Month: September 2014

Let’s Go Back, Back to the Beginning

Something I learned recently is that reality TV is cheap and easy to make. We all know it’s not exactly “real” either. Despite this lack of quality, people still watch and have been doing so for quite some time. MTV (aka Music Television…yeah they don’t even play music anymore) has been one of the pioneers in reality TV with The Real World having been one of the first and most notable reality TV programs. Since The Real World, MTV created other reality shows that have impacted and continue to impact their viewers, myself included.

One of my favorite television shows while in high school was the MTV reality drama, Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. This show was huge for me because, along with The OC (another show I watched at the time, set in Newport Beach, CA), it gave me an interest in Southern California and the lifestyles of the people who lived there. It did this so much so that last year when I visited my cousin in SoCal, a trip to Laguna Beach had to be a guaranteed part of the itinerary (you can bet I went to Laguna Surf & Sport…check out the pics at the bottom). I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in my interest either. If you watched Laguna, you definitely wished you lived there or could visit there at some point.

Laguna Beach followed a group of high school upperclassmen, mostly seniors, as it chronicled events during their last year of school which meant parties, bonfires, barbeques, concerts, fashion shows, a spring break trip to Cabo, prom, graduation, and leaving for college. The show was narrated by a senior girl named Lauren, aka “LC” (you know her now by the name Lauren Conrad), but also included her best friend Lo, friends Morgan, the supposedly innocent one, and Christina, the preacher’s daughter, her long-time friend/crush/occasional friend with benefits Stephen, her guy friends and Stephen’s best buddies Trey and Dieter, Talon, the junior that all the girls seemed to have a thing with, and of course Stephen’s sort of girlfriend/the root of all LC’s drama, Kristin. In Laguna, the amount of drama was always at the forefront between all the hook-ups, relationships, talking behind people’s backs, and the rest of the high school bullshit you want to forget about after you graduate.

So why am I bringing up an MTV reality show that’s not even on TV anymore? Well firstly as I mentioned it was one of my favorite shows and I still watch old episodes from time to time especially from Season 1 (there were 3 and the first was the best). Secondly, Laguna Beach was a starting point for the careers of some of the main cast members. Lauren Conrad has taken the fashion world by storm and after starring in Laguna Beach, went on to film the MTV spinoff “The Hills” which lasted six seasons. She recently just married former Something Corporate guitarist William Tell (so cool…I was a huge SoCo fan back in those days too). Stephen Colletti went on to become an actor. You may have seen him in a few episodes (or 50 some) of “One Tree Hill”. Even Kristin Cavallari has had her fair share of moments in the spotlight while starring in “The Hills”, “Dancing with the Stars”, and is currently married to Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler with whom she has two children. From what I’ve heard the other cast members also seem to be doing well in their respective lives and careers.

Lastly and really the main reason I decided to blog about this show right now is because Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the show’s premiere on MTV. It’s crazy to think that it’s been that long since I watched Stephen and LC check out the property of LC’s unfinished, future home that overlooked all of Laguna while two palm trees were placed in the ground. It feels like just yesterday I was watching those kids ask each other to prom in the most extravagant, yet somewhat adorable ways (Yes children Laguna Beach did promposals before promposals were even a thing) or graduate from high school while Vitamin C’s “Graduation (Friends Forever)” played in the background. However in the past week I’ve seen posts all over the web about Laguna’s 10th anniversary so I know even after 10 years it’s evident that this show affected more than just me and the cast members. I’m not the only one who remembers that Kristin was the only person who wore white to the Black & White party or that Trey almost got in a fight with a midget after the Blink-182 concert or that Stephen dressed up as a bear and scared all the girls when they were camping at Catalina. It’s not just me who hears the name Stephen and can’t imagine it being said without really stressing the last syllable (cue the “Ste-PHEEEENNN”). I’m not alone in believing that Lauren and Stephen should’ve ended up together and was “stoked” to get the impression that maybe they would when he picked her up from the airport in San Fran before they started college, and I certainly can’t be the only person out there who still wants to know what happened with LC and Stephen that night in Cabo! They definitely didn’t just watch movies or whatever was said they did. Unfortunately, as we all know what happens in Cabo, stays in Cabo. Overall, it’s good to know that there’s a lot of people out there who loved this show just as much as me.

So thanks Laguna Beach for entertaining me in high school. Thanks for being part of the reason that started my love for California. But mostly thanks for still being pretty gnarly and memorable after 10 years. Now, like Kristin’s car, this blog post is so dunzo.

Laguna Beach

Check out that Laguna coastline.

LS&S

Stephen’s former place of employment.

LC's House

LC’s house overlooking Laguna from the first episode. Notice those palm trees.

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Her Name is Banks

Woah woah woah new blog post asap. I know that’s what you were thinking. Since there was that relatively huge gap between the last two, I knew I owed the world one sooner this time. So in the topic of music I’ve been hearing about an artist recently that you may have heard of too (if not, you’re welcome and you heard it here first). Her name is Banks (see what I did there…you’ll get it if you’ve heard of her) but actually it’s Jillian Rose Banks as I just found out. She goes by Banks though. Apparently she’s new to the music scene or at least the music scene that people talk about having played Coachella and Bonnaroo in the last year and also touring with The Weeknd in the fall of 2013.

Lately I’ve been seeing the name Banks pop up all over social media. To be honest, the first time I saw her name come up was after one of the folks I follow on twitter tweeted about her music a month ago. So I checked her out. She’s good. Believe me. There’s an electronic/alternative yet somewhat pop feel to her songs. If I had to compare her to anyone she definitely has that Lorde vibe, but that means she’s most likely the complete opposite. That’s generally speaking of course because she’s still pretty new to me. I don’t even have her album yet. Speaking of…her first album was just released about two weeks ago and she’s currently touring some small venues. From the looks of it those shows seem to be sold out too. You know what that means.

It seems like she’s blowing up. It also seems like I may need to purchase this recently released album. In the mean time, it’s your duty to check her out. Here’s the top 3 songs:

1. Goddess -Same as the album title. I just heard it about 2 days ago. It’s good. That’s all I can say.

2. Beggin for Thread -This was the song that I heard a month ago that hooked me. It’s initially catchy, but to really get hooked on it I’d say listen to it about 5 times.

3. In Your Eyes (cover) -I was looking up her music yesterday and came across this cover of Peter Gabriel’s famous tune. It’s so different from the original but I loved it. So if you like different sounding covers you’ll enjoy this but even if you don’t and you know the original song, give it a listen.

 

Little Black Submarines Operator Please

I know it’s been more than a week since I posted. I also know I promised myself I would post weekly. However, I planned to update after Saturday and in the interim between then and my last post I went through some technical difficulties. That and the fact that I wasn’t really sure what to post about just yet prevented a new blog. Anyway, I’m back and it’s finally time to get into music, my favorite subject.

Dan Auerbach melting my face.

Dan Auerbach melting my face.

So Saturday was a pretty big deal. I attended a Black Keys concert in Philly that had been in my plans since I got a ticket in May. At the time I had recently been at a festival where I had lawn tickets for an outdoor venue. As a result, it was difficult to see anything besides a video screen of the acts. Not as good as actually seeing the acts. I promised myself the next opportunity I had to see live music I would go all out and get as close as possible. That opportunity came a few days later and I “splurged” to get general admission tickets for the Keys. (Thanks of course to my little Beans who attended with me and also agreed to go all in on the tickets.)

The Black Keys are a solid band by my standards. Composed of guitarist, Dan Auerbach, and drummer, Patrick Carney, they’ve been around for quite a while but have recently gained more mainstream success. They play a blues rock style filled with catchy riffs and licks. They also have a few successful albums and grammy awards to their name.

I first heard of them/started listening to them about 2 1/2 years ago around the time of the release of their album El Camino (I know I’m late to the party…you can shun me). I downloaded some of their songs prior to the album release, but I was hooked by the song Lonely Boy. I ended up purchasing the album. I remember thinking around that time that I’d like to see them live so with the release of their new album this year and plans to tour for it, I had the chance to make that happen.

Fast forward to Saturday.

Somehow it worked out that we got a spot right behind some folks on the stage barrier on the right side of the stage so I had the best view of a show/concert I’ve had in a while. Cage the Elephant opened for the Black Keys on this particular tour date (St. Vincent and Jake Bugg will be opening some of their other dates). As an opening band, they were fun and full of high energy which got the crowd going. Plus most people around us seemed to know their music well.

The Black Keys began their set around 9:20 and played til about 11:00 p.m. which included a three song encore of Weight of Love, Turn Blue, and Little Black Submarines. They played straight from start to finish with not many breaks to talk or chit chat with the audience. The only major break came right before the encore (as expected). Some people might not like that as much. I tend to prefer a bit of audience intereaction as well, but for some reason what they did was fine with me. It was full on music the whole set. Between our view and the amount of music played, I really enjoyed the show. It also helped that I knew a vast majority of the songs played. Trust me, it sucks when you don’t. I worried initially because the Black Keys put out a decent number of records to which I knew a couple like the back of my hand and a song or two off the others. I had no reason to worry though. All the well known hits were played along with a few older songs. It was a great set, a killer evening, and I hope everyone else in attendance enjoyed it as much as me.

Lastly when it comes to any music posts, I’ll leave you with songs you need to check out by the bands I write about. So here’s my Black Keys top 3:

1. Sinister Kid – As I was doing my pre-show prep of constantly listening to the Keys this song caught me off guard and I really got into it. Unfortunately they did not play it at the show but it’s extremely catchy and worth a listen.

2. Tighten Up – This was arguably the track that started the Black Keys boost to the top off their album Brothers.

3. Lonely Boy – The song that hooked me on the Black Keys. My friend Justin and I did a pretty sick guitar duet cover of it too.

Boyhood

About a month ago, I was watching an episode of Live! With Kelly and Michael and Ethan Hawke was a guest promoting his new film. I first caught the film’s name when they were about to cut to a commercial (originally I wasn’t even paying attention whatsoever). It was called Boyhood. On the talk show, Hawke spoke about how neat it was to see the kids grow up, but himself and co-star Patricia Arquette just got old looking. I wasn’t sure what he meant by this. That’s when I heard the movie was actually filmed over a 12 year time frame. It blew my mind. I had to see it because I had never heard of that being done before and I figured it was something special.

So a few days later I saw the film. I initially worried that it wouldn’t keep my interest since it was almost 3 hours long. I had nothing to be worried about though. Not only did it keep me entertained for its entirety but I also left the theater feeling unexplainably positive. I love when movies give me that feeling and I loved this movie.

I would classify it as one of those “coming-of-age” type films, yet it was not over done. It covered some major life events, but not to the point that it got too cliche or too cheesy. Through the events in the movie the audience is able to see how life shapes the main character, Mason, from point A of being an active 6 year old to point B of being 18, in college, and trying to figure out the world. (Hawke plays Mason’s father in case you were wondering.)

Because filming did take place over 12 years, I think this movie had an advantage over others that have occurred through time. It was so culturally relevant through the clothes, music, and interests of the kids/parents in it. It was as if the writers/producers/director/etc. took current events from the year they filmed and incorporated them into the feature such as the 2004 presidential election and the pop culture craze of Harry Potter. This attentiveness to detail of each time period added to Boyhood’s specialness. Of course, watching the characters grow and age was pretty special too.

I know this film came out a month ago. Its time in theaters is probably coming to a close soon enough if it hasn’t already. But still, go see it. If its not in your local theater, keep a look out for the dvd release. I promise you’ll want to say you say this film. I promise you’ll be captivated. Mostly, I promise this journey through time is worth it.

Learning about Golf: The U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship Edition

Check out that early morning fog. The air was so thick.

Check out that early morning fog. The air was so thick.

To be completely honest, I’m not a golf fan. I don’t know much about the game. I probably don’t even swing a club correctly, but recently the opportunity to witness golf first-hand came up when I found out my cousin Chris qualified for a golf tournament taking place about an hour from where I live. Perfect time for a new experience.

I’d never seen him play before and he’s pretty good. He’s been playing most of his life and has won many competitions and tournaments. He was a step away from qualifying for the U.S. Open for three straight years. He’s also a golf coach for a university near his hometown. So yeah, as I said, he’s pretty good.

This morning around 5:30 a.m. I traveled to the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship to watch him tee off at 7:00 a.m. I ended up making it just in time to see him take his first swing on hole 1. I also figured this experience would allow me to learn more than the little I already know about golf, and I did pick up a few things:

1. Your shoes will get soaking wet from the dew on the grass in the early morning.

2. Be aware of other golfers so you are not in their way when they take their shots.

3. No one actually yells fore.

4. It’s much harder than it looks to hit straight shots on the fairway.

5. My cousin is an ace at chip shots.

6. Golfers use special binoculars that give them the distance to the pin.

7. The pin is the flagpole.

8. Leaving the pin in during chip shots can hinder your chances of getting the ball in, which is contrary to popular opinion.

9. The nicest golf courses have the least amount of divots.

10. Watching golf is more enjoyable when it’s not 90 degrees and humid.

Did I learn more than 10 things today? Probably. Can I remember the rest? Maybe, but not right now, so that’s all I’m giving you. If you know anything about golf, you’re probably shaking your head as you read this, but for my second time on a legitimate golf course, I feel like that’s pretty good (my first time was when I was 7 and I just remember not being that good and getting Burger King after).

Nonetheless, I did have a great time this morning and enjoyed watching my cousin do what he does best. He finished 2 over par and plays the second part of the qualifying round tomorrow on a different course. I was told he should probably play a little better to qualify for the next round so we’ll see what happens. Hopefully he makes it, but either way both he and I ended up with some Chipotle afterwards. Chipotle always equals win no matter what.

NWSL Final: SRFC vs. FCKC

Ok first post time. Sorry I didn’t plan something big for the first one but at the moment this is some relevant news in the sporting world for me.

My interest in women’s soccer piqued around the 2011 World Cup, almost exactly after the famous quarter final match when Abby Wambach of the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) scored a goal to tie the game in the 122nd minute and then the USA went on to win on PKs. I’m pretty sure that match started some interest in the women’s football game for a lot of people and it was no different for me. I became a USWNT fan from then on and my interest in the game grew.

Fast forward a little over 3 years and here we are a day after the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) championship match. I’m not gonna pretend like I know the two teams that competed in the final like the back of my hand (I’m a Washington Spirit fan) but I do know both teams worked hard all year to make it (and I do know how to look up some facts). The Seattle Reign was at the top of their game all season long and won the regular season championship. FC Kansas City finished at the second spot in the standings. Kim Little of Seattle (Scotland Women’s National Team) and Amy Rodriguez of Kansas City (US Women’s National Team) finished first and second in the league in goal scoring. The list of each team’s achievements could go on, but I’ll stop there.

If you follow the league like I do, you would have thought Seattle had it in the bag with the dominance they’ve displayed all season. Not the case. FCKC struck first in the 22nd minute with a goal by Rodriguez and took a 1-0 lead into the locker room at the half. Seattle had plenty of time to come back, but Rodriguez had other plans. She put another one away in the 56th minute giving FCKC a 2-0 lead. Both goals were assisted by fellow USWNT player, Lauren Holiday. Megan Rapinoe (USWNT) got Seattle within one in the 87th minute but the Reign couldn’t equalize. FCKC walked away with the ‘ship and the second NWSL season came to a close.

It seems like this new women’s league, which began in 2013, has been doing well enough to continue for a third season despite the expiration of the United States, Canada, and Mexico player contracts. Hopefully a new deal is reached between the league and the soccer federations of the respective countries because I think with the upcoming Women’s World Cup in 2015 there will be an opportunity for growth in the women’s game. How much growth may be dependent on how well the USWNT performs, but if the NWSL Playoffs are any indication I would say fans are in for a long ride (crossing my fingers). I can’t get ahead of myself though. Qualifiers are from October 15-26. Qualifying is the first priority for the ladies from the U.S. of A. and you can bet I’ll have something to write about when that happens.

Until then if you’re reading this right now and you don’t follow women’s soccer, I suggest you check out the USA vs. Mexico friendly on September 18th. Its on ESPN 2 at 7 PM and I promise you as a sports fan it’s worth watching. These women can do some unreal things without using their hands (I know…except the keepers) and it’s a preview for what I’m sure will be the talk of the country come next June.