Books »Taro Gomi Box Set

by Taro Gomi

There’s a lot of junky stuff made for kids but for every poorly written and illustrated book, there’s one as charming as the work of Taro Gomi.

I found this adorable box set browsing the children’s section at Word and fell in love. Van and I adore the simple, quirky, colorful watercolors and short stories.

His personal favorite of the three, which includes Spring is Here and My Friends, is Bus Stops.

This is a most fabulous gift to new parents and likely one they won’t already have.

Gomi is a prolific Japanese children’s book illustrator best known in the states for his classic Everybody Poops, which I will be getting once potty training begins.

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Posted on June 10, 2012

Movies »Ghostbusters

directed by Ivan Reitman (1984)

Recommending Ghostbusters, even as part of my ongoing “Top Best Movies You’ve Probably Seen But If You Haven’t You Better Get On It Marathon” seems silly.

I mean, we’ve all seen it right? We’ve all probably even seen the disappointing sequel and the animated series The Real Ghostbusters (neither of which, let’s get clear, am I recommending).

Those that haven’t seen this classic, flawless comedy.. Come on!!

All others can rejoice in re-watching it on Netflix instant.
Did I ever mention the time I made a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in art class as a child or wanted to be Ray Parker Jr for halloween? Yep, I was (and am) a pretty big fan.

Rumors persist in a third installment but I’m not sure it will happen or if it’s a good idea if it does.


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Posted on April 29, 2012

Movies »The Shining

directed by Stanley Kubrick (1980)

As my “Top Best Movies You’ve Probably Seen But If You Haven’t You Better Get On It Marathon” continues I give you the one movie I just can’t forgive you for not seeing.

The Shining is simply my favorite movie and that is all.

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Posted on April 15, 2012

Movies »Alien and Aliens

directed by Ridley Scott (1979) and James Cameron (1986)

When three adult, seemingly intelligent Jeopardy! contestants couldn’t name Alien as the film starring Ian Holm as an android I was appalled!

So, even though Alien and Aliens were set to make an appearance on my “Top Best Movies You’ve Probably Seen But If You Haven’t You Better Get On It Marathon”, now it seems urgent to tell you to watch them straight away.

The first is cerebral, terrifying and ground breaking. The second defied the odds and became the best of block buster action science fiction (featuring the amazing line “Game over, Man!”) despite a new, different minded director. Together, they are simply the best films ever made in their genre, in fact – they define the genre.

I am cautiously excited about the prequel Prometheus because it’s also by Alien director Ridley Scott. Maybe it will succeed is capturing the brilliance of the series in a way that parts 3 and 4 have not.

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Posted on April 10, 2012

Songs »Dream Away

by George Harrison (1982)

Grey windy Sundays are no good for fun family outings but they definitely work for making home made soup and playing classic favorites like Time Bandits in the background.

Almost as shocking as the film’s ending is the rock song that plays over the ending credits.

After sticking in my head for days I decided to find out what it was. Seems Dream Away was written specifically for the movie by George Harrison and is considered one of his best solo works.

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Posted on March 27, 2012

Albums »Purple Rain

by Prince (1984)

Prince has been filling our apartment with his grooves. From his self titled album and even the Batman soundtrack Van and I have been enjoying his oeuvre.

One of his most fully satisfying albums is the Purple Rain Soundtrack which features so many huge hits that we all know from growing up in the 80s:

The raucous Let’s Go Crazy, the poppy I Would Die 4 U, the amazing titular slow jam (which is a toss up for my favorite) but the incomparable When Doves Cry would have to be my favorite. There’s no way, just no way, to listen to this song and not feel elated.

But this king of soundtracks isn’t just top forty – there are less played songs just as deserving of note.
Darling Nikki is one of Prince’s most joyfully, profoundly dirty while Computer Blue makes me want to star in a roller skating movie or strut a catwalk wearing a mini skirt power suit.

It’s no new news that this is an exceptional album (although people are getting younger all the time and know nothing!) but it’s fun to revisit albums, even those we know by heart especially if it gets a toddler to dance wildly.

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Posted on February 24, 2012

Books »City Primeval

By Elmore Leonard (1980)

It’s always a good idea to pepper your reading list with a few Elmore Leonard novels. His snappy crime sagas are always entertaining, always satisfying.

In City Primeval, he takes us to Detroit, where handsome detective Raymond Cruz is on the trail of the seriously dangerous “Oklahoma Wildman” Clement Mansell. Cruz suspects Mansell is responsible for a random double killing and is determined to get justice after Mansell walked away from an air tight murder case based on a technicality. He’s not afraid to go beyond the law to see him pay either.

Throw in a larger than life and corrupt judge, a sexy lawyer, and a bunch of really angry Albanians and you get the kind of thriller we know to expect from Leonard. It’s smart, it’s tense, it’s funny, it’s a perfect quick read.

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Posted on February 11, 2012

Albums »Come on Pilgrim

by The Pixies (1987)

I vividly remember listening to Come on Pilgrim with headphones in my room after receiving it as a birthday present and being absolutely thrilled by the lyric “you are the son of a motherfucker”. Ha! Foul language and my parents would have no idea!

Beyond that, The Pixies were just game changing for me. Rock music sounded new and different and that old stuff just didn’t work anymore.

The Pixies were angry, whiny, melodic, silly, serious, inventive, and straight forward all at once. Only an underground band at first that only got air time on college radio is now considered “classic” even by old classmates that wouldn’t have been caught dead at the time.

Come on Pilgrim is still one of my favorites and the band’s first rough release. It still packs a primal punch and there’s not a bad song on it.

It’s hard to write about an album that’s kind of been with me for so long and is so familiar but if you somehow missed this one, it’s a must.

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Posted on February 4, 2012

Songs »I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On

by Robert Palmer (1985)

Addicted to Love (which is also awesome) may be Riptide‘s biggest hit but it’s I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On that’s been rattling around in my head.

It’s sultry, it’s mysterious, it’s Robert Palmer at his most well-dressed-man-surrounded-by-vacant-models-in-skin-tight-dresses best.

A lady named Cherelle also had success with the song with her Mary Jane Girls like cover and Mariah Carey covered it having, apparently, only known that 80’s girly dance version.

Palmer’s original is much more interesting.

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Posted on February 4, 2012

Movies »A Chinese Ghost Story 1&3

directed by Siu-Tung Ching (1987 and 1991)

The East does weird in a way that the West simply can’t and the fun, crazy Chinese Ghost Story trilogy proves it.

I remember hearing about these films years ago as elusive, cult classics; and with demons, tongue battles (that would be battles fought with giant monster tongues), walking tree spirits, rapping warriors, slapstick beheadings and ghostly seductions, “cult” is the only way to effectively classify these unique films.

The plots are similar between the two: Beautiful ghost spirit is under the control of a tree demon. Kind, handsome traveler stays the night in her haunted temple and falls in love. Must defeat demons to save her.

The original is more romantic and serious, but both include a healthy dose of humor and slapstick–the third almost to the point of tedium. The second… well sadly I can’t tell you anything about it: see, Netflix instant issues dictated a strange viewing order. First I watched what I assumed was the first movie only to find out afterwards that Netflix had mislabeled it and I had actually watched the third. So, not wanting to forgo seeing the original I watched the first movie (which was labeled Part 2 on Netfilx). At that point I thought we might as well finish up the trilogy, but found all three movies were no longer available. So, only reviewing 1 and 3 and no screen captures from me.

It’s a shame they’ve been taken off Netflix because they’re not readily available in the US–but are worth seeking out for lovers of bizarre cinema. I hope to one day see the second installment and complete the trilogy.

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Posted on January 21, 2012

Songs »Very Special

by Debra Law (1981)

Debra Laws’ Very Special sounds like young girls’ smiles when they first fall in love . It’s a very nice thing.

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Posted on January 18, 2012

Web Sites »F— Yeah 8 Bit Horror

dedicated to 80’s horror on film and on the almighty nes

I’m sure there’s an scathing essay to be written about how what I am about to say could be a symbol of the decline of civilization, but an animated gif of Johnny Depp being sucked into a bed followed by a fountain of blood is a very nostalgic image of my childhood.

What can I say, I was a horror buff pretty much right from the beginning. I couldn’t wait to watch movies I spied in the blood splattered section in the video store. (I also vividly remember seeing a curtained off area with rated X movies, and thought to myself “How scary can a movie be to be X rated??”)

I feel like horror geek kids don’t quite exist in the same way anymore. Remember the kid in Salem’s Lot who’s obsessed with monsters? He and all like him have grown up, and instead of nerdy rooms packed with Fangorias, we have tumblrs like F— Yeah 8 Bit Horror to view, share and remember our favorite gorey moments in cinema.

The site focuses on the golden age of horror, the 1980’s. There’s lot of stuff from the Nightmare on Elm Street series (which is fine with me, since making Elm St. movies was what I wanted to do when I grew up for years). There are also a few I haven’t seen (Trick or Treat looks like a must see).

A great example of a good tumblr.

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Posted on January 15, 2012

Songs »Cha Cha Heels

20111213-121343.jpgby Eartha Kitt and Bronski Beat (1989)

When people post music videos on Facebook I tend to treat them with at most a passing glance.

It won’t take long to understand why, with Cha Cha Heels, things were different.

I might also note that the song was written for Divine, who sadly passed away before it could be recorded.


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Posted on December 13, 2011

Books »The Fifth Child

by Doris Lessing (1988)

Devilish children, whether possessed or born evil has been the subject of many a horror book and film (for a couple good ones see The Bad Seed, A Good and Happy Child, and of course, The Exorcist).

Doris Lessing‘s The Fifth Child does something slightly different with the genre. The horror is subtler, the child isn’t even recognized as being anything but spirited and unloved by doctors, and the unease taps more into the guilt and paranoia that comes with parenting rather than fear of a murderous tot a la Damien in The Omen.

It’s far more realistic than many like minded stories and in that way all the more terrifying. Even Lessing found writing it very “upsetting”.

It reminded me of an article I read many years ago about parents with overly aggressive sons whom they feared yet had to take care of. There was nothing they could do about it, and the futility and complete control the situation had over their lives, it stayed with me and scared me.

After all, in our real lives, isn’t it losing our happiness: happy marriages, happy family dynamics, happy sense of peace that is most frightening?

In the novel, that’s exactly whats threatened by Ben, the titular fifth child when he arrives in a bustling, loving family.

With his dead eyes, hobbit like appearance, incredible strength and tendency to kill animals he slowly destroys a happy family.

Lessing’s writing is sharp, like a great wit that never quite has anything nice to say about anybody. I breezed through the book in one day. While it frankly probably would have been a dissappointnent to a young me looking for more outward appearing horrors, it is a page turner for adults, especially parents that hold their small pleasures dear and know what they have to lose.

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Posted on October 25, 2011

Albums »Stand By Me Soundtrack

Various Artists (1986)

The whole apartment’s been alive with the sounds of third grade as Jim and I been nostalgic for the Stand By Me soundtrack.

I imagine we weren’t the only ones that treasured that well worn cassette tape.

I choreographed a dance to Lollipop and always somewhat dramatically cried during the title track as the thought of River’s bar fight demise was too much for my eight year old heart to bear.

The album steered me towards a 1950’s obsession that lasted a few years – lucky for me I was hosting birthday parties in the age of Fuddruckers.

Now I’m a mom and I’m old and my baby Van is grooving to his favorite track “Get a Job”.

It’s one of the coolest things about parenthood really, that things you loved from your youth get revisited by new eyes and ears and suddenly being eight years old doesn’t seem far away at all.

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Posted on October 24, 2011

Albums »Wicked Witch: Chaos 1978-86

by Wicked Witch (1978-86)

Hands down Chaos 1978-86 is the weirdest album I’ve discovered.

You know how they can record your thoughts as those grainy distorted images? This is kind of the music version of that. So lo fi it feels like it’s inside this awesome basement musicians own mind and his mind is filled with spooky sounds, avant-garde takes on cop movie soundtracks and strange interpretations of Parliament and Rick James.

I feel like this oddity will only grow on me more and more as it seems to offer new sensations every time we listen to it. So I was almost hesitant to write about it until it had totally washed over me, but it’s really too cool, bizarre, and unique to keep a secret from you all any longer.

I really want to thank the blog Music to Flip You Around for introducing this to me (during a random image search). You can get a down-loadable zip of the album from them too.

We have a new creative hero in our house, and his name is Wicked Witch.

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Posted on October 9, 2011

Albums »Come Away With ESG

by ESG (1983)

First awesome Spotify discovery! I don’t know why, but since I found Come Away with ESG on a pitchfork list I expected it to be inaccessible. Instead it’s incredibly fun and infectious. I can’t imagine anyone not being driven to dance and smile by these snazzy tracks.

If you had told me ESG was some new darling of the moment I’d believe it because the sound is timeless and refreshing but they are old school 80’s Bronx mixing hip hop, dance, disco, punk and everything else fun. You like fun, right?

They look like fun, real ladies that you share the subway with too. Standing for emerald, sapphire and gold ESG consisted of four cool sisters who, without much credit added a new sound to the scene.

Fun stuff. How come no one told me about them before?

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Posted on September 23, 2011