Sunday Book Club! Straight From the Source by Kim Osorio

Hello again!
Today’s Sunday Book Club Review is “Straight from the Source” by Kim Osorio.

Initial Thoughts:
I don’t remember how I came across this book, but I was intrigued at the idea of learning more about a woman’s role in the Journalism/Entertainment Industry, especially in a position of power. I don’t really know anything about Hip Hop music/culture, so I wasn’t sure I’d understand the story…keep reading to see my thoughts!

Plot:
“SFTS” tells the real life story – according to her – of Kim Osorio & how she works her way up from unpaid Internships to becoming the Editor in Chief of her favorite magazine, The Source. Before reading this I was not familiar with The Source, but apparently it was considered the “Hip Hop Bible”, so working there was a huge career builder, & being in charge was a huge accomplishment. Along the road to fame, Osorio runs into some complications – not being taken seriously because she’s a woman, being disrespected by her male peers/superiors, & dodging questions & assumptions from others about her romantic relationship with certain celebrities. Eventually Osorio sues The Source for sexual harassment & this story is an exposé of what happened during her time there.

Characters:
Kim Osorio – At first I related to Kim while she struggled & jumped from unpaid Internship to unpaid Internship. I sympathized with her because she’s so passionate about Hip Hop & Journalism & wants to make a career out of her passions, but just can’t seem to make the right connections. I know that struggle! However, I became annoyed with her constant name dropping of celebrities & talk of how well connected she was. Most of the story is about Osorio denying that she’s a groupie, but after a while it sort of felt like, “she doth protest too much”. She talks about her relationships with big name celebrities like Nas & 50 Cent to the point that I wonder if they were okay with this book being published. She’s certainly entitled to a relationship that makes her happy, but something about Osorio’s attitude makes it seem like she’s just trying to get her 15 minutes of fame.

Quotes:
– Pg 71: “Sorry, but I didn’t recognize random white chicks who wanted to be down with Hip Hop”
– Pg 272: “I wonder why the hip-hop circle is so damn judgmental” – both quotes from Kim Osorio
This is but one quote in a sea of moments where I felt alienated & judged by Osorio because I wasn’t “down” with Hip Hop. Judgement is part of the reason I don’t really like Hip Hop or the Music Industry culture in general. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE music itself, but I hate that each genre is a clique. Reading Osorio’s judgement made me feel bad because she’s missing the opportunity to share her passion for Hip Hop with a varied audience that might find the same love she has. Then she goes & says that she doesn’t understand why the Industry is so judgmental, she’s part of the problem! Hypocrisies like this are why I’m not a fan of Osorio.
– Pg 260: “…job security was always a [seious] issue…” (I added brackets to point out the spelling error)
I found at least 4 typos along with several missing commas or periods. She was the EIC of a major magazine & couldn’t edit her own book properly!?
– Pg 272: “…I will never be able to recover my reputation…although the girls & I in the network can, as one of my friend jokes, walk up to so many men in the industry & embarrass them by holding our hands up in front of them as a measure of how big or small we know they are…I will never be able to shake my image in the eyes of some people as the girl who slept with a bunch of rappers” – Kim Osorio
This quote continues to confuse me in regards to how Osorio wants to be seen. Sometimes she’s a hardworking, powerful woman that had sexist lies told about her, & other times she says things like this which make her seem like the groupie she keeps denying she is.

Overall:
As mentioned in my “Initial Thoughts” I don’t really have an interest in Hip Hop culture so there were moments where I had little to no idea who or what Osorio was talking about. It wasn’t bad enough that I couldn’t understand the overall story, but there were details that a more educated reader would have found interesting, but were over my head. Osorio’s writing style is interesting, there’s heavy swearing & use of slang. I was intrigued by this story, but Osorio’s hypocrisy became too much to keep track of. Besides the constant “I have sex with lots of Industry men/I’ve only had a few relationships with Industry men” story line, there was another plot point where she talks about how she was forced to make decisions for The Source that she didn’t believe were right & it made her uncomfortable because her name was being signed on work she didn’t think was good. Then at the end of the book she talks about how the work you do speaks louder than the place you work, so she’s lucky to always have her work at The Source to show her skills. Didn’t you spend a majority of the book talking about how your bosses forced you to make bad decisions that you didn’t agree with!? So what’s the part of your work that you’re proud of? I always felt like I was missing something or getting tripped up by Osorio’s BS.

Rating: Originally rated B, but while writing this review lowered to a C
At first I gave this book a B rating because it was a quick read that kept me entertained. However, while writing this Review, I couldn’t wash away the bad taste this book left in my mouth. I think this story was meant to be read specifically by Osorio’s peers that had heard the rumors & were judging her. It was her chance to clear the air/cover her ass/name names/kiss & tell, basically one big mass defense of her actions while at The Source, but ultimately unless you were part of the story or the culture, why would you care? I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you are familiar with The Source, Hip Hop culture, or the study of Feminism. There are a lot of Feminist plot points that I can see making interesting discussions in a Literature/Gender/Music Industry class or for personal study if that’s your passion.

Have you read or heard of The Source? Have you read this book or other Industry Autobiographies like this?  If so, what are your thoughts? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below!

The next Sunday Book Club is May 29th & the book is “The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband” by David Finch.

Music Monday! Album & Concert Review – The Rocket Summer “Zoetic”

Hello again!
For today’s Music Monday I’m going to be talking about my favorite band, The Rocket Summer. I previously discussed TRS in November when I went to the “Returning West” Tour at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco, click here to read that blog post. On April 12th, I went to the “Zoetic” Tour at The Troubadour in Los Angeles – the following post will partially be a Concert Review of that experience with some video footage.

I’m also going to review “Zoetic”, the new Album. As I’ve never done an Album Review before, I’m not exactly sure how to format it. For my first attempt I’m going to write a basic summary of my thoughts because I don’t want this post to be TOO long with the Concert Review attached as well. Writing could get too lengthy, in the future I may do this all via video, but we’ll see. Let me know what you would prefer in the comments below!!

After reading the reviews, if you’re interested in purchasing any of the songs/albums, they’re all available for free on Spotify or of course, you can buy the album on Itunes or through The Rocket Summer website. I highly recommend buying through the website because they have a bunch of really unique deals, for example, I got an actual CD – autographed! – & a digital download for about $15/$20.

UPDATE 5/2/16: After many more listens & getting these lyrics stuck in my head, I’m updating my Album Review to 4 stars. Bryce’s passion for music & the subjects he sings about are hard to deny & infectious. Perhaps there’s something to be said rating-wise about an album that takes a few listens to connect to, but I’m sticking with 4 stars. I’m still saying I don’t necessarily connect with ALL of these songs lyrically, but the music is just SO good. Give “Emergency Landings”, “Sharks”, & “White Fireworks” a listen or two or five or 50 RIGHT NOW!

Album Review – 11 songs, overall – 3 out of 5 stars
I think I’m too biased. I fell in love with The Rocket Summer as an alternative pop semi-Jesus loving kind of sound & lyrics. “Zoetic” is DIFFERENT. I’m happy for Bryce, that he’s getting the chance to expand his horizons & follow his heart – as happy as you can be for someone you don’t know, haha!
I enjoyed the album from a musical perspective. Bryce tapped into ALL his talents in terms of the music arrangement, vocal range, & style. “Zoetic” definitely has an edge to it, a harsher, angrier style that fans haven’t seen before, & I appreciate it. It’s always nice to see your favorite artist grow & show different sides of themselves. I’ll be adding most of these songs to my Gym Playlist, a place TRS songs don’t usually go.
Unfortunately I feel like so much work into the music that the lyrics were an after thought. Some of the songs are super repetitive which I’m used to hearing with pop songs on the radio, but is not usually Bryce’s style.
Overall I enjoyed this album because as always you can tell Bryce is super passionate & he puts so much effort into his work. I have to give him props for that even if I wasn’t able to connect with the lyrics this time around. In my perfect world, a future album will include lyrics in the style of previous album “Do You Feel” with music in the style of “Zoetic”.
Favorite Tracks: “Cold War”, “Same Air”, “Get Over It”, “FL, CA”


Concert Review
The Venue – I’d never been to The Troubadour in Los Angeles before, but was pleased with the venue. Parking was convenient, $12-$15 for Valet, & the area seemed safe. There’s two rooms, the first is super small off the left & has the bathrooms, a bar, & the merch table. That area was super squishy crowded, but the main room was pretty spacious – or maybe there just weren’t that many people there. There were seats available on an upper level & another bar in the main room. The drinks were fairly expensive though, $9 for a Jack & Coke. It might look like a dive, but don’t forget you’re in LA. One cool new (to me) thing about this show was that they were selling Giving Keys that said Zoetic on them. Giving Keys is a charity that employs those transitioning out of homelessness to stamp empowering words on keys. The idea is that you’re supposed to buy a key with a word that means something to you, wear it until you feel like you’ve accomplished a related goal, then pass the key on to someone who needs the empowerment from that word. I’ve wanted a Giving Key ever since I first heard about the company, actually I talk about them in Vlog #2!, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to buy one.

The People – As I said in my previous TRS Concert Review, the crowd at these shows are pretty respectful, mostly women or couples. There was an overly enthusiastic guy standing right next to me that was kind of weirding me out, but he wasn’t being aggressive so eh, to each their own! One thing that surprised me was the amount of children! I’ve seen teenagers before, I’ve been a teenager at a TRS show (!!), but these were kids younger than 10. It seemed like a weird parenting decision to allow kids out late at night in such a loud setting, but what do I know about raising kids!?

The Performance – The music was harsher than I’ve ever heard, but that’s the nature of “Zoetic”. It seemed like there were a few technical issues, a couple times the music sounded off & Bryce looked off stage at the tech & looked sort of irritated/frustrated. There was definitely one problem where his guitar wasn’t sounding right or something & he looked for the tech – & nobody came. He kept looking around & was holding out the guitar while trying to continue singing, but no one came. Bryce did his best to stay professional & ultimately it was kind of funny, a moment that showed a real human side to the show, but was probably stressful for him. As you’ll see in the video, Bryce brought a Fan on stage to play Cello during “Never Knew” – a VIP experience he’s offering on his website. I couldn’t hear one note of the Cello, I felt bad. My mom was sitting in the upstairs seating & said she heard it & it was great, so I’m not sure if there was a sound issue, or maybe that just wasn’t the best venue to use a Cello..?

Final Verdict: Obviously amazing, awesome, magical! I didn’t wait for Bryce to come out after the show because I’d been at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (!!!!) all day + had to drive back to Orange County, so I was ready to get going. I have plans to see him THREE more times, PHX Rebel Lounge, SNA Constellation Room/Observatory, & SF Bottom of the Hill. I will probably wait for him in SF because that’s the first place I met him & that’s the last stop on the “Zoetic” Tour, so it’ll be a nice bookend. Of course, if you like TRS I definitely recommend seeing him live. There’s not a lot of time left, but click here to see if he’s playing near you!

What do you think? For those of you that hadn’t heard of TRS before, did I make you a fan!? If you’re going to any of the shows I’ll be at, let me know in the comments below – I’d love to meet up! Please remember to SUBSCRIBE/LIKE/COMMENT/SHARE to my YouTube & this blog, thanks for reading 🙂

You Should Be Here

If you’ve been keeping track of the Sunday Book Club schedule – wait, what, you’re not!?
It’s easy! Click the FOLLOW button & get emails when I add new posts. Specifically for Sunday Book Club, at the end of the post I will list what book will be reviewed next & when the post will be published.
If you Follow along, you’ll know today was supposed to be the review for “The Little Giant of Aberdeen County” by Tiffany Baker. However, April 3rd is a sad yet important day in my family, & I felt like a Book Review wouldn’t be appropriate, so I moved it to April 17th.
I generally try to keep this blog as professional as possible, but in the spirit of revamping the blog & writing about some new things, I’ve decided to do a little free write on this super personal topic. This isn’t meant to be particularly enlightened or touching, I’m just sharing my thoughts & below is a video with some fun pictures of my family.

April 3rd, 1998 is the day my dad passed away. April 5th is my Grandpa’s birthday, but he passed away April 13th, 2012. Before that, my Yaya (Greek for Grandma) passed away in 2010. I’m not telling you this to make you sad or pity me. These are just the cold hard facts. That’s one of the shitty thing about death. It’s cold & hard & the people it took away from me were anything but – well, in my mind at least.

I was 7 when my dad passed away from cancer. Most of what I know about him are hand me down stories from my family, which I’m blessed to have because there are some people that know nothing about their parents. I’ve been told I’m a LOT like him, which always amuses people & me, to a certain extent, because obviously we didn’t have a lot of time together. It’s not that I’m unhappy to be like my dad, I just wish I understood him a little better. It’s hard to hear stories about someone & never really hear their side of things. Have you heard about Fathers that participate in fake weddings for their young daughters because they know they’re dying & won’t be there for the real thing? Honestly, I find it to be a bit creepy, but I understand the intent. The family is prepping for a huge moment that Dad should be there for. I’ve heard other stories of people recording videos or writing letters to inspire those they leave behind – my dad didn’t do any of that for me. For several years after his passing I searched our house hoping that tucked away in a drawer or hidden in a book, there was something for me – something to explain life from his point of view or offer some kind of grown up advice, but I never found anything.

I eventually made my peace with not finding any sort of wisdom left behind from my dad because I still had my grandparents. Sure, my birthdays had an empty chair that my dad should be at, but after awhile it just became a fact of life that I learned to deal with. Of course there were awkward moments at dance recitals when other girls would ask where my dad was, but most of the time I would have the biggest group of supporters at any event because my whole family would show up. I’ve never considered until this moment if they all came to genuinely show support or if my grandparents coerced them into coming in some way to help ease the sting I may have felt from knowing my dad should be there. Yeah, my dad won’t be there to walk me down the aisle someday, but Grandpa will fulfill that duty, is how I rationalized things to myself. Then my grandparents passed away.

It didn’t happen like “The Notebook”, a couple passing away in each other’s arms at the same moment, but they passed close enough to each other that it made my head spin & my whole life was completely different in what felt like the blink of an eye. How did this happen!? I had planned my whole future around the fact that they were going to be there for all those important moments in my adult life. We would all share a cry that my dad couldn’t be there in person to see the person I’d grown up to be & then we’d hug & laugh because we’re crying at an important event, but that’s just what our family does. Now, there’s 3 empty chairs at my birthday parties, 3 empty chairs at my college graduation, & no one to walk me down the aisle at my future wedding, although I know my mom is vying for the job…but maybe I should find a boyfriend first, haha!

In the relatively short time it’s been since my grandparents have passed away, so much has changed. The more life changes, the more complicated things become, especially in regards to my move to Arizona, the more I find myself saying, “You should be here” about my three guardian angels. The song featured in the video below, “You Should Be Here” by Cole Swindell brings me to tears almost each & every time I hear it because it so perfectly hits the nail on the head of how I’ve been feeling lately. I know my family is watching over me & I’m so thankful to have known them & learned from them while I was able to. All I can do at this point is move forward with the lessons they taught me & try my best to do them proud! I hope you enjoy the video below, these are some of my favorite pictures of my dad & grandparents. I tried to get pictures of JUST us to follow the theme of the post but Mom snuck in there a few times, don’t worry, she’s doing just fine!

To sum them up…
– Dad is the epitome of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”. He taught me that it’s never to late to make a change & start living a life you’re proud of.
– Yaya taught me to do all things with love. She was an extremely passionate woman that lived every day to the fullest. She loved her friends, her family, & her life. As a grown up, I now see a little deeper under her surface, but if I could ever muster even one ounce of the vim & vigor she had for life & making the best of things, it would be a miracle, haha!
– Grandpa taught me to always eat the JELLO. When I was 5, Yaya was teaching me how to make JELLO. Unfortunately I didn’t realize you had to stir the bottom of the bowl to mix all the ingredients so the JELLO set with crusty pieces of mix stuck to the bottom. We all dug in eagerly & immediately dropped our spoons when it began to scratch our throats. I was disappointed in myself, but Grandpa kept eating away happily telling me he preferred JELLO with a texture like that. No joke, FOR YEARS!!!! I believed him. I would say it’s only been since he’s passed away & I’ve reminisced on that story as an adult that I realized, holy crap, he pretended to like it so I didn’t feel bad. So now I know, & honestly this is something I still struggle with, but I try to acknowledge the effort & intention that goes into something rather than the end result.

Nothing told here today is meant to discredit any of the other wonderful family & friends that helped raise me & have supported me throughout my life. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me thus far & look forward to seeing you at my future wedding/baby shower/Grad School Graduation – whatever comes my way! This post was just meant to address some thoughts I’ve currently been struggling with during my time in Arizona & the fact that today is the anniversary of my dad’s passing, with other anniversaries coming up quickly. Death is so different for everyone & there are a million other things I could say about it, but that’s all for now. If you have anything you’d like to add or you enjoyed this post in particular & would like to see more like this, please let me know in the comments below!

Remember, regularly scheduled Book Reviews will resume on Sunday, April 17th! I’m hoping to have another Try This! posted on Thursday – but you’ll have to stay tuned. Please click the FOLLOW button to become an email subscriber & be notified instantly when new Posts go up! Thanks for reading 🙂

Music Monday! Concert Review – The Rocket Summer “Returning West” Tour at Bottom of the Hill

Hello everyone!
This week’s Music Monday is kind of a mouthful! Click on the video below to watch a few clips from The Rocket Summer “Returning West” Tour at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco! Then continue reading to see the full review of the Concert. Please remember to Subscribe/Follow, Share, Comment, & Like both the YouTube channel & this blog! Thanks!

The Rocket Summer has been my favorite band for about 10 years now. Although, calling it a “band”, might not be the right word. While the name sounds like a group of musicians, The Rocket Summer is the solo project of musician Bryce Avary. He’ll occasionally feature musician friends, or his wife Tara, but for the most part Avary does everything from writing the music/lyrics, to singing all the parts, & playing ALL the instruments. He’s extremely talented & it’s really fun & interesting to watch him perform live. I try to make it to every show in my area & I think in the 10 years I’ve been a fan, I’ve only missed one tour because I was super sick. I almost missed his SF appearance due to work, but luckily I made it…keep reading to see what happened!

The Venue – I’d never been to Bottom of the Hill before, but I’d heard really good things. I was working nearby at the W Hotel at the time & wasn’t going to get off work until 2 AM. I was super upset I was going to miss the show but luckily, fate stepped in & I got off work early. I jumped in an Uber & raced over to try to catch at least some of the show. As I was so late, the guy at the door was nice enough to not charge me entry. Sometimes concert staff can be hit or miss in terms of “Hospitality”. One time a stranger passed out next to me at a show & I couldn’t get any of the staff or security to help us for a few solid minutes! I was grateful people were awesome right off the bat. BOTH is a smaller venue, a typical dive/hole in the wall. There were maybe 50 to 100 people there & it was squishy. However, this is the kind of show where you want to be right up front, so squishy-ness is expected. A random, but important note, I appreciated that there were several well placed wall outlets. It’s always nice to know you have a way to charge your phone where you won’t be creating a hazard for others/yourself.

The People – I have a love/hate relationship with TRS fans. The crowd is mostly young females often times in packs, sometimes with their parents or reluctant boyfriends. Their attitude can range from teeny bopper excitement with shrill cries of “I LOVE YOU BRYCE!!!!” ringing through the air (uhm he’s married, his wife works the merch table, calm down) to disgruntled punk/scene girls with wild colored hair, many facial piercings/tattoos to some genuinely cool people. I, of course, fall into that last category, haha! This crowd was pretty neutral, but I’ve been in crowds where girls were pushing each other to the point that it was distracting me from the show & I’ve also met people I really bonded with & am friends with on Social Media to this day, years later. I think it depends on your attitude as well. If you’re there looking to push people & be disrespectful to other concertgoers, you might run into some backlash. If you’re there to just chill & enjoy the music, you’ll have a good time.

The Performance – While his music style might not be for everyone, Bryce is super talented! As I mentioned before, he plays all the instruments on his albums. For a concert however, he’ll usually enlist the help of a “touring band”. One of my favorite parts of a TRS show is the “Solo Jam”. Bryce plays one instrument, records/loops the playback, plays another instrument, records/loops the playback, etc showing the process of how he usually plays everything & creates the songs on his own. I’ve always found this really fascinating & I enjoy that he chooses to share the process with the fans so we have a better understanding of how he does what he does. As the new album “Zoetic” had/has not been released, the “Returning West Tour” was like a warm up tour. Bryce played his greatest hits, and of course, “Same Air”, his newest single. I love TRS shows because I get so inspired seeing someone with passion for their craft & how they have used that craft to bring together people from all walks of life. Another really awesome aspect of TRS shows is that Bryce usually comes out after the show to meet the fans. In all the years I’ve been going to his concerts I’ve never met him! I was determined to make it happen this time, especially because I knew I’d be writing this post. I ended up waiting just about an hour after the show & it was well worth the wait. I completely embarrassed myself & acted like a total fangirl quoting his own song lyrics to him, haha, I’m a little bit ashamed. It’s all good though, he was super nice & I felt totally appreciated & welcome. I never felt at all rushed even though there were other fans waiting to talk to him. We took SEVERAL selfies trying to find the right lighting & he autographed a napkin – even making sure to spell my name correctly! All in all, it was a concert I’ll always remember.

The Final Verdict – Obviously, I had an amazing time. I’m sorry the video isn’t longer so you can get a better idea of what the show was like, but I was grateful to see as much as I did. I already have plans to see Bryce perform again in April for the “Zoetic” Tour & you can bet I will be doing a recap of that as well 🙂 If you’re interested in attending a TRS show click here to see if he’s playing near you!

I hope you enjoyed this Review & video. I wanted to leave you with an “official” piece of TRS music so please check out the video below, “200,000” – one of my favorite songs! This video gives you a good idea of how Bryce puts the songs together himself, plus his wife Tara is in it!
Please leave me a note in the Comment section & let me know…have you ever heard of The Rocket Summer? What kind of music do you like – what should I check out next? Thanks for reading!

Concert Review! Britney Spears “Piece of Me” Tour at Planet Hollywood Las Vegas

Hey everyone!
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m somewhat changing what will be showcased here & how/when. I’m working towards having content posted every day & with that being said…
Welcome to “Music Monday” – each Monday I will (try to) have some sort of music related post, wether it’s a Concert or Album Review, talking about music I like, or “performing” – if I can work up the nerve!

Anyway, this post has been a long time coming, sorry for the wait!
This is a recap of my experience at the Britney Spears “Piece of Me” Tour at AXIS in Planet Hollywood Las Vegas! Due to copyright issues I’m not sure how long this video will remain up on YouTube – so watch now before it potentially gets taken down!
A few months ago I was talking to my best friend about what to do for Halloween & the idea of going to Vegas came up. She said, “I’ll go – but only if we see Britney!”
At the time, I was not that enthusiastic because I had heard nothing but horrible things about Ms. Spears’ Vegas Tour. It was over priced, she can barely keep up with her back up dancers, & she doesn’t sing live. Being poor/just recently employed I was not looking forward to spending money on something like that. However, with my friend’s excitement coupled with the fact that it was Halloween – I was all set to at least get glammed up & see what Vegas had to offer. In a turn of events I didn’t anticipate – I was pleasantly surprised by my “Piece of Me” Tour experience! Click on the video below to watch some clips from the show & keep reading below to see my thoughts on the experience!

Be warned – this video will not load in certain countries or on mobile devices due to copyright issues!!

The Venue – AXIS is amazing! It’s a smaller venue, I’ve definitely walked by it several times during past Vegas visits & never even noticed it. Our seats were great & somewhat reasonable for how close we were. I would be willing to return to this venue & pay more to sit up closer, even just a few rows, because it’s definitely worth it. Before heading to the seating area, there was a museum like display of Britney’s famous costumes that you could take pictures with & learn little fun facts about. Of course, they were also selling a copious amount of merchandise & alcohol – these items are pricey! You don’t necessarily have to spend your money though…depending on how much pride you have. We stayed a bit after the concert ended to take pictures & noticed that several people had (drunkenly) left their souvenir cups behind. An Usher encouraged us to take them home & wash them, obviously, because they were just going to get thrown away. Woo hoo, free stuff!
One negative thing I will say is that we kept seeing ads for a “Britney Spears After Party” at Drai’s, but we couldn’t find any other information. Did it cost money? Did you have to be on a Guest List? What time did it start/end? etc, none of that was answered & we didn’t feel like going on an adventure that might not be successful, so we didn’t even attempt it.

The People – The other concert goers were SUPER friendly, like, invade your space/come up & talk to you loudly type of friendly. This is probably due to the fact that they were some combination of drunk/high/excited. 99.9% of people were in Britney related costumes & I’m not sure if that’s because, they were paying homage to Britney, it was Halloween, we were in Vegas, or again, a combination of all three. We were approached by several people & pulled into group pictures with strangers, but it was all good fun! The crowd was a melting pot of age/race/gender/sexual preference/couples/friends/Bachelorette Party/Girl’s Night Out/Mother-Daughters etc. Everyone we encountered was polite, but if you can’t handle lots of loud, rowdy people, this wouldn’t be a good fit for you – but if that’s the case, most likely any concert wouldn’t be a good fit for you.

The Performance – WOW! I was blown away. The props, setting, costumes, back up dancers, everything, was over the top & awesome. It was exactly what you would expect from Britney Spears & Las Vegas. To address my earlier concerns, does she sing live?…I really don’t think so. Did she have a hard time keeping up with her back up dancers?…Sometimes, occasionally she stopped dancing altogether & just did sexy poses & threw her hair around while they did the bulk of the work. Bottom line – I’ve seen her do better performances in her “youth”, but I’ve also seen her look like way more of a trainwreck. I was surprised by how inspired I was by watching this show. I went into this experience thinking about how I’d be watching this empty headed, sexed up, washed up Pop star attempt to relive her glory days, but it wasn’t like that. It was a well done tribute to a woman that has worked her ass off to make a name for herself in the Entertainment industry. Yes, she’s definitely had some bumps along the way, but that’s life, especially when you live in the public eye. Just thinking about the physical aspects of the show, that’s all her! She may seem like a robot in interviews, but those abs…that’s on her! That’s hard work! Somewhere in there, she still wants to work hard to be the Pop star she used to be – or is working towards becoming someone new. To me, that’s really inspiring, after everything she’s been through, she’s still getting up & working towards new goals.
I will warn you though, this is not really a concert – it’s a Vegas show. Some of her songs are mashed up/remixed/cut short – so don’t expect to hear the classics exactly as they were originally recorded.

The Final Verdict – Like I said, I’m not even a huge Britney fan, so I was pleasantly surprised by my experience & would gladly see another Britney Spears concert/show – if the venue/price were right! If you can, I would definitely recommend seeing her show in Vegas. I was under the impression “Piece of Me” ended in January to make way for Jennifer Lopez’s tour. However, if you go on Ticketmaster you can still buy “Piece of Me” tickets until February. So maybe there’s still a chance? If you’re at all a fan of Britney, dance music/big party scene, or 90’s pop culture icons, this is a show you won’t want to miss!

Let me know in the comments, have you ever seen Britney in concert? What other concerts would you recommend I go see? Do you have any thoughts about the video posted above? Thanks for reading 🙂

Concert Review! Luke Bryan “Kick the Dust Up Tour” at Levi’s Stadium

Hey y’all! On Saturday, August 29th my Gemini spirit sister Katie & I went to see Luke Bryan’s “Kick the Dust Up” Tour at Levi’s Stadium. We had an amaziiiiinnnggg time – so much fun! Watch the video below for some clips of the concert & some commentary from me. We weren’t down in the pit so the video clips aren’t amazing, forgive the quality and distance, but it’ll give you some idea of what the stage looked like & all that jazz. Most of the clips aren’t long because they’re from my SnapChat (@missal_leigh). Sometimes it’s hard to run my social media, take pics/video for the blog, & also actually be in the moment, but those are the struggles of a blogger I guess. Also, please excuse my awful singing! I tried to cut out video where you can hear me but sometimes my voice got in there sooooo enjoy!!

I didn’t mention this in the video but if you’re going to an event at Levi’s Stadium – be warned! Parking is a complete and utter NIGHTMARE!!!!! We got dropped off thinking that would be the easiest way to move through all the traffic, getting in wasn’t too bad, but leaving – we had to walk a mile, which would’ve been fine except with my hip, I was suffering. The struggle was real.

Let me know in the comments below if you were also at this show and what you thought. I’m going to a Country Music Festival in Vegas that I’m SUPER excited about, what concert are you headed to next? Maybe I’ll see you there 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Movie Review! Pitch Perfect 2

As I’ve discussed here before, I grew up doing musical theater, acting, and cheerleading, among other performance based activities. Whenever a film comes along that touches on any of that, I’m usually super psyched to see it. Yes, “Bring It On” is one of my favorite movies – although I don’t care for any of the films that followed. That seems to be the trend. I love the first “Pitch Perfect”. I really connected with the plot and especially Anna Kendrick’s character, Beca. She has the perfect amount of sass and sarcasm, yet shows a lot of heart & dedication to the Barden Bellas, which I identify with in regards to my 10 years of cheerleading experience. I really wanted to love “Pitch Perfect 2”, but unfortunately, I just couldn’t. I’m sure my opinion will not be popular, but please read below for my list of Likes, Dislikes, Final Thoughts, and Rating! Don’t be shy – click the FOLLOW button on the top right of this page to be notified when my next post goes up 🙂

Likes:
– I empathized with Beca’s attitude towards the Bellas. She was appreciative for the experiences they’d had together, but felt it was time for her to move on. She felt torn between dedicating her time to the “last hurrah” and her future. I understand how she felt. During the end of my time cheerleading, I started to feel like the near constant injuries I was sustaining didn’t make sense to tolerate anymore. I knew I wasn’t going to be a cheerleader forever, or even in college, so why permanently injure myself over something that wouldn’t be permanent in my life? It’s hard to come to terms with those emotions, so I applaud PP2 for taking on that storyline.
– The scenes that took place at Beca’s Internship were the funniest parts of the film.

& that’s it. That’s literally it.

Dislikes: There are so many things I disliked about this film. SO MANY.
– The story seemed undeveloped. I loved the first Pitch Perfect because you really got to know all the characters and their quirks. You hardly see Jesse – Beca’s boyfriend. You hardly learn any new information about any of the characters.
– I was disappointed with Flo, who is basically a Guatemalan version of Lilly, a strange, awkward non-white character thrown in to up the count of non-white actors. However, does it really count as being inclusive, broadening your casting, & having a multi-racial cast if all the character does is reinforce negative stereotypes of their race?
– The “love story” between Bumper and Fat Amy. They could have turned that into a substantial storyline about how Fat Amy was afraid to get into a relationship because she didn’t want to lose her independence or because she wasn’t sure where her life was going after college, etc. Nope. They just created a cheesy, dramatic, excuse to throw in another 80’s throwback love song, like they did with “Don’t You Forget About Me”. However, the inclusion of “Don’t You…” was well executed because it made sense with the rest of Beca & Jesse’s story – and yes, it reminded me of “Bring It On” when Torrance includes the songs from Cliff’s Mix Tape into the Toro’s competition routine. You don’t often see “big girls” involved in love stories, so I was (again) disappointed that they chose to make Fat Amy’s love story sloppy and uncomfortable.
– I didn’t appreciate the substantial number of jokes aimed at women.  A few I remember off the top of my head were the classic, “Women belong in the kitchen”, “This is why we shouldn’t send women to college”, “I’ll do whoever it takes”, and one character’s plan to become “A music teacher in a 3rd world country, or an exotic dancer. Whatever pays more!” Really? In a movie marketed towards young woman, the target audience is being subjected to jokes that put us down. I’m so glad I paid money for this! Seriously, if I wanted to subject myself to BS like this I’d just look around the Internet for free.
– The classless jokes didn’t end there. This film covered the gamut of sensitive topics, poking fun at Thailand “Lady Boys” (their words, not mine!) and the Gay/Lesbian community, among others.
– A plot point I didn’t understand (SPOILERS!!!!): The Bellas lost the private Sing-Off because Emily sings an original song & everyone is yelling at her that “Acapella doesn’t do originals, we’re supposed to do covers” etc…but then they (SPOILER!!!!) win Worlds, by singing the same original song…?!? Wha!? There’s no consistency, unless, the story writer was trying to imply that the world of Acapella was old school & the judges appreciated them trying something new…? This could be, but was not explained in the film. I’ve never experienced anything like that. I understand cheerleading is a different beast altogether, but we usually were penalized for doing “new” things, because the judges were typically older people that had been involved in the community for a long time. They didn’t like twerking and Top 40 songs, they preferred “Oldies” and moves that focused on technique. I don’t understand how something that was criticized earlier in the film, helps them win in the end with no explanation. Maybe I missed something…?

Final Thoughts & Rating:
As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’m capable of laughing at plenty of stuff that offends other people, but this film pushed too hard and it didn’t seem genuine or in line with the previous film. I’m fine with films like the Jackass series, you know they’re going to be offensive, you expect it. I did NOT expect this type of material from PP2. It seems like they can’t decide who their audience is. Pitch Perfect 1 was a nice, happy, girl power, family film, but PP2 did a complete 180 and distanced themselves from that. They were trying to be “hard/edgy” & have a Borat like set up where they wanted to offend as many people as humanly possible just to be “funny”. Overall, I thought this film was full of crass jokes that took aim at people who are different for cheap laughs. I loved the first Pitch Perfect because it was inclusive. It was a film about a group that often gets made fun of and their hard work goes unappreciated. A group of misfits that banded together to create a family. PP2 ruined all of that and was just another run of the mill, over the top, teen “comedy”.
My Rating: D

What do you think? Am I being too harsh or taking things too seriously? Did you like Pitch Perfect 2? Hopefully my review gave you some food for thought. I’d love to know what y’all thought of the film and my review! Please shoot me an email, or write me a comment down below! Thanks for reading 🙂