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PA (PITTSBURGH): THE STEEL TOWN 10 [SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION]

By Nora Zelevansky / February 24th, 2011

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You may have heard me rave about some of the bestest restaurants in Pittsburgh.  And, most likely, you scoffed.

Well, scoff no more, ye cynics.

Here's a full article in new foodie publication "Real Eats" on 10 must hit haunts (as introduced to me by my father on visits there).  Some of the chefs were actually nominated for James Beard awards this past week!

The publication is new and still working out the kinks, so I hear from some birdies that Firefox is the way to go when opening this up.  Also, you may have to sign up for a free temporary membership.

But it's worth it.  Especially if you ever go to Pittsburgh.

And don't you dare scoff at that.

xo – N.

THE LINT COLLECTOR’S TRASHY TUESDAYS: PHENOMENAL WOMACK, THAT’S ME

By Nora Zelevansky / February 22nd, 2011

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Brad starts off this episode with a pained expression because he's "been thinking a lot."  Maybe about whether or not he can pull of a Kangol hat.

Nope.  The answer is no, Brad.

But after a montage about the girls, we see him leaving the building with a leather duffel in hand, that damn hat and a black t-shirt like he's about to rob a bank in Oceans 16 or something.

I think maybe this show is depressing me.  I can't stop eating cheese, while I watch.

BUT anyway, Brad meets Chantal O.'s parents in what C. described aptly as a "McMansion."  Chantal comes from mo' money, mo' money, mo' money, mo.  And her mother seems to have gotten her lips, boobs and, well, entire face "touched up" pre-filming.  In fact, no one in the family seems to be able to form a facial expression.  Botox much?

Anyway, Chantal's mom is a good barometer for what Chantal will look like in 30 years (assuming she uses the same plastic surgeon).  So, Brad and Chantal's dad are both "self-made" men and for a second I feel like they're competing over who had a rougher childhood and a worse dad.  Ultimately, I think her dad likes Brad, but I can't tell cause his forehead doesn't move.

Her mom gives sage advice, which basically consists of nodding absently.  She's either moved by Chantal's feelings or she thinks Chantal should get a grip, but again I can't tell because her face is FROZEN in a single position.

Next up, Ashley's hometown in Maine:  "This is where I grew up," she explains.  Yes, Ashley.  That's what "hometown" usually means.  She takes him to where she first worked as a kid: "Isn't that cute, Brad?  I like worked in a bar!"  Yeah, cute is totally the word that comes to mind when I think about a child working in a bar.

Brad is asked a question in French and responds, "Si."  Then, they're served a regional specialty, which I'm pretty sure is just chili cheese fries.  Maybe the people in that town need to get out more and see that chili fries have actually made it outside of Maine.

Brad is worried that Ashley feels "disconnected" and stresses the importance of things being "great" instead of "good."  They get apples and carrots via a fruit stand with an honor system blah blah blah.  Ashley feels so proud bringing Brad into her house and I find that interesting because the word that comes to my mind when I imagine bringing home a guy I'm dating (who is also screwing a bunch of other girls) is more like shame.

Ashley's fam is apparently a turn on because she keeps like straddling him in front of her parents.  Apparently, she is really ambitious and driven.  She's going to be a dentist.  Wait, what?  Have we heard word one about this before??  Brad isn't sure he can keep up with Ashley's big dreams … to be a dentist?  Meanwhile, her family is like pimping her out, trying to coerce him into sleeping with her.  Apparently, small town people are weeeeeeird.  Too many chili fries.

So far, Brad's told two girls that he'll miss them and I haven't really believed him so much.  Say it again, Brad!  With gusto!  Is it just me or is this dude stressing HARD?

Shawntel welcomes Brad to the funeral home.  I'm sorry.  Is this girl a plant?  She can't possibly be for real.  And we thought the fang girl was creepy.  Brad looks like he is FREAKING out.  Where the hell is his therapist now, mofo?

After making him play corpse, Brad meets Shawntel's family and it seems obvious that his heart isn't it.  He has this pained smile on his face the whole time that screams "When can I escape?"

(Meanwhile, someone PLEASE take this cheese away from me.  I seriously can't stop stuffing my face.)

Turns out Shawntel is being groomed to takeover the family funeral business, which means staying in Chico, California instead of Austin.  She breaks the news that she might move, if she marries Brad.  Um.  Maybe wait to break your parents' hearts until you know you're actually in a relationship.

OMG.  Suddenly I feel AWFUL for Shawntel.  Her father gives her the worst guilt trip in the world, talking about how she missed a local tragedy and disappointed people by being away when they needed her in their time of mourning.  Um.  Daddy is a jerko.  AWWWWWWKward.

Brad says that she has an amazing family.  I just almost typed "fantasy."  Shawntel says the day couldn't have gone better.  REALLY?  What is your family usually like, if that's them on a good day?

Now comes Emily and I don't care what happens cause I'm just primed for a teary reunion with her daughter (visions of Jason Mesnik and Ty).  Poor Brad.  Emily's daughter hasn't seen her in like six weeks or something.  You think she wants to meet some meathead dude and a bunch of camera guys?  At least he brought a present, but he has no idea how to talk to a kid.  They're all just staring at each other.  But a butterfly kite saves the day, at least for the moment.

Brad decides to give Emily a hug goodbye instead of a kiss.  She clearly thinks he's freaking out about the whole kid thing and she may be right.  Stupid, Brad.  What woman wants to feel like you met her kid and now you no longer find her attractive enough to kiss?

This is my favorite thing about him, going back to last season.  When he panics, he literally has no poker face AT ALL.  He is like stumbling around, bright red and awkward, fumbling for her front door.  These guys all say they're ready for a woman with a kid, but the reality is a bit different than the idea.

But again gotta love Emily.  Brad says, "You're not buying this, are you?" and goes on about how her daughter is sleeping upstairs and he doesn't want to be disrespectful.   And Emily is just bluntly honest: "Brad, if this thing happens between us, she's always gonna be upstairs."  Deal or get lost, buddy boy. They make out in the doorway and he is probably just wondering when he can leave and call his shrink.  Maybe he should give his therapist a rose instead?

Do we think Emily's going to be the next Bachelorette?  Or is Brad going to pick her?

This is a digression, but I feel like Chris Harrison hasn't been in this season that much.  Maybe the therapist kinda stole his thunder?

Anyway, at the rose ceremony the women are all wearing the ugliest prom dresses I have ever seen, especially Chantal O., who looks like a shlumpy cougar with an updo and a red satin monstrosity.

Ultimately though, Shawntel goes home, which couldn't have been more obvious from the scenes the week before.  Good thing she created a weird rift with her dad over nothing.  Brad creeps me out a little when he touches her bare knee.  You just dumped her, dude!

But it's bye bye, miss American funeral.  And on to the fantasy suites …

xo – N.

LA (HOLLYWOOD): ADULT MILKSHAKES [GO BURGER]

By Nora Zelevansky / February 18th, 2011

Meg at Go Burger

Get your mind out of the gutter.  Adult milkshakes have nothing to do with "burning loins" or "units" of any kind.  (That means "penis" for those of you who are romance novel illiterate).

Anyhoo, I went to Go Burger with M., T. & R. the other night, which just opened in Hollywood.  The folks behind BLT created this spot, so my expectations were pretty high, I'd say.  And, yeah, they were pretty much met.

I mean, I'll never have a fried pickle as good as the ones from Stevensville Crab Shack, but one only finds oneself in Maryland so often and these were pretty tasty.  My lactardness kept me from trying a Jalapeno Popper, but word on the street was that they were awesome.

Next time, I'm getting in on the pigs in a blanket.  How could I have missed that?  My sister and I literally used to make frozen boxes of them as kids and eat them while watching Revenge of the Nerds.  (Yup, C., I outed you too).

I did splurge and get the hardcore Prime Steakhouse Burger with brisket, sirloin and shortribs and also caramelized onions.  It was no joke.  I mean, if you're in the mood for some serious beef, I recommend it. (That was NOT a romance novel reference BTW).

Sadly, I couldn't have an "adult milkshake" like M. is drinking above, which she said was delicious, but heavy on the rum.  T. stuck to the pure classic and got a non-alcoholic version called "Cookie Monster."

SHUT. UP.

My lactard life is sometimes a trial, but I carry on.  Sigh.

Anyway, I also ran into some random NYC friends from growing up, which I guess is some kind of sign that – I don't know – me and Go Burger were meant to be.  I guess you could say, I was there for the right reasons.

Will you accept this rose?

Seriously.  I can make ANYTHING about The Bachelor.  Test me.  I dare you.

xo – N.

SD (AND BEYOND): SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION [GARNER GRACE]

By Nora Zelevansky / February 16th, 2011

 

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I know, I've been heavy on my own stories lately, but such is the life of a freelancer: ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys, assignments and subsisting solely on canned peas.

Here's a story I wrote about a new clothing line by two ladies out of SD.  The company is called Garner Grace and has been picked up by some great boutiques in LA and NYC.

They have some dresses, but I think their separates seems to be a strength.  But what do I know?  I only eat peas.

xo – N.

THE LINT COLLECTOR’S TRASHY TUESDAYS: WHOA WHOA WOMACK

By Nora Zelevansky / February 15th, 2011

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I'm confused.  Is it just me or does it seem like Emily and Brad have NOTHING to say to each other?  And yet they're supposedly super into each other?  Are the producers editing actual conversations out?  Do they like each other so much that they feel comfortable being silent?  Is it just that Brad feels the thrill of the chase with her?  Am I trying to analyze a relationship between two people who are practically brain dead?

Anyway, Brad actually admitted to liking Emily more than he "should" and then told her in advance of the ceremony that he's giving her a rose.  CRAZY!!!!!  Brad totally broke the rules.  He's hardcore.  He's so Ali during her last episode, when she told Chris they would just skip their date.

Enter funeral director, Shawntel: Who cares about her?  Where is her $5,000 bag?  Why is she in a stretched out white tank top?

Brad thinks you can learn a lot about someone by traveling with them in "an everyday environment" … with a camera crew and no actual travel concerns.  Tooootally, Brad.  That's so real, you know?  But isn't the whole point of traveling that you aren't in any everyday environment?

Speaking of real, I think Shawntel may have a bit of a caboose under that sarong.  Shawntel says she's falling in love with Brad and he feels like he can really open up to her about his dead beatdad, but the most exciting thing about the date for me is that they attend a concert and there's actually other people there!  No awkward two person performance with bad slow dancing!  Uh oh, but there is a sequined bikini and a midnight dip in the ocean.

Personally, I don't believe in swimming in the ocean in the dark.  Creeeepy.  Who knows what's swimming below you.  Or near you.   Could be a shark or an eel or, ew, a Bachelor contestant (shudder).

Britt date time.  Booooooooooooooring.  Why is she so anorexi too?  Someone give that girl a milkshake or something.  Wait–Isn't she a FOOD writer?  She does have a lot of teeth.

And here comes the quote of the day from Michelle: "Britt & Brad.  It sounds cute, but not only can I not imagine them together, but I can't even imagine him friending her on Facebook."

Michelle has some weird stuff going on with her shoulder and her cheek.  Bad skin?  More mysterious bruises?  Maybe she's like a cutter, but instead of cutting, she throws herself into walls or something.  Maybe her other personalities beat her up.

Britt says terror is her normal "go-to" feeling.  Well, that sounds like a blast.  This is so Sarah Marshall.  She needs to jump off a cliff into the water and she's terrified, as he waits below.  But no frenching when she does it.  Hmm.  Bad sign, as if we all don't know she's going home anyway.

There's more, but let's not waste time.  Peace out, Britt.  Everytime Brad tries to break up with these girls, they think he's professing love and then they start to do it first.  Awwwwkward.  She's even trying to argue him out of it–eeek.  Can we please move on?

The group date is a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue shoot and I'm sort of loving Ashley, who is dancing around singing, "No boobs!  No boobs!" about herself.  Chantal feels like a fat cow, but apparently she likes baring her udders.  Michelle won't do topless (despite her chest being as fake as, well, Chantal's), but she will basically have sex with Brad on film.

Ruh roh.  Brad went too far and he knows that the pool party is going to be "Let's talk city."  Poooor Bradley Pooper.  (That's his Garbage Pail Kid name.)  Brad thinks all his conversations with Michelle are deep, but he's scared that they're too much alike.  Wow.  I can't think of anything less true.  But he does call her "volatile" and that's right on at least.

He gives Ashley the rose and then Chantal cries and I actually sort of feel for her.  Except that Brad has a weird leathery neck and weird veins on his chest muscles and I'm like, ew.  Maybe you should all find someone else.

Brad is like John McCain – a maverick – and he cancels the cocktail party.  Also, he keeps enduring torture, albeit a different kind inflicted by naggy girls.

"Something is amiss," the girls feel.  And finally this shit is getting good cause any of these girls could really go farther, though Michelle feels that she's going home.  Maybe Brad should pick based on location.  Like who really wants to go to Chico, CA, so maybe nix Shawntel?

But it's [**spoiler alert!] Michelle who goes home.  Which is INSANE.  Brad!  Dude.  I'm a girl and even I know that there was no point in keeping Michelle around THIS long, if you weren't even going to get to the fantasy suite with her.  Oh well.  He's dumber than a cockerspaniel.  And she won't talk (which kinda makes me like her).

Onto hometown dates!!!!!!

xo – N.

HAWAII (AND BEYOND): SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION [T + L’s Affordable Beach Resorts]

By Nora Zelevansky / February 14th, 2011

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Well, I can't say this is the longest clip I've ever posted, BUT it is Monday after The Grammy Awards, so let's just start small.

Bleh.  Now that I made that reference to Grammys as if I like went wilding all last night, doing body shots off Lady Gaga, let me just clarify: I don't even watch The Grammys.  The only shots I did today were "wellness" related and from Earth Bar.

Eh.  Even that's a lie cause I had one of their Amazon Immunity smoothies that I love instead.  (SO GOOD).

Anyway, now that I'm done with true confessions, here's a link to Travel + Leisure's annual story about the "Best Affordable Beach Resorts," which I've found is a great resource when planning trips.  I only wrote one of the mini-blurbs on a property in Maui called Paia Inn, but the whole shabang is worth reading.

After you peruse the "Best & Worst Dressed" from The Grammy's, of course.  Cause that I actually do partake in.

Gotta love leather and grommets.

xo – N.

NYC (AND BEYOND): SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION & A FREE TRIP [VALENTINE’S GETAWAYS}

By Nora Zelevansky / February 10th, 2011

Pura-vida

First of all, you all should totally read this story, if only to put your name in the hat to win a free trip to Malpais, Costa Rica.

That's kind of all I need to say, right?

Here's a story I wrote for AOL's My Daily (or is it now Huffington Post Media Network?) about girlfriend getaways for Valentine's blues.

I'm married and I don't even like Valentine's Day.  Maybe I should go to Costa Rica?  Pura Vida, man.

xo – N.

THE LINT COLLECTOR’S TRASHY TUESDAYS: WACKY & WOMACKY

By Nora Zelevansky / February 8th, 2011

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This is Brad's mugshot for driving with a fake license.  Actually, at the time of his arrest, his name was Stephen Bradley Pickelsimer.  Yup.  That's his mother's last name.  He changed his last name to his mother's because of his daddy issues, apparently, but then he changed it back because, well, probably because it was "Pickelsimer."

This has nothing to do with this episode, but I am reserving the right to refer to him as "Pickel" for the rest of today.  It just gives me joy.

So, at the very beginning, Michelle almost sounds normal, talking about how all she can do is be herself.  Then she adds, "Or pray that Chantal O. gets attacked by monkeys."  Ah, Michelle.  You never fail us.

Pickel goes on a rainy zip-lining date with Chantal O. – upping the chances of the monkey attack – and I'm starting to doubt whether he will ever reject a girl on a one-on-one.

The producers apparently couldn't bribe someone into controlling the weather, so Brad & Chantal go to his hotel suite.  Maybe the producers actually DID effectively pay off the rain gods after all.  As Pickel said, "We didn't get rained out.  We got rained IN."  Can you hear the porn music?

Chantal O. is a little Deanna to me.  Am I alone in that?

Anyway, Pickel tells Chantal that, "This could happen every night."  Totally.  That's a REAL relationship.  Like every night The Drewser and I go zip-lining, then we come in from the rain and I put on his over-sized white button down and then we make out, while a camera crew films.  Then we fight about who will do the dishes and/or scoop the cat boxes and then we go to bed and play tug of war with the comforter.  It's amaaaaaaazing.

Apropos of nothing, Britt makes me boooooored.  On the group date, they are repelling down a waterfall.  They're also repelling me.  Michelle is mad cause Pickel is breaking their promise to each other, never to repel with anyone else.  Now, that was a serious vow.  Maybe now she will cast a spell on him.  Or release her monkeys.

Jackie is afraid of heights.

Wait.  Who the hell is Jackie?  Apparently, she's a NYC artist.  Um.  Really Jackie?  I would like to see that art.

Pickel is so dumb.  He still doesn't know that Michelle is insane?  Eh.  Maybe he's just waiting to sleep with her at least once.

Emily sabotages relationships, which makes Pickel worried, even though he should realize that she's A) being honest and B) using it as a ploy to get some alone time.  But he's a dumby.

On the upside, he does seem a bit irritated with Michelle.  He actually rolled his eyes.  He is OVER these girls bitching.  Yeah, beaatches!  No rose for ANY of your asses!!!  Boooyah!  This is the Pickel I can get behind.

Michelle says that if he doesn't make a decision, she'll be forced to take matters into her own hands.  What does that even mean?  She is scary pants.  I'd sleep with the lights on in that house.

They keep saying that Costa Rica "could be an amazing place to fall in love."  What does that mean???  Like how many hypotheticals and qualifiers can you pack into a single sentence?

Ali FREAKS the fuck out because of bats.  I'd be more scared of having to picnic in a dank wet cave, supposedly the reward.  They're all at Tabacon hot springs, where I've been, but I think I would need to have it all cleaned and Purelled before going back.  Meanwhile, this date is AWK.  Okay–fast forward, please.  I don't need to watch this.

No rose for Jennifer Garner.  I mean, Ali.  They have the same man jaw.  Sorry.

Then, Michelle just shows up at Brad's door.  Pickel, haven't you ever watched the show?  It's ALWAYS the crazy people who do that!  Pickel REALLY wants space.  Until she starts hooking up with him.  The Black Widow strikes again.  But she's dumb too.  She keeps telling him what to do and it's so clear that he doesn't like it.  Man up, Pickel.  GET. A. GRIP.  Tell her to hit the road.  She's TELLING you what to do on national TV.  He thinks she's bossy, but I don't think he knows she's crazy.  I know that seems nearly impossible, but I really think it's true.

Do we think Pickel really likes Emily or just wants to?  I think she's the bestest, but that's just moi.

Anyway, despite a leopard print dress and up-do that should have sent Chantal O. home automatically despite her rose, as it aged her about 25 years, Jackie goes home.  Maybe to paint a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge or something.

Then, they're off to Anguilla, where it looks like Michelle and Pickel get down and dirty in the sand for yet another photo shoot, probably for UNICEF or something.  They're just so damn giving.

xo – N.

DC (& THE WORLD): THE BEST ECO-DOC WITH MATT DAMON [PLAN B]

By Nora Zelevansky / February 7th, 2011

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I grew up in an unusual family, though I didn't fully acknowledge that fact until I arrived at college in California and exchanged stories about backgrounds with new friends.  Lo and behold, I was the only girl at school with a performance artist father, contemporary curator mother and theater directing sister.

Don't get me wrong: I knew I was different when friend's families invited my parents to The Hamptons for weekends at "the club" and my parents always politely declined, noting – in the privacy of our Upper West Side apartment – that they didn't "do" The Hamptons.

My parents may also be the only people in history who frequented Studio 54 (because of the art scene element) and completely hated it.  "It was awful," my mother still says without apology.  My father agrees even more fervently.

So, I suppose maybe it was a given on some level that I would wind up with creative and interesting in-laws instead of some status quo.  And, yes, though maybe not as esoteric in their interests as my art world parents, Hal & Marilyn Weiner are Emmy Award-winning documentarians, who constantly travel the globe for their work.

Since Andrew and I have been involved, their focus has been primarily environmental.  I'm sure you can guess on which side of the debate they tend to fall, once they've completed their exhaustive research.  For awhile now, their company, Screenscope, has worked with Matt Damon as narrator on these projects; mostly segments for PBS series, Journey to Planet Earth).

Their newest film though is based around the teachings of climate control expert Lester Brown and once again, as reported here, Matt Damon is the voice for the cause.  They follow Brown all over the world, as he imparts information and meets with lawmakers and such.

But certain things remain the same: I'm pretty sure they never hit The Hamptons.

xo – N.

 

SD (AND BEYOND): SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION [ASHTANGA YOGA AT JOIS SHALA]

By Nora Zelevansky / February 4th, 2011

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I'm a little late with posting this one, but so be it.  I mean, what are we gonna do about it now anyway?

So, turns out that San Diego has a serious ashtanga yoga history, which has now been reconfirmed by the opening of Jois Yoga Shala studio.  Read more about it here at Riviera!

Or don't.  But risk the anti-yoga karmic reprecussions.

What would that even include?  No ohm for you for a week!  Go to your room without ohm.  Uh oh.  Now will I have bad yogic karma for making that joke?  I better quit while I'm ahead.

xo – N.