May 30, 2008

Sorry I Missed It: Sex and the City

The summer movie season is upon us, and you know what that means: superheroes, sequels, and Sex and the City (opening today).

Well, okay. You may or may not be interested in that last one. But I am, so humor me.

I never watched Sex and the City during its initial run on HBO. This is probably a good thing; if my recent forays into Rome have taught me anything, it’s that the naked people on HBO are a lot nakeder than the naked people on Showtime. Heather’s really not ready for that much naked. Luckily, SatC was sanitized for Victorian sensibilities like mine and aired across the country in syndication. As I did with Friends, I started watching those late-night airings and got hooked.

Video Interlude 1 of 2: Betty Crocker Clinic


For all my male readers (and the females who haven’t seen the show), Sex and the City is about four New Yorkers’ adventures in career, love, fashion, etc. The main character is Carrie Bradshaw, a columnist/writer who provides the show’s narration (you know I’m a sucker for narration) and provides at least “I couldn’t help but wonder…” per episode. For example: “I couldn’t help but wonder: To be in a couple, do you have to put your single self on a shelf?” That sort of thing. She’s like a relationshippy Yoda.

Video Interlude 2 of 2: Drunk at Vogue
Embedding is disabled on this one (why, YouTube, why?), so click here to see it.

The beauty of the show is that almost any woman can relate to at least one of the characters. In my case, I overanalyze like Carrie, I’m prudish and old-fashioned like Charlotte, and I’m career-minded like Miranda. Voila. Getting the audience to identify with the characters is key to any story; that the identification is so easy and compelling no doubt accounts for a lot of the show’s success.

One thing*, however, puts me in a separate camp from probably 90% of SatC’s fans: I don’t think Carrie should’ve ended up with Big. I’m a Berger girl all the way. Passive-aggressive breakup via Post-It be damned.

In the series finale, Carrie says, “The most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”

Aww.

* Okay, two things: I was born in the ‘80s and thus on the young end of the fandom. I like to think my age-inappropriate interest in this (I’m too young) offsets my age-inappropriate interest in The O.C. (I’m too old). Let’s pretend, okay?

May 29, 2008

May 29, 2008

Writer’s Almanac Highlight of the Day

It's the birthday of the novelist and essayist G.K. (Gilbert Keith*) Chesterton, born in London, England (1874). He's remembered today for his detective novels about the bumbling, crime-solving priest Father Brown, but during his lifetime he was primarily known as an essayist. He wrote constantly, about politics, society, literature, and religion. He was one of the first critics to argue that Charles Dickens was a great novelist, after the decline of his reputation in the early 20th century**. He was one of the first people to argue that the influence of religion on public life would be replaced by the influence of advertisements.***

* Can’t blame him for going by “G.K.”
** I imagine a smear campaign with newspaper ads saying things like “Bleak House = Bleak Read” and “No Great Expectations.” Except more cleverly-worded.
*** Continuing that argument: this blog. I do what I can.

Things I’ve Read: Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

I know I liked this book.

I also know that I’m entirely too prudish to write about it* without either dissolving into a fit of giggles or blushing. Maybe both. So go here and read a few excerpts.

Granted, even the best of us (and by "us," I mean "you") might be a little uncomfortable reading this sort of thing in our work lunchroom (and by "our," I mean "my"). Whenever someone would walk by, I crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t hear “Whatcha reading, Heather?” Because I can’t improvise worth a damn and “I’m absorbed in this book on sex—don’t bother me” hardly seemed appropriate. Luckily, I was never asked.

* Seriously, do you really want to read my thoughts on catheters and Kegel exercises? I thought not.

May 28, 2008

May 28, 2008

Good News/Bad News, Volume 3

The Good News
I left my MP3 player out on my driveway overnight. Despite the general Milwaukee conditions and a frost advisory (yes, it's May and we're still worried about frost here), the thing lived to tell the tale.

The Bad News
A woman was stabbed to death last week by her ex-husband in a downtown parking garage I have used. Last night, a woman was shot by her estranged husband on the city's north side.

Summary: Listening to music is good. Listening to music while getting divorced, though, will probably just let the guy sneak up on you that much easier.

Writer’s Almanac Highlight of the Day

It's the birthday of the man who created James Bond, novelist Ian Fleming, born in London, England (1908). He wanted to be a diplomat, but he failed the Foreign Office examination and decided to go into journalism. He worked for the Reuters News Service in London, Moscow, and Berlin, and then during World War II, he served as the assistant to the British director of naval intelligence. After the war, he bought a house in Jamaica*, where he spent his time fishing and gambling and bird watching**. He started to get bored, so he decided to try writing a novel about a secret agent. He named the agent James Bond after the author of a bird-watching book.

Fleming said, "James Bond is ... the feverish dreams of the author of what he might have been***; bang, bang, bang, kiss, kiss, that sort of stuff. It's what you would expect of an adolescent mind; which I happen to possess."

The first Bond novel,
Casino Royale (1953), sold about 7,000 copies, and Fleming followed it with four more that sold less and less well. Critics said he was good at writing about places, but that was about it. Fleming had a newborn son at home, and he was disappointed that these books weren't making more money to help support the family, so for his next Bond story, he wrote the book specifically for the movies. He filled it with more psychopaths and beautiful women than usual****. No one in the movie industry was interested at the time, but the novel From Russia, with Love (1957) became a huge international best seller.

* Insert “Jamaican him crazy” joke here.
** One of those things is not like the other.
*** “The feverish dreams of the author of what he might have been” is one of the greatest summations of a prototypical piece of fiction that I have ever read.
**** My favorite part of this sentence is the “than usual.” Because a FEW psychopaths and beautiful women is apparently par for the course.

In My Opinion: Flawless

Last movie review of the week. I promise. (I have a movie PREview scheduled for Friday. Technically, not the same thing.)

You know I like obscure movies. I know I like obscure movies. I also know that my affinity for this sort of thing has led to the development of an “indie radar” of sorts. It’s like how a blind person gets a heightened sense of hearing. But not.

Flawless, though, was so obscure that even I almost missed it. I’d not seen any advance press for it, despite the fact that Demi Moore and Michael Caine are both in it. Granted, they’ve both peaked (she said judgmentally). Regardless, the name recognition is still there, if for nothing else than the admirable roles of “hot old chick from Charlie’s Angels” and “Batman’s butler.”

To my disappointment, the film is more a tribute to female empowerment than a classic heist caper. (My resulting “eh” lends further credence to the possibly that I may, in fact, be a bit of a misogynist.) In case you were wondering about the movie’s real theme, the opening scene features a crowded London street. Crowded with, you guessed it, ONLY WOMEN. Unless the streets in question are in the mind of a 14-year-old British boy, I’m pretty sure some men are usually present.

But anyway.

The hard part of reviewing a heist film is that you often can’t discuss the things you liked because that would involve major spoilage (a technical term, though usually applied in the food industry). To whet your appetite, I’ll simply say that the entire movie is a frame tale--a present day Demi Moore tells a reporter about her experiences as the only female VP at the London Diamond Corporation in the 1960s. (The reporter is played by the same actress who plays Anne Boleyn in Showtime’s The Tudors. This caused me much confusion: “Why does Anne Boleyn have a cell phone? And a manicure?”)

Michael Caine plays the hapless (or is he?) janitor who, together with Moore’s character, hatches the perfect insider job (or is it?) to take just enough diamonds to set up a comfortable life. As is often the case, though, the devil is in the details. Despite all the meticulous planning in the world, sometimes things turn bad…and you have to improvise.

Like anything set in the 1960s, Flawless has great costumes and props. And of course, those were the days when anyone who didn’t smoke a pack a day and drink their weight in gin before noon just wasn’t trying hard enough.

In the same way that I can’t tell what color your shirt is* or what you had for lunch, I have no idea whether Flawless is playing in your area. I DO know that it’s only at one theater in metro Milwaukee, and it’s not one of the shiny multiplexes. You may have to do a little searching.

* Regarding that belt, though: Seriously, wtf?

May 27, 2008

May 27, 2008

In My Opinion: Indiana Jones 4

Two-Review Tuesday continues…

I anticipated liking Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (the title REALLY should not be almost as long as the movie), negative reviews aside. And I did like it. I mean, it has Communists, car chases, and nuclear explosions. What’s NOT to like?

I think the crux of the backlash against this movie is the rabid fandom with (unreasonable) expectations. Don’t get me wrong; I have unhealthy relationships with several franchises. I understand how irritating it is when things must be changed or excised (seriously, no Tom Bombadil?) so the rest of the film coalesces. Such is cinema; such is life.

As someone who hasn’t seen any of the first three movies, though, I was for once on the beneficiary end of that cinematic license. I can attest that it worked. Aside from one moment at the beginning of the movie (when I realized I was probably supposed to know the guy they were pulling out of a car trunk), I didn’t feel left behind.

Speaking of people new to the franchise, Shia LaBoeuf has joined the brouhaha as Mutt Williams. As I’ve already mentioned, I like Shia LaBoeuf. (Despite having friends who say things like “I'm forever skeptical of any alleged action ‘hero’ played by a guy named Shia.” Doubters, all.)

The sort of supporting role he played in this (look at me, being good and not spoiling for once) works for him. The trailer for Eagle Eye has convinced me that he needs to stick to the supporting roles. (Sorry, Shia. You know I still love you. I just don’t want to watch you evade law enforcement for two hours.)

(Also, I need to not ever do another Google image search for Shia LaBoeuf. Trust me on that.)

Cate Blanchett was also good, as she is in everything. She could probably win awards just for staring into the camera. She’s THAT good.

You’ll notice that I haven’t really described or commented on the plot. That’s because in this movie (as in many summer films), the plot doesn’t matter. It’s all about the spectacle…and that’s exactly how I like it. Serious movies are best in spring and fall, sandwiched between the intellectual void of summer and the gluttonous seclusion of wintertime.

In My Opinion: Baby Mama

Rest assured: this won’t be a rehashing of the strange narcissistic girlcrush I have on Tina Fey. Goodness knows I’ve beaten that horse to death. Several times over. (It’s a metaphor, PETA. No horses were harmed in the creation of this blog.)

The general synopsis of Baby Mama runs thus: Tina Fey plays Kate Holbook, a successful 37-year-old who wants to have a child. But the “successful” and “37-year-old” parts mean that’s easier said than done. Thus Kate hires Angie Ostrowski to be her “baby mama.” A deeper blogger would here discuss how changing gender roles have coerced modern women into uneasily balancing career and personal life. Or how burgeoning medical technology have established a mirage of extended fertility. But I am not that blogger.

So I’ll discuss how much I enjoyed other aspects of this movie. (Don’t get me wrong; the subtextual social commentary was good, too.) I can very easily see myself becoming a Kate Holbook. I mentioned as much to my parents, evoking a silence that can be termed “awkward” at best. The other characters are well-written and acted, whether it’s Sigounrey Weaver as the freakishly-fertile surrogacy clinic owner, Greg Kinnear as the corporate-lawyer-turned-juiceman (THERE’S a career path you don’t often see), or Steve Martin as Kate’s zen-toting bossman.

But it’s really all about the Amy Poehler/Tina Fey relationship (see picture, above). They obviously have known each other a long time and have mad chemistry. Tina Fey plays a good straight woman to Amy’s zany Angie, who has an affinity for Tastykakes and is unafraid to pee in the sink if the situation warrants. You don’t screw with someone like that.

There are, of course, plenty of twists and turns in the madcap comedy vein: this movie was a little chick flicky for my taste in that regard. Yet the sharp(ish) writing kept me satiated.

And, of course, there was the Tina Fey factor. Never underestimate it. Never.

Two-Review Tuesday (yes, I gave it a name—I'm very self-aware that way) continues this afternoon with my thoughts on Indiana Jones and the Sequel of the Impossibly-Long Title. Stay tuned.

May 26, 2008

May 26, 2008

Lake. City. Lake.

I spent two days in Madison last week. I like to refer to Madison as “The San Francisco of Wisconsin.” Shockingly, I have reasons for the coining of this moniker. Other than “It sounds catchy.” Sometimes even I like to make sense. Surprise!

As in San Francisco, the people of Madison are of the type I term “greeny.” (I realize that I just lost all credibility I may have gained in the last paragraph. Eh.) Everyone owns a bike. Or two. They eat organic food and possibly even wear organic clothes. (In Madison, Natalie Portman would do well. In Milwaukee, not so much.) To a Madison resident, the term “vehicle accessory” means a helmet that matches your scooter. To a Milwaukee resident, it means a handgun that matches your rims. (Just kidding.)*

As in San Francisco, the people of Madison are of the type I term “liberal.” (See, sometimes my phraseology meshes with the rest of the world’s.) Wisconsin is a blue state because of Madison and Milwaukee—no question. Outside those two cities, it’s basically woods and livestock. And you know cows tend to vote republican.

I could enumerate the things I did while on the isthmus (Madison’s nestled between Lakes Monona and Mendota), but I won’t.** Instead, allow me to present a few images and some snark.

To me, this picture perfectly captures the triune essence of Madison: the health-conscious bikers, the capitol building, and the nouveau architecture. Google plans to build in Madison. Yeah, THAT Google.

My apologies to the non-Wisconsin readers, but does your state capitol building look like this? Does it? I thought not.

My reasons for eating at this restaurant broke down to approximately 70% cheap food, 30% funny name.

The best part of semi-obscure art museums? They’re approximately this busy.

As an institution both small and free, the Henry Vilas Zoo doesn’t exactly have a Noah’s Ark of animals to see. However, it did have flamingos, penguins, and a pretty feisty polar bear. Seriously, that thing is a “San Diego tiger attack”-esque headline waiting to happen.

Oh, and also, this:

That’s a peahen. (Rest assured, there was a peacock maintaining a respectful distance.) Only in the animal kingdom is it the MALE who has to worry about appearances.

Madison has the added bonus of being centrally-located, or at least more so than Milwaukee, and thus more likely to be in the way of someone driving through the state. I’d recommend stopping by, if only to check out that peahen.

* No I’m not.
** State Capitol, Overture Center, UW Geology Museum, Chazen Museum of Art, Henry Vilas Zoo. Like I could resist a list.

May 25, 2008

May 24, 2008

May 23, 2008

May 23, 2008

Spot Inspection: Your Next 5 Songs

I discovered last week that a lot of songs somehow got wiped off my MP3 player. I’d like to blame Apple, but I don’t have an iPod (I have a Creative Zen Stone Plus—pretend that means something to you). Thus I must blame…myself? Karma? Creative’s Bill Gates equivalent?

Anyway, here are my next five songs:

Little Acorns, The White Stripes
Pity and Fear, Death Cab for Cutie
Girl Inform Me, The Shins
The Only Difference, Panic at the Disco
Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own, U2

What are yours?

Duly Noted Recommends, Episode 2

(While it may seem as if I'm just being lazy with these, I assure you they require quite a bit of work. I have to write AND read. Sometimes more than once.)

This week, I managed to avoid any factual errors (that I know of). I do, however, make a Friends reference while suggesting these, this, and this.

One of these times, I promise to recommend more or less than three things. Seriously.

Click here or use the player below.

May 22, 2008

May 22, 2008

Writer? This blog don't need no stinkin' writer.

Like Lafayette, I have returned.

Unlike Lafayette, I have returned from two days in Madison, the lovely liberal capital of my state. You'll be hearing more about all of that (including my thoughts on Baby Mama) in the coming days.

You're salivating, I know. (Just not on the carpet, okay?)

Anyway, I'd like to publicly thank Blogger for performing its autopost function exactly as planned. I'm sure you, my VAST readership, never even knew I was gone, eh?

Who knows--I may not even be back right now. I could still be on vacation. Or dead. Think about it. (Well, not too much. That would just be morbid.)

Things I’ve Read: Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian

In my quest to become…well, if not a hipster, per se, then at least hipster-compatible, I’m a pretty avid follower of McSweeney’s. You can imagine my great amusement when the humor website was shouted-out during Juno--it was like a simultaneous convergence and endorsement of great indie stuff.

But anyway.

Some of the material Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian appeared first on McSweeney’s in a running feature of the same name. Keep in mind that I consume McSweeney’s features during downtime at work; it’s a wonderfully innocuous-looking site. However, Scott Douglas’ anecdotes are so amusing that I often had to stifle laughter while pretending to work. Say what you will about working in government (seriously, say it--I’ve probably said it myself), an abundance of humor is probably not on your list.

I suppose you could call this a workplace memoir. Each shortish chapter focuses on a particular topic or experience of Douglas’ from his days working the public libraries of Anaheim. He does a great job of balancing sweet with snarky, especially when it comes to describing Adventures with the Crazy Public. As a municipal employee who also has her share of Adventures with the Crazy Public, I can commiserate.

While the ostensible subject is tales of work, Douglas also reveals quite a bit about himself, or at least about the sort of “entering the adult world” things he was working through at that point in his life. Career uncertainty, dealing with co-workers twice your age, what to do with that advanced degree besides hang it on the wall…all concerns I can appreciate.

It’s funny, smart, and not long. Read some samples, and then get the book.

(As an added bonus, he footnotes, and they are GOOD footnotes. The sort of funny yet informative footnotes I can only aspire to.)

“What I learned from the two [coworkers] was that business wasn’t like Survivor. You didn’t form alliances with coworkers and engage in tribal wars. You could do that if you wanted to, but it would get you nowhere. Business was simply that: business. There wasn’t room for alliances and friends. There wasn’t room to spread gossip. You simply had to come each day and make it new. If there was a problem with someone, you couldn’t answer like they were your friend. You had to answer like it was business.”

“They [firemen] were like the football players of the city departments. They know they are heroes; they know everyone likes them and wants to be them when they grow up. They are simply not very humble or even sort of friendly. Like I said--they are sort of jerks.”

“This was the reality: no one wanted to be at work all of the time--everyone could probably think of at least one place they’d rather be--but when you’re a public servant you can’t let the public know this. You have to be flawless for them.”

“I think there’s a hopeless romantic in all of us. We all want someone to impress--and someone to impress us back.”

May 21, 2008

May 21, 2008

Hello Kitty! is an Expatriate?

In yet another convergence of blog life and real life, I found out yesterday that Hello Kitty! has been named a tourism ambassador for Japan. This makes Hello Kitty! the second coolest ambassador (after Angelina Jolie, U.N. goodwill ambassador) and the third best reason to visit Japan (after sushi and ninjas).

My favorite sentence from the article: "According to her official profile from Sanrio, Hello Kitty lives with her family in London. It does not mention how often she visits Japan." Eh?

(And here's hoping that "Hello Kitty's Dream Light Fantasy" comes to a venue near you. I know the name alone is enough to make me want a ticket.)

Hello Kitty!

For all the unwomanly characteristics I seem to be afflicted with, I do have resounding affection for some girly things. Like baby animals. The color pink. And that slightly-disturbing-but-simultaneously-adorable Asian combination of the two: Hello Kitty!

The Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois actually has a Sanrio store dedicated to Hello Kitty and all her happy-to-greet-you pals. I think the franchise has expanded since I was a kid; there’s a whole menagerie now. I’d’ve liked them to follow the same naming convention “Bonjour Bunny,” “Hola Owlet,” but alas.

My very first diary was a Hello Kitty one, and I’m pretty sure that’s what got me interested in the brand. I got it at a Korean grocery in the Chicago area. (I realize at this point that you’re asking what sort of child gets a DIARY at a Korean grocery. Ever been to one? When the choice is between soybean candy, seaweed, and a diary, YOU GO WITH THE DIARY.)

Look how cute it is, though. I mean, even after 15 years, it’s in pretty good shape.

Here’s an entry (the second in this diary, and I must assume my second diary entry EVER) I wrote about earlier:

The fascination with food started early.

And part of the last entry in this diary, from December 31, 1997:

For a few years, I’d cut out pictures from Parade magazine’s year in review article. I wish I still did something like that. Anyway, this amuses me because it documents the very beginnings of Heather’s fertile relationship with pop culture. In case you can’t tell, the picture is of Leonardo DiCaprio and the caption says “Isn’t he cute?”

Affection for seafood and sandwiches. Taking a little too much interest in attractive male celebrities. Hmm.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, huh?

May 20, 2008

May 20, 2008

The Gift Card That Launched a Thousand Books

As part of the whole Heather’s Graduation Celebration/Extravaganza 2008, a couple of my co-workers banded together to get me a gift card to Harry W. Schwartz, a chain of Milwaukee bookstores in the class known as “trendy hipster.” For those of you counting at home, this class is also known as “That which Heather is not, but sometimes aspires to be.” Thus on a recent vacation day, I trekked to the East Side and hit the bookstore.

As a sort of public service to those out there who may be interested in giving me free money that expires and is spendable only at one store, let me state that books aren’t a bad way to go. Better than a restaurant, but not as great as a megastore (Target, et al). On the whole, my life is pretty boring, so being forced to buy things I will use (Ziploc bags, tape) trumps being forced to buy things I will never use (fancy dinners, coffee). Judging by the state of our nation’s economy, living within my means is just another of those quirks unique to me (current tally: 357).

Anyway, it took me a bit of thought to decide on books that I would actually want to OWN as opposed to just check out from the library over and over. Here’s what I got:

Six (yes, SIX) Edith Wharton books. In my defense, I’d only planned on getting five. As I checked out, though, the trendy hipster clerk pointed out the “Portable Edith Wharton” (in paperback, of course) for only six bucks or something. Besides having a good selection of short stories, it had a few letters. Like I could pass that up.

Edith Wharton is my favorite author. I like her examinations of status and class, set against the backdrop of a changing Victorian society. The fact that almost all of her heroines end up lonely, unhappy, and/or dead is…well, keep reading and you’ll see that it’s sort of a theme with my favorite authors.

One book each of Tolkien, Plath, and Woolf. Despite being known in some circles (circles consisting of me and maybe an old roommate or two--would that be more of a segment? an arc?), as “Crazy Lord of the Rings Girl,” I did not own a copy of The Hobbit. That had to be rectified, obviously.

Sylvia Plath just edges out Longfellow (yes, LONGFELLOW) as my favorite poet. Like me, her poems are short yet work on multiple levels. However, the poetry collection selection (say THAT five times fast) was unimpressive, so I got The Bell Jar.

Virginia Woolf, along with Plath and Wharton, makes up the triumvirate of tortured female writers I adore. This Everyman’s Library copy of Mrs. Dalloway was a staff pick AND bargain-priced. The combo of recommended by hipster and cheap is one I cannot resist. Plus, it’s a damn good book.

In preparation for the big move, I’m trying to start a library; this is how I did it. I’m open to your suggestions (no comic books, please). As long as they come in paperback.

May 19, 2008

May 19, 2008

In My Opinion: Iron Man

Now THAT is a movie.

The rough premise of Iron Man is that billionaire playboy (is there any other kind?) Tony Stark gets taken captive after a weapons demonstration in Afghanistan. He breaks free by building the world’s best science project ever: a suit that renders him virtually indestructible. Or at least indestructible enough to get back home to the good old U. S. of A. in order to start ridding the world of evildoers.

I know several people who should aspire to be Iron Man. (You know who you are. Yes, YOU.) Think about it: the guy fights evil with COMPUTERS and SCIENCE. No mutations (X-Men), tortured past (Batman) or insect hijinks (Spider-Man) required. Just a head for numbers and unlimited cash. For the kind of guy I seem to befriend (he has been dubbed “The Everygeek”), that seems doable.

Take note: this isn’t your father’s Iron Man. If your father didn’t read the comics, then take note that this isn’t MY father’s Iron Man. From what he tells me, Afghanistan wasn’t involved and Nick Fury was a white guy. (For those of you asking “Nick who, now?” stay around after the credits.)

I think Robert Downey Jr. is ideal for the role--his decades of drug abuse and crazy living were all just Method Acting. Seriously, though, he’s great in this. He pulls off the arrogance while maintaining believability as a science genius. (If you believe that combo’s easy to do, take a minute to think about the science geeks you know. Could the word “suave” be even remotely applied to ANY of them? Didn’t think so.)

Gwyneth Paltrow is the rare actress who glams down just as well as she glams up. Her Pepper Potts reminded me a lot of the character she played in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (another movie I quite liked): the feisty Girl Friday. Behind every good Iron Man is a good woman. Terrence Howard’s military guy worked for me in that he was almost always in uniform. That’s all I require of the miscellaneous army types in this sort of movie: good wardrobe and the occasional jargon-laced radio or phone conversation.

We’ve been promised at least one sequel and maybe two, with the possibility of a franchise based on the Avengers (again, stay around after the credits). While my affinity for sequels would itself be enough to get me in the theater, the fact that Iron Man turned out to be so good is the proverbial icing on the cake. (Not proverbially, I’d like it to be cream cheese icing on a carrot cake. But whatever.)

Take a friend, a relative, or a date. (Seriously, I would totally consider this a date movie. But that appears to be just me.) Go alone, even. But go.

(Trailer review: Indiana Jones, yes. The Dark Knight, yes. The Incredible Hulk, yes. The Love Guru, NO.)

May 16, 2008

May 16, 2008

Duly Noted Recommends, Episode 1

In case reading my droll observations wasn't enough, now you can hear them, too. I also make a factual error, compare myself to an animal, and parle a bit of French. (Also, I sound a bit stilted, I think. Trying not to sound like you're reading while you are, in fact, reading is very tricky. I have a new-found respect for news anchors.)

Click here or use the player below.



For those of you looking for linkage, I discussed this, this, and this.

May 15, 2008

Listen to This, Volume 12: Panic at the Disco

The first time I remember hearing about Panic at the Disco was when they were on The Late Show with David Letterman. Don’t misunderstand me; even before getting that time-sucking vacuum known as pirated wireless, I rarely stuck around long enough to watch Letterman’s musical guests. However, between the monologue and what I call “the desk bit,” Letterman always lists that night’s guests, including the featured musical act. At the time, the name “Panic at the Disco” struck me as a good combination of interesting and odd. Like pink shoes. Or Canadians.

Nine in the Afternoon,” their most well-known and (arguably) best song, is my favorite. As one blog review states, “The song's bouncy sound and classic pop structure and instrumentation allude to mature influences.” I can get on board with the allusion to maturity. It’s like reading the New Yorker in public. No one understands the New Yorker—you read it so as to be seen reading it. Honestly, I believe this is the motivation behind a good portion of the publishing industry. Otherwise, wouldn’t books be bound in plain fabric, as they were in days of yore?*

If none of this is doing it for you, how can you not give a chance to a band with songs like "The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage" and "Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off"? Come on!

The band’s second album, Pretty. Odd. came out in March. That’s recent enough for it to be available in the format of your choice.**

* I've been looking for a chance to use the phrase “days of yore.” Check!
** And I think we all know what the format of MY choice is.

May 14, 2008

May 14, 2008

E-Menage a Trois

As if one appliance-based relationship wasn’t unhealthy enough, I fear that I’m getting too close to my MP3 player. I used to be able to justify the 8 hours a day I have it on at work, since music in the cubicle is multi-purpose. It drowns out the background noise. It makes for interesting conversation with co-workers (imagine me trying to explain to a chief why Maroon 5 is followed by Gershwin, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and ABBA). It reminds me that a world exists outside my four fabric-covered half walls.

However, with my recent acquisition of a cassette adapter, I am now also able to use the MP3 player during my commute. I used to listen to news. Or talk to myself. Now? There’s just a lot of singing along to my musics. (When I’m not swearing at other drivers, of course.)

Thus I now use the MP3 player more than any other appliance. Even the tv. It’s like when I was in college. Girls showed as freshmen with their high school boyfriends in tow, proudly exclaiming that they’d been together FOREVER. By the time that first semester was over, both sides had realized that there are a lot of fish in the sea. (Yes, even the uber-fundamental one--the water’s cleaner, but pool hours are VERY limited).

If only modern technology weren’t so ubiquitously addictive, you know?

May 13, 2008

May 13, 2008

We lurve the freebies.

I sent my co-worker Amber this article today about Ellen DeGeneres’ recent 50th birthday party. It was so comprehensively awesome that I want to have basically the exact same party when I hit the half-century mark.

My initial message had the subject line “Because you’ll be, like, 97 years old ;)”*. (She’ll actually be 60. But you know how I like to exaggerate for comic effect and/or to make a point and/or because it amuses me. Whatever.)

This email exchange followed:

Amber: Do you know the most disgusting thing about that article? It doesn't mention that the party probably cost her almost nothing because all of the crap was being provided by corporate sponsors.

Me: If only I were worth sponsoring. Think of all the free crap
I could get!

Amber: You and me both sister! And hell, you don't even drink or smoke or anything fun! JUST THINK OF ALL THE FREE BOOZE I COULD BE DRINKING!?!??

That’s really our relationship in a nutshell. It's good to be understood.

* Yeah, I put a winky emoticon in the subject line. Entirely too twee, I know. Give me a break; it's Tuesday.

Beg, Borrow, or Steal

In my grand tradition of pimping things I love (see: 30 Rock, Ikea, food...of any sort), I remind you that Death Cab for Cutie’s new album, Narrow Stairs, is out today. You know already that my love for them is not just O.C.-induced. Not surprisingly, I like the new album. (Let’s not discuss how I was already telling people about it…yesterday.) If my opinion isn’t enough for you, get off my damn blog USA Today gives it 3.5 stars.

Find a way to listen to it, people. Find a way.

In My Opinion: Atonement

Atonement is perhaps best summed up with the word YEARNING.

For love lost. For love never had. For home. For family. For acceptance. Don’t get me wrong; there’s nothing wrong with a little yearning; goodness knows we’ve all had out fair share. Come on: take a look at that poster and tell me that the yearning doesn't leap right off the thing. Not only that, but he yearns to the right while she yearns to the left. It's bi-directional yearning.

The film is based on the book of the same name by Ian McEwan. The only work of his I’ve read is On Chesil Beach, which was actually a very tightly-plotted novel about the tension-fraught wedding night of a British couple in the 1960s. I quite enjoyed it. But I’m wandering into “Things I’ve Read” territory here.

Keira Knightley and James McAvoy play Cecilia and Robbie--the couple whose love, though meant to be, can never happen. She’s privileged; he’s a servant (British societal structure and mores: McEwan theme #1). Due to an involved misunderstanding (read the book for details…or just the Wikipedia), Robbie gets shipped off to prison…then to World War I. Not exactly a fun combo (severe but not-completely-deserved suffering: McEwan theme #2). As these two characters (as well as Briony, Cecilia’s younger sister) come of age during the war and the decades after, the ramifications of youth’s actions are fully revealed. The titular atonement ends up being paid, yes, but not by the person you’d expect.

Structurally, this film confused me. Apparently the book is divided into four parts. I wish I’d known that going in. Because each part seemed to start with the climactic end scene, reverse to the beginning, and show how things got to the climax. Thus I had several, “Wait, what? Where did THAT come from?” moments.

Cinematically, though, Atonement makes up for all its other errors. I mean, the thing looks GOOD. Costumes, scenery, and camera angles are all excellent. Restrained and elegant (British stoicism: McEwan theme #3).

While it’s not my favorite film of the last year, I can certainly see why Atonement garnered so many Oscar nominations. It has a lot of good elements without being able to piece them together into something great. For me, anyway.

Maybe I just lack the proper yearning motivation.

May 12, 2008

May 12, 2008

Writer's Almanac Highlight of the Day

Yes, they sometimes have to stretch the definition of "writer." Just play along.

It's the birthday of actress Katharine Hepburn, born in Hartford, Connecticut (1907). She became a Hollywood star by not doing anything that Hollywood stars were supposed to do. Her looks were unconventional: she had red hair and freckles and sharp cheekbones. She didn't wear make-up or dresses, she didn't cooperate with the media,* and she had a habit of insulting other people in the business.** She played smart, sexy, independent women who were always able to get the guy in the end.***

She won her first Oscar for her role in Morning Glory (1933). After that she hand-picked each of her movies, and she often had a say in who the other actors in the movie would be. Sometimes she rewrote her own lines, something almost no other actress would have dared to do at the time. In 1991, Hepburn published her autobiography, titled Me, and it was a best-seller. She wrote about her twenty-seven-year affair with Spencer Tracy, her career, and life in her brownstone in the middle of Manhattan, where she lived for more than sixty years. Katharine Hepburn said, "If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun."****

* So she did do SOME things Hollywood stars were supposed to.
** As we all do.
*** That’s what she said?
**** Totally NOT my philosophy.

To My Retail Soulmate (Schaumburg, Day 2: Organizational Pilgrimage)

Dear Ikea,

I’m relatively inexperienced in the ways of men and women (or, in this case, Swedish department stores and women), but the feelings I have for you are both exciting and new.

Ikea, I think I love you. Let me count the ways.

I want to spend time together. Lots of time. The hours fly by when we’re together, Ikea. On my last visit, bad words came out of my mouth when I realized it had been three hours and I was STILL GOING.

You make me laugh. The names of your products are endearingly Swedish, with entirely too many vowels and punctuation marks right in the letters. (Umlauts? Oh yeah. And that little slash through the o gets me every time.)

I have no problem spending money on you. I realize that our entire relationship is based on me paying for your products. I also realize that there’s a name for that. But I think you’ll agree that what we have transcends those connotations, Ikea. As cheap as I am, I gladly got some of these when last we were together. And this. Also, this. I love your great deals, Ikea. I can get an entire armload of stuff for less than $20. Armload! $20! I went to The Container Store (an old flame, I’m sorry to say) after seeing you, and it paled in comparison. It lasted 20 minutes and I didn’t even buy anything.

I am moving to be closer to you. (And for other reasons, but let’s pretend this is the main one. I find that the best relationships are based on mutual illusions.) Currently, I live TWO hours from ONE Ikea. After I relocate, I will have TWO Ikeas within ONE hour. I may not be mathy, but I like those numbers.

Logistically, I think we could live together. You have beds and bathrooms. And a restaurant. I’m a simple girl; throw in wireless internet access and I’m good to go.

In closing, while I understand that I am just one of your millions of admirers, I like to think that what we have is something special. It spans continents. Granted, some assembly is required, but you’ve thoughtfully included instructions. And this is why I love you.

Cheers,
Heather

P.S. - Any chance you could reciprocate with some kind of sale?

May 9, 2008

May 9, 2008

Spot Inspection: Your Next 5 Songs

For those of you who missed last week's initial installment, enable the shuffle function on your MP3 player of choice and list your next 5 songs.

Mine are:
Another Love Song, Queens of the Stone Age
White Shadows, Coldplay
Don't Panic, Coldplay
A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow, Mitch & Mickey
Piazza, New York Catcher, Belle and Sebastian

I have NO idea how that last song got on there. I had to use Google and Wikipedia just to figure out who Belle and Sebastian were. To quote Panic at the Disco: "Pretty odd."

Schaumburg, Day 1: Sushi and Swordfighting

For those of you unfamiliar with the great state of Illinois (best known for Chicago, road construction, and…[insert something else]), Schaumburg is a relatively-affluent Chicago suburb home to several notable attractions. I visited a few of them this week; what follows is pretty much a self-indulgent recapping of my favorite parts.

Woodfield Mall

Woodfield Mall is like the Mayfair Mall of Schaumburg. Since that means nothing to, well, any of you, I’ll quote Wikipedia: “Due to its location in the suburban area northwest of Chicago, which is seen as brand-savvy and a good test market, Woodfield Mall is often the location of concept and prototype stores for established brands.”

In a word (one of my favorites, in fact), it’s CLASSY.

No escalators. Just ramps.

A killer sushi buffet.


Despite the 300 stores, I only bought stuff at Godiva and Yankee Candle. Two reasons: 1) I’m cheap. 2) Fire and chocolate, in my opinion, are the two fundamental elements of life.

Medieval Times

Medieval Times has a new show for 2008. This was excellent news, as I’d seen the old show four times. Even I can start remembering details after four viewings.

There’s a new character: the prince. He gets taken prisoner and is very angsty.

Such regalia, no?

I was pretty focused on the food, though. That's "baby dragon." Tastes just like chicken, though.

Lodgings

We stayed at a Motel 6. Granted, the Schaumburg Motel 6 was pretty decent. At least, I thought it was until I took a closer look at the contents of the vending machine.


In our* next installment: IKEA, IKEA, and IKEA.
(Also, The Container Store. But mostly IKEA!)

*The royal our, obviously. It's just me in this here Thinking Chair.

May 8, 2008

May 8, 2008

My Thoughts on The Office

(8:00:21 PM): Loan, church, court.
(8:00:53 PM): Eye candy alma mater.
(8:01:25 PM): How cute is Jim in golf gear?!
(8:01:39 PM): Pretty big long-term plans?
(8:01:52 PM): Something very bold: Trying.
(8:02:06 PM): "Spinning in his urn."
(8:02:43 PM): Petty cash = next month's rent.
(8:03:34 PM): Blank sheet of paper = endless possibilities. Conceptual.
(8:04:05 PM): Go home early, everybody!
(8:05:39 PM): "Funny-looking kid like you."
(8:05:44 PM): "Cashier with dignity."
(8:06:28 PM): "It only takes one sheet to make a difference."
(8:06:37 PM): NEVER sneeze in someone's tea.
(8:07:32 PM): "I'm trying to lure these kids into my booth."
(8:07:36 PM): "Thank you, Dateline."
(8:10:42 PM): Did he say DENNIS?
(8:11:05 PM): Dwight, they're all gone!
(8:11:22 PM): Pam's old art room. Cute.
(8:11:56 PM): "So...what else is up?"
(8:14:20 PM): That was SO not 6 shots.
(8:14:29 PM): "Shortcut! Shortcut!"
(8:15:01 PM): "I would rather live jobless."
(8:19:51 PM): "He's the most important thing in my life right now."
(8:19:59 PM): "Isn't he big?"
(8:20:14 PM): "That we know of."
(8:20:26 PM): "Why wouldn't you say that to her face?"
(8:20:34 PM): "The guys I DIDN'T bring are even better."
(8:21:05 PM): Oh, poor Andy.
(8:21:36 PM): Beer, straw!
(8:21:58 PM): 2 months. Not good.
(8:22:29 PM): Way to be persistent, Jim!
(8:23:18 PM): "H&R Block? I don't even know what they do."
(8:25:06 PM): "Um...congratulations to you."
(8:25:16 PM): Yay, Kevin with the porn music!
(8:25:37 PM): "Kiss her. Kiss her good."
(8:28:16 PM): New job for Pam?!
(8:28:56 PM): NY or Philly? Hmm...
(8:29:31 PM): "Gotta go where the action is." My motto, too.

Ikea Nirvana

Though I promised new content for today, the only progress I appear to have made on today's entry (a review of Panic! at the Disco) was the title. As you can tell, writing blog entries during downtime at work has been replaced by applying for jobs during downtime at work.

Normally, I would quickly throw something together right now, but I'm still recovering from Schaumburg. Woodfield Mall, Medieval Times, and...

More to come on what shall henceforth be known as "Heather's Heaven on Earth."

May 7, 2008

May 7, 2008

Here Rests In Honored Glory

I'll be in Schaumburg, Illinois for the next two days as part of a "Yay, I graduated from something!" mini-vacation with the parents. Thus tomorrow's entry will be a little later than usual. I know you were wondering.

I like cemeteries. Not in a “fascinated with death” way or a “hang out there at midnight” way. They’re just so peaceful. They’re usually not too crowded; a definite plus for the misanthrope in me. I also learned how to drive in a cemetery (as did my mom before me). Think about it: you have winding roads, no traffic, and are unlikely to disturb the residents. Win-win-win.

One of my favorite places to go in the D.C. area is Arlington National Cemetery. I actually plan to have my parents buried there. (Morbid? Or just prudent?) Anyway, Arlington has that great combo of cemetery and historical landmark. You know how much I love history.

Every time I go (four so far), I make sure to take the Tourmobile tour. This is the only instance in which I will advocate Tourmobile. For the rest of D.C., you’re better off walking, taking Metro, or both. However, since Arlington looks like this…

…the eight bucks for bus fare just makes good sense.

Highlights:

1. The Kennedy Graves.

Because they’re the first stop on the tour, everyone’s usually still pretty upbeat at the Kennedy graves. As upbeat as you can be while touring a cemetery, anyway. Thus big crowds and lots of pictures of the eternal flame.

2. The Tomb of the Unknowns.

Try to catch the changing of the guard. It’s a fascinating and sobering ritual. I always tell myself I’m just going to take a few pictures…and end up with fifty. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to observe the laying of a wreath or some other special event—they’re not terribly uncommon.

Despite being a pretty big fan of dry weather (though I love my cloudy days), I almost prefer watching this when it’s a little rainy out. It seems appropriate.

3. Arlington House.

The property that is now Arlington National Cemetery was once owned by Robert E. Lee. (Yes, THAT one.) After that whole Civil War fiasco, though, the North sorta appropriated the property in exchange for taxes owed. “Sorry, Lees. We’re going to turn your home into a graveyard!”

But, oh, the house. It’s a great house. With awesome furnishings. And even better views:

If you’re ever in the area, I’d recommend putting Arlington on your list. It’s a working cemetery, yes, so you’re likely to see a funeral or two in progress. Rest assured that it’s worth a little discomfort.

May 6, 2008

May 6, 2008

Writer's Almanac Highlight of the Day

It's the birthday of Sigmund Freud, born in Freiberg in what was then the Austrian Empire (1856). He started out as a medical doctor and scientist in Vienna, studying the anatomy of eels*. He developed a laboratory technique that involved staining tissue samples so that they could be seen more easily under the microscope, and he also made breakthroughs in the use of anesthetic for surgery. One of his superiors in the medical community, however, told him that he would never go far in his career because he was Jewish.

So Freud decided to go into the less crowded field of psychology, where he thought he might be able to break new ground. He was particularly interested in the mental illness called hysteria, which caused patients to suffer from tics, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and hallucinations. Hysterics were given a variety of treatments, including isolation, electrocution, and in the case of women, surgical removal of the uterus.

Freud learned that some doctors were using hypnosis to treat hysteria, and he went to France to see the use of hypnosis firsthand. Seeing that a patient could be talked out of his or her symptoms gave Freud the idea that the symptoms were a product of the mind and not the body. He learned the method of hypnosis himself and began to treat patients, but he had little success. Then, one of Freud's colleagues told him about a patient named Anna O., whose hysterical symptoms had improved when she told stories about her life. The woman herself named this process of storytelling "the talking cure."

Freud saw her talking cure as a groundbreaking technique for the treatment of mental illness. He thought that maybe all the symptoms of the hysterics he was treating were the result of stories they hadn't ever been able to tell anyone about their lives. He took a couch that had belonged to his wife, covered it with a Persian rug**, and asked his patients to lie down on it. Instead of looking at him, he asked them to stare at an empty wall, and he sat behind them as they talked, occasionally asking a question***. He called the process free association.

Over the next few years, he developed the idea that his patients were not conscious of all their desires and fears, that many of their own thoughts were hidden from them in their unconscious mind. He believed that their unconscious mind would reveal itself in various ways, through slips of the tongue, jokes, and especially dreams****. What made his ideas so revolutionary and controversial was that he didn't just apply them to mentally ill patients, but to all human beings, even himself. When he came out with
The Interpretation of Dreams in 1899, it read like a partial autobiography, because many of the dreams in it were his own. He was suggesting that no one can easily understand his or her unconscious mind, not even the doctor who invented the concept.

* How I imagine the course of study: Day 1 - Eels are long and bendy. Day 2 - Graduation.
** What’s up with this random interior design detail?
*** This actually sounds enjoyable. I’d try it if it didn’t cost $200 an hour.
**** Slips of the tongue, jokes, and dreams reveal our true minds? Oh, I am SO screwed if this is the case.

Is it all just a rewrite?

To what extent are we just repeating our parents’ lives?

One of the oft-quoted lines on Battlestar Galactica is “This has all happened before…and it will all happen again.” Obviously, that quote has significance in the show, the entirety of which you’re probably not interested in* (and of which I’m not even completely sure yet). But we’ve all heard that history repeats itself, and I’m starting to think that’s very evident in the way people my age (18-34 demo, woo) are influenced by their parents.

I know several people who are in the same career fields as their fathers. I mean, sure, you get a LOT of that in the fire department—it’s that sort of job. But I don’t see it just at work. I have friends and even relatives who followed in parental footsteps, whether consciously or no.

As I’m starting to make more and more Big Life Decisions, I find that I behave in a lot of ways like my mom. For those of you who have heard…well, ANY of my mom stories, you know this is simultaneously scary and exciting. I, too, could someday be a diplomat. (If, you know, I were in any way social or suave.)

Ideally, I guess we’d observe our parents’ choices and take the good while avoiding the mistakes they made. In a perfect world, anyway. But just because you see something coming doesn’t mean you can necessarily avoid it. That’s why auto insurance is a billion-dollar industry, right?**

“In history, a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind.” –Edmund Burke

“People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them.” –James Baldwin

“Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results.” –Machiavelli

* If you ARE a BSG fan, though, let me know. I can always use someone else to discuss the show with.
** For those of you keeping track, that metaphor both was apropos of nothing AND contained a completely improvised number. Double. Bonus.

May 5, 2008

May 5, 2008

Writer's Almanac Highlight of the Day

It's the birthday of Karl Marx, born in Trier, Germany (1818), the son of a lawyer. Marx went to university to study law but was not a very dedicated student and became president of the Trier Tavern Drinking Society*. When he transferred to a school in another city, he became a more serious student. He married Jenny von Westphalen, his childhood sweetheart and the daughter of a Prussian Baron, in 1843. They would have seven children together, only three of whom would survive to become adults. Nonetheless they had a tender and generally happy marriage**, and Marx once wrote to his wife, "There are actually many females in the world, and some among them are beautiful. But where could I find again a face whose every feature, even every wrinkle, is a reminder of the greatest and sweetest memories of my life?"***

In 1848, he published
The Communist Manifesto, which begins, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." The next year, he and other journalists for a radical newspaper were banished from Germany. He fled to Paris, but he was forced from there**** also and a month later, when he was 31 years old, fled to England, where the prime minister was a proponent of free speech.

Marx spent the rest of his life in London, and in poverty. He spent his days in the British Museum's Reading Room, where he read old issues of the
Economist. Friedrich Engels supported Marx's family, working in Germany and mailing money to Marx. The two exchanged several letters a week for 20 years*****.

He said, "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."

* Best extracurricular activity ever?
** And isn’t that what everyone strives for in a marriage? GENERALLY happy?
*** Well, aww. :o)

**** How does one get forced from Paris? Do they come after you with fondue forks and corkscrews?
***** I like to imagine the IM conversations these two would have had.

Things I’ve Read: An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England

I read while eating lunch at work. I also work for the fire department. Thus I had to assure several co-workers over the week or so I spent reading this book that it was a novel and not a how-to guide. I’m not sure they believed me.

Sam Pulsifer is an everyman living in the suburbs. Sam works in packaging: boxes, bags, bins, and all that. Sam loves his wife and kids.

Also, Sam has a secret.

At age 18, he burned down the historic home of Emily Dickinson. Which, you know, could perhaps be forgiven. Who doesn’t like a good fire, right? Sadly, there were two people inside the house who were…occupied at the time. Too occupied to realize what was going on until it was two late. You can laugh off arson, but you can’t laugh off manslaughter. Thus Sam had to mea culpa and serve his time.

It’s once he’s released, though, that things got REALLY interesting.

Sam reinvented himself, moving to another town and telling no one about his minor notoriety as The Guy Who Burned Down Emily Dickinson’s House. This worked out really well…until other famous literary homes start going up in smoke. Robert Frost. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Even (my very favorite author) Edith Wharton. Suspicions naturally turn to Sam, forcing him to dredge up his messy past. Because as culpable as he was for the Dickinson residence, this time, it ISN’T HIM. The who, how, and why of the actual culprit is something I won’t spoil for you.

While this book may sound like a pedestrian whodunit, it’s so much more than that. It looks at relationships, and communication, and putting on appearances.

And fire. Lots and lots of fire.

May 2, 2008

May 2, 2008

Spot Inspection: Your Next 5 Songs

This is the first in (hopefully) a Friday afternoon series inspired by a feature of Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch. Humor me as I explain the concept.

Take at look at whichever of the following items provides your music:
1. MP3 player
2. CD player
3. Stereo
4. Sheet music

Ideally, you’re looking at an iPod/Zune/whatever with a shuffle function. Ideally, said function is turned on.

With me so far? Good.

What are your next five songs?

Be honest, no matter how cringe-worthy and weird. Or both. Here are mine:

Build God, Then We’ll Talk, Panic at the Disco
Peace of Me, Natasha Bedingfield
I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother’s Heart, The White Stripes
All That I Got (The Make Up Song), Fergie
Lay All Your Love on Me, ABBA

Has anyone tried the Whitestrips?

At some point along the way, I have turned into one of THOSE people. The ones with an almost-compulsive oral hygiene routine. I used to be normal, I promise. (Oh, the number of ways I could apply that sentence. But that’s really a blog for another day.) I brushed my teeth in the morning and before bed. End of story.

However, since graduating from college and beginning this “living healthy” kick, I morphed into the girl who doesn’t think brushing is enough. She has to floss, too. Every day. AND use mouthwash. Honestly, in this regard, the old me is barely recognizable.

I say “barely” because, well:

That is an actual picture from my bathroom. Whatever version of Heather you’re talking about, she is nothing if not brand-loyal. (Actually, it has more to do with wanting things to match. Anal-retentiveness rears its ugly head yet again.)

I’ll bet you thought one post about dentistry was enough. Just goes to show you, huh?

My Thoughts on Last Night's "The Office"

My apologies for the lateness of this recap. Real-life events transpired last night to interfere with my blogging. Don't you hate when that happens? I ended up watching this alone with the closed-captioning on so as not to disturb anyone else, so it's rather quote-heavy.

(8:01:13 PM): "Greatness is only skin deep."
(8:01:40 PM): "Look, kids. Your daddy left that face hole."
(8:02:46 PM): Mad libs.
(8:02:50 PM): Pam! Glasses!
(8:03:20 PM): Ugly scientist.
(8:04:25 PM): A rap rhyme.
(8:05:34 PM): "Beautiful, sassy, powerful black man."
(8:05:44 PM): "Your momma's dead."
(8:06:36 PM): Scratch...or racing stripe?
(8:08:41 PM): "What's the pink?"
(8:08:54 PM): Dwight...with full authority!
(8:13:00 PM): "There are due back Thursday."
(8:13:38 PM): Creed, ew. Don't think of Pam like that.
(8:14:46 PM): Gang tickling. Hmm.
(8:15:28 PM): Button your shirt, Ryan.
(8:15:42 PM): "I know how little you care about your job."
(8:17:06 PM): "Seller beware."
(8:18:04 PM): Is Stanley going to really get fired, though?
(8:23:11 PM): "You are fired like a heart attack."
(8:23:24 PM): Wow, Stanley. Harsh.
(8:23:50 PM): WHOA.
(8:24:22 PM): Wow. "Professional idiot"?
(8:27:01 PM): Not a bad Rodney Dangerfield impression.
(8:27:34 PM): Okay, these other impressions aren't so great.
(8:30:08 PM): "Summer Christmas Sale-a-bration."
(8:30:23 PM): "Everybody out except Phyllis."

My two previously-scheduled entries will be posted later today. We apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you and come again!

May 1, 2008

May 1, 2008

I Am Liz Lemon: A Threeve

If I haven't already convinced you to watch my favorite show, 30 Rock, I realize that it's not going to happen. Thus I give you these five clips that I feel eerily reflect the similarities between me and Liz Lemon, in increasing order of verisimilitude. Enjoy.

We're not sure how we feel about babies.


We can't hold our liquor.


We love food.


The perfect man always has a catch.


I'm not even going to say which of these things we have in common. Suffice to say there are more than two.


And watch the show tonight! It's on right after The Office!

Listen to This, Volume 11: Natasha Bedingfield

I know that I keep introducing obscure musical acts with the phrase “So…I first heard this on a commercial.” And yet.

So…I first heard this on a commercial. I think it was for some kind of shampoo. Herbal Essences, maybe? (Obviously, something was lost in translation there for me.) Anyway, if you watch even a fraction of the tv I do (and especially if you pay attention during the commercials, rather than surfing the internet and instant messaging), you may have also heard the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. Sample lyrics (imagine these accompanied by people frolicking in outdoor [yeah, I dunno] showers):

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips…

Anything? Anything at all?

Though I wasn’t bowled over (the beginning lyrics are much better), I thought it sounded interesting enough to warrant further research. Google told me that the song was “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield, a British singer/songwriter who’s characterized as a philanthropic girl next door. Who doesn’t love those?

The single from the album Unwritten is, in fact, “Unwritten.” I’ll let you puzzle that one out. It’s good, but I like “Silent Movie” a tad more. Perhaps it’s the cinematic overtones; you may have noticed that I have a penchant for film.

Regardless, it's a good album and definitely download-worthy. I mean, how can you pass up the chance to support both the shampoo industry and British philanthropy at once?