Thursday, October 31, 2013

Worst Superhero Secret Identities

It's Halloween once again. Time to dress up in costumes so that you're barely recognizable. If you don't do such a good job with that, not a big deal. After all, it's not like your loved ones are in danger if your secret identity is revealed.

Some of these super heroes though? You have to wonder why they couldn't come up with something a little better.

First off, there's Superman. When he's not fighting crime, he spends his time reporting at the Daily Planet as Clark Kent.

The problem with this secret identity is that it consists of a pair of glasses and less hair gel. Granted, it could work if Clark Kent didn't work at a newspaper where photographers, reporters and editors are covering stories about Superman every day. Those people should have noticed the similarities instantly though. Isn't Lois Lane supposed to be an award-winning journalist?

Somehow, Clark Kent's identity went typically unnoticed as a flying, saving-the-day super hero.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fun Charlotte Street Signs

I blogged before about some of the crazy intersections you'll find when driving around Charlotte.

It's not just the design of some intersections that make you LOL though. Take Statesville Road. Or is it Statesville Ave.?

Well, it depends on where you're at.

Statesville Avenue changes into Statesville Road as you cross over I-85. What is the purpose of this name change? I have no idea.

Maybe there's some method behind the madness that the Charlotte City Planning Department understands.

Being able to choose street names gives you the chance to confuse people sometimes. Other times, it gives you a chance to get creative. Take a look at some of these names:

If you've got to go someplace, Ideal Way may be the way to go.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

More Personalized Plates

Okay, I’ve gathered more photos of personalized license plates. I kind of look like a creeper taking photos of people’s license plates in parking lots, but some of them are too good not to take photos of.

Others? Well, maybe you can help solve the mystery behind some of these plates. What exactly do they mean? Your guess is as good as mine.

We’ll start with a few easy ones though.

Elyse? Simple enough to figure out. I do have to wonder, however, if Elyse has a boyfriend or a husband. If she does, how does he feel driving around a car that says “Elyse” on it? It wouldn’t be so bad if you just keep driving. I wouldn’t want to get out of the car in a Target parking lot with people around to see me though.

I’m assuming it’s not Rob Lowe who is hanging around in Charlotte.

Ms. Paige. Again, easy enough to figure out.

Pinzer – gotta’ be a nickname. Last name maybe?

I have no idea. Is that an “O?" A "D?" Dr. K? ORK?

I’m assuming the previous car was Pearl I. Only problem with this is: the car wasn’t pearl in color.

So does he like sitting on laps or having people sit on his? Sounds a little dirty to me...

I’ve heard of a CPA – not sure what a CNPA is. Anyone?

I thought this was a hair designer at first, but, come to think of it, maybe it’s Ric Flair? He is the man who styles and profiles.

There are a few foods that I particularly enjoy: pancakes, caramel, cinnamon, maple syrup and steak. I’d never put any of them on my license plate though.

I guess Every1 was taken.

This one is one of my favorites because it’s on a Kia Soul. Very appropriate for a Soul.

Maybe this person survived a quicksand trap? If I survived one, I’d want to let the world know too.

Related Content:
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If I had a million dollars
Crazy Charlotte Street Signs
Parking Deck Photography

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Charlotte Cupcakes - Cake Makin' Sisters

So, when I was on my way to Granny Mac's Bake Shop last week, I noticed there was another bakery in the strip mall right next door: Cake Makin' Sisters. Why not stop in and check it out?

It's a new shop that opened up in the past few weeks.

Apparently the owners took over the shop from a friend who wasn't able to operate the store anymore. It used to be Sweet Bliss Cupcakery.

There was a nice selection of cupcakes to choose from -- nothing too innovative, but enough to give the customer a few choices.

The first thing I noticed when I looked at the cupcakes, however, was how small they were. I've seen cupcakes that small before, but being right next to Granny Mac's? I don't know how they're going to make a profit.

Competing with Granny Mac's is their problem though.

My task was picking out two cupcakes to eat. I settled on a strawberry cupcake and an oreo cupcake.

TV's Most Sustainable Stars - 1 more addition

When I compiled a list of some of TV's most sustainable stars, I forgot about Katey Sagal.

The cover of one of the recent issues of Entertainment Weekly made me realize that.

I still remember her as Peg Bundy, so I sometimes forget that she's done things beyond Married with Children.

After that show ended in 1997, she went on to be Hyde's mom on That 70's Show (for a few episodes anyway), lend her voice to the show Recess, and then landed the part as Jon Ritter's wife on 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. Once that show ended, she made reoccurring guest appearances on Boston Legal and Lost.

Watch Katey on Lost

Meanwhile, since 1999 she's been a voice actress on Futurama.

Since 2008 she's been part of the Sons of Anarchy cast.

Not bad. Not bad at all. You've done well, Peg Bundy.

Related Content:
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Gravity – reviewed.
The Hart of Dixie (Season 1) - reviewed.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

TV’s Most Sustainable Stars

Another season of TV shows is just starting.

In fact, tonight is the season premiere of White Collar on the USA Network. I can’t personally attest to the quality of the show since I’ve only seen a few episodes of it. However, the fact that the show is on its fifth season says something.

The couple of times I did watch, I watched for one reason: Tiffani Thiessen. She, among a few others, is the topic for my blog today. At this point she has got to be considered one of Hollywood’s most sustainable stars.

Thiessen’s first major success was as Kelly Kapowski on Saved By The Bell. That show is still on reruns in syndication (the same can’t be said for Saved By The Bell: The New Class).

After SBTB, Thiessen went on to 90210, keeping things interesting as the vampy Valerie Malone after Shannen Doherty’s departure from the show left a possibility of boredom on the Beverly Hills-themed drama.

Thiessen floundered a bit after her run on 90210. Shows like Fastlane, Good Morning, Miami, and Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place weren’t hugely (or in some cases, at all) successful.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

10 Horrible Bosses to Work for

It's Boss's Day.

What better way to celebrate than by counting down 10 of the most horrible bosses to work for?

You think you have it bad? Try being under the employ of some of these people...

10. Michael Scott

It's hard not to like Michael Scott...if you're watching him on The Office. If you're his employee, that's an entirely different story. He's in way over his head when it comes to managing anyone.

In his attempts to be politically correct, he ends up offending many of his employees. He's constantly trying to be the center of attention, making a miserable work setting for the crew that works at Dunder Mifflin.

He'll often make promises, but renege on those promises when he realizes they won't work.

His heart is in the right spot at times, but he usually messes up anything that starts off with good intentions.

9. Parker Selfridge

I was going to place Donald Trump here (due to some of his horrible decisions in the board room on Celebrity Apprentice over the years...usually dismissing decent workers and keeping the likes of Aubrey O'Day and Omarosa).

However, I can't not put Parker Selfridge on the list. The name may not sound familiar, but he was the guy who was playing mini-golf in Avatar while humans were strip-mining Pandora of it's resources.

Seriously, anyone who has a mini-golf set up in their office qualifies as a 'bad boss.'

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A list of potential National Anthem singers for Super Bowl XLVIII

Last month Bruno Mars was announced as the half time performer for Super Bowl XLVIII.

He's a fresh choice and an amazing singer. It should be a highly entertaining show if they can select some PG-rated songs in his repertoire.

Who opens the show though? Who is the National Anthem singer?

Miley Cyrus

From a publicity standpoint, the obvious choice would be Miley Cyrus. The twerking, tongue-wagging, foam finger-waving Cyrus has been grabbing headlines since before her performance at the Mtv VMA's.

If they want headlines, then NFL and Fox executives would be smart to choose Ms. Bangerz.

It wouldn't be a bad decision on Miley's part either. After all the disparaging headlines and remarks she's gotten lately, it would be a nice change of pace for her to deliver a great version of "The Star Spangled Banner."

Hunter Hayes

If you take a look at the history of national anthem singers at the Super Bowl, most tend to be female. There are some guys who could definitely do a great job though.

One of them is Hunter Hayes. He started off as an opening act for Carrie Underwood, but several hits later, he's a success in his own right. He has a unique, distinct voice that would probably result in a great rendition of America's anthem.

His level of name recognition is not at the same level as previous performers like Cher, Barry Manilow, Billy Joel or more recent performers like Kelly Clarkson and Alicia Keys.

Chances are Super Bowl organizers would probably want to wait until his status becomes a little more cemented before giving him this chance to perform in front of the entire world.

Monday, October 14, 2013

R.I.P. to the Apple Grande

I got some sad news recently: Taco John's discontinued their deliciously underrated treat: the apple grande.

For me, this is worse than the Twinkie ordeal earlier this year.

I grew up eating these whenever my family went to Taco John's.

You didn't even need to get a taco. A Pepsi, potato oles and an apple grande was a delicious meal by itself.

The apple grande was not one of those treats that you'd often hear people talking about. There are probably quite a few people out there who never even got to experience the taste bud happiness that the apple grande provided.

It was an amazing, crispy flour tortilla that was coated in cinnamon and sugar and topped with warm apple filling, cheddar cheese and crushed cinnamon candy.

I was told by one of the Taco John's locations that they no longer served the apple grande and that it was a nationwide change.

I don't know if that's the case or not. The item is still listed on the Taco John's website and there's a note that says "at participating locations only."

So....did they get rid of the apple grande in all areas or just some? Or is the website in need of updating? Maybe the web team that works at Taco John's has been furloughed too?

The official Taco John's Facebook responded to a few upset customers and explained the reason they eliminated the apple grande -- among other items:

Due to government menu regulations we are not longer able to offer specialty items such as the Apple Grande, we are sorry to lose these items too! But thank you for being a loyal TJ fan!

...we had to discontinue the Apple Grande because of government menu labeling requirements. We are sorry to lose the grande as well! But we thank you for being a loyal fan of your local TJ.

I'm not sure what those regulations are. A few people asked for clarification, but I didn't see that Taco John's provided any.

The nutrition info looks better no worse than a Snicker's bar or several other 'junk food' items:

Nutrition Information:
Servings (g) - 96
Cal - 260
Cal from Fat - 100
Total Fat (g) - 11
Sat. Fat (g) - 3
Trans Fat (g) - 0
Chol (mg) - 5
Carbs (g) - 39
Fiber (g) - 2
Sugar (g) - 12
Protein (g) - 5
Sodium (g) - 260

If you want to give Taco John's your feedback or ask for clarification, there are a few options:

-Leave feedback on their website
-Leave feedback on their Facebook page
-Leave feedback on their Twitter feed

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that Taco John's will be able to bring it back, regardless of how many people are upset.

There is an apple grande fan page on Facebook. You can join that and be disgusted in unison.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Charlotte Cupcakes - Granny Mac's Bake Shop

Thousands of people were in Concord for the Bank of America 500 this weekend. I made a stop, just south of the Speedway, at Granny Mac's Bake Shop.

I wasn't really sure what to expect going there. Had I checked out their website, I probably would've had a better idea.

Once you walk in, there are donuts, cookies and other goodies to the right. The cupcakes are to the left.

I started walking to the display case and quickly noticed that these cupcakes are huge! They’re Perkins Mammoth Muffins huge or Sam’s Club huge.

One thing's for sure: you don't need too many of these cupcakes to make a hearty dessert.

Strawberry Cupcake

This cupcake was potent! I could smell it in my car on the way home even though the cupcake was securely packed into a plastic bakery box.

There's a nice strawberry flavor to it. In searching for awesome cupcakes this year, I've realized that some strawberry cupcakes have a really strong strawberry flavor (almost to the point of being too strong) while others have a more subdued taste. This cupcake is right in between those two, with the kind of strawberry flavor that would make Strawberry Shortcake wish she was called "Strawberry Cupcake."

Unfortunately the cupcake wasn't incredibly moist. That would've made it a better experience.

The cream cheese frosting (with sprinkle bits on top) was a nice pairing for the strawberry cupcake. Cream cheese frosting is usually a standard for red velvet cupcakes, but I don't remember running across too many strawberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. It's a nice combination, for sure.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Gravity – reviewed.

The rave reviews and building intrigue got to me. I went to go see Gravity.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect. No bad reviews? That’s a gamble.

After all, when people rave about movies, there’s a safe bet they won’t be good. Half of the movies that earn Academy Awards each year are more boring than entertaining.

Meanwhile, how was a 90-minute moving going to be able to capture my attention when the focus is on an astronaut being stranded in space?

Well, the reviews were right and the movie had my attention from the get go.

So if you see any headlines that say, ‘Gravity soared,’ ‘Gravity was out of this world!,’ ‘Get pulled in by Gravity’ or any other cheesy puns, you can probably believe them.

It wasn’t the best movie ever. It was groundbreaking in a way though. It’s essentially just two actors – Sandra Bullock and George Clooney – in a weightless, soundless environment.

I’m not sure how accurate their depiction of space was (moreso than Star Trek and Star Wars, I’m sure), but you won’t see Superman speeding faster than a bullet or laser beam wars amongst giant spaceships.

There were a lot of camera shots that started in one spot and moved with the actors, as they floated along at a sluggish pace (it is space, after all).

The effects were very detailed too. I don’t know how much, if any, of that footage was from an actual trip outside Earth’s atmosphere, but it was convincing.

One major issue I had with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and, more recently, The Hobbit was the horrible special effects. A lot of those two movies didn’t look real at all. I know they are fantasy or sci-fi movies, but if I wanted to watch a computer-animated sequence, I’d watch The Lorax or Brave.

Back to Gravity though.

Despite the fact that the movie moved at a slower pace than most, it didn’t fail to be suspenseful. It was action-packed in it’s own sense.

The characters faced a crap-load of obstacles in Gravity – more than I’d expected. Every story – whether in book or movie form – is about characters facing (and usually overcoming) obstacles, but I had a hard time imagining any greater obstacles than being dislodged from a shuttle's transporter into space. The writers did a nice job coming up with ways to make the movie a maze of obstacles though.

There was a good bit of comedy in the movie too, which was nice considering the fact that the movie is about an astronaut being lost in space.

Sandra Bullock’s line – “Space sucks.” – had me laughing. The stories that Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) were telling at the beginning of the movie made for a nice light hearted start to the movie too.

Real Life pondering moment #1: was that Thomas Haden Church’s voice as Houston? It sure sounded like him. Turns out it wasn't. It was Ed Harris.

Both Sandra Bullock and George Clooney successfully made me forget that they were Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

They became their characters and, by the end of the movie, I wasn’t thinking about whether or not Bullock would get an Oscar, but whether or not she’d survive.

Kudos to them for that.

In a movie with so little effects or location changes, the acting has to be up to par and it was.

Who would think that two actors in front of a green screen (filled in by the blackness of space) with long camera shots could work so well for 90 minutes? Like I said, it’ll probably be considered a groundbreaking movie in that aspect.

Gravity is not a movie I’d buy on DVD though. It’s kind of like Lost. Once you know what happens, there’s not much point in getting the DVD. A lot of what made the movie for me was trying to figure out what was wondering what exactly was going to happen and how it was going to end.

Still, I don’t think most people will be upset they spent money to go see it (or rent it down the road).

Ok – here’s your warning: spoilers ahead!

We have to talk about the ‘controversial’ scene, the ending and the plot.

Only continue reading if you’ve seen the movie or if you don’t mind hearing how it ends....

Friday, October 11, 2013

2013 American Music Awards nominations announced

The 2013 American Music Awards nominations were announced by Kelly Clarkson and in New York City this morning.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis lead the pack of nominees with six nominations. Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake are right behind them with five, while Rihanna, Robin Thicke and Florida Georgia Line received four nominations each.

I was happy to see Pink announced as a contender for Female Artist of the year. Her competition includes Swift and Rihanna. She's also nominated for Favorite Artist - Adult Contemporary, but she'll have to beat out Bruno Mars and Maroon 5 for that.

Artist of the Year? Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake are all up for that one.

Meanwhile there's a new category for "Single of the Year." Thicke's "Blurred Lines" is, of course, up for that award. Florida Georgia Line's "Cruise" was also nominated. "Thrift Shop" was appropriately nominated as well.

A full list of nominees is below. Fans choose the winners by logging into Facebook and voting.

Miley Cyrus and Imagine Dragons were the first two acts announced to perform at this year's awards ceremony.

The show will be broadcast on Sunday, November 24 at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Miley Cyrus: Bangerz – reviewed.

If Miley were in The Brady Bunch, Jan would definitely be saying, “Miley! Miley! Miley!”

She stole the attention away from the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes – or any other celebrity for that matter – for most of the past two months.

For every two people bashing Miley Cyrus’ more adult behavior, there’s one of her fanatics defending her every action and someone in their 30’s saying, ‘Leave her alone. She’s just being young.’

To me that’s kind of a cop out. I know a lot of people who didn’t do what she was doing when they were 20.

I don’t necessarily have anything against it. If she wants to swing in, naked, on a wrecking ball, that’s cool. I get it. She’s naked – open to harm and disappointment and heartbreak.

Licking sledgehammers? That’s done to get attention. I don’t find Miley to be a sexpot, but she’s not ugly by any means. Maybe there are older teenage boys or guys in their early 20’s who are raging horny over Miley.

I don’t know that they’re going to go out and buy her album, but she’d probably be able to sell out a newsstand full of Maxim magazines if she’s on the cover.

This week the music had the chance to back up all the hoopla that’s been surrounding her lately. In some cases it did. In other cases, there wasn’t much substance present.

Miley may be modeling her look off of Madonna, but she’s not modeling her sound after Madonna. She’s definitely not Katy Perry or Avril or Britney or any other female pop act out there.

She’s more of a female Bruno Mars than any of the other female singers.

Adore You

Miley’s first outing on Bangerz is a ballad. It’s an unusual song. There doesn’t really seem to be a high point to the song. It’s got a fairly slow melody and the lyrics didn’t get much further than, “When you say you need me, no I need you more. Boy, I ado-o-o-o-re you-u-u-u-u.”

Miley’s voice sounds nice (almost like Rihanna). It’s just not very catchy.

We Can’t Stop

This is a catchy track, no doubt. If you overlook the drug references, it could be taken as a song about liberation and standing proud against those who try to set limits on you.

The way Miley portrays it is more rebellious and in your face than it probably needs to be.

Regardless of the message, it's a song with an awesome sound and, even though it's several months old already, it's still fun to nod your head to.

SMS (Bangerz) (featuring Britney Spears)

This could be described as Miley’s version of Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It.” It’s got a very similar vibe.

Miley lets us know (over and over again), “I be struttin’ my stuff.”

Britney Spears chimes in, reminding us all that she’s the least vocally talented mega-superstar there is in the music industry.

Thankfully this mess of a song that seems more like a GarageBand project than something that belongs on an album only lasted for 2:49.

Miley’s vocals sound nice – as they do on all the tracks on the album – but there’s something to be said about compelling lyrics and organized music rather than organized chaos.

4x4 (featuring Nelly)

Miley threw out the rules on this album. It’s not a ‘country’ album and it’s not an album for little Hannah Montanna fans.

Aren’t they all grown up now anyway? Is that show even on the air anymore?

Anyway, in this case, her willingness to experiment with different musical sounds paid off.

I can’t say that it’s much in terms of lyrics or story-telling, but it’s got a nice musical sound to it – almost country/r&b with some Spanish flare.

It’s like LeAnn Rimes’ “Nothin’ Better to Do” was mixed with a Nelly track and then Miley put her spin on it.

“I’m a female rebel, who can’t you tell, who can’t you tell,” Miley sings.

The most unique lyric (possibly on the entire album) finds it’s home here: “Driving so fast, ‘bout to piss on myself.”

The ‘rebellion’ bit still seems like more of a carefully crafted act than real, but it’s

Nelly lends his voice to this track, dropping the n-word a couple of times, but it’s Miley’s show.

My Darlin’ (featuring Future)

This was an interesting take on “Stand By Me.”

Miley continues to prove that she has a voice that can take care of business on many different kinds of tracks – whether it’s dance, country, r&b or pop. Or, in this case – a mixture of ballad and rap – with techno and gospel elements providing the background sound.

It’s not anything worthy of radio play, but it’s interesting.

I’m pretty sure they spent more time in the production booth than writing the words to most of these songs though.

Case in point: “Why don’t you stand – stand by me? Oh my darling, stand by me. Cause we gonna’ make a movie – a movie – and it’s gonna’ be in 3D, 3D.”

Not exactly Carly Simon or Alanis Morisette level there.

Wrecking Ball

This is the song out of the entire album where Miley sounds like she’s at her most vulnerable. It seems like the most real piece of work on Bangerz.

It’s pretty much flawless.

It was a great choice as a second single for the album.

Seeing as how it’s pretty much the best song on the album, I’m not sure if Miley will see a downturn in her success, but if she does, “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball” already left their mark.

Love Money Party (featuring Big Sean)

Miley followed up an incredible song with another song that follows in the tradition of any number of rap songs that talk about – as you can guess by the song’s title – love, money and parties.

The music sounded like something you’d find on an Eminem track. Kudos, again, to her for experimenting

Big Sean doesn’t add much to the song, but fills his spot in the “rapper spot” late in the song. He finishes up in time for Miley to leave us with, “We want love, money, party.”


This one will get your hips moving and your toes wiggling.

It has a bit of an island track. If this song were an alcoholic beverage it would be a Palmtini – on a beach in Mexico – sitting next to a woman in a bikini.

Miley is basically begging her man for some action on “#GETITRIGHT.”

“I feel a surge coming over me. I feel it all around my thighs,” Miley sings.

She almost sounds like Sheryl Crow when she sings, “and you send chills up my spine.”

We get to hear some of Miley’s large vocal range on “#GETITRIGHT.” She holds her notes and channels Mariah Carey a couple of times.

There’s a fun vibe to the song for sure.

A little over half way through the song, the mood of the song switches into something that sounds similar to Christina Aguilera.

“I feel so alone when you are gone, but then go right back home when I’m in your arms,” Miley says with a music box in the background.

It then goes back to the tropical island vibe it had before.


This is an angry break-up song that Miley utilizes her angry voice for. It’s effective.

She sounds emotional, despite the distracting synthesizer beat in the background.

“Drive my heart into the night. You can drop the keys off in the morning,” Miley sings.

I think the song would be more effective without the synthesizer distracting from the vocals and the rest of the instruments used – which have a lot of variety by itself.


I thought Miley brought her angst on “Drive,” but it returned here.

There’s a electronic keyboard that adds a nice Halloween-like effect to the song.

It’s almost something you’d expect from the movie Hocus Pocus.

As for the lyrics? They seem like something Bruno Mars would have come up with.

“I got two, ooh letters for you. One of them’s ‘F’ and the other one’s ‘U.’”

Do My Thang

The tough girl/rebel act is back for “Do My Thang.”

“I’m a southern bell, crazier than hell, getting’ wild up in here, getting live up in here,” Miley tells us.

For most of the track she’s doing her best faux gangsta’ impression. Quite different from the girl who once said she didn’t know a single song by Jay-Z.

Then she goes into a very studious, articulate voice for the main chorus, before she does two renditions of it in her best Kelly Clarkson impersonation.

Most of the lyrics consist of “I'mma’ do my thang, cuz I'mma’ do my thang” in an exaggerated ghetto accent.

I think Miley may have been on some Molly when she made this song, but, I’ve got to give it to her: she has a lot of creativity on this song.

It kind of mirrors the real-life situation that’s going on: who is the real Miley? Is she a white-skinned black girl, a clubber until dawn, a soulful young soul or some strange combination of the bunch?

Maybe You’re Right

You’ve got to wonder how everything went down between Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth.

“You might think I’m crazy – that I’m lost and foolish leavin’ you behind,” Miley sings. “Maybe you’re right.”

The words aren’t that impressive, but you can hear the heartbreak in the song.

Like Pink said in an interview overseas, she likes singers who let you hear their pain. Miley is definitely in that category.

Whether this song is about Liam Hemsworth or not, you can hear pain in her voice.

Someone Else

Another break-up song here.

Miley makes that clear with the first bit of lyrics.

“If you’re looking for love, know that love don’t live here anymore. He left with my heart. They both walked through that door without me.”

This isn’t a ‘screw you’ song though.

“Hold me close, don’t let me go, I hope. Tell me that now is not the end.”

She picks up the pace near the end of the song, singing very quickly, “Love is patient. Love is selfless. Love is hopeful. Love is kind. Love is jealous. Love is selfish. Love is helpless. Love is blind.”

Once again, a little too much electropop. It’s not bad when it fits the song, but in this case it takes away from it.

Rooting For My Baby

This is the mellowest song of the bunch – more like the songs people are used to hearing from Miley.

It’s – dare I say it – similar to Sade.

The drums and the guitar give it that vibe – along with the background vocals repeating “I know, I know.”

Miley sings about a disenchanted relationship where she’s walking on egg shells to keep it going.

“No good morning today. I stay to the right if I know you’re mad. You’re on the left side. Stay out of your way.”

On My Own

As if she wasn’t drawing inspirations from enough people on her fourth studio album, Miley adds one more for the Deluxe Version of Bangerz.

It’s Michael Jackson circa his “Smooth Criminal” days with this song.

The song’s message is one of independence. It’s about her realizing that she needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

“You will never listen when I need someone to talk to so you switch the subject, cause, it’s beyond you. And when you talk about your dreams, I’m never included.”

It runs a little long at 3:52, but it’s a good song.

Hands in the Air (featuring Ludacris)

This song is another one that seems like it’s drawn inspirations from the ‘80s, but utilizes today’s typical pop elements to bring it into the 2000’s.

In case anybody had forgotten amongst the quasi-madness on some of the other songs, Miley proves, again, that she can sing.

Ludacris doesn’t add any words of wisdom – rather brags himself up – but he does add a little something to the song, unlike most of the collaborators Miley worked with on Bangerz.

Maybe it’s because Luda has such a distinct voice or maybe because it’s so different than Miley’s?

I suppose it really doesn’t matter because the entire album is a showcase for Miley. It’s not like there are any duets. Nelly, Big Sean, etc. show up in the spot where you expect them to chime in and then Miley does a Beyonce and says ‘thanks for showing up…see ya’ later.’

I was probably too liberal with my four-star ratings of “Drive” and “Someone Else.” The songs themselves aren’t that incredible, but Miley brought her A-game to the studio when she recorded them.

I doubt this album will go down as one of the all-time classics, but this was a nice return to the music world after Miley spent several years playing ‘actress’ in several not-so-stellar movies.

It’s definitely a turning point in Miley’s music career. It added a lot of variety to her musical repertoire. I have no doubt she has even more musical talent that we’ve yet to hear.

Ke$ha probably does the rapping bit better than Miley, but Bangerz delivers a series of tracks that can only be described as a mish-mash of sounds, accents and effects.

Sometimes it worked and other times it didn’t, but the effort to do something new and fresh was appreciated.

The songs probably should’ve stood out more than they did, but the repetitious beats and lyrics made one song seem like the next at certain points.

It will be interesting to see what she delivers next time around. I guess we’ll see, then, if this is all truly a phase or not. It may not be as believable an evolution as Pink made, but

Either way, music is where Miley excels. It’s where she should stay.

Songs to pay attention to: “Wrecking Ball” and “We Can’t Stop” are probably the two of Bangerz’s best, but “#GETITRIGHT,” “FU,” “Maybe You’re Right,” and “On My Own” are worth checking out too.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Why are DVD's so hard to come by these days?

I recently made a trek almost the entire way down the east side of I-485, stopping at each Sam's Club location, trying to find Green Acres on DVD.

It started when I was talking with someone recently. She'd mentioned that Green Acres is at least $20 online. I said, 'No way. It's only $8 at Sam's Club.'

Thankfully I had a picture to prove myself right.

However, I figured it'd be good to get them on DVD while I could. I didn't want to shell out $20 if Sam's did stop carrying them.

I went to three Sam's Club locations and none of them had Green Acres, like they had just a few months ago. Finally, after getting a day pass at BJ's, I found three seasons of Green Acres for $8 each.

It got me thinking about how difficult it is to find DVDs these days.

Growing up in the '90s, I remember being able to find almost any movie at a plethora of video rental stores. If you wanted to own a movie, you could buy movies at Suncoast Motion Picture Co., Books-A-Million, or Sam Goody. Most of those stores are now completely shut down or close to permanently gone.

The only options you have these days are Big Lots (where you'll typically find b-movies for under $5) or the overpriced f.y.e. and Kmart.

You can sometimes find discounted deals at Barnes and Noble, but if it's not discounted, then their DVD's are usually overpriced, just like Kmart and f.y.e.

Target can be an option, but if the movie you're looking for is not a new release or one of their select titles, then it isn't available. The $5 bin at Wal-Mart has become the best spot to find a DVD that's more than three years old.

I use Netflix all the time, but they don't have some older titles. Maid to Order and Don't Tell Her It's Me are two examples of great movies from 25 years ago that are extremely difficult to find.

How did we let ourselves end up in a world where good DVD's are so difficult to find?

I know there's the government shutdown to worry about right now, but pressing matters like this just can't be ignored.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gravity pulls audiences in

Thor: The Dark World was the last movie on my 2013 'must-see' list.

Gravity owned the box office this weekend though. It grossed $55.6 million, making it the highest grossing opening weekend film for Sandra Bullock or George Clooney's careers according to CNN.

I've seen Facebook post upon Facebook post and tweet upon tweet, recommending that people go watch the movie. In fact, I haven't seen one negative review for it.

I’m intrigued by the movie. I was ever since I saw the first preview. This movie, unlike so many others, seems to have done it right. The trailer didn't give away the entire film. In fact, it only gave away a small portion of it -- Sandra Bullock's character seemingly getting hurled into the dark abyss that is outer space.

I want to know how in the world (or out of this world...) Alfonso Cuarón made an interesting movie that lasts 91 minutes and is about an astronaut being lost in space. It's not like Armageddon, where she's in a space shuttle. No, her cord gets disconnected and she's floating in space.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Hart of Dixie (Season 1) - reviewed.

It's the season three premiere of Hart of Dixie tonight on the CW, so it's only appropriate that I'm just now reviewing season one of the show.

Earlier this spring, I spent a good five or six days watching the first season of Hart of Dixie.

I initially started watching it because there was nothing very interesting on TV and there wasn’t anything else that peaked my interest on Netflix’s instant access list.

When I realized that Rachel Bilson was the star of the show, I considered turning it off. I’ve seen all of 7 or 8 minutes of The O.C. in my lifetime, but it was enough to know that Bilson was not an impressive actress.

She showed that right off in this series. She plays Zoe Hart, a doctor who was let go from her job in a big city hospital because her superior said she didn't have the heart to be a true surgeon. She finally accepted an offer from a doctor who'd been calling her for years, asking her to come work at his local practice in Bluebell, Alabama.

This man -- now dead -- is her father, so Zoe has just inherited one half of her very own practice. The problem is Dr. Brick Breeland (Tim Matheson) owns the other half and he is not about to willingly share it with some young, Prima donna from the big city. Tensions are high between those two.

Bilson's bad acting was a deterrent, but it didn't turn me completely off the show.

Pretty soon I was 15 minutes into the first episode. I was hooked on the supporting characters.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Charlotte Cupcakes - Daphne’s Bakery

I’m going to guess that Daphne’s Bakery probably dominates the central part of East Charlotte. If you “Charlotte cupcakes,” you’ll see that there aren’t any other cupcake options in that area.

Daphne’s is tucked away – off some of the main Interstates, but still easy to access, as it’s off of Matthews-Mint Hill Road.

I hadn’t made my way to Daphne’s until last week. I was surprised to see there were a handful of people in there – some ordering treats and others eating lunch in the conjoined Tia Rose café area.

As far as a cupcake selections goes, there wasn’t an overwhelming amount, but there were eight different flavors to choose from – including vanilla, red velvet, key lime, funfetti, chocolate and pink lemonade.

I picked three cupcakes: chocolate, key lime, and funfetti.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Some Standout Singles

Lets start out with the awesome news that I read recently: Daughtry is coming out with a new album -- Baptized – on November 19. I’m very excited about that since Break The Spell is, by far, the most played album on my iTunes.

The lead single for that album is different than Daughtry’s last go around, which had a very rock n’ roll vibe to it. “Waiting for Superman” is more mellow, but still seems like something you’d expect from Daughtry.

It's about a woman waiting for her Superman to come along and love her.

I'm not sure what inspired the Superman-themed song (or why they didn't release this before the Man of Steel movie was released), but it's a stellar song. I read that the band was hoping to do a more radio-friendly album this time around, steering away from the hard rock they utilized on Break The Spell.

Wikipedia’s page on Baptized says the band changed directions with this album, “hoping to fit into the radio generation at the moment.” Apparently this includes, “adding Electric pop and Pop elements to the band music.”

I think I'm OK with that because, even at their most mellow, Daughtry will always be a rock band. Unfortunately, I don't know if their method will work. I haven't heard "Waiting for Superman" much yet. Maybe it will gain momentum, though, like Paramore's "Still Into You" (another awesome song!).

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cher: Closer To The Truth - reviewed.

It's not every straight man who will buy a Cher CD, but last week that's what I did. I've been a fan for a long time -- probably because my mom was.

I remember her playing Heart of Stone on cassette tape waaaay back when I was four or five years old. My favorite song was "Just Like Jesse James" because it had my name in it.

In 1999, I got my mom Cher's Believe CD. Eventually, Cher came to a nearby arena for one of her farewell tours, so I got my mom tickets.

After all these years, I admit, I was curious to see if Cher could still sing. A lot of older performers, like Steven Tyler, Stevie Nicks and Cyndi Lauper, don't sound as good as they used to. Cher always seemed like an exception to that rule though.

I'm going to pass Closer To The Truth on to my mom, but I took a listen to it first. I read that she'd said it was her best work. It's not bad. It is a nice amalgamation of a lot of musical styles. While I doubt many of the songs will get radio play, there's a good handful that are catchy enough to fit in with today's top 40 hits.

Woman’s World

I’m not sure why this was the album’s first single. I guess they figured it would sell since it’s the closest thing to a club track.

It’s not bad, but it’s not amazing. It’s a women’s empowerment song set to dance music. The video was kind of fun with all the crazy wigs. Still, I didn’t really feel it.

At age 67, Cher asking, everybody in the club to stand up and come together doesn’t seem authentic. Cher makes it work because it sounds like she’s genuinely having fun with the song, but it seems like something more suited for Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera.

Take It Like A Man

This one starts off like a flashback to the ‘80s. There’s a dance song from the 80’s that the first verse of “Take It Like A Man” reminds me of – I just can’t remember what it is. I searched dozens of videos on YouTube last night and couldn’t find it.

But it exists. If anyone knows what song I’m talking about or if this song reminds you of an 80s hit, leave a comment and let me know. Please! It’ll be in the back of my head until I figure it out.

After a verse, Cher transitions into Believe mode with Autotune coming into play.

For some reason I also got a Locomotion vibe.

Overall, I like the song. It’s one of the songs that’s stuck with me – probably because I can’t place that first verse.

My Love

This one was filler. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t really stand out amongst the rest of the songs on the album. I had to listen to it a few times, while other songs on the album got stuck in my head after just one play.

There’s not a lot there lyrically.

It would have been nice to have a smidgen of rock music on the album someplace.

This song may have been a good one for it as it would have stood out a little more.

Instead it’s a ballad with Cher starting off singing soft and petite, eventually busting out the high notes for the main chorus.

With 26 solo albums, it’s probably hard to make every song stand out. Since the song isn’t unpleasing to listen to, it’s not a bad addition.

Dressed to Kill

There’s a great techno vibe to this song that works very well.

The song’s theme is the same as Lady Antebellum’s “Downtown,” but the song sounds very different.

Cher’s letting her man know that she’s needing attention. She’s “dressed to kill” and

The lyrics are sassy, but Cher makes them fun.

“How can you resist when, baby, I am dressed to kill.”


This one is fun. Cher belted out the lyrics on this one.

A large portion of the song is Cher extending out the word, “red” longer than I thought was humanly possible.

For that fact alone, Cher’s version of “Red” beats Taylor Swift’s song of the same name.

Cher sees red after her man ditches her.

“Used to be that you were every corner of my life -- a rainbow shining through the rain -- cutting like a knife."

Happier times disappear though, as Cher explains.

“All I see is reeeeeeeeeeeeeed now.”

Lovers Forever

This song starts with a lot of energy and doesn’t fail to keep up that pace throughout.

Cher is offering her love with some fast techno beats and some synthesizers.

“With one gesture I can set your spirit free. With one gesture, you’ll be mine eternally.”

She then goes into Cher mode, holding onto her notes as she belts, “Surrender to me noooooooow.”

There’s an interesting element to this song that fits with the lyrics. Cher almost seems like she really is trying to mystically entice you to fall under her spell, like one of the sirens from The Odyssey.

I Walk Alone

One of the reasons I was excited for this album was because I knew that Cher had collaborated with Pink, one of my all-time favorite singers. I knew Pink had written some songs on the album and that she leant her voice to one or both of them.

Pink apparently sang backup vocals on this track, but you wouldn’t know it if you hadn’t read the booklet that came with the CD.

That being said, the song is pretty good. I think Pink may have done a better job with it honestly, but it works for Cher too.

The music is the meat and potatoes of this song. It’s very gypsy-like with the banjo playing and the stomping rhythm. Kind of reminds me of Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.

They may have chosen the album’s title based on one of the other lyrics.

“…and there’s an anger as I get closer to the truth.”

One of my pet peeves is when singers use the same title for a song and the album, so kudos to Cher for not doing that on this album.


Cher was channeling Annie Lennox on this track, which was a new direction for her -- from the Cher songs I've heard anyway. This is a softer song, but it is far from elevator music. How soft can a song be with Cher belting out notes, after all?

The song title is very fitting because it's a very uplifting song. You get a sense of spirituality in it as Cher sings about always being there for a loved one.

"Hold your hand in mine. We'll swim against the tide and, from the sound of sirens, love will survive."

With the Annie Lennox-style voice, the amazing movie theme-like music, and some effects, this song leaves you with a positive feeling.

Favorite Scars

This song starts off with the kind of guitar picking that sounds like it was off of Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah.”

It’s a song that encourages taking the chance on love and reveling in the times it doesn’t work.

“Love is the healing of a broken heart/the story behind all of my favorite scars,” Cher sings.

The light backup vocals help make this song a little lighter, as Cher’s voice is still as strong as it is on any of the other tracks.

I Hope You Find It

Based on the fact that Cher has been performing this song on David Letterman, The Today Show and the rest of her media tour for Closer to the Truth, it seems that “I Hope You Find It” is going to be the second single.

It’s one of my favorites on the album, so I’m hoping it gets a little attention, whether it’s through performances at the American Music Awards and Grammy’s or on the radio.

It’s a great change of pace with the strings and the piano.

Lyrically, it’s an awesome song. The story is about a woman who is letting her ex-lover know that she wants him to find happiness.

“I hope you find it -- what you’re looking for. I hope it’s everything you dreamed your life would be and so much more. I hope you’re happy and nothing’s gonna change that. I hope you find it."

It’s a very somber song, but also very positive, like most of the other songs on the album.

I guess it was actually a Miley Cyrus cover, but the song ended up with one of Cher’s producers and eventually on Closer to the Truth.

That’s a good turn of events there because it is a song that suits Cher well.

I had to listen to Miley’s version after finding out that it was a cover. If I hadn’t heard Cher’s version, I’d say that it was a good song, but Cher kicks it up a notch with the kind of vocal power that only she can bring to the table.

Her live performances on The Today Show and Letterman wouldn’t have left me very impressed, but hearing the album version makes me appreciate it. I’ll cut Cher some slack because I guess she was recovering from laryngitis during those performances.

Lie To Me

Cher’s trading in the dance music for another ballad with “Lie To Me.”

The lyrics just reek of Pink, who was the songwriter.

Cher owns the song, but, once again, I have to wonder what it would sound like if Pink sang it.

Hopefully she’ll perform both “Lie To Me” and “I Walk Alone” at a future concert.

There’s a little shout out in the lyrics to Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” too.

“I don’t want to start over babe. This was my everything.”

I’m not sure if it was intentionally placed there or not, but I like that it was included in there.

I Don’t Have to Sleep to Dream

This one starts off like a dance hit from the 80s (and doesn’t lose that beat), but then Cher comes in, sounding sweet and almost melancholy, as she sings about the possibility of love never coming.

Cher then transitions into gratefulness, revealing that she’s found her lover.

“You’re everything that I thought I would never find/Now I don’t have to sleep to dream.”

Like “My Love,” there’s a lot of repetition in the lyrics. The lyric above is pretty much repeated throughout the 4:42 song. The sound that comes along with those lyrics is catchier than “My Love,” making it more memorable.


I'm assuming this song is about gay pride. It's kind of the guilty pleasure of the album.

The Sunday school-like, warm, fuzzy message of the song almost makes you roll your eyes, but the bells, the fast-paced dance music and Cher joyously singing, “Pride. We own, we own the night. We got pride,” is hard not enjoy.

It successfully makes you simultaneously tap your foot, nod your head and smile.

You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me

It’s Cher, doing her thing. She’s hitting her trademark notes and delivering a positive message.

That being said, it’s not my favorite song. It lacks a little something to make it really good, but it’s a solid effort and a solid outing.

It’s a nice end-of-the-album choice for Closer to the Truth and could probably be used on the soundtrack of a movie.

It does pick up about half way through the song, so don’t give up on the song unless you’ve heard all of it.

Will You Wait For Me

I absolutely love the lyrics that kick off this song.

“I’ll go for hours without saying a word. That don’t mean there’s nothing on my mind.”

As you can probably surmise by the title, the song is about love and asking a lover to be patient as they go through a rocky patch in their relationship.

Some good singing and nice sentimentality to close out the album.

Overall:I was disappointed that there was no duet with Lady Gaga, no guest appearance by Timbaland or even a few other modern-day collaborations. However, I probably should have known better.

Cher has her own style. She really is a living legend. While most of the songs probably won’t end up on the radio, they don’t need to.

Her legions of fans will buy the album, memorize the words, and then show up to sing them with Cher during her Dressed to Kill tour.

Based on the initial success of Closer to the Truth, it’s pretty obvious that as long as she’s making music, Cher will have an audience to deliver it to.

Standout songs: "Red," "Dressed to Kill," and "Will You Wait For Me"

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Choosing a side on DVD menu's -- what's the point?

Most DVDs go to a menu screen after you’re done hearing about ‘the cloud,’ how cigarettes can kill you and seeing a preview for the latest animated film.

Some, however, give you an option. ‘Pick a side,’ they say.

I’ve run into this twice recently – with the G.I. Joe DVD and The Break-Up DVD.

At first I thought it was a cool concept. Maybe, if you pick Cobra’s side, there’s an alternate ending? Or maybe some special features --- like an in-depth look at Storm Shadow’s sword training.

If you pick the side of the Joe’s, maybe there’s a look at their stunt training.

No, no, and no. I went with Cobra and it takes you to the exact same screen, with the exact same features, as it does when you pick G.I. Joe.

Same thing with The Break-Up.