The Princess and The Paparazzi

Happy One Year Anniversary to my favorite couple, Wills & Kate! Just a few days ago, on April 29th, 2012 the United Kingdom’s Prince William and his wife Princess Catherine
celebrated their first wedding anniversary in Suffolk, England at a country cottage…well according to People magazine.

If you can’t tell by now, I love reading about everything “royals” especially when it concerns the real life Cinderella, commoner to princess in a few short years, Kate Middleton. But with all the press coverage that the royal couple has received over the past two years, I couldn’t help but wonder how that affected the princess and her non-royal family, so I did a little research.  As it turns out Kate Middleton has had quite the rough time
dealing with all of her attention in the news and the tabloids.

In 2010, the then 28-year-old Middleton (at the time not yet engaged to Prince William) hired the Queen’s solicitors to take legal action against the Rex Features agency and their photographers for taking and then publishing pictures of herself playing tennis on Christmas, just a few weeks earlier. Middleton was seeking damages under the Protection from Harassment Act, enacted by the U.K. in 1997, stating that these pictures were an invasion of her privacy.

Though the agency claimed that the photographer was not in their employ they still contributed to distribute and publish the pictures online and in print. The judges ruled that Rex Features had gone above and beyond what was acceptable in trying to capture these photos of Middleton, as she was not out in public but rather at her family’s manor. The princess was awarded an apology from the company as well as 5,000 pounds in damages, which she then donated to charity.

Although I do understand the paparazzo’s viewpoint that if you are a celebrity in the media, you have chosen to accept the fact that you will be photographed at all times of the day, I also believe that the judges were right in their ruling of Middleton’s case. In my opinion if the celebrity being photographed is not in a public setting then any pictures taken are extremely intrusive and unnecessary.

After a while Kate Middleton was no longer the press’ main focus as they dubbed her “Waity Katie” (because of her lengthy relationship with Prince William) but when the prince and Middleton announced their engagement in November of 2010, the media frenzy was renewed, and this time they had even more targets to shoot, the Middleton family. Kate’s younger sister, Pippa became the press’ new favorite subject as images of  the future maid-of-honor’s history began to resurface. The royal family tried to ignore details of the youngest sister’s party girl past, but the harassment that followed Middleton and the rest of the family came to a head just a few short weeks before the April wedding, when the family contacted the Press Complaints Commission to discuss concerns over their constant hounding by the photographers.

The excitement of the royal wedding and the prince and princess’ future soon took over the press though and the attention on the royal couple became much more positive. Many industry “insiders” believe that the reason there has not been that much negative attention cast on the prince’s future with his new wife is not only out of fear of legal repercussions but also out of respect for the prince’s past, as the wedding brought to re-attention the death of his mother, the late Princess Diana. 

However not all are as optimistic about the press as others are, many believe that at the first sign of a baby bump or trouble within the marriage (god forbid!) the media circus will once again ensue. Speaking to CNN, public relations expert Max Clifford compared the paparazzi today to those during the time of Princess Diana, saying “it is a lot more ferocious now, believe me, if you thought it was bad then, just watch.”

As ominous as that may seem, now that the first year anniversary has passed with no signs of legal scrapes for the press, let’s hope that no more trouble with the paparazzi befalls the royal couple. Although you can bet, I will be reading any piece of information on the illustrious Kate Middleton and her princely husband that I can get my hands on :).



  • Do you think the Judge’s ruling was fair?
  • How do you see the interactions between celebrities and the press?

“Give Me Free Peanuts and Cracker Jacks…”

Is there anything better than summer time?! Walking on the boardwalk, watching the waves ebb in and out, the smell of salt water mixing in with a greasy bucket fries. Or sitting around the pool cracking open buckets of crabs smothered in Old Bay and eatingyour ice cream cone before it melts down to your fingers. Or what about, the sounds of screaming fans, the wafting aroma of hot dogs and popcorn, the stickiness of cotton candy and Cracker Jack all over your hands and the crack of the bat against the ball. It’s America’s favorite pastime, and mine, it’s a baseball game! Well, an Orioles’ Game to be exact :).

One of the best perks about living just twenty minutes away from a major city, are the major league sports! I am a bird fan through and through, I bleed purple for the Ravens in the fall and winter and orange for the Orioles all summer long. And though the O’s may not be the best baseball team around, all that means for baseball fans like me is that I only have to pay $6 dollars to see a Yankee game ;).

I recently went to my first O’s
student night of the season and as I expected, I had a blast. Camden Yards is a beautiful stadium with lots of open space surrounding the bleachers to walk around, and as a big fan of free stuff (really, who isn’t?!) I love stopping at all the vendors trying to promote their companies. Well some of the other booths may get overlooked, like buying Orioles gear for the low, low price of $75 dollars (I’d rather buy the same shirt outside, knockoff style for oooh about $70 dollars less), the vendors giving away goodies always seems to have some semblance of a line. Getting a free poncho or waterproof blanket when the weather forecast for the evening may turn sour, in exchange for me filling out a piece of paper stating I may potentially sign up with Visa for a credit card…now that’s some great marketing!

When I’m finally seated inside the stadium my attention is usually turned to the Jumbotron (somehow I always manage to forget my glasses meaning I have no hope of actually seeing the game) where all the action happens…ya know, besides the actual game (I’m going to be truthful now and say 90% of the reasons I enjoy baseball games so much is because of the food, not really the baseball) :). I love watching the screen for the surprise wedding proposals, congratulations and retirement announcements, especially because as someone who is slowly learning their way around the fields of public relations and advertising I enjoy picking out all the subtle PR strategies that appear on the big screen.

I would have to say the most successful approach to promoting their own name, that the Orioles’ have is their use of events. Whenever the “Happy Birthday to So and So” appears on the Jumbotron, the next screen is always one that talks about hosting your own private party at Camden Yards. What a great birthday party that would be for a
young child, an experience they will remember forever and what a great way to get
adults to buy goodie bags, favors, plates, cups, balloons and probably even a cake all sporting the O’s logo! Why I may be mistaken, but to me that sounds like free publicity. Free publicity for the Orioles that the parents of the birthday boy are paying for…because let’s be honest, having a private party for at least 20 people at a baseball stadium is most likely not going to be as cheap as a pizza party in your backyard.

Heck, even the game I went to that night was a promotional event, “Student Night” which is every Friday home game, where students pay $6 dollars for a ticket. I recently found out (when I was handed the O’s promotional schedule as I walked in the gates) that these student nights are sponsored by the telecommunications company AT&T, I have attended student nights for years and had no idea, I figured it was just a ploy by the O’s to up their attendance. Well with this information in my hands, the idea of student nights became a whole other ball game (if you can’t tell by now, I love puns!), to put it simply AT&T is most likely paying the Orioles to promote their own company by hosting these student nights, offering cheap tickets to the fans but it probably doesn’t come cheap to AT&T…so the O’s are being paid to host an event that is meant to attract people to come to their games?! Sounds like a win-win situation for the Orioles to me.

I will be frank though (get it? Like a Frankfurter! Hehe) and say that regardless if I knew of all the events that O’s have or not, I would most likely still attend at least one game a season, baseball games are always high on my list of summer to-dos, but the words “free” and “cheap” don’t exactly hurt either ;).

Where’s Waldo: The Product Placement Edition

When you walk through a grocery store do you ever come across an item that gives you a food association? You know what I mean, like when you see Peeps and think about the Easter Bunny, or a can of cranberry sauce and all of a sudden you smell the turkey cooking in your grandma’s oven for Thanksgiving. Well for me, when I see a blue can of Planters’ honey roasted peanuts I think back to my childhood, and the Sundays when my father and uncles would sit around the TV watching the Nascar races and eating these peanuts (they were of that variety of food in my house, saved for very special occasions and we children were never allowed to eat them…and by special occasion, yes, I do mean Nascar).

To me those peanuts could very well represent Nascar, although I am not quite sure if it’s even a sponsor (Hey Planters people, you should look into that!). As any person who has ever seen a Nascar car, or even the driver’s suit, knows, Nascar is a sport that relies heavily on endorsements and corporate sponsorship, each car is outfitted with a primary sponsor and smaller brands covering the rest of the car. When comedic actor Will Ferrell wrote and starred in the 2006 movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, it seemed more than likely that the movie would spoof Nascar’s reliability on brand sponsors, and boy did it ever! 

I recently re-watched this movie when I was home for a weekend (I couldn’t take the DVD to school with me for fear of upsetting my father, it combines two of his favorite things Nascar and Will Ferrell movies) and decided to put my advertising major skills to the test and spot the product placements throughout the film.

In short, Talladega Nights is about winning Nascar driver Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) who is attempting to get back into the driver’s seat following an accident on the track, where his car crashed after trying to beat his French opponent Girard (played by Borat actor Sacha Baron Cohen), which then set him on fire.

The three largest products to be seen in the movie are the cars themselves, which are in Nascar fashion decorated with the primary sponsors logo. For Ricky Bobby, this is Wonder Bread, with the blue and red coloring of the bread packaging being displayed on the car’s hood as well as Bobby’s racing suit. Bobby’s teammate and best friend, Cal Naughton Jr. (who then becomes his ex-friend after stealing Ricky’s wife) is sponsored by Old Spice deodorant, and his enemy Girard is sponsored by none other than the French water Perrier. These Nascar sponsors are so bold and in-your-face that would be hard to forget the images of these products’ logos, long after the movie has ended.

One of the best scenes of the movie occurs at the beginning, at the height of Ricky Bobby’s career. His wife Carley yells up the stairs for the family to come down for a dinner she has “slaved over for hours”, the camera pans out and we see the dining room table covered in KFC, Domino’s, Taco Bell, Country Crock butter, and of course Wonder Bread. The drinks that appear on the table Budweiser, Coca-Cola, and Powerade are shown again in different situations through out the movie, with Coke being the only soda cups you see in the film and Budweiser signs plastered all over the bar. As the Bobby family sits down to enjoy their “home-cooked” meal, Ricky leads a prayer of grace which includes him naming all the brands seen before him and he concludes by thanking Jesus and Powerade…stating that that he must mention Powerade at each grace because of his sponsorship contract.

Following his product-full grace Ricky and Cal do their handshake which concludes with them yelling the words “Shake n’ Bake.” Although Kraft’s box of bread crumbs does not actually appear anywhere within the movie, the “Shake n’ Bake” became one of the most well-known quotes from the film, which is basically just continuous free advertising for the company, because when someone thinks of Talladega Nights, they then think of Shake n’ Bake.

Perhaps the finest product placement plug throughout the entire movie is for the restaurant chain Applebee’s. One entire scene occurs at an Applebee’s with Ricky and his family sitting in one of their red booths talking about how they are “Eatin’ good in the neighborhood” which I am sure many will recognize as Applebee’s tagline. Later on in the film, in about the last 15 minutes of the movie, Bobby and Girard crash on the speedway in what the announcers for the race claim is one of the longest car accidents they have ever seen. So long in fact that they decided to go to a commercial break and Boom!, an entire 20-second Applebee’s commercial appears on the screen.

There are so many instances through out this movie of blatant product placement that it almost became hard to catch every brand shown, thankfully there are people out there who actually counted for me! Overall though I would have to say that Talladega Nights’ most successful use of shameless product placement is Nascar itself and the different races that make up the sport’s championship, hey one of Nascar’s speedways is the name of the movie! If that isn’t good advertising then what is?!

Watching movies and TV shows I have often found that product placement is one of the must un-subtle, easiest ways for a company to receive advertising, sometimes I even make a game out of trying to spot brands placed strategically in the shot. For Will Ferrell to create a movie based almost entirely on product placements, yet to do so in a way that is both hilarious and unforgettable, and here I am going to use unforgettable in reference to all the products used throughout the movie (it’s hard not to think of Talladega Nights without imagining Ricky Bobby is his Wonder Bread themed suit), well maybe Mr. Ferrell should think about quitting his day job of “acting” and going to work over in NYC for those long-suffering ad-execs on Mad Men.

  • Do you find it easy to spot product placement on TV or in a movie?
  • What’s your favorite example of product placement?

A Story to Last a Lifetime

As the end of the semester quickly approaches, two of the most stressful times in a college student’s life occur, that would be finals and registering for the next term’s classes. And believe me trying to find five classes that fulfill your requirements, might actually be interesting, have a good professor, a perfect time slot and are open, is definitely more cutthroat and panic-inducing than any final you could take.

In order to figure out which classes I needed to take for the fall semester, I met with my advisor twice within in a one week span (trying to limit my meltdowns to a minimum ;)). I am going to be quite honest here, although I love my major and the majority of classes I need to take for it, I hate actually telling people what my major is because that always leads into the discussion about my future, and truthfully I have no clue what I want to do when I graduate. Heck some days after I watch animal movies, I’m convinced I want to be a marine biologist and if so I am definitely on the wrong track!

It seems as though no matter how old you are, whether 2 or 20, you will be asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” until you actually have a steady job that doesn’t pay you in tips. I have had some pretty crazy dream jobs in my short lifetime, for a while there I was certain I would go to the Fashion Institute of Technology and become a fashion designer (considering I can’t draw or sew, that idea is pretty much shot), but I was also definitely in that camp of youngsters who wanted to have the same profession as their parents, and for me that meant becoming a librarian just like my mom.

I grew up in libraries, literally. I remember spending countless hours with my mom at work, sitting in the back room reading the newest books to come in, one of the great perks of having a librarian for a mother is you get all the new books first, oh and no late fines ;). I give full credit to my mother for instilling in me a great love of books, when other children my age “didn’t read”, I would get punished for reading too much! My parents used to take my books away from me so I would go outside to play or do my homework, and as any book lover knows, having to stop reading when you are so engrossed in a book it becomes your world, is absolute torture.

As cliché as this may sound, especially for the fellow bibliophiles of my generation, no book (or should I say books) has affected my life as much as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has. For anyone who is completely oblivious to life somehow does not know about this amazing  seven-book series it was written by British author Joanne Rowling, about a threesome of teenage wizards (Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger) who attend Hogwarts a school of witchcraft and wizardry where they not only have to deal with the normal pains of growing up but also have to fight against the evil magic of Lord Voldemort and his followers (or Death Eaters). And that is pretty much the quickest synopsis of the overall series I can give without making this the longest blog post in all of Internet history 🙂

I first discovered the HP series when I was in 3rd grade, the third book (Prisoner of Azkaban) had just been published and the series itself had not yet exploded into the phenomenon it is today. My sister had read the books when they were first coming out (once again I credit this to my librarian mother, getting first dibs) so we had the books lying around the house, and my dad though it would be a good idea to read the first book (Sorcerer’s Stone) together. I believe one of the best outcomes of Harry Potter is the way it appeals to multiple ages, how it can bring family members together, sure it is considered a “children’s’ novel” but the series is so complex and filled with questions about life, even adults can appreciate the magic of Harry Potter (pun intended :)).

I have only been alive for 20 years and for ten of those years (half of my life, a full decade) I spent them anxiously awaiting the next HP midnight release whether for one the books or one of the movies, the Harry Potter movie franchise is the highest grossing film series of all time. To say that Harry Potter has not influenced my life would be a lie, I spent my summers and holiday seasons growing up, re-reading each book in the series until the new one debuted, and seeing each movie at least 3 times in the theaters. I quite honestly have lost track of the amount of times I have read each book or seen each movie. Harry Potter is where I turn when I am bored and don’t feel like starting a new series or film, it’s comforting the familiarity of it and although I have read the books countless times, each time I begin one of the books again I get a sense of excitement and find something new to love.

Rowling’s creation of Pottermore, an online, interactive, literary experience (a website the first of its kind) has only fueled the Potter-mania fire with her release of never discussed details and deleted texts. Even in college, Harry Potter is an ever-present presence in my life, as I have turned from wasting my time on Facebook to wasting my time on Pottermore.

Harry Potter has also altered the way I read other books, for example had I merely read the blurb for the series The Hunger Games, about a postapocalyptic world where young children fight to the death for entertainment, I most likely would have skipped over reading this particular series. However, reading a fantasy story, when I am definitely more along the lines of a biography/history type reader, has taught me (like the old adage goes; “you can’t judge a book by its cover”) you can’t judge a book by its genre or basic description.

I could write for hours (I have definitely had 6 hour-long conversations with fellow fans) about my love for Rowling’s series and how it has changed my life and made me more well read (learning about the connections between Rowling’s books and Shakespeare, had me checking out all the Bard’s works) but I would rather you, readers, go out and read Harry Potter for yourself and experience what it is like to have 4,000 or so pages of writing make a lasting impact on your life. I will leave you with this quote that to me defines what Harry Potter means to my generation: “After all this time?” “Always” said Snape.


  • What book (or books) have impacted your life?

The Wonderful World of Disney

“Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase! Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passing craze. It means no worries for the rest of our days, it’s our problem free philosophy, Hakuna Matata!” I am sure all of my readers out there need no introduction as to where this beloved song originates from, but for those who happen to have lived under a rock their entire lives, I’ll fill you in, it’s from Disney’s The Lion King of course! In my opinion Hakuna Matata could just as well be the Disney Company’s theme song, for it seems quite possible that the media conglomerate that is Disney, will have “no worries for the rest of their days,” as their success does not seem to be dwindling anytime soon.

An 89-year-old company, Walt Disney’s widespread reach has spanned multiple generations, with its endless movies, TV stations and shows, books, theme parks, merchandise in every shape and form, and even its own radio stations. For me, my love affair began with Disney the day I was given a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal as a baby. You know that one tattered stuffed animal everyone had as a child, the stuffed animal you loved so much you wouldn’t go anywhere without it? Well for me that was my Pooh and somewhere along the line Pooh Bear ended up becoming my family’s nickname for me, the nickname they still use to this day, so I guess you could say that Disney is a constant in my everyday life!

But wait, didn’t A. A. Milne create Winnie the Pooh? So one would think that Milne was the reason for my bear obsession, technically yes, but I think it is a valid point to say, that without Disney being licensed the rights to the two books written by Milne, Pooh would be nowhere near as successful as he is today under Disney’s ownership. From stuffed animals, to clothes and home goods, Disney has been able to take Milne’s books and create them into four TV shows and nine different movies. Disney’s latest remake, entitled simply Winnie the Pooh, was a theatrical film released in July of 2011 and grossed over 30 million dollars. Renowned movie critic, Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, and Gary Goldstein of The Los Angeles Times said that the film “proves a fitting tribute to one of the last century’s most enduring children’s tales…appeal will presumably top out with very young children and the nostalgic parents who escort them…”

To me, Goldstein’s words nicely sum up how I feel about the Walt Disney Company, it has the ability to create projects that transcend any age gap, and I honestly believe that no other corporation will be ever be able to replicate what Disney has done.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, although it may sound like I have had the wool pulled over my eyes about the “evils” of Disney, due to my love and nostalgia I have leftover from my childhood, I am extremely aware that Disney is not perfect. Walt Disney himself accused three of his employers of being Communists and it is often rumored that he was an anti-Semitic and Nazi supporter, however no actual facts have been
found to support this view of Disney. Since its inception Disney has been criticized for it lack of diversity within its films, and many characters have been seen as racist.

It seems though, that the largest problem critics have with Disney is their Disney Princess franchise, created in 1999, using the main princesses featured in their films, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and Beauty and the Beast. Just take a look at the picture below…

Many seem to think that the Princesses teach young girls to be submissive, that being beautiful is the only asset you need in life (even Belle with her book smarts, only won over the Beast because of her sweet disposition and good looks), and that like Jasmine seducing Jafar for Aladdin, your body is the only way to get what you want.

Do I understand the critics’ viewpoints? Yes, absolutely. Do I think they are valid? No, no I don’t. From a female’s perspective I do not see the harm  in allowing young girls, and even young boys, to fantasize, while watching Cinderella, about wanting to grow up to be a prince or a princess. Doesn’t everyone want to be?! I am well above the age where dressing up in a tiara is considered acceptable, but I would love to one day find out that my beliefs as a young girl were right; I was in fact adopted by my “parents” and I am actually a Princess of a foreign land! There’s a reason that people are so enthralled (myself included) with stories about Grace Kelly and Kate Middleton, average girls or “commoners” who became real-life princesses, both of their weddings have even been compared to fairy tales.

Even though I was not a princess fanatic as a child, the franchise came along right after my time 😦 , I still do not think, that had I used every Halloween to dress up as a princess (the closest I came, was in 6th grade when I dressed in pajamas, put on a long blonde wig, threw on a crown and called myself “Sleeping Beauty”, clever, right?!) that I would have severe self-esteem issues now. Heck! I was most definitely a Barbie girl living in a Barbie world, and isn’t the Barbie ideal of how a woman should look, scarier than a young girl wanting to live in a castle!?

But once again, though I see the argument, I don’t actually agree. Yes Barbies and Princesses alike could give a young girl body image issues, I don’t think they are the real culprits here. I can quite honestly say no female I know, has ever watched a Disney movie or picked up a Barbie in Disney Princess form (yup, they have those, double whammy right?) and said “Gee!, I really wish I looked like that animated character!” Do you want to know why? Because they are animated, they are plastic, it’s fake! And my parents (and hopefully most other parents) raised a daughter smart enough to know the difference between what is real and what is not.

Every side of an issue can be argued, especially when it comes to Disney. I don’t foresee the critics of Disney ever fading, but personally I also don’t view Disney as the real offender in promoting false images. Why is it so wrong to believe in Disney as you did as a child? To see it for the innocence that it is, to think that the good guys will always triumph over the bad guys, to know that no matter what has happened to you in your life there is always the possibility of a “Happily Ever After.” I think the only way to sum it up is that, with Disney, “Dreams Come True,” and that’s never a bad thing.

  • How do you feel about Disney?
  • Do you think Disney gives children false ideas about the real world?

A New Form of Entertainment

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, that would be the lovely sound of my alarm going off at 9 a.m. every morning (and yes, I do have to use a special alarm clock that rolls around the floor of my room until I get out of bed to turn it off, what can I say I’m a heavy sleeper), and while I dread getting out of my extremely warm bed, I do love getting a jump-start on my day. I pretty much have the same routine every morning, after I finally crawl out from underneath my covers, get dressed for the day, make myself some breakfast (besides it being the most important meal of the day, I have this quirk where I can absolutely not eat anything else until I have breakfast food, weird right?!) and then sit down to my computer of course. After checking all of my different email accounts (yes, I do have 3 emails, it’s quite overwhelming) I then like to check in and see what some of my favorite people are up to. Nope! Not on my Facebook (fooled ya 😉 ), on my blogroll, and while I may not personally know the writers of all the blogs I follow, I love reading their daily posts and learn an awful lot about their lives, and now I am going to apologize for how creepy that sounded!

As much I love reading blogs about celebrities, sports, politics etc., my all time favorite blogs are what I would classify as “Daily Life” blogs, meaning they all add something that I love to incorporate into my daily life; whether it is recipes, a new DIY project or just getting my fashion fix these are blogs that I look at, at least once a day.

Although I have read various blogs since my senior year of high school, about 3 years ago, I did not really fall in love with the “blogosphere” until sometime last year, when my friend Sara and I found Peanut Butter Fingers, a healthy living blog. PB Fingers is written by Julie Fagan, a 20-something living in Florida with her husband and dog, she  originally began the blog while working as a writer, editor and manager, but due to her blog’s success she eventually left her job to pursue full-time freelance writing and blogging.

One of the main reasons I love PB Fingers so much is because Julie is extremely easy to relate to, as she writes about her love of food (yes, even the non-healthy kind), her crazy dog’s antics and her everyday experiences. This is definitely the kind of blog that can appeal to any age group, although it is definitely more women-centric. One of the main aspects of PB Fingers is Julie’s commitment to exercise of any kind, almost every day she posts a work out that she completes, oftentimes along with the music she listened to! I love finding new exercises to try so that my fitness routine doesn’t become boring, and although I am by no means a fitness-fanatic and I definitely do not go to the gym as often as Julie, her posts about working out are always more inspiring than intimidating.

The blog itself is visually appealing, with an adorable peanut butter theme and links to all the different parts of her site. The blog is very easy to navigate, with a header at the top listing all the main categories of her posts, and even a search bar. My favorite part of the blog is the recipe section where Julie organizes all the recipes that appear on her blog, from Greek yogurt pancakes to homemade granola, there are many delicious and simple recipe ideas, that are also very healthy, that appear on the blog. And as a big fan of smoothies (seriously, I drink one at least once every two days!), all of Julie’s quick and easy smoothie and shake ideas will definitely keep me coming back to Peanut Butter Fingers as an avid reader, well that and the fact that I when I read the blog I feel like I’m hanging out with my best friend (once again, sorry for being so creepy, he he)!

Another blog I greatly enjoy, was found through many a recipe reposted on Peanut Butter Fingers, called How Sweet It Is. Written by Jessica, an ex-certified personal trainer and now full-time blogger, How Sweet is all about the delicious creations that Jessica whips up in her kitchen. I’m not going to lie, I was definitely first attracted to the blog by the blue and pink coloring and the delicious frosted cupcake at the top of the site (and now my sweet tooth is kicking in…) but after reading a few posts I made sure to add How Sweet to the list of blogs I check daily. Although Jessica is not as engaging with her readers as my “BFF” Julie, her wit and hilarious comments about her hatred for all vegetables (you and me both sister) has definitely kept my attention.

How Sweet It Is, is more of a “foodie” blog than a healthy living blog, with some extremely outrageous recipes like this one, where bacon is covered in chocolate and then mixed with peanut butter cookies (go ahead and salivate) or this one, which mixes two of my favorite foods; crab and avocado, to make a quesadilla (hungry yet?). Let’s be real for a minute though, as much as I love drooling over the recipes Jessica posts, some are definitely more complicated than others and this site would not be the first place I would check for a simple meal. When Jessica often states though, that she herself is not naturally a chef, and with no formal training, all of her recipes are just her own “mess-ups” in the kitchen it makes me wish I was that talented when it comes to food (I only seem to be able make food disappear ;)), I still enjoy catching up on this blog daily and staring at the beautiful pictures she takes of some magnificent looking meals (and once again my overwhelming  sweet tooth sets in, I guess this blog is aptly named!).

The last blog I read every morning, right before I head off to class, is sure to always put me in a great mood, probably due to the fact that it is written by quite possibly one of the Top Ten funniest women in America, The Bloggess. Jenny Lawson is the creator behind the blog and as a writer for The Houston Chronicle and two other columns (one about sex and one about parenting…yes, I’m sure she sees the irony too), Jenny decided she “needed an uncensored space to say the f-word and talk about ninjas,” and those are her own words.

Self described as “Mother Teresa, only better” Jenny’s blog never fails to make me laugh as she recounts the latest antics she pulls on her husband Victor. From buying a 5-foot tall metal chicken she names Beyoncé (it now has its own Facebook page), to spending 120 pounds on set of stuffed mice, Jenny’s blog posts, though definitely NSFW, are sure to make anyone laugh out loud (I even got my dad to read it!).

As blogs go, The Bloggess is probably the most successful out of all the other blogs I read, she is featured on Oprah’s website many times a month (and as any self-respecting person knows, Oprah is the barometer for success), was recently on CNN and even has her own book coming out, which I am sure will be full of hilarious stories, and I will definitely be getting my hands on a copy of it, come April 17th!

If I were to continue in my blogging experience I could definitely see my blog taking shape in more of a Peanut Butter Fingers – type fashion, with my posts revolving around my daily exploits, but for now (until my life becomes interesting and hilarious at least!) I  am quite satisfied reading all the other great blogs floating around the Internet, and “musing about media.”

  • Are there any blogs you read religiously?
  • Who are you favorite bloggers?

A Not so “Pretty” Little Liars Website

Is there anything more annoying than when a TV show has a commercial right at the cliffhanger?! I’m sure most people out there would say “No! That is super annoying and I hate commercials!” But not me, I actually find commercials pretty interesting and love to view them from the perspective of the advertisers (good thing I am an advertisingmajor then, huh?), what I find annoying is the little scroll that runs across the bottom of the screen promoting the show that is playing, whether it is a hashtag about the episode or the show’s website, it really pushes my buttons when the bottom of the screen is covered up by words!

Somehow though, I happened to be sitting down a few weeks ago anxiously watching the season finale of Pretty Little Liars, and I found myself on the ABC Family website, my mouse heading straight for the PLL page. I guess the website flashing constantly at the bottom of the screen subconsciously caught my eye (most likely, the advertisers’ intent) although to be sure I did not go and tweet “#Aday” like the screen also wanted me to do.

I must confess, I was quite disappointed with the overall website about the show, which itself is one of my favorite TV shows and seems to be a big draw for girls in their tweens, teens, and even early twenties.

Star, Lucy Hale, on the cover of Teen Vogue

The front page of the show’s site is very overwhelming, with a garish orange being the color of choice, an orange so bright it almost hurts your eyes (not to be dramatic or anything :)). In my opinion, for the links at the top of the site , the first link should be an “about” section, which would lead a viewer to a page about the overall content of the show. This basic feature cannot be found until one scrolls all the way to the bottom of the page, and even then the information is very limited with the show being described in about one to two paragraphs.

One would think that perhaps a reason a viewer would visit the site would be because they missed an episode and would like a recap of the earlier episodes shown. An episode guide is not easily found, hidden under sections about red carpet events and even a poll, I was able to find a more concise recap on Wikipedia.

I will say though, that one of the website’s best features is that it offers up completely free full episodes streaming online, and getting to video extras about the show is very easy, it’s the first link at the top of the site. The site itself has many extras for fans of the show from photos, and blogs about the episodes to games, and group chat boards, the site even offers a link to a mobile site if a viewer is on their cell phone. 

All in all, the Pretty Little Liars website was a let down and even with the great features, the basic information about the show is lacking and it is not the easiest website to navigate. I continued to explore more of ABC Family’s site and found similar problems on their other shows’ pages. I definitely think this website could be “cleaned up” and the overall design and color scheme re-thought, don’t worry though (which I am sure you all were…) the website won’t turn me off from watching Pretty Little Liars any chance I get. 

  • Have you ever explored a website advertised by a TV show? 

Media Minus “Me”

This past Tuesday I went out and celebrated Mardi Gras, and as much fun as I had eating whatever I wanted throughout the day (it was Fat Tuesday after all!) and dancing the night away, for some people the only thing they were thinking about was the next morning, Ash Wednesday also known as the beginning of Lent. Lent is a Christian observance of penance and in today’s modern world it is best known as the forty days when one gives up something that normally they cannot go without in their day-to-day lives. Although I do not take part (I have heard enough stories from my dad about “When he was a kid….” and what he would give up for Lent to last me a lifetime) I got a taste of what it feels like to restrain from doing something that is a part of your everyday routine.  After a weekend of media overload, I decided to try to refrain from my normal use of mass media, meaning no Facebook, Twitter, TV, Books or Music for two whole days and keeping my texting to a minimum (of course I couldn’t totally keep away from my phone, my mom calls about four times a day 🙂 ). If you think it sounds difficult, believe me it was! I had to squash the urge to just hop on my computer about 15 times a day, do you know how hard it is to check your email but not click on one of Yahoo’s front-page stories that catches your eye?!

I felt totally out of the loop! Lunch with my friends wasn’t as fun when I couldn’t discuss Tuesday night’s episode of Glee with them (and yes I did pull the “fingers
in my ear, I can’t hear you, lalalalala” trick) or add to the latest drama because “No, I did not know so-and-so broke up”.  Needless to say my friends gave up on trying to explain the picture they saw on Pinterest to me, and told me to just wait a day when I rejoined the “real world”.

On the bright side? I have absolutely no homework to worry about this upcoming weekend as my boredom led to me getting ahead on my schoolwork. Presentation due next Thursday? Done! Exam in a week and a half? The study guide is all ready to go! On top of all this I re-organized my spring wardrobe and actually spent time with my friends face-to-face as opposed to Skype (she lives in a different apartment complex it’s so much easier to video chat than actually walk over to see her, it’s like I’m basically in the room anyways right?!) and that was nice.

If I’m being honest then yes I did seem to accomplish much more when I wasn’t looking at dresses I can’t afford online, but at the same time I did feel out of the picture not knowing what was going on in the media-centric world that we live in. As much as I love newspapers and I am a devoted Towerlight reader, it is much easier to get all of my information, personal and public, from one source: the internet. Do you really think that the Jeremy Lin craze would have exploded so much in the past two weeks as it has, if it wasn’t for social networking sites? I for one didn’t really know much about him until all of my sports enthusiast friends’ statuses and tweets revolved around this one basketball player. I don’t even remember ‘Melo getting this much hype when he first joined the team. But this is the reality that we live in, media drives everything we do whether we realize it or not and as consumers we add to this mass media motivated lifestyle.

Now if you’ll excuse me I must go check my Facebook, even though I’m 99% sure nothing has happened since I last looked about seven minutes ago, still I don’t want to miss out!

Mass Media: My Invisible Best Friend

Do you ever get that feeling, when you’re reading a textbook, that you have absolutely no idea what you just read and even though you’ve finished the page you’re pretty sure your eyes were glazed over the entire time? I do! Pretty much every time I try to complete a homework assignment 😉 Now don’t get me wrong, I weirdly do enjoy the bulk of my schoolwork and one of the best parts about college is that I get to choose classes that actually interest me. I’m also not one to get tired very easily during the day, so what could have me distracted from the past 3 pages in my Criminal Justice text (which, by the way, I would recommend to any Law & Order fanatic such as myself, it is so interesting!)? If we’re being honest I probably have to blame my inattentiveness on the fact that as I read, music is blaring from my computer, and I can’t resist the need to sing along and bop my head to the beat. Why then do I keep the music on when I know it’s distracting me and why do I insist on writing papers in front of the television?! I am sure I’m not the only person… actually I know I’m not the only person who feels the need to do two things at once considering my roommate is usually right there on the couch next to me doing her homework as we try to Keep Up with The Kardashians.

I am a talker, always have been (Most Talkative in High School, I won that pretty much unanimously) and to me silence is equal to boredom, so even when I’m alone and grudgingly admit to myself that “Yes, I actually do have work to do” having my iPod or TV on makes me feel more in my element.  I am definitely in that camp of students who believe they do all of their best work under pressure with as many distractions as possible, a true child born in the era of technology. And as much as I would love to deny it (Hey, I still have a phone that only makes phones calls!) I am always connected to the media in some form or another.

This past weekend I had the final round of spring recruitment for my sorority and I as I chatted to the new girls trying to get to know them as best as possible in thirty minutes or less, it became blatantly obvious to me just how much media affects our daily lives even when it is not right there in front of our faces. After countless conversations of “What’s your major? Where are you from?” and believe me there are only so many times you can oooh and aaah over both being from Maryland, I began to talk about their interests hoping to find common ground. DING, DING DING! We have a Winner! Turns out I could talk to one person for hours about how Virgin Diaries is one of the weirdest shows on television, and that we both stay up late just to catch Miranda Lambert on Chelsea Lately.  And then as the party wraps up there are always the last-minute questions about whether they are on Twitter and what their name is so I can follow them, meaning that even as this girl leaves and though she may not end up being in my sorority we will forever be connected through….wait for it…. Mass Media!

The end of the weekend finally came, and with it I was finally able to relax after being up and at ‘em for three days straight. Yet as I lay in bed unwinding from my hectic schedule, media was still ever-present, as I grabbed for the magazine next to my bed and read about Gwyneth Paltrow’s daily exercise routine (2 hours/5 days a week, Eek!) and flipped over ads pressuring me to buy even more media, Glamour for your iPad of course! As I slowly started to get tired I put down my magazine and….picked up my
iPod, putting in my headsets hoping that sweet tunes of John Mayer could lull me into a deep sleep.

If there is one main thing I could take away from this past weekend, besides the fact that smiling for five straight hours HURTS, it’s that the mass media is a part of my life almost every minute of every day! Even when it is not right there in front of my face, what goes on in the media tends to always be a topic of discussion for me whether it is with my friends or total strangers, it seems to be that media is a lot  more present than one would imagine.

And yes, I did listen to my 90’s Pop station on Pandora as I wrote this entry, I guess some people never learn 🙂

And so it begins…

So I guess this would be my first official blog post!

Ever since I stumbled upon my first blog way back in the day, I have turned to the blogosphere to get my daily doses of information. Whether it be learning about healthy living or catching up on the latest trends in the fashion world, I read at least one blog a day. But creating my own blog?! Never crossed my mind. So please bare with me as I enter the world of blogging and I promise to keep you entertained, or at least I will try! 🙂