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Showing posts from December, 2013


Screw Resolutions: 14 Things To Do In 2014

These ain't no stinkin' resolutions. The following is simply a list of things I wish to do in the new year, little things to be mindful of while I navigate these sometimes treacherous waters we call social media...and that thing I call a life. Let's see what I'm capable of in 2014, shall we?

1. Stop using "Um" to start my status updates and tweets.

2. Resist the urge to call TVLand "the network where former sitcom stars go to die."

3. Say the word "love" more often. To people. To their faces.

4. Invest in a pair of Rockports. Something like these. With light blue laces.

5. Unsubscribe to e-newsletters that continuously flood my inbox.

6. Send publishers that book treatment I've been delaying.

7. Flirt more.

8. Get around to reading this.

9. Get my passport stamped again.

10. Continue to say "no," and be okay with it.

11. Finish The Fall on Netflix.

12. Practice more empathy.

13. Make more lists.

14. Continue to let go.

May 2…


Remembering Ned Vizzini (1981-2013)

Back in 2007 I had the privilege of meeting Ned Vizzini in an apartment in Hollywood while celebrating a mutual friend's birthday. Coincidentally, I had finished reading his novel, Be More Chill, several months prior and had fallen in love with his writing. The novel, an Entertainment Weekly Top 10 Book of 2004, is about a high school loser who takes a pill to make himself cool and popular. It was one of the best pieces of fiction I had read in a while, and I had been thrilled by the circumstances that allowed us to cross paths. Rarely does one get a chance to meet - and befriend - someone whose work you enjoy and admire.

From then on, Ned became a "writer friend," one of those acquaintances I'd meet up for coffee every once in a while. I was always inspired after our conversations, hearing about his latest projects and sharing what we were enjoying at the time (and sure, I had some writer envy). And then there were birthday and holiday gatherings throughout the yea…


Porn for Bibliophiles: "S" by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

Christmas came a little early when I received a copy of S, an ambitious mystery novel from the mind of J.J. Abrams and novelist Doug Dorst.

The concept: It's a book within a book. The Ship of Theseus is the "book" written by a mysterious "author" named V.M. Straka, and inside its pages are the corresponding scrawlings of a college senior named Jennifer and a "disgraced grad student" named Eric who try solve a much bigger mystery made manifest in a collection of letters, postcards, and newspaper clippings stuffed inside the 400+page book.

It's basically porn for bibliophiles like myself.

The hardcover itself is ingeniously designed to look like a used, vintage copy from a library (checkout dates are stamped on the back cover, and the spine is categorically labeled). A lot of thought apparently went into this meta-story, and I wouldn't be surprised if a movie adaptation is being developed as I write this (of course, it'll have to reach some…


Dear Universe: A Message From Me to You

During this season of giving and reflection I just wanted to say thanks again for making my 2013 pretty uncrappy.

Keep it up.

Much love,
H.


Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera: Pop Diva History in the Making?

Last night's magical moment during the anticipated Christina Aguilera-Lady Gaga duet on The Voice arrived at the 2:34 mark when Mother Monster and Xtina grabbed each other's hand in a gesture of solidarity, obliterating all of the rumors that stained the blogosphere, pitting both superstars against each other in she said/she said bitchery. Needless to say, I was experiencing severe Whitney-Mariah flashbacks to 1998 when both singers performed "When You Believe" at the Academy Awards.

Sure, the whole thing could've been an ingenious PR move from both sides, but you have to hand it to Aguilera for sending out the message -- after the awesome performance -- that female artists need to stand together, continue to support each other, and leave all the diva rivalry bullshit behind.

Behold:


@TheFirstEcho


BLOG OF THE YEAR: The 2013 Review

First of all, thank you for consciously clicking on the link that took you to this post. It means a lot. Really, it does. It gives me warm fuzzies of validation inside. You've taken the time from your busy Facebook/Twitter feeds to see what this 2013 Review is all about, and I appreciate it.

If you're new to these parts, welcome. And if you're a First Echo regular, then welcome back; you probably know what you're in for -- a whole lotta critique and commentary on the portions of popular culture that pinged on my packed radar this year. I've got a list of items as long as Miley Cyrus's tongue.

In a year full of royal babies, upsetting trials (George Zimmerman), WTF celebrity deaths (Cory, Paul, et al), and viral sensations (enough with the Harlem Shake), there was plenty to talk about. 2013 didn't fail to supply the goods. For every Buzzfeed list celebrating the nuanced facial gestures of pop artists, there was an inspiring, faith-restoring clip on Upworthy…


Cornucopia IV: The 2013 Fall Playlist, Vol. 4

It's the final playlist of the year, and before you go out and get sloshed at another family/office holiday gathering, open your ears and ride out 2013 with these tunes I've curated for your aural pleasure.

And yes, I will openly admit that Ricky Martin is included on this playlist as well as a dance jam that's been out for a while now (apologies for the delay). What else? I kick off with Gaga's best track from ARTPOP, followed by a One Direction single that actually doesn't suck. And when you get to Tegan and Sara, feel free to blare it at the gym while you burn off those Christmas cookies.

1. "Gyspy" by Lady Gaga
2. "Satellites" by Cash Cash
3. "Story of My Life" by One Direction
4. "International Smile" by Katy Perry:



5. "On The Radio" by The Saturdays
6. "Hard Out There" by Lily Allen
7. "Soldier" by Samantha Jade
8. "Shudder to Think" by Tegan and Sara
9. "Over Your Shoulder&…


Wow. The American Music Awards Had Some Pretty Offensive Categories in 1985

The title of this YouTube clip may be "Madonna Live from The American Music Awards, Los Angeles 1985" -- and sure, it's great to see the Material Girl in all of her pre-Gaga glory -- but the following might as well be called "Look How Racially Insensitive The AMAs Were 28 Years Ago."

Really? Was there no other way to describe a genre of music that was inherently pop?

The first category is mentioned at the :20 mark. Then again at :43. And then the nominees in another similarly named category get announced at 3:15. Just watch...and gape in disbelief:


And sure, you may also find Purple Rain beating out Thriller just as offensive.

@TheFirstEcho


13 Things You Probably Didn't Know About 'The Golden Girls'

When one nostalgically binges on all seven seasons of The Golden Girls like me (I swear I have a life), you pick up on a few things. Certain patterns appear as you continuously witness the consumption of countless cheesecakes inside a fictitious Miami kitchen and hear one St. Olaf story too many.

Here's what I noticed after playing my DVDs of this 80s classic over the past several months (and if you're already familiar with the following factoids, excuse me for underestimating your fanaticism)...

1. Actor Harold Gould, who played Rose's long-term boyfriend Miles Webber from Season 5 to Season 7 (and throughout most of the short-lived spinoff, The Golden Palace), also appears in the first season as Arnie Peterson, Rose's first serious beau after her husband's death.

2. The same can be said for Sid Melton, who played Sophia's deceased husband Sal (in flashbacks and dream sequences). He also appears in a Season 6 episode as a jester in a medieval-themed restauran…