Choose Your Toppings

Friday, August 3, 2012

Flashback Friday: POGS

Recently a friend of mine threw a 90's themed party.  This was the ultimate flashback.  After doing a classic 90's girl hairstyle with tiny colored rubber-bands I threw on some jean shorts, converse sneakers, my vintage Theater Camp t-shirt (sadly my 'N SYNC tee was MIA), adorned myself in body glitter and was good to go.  Everyone came dressed in their best 1990's gear and the music was every 90's kid's dream playlist (if playlists existed back then):  Third Eye Blind, Chumbawamba, TLC.

A major highlight of the night happened when I revealed the contents of my backpack purse; small posters of Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez, Goosebumps books, a free Nickelodeon Slime key chain and...POGS!

So of course we sat down to play but spent so much time admiring the awesome pictures on the POGS that no game actually took place.  Some of my personal favorite POG designs include Disney movie scenes, shiny metallic abstract pictures, and the pink Power Ranger.

I'm still hoping to organize some sort of POG tournament in the near future, but until then I'll be keeping my collection save in its fancy POG holder case. 

Does anyone still have/play POGS? And which ones are/were your favorites?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Music Review: Into It. Over It.

Artist name: Into It. Over It.

Album name: Proper (2011, No Sleep Records)

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Proper is cleverly titled, as it is the first proper full-length album from Into It. Over It., the brainchild of Evan Weiss. Weiss, who previously spent his time releasing the ambitious 52 Weeks, one song a week for a year, and the Twelve Towns series of 7”'s, is a bit of a departure from the typical boy with his acoustic guitar type songs you’d expect from a solo project. With Proper, Evan has created an album that would fit well next to Piebald in a record collection. Proper stands out from Piebald records though. Complete with distorted vocals, Proper starts out with the song “Embracing Facts”, which is rather gritty and dark, and stands out in a great way on this record. “Discretion and Depressing People”, a nod to Evan’s side project Stay Ahead of the Weather, would make sense playing on your iPod (or iPhone or iSomething) right before “American Hearts” or “Long Nights," but with lyrics more along the lines of Taking Back Sunday circa 2002 (you know, the good stuff). “No Good Before Noon” is the first of two acoustic tracks on the record, and it finds Evan lamenting that he’s “not built for nine-to-fives." It’s a rather amazing honesty that he shows that also helps to explain why he’s been such a prolific songwriter and touring musician since busting onto the scene. “Midnight: Carroll Street” is a bit more of a somber track, finding Evan working out his anxiety and dealing with lies and deception from those he chose to surround himself with. It fits more along the lines of “Embracing Facts," feeling a little darker and grittier than most of the album. “P R O P E R," the title track, is easily one of the more musically upbeat tracks on the record, ending with a repeating “whoa-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh”. The last track on the record is the other acoustic one, “The Frames that Used to Greet Me”, a rather touching lament about seeing a former lover out and about and realizing that they still think about you. It’s a touching end to an incredible proper debut. Most of the record seems to fit in with bands like Piebald, Death Cab for Cutie and Taking Back Sunday, with some slight differences. The record has a similar risk-taking feel to it as most of the records from those three bands did. While some of the songs fail to stick out, the ones that do (particularly “Discretion and Depressing People”, “Midnight: Carroll Street”, and “P R O P E R”) are easily some of the best tracks Evan has ever written.

Sounds Like: Piebald, Death Cab for Cutie, Taking Back Sunday

Stand-outs: “Discretion and Depressing People”, “Midnight: Carroll Street”, “P R O P E R”, “The Frames that Used to Greet Me”

p.s. Check out his side project Stay Ahead of the Weather, especially “Impressions and Impressing People”. Love that Jawbreaker reference.

Photo via.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Flashback Friday: Caboodles!

Sorry boys, but you might not understand the obsession with this one!

Caboodles. Enough said, right? They were an adolescent girl's pride and joy back in the 90's. We used them to store everything from nail polishes to stickers to hair scrunchies. Anything girly could be, and was, easily stored in these travel-friendly, hard-plastic, pink treasure chests.

Image: Mirror80
Today, Caboodles are starting to make a comeback and are aiming at the same age group that once treasured the iconic pink boxes. Now Caboodles are hot and versatile and perfect for the fashion-forward, savvy young woman who is a serious neat freak.
Image: Kaboodle

What did you carry in your Caboodle as a little girl? Are you still carrying one today? What does your grown up Caboodle hold?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Prince Fielder: Fresh Prince of Detroit

This past March, I was able to have a one on one interview with Prince Fielder for Grosse Pointe Magazine. Fielder had just finished up his practice at Joker Marchant Stadium, the Tigers Spring Training facility, while half the team was playing on the road. I admit, I was a bundle of nerves before the interview began. Those nerves disappeared as soon as I met him. He was friendly, funny, and easy to talk to. It's been a pleasure to watch him tear it up this season and I'm excited to show you our interview below!

What are some of your memories of living in Grosse Pointe?
The city, you know, the house I lived in. I can't remember a lot about it, but I guess the house we lived in was pretty cool. My mom, she renovated it, so I liked that house a lot. What else, um, riding my biking around the neighborhood, things like that. You know, I had a couple friends, neighbors, and stuff. Just hanging out there. And snow on Christmas, that was pretty cool.

Any restaurants that you remember going to?
Not in Grosse Pointe really, not around there. I mean, I liked Fishbone's, that was my favorite. That was in downtown Detroit.

I read about the time you were intentionally walked in a Little League baseball game and it was the first time that had ever happened.
I think it was like coach pitch, where the other coach pitched to you. It was weird. I was like looking around like, 'what? I don't get what's going on. Can you do that?' Nobody really knew what happened. I mean it's coach pitch, I was like, are we doing this?

How do you feel about raising your sons in Michigan?
They'll be there during the season but we live here in Florida. Yeah, I think it will be cool for them to be in Michigan as well, that way they can feel how cold it is, they can feel the difference between Florida [and Michigan]. In Milwaukee it was similar. It's just cool that they can experience a new state and stuff.

Did you ever imagine yourself playing for the Tigers?
I mean I did, in high school, but once I got drafted, you know, the team you get drafted by, your goal is to stay with them as long as possible. And then once they got Miguel here, there's no chance. I mean, what are they going to do, move him?

Which they did!
[laughing] They did!

What advice do you have for young baseball players and the minor leaguers in camp who want to
make it to the big leagues one day?
Have fun, not really worry what people might think about how you play or whatever. Just do what you want to do. Just do what makes you feel comfortable. Be respectful, but if it doesn't work for you then it doesn't work.

What was your first impression of this Tigers team?
It was cool, because you know, it's not every day you get to open the door and see the batting champion and Cy Young. So anytime people like that greet you to make you feel comfortable, it's a pretty good feeling.

What are you looking forward to for 2012?
Getting to the World Series. That's in the cards, that's what I want to do.

How did it feel knowing the level of excitement that took over the whole state of Michigan when
you were signed?
That's pretty awesome, because I haven't seen too many signings where people are happy [like that]. It was cool. It seemed as if they weren't really worried about, you know, unfortunately a lot of times people sign major deals and it's not a great deal and people don't tend to welcome you as much. “Well he better live up to it!” There was none of that. It's just an awesome feeling when people are happy and just wanna love you.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind in Detroit?
Oh, that's a good question. In Detroit, a winning one. I just want people to respect the way I play. I don't want people to look at me as if I'm 'that guy'. I don't want them to be like, 'oh this guy, he's a jerk'. I just want to be a human. I don't need to act like I'm special. I want to try to be as nice and normal to everybody as I can.

Fun questions!

If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
New Jack City

What is your go-to snack?
That's a good one 'cause I like 'em all! [laughs] Let me think. I'll be honest; graham crackers and milk. When you get the graham crackers soggy and BOW...that's a great taste.

What is one skill you wish you had?
How to play the piano.

Who is the funniest guy in the clubhouse?
I'm going to go with Austin and...I'm going to go with Austin Jackson.

What was your favorite TV show growing up?
I guess The Cosby Show. Actually, Fresh Prince of Bel Air was my favorite.

Interview by Lindsay Beaver

Friday, July 20, 2012

What It's Like When You Try to Die

Something happens. Or nothing happens. Perhaps you realize that he never loved you. Or you can’t possibly walk the halls of your school again. Or you refuse to listen to the screams anymore. Perhaps your sadness was something that had been swelling for years: you turned away in spite of it, but it grew nearer and nearer like waves approaching the shore. No matter what road you’ve traveled, you are here now. The thought has struck you suddenly, how unbearable it will be to face another day. You need help, but you don’t know how to ask for it. You cry and scream and the carpet snags underneath your fingernails as you fall. You need help so very badly. You find your way into the medicine cabinet, fumble your way to the aspirin, pop the cap. How many will kill you? Fifty sixty seventy eighty. How many will break you? Twenty thirty forty. You swallow big gulps, drink from the glass that has been sitting out since yesterday. You can’t breathe here, you can’t breathe on the floor.

In the hospital, your mother explains that you were confused, you didn’t mean to do it, and it’s almost funny how much work she’s done to convince herself of this. People move in and out, ask questions, take the blood from your body. You’ve lost everything else. A doctor gets close to your face and tells you that he knows it wasn’t a mistake, he knows what you did. He smells too clean and you never said it was a mistake. They give you a cup of charcoal to drink through a straw. This will save you. You are moved to the ICU for two nights because the levels of aspirin in your blood are still high. You drink charcoal again and again and you wear yellow socks. When you try to die, these socks mean that you’re not allowed to wear shoes. They mean that you are a suicide risk. You can’t be left alone, not that you’d get very far. You are tired. A nurse takes a blood sample every four hours. Another nurse puts a catheter in you. The aspirin level hasn’t gone down in the morning. It sinks in that you might actually die, now, in the ICU. In your yellow socks. A “sitter” stays in your room at all times, helps you to the bathroom and leaves the door cracked, just in case.

Finally, the aspirin in your system starts to disappear. The psychiatrist who will be treating you has not yet arrived in these two days. Is he busy? You watch television and sleep. Your mother never leaves your room. The psychiatrist comes. You explain to him that you didn’t want to die. You needed help, you called 911, you vomited into the sink. He tells you that this is what everyone says after they try to kill themselves. If you don’t willingly admit yourself to a mental institution, you will be forcefully admitted.

When you try to die, you spend six days in a mental hospital. You meet a woman named Storm with wild hair and wild scars. You meet people who are worse than you, you meet people who are better than you, you realize that it’s okay to be you. But what's a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this? You can’t sleep at night because the nurses are laughing outside of your door. Instead, you walk the halls in your slippers. You make paper cranes in the TV room with a forty-year old depressive who never recovered from a motorcycle accident ten years ago. You listen to reruns of SVU on the TV. You sleep, you wake, you dream. And it’s strange how quickly you adapt to this new routine: taking the pills, talking to doctors, sitting through therapy. You are visited by friends who are afraid of what has happened to you. But when you try to die, you’re not afraid anymore. You’re not afraid of living or trying or failing. You return home and what you are afraid of, finally, is what you’ve faced and survived. You are afraid of death. You are afraid of the end. So you begin again.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Book Review: Jellicoe Road

I'll admit that after a few pages of Jellicoe Road I wasn't dying to read more. I couldn't figure out how Marchetta was going to write 400 pages about the "war" happening between the Jellicoe School, Townies, and Cadets. It honestly didn't sound like much of a premise for a book. But after thoroughly enjoying Marchetta's Saving Francesca, I kept at it. And thank goodness that I did. 

Jellicoe Road tells two stories: that of Taylor Markham, a 17-year old attending the Jellicoe School, and a twenty-year old tale of a ragtag group of friends on the Jellicoe Road . Taylor never knew her father and was abandoned by her mother at a 7-11 when she was 11 years old. Hannah, a pseudo-guardian to the Jellicoe kids finds Taylor and takes her under her wing, providing her a place to stay until she was old enough to begin year seven. Soon after the story begins, Hannah disappears and Taylor is named leader of the Jellicoe School, thrown into "battle" with the Cadets' leader, Jonah Griggs (with whom Taylor shares an interesting past) and the Townies' leader, Santangelo.

Through pages of a manuscript that Hannah left behind, we are introduced to an entirely new set of characters from twenty years earlier: Narnie, Jude, Webb, Tate, and Fitz, a group of friends united by a tragic accident that become like a family to each other.

As Taylor's life seems to unravel, she discovers that the characters in Hannah's story are not just a product of her mentor’s imagination and that her own story intertwines with theirs in ways she never thought possible. Jellicoe Road is a heartbreaking tale of coming-of-age and coming to terms with the life we're given. When Taylor learns her own history, she finally realizes that she has never truly been alone.

At some points it seemed somewhat contrived how perfectly the pieces of the story added up (the mysterious Hermit, the Brigadier, etc.), but sometimes we have to suspend our disbelief in order to truly experience the magic of a story.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It's no secret that I am a HUGE fan of midnight releases.  So last night where else would I be except seeing The Amazing Spider-Man (unfortunately not in costume)?

Now, I do not dislike the older Spider-man movies starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.  They always did a good job of keeping me entertained, but as the movies went on the plots got progressively...less good. So the new reboot had me pretty excited, I love Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield is a babe, and after seeing the trailers I simply couldn't wait.  And let me tell you, it went above and beyond my expectations.

I'm no film buff so I am unsure of the fancy way to say this, but the camera angles over New York City were absolutely great; and the plot progressed well, I was never bored for even a second. 

As for the actors, Andrew Garfield plays troubled and quirky extremely well.  Not to mention he can be quite funny.  Perhaps it's just because he is ridiculously attractive but I personally felt that he was perfect as Spider-Man. Emma Stone likewise did a fantastic job as Gwen Stacy.  It was really a different type of role for her.  The comedic actress usually has awkward rambling monologues that have me shaking with laughter.  They sort of threw one of these in, in the form of a semi-uncomfortable father-daughter moment, that was in fact pretty funny. Overall I have to give many kudos to Emma and look forward to seeing her in more roles like this.

The supporting cast, including Sally Field, Martin Sheen, Denis Leary and Rhys Ifans, add to the awesomeness of the new Spider-Man movie.

It seemed that in the weeks leading up the the July 3rd release, The Amazing Spider-Man took a backseat to all the hype surrounding The Dark Knight Rises (to be released July 20th, 2012). And what a mistake that was.  I have no complaints about this movie; to The Amazing Spider-Man, I give you five stars.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Uncertain and Unconcerned: Life in Your Twenties

As a teenager, I had this idea that when I reached my twenties everything would suddenly make sense. Who I was and who I wanted to be would finally align. My life plans would gently click into place like a ridiculously simple 9-piece puzzle. And I would be happy, genuinely happy. I guess I can’t blame myself back then. I was something of a mess in high school and desperate for the hope that things would, some day, get better.

Needless to say, things haven’t worked out quite the way I imagined. I’m finding that my life is more like a 500-piece puzzle of the White Album, nothing fitting together and half of the pieces scattered in unknown locations. Of course, some things have fallen into place: I finished college, started grad school, and I have a job (though part-time) that I love. 

And though I’m nowhere near having it all figured out, I have learned some important lessons in my twenty-three years. This is what I know for certain:

  • Cherish your friendships. Stay in touch with the people who matter. Some friendships are always easy. But sometimes, the longer you go without talking to someone, the harder it is to jump back into the comfort of your friendship. So make the phone call or send the e-mail or show up at someone’s door unexpected. You won’t regret putting in that effort.
  •  Don’t waste your time on things that you don’t love. You’re young; you have plenty of time to be miserable further down the road. This is the time to figure out what makes you happier than anything else and pursue it with everything you’ve got.
  • For every curveball life throws you, for every awful day, for every morning that makes getting out of bed seem absolutely impossible, you will also experience moments of overwhelming, sublime happiness. And the best part? You never know when these instances will arise: laughing at nothing with friends, jumping off of a roof into a pool, getting caught in the rain. Soak in this unexpected glory, because you’ll need to draw on these moments when the next curveball heads your way.
  • Take risks. Take little risks and big risks. Ask your crush out, apply for the job that you’ll never in a million years get, go skydiving, get a tattoo, climb a tree, share something you’ve created. Don’t leave yourself looking back and wondering what could have been.
  • You are stronger than you think you are. When you have no other choice, your mind and body will endure much more than you ever expected. And once you’ve experienced something truly harrowing, you’ll begin to understand the extent of your own strength.  

It’s funny how we always seem to believe that the future holds the answers. We tell ourselves that if we can just get through this week or this month or this year, things will get better. And sometimes that’s true. Sometimes things do improve after time. But the fact is that there is not a magical age at which we abruptly morph into whole, happy robots. And maybe that’s a good thing. Not knowing what to expect means that we can live lives full of surprises. We can find pieces of our puzzles unexpectedly, in songs and books, in conversations with strangers, in new discoveries and unfamiliar places.

So far, my twenties have been an amalgamation of the great and the not-so-great. I’ve fallen in love and had my heart unceremoniously smashed to pieces. I’ve clawed my way, very slowly, back from rock bottom. I’ve felt both irreparably broken and happiness to the point of effervescence. And I’m only twenty-three. I mean, what’s in store for me over the next seven years? I guess that’s the point I’m trying to make: we have no idea where we’ll be ten years from now or a week from now or even a few hours from now (what am I going to eat for dinner?!). We can’t expect to magically reach a place where things fall together. All we can do is buckle our seatbelts and raise our glasses because we’re looking at another 60 years of all-out confusion, frustration, exuberance, and at times, great joy. And I’ll cheers to that. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

20 Things to Do in the Summertime Instead of Sitting in Front of the TV

Summer is a time for going on adventures, but somehow the heat always makes me want to sit inside 24/7 by the beginning of July. So if you're like me, here are some ideas that might help to keep you motivated to enjoy the summer the way it was meant to be enjoyed.

  1. Have a huge water fight. Get together with a bunch of friends and bring water balloons, super soakers, and even a sprinkler. Run around and just go crazy.
  2. Go on a bike ride.
  3. Host a bonfire. Gather your marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers and sit around a fire pit playing games and chatting.
  4. Sit outside. Find a restaurant or bar with patio seating and sit outside with drinks and appetizers (or desserts)!
  5. Get nostalgic. Create a sidewalk chalk mural, play with bubbles, or buy one of those little kiddie pools for your backyard.
  6. Plant a garden.
  7. Get healthy. Head to your backyard and do some yoga, or find a local group that hosts outdoor exercise classes.
  8. Go canoeing or kayaking.
  9. Hunt for bargains. Summer is the time for garage sales and outdoor flea markets.
  10. Have a picnic. Find some picnic tables at a local park or just bring a blanket and your favorite sandwiches and fruits.
  11. Attend an outdoor concert. Many cities have outdoor arenas that host concerts that are cheap or even free.
  12. Spend a day at the beach.
  13. Go on an adventure. Search around your state for companies that take people sky diving or up in hot air balloons. Many of these activities can only be done in the warm months, so now is the time!
  14. Go camping. Even if you don’t have a full weekend to travel, set up a tent in your backyard and pack a bag.
  15. Read. Create a summer reading list and spend the summer reading on your front porch or patio.
  16. Shop at a local farmer’s market.
  17. Go to a local art fair or outdoor festival.
  18. Go on a road trip. Even if you can only spare one day on the weekend, head to some tourist traps in your own state. Haven't you always wanted to see the world's largest ball of yarn or apple pie?
  19. Make margaritas. Or mimosas. Or create a new summer cocktail.
  20. Play backyard games. Ladderball, horseshoes, and bocce ball are all great choices. Invite your friends over for a bbq and then take your pick.
Do you have any fun summer activities to add to this list?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Flashback Friday: Dress-Up

Am I the only 20-something who still owns a dress up box? Probably.

You never know when you might need to bust out old costumes.

The girls and me circa 2005

Happy Flashback Friday everyone!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Farewell to Film

...cameras, that is.

If you know, you know that I'm behind the times when it comes to technology. It usually takes me at least a year to join the currently “cool” social networking site (and that doesn't include the time it takes for me to learn how to use it).  Computers and other fancy-pants things also scare me. So it’s no surprise that it took me a while to get used to digital cameras when they started making their debut. 

As someone that loves hanging pictures on my walls, putting up frames, and making photo collages, I did not like the idea of having to sort through a memory card to decide what made the cut.  Sorting through a stack of photos from a film camera that you don’t necessarily remember taking is way more fun.

Via Flickr

Don’t get me wrong, I realize the convenience of going digital. I just think it's sad that the new generations of high school students will never experience the thrill of going to Meijer the morning after a Homecoming or Prom Dance to develop their film and then excitedly examine photos with friends an hour later. Now you can instantly delete pictures that are deemed "not good enough." It's increasingly difficult to find a place nearby that still prints film. And of course, funny blooper pictures are now a thing of the past.

So goodbye to you, dear film cameras: you will be missed.  

Via Whitney

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The True Queen of the 90s Screen

I will always argue that Can’t Hardly Wait is the greatest teen movie of the 90s and that Empire Records is the perfect workplace. But today, I’d like to take the opportunity to give props to a majorly unappreciated actress of the 90s: Gabrielle Union.

When 90s movies are the topic of discussion (which happens pretty frequently in my life), the actresses that usually come to mind are those with three names: Rachael Leigh Cook, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Jennifer Love Hewitt. But I’d like to remind everyone of Gabrielle Union’s sassy supporting roles in a trifecta of stellar 90s films. In She’s All That she played Katie, a friend of uber-bitch Taylor Vaughan who was always friendly to Laney. Gabrielle also played best friend Chastity Church to Larisa Oleynik’s Bianca Stratford in 10 things I Hate About You. And finally, she played Isis, head cheerleader of the East Compton Clovers in the honorary 90s flick Bring It On.

And let’s not forget Gabrielle Union’s myriad television appearances in the 90s. She had roles on Moesha, Smart Guy, Sister, Sister, Clueless, and so many more. Although she played supporting roles, I say we give credit where it’s deserved. So here’s to you, Gabrielle Union, true queen of the 90s screen.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Flashback Friday: Summer Girls by LFO

Last weekend, as I was headed out to dinner with my family, a familiar tune came on the radio. My parents in the front seat had no idea what it was, and continued their conversation without acknowledgement. But then, I felt an overwhelming urge to sing/rap along: "New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits. Chinese food makes me sick. And I think it's fly when girls stop by for the summer, for the summer." The conversation halted as eyes shifted my way. That familiar "what the heck?" look taking over the faces of my family members as they wondered what had gotten into me. I'm sure, by this point, they started to recognize the song, as it played pretty much every second of the summer of 1999.

Yes, the song was "Summer Girls" by the male trio LFO (Lyte Funky Ones, if you want to get all fancy), also known for such hits as "Girl on TV" and... well... nothing else. But for me, and I'm sure many other 20-somethings, this song will always hold a special place in my heart. Its nonsensical lyrics (seriously, who likes Kevin Bacon but hates Footloose?), uptempo beats, and tried and true story of summer love will force me to sing along even 10+ years later. Yes, I did sing along for the entire song. Yes, I knew most of the words still. And yes, it's still as great as it was in 1999. Happy Flashback Friday! What was your favorite boy band of the 90's?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Book Review: The Fallback Plan

Leigh Stein's The Fallback Plan is the story of Esther Kohler, a depressed twentysomething wandering aimlessly through her post-grad life. Many of us have been in Esther's shoes: we close the door on a significant part of our lives and face an endless hallway of doors, or perhaps, an endless hallway of blank space that appears to lead nowhere. Esther moves back in with her parents, the titular "fallback plan," and seems to be waiting for a catalyst to get her life moving again. 

It's when Esther takes a job babysitting for the Browns, a couple whose infant daughter recently died, that the story begins moving. Esther spends her days playing in the Browns' backyard with four-year-old May while May's mother Amy works on a mysterious art project in the attic. Esther loves spending time with May, but her life remains rather static as she navigates several ill-fated romantic entanglements and attempts to write a screenplay.

There's no doubt that Leigh Stein is a talented writer; however, I didn't feel like I could take anything away from her characters. I like to read novels that make a character's unique struggles into something universal, something that anyone can relate to. Unfortunately, The Fallback Plan did the opposite for me: Esther's post-graduate conflicts were so mundane that they seemed specific only to her situation. Even as someone who experienced depressive episodes in college and felt that awful sensation of standing still while the rest of the world continues moving, I couldn't seem to relate to Esther. And most of the secondary characters were like stick figures rather than actual portraits of human beings. 

The part of the book that resonated most with me was Esther's memory of a cruel and traumatizing prank at a sleepover she attended when she was thirteen. Unfortunately, the tale lasted just a few pages and didn't really play into the novel's story as a whole. I imagine that Leigh Stein's writing will only improve if she continues, I just hope that I'll find something more in her future novels.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tips for Working from Home

Whether your job allows you to work from home once in awhile or you have your own business and work from home all the time, distractions can really deter your productivity when you work in the same place where you sleep and relax. Here are a few tips for staying on track that I’ve learned over the past couple years of working from home.

Have a Plan
Before the day even starts, you should have a detailed to-do list. Break down each task into smaller jobs that are easily accomplished. Get an early start on any tasks that take longer than normal, and then work down to the easier stuff. Once you start crossing things off your list, you won’t be able to stop.

Know Yourself
Since you can be a little flexible when working from home, it’s important to know when you’re most productive and when you should take breaks. For instance, I know I’m a morning person and I get really tired in the afternoon. So when I wake up I get to work first thing, but then allow myself some time to relax around 2pm. After that, I get a second wind and can continue working for several more hours. But without that break, I’m basically a slug for the remainder of the day. So when you’re in charge of your own schedule, it’s important that you work when you’ll actually be able to get some work done.

Find Your Space
In your home, there are places to sleep, places to eat, and places to relax. Your workspace should not be the same as any of these other places. Even if you have to work at your kitchen tables due to lack of space, change it up enough so that it feels like a workspace rather than the place where you eat. By the same token, you should dress like you’re going to work rather than going to sleep. Wearing sweatpants can make it a little too tempting to nap all day.

Limit Distractions
When there’s no one around to keep you on track, you have to do it yourself. It’s way too easy to get caught up in a new TV show or checking social media. Have set times where you do things like tweet or answer emails so you don’t accidentally spend all day doing those things. And while it might be okay to watch TV or listen to music while you work, make sure you’re not doing something that will completely distract you from your work. I like to watch shows that I’ve already seen at least once so they don’t take all of my concentration. Make sure whatever you do during the day keeps you motivated instead of distracted.

Provide Incentives
When you’re working to accomplish large tasks, it can be hard to stay motivated if there’s no one around to keep you on track. Letting yourself take a break or even buying yourself a little something once you’ve completed something big can help to keep you focused on accomplishing your goals. Just stick to your plan and make sure you don’t reward yourself without actually finishing what you set out to do.

There are so many ways to get distracted or off track when working from home, but with a set plan and a little motivation, it can be a really great way to work. Do any of you work from home often? Do you have any other tips that I didn’t cover in this post?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Don Cherry: Hockey's Fashion Icon

To those of you hockey fanatics, Don Cherry and his suits are burned into your retina. If not, here's a sneak peak of what I'm talking about:

Don Cherry is a Canadian hockey announcer on CBC Televsion, known mostly for his most popular and recent role as co-host of "Coach's Corner", an intermission segment on the long-running Canadian sports program Hockey Night in Canada. He has also worked for ESPN in the United States as a commentator during the later stages of the Stanley Cup playoffs. "He is known for his outspoken manner, flamboyant dress, and staunch patriotism (source: Wikipedia)."

"Flamboyant dress" is right!

I am an avid hockey fan and, even though I live in the US, I enjoy watching NHL games on the Canadian channel just for the pure enjoyment of seeing what Cherry will wear today.

Let's enjoy some of Cherry's greater moments...

Here's a behind the scenes look at how a Don Cherry suit comes to be:

Cherry admits to "not following fashion" because he's not a follower!

Some may think Don Cherry's suits are gaudy, overdone, and downright ugly but this doesn't make him anything less than an fashion icon. And to be honest, his loud threads match his loud demeanor. People ohh and awe over Lady Gaga's dresses made of meat and call her an icon. So what's wrong with appreciating the boldness of a man's wardrobe?

Interested in following Don Cherry's suits, check out these sites dedicated to them:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Handmade iPad Accessories

As we all know, I love my iPad and take it everywhere with me. I also like shopping for accessories for my iPad! Lately I have realized that there is something beautiful about a handmade item paired with a flawless industrial object, like an iPad.

Where's a better place to look for fashionable and practical accessories than Etsy? Nowhere, which is why everything you find below can be purchased on Etsy (as long as no one has beat you to them)!

1. Tangerine and Cream iPad Case (Made to Order) by LittleGBoutique

2.  Bamboo iPad Case by Primovisto

Now it's just a question of which I'm going to buy for myself! Suggestions?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Flashback Friday: Hey Arnold!

We all get nostalgic sometimes, that’s a fact. And some of us probably get nostalgic more than others. We miss the carefree lifestyle we enjoyed as children: drawing with chalk, riding bikes until 8:30 p.m., eating glue. But I’ve found myself wondering in recent years…were things really that great when we were kids? Or does the grass just seem greener in the past? I mean, there’s no way that all of the TV shows and movies and zebra stripe gum from my childhood were really as amazing as I remember them to be. So what does stand up to the test of time? That’s the question we’ll be trying to answer here at Thought Pizza. Whenever one of us has the urge to revisit their childhood, we’ll post about it in a feature we call “Flashback Friday.” You can expect these posts to appear on, yes, Fridays and to cover topics ranging from Koosh balls to Goosebumps books to Stick Stickly. For the very first Flashback Friday, I’ll be reviewing the first two episodes of the classic Nickelodeon hit, Hey Arnold! Luckily, all 100 episodes of Hey Arnold! are available on Netflix instant stream for easy viewing.

Screen Cap via Netflix

Episode 1: The gist of “Downtown as Fruits” is that Helga is directing a school play about the food pyramid or something else involving all the characters dressed as fruits/vegetables/bacon. Arnold and Gerald, dressed as a banana and a strawberry respectively, are taking the bus to their school for opening night when they decide not to put themselves through the torture of Helga’s play. They ride the bus to the end of the line and are left stranded…downtown as fruits. The rest of the episode revolves around Arnold and Gerald’s hijinks downtown: a few shady characters, a case of mistaken identity, and a bag of cash ($500 bills anyone?). Eventually, feeling guilty for ducking out on Helga, Arnold and Gerald retrieve their fruit costumes from a dumpster and return just in time for their musical fruit number.

LOL moments:
  • Helga calls her fist “Old Betsy” as she threatens violence if the group doesn’t show up early for rehearsal.
  • Arnold’s stoner face during the first five minutes of the episode.
  •  Everyone at the pool hall gets super pumped (and actually cheer) when Arnold buys “sodas for everyone.”

Screen Cap via Netflix

Episode 2: After Arnold and Gerald encounter their daily “dork parade” at school (a Texas-shaped scab and linty nougats are shared), Eugene surprises everyone by rolling up to school on a fly new red bicycle. Everyone crowds around “Eugene’s Bike” in the schoolyard, soaking up its glory. But then, in a freak accident, Arnold causes the bike to be tossed into the street and chewed up by a street sweeper. Gerald tries to console Arnold by telling him that “stuff like this always happens to the geeky kids. And of all the kids in the school, Eugene’s GOTTA be the geekiest.” Surprisingly, this doesn't make Arnold feel better. Although he resolves to make it up to Eugene, bad luck always seems to get in the way of Arnold’s attempts. In the end, Eugene has a great day with Arnold, even though he choked on a hot dog, got hit with a baseball, and fell into the river.  

LOL moments:
  • Eugene’s family exchanges gifts on Flag Day. Yes, that’s Flag Day.
  • It took me a minute to figure out why the bike’s tiny license plate read “YOOJ.” Then I realized that it’s a phonetic abbreviation of Eugene. Gold.
  • The hot dog vendor’s bored look as he hands over the “Heimlich Maneuver” guide that’s conveniently chained to his stand.
Other moments:
  • I died a little when I saw Sheena’s crusty Texas-shaped scab. Blech.
  • We get our first look at Arnold’s super cool bedroom in this episode. I still want that room, dang it!

The verdict? Almost sixteen years later, Hey Arnold! is still pretty hilarious. Although I mostly laughed at subtleties in the show’s humor, things I wasn’t likely to pick up on as a kid. I guess I was just laughing about banana suits and scabs as a kid, which is cool too. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Truths About Being an Intern

As the summer is getting under way, a lot of students are either looking for or starting their first internship. This is a really exciting time for students; it's your first look into the "real world" of your chosen profession. This is what all those years of education have prepared you for!

As a female advertising and public relations major I was expecting my internship to be a mix between Mad Men and Sex in the City: finely pressed suits and strategic business planning combined with glamorous networking parties.

Boy, was I wrong....

The Truths of Being an Intern
  1. You might not get paid. Students often think they are entitled to monetary pay for their internship work. Technically, you're getting paid with experience, advice, networking contacts, and a possible foot in the door. Anything else is just a bonus. Keep an open mind about taking unpaid internships, they might work out better for you. Internships at non-profits are 99.9% unpaid, however these positions are unanimous for giving their internships more freedom when it comes to independence on projects, working hours, and more! Also, your commitment and working for free looks good to future employees by showing your love and passion for your career.
  2. Business casual for employees has taken on a life of its own to include sundresses, flannel button-downs (which I'm assuming replaces a dress shirt), flip flops, and even yoga pants instead of dress pants (I swear, I've seen it). Companies don't seem to be cracking down on their dress code out of fear of hurting their employees' feelings, discrimination, or even sexual harassment suits. "Everyone is doing it" is not a good excuse not to dress you best. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. If you look like the college intern, that's all they'll see you as!
  3. Think of the most boring and most mundane aspect of your chosen profession. Cold calling? Answering phones? Filing papers? Scheduling meetings? And multiply that by 40 hours a week. Bottom line, interns are only with a company for a limited amount of time so employers are not going to go above and beyond to create a real position for you when you'll be back at school in a matter of months. Even if the internship position will just be immediately passed to a new intern, that's still someone they'll have to extensively train and that's not time in money well spent. You won't have much involvement with any monumental business strategy or planning. It's more likely that you will have involvement with execution of a plan rather than starting from the ground floor.
  4. Life in the corporate world moves slowly. As Millennials and college students, we're used to keeping up with a fast-paced life style and we are accustomed to changing roles and tasks fairly quickly (from esteemed partier to honors student, from class clown to aspiring business professional). However, in the corporate world there are a lot of roadblocks, red tape, and hurdles to overcome to get anything done, especially in larger companies. Everything has to be approved by dozens of people, committees, and organizational teams before it can become reality. Be patient. Stay on top of everything and nicely remind people when they fall behind on a task (non-intern employees are way more busy than you and their time is more precious than yours). Push hard but not too hard. Just understand that everything happens slower in the business world. Everything will work out with time.
  5. If you learn nothing else, you will learn how the real world works. The wonderful part about being an intern is that you'll work side-by-side with seasoned professionals. Whether they want to share their wisdom or not is another question. However, you'll learn about business/office etiquette, how to work with people on a professional level, polishing up your communication skills, personal time management, personal development, and corporate business models first hand. You'll get an overall view on how things work. These are things that you can't learn in the classroom that will be vital to surviving and being accepted into your first career job.
  6. The Devil Wears Prada is not a joke. There are internships out there where your supervisor will treat you like their personal butler--picking up dry cleaning, making coffee runs, cleaning their office, and maybe even taking care of their pets. They are clearly taking advantage of their position and you definitely do not have to stand for that. Try speaking with them about ideas you've come up with that will be of value to your learning experience with the company. Ask for permission to join a project team that is working on something you are interested in. Confront them about  your job duties and how they are not in line with the initial job duties you received and how they are not of value to your education. In the end, you want to be proud of your internship. When people ask about it you want to be able to boast about your new-found skills and work experience, not how many venti drinks from Starbucks you can carry at once.
  7. Meet as many people as humanly possible. Introduce yourself and try to network on LinkedIn with as many people as you can at the company. Make sure they know more than just your name, try and work with them on a project, take special interest in something they do--connect with them so they remember you. You never know who you are going to need to contact in the future. On your last day, back up all your contacts out of your work e-mail system to use for further reference.
  8. Ask for a signed letter of recommendation on your last day. Letters of recommendation always come in handy when looking for employment after graduation. However if you want a year and suddenly ask for one when you need it, your previous employer might not remember you. They politely write you a letter and send it over but it will lack the personal qualities that you would have received had you asked for it while you and your work were still fresh in their minds. 
  9. They're always going to say they want you to come back. Almost everyone I've talked to at the end of their internship has been so excited for their future graduation because their employer indicated they wanted them to come back to work for them. I'm pretty sure they say that to everyone. They've already spent time (and maybe money) grooming you for their company but chances are there are a lot more interns graduating then there are jobs available. But always apply for their openings, indicating that you were previously an intern, and always keep in contact with them! You never know what will come around further down the road!
  10. An internship is one-tenth the job duties of the actual position. Internships are great learning experiences but they are forgiving to the fact that you are also a student and have other things going on. They're not trying to stress you out. They just want to give you a taste. Once you are a salaried employee, you can multiply these job roles by 10 and then you might be close to the real job duties. More projects, more overlapping, more tasks, more team collaborations, more everything! Get ready!
Honestly, interning was one of the best experiences of my life. After I adjusted to corporate life, I was lucky to have supervisors that really took me under their wing: I shadowed everything they did as well as being able to run my own small projects. But it wasn't the glitz and glory that I had expected it to be. I worked hard and for free, for little or no recognition from my coworkers. I dedicated myself to their projects and even spent my own free time at home brainstorming new ideas and problem work-arounds that never saw life. Although my work might not have been valued by the company, I valued my time there and all the things I witnessed and experienced. That year of internships prepared me for the working world more than any part-time job or college class ever did!

Have you recently completed an internship? Or are you currently an intern? What are you quickly learning about your role in the company? We're eager to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Book Pizza: Where Books and Awesomeness Collide

Thought Pizza is a place for all kinds of likes: people who like movies, people who like sports, people who like making things, and of course, people who like to read. For those of us who like to read, I’d like to introduce you to a magical part of the Thought Pizza world – Book Pizza. Book Pizza is the book club here and we can’t wait for all of you bibliophiles to get involved. We’ll be selecting one book every month and anyone who’s interested can discuss it in a few different ways. First, you can participate in our Book Pizza forum here. Feel free to start your own threads and discussions; we want you to be involved! You can also talk about the book on twitter using the hash tag #bookpizza, but try not to post too many spoilers there.

Book Pizza’s pick for June is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. From “The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. 

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. 

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.”

So pick up a copy of The Night Circus and get ready to discuss your heart out! Each month when we announce the new Book Pizza selection, we’ll also offer a poll so that you can tell us what books YOU want to read. 

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Leading Off

Hello everyone! I figured that I would formally introduce myself so you know what you’re getting yourselves into. First of all, my name is Lindsay. I’m about to enter my third year (whoa) of college. I’m a Communications major and recently decided to minor in Theater.

To say that I am a sports fan is an understatement. I am completely and utterly invested in just about every sport I watch. That’s why I decided that the only career that would make sense for me was something involving sports. My ultimate dream is to have my own sports talk show one day.

The first game I ever fell in love with was baseball. I can’t point to a certain time when I remember watching my first game or learning my first rule. It’s been with me for as long as I can really remember. It all started with my best friend, my Paw Paw.

photo via mecookie

I loved spending any time I could with my Paw. Since he spent most of his time watching baseball, so did I. He was so excited to teach me everything he knew. He would tell me stories from when he was a kid which made me fall in love with the history of the game as well. We watched or listened to every single game together. For my entire childhood, the Detroit Tigers were a losing team. It was all I knew, yet there was nothing I loved more than watching them play.

When the Tigers made it to the World Series in 2006, it was one of the greatest memories I have ever had. After years and years of seeing them lose, I got to experience what it felt like to win - all with my Paw Paw sitting on the couch across from me. I can still remember his sweet smile when Magglio Ordonez hit that walk off home run in the bottom of the 9th inning.

Last year, my Paw Paw suffered from a collapsed lung. He was in the hospital for a few months and every time I visited, we watched the Tigers. He became progressively sicker and it was difficult for him to talk. The last conversation we had was about Jose Valverde.

A few days later, he was sent to hospice care. On June 11, I sat by his bed and held his hand. He wasn’t awake, but the doctor told us that he could still hear us. As usual, the Tigers game was on the television. I broadcasted the entire game to him. We watched it together just like we had for my entire life. That night, the Tigers won the game to take over first place in the American League Central. It was the last game I ever watched with him.

At 3:57 A.M. on June 12, 2011, my Paw Paw passed away. I didn’t know how I was ever going to be able to watch another Tigers game again. I associated it so much with him that it broke my heart to even think about it. Then I realized that the only thing that would make me feel better was watching baseball. When the Tigers beat the Yankees to advance to the ALCS, my phone rang, just like it did so often after a Tigers game, with my Paw Paw on the other line. Though it had been months since he died, when I heard the phone ring I immediately expected to hear his voice. The caller ID read “Unknown Number” with the phone number “000-000-0000”. It may sound silly, but I took it as a sign. My Paw Paw will always be watching baseball with me.

Sports have a way of bringing people together. Families, friends, and complete strangers enter a whole different universe when they’re supporting their favorite team. A team can lift the spirits of an entire state. Every sport is exciting and unpredictable in its own way and I’m constantly amazed at the ability of these athletes. Through the good, bad, and ugly, it’s always a joy for me to watch.

I’m so excited to begin writing for this site. I’ll be sharing my opinions, posting recaps, and giving you fun facts and information along the way. Here’s to another memorable year in sports!

An Ode to Bromances

The bromance: a romance between bros. This is no ordinary friendship between dudes. A bromance requires that male friends are so close that their relationship takes on some of the qualities of a romantic relationship. Here are some of my favorite bromances from TV and movies.

Troy and Abed (Community)

photo via
Abed: Announcement number one: all announcements will be cool from now on.
Troy: Announcement number two: butt soup.

Merry and Pippin (Lord of the Rings)

photo via
Pippin: You need people of intelligence on this sort of mission… quest… thing.
Merry: Well, that rules you out, Pip.

Chandler and Joey

photo via
Joey: Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if our duck and our chick had a little baby? We could call it Chuck.
Chandler: Or Dick.

Cory and Shawn (Boy Meets World)

photo via
Cory: Shawnzie?
Shawn: Yessie?

Shawn and Gus (Psych)

photo via
Shawn: I’m Shawn Spenstar and this is my partner Gus “TT” Showbiz.
Gus: The extra T is for extra talent.

JD and Turk (Scrubs)

photo via
Turk: It sounds like you're asking me out on a man date.
JD: Turk, why are you so afraid of loving me?

Han Solo and Chewie (Star Wars)

photo via
Han: Get in there, you big furry oaf. I don’t care what you smell!

What are some of your favorite bromances?

Lookin' Good in the Summer

This post originally started off as a “from winter to spring/summer wardrobe change” piece.  However, our team here has been working hard to perfect the site for you all and have pushed back the launch date a bit at Thought Pizza.  Needless to say, we said goodbye to winter long ago and are well into warm weather.

That being said, I still feel like many of my clothing pieces have a slightly dreary seasonal look to them, mainly when it comes to color.  I am not drawn to super girly things, bright highlighter neon pants/shirts/shoes/whatever make me nervous, pastels are for the Easter bunny, and I feel weird when I have too much pink on. 

So instead of "from winter to spring," I’ll just give some general guidelines on how to not look like a Debbie Downer if you, like me, prefer to wear mostly neutral and/or dark colors.

1. Messy hair is a summer staple.  Especially for those of us with hair that isn’t naturally poker straight, there’s no point in trying too hard.  Beachy waves, ponytails, buns, braids, all good summer dos.
     2. Small splashes of pink are very clean looking. Even for those of us that aren't big fans of the color, a small bit of pale or light pink is sometimes refreshing (like a scarf!).
    3. Dull colors are still colors, don’t forget about them. And a floral print (or any print for that matter) can liven up a dark outfit.     




    4. Try fabrics that flow, no matter what the color. Dresses work well for this: breezy and light!

    5. Stripes are fun (white and blue especially give you a nautical, summery look).

    6. Nail polish: it’s just great all year round. 

    7. And lastly, lipstick is the quickest way to add some color to anything.  Maybelline baby lips is one of my favorites; it’s a moisturizing balm, has SPF 20, and comes in different shades (including clear).  

    There you have it. My quick fixes to summerfy your wardrobe. 

    And don’t worry, boys, not all of these style posts will be so focused on girl things. I’m also really looking forward to doing some more interactive projects with the style portion of the Though Pizza, so stay tuned and happy summer!