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Herewith a completely solipsistic list of things that tickled my fancy this past week and that bear further investigation by The World Out There. IMHO.

Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live: She had me with her recent channeling of Ann Romney, but last night took the cake with her wondrous portraits of the Long Island Medium, Ellen deGeneres, and (most side splitting of all) Celia Gimenez, the eighty-year-old Spanish lady who painted over a 100 year old fresco of the face of Christ. I’ve got my eye on you, McKinnon. You’re now officially the one to watch on SNL. Gracias.

Not Fade Away, David Chase’s new movie: Well I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I have been waiting for this film to come out for what seems like years. The feature film directorial debut of genius David Chase (ahem, The Sopranos), it stars James Gandolfini, John Magaro, Jack Huston, Will Brill, Bella Heathcote, Brad Garrett and others and is the story of a rock group in 1960’s New Jersey. The music supervisor is Steven Van Zandt, so ’nuff said.  It’s due out in December from Paramount. Check out the trailer here.

The return of Homeland, on Showtime: Even if you didn’t watch the first season, or know anything at all about this show, you probably grokked that it swept the Emmys and also racked up a few Golden Globes. Apparently all this attention resulted in a huge ratings win last week when Season 2 premiered, and it did not disappoint. We find Claire Danes’ character Carrie puttering around in the garden and closing down her laptop when a news story about the Middle East pops up, until her old buddy Mandy Patinkin (um, J’adore) reaches out to get her help with an asset she recruited years before. Of course it doesn’t take much to get her on the plane to Beirut. And suddenly our Sunday nights look a whole lot better for the next few months.

Theatre Is Evil, By Amanda Palmer, racks up the establishment kudos: Rolling Stone named Amanda Palmer’s new album Theatre Is Evil one of the year’s best rock records. Palmer made world headlines earlier this year with her massively successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of this album, from which she raised $1.2 million. The record is kickass. The band is magnificent. Palmer is a goddess. You can stream and purchase the record here for as little as $1.00 in a Pay-What-You-Want scenario. Mark my words; she’s the Queen of Social Media and she puts on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. Plenty of chances to see if I’m right on that, here.

The Candy Bar of the Week goes to the New Smoked Banana Caramel Chocolate Bar by Vosges: I haven’t had it yet, but who needs to with a description like this: Smoked bananas blended into soft caramel, with a touch of Alderwood smoked salt and tucked it into the pockets of a 72% cacao dark chocolate bar. When tasting the bar, the smoke flavor is distinct with the smoky notes found primarily in the Mesquite smoked banana. Who writes these things? Vosges always comes through and I’m sure this is my tastebuds’ version of a rocket to the moon.

Janey Milstead, Editor In Chief of my favorite magazine, like, ever, TeenSet, located via Google!: Well, to me, this is Ultra Mega. Not only did I locate the website of Ms. Milstead, I also found out that while at TeenSet she wrote under many names and one of those was Shirley Poston, possibly my favorite writer…ever. All these years, I never knew they were the same person. To my teenage self this is the equivalent of the Mars Landing or some other huge scientific discovery. I’m still hoping to find someone has digitized all those TeenSet magazines, somehow, somewhere.

The Communication Cure, by Dr. Neha Sangwan: I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Neha at a nutritional seminar several years ago and have stayed abreast of her work ever since.  Sangwan is an internal medicine physician as well as a gifted corporate communication strategist who speaks internationally on the topics of conflict resolution, stress management, and wellness. This video sets out the premise of her upcoming book, and I guarantee you she’s going to be a household name when it comes out.

The 30th Anniversary of Men Without Women by Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul: Earlier this week, it was thirty years to the day of the release of Men Without Women, an album that, to be quite honest, I probably played more than any other record I own. Ten songs - a masterpiece of passion - the first solo statement from an artist who had already proven himself as an incredibly gifted songwriter, though until this album, not for himself. In July 2011, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes paid tribute to the record with a live show bringing those songs to life again, and you can now pay homage to it by purchasing SSJ’s version here.

Oh yeah; two guys who want to be President for the next four years were onstage together for 90 minutes in Denver: If you know me, you know how I feel. And if you don’t may I quote Immanuel Kant to you:  We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals. Under no circumstances would I vote for Mitt Romney to be President of a Block Association let alone the US, once I heard the story of Seamus strapped to the top of a car in a cage for hours during a highway drive. Laugh all you want, if you think this is trivial, but the mere fact that Mitt Romney did this; that the dog was ill and had the runs; that Romney pulled over and hosed off the dog and put him back up there, now soaking wet, to freeze in the wind; it doesn’t even bear thinking about. So yes, I was disappointed in Obama’s performance this week at the debate. But if you don’t want half the country, the poor, the unemployed, the 47% he spoke so disgustingly of when he thought no one but big money donors were listening, to be strapped on top of Mitt’s car while the special people ride inside as he races up the highway to glory — I beg you — don’t vote for him.

And lastly, if you need another reason to love Bruce Springsteen, he was part of a big campaign this week for gay marriage:
Springsteen joined The Four2012 Campaign, putting forth his macho Jersey stare right into your soul and blasting some strong words in support of marriage equality specifically in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington. Marriage equality is now a plank in the DNC’s platform, at last, and is sure to be a subject that will continue to be discussed as we head towards the Election on November 6.

ALSO ON MY RADAR:



March 21 - April 19 Aries

Yon adventurous Aries folks will no doubt find the Peace Fountain, located next to the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in upper Manhattan, fascinating - as I did on a recent re-visit there with my friend Buffalo Jill. Greg Wyatt, the artist and sculptor-in-residence at the Cathedral, intended the piece to depict the struggle of good and evil as seen through the battle of wills between Satan and the Archangel Michael. I can’t even begin to describe this sculpture, as it has to be seen to be believed. Around the plaza where the fountain resides are a number of plaques with pithy quotes by gifted thinkers like Einstein, Socrates, and John Lennon. The plaque below the fountain itself says, in part: Peace Fountain celebrates the triumph of Good over Evil, and sets before us the world’s opposing forces—violence and harmony, light and darkness, life and death—which God reconciles in his peace.

April 20 - May 20 Taurus
To those stubborn Taureans out there; indulge your love of comfort and luxury for a change. I know you’re all hey there’s a recession on and suchlike and I get that; but once in a great while you have to live the way you want your life to be rather than the way it is – even if only for a few minutes a week. And when you’re in this mode, rub some creamy sweet-smelling shea butter into your skin. Shea butter contains Vitamins A, E, and F and has healing properties that address various ailments like dry skin, burns, muscle aches, wrinkles, and rashes. Shea Yeleen International is a company that makes shea body butter, body balm, and lip balm and, being a fair trade cooperative, they also funnel half of the retail price back into the communities that made the products. SYI’s mission is to promote sustainable economic development and empower women in rural West Africa through organizing and training women owned cooperatives to produce, market, and sell high quality shea butter; and educate consumers in the U.S. about natural body care products and fair trade.

May 21 - June 20 Gemini
Yes, it’s that time. Gemini Time. Brink of Summer Time. And time, once again, for us to check in with the Goddess of Ganja, Nancy Botwin. Weeds has returned. I’ll be recapping each episode weekly on the Huffington Post throughout Season Five – first installment here. I’ll also be picking a 420 moment during each episode as well. If you’ve never been a stoner you won’t get that reference, so feel free to google it at your leisure. Anyway, to be brief, Nancy’s life has been spared since she’s carrying the spawn of her Mexican drug lord BF – Celia’s been kidnapped by her own daughter, the Mighty Quinn, who’s been living in Mexico since she was sent there for boarding school – young Shane is following his brother into the family business – and that’s only a few strands of the plotline. Viva the wacky world that Jenji Kohan created, and stop by for a visit Monday nights at 10PM on Showtime. (Followed by the great new show Nurse Jackie, starring a very different Edie Falco than her last incarnation as Carmela Soprano).

June 21 - July 22 Cancer
So put this on your calendar because it’s a great birthday present for you Cancerians. Under the Covers Volume 2 (Shout Factory) by Sid and Susie, that is to say, Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, will be released on July 21. The first volume in 2006 was rife with great 60’s pop songs like And Your Bird Can Sing (Lennon/McCartney), Monday, Monday (John Phillips), Different Drum (Mike Nesmith), Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young), Who Knows Where the Time Goes (Sandy Denny) and many more. May I say that anyone who brings back the great Sandy Denny, and that song in particular, into the public consciousness deserves multiple thanks in my book. Vol. 2 includes 16 fantastic songs from the 1970’s – everything from Sugar Magnolia to Maggie May to Beware of Darkness. Thanks as always to the learned Sal Nunziato and his extremely necessary music blog Burning Wood for this great news.

July 23 - August 22 Leo
Faithful, yet intolerant. Creative, yet patronizing. That is the eternal dichotomy of Leo. Seems to me that you conflicted souls would enjoy Susan McCorkindale’s terrific autobiographical tale of leaving the city behind for a quieter, simpler, possibly boring as hell life in the country, Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl. McCorkindale, former marketing director for Family Circle Magazine, left her fabulous New York City six-figure job behind to go with her husband and two sons to live on a 500-acre beef farm in rural Virginia. This book is about her struggle to assimilate in a very different world and it will leave you howling. Check out her blog. Follow her twitter feed (“Husband’s making hay. Kids are making a mess. And I’m making margaritas. Just another smokin’ Friday night on the farm.”).

August 23 - September 22 Virgo
And speaking of twitter feeds… yes, I’ve gone down that daisy path, like many of you –obsessive Virgo or not. I follow feeds as diverse as The Onion to NPR to Rachel Maddow to Perez Hilton. I pick ‘em, I read ‘em, sometimes I keep ‘em, sometimes I unsub, most times I don’t. It’s like a moving haiku billboard. Sometimes they’re so great that I need to tell the world about ‘em. Such is the case with SustainableDump, the fabulous feed of journalist/culinary student Kathleen Willcox. KW’s feed delivers substainable food news, plus oatmeal recipes. How about the 411 on the ingredients of Sara Lee bread? Or the scoop on conscientious cacao? All here, plus this - oatmeal du jour: toasted then cooked in light coconut milk with chilies (I plucked ‘em out before slurping it up), salt, brown sugar. Check out more of Kathleen’s erudite gems on the Eat Me Daily group blog and catch her delicious review of David Liebovitz’s new memoir, The Sweet Life in Paris, at the Daily Beast.

September 23 - October 22 Libra
This one’s in honor of my Libran cat, Mr. Boy, a healthy and robust five and a half year old tabby. He’s lived with me since last year when I got him as a rescue pet. I recently had to take him to the vet, which is not the easiest task when a cat weighs 15 pounds and really doesn’t want to leave the house for any reason, ever, since he is king of the castle here. A friend told me about Pet Taxi and we tried them out and now I want to tell you about how great they are. They offer local service in Manhattan and will take your furry companion anywhere from Soho to Singapore, door to door. They transport dogs, cats, and exotic animals to and from airports, kennels, vets, groomers – with or without you along. They can arrange for your pet to travel by air – from shots, to paperwork, to the plane. They also operate a Hampton Petney shuttle service in the summer. Mr. Boy and I enjoyed them immensely.

October 23 - November 21 Scorpio
Since Halloween falls within the dates of this sign, it’s no surprise that Scorpios tend to gravitate to the beauty of forgotten places, the poetry of decay. On her spooky beautiful site abandoned theaters, photographer Julia Solis presents a number of photo essays about the dark and quiet places where people used to live their lives, the places that have not yet been torn down, empty yet still breathing. Check out Detroit Wonderland: Snapshots of Detroit’s notoriously spectacular decay, with sidetrips to plywood, glamour, industry and playtime somewhere along the merry long haul. Draw in your breath at the image of an empty baby carriage in the shadow of an abandoned train station. And the crumbling façade of the Hotel Ft. Shelby. The spooky hallways of an empty office tower. The echoing silence of a mental hospital power plant. The screaming orange booths of an old restaurant, covered with concrete dust. Thank you Amanda Palmer for turning me on to this site via twitter.

November 22 - December 21 Sagittarius
It’s a known fact that Sagittarians love good and plentiful food and drink. So I have one word for you people: Zingerman’s. For those of you who don’t live in or near Ann Arbor, Michigan, this word may require an explanation. Think deli. Think roadhouse. Think coffee. Think creamery. Think catering. Think bakehouse. Think mail order: extraordinary, traditionally-made tasty gifts sent all across the U.S. There’s surely no occasion that would not be enlivened by utilizing the Z-word. There’s still time to order up a fabulous Father’s Day gift if you hurry (how about a Phantom of the Fridge Secret Stash?), or go a little nuts with some Hazelnut Spread from France, or carbo load supremely with a subscription to the Bread Club (Did someone say Parmesan Pepper? Roadhouse Rye? Chocolate Sourdough?). Thanks to another ex-Michigander, Paige, for this tip!

December 22 - January 19 Capricorn
Work, work, work. Sound familiar, O Capricorn? Are you starting to feel a little tired? A little crispy around the edges? Irritable? Sad? Worried? Scared? Take the time to read Dr. Judith Rich’s 7 Keys For Living The Passionate Life. Dr. Rich, currently living with breast cancer, says “I am growing older, but I’m not growing old.  Old happens when we stop being curious about life.” My favorite is key #3, partially quoted here: Let yourself be moved - Allow life to transport and expand you. Let it open you, touch you . . . Be moved to tears at the magic and mystery of it all. Life is so much bigger and grander than you can possibly imagine. That’s what it’s all about. And you know it, deep down in your real true heart.

January 20 - February 18 Aquarius
When the power of love is greater than the love of power, then the world will know peace - Jimi Hendrix. This Aquarian-themed quote is prominently featured on the website/blog of the Petal Belle Café in Soho, located on Sullivan Street near West Houston, right across from St. Anthony’s Church. A nosh at this teensy eensy beensy café is like stepping back in time, or perhaps going to Europe and sitting in a café off the town square in Vienna or Brussels. Have a red velvet cupcake or a roast pork sandwich with mesclun and pesto on rustic bread or a coconut flavored Belgian waffle sprinkled with powdered sugar. Get on their email list for notices about future classes on cupcake making. Follow their twitter feed to find out when Enrique will be doing tarot readings. Tarot plus cappuccino, does it get better than that?

February 19 - March 20 Pisces
If I was to guess, I’d say Sookie Stackhouse was a classic Pisces. She’s a dreamer. An intuitive. A sensitive human being with an old soul. And it’s time for us to be sucked up (sorry) into her rural Louisiana world again as this Sunday night, June 14, Alan Ball’s True Blood returns to HBO with its second season. If you haven’t scoped this show yet, give it a chance. Anna Paquin is delightful as Sookie, Stephen Moyer as Bill is way sexy and kind of the dream boyfriend (if you can live with his being dead, that is), Rutina Wesley is outstanding as Sookie’s bedeviled best friend Tara, and Nelsan Ellis as drug dealer / short order cook Lafayette is magnificent. Add to that some of the best music scoring on any television show and I’m there. You should be too. Sunday nights at 9pm on HBO.