Wednesday, January 30, 2008

polls

American politics tire me. Too many maps, too much spin, to many hyper reporters. Too much talking about it with my colleagues over dinner. It upsets my digestion; which is a shame, since the food was excellent.

Also, I noticed I have a label that says "Meryl Street". Sorry Meryl, you are very good, and aged enviable beautifully, and you look great in Prada, and your last name is Streep, I do know that.

Also, the car poll is proving inconclusive. C'mon folks, throw me a bone here!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ehn

While I was busy feeling defeated, I realised a couple of things:
a) I have written posts, and not posted them, on account of not getting around to it. Or maybe I just wrote them out in my head? Either way, not too much blogging lately.
b) I am travelling today = unpredictable posting over the next few days
c) Evan sent me a really cool link about the lifetime of a blogpost. Very nifty diagram.
d) I need to do more scary things. I am getting to be very cowardly. So I did a something I've been contemplating for a while just before writing this. The Interwebs messed it up, but meanwhile it is still mostly done.
e) I need to add a link to Go Fug Yourself. I can accept my own superficiality.

So there, accomplishments for the day. I need to pack now.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ooh, shiny things

So yesterday was spent looking at cars. We have shortened our shortlist to about three cars and the final, crucial question is: how important is niftiness, and shiny new features?

Behind door number one: a perfectly functional, reliable car; safe, decent drive, acceptably laid out, good gas mileage, and by far the best deal; but boring, damn it, so boring

Behind door number two: a nice car, a charming European car; extra-super safe, pleasant drive, but expensive to maintain in the US, and gas mileage is not great

Behind door number three: the Star Trek car; all the nifty things; GPS, back-up camera, best mileage in town, reasonably safe, obnoxious back window, not the best trunk space, a weird button thing that slams the car into park if for some reason you hit it while driving

I need a poll. Oooh, look, there's poll in my sidebar. Nifty.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Of course

Pickle earrings. You can buy them here. Seriously.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Food cures all things

I was going to be grumpy about today, about dentists and money and all that, but then I got home, changed into jimjams, had blue corn chips, a slice of chocolate torte and a glass of wine. I now feel that I have love and some measure of health, so...

And the dentist had kind of Rutger Hauer, rugged look, down to the little diagonal scar on his cheek...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Half full

Today is a crazy day. Last weekend was crazy. There has been too much:
- work (for both parties)
- listening to car sales people
- stress & rushing
- discussion

On the other hand, there was also:
- good company and conversation
- art
- really great dessert

Looking at that list, it kind of balances out. Still, there was definitely too much stress.

Oh, and there was Beethoven. Beethoven makes everything better. Nice, loud, Beethoven.
Mmm.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

In case I needed a reason to like Susan Sarandon


When I said I don't read interviews I meant it. I mean that I don't read interviews with or articles about actors I covet. It seems pointless - why spoil a pretty face with the knowledge that the person has, say, terrible taste, or dated Helena Bonham-Carter? Of course one finds these things out anyway, by osmosis and tabloid cover, but it seems voyeurist to seek out such information.

See, I just found out that Gary Oldman was married and divorced three times. I did not need to know this. It is none of my business. It makes me sad. I could be stupid and say that someone who has plays unhinged people with such accuracy must be a little unstable; but it would be moronic. The truth is that few enough marriages survive the constant scrutiny and temptation of Hollywood. I know just enough about acting to know that interpersonal dynamics are blown up, for better and for worse, until you don't know what's what. It's half the fun, but I can't imagine going through that turmoil for a living. So I feel bad when I read about people's personal lives like that, even these little blurbs. It's all wrong. I know - these people are rich, and they choose to be stars blah blah blah Prada gowns blah blah blah. It doesn't make it any better. All these people chose was a career, something they loved to do, not living a series of personal debacles in public. The painful spectacle of seeing famous people try, fail, and try again at love, at happiness, is grisly, and the happy moments never last. Whenever I see yet another cover about Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson's problems, I close my eyes and think of Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. They are still together, aren't they?

I am glad Susan Sarandon exists in all her aging-beautifully, full-on progressive, open-minded, Tim-Robbins-loving glory.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

In need a name tag that says "Hello, I'm Gary Oldman"

Just because I am a sweet-natured, fun-loving, baby-shaking, hand-kissing, tree-hugging sort of person, I have decided to offer my services as an impromptu volunteer recruiter, at the cost of a half day of leave. And I was wondering what I could do to attract people's attention - hence the title. Nothing like a bit of bewilderment to start a conversation

Yesterday, I finally watched Wallace & Gromit's The Wrong Trousers. Why watch new movies when you can just catch up on old shortfilms that are spectacularly good? The freebie of the night was Bram Stoker's Dracula, the Francis Ford Coppola film from 1992 with Keanu Reeves and, yes, Gary Oldman. And Cary Elwes. Maybe my badge should say "Hello, I'm Cary Elwes" - a nice, happy vibe. I had forgotten just how silly that movie is; amusingly bad, unlike Van Helsing, which was just bad. Anyway, naked ladies aplenty, plenty of good actors* put to bad use. Charming really, even in spite of Gary Oldman's truly bizarre and unbecoming glasses. I can put up with Gary's glasses, really, I can, because he's lovely, and he's a passionate and engaging actor, and he looks like he's intelligent, which is close enough for a filmstar you're not likely to ever meet, and it's not like you read interviews. So I am willing to put up with Gary's wardrobe mistakes, but Keanu Reeves, Keanu Reeves has the worst faux-English accent known to man. I didn't like him much anyway, not since he was evil to River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho, which was a long time ago even if you take into account that I saw it long after its release. His accent hurts me. Physical pain, I swear. Wynona Ryder's sounds positively native by comparison, even to my uncaring ear.

Maybe I will assign Keanu Reeves the spot previously occupied by Helena Bonham-Carter, that of deeply annoying ruiner of films. The truth is that he is considerably worse than Helena Bonham-Carter, who was at least fun to bash. Keanu Reeves, my friends, is what Pete Sampras was once to tennis - it all looks perfect on paper, but somehow it just ends up being tedious. I could almost forgive him because of The Matrix (first part only), but that whole love-affair with Carrie whatever her name is was so clinical and tedious that, well, never mind. That is it, Keanu, you are not allowed to be in any more movies with Gary Oldman. If nothing else, it is just not worth the money. Someone can just bring a cardboard cut-out.

*Richard E. Grant, Wynona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Sadie Frost, ...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Well here's another thing

So I don't like diets, or exercise. So I am not actually overweight. However, as I've mentioned, my clothes aren't fitting so well, and I could certainly do with exercise. I try to build exercise into my day, because I don't like gyms and detest competitive sports; I take the stairs, park a little further away, go for lunchtime walks. Some of the time. I need more. Since I also need more time, this is something of a problem. Because there is the Irish lit course starting in the spring that I'd like to take, and there's our season tickets to the theatre, and there's tutoring, and of course work, which is always unpredictable. And I need a lot of downtime. That's just how I am. Sorry. I need free time.

I finally finished this last Snapecast. It makes me want to eat chocolate. No, seriously, it's good and I shall miss it. Maybe I can use my Snaping time to exercise.

*cackles insanely*

Ah, that was funny. Who wants to exercise when there is fanfic? For that matter, who wants to stop eating when there are blue corn chips?

Car behavioural science

As some of you know, the Spouse and I own a single, fairly temperamental car. It is, in fact, the Spouse's car, which I have access to as a sort of spousal benefit. I say "sort of" because the benefit of having access to said car is a dubious and expensive privilege. In the year and a half of our marriage, the car has become increasingly problem-prone, and has cost a small fortune in repairs.

If, on our wedding day, we were to be seen in a small white Mustang, that was not part of an elaborate plan, but instead the result of a series of car troubles; and while the result did please the Spouse, it was not, in the long run, a good thing. If, during a weekend in Ocean City, you saw us in a peculiar orange Dodge, this was less a whim than a sudden upheaval of our plans. Since then, I have spent more time than I care to record watching the battery and engine lights blink on, waiting for the car to be fixed, and trying to figure out where to get the money to pay for yet another repair.

It should not surprise anyone to hear that we have been looking at purchasing another car. Something safe, small, fuel efficient and Japanese. Or maybe German. Something reliable. The only trouble is that between Christmas, the car being kaput and travel schedules, it has been hard to actually get to a car dealership.

I'll admit that I feel almost guilty. The current car is not of an age to be retired, not in my book, but I feel like a spouse who's tried everything to make it work, and has decided to throw in the towel after countless late-night arguments. After all the trouble with the car, I feel almost attached to the ton of metal; but the car problems are a lesser evil - intensely vexing and very costly, but not anyone's health, not anyone's happiness, just money and a lot of metal.

My kingdom for a Toyota flatbed truck*.

*For those of you who have the misfortune of being unfamiliar with Top Gear, do check out the link.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's Monday, what do you expect?

I am, or rather was, listening to the last Snapecast episode. This has taken me longer than necessary perhaps, partly because of Vegas, partly because I can't bear to part with my favourite podcast. It is making me sad to listen to it for reasons I have no desire to identify just now. Yesterday we watched Blades of Glory, which was, I think, the exact antidote to There Will Be Blood. Half the reason for the movie being funny is that figure skating is so inherently silly that it really isn't all that parodic.

So it is Monday, and I have The Strokes "Is this it?" stuck in my head. It is effectively stopping me from thinking, which is probably a good thing, since it's Monday, and I'm just thinking of the past anyway, and really, I should be in the present.

Ah yes, I have given in to an old resolution - after Belgium I have expanded beyond my usual size quite a bit, so I need to do something. My clothes don't fit. Should I diet? The thought depresses me. I was looking at science prize winners earlier, for work, and yes, brilliant people also depress me. The fact that they do depresses me even more. I am making cornbread tonight. I realise that this probably violates my notional diet, but cooking is a great brain relaxer, and I promised my husband cornbread. When you live with someone, and they get up and make breakfast for you at 6.30 am every day, making cornbreat is a reasonable way to return the favour. Even if you do make it with soymilk, which, let's face it, is just weird, but it's what you have in the house, and they only sell milk in giant containers and anyway, so there you go, I'm making cornbread.

You know what, maybe it's time to forgive Helena Bonham-Carter. You see, I have positively hated Helena Bonham-Carter for years and years; I hated her for always being such a small-faced, big-haired 19th century wench; I hated her for being in a boat with Sam West when everyone knew that if anyone was going to be in a small boat with Sam West, it should be me. I hated her for being so incorrigibly badly dressed, and for having the bad taste to do...stuff with Ken Branagh. Ken Branagh, who keeps making lengthy, painful Shakespeare movies; Ken Branagh who divorced Emma Thompson, who also has an unfortunate dress sense, but plenty of other charms. Ken Branagh aside*, I have always despised Helena Bonham-Carter. The hyphenated obnoxiousness of her, her tendency to ruin movies I like (Twelfth Night, A Room with a View, Harry Potter, Howard's End).

Time has passed though, and Emma Thompson has married lovely Greg Wise; it's good to see a woman come to her senses. As for Helena Bonham-Carter...well, maybe I didn't mind her so much in Twelfth Night. She's married to Tim Burton and you know, I kind of like Tim Burton. As for her acting...she's done a Hugh Grant, hasn't she? She's discovered that her talent lies, not in playing pretty wenches, but in playing deranged people with a sharp tongue. We always knew she had it in her. And now I see this picture on Go fug yourself, and she looks all lovely, and I am thinking, what the hell, I don't mind her so much.

*Ken, I know you made In the Bleak Midwinter, and it's wonderful, and I love you for making it, in a platonic sort of way, but then you made that blasted four-hour Hamlet, and all that other nonsense, and you wasted Richard Briers on it, and Kate Winslet, and it was still not compelling. Not to mention Love's Labours Lost, which was funny, ah yes, very funny, and not in a good-for-you-Ken sort of way. You, my friend, have in fact made so many movies I don't like, that I have stopped watching them in hopes of finding one as splendid as In the Bleak Midwinter.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Roundup

It is the weekend and as such the time for roundups - political shows, long brunches, evaluations. Snapecast.

Brunch was yesterday and rather fun. Politics are all around. Snapecast, I haven't had a chance. I really want to listen, but then it'll be over, and I'll be sad.

CES. The biggest plasma screen in the world. Pirate ships. What can I say? It was really quite fun. Exciting. Not any cool freebies, no, but I did buy a really wonderful t-shirt to add to my collection of truly awe-inspiring shirts.

The Spouse* and I saw There Will Be Blood. Daniel Day-Lewis is an astonishing actor, but I already knew that. It is a strange movie with a great title; complex, strangely compelling, violent. The Spouse was traumatised, which was sad, since we'd chosen this movie over Sweeney Todd to avoid the trauma factor. It is the kind of movie that has the subtlety and good acting it deserves; but at the end of it, I rather wondered if it is worth the distress it inflicts on the audience. There seems to be no broader point. If I want to see Daniel Day-Lewis showcase his very considerable talent, I can just watch In the Name of the Father again and feel like the whole thing has a point. I am perhaps more sensitive to violence than most, and have seen many more violent movies, but few things that are so outright brutal, so entirely unredeemed. I respect the film makers for not making it into a standard storyline, but it makes it hard to deal with.

Now I shall devote my energy to some more pleasant things...


*all right, all right, just kidding!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Very briefly

From Vegas, to say that the city is ugly and the sunrise beautiful; and I have been very good. CES, well...ask me later, ok?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Little Red Riding Hood

Dear all,

Tomorrow I am flying to Las Vegas for work. I have never been to Las Vegas, and will venture into the forest of alcohol and sinfulness as innocent as Little Red Riding Hood, complete with little red shoes. I'll report back soon. I sure hope there's no mean wolves...

Friday, January 04, 2008

I wish I didn't have a life

There was a time when my social life consisted of the occasional dinner with a friend and Fridays down the pub. As a consequence, I spent considerable amounts of time with my legs propped up agains the wall, head hanging over the edge of the bed, reading pointless things. Nowadays if I do this, I feel guilty, because there are always Things I Need to Do.

I still do it of course, but it's hard to enjoy your hard-earned pointless entertainment when there is book of Useful Knowledge glaring up at you.

It's time for a change. The thing that fits my mood like a glove -



Then the fire fades away
But most of everyday
Is full of tired excuses
But it's too hard to say
I wish it were simple
But we give up easily

Which is ironic, since I assume that it is about love, the one thing I have no trouble motivating myself for, and I am thankful, very thankful.

The advantage of the five-minute attention span: a world full of everyday special things, a blossoming hawthorn, the sweetness of a familiar face, a piece of music, the wind howling, a cup of tea, the first daffodils...

Even though the daffodils remind me of Wordsworth, and I abhor Wordsworth. I live life by the little things, because the big things take too long.

On the topic of my attention span, how about something completely different - seeing as how the only thing I like more than a bit of gorgonzola is a bit of nice, accusatory prose. It has kittens. You will need the kittens. It is all about large, successful corporations who made a few bob off the holocaust. Nothing new to anyone who knows anything about this stuff, but very well done. Note the reference to my Charming Former Employer. The one that really gets to you though, is the last item about Siemens trying to trademark Zyklon in 2002. What the ...?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Yeah, yeah, yeah

So today I will indulge myself with an all-about-me post. *sings off key* It's my party and I'll cry if I want to...

Not that I am crying, just coughing, because, gracious, not sleeping and travelling long distances and drinking too much alcohol will do you in, and so I have a cold.

I just looked at the Snapecast blog, and was saddened, because unless I magically obtain at least $400, not counting stay and travel, by January 9th, I am not going to Snapefest, and seeing as how we're broke, and the car is in the shop again, for the umpteenth time, and needs almost twice that amount in repairs, and how that means we'll have to buy a new car sometime soon too, I don't think it'll happen.
*cries a little*
Ok, well, I said no crying.

Oh, and has anyone noticed that JK Rowling has already caved to clamourings for more Potterverse? Says that she'll consider an 8th book in ten years or so? I tell you, five at most. Frankly, Ms Rowling, I don't give a damn. You killed Snape and I don't love you no more. Of course I will buy the stupid 8th book, if only to bitch about it.

I'm dreaming about small fuzzy things again. Does anyone else go through phases of dreaming about kittens and hamsters and puppies? And ferrets? I can't explain it. Oh and then last night I dreamt of Vancouver, my family and Daniel Radcliffe in hotpants. As in: my family and I were visiting Vancouver in the fog, while Dan Radcliffe was carrying my nephew around on his back. In hotpants. I think there was leather too. Can I just go back to dreaming about puppies?

I finished reading Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being which really should have been named The Unbearable Comments of the Author. It's really all I want to say about it. At least I read a work of literature. It made me feel like fanfic really is vastly underrated. On to Isabelle Allende's Zorro, which I really hope is better.

KT Tunstall's Drastic Fantastic is playing in my head. This is a good thing. That, and the lemon tea I'm drinking, although I can't help thinking that it would be much better if it had some rum in it. Probably for the best though, seeing as I can't string together a sentence as it is.

Oh, another good thing about today is that I have heard that my precious most wonderful possession recently ruined for reasons unclear will be replaced by the manufacturer. See? I'm not hard to please. Give me a silly t-shirt and my happiness is assured for hours, nay days, on end. Lengthy discussions with random folks in supermarkets will ensue. It's all good, as they say here.
Tomorrow I'm tutoring, so what I really should do tonight is prepare notes for that, wahey, funfunfun. Am I enjoying complaining? So what if I am. I long to bury my head, possibly the rest of my body, in some comfort reading, some Dorothy Sayers, some fanfic, fairytales, something, maybe I can prepare my lesson and watch Scrubs? Probably not. It's hard being socially somewhat responsible.

*coughs*

It's time to wrap this post up. A friend reminds me of what my real resolution for this year should be: this year I will not be afraid of failing, of falling down and getting up again.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

In with the new, out with the old

2007

The year in which I was responsible, a good spouse (I think), a decent employee, a conscientious payer-off of debt, a careful driver.

So here's to stealing; like the idea for this post, which I stole on a random patrol. Here's to stealing the expression "Clark Kent job" from a friend, and to working in one. Here's to the trouble I took to tuck my private life away this year, to the curbing of my emotional exhibitionist tendencies. Here's to hypocrisy, procrastination and cowardice, none of which have gone away yet. Here's to being brave in spite of that sometimes.

Here's to all the things I'm afraid of, and those which no longer scare me.

Here's to forgiveness, and good grace, to letting bygones be bygones and to practicing generosity. It is only practice. Here's to time wasted watching Scrubs, reading comfort books and eating out. Here's to guilt, which accomplishes nothing. Here's to ambition, and the full, final threat of having to act upon the belief that I can do better.

Happy New Year. I hope 2008 brings you all you need, and some of what you want. Here's to good health, good ideas, good morals, and good friends.