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Not Ready for Granny Panties
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penn-state-logo By: Chrysa Smith Now, if you live in Pennsylvania or are one of the millions of alumni, you know the answer to this. We are, of course, Penn State. It’s the chant you’ll hear from the moment you take a campus tour through the athletic stadiums. My, even the retailers have taken note. While heading into State College (aka: Happy Valley), I noticed a sign that read ‘We Are….Beer.’ Hmm, well I’m sure they didn’t even need to spend on the advertising. But that is the stereotype that is exactly my point. They are…Penn State. And they are, so very much more than a party school. I just returned the other day from a reading conference up there. I must say, though not a rah-rah kind of gal, I was immersed in it. Blue and white wallpaper, furnishings, glasses, rugs. You name it and the colors ran deep. But walking around the campus, I would notice beautiful brass signage which marked some accomplishment. And I can honestly say, there are some impressive ones.  Did you know, for example, that:

  • the hormone progesterone was first synthesized there?
  • artificial insemination of dairy cattle first done there?
  • Joseph Heller finished his novel, Catch 22 while teaching there?
  • an atom was first seen there?
  • the first rechargeable pacemaker was invented there?
  • public broadcasting was first broadcast there?
  • houses the largest university creamery in the nation?

Well, you get the idea. There are many more technical type discoveries that I could uncover. But the gist of the matter is not to judge a book by it’s cover. And the cover, while blanketed in blue and white, might just have a deep interior life that’s not readily visible from the outside. I spent my undergrad life at a medium size school in the burbs of NYC. But, if I had it to do all over, with what I now know, I might be wearing blue and white now instead of purple. It’s this time that’s for spirit, for fun, for discovery, for exploration and yes, for the blue and white. I never thought I’d say it, but our family is officially a Nittany one—-we are indeed, Penn State.

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What to Say to Halloweeners Dressed as Elsa from “Frozen”

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

frozen2In a recent column, mom of young kids, Katy, who writes at her site “Experienced Bad Mom,” offered some cute tips as to how to greet the coming onslaught of Trick or Treaters (yes, “Halloweeners” sounds weird, but I thought it was funny) who will be dressed as Elsa from Frozen this Friday.

Katy’s thoughts were sweet, including things like “So. DO you wanna build a snowman?” and of course, “Let it go! Let it go!” Adorable, but I’ve watched the innocent Elsa transform countless times into the not-so-innocent looking Elsa while she sings her signature song, and I had some of my ideas of my own, like:

1.  How did you suddenly grow breasts and hips when you “let it go?”

2.  Why is your dress slit up to your thigh? I mean, it’s pretty cold in an ice castle, isn’t it?

3.  Maybe the hips and boobs are throwing you off balance, but why do you start walking    like a hooker?

4.  Back to the dress–who designed it, Fredericks of Hollywood?

5.  You know those Marines aren’t just cheering because they like the song, right?

6.  Where’d you get the eye liner, brow pencil and red lipstick on the top of an ice mountain?

7.  When you sing, “That perfect girl is gone,” you’re not just talking about the dress, are you?

Okay, if I said any of this to a nine-year-old I’d probably get arrested. So I won’t. But I can’t be the only one who thinks sweet, sad little Elsa’s transformation smacks of something more than you-go-girl empowerment. Those Marines go crazy when Elsa hits her change in life moment.  Does anybody really think it’s because they’re glad she’s finally found her confidence? (You have to click here and watch the video.)

frozen30n-7-webThere are always sexy versions of Halloween costumes. But check out the lingerie company Yandy’s adult interpretation of the Elsa costume. Maybe it’s me, but it doesn’t look all that different from Elsa’s actual gown–slit and cleavage included.

I’m guessing any little Elsas who show up at my door won’t be similarly attired. But maybe it’s time the animators at Disney throw a little ice on themselves and turn down heat–and the hotties–in kids’ movies. Otherwise, the next time we see Elsa, she might be in a remake of Burlesque or Moulin Rouge, where her outfit would fit right in.

Check out Elsa’s moment to shine below and let us know what you think. Happy Halloween!


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Sister Cristina Sings “Like A Virgin” (Yes, She’s a Real Nun)

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

Well, this is a cross between fascinating and disturbing. The little nun warbling below, Sister Cristina, won Italy’s version of the television show, The Voice, by singing, among other tunes, Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” Yeah, I’m kind of leaning towards disturbing. Let us know what you think!


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St. Vincent–A Movie Review

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

St. VincentIt’s Grand Torino without the gangs.

Take a curmudgeonly old man, add a young new neighbor in need of some guidance, throw in lots of wisecracks, mix with a little conflict, have the kid learn and the cranky old guy redeem himself and there you have it–Grand Torino, or, in this case, St. Vincent, the new film starring Bill Murry in the title role.

Murray takes on the old guy role played by Clint Eastwood in Grand Torino with slight tweaks to the character. Murray’s Vincent is frequently drunk and his house is a mess, unlike Eastwood’s tidy home in his film. And Vincent enjoys visits from another stock-type character in the form of Naomi Watts as the hooker with a heart of gold. Oh, and she’s quite pregnant, which adds another, um, interesting twist to the plot.

As for the neighbors, instead of a Korean family, Vincent is met with newly single mom, Melissa McCarthy as Maggie, and her son, Oliver, played endearingly by Jaeden Lieberher. Oliver runs into the predictable new kid problems–bullies at school and loneliness, and Vincent reluctantly comes to the rescue in both instances. He also teaches Oliver how to bet on the ponies, and introduces him to Watt’s Daka, much to Maggie’s chagrin.

As always, Murray plays the cranky, disaffected grouch with just the right touch of disdain and vulnerability, allowing the viewer to easily fall for his relationship with Oliver. The other cast members are spot-on, especially young Lieberher and Chris O’Dowd as a religious brother who teaches at Oliver’s new school.

St. Vincent is funny, sweet and, alas, predictable. But in a world where the next unknown disaster is waiting to attack at a moment’s notice, maybe predictable isn’t so bad after all.  See the trailer for St. Vincent below.

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Farmhouse Dining Redefined

barleyBy: Chrysa Smith


The farm-to-table movement has changed the face of restaurant dining.  And thank God. There’s nothing quite like the tastes of fresh produce and meat just plucked, just butchered, just served quickly.

It’s funny, but having been raised in the city, way before this healthier dining phenomenon, I never realized just how delicious a farm fresh egg could be. Or fish just caught early in the morning. But those who grew up on the farm, well, that was a different thing.

But farm-to-table has taken that ‘of the earth’, dirty hands grittiness and meshed it with an upscale dining experience. And I was lucky enough to have it, while celebrating my 29th anniversary this pat weekend.

Enter The Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm. Yes, it’s in Bucks County, PA. Holicong to be exact; just minutes from Peddler’s Village. But it could have been a lovely country manor somewhere in France, as we wound down the long, tree-lined driveway, toward a stone farmhouse and wooden barn, past a cobblestone court and European style fountain.  The first impression was thumbs up. And the rest of the evening was two.

The dining room had an open view to the kitchen. That was quite cool for a self-proclaimed foodie to witness, as the chef emptied his fresh ingredients, straight from containers, into his pans. But aesthetically, the room was gorgeous. A French Provincial décor was complimented by a wall of windows looking out onto bucolic pastures. It was getting dark when we arrived, so not able to take full advantage of the 30 acre property.

The menu is compact, but it’s one of those places that knows what it’s good at, and does it even better. I had the Halibut; Mark began with the Sweet Potato Bisque then the Ribeye. All delicious; all in reasonable portions that allowed for a taste of dessert, without having to unbutton the pants. Mark went for the pumpkin donuts while I indulged my sweet tooth with the chocolate pudding cake. Yum.

A BYOB made it especially attractive and kept the bill within a range of restaurants with less care, less atmosphere, less kitchen experience. Are we going back? Most definitely.

Reserve yourself a seat on or visit their website:

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Television Musings

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

rear view of a girl pointing remote to a televisionI don’t watch a lot of television, except for Say Yes to the Dress, which I binge watch every chance I get. (I cannot get enough of wedding gowns.) But as with everything, I have serious opinions about what I do watch.

And right now, Marty McFly’s mother is making me uncomfortable.

Actress Lea Thompson played the mother to Michael J. Fox’s Marty in the 1985 film Back to the Future, where she missed dancing at the high school prom, instead finding herself stuck in a car with the school lunkhead. She’s trying to make up for it now by cutting a rug on this season’s Dancing With the Stars.

I’d rather see her in the car with Biff.

Though she’s consistently placed high in scores, for some reason, I find her painful to watch. Not as painful as awkward NASCAR racer Michael Waltrip (how is he still on the show?), but still painful. And not nearly as annoying as Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli. Can someone shut those two up, please? Also, as much as I love to watch Alfonso Ribeiro, I’ve heard him say the word “groin” just a few too many times tonight.

Leah Remini took over hosting duties for Erin Andrews, grating like a sharp hunk of parmigiano, while Tommy Chong stumbled through another routine, looking like he just emerged from his zillionth pot-induced haze.

The male dancers have decided that shirts are unnecessary, as, apparently, is body hair. Good thing they tape the show in California. Anywhere else and the men would freeze to death.

Then of course, there are the commercials for erectile dysfunction. Viagra and Dancing With the Stars. Pandering to the audience?

Oh, and let’s not forget the political ads. Because we haven’t had enough name calling and backstabbing from those pantheons of virtue we’re electing to office.

Okay, I’m done for now. It’s after eleven and bedtime. Maybe I’ll be in a better mood tomorrow. Or maybe I’ll just leave the TV off.

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Singing in the Rain with Dancing With the Stars!

Such an adorable number by Derek Hough and Bethany Mota last week on DWTS. A classic, classically done! Emjoy!