Pink Trash Travels

Happy New Year!

Though I'm still undecided on (1)worrying about my wardrobe and being social or (2)just meeting everyone for the pot luck dinner then calling it a night, I hope each and every one of you has a Happy New Year! Travel well. Be safe. And here's to a great 2007!

Pirate to Queen?

Johnny Depp is "Ga Ga" for Queen. According to reports, Depp is set to play Freddie Mercury in a big screen version of the rocker's life. Funded by Robert Dinero, the film will allow Mr. Depp to continue his tradition of immitating rock legends as he did in Pirates of the Caribeean with his dead on performance of Keith Richards. So goodbye puffy shirts. Hello tight pants!

Becoming Dumbfounded

Having spent the last 18 months in Paris, I've learned enough French to survive. I wouldn't say I'm fluent, but I can communicate on a basic level. Yet when it comes to daily activities such as the grocery store, I find myself becoming somewhat of an introvert. It's easier at times to be quiet vs. sourcing the right words to say. So when I come home to Chicago and go to the gym, for example, I'm startled and baffled when someone asks me a question. I become a bit dumbfounded.

It's a strange sensation to fully understand when strangers address you with words you comprehend. Something so basic takes on new meaning. In short, it's easy. And to be able to reply with confidence and have faith that you're selecting the correct order of verbs and nouns is priceless.

With Germany on the horizon, I've already begun the process of trying to assimilate. By purchasing two CDs yesterday by Michel Thomas, noted language instructor to the stars, I hope to secure a basic vocabulary by the time we move to Munich in April or May. But with the move, I've accepted the fact that I won't truly be myself until the end of 2007. Because I like to talk, just not that much when my choice of words might not make sense.

Preparing for New Years

Now that I'm home for New Year's Eve, I have to decide how I'll spend the evening. I've never been a fan of the amateur night. I'd prefer to gather friends around a board game with a buffet of junk food in the distance. But this year, since a friend is having a "creative" black-tie affair to celebrate the holiday as well as his birthday, my hopes of a "family" game night are quickly diminishing.

Of course, I want to see everyone. That's the reason Chris sent me home. But I don't like to play dress-up and feel uncomfortable. And since I'm detoxing until an unspecified date in the future, I'll be the sober one as most ring in the New Year with more than a twinkle in their eye.

Oh well. If there's anything I've learned, it's to be flexible. So whether I'm surrounded by friends or home with ABC's Rockin New Year's Eve, here's to a glorious 2007.

The Christmas Single - UK Charts

As expected, A Moment Like This by X-Factor winner Leona Lewis debuts at #1 with almost 600K records sold. Oddly, this is fewer than last year's winner whose public relations machine wasn't as strong. But since Leona's single wasn't available until Wednesday, it should be noted her single performed quite stronlgy considering the lack of availability. Take That finally drops to #2 with Patience as so does last week's weak entry, Truly, Madly, Deeply by Cascada which drops from #4 to #5. New entries include McFly's Sorry's Not Good Enough (a song that's not bad but not necessarily good either) and Girls Aloud's I Think We're Alone Now. The latter is a remake of Tiffany's hit from 20 years ago. I'm usually a supporter of girl groups, but I don't think this remake never should have happened. It's a bit messy. Judge for yourself below.

We Interrupt This Program...

Chris surprised me on Christmas day with a trip back home. It was unexpected and for a few hours, undesired. I need time to prepare for my journey - mostly on a mental level. So when he said I was leaving "tomorrow," I wasn't sure how to react. But towards the end of the day, as I was packing, I finally accepted my gift with a grin.

So, now that I'm in Chicago until January 1, postings may be limited but not forgotten. You can't get rid of me that easily!

To see my "elfin" moves, click, here! Merry Christmas everyone!

Naked Blow Dryers

Why do some men find it necessary to blow dry themselves after taking a shower at the gym? Can't they just use a towel? I don't need their pubes flying around me. And it's not only in Paris that these men prefer "wind beneath their wings." They do it in America also. But at least it doesn't smell like burnt hair stateside. For some reason, when these Parisian men blow dry their hair (that is hair anywhere), it has a strange odor. Maybe they don't "rinse and repeat."

"Y" the "N" Word?

Over the past few months, the word "n*gger" has made it's way into the press as a result of over zealous actor's trying to be funny. Both Michael Richards and most recently Andy Dick created nightmares for their publicists by using the "N" word. But here in France, it seems as though the word with a big taboo in the States is still widely accepted.

For example, we stumbled across cream filled blocks covered in chocolate in Strasbourg. Not knowing what they were, Chris asked at work. Apparently, their called "tete de n*gger" or "n*gger heads." And today at the gym, one of the personal trainers exclaimed, "What's up my n*gger!" Both made me cringe a bit. The word evokes such strong reactions in the States but here, it's quite common. And when I mentioned to the trainer that it's one of those words we don't use, especially Caucasians, he replied, "It's okay. We had slaves here." What would Oprah say to that?

My Favorite Holiday Spot

With an updated version of Santa Baby, this Debenhams commercial is one of my favorites this holiday season. The dancin' Santa is much better than those found in Walgreens! Check it out below.

My Years Without A Santa Clause - Pt. 2

See 12/14 Posting for Pt. 1

While I’m here in Paris, we’ve found alternative ways to appease my Kringle senses until returning home to Chicago. Beginning in November, Christmas Markets, or Christkindlmarkts, open in many countries across Europe including Germany, Sweden and Austria. The outdoor markets have universal appeal with their roasted nuts, sweet cookies and specialties such as hot-spiced red wine and cider. And with beach season still an after thought, I can forego my gay sensibility to avoid the unhealthy and instead indulge in such specialties as Krainer sausages and Baumkuchen – a tasty treat we stumbled across in Salzburg with multiple layers of pastry goodness sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. But as we learned this year, it's better to forego France's version of the market and return to those more influenced by the Germans. Cotton candy has no place at a Christmas markets.

In addition to traveling and surrounding myself with the sights and sounds of Christmas, we deck the halls of our Parisian flat with what little traditional decorations we can find in Paris (most trimmings are pink, orange or purple with feathers and glitter). We string colored lights on a live tree that costs 10 times more than one from Home Depot (but stands only four feet tall). Worst yet, the Parisian tree dries within two weeks because of its shaved stump that’s stuck in half log for balance. You can’t water it. You only can watch as it shrivels up to a crunchy representation of its former self.

Luckily, my partner prepares for us a Christmas Dinner – with a Parisian twist. With the absence of cream of mushroom soup, he’s forced to improvise in order to satisfy my trailer trash tastes for holiday standards such as Green Bean Casserole. Fromage blanc, a creamy and somewhat tart cheese that resembles blended cottage cheese, is a satisfactory substitution with the addition of a dry mushroom soup packet and skim milk. It’s not perfect, but it’s as close as it gets in Paris.

We’re expected to remain overseas until then end of 2007. Which means I have another holiday season in Europe. But with next year's Christmas in Germany, the experience should be completely diifferent. But just in case, I have on order the complete set of Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin, Jr.’s Christmas classics. I’ll do my best if there is indeed another year without a Santa Clause.

Leona Lewis Official Video

Some of you in America and elsewhere may be wondering, "Who's this Leona?" But believe me, in a few months, you will know her name. According to Simon Cowell, he's vowed to take time to ensure the X-Factor winner's first full length CD is the best it can be - for the world stage. It's not just about the UK. It's about introducing Leona on a global scale. The video for her first single, a cover of Kelly Clarkson's A Moment Like This hit the airwaves today. The production is simple. But Leona radiates star quality. Check out her video below.

Boo! - UK Charts

There are weeks when UK chart activity is quite exciting. Then there's this week. In the words of Grace Adler from Will & Grace, "Boo!" Take That remains at #1 with Patience. It's most likely their last week at #1 as Leona's single is all but guranteed to hit the top spot within it's first few days of release. Cliff Richard, a major star in the UK for the last 30 years (and also for a brief spell in the U.S. with his hits Suddenly with Olivia Newton-John and We Don't Talk Anymore), continues his string of seasonal hits with 21st Century Christmas. It may be the time for giving, but he can have that song back. Gwen Stefani's "forced" single Wind It Up jumps to #3 from #8. Somebody needs to wind it up so fast that it explodes off the air. Cascada, the Russian trance group who hit America big with their hit Everytime We Touch, return with a cover of Savage Garden's Truly, Madly, Deeply. It's truly annoying. And rounding out the top five is Booty Luv's Boogie 2Nite - dropping from #2. It's the only song worth mentioning. Here's to hoping Santa brings better music our way next week.

Drive your coworkers, family members or dog and cat mad by playing Truly, Madly, Deeply below. The thumping is sure to make them "insane in the brain."

Christmas is Saved!

Thanks to Pop Candy writer Whitney Matheson, I've found those elusive Christmas specials online! All the favorites are there from Rudolph to Frosty. Now those international readers who've never seen A Charlie Brown Christmas can go here for a full day's worth of holiday cheer - American style!

Strasbourg's Christmas State Fair

Considering my traditional Christmas is fairly non-existent in Paris, this year we decided to travel to Strasbourg, France for a bit of holiday cheer. Originally we planned to take the high-speed train to the city that lies on the border of France and Germany. But with a round trip of 8 hours, it seemed silly considering we would only be in Strasbourg for less than 24 hours – so we opted to fly. Thankfully we changed our mode of transportation rather than the length of our stay because what we found didn’t meet expectations. Instead, it was reminiscient of the Kansas State Fair.

The city was beautiful with its canals and German influenced architecture. And their Christmas displays were colorful and playful with an apparent tradition of hanging stuffed animals outside the windows. But the Christmas market itself was a “hodge podge” of imported Chinese trinkets and trash.

There were no local artisans displaying their crafts. Rather, the booths were exploding with obnoxious Santa hats, oversized candy confections, plastic angels and anything and everything that normally comes free inside cereal boxes. But with mostly French speaking tourists roaming the streets, this sad display of festive fare was more than enough to appease their holiday sensibilities (considering they aren’t familiar with the commercialization of Christmas). But for Chris and I, it fell a bit short.

We did, however, find a few worthwhile boutiques hidden within the heart of the city. L’Alsace du Chez Vous features an assortment of pottery, tableware and other “eclecticables” from the Alsace region (too bad I lost their card). Chris couldn’t resist buying two ceramic pots molded for cooking chickens or stews. And of course we (or I should say Chris) sniffed out a gingerbread maker who sells the sweet treats in every shape and size. Pain d’Epices Mireille Oster (14, rue des Dentelles), located in Petite France, was the perfect treat to wipe away the memories of our lunch at Chez Yvonne (10, rue du Sanglier) whose time has apparently come and gone.

Next year, as Chris pointed out, we’ll be surrounded by Christmas markets galore. With many small villages throughout Germany hosting their own celebrations every weekend in December, our home base in Munich will give us the opportunity to truly absorb the holiday spirit on a local level. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll find the treasured Baum Kuchen tree cake that the French replaced with cotton candy and peanuts in Strasbourg.

New Features Just Added

At times, I admit, the content of Pink Trash Travels has strayed from its original premise. But now its returned to it's roots by focusing on the stories that make it special. I've added two new features: Storytime and PTT Picks. The first, Storytime, houses all my travel stories from the past year. The second, PTT Picks, will feature my favorite places to dance, drink, eat, shop and sightsee. Storytime is up and running. PTT Picks will be complete by January 1.

With that being said, don't look for small, interesting blips on European pop culture to completely disappear. Not only do those items interest me, they drive traffic to the site. Consider it my way of marketing myself. Besides that, it's satisfying to know someone in the UK or Brazil finds their way to PTT via Leona Lewis and stays 15 minutes catching up on the antics of the Pink Trash Traveler. That's pretty cool.

Leona Lewis Wins X-Factor!

Leona's win seemed inevitable. With a voice that truly compares to the American divas, Simon Cowell and the other judges predicted her worldwide success (but not necessarily her X-Factor crown). With Leona's challenger's likeability factor through the roof, there was always a bit of doubt that Leona might lose to Ray Quinn in a turnabout reminiscent of season two's American Idol when Clay Aiken lost to the big teddy bear. The UK public put those fears to rest Saturday night by naming Leona not only the winner of X-Factor but also the first female contestant to take the prize.

Unfortunately, her first single being released Wednesday (with a guaranteed first place finish for the UK's Christmas single) is A Moment Like This. Yes, it's the American Idol season one single - a number one hit for Kelly Clarkson. But considering the song was never released in the UK, they opted to double its revenue. Here's to hoping her second song and debut album better showcase her talents. Congratulations Leona! We look forward to hearing more from you on the world's diva stage for years to come.

Check out her final performance of A Moment Like This complete with tears and all!

No Bell Ringing

With Taco Bell in the news lately, I realized it's been almost a year since I ran for the border. And oddly, I don't miss it. That's not to say I don't crave Mexican food. But we all know Taco Bell isn't Mexican (and some would say it's not food). From this, I wonder what will become of our Fat Girl Sundays once we return. Will we revert back to our weekly stops at Taco Bell followed by wandering through Costco? With Munich now on the horizon and 12 more months to go before we call Chicago home once again, I guess I have plenty of time to think.

It's Official

No, it's not the Instint magazine article. I'm still unsure of the month my story will appear. Rather, it's our move to Munich. Yes, Pink Trash Travels will be relocating to Germany until the end of 2007.

It's a turn of events we didn't expect - but one we're both excited about. Oddly, when we were in Munich in October, we both thought to ourselves, "We could live here." Be careful what you wish for. And in addition to taking care of Chris, his company has offered to find me a job as well. I've forwarded my resume along with what I hope to find - a creative position in production, special events or any job that utilizes the right side of my brain. We'll see what they uncover.

That's not to say I'm going to stop looking in Chicago. I have a few leads I'm following. But trying to interview while overeas isn't easy. No matter, I'm going to do my best. Because as impressive as Munich is, I'm still ready to return home to Chicago. It's just now that move may have to wait a few more months while we enjoy some beer and pretzels. Well, for me, just pretzels.

My Years Without A Santa Clause - Pt. I

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year – especially as a little boy growing up in Kansas. Beyond the traditional visit from Santa Clause and the exchanging of gifts, the holiday provided a sense of security with repeat showings of “Rudolph,” the arrival of our World Book Encyclopedia advent calendar and neighborhoods adorned with multi-color Christmas lights. Now that I’m 35 and living in Paris, Christmas has evolved into something quite different. Parisians have replaced my traditional holiday sanctuary with an unconventional couture Christmas.

Gone are the customary Christmas colors. Green and red have been replaced with vibrant hues of purple, orange and blue. Parisian fashion nameplates like Dior, Chanel and Hermes adorn their entryway with dramatic centerpieces constructed from twigs and silky fabric. Department stores illuminate their façade with time-honored white lights but accentuate them with flamboyant Chinese lanterns. There are no elves. There’s barely a Santa to be found. The holiday is quite subdued compared to the festive onslaught Americans absorb beginning in September.

Of course, I don’t expect the French to follow the same holiday guidelines as America. Their traditions are quite different. For example, the Christmas tree has never been popular. If the Parisians actually display a tree, it bares little resemblance to what we flaunt in our front windows back home. Some are flocked black. I’ve seen one made of hair. Instead, the French centralize their festivities around a nativity scene made from ornate clay figures. Papa Noel, not Santa Clause, visits little children – leaving gifts in shoes rather than stockings. He’s dressed in traditional garb – red hood and robe, trimmed in fur, with a basket filled with presents. Leave it to the French to stylize Christmas.

Fortunately, I’m not totally void of any festive spirit from back home. With our satellite system beaming programming out of the UK, I get a bit of Christmas cheer from both commercials and television shows. The first, however, doesn’t compare to the merry ads from Target, the Gap or the local grocery store’s special on hams and turkeys. And the latter doesn’t appear until summer. With shows like Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy and the O.C. running anywhere from six months to a year behind original airdates, there truly is a bit of Christmas in July.

Check back next week for Pt. 2

D & G Commercial Song

It seems my posting of the D & G commercial launched a thousand questions. Specifically, "What song plays in the commercial?" It's Stylophonic's Dancefloor taken from their CD BeatBox Show. Now if I could only get the song out of my head. Listen below or, for the link to remixes of the song, check out Club Fridays on Pink Trash Travels here.

Today's Lesson

Because I announced my article was to appear in the February issue of Instinct magazine, it's now possible the date will change. According to an email I received today, the piece may shift to March. So, if anything, I've learned it's not official until printed. Maybe next time I should keep my big mouth shut. Who am I kidding? That's never going to happen.

Decking the Halls

I finally bought a Christmas tree today. I waited longer this year since the tree from our first Christmas in Paris dried to a crunchy mess within two weeks. Maybe the French should consider making tree stands more readily available (and cheaper) vs. the tradition of shoving the tree in a half stump for support. Then again, that would be so American. And forget the flocking. I'm going natural this year rather than spraying the tree with a white foam to resemble snow. Not only were the fumes literallly intoxicating but the mess it makes is unworth the price of admission.

H & M Rejected

According to this report, Paris city officials rejected the development of an H & M superstore for the Champs Elysees. The decision is the result of a report that "raised the alarm over the growing number of chain stores and fast food outlets that rub shoulders with luxury brands on the avenue." Something tells me they're too late. For anyone who's been along the Champs Elysees recently, it's tourist trap filled with an odd collection of retailers, food vendors, cinemas and outdated dance clubs.

Bing Bang Ick! - UK Charts

This week’s chart action is fairly boring. Take That remains at #1 with Patience. Booty Luve’s Boogie 2Nite switches places with Akon’s Smack That to climb from #3 to #2. Nelly Furtado drops from #4 to #5 with All Good Things. The only new entry in the top five, and it’s a doozy, is Lazy Town’s Bing Bang (Time to Dance). Only in the UK would this icky, sugary tune from a kid’s television show crack the top five. In any case, Bing Bang should see its chart run last but one week. 10 year olds only have so much money to spend.

If you're now sick from all the sugar left behind by Lazy Town, take a listen to Jamelia's Beware of the Dog - a song with a bit more edge as a result of its sampling of Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus. The song cracks the top 10 giving Jamelia a return to the top of the charts after a long absence.

Instinct in February!

It’s official. With the contract signed today, and the article and pictures delivered on Friday, I’m excited to announce that my piece, “Slice of Life – Parisian Style,” will be featured in February’s issue of Instinct magazine. They also asked to highlight me as a contributing writer – complete with a short bio and accompanying “head shot.” It was an unexpected surprise but one I’m thrilled to accept.

Getting published on a national level is a goal I had upon moving to Paris. And considering I started the process early fall with the identification of Instinct magazine as the publication that most resembled my “voice,” I’m ecstatic the collaboration happened so quickly. And based upon our working relationship and hopeful positive feedback from the article, I’m optimistic we’ll work together again in the future.

So be sure to check it out! Of course, for those back home, I’ll send a reminder email around the middle of January. If anything, maybe I can increase their at least 10!

Leona Lewis - Finalist!

The UK voting public ignored speculation this week and placed Leona Lewis in the X-Factor's finale. Her rendition of Whitney Houston's All or Nothing was flawless followed by her take on Somewhere Over the Rainbow (to which Simon called the best performance ever). It's truly amazing to see a talent like hers emerging - especially when she's so completely unaware of how good she is. Take a listen and be amazed!

Not a Hop, Skip or a Jump

Now that we're officially confirmed for Puerto Vallarta in February, I'm trying to arrange my flights. But rather than go directly from Paris to PV, I'm trying to route through Houston to see my family. My original thought was, "It's on the way." I shouldn't have applied a thought process to the airline industry.

Currently, my flight from Paris to Houston connects either through Frankfurt or Chicago. Which now means a nine hour flight becomes a 16 hour affair. In addition, a flight from Houston to Puerto Vallarta costs almost $700! Flights from Chicago are less than $400. Again, you'd think since I was closer, it should cost less. And even worse, I'd have to fly Continental! No miles. No upgrades. Economy! And if I fly United, they route me through Chicago or Denver? That makes sense.

So I'm trying to determine my best course of action. Considering I hate to fly, the connections would be torture. And since I'm frugal, the rountrip airfare from Houston to Puerto Vallarta seems extreme. I mean, we're financially secure, but there's no need for silliness.

At Least She's Not Acting

H & M announced Madonna will be designing a collection for the Swedish low-cost retailer debuting in March, 2007. Madonna said, "I've made no secret of my love of fashion over the years. Working with H & M was an exciting and new creative challenge for me." Again, at least she's not working on Swept Away II.

Scandal or Publicity?

American Idol isn't the only talent show where scandal creeps into the show's outcome. Leona Lewis, one of three contestants remaining on X-Factor, is fending off allegations that she's been working with vocal coaches during the show's run. London's Daily Star ran a photo yesterday of Leona with two instructors - a pair Simon is known to have collaborated with in the past. Simon notes that "someone's out to get her." Could be. Or, is it a way to intensify the finale in two weeks? Here's hoping Leona's star continues to shine bright - scandal or not.

Why is it French Toast?

When my friend Tony and I were talking on the phone tonight, I mentioned I was making french toast for dinner. He replied, "When in France..." It made me wonder, "Why is it called french toast? And does it have anything to do with France?" Here's the surprising answer:

First made at a roadside tavern not far from the city of Albany in 1724, there are few dishes more truly American than the breakfast favorite known as "French toast". So American is the dish that very few can understand why it is not called "American toast", "Albany Toast" or even "New York State toast".

The confusion comes about because the owner of the tavern at which the dish was invented had a very poor knowledge of grammar. When Joseph French decided to name the dish after himself he should have written his invention as "French's toast" (that is to say, the toast of French). Because he did not know how to use the possessive apostrophe, however, the dish appeared on his menu simply as "French toast". In short, the dish has nothing whatever to do with French culinary history but in the two hundred and seventy years that have intervened, no one has taken the time to correct the grammatical error.

Blending Away!

As I mentioned the other day, we have a new blender. And because of my "bulking" diet, I'm required to eat 400-500 calories every few hours - which isn't easy. So, I've resorted to blending food. Since I don't like to cook, it's the easiest way to ensure I'm consuming enough calories and protein. But I'll be honest, it's not tasty. Today's mixture consisted of last night's chicken strips, pureed broccoli and ble (wheat grains). The result was a heavy green "glob of goo." But with some milk thrown in, it liquified it just enough to drink. And the Dannon Actimel chaser quickly erased the aftertaste. Now, what's next on today's menu? It's less than two hours away!

Wednesday's Random Thoughts

Change is on the horizon. Over the past couple of days, we've been given a glimpse into our future. It's not what we expected, but it's another great opportunity. More to come. I'm contemplating buying a tree for the flat. Though, with me returning home next week for five days, I'll have to rent a car - and they ain't cheap around the holidays! Besides that, I'm now stressing about my flight. Since 13 is my lucky number, it would be ironic for the plane to plunge into the ocean. This isn't anything new. I do this everytime. Hence, why I don't like to fly. I've spent the past couple of days snapping photos around Paris to accompany my article for Instinct Magazine (look for an announcement soon). I'm trying to get a balance of comical photos and those more "artistic" in nature. Even more difficult is taking my own photo. And asking a stranger on the street for a reshoot while holding falafel isn't ideal. But if this picture is going to be seen by thousands, I must look my best. Vanity at its purest!

Dance Moves In - UK Charts

The top two spots don't change this week with Take That's Patience and Akon's irritating Smack That holding steady. But surging into the top 5 at #3 from #19 last week is Booty Luv's Boogie 2Nite. Surprisingly, the dance record is not an 80's remake. And the Seamus Haji Big Love remix brings the single to another level. It's good to see dance music getting recognized - especially Seamus & Haji who've applied their talents to numerous singles this past year. Ms. Furtado's All Good Things continues her streak of hit singles pulled from Loose by jumping from #13 to #4. And Justin Timberlake's My Love slips one notch to #5.

Check out the Seamus Haji remix of Boogie 2Nite below. The video may be borderline cheddar, but the song is deserving of a listen - or two, or three, or four...

Mixing It Up

Tonight, Chris brought home a new commercial blender. Since we use it everyday for protein shakes, he opted for the heavy-duty version. He tells me I can blend anything - including my brilliant idea to pureé broccoli to ensure I eat my vegetables. And because of my weight gain diet, I may even blend together a complete meal of chicken, peas and a baked potato.

I didn't say it would be tasty. But at this point, it's not about enjoying the food. It's more about ensuring I eat enough protein. And with 350 grams of protein recommended daily, how else will I get the nutrition besides drinking it?

It's Fat Girl Sunday

Now that Chris is back home, we're having our first "Fat Girl Sunday" in many weeks. Though, today, it's really only "Fat Girl Sunday Night Dinner." After the gym, we loitered around the house - Chris finding holiday gifts for this years "One Way Christmas" and I working on naming the Instinct article, arranging villas for our Puerto Vallarta trip and trying to determine my next career move. So my tummy may not be full, but my brain sure is.

Leona Lewis - The Next Big Thing

She's on the X-Factor, Simon Cowell's answer to the Idol series. And, as he stated a few weeks back, "Leona is the best contestant I've ever seen - including the Idol series." And I have to agree. Along the way, the judges have compared her to Mariah or Whitney. And the "equal footing" is well deserved. Get chills by watching the two videos below from Saturday's performance.

And so you know, she makes the semis next week. Go Leona.

My Favorite Things: D & G Commercial

Few commercials peak my interest. But this spot for D & G, is hot. The music (Dancefloor by Stylophonic). The models. It makes me want to buy a watch. And how many commercials make you actually want to spend your money?

For the link to remixes of the song, check out Club Fridays on Pink Trash Travels here.

Someone You Should Know

Her name is Amy Winehouse and she's the kind of artist America will take too long to discover. Trust me, in six months, you'll start to hear her first single, Rehab from her latest CD Back to Black. Here in Europe, she's just released her second single, You Know I'm No Good. With some soul and funk, it's reminiscient of earlier works by the Fugees and Lauryn Hill. Watch and take a listen below.