June 30, 2008

June 30, 2008

Mini Movie Reviews: A Threeve

Get Smart wasn’t the only thing I watched during the big weekend o’ fun. Herein, the rest:

27 Dresses. Well, I wish I could rousingly endorse it. At least I made good on my promise to see it.

Disturbia. Shia LeBeouf is in it. That’s all I need to say.

Se7en. Not as scary as I’d feared. But still scary. (As an aside, should I be disturbed that I was able to name the seven deadly sins? That doesn’t seem like the sort of information one should have on hand.) With Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and Gwyneth Paltrow, how can you go wrong?

In My Opinion: Get Smart

I saw Get Smart on its opening night, as part of my weekend o’ fun in North Carolina. For those of you interested in a detailed description of what Amanda and I did and saw, well…you’ll have to ask me privately. No way those details are being made public.

Anyway, I went into Get Smart with high hopes, as I love Steve Carell, spies, and comedy. They’re as American as...well, what’s American these days? Over-large vehicles? Obesity? You know what I mean.

You probably know the basic plot: Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway are secret government agents. Like 24, the bad guy is Russian and nuclear weapons are involved. Unlike 24, there are a few comedic hijinks, mostly centering on Carell’s ineptness as a spy. As someone who would never make it past (lunch on) Day 1 of spy school, I can relate. I also enjoyed the D.C. locales, though I caught at least one mistake (they showed the outside of one museum and the inside of another). Granted, this is a universe in which The Rock Dwayne Johnson* is a spy. So you just have to go with it.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. The supporting cast (including Alan Arkin, Masi “Yatta!” Oka, and Nate Torrence) really made it. As a fun bonus, a direct-to-DVD sequel was apparently just released that features Oka and Torrence. Next thing you know, they’re going to be releasing the sequels BEFORE the original film.

* Don’t get me wrong: I love The Rock Dwayne Johnson. He was great in the Mummy movies. But one of the key aspects of spycraft is being able to BLEND IN. While The Rock Dwayne Johnson has many talents, blending in isn’t one of them.

June 28, 2008

June 28, 2008

Weekend Poll: Help Me Buy a Couch

There's really no time to shop online for furniture like after midnight, is there?

I'm trying to pick a couch and have it narrowed down to three. Since you have such excellent taste, humor me and let me know what you think. Come on; it'll be like Choose Your Own Adventure.

[/pandering]

Candidate 1: Palm Sofa in bone

It looks good, though I'm not a huge fan of the wimpy-looking back cushions.

Candidate 2: Elita Sofa Sleeper with Storage

I have no idea how much storage this thing really has, but the fact that it doubles as a sleeper is attractive. I'll need someplace for you all to sleep when you visit, after all.

Candidate 3: Metropolitan Sofa in sage

I love the color on this one. The reviews say it's really, really firm, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I like firm. But it's available only online, so there's no way I can test it out.

So what do you think? And feel free to share sofa shopping stories (horror or otherwise) of your own.

June 27, 2008

June 27, 2008

Remember This? Volume 6: Koala Yummies

Kids these days are apparently a lot healthier than when I was growing up.*

I teach a Sunday School class of first and second graders. Recently, I asked each of them to name their favorite food. All but one said “fruit.” The other one said “pie.” Guess which one I high-fived.

Anyway, while many of my childhood favorites are still around (hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, etc.), one that I don’t really see anymore is Koala Yummies. Anyone remember those? Bear-shaped cookies filled with creme? Apparently, you can still buy them here. The fact that Lotte, an Asian company, distributes them makes me wonder if this is just another thing I was introduced to because my mom’s Korean. When your cuisine is centered on rice, fish, and fermented cabbage, you gotta have SOMETHING for the kids, I guess.

* Aw, look. I started a sentence with “kids these days.” I’m officially old.

June 26, 2008

June 26, 2008

Lucky Seventh

For whatever reason, people seem to delight in reminding me that I’m moving to one of the most dangerous cities in America. Are they concerned? Jealous? Misanthropes?

Perhaps all three, but that’s beside the point.

The phrase “most dangerous” has actually been used. On several occasions. For the record, I’d like to note that D.C. is NOT, in fact, the most dangerous city in America. That would be (“Where on the hand?”) Detroit, thank you very much.

For once, I even have statistics to back me up:

Believe me, I was just as surprised as you that Milwaukee was only 16th. I mean, we had seven shootings on a recent Friday night.

At any rate, seventh isn’t too bad, right? Plus, I’ll be living in Alexandria, which is apparently the richest city in Virginia (?). So even if I get shot, I’ll be getting shot by someone rich. Ideally, I will also be rich at the time. Win-win.

(I feel as if I should write something about my big move every week and turn it into a feature with a catchy name. Someone get on that.)

June 25, 2008

June 25, 2008

Listen to This, Volume 14: Jack Johnson

I try to keep an open mind when searching for new music. If there’s the possibility of getting a “Listen to This” entry out of something, I’ll try my hardest to do so, even (illegally) downloading several albums in the hopes of finding something blog-worthy. Sadly, even the best-intentioned efforts are sometimes for naught. Like with Fall Out Boy. Radiohead. Jason Mraz.

Jack Johnson is what I’d hoped Jason Mraz would be: smart but mellow. He’s has that sort of laid-back surfer guy vibe. Probably because he was, in fact, a laid-back surfer guy. Well, okay, technically a laid-back surfer boy, but close enough.

Like chocolate ice cream and the sound of rain, Jack Johnson soothes me. I find myself having to skip his songs when they come on during my walks, as “soothing” doesn’t really go with “two miles in 30 minutes.” I have to do the same thing when I drive, because, um…yeah.

But for everything else, I’m all about a little Jack Johnson. I like to load up an album for one of my marathon Saturday make-food-for-the-entire-next-week cooking sessions. Between the music and whatever version of Diet Coke I’m drinking, it’s good times all around.

June 24, 2008

June 24, 2008

In My Opinion: Kung Fu Panda

The bad thing about reviewing movies I saw in the theater is that since I can’t take notes in the dark, I have to go on memory alone. As we know, this is a dangerous proposition. It leads to sentences like, “There was some kind of something.” Yet I forge on.

Kung Fu Panda was cute, in a good way. It wasn’t trite or twee or annoyingly precocious. Rather, it was colorful and fun and featured the voice talent of one Jack Black. No amount of Nacho Libre can undo the fact that his un-self-conscious* goofiness really amuses me.

The general plot is your typical “dreamer accidentally becomes hero” bildungsroman (bildungspanda?): setup, struggle, success. While Jack Black really makes the movie in my opinion (oh, hey, look, THAT’S why these blog reviews are called that), the supporting voices are also very good (David Cross especially; RIP Arrested Development). Sadly, I didn’t realize Angelina Jolie voiced the tiger until the final credits. She’s obviously a woman known for, um, other qualities. (Love ya, Angie!)

I was saddened to note that of all the previews and commercials that aired before this film, I was interested in exactly one. Worse, I recognized none of the “stars” in most of them (ABC Family and the Disney Channel are not really my scene). Worst, one of the movies has Lisa Kudrow playing a mom to high schoolers. Phoebe is A MOM TO HIGH SCHOOLERS. You have got to be kidding me.

* Is that even how that’s hyphenated? I tried “unself-conscious,” but I’m pretty sure “unself” isn’t a word. (Not like that’s ever stopped me before, I know.)

June 20, 2008

June 20, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane

As you read this (assuming you’re reading this between the hours of 8 and 10 a.m. on Friday, June 20, 2008), I am winging my way to North Carolina for a long weekend with my friend Amanda. (I’ve mentioned her once or twice.) I’m flying on my hometown Midwest Airlines, no less; chocolate chip cookies, baked on-board! Suffice to say Amanda and I will be sightseeing, consuming media, and following a few of my recommendations.

Duly Noted will return on Tuesday with my review of Kung Fu Panda. Until then, wish me luck, keep an eye on the papers, and don’t answer your phone if I call you.

And I’ll let YOU decide which of those I’m serious about.

June 19, 2008

June 19, 2008

Happy Juneteenth

“Happy…what now?” I hear you ask. I would make a snarky reference to the uneducated state of America’s youth, but as one of my blog readers, you are probably neither uneducated nor young.

Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery. Though it was started in Texas, Milwaukee apparently has one of the largest celebrations. (For one of the nation’s most segregated cities, we sure throw a lot of ethnic parties.) However, since most people meet my “Happy Juneteenth!” greeting with a “Wha?” I am forced to conclude that this is yet another holiday with little acclaim outside the city limits (St. Nicholas’ Day and Cinco de Mayo are sort of similarish).

Of course, it wouldn’t be a good Milwaukee celebration without a little violence. Last year, the crowd beat a man after pulling him from his car. One block away from those festivities, a cop was injured after being punched so hard in the head that the shield on his riot helmet shattered. To be fair, the puncher was a 17-year-old girl. So either that girl had her Hulk on, or this helmet was a typical city purchase (as cheap as possible).

Lest you worry about me (I know you aren’t), rest assured that I stay on my side of the city 95% of the time. Sometimes, segregation comes in handy.

To My Gift Card Retailer of Choice

Dear Kohl’s,

Let me start by saying that I’m a big fan. Despite the fact that I am still using up my Christmas 2007 gift cards. And the fact that 90% of my clothes purchases are made at thrift stores. And the fact that I hate shopping malls. My affection for you (as well as the ability to enter your Southridge Mall location without having to actually enter the mall) allows me to overcome these obstacles.

As someone born and raised in Wisconsin, Kohl’s was a ubiquitous part of my formative years. I believe the ratio in my state of Kohl’s stores to…any other retail outlet is approximately 1:3. Simply put, you’re there for us.

By placing everything on sale all of the time (some might call this “psychological fun”; I, however, call it “the new math”), you speak to the thriftiness (some might call this “cheapness”: I, however…yeah, we’re cheap) that runs through the veins of every good Midwesterner. I mean, where else but Kohl’s would something like this be possible:

Seriously, that's like a Goodwill price!

In short, you serve me well, with your sales and your omnipresence. (Because, really, I’m not driving more than 10 minutes for anything that isn’t food or work.)

Or, at least you did until very recently.

Kohl’s, let’s talk about the clearance racks. I think this might be one of the most popular parts of the store, because (as already mentioned), Wisconsinites are CHEAP. It’s not enough for us to get a $20 shirt half off. We want it for 90% off (see picture, above). You know where we find that sort of bargain? The clearance racks. We are drawn to them like bargain-hunting moths to a discounted-goods flame.

Thus you can imagine my distress upon discovering that the clearance racks at my local Kohl’s appeared to be either a modern art installation or the vomit of a food-eating monster. I know they’re going to be somewhat disorganized; it makes shoppers feel even better when they DO find a bargain (it’s like a good war story: the more struggle and agony, the better). But is there any way we could neaten it up a little?

If not, I still love you. Until I’ve spent the last $85 left on those cards, anyway.

Cheers,
Heather

June 18, 2008

June 18, 2008

Things I’ve Read: The Bell Jar

I’ve now read The Bell Jar twice. Before re-reading it recently, I searched my blog for the review I was SURE I had written. Little did I know said review was, in fact, non-existent. Honestly, between not remembering things that DO happen and falsely imagining things that DON’T, it’s a wonder I get anything done.

But anyway.

The Bell Jar is Sylvia Plath’s only novel. I enjoy her poetry a lot; I find it strikes the right balance between readability and complex imagery. Too much of the former, and you’re Longfellow; too much of the latter, and you’re T.S. Eliot.

/random poetry tangent

Plus, Sylvia Plath has the whole “lived a miserable life and ended up killing herself thing that seems to intrigue me so in an author. See: my interest in Virginia Woolf.

The Bell Jar is about Esther Greenwood, a small-town girl who wins a summer internship writing for a magazine in New York City. While there, the “bright lights, big city” effect is compounded by dinners, publicity events, and swag. While most of Esther’s peers live it up, she finds herself rather disillusioned with the urban lifestyle.

Thus she returns home to the Boston suburbs and decides to write a book. Or to TRY to write one, anyway. Esther instead ends up spiraling into a fun cocktail of depression and angst. She ends up not only with electroshock therapy, but also getting admitted to several…interesting psychiatric establishments.

They say the novel’s semi-autobiographical, as Plath herself won a writing internship and had a lot of therapy. Sadly, she killed herself (spoiler alert for anyone who plans to watch Sylvia)* a month after the book was first published.

* You should still watch Sylvia, though. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Plath, and a pre-Bond Daniel Craig (!) plays Ted Hughes. Good stuff.

June 17, 2008

June 17, 2008

Not Worth the Stamp

Junk mail is one of the scourges of modern existence. Like bad drivers. Or crocs.

I don’t get a ton of junk mail, as I’m single and have no significant possessions. (I think the priciest thing I own is my laptop.) But the receptionist at work knows I get a kick out of catalogs (Mrs. Field, I’m looking at you) and interesting mail, so she sometimes gives me the weirder stuff.

And believe me, the fire department gets a lot of WEIRD stuff. Sure, you have your run-of-the-mill public safety related stuff. But then something like THIS comes along:

Weirdest piece junk mail I have ever seen. Let’s zoom in for maximum crazy, shall we?

Honestly, where do I even start with this? Maybe I don’t have enough faith, but I did NOT see Jesus’ eyes open. Also, despite repeated references to the contrary, THIS IS NOT A RUG. It’s a piece of paper.

Why is the first part of this in quotes? And perhaps I’m being too literal, but how can this be soaked in, well, anything? Again, PIECE OF PAPER. Plus, if the thing is so powerful, why do I have to check boxes and send it all back in order for someone ELSE to get the blessing? I demand parity.

What would Jesus do, indeed.

June 16, 2008

June 16, 2008

Danger, Will Robinson!

As you’re probably aware, I’ve been applying for jobs in the D.C. area in preparation for my relocation there. Since the federal government moves exactly as slowly as you’d expect, I figure it’s good to jumpstart the process as much as possible. Gainful employment: always a plus!

(Also, I have to give props to USAJobs.gov, which is a sort of clearinghouse for federal openings. It even emails me new postings every day. Handy.)

Anyway, part of my current system (I’ll not get into the entire system, as it’s a bit long and will do me no good in my attempt to convince you that I’m not freakishly organized and anal retentive) involves applying for 90% of openings either the day before or the day of closing. Such waiting until the last minute may sound risky, but it really isn’t. At least, it hasn’t been so far, knock on wood. *searches for wood, doesn’t find any, knocks on particleboard*

The only time this strategy becomes a problem is when multiple jobs close on a single day. Typically, I do 2-3 a day. Not a problem; takes like an hourish. But last week, I had 6 jobs close on Thursday and 7 on Friday. That’s a LOT of pimping myself in writing. (Granted, I have essay answers to most of the typical sorts of questions pre-written, but STILL. Ctrl+C fatigue, anyone?)

Plus, sometimes I see something that just makes me confused. Or worried. Or both. Like this FAA screen from last week:

A little ALARMING, no? It got better:

As the kids might say, the FAA now pwns me.

June 14, 2008

June 14, 2008

Finale Twofer

Since relatively few people I know watch either The Tudors or Battlestar Galactica, I waited until watching both series' finales so as to tie them into one little blog entry. Thus those of you who aren't interested only have to skip one. And it's even on a Saturday, to boot.

You're welcome.

(SPOILERS AHEAD for those of you concerned about such things.)

The Tudors

The Tudors finale was all about mood. When you think about it, this makes sense: the show's based almost entirely on actual events. I mean, you sorta knew Anne Boleyn's death was coming. So I liked that the show was freed up to concentrate on the how and not so much the what. With lots of pacing. And moodiness. I actually started to LIKE Anne a little bit. If I ever get sentenced to execution, there's no way I'll be so witty. ("Wait, before you do that, let me change my Facebook status!")

My biggest WTF moment was the "stabbing" of Brandon. I seriously thought they were going to kill him off. And that simply cannot happen.

As for all the swan imagery...I THINK WE GOT IT. Thanks.

Here's to Jane Seymour and season three.

Battlestar Galactica

(At this point, I'm just going to copy and paste the recap I email to my friends/acquaintances who watch the show. Playing the Lazy American card once again, I know.)

(And this is so much longer than the above recap because NO ONE I KNOW watches The Tudors, whereas I have a handful of BSG people. But anyway.)

Well. Obviously this is another case of “Heather completely misses the point.” Because, um…shouldn’t they be happy that they finally got to earth? Were they expecting an idyllic Eden? Or other people, or what? Apparently “nuclear winter” was NOT on the list of possibilities, anyway.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I wasn’t hugely into the whole D’Anna vs. Lee battle of the titans. Though I loved badass Lee with the airlock and the phone. Plus, his hair, while poufy, was not scarily so. I’m not going to deny that after he threw off his jacket during the “Earth WOO” celebrations, I hoped he’d keep going. Alas. (As an aside, is he still married to that comm. chick?)

My favorite character during the show was probably Tigh. I loved how he was so riddled with self-doubt. I mean, when he looked at Lee before almost getting airlocked, it was just amazing. When he told Bill what he was, I sensed a lot of emotional undercurrent. Which (on Bill’s part, at least) then became just current. Because HOLY CRAP was that a scary breakdown. My notes to myself from that scene are:

surprised that bill doesn't want to accept it
oop, never mind. he drunk.

When it came time for action, though, how frakking fast did Bill change into his uniform? I mean, was it on under the robe, or what?

I was also amused by the Roslin/Gaius scenes. Hallmark really needs to get on a line of “Thanks for not murdering me” cards. Also, “Hey Boss, I’m a Cylon” cards. Though Tory seemed to have no problems revealing that info on her own.

I’m still not totally sure about all the viper mojo (seriously, one glimpse at that cockpit and its gazillionteen controls reminded me why I will never fly anything), but it obviously served its purpose in getting them to earth. A dual purpose, actually, since it allowed Cylons and fleet to come together in peace and harmony as one big happy family. During that entire “let’s all be friends” scene, I couldn’t help but marvel at the subtext. Hmm, disparate groups working together for a common goal? INTERESTING.

I must admit to a few chills as the fleet jumped to earth. Said chills continued when I realized there were 5 minutes left in this show…and ten shows sometime next year. Add in the certainly-NOT-gratuitous shots of the two (that we know of) halvsie kids, and I was wondering.

And then…yeah. So it’s bleak.

WHAT?

June 13, 2008

June 13, 2008

Spot Inspection: Your Next 5 Songs

Mine:

Adrift, Jack Johnson (More on him in the future. Until recently, I thought of him as just the Curious George guy.)
You’re Crashing, But You’re No Wave, Fall Out Boy (They’re a little angry for me, but I keep forgetting to take them off the MP3 player. Lazy American.)
Secret, Maroon 5 (Apparently, every one of my Spot Inspections must involve a Maroon 5 song.)
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, ABBA
Coyotes, Jason Mraz

Yours?

June 12, 2008

June 12, 2008

Writer’s Almanac Highlight of the Day

It's the birthday of Anne Frank, born in 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany. It was on this day in 1942 that she received a red and white plaid journal, from her father, for her 13th birthday, and she started to write her diary, a diary that she called by the name of "Kitty." A few weeks after she started her diary, Anne's older sister Margot got a notice to report to a Jewish work camp, so the Franks went into hiding in an annex in Amsterdam. They couldn't bring suitcases, because it would look suspicious, so Anne had to wear two vests, three pairs of pants, a dress, a skirt, a jacket, a summer coat, two pairs of stockings, a wool hat, and a scarf-even though it was July. Four other people lived in the annex with Anne and her family, and they lived there together for two years. They had family friends who helped them survive, who brought them food and supplies. Anne wrote about being scared, and about injustice, and about missing the sunshine; and she also wrote about things that many 13-year-olds write about in their diaries.* She wrote about how mad she got at her mother, and how she wanted privacy; she wrote about her crush on the teenage boy she lived with, and how she thought it was unfair that her parents liked Margot best.

In August of 1944, someone tipped off the Nazis, and they raided the apartment and sent everyone to concentration camps. Anne died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen just a few weeks before British troops came to liberate the camp; and of the eight people who lived in the annex together, only one, Anne's father, Otto, survived. Otto returned to Amsterdam, and a family friend told Otto that she had found Anne's diary in the annex after the Nazis had left. Anne wrote in the diary that she wanted to have it published, and so Otto wanted to try and honor his daughter's wishes. It took a while and was rejected by several publishers,** but it was published in Germany in 1947, and the United States in 1952.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl has sold more than 25 million copies, and it is considered the second-best-selling nonfiction book in history, after the Bible.***

* Looking at the list that follows, I have more in common with the average 13-year-old than I thought. Huh.
** Replace “publishers” with “federal agencies,” and you have the status of my job search thus far.
*** Is it just me, or do entirely too many books make this claim? They can’t ALL be second-best, can they?

Your Top Stories, Happening Now. Ish.

Apparently, blurby news stations annoy the crap out of my generation. According to a recent AP article, “Young adults experience news fatigue from being inundated by facts and updates and have trouble accessing in-depth stories.”

But I love blurby news stations. Whenever I’m staying in a hotel for some reason, I have an almost pathological need to have CNN Headline News on as much as possible. Once I get over the initial “I have cable! Cable! Cable, I tell you!” euphoria (which involves flipping through the stations and just a little bit of squealing), I crank up the air conditioner and settle on CNN Headline News.

The beauty of this station is that it gives you the top stories in news, business, weather, sports, and entertainment. In 15 minutes. And then REPEATS them. Let me count the ways in which I find this helpful:

1. If you have to cram a world’s worth of happenings into 15 minutes, you make it snappy. So while I may not be terribly fascinated by the Stanley Cup playoffs (sorry, Wings fans), I only have to tolerate it for a few seconds.

2. It’s slick. CNN knows what it’s doing. There are graphics. Things scroll across the screen. Sometimes, there are sound effects. Whee!

3. No matter where I am, it’s always the same. Travel involves a lot of newness: the roads are different, the channels are different, the people are different. I’ve watched CNN Headline News in five states and the District of Columbia, and I find it oddly soothing. Some have stuffed animals. I prefer a good headline.

4. It tells me something, tells me again, and then reminds me what it told me. As someone with a notoriously bad memory, I can appreciate repetition. Tomorrow’s weather forecast sticks with me…after I’ve heard it three or four times.

As for the inability to “access” in-depth stories, what does that even mean? Are these the same concerns people always bring up at new, faster innovations? Because microwaves didn’t ruin America’s tastebuds, and CliffsNotes didn’t make us illiterate. I think we’ll be okay.

If not, and society declines in an afternoon of looting, CNN Headline News will surely tell us all about it.

June 11, 2008

June 11, 2008

Would you rather?

Here’s a random posit for you: Would you rather be left for someone better or worse?

Since that came out entirely too glib, I’ll elaborate.

Imagine if you will that you’ve recently been left for someone else by a significant other (not THAT significant; somewhere between “We went out a couple of times” and “We’re spending a weekend in Cabo”). As you’re wont to do, you do some research of new guy/girl. I’m wondering whether the general consensus is that it’s preferred for that person to be Awesomeness Personified. I mean, in that case, it’s OBVIOUS why things didn’t work out. The new person (like Mary Poppins) is practically perfect in every way. And you’re just…you. Only practically perfect in many ways.

But I think I would rather have the exact opposite happen. To research the new person and find out that you pretty much win in every area. You’re smarter, funnier, cuter…the whole bit. I would find that incredibly reassuring. If THAT is what your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/whatever you call it wants, then you’re probably better off in the long run.

Does any of this make sense? I realize that it’s completely apropos of nothing and entirely too relationshippy compared to my usual bloggery. I blame all the Sex and the City episodes I’m watching in preparation for the movie. Seriously, I gotta start capping myself at two a day or something.

June 10, 2008

June 10, 2008

Next Stop: The Scranton Film Festival

I’d like it noted that I wrote this entry last week, before OfficeTally picked up on it. For once, I was ahead of the zeitgeist, thank you very much.

My friend Mel of grassrootsmovement recently produced a couple of short films parodying The Office. They’re set and filmed at the little college where I got my undergrad. As someone who can’t fathom the work that goes into writing, shooting, editing, and producing a film (and who thus sticks solely to blogging), I admire the chutzpah. As someone who went to that school (and has spent a lot of time around Baptist College PTBs), I find the parody fascinating. But apparently even non-Maranatha people can relate.

Enjoy.







Only two episodes so far; I assume that’s it for awhile since school’s out for the season. A “No more classes, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks as you film in the admissions office” sort of thing.

June 9, 2008

June 9, 2008

Superlative and spatial?

An online dating website to be named later* (pause for derisive laughter**) just introduced a choose-your-own-adventure style IQ test. As a sucker for both intelligence and testing, I had to take it.

I think my results speak for themselves:

That's right, folks. Heather: Socially-retarded since 1983.

Further commentary from the website:

High spatial scorers understand physical space, recognize color, and interpret visual images quickly and accurately. It should go without saying that these people are the most artistic of our four measurement groups. They're also the most confident and self-sufficient.

While we may have a fair amount of weirdness, we are FULL SPEED AHEAD with it.

High verbal scorers are good with words, have large vocabularies, and are superlative writers and speakers. Since language is the primary way human beings communicate, high verbal scorers tend to be popular and, all things considered, are the best-liked of our four measurement groups. A high verbal score also indicates well-developed critical thinking skills and the ability to see through bullshit—a high scorer can more quickly get the jist of an argument or line of reasoning.

I love that they tried to be impressive with the word "superlative" and then completely misspelled "gist."

* Code for "never."
** Though, to be perfectly honest, I'm really impressed by the quality of people on this thing. There's a lot less of THAT guy that I expected.

I Need an Ark

You know I love Milwaukee. (Okay, just GO with me on that.) And you know I love interesting weather. But I don’t always love them together.

We got epic rain over the weekend: nine inches in two days. Biblical, almost. I like to think that Noah, had he been here, would’ve looked up at the sky and said something like, “Oh...yeah. Yeah, okay, this isn’t going to be good. Start pairing up the animals.”

The outlet our sump pump was plugged into decided to go into retirement. And our sewer backed up. This added up to three inches of (granted, mostly clear) water in the basement. And an early grave for our not-so-old water heater.

Our basement isn’t finished or anything, so we’ll just end up tossing a few throw rugs and some boxes. So yes, it’s only things and all that. I would’ve liked a little HOT WATER this morning, though.

Anyway. The funny part (yes, there is one) is this article posted on the paper’s website this morning:

Milwaukee Co. hotline is full, not working

A hotline set up for Milwaukee County residents to leave voice-mail messages to report flooding, sewer backups or other water-related problems is not working this morning. A call to the line - (414) 278-3000 - immediately forwards the caller to the voice mail system, then reports the voice mail is full.

The message promises to transfer the caller to an attendant, but then the automated response says: "A valid attendant number has not been specified. Your session cannot be continued at this time. Please try again later."

The hotline was opened Saturday by the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office Emergency Management Bureau.

Folks, that’s just how we roll.

The Fire Department had 36 messages, most of which were along the lines of “Hey, do you still pump out basements?”

Um…no. No, we do not.

Questions for You: A Threeve

Since my blog has lately morphed (temporarily, I promise) from “I write about things that interest and amuse me” to “I tell you about things that annoy me that may also be of a personal nature and demand your feedback,” I have questions for you, my dear readers. Since they number between three and five inclusive, I turned them into a threeve. Voila.

1. What do you think of the new Coldplay album? I like it, but I’m worried that this falls under the “If it’s _____, it has to be good” category. Other items in this category include “chocolate and mint,” “a book by Edith Wharton,” and “on fire.”

As an aside, Coldplay is touring the U.S. this summer. Assuming I can get tickets on Saturday, I’m going to the Chicago concert on August 4. This’ll be my first time doing the whole “Sit in front of the laptop at exactly noon, hoping to click faster than the hordes” thing. This has EPIC FAIL written all over it, I know.

2. Are there any unspoken apartment rules I should know about? I’ll be moving into my First Apartment Ever this fall, and I’m worried by my utter lack of knowledge in apartment credos. I’ve lived in a dorm, but it’s not quite the same, is it? I don’t know about your college, but mine didn’t have amenities like doormen, transit shuttles, and on-site convenience stores. We weren’t even allowed to have tvs.* I’m worried that I’m going to feel obligated to, like, tip the doorman every time he opens the door. And then, since I won’t want to fumble with change, I’ll end up giving him either all my money or my library card. Maybe both.

3. What’s the verdict on ramen noodles? As a half-Korean, I grew up eating ramen pretty regularly and thinking nothing of the fact. It wasn’t until I went to college that I discovered the American** view of ramen as a cheap foodstuff suitable only for consumption by the desperate, a la Pop-Tarts and pot pies. (Ironically, two things I also enjoy.)

However, as someone who will soon have a food budget on par with third-world families (okay, maybe second-world families with a lot of debt), I’m looking for ways to eat cheaply. And I’m not at all ashamed to count on ramen as a significant component of my diet. Think about it: where else can you eat for a quarter?***

4. [Withdrawn]. My thoughts on this question ended up being long enough to merit a separate entry. Look for that later in the week; my draft title (which will NOT be used; the draft titles are usually just to spur my memory) is “Hotter or Notter.” And get your mind out of the gutter.

* True story. I cheated by going home on the weekends and catching up on all my shows. But if I can survive 5 days without a television, I suspect anyone can.
** Read: white people.
*** Besides, you know, Colorado in 1876. Smartass.

June 6, 2008

June 6, 2008

And Now, a Word from the Author

Can I be serious for a minute?*

Sometimes you have one of THOSE weeks. The kind that makes you feel like this guy:

…were you made of citrus, of course.

It was one of THOSE weeks for me. Mostly work-related drama (which many of you are all-too-familiar with), though “Sinkgate 2008: Heather vs. the Plumbing” was pretty fantastic in its own right. Let me know if you want the details of that epic battle.

Anyway, this week’s tales of my gainful employment and the drama that lies therein culminated today in the big announcement to my manager that I am, in fact, moving 800 miles away, pretty effectively ending my availability to continue working there. I blame the oil companies. Also, the fact that I’ve come to loathe my job decided to seek other opportunities.

Since I’ve talked to/unloaded on/asked advice of many of you this week, I’d like to take this opportunity to shout you out in this entirely-too-public-yet-oh-so-shiny venue. That’s right, I’m thanking you en masse and IN MY BLOG. The marvel of Teh Internets, eh?

For those readers who weren’t consulted, rest assured that I considered it. But my realization that I have no conversational filter makes me wary of unloading personal issues on people I like. And I like you. That, or you aren’t on any of my AIM buddy lists.

Either way, consider yourself spared rather than left out. I definitely plan to keep you apprised of the humor sure to abound in the process of moving myself and all my stuff across the country, landing a job in federal government, and living in the Washington, D.C. area.**

Comedy gold, my friends. Comedy gold.

* If you’re tempted to come back with, “I don’t know…CAN you?” you have a valid question. I’ve begun to wonder whether I’m able to communicate without tongue in cheek; I’ll probably be cracking jokes at my wedding. Planning the blog review in my head during the vows. “I’m sorry, what’s that? You do? You do what?”
** “What, nothing of romantic adventures?” I hear you ask. I’m afraid not. A real lady never kisses and blogs. Nor do I.

Spot Inspection: Your Next 5 Songs

Mine:

Goodnight, Goodnight, Maroon 5
Amsterdam, Coldplay
We Can Be Best Friends Tonight, But Tomorrow I’ll Be…, Tokyo Rose
You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket, The White Stripes
Goodnight and Go, Imogen Heap

Yours?

(Allow me to mention that I appreciate the editorial comments many of you include about your songs. I would do the same, except I’ve already talked about many of the artists on my MP3 player. As for the others, they’re either too uninteresting to discuss and/or I’m completely unqualified to comment on their oeuvre. Like how I’m entirely too white to talk about Kanye West—that sort of thing.)

June 5, 2008

June 5, 2008

I'll bet Abe was a McCain man.

My friend Nicholas volunteers for the Obama campaign (what I like to call “The Losing Side”). Sometimes I like to share interesting tidbits from USA Today’s On Politics blog with him, as I did yesterday:

Me (3:51:17 PM): "On the morning after he wrapped up the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama has picked up the support of former vice president and 1984 Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale."
Me (3:51:21 PM): Woo.

Nicholas (3:54:26 PM): Oh, I misread that at first and thought it said "Walter Chronkite" (or however his name is spelled.
Nicholas (3:54:32 PM): Isn't the latter dead.
Nicholas (3:54:37 PM): ?

Me (3:54:42 PM): lol
Me (3:54:47 PM): I think so.
Me (3:54:51 PM): But, okay,
Me (3:54:59 PM): If your guy is getting endorsements from beyond the grave,
Me (3:55:02 PM): He SO gets my vote.
Nicholas (3:56:15 PM): Awesome.
Nicholas (3:56:25 PM): Next up: Abe Lincoln endorses Obama
Nicholas (3:56:57 PM): After that: Blinding light from the skies surrounds him whenever he speaks.
Nicholas (3:58:05 PM): Which, if you look at any of the press pictures of him that his campaign uts out, is the look they're going for. Black guy in an all white suit = God. (See: Bruce Almighty, probably some other things)


For those of you keeping score at home, Cronkite isn't dead and Obama isn't God. Turns out we were both wrong.

Listen to This, Volume 13: The Ting Tings

The Ting Tings are a British duo (Katie White on vocals/guitar/bass drum and Jules De Martino on vocals/drums/electronics) whose song “Shut Up and Let Me Go” is featured in this ubiquitous iPod ad:



That’s really pretty typical of their sound. I like to use the technical term “bouncy” to describe it. Their website allows you to listen to and download their music (the album We Started Nothing was released on May 20) and/or pre-order the CD (available June 3). But really, why contribute to mass consumerist waste when you can go digital?

June 4, 2008

So THAT’S what was in her box.

Last week, two people independently suggested that I try Pandora. So I did. Pardon the expression, but I believe my feelings about Pandora are best summed up with the acronym “OMFG” (apologies to Gossip Girl fans).

In case you’re unfamiliar, Pandora is internet-based streaming radio. You input songs or artists that you like, and Pandora uses magic some sort of technologically-based algorithm to recommend similar music you might also enjoy (Blink 182! Jack Johnson! The Strokes!). As each song plays, you can approve or disapprove—what Pandora calls “guiding” it. Helpful, no?

There are all kinds of features I don’t use, like the ability to create multiple stations of your own, watch videos, and use Pandora on your phone. I prefer upholding my grand tradition of recommending something based on the promising results of shallow research. Or, as in the case of Rome, no research at all. Obviously, I missed my calling as a journalist.

(True story: In another life, I would have majored in journalism at Northwestern. I’d still move to Washington, but would be like Woodward and Bernstein. Except not.)

If you find yourself iPodless for some reason (dead battery, theft, had to use it to defuse a bomb), consider Pandora. It’s free. And vaguely scientific.

June 3, 2008

June 3, 2008

Enneagram Personality Types

As any of my college roommates can attest, I have a personality euphemistically described as “interesting.” Had I a blog in those good(?) old days, I could perhaps have better prepared them for my strange penchants.* Randomly alluding to commercials. Exuberantly professing love for food. You know, the fodder that provides the backbone of Duly Noted.

As it was, though, they had to get used to my sense of humor through trial and error. My mastery of deadpan didn’t help, but they seem to have (for the most part**) lived to tell the tale.

Something else that could have helped: the Enneagram personality types. Most people know about the Myers-Briggs, but I assume (I know what they say about assuming; like that’s EVER stopped me before) fewer are aware of the Enneagram. I won’t repeat Wikipedia’s excellent summary; suffice to say both the basic and advanced tests from this site tell me I am a One (ironically, not necessarily the type I would have chosen for myself—hooray for self-illusions):

One: Reformers, Judges, Perfectionists

Ones are focused on personal integrity and can be wise, discerning and inspiring in their quest for the truth. They also tend to dissociate themselves from their flaws or what they believe are flaws (such as negative emotions) and can become hypocritical and hyper-critical of others, seeking the illusion of virtue to hide their own vices. The greatest fear of Ones is to be flawed and their ultimate goal is perfection.


I love that I’m on a quest, apparently for perfection. Go big or go home, huh? While I can’t deny seeking the illusion of virtue, I’d like to dissociate myself from the hypocritical part. If this blog does nothing else, it at least points out my all-too-human idiosyncrasies in an undeniable way.

* It is not, however, too late to use this for potential dates. Hi, boys!
** I’m going to assume that the ones who left after the fall semester were part of the normal attrition rate (seriously, the dorms were half as full each spring as they were in the fall) and not fed up with my weekly references to Friends and Lord of the Rings. Yeeeeah.

June 2, 2008

June 2, 2008

The Boys of Summer

I don't talk a lot of sports on this blog, I know. Not when there are television shows, musical artists, and new foods to discuss in withering detail.

However, I have been known to take in a sporting event or two, including the occasional Brewers game. I like watching baseball in person. It's very relaxing. Sure, you have a lot of terms: RBI. K. Runners in the corners. But still. It's basically three hours of watching (sometimes cute, often tall) men try to hit a ball with a stick and run around in a circle. The bonus is that you don't have to pay that close of attention, so you can enjoy the company of others.

I took my Dad to a Brewers game tonight for his birthday. Sadly, I forgot my camera (yep, it happens sometimes), so you'll have to rely on these pictures "appropriated" from Teh Internets to illustrate the Miller Park experience.

Miller Park, home of the Brewers, is known for a (sometimes leaky) retractable roof. They closed it at some point during the game...and I completely missed it. Heather: Oblivious since '83.

Despite it being an overcast Monday night, plenty of people were tailgating. There were copious amounts both of meat and beer. The two Milwaukee food groups.

It wasn't nearly this crowded. The announced attendance was something like 27,000. It gets pretty packed on weekends and when the Cubs are in town, though.

Ah, the sausage race. As much as we love eating meat, we also like seeing it in competition. The Polish sausage was the favorite going in, but the chorizo pulled it out in the end.*

The Brewers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-3. It went down to the last pitch in the top of the ninth, though, so I felt I got my money's worth.

Plus, as part of the package, I got two State Fair tickets. And you know how I feel about that.

* This sentence purposely made to sound as dirty as possible. It's what happens when I blog at 11 p.m.

Writer’s Almanac Highlight of the Day

It's the birthday of novelist and poet Thomas Hardy, born in Dorset, England (1840), the son of a rural carpenter and a London woman described as "powerful, rather than tender" with a "dark streak of gloom and anger."* Hardy was apprenticed to be an architect but wanted pursue a literary career. Though fairly educated, he could not vote because he did not own property.**

In 1874, he fell in love with and married Emma Lavinia Gifford, but he later became estranged from her. After her death, he married his secretary, who was 40 years younger than he.*** But he felt intensely remorseful about the estrangement from his first wife, and his
Poems 1912-1913 were elegies for her and explorations of his grief. A biographer of Hardy called the collection "one of the finest and strangest celebrations of the dead in English poetry" and said, "The more risks he takes the less he falters."

He wrote a number of novels that were translated into films. Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), and Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891)**** were all made into silent films by the early 1920s. In the 1970s, the BBC commissioned adaptations of stories from his collection the Wessex Tales (1888).

In 1967, John Schlesinger made a film of Hardy's
Far from the Madding Crowd. Four years later, the BBC did a mini-series of his novel Jude the Obscure, which he had published in 1895.

Hardy said, "A lover without indiscretion is no lover at all. Circumspection and devotion are a contradiction in terms."

* Well, he sounds like a HOOT.
** I don’t know which makes me sadder: the “fairly” educated part or the not able to vote part.
*** I think I speak for all women everywhere (or at least for me) when I say “Ew ew ew.”
**** Excellent book, by the way. Gothic but good.

To the Maker of the Wii

Dear Nintendo,

Allow me to begin by congratulating you on the phenomenal success of the Wii. And by “phenomenal,” I mean “so mind-blowing that everyone who has ever played one for any length of time immediately feels the need to convince non-players to buy one.” Because, if my acquaintances are any indication, that appears to be the result of experiencing the Wii. A conversion from “relatively normal person” to “rabid Wii evangelist.”

Don’t get me wrong, Nintendo. I have no problem with friends, family, and trusted bloggers pimping products to me. I myself have been known to do so all the time on occasion. But whereas I normally get no stronger than “I REALLY think you should try this,” Wii fans (Wii-niacs? Wii-sters? Do they have a catchy name?) seem to go with the “OMG GET THIS NOW IT IS THE AWESOMEST THING EVER” line of reasoning. I can appreciate such insanity enthusiasm, even if it requires half a horse tranquilizer as treatment.

Thus while I wasn’t necessarily pro-Wii (if I’m spending $500 on an appliance, it needs to also be able to cook, clean, and/or teleport), I wasn’t anti-Wii, either. I’ll be honest, Nintendo: I took some pride in my Wii indifference.

And then I fell.

In pretty rapid succession, I got interested in yoga, you introduced Wii Fit, and I saw this video of two of my favorite EW bloggers.

I can’t deny the brilliance of making a video game appeal to the health conscious. Yoga, balance games, strength training, aerobics…all things I’m interested in. And now I can try them in the privacy and comfort of my home, with far fewer people to laugh at me when if I lose my balance and fall right off that little Wii board (cute accessories: also a plus).

Well played, Nintendo. Well played.

Cheers,
Heather