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Showing posts from 2014


Screw Resolutions (Again): 15 Things To Do In 2015

If I was able to accomplish 11 out of the 14 things I had planned to do this year, then I have high hopes for 2015. Hence why I've decided to put out another to-do list for the upcoming new year...

1. Whenever people tell me they love a "new" song by an artist, I shall refrain from saying (with snark), "Oh, that song I was listening to 4 months ago?"

2. Visit the Magic Castle.

3. After developing an obsession with Tatsu on Melrose, make sure to consume ramen in moderation.

4. Sign a publishing contract/get a book deal.

5. Take advantage of the recipe book that came with my Magic Bullet. (a gift from Maury Povich - long story...well, not really.)

6. Finish reading Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.

7. Send more cards or old-fashioned letters to people in the mail.

8. Go to Hawaii. Or Portland. (Unfortunately, I need to use my vacation days wisely in 2015.)

9. Try Fireball. Just once.

10. Write a letter to myself at age of 18 when I turn 35 at the end…


2014 in 4 Minutes

Vox put together a nice little montage that's just as long as "Auld Lang Syne," so while you're reflecting on your own year on December 31 (and looking for someone to kiss at midnight), give this a play:

@TheFirstEcho


#TBT: That Time Katy Perry Covered Sam Sparro's "Black and Gold"

So, this really happened?

My favorite song of 2008, "Black and Gold," was apparently given the acoustic treatment one year later by a pre-Teenage Dream Katy Perry. Before any Sam Sparro purists scream "WTF?" know that this came from her Australian tour EP in 2009. And know that Adele also covered the awesomely mesmerizing pop number.


For those not familiar with the original track, here's a refresher:


@TheFirstEcho


BLOG OF THE YEAR: The 2014 Rewind

While it's easy - and understandale - for some people to bitch and moan about 2014 being a crap year, ("I'm done! Bring on 2015!") I can honestly say I loved 2014. I can't remember the last time I was this fond of a year. Maybe 1997? But if you weren't a fan of these last 365 days, then I'm sorry. Trust me, I've been there. There were times I felt like my life was stuck in a cesspool of crap from which I'd never escape, and I would roll my eyes at every shiny-happy year-in-review letter I got from friends and relatives. That said, I don't blame some of you for doing the same when you read the next paragraph...

At the end of 2013 I had wanted 2014 to deliver. And, after looking back on the last 12 months, it certainly did. It began with a winter trip to Vancouver and Whistler. It surprised with a promotion at work. ("That's MR. Manager of Creative Planning, thankyouveddymuch.") It continued with a highly memorable road trip throu…


DREAMING: The 2014 Fall Playlist, Vol. 3

For the final playlist of the year I have gathered a number of tunes that should act as the perfect soundtrack to your holiday weekend. So before y'all succumb to your food comas, make sure to sample this cornucopia of goodness...

1. "Dear Future Husband" by Meghan Trainor
2. "Got Love" by Tove Lo
3. "Teacher" by Nick Jonas
4. "Just Like Me" by Betty Who
5. "Shut Up And Dance" by Walk The Moon
6. "Dead Air" by Chvrches
7. "Style" by Taylor Swift
8. "Gladiator" by Dami Im:


9. "I Won't Let You Down" by OK Go
10. "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars
11. "Under Control" by Calvin Harris feat. Hurts
12. "When We Were Young" by Dillon Francis, Sultan & Ned Sheppard:


13. "Dreaming" by The Knocks
14. "Come Alive" by Chromeo feat. Toro Y Moi
15. "Ready To Run" by One Direction
16. "What Is Love" by Kiesza
17. &qu…


Nerdgasm of the Month: Watching the 'Jurassic World' Trailer on Repeat

"The Park Is Open."

I know what I'll be doing all Thanksgiving weekend long...

Watching this trailer over and over and over and over...

[in my best John Hammond voice] Behold, and welcome to Jurassic World:


TLC's "Creep" Just Turned 20 Years Old

File this under: Holy Crap, I'm Old.

One of the songs that defined most of my high school experience turned 20 on Halloween last month (it was officially released as a single back on October 31, 1994). It was a track prominently featured during several school dances I attended during my freshman year at Iona Prep in the suburbs of New York.

I hear this song, and I can't help but flashback to baggy Tommy Hilfiger jeans, Timberland boots, and plaid flannel shirts on Friday nights.

And, to this day, I still can't get enough of it.


@TheFirstEcho


Call My Agent: The Age of Literary Representation

It feels like I have entered a new stage of my life here in Los Angeles.

The reason: I now have literary representation. I have an agent. I now have "people." People who can talk to your people. I'm one of the many many folks in this town who rely on individuals to pimp out their creative work and then wait by their iPhones to hear the latest developments and be on the receiving end of numerous rejections.

This was the day my 22-year-old self had been waiting for. It's the first step towards what I hope will be many more steps.

However, it wasn't quite the experience I had envisioned for myself.

The whole process wasn't as glamorous as one would expect. There was no glass-walled conference room with me seated at one end and a team of suits on the other with nothing but a fruit and muffin platter between us. No champagne corks were popped. No hands were shaken.

Everything all came together...over email. There were a few phone calls. And then, three days of tr…


Song of the Month: November 2014

WALK THE MOON's "Shut Up And Dance" is giving Neon Trees's "Sleeping With A Friend" a run for its money in the 80s Pop-Rock Revival category.

Just when I thought 2014 didn't have any more spectacularly awesome tracks up its sleeve, along came this fantabulous track I happened to catch on the radio while commuting home after a tedious 11-hour day at work.

This just might be a last-minute addition to my Best Of list of the year:

@TheFirstEcho


#TBT: That Time I Got Chased Out Of The Glendale Galleria By Security

Picture it: Glendale, 2010. Two weeks before Halloween.

On a very family-friendly Sunday afternoon, six men start stripping in the middle of the Glendale Galleria (in front of Crabtree & Evelyn no less) and proceed to dance and grind to "It's Raining Men."

And yours truly was one of the masterminds behind this failed flash mob (one of many that took place throughout Los Angeles that weekend).

You see, I was the producer for a viral campaign promoting the DVD release of Vampires Suck, which involved a series of public stunts that recreated the Twilight spoof's homoerotic dance number. We were hired by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, so we were a totally legit production...except for one tiny detail.

We neglected to inform the aforementioned shopping mall of our plans and totally went in unannounced.

Cue the mall security guard who immediately came over to stop the performance. Cut to: a dozen other mall cops who started running after us the second everyone o…


MOMENTS: The 2014 Fall Playlist, Vol. 2

From the looks of the cover, one might think this second volume of fall tunes may be a little dude-centric. True, but the ladies are in full force as always. This marks Taylor Swift's first appearance on any playlist of mine - and once you listen to #4, you'll understand why I gave in. Then there's Tove Lo's "Moments," after which this compilation is named, because it. Is. Everything. (Seriously, her debut album, Queen of the Clouds, is one of the best of 2014.) But the real surprise may be Hozier's slot at #5, a track that will indeed take you to church and cause your jaw to drop when you hear this 24-year-old Irishman's voice.

1. "Lips Are Movin" by Meghan Trainor
2. "Moments" by Tove Lo
3. "Glory Days" by Betty Who
4. "Out of the Woods" by Taylor Swift
5. "Take Me to Church" by Hozier
6. "Wrapped Up" by Olly Murs feat. Travie McCoy
7. "Slow Acid" by Calvin Harris

8. "I Wann…


1989: A Good Year For Many Other Things Too

While you listen to Taylor Swift's brand-spankin' new album, 1989, for the 23rd time this week, I'd like to direct your attention to other things that entered the world during the year T.S. popped out in a hospital somewhere in a town that is probably priding itself on being the birthplace of a superstar.

Let us reflect on and honor those who contributed so much to pop culture 25 years ago...

1. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

2. Madonna's video for "Like a Prayer":


3. Seinfeld's debut on NBC.

4. The first official episode of The Simpsons on Fox.

5. Back to the Future Part II:


6. The B-52's "Love Shack":


7. This piece of literature:

8. The Dodge Dynasty, a fine automobile named after a TV show about rich women with shoulder pads who slapped the shit out of each other:

@TheFirstEcho


Last Week A Bigoted Redneck Got Served A Big Plate of Justice in Dallas

Bravo, Texas. Bravo.

Here's the video. (The accidental TGIFriday plug comes at 6:09)


When Your Halloween Costume Gives You Major Moose Knuckle

This past weekend I attended Halloween Havoc XIV, my friend Matt's 14th annual costume bash, where (naturally) I provided a playlist of tunes for all to enjoy (lining up Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" with vintage Britney's "Drive Me Crazy" does wonders for a dance floor).

This year I decided to go with a hybrid costume, putting a demonic spin on Alice in Wonderland's Tweedledee (hence the name Tweedle-Demon; thank God I added a name tag to clarify for people). And I appreciated all the compliments I received throughout the night.

But after checking out a few snapshots on Facebook and Instagram, I noticed that my red suspenders did nothing to help my sweatpants situation, particularly in the crotch area.

You live. You learn. And you have a good laugh.

Luckily nothing else came up.

*Thanks to @marzaar for the photo.

@TheFirstEcho


Since We're on a 90s Kick, Here's This: 'Swans Crossing'

A very young, pre-Buffy Sarah Michelle Gellar...

That girl who lived in a submarine with her dad...

And that theme song...

Ah, Swans Crossing, the short-lived syndicated teen soap that dominated the summer of 1992:


And here's a little sample:


MINDBLOWING FACT: did any of you know that Mira Sorvino appeared on this?

@TheFirstEcho


#TBT: That Time I Sweated My Ass Off on Style Network

It was a sweltering day in August of 2011. And those hot indoor studio lights didn't help. But these awesome folks and I squeezed onto a couch and managed to get through a taping of The Look For Less to help a friend out. 
From left to right: actor-director (and former producing partner) Michael Medico, stylist Meg Titus, yours truly, S Factor manager (and fellow Cumberbitch) Stephanie Gradski, and Paul Mitchell events director Greg Bonhomme.
They're good people.
@TheFirstEcho


Why R.L. Stine's 'Party Games' is a Tricky Piece of Literary Nostalgia: 3 Ways to Read It

Plaid flannel and babydoll dresses may be making a comeback at the mall, and dance music appears to be returning to its house roots, but there's another reason why 2014 is feeling very 1994: author R.L. Stine has returned to Fear Street, the series of books that dominated the Young Adult section in bookstores during the Clinton era.

The latest entry, Party Games, is dedicated to Stine's Twitter followers, the thousands of twenty- and thirtysomethings who came of age during the author's literary heyday (yours truly proudly included). They're the ones who have longed for some 90s nostalgia in the form of good old-fashioned teenage bloodshed and have taken to social media, urging him to revisit the fictitious town of Shadyside and its infamous dead-end street.

Party Games is the story of 17-year-old Rachel Martin who gets invited to a birthday party hosted at a mansion on mysterious Fear Island, where the titular games turn deadly for guests. The birthday boy happens to b…


SURRENDER: The 2014 Fall Playlist, Vol. 1

Raise your pumpkin lattes!

Fall is not only a great time for more cerebral entertainment. (Hello, award contenders and award-winning novels!) It's also a season for harvesting new music. And I've got a bounty of tunes to keep you cozy while that autumn chill rolls in...

1. "Runaways" by Betty Who
2. "Love Me Harder" by Ariana Grande feat. The Weeknd
3. "Real Love" by Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne:


4. "Blame" by Calvin Harris feat. John Newman
5. "Surrender" by Cash Cash
6. "Jealous" by Nick Jonas - *Yes, it's true. This doesn't suck.
7. "Modern Hearts" by The Knocks feat. St. Lucia:


8. "Go All Night" by Gorgon City feat. Jennifer Hudson
9. "Habits (Stay High)" by Tove Lo - *From what is quickly becoming one of the best pop albums of 2014, Queen of the Clouds.
10. "Burnin Up" by Jessie J feat. 2 Chainz
11. "Drive My Car" by Nick & Knight
12. "Love Who …


Song of the Month: October 2014

Tove Lo, the Swedish import who's currently making an impact on American radio with her single, "Habits (Stay High)," recently released her debut album, Queen of the Clouds, and I have to say it's one of the most refreshingly dynamic and original pop albums I've heard in a while (don't be surprised if it appears on my Best of 2014 list in December).

"Moments" is one those brilliant tracks from Clouds, an unapologetic manifesto with a soaring chorus that will have you embracing whatever flaws you think you may have.

It also includes what is possibly my favorite lyric of 2014:

"I can get a little drunk, I get into all the don'ts, but on good days I am charming as fuck."

Listen and love:


@TheFirstEcho


'Desperate Housewives' 10 Years Later: Remembering A Primetime Soap Benchmark

A seemingly happy wife and mother named Mary Alice puts a gun to her head and pulls the trigger...and a seemingly idyllic neighborhood is never the same.

Not since Knots Landing have television viewers been so enraptured by the weekly dramas of a bunch of cul-de-sac-dwelling suburbanites. For eight seasons Wisteria Lane on ABC's Desperate Housewives was a ground zero for soapy fun. It quickly became a place where secrets -- along with several criminals -- were harbored, where a wealthy a former model slept with her gardener, where a neglected wife went off her rocker and shot up a supermarket, where an accident-prone single mom got kidnapped by a vengeful ex-con, where an on-the-lam family hid from an eco-terrorist, where a shady politician got skewered by a picket fence during a tornado, where an airplane crash landed into a Christmas block party, where a serial killer once held a pregnant woman hostage, where a bitchy real estate agent got electrocuted by a telephone pole, wher…


R.L. Stine Says 'Fear Street' TV Series "Might Be Pretty Close" to Happening

One of my literary idols, R.L. Stine, was recently interviewed on HuffPost Live to answer questions from fans, wax nostalgic on the recording-breaking Goosebumps series, and promote the new season of The Haunting Hour premiering on the HUB in October.

That's all fine and dandy, but what really perked up my ears was the mention of Fear Streetthe YA horror series that practically defined the 90s for me. A new title, Party Games, is being released next week (I pre-ordered my copy back in July -- I don't play), and this prompted a fan, @Blair_Hoyle, to ask about Fear Street being adapted for TV, an idea I've supported since the birth of The CW, a natural home for the series if there ever was one...and since I started writing my own pilot based on the scary goings-on in the town of Shadyside.

See where the discussion leads to, starting at the 9:00 mark:


Stine's answer is a tricky one. Yes, a movie studio owns the rights to Fear Street -- which turns 25 this year -- and y…


Revenge of the Husky

Husky.

According to Wikipedia, it’s “a general name for a type of dog used to pull sleds in northern regions,” like Alaska. These canines are described as “energetic and athletic,” able to pull heavy loads through harsh, wintry terrain.

“Husky” was also the name of the section in which I had to shop for my Catholic school uniforms at Liebman’s Children Clothing in my hometown. The store is somewhat of an institution, dressing thousands of boys and girls in southern Westchester County since 1927, so perhaps the term “husky” was an acceptable description back then for boys of the “big-boned” variety. Today it just seems like a blatantly polite substitute for “The Fat Kid Rack.”


Nothing makes you feel more insecure than your clothing size being ironically labeled after an "athletic" animal, and nothing makes you feel more like an outcast than having your school uniform be located in the eerily quiet basement where they store the creepy, defective mannequins. While some of my cl…


The Truth About Carrie Bradshaw (And The Seemingly Fabulous Lives of Writers)

Sex and the City has been off the air for a decade now, but the fashionable trials and tribulations of Carrie Bradshaw and her trio of gal pals still live on in the hearts of many.

Haters and cynics have been quick to criticize how the show unrealistically portrayed the lifestyle of a writer, particularly one who lives in Manhattan and manages to stock her closet with a plethora of designer labels.

Throughout its six-season run, the show has vaguely attempted to justify Carrie's living situation. Her apartment has been described as rent-controlled. And...that's about it. Yes, her weekly newspaper column got turned into a book, and in season 5 she mentioned how thrilled she was to write for Vogue at $4.25 a word, a pay rate that is practically unheard of in today's world where print is a dying medium (less readers = less advertisers = less money) and online journalism is mostly built on a foundation of volunteer (i.e. non-paying) work. And really, how long does an advance f…


10 Songs Perfect For Crying Alone On Your Bathroom Floor

We've all had those bad days, those depressing times when we needed a good cry, to unabashedly feel sorry for ourselves, to feel like the world is covered by one giant, dark cloud that is about to unleash a shitstorm of pain and heartache.

Fall is upon us, nights will grow longer, and we all know how people's moods tend to change along with the leaves. So why not have a soundtrack to accompany those miserably melancholy moments?

Grab a bottle of red, keep some Kleenex nearby, and let it all out:

1. "Why" by Annie Lennox - Why? Because its somber orchestration perfectly captures the mood of someone who needs to let go of all the bad shit that's been festering inside. The song simply facilitates release, an emotional purge everyone needs every now and then. Also? It accompanies one of the best scenes in 1995's Boys on the Side.


2. "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell (the 2001 version) - A great theme song for regret. It goes well with a side of heavy sig…


My 700th Post: I Said Yes!

699 blog posts later, and here we are.

The above meme is a result of an idea I had while eyeing some Ring Pops in CVS last night on the way home from work. For anyone who can't take another engagement ring photo on their Facebook feed.

You're welcome.

@TheFirstEcho

Um, PS - I don't really have diabetes.


LABOR DAZE: The 2014 Summer Playlist, Vol. 3

Goodbye, Summer of 2014.

Thank you for giving us some great beach weather, Chris Pratt, and enough Ice Bucket Challenges to last until the next charity-driven meme turns into another viral gimmick. But before you go, let's celebrate you one more time before we all start to stress out over our Halloween costumes...

1. "Bang Bang" by Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
2. "Big Girls Cry" by Sia
3. "This Is How We Do" by Katy Perry
4. "All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor -
5. "Classic" by The Knocks feat. Powers
6. "Paralyzed" by BT feat. Christian Burns:


7. "It Was Always You" by Maroon 5
8. "Everything You Wanted" by Clubfeet:


9. "Lovers on the Sun" by David Guetta feat. Sam Martin
10. "One More Day" by Example
11. "Do or Die (Stay With Me)" by Afrojack & Thirty Seconds to Mars
12. "Anaconda" by Nicki Minaj
13. "Ordinary Human" by OneRepubl…


Song of the Month: September 2014

Too bad this sumptuous jam didn't drop earlier this summer. But no bother. If you're looking for a tune to close out The Summer of 2014, look no further.

The Knocks (a.k.a. Ben "B-Roc" Suttner and James "J-Patt" Patterson - not to be confused with the bestselling crime novelist) have crafted a fine, groovetastic number called "Classic" featuring vocals from some chick who goes by the name Powers.

Enjoy the hell out of this one, kids:


*Also, you've probably noticed that I've taken out the word "Theme" in the above headline and abbreviated this series of posts as "Song of the Month." It's just better, no? And yes, it helps with search engine optimization purposes.

@TheFirstEcho


Ann Coulter's Ice Bucket Challenge

Thanks to B. Scott's recent post on Facebook, I took the liberty of updating it a bit.

@TheFirstEcho


Pop Culture Rant of the Week: Ice Water Mothers

1. Mothers of the world: keep your hands on the wheel and your iPhones off your babies in the backseat. I'm sure your precious children are capable of cute shit at home.

2. I love my friends, especially the ones who know better than to dare me to dump a bucket of ice water on my head. Consider us old-fashioned; we like to directly donate money to charities we wholeheartedly support.

3. The Ariana Grande video for "Break Free" (featuring Zedd, can't forget about him) debuted this week. I didn't think it was possible to produce a prozac-induced remake of Britney's 2000 classic "Oops I Did It Again," but here we are (seriously, I like the girl, but she must have more than two facial expressions in her):


4. This trailer for The Babadook. I'm getting some serious The Others vibes. My guess: there is no monster. The mom is just going nuts and ends up murdering her child. The end.


5. And finally, not so much as a rant but a reflection: Watching Mrs. D…


Matt Bean: Entertainment Weekly's New Editor or Photogenic Poster Boy?

Earlier this year the seats of power shifted at Entertainment Weekly.

Out went Jess Cagle and in came Matt Bean as the mag's Editor in Chief.

Bean hails from SportsIllustrated.com, and his headshots (below) apparently hail from the School of Dapper Gentlemen. Which makes me wonder if we'll be seeing a lot more of this photogenic writer on TV (morning news, talk shows, etc). The above photo was taken for last month's Comic-Con issue, so naturally, Bean had to perfect his "hot nerd" look.



Either way, whether or not they're prescription lenses, the glasses are a nice touch.

@TheFirstEcho