February 29, 2008

February 29, 2008

That's Right: An Impressionist/Hottie

Despite the potential for missing the opening moments of Lost, I went to another art museum lecture last night.

Okay, so technically, it was a lecture/book signing, but I was too cheap to buy the book, even in paperback. In my defense, it’s not really my sort of read. The author, Susan Vreeland, is sort of a poor man’s Tracy Buckland. What Buckland did for Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Vreeland has done for Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. Basically, they try to get inside the artist’s head as he creates a masterwork. And if offered a chance to get inside Renoir’s head, you should do it. (Whereas you never go inside Van Gogh’s head, no matter how many times it’s offered.)

Vreeland read more passages of the book than I’d have liked (remember, my internal Lost clock was ticking), but I found the lecture pretty interesting. I learned quite a bit about Renoir. For example, he was a bit of a hottie:

Of course, lessening my view of him a little was the fact that he seems to have slept with most of his female subjects. Show a little restraint, man.

I also learned about all the people in the painting. This being France, most of them had at least a little air of scandal. (Unlike, say, America, in which most people have a little air of Starbucks.)

I mean, you just know the standing guy in the straw hat is planning something. To make crepes, maybe. Or lose a war.

While Vreeland seemed to be better suited to writing than speaking, I may be biased. She encouraged those who hadn’t to check out the original painting at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. And we know how I feel about the Phillips Collection.

I like to think that if Renoir had had business cards, he would have had the hyphenate "Impressionist/Hottie" under his name. He seems cool like that.

February 28, 2008

February 28, 2008

What’s Your Handle?

I was recently turned on to the SciFi show Battlestar Galactica (more about that in a future “Sorry I Missed It” entry). And while I realize that my coolness factor just went way down (in proportion to the upping of my geek credibility), it’s not a bad show. In my defense, the TV Guide Talk gurus also love the program. And they have excellent taste.

As you might expect for a program set on a spaceship, several of the characters are pilots. Like any good stereotypical top gun, most of them are talented, attractive, and arrogant beyond belief. Not necessarily a bad combination, but that’s outside the scope of this blog.

(If the phrase “this blog” piqued your curiosity, my evil plan is working. I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of other blogs. Welcome to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.)

Furthering the hotshot pilot concept are the call signs. Nicknames like “Apollo,” “Starbuck,” and “Boomer.” While I’d never make it as a pilot (lack of perfect vision, the ability to fly an airplane, and/or any sort of coordination), I do wish I had a fun pilot-y nickname. I realize call signs probably have to be given to you by your pilot buddies, but I thought of a couple possibilities:

Pot Pie. One of the BSG characters is called “Hot Dog.” Thus I tried thinking of a processed food both tasty and fun to say (“Pot Pie, bogeys on your left!”).

Shorty. Give me a situation in which being short is an advantage, and I’ll give you two in which it isn’t. Example: “You can fit in all the good places when playing hide-and-go-seek” gets countered with “But you can’t find long-sleeved clothes that fit correctly or reach anything on top of the refrigerator.” Game, set, match.

Honestly, neither of these two really works for me, but I’m guessing this won’t be an issue ever for quite some time.

What would you want painted on the side of your plane?

February 27, 2008

February 27, 2008

Oscar Leftovers: A Threeve

I KNEW I was going to leave something out. And I did.

- I was very pleased to see Owen Wilson. He looks good.
- Amy Adams can SING. I’ve always been half-resentful of Hot Girl (The Office reference), but how can you not love a woman willing to throw down a pseudo-Disney song in front of 40 million people?
- Scariest Accessory: The doll one of the Best Animated Short winners brought on-stage. Second rule of Oscar Fight Club: PROPS ARE NOT ALLOWED.
- Scariest Accessory, Runner Up: Nicole Kidman’s necklace. Where to start? It was askew, entirely too large, and appeared to weigh more than she does. (Just kidding, Nicole! Loved you in The Interpreter!)

February 26, 2008

February 26, 2008

The Auto Show in Words and Pictures

Hard to believe, but it’s already been almost an entire year since the last auto show. Back then, my little blog was still on MySpace and totally obscured by the internet ether. Now, twelve months later, this blog has literally dozens of readers every week. Dozens, I tell you.

Anyway, I went to the Greater Milwaukee Auto Show last night. As you can see, it was another beautiful, sunny, and warm Milwaukee day. Or…something.

The best thing about hitting the auto show at 4 p.m. is the absence of any lines. Seriously, how awesome is this?

I got to sit in a Smart car; it wasn’t as squeal-inducing as I’d hoped. My main issue with the vehicle was the fact that when sitting in the driver’s seat, I could not see out the back of the car. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that seems like a pretty important part.

The salespeople at these auto shows are always impeccably dressed and good looking. I deal with them by avoiding eye contact of any kind.

I was greatly heartened to learn that we’re apparently putting full-sized televisions in our vehicles now. Technology: finally paying off.

The hands of the gods pre-determined arrangement of manufacturers conspired to save my favorites for last: the Mini Coopers. It’s a car equally appropriate for both grocery shopping and fleeing the scene of a robbery through the sewers of Italy. How can you not love that?

So if you're in the Milwaukee area this week, check out the auto show. Our show may not be as good as Detroit's or Chicago's, but the cars are just as shiny.

February 25, 2008

February 25, 2008

Oscars 2008: A Recap

As promised, my thoughts on this year's Academy Awards:

The Host
I think Jon Stewart managed to rein in the snarky politico enough to keep from alienating either the people in the audience or the people watching at home. He had a few good scripted lines (“Does this town need a hug?” comes to mind), but I thought his off-the-cuff remarks (or at least cobbled-together-backstage-during-the-commercial-break) were even better (“Helen Mirren, you got served.”) And bringing out the girl from Once so she could give her acceptance speech? Classy.

The Awards
True to form, most of my picks didn’t win. (I lost a TON of Hubdub credits.) Juno got Original Screenplay, though, and that was the one I was really pulling for (I screamed accordingly when it won). It helped that no Coens were nominated in the category.

And may no one ever accuse Americans of being ethnocentric. It seemed like every other winner was a non-English speaker. This led to acceptance speeches both awkward (Marion Cotillard) and endearing (Javier Bardem—he spoke Spanish AND shouted-out his character’s horrendous hair).

My Best Speech award, though, goes to Tilda Swinton. I’m pretty sure even SHE didn’t expect a win, and yet she managed to use the words “buttocks” and “Batman” in the same speech. Granted, most women given a chance on such an international stage, would also spend most of their allotted time thanking George Clooney. It’s just how we roll.

The Outfits
I’m guessing the Academy sent out a memo suggesting women wear red? I started watching the ceremony as Anne Hathaway and Steve Carrel were presenting Best Animated Feature. I believe the next 10-minute stretch was pretty much all red-clad women.

Mini-Threeve: Oscar Dresses
Best Red Dress: Katherine Heigl
Best Not-Red Dress: Jennifer Garner
Worst Dress: Diablo Cody

The Drinking Game
I didn’t make plans for a drinking game ahead of time, so I started late, just taking a sip for every montage. (Don’t worry: I was drinking Dr. Pepper; the friend I was IMing was drinking juice of some sort.)

However, when I get access to a time machine (or a TiVo), I’ll go back and do something like this:

Take a sip whenever…
- There’s a montage. This should be a small sip, since there were approximately 428 montages.
- Someone foreign wins. Take another sip if they slip into their native tongue.
- You see a woman in a red dress.

Take a drink whenever…
- The Coens win something.
- They present an award you don’t understand (Art Direction? Eh?)
- Jack Nicholson is shown.

Finish the case whenever…
- Norbit is mentioned.
- The honorary Oscar is presented. Seriously, that award went ON and on—drinking would have helped to pass the time.
- Steven Spielberg uses the phrase “flush of male menopause.” There are things I’d like to remember forever…that was not one of them.

At a relatively-lean 3 hours, 17 minutes (come on, I was ready for 4 hours at least!), the show sorta went out not with a bang but a whimper. (I thought a literary reference might savage the intellectual quotient of this blog entry. Give me points for trying.)

See you next year.

February 23, 2008

February 23, 2008

Oscars 2008: A Precap

(I’m not sure that “precap” is actually a word; Google’s results are inconclusive. But it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to…wait, the metaphor broke down there somewhere.)

As is often the case, this year’s Best Picture nominees have very little in common with last year’s most popular films. Nary a webslinger or pirate in sight. Instead, we have milkshake-drinking oil tycoons, corrupt lawyers, and a knocked-up teen. Some have linked these gritty themes with the general state of uncertainty on our world today. But that is for loftier blogs than mine—if my tags of “Food,” “Fancy Events,” and “Computery Issues” are any indication.

I saw and liked Michael Clayton. “Admired” might be a better word, since I went in expecting nothing and got a tight little legal thriller. I’ll admit it: I love when movies (or people) exceed my expectations. That’s why I keep them (the expectations, not the movies or the people) so low.

I saw and loved Juno. We’re talking a level of affection that involved me CRYING a little bit in the theater. And THIS is why I sit in the back. (Well, this, and the fact that people behind me talking annoys the hell out of me. Actually, it’s more for that reason than the crying. Eh.)

I’d be happy if either won the top prize. I realize they’re probably long shots, and that my support for some reason doesn’t guarantee a win. My cries of abhorrence when each of the first two Lord of the Rings films lost was epic: I imagine that the movie version of those scenes will involve the camera slowly zooming out from my living room to space, while the cry reverberates.

(Yes, I sometimes think about how the scenes of my life will play out in the movie version.)

My hopes/picks in other interesting categories:

Best Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
If you haven’t seen this movie, go see it now. LOVED it, despite the butt- (but not mind-) numbing running time.

Cinematography: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
This is one of the few arty awards that the general public can pretend to understand. Because, seriously, “Sound Editing”? WTF?

Costume Design: Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Three words: Gowns and corsets. (Also, Clive Owen with a cape!)

Visual Effects: Transformers
Just so that, in the event some revered film, like Atonement, gets shut-out, we can make funny comparisons. “Oh, you liked Atonement? You know what movie won more Oscars than Atonement? TRANSFORMERS.”

Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody, Juno
Here’s hoping Diablo Cody’s gives a quirky and endearing speech, rather than getting all verklempt and crying (aka “pulling a Kim Basinger”).

I have my snacks, my ballot, and the fake Oscar I got at Suncoast approximately 16 years ago. And my fingers are crossed.

February 22, 2008

February 22, 2008

Duly Noted: Special Weekend Edition

Just in case you were wondering, no, I haven’t forgotten that the Academy Awards (an event some people [I] refer to as “my Super Bowl”) will be held this Sunday. The WGA strike may have thrown me off my game (I completely missed the premiere of Top Model), but some things are NOT TO BE MISSED.

Look for a precap tomorrow and a recap on Monday. Since I have religious obligations that will cause me to miss the ceremony’s very beginning, I won’t be live-blogging.

But rest assured: there will be snark.

Things I’ve Read: Washington Square

In today’s world of glossy celebrity magazines and made-up memoirs (that’s right, James Frey, I will NEVER forget), reading Henry James is about as appealing as having a tooth pulled. If you’ve heard of him at all, you probably associate him with long-winded prose about people who lived a long time ago and worried about things like making good marriage matches and finding the right summer house near Paris.

Well, prepare to have your world rocked by my Henry James apologetic. (Ready?)

My favorite author is Edith Wharton (I realize I appear to be starting with the wrong name here, but go with me). Her novels evoke a time and place that I really wish I could have been a part of. I sew. I play piano. I’m unfailingly polite. I’m used to dresses. Seriously, it’s as if my Baptist upbringing was preparing me all along for life as a Victorian--120 years too late.

Anyway, Edith Wharton and Henry James were very close friends, and I think the mutual affection plays out in their works. They have very similar styles and subjects. But whereas Wharton is like the witty aunt you want to sit next to at holiday dinners, James is the family friend who knows EVERYBODY and gives you the real scoop. You don’t even have a chance of sitting near him, so you have to hope that one of the more senior members of the family passes on the gossip. Or that he talks really loudly.

If you’re going to read just one work by Henry James, make it Washington Square. I think it’s his most accessible novel: short and simple, yet characteristic of his style. The basic plot: Catherine lives in Old New York (a common setting for both James and Wharton novels: a place and time when social classes were still important, but the great equalizer of Money was starting to rear its head). She has money…but nothing else. Enter Morris, who goes after the money by going after the girl. How the relationship proceeds amidst the customs of the day and the family members who can’t leave well enough alone is (for me) pretty interesting reading. Then again, we’ve established that I’m a Victorian born a century too late.

Caveat: Unlike Kix cereal, James isn’t for kids. In his afterword for Washington Square, Michael Cunningham (he of The Hours), says: “James may, however, at least for some, be a taste best acquired in maturity, when our hormones have quieted a little and our attention spans have grown wider if not longer.” Like the beloved family friend we spoke of earlier, James can be a bit…long-winded.

Give him a shot. You can always go back to your US Weekly.

February 21, 2008

February 21, 2008

Chicago, Part the Third


All I’m going to say is that Potbelly’s ice cream sandwich may be the best thing I have ever eaten. Two giant oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with a huge scoop of custard between them.

Though there are several Potbelly’s locations in the Milwaukee area, I will not frequent them, choosing instead to hallow the memory of that perfect ice cream sandwich…until the next time I’m in Chicago.

Art Institute of Chicago, Take 2

One of the few problems I have with the Art Institute is its freakish layout. I’m linear, so I like things to be laid-out pretty clearly. Unfortunately for me, the Art Institute is actually three buildings connected only on the first level, with long branching corridors all over the place. Whenever I’m there, I need to do a Joey Tribbiani and go into the map.

(Side note: If only you knew how much time I spent searching for a YouTube clip of that scene...)

My time-entry ticket for the special exhibits was 2:30, so I had to get in before 3 or forfeit my $10 (not an option; this IS me we’re talking about). Sadly, even though I got there about 2:25, there was already about 50 people in line. Not too many kids, though, so that was a bonus. As much as I love children (which I actually do, contrary to most mentions on them on this blog), this museum is more of a Grown-Up Place. Seriously, anyone shorter than three feet isn’t even going to be able to see the paintings.

Anyway, if you’re in the Chicago area before May 10, consider checking out the Homer/Hopper exhibitions. Totally worth it, even if you’re not really into art. Homer did watercolors (lots of soothing beach scenes); Hopper did iconic Americana scenes like this one:

And then you’ll be able to say things like, “Yes, whilst in Chicago I saw quite a few Homer pieces. His brushwork is so admirable.” After which you can, you know, drink tea, buy a loft, and other arty things.

The Trip Back

After getting a gyro at the train station (I’d hoped to go to Nino Panino’s, but it was closed--what self-respecting restaurant closes at 5 on a Saturday? Nino, get help!), I got on the bus back to Milwaukee and was greeted by, you guessed it: the same driver. But the weather was pretty good (unlike my last couple of trips), I had my book (more on that tomorrow), and I’d had a really good day, so I took it in stride.

To be continued…in April.

February 20, 2008

February 20, 2008

Chicago, Part the Second

Art Institute of Chicago, Take 1

The good thing about free February admission at the Art Institute is the fact that I can get in for free. The bad thing is that everyone else can, too.

Though, in my defense, I ponied up $10 to get into the two special exhibits. But since my entry time wasn’t until 2:30, I had time to do some other stuff first.

The Field Museum

On the bus ride down to the Field, the two women behind me (very obviously tourists in an almost painful way), kept referring to “Soldier Stadium.” I have to admire someone who insists on maintaining an incorrect opinion, road signs and common knowledge to the contrary. I like to pretend that these women also believe in “Madison Square Park” and the “Staples Arena.” So close…and yet.

Anyway, the Field Museum also has family free days going on in February (Hi, I’m Heather, and I’m cheap). And (in my opinion, anyway), it’s a much more suitable place for kids. I mean, I’m not sure how many adolescents are into Degas and Cezanne, but I’m pretty sure it’s a lot fewer than the number who appreciate a good dinosaur skeleton.

Oddly, my favorite parts of the Field Museum are the old-school parts. The stuffed animals in unnatural poses. The plants (yes, plants). And the gems. You all can keep your interactive video screens and multimedia presentations. Just give me a stuffed flamingo.

And a "cotton plant."

Though I give props to the special temporary exhibit on George Washington Carver. How kickass was that guy? Seriously.

Tomorrow: Misty watercolor paintings...and the world's best ice cream sandwich.

February 19, 2008

February 19, 2008

To the Star of New York Magazine’s Latest Pictorial

(Note to Readers: The Chicago narrative resumes tomorrow. I saw the new Lindsay Lohan pictures yesterday and realized my advice to her just couldn’t wait. So Chicago will have to. I know you’re just TERRIBLY disappointed.)

Dear Lindsay Lohan,

It is at times like these that I wish I had known Marilyn Monroe. Because I could then, á la Lloyd Bentsen, say something like, “Miss, I served with Marilyn Monroe. I knew Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn Monroe was a friend of mine. Miss, you are no Marilyn Monroe.”

I am speaking, of course, of your recent decision to pose nude for New York magazine in an homage to Marilyn Monroe. Let me state that I was struck several times by your resemblance, at least on a superficial, studio-aided level. But if America’s Next Top Model has taught me anything, it’s that hair weaves are evil almost anything can be achieved with good lighting and enough eye liner.

Lindsay, I think we both know that your “career” lately has consisted mostly of tabloid covers speculating on possible illnesses/drug use/rehab stints. So I can see why you wanted to class it up a little with a photo spread you actually participated in willingly.

However, I’m not sure this was the way to go. I go to a lot of museums; I realize that nudity can be artistic. But this seemed a little gratuitous for a 21-year-old actress/party girl. I mean, it’s not like you were being sculpted by one of those artists they named a teenage mutant ninja turtle after.

Lindsay Lohan, might I suggest that instead of posing for naked pictures, you perhaps land a tasteful movie role, show up for work on time, and demonstrate some of the talent hinted at in your more-lauded roles?


February 18, 2008

February 18, 2008

Chicago, Part the First

In the same way that an acorn results in an oak or a speech by George W. Bush results in fodder for The Daily Show, you know another trip to Chicago means a blog post (or three) about it.

The Trip Down

For those of you who’ve never ridden Megabus, the first thing you do after stepping into the bus (and sometimes before) is give the driver your reservation number. This number is something like 1-7538-021608-M2-1730-CHI-MIL (this was my actual number for the trip back to Milwaukee). As far as I can tell, the first number is your place in ticket purchasing. So I was the first person to get a ticket for that particular bus. The 1730 part is the time (5:30 p.m.), and the ending letters tell the departure and arrival cities (Chicago to Milwaukee).

All of this is well and good, of course. Not so well and good: when the driver asks you to read him the number, as mine did. Granted, it’s not like he was about to do open-heart surgery on me or anything, but I would rather the man driving my bus be able to see small details. Midway through the trip, he pulled the bus over to the side of the expressway, got out, and did something with the under-bus luggage hatch. NOT boosting my confidence.

On the plus side, I didn’t have to sit next to anybody. And I read about half of a really excellent little Henry James novel called Washington Square.

Millennium Park

Millennium Park is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s chock-full of stuff, and is different in every season (like Milwaukee, Chicago’s seasons are cold, colder, snowing, and devastatingly hot). Despite having visited three weeks ago, I went back to see the “Museum of Modern Ice.” This turned out to actually be just three or four giant panels covered with colored pieces of ice.

Shiny? Yes. Deserving of the title “museum”? No. Modern? Questionable--have they not seen the movie Ice Age? That thing was set in, like, ancient times. (Scrat shoutout!)

And, of course, you can’t NOT check out the giant jellybean. You just can’t. The thing transfixes people so much, I think it would be an excellent conduit for the Antichrist. Like some sort of apocalyptic Trojan horse.

Tomorrow: Peanuts and flamingos!

February 15, 2008

February 15, 2008

To the Newest Member of Hendrick Motorsports

Dear Dale Earnhardt, Jr.,

With the season right around the corner, I’ve been reading a lot of stories and interviews on you lately. Besides the introduction of the Car of Tomorrow, the big story of 2008 appears to be your move from DEI to Hendrick. I mean, you got the covers of USA Today AND TV Guide. Quite the coup, at least in terms of mass readership and appeal, if not necessarily journalistic integrity.

As a Jeff Gordon fan, I would like to extend the proverbial olive branch and welcome you to Hendrick. People like to derogatorily call it the Yankees of NASCAR. I’ve never understood that: the Yankees are known for winning and having lots of money; what’s not to like? And while USA Today noted that Hendrick’s “starch-pressed professionalism” isn’t quite the jeans and t-shirt vibe you’ve been used to, I’d like to point out that you clean up very nicely:

Though your fans may not be happy that you’ve left the boozy embrace of Bud Nation, rest assured that they’ll come around for Mountain Dew’s Amp and the National Guard. (Okay, maybe not. I mean, Amp? What the hell is that?)

Now all you have to do is drive your heart out and notch up some wins. Unless the 24 car is out front. In that case, gun for second.


February 14, 2008

February 14, 2008

And it'll all be on clearance tomorrow.

It may be late, and I may be emotionally drained from Lost, but I promised implied a second Monkton cartoon yesterday. And I never rarely try not to default on stuff like that.

(Side note: I recently learned about the strikeout HTML tag. Can you tell?)

The second of two Monkton cartoons displayed in my workspace:
Guys, I hope you included a little chocolate today.

I’d Die for This Food

[Warning: This is yet another gratuitous food post.]

I read a little story in the last Reader’s Digest about the strange fact that almost everyone has a favorite Chinese restaurant. (Yes, I realize that all the stories in RD are little, hence the “Digest” thing. Move on.) Whether it’s a hole-in-the-wall takeout place or an all-you-can-eat buffet, you probably know exactly where to go when the MSG craving hits you.

In my case, it’s a place called New China Buffet. You hit it early on a Saturday, and it’s basically you, the waitstaff, and dozens of trays of mind-blowing food.

The key to building a good plate is to start with a base of stewy dishes, like beef with broccoli. Then you add the fried crap on top. It’s not pretty, but it is DELICIOUS. And you don’t have to juggle two plates at once.

I like a buffet because you can eat as much or as little as you want, and there’s a minimum amount of awkward bantering with the waiter. When I go out to eat, I’d rather talk to the person I’m out with, not someone angling for a tip.

I’ve taken out-of-towners here several times. None have come up sick (or dead), despite what I fear is going on in the kitchen. (This is definitely a case of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”) So if it’s a Saturday around 11, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be in my favorite corner booth, ingesting enough MSG to get me through another week.

Happy Year of the Rat. (The Chinese New Year was last week; that’s not some sort of commentary on the cuisine. But, again, don’t ask, don’t tell.)

February 13, 2008

Unlikely Destinations, Part 2: Salt Lake City

Several cities are on my must-visit list for understandable reasons. Boston. Vegas. Philly. They have historical locales. Or gambling. Or cheesesteaks.

But there are other places on my must-visit list for less-discernible reasons. As already stated, I want to visit Cleveland. I still don’t know exactly why. It’s just a feeling. Much like the one that compels salmon to swim upstream. Or that makes that guy want to go to the sea.

It’s not just Cleveland, though. There’s also Salt Lake City.

(pause for Mormon joke)

I’m not sure what I’d do there, other than gawp at the Latter Day Saints. (To be fair, they’re probably not as easy to spot as I imagine them to be. In my mind, they move about en masse, with one man, half a dozen wives, and scores of children.) And get some pictures of the lake. (Question: Do people swim in it? Or is it like the Milwaukee River: best left unseen and untouched so as not to disturb the corpses?)

I also expect that the city’s dissimilarity to its depiction in the Oregon Trail computer game will be rather distressing. As a Midwesterner, most of my geographical knowledge of the west comes from that game. So when I hear a news headline like “Avalanche Near Mt. Hood,” I immediately assume wagons and oxen were involved. Salt Lake City is where you go if you don’t have enough money at the beginning to get enough supplies to go all the way to Oregon. You hit the decision point, realize that three members of your party have died of typhoid and you have 135 pounds of food left and no bullets, and take the geographical cop-out provided so thoughtfully by Utah.

But, really, if you can’t choose your vacation destinations based on their significance in a computer game you enjoyed a bit too much as a child, how are you supposed to choose them?

February 12, 2008

February 12, 2008

WTF Product of the Day

Menopause lotion? Seriously? Unless I completely misunderstand the concept of menopause, I’m pretty sure “dry skin” isn’t high on the symptoms list.

Then again, I’m 24. Check back with me in [insert appropriate number of years] years.

I would also like to point out that I discovered this lotion while researching lotions, and not while researching menopause. That seems important to state, if only for the amusement I'll get in [insert appropriate number of years] years, when I'm looking back at this blog and can say things like "Boy, I sure thought I had things all figured out back then" as I drive to Mars in my flying car. (In my mind, the future is basically like The Jetsons.)

February 11, 2008

February 11, 2008

Remember This? Volume 3: Lite Brite

After the Easy Bake Oven, Lite Brite was perhaps the best toy featuring a lightbulb. And when you really think about the Easy Bake Oven concept (cooking with…light?), Lite Brite moves to the top of the list. (Granted, it’s a very short list.)

I think I was most fascinated by the little colored pegs. I don’t remember having or using any patterned sheets to make professional designs. I just had at it and made crude semblances of whatever struck me.

So I’ll bet the kids who used the paper came up with stuff like this:

Whereas my designs were more like this:

And maybe my name or the word “HI.” But I’m sure I did each letter in a different color. So ha.

(To be honest, I vaguely remember the lightbulb on my Lite Brite being burned out for most of the time I owned it. I had a lot of crappy toys.)

February 8, 2008

February 8, 2008

Popular Shows I DON’T Watch: A Threeve

Ugly Betty. I get my bitchy fashionista quotient from Top Model.

Grey’s Anatomy. Doctors should be like grandparents: vaguely familial yet completely asexual.

American Idol. Let me know when one sticks. (I may be the only person on earth that likes Ryan Seacrest, though. And I’m okay with that. Makes planning the support group meetings a LOT easier.)

See? Even I have limits.

February 7, 2008

February 7, 2008

I Love You This Many Dollars’ Worth

Today’s February 7. For the math- and calendar-challenged among you, that means Valentine’s Day is one week away. As a helpful guide to my male readers (or perhaps a not-so-subtle hint to the men I know--you be the judge), I’d like to provide some gift ideas for the big day. Because, really, of all the holidays left us by the Victorians, Valentine’s Day is probably the best one. (My apologies to the Michaelmas fans. Um, keep up the good work?)

The Chocolate

All women love chocolate. It’s hard-coded into our DNA, like the penchant for wearing shoes that hurt our feet and an inability to look away from baby animals.

See, the female readers just lost 10 minutes staring at that picture.

As I see it, there are two ways you can go with the chocolate. For the fancy route, you can’t beat Ferrero Rocher. The pieces are individually wrapped (in fancy gold foil, natch), so we’re not tempted to eat everything at once. And they’re melty and nutty and wonderful.

If you’re not quite at the fancy stage of the relationship, and/or can’t find Ferrero Rocher at the local general store, and/or are running short of funds (I said they were fancy; I didn’t say they were cheap), go with Choxie. I won’t beat a dead chocolate horse (mmm, like a piñata, but better), so read this for my thoughts on the best thing to come out of Target since…ever.

The Flowers

As Kirstie Alley’s character on Cheers once said, “I just wish someone would send me some damn flowers!” Guys, I know they’re expensive. And perishable. But we love them. Though roses are the traditional choice (red works, but I really like pink), lilies or carnations will also work. If you go with a professional, they’ll even mix it up for you and put the whole thing in a pretty vase.

The Media

If you have money to burn (and, really, who doesn’t?) consider a complete series set of one of her favorite relationshippy shows. Sex and the City comes in a lovely fuzzy pink box. Though, if you’re looking for something you can watch together (I’m not sure how many men actually enjoy SatC), Friends is always a good bet. (You don’t like Friends either? Have you seen “The One with the Embryos”?)

The Card

Whatever you decide to give, you must, must, MUST include a card. I prefer the funny ones, but even one of those sappy ones is better than nothing. Because after the chocolate has been consumed and the flowers composted (that was just for Al Gore’s benefit--no one I know actually composts), the card is the thing we keep as a reminder of why we like you. And, ideally, you would also write some sort of cute witticism in there to reiterate the thought.

You’re welcome, and good luck.

February 6, 2008

February 6, 2008

In My Opinion: The Savages

Despite my hopes, The Savages is no Juno. Maybe it’s because I first saw their trailers together (before The Darjeeling Limited--Wes Anderson shoutout!) or because they played the festival circuit together, but for some reason, I’d mentally categorized these films as two peas in a cinematic pod. Alas, The Savages was more poignant and less quirky.

Don’t let that turn you off to it, though. It’s like my saying that chocolate cheesecake isn’t as good as New York cheesecake. Attention: it’s still cheesecake. The Savages is still an excellent film, worthy of your viewership. If you can find it, that is. The tricky thing about the indie movies I hold so dear is that they play on only a handful of screens (currently 3 in the ENTIRE STATE of Wisconsin).

If you haven’t heard of The Savages, I’ll ignore the fact that you didn’t read my previous entry about it and summarize. To wit: Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman play New Yorker siblings who have to bring their senile father back from Arizona and put him in a nursing home. I realize that “comedy gold” is probably not your first thought after reading that. And you’re not wrong: this movie is no gut-buster. If you want that, go watch something by Judd Apatow. (I realize that half my readership probably just got offended and stopped reading. But if they’re Judd Apatow fans, then the rest of us are probably better off. Snap!)

Anyway, no, there aren’t a lot of chuckles. There isn’t even much of a soundtrack. This movie is all about the plot and the acting. Watching two adults who can barely take care of themselves (Linney’s character is a struggling playwright carrying on with a married man; Hoffman plays a Brecht scholar afraid to marry his girlfriend so she won’t lose her green card) try to take care of the father who never took care of them is funny and heartbreaking in all the right places.

Maybe I enjoyed it so much because it’s something I’ll probably have to deal with in a couple of decades. Maybe it was the sibling banter that I, an only child, have never had. Maybe it was the cookies (do I spot Pepperidge Farm Milanos? I think I do):

Whatever it was, I trekked to the other side of town (seriously, 20 minutes away--like an eternity for this lazy city girl) in the SNOW (actually, a daily occurrence in Milwaukee, but it makes me sound like a trouper, so I’m putting it in) to see this film.

Fox Searchlight, you’ve done it again.

February 5, 2008

February 5, 2008

Rockin’ the Vote

This is my spring primary ballot:

To answer your first question, I vote absentee, so the ballot is mailed to my house in advance. I did not break into the election commission offices.

To answer your second question, I vote absentee because I start work at 7:30 in the morning. I can barely keep my eyes open at that time; I’m not going to attempt choosing the leader of the free world. And after work, I’m hungry and cranky. (Granted, this is my mood 80% of the time. But eh.)

As you can see, we in Milwaukee follow the tried-and-true “connect the arrow” method. No chads to punch, no levers to…lev. Just a little #2 pencil action.

The ballot this time is small, with only 3 races. In the fall, it’s likely to be about three times as large (no joke) and much more impressive.

My (humorous?) observations on the presidential section:

- I imagine an “uninstructed delegation” from either party to be a small group of unsuspecting people snatched from the streets and driven to the national convention in a van with the windows blacked out. “Where are we? What is this? Why do those people have signs?”

- I don’t recall hearing about Mike Gravel at all. And while that’s almost certainly due to my ignorance and Republicanism (note to democrats: NOT the same thing), I’d like to pretend that “Mike Gravel” is actually some sort of code thrown in as part of a James Bond-like government conspiracy.

- If the words “YOU MAY ONLY VOTE ONCE” were somehow omitted, could I vote multiple times? Do a Presidential Dream Team sort of thing?

Oh, and it’s Super Tuesday. If you live in one of the states with a primary today (you do, I checked), VOTE.

February 4, 2008

February 4, 2008

I Could Be Her, Volume 2

The fact that one of my blog post categories is “Britannia” should clue you in that I have an unhealthy fascination with all things British. Also cluing you in: the amount of British fiction and non-fiction programming I’ve watched, my dream car (Mini Cooper shoutout!), and my constant affirmations that I have an unhealthy fascination with all things British.

I just finished an amazing (one!) book called A Year with the Queen. The author spent a year trailing royals great and small. (I realize that makes it sound like royal midgets were involved; I’m almost positive that’s not the case.) While the pictures were great (and caused much amusement for my co-workers when they see me reading the book at lunch: “You’re reading a book…with pictures?”), the text was even better. We’re talking detailed (yet witty and urbane—the British are nothing if not witty and urbane…also, stoic) explanations of such squeal-worthy (to an anglophile) things like the Order of the Garter, investitures, and Garden Parties. It’s frightening how much I enjoyed it.

It’s like the amazing (two!) documentary Windsor Castle: A Royal Year. The thing has two HOURS of bonus footage. Which, while I’ve not seen it (yet), probably consists of people in uniforms walking about the castle. Sadly, I could watch that sort of thing for hours. If they start speaking in those amazing (three!) accents, we’re talking DAYS of amusement for ol’ Heather.

Contrary to what the title of this post may have led you to believe, though, I could never be the Queen; the “her” refers to a minor royal at best—maybe a fourth cousin or something. Aside from the slew of obvious reasons (I’m pretty sure that being a British royal requires you to be either British or royal; ideally, both), I’m too antisocial. And, honestly, knowing myself as I do (which is, on the whole, pretty well), I know that scenarios like the following are quite likely:

Event: Investitures
Expected Queenly Response (EQR): After donning ceremonial outfit, formally appoint dozens of men and women to various titles of the course of several hours.
Heather’s Response (HR): After donning ceremonial outfit, run around Windsor Castle in stocking feet, sliding on parquet floors and yelling, “Wheeeeeeeeeee! I’m Queeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!”

Event: Garden Party
EQR: Regardless of weather, spend the better part of the day making small talk with hundreds of citizens hand-chosen from around the realm.
HR: Head for the food tents. Eat entirely too many cucumber sandwiches. Possibly pass out.

Event: State Visit to France
EQR: Meet with government officials, open a school or two, and participate in several state banquets.
HR: Ask to be dropped at the Louvre for the entirety of the visit with a city map, a metro card, and several PowerBars.

Thus, as fun as it is to imagine being Britain’s Head of State, the reality is that I’d much prefer being a Countess or something.

Give me an amazing (four!) state-funded house in the country and some charity work to do, and I’ll be all set.

February 3, 2008

February 3, 2008

Also, There’s Football

Yes, dear reader, it’s a rare Sunday post. I thought Super Bowl Sunday was a worthy occasion. It’s not quite the Oscars, and God’s team isn’t playing, but millions of people (most of whom are somehow involved in the beer or gaming industries) seem to be concerned nonetheless. Here, then, my guide to the day.

1. The food. Ideally, your spread will be just this side of “liable to induce a heart attack.” There must be shrimp. There should also be something from the food group known as “greasy.”

I only had to feed two people, so mine’s rather small. New this year: guacamole (far right). It’s “heart healthy.”

2. The commercials. I actually wait until Monday and watch all the ads online in one gluttonous binge. As various comic strips have noted this week, all women (and some men) are more interested in the ads than the game. Because, really, what would you rather see: men running into each other, or giant Coke bottles running amok in New York City? Think about it.

3. The game. For those of you who must pick a side to cheer (or pretend to care about, anyway), you might find my cheering hierarchy helpful. Just go down the list until you find something applicable:

- Cheer the team from where you live now. (If you live in a state without an NFL franchise, well, I think we both know the potatoes need a-waterin’ and you won’t have time to watch the tv anyway.)
- Cheer the team from where you grew up. (If you grew up in another country, you’re probably expecting a soccer game today, so you’re already sort of screwed. Have some more shrimp.)
- Cheer the team with the cuter quarterback. (A bit of a toss-up this year, to be honest. Tom Brady’s got the chiseled thing down, but his playboy antics turn me off a little.)
- Cheer the team with the better colors. (The Packers are almost always on the losing end of this. Who chose yellow and green: a blind person?)

So good luck to the players, the advertisers, and the bettors. May you win/generate sales/strike it rich when the first player to break a tackle ends up wearing an even-numbered jersey and has at least 3 vowels in his last name (gotta love prop bets).

February 1, 2008

February 1, 2008

I Could Be Her, Volume 1

You may, perhaps, be one of those people who reads a lot of blogs. (If you just read this blog, you need to broaden your horizons.) I read quite a few, as evidenced by my Duly Read section. And that’s part of the problem, really. Every blog you read has a blogroll. So you click on a few links. And find more interesting blogs. It’s like a dealer who gives you coupons to all the good crack dens.

But I digress.

A few weeks ago, and a few clicks of separation from one of my favorite blogs, I stumbled upon something called [redacted]. Written by a guy named Dan, whose sense of humor I enjoy greatly. And by “greatly,” I mean “I laugh so much while reading the archives that I turn red.” (And believe me, that’s just the start of the good list. But that’s really another post.) So before you finish reading this blog entry, go here and read. Just do it.

Okay, now that you’re back, I can get to the titular “her.” You see, Dan, of [redacted], met his girlfriend “Brooke” through his blog. As the story goes, Brooke was a fan of the blog, Dan stopped writing for a while, Brooke’s friend emailed Dan, Dan emailed Brooke, they hit it off, and the rest is history.

After I read that story, my first thought was, “Damn. Someone beat me to it.” After one of my friends read that story, her first thought was, “Wow, that sounds like something Heather would do.” She’s very familiar with my stalkerish tendencies. (To everyone I have ever Googled: I recognize the problem. That’s Step 1.)

Anyway, I mention this anecdote not to highlight my stalkerish tendencies (maybe a little), but to give a little hope to all the fangirls.

Happy Friday.

(Did you click? Did you?)