L.A.M.B. Album Appreciation Post

Is it just me, or does one of these “guilty pleasure music Appreciation Posts” pop up on my blog every year? First it was for Teenage Dream, then Spiceworld, and now…2004’s Love Angel Music Baby, the solo debut for Gwen Stefani. Can I start by saying that this album has one of the weirdest covers ever…and that it’s totally awesome?

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I would probably like this artwork more, though, if the shapes/colors weren’t morphed and gel-like. But what can you do.

Anyway, my first exposure to the record was actually from hearing my mom’s favorite track on the radio. Since then, that song- “What You Waiting For?”- has become one of my favorites as well. With Gwen’s signature vocals and a pounding electro-beat, it has an energizing effect on the listener. Mom wound up purchasing the CD for herself, but I basically stole it, and I don’t believe she’s noticed. It’s been over a decade.

I guess you could describe the underlying theme of the music as…megalomaniacal? Almost all of them are about love, fashion, money, or any combination of the three. So hey, it may not be great art, but sometimes you need that level of fun.

What makes L.A.M.B. unique is the fact that it spawned an entire franchise here in the United States. Gwen Stefani has a notorious fascination with Japanese street culture, so she used this album to share her love with us. Clothing, perfumes, and (really cute) fashion dolls were just some of the paraphernalia.

Unfortunately, that created quite a bit of controversy related to cultural appropriation…particularly when she went on tour. You see, Gwen had four backup performers at the L.A.M.B. concerts: young Japanese women she called her “Harajuku Girls.” This dynamic generated many ill feelings, as the girls were referred to as “modern day Geisha” by critics. I’m not looking to generate a discourse here; I will only say that their concerns are pretty valid.

Nevertheless, Love Angel Music Baby‘s controversial elements don’t prevent me from enjoying the record itself. If you feel like indulging in some “Bubble Pop” sound or acting like a “Rich Girl,” this is how you do it. So “what you waiting for?” Go B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Puccini’s Chronicles STYLE: Curated by Broadway’s Newest Leading Ladies

Patti LuPone as Helena Rubinstein

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Think red palettes, pearl accented jewelry, and fashion-forward hats with an old-fashioned flair. Your inner diva is sure to shine.

Denee Benton as Natasha

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Think femininely with gossamer dresses, faux fur stoles, and wrist-length gloves. For extra credit, pair with a Tolstoy novel or cute accordion player (whatever you prefer).

Jenn Colella as Beverley Bass

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Think navy blues, aviator shades, and tennis bracelets (just because). Channel your inner pilot with a brave outlook and grace under pressure.

Phillipa Soo as Amelie

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Think checkerboards patterns, gold jewelry, and a classic bob hairstyle. Your aura of excitement and wonder draws people to you. Duck into a photo booth for some fun!

From Page to Screen: “Don’t I Know What’s Right For Me?”

by Amanda DeLalla

All my life I sat around waiting

For something to begin

Brushing off trouble I found myself in

My mama kept me in her shell

Teachers at school would spurn

And now to your words I say well,

Now it’s my turn.

Don’t I know what’s right for me?

Now that I’m 23,

Shouldn’t I be someone who makes her own choices?

Listen to the voices,

The ones in my head and the ones swirling ‘round

Gotta shut them all out, gotta just hear the sound

Of the one in my heart that longs to be free

‘Cause it knows what’s right for me

Took me so long to grab the reins,

I’m not about to let go.

Knock it all away and I’m all that remains,

I must be the one who knows

What’s right for me.

Thank you but don’t you see,

That I am just smart enough to pick a good guy,

Or at least let me try!

Advice in my head and the kind swirling ‘round

Gonna shut it all out, gonna just hear the sound

Of a heart that beats on its own at long last

I’ll show you all soon, hold fast!

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Puccini’s Chronicles STYLE: Compact Mirror Appreciation Post

Lately, I’ve been thinking I should start actively collecting pop culture-themed compact mirrors. They are easily my favorite “purse accessory,” and they are so nice and round that they feel comfy in your hand. But only the metal-based ones; compacts in plastic casing are not on my radar. Also, on a personal note: ever since I was a child, I’ve been fascinated by my own reflection. Back then, the kid on the other side of the looking glass was my “friend.” Now I literally cannot walk past a mirror without looking into it. It’s become almost reflexive. I will be chatting with someone in the dining room, but instead of making eye contact with them, I’ll be watching my expressions in the mirror. I really have no logical explanation as to why I do this.

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If we return to the compact mirror topic, there is another layer of oddity for me. At times, I take such pride in how pretty a compact is that I don’t want to use it. Like my hands need to be clean, to prevent smudges on the metal. That’s true for most things I collect, though; they must be pristine and handled with care!

The very first “fancy” compact mirror I ever owned was a gold one with the Ruby Slippers. A few of its rhinestones have fallen out over the years, but it’s still a very nice piece. I think my grandmother purchased it back when the Staten Island Mall had a Warner Bros. Store. Lord, how I miss that place. But now, the Disney emporium has some lovelies in its arsenal- pictured above is a Belle compact from Sephora. And my favorite (that I actually own) is the Disney Store’s live-action Cinderella release. It has a butterfly pattern surrounding the focal point: a shoe.

That said, I wonder if any Broadway merchandise stands sell compact mirrors? I’d kill for one with a show logo on it.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Shepherd

Today for you, I have an Appreciation Post that is very near and dear to my geeky self. Happy belated holidays, by the way…and on Christmas, one of my gifts was a pre-order for the upcoming video game Fire Emblem Birthright. I dove into the last installment in this series, Awakening, over the course of this year and let me tell you: it was insanely good. So good, in fact, that I would easily consider it one of the greatest games I have ever played. Everything about the piece, from the graphics to the story to the gameplay, was stunningly done. I even found myself sobbing at more than one point- it was so moving and perfectly balanced between those moments and moments of pure humor. In the upcoming entry to the Fire Emblem series, we’ll actually find three stories in one- that is, three complementary games that center around the same conflict but from different points of view. There’s BirthrightConquest, and Revelations. I chose to get the first one, although a friend of mine bought the Special Edition that comes with all three. (What a showoff.)

Anyway, to celebrate the imminent arrival of the next chapter in the Fire Emblem saga, I’m presenting some of my favorite pieces of character art from Awakening. You may notice that all of my picks are females, but that is intentional; yet another great thing about this series is its abundance of kick-butt lady fighters. (All images are from Nintendo’s website.)

chara27This is Say’ri, a sword-wielding princess.

chara37Meet Cherche, a courageous Wyvern rider.

chara24Here is Anna, a tricky merchant.

chara22This is Cordelia, an expert Pegasus trainer.

chara26And here’s Tiki, who can turn into a dragon.

30DDC- Day Twenty Seven

Best Wardrobe

I can’t believe we’re already in the home stretch of the Disney challenge! Only three more posts to go. Anyway, I think the best wardrobe category has to go to a character with a lot of different outfits. For example, I love Rapunzel’s gowns, but she only has two (her purple dress and wedding dress). I knew that whoever I picked would have to have a real closet…like Tiana or Belle, the runners-up.

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Although Elsa is my homegirl, there’s no denying that her sister is the one with the more diversified wardrobe. Over the course of Frozen and its sequel short, Anna wears a total of seven different looks. For an animated character, who’d typically wear the same costume the whole time, that’s downright awesome. And of these seven ensembles, my favorite is her coronation gown (not pictured). I really need a Disney stylist to curate all my clothes.

30DDC- Day Thirteen

Favorite Outfit

Don’t Disney ladies get the best fashions? (FYI- we’re almost halfway through the challenge!) This is so true that like the animal sidekick post, I couldn’t choose between my top two.

Yes, my absolutely to-die-for Disney dresses are Elsa’s ice ensemble and Ella’s ballgown! These two beautiful outfits are the formal-wear of my dreams. I think the Elsa look would be perfect for my everyday adventures…but when night falls, it’s time to flag down my fairy godmother and be the toast of the town! No joke- I would wear stuff like this on a daily basis if I could. I just love the way I feel when I look like a modern princess!

30DDC- Day Ten

Best Hair

All caught up! Now, the universally correct answer to this question is Rapunzel. I mean, come on- her whole film is about those golden locks. Therefore, I feel like it’d be a bit unfair to choose her. For me, the best non-magical hair in the Disney canon belongs to…

The little mermaid herself, Ariel! Now let me tell you this much- this is far from my favorite Disney movie. I couldn’t even tell you the last time I watched it in full. However, I do love the visual design of Ariel’s character. And vital to that design is her flowing scarlet hair, whether or not she brushes it with a dinglehopper (fork). I also have to give props to the animators for capturing its underwater movement so well.

30DDC- Day Seven

Favorite Castle

Huh, I never gave much thought to Disney architecture. Let me ponder this for a moment: which palace reigns supreme? Hmm…oh, I know!

Wasn’t I just saying in the last entry how much I love Sleeping Beauty‘s design? Well, then I suppose it’s only fitting that its castle is my favorite. I love it not only because of its spiraling towers and gorgeous arches, but because it is such a classic symbol of Walt Disney. It’s what we see before any of his movies start. It’s the one that was built to commemorate the opening of the “happiest place on Earth.” Even Cinderella’s abode can’t compete with that. By the way, dilettantes- digressing for a moment- I received a notification that Puccini’s Chronicles has gotten 100 post likes! Thank you all so much. Let’s try for 100 more!