Category Archives: Product Reviews

Calpernia Recommends: Peggy Lee’s Haunting Album “Mirrors”

[tubepress video=”G-tbH_fGnOw”]

I don’t do recommendations of music often, which is strange because I am a music fanatic who vigorously writes, curates, studies and follows music. My tastes vary from good to so-bad-it’s-good, classic to current, experimental to by-the-rules. I especially love rare music, weird music and groundbreaking music. As someone with a lifelong blue streak, I also adore music that is richly, sweetly sad and introspective. Peggy Lee’s singing of Leiber & Stoller’s music on “Mirrors” is just that.

Many people who know rare music know “Is That All There Is?” as a hidden gem of seen-it-all shoulder shrugging and a “let’s party anyway” attitude. I sing it in my act, and there’s a video of Peggy singing it at the bottom of this post… LOVE that song. It inspired me to seek out the album, “Mirrors”, which is surprisingly rare and hard to find. To me, the writing and performance on “Mirrors” is a masterwork giving a haunting and beautiful peek inside the mind and soul of a woman who has “been through it”. She sings about things that are sad or awful, sometimes wistfully, sometimes with an aurally arched eyebrow, sometimes with a smile and sometimes she just sounds like she’s drugged and deep inside her own head. So incredible.

The CD’s available on Amazon are rare and expensive, but I’m sure you can find these songs on YouTube or elsewhere used to add them to your collection!

My interpretation on the songs (my faves in bold). Look them up on YouTube, she’s fantastic:

  • “Is That All There Is?” – Hilarious shrug at some of the worst moments of life while raising a drink and dancing.
  • “Ready to Begin Again” – She talks about putting on her wig, putting her teeth back in and getting ready to face the world, ha ha.
  • “Some Cats Know” – She talks about how some guys just know how to “do” life.
  • “I’ve Got Them Feelin’ Too Good Today Blues” – Depressives will identify with this song. She thinks there’s something wrong if she feels too good.
  • “A Little White Ship” – INCREDIBLE, beautiful song about how her bed is like a little white ship she sails away on. Dreamy, drugged sounding.
  • “Tango” – A straight tango, followed by a spoken word poem, followed by a song that seemed to be about a failing romance to me at first. It turns out that this song references the murder of actor Ramón Novarro!
  • “Professor Hauptmann`s Performing Dogs” – A silly circus-themed song about performing dogs. I don’t know if it means anything beyond that, but it’s fun and Peggy delivers something this frothy with surprising power.
  • “The Case of M.J.” – This seems to be about a little girl who was abused somehow.
  • “I Remember” – BEAUTIFUL, slow, drugged, sad, wistful remembrance: “I… remember… when… you… loved… me…”
  • “Say It” – A fraught, tense piano and voice meditation begging her imperfect lover to say he loves her.
  • “Longings for a Simpler Time” – She wistfully remembers “the good old days”.

[tubepress video=”LCRZZC-DH7M”]

UPDATED: iPhone 4 First Impressions: VERY Mixed


Sad Face!


Ok, so as super-excited as I was (am) to get my new iPhone 4 a full day early, there are some big let downs across the board. First, I will say this: It is physically gorgeous, feels great in hand and software runs very, very quickly. And I am such an Apple fangirl that I still want and prefer this phone over any of the others out there. The good stuff about the phone is all great, and I’ll talk about it next time if it hasn’t already been done to death, but here’s the bad stuff:


As an exciting nightlife figure (LOL), my main iPhone 4 fantasy involved taking gorgeous, colorful and smooth HD video at all my many live shows, underground parties and colorful experiences — then uploading them right to YouTube and maybe even blogging them using the WordPress App. What were the results of my tests right out of the box?

Update 6/24: I took some new video from both cameras to show how much better it is when not compressed in-camera and uploaded via 3G, but the phone won’t allow me to import images or video in iPhoto again, so I guess we’ll have to wait for that.

Shiteous Front-Facing Camera Video

The first video I took with the initially exciting front-facing VGA camera looks absolutely shiteous after being uploaded to YouTube over 3G from the camera. It looks little better than the video I used to take with my very first clamshell camera phone from years ago, and it has horrible stop-and-start audio problems. Admittedly, the conditions were not ideal, but they were “typical” for my life and not terrible. It was 1pm in Hollywood, bright sunlight, inside my car mounted on my dash charger (which was not made for iPhone 4, but why build in obsolescence for something as basic as charging?). It is my hope that the poor video and audio quality was very atypical, and was caused by jostling in the charger cradle or something. Take a look, if only to see the video quality, but don’t bother watching it all the way through:


Back Camera HD Video is “Meh” When Sent to YouTube via 3G

Maybe it’s all pixelly because I uploaded it from the iPhone to YouTube using 3G, and it had to compress the video on board the phone before sending? Pretty disappointing, unless YouTube just isn’t done rendering it and it will look better shortly. How long can it take YouTube to render 22 seconds of video, though?


Won’t connect with iPhoto

Maybe the above video would have looked better taken from the phone via iPhoto and uploaded to YouTube without being compressed by the phone, but iPhoto won’t let me get anything off the phone (yes, all my software is updated and I’m running a Mac pro tower). I took several snapshots and video clips, and excitedly plugged into iPhoto so that I could get them for this review, only to receive the message below. I had to email them to myself from the phone.

Sad-trombone sound!

(Update 6/23: After trashing iPhoto preference files, reinstalling iPhoto and restarting both my Mac and the phone a few times, it now syncs pix and videos. But what a pain! It was syncing fine with my old iPhone 3G)

(Update 6/24: The problem is back. It connects to iTunes fine, and shows up in iPhoto under Devices, but there are no images or videos available for importing. The import window is just empty.)

(Update 6/24 – Here’s an imperfect fix)

Uploading Video to YouTube: The Text Part

God help you if you type a long title, description and set of tags during the process of uploading a video to YouTube and someone texts or calls you before you hit “save” and send it on its way. It bops out of the Photos/YouTube app and you have to go back, re-choose “Upload to YouTube”, let it re-compress the video, re-enter all that text and then hope you can send it before someone else texts you.


Right-Click & open in new tab/window for full rez

They look much better than my iPhone 3G, but honestly there seems to be a kind of “white mist” of particles in some images (I’m not a photographer so I don’t know terminology). Maybe I’m expecting too much from a cellphone camera, but the hype has been astronomical. Better than my old phone cam for still pix, in any case.

A Text message came in 20 minutes after it was sent

A friend standing right next to me sent me a text so I could get his number. It didn’t show up until 20 minutes later. Maybe the network is overwhelmed?

Touching the metal sides dampens reception

Update 6/24: This is major, major, major and I could imagine this being devastating for the iPhone’s reputation if they don’t spin it really well. Touching the metal rim around the sides of the phone, which serves as antenna for cell reception and other stuff, causes reception bars to disappear one by one. I read about it this morning, and tried it myself. Sure enough, holding the phone by the glass (which can only be done by pinching it in an unusable position) gives whatever reception seems to be available at the moment. Holding it normally (which involves touching the metal sides/edges) causes two or more reception bars to disappear from that in a few seconds. The $30 rubber bumper supposedly fixes this, but the bumpers are (1) hideous and (2) thirty dollars. Bad bad bad.

Wrap Up Thoughts

As a multimedia blogger on the go, I have high hopes for my new, expensive iPhone 4. I need it to work well, and go above and beyond the average phone/camera/computing device. After a sometimes tricky and unstable jailbreaking, my old iPhone 3G did pretty well for me, but the video quality was poor and lack of a flash was a serious drawback when documenting my nighttime lifestyle.

With all the BS we put up with from Apple, in terms of a closed system for apps, longtime iTunes madness that does stupid things like deleting all phone content if you do some basic things like switching from auto syncing to manual media management, DRM and everything else, I’m still willing to put up with it (until I jailbreak the phone) for the gorgeous engineering, user interface, processor and Apple cool factor. But I need stuff to work well and easily!

It’s maybe possible I “did everything wrong” in terms of shooting video and connecting to iPhoto, but unlikely. I’m a remarkably savvy computer and gadget user. This phone should be made for average folks and work easily and well under average conditions, not require babying and hoop-jumping to get a clear video, and then get it off of my computer and onto the web.

It’s still a gorgeous, awesome phone and I know I’m going to eventually love it, but it has underwhelmed out of the box. I need to get some clear, colorful video with clean audio in the next day or so, or else I am going to feel totally sad face.

Update 6/24: I am losing my enthusiasm. If I’d had one of these to play with for a few days before making the purchase, I would have seriously considered an Android phone. I’m not giving up yet, though. If the iPhone4->iPhoto issue can be fixed, I’ll be on the road to being Ok with everything. We shall see.

Pretty Pretty: The LA Makeup Show Products Review #1

My eye palette by Auraline Beauty with some OCC glitter, for my weekly live UNREAL show

I am a lucky girl. I fully realize that, and I am thankful for it every day.

This last Saturday, I was invited to visit The Makeup Show LA by Cal-pal, sweetheart and founder of vegan friendly  Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics,  David Klasfeld. Held at the penthouse of the California Market Center in downtown Los Angeles, it’s a makeup industry showcase where top national brands and innovative up-and-comers can show their wares and share samples with the top makeup professionals in Hollywood. Wow!

David & Katie of OCCosmetics

I was immediately introduced to David’s biz partner, adorable NYC makeup artist  Katie Pellegrino (and her adorable glasses! HOT!)

  • “Basic Life” – they would say hi and then I’d wander around scrounging .1oz lip balm samples. This didn’t happen.
  • “Calpernia Life” – David puts some of OCC’s top products into a huge bag for me and Katie pops a cup of Champagne into my hand before leading me off to meet all the top makeup reps at the event. OMFG this is really happening!

By the end of the day, I had almost more makeup than I could carry, a panoply of pigments, powders, cremes, colors, sticks, brushes and more. I literally almost cried at one point, people were so generous. In terms of makeup celebrities, I met MUA (make-up-artist) Sharon Gault of the Madonna “Truth or Dare” documentary, famous YouTube MUA “Queen of Blending“, and I saw sweetie-pie MUA from “Transamerican Love Story” Autumn Scruggs, “Transamerican Love Story (Pilot)” MUA Valerie Hernandez and MUA Selena working and shopping as well.

Calpernia and David at Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics booth for Makeup Show LA 2010
Calpernia and David at Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics booth for Makeup Show LA 2010

I will write up the brands in individual posts coming up shortly, beginning with Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics. But let me just tell you, with the addition of a few simple things like a colorful lipstick, thicker mascara and better concealer I have been getting triple the attention from men this week — no joke! I can’t wait to share these products with you! In the mean time, here is a list of top tips from the Makeup Show LA artists.

Calpernia’s Brazilian Blowout Hair Extravaganza

Newly Brazilian Blown-Out
Newly Brazilian Blown-Out

Hey kids, I’ve been dealing with MAJOR computer issues over the last week, which finally culminated in a complete meltdown of my main computer’s hard disk yesterday. As you may know, I’m no slouch when it comes to computer wrangling, so I was able to get most of my data off the rapidly sinking ship of my primary machine and into the lifeboat of a 1 TB external backup drive yesterday, THANK GOD, but now I’m struggling to see if I can salvage the hard drive inside the computer at all. I’m using every trick in the book, so we shall see. I’ll tell you a secret… I’ve been working on a new song for Cal-pal Selene Luna that is FUN, so I would have died if I had lost all the work I’d done on it so far. Whew!


Soooo… today, whilst my main computer was chugging away running diagnostics and fixits and whatsits, Cal-pal Matthew B. (Beverly Hills hair stylist to the rich and famous, darling!) offered me a spot as a sort of hair model for their new Brazilian Blowout procedure! No, I’m not getting paid to endorse this, but Matthew is such a talented sweetheart (and hottie!) that I definitely want to recommend him to everyone. While it would have been outside my tight recession-era budget to get this done if he hadn’t done it to me as a special training hair model, it is totally worth it if you want to condition and straighten your hair. Mine feels like silk now, and it moves and slides around with any little turn of my head.

Call the Gavert Atalier in Beverly Hills and ask for Matthew, he’ll do ya up reeeeel purty!

Gavert Atalier

Matthew B.
9666 Brighton Way
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-5126
(310) 858-7898