Random Thought of the Week #28

What if there were a Broadway musical based on the discography of Ace of Base? Hey, if it happened to ABBA, it could happen to everyone's favorite Swedes from the 90s.

If I ran things, I'd simply call it The Sign, an epic romance set against the backdrop of the "turbulent yet carefree 1990s" (as quoted from my hypothetical Playbill). Perhaps we could be treated to an emotional rendition of "Don't Turn Around" in which our hero and heroine are on the verge of a teary-eyed break-up. Maybe our heroine doesn't approve of her man's lifestyle as a jewel thief and con artist and breaks out into a rip-roaring version of "Living in Danger," complete with choreography by Mia Michaels or Travis Wall.

Just throwing it out there. And if it does happen, just remember who came up with the idea first.



H.P.M.


DIARY OF THE FUNEMPLOYED: Free Caffeine Fix

My relationship with coffee didn't begin until I was 21 (call me a late bloomer).

It was a cold autumn morning in 2001. To make a few extra bucks my college roommate and I got up at the buttcrack of dawn to stand in line at the Fleet Center in downtown Boston and wait for the box office to open. The "job" consisted of buying the maximum number of tickets (premium seats, whatever the event) for a local ticket brokerage firm that later sold them "at premium prices" to their "clients." We were to meet a contact who would give us hundreds of dollars in cash for the purchase (they held onto our IDs as collateral so that we wouldn't run off). Although it seemed shady and sneaky, it was a totally legit operation. And it paid in cash. One hundred bucks for two hours of our time.

Anyway, what got me up and ready for the early task was a cup of vanilla roast from Dunkin' Donuts. My roommate, Steve, had introduced me to it. It was warm and smooth and invigorating (the spoonfuls of sugar and heavy cream, I'm sure, had something to do with it as well). Holy Splenda this was good! Was this what I had been missing out on? The closest I came to coffee was an obsession with Starbucks Mocha Frappucinos for a good part of my junior year of high school.

I was hooked. Coffee good.

Cut to a decade later, and I can't seem to get through most mornings without a cup of joe. True, I did invest in a Mr. Coffee just over a year ago so that my budget wouldn't be blown on overpriced lattes at every Peets, Starbucks, and Coffee Bean I seemed to frequent in my neighborhood. However, there's something about those grande-sized cups with the brown cardboard sleeves and green logos. They've become, in a way, status symbols. A nice, steaming venti cup is an indicator of where you stand in society. It tells people, Yeah, I can afford giant caramel macchiato every day - what are you gonna do about it? So what if I'm too lazy to make some at home? And there's no way in hell I'll drink that mulch they make at the office. And don't even get me started on the irresistible holiday cups with their festive red and white designs. Ah, eggnog lattes...

Sorry, where was I?

With the way my budget is going, I'm lucky to afford 2 small fancy cups a week. However, I've managed to find a few cheaper alternatives. First, there are those press junkets I've had the pleasure of attending. As I've mentioned before, the free food ain't too shabby, but what's even greater is the endless supply of coffee, particularly at The Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. Silver spoons, herbal teas, and cream, oh my! I always make sure to grab a to-go cup before I leave so that I'm caffeinated for the remainder of the day.

Then there's my bank. Although they love charging me an annoying checking account fee every month (I really do think they enjoy squeezing every penny out of me in order to contribute to their obscene, annual $5 billion-dollar profit), I thank them for their little coffee station. Instead of making my transactions at the ATM outside I will walk into my branch - even for the slightest of reasons - just to get my hands on one of those complementary Styrofoam cups, sprinkle some non-dairy creamer and pour some hot black stuff to get me going. I wonder if the tellers would notice if I brought in a thermos to fill up for the rest of the day...

The other day I walked into said bank for the sole purpose of a free coffee. I had no paycheck to deposit, nothing to withdraw. In order to keep up the charade, I held in my hand an old pay stub, pretending to prep myself for a transaction. I went up to the counter, grabbed a deposit slip, started to fill out a few numbers, and then feigned frustration as I crumpled up the slip of paper and backtracked - this time stopping at the coffee station. "Oh, might as well grab a cup while I'm here," said my body language. I filled up, flashed a smile at the bank manager, and made my merry way back home.

Desperate? Or just plain creative in my thriftiness?

H.P.M.


THE SANTA SESSIONS: The 2011 Holiday Playlist


This was inevitable. After all, if Justin Bieber and Zooey Deschanel can pop out Christmas compilations, then why can't I?

I've always believed that a steady, well-balanced diet of contemporary and classic holiday tunes is necessary for any celebration involving tinsel, candy canes, and spiked eggnog. Therefore I've come up with a small sample of what's on my playlist between now and December 25. I mean, there's only so many times I can listen to Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" on the radio, so I'll be relying on my iPod to deck the halls with boughs of ear candy.

1. "When Christmas Comes" by Mariah Carey & John Legend
2. "Shake Up Christmas" by Natasha Bedingfield
3. "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas" by Michael Buble
4. "I'll Be Home For Christmas" by Katharine McPhee
5. "White Christmas (Live)" by Lady Gaga



6. "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by Charice
7. "All I Want For Christmas Is New Year's Day" by Hurts
8. "Winter Wonderland" by Jason Mraz
9. "Do You Hear What I Hear?" by Kristinia DeBarge
10. "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Leighton Meester
11. "Last Christmas" by Jimmy Eat World
12. "Grown-Up Christmas List" by Monica:



13. "Wonderful Christmastime" by Kelly Rowland
14. "Child of Winter" by Rachel and the Reindeerz - A shameless plug for my friend Rachel who worked on this merry little Beach Boys cover last year and turned it into a cheery viral hit.
15. "Extraordinary Merry Christmas" by The Glee Cast - An original pop number that will get your head bopping while trimming the tree and hanging up those stockings with care.
16. "Mistletoe & Holly" by Leigh Nash
17. "Merry Christmas Everybody" by Steps - Because nothing screams "cheesy kitschy fun" like this poptastic early 2000s gem from the Britpop superstars.
18. "Carol Of The Bells" by The Bird And The Bee
19. "All Alone on Christmas" by Darlene Love - An oldie from the early 90s (yes, it's also from the Home Alone 2: Lost in New York soundtrack), and it is one helluva rollicking good time.
20. "The Christmas Song (Thunderpuss Remix)" by Christina Aguilera - It wouldn't be Christmas without some diva theatrics set to an over-the-top remix. Perfect for those yuletide rooftop soirees in Chelsea:



21. "Love Is Christmas" by Sara Bareilles
22. "Last Christmas" by Cascada - If one version wasn't enough, then check out this club-friendly rendition from the Queen of Eurodance Trash.
23. "Sleigh Ride" by Debbie Gibson - A flashback to the 80s to help you reminisce about that Hot Wheels playset you found underneath the tree (or is that just me?).
24. "The Christmas Song" by Justin Bieber & Usher - I hesitate to put this on here, but Usher offers some redeeming vocals to turn this holiday classic into a late-night slow jam.
25. "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by The Glee Cast

Happy Holidays,

H.P.M.


Random Thought of the Week #27


There's something consoling about seeing a Rolls Royce waiting in line at a McDonald's drive-thru.

Rich people: they have cravings just like us.

H.P.M.


Titanic 3D: Bringing 1997 Back

So, it appears James Cameron is resurrecting his cash cow from 1997 for a 2012 audience. You know, the one about the big boat that sinks (if you consider that a spoiler, then welcome back from Jupiter).

I guess it's the lesser of two evils. I mean, at least it's not a remake...or a sequel. Oh, wait, that already happened.

Go ahead. Roll your eyes. Let's see how many fools will be clamoring for those 3D glasses come April. After all, if you think about it, there's now a entire generation that hasn't experienced this romantic epic on the big screen, and after devouring the 3D spectacle that was Avatar, these kids today just might bite and a buy an overpriced ticket to see "that guy from Inception" and "that MILF from Contagion" get it on the backseat of a 1912 Renault. Take a look at the newfangled trailer:



*Yes, it's true that I saw this film three times in the theater when I was senior in high school. Yes, it's true that I proudly own Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love on which the ubiquitous "My Heart Will Go On" can be found. And yes, it's true that my prep school friends and I would lip sync to the ballad like crazy in my dad's 1992 Camry while driving through the streets of New Rochelle.

Your judgments have been noted and quickly dismissed.

H.P.M.


FROST FACTOR: The 2011 Winter Playlist


Winter technically doesn't start until December 21 (Happy 90th, Grandma), but I'm here to prep you ahead of time. This one's for the Thanksgiving dinners, the Black Friday trips to the mall, the commute to work as you sip on a peppermint mocha and mentally put together what you'll be wearing to the office holiday party.

1. "Princess of China" by Coldplay feat. Rihanna - The collaboration that should've never worked...works.
2. "Love On Top" by Beyonce
3. "Holidays" by Miami Horror - I'm a little late to the party celebrating this Australian electro-pop group. And the title of this carefree jam just happens to fit the season.
4. "No Light, No Light" by Florence and the Machine - My favorite track off the majestic Ceremonials is also one of the best singles of 2011. Rise up and rejoice.
5. "The One That Got Away" by Katy Perry - Because the girl (or her record label) would like to smash Michael Jackson's record and make this her sixth consecutive #1 single from Teenage Dream.
6. "Turn Me On" by David Guetta feat. Nicki Minaj
7. "Call It What You Want" by Foster The People:



8. "Room for Happiness" by Kaskade feat. Skylar Grey
9. "Mouth 2 Mouth" by Enrique Iglesias feat. Jennifer Lopez - This duet, 10 years in the making, finally dropped/leaked last month, and while it's pleasantly derivative at best, I can't wait for the remixes:



10. "Lightning" by The Wanted
11. "It Will Rain" by Bruno Mars
12. "Run Dry (X Heart X Fingers)" by Patrick Stump - The former Fall Out Boy frontman impresses with a soulfully funky vibe no one saw coming.
13. "Down For Whatever" by Kelly Rowland feat. The WAV.s:



14. "Nothing" by The Script - Because there's nothing like a little Irish croon to go with your gingerbread latte.
15. "Calling All The Monsters" by China Anne McClain
16. "Up" by James Morrison feat. Jessie J
17. "Dance With Me Tonight" by Olly Murs
18. "Music Sounds Better With You" by Big Time Rush
19. "My Heart Takes Over" by The Saturdays - Not feeling the mid-tempo treacle? Then try the High Level Radio Edit here.
20. "All Night Long" by Demi Lovato feat. Timbaland & Missy Elliot


Japanglish

At first I thought this PCD-influenced girl group was attempting to cover Republica's "Ready to Go" - you know, with the requisite butchering of prepositional phrases (stereotypical but true). But upon viewing this flashy music video I discovered that it's just your run-of-the-rice-mill single from 4Minute, one of the many pop groups treading water in the ocean that is the saturated J-Pop market.

There are a few English words thrown around ("shining star," "shut up and go away," and of course, the title declaration). And I can't help but think that they're chanting my name at the :51 and 1:53 marks. But that's probably just my ego talking.

Enjoy:


Dancing Around Questions With The Stars

I recently interviewed a couple of celebs for HIH. It was a chance to sit in a comfy suite at a posh hotel, enjoy a free meal, and sneak a couple of disposable hand towels from the bathroom (Shhh...). You can catch one HERE and the other HERE.

*For you Michael Fassbender fanatics, that one's coming soon. *UPDATE 11/29/11 - Here it is.

H.P.M.


Random Thought of the Week #26

To the creative culinary mind at Trader Joe's who came up with the idea to sell milk chocolate-covered potato chips, I thank you. And hate you.

Not only have you given me pure, unadulterated joy, you have also cursed me with yet another edible distraction filled with enough calories to corrupt the healthiest of the healthy (seriously, if you have no urge to try one, then you have no soul).

You promise that "every crunchy bite brings a symphony of flavors and textures that please the palate and bring joy to the world. Or at least to your taste buds." Just admit it - it causes severe foodgasms. You also claim that it "fits right in with a balanced lifestyle." Clearly you haven't seen how balanced my kitchen cabinet has been lately.

Munch, munch,

H.P.M.


FLASHBACK: Chante Moore Anyone?

The year was 2000. And lost in the shuffle was this bumpin' R&B number from a woman who would forever struggle in the shadows of giants like Mariah, Aaliyah, and Lauryn. I'm talking about Chante Moore, the former Mrs. Kadeem Hardison (that's right, A Different World's Dwayne Wayne!), and her single-that-shoulda-soared "Straight Up."

I randomly happened to remember that I had put this jam on one of my European-influenced mix CDs after living in London during the first half of 2001 (such carefree, pre-9/11 times). I had caught this video while watching MTV UK in my flat and was hooked ever since, sadly never seeing it catch on here in the States.

And looking back now, it just screams early 21st century (Tae-Bo choreography! Sports jersey midriffs!). How quaint compared to the glittery dance trash that's currently being forced down the ears of the American public.

You're welcome:


Theme Song of the Month: November 2011

It's not every day you get to have a religious experience while listening to a song.

Well, today is that day. Florence and the Machine's "No Light, No Light" is one majestic piece of pop, a thundering opus of epic proportions (and the rest of the album ain't too shabby either). Those pounding drums. That rousing chorus. And yes, those are harps you hear being strung at the 1:02 mark.

My brothers and sisters, get down on your knees and worship with me: