An Update…

And a bit of an apology.

I know that there has been a bit of a lull in posts but things have been a little chaotic. Firstly, Alex has graduated and now on her way to moving to New York for a new job. Secondly, I have moved into a new apartment and am still trying to struggle through and juggle not only grad school and a part time job (which feels like it’s turning into more of a full time job) but I’m also trying to start juggling looking for a real full time job for after I hopefully graduate in December. I know that you all do not want to hear my grumblings of  how much I hate school and how much I miss my friend, so I at least may be a little absent for a while from the site. I will try to post the better and more interesting things that come up in my life but in the meantime I hope that you all will be entertained by Alex’s new adventures in NYC and hopefully I’ll be able to add to those after December.

~ Christa

Alex’s Closet For Sale!

As some of you know, I am moving to NYC later this month. It was pretty clear for awhile now that I needed to downsize my closet and make way for new stuff…but now that I’m moving to a tiny little place on the Upper East Side I really need to get rid of some stuff! It’s hard to part with clothing, but sometimes it just has to be done. I have lots of goodies for sale on my eBay store, all of which are gently, very-gently used, or brand new items. All proceeds will go towards the Alex-Manhattan-Survival fund. As an added bonus I’ve decided to give a 15% discount to Modern Material Culture readers, just make sure you mention the blog as a note during check-out!

After my crazy, crazy life calms down just a bit I’ll be back in action with lots of new material and hopefully some fun NYC discoveries (or, as is typical in my case, mishaps).

Check out the slideshow below for a sampling of soon-to-be-added items to the store! Thanks!

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A Tribute to My Very First Mix CD

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A Tribute to My Very First Mix CD

When I was in the mother land this past week I seized the opportunity to go through the box that houses all of my old mix CDs…and, boy, was this eye opening. I delved into this collection thinking I would just quickly grab a random stack of CDs for my drive back to Pittsburgh. Considering that most of the CDs aren’t accompanied with any sort of track list or title, unless its a generic label like ‘*~*~Alex’s Mix IIIV~*~*,’ I knew I was going to have some fun surprises coming my way. However, I was not prepared to be reacquainted with the first ever mix CD I ever owned. This little gem, wedged between copies of Miles Davis’ ‘Some Kind of Blue’ and Anoushka Shankar’s ‘Live at Carnegie Hall’ (she is the best ever sitar player, okay?!), was made for me when I was in 7th grade, during the year of 2001. The mix master of this compilation (shout out to DS, what up, gangsta?!) was one of the first people I personally knew to get a CD burner. Actually, given the way that everyone was hounding him for CDs, he might have been the first kid in the entire middle school to have one at the time. Times were changing rapidly. I was enamored by the notion that there were possibilities developing for listening to particular songs whenever you wanted. I was tired of sitting by the radio with blank cassette tapes and a tape recorder. For the most part, I also refused to buy a band or artist’s entire album. I mean, I was 12! For one, the absence of an income made a purchase of any kind tricky. And secondly, with my 10-second attention span I knew I would only listen to it for a week before getting bored. I really only wanted to listen to 1 of the 10 songs on the album anyway, for goodness sakes…

Still with me here? Lets recap. DSL/Cable Modem Internet access + rising popularity of P2P file sharing services [I.E., FREE MUSIC! (just kidding, RIAA, just kidding!!!)] + downfall of the cassette tape, rise of the CD + manufacturing of CD burners for ‘at-home’ use = RAP MUSIC

Don’t question my mathematical conclusion.  If you weren’t listening to rap and r&b during the turn of the millennium, you were a huge loser. Up until the point of burned CDs, I was most definitely, by that standard, a loser. I still die from embarrassment when I think about how I was the only one who didn’t know all the words to Nelly’s “Country Grammar.” With CDs, I could make sure I knew every word to the bridge of Ludacris’ “Fantasy.” I was no longer going to be taunted by my crewmembers at middle school dances or DJed 13th birthday parties.

Before CD Burners & Mix CDs

Everyone else: “You don’t KNOW this song?!”

Me: “…um, no, of course I do…” [attempts to sing along, really is just mumbling nondescript words]

Me (in my mind): Sorry, asshole, put on some Van Morrison and I’ll SHOW you some lyric memorization!”

After

Me with everyone else: “I wanna, la la la lick you from yo head to yo toes…”

I tried to channel my inner J. Lo at middle school dances…

So, now that I’ve set that up with questionable accuracy, I guess its time. Time for me to introduce you to my first ever mix CD. I should probably note that the rest of this post contains adult material, expletives, and lots of talk about sexy time activities that aren’t even featured in 50 Shades of Grey. I still can’t believe we all listened to these songs when we were 13. How confusing for a bunch of hormonal pre-teens! I mean, we like to pick apart the effect “violent” rock music has on young people, but this is like a whole other issue. I still don’t think I’m mature enough to listen to these songs.

It feels just like yesterday I first laid eyes on you, mix CD.

1. Sunshine Anderson – Heard It All Before
2001

2. Jennifer Lopez feat. Ja Rule – I’m Real (Murder Remix)
2001

Seriously, what the h is Ja Rule doing these days?! Can anyone answer me that?!?

3. Wyclef Jean feat. Ecleftic & 11 – Perfect Gentleman
2001

Call up my mama said I’m in love with a stripper yo!

I still love this song. Sure, it’s mostly about strippers, and it took me several years to understand what “ten grand” represented, but there’s something about a Wyclef song that I dig.

4. Jay-Z – Izzo (H.O.V.A.) [aka, “H to the Izzo”]
2001

H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A
Fo’ shizzle my nizzle used to dribble down in VA

Fun facts: This song was produced by Kanye West, why had I never heard about him until 2006? The first verse regards Jay-Z’s early career as a drug dealer, second verse about struggles with the recording industry, and last verse is about childhood growing up in the Marcy Houses housing projects (Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn). And only Jay would make up his own language called “-izzle.” H.O.V.A. is -izzle talk and refers to one of his nicknames, Jayhova. Word dawg.

5. Jagged Edge feat. Nelly – Where the Party At
2001

6. P. Diddy ft. Black Rob & Mark Curry – Bad Boy for Life (Dirty)
2001

We ain’t, go-in nowhere, we ain’t, goin nowhere 
We can’t be stopped now, cause this bad boy for life 

Yes those are cameos by Dave Navarro, Ben Stiller, Xzibit, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Mike Tyson & Blink-182.

7. Missy Elliot ft. Ludacris and Trina – One Minute Man
2001

8. 112 – Peaches ‘N Cream
2001

Gettin’ freaky in my Bentley limousine
It’s even better when it’s with ice cream
Know what I mean

Oh, how catchy was this one. I loved it. And, again, had no idea at the time what ‘Peaches ‘N Cream’ was an innuendo for. Please read through the lyrics of this song. They are so dirty I just blushed when I read them and then threw up a little in my mouth.

9. Craig David – Fill Me In
2000

10. Fabolous ft. Nate Dogg – Can’t Deny It
2001

11. 112 – Its Over Now
2001

12. Lil’ Rascals [aka Lil’ Bow Wow, Lil Wayne, Lil’ Zane & Sammie] – Hardball
2001

I’m pretty sure this is the only song on this CD that does not describe a sexual activity in explicit detail. Thanks to my research on this song, I found out that Lil Wayne is only 29. How is that even possible? He looks like he’s 40 years old. So, that means that he was 18 when this song was recorded. Lil Bow Wow was 13, what a cutie.

13. Ludacris – Whats Your Fantasy
2000

I wanna get you in the back seat windows up
That’s the way you like to fuck, clogged up fog alert
Rip the pants and rip the shirt, ruff sex make it hurt
In the garden all in the dirt

Every time I hear this song, I can still rap that whole bridge towards the end (see above for example). And usually I don’t actually listen to what I’m saying. I sure as hell didn’t know what the lyrics were actually describing when I was 12, and to be quite honest I still don’t know what all Ludacris is describing here. People are getting all up in arms about Fifty Shades “erotica,” while 12 year olds could recite all the words to a song that describes more sexual activities in 3 minutes than are described in 3 novels. Go figure.

14. Ludacris ft. Nate Dogg – Area Codes
2001

It’s the abominable “O” man
Globe-trot international post man

Oh, Ludacris, you are just so good at these risque songs! You dog, you. Guess what “Area Codes” is about. Did you guess that its a song listing all the area codes that Ludy banged a woman in? 43 area codes by my count. The best part is that in this song’s Wikipedia article, they actually point out how  this song “may be incomprehensible to future generations of listeners” because many of the area codes listed in the song have been changed in the past 10+ years to represent different geographical regions. God forbid that future generations of pre-teens can’t figure out where Ludacris spread his seed.

15. Trick Daddy – I’m A Thug
2001

16. Mary J. Blige – Family Affair
2001

Produced by Dr. Dre.

17. Blu Cantrell – Hit ’em Up Style (Oops!)
2001

Carolina Chocolate Drops did it better, sorry Blu.

August 2012 Birchbox Review

August 2012 Birchbox: Beauty School Supply Kit

Anything ‘back to school’ themed will always remind me of Billy Madison, because I am mature like that.

Back to school. Back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool. I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don’t get in a fight. Ohhhh, back to school. Back to school. Back to school.

But the best part about getting a ‘back to school’ themed Birchbox this month? The fact that I, will in fact, not be going back to school because I am donedonedone!

I did like the contents of this month’s box, but it would still be hard to beat the love I had for July’s box. Read ahead to see what I got and what I thought!

In case you aren’t familiar with Birchbox, I’ll give you a little rundown. Each month a package arrives at your door. It contains about 4-5 samples of deluxe beauty products (skin care and make up) and a little something extra. The samples are usually generous and last for a few applications. If you love an item you can get onto Birchbox’s website and buy it. Each item you buy earns you some points, similar to how the Sephora rewards card works, and you can use them toward later purchases. I love samples, especially of beauty products that are on the pricier side, so if you do actually purchase something you have a good idea of whether or not you will be happy with it. Birchbox costs $10 a month or you can subscribe for the year for $110.

Juicy Couture Viva la Juicy La Fleur Perfume
Sample Size: .05 fl. oz., $8.75
Full size: 2.5 oz., $70

Birchbox says: This modern scent is a feminine blend of wild berries, mandarin, and waterlily.

My thoughts: I’m a big fan of Juicy scents. Their original formula has long been in my rotating arsenal of perfumes. While I did enjoy their Viva la Juicy La Fleur, I rarely love the ‘sequel’ more than the original. I have no doubt it’ll get used though, although by now I have so many perfume samples from Birchbox I don’t know what to do with myself.

Rating: A-

Miss Jessie’s Original Stretch Silkening Creme
Sample size: 2 fl. oz., $5.50
Full size: 8 fl. oz., $22

Birchbox says: Apply to soaking wet hair to loosen tight curls and add tons of shine.

My thoughts: Is there a spot on the Birchbox questionnaire where they ask you about your hair texture? I don’t know, but if there isn’t there should be! I know I’ve waxed on about my straight to curly to straight hair texture life, so until my hair inevitably goes curly again, I have little need for a curly hair product. I’ve still used it a few times and have noticed it has helped reduced weather-related frizzies and added some shine. So, even though I can’t attest to whether or not it helps loosen tight curls, I still think it is a quality product. Maybe I’ll have my mom take a try while I’m home and see if it works on her curls!
P.S.: When I initially snooped on the Birchbox website to see what I would be getting in this month’s box, I definitely thought this product was for stretch marks, based off the name. Hopefully I’m not the only one, because now I feel like a moron.

Rating: B

Pixi Beauty Lip & Line
Full size sample!
Full size: 0.051 oz., $18

Birchbox says: A double-sided wand featuring a waterproof liner and a creamy lipstick.

My thoughts: I would never dare argue about receiving a full-sized product, considering it substantially added to the value of the box. I’ve only tried this out once; I haven’t really had an opportunity to wear a lipstick of this shade yet this week. I’m not exactly sure how convinced I am that the lipstick portion of the product should be considered ‘creamy,’ but maybe my lips were just dry when I put it on? Who knows. Either way, yay for full-sizes!

Rating: B+

Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream
Sample size: 0.1 oz., $2
Full size: 1.25 oz., $16

Birchbox says:Bestselling Japanese cream that hydrates chapped lips, rough heels, and cracked hands.

My thoughts: This was a teeny, tiny sample for a body cream. Typically the body cream samples come in a size that last for more than one application. This was more of the size of an eye cream sample, womp womp. Therefore, it is difficult to accurately evaluate it. The cream is quite thick. It also smells like Bengay…so I wouldn’t want to put this on for daytime wear.

Rating: C+

Schick Hydro Silk Razor
Full size: 1 razor, $9.99

My thoughts: Razors are such a pain in the butt, but since I hate having prickly legs, I am forced to deal with them until I am rich enough to get them laser hair removed. I thought this was a great extra for the box! Razors are pricey, so a quality non-disposable razor was a nice treat. Additionally, I find myself buying men’s razors a lot because most ladies razors only have 2 or 3 blades…and a 4 blade razor gives a much closer shave. No complaints here!

Birchbox Total Value: $44.25!

This month’s box had a great variety of products and worth quite a lot more than 10 dollars! Here’s my only thing, this month’s box came with a little brochure of ‘tips and tricks.’ Is it weird that I don’t like change and missed the simple card? Minor quips.

Want your own Birchbox? Go to http://www.birchbox.com?raf=s6h6z to sign up!

Note: I do not work for Birchbox or am affiliated with them in any way. By clicking on the link above, it works as a referral from me. My thoughts are entirely my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Birchbox.