Category Archives: fan girl

star man, forever in her sky: a 9 year old girl’s love letter to David Bowie

a 9 year old girl's love letter to David BowieShe was seven the first time we watched Labyrinth. I fully expected her favorite thing to be the puppets. As she’s done from the day of conception, Em surprised me. “Oh mommy, I’d go live with Jareth! He could sing me to sleep every night.”  That began our journey of exploration into wonderfully weird world of The Thin White Duke, giving birth to a 9 year old girl’s love letter to David Bowie.

While most girls her age had Bieber Fever she only had eyes for Bowie. I recall – with no small sense of pride– the day my mother-in-law sent her a One Direction t-shirt that she instantly asked to exchange for a vintage Ziggy Stardust. Breaking the news that such shirts didn’t exist in her size was rough. 

Among the most treasured Christmas gifts to this day is her photo  “signed” by him. Her playlists are filled with everything from Star Man to Dancing in the Streets. Walk by the bathroom when she’s in the shower and you’re likely to get serenaded with Fashion. This strange little soul is an old one, and Bowie her muse.

A 9 Year Old Girl’s Love Letter to David Bowie

Your music made me smile and dance, even when I was sad. That made me a better person. You inspired so many people to be their real selves and that made your music no ordinary songs.

So many people found who they really are inside because of who you were. The reason I will always love is because you showed that we can all be many things and have magic in our lives.

You were a beautiful person to see, to hear, to get inspired by. Because you were always something new but yourself. Your songs were stories, like pages in a book. When I hear them it is like I read them over and over again. I love to read, to listen.

I am so sad that I will never get to go to one of your concerts or hear new things you’ve done, but as sad as that makes me I’m even more sad for your family. I hope your children know how amazing you were and how many lives you meant so much to. Even someone young like me.

There is no more music in the world like what you made, but you will always shine like a star in every sky. I will miss you so much.

In her own words, from her heart to his. I’m so proud that she found a true muse at such a young age.

Good Night Sweet Prince

Baltimore Comic-Con: Where Real Nerds Keep Artists in the Spotlight

Baltimore Comic Con

Sure,  you know who Stan Lee is. You watch the Big Bang Theory (almost as religiously as I do) and can spot Stan’s cameo in every incarnation of a Marvel hero movie to hit the silver screen. Maybe you even know who Matt Murdock is.

If you also happen to know who Bill Everett was, then you’d have felt right at home at Baltimore Comic-Con.

Baltimore Comic-Con honors the heart of the comic book culture in a way that seems to be fading under the glare of the lights and mainstream media coverage at the larger “cons.” Which made it the perfect first con for our kids. 

Watching my nine year old in the ballroom of the Baltimore Convention Center as he sat mesmerized, listening to Joel Hodgson recount the materials he used to build Tom Servo (a Leggs egg and a gumball machine, by the way) was priceless. The kid loves MST3K. Um, who doesn’t?

 Upon walking into the lobby and seeing a group of cosplayers dressed in awesome Attack on Titan garb, my fifteen year old daughter squealed, “Yes! My people!Dr. Who Comic illustrator Kelly Yates Baltimore Comic ConTotal win.

For this parent of daughters, the prodigious amount of Girl Power on display at this convention was reason enough to go back next year. From a fierce female Thor and her pal Miss America, to Marguerite Bennett, author of several story-lines in the DC Universe including: Batgirl, Lobo and Lois Lane, to the budding talent of Kate Allen who creates, writes and illustrates her own comics and graphic novels, the level of estrogen-laden awesome was immense and powerful.

Of course there were the typical conference staples: baubles, gadgets, gear, merch, on-site appraisals, and a phenomenal cosplay costume contest. Truly something for everyone – even things you never knew you wanted, but suddenly had to have!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for an event where I can cozy up to Patrick Stewart (make it so – yes, please) or Benedict CumberDragon, but the community that begot huge conventions of Nerdom – like International Comic-Con San Diego (which was still relatively easy to get tickets to when I went back in back in ’94) – began at the roots.  With the art, the artists, the storytellers.

The expo hall was packed with artists from nearly every fandom you can name. Daughters one and two are major Whovians. You think you know Dr. Who…?  Not like they do! Getting to meet and enjoy a photo op with Kelley Yates was an epic moment.  Taking home one of his Dr. Who illustrations –signed– was their own personal nirvana. Maryland’s own Frank Cho (Mighty Avengers, Hulk – Marvel Comics) did an unbelievable demo in which he created a veritable masterpiece for the live audience.  Seeing the passion in the artists and getting a glimpse of how they bring a world to life illuminated my children with the reality of possibility…and that was the meat of the experience.  The rest was great, but garnish.

Meeting illustrators and creators of original graphic novels, artists who’ve expanded universes that began decades ago…to me, THIS is the living, breathing heart of any Comic-Con. Keep the marquee names on the red carpet, let Bruckheimer promote his next movie on the talk-show circuit. Keep the “cons” about the artists, the creative cosplay of die hard fans, the amazing and world-changing creativity of the true nerds. 

My advice?  Plan your trip.  Start designing your costume.  Save your pennies for must have merch, sure…but know who created the fantasy world you like to visit.  Follow the artists, and make a point to see them in action, in the flesh.  Next year – go to Baltimore Comic-Con!

Baltimore Comic Con Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom 

Authors: Lara DiPaola and Jamie Ratner



NFL, Cocktails & a $300 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Changing leaves are great. Pumpkin spice lattes are awesome. Sending the kids back to school is … sanity saving.  The best thing about fall though is the return of NFL FOOTBALL! From the minute that the first fantasy draft books hit the news stand I start to hope again. Rivers‘ is going to stay healthy and on target. Mathews has at least one more season of greatness in him. We might actually have both a D and an offense this year. Hope springs anew with the first Sunday of the NFL season, the Superbowl is within reach. GO CHARGERS!  When it comes to game day though, I do enjoy a little bit of liquid faith in my team. Craft beers? I’m all about that. However, since 2014 is going to be OUR year, I thought I’d kick it off with a little celebratory cocktail. (also helpful for those inevitable crap calls from the Ref) I spent some time with my Mixology playbook, reached out to a team of experts on the interwebs and came up with two original recipes that pair perfectly with optimism and chicken wings! Cherry Bomb (to the End Zone)

Cherry Bomb (to the end zone)
Serves 1
Dark Cherry and Pomegranate Frozen Awesome, featuring PAMA pomegranate liqueur, black cherry rum, cherries.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
  1. 2 oz Cruzan Black Cherry Rum
  2. 1 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
  3. 1 oz Cherry Juice
  4. splash of Grenadine
  5. 1/4 cup Cherries (frozen)
  6. Ice
  1. Place ice in blender (recommend 4-6 cubes). Add liquid ingredients, top with frozen cherries. Blend until smooth.
  1. Garnish with a frozen cherry skewer. A sprig of lavender adds an aromatic touch and brings out the tart sweetness of the pomegranate. To make a larger batch, simply adjust ingredients to serving size, keeping the number of frozen cherries to 1 cup or less to avoid changing the texture.
Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom
  For those that like a little pig with their pigskin, we concocted an sweet, salty, aromatic option – because you’ve got to have options in your game plan. I’m a fan of a pass-option, and frankly since Ladainian left and took our kickass, two-back-run-game with him, it really is our best option. All American Apple Back Cocktail

All American Apple Back
Serves 2
What's more American that apple pie? Bacon! This cocktail pairs sweet and salty with an aromatic hit on the back end.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
  1. 4 oz Dr. McGillicuddy's Applie Pie
  2. 2 oz Bourbon
  3. 1 oz Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey
  4. 1/2 cup Tart Apple Sauce
  5. 1/4 cup Maple Simple Syrup
  6. 1 cup Martinelli's Sparking Apple Cider
  7. 2 slices Cooked Thick Cut Bacon
  8. 1 tsp Mulling Spices
  9. 1/4 tsp Fleur de Sel
  10. 1 Green Apple
  11. Ice
  1. Place one cup of ice into a cocktail shaker. Add in liquids, and mulling spices. Shake rigorously. Rim highball glass with fleur de sel. Strain over mix over ice into highball glass. Garnish with bacon and green apple slice.
  1. A sage leaf makes a nice aromatic addition as a garnish.
Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom
Do you have faith in a winning season for your team? Okay, maybe you’re not quite as delusional optimistic as I am… but YOU could still win. In fact I’m hoping you do… just not on the field against my Chargers. My sisterhood of traveling bloggers, Alpha Blogga Blogga Sisters has put together a great giveaway to get your season started off with a shot at that End Zone… YOU could win a $300 Amazon Gift Card, baby! Our sisterhood made of awesome is not only hosting this giveaway, the also have TONS of ideas to help you kick off your NFL season, from food to cocktails to love-of-the-game kvetching. PLUS endless EASY options for entering to win. See details below, and GOOD LUCK! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here are some other great ideas, inspiration and gridiron chat from my ABB Sisterhood


Smokey & Friends: Memories, Music and a Giveaway

The latest release from Smokey Robinson, "Smokey & Friends" smolders and rocks - Giveaway

My earliest memories involve my Dad with a guitar in his hand, sitting at a piano, or dancing around with Mom. Music has always been a part of my life – a friend.

I grew up with the sounds of everything from 60’s protest songs, to classical compositions, dad’s original tunes to the soulful sounds of Motown. The Shirelles sang me to sleep at night. I can’t thank my parents enough for giving me the gift of good music. Now I’d like to do the same for you.

The legendary Motown icon and Grammy® award-winning singer-songwriter, Smokey Robinson released an album that is sure to become as iconic as he is. A compilation of duets with other music legends (hello, Sir Elton) and some of today’s top artists (John Legend, swoon) titled, “Smokey & Friends.”

Everything is good in the world tonight, when Smokey sings along with; James Taylor, Sir Elton John, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, and Mary J. Blige, as well as with some of today’s hottest artists including John Legend, Miguel, Jesse J, and CeeLo Green, among others.

John Legend lends an elegance “Quiet Storm,” with his soul-filled grace at the piano. Legend starts the track with an homage and thanks.

“Bob Dylan called Smokey Robinson one of the greatest poets of our time, Smokey it’s an honor to sing this with you.”

The honor is all ours, dear music fans. I literally got goosebumps when Smokey began to sing.

Smokey & Friends

The Tracks Of My Tears – Elton John

You Really Got A  Hold On Me – Steven Tyler

My Girl – Miguel, Aloe Blacc & JC Chasez

Cruisin’ – Jesse J (almost good enough to erase the memory of Gwyneth Paltrow butchering it with Huey Lewis – almost)

Quiet Storm – John Legend

The Way You Do (The Things You Do) – CeeLo Green

Being With You – Mary J. Blige

Ain’t The Peculiar – James Taylor

The Tears Of A Clown – Sheryl Crow

Ooh Baby Baby – Ledisi

Get Ready – Gary Barlow

Whether you – like me- love Smokey’s velvety, soulful, put-the-kids-to-bed-early groove, or enjoy a more contemporary vibe, there is something for you here. Like Sinatra’s duets before it, “Smokey & Friends,” is sure to become a timeless classic.

I’m so excited to have two copies of “Smokey & Friends,”  to give away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Diagon Alley!

It is no secret that I am a 40-something mud blood still waiting for my letter from Hogwarts. I remain convinced that a wolf ate the owl that was headed to my house, letter in beak. Further proving that I am no muggle, Universal Studios has finally announced the opening date for the NEW Diagon Alley at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter… July 8th, 2014

My Birthday!!!!