April 29, 2009

April 29, 2009

Love’s Labors Lost

Readers, I have a confession to make. I’m not proud of what I did. It could have been avoided. I think it was just a one-time occurrence. But it happened, and it’s time for me to own up to it.

I dipped my toe into the pool of chick lit.

And I liked it.

No one is more surprised about this than I am. Those of you who keep an eye on the BookJetty widget over there on the right-hand side of the page may notice that my fiction choices don’t have covers featuring shoes or the color pink. I stick to classics, historic or modern. To non-fiction. Even my palate cleansing trash reads run no lower than Oprah’s book club.

But for some reason, I was possessed to pick up Bridget Jones’s Diary a few weeks ago. This despite being in a very happy relationshippy place and everything. Can I explain it? No. Can I squee about how much I enjoyed it?

That would be a “hell yes.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the oeuvre, Bridget Jones is sort of an unsuccesful British Carrie Bradshaw. Except normal-sized. The best part of her unfulfilling job is her hot-but-loutish boss. She obsessively tracks calories, cigarettes, and alcohol consumed. Her dad’s a sweetie but her mother is the stuff therapists’ dreams are made of.

Wise people will say Daniel should like me just as I am, but I am a child of Cosmopolitan culture, have been traumatized by supermodels and too many quizzes and know that neither my personality nor my body is up to it if left to its own devices. I can’t take the pressure. I am going to cancel and spend the evening eating doughnuts in a cardigan with an egg on it.

I can’t say how long I laughed at this. While none of my gazillionteen cardigans have eggs on them, I can identify with every other part of that excerpt. There’s a reason I can no longer keep snack foods in my apartment. To be fair, my stress-induced binge eating is much more job-induced than TheBoy-induced. But still.

I realized that I have spent so many years being on a diet that the idea that you might actually need calories to survive has been completely wiped out of my consciousness.

Now that I’ve lost all the weight, I’m a pretty avid calorie counter—it’s the one type of math I’m actually pretty good at. I may not understand trig (sine? what?), but give me four foods and I can tell you how much of each to eat for a 600-calorie meal. It’s just how my brain works now.

Bridget, though, puts me to shame. She uses more of a sliding, mood-based scale, which makes the calorie counts after her stressful days something to behold.

Feel very strange and empty. Is all very well thinking everything is going to be different when you come back but then it is all the same. Suppose I have to make it different. But what am I going to do with my life?

I know. Will eat some cheese.

Over the course of the original book and the sequel (yeah, I read the sequel too, shutup), Bridget has plenty of man-, job-, food-, and family-related hijinks. She documents them meticulously, though the syntax (starting sentences with “will” or “must,” for example), takes a little getting used to. As do the Britishisms, for those of you not unhealthily obsessed with England like I am (holla).

The books are much better than the movies. (Yeah, I watched the movies too, shutup.) The movies were entirely too treacly, and would probably have turned me off to the books had I seen them first. Darn chick flicks.

April 28, 2009

April 28, 2009

Sorry I Missed It: Get It Sold

As I previously mentioned, my ability to access cable tv while on the treadmill has led to the discovery of tv shows both exciting and new. Since my routine of late has involved 30 minutes from 5:30 to 6 p.m., I find myself watching news, Scrubs, or whatever’s on HGTV.

Lately, it’s been that last one. Because HGTV has been showing a little something called Get It Sold.

Folks, I don’t want to say that I’m shallow. I want to instead say I’m image-conscious and pretend that’s better. It’s not that I judge a book by its cover. I just think that if you don’t put effort into the cover, perhaps the contents aren’t all that worthy. It’s all about presentation, you know?

While I have no plans to sell a house any time soon, those of you who do should definitely consider this show. In each episode, the host, Sabrina Soto (credentials: unknown—maybe staging school?*) takes a property that isn’t selling and fixes it up for less than $1000. For someone as shallow image-conscious as I am (especially regarding abodes), the tips she comes up with are great. She’ll take the existing furniture and rearrange it. Maybe add some paint. Throw pillows. With a new coffee table (often from Ikea, natch), that living room looks brand new. Best of all, no complicated carpentry, plumbing, or electrical is required. You know me well enough to know that this is A VERY GOOD THING. You really don’t want me using the heavy tools. TheBoy and I went to the Melting Pot once, and while the romantic thing to do would probably have been to feed each other, neither he nor I wanted me to wield a fondue fork anywhere near his face. (That aside, the food was very excellent and I highly recommend it.)

Anyway.

Allow me to give you a general outline of each show:

1. Introduction to the homeowner. Optional: heartbreaking reason this house NEEDS to sell SOON.
2. Realtor walkthrough #1. Accompanied by comments like “Wow, this is too cluttered” and “What IS this room? Is this a bedroom? What is this?”
3. Sabrina’s staging plan. Requires several paint chips.
4. The fixes. Often includes pruning hedges, painting rooms in soothing neutrals, and throwing out all the excess crap everyone seems to have lying around.
5. Realtor walkthrough #2. Accompanied by comments like “Look at this place now!” and “It’s so bright in here!”
6. The open house. Everyone compliments the house.
7. Wrap-up. Sometimes there’s an offer. Sometimes not. At least the place looks good.

I like it because I’m shallow fascinated by image as well as by home design. And the host strikes the right balance between perky and annoying. The Rachael Ray of HGTV, if you will.

* A real type of school, hand to heart. I know this only because a local one advertises during the show.

April 27, 2009

April 27, 2009

Bork Bork Bork

Sometimes at work, I have a really busy morning followed by afternoon that's dead as a doornail.

Today was/is one of those days. So I've been perusing the new items on Ikea's website.

I realize that you've just thought "Heather, no! Don't go to the bad place!"

HAHAHAHAHA, too late.

While I've only seen one small thing that I plan to buy—a runner for my fantastic new coffee table (also from Ikea, natch)—I did manage to stumble on this:

According to Ikea, it's a pastry cutter set. I imagine one would use this for children's cookies and such...were one seeking to do IRREPARABLE harm to the psyches of said children.

Is that a spider? And what's the amorphous blobby thing?

Good lord, Ikea. No wonder that Swedish Chef is so crazy.

In My Opinion: Watchmen

Before seeing Watchmen, my only prior exposure to Alan Moore was the film version of V for Vendetta. I quite liked that film, though my enjoyment can probably be chalked up to the GREAT NUMBER of explosions as well as the Britishness of it. Orwellian “the end is nigh” type of stuff doesn’t really do it for me. You all can ponder the end of the world; I’m going to finish this sandwich.

However, I am nothing if not a fan of people with capes. (Please note that I did not say “men in tights.” Even *I* control myself sometimes.) (But, also, Matthew Goode squee!) While the almost three-hour running time scared me a little, I figured that I’d get at least a couple of good fight sequences and perhaps some explosions. They’re sort of required when the world’s about to end.

The alternate-history setup was great for me, as I DO enjoy thinking about what might have been. What I like about a character like Batman is that it COULD happen. Sorry, Superman, I’m just not feeling your odds. Spider-Man is a maybe, though there’s way too much science involved for me to totally get on board. But I can see someone in the real world becoming a Batman. Or one of the Watchmen. As the movie explains, these people were cops who decided to dress-up. And it just sort of took off from there.

The plot is complicated and long, yes. But the little historical shout-outs and excellent actions sequences make it worth sticking around. My caveat would be the considerable gore involved (this is also why I haven’t seen Sin City), though you’re probably not as squeamish as I am. Certain people may also require a warning against brief sexual scenes. I watch The Tudors, so I’m good there.

Great casting, as I kept noting (to myself, shutup) during the opening credits. Billy Crudup? Carla Gugino? Patrick Wilson? Yes, yes, and thank you.

“Just like the good old days. Whatever happened to them?"

“I'm not a comic book villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my masterstroke to you if there were even the slightest possibility you could affect the outcome?”

“In my opinion, the existence of life is a highly overrated phenomenon.”

April 24, 2009

April 24, 2009

My Thoughts on The Office #525 “Broke”

You know that an episode involving a promotion for Pam, devious Jim hijinks, and a Target shout-out is going to earn my stamp of approval. If only Andy had sung and/or played an instrument…can you say “quadrifecta”?

But I digress.

In “Broke,” we learned that the Michael Scott Paper Company (alternate business name: Michael) is about as fiscally sound as your typical banking conglomerate. [Farming metaphor alert] It’s sort of like that cow you had growing up. I know you loved feeding it and milking it and putting it out to pasture. But eventually pa came a-wieldin’ that cleaver and you knew you’d be having hamburgers for supper.

In this case, the cleavers were a-wielded by New Bossman and David Wallace. In the best meeting I’ve witnessed in quite some time, Michael managed to NOT screw the pooch and play hardball. For once. I mean, he scored sales jobs for Ryan AND Pam.

But I’m jumping ahead of myself.

“Wait, is this just milk and sugar?”

I’m not at all a morning person. I get up and make myself function early because I have to. But I agree with Coldplay: The morning is for sleeping. People who can go from asleep to perky at 5 a.m. have my admiration. (They also have my suspicion, since you KNOW an illegal substance is involved. Whatever.) When I realized that the Michael Scott Paper Company was making its own deliveries, I got a little sad inside. When I realized said deliveries were being made from a van labeled “Alleluia Church of Scranton” in Korean, I got way happier than I care to admit. The confused Korean people who kept trying to board throughout the episode made my night.

“Idiot, we’re starting to back up. This is Dwight, by the way.”

I can’t say that I liked the Dwight vs. Jim vs. New Bossman all that much. I wasn’t paying close enough attention to get the full thrust of it (that’s what she said?), but I did appreciate Jim’s actions to protect his woman. JAM FOREVER.

“Our balls are in your court.”

Michael vs. New Bossman, though, is always enjoyable. We all knew that this lame-brained business venture would end sooner rather than later. Economic sustainability aside, Michael just doesn’t have enough wherewithal to run a business. This is why he’s in management. Peter principle ftw.

I’ll be interested to see how Ryan gets merged back into the Scranton branch. As one reviewer noted, at least we’ll get a little more of the supporting cast now that the show doesn’t have to balance between two offices.

April 22, 2009

April 22, 2009

Would You Rather? Volume 4

Would you rather die of cold or heat?

Despite the almost-certain fact that I’ll die as the result of my clumsniness (or perhaps my penchant for eating first and asking questions later), I occasionally find myself having a conversation about ways to die.

Before you go all judgmental on me, consider the number of conversations you’ve had about things that might never happen. So ha.

Ideally, I would die of hypothermia. (Well, ideally, I wouldn’t die at all, but I’m neither delusional nor an optimist.) They say hypothermia is like falling asleep. You even feel a comfortable flame-like sensation in your extremities. If you’re stranded with a partner, you can spoon and be found millennia later, still embracing. Aww.

Burning, baking, broiling, or frying to death just seems painful and violent. They say that if you put a frog in water and slowly turn up the heat, the poor thing won’t notice. An amphibian hot tub gone horribly awry. Um, no thanks.

Leaving from Wisconsin has lessened my chances of death-by-freezing, I know. Still, I hold out hope. I may end up as a giant popsicle yet.

April 21, 2009

April 21, 2009

Snap Judgment: Southland

Hey, remember how much we all liked The O.C.? (By “we,” I may mean “I,” but go with it.) Guess what? Ryan Atwood is back…and he’s a COP. A Los Angeles cop, so at least he’s still in the Golden State.

Southland is the dramatized version of COPS.

[I’ll wait while you finish singing the “Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?” theme song.]

In a nutshell, Southland follows a group of LAPD’s patrol officers and detectives. There’s the rookie cop, played by Ryan Atwood Benjamin McKenzie, and his street-hardened training officer. There’s the chick detective dealing, played by the other Palmer sibling Regina King, with eldercare issues. And there’s the detective whose domestic situation makes you wonder who watches the watchmen.

Though I’m not a huge fan of those law-enforcement shows not airing on CBS, I do so want to see Ryan Atwood Benjamin McKenzie succeed. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I’m definitely a Seth Cohen kind of girl. But I still cheer the Ryan Atwoods of the world as they pursue self-definition, justice for their families, and hot girls.

Though just two episodes have aired, Southland is already on the bubble. I daresay NBC’s always had a “Let’s see how this works” attitude towards the show; hence the 7-episode initial season. I’m usually tuned to NBC at 10, but I tend to fall asleep around 10:30ish. (Exhibit A: Castle.) Thank goodness for Hulu.

I plan to watch as many episodes as air during the first season, despite the grit and the blood. I mean, there’s shooting to be had!

Maybe season 2 will feature a Chrismukkah plotline. One can only hope.

April 20, 2009

April 20, 2009

A Pirate’s Life for Me

How amusing is it that PIRATING is currently THE profession? I mean, those people who decided to go into finance are totally screwed. Professional athletes contain more chemicals than my can of Diet Coke. Movie stars are dancing, singing, and/or marrying their way into the zeitgeist.

But pirates. Pirates know what they’re doing. Pirates are keepin’ it real.

I never actually considered pirating as a child. I think that was more in the boy realm, along with cowboy, astronaut, and Indiana Jones (Ian, that one’s for you). We womenfolk were more interested in becoming cooks, teachers, or nurses. Boys like adventure. Girls like helping people. And a good meal.

What would be on the syllabus for pirate college*, do you think? Flag hoisting, I suppose. Knots. Swordplay. Wooden limb control. Parrot care. Rum mixology. Oh, and hats. Hat plumage maintenance. Yeah.

I can’t see it being more than a 2-year certificate program, really.

But once you’re an Official Pirate, think of all the fun you can have! From what I understand, pirates just attack ships and take things, while occasionally being shot at. It’s like being the Jack Bauer of the Sea!**

While the best part of pirating for me would probably be finding the proper gear (hardtack, flask, eyepatch, parrot), I guess I’d probably end up being the ship’s clerky recorder person. I would of course ask for a giant ledger (which I would pronounce as “led-juh”) and one of those quill pens. I always wanted one of those as a kid. I have no good explanation other than an early fascination with items that multitask (it’s a feather AND a pen!).

Yo ho, yo ho.

* If there’s clown college, there’s pirate college.
** “Is it chicken or is it fish?”

April 17, 2009

April 17, 2009

My Thoughts on The Office #524 “Heavy Competition”

In this week’s main plotline, two paper titans duke it out for supremacy. Little did you know that fate of the world (or at least of Scranton, Pennsylvania) depended on a Rolodex, some cheese puffs, and one funky sandwich.

While I prefer Dwight to be Michael’s sycophantic right-hand man, seeing the two as enemies WAS pretty amusing. I find it hard to believe the new boss stayed so uninvolved, though. Perhaps that’s the seeds of operation Bring Michael Scott Back to Dunder-Mifflin. I dunno.

What I DO know is that the sandwich as distraction-cum-consolation move was brilliant. No one should be surprised to hear that that sort of thing would work perfectly on me as well, provided you changed “meatball parm” to turkey, ham, or tuna. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a HOAGIE!

But now we come to the part of the episode that made me laugh maniacally, to the point that my neighbors must have wondered: the return of none other than Here Comes Treble, Class of ’96.

Be still, my beating heart.

At the next commercial break, you can be sure I clicked right on over to NBC.com to hear the entire sampler in all its harmonizing glory. What these past few episodes have taught me is that I’m a sucker for musical doofuses with crazy clothes. This does not bode well for me, does it?

I’m glad the show’s focusing a little on Jam wedding plans. I mean, we waited so long for the two to make it official, it’s rewarding to see a little prenup action. I don’t necessarily need to see Pam’s bridal shower or the two of them registering at Target, but scenes of house buying and whatnot are always appreciated.

Not much on the supporting characters this week; let’s hope that changes soon. I feel the need for Creed.

April 16, 2009

April 16, 2009

Celebrate Diversity

When you grow up with a Korean mom, you’re used to things that other kids are not used to. Giant jars of pickled cabbage that smell like evil. Soups containing fish of all sorts. Popsicles made of soybeans. You just roll with it. (Or, in the case of that last one, view all popsicles with suspicion for a little while until you can definitively distinguish FUDGE and SOY. Blech.)

Anyway, those of you with ethnic moms understand me when I assert that you just can’t get that cooking anywhere else. Since my mom’s currently living 14 time zones away, I have to make do with the recently-discovered H-Mart. Basically, it’s the Kroger of Korean grocery stores.

Oh, and also, SO MUCH HAPPY for Heather.

I mean, I bought way more than I should have of animal, vegetable, and mineral. Whilst* packing my lunch for Monday, I realized that I’ll need to close my office door while eating so as to not freak out the co-workers.

Luckily, they’re already used to my freakish obsession with containers.

And yes, those are tiny dried fish. I got an entire bag of them.

And where else but H-Mart could you find something like this?

I love the pink. I love the oddly-kerchiefed man. I love the random quotation marks. And I love the fact that it’s delicious dried seaweed. So salty, so good.

See, I AM Korean. Ish.

* Someone's been reading too much Bridget Jones.

April 15, 2009

April 15, 2009

Things I’ve Read: The Lovely Bones

No one could have predicted how my loss would change small moments on Earth.

We all like to think that our lives matter. All men are created equal and whatnot. But let’s be honest: if I suddenly disappeared, far fewer people would be affected than if the same happened to President Obama. Or even that “Can you hear me now?” guy from the Verizon commercials. Just the way the cookie crumbles.

Examining just how one life influences and is influenced by others, though, often makes for a good read. Mitch Albom did it in Tuesdays with Morrie and made me cry. Then he did it in The Five People You Meet in Heaven and made me cry again. Then he did it in For One More Day and made me cry yet AGAIN. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment.

Horror on earth is real and it is every day. It is like a flower or like the sun; it cannot be contained.

In 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon is raped and killed by a creepy neighbor man. Through the magic of narrative devices, she hangs around some sort of tweeny heaven (it’s between earth and the thereafter, so it’s…tweeny…yeah, go with it) and watches over those she left behind. The parents. The siblings. The boyhood crush. The friends, both those she knew she had and those she didn’t.

Honestly, between this and The Virgin Suicides, I’m starting to wonder how young women make it to adulthood at all. At 25, I’ve probably been living on borrowed time for YEARS, eh?

While things don’t end happily for everyone (do they ever?), enough people (including Susie herself) find absolution that the reader is satisfied.

I came away from The Lovely Bones most of all with a sense of melancholy. You know how bittersweet unrequited love is. This was the story of an unrequited LIFE. I mean, Susie did eventually realized that she could figuratively (and briefly, literally) live through others. But it’s not quite the same, is it?

Peter Jackson is currently working on the film adaptation. I encourage you to see that, even if you’re not at all interested in the book. The cast is fantastic: Saoirse Ronan as Susie, and Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg as her parents. Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci are also involved. Since it IS Peter Jackson, I suppose a random hobbit or two may show up, as well. You just never know.

These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections—sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent—that happened after I was gone…. The events that my death wrought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future.

April 14, 2009

April 14, 2009

Boom Go the Blossoms

Sunday marked the end of the National Cherry Blossom Festival here in Washington, D.C. Hopefully this will mean that the hordes of map-bearing festival tourists will fly away. Or at least make room for the hordes of map-bearing summer tourists. While riding the train Friday afternoon and standing wedged between a couple rounding second base and some kid’s elbow, I knew that SOMETHING HAD TO GIVE.

Ahem.

Part of the festival-ending hoopla was a fireworks show. Granted, it was short. And not where I thought it would be. (Both the official website and TheBoy were correct, though. This is why Heather cannot be trusted.)

The Washington Monument looked pretty cool at dusk.

And in the dark.

I thought the fireworks were going to be around the Tidal Basin (since, y'know, that’s where the freaking trees are). A couple of other people had my same idea.

While we were waiting, a helicopter flew over. I’m going to assume the President was in it.

Anyway, once we realized the fireworks were NOT at the Tidal Basin, we moved to the correct location and caught the tail end of the show. Sadly, this is the best picture I could snap:

Rest assured, it was loud and colorful and boomy.

April 13, 2009

April 13, 2009

Snap Judgment: Parks and Recreation

While my affection for Amy Poehler isn’t nearly as extensive/inappropriate as my love for Tina Fey, she still makes me laugh more than the average person does. Thus I wanted to give Parks and Recreation, her new show, at least a cursory glance. That its pilot episode was sandwiched between two new episodes of The Office helped. A lot. I’m sure NBC realized this.

Though some expressed concern that P&R would be nothing but a knock-off, that wasn’t necessarily an issue for me. I have no problem with derivative programming. It’s like food. I know what I like, and I stick with it. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. It’s secure. I’ll leave reinventing the wheel to people who understand complex mathematics and own slide rules.

A brief rundown of P&R’s concept: Leslie Knope (Poehler) heads the parks and recreation (ba DUM bum) department of Pawnee, Indiana (fictional place, real website). Hilarity ensues.

The presence of already-likeable Poehler in a role involving both government AND the Midwest pleased me greatly. Enough to overlook the presence of Karen Filippelli Rashida Jones. Nothing against Ms. Jones; I’m sure she’s a lovely person. Who stole Jim from Pam. And then called Pam a bitch. HOW DARE SHE?!?!?!

Oh, hey, I’m still bitter. Whee.

Anyway, I found myself liking the show as the pilot progressed. At first, I was actually extremely hesitant to watch it at all. The review I’d read earlier that day while commuting* was…not promising. However, the show grew on me. And it didn’t even have to buy me dinner first.

As for supporting cast, Paul Schneider was a nice surprise (to only me, since I am the only person in America who watched The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) and I have hopes for hijinks between Poehler’s character and her boss, played by the real-life husband of Karen Walker Megan Mullally.

I daresay I’ll continue to watch, if only because I’m usually in front of the tv for NBC’s Thursday night comedy block anyway. Here’s hoping the series builds on the promise of its pilot.



* Hey, I take Metrobus. I need some distraction from the traffic, groping, and mild crimes being perpetrated by my fellow passengers.

April 11, 2009

April 11, 2009

My Thoughts on The Office #522 “Dream Team” and #523 “The Michael Scott Paper Company”

Let me start by saying that I’ll address the meat in this week’s NBC comedy sandwich (Parks and Recreation) next week.

I think the collective Office fandom was curious to see how Michael and (probably more so) Pam would fare after striking out on their own. While good support is key to any business venture, good executives are also pretty essential. And while there are many reasons I love Michael Scott, his business savvy is not one of them.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The “Dream Team” cold open was one of my favorites so far. (Nothing will ever beat faxes from the future.) As someone who knows her way around a multiline phone, I was utterly captivated at Kevin’s inability to transfer to the correct extension. Not that his system of yelling didn’t also work.

Should I remember who Vikram is? Did we see him in another episode? As Gandalf might say, “I have no memory of this place.” But Vikram, of course, is not the Dream Team member we should be most concerned with. Because HELLO, RYAN! I don’t know what amused me more: the bad dye job or the bowling alley.

As for the “let’s all pretend to like soccer to impress New Boss” plotline back at Dunder-Mifflin, I found it eh. I’m sort of a suck-up myself, though I prefer to do so with phenomenal work output. I’m not really a socializer—shocker! I try to feign interest in people’s kids, but it’s difficult. Sorry, folks; as fascinating as your kids are to you, NOT SO MUCH for me.

It turns out the operations of “Michael Scott Pape” are just as horrible as you might imagine. More so, even, since they appear to be beneath a bathroom. Ew. Ew. Ew. I did appreciate the presence of Michael’s toy collection, though. As someone with more than a few toys at work herself, I know the importance of a good lava lamp.

Where *I* have to draw the line is sharing ONE ROOM with both my co-workers. I can barely stand sharing ONE ROOM with both my family members. By the end of a long vacation, the three of us are usually rather weary. My dad drives home while my mom and I sullenly eat our snacks. Afterwards we laugh about it, but that drive can be a rough one.

Speaking of snacks, it’s no surprise that I got way too excited at Michael’s giant square pancakes (not a euphemism, though now I wish it were). The event even led to a sale. A sale made by our very own Pam Beesley! Score one for Pams everywhere.

I’m curious to see where the unlikely alliance between Dwight and Andy (Dwandy?) goes. I was ALL OVER the banjo-guitar duet. I enjoyed that scene so much it was shameful. SHAMEFUL. So. Much. Squee.

I can’t imagine that Michael Scott Pape will survive for long. But it’ll fun to watch while it lasts.

April 10, 2009

April 10, 2009

To the IT Guy Who Came to My Office

First off, I appreciate the fact that you didn’t completely freak out when we met. Considering that I was carrying a piece of cake approximately as large as my face, this is no small accomplishment. In my defense, it was Monday afternoon, I was bored, and no one else was eating any. Much like Chandler Bing’s assertion that a honeymoon suite expects sex, a birthday cake expects to be eaten. Survival of the sweetest.

I like to think we developed a little rapport during our three-sentence conversation, IT Guy Who Came to My Office. Granted, you’re a computer guy, and I get along with that breed pretty well despite knowing not a damn thing very little about men in general. I make not speak your language (Linux), but I was at least able to discern that the person you were looking for had, in fact, left the building several minutes earlier. Sucks for you!

At this point, I should probably have offered you my giant piece of cake. But as anyone who knows me well could tell you, the only people getting food from me have pre-established commitments. While we could perhaps have shot the breeze and seen what developed, I sensed that you were eager to return to federal-agency-that-will-not-be-named’s sub-basement IT office and knew that I was eager to dive into that cake.

It was delicious.

Just didn’t want you to feel left out. Maybe facilities still has some bagels.

Cheers,
Heather

(Please note that the picture above is not of the cake. Even if I'd had a camera at work, I would have been too embarrassed to take a picture of my continent-sized slice.)

April 9, 2009

April 9, 2009

In My Opinion: Knowing

I completely spoil the movie Knowing in this entry. Read on at your own peril.

It is without shame that I admit I’m a whimp when it comes to scary movies. Some people can’t get enough; they’ll see the latest Friday the 13th or Chainsaw Massacre movie the minute it comes out. And LAUGH through it.

My reaction to the trailers for these movies tends to be less laughing and more cowering, looking away, and cringing. Note that I said “trailers” because there’s NO WAY I’d subject myself to two hours of scariness. Not enough popcorn in the world, folks. I mean, I couldn’t go into a dark room without fear for several weeks after Signs. WEEKS. Signs.

Yeah.

So, anyway, imagine my delight when the trailers before Knowing were for movies featuring unwitting coeds and sharp objects. I went with my dad to Knowing under the impression that it would be vaguely sci-fi and heavy on codes and conspiracy.

Not so much.

The basic premise is this: In 1959, the student of an elementary school class were asked to draw a picture of the future. The pictures were put in a time capsule dug up 50 years later. (Oh, hey, that’s now.) While most kids drew spaceships and the like, one (creepy creepy creepy) little girl wrote nothing but numbers. On both sides of the paper.

As luck would have it, this (creepy creepy creepy) sheet of numbers ends up with the son of none other than Jon Koestler (Nicolas Cage), an astrophysics professor at MIT. One drunken night, Koestler realizes that the numbers are not, in fact, random. After a little Bible code/word search smackdown on that li’l piece of paper, he determines that it’s all on string of dates, GPS coordinates, and death tolls.

That’s right. Death tolls.

That (creepy creepy creepy) little girl somehow predicted the date, location, and victim count of every major world catastrophe from 1959 to today. Plane crashes. Earthquakes. You name it.

But wait. There’s more.

Three of the events haven’t happened yet. Through various circumstances, Koestler ends up AT THE VERY SITE of one (plane crash) and then another (train derailment). He also figures out that what appears to be a “33” after the last event is actually a backwards “EE.” That stands for “Everyone Else.” Oh goodie.

Contrary to T.S. Eliot’s assertions, the world does not end with a whimper. It goes out in a giant, fiery bang. That thrilled the misanthropist in me to her very core. You know how I like explosions and whatnot. And I’ll grant that it was those parts of this film (see: plane crash and derailment, above) that I liked best.

But the vaguely-Biblical heavy-on-aliens parts? UM, NO. NONE FOR ME, THANKS. I spent much of the movie looking down at my lap. I’ve found that I can’t even handle watching a scary movie with my peripheral vision. True story. In my defense, another person in the theater screamed at one point. Sadly, everyone laughed at her. Well, I didn’t, because at least she had the guts to watch what was going on. But yeah.

I’m told that the science in this film is iffy at best, so don’t make that a draw. If anything, go to see the entire earth being engulfed in fire.

I have seen the end. And it is flamey.

April 8, 2009

April 8, 2009

Always Faithful

As the daughter of a former Marine, I grew up hearing about the halls of Montezuma, Chesty Puller, and the different types of generals. Though I assume the children of people in other branches could share similar experiences, I’m partial to the Corps. I mean, the dress uniform is both blue AND red. C’mon.

Since I had my dad in town last weekend, then, I figured I’d take him to the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Just a hop, skip, and a jump away in Triangle, Virginia. Notables:

The building’s supposed to evoke the famous Iwo Jima flag raising image. I deem it “swoopy.”

I cannot overemphasize how happy this makes me. As my college roommates can attest, I would have passed a “junk on the bunk” inspection with flying colors. Still could, really. Still could.

The museum interspersed artifacts with life-sized dioramas. This one was actually in a room both noisy and air-conditioned. It’s like you were ACTUALLY IN FRIGID KOREA. God bless interactivity, eh?

You know who didn’t have to watch her head? Me. This is the only time when being short is a plus. Well, this and that time I realized I fit in the cabinet under the paper shredder at my old job. So...just the two times.

I’m a big fan of museum stores. They distill the entire experience into a few (not cheap) mementoes. This store is one of the better I’ve seen; the goods aren’t just kitsch with the eagle, globe, and anchor thrown on. There’s quality stuff. Well, and a little kitsch. Of course.

During boot camp, my dad was put in a room filled with tear gas and was ordered to remove his mask and sing the Marine Corps hymn.* Say what you will about the other branches; the Marines are SERIOUS about this stuff.

* Those of you who’ve met my dad are now going “Um, seriously? THAT guy?” I know. Makes you wonder what we’ll be like in 30 years, eh?

April 7, 2009

April 7, 2009

Things I’ve Read: The Virgin Suicides

Though my enthusiasm for Middlesex was perhaps less-than-rousing, I enjoyed it enough to take the suggestion of my friend Aimee and try Eugenides’ debut novel, The Virgin Suicides. I figured that if the man can educate me about hermaphrodites, his views on virginity and/or suicide are worth consideration.

I’d summarize this book as Little Women Who Need Medication. You remember how the March sisters dealt with difficulties? Playacting. Baking. Weeping over Civil War. Et cetera. The Lisbon girls? Suicide. Quicker, certainly. But not nearly as fun and much harder to clean up after.

The Lisbons live in Grosse Point, Michigan, in the 1970s. Dad teaches math, mom’s a housekeeper. The girls, Cecilia (13), Lux (14), Bonnie (15), Mary (16), and Therese (17), are close enough in age to be lumped as “the Lisbon girls.” I’m an only child, so I have no understanding of sibling dynamics, but I hear this often happens when sibs are same-sex and close in age. Yet another reason to be thankful it’s just me, I guess.

One summer, Cecilia tries to kill herself. Luckily, it doesn’t work.

Three weeks later, the girls throw a big party at their house and Cecilia tries to kill herself. Unluckily, it works.

And this is the crisis event that sets things into motion.

I think that stimulation can evoke two responses: attraction or retraction. Fight or flight, if you will. When a crisis occurs, one either steps up to meet it head on (“Yeah, my sister killed herself. What’s it to ya?”) or retreats into obscurity (“Many years ago, my sister killed herself. That was the summer I started to knit and got my first cat.”) Most of the sisters follow the latter course. I can’t blame them; high school is tough enough when you aren’t the victim of morbid curiosity. Lux, however, becomes…shall we say, promiscuous.

Eventually, the Lisbons pull all their daughters out of school. And they let their house go. And Mr. Lisbon quits his job. Little surprise, then, when the girls, Lux (carbon monoxide), Bonnie (hanging), Mary (sleeping pills), and Therese (sleeping pills), kill themselves. As the novel ends, neighbors scavenge through trash and goods for sale in attempts to recreate just what happened that summer.

For me, the frustration in this novel came in its narrative style: first person plural. The narrator is an unidentified “we.” I can deal with an unidentified “I”; we’re all omniscient first-person narrators, so that reads quite naturally. But to keep reading about how “we” did things, and to not even know who the “we” IS was incredibly difficult. I thought at first that it was a legal entity of some sort; numerous references to legal exhibits are made. Then I thought it was the town as a whole; Synecdoche, New York is apparently still echoing in my subconscious. By book’s end, I decided it was the kids of the town—the boys especially. But, again, I’m still not sure.

Narrative issue aside, though, this book is yet another work in the suburban disillusionment category (see: Revolutionary Road). The moral of the story: Just because you live in a nice white-sided house and are gainfully occupied doesn’t mean you won’t take a long walk off a short pier.

Young and carefree, indeed.

Doctor: "What are you doing here, honey? You're not even old enough to know how bad life gets."
Cecilia: "Obviously, Doctor, you've never been a 13-year-old girl."

April 6, 2009

April 6, 2009

I see the blossoms, but where’s the fruit?

Since I’ve been seeing things lately, a few entires this week are going to be rather picture-iffic.* Just so you know.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is in full swing around here, which means parades and tourists and more pink than you can shake a stick at. Though there are trees all over the place (I see some while waiting for the bus after work), most of the action is concentrated around the Tidal Basin. Which also happens to be the location of my favorite monument.

While this is not the venue to discuss my hopes regarding the Jefferson, suffice to say that I am a girl and that we make plans. Ahem.

Sadly for me, TheBoy and I were not the only ones there.

So I just looked up.

It was cloudy (though dry, thankfully), so the city lights tinged the sky orangey.

Few trees were lit; however, those that were made for great pictures.

For those of you who don’t know, this all started in 1912 when the mayor of Tokyo gifted D.C. some trees. More have been planted at various times since then, but the focus has always been Japanese-American relations. Hence the vague Asian touches.

As someone who also has vague Asian touches, I approve.

* Picturiffic? Picteriffic? If only you know how much time I spent puzzling over how to spell that. (Way too much.)

April 2, 2009

April 2, 2009

To the Monday Evening Driver of Metrobus 13B

Dear Monday Evening Driver of Metrobus 13B,

If you remember me at all, it’s perhaps as the girl in a brown and pink down jacket with a black bag and a slightly-dour expression. You know how Mondays are. It’s not as if I could pick you out of a lineup, either. I mean, the only identifying characteristic I really remember about you is your astounding lack of familiarity with the route. I don’t mean to be rude, but in case you didn’t notice, we passengers careened between shock and horror for most of the ride between Constitution Avenue and Pentagon.

I know it’s a confusing route. I myself have gotten lost near the Arlington Memorial Bridge. (Two times. In a row. It’s too damn curvy.) Until I got a GPS unit, my navigation of the Northern Virginia area involved maps and profanity.

However, I like to think our mass transit employees are held to a little higher standard. It’s not just that you almost turned onto the wrong bridge. And then the wrong freeway. And then the wrong part of Arlington. It’s all of those things occurring in tandem on a MONDAY that threw us for a loop. For once, I was thankful that a noisy woman was sitting next to me, for whilst doing her sudoku, she was able to direct you at each of the (admittedly many) turns on route 13B. Granted, I was not a fan of her alarmingly cackle-like laugh. But I was on board with sentiments like her “Okay, you want to go straight. STRAIGHT. HERE.”

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying I would have done any better.

But I’m not a bus driver.

Cheers,
Heather

April 1, 2009

April 1, 2009

Help Me Buy a Pesticide

As I mentioned last week, I’m not such a fan of the bugs. I honestly don’t even like seeing them at the zoo, when they’re separated from me by a pane of glass, a zookeeper or two, and a small horde of overexcited adolescent boys.

You can imagine my dismay, then, when I discovered yet another roach in my apartment on Monday night. Even if he just wanted to watch 24 with me, I’M NOT OKAY WITH THAT. I mean, this makes three in the past week (found another last night) and five (four living and scary, one dead and scary) since I moved in. And those are just the ones I KNOW about. Who knows how many have been scurrying around whilst I was distracted by the awesomeness of Jack Bauer?

While various contra-cucaracha methods have been suggested to and tried by me, I think I’m going to follow the advice of my friend Greg and get one mother of a can of Raid. Sadly for me, this will involve choices. And you know how I am about choices.

So help a girl out, will ya?

Candidate #1: Ant & Roach Killer

For one, it’s the original version, and I do so love the original versions of things. CSI. Diet Coke. You get the gist.

For two, it’s lemon scented. The obvious danger here is that I get so addicted to the smell that I start using it in air freshener-like quantities and end up twitching on my kitchen floor.

Either way, though, the bugs won't be bothering me anymore. (Dead) win-win.

Candidate #2: Ant & Roach Killer with GermFighter (!)

No lemony goodness here, but you have the added bonus of GermFighter (!) I have to add the exclamation point because GermFighter (!) makes me think of a superhero of some sort. I imagine the can with a little cape and utility belt.

Anyway, I like the idea of being able to kill bugs AND germs with one fell swoop spray.

Candidate #3: Max Roach Killer

They say anything worth doing is worth doing well. As the Raid website states, “If you see a bug, spray Raid ® Max Roach killer directly on the bug for an instant kill.” INSTANT KILL, people. Granted, I would hope that saturating my apartment in whatever product I buy would do most of the killing. Because when I come face-to-face with a roach, it takes a freaked-out call to TheBoy and the better part of an hour to psych myself up to take action.

What worries me with this product is the freaky spray appendage. I want something that sprays in as wide a swath as possible. I can barely AIM and POINT in regular life. Raid wants me to do so while also freaking out at a bug? HAHAHAHAHA, good luck.

What say ye?