Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Simpler Place in Time

Happy Birthday today to Gladys Knight. I don't know much about you, Gladys, except that you are responsible for singing one of the greatest songs in the history of the world.

That song is also responsible for one of my favorite moments of Will & Grace. When Will and Grace get a bit sidetracked trying to work up the courage to confess to Sandra Bernhart that they never were interested in buying her apartment and just used it as an excuse to meet her.

It's also one of the many songs my brother and I would sing along to when we were little, standing in front of the fireplace, pretending it was a stage. We often thought we were going to be the next Donnie and Marie. Although on this tune, somehow, I always ended up as a Pip...

I got to spend a lot of time with my brother and my niece this past weekend and at 16 months she's already quite the ham. I see many fireplace hearth-turned-stage productions in her future and hopefully she'll let us at least sing back-up. So Gladys, with any luck, maybe by this time next year I'll be a Pip again.

Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Today's Inbox

I just finished doing an online training in Excel for a lovely, but completely exhausting, person I work with who thankfully lives and works in another part of the state.

And in case you were wondering - yes, it is fun spending your morning showing someone who makes twice as much as you how to type words into tiny boxes...

Anyway... I looked up at one point during the call and someone in this office, who could hear the conversation I was having, came and placed this on my desk. A gesture which almost caused me to snort coffee up my nose and into the phone as I was explaining how to adjust column widths.

Going from working for the government to a non-profit required certain sacrifices - like a pension and group health insurance - but at least now there's a liquor cabinet in the kitchen.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two Things Destroying / Restoring My Faith in Humanity

So first, the bad.

I lovingly refer to these two things as The Crap I Didn't Want to Know about in the First Place but It's Been Crammed Down My Throat So Much I Now Feel Compelled to Bitch about It Edition.

1. Dear Miss California and Mr. Trump and Mr. Hilton,

Please. All of you. Shut up. I don't care what any of your opinions are on gay marriage or topless photos or family values or pageant ethics or why the chicken crossed the road. You aren't doing the pageant community, the rich jackass community, or the gay community any favors with your respective bullshit. Besides, none of you seem competent enough to pick out your own earrings, hair pieces or clothing so I don't think you need to be speaking on national television about anything else.

2. Dear Parents on Meercat Manor Jon and Kate Plus 8,

I think I smell me some ratings whores. Reality TV is a fickle thing and you knew the free ride had to end sometime. Instead of creating scandal to get people to pay attention to you, maybe you should just repackage your show/family. Maybe become fundamentalists and have nine more kids. Or - better yet - make your kids design outfits and then have them compete against one another. You could get Perez Hilton to advise them and Miss California and Donald Trump to be the judges.

That I might actually watch.

And now for the good.

The Making Up for General World Crappiness, the Fact That Bluejays Have Been Ravaging My Vegetable Garden, and the Existence of Asshats Like Those Mentioned Above Edition.

1. The Obamas.

Yeah, I know. Yawn. Newsflash - Gert likes the president. But there are days when it just seems like the crappy state of the world just keeps getting crappier and I find myself slipping back into the dark, grouchy place I was in for eight years. But then. Then something happens and I remember that feeling I had back in the fall and the winter and I'm re-inspired. Granted, my re-inspiration may only be enough to kick some bluejay ass, but that'll do.

Arizona State Commencement Speech

Merced Commencement Speech (part 1)


Glee. Did you watch it? Brilliant. Utterly brilliant. Deliberately and un-apologetically cliched and cheesy. Humor, drama, show tunes and my favorite song from 6th grade:

I haven't been this giddy about television since the Jane Austen series on PBS last year. What I didn't know until lunch yesterday, however, was that last night was not the premiere of a series they were going to air this summer, but only a sneak preview at a series for the fall. Tragic, but again, brilliant on the part of Fox because all I'm going to do this summer is remind you to go online and watch it. Aren't you lucky? Seriously, watch it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hey, Look at Me -

I'm a farmer!

The offical count (in case you were wondering)

Eggplants: 1

Tomato plants: 7

Bell Peppers: 7

Lettuce: 4

Zucchini: 3

Yellow Squash: 3

Strawberries: 2

Green beans: 4

Okra: 4

Cucumber: 4

Onions: 4

Basil: 1

Sage: 1

Rosemary: 1

Thyme: 1

Oregano: 1

Bags of soil and compost: 12

Trips to Lowe's and local garden store to get enough bags of dirt: 3

Pulled shoulder muscles from slinging bags of dirt: 1

Displaced garter snakes: 1

Days of rain delay: 11

Days of delay because I was told it was going to rain and it didn't but I'd already made other plans: 3

Neighbor inquires: 3

Mosquito bites: 6

Total number of hours to complete: 8

Total number of vegetables grown: TBD

Monday, May 11, 2009

Movie Monday

Bring it on, summer....

I hate summer. Have I ever mentioned that? Oh yeah. I have. One of the things that sucks most about summer - one of the greatest ironies in my life - is the summer blockbuster.

I love movies. I love going to the movies. I don't mind paying almost $10 to sit in a darkened theater - even by myself. And when it's 99.99 degrees with 99.99% humidity, my first instinct is to find a nice darkened, chilly room in which to hide. And wouldn't a movie theater fill that bill just perfectly?

Oh but no. No, in the summertime I must suffer under the harsh reality that the movie money is to be made off of the 13-24 year old testosterone-y boys. Boys who want to spend their money watching cars and flames and guns and aliens and cleavage and aliens with guns and/or cleavage.

Now, I'm not against those kinds of movies as a whole. It's just that if I am going to fork over my $10 and find a little air conditioned respite, it would sometimes be nice to find something with a little depth and purpose. But I gave up on that dream a long time ago. Instead I started to wonder - why can we not have the "girlie" version of the summer blockbuster? Because, you know, you can lack depth and purpose without explosives and car chases. It is possible.

Three years ago, my wish was granted by The Devil Wears Prada. I love that movie so very much. Would I have loved it as much if it came out in the middle of November when I have a list of Best Picture Oscar Nominees that I'm trying to find time to see? Maybe not. But that summer it was a godsend. And really - Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci? Not to mention the then-unknown-to-me wonders of Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt (and the extra bonus of Simon Baker)? There was no way it was going to be horrible. Britney Spears could have written and directed and it still would have been worth the ticket price.

So, for this summer - what is the only thing that could be as good as Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci, Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt? That would Meryl Streep, Stanley Tucci and Amy Adams. In Julie & Julia:

Yes, it looks formulaic. I don't care. Yes, I bet there's a pratfall or two. And an adorably shabby apartment. And a boyfriend in cargo shorts and a t-shirt with some indie rock band on it. And a montage to the tune of a really catchy-yet-ridiculously-obvious song. I don't care. Snarky movie reviewers and mean boys can mock it and call it The Devil Wears an Apron or whatever they want. I don't care. And I can't wait.

In other movie-related nonsense...

MamaPop asks "What was the first movie you saw in the theater?" That's a good question. I don't know exactly what the first movie was, but the first movie I really remember seeing in the theater was Freaky Friday in 1977. I think The Shaggy D.A. may have technically been before that - and probably others as well - but I really remember Freaky Friday. Probably because it was the first movie that wasn't for "little kids." I was in first grade and, I'm sure, wanted to be appreciated for the mature adult I thought I was. I was a strange child... Of course, little did I know later that same year my tiny brain would be completely blown into a million pieces when I went to see Star Wars. So really it's quite a testament to Ms. Jodie Foster that I have any recollection of her movie at all. Speaking of Star Wars... I read on E!PeopleUSWhatever that Calista and Harrison were going to adopt a baby. Don't know if that's true or not, but if it is and if they're taking suggestions for names, mine is Chewbacca. And if she had ever seen Star Wars she would know if that was a good idea or not.


If you haven't seen the documentary American Teen yet, I highly recommend it for your Netflix queue. It's a very white, middle-class documentation of American teens, but very true and very good. You think all of your drama - good and bad - from that age is embarrassingly trivial now, but really, not all of it was and it was nice to be reminded of that.

So, any thoughts on coming attractions? The first movie you saw? Things I should be watching from the comfort of my couch? Do share.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Two Things. Ok, well, two things and then 32 more.

First - So, in my last post, when I said "if the rain holds off..." I apparently didn't realize that I had done something to anger every deity in the universe. It has not stopped raining since. I may take the two frames for my raised beds and use them to craft an ark.

Second - I've been busy with a big - but fun - project for work and haven't been around a computer much when I've had any free time and could also stay awake enough to type. Luckily Green Girl saved the day with another of her lists and so tonight while I should be doing laundry I'm doing this instead.

Now, here's the 32 more - a list about my reading habits. Or, the list in which I disgrace two high school AP English teachers and the good institution that gave me a college diploma...

1) What author do you own the most books by? Technically - Beatrix Potter. Adult fare - William Faulkner. I'm an English Major from the South, so it's only by default.

2) What book do you own the most copies of? I live in a house with less than 900 square feet. That is not an option. Over time, however, Walden, The Great Gatsby, The Elements of Style.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions? Nah. If you'd asked "Where you keep your books at?" then we'd have a problem...

4) What book have you read the most times in your life? Walden. Again, only by default. Not by choice.

5) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old? What was that, sixth grade? Help me, Katie! It was likely something by Judy Blume as well as anything by our favorite girl detective, Trixie Belden.

6) What is the worst book you've read in the past year? Breaking Dawn

7) What is the best book you've read in the past year? Right now I'm (finally) reading Prodigal Summer - I think it will probably end up being the best.

8) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be? An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore.

9) What book would you most like to see made into a movie? Hmmm... maybe A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Something by David Sedaris - if done well - could be some crazy delicious fun.

10) What book would you least like to see made into a movie? Ah, if only we could turn back time, I would say Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason... Otherwise I'm not sure - I think it's hard to do any good book justice with a movie just because of time constraints. But at the same time I don't mind at all when a good producer and director are able to capture the spirit of a book but not all of the story.

11) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult? I think my Twilight addiction has been well-documented in this blog. BUT I do stand by it's overall story, quality of characters, etc. (despite Breaking Dawn). So, if that is the standard, I should also include anything I've read by Grisham and Brown.

12) What is the most difficult book you've ever read? Beloved. I just shook my head when Oprah put it in her book club and made it into a movie. What was she thinking?

13) Do you prefer the French or the Russians? Russians.

14) Roth or Updike? Not really familiar with either.

15) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers? Sedaris. Sedaris. Sedaris. And his sister, too!

16) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer? Shakespeare.

17) Austen or Eliot? Austen. Austen. Austen.

18) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading? All of the great works of the last decade. To this day I still have a hard time reading a novel without feeling that it's an assignment and I need to rush so that I can write the paper for it and then study for a poly sci test and then finish a geology lab and then clean my dorm room. I'm almost like, what, 87? You'd think that would have gone away by now... I have issues...

19) What is your favorite novel? There's something about The Great Gatsby that I just love. But I think technically it may only be considered a novella...

20) Essay? I guess some of Ann Lamott's books would be considered collections of essays. She's awesome. And I keep copies of a couple of sermons on file when I need a little inspiration.

21) Work of nonfiction? There's so many - I love nonfiction. A Walk in the Woods. I thought Tipping Point was great. I love Sarah Vowel's books. Also, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers is (I SWEAR!) an awesome book.

22) Who is your favorite writer? Tom Stoppard. I would sit and read the phone book if he wrote it.

23) What is your desert island book? Besides How to Get off a Desert Island? Maybe James Joyce's Ulysses. It's something I've always wanted to read, but never had the time or energy to tackle it. For lighter fare - and if I could create my own collection/anthology - all of Nick Hornby's novels or the two Bridget Jones books because I could read them over and over again.

24) What are you reading right now? Poisonwood Bible and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Urban Planning and Public Health (it's a real page-turner, trust me!).

25) What fictional character are you secretly in love with? Please - it's no secret. Mr. Darcy. And of course, Edward, my Mr. Darcy With The Very Pointy Teeth.

26) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature? Hell if I know.

27) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character. In college I had a Shakespeare course that was crazy hard. I studied endlessly for it and the papers and exams gave me much anxiety. So, while I don't remember any details of the dreams I do remember having several Shakespeare-related dreams because of that class. As a side anecdote (and proof!) I went to college with a now-famous actress and a long time ago I saw an interview with her where she was asked if the martial arts training for her role on a TV series was the hardest thing she'd ever done. She said "No - Intro to Shakespeare with Dr. Lisa McDonnell."

28) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen? Speak of the devil... Troilus and Cressida. Yeah, beat that. It also serves as the answer to the question "What is the worst Shakespeare play you've ever seen?"

29) Favorite Play? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard (so I guess Hamlet should be included too.) Good ole Will is popping up a lot on this list...

30) Favorite Poem? "i thank you God for this most amazing day," by e. e. cummings.

31) Favorite Short story? I don't know that they're favorites, but The Lottery and To Build a Fire always stuck with me - though I couldn't remember the title of the last one and literally Googled "short story dog man cold." Ta-da.

32) Who is the most overrated writer alive today? I have zero authority to judge this, but I'm going to say Dan Brown. The man crafts a thrilling plot and I loved The DaVinci Code, but I found a lot of the actual writing - especially much of the dialogue - to be, well, much less than thrilling.