January 2010

My New Favorite Video Game: Left 4 Dead 2

Left4dead2 I know, that picture's scary. It's the rotting-hand-graced cover of Left 4 Dead 2, the second edition of a zombie-killing, first-person shooter game for Xbox 360 and PCs. The game is dark, creepy and more than a little unnerving -- and I love it.

Truth: I'm not a huge gamer girl (okay, I'm not a gamer girl at all). But there's something about swinging an axe at the undead that appeals to me. Maybe it's because I'm not killing "real people" like in other games -- zombies are easier to strike down.
(Check out eerie screenshots of your enemies here.) Plus, you can have three friends help you out, so the zombie-slashing is a completely social exercise. The locations (abandoned motels, rooftops, fields) are fun to race around, and the challenges (don't set off the car alarm in the parking lot or the zombies will swarm!) are totally my speed.

So while I usually love my Xbox 360 because I can watch Netflix on demand and stream my facebook page onto the flatscreen, I've got a new way to use it: For an actual game. I'm not quite ready for Halo Wars, but I'm getting there...

RED Hearts: Advice on Dog Adoption


Adoptapetgold RED Hearts are guest posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage Girls in America Write On What Fires Up Their Lives Today.

RED Hearts post is from Annie Littlewood, 21, reporting from Overland Park, Kansas, who has advice on pet ownership:

I always had a dog during childhood. Our last dog, a German shepherd named Buddy Love, had to be put to sleep a couple of months after I graduated from high school.

It took four years for me to finally decide it was time for a new companion. Then for months, my boyfriend Pieter and I discussed making a home for our friend’s Boxer’s soon-to-be puppies. When we met Captain Mauser, two days after his birth, we knew immediately he was the one.

Dog parenthood is a huge responsibility and expense. You have to be mature enough to take care of yourself and another living thing. Will you be able to do it alone? How will your roommates feel? Where do you spend your holidays? Is there someone to babysit if you have to go out of town without him/her? Do you truly want to start a friendship that will inevitably end in death? Can you handle that?

If you’re not up for the months of training, there are plenty of older orphaned, free animals that need love (find out how you can help animal victims of the Haiti disaster here). Animal shelters are the best places to find a dog who is already potty-trained, has its shots, can walk on a leash, and doesn’t chew on furniture, shoes, trash, etc.

There are also a lot of essentials that come with that animal: food, leashes, bones, shampoo, brushes, vitamins, veterinarian visits. About.com gives a chart on average yearly expenses of dog ownership. And, dogs need consistent exercise -- so you have to be up for the walks too. Taking Mauser out twice a day has given us an exercise routine, plus more time to hold hands.

When I come home, my pup’s shiny, chestnut-brown body wiggles uncontrollably, and I can see, feel his pure, honest adoration. Your dog will fill your life with daily comfort and joy -- a blessing that can always cure you of boredom. (Fetch is the best game.) I get to wake up every morning with my best friend, a being who will be more consistent in loving me than any sweetheart, taking up the entire end of my bed.

RED Hearts guest poster Annie Littlewood is an author of RED: Teenage Girls in America Write On What Fires Up Their Lives Today, which is now out in paperback.

Flair For Your Couch

Ketchup Can you ever have enough pillows? They're good for napping, sleeping, propping your head up while watching American Idol, or just for adding some stylish flare to a couch or chair. Needless to say, pillows are a necessary component for comfy living.

Currently, I'm coveting the pillows at Beth's Etsy shop diffractionfiber. They're quirky, cute and unique, and they come in a variety of styles -- kind of perfect for personalizing a dorm room.

Her condiment pillows ($34 each) -- mustard, soy sauce, and ketchup -- spill out their goods, but won't leave a stain on your sofa. There's the "Made For Each Other" ($50) peanut butter and jelly duo, a delicious looking pie cushion ($32), and you can customize the fortune cookie ($19) pillow with your own special message. 

Plus, Beth is offering a special 15% discount for I Heart Daily readers -- just tell her we sent you!

Hear(t) It: Beach House, "Teen Dream"

Beach house - teen dream I've been a fan of Beach House's woozy, dream-like sounds since my friend Sandra turned me on to their first album back in 2006. The duo -- Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally -- from Baltimore, Maryland release their achingly beautiful third album, Teen Dream, today on SubPop.

The nine tracks are what you expect from Beach House -- deliberate yet gentle songs that fill the air with mystery, desire and longing <insert heavy sighs>. Vintage organs and drunk-sounding guitars swirl together, while Legrand's weary but enchanting voice completes each song's hypnotic drone. 

On "A Walk In The Park," a trembling guitar trades turns with the chorus: "In a matter of time, it would slip from my mind / In and out of my life, you would slip from my mind." A bit melancholy? Yes. But isn't that what being a teen dream is all about? Much like love, it's something that sometimes seems perfect, but seldom is <insert more heavy sighs>.

Watch the video for "Silver Soul" here, directed by Victoria herself, then stream the entire album here. Have a beachy-keen time.

Don't Text and Drive. Okay?

TextdeadohineWe don't go all Oprah-Public-Service-Announcement on you guys very often, but I had to today. Oprah made me cry last week with her "these people have lost family members to phone-distracted drivers" show -- prepare for serious go-get-the-tissue-box tears if you click that link. Also, a confession: I have texted while driving.

I know I'm not alone. The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project has determined that 43% of teens have used their cell phones while driving, 26% for texting. And 48% of teens have been in the car with a texting driver -- often one of their parents. So we all do it. Can we all please stop?

New research shows that texting while driving is the equivalent of driving after four drinks -- that's a lot! (The New York Times has a big series on Distracted Driving here if you want more scary stats.) Lots of states are passing laws against texting while driving and talking on the cell phone while driving (also dangerous, even with a headset!). But the truth is, this one's tough to enforce. We kind of have to be self-regulating here.

So I'm asking you to think before you pick up your phone in a car. Turn up Lady Gaga, roll down the window, and just drive. You'll be back on your cell soon enough. Cool?

Sign Oprah's (somewhat cheesily titled) No Phone Zone pledge to stop texting-and-driving. Then pass it on!

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