Passionati

Archive for November, 2009

New Toni Braxton Video: Yesterday

Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton at the American Music Awards. Photo credit: ConcreteLoop.com

R&B star Toni Braxton seems to be on the come back trail – she’s got a hot new track, a new video, an upcoming album with all kinds of crazy collaborations, and appearances on all the hottest awards shows. Her songs seem to be known for summing up the difficult emotions we all go through – angst filled tracks that leave an impression. Here’s the video for her new track features a guest appearance from R&B/hip-hop sensation Trey Songz, who lends his unique vocal style to the song. Toni is promising that the new album will be her most powerful and personal musical statement to date. We think the video is worth checkin out.
– Duncan Alney


Bluto’s Spiced Rum Cider

Warm, spirited Cider = happiness

Bluto's Apple Cider

This weekend, my friend Bluto made some delicious Apple Cider and served it with Rum. It was a soothing, alcohol-based soup and it warmed the cockles of my heart. Here’s my official rating: Effing Delish.

You’ll Need:

  • Apples – try a mix of Red Delicious and Green Delicious. Note: use only sweet apples
  • Food Processor
  • Cheesecloth
  • Knife

Steps

  1. Use a blend of fresh apples
  2. You’ll need 36 apples to make a gallon
  3. Wash, core, slice, quarter, and puree the apples
  4. Pour the apples over the cheesecloth
  5. Boil the cider and then cool it down
  6. If you live in the US, add 2 to 3 cups of Red Hot Candy – Note: alternately you can use cinnamon sticks
  7. Add Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum 8. You can also try Nutmeg, Cloves, and Ginger in the mix. Amounts Once you’ve got your cider, taste test your way through the addition of the Red Hot/Cinnamon, Spiced Rum, and other spices.

– Duncan Alney


Cities: Philly and Pizza Love

twotallbuildingshouseschurchandbuildingsskyline1

I’m often asked by family members, acquaintances and the like, WHY (oh yes, in caps), OH WHY, DO YOU LIVE THERE?

Because – I LOVE PHILADELPHIA. Philly is a marvelous, magical place full of the most passionately crazed folk. Black, white, brown, blue, red, rainbow – we’ve got all types, all stripes. We’ve got spunk, fire, and, although a bit rough at times, we do appreciate great things.

skyline2

Like…

Sports: Attend any sporting event, and you’ll see us in our primes. We know our teams, love our players, and hate them when they do wrong. As it should be…

History: Walk down any street in Old City, and you’ll likely collide with Mr. Franklin, or Ms. Ross, or any number of colonial folk strolling about. Plus, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Constitution Center, 1776

Libation: Belly up to any bar, and you just might make a friend while treating your taste buds to the brave new world of craft beer. See also: Philly BEER WEEK

Art: galleries, fantastic museums (including the Philadelphia Museum of Art: not just for Rocky’s training regime anymore), over 3,000 murals, fantastic local musicians…and…DID I MENTION THE FOOD?

From the chefs – Garces, Vetri, Mori-freakin-moto – and those are just a few – to the restaurants at every corner, each little Philly neighborhood is full of good places to eat, drink, and love our city. Which I do – often, and zestfully.

KD_pizzaOne of those delightful places, Rustica, is owned by my friends Frank and Mary Maimone – who asked me, one day, to join twitter on their behalf as another way to reach customers. And thus, “tweets from the biggest fan of the most unusual pizza and sandwiches,” aka @Rusticaphilly was born. Their artisanal pizza shop in Northern Liberties is a prime example of why Philly rocks. This isn’t just your typical large-plain-pie-half-pepperoni-all-mediocre place – this is a place where foodies flock; where pies like the Bistecca del Tartufo – truffled steak and caramelized onion (fancy a fancy cheesesteak, anyone? – because it’s also available as a sammie) and the Federico – pulled chicken, salsa verde, and fresh cilantro – are the norm. Specialty pies coupled with decadent sandwiches topped off with calzones (which, as a tweeter pointed out just last night – “are simply phenomenal!”) – Rustica’s food is, quite simply, delicious.

This little pizza gem is just one more reason I love Philadelphia. And tweeting about it and my journey as a citizen of this city is so much fun.

– Kate Dalbey (Click Kate’s name to follow her adventures via twitter) All City Photos by Gloria Bell.


Aashni Shah: Up Close

Up close with Aashni Shah, director of the smart little film, The Umbrella

We love film. We adore adore short films. Especially smart little ones with heart that pack a punch. So after tracking down Aashni Shah in London and subsequently in India, where she’s researching her next documentary, we’ve got the interview for you. Watch the film here btw if you haven’t seen it yet. We’re big fans of Aashni’s film and thrilled to bring you this exclusive interview.

aashni2Where did the idea for the film “The Umbrella” come from? I had to make a short film as part of my curriculum for my film school. Film school is one place where you get a chance to make the kind of films you love without being under any kind of pressure as to whether it will make money or not, etc. I have always loved films that send out a message to the viewers. The Umbrella, though very subtly, sends out a message that I strongly believe in ‘ What goes around comes around’ and ‘Life is a circle’.

How did you cast it? As ‘The Umbrella’ is a silent film, I had to be very careful with the casting. My school had a couple of Actor Biographies which I went through and selected my cast. However on the day, one of them didn’t turn up and I had to request one of my A.D’s to play his part. He happily took it on and I couldn’t have asked for a better thief..:) I distinctively remember one scene where I was making my lead cast (Julian Roberts) walk around the busy streets of Soho, London with his stick and glasses. He was so much into his character that passersby were helping him cross the streets thinking he was actually blind. All of them performed beyond my expectations. I was one hell of a lucky director. qqqq  Can you speak to the use of symbolism? As well as your choices with color. oooooo As mentioned, the film being silent, I had to make sure every character was well established and distinct. As the Umbrella itself was the protagonist, I thought it would work really well if I gave it its own identity, different from the rest of the cast. It was extremely important for the umbrella to stand out so that the viewers could relate to it.

Who are your heroes? I take inspiration form several filmmakers and actors. I think Sir Alfred Hitchcock is unquestionably the greatest filmmaker to have emerged. His flair was narrative and engaging the emotions of the audience like no one else. Another one of my favourite is Mr. Madhur Bhandarkar (Indian Filmmaker) who is known for his socially relevant and hard hitting films. His movies hold up a mirror to the society. I admire Martin Scorsese, Martin Campbell and Ridley Scott for their striking visual style, incorporating a detailed approach to production design and their innovative atmospheric lighting. Amongst actors I hold Al Pacino, Robert Di Niro and Humphrey Bogart in high regards. With their intense and gritty performances they are an original in the acting profession. Their unbeatable performances have made the characters played by them classics which led them to become legends among film buffs and all aspiring actors and directors. In Indian Cinema I admire Shahrukh Khan.His commitment to acting as a profession and his constant screen dominance has established him as one of the greatest actors to have emerged.

You were recently in LA, what’s in the works for you? I was in LA for the Brand Launch of a post-production studio called Prime Focus where I formerly worked as an editor. I am currently in India doing research for my next project.

You have won and been nominated for a few awards. Can you elaborate on that? After I directed my first short film ‘The Umbrella’ I submitted it to a few film Festivals. It won the Best Director’s Award at the First Glance Film Festival – Philadelphia. I was also nominated at the Hollywood Film Festival (HFF)- Los Angeles. The experience of being at the HFF was exhilarating. I consider myself fortunate to have met legends like Clint Eastwood, Oliver Stone, Dustin Hoffman and Hollywood biggies viz Angelina Jolie, Ben Stiller. Amongst others my film was nominated at Student Shorts Film Festival- Toronto, Best Short Film, 2008, Finalist Very Short Movies Festival- Los Angeles, Best Short Film, 2008, Finalist Portobello Film Festival, Best Short Film, 2008, Nomination

About The Umbrella

The Umbrella has been on the film festival circuit. Its use of color and metaphors is thought provoking, to say the least. For a short film, it tastes like a slow cooked meal with great ingredients and a lovely sauce. The films blurb doesn’t do the film justice – you HAVE to check it out. ” The Umbrella is a film about the cycle of life. Set in an everyday metropolitan scenario, and shot in stark colours, it conveys the powerful message of ‘What goes around comes around”. The film achieves this by following a bright red umbrella during the course of a single morning, using it as a simple metaphor…On the way, the film also explores the themes of blindness, chance, and urban living.”

– Duncan Alney


New Moon Soundtrack Delivers Punch

Melodramatic mood is just right

After the early début of the New Moon Soundtrack in mid October, it hit number one on the Billboard Top 200 Chart and currently stands in the number ten spot. The early release was due to overwhelming and unprecedented demand by the fans. The success of the soundtrack is only a prelude to the even greater success the movie will probably have.

New Moon soundtrack delivers melodramatic mood

New Moon soundtrack delivers melodramatic mood

I had a chance to sit down and listen to the album. At first, I was weary, thinking that it was going to be full of big name mainstream bands, most of whom had no influence on the author when she wrote the books. I was afraid the soundtrack was just going to have anything on it as long as it kept feeding the cash cow that the sage has become. I was pleasantly surprised when I read the line-up of the bands on the soundtrack, and even more surprised when I listened to it. Death Cab for Cutie’s song Meet Me On the Equinox is a good opener, setting the mood for this vampirish ode to Romeo and Juliet.

The Thom Yorke song on the album, Hearing Damage, is a hypnotic, trance-like love song for teen angst that just draws you in. Another song that struck me was Possibility by Lykke Li, who is a Swedish indie singer. She was initially hesitant when approached to write a song for the soundtrack, but after seeing an early screening of the New Moon, she decided to write a song. The Bon Iver and St. Vincent song is another great addition to the soundtrack as well as the songs by the artist such as: OK Go, The Killers, and the somber instrumental ending by Alexander Desplat.

I think this soundtrack is made up of music that the characters in the book would actually listen to. This is music that the readers actually listen to. The album creates a good melodramatic mood for any teenager in the midst of a high school romance.

I am excited to go to the movie and see where they place the songs in the movie. I am happy to see they did keep the band the Muse on the soundtrack. The Muse are thanked at the end of every book by Stephanie Myers, so its only fitting they were on the soundtrack. Stephanie Myers had four bands she wanted for the soundtrack. The Muse was the only one they chose. Stephanie Myers said “she would have liked to have seen all her picks included on the soundtrack, but in the end the soundtrack is truly amazing, so I don’t have any complaints”.

– Lain Ewing

Editor’s note: stand by for a contest to win a framed New Moon canvas on our Facebook Fan Page!


Bride in (Winter) Wonderland

Greg Perez is back with some icy cold hotness

Winter Wonderland by Greg Perez

Winter Wonderland by Greg Perez

I was given the task to shoot an ad for an upcoming bridal show in January. The challenge was to create an image off the name of the show “2010 Winter Wonderland Bridal Show”. The process: Selecting the right dress to fit the theme Finding the right model to fit and tell the story.

Photography by Greg Perez; Art director: Josh Perez; Assistant/ 2nd photographer: Jeff Schilling

Greg-Perez-by-Duncan-Alney

Greg Perez is a Cuban-American. He’s the happiest guy I know. Invested in his work 100%, he’s a process photographer. Painstaking in his approach, and committed to aesthetics and bringing his value system to his images. Greg Perez is on the rise.


Seal: “I am your man”

Multi-Platinum Singer-Songwriter Delivers Greatest Hits Package From His Chart-Topping Albums

Grammy-winning vocalist and songwriter Seal will release a collection of his greatest songs on one CD, HITS, to be released December 8, 2009 on Warner Bros. Records. Fans can purchase a CD or CD/DVD package which includes the Seal ‘Soul Live’ dvd with nine amazing live performances from his worldwide hit album Soul.

seal hits cd cover

Since you’re probably dying to hear some Seal about now – check out this playlist while you read on.

Seal Hits will span the artist’s 20 year career and be comprised of sixteen of Seal’s biggest hit songs, along with two brand new tracks.  These two new recordings, produced by David Foster, extend the concept of Seal’s hugely successful 2008 covers album, Soul, which has sold more than three million units worldwide and received international critical acclaim.  Seal brings his unique and exquisite vocal style to “I Am Your Man” written by Ashford & Simpson, first recorded by Bobby Taylor, and the Sly and The Family Stone classic “Thank You.”  Seal is currently in the studio recording a new album of original material to be released in 2010.

The London-born Seal first emerged from Britain’s house music scene in the early ’90s providing vocals and lyrics for techno artist Adamski’s 1990 hit “Killer.” The Top Ten debut single, “Crazy,” followed and Seal would go on to earn critical acclaim and worldwide commercial success over five albums.  Seal’s prodigious vocal gifts — his soaring, husky baritone that has become a signature on such hits as “Prayer for the Dying,” “Kiss From a Rose,” and “Don’t Cry” — amplify the emotion he brings to a song.

The track-listing for Seal HITS is as follows.

1.    I Am Your Man

2.    Kiss From A Rose

3.    Crazy

4.    Fly Like An Eagle

5.    Love’s Divine

6.    A Change Is Gonna Come

7.    Amazing

8.    Killer

9.    Prayer For The Dying

10. Get It Together

11. The Right Life

12. Future Love Paradise

13. Waiting For You

14. Free

15. Rolling

16. Don’t Cry

17. If You Don’t Know Me By Now

18. Thank You

– Duncan Alney


Michael Buble: Not Too Perfect Is Always Perfect

buble3

Multi-Grammy winning artist, Michael Bublé has done it again. Another in the line of big band singers – Sinatra, Martin, Bennett and Connick Jr. – Bublé released his new CD in October. “I started this record knowing I was going to record it differently than my previous ones,” he says. “I dug way deeper and was more introspective on this one. Basically, I sang the truth – made each song autobiographical – and you can definitely hear the difference.”

buble2In “Crazy Love” Bublé covers many of my favorite songs from Van Morrison, among others, but his voice and talent breaths new life into old classics, like “Georgia on My Mind.” He says, “I went back to the way my idols made their records.  I wanted an organic feel – so people could feel like they were in the studio with me.” And in the studio, Bublé gives us a crisp, harmonic sound. As I sit and listen, his music warms the soul, especially on cold, rainy November days.

He has a knack for that, though. In other productions, he’s delivered that same heart warming music, perfect for setting the right mood – whether that’s enjoyed alone or with another.  “We let the sounds all come together and bleed into one another.” He mentions, “It’s not contrived.  Not too perfect.”

The CD “Crazy Love” is about the roller coaster of relationships. Never perfect – not too perfect, as Buble points out, is apropos.

Michael Bublé has sold over 22 million CDs worldwide.  His previous CD, the Grammy winning “Call Me Irresponsible” (2007) was a number one album in over 15 countries.  His 2005 CD “It’s Time” holds the record as the longest running title to remain on the Billboard Traditional Jazz charts – a full two years.

– Rodger Johson. Reach him on twitter @yourprguy



John Mayer’s new sound is reminiscent of Room For Squares?

John Mayer released his highly anticipated follow up to Continuum on Nov. 17Battle Studies.  The first single, “Who Says”, has some critics saying he’s “too pop” this time around.  Over the past decade fans of John Mayer have seen him turn to the blues, we’ve seen him hit the tabloids, and we’ve been able to enjoy this ride.  While John may not be the sound of choice for the masses, I believe we all have to admit he has a ton of talent and this record (“pop” or not) has a nice mix of old John, new John, and blues John.  John Mayer is a song writer first and foremost, so listening to what he has to say is always an experience.

Editor’s Update: Here’s the new story on John Mayer’s thoughts on the new album “Battle Studies” – it has a video too!

– Mark Juleen


Speed Addict: Ashley Johnson

Ashley Johnson grew up in South Africa. He became an Olympian. Now he races motorcycles for fun. He races for the thrill, for the challenge, because it feeds his passion, his need for speed. Passionati was able to catch up with him recently so that you can experience him in this little film first hand.

Picture 90

– Duncan Alney directed “Speed Addict”, Lain Ewing shot and edited it. Kristina Williams assisted on location.


Sarah Mclachlan: the return

Canadian superstar is recording music, making music videos, and leading Lilith’s return

Sarah McLachlan

Sarah McLachlan has been pretty busy over the last year or so. 2 new songs last year, new music videos, a song rumored to have been recorded to be the official theme song of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. Wonder if she’ll perform it at the Opening Ceremony at BC Place Stadium on Feb 12 2010. We’ll see. Here’s the video for “One Dream,” the brand new single from Sarah which is available on iTunes and other digital retailers everywhere!

Then there is the return of Lilith Fair. Here’s the official Lilith 2010 website, not only revealing the new look and feel of Lilith a decade later, but also the first set of cities that the traveling festival will be hitting–New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, London and more. Check out www.lilithfair.com for the complete list.

Even SNL’s Weekend Update host, Seth Meyers, is excited for the return of Lilith. Above, check out a segment from the November 7th, 2009 Saturday Night Live airing of Weekend Update where “Sarah McLachlan” is brought in for a live interview to discuss the return of Lilith.

Lastly, here’s the videos of the two song from 2008 – U want me 2 and Don’t give up on us.


Sarah McLachlan – U Want Me 2 (Official Music Video)The funniest bloopers are right here

– Duncan Alney


Candy and the Gardens of Joy

I was on assignment in Kalimpong, a sleepy little town in West Bengal, tucked away in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas. I had already covered most of the places of Buddhist interest required by my editor, and was near the impressive gates of the incredible Jangsa Gomba Dechan Choling Monastery with its colossal prayer wheels, polychromatic prayer flags, and its large population of novitiate monks of all ages, sizes, and smiles. With no restrictions on photography, the monastery is a photographer’s answer to many long and fervent hours of prayer!

Just then, I noticed the quartet of young novitiates and one not-so-young monk, looking at me rather quizzically. I smiled and waved to them. Without a moment’s hesitation, the sombre faces broke into broad, ear to ear smiles, at the exact moment that my camera viewfinder met my eye. I must have run off half a dozen frames before I lowered my instrument.

Buddhist monks in Kalimpong by Don Alney Copyright 2009

Buddhist monks in Kalimpong by Don Alney Copyright 2009

The youngest of the lot, looked at his mentor, said something in Tibetan, got a nod of approval, lightly skipped down several steps, and stopped before me. I smiled, wondering what he wanted. He extended his tightly balled fist towards me. It unclenched, and resting on his grubby palm were two, rather sorry looking pieces of candy. With a very serious face, he popped one into his mouth, and with outstretched palm, looked at me expectantly. With an equally poker face, I accepted the proffered gift with all the grace that the occasion merited. I stripped the slightly moist wrapper, popped the soggy candy into my mouth, and proceeded to suck it, with many slurping sounds of apparent relish.

My young benefactor’s face broke into a smile and his face lit up. Blissful. Radiant. With a final wave of goodbye, I entered the gates of the monastery, suddenly aware of a strange new spring in my step, and a catch in my throat. Making my way up the steps, I realized that little things really do count in life. One is tempted to dismiss them, but they are the seeds of daily joy that grow and enrich the gardens of our lives.

Don Portrait

Don Alney is a freelance travel writer and photographer, seeking the ‘forever moment.’ Email don d at vsnl.com. Check out this stuff here


VooDoo Music Experience 2009:: Photos

Voodoo Experience commonly known as Voodoo Fest (mostly by locals) is a multi-day music festival in New Orleans, Louisiana that was originally held on Halloween weekend in 1999, it has since moved between the weekend before Halloween and Halloween weekend throughout the years. The festival returned to Halloween weekend in 2009.

Headlining this year’s festival were Kiss, Eminem, Jane’s Addiction, Widespread Panic, and The Flaming Lips. Eminem announced on his Sirius satellite radio show, Shady45, that the Voodoo Experience would be his only performance in 2009.

photos by: Adam Yale


Global Music Playlist

The Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram

The Shore Temple at Mahabalipuram by Don Alney

We’re tired of the same old music here at Passionati. We don’t listen to commercial radio. We like unique music, artists with a point of view, out riders, mavericks (the real kind), and we love music that lifts our hearts up or causes us to be sombre and think. Here’s a little list we put together for you. Its expansive. It’s got Bollywood (of course), Mali, Jamaica and a few other surprises. Its not meant to be all inclusive or represent every music scene. But we marinated it for a few days, drank some wine while we listened to it, and have cooked this mix up for you on lala. So waste no more time, and play this list!

– Duncan Alney


Eva Mendes billboard: too sexy?

So there’s some controversy about the new Calvik Klein billboard that features actress Eva Mendes, in revealing lingerie, draped around model Jamie Dorman. The billboard takes up the entire side of a building on the corner of Houston Street and Lafayette Street in Soho, New York City.

What do you think? Is it too sexy? Is it pornography?

Evan Mendes Billboard

© GARDINER ANDERSON / CARLOS VILA/Bauer-Griffin

– Duncan Alney


Rihanna’s Russian Roulette (sneak peak)

It doesn’t come out till Friday but we’ve got your sneak peak here!

Rihanna-celebrity_star_photo_001

– Duncan Alney


Somebody to Love – Leighton Meester Feat. Robin Thicke

Official Music Video For Song “Somebody To Love” By The American Electropop Singer Leighton Meester, Taken From The Album Leighton Meester Upcoming On January 2010, Check It Out.

leighton_meester


Kris Kristofferson receives BMI Icon Award

Songwriter, actor, Rhodes Scholar, helicopter pilot, highwayman – Kris has done it all. First turn this song on. Then read on.


Today, November 10th, Kris Kristofferson will be honored with the BMI Icon Award at the performing rights organization’s 57th annual Country Awards, the oldest awards saluting country’s top music makers.  The Icon designation is given to BMI songwriters and artists who have had “a unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.” Kristofferson, who will be saluted with an all-star musical tribute that evening, joins an elite list of past honorees that includes country music stalwarts Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Whisperin’ Bill Anderson, Charlie Daniels, Loretta Lynn and last year’s honoree Hank Williams, Jr., along with multi-genre nobility like the Bee Gees, Isaac Hayes, Ray Davies, James Brown, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Steve Winwood and more

KrisKristofferson-Portrait2-MarinaChavez

Kristofferson’s story is fairly well known: he had a dream—along with the necessary talent and ambition—to become a songwriter. After turning down a teaching position at West Point, the Rhodes Scholar hoped to get his foot in the door of the music business by taking a job as a janitor at Columbia Records. It wasn’t long after arriving in Nashville that he was receiving armloads of acclaim and being hailed as one of America’s clearest and most important voices, having penned such classics as “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” “For the Good Times,” and many others.

Stay tuned for a review of Kris’ new album “Close to the Bone” and a feature on his work.

– Duncan Alney


New Moon Trailer

Ok so we’re all fans of the Twilight series. Check it out the trailer. You’ll be seeing a review of the soundtrack and where you can buy it, a movie review, and a contest with some real rare stuff! Meanwhile, here’s the official trailers! Yeah I know, we’ve seen them too. So after that check out this great fan-made trailer!

– Duncan Alney


Unreleased Michael Jackson: Cheater & We B Ballin

Cheater: Found this great unreleased track on an Italian website. It sound like Michael Jackson and like it was done in the mid 80’s.

We B Ballin: From the 9 elements,

From the person who leaked the record:

“I produced and co-wrote the title track from “The Player’s Club” Movie (Ice Cube’s Directorial Debut) entitled “We Be Clubbin'” in 1997. The song was an instant hit and the following year, we all thought it to be a good idea to do a remix version of the song entitled “We Be Ballin'” featuring Michael Jackson & Shaquille O’Neal.
The song was to be released on an NBA Compilation album set to be released that year and was also going to be featured in the infamous NBA “I Love This Game” themed commercials. The NBA season was cut in half that year due to the player initiated strike against the league and the entire project seemed to just disappear. The Song was HOTT and there was a lot of buzz around the song at that time but no one ever wanted to revive the idea and it was left alone. The only folks I know to have copies of the record are Michael Jackson, Ice Cube and myself and maybe less than a handful of other people.”

Michael Jackson


An Homage to Frommage

So sue her. Elizabeth Gilstrap comes out about her pure creamy love for cheese.

So sue her. Elizabeth Gilstrap comes out about her pure creamy love for cheese.

During a recent chat over lattes, I made an apparent faux pax by revamping an old cliché: “Wow,” I said. “That’s the greatest thing since sliced Cheese*.” The quizzical looks and rolling of eyes could only mean one thing: these people were either in denial or clearly uninformed citizens. I mean, seriously. Who, in their right mind, could deny that a world without Cheese is like a world without bliss? Sure the USDA likes to tell us that Cheese belongs under the umbrella of “dairy” towards the tippy top of the nutritional pyramid, but since when do we look to Uncle Sam to give us guidelines for happiness?  If you ask me, it’s the foundation, baby. The foundation of a life spent enjoying all things good and Gorgonzola.

Think about it.  What’s macaroni without a blanket of creamy Cheddar? Or pizza without mounds of Mozzarella? Can you even imagine tart apple slices sans a delicate bath of velvety Swiss Gruyere? And while I prefer these pasteurized prizes in my belly, just saying their names can give me goose bumps. Asiago, Gouda, Chevre, Stilton, Brie, Taleggio, Manchego. Mmmm, lovely. And let’s not forget Cambozola: a delectable combination of French soft-ripened triple cream Cheese and Italian Gorgonzola. Two words for you, my friend: FOOD PORN.

To the non-believers who live vicariously through their iPhone nutritional pyramid app, consider this: Cheese goes with everything. Bread (there’s your serving of grains), nuts (kinda’ like legumes), fruit (better than veggies), olives (also a belly fat burner – win, win!), wine (no comment necessary) and prosciutto (that’s a food group, right? If not, it should be. Like bacon.)

To quote my Grandma Rose: Vivere, amare e mangiare formaggio. ‘Nuf said.

*The capitalization of Cheese and its proper Cheese names was purely intentional. All things omnipresent and kind deserve capitalization. (You can have your deities and I’ll have mine.  And you know I love me some Buddha with a hearty dose of Bleu.)

– Elizabeth Gilstrap

Hat1Life and laughter junkie, Elizabeth Gilstrap is a marketing diva by trade and an ardent music-film-travel-foodie at heart.


Hotel Boudoir by Greg Perez

Greg Perez' new series Hotel Boudoir start here.

Greg Perez' new series Hotel Boudoir starts here.

Inspired by film noir and his love for the feminine form, Greg Perez has created sheer magic and has shared the first frame of his soon to be published Hotel Boudoir collection with passionati. It’s designed to capture the magic of photography from their 30’s, not to mention it makes a pretty wickedly tasty gift for a significant other.
Greg-Perez-by-Duncan-Alney

Greg Perez is a Cuban-American. He’s the happiest guy I know. Invested in his work 100%, he’s a process photographer. Painstaking in his approach, and committed to aesthetics and bringing his value system to his images. Greg Perez is on the rise.

– Duncan Alney


Robert Francis’ Playlist

So you know we love Robert Francis’ new record “Before Nightfall” – we previewed it a few weeks ago, and even did a very revealing interview with Robert. He promised a list of 10 songs that he loves and here it is baby! We figured that the next best thing to hanging out with Robert and listenin’ to these tunes is to listen to them on our own (or on your own!). If you’d like to get a message through to Robert – leave a message here and we’ll get them through to Robert’s publicist.

Robert-Francis---Bed---Phot

Robert Francis - Bed Photo - (c) Julie Brokaw

Here’s the list and then nine out of the ten songs are embedded here for your listening pleasure. The only song missing is Keef Hartley Band’s “Circles”.

– Duncan Alney

1. Moby Grape – I Am Not Willing
2. Procol Harum – Whiter Shade of Pale
3. Richard and Linda Thompson – The Calvary Cross
4. Bob Dylan – You’re A Big Girl Now
5. Karen Dalton – Something on Your Mind
6. Keef Hartley Band – Circles
7. Gene Clark – Lady of the North
8. Fleetwood Mac – That’s All For Everyone
9. Townes Van Zandt – Like A Summer Thursday
10. Little Feat – Long Distance Love

Arches National Park – Delicate Arch

See them in the whispering light of a gently warm sunrise, or the blaze of a fiery sunset: the spectacular configurations of Arches and Canyonlands National Park conjure up a sense of the incredible, and the enchanted. The particulars of plants, animals, and traces of human presence pale in the desolate, overwhelming splendour of gigantic and impossibly sculpted rock formations. Sandstone archways, gorges, spires, domes, crags, conspicuously isolated hills and plateaus tease and fire our minds, stimulate reflection, and virtually beg for protection.

Delicate-Arch-Don-Alney

Delicate Arch (c) Don Alney


Delicate Arch is a secluded reminder of a long-gone geological epoch. It soars above the edge of a canyon, and stands framed against the stunning background of the La Sal range of mountains on one side, and against the deep blue sky on the other. It has become an iconic sign of the park as well as the close-by town of Moab. In fact, it has become a symbol of the entire Canyon country, and the state of Utah. Towering spires, pinnacles, and massive rocks precariously balanced on the brink of incredibly inadequate foundations, compete with the arches as stunning displays of nature’s idiosyncrasies.

Don Portrait

Don Alney is a freelance travel writer and photographer, seeking the ‘forever moment.’ Email don d at vsnl.com. Check out this stuff here