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Six Things I’m Loving This Summer – By Trendlover, POP Culture Expert And TV Pundit Brian Balthazar.

We’re continuing our new recurring feature of favorite things, guilty pleasures, style picks and overall obsessions from all sorts of people. Today’s SIX THINGS I’M LOVING is from yours truly.

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We’re continuing our new recurring feature of favorite things, guilty pleasures, style picks and overall obsessions from all sorts of people. Today’s SIX THINGS I’M LOVING is from yours truly.

In my running around the NYC area covering pop culture, chatting about entertainment news, eating like a madman, trying to look sufficiently stylish, and remaining calm in the urban jungle, here are some of the things I’m enjoying right now. Some of them are trendy, some are offbeat, but they’re all me.

BOW TIES (ESPECIALLY TWO-SIDED REVERSIBLE ONES!)

When you wear a bow tie, people notice. And they tell you! (‘Nice bow-tie!’ they say. Trust me. It will happen.) People seem to appreciate the notoriety of something simple, classic and fun that somehow is still an unusual occurence. (Kind of like an eclipse – but you can actually look directly at them.) Bowties aren’t just for seersucker suits – you can wear them with virtually anything, and suddenly your whole outfit is ‘amped up.’ A white shirt and plain khaki knee-length shorts are taken to a ‘Hamptons croquet match’ level when you add a bow-tie. With a navy blue jacket you’re full-on snappy.

Mind you, if you’re new to wearing them, allow for extra time tying one. My arms actually GOT SORE in my first attempt, just from holding them up at neck level. Unlike a regular tie, you can’t tie it in advance and then take it off loosened up for later use. It all has to happen when you’re in the shirt. I recommend this youtube video, (1.5 million people agree with me) with ample pausing, to really get the gist of it.

You can go full-on Brooks Brothers (around $65 for a reversible one, which I love), Macy’s has em for $45 but I always manage to get them on sale, and then there’s the Marshall’s route, which always have beautiful ones for 10 dollars or less. Dress them up, dress them down, but don’t get a clip on!

AUDIO BOOK AWESOMENESS… BossyPants On CD

Tina Fey has no shortage of fans. Her recent book “Bossypants” is hysterical. But I cannot stress this enough… you NEED to get her audio book! Perfect for a road trip or long flight, Fey once again establishes her comedic genius, doling out perfectly ironic delivery as she sarcastically provides details of her beauty regimen. She also does a mean Paul Lynde impersonation, shares an iconic audio clip from SNL , and gives both an endearing and remarkably conversational tone when discussing her feelings about fame, Sarah Palin, wealthy judgemental moms, the world of SNL, showbiz and ‘the gays’. You’ll be glad you heard Tina tell her story in her own words.

ECSTASY FOR LESS THAN TEN BUCKS. WIRE HEAD MASSAGER

I’m not saying this head massager is better than sex. But I’m not saying it isn’t either.

Kikkerlander makes this marvel of modern technology. There are two kinds of people… those who find the 12 tiny tines of this handheld device exhilarating, and those who get the chills in a not-so-good way. I’m one of the former.

Find someone you know who loves it too, and go to town. Few words can describe the feeling. It’s so awesome, evoking such illicit responses, it borders on inappropriate for office use. That said, I have one at the office right now. I would pay someone cash to use this thing on me. Cold hard cash. Consider this an offer. My email can be find on the “About Brian” page.

MIO LIQUID could GET ME OFF SODA. OR AT LEAST COME CLOSE.

It’s the classic ‘how come no one thought of this before?’ idea. Simply put, it’s liquid flavoring that you can squirt at your discretion into glasses or bottled water – with zero calories. Essentially a concentrated liquid version of Crystal Light (sorry Crystal Light – you should have done this years ago) that lets you control the intensity and sweetness of your drink. Diet drink makers seem to think we’re so desperate for sweetness that they wallop you in the face with that fake sugar taste. Here, you’re in control, and while they may initially seem pricey (around $3.99 for just under 2 ounces)- you can save a lot of money in the long run compared to buying bottle after bottle of other drinks. They say it yields about 24 servings, but I’m convinced that my fondness for a lighter flavor has resulted in more, which in bottle form would have cost me an average of 40 bucks. Delish.

AMAZING “EASY ROLL” GARLIC PEELER

This product has been around for a while, but if you don’t have one, it bears repeating. Take one crack at using this Garlic peeler, which is basically just a flexible plastic tube, and you’ll be hooked. It is shockingly – yes shockingly easy to peel garlic with this thing. And for anyone who has tried to do it without one, you know this is a big deal!

Just shove a few cloves inside and use your palm to roll it on the counter… you’ll hear the skins crackling and peeling off, and when you tip the tube on it’s side, the beautifully naked cloves of garlic are at your bidding. Do what you will with them, and let the flavoring begin.

Never has a 7 dollar plastic tube been so priceless. Available on Amazon.com or Williams Sonoma.

HOT AIR BALLOON RIDES – CHEAPER THAN YOU THINK, EVEN MORE EXHILARATING THAN YOU IMAGINE!

I was fortunate enough to celebrate my birthday this summer with a hot air balloon ride. It was absolutely amazing! (Was it scary? Just enough that it was thrilling without it being terrifying.) At about $220 or so per person, depending on where you live and travel, it really can’t be beat. The flight was about an hour long and was completely breathtaking. And because these balloons are at the mercy of the wind, you never really know where you’re going to land! (The people at Dancing on Air had amazing pilots.) Not only was the ride itself captivating, but there’s also something beautiful about the look on people’s faces when they stare up into the sky at a hot air balloon… especially when they’re lucky enough to see it land. It was an almost universally revered vision. The flight was serene, the landing was soft, and ended with a casual celebration with champagne and snacks. If this has ever been something you’ve wanted to do, don’t wait. You’ll never regret it. Here’s video from my trip. I took it with my iPhone, and while it looks pretty amazing, it doesn’t do it justice!

Editor's Pick

Can’t Go Out? Here’s Six Ways You Can See The World Right From Your Very Own Home

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Turns out there are plenty of ways to beat the boredom blues!

Countries around the world are being asked to practice social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. Most businesses, attractions, theaters and museums have been closed down to help prevent the spread of the virus. Just last night here in the U.S., it was announced that the self-quarantine guidelines are to remain in place until April 30th of this year. Another month at home doesn’t have to mean another month of carb-loading and channel flipping though! There are actually quite a few ways to keep your brain stimulated during these unprecedented, sedentary times. Below you will find six ways to experience the world from your very own house…and don’t worry, I wouldn’t put anything on this list that would require changing out of your comfy sweats.

Virtually experience the happiest place on Earth.

Safe to say we can all use a little happiness during these troubling times so why not turn to the home of happiness itself, DisneyWorld. YouTube channel, Virtual Disney World, offers dozens of 360 degree videos that allow you to virtually experience DisneyWorld attractions, shows, hotels, monorails, trains, boats, park areas and more. These videos are fully immersive meaning you simply pan your VR-headset, phone or tablet in any direction to experience all of the excitement happening around you. Now, you can relive the magic you’ve loved your whole life anytime from anywhere! *Giant turkey leg smell not included….unless you’re actually cooking turkey legs while watching these videos, in which case I applaud your commitment.

Tour a national park on Google Earth.

Take a hike…well sort of. Hiking is a fun activity that can be done alone or with very few others, remember we are in socially distant times, but making your way to a trail might be a challenge these days. Public transportation schedules have been drastically altered and even if they weren’t, a crowded train or a bus just sounds like the breeding ground for some heinous germs right now. You could try to carpool but again…germs! You can avoid any viral risk by simply checking out one of the 30+ virtual hikes on Google Earth. Last year, Google Earth released virtual tours of some of the most beautiful parks in the country. Grand Canyon National Park, Redwood National Park, Everglades National Park and so many others are featured in this exciting experience. On your “hike” you will see some of the most breathtaking trails and views these parks have to offer. Best part? You don’t need bug spray.

Google Earth

Check out some of NYC’s finest street art.

It’s hard to feel particularly cultured when you’re wiping the crumbs from your second lunch off your overly worn pajamas. With that being said, we should not let our love for the arts fade like our flannels have. Instead, check out some of New York’s coolest street art via Google Arts and Culture. Their online experience 9 Amazing Street Art Murals In New York provides a fully immersive, virtual tour of some amazing art. In this tour you will see stunning artwork from prolific artists such as Eduardo Kobra, Keith Haring, Banksy and more. No need for a MetroCard to see these murals which is great because now you can put that $2.75 towards your next Seamless order.

Sing along while streaming your favorite Broadway shows.

Broadway has taught us all how defy gravity but now it’s helping us defy boredom too! Theater has been the perfect vehicle for escapism since it’s inception and now you can escape without even leaving your home! BroadwayHD is a streaming service that began broadcasting beloved Broadway shows back in 2015. With over 300 shows in their catalog, you can belt along to all of your favorite shows without having to worry about being escorted out of a theater. The platform is currently offering a free 7-day trial along with a very affordable $8.99/month plan. A one-year subscription is still cheaper than tickets to just one broadway show!

BroadwayHD

Virtually wander through some of the most impressive museums.

Staring at the same four walls of your apartment for weeks on end definitely won’t keep your mind stimulated, trust me I know. Combat the brain laze by learning about some of the world’s most fascinating arts and histories. Many of the world’s finest museums are offering virtual tours that provide users with a fully immersive experience. Never made it to that dream trip to Paris? Tour the Lourve from your couch! Embarrassed by how out of breath you were when you finally climbed all of those stairs getting into The Met? Skip the stairs and see it all online! Never perfected that English accent? That’s ok, no one will hear you on this virtual tour of The National Gallery in London! There are dozens of museums providing these tours and you can find most of them through a quick internet search. I listed a few below because this is the most brain stimulation I plan on having today.

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Musei Vaticani, Vatican City

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Natural History Museum, London

Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Go to a house party.

NOT LITERALLY!!! We all know with the social distancing guidelines the last thing we should do is host a house party. To remedy our social urges is the new digital platform called HouseParty, which allows users to throw virtual parties with their friends. Like on many other live-streaming apps, HouseParty allows you and your friends to simultaneously FaceTime. What makes this app special, however, is its gaming feature. With HouseParty you and your friends can choose from a variety of party games to play all while maintaining a safe distance. The app is available for iOS, Android, macOS, and Chrome and is truly putting a new twist on classic pajama parties.

HouseParty Icon

Be sure to try something new today otherwise you might just go crazy. We are living in unprecedented times so we might as well try some unprecedented ways of entertaining ourselves. Stay safe out there and stay socially distant…only physically of course!

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AWWW: A Rescue Team Of 9 Was Needed To Rescue 1 Adorably Chubby Rat

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Over in Bensheim, Germany a rotund rodent got herself into a jam when she tried to squeeze through a hole of a manhole cover only to get stuck…and honestly, I can relate. When I was 8 years old I tried to squeeze my thunder-thighs-in-training into a children’s swing and it took my dad and three other grown men to get me out. I am the German fat-rat!

Volunteer firefighters were called when a young girl noticed the fat rat was stuck and no time was wasted to help the poor critter. Eight firefighters and at least one animal rescuer appeared on the scene to safely extract the chubby critter. Animal rescuer Michael Sehr told BBC “She had a lot of winter flab and was stuck fast at her hip. There was no going forward or back.” When asked why anyone would even want to save something so many are repulsed by Sehr said “Even animals that are hated by many deserve respect.”

Alls well that ends well! Hopefully no authorites will be needed to help me shimmy out of these skinny jeans I thought looked cute this morning…in the meantime, check out the entire rescue below!

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Elton John And Taron Egerton Performed A Fantastic Duet Of ‘Tiny Dancer’

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The dancer may be tiny but the talent on stage was massive! Taron Egerton and Elton John gave a fantastic performance of “Tiny Dancer” last night at the 27th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party.

If you’ve been looking for a reason to toss on your bedazzled cape and brightly colored sunglasses then boy do I have good news for you. An “epic musical fantasy” about Elton John’s life, entitled Rocketman, is expected to hit theaters in May 2019. Taron Egerton, from Robin Hood fame, plays the musical legend and judging by his performance last night, we are all in for a treat. The audience of the charity event felt like a candle in the wind when Taron suggested an off-the-cuff performance of “Tiny Dancer.” There isn’t even a pun creative enough to embody what the audience must have felt when Elton John himself volunteered to accompany Taron on the piano!

In addition to a truly moving performance, the 27th Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party raised more than $6.3 million for an effort to end AIDS.

Click below to take a look at the magical performance from last night!

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