The Best Of: Kelly Clarkson Cover Songs

KC did this awesome thing on her recent Stronger tour where she asked fans to send in their requests for songs they would like to see her cover during every single stop on the tour. The result was fantastic, as she murdered pretty much every song she performed. Entertainment Weekly compiled a list of  all of them, but here are my favorites if you want the abridged version.

*PS: Note to ALL YouTube uploaders: It is absolutely annoying when you talk during the video and the viewer can hear every single word out of your damn mouth. Shut it.

I Know You Won’t – Originally by Carrie Underwood

Fix You – Originally by Coldplay

Gravity – Originally by Sara Bareilles

Crazy For You – Originally by Madonna

Poison and Wine w/ Duets contestant Jason Farol – Originally by The Civil Wars

Where Are They Now: American Juniors 10 Years Later

American Juniors (album)

This was actually the first album cover to be partially funded by the Power Line Council Of Southern California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During the summer of 2003, a ragtag group of moppets competed on an American Idol spinoff.  American Juniors were a musical group, and one child would be voted into the group every week. This was less harsh than American Idol because no one was voted off, per se, but ultimately it was pretty brutal. Everything was fine til the last episode, where you had to see all of the kids who didn’t make the cut watch their dreams die, all at once. Fox just couldn’t get the “children’s reality show” thing down, and this was no Kid Nation. Not to mention, a lot of the song choices were better suited to people over the age of consent. Alas, nothing quite says “throwaway summertime reality programming” like 9-year-olds singing about one night stands.

I can’t quite figure out who this was marketed to — kids? old ladies who think every little child reminds them of their grandchildren? creepy people?– and apparently Fox couldn’t, either, because the show never reappeared after that summer. Traci and I loved it, because even at 17 we were watching series that we were technically too old to be interested in (see also, Lizzie Maguire, Degrassi). In Young Adult, Charlize Theron’s character watches American Juniors – you can see a frame of it in the background at one point, but what can I say,  I have a good eye for this type of thing – and at that moment, I knew I’d have an affinity for her character. Intentionally or not, this show does have a certain appeal for a certain kind of person. And if I had to wager, I’d imagine that this type of person still cares a little bit about what the American Juniors are doing, a decade down the road:

Taylor and Tori Thompson

This looks like those flashcards they use to teach people how to read emotions.

From my fascination with the Olsen twins, I have learned that siblings reach an age where they want to be considered individuals. Once their WalMart line launched, you were supposed to call them Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen, not Mary-Kate and Ashley. And even at the time, I was kind of like “you guys, it’s WalMart, though, you know? Maybe save the individual billing til you start designing for realsies.” And they did.

The point is, I probably should be giving these two separate entries, but I’m not. Taylor was older and had brown hair, and Tori was younger and blonde. I vaguely remember their mom saying something about how Taylor always thought her sister was prettier, but they were both cute kids and looked really similar, actually. Besides, Taylor got voted in first, so booyah, Tori!

  • Age Inappropriate Songs Performed: Love The One You’re With: a celebration of one-night-stands and infidelity. [Lyrics: Don’t be angry – don’t be sad/ Don’t sit crying over good times you’ve had/ There’s a girl right next to you/ And she’s just waiting for something to do […] If you can’t be with the one you love honey/ Love the one you’re with

The Thompson Sisters Today

This really happened.

The Thompson Sisters really love reality singing competitions, I guess, because they appeared on The Voice in 2011. They auditioned jointly, acknowledging that no one is going to view them separately anyway, a lesson that MK&A should probably just learn already. CeeLo turned around during their Stuck Like Glue performance, and the rest was history.  A brief history — they were off the show early into the live rounds,  but not before performing Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (with a posse of swing-dancing “Bugle Boys”), and voice battling to Unwritten (which I love because it makes me feel like I’m about to watch The Hills). Find them on Facebook, YouTube,   and Twitter.
As we could have predicted in 2003, the sisters are still good singers and have nice hair.

Chauncey Matthews

This little kiddo was cute as a bug’s ear. He didn’t make much of an impression on me, though, because that’s really all I remember about him. Chauncey was the only boy to make the group, meaning Fox failed to even deliver a few viable pre-teen heartthrobs to keep ratings up.

  • Age-Inappropriate Song Performed: Hey There Lonely Girl: Chauncey didn’t perform anything too egregious, but we all know that the guys who go after the lonely and insecure gals are bad, bad news, and this tune is a pretty shameless rebound attempt. [Lyrics: You think that only his two lips can kiss your lips/ And make your heart stand still/ But once you’re in my arms you’ll see/ No one can kiss your lips the way I will]

Chauncey today

From Matthews’ twitter; click for link.

According to the twitter account of someone called @therealCHAUNCEY, who I am assuming is the real Chauncey, he is a singer/songwriter/arranger and a student at Berklee. Impressive! In my two-minute scroll through his Twitter feed, Matthews uses the words “stoned,” “sex,” and “Hennessy,”  but I’m pretty sure he’s still like nine years old so I’m just gonna go ahead and forget about that.  On January 2 he tweeted that “these grades suck,” so hopefully that’s going better for him by now. You can also find him on Facebook, so check there if you’re in Boston and are creepy enough to want to see him perform live.
Anyway, I commend Chauncey for continuing to follow his dreams, and also for maintaining a strong web presence so that I didn’t have to try too hard for this one.

Lucy Hale

Before the search for A took over her days and nights.

Lucy was the elder statesman of the American Juniors — with the current age requirements on American Idol, she practically would be eligible for that these days. But things were different in 2003. American Idol claimed that it was going to create a bona fide pop sensation every season, and for that reason it didn’t allow contestants to be too young or too old. Lucky for Lucy – come on, lucky for America – she barely squeaked into American Juniors’ age range, and looked like Chauncey and Tori’s cool babysitter.

  • Age Inappropriate Song Performed: Call Me: I’m glad Blondie pointed out that ladies can make booty calls, too, but I just don’t think that’s an appropriate activity for 13-year-olds. [Lyrics: Cover me with kisses, baby/ Cover me with love/ Roll me in designer Sheets/ I’ll never get enough.]

Lucy today

I don’t really understand what Aria’s wearing or how it resolves itself under the cut, but all the other pics were HUGE.

I don’t feel like I should even have to do this. If you ever actually cared about American Juniors, you’d know that Lucy plays Aria on the hit ABC Family show “Pretty Little Liars.” Hale is indisputably the most successful American Junior. She also signed with Hollywood Records this year.

Danielle White

Last to be voted in, but first in my heart. Danielle was just a sweet, sensible kid in upper elementary school with musical talent and parents willing to take the gamble that reality TV wouldn’t screw her up too bad. Like Chauncey, I can’t remember much about her.

  • Age Inappropriate Song Performed: None, really, but I suppose Daydream Believer. She sang that she woke up with a gentleman old enough to be shaving. So much for puppy love? [Lyrics: The six o’clock alarm would never ring/ But it rings and we rise, wipe the sleep out of our eyes/ The shavin’ razor’s cold and it stings]

Danielle today

According to Wikipedia, Danielle appeared in several high school productions, in which she probably showed those kids how it was done, if my memory of her S Club 7 cover serves me. She also apparently was in a movie called Beautiful Noise in 2011. I never heard of it, although I was briefly excited when I got it confused with Joyful Noise. In any event,  it sounds like a winner if key phrases from the IMDb summary are to be believed. “Rollicking, modern-day musical drama?”  “Free-spirited young singer?” “Searches cross-country?” “Reclusive, aging pop-rock icon from the sixties?” Clearly relevant to my interests.

Keep checking Cookies + Sangria for an update on some of the losers, or, because they were just kids, I suppose “the ones who didn’t win!”

UPDATE: Bios of the non-winners are up here!

Show You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Catfish: The TV Show

I watch an embarrassing amount of television. I take that back. I just watch a lot more television than the average person. Given my real life job is revolved around TV, but in addition, I am, and always have been obssed with television. So in saying that, I have seen a fair share of good and bad programs, but I’ll be sharing some shows here that I think everyone should pay more attention to, because they are well worth your time.

PS: Watch this space, because I liveblogged a recent episode, and it was good. Oh it was good.

Catfish: The TV Show


Cat·fish [kat-fish] noun — a person who pretends to be someone they’re not,
using social media to create a false identity, particularly to pursue deceitful online romances

When I first saw the Catfish movie about 2 years ago, I freaked out because it was so good. It was so good that I watched it twice before returning it to Netflix HQ. Like those who had seen it before me, I also refused to let up on the plot and outcome, because giving it away would ruin the entire point of the movie. HOWEVER, it’s nearly impossible to not ruin it without telling you about the consequent TV show that came out of the movie.

This show is hosted by Nev Shulman, who was the creator and subject of the movie. He basically helps people who have been in an online relationship with someone, but the trick is that they’ve never met in real life. And as things get serious between the internet daters, questions may start to arise like – why the hell haven’t we seen each other IRL yet what are you hiding from me are you wearing pants while we talk?

So basically Nev helps them solve the mystery if their online beau is legit or not, and they go to their house to see if they’re the real deal. 99% of the time, they’re not who they say they are. CHRIS HANSEN, WHERE ARE YOU? jk, not shit like that. But I mean, like you never know who’s on the other side of the screen.

Also, Nev is the best. Like the cutest. Like I’ll create a fake profile for him, I will.

Scenes From Public Transit

I have lived in cities where everyone takes public transportation. Rochester is not one of those cities. The main demographics on board are city school teens, and adults who you’d rather not sit next to. Here are some things I’ve seen around 7:30 am, on my way into work:

– A man sitting next to me with multiple black teardrop tattoos. I choose to believe he is just a really big crying enthusiast.

English: Black & White photograph of Lil Wayne...

I checked and he was not Lil Wayne. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

– Two late-teens-looking girls discussing physical fights they’ve been in. They talked about a particularly bad fight between “Majesty” and “Destiny.” Although “The Struggle Between Majesty and Destiny” sounds like it would be the subtitle to The Princess Diana Story on Lifetime, I think those are supposed to be names. “Munchy” broke it up. [Note: when one girl got off the bus, the other began speaking Spanish to what appeared to be her mother, at which point I learned that both girls were 11.]

Breakout (Miley Cyrus album)

Her Destiny is to bring Hope, y’all. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

– A fellow talking about seeing “a woman from history,” whom he noted had grown uglier and older. Which woman from history, I wonder? I imagine him running into Helen Keller or Harriet Tubman in a smoky bar.

– A gentleman trying to board with no shoes or money, because he was arrested over the weekend and I suppose jail just keeps your shoes and wallet. There are dozens of star tattoos on his face. He repeats over and over that he was “done in by [his] girl’s jealous rage.” I assume that she was jealous of his face-constellation.
He is no longer allowed in his house and hopes that the girlfriend just steals all of his money to buy crack, as he believes she is wont to do.
[Note: I think that you get your personal effects and shoes back on release from jail. He may have escaped.]

– A man in his mid-50s crafting a friendship bracelet. I become briefly hopeful that he will offer it to me, then incensed that he doesn’t, because my sixth sense is a sense of entitlement.

English: Friendship bracelets - special_forms ...

Ugh it was a REALLY good one, too. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

– This one red-haired guy with a face like a ferret and a whole lot of NBA licensed apparel, who literally breaks into a run every day to board the bus before me. I don’t technically care, but do feel pretty smug every time I beat him.

Phoenix Suns logo

I hate you and now I hate the Phoenix Suns. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

– A seat near the front of a standing room only bus! It is between two improbably enormous men. They both sit with their legs about five feet apart. Fortunately my talents include double-crossing my legs and pretending to be invisible.

– A crazy-eyed man who informed me “woah, your eyes are crazy!” This throws me back to first grade, when a boy named Brett on my bus used to call me “alien eyes.” [NB: my eyes are very normal but must look weird on mass transit.]

Sometimes my eyeballs are blue and normal…

and other times they’re green and normal. WTF, bus people.

– A diverse group of folks discussing which sport is the most physically demanding by calculating the average play time of the athletes, distance travelled, speed and strength required, and weight of gear. I can only guess that they were all headed to work at some sort of a math factory.

Pretty Like It’s 1999: Late 90s Tween Fashions — And Their 2013 Adult Equivalents

Are you a lady in your mid- to late- twenties? If so, congratulations! You were also a tween or young teen in the late ‘90s and early 2000s! Half your life ago you were part of a tween cohort in its golden age. The society that produced the Lost Generation may have been the perfect environment for budding artists and poets, but the tween renaissance of 1997-ish was a cultural tempest, too. There were just more sparkles, is all, and instead of Ernest Hemingway, it produced Lalaine and Aaron Carter. Here are some of the greatest fashion staples of that magnificent era– and a modern adult equivalent that you could actually get away with wearing today.

glitter eyes

1999 tween style: Body glitter. Like so many wholesome children’s and teen’s fashions of the late ‘90s, this was borne of rave culture. But you don’t need to be on ecstasy to enjoy a little sparkle! Body glitter was popular with tweens because it was like makeup for people whose parents wouldn’t let them wear makeup yet. I used to roll glitter across my cheekbones and sweep it over my eyelids, I guess so that people would look at my face more. If you read YM  or Seventeen, you might have learned to apply glitter to your collarbone, to draw the eye to where you hoped your cleavage would eventually come in.

Gold Leaf Eye Makeup

2013 adult style: Metallic eyeshadow. Like roll-on body glitter, this is a fun and glitzy look. Unlike roll-on body glitter, if done properly it will not make you look like you store hallucinogenic drugs in your pacifier necklace. I like the heavy gold-leaf look, but let’s be serious, I cannot figure out how to do it myself. Best to take your advice from YouTube makeup gurus.

Maddy's jeans - front leg

1999 tween style: Embroidered jeans. When I bought these (from Limited Too, naturally), my aunt told me that I should save them because my kids would get a kick out of them someday. Even at 13 I took this as a not-so-subtle suggestion that I looked completely ridiculous.

green pants

2013 adult style: Colored jeans and cords. Listen, I love my colored jeans. I think they’re great. But I also acknowledge that while bright pants can add interest to an outfit, I’ll eventually feel like they looked really stupid. Luckily, I still have plenty of older relatives who will remind me to save my magenta skinny jeans for posterity.

Example of baggy "JNCOs"

1999 tween style: Enormous JNCOs. These were probably your pants of choice if you were really into Korn and Marilyn Manson, or at least were not terrified of them like I was. These were a unisex style: I had a huge crush on a boy in my tween acting/improv classes who wore JNCOs and had a mushroom cut, which is the hairstyle that all of the cute boys voted to adopt by secret ballot in 1995. I never would have worn JNCOs myself, but they probably were really useful because they had pockets, and also if a friend’s pants ripped or were lost, they could climb in one leg and you could climb in the other, and you could share.

j brand cargo pants+cargos

2013 adult style: Skinny cargo pants. With giant pockets and a slim fit, these pants are entirely useless (except in that they cover the fact that you’re naked under your clothes). Like JNCOs, I do not wear these — not because I’m afraid of Marilyn Manson this time, but because an enormous pocket bulging from the hip area is not awesome on me. If you don’t mind adding a couple inches to your legs, width-wise, these are actually pretty cute though.

Sixteen.

1999 tween style: Butterfly clips. These were the best. You would twist back rows of hair from your face, creating a butterfly meadow on the top of your head – the effect was a little more special than a headband and just barely less special than a freakin’ tiara. Of course, you would coordinate your butterfly clips with your outfit, and they were usually a little bit glittery. Theoretically, you could use even more butterfly clips to secure a bun into a fancy updo, if you were into that sort of thing or if you had a mom who did your hair.

Woodland crown-boho headpiece

2013 adult style: Fun hair accessories that don’t look like insects. I wish that I could be more specific, but the fact is, there are a lot of great hair accessories on the market right now. If you were a butterfly clip afficianado because you found it to be a fun and feminine style, you might like a hair flower,[1] especially if your hair is long and wavy. If you admired butterfly clips for their sheer functionality in getting hair out of your face, headbands have been back in for several years and are, in my experience, less painful and less poofy than they used to be.  You can even find them in semi-fascinator styles, thanks I’m sure to Beatrice and Eugenie. If you were one of those girls who created over the top, eye catching styles with your butterfly clips, try a headwrap like this or, because you’re probably pretty good with accessories, a turban. You probably won’t screw it up the way those of us who could barely manage a butterfly-headband would.

1. But if you have a baby, or know some babies socially, please rethink the obligatory baby girl giant head-flower thing. I was a super-bald baby and my mom used to try to make me wear those baby head garters that they sold in the 80s, and I ripped it off every time. I like to think this is because I developed an early sense of when things look absolutely damn foolish.  BACK TO POST

Gay men I’d marry to be their beards

It’s no secret that I’m a fag hag. I say that lovingly, mostly because my gay friends insist that I am one. So in saying that, there’s only a handful of men I’d be willing to give my life to in order for them to hide their homosexuality. Clearly, I’d much prefer for people to come out and live their life freely, but in an alternate universe where these formerly closeted gay men were somehow looking to wife someone up and I was BFFs with all of them, these fellows top the list.

Anderson Cooper

The Anderson Coopers!!

The silver fox is of course super smart and knowledgable of the current haps in the world, but the man is actually really hilarious. He has a very dry sense of humor that come across on his now cancelled talk show, that gives me pure joy.  And did you know that he loves reality tv? I mean when you think about it, coop’s not gonna go home and watch the news. He watches trashy tv. Nene leakes is his favorite housewife which h has publicly professed his love for her before. Clearly this reason alone is why we’d have a lot to talk about at home.

Jonathan Groff

I’m just gonna say it now. Pretty much any musical theater nerd I am available for. But j groff is such a cutie. Loved him via stalker videos of spring awakening, but loved him even more after I saw this video of him with Susan Blackwell, and the follow up video at his family’s goat farm. What? Yes.

Neil Patrick Harris

English: Neil Patrick Harris at the 1st Stream...

No list of awesome gay men is complete without NPH. He literally can do anything. You know he’ll make you laugh, be a good father and bring home the bacon. AND he’s the president of the magic castle, which is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go.

Adam Shankman

Adam Shankman

I really just want to be his best friend, but they say you should marry your best friend, right? If you’re not familiar with Adam Shankman, you’re probably familiar with his work. His IMDb reads like a theater tween’s dream (i.e. me), he directed Hairspray, A Walk to Remember, and The Wedding Planner, a producer on 17 Again and The Last Song, and most importantly, a judge on So You Think You Can Dance. The guy just seems like a good time, and I just want the possibility of going to a Zefron house party.

Matt Bomer

Basically he’s pretty. He looks like a really good dad. Plus he’s a really good singer. And he’s pretty.

Things My Mom Has Said To Her 26-Year-Old Daughter

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted to. These were all things told to me during a recent trip home.

– “What do you remember from your childhood?”

All of it? A specific time frame? A particular event you care about? Give me something.

– “Do Mormons celebrate Christmas?”

This question posed while we’re watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing Christmas songs on their Christmas Eve TV Special.

– “Traci doesn’t know how to dunk bread into coffee.”

Loose Filipino/Tagalog translation

– “Did Jennifer get married?” Me: “Jennifer Who?” Mom: “Jennifer Aniston.”

Ok, in her defense, a picture of her face flashed across the movie screen, but I’m not on a first name basis with the woman.

– “Is Sarah pregnant yet?”

Sarah is Molls’ and my good friend who got married 2 years ago, but no one should ever ask this question about anybody. 

– As we’re passing by the lingerie section in Kohl’s: “Do you need to buy panties?”

UGHHH. This is clearly self explanatory.

– “Were you scared?”

Re: my flight being delayed in deplaning because the jetbridge was malfunctioning so they had to tow us to the next gate over. My answer was obviously no, because it wasn’t the first time I’d ever been on a plane. You know what I was scared of? The two children and three adults in a 5ft radius of me that sneezed and coughed the entirety of my 6 hour flight. It was like the world’s worst game of Minesweeper.

Bonus Dad statements:

– “What do you eat for breakfast?” Me: IDK, eggs, toast, bagels… Him, incredulously: “Do you make it??”

– While on the phone with my aunt/his sister: “He was wearing flip flops… like ‘beach walk’.

WHAT. Again, loose Filipino/Tagalog translation.

Live Blog: Struggling Aunt At A Children’s Museum

11:40 Getting ready to go. My sister told my nephew that if he keeps eating cheese he’ll turn into it. She’s a doctor, so this is indisputably true.

12:06 Stopped at Dunkin on the way because Hank really wanted me to have an iced coffee (Hank is two).

12:13 Toddlers get pretty offended when you offer them the wrong kind of munchkin.

12:17 Hank is blowing kisses. I send one back. “Actually, that was for Nana,” he says. Fine. Who told you you can start saying “actually,” anyway?

12:20 The parking lot looks like some kind of minivan aficionado convention. Good afternoon, suburbanites!

12:25 Hank keeps taking off his socks and boots in his car seat. I put them on him for the third time, and explain that we’d already be inside if he’d kept them on. And Hank’s all, that means nothing because I have no concept of time yet.
I started the day with french toast made with leftover eggnog, and lots of coffee. I am already thinking that empty stomach and depressants may have been the better bet.

12:28 Last time I was here someone called my nephew my “son.” This always makes me real defensive, like “it’s not like that, he’s just my friend!”

12:30 Max, age 2, is asleep already.

12:34 Hank flips out when we have to choose between going through the path that goes through the superhero exhibit and the one that goes by Reading Adventureland. It’s all very Robert Frost, except instead of taking the road less traveled by, I take the one without the mom yelling that Santa has the power to take toys back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh/ somewhere ages and ages hence

12:38 We are the first people in the Bear Country exhibit. I score a 5 on Sister Bear’s jump rope game. It’s like Just Dance for preschoolers. Hank got a 5 as well. Again, he is two. Embarrassing. But what is jumping rope good for anyway? “Cardiovascular fitness?” Cute.

When I was his age my jump rope was a jump rope.

12:40 Does anyone remember that really bleak Berenstain Bears book where Mama got all uppity and decided to get a job, but Papa Bear and the kids couldn’t handle the idea? Her job was a quilt business, and here are those quilts:

Made with love! And a teensy tiny bit of misogyny.

12:50 Hank is practically asleep, and informs me that he just pooped. What am I supposed to do with this info? And how can he be falling asleep? I gave him some of my iced coffee on the way over. Or I mean… Kids don’t drink coffee.

12:52 We’re at the giant that Hank’s scared of. He stammers “I…I…I..like his belt?” It’s like when someone asks about your friend’s boyfriend who you don’t really care for, so you try to come up with something positive and end up saying something like “well… his sideburns are a pretty good width for his face.”

12:54 Someone buy me this:

I’d probably call it Dollton Abbey and redecorate it every day.

or this:

I think you could make your own if you had PVC pipes and paint and were amazing.

12:55 There are four screaming children within a few yards of me. One of them is covered in snot and the snot is all over its mom’s nice coat. Alright, Todd Akin. This is when your body decides it doesn’t want a baby and finds a way of shutting the whole thing down.

12:58 One of the crying kids has a juice box now. I want a juice box. Full of wine.

1:04 Two little girls are holding hands and talking about how to set the breakfast table in the playhouse. Jack, 3, and Hank are making fart noises and talking about poop. I really should call my niece today.

1:10 There are some old puritanical nursery rhymes about how “in Adam’s fall, we sinned all” on display and a sassy hipster mom starts joking with me about it. I like her.

1:14 Something smells like an old lady, and I start looking around for one. Then I realize it’s me. Have any of you used Shimmer Lights shampoo? Then you already know. It makes your hair smell like your name is Gladys and you’re active in the Altar Rosary Society. I promptly turn my French braid ponytail into a French braid bun to get it away from my nose.

1:16 Every boy in this room has a name that ends in -aiden or -son and every girl has a name that ends in -ella or -lynn. There are probably some parents who are really going for it with an Aidanson or Ellalynn.

1:17 A lady is dressed exactly like rich lawyer from a 1994 film. Curled-under pageboy hair, long tailored coat with fur collar, distinctly no-nonsense attitude.

1:20 When the kids leave the beanstalk climbing area, it’s like they’ve been in ‘nam. They don’t want to talk about it and assume that if I haven’t been there, I just don’t know. I remember Discovery Zone being the same way.

You have to take off your shoes to go in, possibly as a sign of respect for the giant.

1:26 There’s a Filipina-looking preschooler with a cute coral smock dress and a side braid (TRACI!).

1:34 I guess if there’s one thing tots like, it’s display cases full of toy steamships from the 19th century.

1:40 The only thing that makes me think that there’s something inherently good and lovable in my soul is that babies I don’t know always smile at me, and kids I don’t know always talk to me. This might just be because they can tell that I’m well versed in Arthur and A.N.T. Farm.

1:45 Jack has one pant leg rolled up. My parents always said that was a secret gang sign when I was a kid, but they probably just wanted to make double-sure that I didn’t walk around looking stupid. And how secret a gang sign could it be if my parents knew about it? They are a lawyer and a principal and not really up on life on the streets. Well. Except for raising their kids in a neighborhood called the Fatal Crescent.

2:07 We’re at the food court and I am happy to see that they carry that fresco menu that Taco Bell pretends is healthy. But I will still end up with heartburn. I also have stubborn grays. So this is what being 26 is like, huh?

2:25 Jack finished two other people’s food after his own. I like to think he learned that one from me.

The Theater Angel

Wang Theatre

Wang Theatre

One year for lent I decided that instead of giving something up, I’d do one nice deed for someone each day. I did well for the first week or so, but then I kind of made stuff up as the days went on. Like, “I said ‘thank you’ to the T driver, so that definitely counts as my good deed.” I found it surprisingly hard to go out of my normal routine to find a nice thing to do.

But one day, I was the recipient of the ultimate act of kindness, and it was something I will never forget.

The year was 2009, I was still living in Boston, and my good pal Brian and I went on one of our regular dates to the theater, because spending time together working at a theater meant needing to go out and enjoy it once in a while. Per usual, we opted for the lowest priced tickets to see The Color Purple at the Wang Theater. Now the Wang is one of the largest, oldest, and most majestic venues in Boston. Marble, chandeliers, and epic staircases – actually, we had our commencement in that very theater.

Anyways, we made our way up to the balcony – not the complete nosebleed seats – but high enough. We got settled in, looked through our programs, noticed LaToya London from S3 of American Idol was in it, laughed at that fact as one would, and I broke open my bag of CVS peach ring candy that I hid in my purse.

Just as Brian was reaching across and into my lap for the prohibited candy, a man came up to us asking if we wanted tickets to sit in the orchestra. B and I looked at each other quizzically, then at the man the same way. He was tall, dark, and handsome, yes, in a cliche way. He had a great smile and I asked if he was serious. He said “Yes, absolutely. Come follow me down and I’ll explain.”

Obviously the appropriate response to this was to follow the good looking stranger down, because we clearly won’t be killed just before watching The Color Purple, as I assume people have some courtesy when it comes to uplifting African-American musicals. As he was walking us down, he nodded to the ushers to say, “They’re with me,” in an extremely VIP way. I looked behind me at B and gave him the “WTF” face and responded with a “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON, BUT I LIKE IT” face right back. Theater Angel, as we dubbed him, led us down to the orchestra, probably about 10 rows from the stage, which you know cost the big bucks. He guided us to our seats, sat us down next to this pretty woman who turned out to be his date, and said, “Good seats, right?”

Um, yes sir. He explained that the first time he ever went to the theater was with his mother as a kid. They couldn’t afford expensive seats, so they always sat in the balcony, where the cheapo seats were, aka where we were sitting. But it was that first show that made him fall in love with theater. He continued going to play after play, made a career out of his passion, and now has become successful in the industry. Theater angel said, “One time, a man came up to me and offered me tickets to the orchestra. It changed my life. And I promised myself, that when I had enough money to buy not one pair but another pair of tickets, I would go up to the balcony and give a couple of people the opportunity I never had growing up, and sit near the front next to all the action. I’m paying it forward.”

I could’ve cried right there and then. But I had to keep it together, and could only mutter out thank you over and over again, just as the lights were dimming for the show to start. I remember we used our box office skills to find out his name via the ticket stubs, and we found our guy. Basically, he turned out to be some big shot theater producer, so clearly he had enough money to use on us.

I’ll never forget our theater angel, and the extremely random act of kindness bestowed upon us that day. If I ever have the opportunity to do so, I will absolutely bring some crazy candy munching theatergoers up to the good seats. Because who knows, one random act of kindness might actually change their lives.

Retitled: What High School Required Reading Books Should Have Been Called, According To My 17-Year-Old Self

Wakefield High School Summer Reading

If you reach into the shadowy recesses of your memory, brush off the cobwebs, and are over the age of 22 or so, you probably remember taking class notes longhand. If so, you are lucky, because there’s a good chance that some of your high school musings have made it into this millennium. Unless you are one of those people who actually backs up all of their work on a flash drive or has had the same computer for a very long time, your electronic files probably haven’t survived so long.

I recently came across a notebook I kept in high school English. I was preparing for the AP Lit exam, and made a list of books I’d read that I could discuss in the essays. In brackets, I wrote a short summary (maybe 5-10 words) to jog my memory of the book. I can’t help but think that these would make excellent alternate titles.

I got a 5 on that AP, making this the best study method ever.

Here are some of my favorites:

The Great Gatsby: [Good Parties and Car Crashes]

The Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man: [Run-On Sentences That Don’t Make Sense (Irish)]

The Once And Future King: [Probably Interesting If You’re Into D&D]

The Catcher In The Rye: [Whiney Bitch Gets Kicked Out Of School]

The Bell Jar: [Mad Electroshock]

Something Wicked This Way Comes: [Watched The Movie Instead]

The Crucible: [I Saw Goody __ With The Devil! (POPPETS)]

Great Expectations: [Cobwebbed Wedding Cake & Unrequited Love]

Wuthering Heights: [Moors (Geographic)]

Othello: [Moors (Ethnic)]

The Scarlet Letter: [Mores (Social)]

Death Of A Salesman: [Salesman Totally Dies]

One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich: [Reading It Felt Like 10 Years In The Life Of Me]