Wacky Secessionist Movements And You

Hi, Upstate New York.

It’s me, Molly.

No? Molly D. From third grade. We used to hunt deer together by the cornfield then eat chicken wings? That Molly.

Just kidding. Everyone “upstate” doesn’t know each other, because there are 7 million people up here.  New York would actually rank in the top 15 states for population even if you cut off New York City and the surrounding counties (which … don’t. Okay?).

We also don’t all live in the country. My metro area has a little over a million people in it, about the same as Tucson or Salt Lake City – not huge, but definitely a city. There are other cities of about the same size roughly an hour’s drive away in either direction. I’ve only been lost in a corn field twice, and that was in a corn maze – which is admittedly pretty Upstate, but in a good way? Also, all of the major metropolitan areas up here vote blue, and most of us aren’t gun nuts.

The chicken wings are pretty legit, though. That is true.

Right now, those of us “upstate” (which people here only really use to refer to the far north country) are dealing with a viral news story about a few thousand wackos who want to break free from New York City, rename “upstate” New Amsterdam, and carry guns into grocery stores. Or something.

Needless to say, these dumbos use the WORST fonts.

Anyway, here’s a quick guide to dealing with wacky secessionists before we have to deal with a whole different kind of regional embarrassment and disappointment: the beginning of another Buffalo Bills season (ahem… that’s mostly just Western and Central New York and the Finger Lakes. See? New York’s got regions.).

(1) Don’t Take It Personal

Wacky Secessionist Movements are so embarrassing, even though YOU aren’t really the one behind it. It’s like, you know that one Racist Cousin, Drunk Uncle or Tarot Aunt you have? Yeah, they probably are New Amsterdamists. But also, it’s like if a stranger met one of them then let that color their impression of you. It would be annoying, but youe would be comforted by the fact that their opinion was totally baseless.

Look. There are seven million of us. Are some areas so godforsaken and Deliverence-y that I would be scared to stop in a gas station there alone? Probably. Are there stretches of land so desolate that the grizzly bear and deer population outstrips humans? Yes. Have I seen a camouflage pickup truck? Definitely. Have I witnessed a bride walked down the aisle by someone in a baseball cap? Once. Did any of these things help my case that we’re not all totally bonkers up here? Probably not. I guess my point is that most rational people will realize that in such a large and populous state, there are all kinds of people, from polished professionals to toothless yokels. I should probably also point out that some of those are surely Toothless Yokels with hearts of gold, and that plenty of totally cool, intelligent people live in Toothless Yokel Country for one reason or another, be it work, family, or just personal preference.

Wherever you live, at some point crazies from your state are probably going to start a campaign to secede from the state or repartition the state boundaries. It’s an American tradition. But sensationalist headlines aside, most people WILL realize that this doesn’t represent everyone who lives there. It’s times like this you have to take a cue from Monica: it’s just one of dem days. Don’t take it personal.

(2) Don’t Read The Comments

My first mistake was reading about this in a Gawker article someone linked to. My second, more grievous mistake, was scrolling down to the comments. At least for this article, the commentariat was comprised mainly of people who failed the reading comprehension part of those state tests in fourth grade because they only read the title. If you scroll to the comments, you will see commenter after commenter suggesting that “upstate New York is trying to secede” rather than “3,000 Choice Nutjobs Want To Secede (Because They Want More Guns In School?) (And Probably Also Prayer, While We’re At It) (And Can We Cancel Sex Ed? Thanks.)”  So you get all of these people saying “good, they should do it, everyone up there is worthless and miserable” and you’re reading it thinking “no no no, nobody I know wants this.”

Or, if the commenter is corrected that only 3,000 people want it, they pat themselves on the back for thinking of “jabs” like “they must have counted wrong, that’s more people than live up there.”

Or my personal favorite: “I drove on backroads not going through any major cities on my way to a wedding in Pennsylvania one time, so I know all about how trashy everyone up there is.”

There. I summed up all of the comments for you.

Now don’t read them.

(3) Know That You’re Not Alone

Hey “upstate.” Chin up. Any state worth its weight in Buffalo wings and tomato pie will deal with this at some point or another.

Although most articles refer to these movements as “secession” – and thus I’m using it here – what we’re really talking about is partition: taking an existing state, dividing it into two or more states, but remaining under the U.S. banner. And it happens kind of a lot.

Some folks in Arizona want to create Baja Arizona, which is I guess a state and not a new Taco Bell item.

A few people in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan want to partition into Superior. Oregonians from the 1940s formed Jefferson, and some Montana residents in the 1940s tried to make Absaroka happen.

So if you’re an “upstate New Yorker” – or a Western New Yorker, Central New Yorker, Hudson Valley resident, Southern Tier…ist?, or Catskills Guy (not sure) – hold your head high. When was the last time you heard someone scoff at Montanans as “those idiots who tried to form Absaroka?” Sooner or later the crazies will go back to building their underground bunkers before squirrel hunting season starts in earnest, and the whole thing will die down. So order in a Styrofoam container of wings and heat up those chicken riggies, take some Kodak pics of that Fred Jackson jersey you’re trying to sell – it will all be over soon enough.


Camp Cookies + Sangria: This One Time, At College Camp

Here’s the cold hard truth about getting older – you default to lying only because you can’t remember. “Were you the one telling me about all your horrible birthdays? And how you think they’re ‘cursed’?” “Yeah, that was me… No wait, that’s not true. That’s Penny from Happy Endings. My birthdays are fine.”

For our summer series, we’ve talked about how we never got to go to camp as a kid – and that’s a lie. I’ve been to camp. I went to sleepaway camp for exactly one week when I was maybe 12 years old and that was it. Never went to summer camp again. I think the reason I always forget it happened was because the whole thing didn’t feel real and it was just a tiny blip in my life. Like the day I spelled ‘architect’ wrong in my 6th grade spelling bee was more memorable than my entire week at camp. Let me explain.

I went to a camp called Mindstretchers which was located at Keuka College in the tiny hamlet of Keuka Park, New York, right on the Finger Lakes (there are a bunch of lakes that look like fingers from afar, I realize how weird this sounds if you didn’t grow up in upstate NY). It was approximately an hour away from our hometown of Rochester, so it wasn’t too far that I felt like I was going on some big adventure.

I guess I always wanted to go to camp, because that’s what the cool kids did, like Lindsay Lohan on The Parent Trap, but my parents were never into it until the one year I guess they just got sick of me. But like I mentioned, this camp was at a college. I didn’t actually get that Parent Trap or Salute Your Shorts experience I had envisioned. This was like, kind of smart camp? I mean, imagine you’re like 12 years old and you get to spend a week at a sprawling campus – living in DORM ROOMS!! Shared bathrooms! Living the life, y’all.

college camp

i’m not pictured in this photo, fyi

So here we were, just a group of kids between the ages of 10 to 15 at this camp called Mindstretchers, which BTW, according to one internet poster, is described as a “camp for creative thinking and writing”. They’re not too far off. Also of note – I went to this camp so long ago, that there’s BARELY anything on the internet about it, except some dude who created a FortuneCity homepage in like ’98 and posted pix of “me and my friends at Mindstretchers camp”. Basically, I went to a nerdy camp at a college, and it explains a lot about me as an adult.

Prior to attending the camp, we had to sign up for three “classes” we would take throughout each day. One academic, one artistic, and one athletic. Here’s what I chose:

Psychology Class

legit got this from the keuka college website under the pyschology dept page. is freud all they teach there?

It was my first taste of what a real college class would be like, and I’m pretty sure it was taught by one of the poor professors who basically just needed extra money. I’m sure he wanted to take the summer off like a normal teacher. I remember this is where I first learned about Freud and the Id and anal personalities and whatnot. Something I carry with me to this day.

Acting Class

this is NOT from Mindstretchers, nor do I know these kids, so yeah, it’s a little creepy I’m using their pic

Honestly, acting class was the highlight of my day, even though we had to do those stupid circle acting exercises and icebreakers. But I was into it. Our class took place in the college’s gym, and there may or may not have been one of those multi-colored parachutes involved. I’m starting to regret not going to an all out theater camp…


Let’s be real – I am NOT the athletic type. I was forced to pick a sport and I picked the least offensive one, based purely on the fact that one of my best friends at the time was like a superstar soccer player. First day, I was legit the only one not only without shin guards, but without cleats – I HAD PINK AND GREEN ROO SNEAKERS. So embarrassing. To me, it seemed like all the kids were friggin Bend It Like Beckham and I was Posh Spice trying to keep up. The Worst.

We even had all our meals in a dining hall. For some reason, the walk from the dorm to the dining hall always made me feel like I was an adult – an adult in college, and I felt so cool. To clarify – I was not.

Looking back, my experience at summer camp was actually more of  “traditional college” experience than my actual college one. At Mindstretchers, I took a psychology class where I learned about Freud, as opposed to my real college experience, where I wrote an entire final paper about stereotypes found in MTV’s The Real World. But also, the more I think about it, Mindstretchers maybe was just a giant ploy on behalf of the Keuka College Admissions team, attempting to lure impressionable kids with memories of summer camp in order to go to college there for real when the time came. Ugh, adults. This is all to say that it’s not like I didn’t have a good time at the camp, it was just … a thing I did one time that I never did again. That is if I remembered correctly.

The Jennifer Lawrence Victory Tour

It’s not like I need to tell you, but today is the day, Hunger Games fans!!! We’ve waited long enough for the second installment of  THG film series and it’s finally here. One of the things I love about movies coming out is all the press the stars do before the movie comes out (albeit it’s probably horrible for the actors themselves), especially if I have a fond admiration for them. This is especially true with Jennifer Lawrence and the rest of the Hunger Games cast.

Of course, we all want J Law as our BFF, and when it comes to interviews, you never know what she’s going to say. Not to mention, she always looks flawless doing so. In honor of Catching Fire and the amazing human being that is Jennifer Lawrence, here are some of her standout moments from the (exhausting) 7-city global tour, which will undoubtedly make you love her even more.

London // November 11

Dress: Christian Dior Couture (basically that’s all she wore/wears, which makes sense since she is their muse)

When the cast turned into dinosaurs

But then loved each other because they’re cute

It’s like finding money in your rented Dior coat, but better.

and then you throw them at your bff

JLaw being a perfect angel by approaching a Make-A-Wish kid at the premiere.

Berlin // November 12

Making practical look cool in Paris since ’87 (Dior)

Madrid// November 13

Photo Call: the perfect time to wear something other than Dior. One of my faves from this promo tour – Alexander McQueen

En la noche – mas Dior.

Rome // November 14

Love this Proenza Schouler dress from the Rome photo call!

breaking shippers hearts

Dior’s dresses come complete with a silver medallion placed randomly on the bottom!

If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.

A fan but a book on a rope and lowered it down to Jen for her to sign. Brilliant, really.

Paris // November 15

Dare I say this goth-like Dior look was perhaps my favorite??

annndddd side boob

Los Angeles // November 18

I was a little surprised when Jennifer came out of her car with this number. If you may recall from the Emmys, Julianne Hough wore a semi-similar dress, which I proceeded to put on my worst dressed list. HOWEVER, J Law is pulling this look off, and design wise, it’s just wayyyy better than the Jenny Packham one Julianne wore. Still not my personal fave, but she looks great.

JLaw was sick this night and didn’t do any interviews, but still had time to meet the fans – while they cheered her on.

Not reallly JLaw related, but can you even with Josh and Liam??

New York // November 20

The final Dior look!

Best photobomb ever.

Jennifer yelling like the photographers

Clearly there’s a story to this. Click here.

Highlights from her 4 million interviews

Perhaps my favorite interview from them all – I’ve legit watched this like 5 times already. It’s a problem.

Second favorite interview – more games with the cast! AND it’s a two parter! Check it on Yahoo!

If you’re not familiar with Unscripted, get ready to waste hours of your life catching up.

Cuddling up in a blanket with David Letterman, natch. Watch the interview here!

“Would you rather switch roles with Sam Claflin or Jena Malone?”
Interview with MTV News

No go forth and enjoy Catching Fire, fellow Tributes!!

Eating that bomb Arclight caramel corn

5 Things You Missed At The VMAs

Missed the VMAs yesterday? Don’t worry, because I got you covered. And it’s probably for the best because there was a good amount of people on the red carpet that I had absolutely NO IDEA who they were. I am old.

Also, before I go into the top moments from the show, can I just share something that’s annoyed me since I started watching this awards show back in the day? WHY is it called the VMAs – as in Video Music Awards? Shouldn’t it be MVAs – Music Video Awards?? Someone from MTV get back to me on that.

Anyways, the storied “VMAs” headed back to NYC and for the first time were held in Brooklyn at Barclay’s Center – aka the place where Jay Z’s basketball team plays. To me, MTV goes hand in hand with New York, probably because of the TRL days, so it’s great that the show was back in the Big Apple.

People are probably going to be talking about things that happened during the show, so here’s a breakdown of the things that went down on Sunday so you can talk to your 20-year-old co-worker/intern about what happened…

5) Amen! Hallelujah! Praise Yeezus

^click for video^

Kanye is on hand (without North or Kimmy K) to sing Blood on the Leaves. He starts off with a red light on his face as he raps into a mic, and then pans out to show just his shadow against this background, and it’s actually really great. Just him performing without all the extra shit. If anyone saw him on Kris Jenner’s show on Friday, he talked about how he went to art school, had three scholarships, and considers himself an artist above anything else. This performance just proved it.

4) Taylor Swift is still an asshat (see here)

So the very first award of the night is for Best Pop Video. Presenting is One Direction, and among the nominees is Selena Gomez. If you haven’t put it together yet, Selena is BFF with Taylor (hence them sitting next to each other) and Taylor used to “date” Harry in 1D (the most famous one with the brown shaggy hair). As 1D was talking, the cameras went to Taylor and Selena, and Taylor said this:

You first.

Selena incidentally won the award, and politely kissed Harry on the cheek.

Later, Taylor won the award for Best Female Video, and said this during her speech:

When winning Best Female Video, Taylor says, “I want to thank the person who inspired this song – who knows exactly who he is – because now I got one of these.”… CUT TO HARRY STYLES LOOKING AWKWARD.

TAYLOR YOU ARE 23 YEARS OLD. GET IT TOGETHER. Even Selena’s over your complaining – look at her face. You always make it look like you’re the victim, but here you are standing in front of the world practically bullying your ex-boyfriend. Just a simple ‘thank you’ would have been sufficient. The girl really needs to learn the art of letting go…

3) Lady Gaga out Gagas Gaga

Gaga opens the show and the very first sight you see of the MTV VMAs is this:

And then this:

 Okay Stefani, you look creepy even for Lady Gaga standards. You look like an extra on a kids’ daytime show like the Teletubbies or something. But if you’re not disturbing by that sort of thing, watch the whole performance.

Oddness aside, I appreciated the fact she kicked off her performance by singing without overproduced beats in the background and just showcasing her voice. But then she broke out into Applause. Through a series of quick on stage costume changes she kind of goes through her discography from Poker Face to Telephone and finally to Artpop. Also all her dancers look like Mike Myers’ Sprockets sketch from SNL.

PS: Another reason to love Gaga despite her odditties – when One Direction won for Song of the Summer, apparently people were booing, and she was not okay with it. She even told the boys themselves.

2) Miley Cyrus twerks with Robin Thicke

click on image for the performance that will damage your brain

First off Vanessa Bayer shows up with her Miley Cyrus impression and it’s the best thing to happen so far (you know, like 20 mintues in). If you wanted more Miley twerking besides that one video of her in a onesie, here it is. Miley’s been toting around this huge stuff bear Boo (like the one in the video), and now the entire stage is filled with bears. Miley breaks out into We Can’t Stop in her furry swimsuit and her mohawk pulled into tiny buns like Gwen Stefani during the Tragic Kingdom days.

Incidentally, this was at the VMAs in 1998

And then she sheds the furry thing off to reveal a bathing nude bikini akin to the girls in the Blurred Lines video, and she begins to twerk on Robin Thicke while they duet on his song. I am uncomfortable, mainly because Hannah Montana should be wearing more clothes and not humping a married man that maybe could be her dad. If Liam hasn’t broken up with her yet, he should now.

But really, the audience reactions were the best. And they were more or less the same.

if your eyes haven’t burned out yet…

Drake bobbin his head, but not being able to actually look at her out of longterm damage

Second hand embarrassment from 1D and high as a kite Rihanna barely understanding what’s happening and if Miley is stealing her moves

Jaden’s face is usually like that, but entirely appropriate for this occasion…

1) Justin Timberlake proves he’s meant to be a solo artist aka *NSYNC reunites

look into JT’s eyes & click the pic for video!

First off, my boy Jimmy Fallon is (fittingly) giving this award to JT. We start off in the lobby and it looks like a love lip dub – and ironically similar to the opening number Jimmy did at the Emmys a few years ago. Basically I just want a posse of dancers to follow me everywhere I go. He then goes into an epic medley of his greatest hits and it is amazing. I had the chance to go to the Legends of Summer tour at Fenway Park in Boston a couple weeks ago, and it was seriously the best concert I’ve ever been to. I think sometimes we forget that JT has so many hits until he sings them in succession and you end up knowing every single word to all his songs. That’s a legend right there. At the VMAs, he spent a minute or two cover a bunch of his hits, making each one seem like its own mini concert.

And then came *NSYNC. Too bad they couldn’t keep that a secret, because it would have been awesome to be surprised when these four other guys joined him on stage. But I get it – they wanted to make sure they got the *NSYNC fans to watch – slash any viewers they could get. Speaking as a Backstreet Boys fan, I even felt like they could’ve been up there longer. But as my friend Meghan (a *NSYNC fan) said, ‘Pretend you hadn’t seen BSB for 10 years. That 90 seconds was well worth it.’ So I suppose the 90 seconds was better than nothing. But at least they came out singing songs I actually liked (Gone, Girlfriend). Chris proved that he should’ve been training for this reunion since the day they broke up because boy needed to keep up with the rest of the group (also, apparently Chris’ trap door failed…). And what was with JC sneaking in a riff at the end? But since JT wasn’t done, the four others went back on their platforms, and slowly descended back down into the pit of being in Justin Timberlake’s shadow.

JT continues his 20 minute medley and the cameras keep showing Taylor Swift singing and dancing in the audience. Okay, so at the Grammys and the CMAs (or country like awards show) they kept doing the same thing and showed TSwift awkwardly dancing. THIS IS A FORMAL PETITION TO START BANNING HER FROM DANCING AT ALL AWARDS SHOWS. NAY, THIS IS A PETITION TO STOP ALL PRODUCERS OF AWARDS SHOWS FROM SHOWING HER IN THE AUDIENCE EVER. I WANT TO SEE AS MUCH JT AS POSSIBLE. GOOD DAY SIR.

Finally it comes to an end and Jim Jam comes back on the stage hyped as ever and legit going to lose his voice from pumping up JT so much. Worth it. Bros ❤ JT is as humble as ever, even thanks his boys of *NSYNC for being the reason why he was up there in the first place. “I don’t deserve this ward but i’m not gonna give it back” Fair.

Honorable Mentions

 – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis promote equality with Mary Lambert and Jennifer Hudson. Those harmonies between the ladies tho.

Katy Perry roars under the Brooklyn Bridge. NGL, I love that song. I felt like I could wrestle a lion after that.

– A collective ‘Who da fuck is that??’ from all the millennials who were tuning in to see the *NSYNC reunion.

You’re Saying It Wrong: An Outsider’s guide to local pronunciations

Having lived in three different places, I’ve come to learn some of the local slang, colloquialisms, and ‘correct’ pronunciations of things. I’ve noticed that a common theme between Rochester, Boston, and Los Angeles are the different neighborhoods in each city which are totally pronounced the opposite way of what your brain thinks. Here are some I’ve found questionable after stepping out of the city limits.

1) Rochester (RAH-chester)

Interestingly enough, Rochesterarians are known for their odd, slightly midwestern accent. It’s nasally and weird. When I was home for Christmas, it was more evident than usual that the strangers around me at the mall were total Rochies, exaggerating their vowels. It’s actually a good test to see if someone is a native Rochesterarian or not, by asking them to say the name of the city. If you don’t stretch out that Raaaaahhhchester, you’re probs from like, Albany or the city, where they think ‘upstate’ New York is Westchester.

2) Chili (CHI-lai)

You’d think this five letter word is said ‘CHI-lee’, but as a suburb of ROC, you say it CHIli, rhyming with the alcoholic drink ‘mai-tai’.

3) Charlotte (shar-LOT)

Rochester is right on Lake Ontario, so naturally there is a beach. Or something that resembles a beach when the waters aren’t deemed toxic. However, this beach is not like the North Carolina city, home of the Bobcats or Bachelorette Emily Maynard. It’s questionably said with an emphasis on the second syllable , because that makes more sense.

4) Woburn (WOO-burn)

Not WHOA, BURNN (that was stupid, move on).

5) Quincy (QUIN-zee)

If you pronounce President John Quincy Adams as President John KWINSEE Adams, you’ve been doing it wrong your whole life. Quincy was the birthplace of the President, hence its namesake. The town was named following the pronunciation of the family name, but people have been saying it wrong for years. Have a Bostonian tell you the right way to say it. Or take the red line and see where you end up.

6) Worcester (WUSS-ter)

It’s not ‘Worcestershire Sauce’ so don’t say it like that. But if you ask a native Bostonian, they’ll say it the way it’s really supposed to be said, ‘woos-tah’.

7) Los Feliz

Yeah I actually still don’t know what the correct pronunciation of this is. I hear two different versions all the time. All I know is that Lauren Graham lives there, next to Natalie Portman. So I mean, there’s that.