weren't the only ones drinking, however, an entertaining uproar by Duck Phillips sets the bar for the rest of the evening. And, in the "Best Cleansers, Waxes, and Polishes" category, the winner is... Glo Coat, "Billy the Kid," Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Hearing the announcement, Don stumbles around his table happily, accepts the award with a smile, and returns to his table victorious. Time for the celebration to begin... but not before Life Cereal interrupts by showing up at the office for a meeting. Instead of rescheduling, Draper et al charge back for their presentation with trophy in hand.

The meeting with Life starts strong but slowly begins to slip between Don's figures. In an effort to hold on to Life's attention, and showcase the genius that earned him the beautiful trophy, Draper grasps at straws, spilling out tagline after tagline, until Life snatches up the phrase, "Life, the cure for the common breakfast." Now Don has no choice but to work with the young misguided 24 year old, whom Don, ultimately (with great dissatisfaction), is forced to offer a job to.

Peggy is struggling with the Vick Chemicals campaign and working with the new art director, Stan Rizzo. The tension between the two is palpable from the outset, both stubborn to identify the varying successes of the other and Stan's almost constant degradation of Peggy. During their brainstorming, it was a constant back and forth. When Don demands the two spend the weekend locked in a room to finish the campaign, the tension between them reaches an all time high when they strip naked to finish their work (Stan claims the nudity frees his mind, and Peggy puts him on the spot by stripping down first.) Ultimately, Stan caves, dresses,
and resorts back to the belittling. Peggy smiles victoriously.

Pete Campbell, struggling to be respected as an equal partner in the office, is outraged to discover that Ken Cosgrove is being brought back into the firm, but not before Pete gets his two cents in. It is Pete's show now, and he wants to know that Ken can, and will, play by his rules. And just like that, Cosgrove's back.

Amidst all the commotion, Don lost track of the days and forgot to pick up his children on Sunday morning. Waking up next to another Clio award winner who called him "Dick," not being able to remember things, forgetting his trophy at the bar, and selling the kid's tagline, Don is coming apart at the seams. Despite being atop of the pyramid, Don is struggling to find a balance.

In this episode we finally learn the back story between Don Draper and Roger Sterling. Sterling, many years ago, was in Don's store searching for a Mink coat to give as a gift. Don was smooth in his sale and related to Sterling that he did the advertising for the shop. It turns out that the mink coat was for Joan Harris, and that Don had slipped his portfolio into the coat's box. (The man is persistent, there's no denying that.) But Don didn't stop there, he tracked down Sterling to his office and, after a tiny bit of convincing, brought him out for drinks. The following day Don showed up at the office and when Roger questions him, Don mentions that the day before, while they were having drinks, Roger had hired Don. "You said welcome aboard." And just like that, Don Draper was hired.

Roger: "I'll give it back if you just say one thing... you couldn't have done it without me."
Don: "Did I not say that? I was wrong."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Democracy as a Verb: An Action Word

We the people. This is a phrase we all know. Perhaps it’s because we were forced to memorize the preamble to the Constitution of the United States when we were in eighth grade or because we truly grasp the meaning, “We the People” has come to represent something every American holds dear: Freedom and Democracy. These things go hand in hand as our forefathers intended, freedom, democracy, and "We the People".

But have you thought about it? “We the People”. It’s just three words. But who are these people? You and me? Our parents? Maybe it includes everyone in California, or maybe just those who are old enough to vote. Is it everyone in the United States, or do we limit it to citizens? Are these people the ones who work 9-5 at minimum wage or make millions on Wall Street? Does our democracy represent us, if we truly are the people referenced in so simple a phrase?

I think in order to call ourselves a democracy, which we as US citizen do, it had better represent us. We ARE “THE PEOPLE”. And as the longest standing and largest democracy in an ever-shrinking world, we have a lot at stake. So in my interest, and your interest, and in the interest of all citizens of the world and “our posterity”, lets take a look at what exactly is going on here.

Democracy, as established by the Athenians centuries ago, is based on public participation. You have to care. I know with school and work and hangovers and exams and girlfriends and boyfriends and best friends and LIFE sometimes it’s hard to actually do something. But sometimes you have to step back and realize that just because your life is comfortable and you are provided for, not everyone in this world has that luxury. And good for you, you got lucky enough to be born into it. The revolutionaries who wrote “We the People” intended it to be so. But they also intended for you know something about politics, to know who’s running for what position in government and what their opinions are on key issues; they expect you to vote and not do it “because I always vote Democrat” but because you think Mr. Obama will fulfill his promises and bring the troops home and create universal healthcare. They expect you to make sure that who won actually won, and then hold them accountable for their actions as they represent you. Our founding fathers never intended for us to be so lazy.

Accountability. It’s a big word, but it’s meaning is even bigger. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance”. What our politicians do, whether it’s our town mayor or president of the United States, their actions directly represent us and we need to watch them and hold them accountable. To be honest, I don’t think that their decisions reflect our best interests anymore. Decisions are made with aims of military conquest and power and money for few. Look at the trends. The middle class is shrinking, and it’s the classic case of the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer. So who’s benefiting? “We the People”? Our policies, internationally, domestically, economically, and militarily are no longer in our interest. Why is that? Where did we go wrong? Was it September 11th? That day, my dad had a meeting at 9:00 on the 53rd floor of the tower that fell at 9:03. Last minute his boss told him to stay at his office a block away for another meeting. It was the worst day of my life, but that doesn’t mean I want my phones tapped as allowed in the Patriot Act. That doesn’t mean that I think every Muslim entering the country should be searched, and I don’t think that the tragedy that took place justifies any of our monumental failures in the Middle East or our outrageous military budget derived from our taxes and my generation’s inherited debt. Nor does it justify the secrecy of where our money is going or where the prisoners of war we take end up. And in the end, the dwindling supply of oil we gain will choke us in our waste rather than raise us to the bar set by real democracy. Because the oil companies and multinational corporations will be the benefactors while the rest of us will pay for being so forgetful of our duties as citizens.

So then, back to our little phrase. “We the People”. Does this phrase then encompass those in other countries, since the United States is dictating more and more on the global scale? The United States has, after all, unilaterally started wars, trained foreign armies, supported rebellions, and contributed more than any other nation to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, all in the name of democracy. So are the people of Iraq and Afghanistan included in “We the People”? If they are to be included, then are the Sudanese, the Rwandans, the Koreans, and the Mexicans? Is there room for them in this three-word statement?

Before we can enlighten the world on the finer points of democracy and freedom, I think we need to get a few things straight ourselves. It’s a fine mess we’ve found ourselves in, but there’s a light at the end of every tunnel. We have the finest documents in the world, The Constitution of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence to back us up. So get involved. Read a newspaper or watch the news, but afterwards think critically, “is this bullshit or is this true? Whose opinion is it, and why would they hold that opinion? Is maybe some of this true, and some a bit embellished?” Think for yourselves and know what’s going on. We are the People, and if democracy and freedom are to exist then we need to act like we deserve it.

To register to vote here in California, click here and fill that shit out: https://www.sos.ca.gov/nvrc/fedform/

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fantasy Football 2010

Fucking everyone has a fantasy football team now.

As a purist, I can't help but get a little defensive when one of my favorite nerdy hobbies has been infiltrated by a new group of fans as phony as the Red Sox bandwagon. I'm bitter, but with the mainstream appeal of fantasy sports, at least I'll be able to find out if Heidi will like ever forgive Spencer for totally trading running backs with LC. Plus, fantasy football is still a legitimate hobby and I will need something to occupy my spare 38 hours/week at work.

I am, and always have been dominant - you can check the trophy case. Unfortunately for you, in this article, I can't pass on my superior judgement, foresight & knowledge that has distinguished myself as a champion. In order to not look like a total chump, here are four thoughts to keep in mind as you approach draft day - the first 3 are absolute musts, and the fourth is an observation on the evolution of the game (fantasy and gridiron alike).
  1. KNOW THE RULES. You have to understand the scoring settings of your league. Do throwing TD's count as 6 or 4? Do you get points per reception? Do you have individual defensive players, and if so, do you get points per tackle? Come on, you gotta know this stuff.
  2. Default pre-rankings are typically solid. Don't be afraid to use the default draft order as a template for your draft rankings. After all, Yahoo! and ESPN's rationale for ranking Ochocinco 45th is probably more reasonable than mine - which is: he has cool shoes, drives a chromed out black semi (pictured right), and he says funny things. Child please.
  3. Check the injury report. Easy. You just don't want to be that guy that drafts LenDale White too early.
  4. TE's matter now. Back in the day, one team would get Tony Gonzalez, and everybody else would be stuck with some buster that catches 3 passes for 18 yards every week at the tight end position. A complete waste. Those days are gone and there are a handful of solid scoring options at TE, as the position evolves from eligible-downfield-lineman to additional-receiver. You want these guys on your team.
So while you are studying your cheat sheets, and debating if you would take Mojo or Ray Rice if you landed that #3 pick, don't lose sight of these tips.

Also: you want Adrian Peterson (RB - Min) not Adrian Peterson (RB - Sea), and you want Zach Miller (TE - Oak) not Zach Miller (TE - Jac), any WR named Steve Smith should do just fine, but please steer clear of anyone, TE or QB, named Alex Smith.

Good luck!

Off My Tip

I don't know who this artist is, but his work is not pointless... it's remarkable.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This Week's Top Ten Music Picks:

Ladies and gents, these are my music picks for the week. If you want to listen to a song, just put your cursor over the song and then click on the link. Hope you enjoy!

10. Mr. Rager- Kid Cudi
"Whoa, now, hey! Mr. Raaagerr, Mr. Rager, tell me where you're going, tell us where you're headed. I'm off on an adventure, Mr. Raaager. Tell us some of your stories, tell us some of your travels." I can not wait until Kid Cudi's new album is released. From what I've heard so far, it's going to be unreal.

Another great Gorillaz track. "Shower my habits, while you dine like rabbits, with the crunchy, crunchy, carrots. Oh, that's chicken, gotta have it superfast!"

This track is for all you gold-digger haters out there. This song is off Cee-Lo's highly anticipated album, "Lady Killer." Although I found this track to be incredible, I highly doubt it will mainstream because of the title.

This song is off their upcoming debut album, "Burst"(to be released September 21, 2010). Also sounding similar to Passion Pit, The Pass delivers extraordinary vocals over contagious indie pop beats. I am really looking forward to their debut album and seeing what else these boys from Kentucky have to offer.

This track is great, and Beyonce's contribution definitely boosts this song up a bit. I'm really glad to see Kanye diverting from his 808s and Heartbreak sound and it feels as though he has finally returned to his College Dropout days (It's about time, right?).

I admit that I haven't always been the biggest Katy Perry fan, but with her latest songs, "E.T." and "Teenage Dream", I'd be lying if I said she wasn't growing on me. Plus she's engaged to Russell Brand, which helps bump her up a few notches. Seriously though, "E.T." is contagious. I found myself listening to the song over and over again.

I was introduced to this song last week by a friend and I literally can't stop listening to it.
Little Dragon's electronic beats and soaring lyrics are simply irresistible.

3. Forever Impossible- Mochi Beats (feat. Two Door Cinema Club, Drake, and Shontelle)
I came across this mix this morning and it is GOLD.

This is Lupe's newest track, and when you listen to it I think you will agree that he is a lyrical genius. "But I'm warmin' up, oceans is on the rise. I'll be Ocean with eleven associates on my side. Colder than Chris Martin guitarin', would you look at all these spies? But they can't see me, I took out their eyes."

I LOVE this five-piece band. And if their name alone isn't enough to make you at least a bit curious, their sound will. Their sound is extremely similar to Passion Pit, with high pitched vocals over heavy synthetic rock sounds.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Expendables

Since when has ageism been so fashionable? This years Oscars Ceremony were hosted by two comedians openly basking in the glittering twilight of their careers; their stage and screen characters play with happily self deprecating awareness of their age ("we'll now introduce three people [the stars of the Twilight series] who have no idea who we are") and boyish flaunting of their romantic agelessness (see any of the young women opposite them in Shop Girl or 30 Rock). The 80s have made a dramatic comeback in 2010, but the time period is resurfacing primarily as an idea, and a particularly ironic one. Like within our own lives, that aesthetically awkward period now appears more attractive: at an arms length its rough colors and edges seem softer and even more purposeful.
Before The Expendables last night a preview came on for RED, a comic-adaption in which a handful of Academy Award winners, as retired CIA operatives, suddenly appear as a threat to the Agency. Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren, seriously, Helen Mirren, decide to pool their resources and, naturally, clear their names by breaking in to CIA headquarters. Bruce Willis is chided by the name "Grandpa," promptly before breaking the hapless youngster's neck. The image of Helen Mirren wielding an automatic rifle is, frankly, more shocking than the movie's plot.
Expendables followed quite aptly. The script is weathered in conjuring up the past: doubts about a misspent career; sighs and scowls over missed opportunities; older guys reaching back in time by way of (much) younger women. The idea of the movie, like RED, mirrors nearly all the action contained within: a decadence of action heroes in an orgy of violence; bulky bodies with the thickest of necks spurting out muscled, veiny, (perhaps unnaturally enhanced) dialogue. There are moments of genuine oddness, and funny back-and-forth, but that's not really the point.
It is just as much a movie about action movies as it is a movie in its own right. Not that it is that heady, or even thoughtful, but it is overwhelmingly self conscious just as flaunting self consciousness, particularly ones place in history, is at the height of its popularity. Expendables, however, unlike other cultural motifs, has a monopoly on hyperbole. Thank God.

If you've been under a rock, check the link: http://expendablesthemovie.com/

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Zucchini Pancakes

Suzie Homemaker confession time: when boyfriend is gone, everything goes to hell.
Take last night for example. Boyfriend is in glamorous St. Louis this week so I was left to my own defenses. Generally on nights I'm alone (which is more often than I'd like) I will eat popcorn for dinner. Sometimes with a side of chocolate bar. Don't judge.
Last night, however, I had a crisper drawer of veggies staring me in the face. Guilt tripping me with their slow decline into rottenness. So I decided to forgo my usual nutritious dinner and make something with a bit more substance. Zucchini Pancakes.

Okay. It's not a 4-course gourmet meal. But the thing is, when Boyfriend is gone, I generally give up the whole idea of "making dinner" with plates and napkins and side dishes. Instead, I have dinner standing in the kitchen dropping crumbs into the sink, constantly opening and closing the fridge as I swig milk direct from the container. It's one of the few bright spots of being left alone in our apartment. I can eat standing around, with my fingers, chugging milk, and no one gives a shit. I hope this doesn't ruin my Domestic Goddess reputation (if I even had one?). At least I didn't order out.
Zucchini pancakes are perfect eat-in-the-kitchen food. They are also insanely easy to make. The great thing about veggie-pancakes is that you can really put whatever you want in there. You just need to make sure 1. the veggies are shredded well (thank you, 20 yr old food processor) and 2. the mixture isn't too thick with flour and egg. The star here is the veg. Consider this recipe a template for whatever vegetable combination you can dream up. I just used what I had. You know, the staring vegetables.

You'll Need

  • 1 ear of corn
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 small handful of basil, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1/3 cup of Feta Cheese
  • 1/3 cup of Flour (or more if mixture seems too wet after combining all ingredients)
  • 1 tablespoon of Baking Powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pinch of Dill
  • 1 pinch of Garlic Powder
  • Salt & Pepper

To Do:
  • Using a food processor or a box grater, shred the Zucchini. Toss in a bowl with a few shakes of salt, set aside for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cut the corn kernels from the ear and shred the jalapeno. Combine.
  • Drain the excess water from the shredded Zucc. Pick up handfuls, squeeze over sink (use your muscles!).
  • Add squeezed-out zucchini to the corn and jalapeno, along with the roughly chopped basil
  • Crack 1 egg and 1 egg yolk into this mixture, stir to combine
  • Add flour and baking powder, stir to combine. Mixture shouldn't be too batter-y. The flour/baking powder is just meant to hold the veggies together.
  • Add feta, Dill (or whatever spices you like), salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Heat vegetable oil or olive oil in a saute pan.
  • Drop spoonfuls of zucc mixture into pan, 'smooshing' to thin it out and make a pancake-esque shape
  • Fry until golden brown. Drain on paper-towel lined plate. Top with Sour Cream before scarfing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

This Week's Top Ten Music Picks:

Ladies and gents, these are my music picks for the week. If you want to listen to a song, just put your cursor over the song and then click on the link. Hope you enjoy!

This song is not yet released, but I LOVE it. I can't wait for Kid Cudi to release his new album. The fresh beats and lyrics are infectious. "This is how I really think, you can see what I see, yes I really think. Yes I really drink, I really do rage. My demons out the cage bout most of the day."

9. I Need A Dollar (How to Make it in America)- Aloe Blacc
This song is the theme song for the HBO series, "How to Make it in America." I found it literally impossible to listen to this song just once.

I really enjoy this mix of Wale and Sam Sparro's "Black and Gold." Wale spits some crazy lyrics in this song, and I think you will enjoy it as well. If you like this song, you should check out Wale's new mixtape, "More About Nothing."

This song is combined with "melancholy" lyrics and sunny beats, making it simply irresistible. "When you can't get what you want, but you can get me. So let's set up and see, 'cause you are my medicine, when you're close to me." What can I say, I love the Gorillaz.

This song is off Lupe's album "Food and Liquor." The album was released in 2006, but I came across the song the other day and fell in love. I really hope Lupe has a new album in the works.

This girl can really belt it. I mean, her vocals are absolutely incredible! I also heard that she will be performing at the MTV music video awards in September.

This song is amazing. The guitar solo near the middle of the song is epic. Part of the reason I love The Temper Trap so much is that they somehow manage to find a connection between indie and mainstream music. I highly recommend you check out their debut album "Conditions" ASAP. Your ears will thank you.

Who doesn't love Lil' Wayne. I found this track the other day. I don't believe it is released yet, but it is amazing (especially with Drake on it as well). "Now, tell me how you love it, you know you're at the top and all the heavens right above it, we on...It's young money, mother f*****, if you ain't running with me, run from me mother f*****, alright."

Another Kid Cudi song has once again succeeded and reached my top ten. I love the lyrics and Ratatat's solo perfectly completes this song. "A sexy lady who is pure, she has the cure. I hope she can find the man within the beast. I hope she saves me from the curse I have to beat. I hope she figures out a way to save my soul, yeah to save my heart. Every time, the moon shines, I become alive."

This song has INCREDIBLE beats. It is the perfect track if you need some motivation to get ready, go workout, or to help you get up in the morning. You get my drift. For those of you who aren't familiar with Pretty Lights, you should definitely check them out @ http://prettylightsmusic.com/#/home. I'm pretty sure their music is free on their website.

Monday, August 9, 2010


* www.objeti.com *
Design = FUN

When looking for something cool, a general thought is to look at the shell of an object or maybe the new technology that it uses. People tend to use style and trends as key attributes to determine COOLNESS. If you look back at some of the coolest products of 2009, I think you will find quite a difference in the way people are thinking about design than say the cultmobile! of 2000. Only a nine year difference and it is evident that function and utility is complimented by style. FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION.

As a young professional, maybe, I think about things like where will I be in 5 years or 2 years. Do I NEED a fabulous mansion in the hills or a GMC Denali? ...Maybe. Do I need to take some time off to "think" about where I will go...daydreaming...finding my purpose...following stars? ...Maybe. Do I NEED to find a place that will make me happy and surround myself with things that are fun and functional at the same time? ...Probably. With product design especially, we are starting to see real design thought that makes things easier to use, and screams simplicity to user keep in order to keep interest and allow for development. Too much frilly detail can only keep attention for so long, then drift to someone else or the garbage. In the furniture world, sofas with little to no padding are looked at more as sculpture and not something to spend hours and hours playing video games. They might be sleek but are not functioning with their original, intended purpose (good vs. bad). Comfort and relaxation. From lighting to tables, we are experienceing an appreciation for what is necessary and how we can use the least amount of parts to create function and fun. We are seeing a more direct visual of what things should be rather than something that takes too much time to absorb and interpret.

Design has roots in engineering, art, media, fashion, trade, healthcare, law and finance. "Design is to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan." *

Designs have to meet deadlines in order for refinement, manufacturing and marketing. The success of the product relies on timeliness of the design team, but also the timeliness of information collected about what people want.

Today, designers have to USE the user. They are forced to. Products cannot exist without your input from the beginning of the concept until the physical product is on Target shelves.

The more networking and idea sharing that we can do, the better products will be. It's proven. Keep blogging and talking about what works.


Sunday, August 8, 2010


I said, "You should try waffle crisp cereal."

How about you? Share your stories and I share the rest of this one.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Design of Things

This website. Blog posts. Magic shows. Cats. eBay. The iPad. Your body. My body. The Boston Red Sox. What do all of these things have in common? Believe it or not, these are not all completely random; they can all be categorized together when defined as a system. Systems surround us. We interact with them, create them, destroy them, and rebuild them every single day. What is a system? A system is a set of interacting or interdependent entities that form an integrated whole. In plain English, a system is made up of parts that individually perform distinct functions but together create a new, different function. For instance, your body has a liver, a heart, a stomach, veins, arteries, etc. Each of these individually can filter, pump, digest, direct, restrict, and so forth. Combine the parts and we have MacGyver, Natalie Portman, Keanu Reeves, Einstein, human beings!

So, now that you have an idea of what I’m talking about, let’s focus on designing systems. It is truly incredible to think about designing systems when you consider all the possible pieces that can exist in a system. In fact, it can be overwhelming, which is why it is vitally important to define the boundaries of your system and the purpose you want it to achieve. The longer you spend at the outset of your design the better off you will be when putting all the pieces together. Clear boundaries and purpose will allow the designer to decide what is critical to the system and what can be left out, which will save time and effort. Take a look at how quickly we can get lost if we don’t clearly define our system.

Imagine that the purpose of our system is to get a result of 4. Easy, right? 2 + 2 will give us 4, but look at some other possibilities:

100 – 96 = 4

16/4 = 4

4 + 0 = 4

(((0*3,000) + 34)/2) + 3 – 16 = 4

You can see that the possibilities to obtain 4 are practically endless (and we haven’t even left basic arithmetic). Now, let’s see what happens if we define the boundaries and our purpose a little more precisely. We do this by adding constraints to the design. Why not say that our purpose is to obtain 4 using only addition of two integers greater than 0 and less than 4? Now our possibilities are much more limited.

1 + 3 = 4

2 + 2 = 4

3 + 1 = 4

Three possibilities. We went from endless possibilities to 3 by adding two constraints – only adding two integers and integers greater than 0 and less than 4.

I can write about all the formal steps of creating and manipulating systems forever. I will leave you, for now, with just this basic introduction to this multi-faceted discipline. Look around you over the next few days and think about the design of the things that you see and interact with. Did the designer do a good job? Did they consider all the variables? Did the system meet its intended purpose? What are some systems that could use improvement? I guarantee you’ll run across a few that will leave you scratching your head, but maybe you’ll think again. Maybe the initial design didn’t intend for the system to be used the way you wish it did. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, purpose is in the design of the engineer, and function is in the mind of the user.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Top Ten Music Picks for This Week:

For this week's music picks I have once again chosen songs from all different genres. To hear each pick, click on each song. I hope you enjoy my selections!

10. The Train Pt. 2 (Sir Lucious Left Foot Saves the Day) -Big Boi & Sam Chris
This track's whistling beat and fierce lyrics prove Big Boi's tremendous talent and that he is doing just fine on his own. Be sure to check out Big Boi's whole album, "Sir Lucious Left Foot... The Son of Chico Dusty". Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

I am completely in love with The Black Keys and their whole entire album, "Brothers." I decided to post this song because it is one of their more well known songs and the music video is extremely entertaining.

I found this song by scoping through some international singles charts. This feel-good song is extremely contagious and I think it is only a matter of time before it becomes popular in the U.S.

This song is for those of you who love delicious covers. Starf*cker is an extremely talented band and I highly recommend you check them out.

Although this song is relatively short, it is still amazing. The lyrics (although simple) are very catchy.

I was introduced to Two Door Cinema Club the other day by a good friend while taking a little road trip. This song is remixed by Passion Pit (who I also LOVE), and I think you will find this song as irresistible as I do. Two Door Cinema Club's album, "Tourist History" is an excellent collaboration of tasty beats and lyrics, all of which are perfect for jamming out to in the car on a hot summer day (with the windows down of course).

"Feel em' hate from every angle, they intimated, ain't I? I'm a beast, They don't like to see me walking out of prison, I ain't trippin' I don't owe em' nothing but an a*s whoopin." This song is filled with fresh beats and T.I. spits some clever lyrics. I am very curious to see what else T.I. brings to the table in the near future.

I love The Temper Trap. Not only is this song easy to listen to, it is pure genius. The vocals are paired with beautiful guitar chords, making this song simply incredible.

This song is sprinkled with such interesting and eccentric beats that you just want to keep on listening.

This song has a retro and melancholy feel to it, yet it effortlessly seems to finds a way to get stuck in your head (in a good way). In the link above I have posted the video of this song by the Broken Bells, so do yourself a favor and listen to it!