Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Billy Blanks: The man, the mission, and your personal trainer for 45minutes

Summer is quickly approaching and whether your work out goal is to get bathing suit ready or if your just looking to stay in shape, Billy Blanks, tae bo enthusiast, has the workout for you. It was just last year that Billy became a well respected figure in my roommates and my weekly routine. There are several reasons Billy and his entourage, featured in Billy’s Boot Camp Elite, appeal to us so much.

Here are five things you should know about Billy’s Boot Camp Elite DVD:

1. Billy’s Boot Camp is a set of two DVDs. The first DVD called “Mission One: Getting Started,” is meant for beginners. It slowly takes you through all of the exercises to come in “Mission Two: Maximum Power,” which is a fast paced workout. While Billy may take you through this workout at a slower pace, you will still gain strength from the different variations of kicks, punches, and arm lifts Billy teaches to you.

“Mission Two: Maximum Power” is part of the second DVD. It is forty five minutes long and is not only a good cardiovascular workout, but also helps you build strength in your legs, arms, and butt. The workout starts out building muscle in the arms by doing different exercises repetitively. The next workout is for legs and if you don’t “feel the burn” after this, well you may just not be human. Billy has you doing four different kicks non-stop.

2. Most days I would do the workout with my roommates, so we could laugh through the pain, together. But now even when I did the workout alone, Billy had lots of motivational sayings to offer keeping me going (and laughing). You will certainly feel your there exercising right alongside Billy when he tells you “your taking flight” and “lets keep it going guys.”

3. The second DVD also has another workout, “Mission Three: Rock Solid Abs,” which is led by Shelly Blanks, Billy's daughter. Most of the abs workout is not crunches, which you would normally use to work out your abdominal muscles. Instead Shelly demonstrates standing abdominal exercises. While I don’t find these exercises as helpful, traditional crunches are still included in part of the workout.

4. Sometimes, Billy exaggerates a little bit (insert me and my roommates yelling at the TV here). Usually it is a beautiful moment when I hear the words “last set guys,” but wait…the counting hasn’t stopped and neither has Billy. Sometimes he keeps you doing an exercise for a few reps longer than you would expect, but only to challenge you and give you the best workout.

5. There is no way that I could forget the motivational speech at the end of the workout. I’m pretty sure that it deserves a spot on a MasterCard commercial for being priceless. If nothing else keeps you going through the workout, then this speech will (even if it’s only for the laughter it brings you).

If you prefer to trip over yourself at home (due to lack of coordination) or can’t seem to justify a monthly bill from the gym, then you should consider purchasing Billy’s Boot Camp. Billy can be your personal trainer too, for $24.99 (available at Best Buy).

Margarita Mondays

Whether you are single or taken by that special someone, it is always important to have one day dedicated to food, fun, and of course friends! Both girls and guys do this (or at least they should), but girls get often more excited calling its "Girls Night" signifying they are just going out to have fun, wear fancy tops and maybe some heels (if you can walk in them). Guys have their poker or bar nights, but again are not too pumped.
Although these days usually happen on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, signifying the start of the weekend and involves a club or a bar and lots of dancing, my friends and I decided to do our "Girl's Night" a little differently.
Every one hates MONDAYS! Monday are often dreaded because the weekend has passed by a little too fast, so what better day to relax and celebrate friendship after that first day back to school or work than Monday.
Almost every Monday for the past two semesters, my friends from the dorm and I have gone to Chillies for what they call "Margarita Monday".
With $ 2 regular and strawberry margaritas and some food specials, a group of nine girls, and I get together to talk about our weekends and events in our lives. Usually only having one drink and sharing appetizers, we just sit for an hour or two and talk and laugh. It is definitely the best escape from the stress ors of the semester and extremely cheap. I would recommend this to anyone who looking for an inexpensive low-key night out!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

“Makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice…”

Packing cam be very frustrating especially when you forget something or pack too much.

It‘s all about …“Makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice…”
I figured it would be smart to make a list two or three days before the trip. This way I can put down whatever comes to mind and as time goes on other items may come to mind. Once I have made my first draft of the list I will post it somewhere I can see it; for example my fridge.

The best way to go about it is to think of your every step from when you wake up to when you got to bed and all the necessities you will be without when you leave home.

1. Tooth brush, floss

2. Tooth paste, math wash...Etc

3. Two towels depending on how long you’re traveling (usually two towels is good for one week)

4. Bath supplies (soaps, face soaps, scrubber and shampoos). It would be smart to purchase the tiny containers instead of using large ones.

5. Lotions…Etc (small containers)

6. Enough under garments to last for each day of the trip plus three more just in case you decide to stay longer and don’t have anywhere to wash clothes. If you’re the type to take two showers in a day and want to double the amount you use on a daily bases then I suggest you wash your garments in the shower or in the sink by hand to save room, so pack a small bottle of laundry detergent.

7. Outfits (one for each day, so make sure to look at the forecast and plan according to the weather). Some people like to pack extra outfits in case they change their minds, but that’s what shopping is all about. If you pack your suitcase too full then you won’t be able to fit any new materials when you leave. If you’re not the shopping type and you know you will need extra clothes then pack away, but it might come back to haunt you!

8. Perfumes make up…Etc

9. Shoes (Shoes should be kept to a minimum simply because they take up a lot of room. It’s always good to have one dressy pair, sneakers (good for activity), and casuals (sandals).

10. 1 Bag that matches all, so you can wear it and not have to pack it (This counts as a purse for ladies, since men are lucky and have wallets).

11. Hair accessories (small containers should be kept in mind once again)

12. 2 pairs of Pajamas or lounge outfits

Remember this is a rough draft, so as the days lead up to the trip you may add more. The night of the trip pack all items to see if they fit. This is where things may or may not get complicated. Depending on the size of your luggage everything might fit, if not then you’ll have to pick out what’s least important.

Before going to bed, lay out all materials on a visible flat surface, when you wake up the next morning you can use them if need be, and then fold(click on fold for tips on how to fold clothes into a suitcase) them back into the suit case after you are all done.
Wait! did you remember to grab your passport or any other important doucments like your ticket? You wouldn't wanto to forget that.
Finally, when you’re all zipped up, you’ll feel confident and on your way knowing that you packed wisely.

Hello Children

Beep Beep offered the intense, gripping and mostly satisfying Business Casual in 2004, diversifying Saddle Creek's roaster with their intelligent, occasionally pornographic lyrics, and frantic experimental garage rock compositions. 

In 2009's Enchanted Islands we see a their new face; soft, open eyed and still just as mentally deranged. The noticeable change in their approach, their first album a heavy mash of soul, electronic and sex metal; their own brand of spaz rock, is now smoothed down and refined into a truly unique style that only Beep Beep themselves can adequately accomplish. 

In a sense, they're one of the few bands unbound by that nasty word in the Indie Rock world: genre. Without being confined by the cliches plaguing the independent music scene, cheap knockoffs of Conor Obesrt, trashy punk-basement rock and sleepy bands like Grizzly Bear, Beep Beep gives listeners a musical experience that'll leave them wanting to listen to Enchanted Islands over and over again. 

The album's opening track "I See You!" sounds as if it should be played out of an old Gipsy wagon housing an evil mystic. It creeps up your spine, easing you into the second track, "Mermaid Struggle", with an erie feeling in your gut. The album carries you, pulling you up and down on a fantastic adventure.

Co-front men  Eric Bemberger and Chris Hughes sound great together on this album. Bemberger's smooth voice with Hughes's angelic and occasionally frightening falsetto make the album as great as it is. It's a serious shame Hughes left the band, I couldn't imagine Beep Beep's live performances being as good without him. None the less, Enchanted Islands is a confounding collection of songs waiting to be explored, easily one of 2009's strongest new releases thus far. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Smart Shopping: Supplement Itunes with Youtube

I think I may have noticed a new trend. Maybe it’s just me-or are we becoming a bit dependent on our comptures? Hey I’m not the one to tell you stop. After all, the internet is the lifeblood of my lively hood. Without a connection I would probably fail out of school, lose touch with friends, and still be listening to Bel-Biv-Devoe and New Edition.

With miniscule things like school and friends aside, let’s talk about something important, music. If you are anything like me, and a majority of college students, we do
n’t go anywhere without our IPods. We listen to music while we exercise, while we walk to class, while we do our homework, and wherever else we can squeeze in a few tracks. Without knowing we’ve added an official soundtrack to our everyday lives.

Now I’m not here to tell you to take the headphones out of your ears and enjoy the sounds of nature-that would be a ridiculous idea, and a bit creepy. Instead, I’m here to tell you that you should be downloading as much music as possible, the newer the better, the hotter the better. All I ask is that you don’t limit yourself to ITunes useless “30 second preview.

While Itunes may be the best place to download music, it is probably the worst place to preview music. For full length free music previews, you don’t have to look any further than america’s favorite “time waster” Youtube
With Itunes increasing the cost of songs from $0.99 to $1.29, knowing what you are paying for is more important than ever. To preview a song in it's entirety-simply log on to Youtube and type in the song title in the search bar. 99.9% of the time, all of the time.

It only takes a few seconds...heres an example
1. Log onto youtube
2. Search "Lay Back by Rick Ross"

Fighting My Way to Fenway

Now that baseball season is in full swing, I felt it necessary to share my "fighting my way to Fenway" adventure! Yes, I am Red Sox fan, so all you Yankee's fan with your new stadium can just sit back and enjoy. This is way more exciting and has more sentimental value and history than a fancy new stadium.
Every year my parents, a friend of my choice, and I venture to Fenway to see a Red Sox Game. Usually we get tickets from a friend of my father's, but that has proven to be up in the air this year. In order to guarantee we have tickets and keep up with our yearly tradition, my father signed up to get tickets through the Red Sox Nation website. What he did not realize was the process of getting any Red Sox tickets.
After being denied early access, he was left to a pool of random ticket buyers. After signing in at exactly 12 noon today, he is sent to a "virtual waiting room" where ticket buyers are made to sit and watch their screen refresh every 15 seconds until they are brought to another page if chosen by random.
As my dad and I took turns sitting by his laptop with minimal hopes of every getting past this "Virtual Waiting Room" that greatly reminded me of the DMV wait line without the annoying people, "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond came on IPOD as it played on shuffle. We had been sitting there for just about an hour, losing hope with each page refresh, and then the song rang through my IPOD speakers. Instantly my dad's face lit up because the song (besides being one of Neil Diamond's greatest hits) is the song of Red Sox Nation.
Now I have been watching baseball ever since I was a little girl, but as I got older "Sweet Caroline" seemed to get more and more popular with Red Sox fans and although I loved the song, could never figure out the significance behind it.
After some research I found out, it was the doing of Amy Tobey who directed the music during the games from 98-2004. It was first played every so often between the 7th - 9th innings, but then became tradition to play at every home game during the 8th inning. Fans were encouraged by it, expected it and could recite every word soon after. It even made its way into the 2005 film with Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore Fever Pitch.
So as the Diamond lyrics say: "Where it began
I can't begin to knowin'
But then I know it's growin' strong"
The tradition is def. growing strong amongst Red Sox Fans--young and old alike. As for the family tradition, my dad did get tickets for Sunday, July 12th right behind first base.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sweet decisions: A search for the most mouth-watering ice cream

Right off the Berlin Turnpike is an ice cream lovers best friend, Mortensen‘s Ice Cream and Restaurant. The anticipation started to build as soon as my friends and I pulled into the crowded parking lot with Jimi Hendrix blaring from the speakers. We rushed out of the car and out of the sprinkling night into Mortensen’s, which seemed to glow from the outside.

Inside, every booth was filled with happy customers enjoying their disappearing bowls of ice cream. While the grey printed wall paper and grey countertops didn’t excite the eyes, the glass case filled with more than 20 flavors of homemade ice cream and sherbet didn’t disappoint.

As we admired the ice cream at the counter we were greeted by several friendly waitresses wearing bright pink shirts and pony tails. Walking down the case gazing at each flavor, the decision of what to order grew more difficult.

How do you choose between flavors like graham central, mud pie, and amaretto? Finally I decided to order a regular size bowl with half coconut ice cream and half Maine black bear.

My eyes lit up as I was handed the overflowing Styrofoam cup. Each bite was creamy and more delicious than the last. The coconut ice cream brought a tropical feel to mind, while the Maine black bear ice cream, which has swirls of black raspberry syrup and dark chocolate chips filled with the same familiar sweet syrup, will forever remind me of summer.

We all left satisfied and with smiles on our faces knowing that while we were soon to be left with empty bowls, that we looked forward to making another difficult and delicious ice cream decision at Mortensen’s soon.