Famous Favorites

When you love pop culture and entertainment as much as I do, you come to realize something: Having favorite celebrities is rather different than having favorite actors or singers. You can love a person for who they are (who could have guessed) while not really loving their role choices or song style. To me, that’s the mark of a celeb doing things right. When they’re not fake or trying too hard, but just down-to-earth people who remind us that celebs are people too. Knocking down the stereotypes of “celebrity,” they make us like them just by being them. I, naturally, have a ton of people like this in mind, but let’s start with three:

JTJustin Timberlake: Here’s the thing about JT. I’ve been in love with him since his spaghetti-fro days and I always suspected he would have a successful solo career. But I haven’t always enjoyed his style of music. When I was a knee-socked elementary school kid, *NSYNC was my jam. Loved them. Knew it was a phase, but loved them. They were my first concert. When they broke up and Justin started doing his own thing, I was just a little disappointed that I didn’t immediately love it all. “Cry Me A River” can still get me singing in my car to this day, but that was about it. And as his style evolved, my enthusiasm waned. Until the “20/20 Experience.” The music was better, but the concert was mind-blowing. It made me love the music in spite of itself. Seeing him live was one of the best experiences of my life and I’m not even remotely embarrassed to admit that. He rose up out of the stage flanked by a full orchestra, decked out in—what else—a suit and tie and I was re-awakened to what it feels like to love JT. He’s a fantastic performer with a wonderful sense of humor—ever see him with Jimmy Fallon? Any conversation they have is hilarious. He’s taking time off now after his whirlwind tour to adjust to being a dad and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Continue reading

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Five Things That Inspire Me

I wanted to try something new for a PSA; it was easy for me to come up with five things that make me feel inspired—inspired to write, to see and try new things, to do good for others, to live my life to the fullest. Inspiration can hit in big or small ways and it doesn’t always present itself as a bright flash of motivation. Other times, it’s just a feeling of contentment, of knowing you’re doing okay, of being ready to take on the world one baby step at a time. I feel inspired every time I interview a person or organization doing great things for the community in my Blue Mountain’s Best feature for work or when I see someone being kind to a stranger. I think it’s important to find those little flashes in the day-to-day because allowing yourself to be swept up in monotony is a drain on what we’re capable of as humans; inspiration breeds creativity, something I’m quite prone to advocate for as a writer, along with positive vibes. Who couldn’t use a little more of that in their lives? That being said, here are five things (or people or places) that never fail to give me that little jolt.

1. The Ocean

11004390_10100364350201578_1793488586_nBeing born and raised a shore kid (and fueled by my childhood obsession with “The Little Mermaid”), I developed a deep and intense love for the ocean early in life. I love the heady aroma of sea air and the feel of my salt-encrusted skin when I leave the water, how alive I feel after being tossed around by the waves for a while and how just being close enough to hear them crashing on the beach rejuvenates my soul. (Trust me, I hear the cheese in that statement, but nevertheless, it’s true.) I call it my “happy place” and I go through periods of withdrawal, particularly during the winter months. Leaving the sea behind when I moved to PA was one of the hardest parts of the process. I’m transfixed by the immensity of it and fascinated by how it works, what lives in it, what makes it so powerful. I’ve always believed that if I hadn’t discovered such a love of writing and journalism, I would’ve studied marine biology. I can’t say what it is about it that affects me so deeply, but any time spent near churning, frothy water leaves me feeling completely recharged and ready to plow forward with whatever life has next in store. When I finally caught a break and got a job as a staff writer for a newspaper group in New Jersey and was abruptly let go less than a month after being hired, I drove myself straight to Sea Bright Beach where I sat on the sand for three hours, just staring at the horizon, planning my next move. For me, the ocean will always equal therapy. Continue reading

NIGHTCRAWLER: Gyllenhaal will make your skin crawl

Today, I want to gush a bit about one of my favorite actors and his creeptastic new film that I saw a couple of weeks ago …

Nightcrawler stars my boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal as Louis Bloom, a slippery Los Angeles sociopath who gets sucked into the grim morbidity of television news: “If it bleeds, it leads.” (Sad but true fact; not for nothing, I heard that on the first day of my news reporting class in college.) Bloom, driven to find a job but reeling from another rejection, spies the wreckage of a car crash one night and pulls over to observe. When he discovers that the footage shot by a gruff cameraman [Bill Paxton] may make it onto the morning news, you can practically see the light bulb go off in his eyes. Armed with a police scanner and a hapless intern [Riz Ahmed], Bloom dives headfirst into the cutthroat blood sport of crime journalism. Continue reading

Five Favorite Comedians

Love to laugh? So do I. Unfortunately, I don’t know a whole lot of stand-ups, so these aren’t my favorites so much as they are the only five that came to mind right away. Eh, regardless, they’re fun.

1. Ellen DeGeneres

180484I’ve openly gushed about my affection for Ellen many times, so it should come as no surprise that she’s my #1 comedienne. She barely has to try to make people laugh, just her vocal inflections and facial expressions are enough to make you grin along with her, as if she just winked at you and you love being in on the joke. She doesn’t have to stoop to being offensive or crude and her language is perfectly PG. Her monologues on her show qualify as mini-stand-up routines, but I’ve only ever seen her legitimate stand-up once, in her second HBO special entitled, “Here And Now” from 2003. It’s one hour of Ellen pointing out life’s strange quirks, like store packaging techniques (“You need scissors to get into scissors!”), movie theater etiquette (“Is the popcorn really that delicious we must shovel handfuls of it into our mouth?”), and cell phone reception (“Are the bangs shorter? THE BANGS!”), to name a few. We own the DVD and it’s memorable enough that my sister and I still quote it to this day. Random words like “peas” and the name Nancy always make me think of America’s favorite talk show host. Continue reading

ICYMI: Andy and Amy’s Haunted Ship Adventure

Andy-Amy-Haunted-House-EllenSome people look forward to dressing up. Others look forward to the candy. Me? Each Halloween, I look forward to watching Ellen DeGeneres scare the pants off her staff. It became an annual tradition to send her writer, Amy (scaredy-cat extraordinaire), to something haunted, or hell, just dark. Continue reading

Countdown to Ellen

Capture

America’s favorite talk show host posted the above photo to Instagram a couple hours ago. Displayed on the outside of her studio on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California, the billboard reads, “You never know what funny can do.” Too true in the case of Ellen DeGeneres. The Emmy winner and Oscar host has surprised and delighted us from Day 1 and now has ten successful seasons under her belt. I, for one, am just grateful that she has been renewed through 2017 because it means there’s still hope that I can somehow be an audience member.

What do you think Ellen has in store for us for season 11?

UPDATE:

Who’s excited y’all?!