September 30, 2008

September 30, 2008

We'll Be Right Back

Well, I seem to have killed my laptop somehow. And by "somehow," I mean "by trying to download a Duffy song and instead downloading a virus." My poor Dell Inspiron B130 vintage 2005 didn't know what hit it.

What this means for YOU, dear reader, is that getting online for me has suddenly become akin to running a gauntlet. Instead of flaming hoops and alligator pits, though, I have a very old public library computer with right-click DISABLED and the inability to process more than two windows at a time.

Thus I fear that my blogging may be sporadic over the next couple of weeks, as I have the technical difficulties and (oh yeah) the huge move and whatnot.

Rest assured, I'll be back to snarking as soon as possible. In the meantime, I encourage you to check out tomorrow night's premieres of Pushing Daisies and Dirty Sexy Money.

You may also want to start shopping for my birthday present. I'm just sayin'.

September 29, 2008

September 29, 2008

In My Opinion: The Sting

Though I haven’t seen a lot of Paul Newman’s movies, I was of course saddened to hear of his passing. He was one of those people who, after mastering one craft, moves on to another. In his case, acting gave way to philanthropy. While I feel mostly envy for people with scads of money, I have to admire those who give it away freely. Plus, his charity was food focused. You gotta love that.

The Sting has a pretty complicated plot. So complicated that, even after reading the Wikipedia article (twice), I’m still not sure I totally understand it. Thus, rather than recap the narrative, I’m just going to comment on the bits I enjoyed:

- The Midwestern setting. The movie is set in Joliet, Illinois, in 1936. Hmm. A Midwestern town during a time of severe economic crisis. How might that be applicable to me…?

- Scruffy Robert Redford. Yes, I realize that the man’s a little out of my age range now. But back in his day? Dude. I may or may not have emitted a small girlish squeal when he first came on screen.*

- The soundtrack. When the opening bars of “The Entertainer” rolled during the opening credits, I knew I’d like this film. I prefer “Maple Leaf Rag” as far as Joplin’s oeuvre goes, but “The Entertainer” is still a completely admirable choice.

As for the titular "sting," I think my note sums up my limited understanding pretty well:

then people begin to get shot

So there you go.

* I totally did.

September 26, 2008

September 25, 2008

September 25, 2008

My Thoughts on The Office

Wow. I screamed myself hoarse. I'm going to have to contain myself once I move to an apartment, huh?

Favorite quote: "What up, 212?"
Favorite quote, runner-up: "Probably my jugs."

Favorite character: Andy. I may have had a small crush on him and his four non-refundable deposits.
Favorite character, runner-up: Kelly. I may or may not have considered a tapeworm at some point in the past. Whatever.

Favorite scene: Well, DUH.
Favorite scene, runner-up: The return of Temp Ryan.

Though there was more episode after THE PROPOSAL, I thought it deserved to end the recap.

The Office premieres tonight. You may have heard.

Yes, everyone, it's that time. Some people* might say it's the most wonderful time of the year, in fact. Premiere season. Tonight, of course, is the season premiere of a little show called The Office.

Target stores have been offering various Office-related goods in their dollar bins lately. My local Target FINALLY got stuff in stock, so I wandered over today and picked up a pretty strong assortment:

I'm especially proud of the "That's what she said" sign (upper left) and the magnetic word art (middle right).

However, when I added my new Office stuff to my old Office stuff, my excitement turned to suspicion that I have some sort of memorabilia mania. Because any way you slice it, this is a LOT of stuff:

Anyway, I'll be posting my thoughts on tonight's show sometime after it airs. When exactly depends on the quality of my (pirated) wireless.

For those of your reading this note on Facebook, I've decided not to tag people this year. I inevitably leave someone out, and half the people I DO tag couldn't care less. Thus everyone should feel free to comment on the hijinks of our Dunder-Mifflinites.

* Me.

I would like to give a shout-out here to my dad. Upon entering the living room to find me standing on a chair, taking a picture of my splayed Office goods, he responded to my "Just go with it" with an "I'm just going with it." It's that sort of chemistry that we have perfected over the past 25 years.

Help Me Buy a Bed

As promised, I once again prevail upon you to help me buy furniture. However, I can assure you this is the end of my Ikea pimpage. For this week, anyway.

I don't currently have a bed frame, but I can understand the concept. Here are the candidates (oh, look, it's just like voting):

The Noresund
I like that it's sort of curly and whimsical.

The Lillesand
This one has the cleanest design, in my opinion. Very traditional. Vaguely British.

The Tingvoll
A meld of the Noresund and the Lillesand?

I'm unable to have them debate or shoot a moose for you or anything. But I'd be interested to know what you think.

September 24, 2008

September 24, 2008

Me and Ikea. My-kea, if you will.

I'll be spending most of today getting ready for my interviews. (Yes, plural, because another one came up last minute.) While I do that, please enjoy the recap of my Schaumburg trip, photo essay-style.

There she is, in all her blue and yellow glory.


The majority of the pictures I took were for my personal reference and look like this.


These candles SMELL LIKE FOOD. Reason #741 I love Ikea.


I like the Smithsonian. I LOVE Real Simple. Ikea and I even share reading tastes.


I'll be getting this couch. Mine, however, is unlikely to hover so.


In case you were wondering what those sizes were all about. It has been confirmed, by the way, that I am the last person in America to sleep on a full bed. Just fyi.


Speaking of beds, tomorrow will be a vote-off a la this to help me pick a bed frame. Humor me, people; it's been an Ikea-licious week.

September 23, 2008

September 23, 2008

Things I’ve Read: Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,370 Pages

We all have odd projects we’d like to tackle eventually. Some people climb the 10 tallest mountains. Swim in every ocean. Visit every ballpark.

Ammon Shea* read the entire Oxford English Dictionary.

I don’t know about you, but I shudder at the thought of reading even the entire paperback Webster’s I bought for sixth grade (and inexplicably still own). Compared to the 20-volume OED, that thing’s TINY.

Shea has passion on his side, though: he’s a dictionary collector. I’ve already mentioned that I’m really not a collector of…well, anything, but I certainly can’t fault a man who loves books. Of any ilk. According to him, though, the collection is a bit excessive. We’re not talking a shelf of dictionaries. Or even a wall of them. It’s more like an apartment full of reference books. But, again, to each his own.

The book is divided into 26 chapters (one for each letter, for those of you keeping track at home). After a brief introductory portion, usually about how the overall process is affecting his life (as when he realized he needed reading glasses), Shea lists words that struck him as interesting.

A few of my favorites:
Bedinner – to treat to dinner.
Jehu – a fast or reckless driver.
Solivagant – a person who wanders about alone.

Wow. Let’s not read too much into those, okay?

While this book wasn’t nearly as amazingly wonderful as A.J. Jacobs’ The Know-It-All, it had its moments. As you might imagine, Shea is pro-book, a sentiment on which he and I heartily agree. When he describes the thrill he gets from cracking open another volume of the OED, I know exactly what he means. You e-book fans can keep your Kindles. Leave the real books for the rest of us.

* NOT one of the mountains in Lord of the Rings, but bonus points to everyone who thought it might be.

September 22, 2008

September 22, 2008

The Pocketbook Diaries

That squealy sound you hear today and tomorrow from the direction of northern Illinois just might be me. I'll be in Schaumburg, a town lucky enough to have both an Ikea AND a Container Store. Humor me and my organizational orgy, please.

Once again, I must appropriate from grassrootsmovement. My apologies in advance.

Back in the days when men were men and women were…repressed, certain things clued you into a person’s character. The shoes. The hat. The steamer trunks. (Okay, maybe I’m just thinking Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman here. Go with me.)

Now that we all shop at uber-marts, though, it takes a little more digging to find out about a person. I mean, Google only gets you so far. (Believe me, I KNOW.)

As Mel observed, the contents of one’s wallet provide a pretty good snapshot of one’s life. (Face Your Pockets is an entire website built on this concept.) Rather than have each of you rifle through mine (as much fun as that might be for both of us), I’ll save you the trouble.

Here, then, the contents of my wallet:
– A fortune from the last time I ate Chinese (“A surprise will titillate you and frighten you but you will accept it.”)
– $3.74.
– My Goodwill rewards card.
– Thrift store receipt. But not from Goodwill. I obviously shop around.
– $40 off a digital tv converter box card. I already used it, so I should probably throw that out.
– Driver’s license.
– Car and health insurance cards.
– Library card.
– College ID. From a school I haven’t attended since 2005. Hello, eternal student discounts.
– Work ID. From the job I left in July. You just never know.
– Credit and debit cards to my accounts.
– Credit and debit cards to my parents’ accounts. Hooray for being an only child.
– Sam’s Club membership card.
– Coupon for a free movie ticket and junior popcorn. The local chain had a promotion this summer: send in stubs from 8 different movies, get a free ticket and popcorn. Done and done.
– Milwaukee art museum admission ticket.
– List of stuff to buy before I move.
– Coupon for Cousins subs.
– Bus ticket.

What can you tell? I’m cheap—a good proportion of my goods are coupons of some sort. I’m also not a fan of cash. Whereas my dad prefers to pay only in cash, I prefer the plastic. I once heard (in a movie, I’m pretty sure) that a majority of the cash supply in America has drug traces on it. That sorta turned me off on the concept. Plus, this way, maybe I’m helping to usher in that cashless society everyone’s always raving about.

What are you carrying around?

September 20, 2008

September 20, 2008

Spot Inspection: Your Next 5 Songs

Here are mine:

Die Alone, Ingrid Michaelsen
I find Ingrid to be good listening when I’m in any mood but happy.

Mamy Meetings, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
I have seen this movie at least a dozen times. Passion or obsession, who can say?

Wishing Well, Phantom Planet
I must write about Phantom Planet one of these days. They’re so much more than the band that did The O.C.’s theme song.

Better Together, Jack Johnson
Someone pass the pina coladas.

X & Y, Coldplay
And my streak of mentioning either Coldplay or Maroon 5 in each Spot Inspection remains UNBROKEN.

What are yours?

September 19, 2008

September 18, 2008

September 18, 2008

In My Opinion: The Breakfast Club

After yesterday, you may suspect that I watch only movies that reference a meal in their titles. Haha, smartass. Sometimes it’s just coincidence.

Pop Candy, one of my favorite blogs, has been running “high school survival guide” lists lately. One was quintessential high school movies, and The Breakfast Club was on it. I would never want to relive high school (does anyone?), but I don’t mind occasionally doing so through other people (doesn’t everyone?).

Of the five stereotypes, I think I was probably most like Anthony Michael Hall’s Brian. Judging by my friends (especially the male ones), I also know a lot of these sort of people. Typical conversation (that I have actually had) proving my point:

Me: Wow, the trebuchets in that movie were so cool!

The answer I wish my friend gave: Yeah!

The answer my friend actually gave: Okay, first of all, they were catapults and not trebuchets. Second, they could never have really worked. The proportions were completely off.

Mathy dorkiness for the win. Ahem.

Anyway, what I think this movie did an excellent job of capturing was the sort of weird but strong bonds you develop with people at school. During the daylong detention, the characters wondered whether, come Monday, they’d even acknowledge the experiences they’d had together. I think that high school and college are the same way: you become amazingly close to these people; you see them every day. What you don’t realize until later is that in the vast majority of cases, you became amazingly close to these people ONLY because you saw them every day. Take away the proximity, and the commonalities disappear. Are these people your friends because you like them, or just because they’re there?

I plan to see at least one more Brat Pack movie; while they’re just a bit before my time, they still seem to have plenty of ripples in pop culture. Maybe I’m not that old after all.

September 17, 2008

September 17, 2008

In My Opinion: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

I realize that I may be the last woman on earth to have seen this movie. Rest assured, that’s been rectified.

The film opens with Audrey Hepburn, in that iconic dress, standing window shopping WHILE EATING A BAKED GOOD. It was at this point that I wondered what had taken me so long to see this movie.

As the story was written by Truman Capote, I kept waiting for an ax murderer to pop out or something. Nope, just the cat. And the worst Asian caricature ever.

However, I did enjoy the mood of the piece (and those great 1960s touches—card catalogs! pressure cookers! phonographs!) as well as the whole “go to the big city and reinvent yourself” theme. If nothing else, I learned three important things to do once I get my own apartment: keep a mirror in the mailbox, have 26 copies made of my key, and leave the windows open for George Peppard.

While I’d seen the iconic (yes, I realize I’ve used that word twice now, shutup) “Moon River” scene before, I’d not realized just how pervasive that song is in the film. While more learned people than I would probably note something here about establishing narrative continuity, I’ll just say I thought it was an excellent way to tie the different scenes together. Whether it’s being played at a jazzy party or on a fire escape, the song definitely provides a little musical unity.

I was quite pleased at the happy ending, and not just because it was the sort of “grand kiss in the rain” scene that launched a million imitators in Spider-Man suits. I mean, the Truman Capote thing made me half-suspect someone would end up in a hail of gunfire. This way was much better.

Holly went to Tiffany’s because she felt safe and comfortable there. I know I have a Tiffany’s; I hope you do, too.

"There are certain shades of limelight that can wrack a girl's complexion."

"I'd marry you for your money in a minute."

"It's still too early to go to Tiffany's. I guess the next best thing is a drink."

September 16, 2008

September 16, 2008

In My Opinion: Righteous Kill

WARNING: This blog review completely spoils the plot of the movie Righteous Kill. If you don’t want to be spoiled, STOP READING NOW. Do NOT continue to read and then get annoyed when you find out the ending of the movie. We’re all grown-ups here.

In the movie Righteous Kill, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino play veteran NYPD cops investigating a poetry-writing killer who’s out to avenge injustice.

If that sentence doesn’t catch your interest in any way, stop reading now. Nothing more I can say will change your mind.

I’m never sure how people of my generation (wow, that makes me feel a little old) feel about De Niro and Pacino. I’m a big Pacino fan; I love the air of slight imbalance he seems to exude. You’re never sure if he’s going to enter a room with a box of donuts or a loaded pistol. Maybe both. Much has been made of the fact that while many of us think of these two together, they haven’t actually shared that much screen time. Until now.


That Pacino was the actual killer didn’t strike me until about midway through the movie, when he refused to show De Niro his little notebook. It was at that point that I realized he could be writing the poems in it. In addition, De Niro’s character didn’t exactly strike me as the poetry-writing type. No offense to my male readers, but it takes a certain type of guy to come up with good iambic pentameter, and 9 out of 10 guys aren’t it.

Thus I spent the first 45 minutes or so totally taken in by the opening video and working on the premise that De Niro was knocking the criminals off, one by one. While he may not be a poet, he could certainly be a murderer. No offense to my male readers, but it takes a certain type of guy to have both the ability and opportunity to kill a man, and 3 out of 5 are totally it.

Though I was certainly dazzled by the cinematic greatness of any and all scenes between De Niro and Pacino, I was also impressed by the younger cop duo, played by John Leguizamo (who to me shall always be Luigi from Super Mario Bros.) and Donnie Wahlberg (who to me shall always be a New Kid on the Block). A certain chemistry is required when your partner could mean the difference between life and death, and I think both pairs nailed it pretty well.

If there was a sour spot for me, it was Carla Gugino’s evidence technician. Was the violent sex fetish really necessary? Or the inappropriately low-cut tops? Could we not have given her a cat and some Chinese takeout and called it a day?

Someone once said that it’s never right to do wrong in order to get a chance to do right. But according to this movie, sometimes it’s righteous.

"Most people respect the badge. Everyone respects the gun."

September 15, 2008

September 15, 2008

Song of the South

One of the news magazines I read over the weekend had a short article that mentioned how the South has a different mindset from other parts of the country. Seeing as the magazine was either Time or Newsweek, I suppose the shortness of the article is implied. Anyway.

Until the past fifty years or so, the only Americans who’d known what it was really like to lose a war lived in (you guessed it) the South. Add in economic and industrial disadvantages (not all of which can be blamed on Reconstruction), and you can understand why the people of the South might be a little down on themselves. Why they might yearn for the idealized society of Gone with the Wind. Why they might refuse to learn how to read or wear shoes.

My admittedly limited experience with the South has taught me two things. One, the people are charming. Two, the weather sucks. As good as that first point is, the second has always been a pretty big sticking point for me.

[insert optional lipstick/pig joke here]


In a few weeks, I shall be moving to the South. Well, South-ish.

Let’s refer to Wikipedia’s diagram of the South:

I like to think of the color schematic as showing degrees of Southiness. Obviously, this is not the actual intent. But go with me on this.

The dark maroon states are your Deep South. Moonshine, NASCAR, tobacco, etc.

The stripey states (in my opinion) are not the South. They just made some bad choices along the way. It’s like that time in junior high when you memorized a song-and-dance routine in order to audition for the school play. It wasn’t because you liked musicals; it was because a really cute boy was playing the lead. Then the director’s niece ended up getting the part instead and all you had was a tap dance number set to three verses and a chorus of “Lean on Me.”

Like I said, bad choices.

Then you have your tomato red states. South by Association. Florida and Texas can’t help it by virtue of location, though Texas can claim to be southwestern and Florida is pretty much its own entity of Cubans of confused voters of retirees. Kentucky to me is straight-up South.

But Virginia? The very same Commonwealth in which I shall soon be residing? I can see how it could be considered South…but really? I’m going to be living in a southern state?

Am I still allowed to wear shoes? Do I have to stop reading?

These are the things that keep me up at night, people.

September 13, 2008

September 12, 2008

September 12, 2008

The Case is Closed

Well, THAT was a disappointment.

As you can see, I was on jury duty this week. Sorta. Let me explain.

I am one of the few people (possibly the only one) who reacted to the summons with excitement. “Here’s my chance to be part of the judicial process!” I thought. Plus, since this past Tuesday was primary election day here in Wisconsin, I’d already gotten to be a part (admittedly teeny) of the legislative process. Now I just needed a connection to the executive branch and my governmental dance card would be filled.


Notice the words “reserve juror” above my name on the summons. Two small words, so much disappointment. Ranking right up there with “caffeine free” and “library closed.”

You see, a reserve juror doesn’t actually REPORT to the courthouse. Reserve jurors just call (or check the court website) twice a day to see whether they’re needed. As you can probably guess, I was not needed.

Thus I missed a chance at perusing evidence. At watching the prosecution poke holes in the defense. At gasping when a heretofore-missing witness storms into the courtroom at the last minute with a hearty “I object!” Okay, maybe I watch too many courtroom dramas. [insert Law & Order chug-chug sound effect]

Still, it would have been nice to have reported once, even if only for a half day. I mean, they have wireless internet access at the courthouse. Imagine the live-blogging I could have done.

If only you could trade with people. I mean, now that I’m unemployed, I have nothing BUT time. Why not spend it sitting around the halls of justice?

September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008

Would you rather? Volume 3

Would you rather your food be too salty or too sweet?

I can’t actually take credit from this one; that goes to Maggie Jacobs of Extras. But I think it’s an interesting question all the same, despite coming from a fictional character. (Let’s be real: some of my longest relationships have been with fictional characters.)

I have to assume that extra saltiness is going to make you drink a lot more. So you might have weird bloating issues. Then again, you might already have weird bloating issues. Totally your business.

But if everything were too sweet, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy regular sweets. And I don’t know that a life without chocolate or Altoids is worth living.

Thus I have to give the edge to too salty. Considering the amount of microwaveable food I consume, my food is probably already more saltastic than it should be.

What would you choose?

September 10, 2008

September 10, 2008

In My Opinion: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Like Amy “Hot Girl” Adams herself, this movie was just too darn cute.

For those of you not fans of “The Office,” leave this blog immediately Amy Adams played a character known by fans as “Hot Girl” early in the series. Thus while she’s had other, more notable roles (“Junebug,” “Enchanted,” etc.), she shall always be “Hot Girl” to me. But anyway.

That I’m praising a PG-rated (pause for gasps) romantic comedy (pause for fainting) should tell you something. It was THAT CUTE.

If you want a succinct summary of the plot, look no further than the title. Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand in a movie NOT by the Coen brothers) is a dowdy governess living in London on the cusp of World War II. Through a series of events both of and not of her own making, she ends up working for glamorous young actress Delysia Lafosse (Adams). As is the case with many glamorous young actresses, Delysia is dating several guys at once. Also like many glamorous young actresses, she’s barely able to keep them in the dark about each other. Madcap hijinks involving wardrobe changes, elevators, and fire escapes ensue.

(I would like to here mention that Lee Pace plays one of the suitors. The very same Lee Pace who plays the piemaker on my beloved Pushing Daisies. So what you have here is Lee Pace, playing a gentleman, with a British accent. I’m just saying.)

What made the film for me was not necessarily the romantic comedy stuff (shocker), but the cultural and historical peripherals. Like the nods to pre-war hysteria: the newspaper headlines following Hitler’s moves, the air raids, the gas masks. Or the great fashion show scene in the Savoy Hotel. (Though the fact that Rome’s Caesar played a lingerie designer was disturbing to me on many levels.)

It’s a happy ending, of course. Just like you knew it would be.

September 9, 2008

September 9, 2008

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

While some people became exactly what they wanted to be when they “grew up,” I daresay the vast majority of us had to forego the ballerina/astronaut/dinosaur hunter route and find a more pedestrian profession. Nothing wrong with that; the world also needs secretaries, accountants, and truck drivers, too.

Some jobs, though, make you wonder. Like the one I call the “post-ad fast talker.” You know which one I mean. The guy who enumerates the many side effects, risks, dangers, and health advisories entailed in each new wonder drug. (Yet another thing to thank the aging baby boomers for: a plethora of drugs for disorders someone my age doesn’t really want to think about. Ick.)

Anyway, I’m not sure how much formal training is involved in becoming the post-ad fast talker. I do imagine that there’s plenty of informal training, though. And I’m not exactly sure how you’d practice for that sort of tongue-twisting legalese. Reading food ingredient lists really fast? Studying trial law? Speaking only in pig latin?

Were I a post-ad fast talker, I’d be tempted to throw in extra stuff just to keep people on their toes.

“If you experience unusual, unexpected or severe side effects from taking this medication, immediately call your primary care physician. You may also choose to eat an entire bag of string cheese. In cases of extreme adverse reaction or side effects, call 911 or your local emergency number.”

Hey, for the right price, I’d even throw in product endorsements.

On the plus side, post-ad fast talkers probably get to do all their work alone in a sound booth. Also, free drugs. No doubt it’s benefits like these that keep the profession alive and well, eh?

September 8, 2008

September 8, 2008

The Case for School Uniforms

For most kids, back to school shopping entails supplies like notebooks, backpacks, and pens. Possibly emblazoned with a cartoon or movie character of choice. Some kids have additional requirements for extracurriculars: band instruments, sporting goods, or perhaps pepper spray (Milwaukee Public Schools students only).

However, for a notable segment of the school-going crowd, there is one more essential (but arduous) back to school shopping task: buying uniforms.

The schools I went to, while private, were neither Catholic nor haute (read: expensive) enough to require uniforms. The closest I got was Brownie apparel, but that was just one jumper and a sash. While I had to wear skirts to school, I was never really in the uniform culture. There were no kneesocks or neckerchiefs. My classmates and I looked nothing like the kids on Gossip Girl. (To be fair, that was for MANY more reasons than our lack of uniforms.)

However, I’ve always thought uniforms were a good idea. I’m not sure whether that’s a result of my anal retentive need for order or my love of a good plaid. Maybe both. It seems to me that uniforms as a concept achieve a couple of things.

Uniforms allow identification with the school and subgroups* within that school. They foster school pride and all that. Like Spirit Week, but with less shaving cream and duct tape.

Uniforms lessen wardrobe-related distraction. I’m not saying you can’t trash up a school uniform. We’ve all seen Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” video, after all. But if only certain articles of clothing are allowed, the playing field is leveled a bit between the naturally-chic dressers and those of us who just try our darnedest.

Uniforms exude a school mindset. You know that saying “Clothes make the man”? I think it’s true. This argument isn’t unique to uniforms; you could also make the point for any good dress code. Kids in their pajamas would seem less likely to achieve stellar performances than kids who are in jumpers, or shirts and ties, or robes with blue and copper scarves.**

I’m sure people who had to wear uniforms can think of a million ways I’m wrong. I’d like to think, though, that there might be a few ways I’m right.

* Ravenclaw shout-out the first.
** Ravenclaw shout-out the last.

September 5, 2008

September 5, 2008

Moving on the East Coast

In order to determine just how many organs I’ll have to sell before moving to D.C., I’ve been getting estimates from movers this week.

Here’s a little taste of the sort of banter I attempted. If you look carefully, you may be able to spot the point at which Heather gives Too Much Information.

Setting: My bedroom. The moving company rep surveys my neatly-binned worldly goods.

Moving Company Rep (MCR): Hey, the Harry Potter series!

[Note: This guy is GOOD. Those things were unobtrusively placed in a rear box. Only the tops of the books were visible. I’m not sure that even *I* could have performed that ID.]

Me: Wow, GOOD EYE!

MCR: Oh, yeah, we’re huge Harry Potter fans at my house. The kids were so disappointed when they moved the movie back.

Me: Me too! I mean, my whole November was planned around James Bond and Harry Potter. Now what?

*tiny awkward silence*

For reference, here’s my stuff:

And here are the books:

(This post was actually just an excuse for me to show off that picture. I hope you enjoyed it anyway. Happy Friday.)

September 4, 2008

September 4, 2008

Remember This? Volume 7: Pretty Pretty Princess

My male readers are going to have to excuse me for a moment while I reminisce on an unusually-girly subject.

Pretty Pretty Princess was a board game with the sole object of being the most blinged-out (blinged-up? be-blinged? I’m SO white) player. I honestly don’t remember whether you moved based on dice, or cards (a la Candy Land), or a spinner. I just know that you picked an appropriately girly pastel color and tried to collect a ring, and a necklace, and other assorted accessories. Finally, someone got the coveted crown and it was all over.

Pictures of the game parts and my own vague recollections tell me that there’s a black ring. I THINK getting the black ring meant you had to give all your stuff back and start again. I would have to verify with my childhood friend Gwen, who owned the game and with whom I whiled away a LOT of summer afternoons playing this and other games. However, since I haven’t spoken to Gwen since 1992, that verification could take some doing. Don’t hold your breath.

When researching Pretty Pretty Princess for this blog entry, I was incredibly heartened to find out that it is, in fact, still for sale. Further research brought up this: “The winner of the game is the one who collects the crown and all the jewels that match their playing color. That player is the princess who now turns over the spinner to reveal a mirror into which she can gaze at her royal self.” So folks, get yours now.

It is never too early to teach your daughter narcissism.

September 3, 2008

September 3, 2008

It Takes Two

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)

How do you pick a partner?

I don’t necessarily mean in life. (Though, if you’re like me, you’ve been wading through a barrage of Facebook wedding photos lately.)

I don’t necessarily mean in politics, either. The words “Sarah Palin” will not once appear in the blog entry. (Well, okay, after that one time there.)

I’m talking just in general. Whether in business or pleasure, how do you choose a companion? Do you pick someone who’s like you—the two peas in a pod approach? Or do you go with someone who complements you, and fills in for your weaknesses?

Personally, I find that the approach depends on the task at hand. For things needing a definite output (like projects for work or school), I try to pick a partner (or partners) that diversifies the team. I’m pretty quiet and hardcore anti-confrontational, so I find at least one person who’s not afraid to cold-call people or knock on doors. Possibly my greatest grad school project ever was the one in which my partner did all the statistical research and I did all the writing. He liked math; I liked words.

When the product of the partnership is a little more…open-ended, though, I go with people like me. You and I may find each other very amusing, but we really need things to do and talk about. My A material (stories of my crazy family, ways I’ve embarrassed myself, and food) only goes so far. After that, I turn to entertainment, news and politics, sports, and the weather. Usually in that order. I’m like a jumbled-up version of USA Today.

I haven’t turned against self-sufficiency; this IS me we’re talking about. I just realize that you can’t do everything alone all of the time. You need someone to help bury the bodies.

September 2, 2008

September 2, 2008

Women Who Inspire Me: A Threeve

I gave the men (or, at least, the Hollywood ones) a threeve last year. However, Forbes’ recent list of the 100 Most Powerful Women makes me think it’s time for the ladies.

This is a pretty broad list, as I’m not limiting myself to women in a particular field. Or to women who are alive.

So…yeah. Broad. (Ooh, no pun intended.)

PoliticsAbigail Adams. I’ve already noted the incredible relationship of John and Abigail Adams. She may not have had much overt power, but her influence on her husband, her son, and (by extension) the nation cannot be underestimated.

Runner-up: Condoleezza Rice. Political pioneer. Conservative. Classically-trained pianist. Good dresser. Speaks five languages. Can you hear my girlish enthusiasm now? Good.


Tina Fey. Obviously.

Runner-up: Jodie Foster. She’s not a great damsel in distress, but she’s second to none in the kickass heroine in a plane/panic room/other cramped quarters of your choice role. Plus, she went to Harvard. HARVARD.

LettersEdith Wharton. Answering the question “Who’s your favorite author” is always a bit awkward for me, as few people have any idea who Edith Wharton is. Even once I start rattling off her more notable works (The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth, The Buccaneers), I’m usually still facing a blank look. But that’s okay—I understand that Victorian novels examining American social strata via the viewpoints of complex characters aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. I read Nancy Drew to cleanse my headspace. I read Edith Wharton to fill it. (Whoa. Did it just get pretentious in here? Sorry.)

Runner-up: Mary Roach. I’ve read all of Mary Roach’s books, despite their subject matter (corpses, the supernatural, and sex). I mean, it’s not like I wake up and want to learn more about corpses. But her writing style is both amusing and relatable. Read an excerpt and see what I mean. She takes on taboos of faith and science…but in a funny way. You haven't lived until you've heard a cadaver joke or two.


Kristin van Ogtrop. Managing editor of Real Simple magazine—a periodical which is everything I aspire to be. Except for the weird ads aimed at middle-aged women. Or the ones with Kelly Ripa.

Anyway, like me, Kristin is a fiend for organization—her letter in the latest issue of Real Simple talks about how excited she was to rent a dumpster recently when cleaning out her basement. Truly a kindred spirit.

September 1, 2008

September 1, 2008

Sorry I Missed It: Gossip Girl

We all dealt with the lull between the Olympics and the new tv season in different ways. Some people went shopping for back-to-school stuff. Others did things outside. Perhaps you traveled, or read a book, or made soup.

I, however, decided to watch Gossip Girl.

I’d actually watched the first few minutes of the pilot when it originally aired, after America’s Next Top Model. It looked interesting, but I already had way too many shows as it was. WAY too many. Plus, the teen soap piece of my heart is still reserved for Seth Cohen, Ryan Atwood, and the kids of The O.C. I could never cheat on them. Especially with The CW.


But then it was the end of summer 2008. Everything was in repeats. Michael Phelps was still swimming, but for some unfathomable reason, IT WAS NOT BEING TELEVISED. Wha?

So I alternated between the Democratic National Convention and Gossip Girl. A truly American juxtaposition.

The premise of the show: rich (and not so rich) and beautiful (yeah, they’re all pretty hot) prep-school students live, learn, and love on NYC’s Upper East Side. Their affairs are duly recorded by one Gossip Girl, who makes sure that everyone keeps up on the latest buzz via the stylish portable device of their choice.

You can’t apply logic to a show like Gossip Girl. The skirts are too short. The liquor is too available. The phones are too shiny. The hair is too coiffed. You just have to go with it. And perhaps feel a little guilty afterwards.

Pros: The incredibly-snarky narration by smart girl Kristen Bell, the kids somehow straddle the preppy/trashy line, and the strike-shortened first season is only 18 episodes. Also, Chuck Bass, the best manipulative schemer since Julie Cooper-Nichols.

Cons: The parents are just not that interesting, the freshmen make me feel old (born in the ‘90s, seriously?), and the plot contrivances that even *I* can see coming.

I’m giving season two a chance. We’ll see how it goes.

Serena: "Are you sure you didn't want any of my dinner? Your entrée was so small."
Dan: "No no, it was amazing. I didn't realize fish could be creamed."

Blair: "What's happening?"
Dorota: "You have bad dream and you're sleeping with your chocolate."
Blair: "Lady Godiva, my only friend."