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04.13.09 My Top Ten RIGHT NOW

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1. SHOW Everyday Rapture
Sherie Rene Scott creates a wonderfully self-indulgent hour and half musical review about her life as a half-Mennonite in Kansas and her eventual turn into a pseudo-star of Broadway. Moving between highs and lows of life, Scott is always hilarious with her wide-eyed blonde naiveté about the world around her. Back in Kansas, Scott is conflicted between her love of Jesus and her love of Judy which resolves itself in an ridiculous performance of “You Made Me Love You,” originally sung to Clark Gable by a teen Garland and here sung to a slide show of various hilarious depictions of Jesus. Scott isn’t all laughs all the time, however as this childhood tale turns into an indictment of her community’s hatred of homosexuals. She cleverly reprises her “star-making” performance in Aida through the song “My Strongest Suit,” all the while telling the story of her desperate attempts to reach out to a fan that lip-synchs her performance on YouTube. The joke gets stale quickly, but provides quite a number of laughs about the way our skeptical world turns. By the end of the evening, Scott covers lots of ground, but seems most comfortable belting out modern rock including Sharon Jones’ “Got a Thing on My Mind,” U2’s “Elevation” and my personal favorite, The Band’s “The Weight.”

2. GAMING Wii Fit
Exercise should always be this fun (and this effective). After just a couple days of using the balance board and integrated system, I’ve already experienced a bit of muscle fatigue and that awesome soreness that you wish all workouts ended with. Hopping between yoga, strength training and aerobics, you do truly get a good workout. And it’s wonderful to have a trainer, an attractive one at that, to keep you going, telling you where improvement will be needed and what you’re doing correctly. The system is incredible at explaining balance, especially when doing a tree pose or warrior stance, ensuring that you’re standing correctly. The step aerobics is a little ridiculous, but fun to basically play Dance Dance Revolution in an effort to burn calories. The daily fitness test helps keep your goals in mind as well as ensuring your BMI is in the correct range. And I love how the machine tends to get a little catty. My first time on the balance board, the Wii asked me if I fell down a lot. Now, the truth is I do, but I really don’t need my gaming system pointing out my flaws! That’s what I have friends for…

3. FOOD Café LULUc
You know this place must be pretty damn special considering it’s nestled deep in that land I never willingly travel to, the land known as Brooklyn. Ok, it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it still must be pretty special considering I go there regularly every other week. This little bistro, complete with tin ceilings, funky wall sconces and mirrored walls, serves up arguably the best pancake in the greater NYC area. The beauty is the simplicity of a perfectly cooked flapjack, crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and topped with fresh strawberries and bananas. Douse it with syrup or create a little dipping pool, anyway you pour it, it will go down easy. Also worth noting are equally fluffy omelets, including my personal favorite filled with cheese, tomato and the crispiest bacon. So make the trip, you wont regret it, and the surrounding adorable shops will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time, or at least far away from the name brands that crowd the streets of Manhattan.

4. ALBUM Grace/Wastelands Peter Doherty
Stripped of all the tabloid craziness, Doherty is a surprisingly talented singer songwriter on his first solo album. Opening with “Arcady,” the stage is set for an unpredictably sweet guitar strum heavy album with tones of the many Brits that have come before him, with melodies often a bit more complex than the generally pleasing lyrics. “Last of the English Roses” is definitely the most radio friendly, and thus the first single. “Sweet by and By” is an excellent lyrical piano tune that Randy Newman would have been proud to write. But the most beautiful bit of song writing comes with “I am the Rain,” in which his lyrics actually do sing, a heavy rhyme scheme and intelligent word play, bouncing between Bob Dylan-like verses and a rollicking chorus. The album keeps building and building to better songs, reaching the apex at the rocking hit and fantastic animated music video, “Broken Love Song.” It’s an absolute shame that “1939 Returning” never got a much-needed boost from the original intention of bringing on Amy Winehouse for a duet. Let’s hope that one day she gets off that Bahamian island and can stand up long enough to sing along to this very intriguing track.

5. ACTOR IN A SHOW Cynthia Nixon in Distracted
I sadly cannot recommend the show as a whole, mainly because it’s cloyingly written and ultimately a dull textbook take, to the point of being offensive, on the drastic effects of overmedication of children for ADD (or ADHD depending on how current your DSM IV is). But at the center of this lousy production is Cynthia Nixon, who post-Sex and the City has demonstrated incredible capabilities on the stage, especially her turn in David Hare’s Rabbit Hole a couple years ago. She basically runs the show as a ringmaster, gliding over the clunky portions with the greatest ease, making the most of well worn tropes of stage shows that are winking at their own stage-showiness. And in the end, she does accurately depict a stay-at-home mother attempting to do what’s best for her family but constantly finding that it’s never going to be enough in a world that offers too many opportunities to fail. The play is a disaster, but at least she can make the evening not a total loss.

6. WEB SERIES Tales of Mere Existence by Levni Yilmaz
Well, it’s all right there in the title. It’s a series of shorts about the things we think about everyday but never say out loud, and thanks to some clever comics and animation with dry witty voiceover that mimics the unending brain commentary that we all have going at all times, it’s making the boring everyday pretty damn funny. The short on procrastination hits a little too close to home for those of us that work at home, the way we take care of everything else before actually getting to work and then never really working. A similarly accurate portrayal occurs with “Get Ready.” But my favorite is “My Darling,” in which you meet someone at a party and immediately project all your future wishes, hopes and dreams before even speaking a word. It’s sadly ridiculously accurate on the socializing of human beings, and now the socializing through online profiles, in which we build these mythic creations that no human being could ever hope to achieve.

7. MOVIE Jurassic Park (1993)
I cannot believe how well this classic has held up over the years (minus a few plaids that I fear might be coming back in style anyway). Even if you can anticipate everything, the goat leg hitting the roof of the car, that incredible ballet inspired velociraptor attack in the kitchen, it all gets the blood boiling and keeps you at the edge of your seat. And even after you can see how overly well this piece fits into the canon of Spielberg filmmaking (non-blood relations converging as a family unit, brightly lit outdoor scenes, delayed visual of true villain, love of blue backlight, emphasis on a child’s perspective) you realize how well crafted a two hour ride this film is. Despite my initial opinions, at the tender age of 9, I now find Jeff Goldblum, “Newman” and the oft-wonderful Samuel L. as the highlights of the cast, and now it’s Richard Attenborough as the Dr. Moreau type character that I honestly found grating. It was well worth taking one more look at one of my childhood favorites.

8. SOAP Beekman’s “After-the-Sun” Soap
I cannot believe that I’ve done so little this week that I’m actually talking about soap, but I have to say, this isn’t just any soap. This is “After-the-Sun” soap, a completely ingenious idea. Made from goat’s milk, this bar is created specifically for use after you’ve sun-baked, formulated to remove greasy sunscreen and eradicate free radicals. Beyond that, it’s packaged perfectly in single use bars. So, when you’re heading to the beach or to the pool, you don’t have to worry about bringing anything more than this spectacular one-use bar for that cabana shower. And, if you’re extra curious about the process of making your soap (which I’m more than happy not to know) you can go online and see the actual goat from which your bar of soap was made. That’s truly getting a too intimate with the things that clean your intimates.

9. MOVIE Penelope (2006)
For anyone that feels like a piece of their heart is missing now that Pushing Daisies is in fact pushing daisies, this misguided movie might be for you. Trying to create a modern fairy tale about the beauty within, the film weaves a tale of a pig faced girl who can only break facial curse by marrying someone of her own class. Rather than being a gorgeous little captivating tale, it becomes mired down in its own mythology and a soppy ode to love, but bolstered by a radiant Christina Ricci, the always hilarious Catherine O’Hara (of Christopher Guest films), and Reese Witherspoon channeling some kind of crazy, the film has some worthwhile moments. Beyond that there’s some lovely production design, a few interesting plot points and all in all it’s a decent way to waste a heartwarming 90 minutes.

10. WEB GAME Deep Leap – The Fast-Paced Time-Wasting Word Game
This thing is ridiculously simplistic, combining Scrabble and Boggle, making it so very fun and frustrating all at the same time. Letters just appear in random order and it’s your job to create words from them. Create a word, those letters vanish and you receive points. The longer the word, the more points you get. If you don’t put together the words quickly enough and nine letters are up there, letters will start to turn red, disappear, and you lose points. So then you’re in a bit of a conundrum, do you wait for more letters to appear in the hopes that a longer word is possible, or do you do your best to clear the board as fast as possible? Beyond that, different letters have different values (I lost an “x” which cost me 33 points, very upsetting). It might seem stupid at first, but you’ll just keep coming back to this site, trying to do better, because you know you’re smarter than that last round you just played.

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