Monday, June 30, 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I Don't Know What I Expected, Really...

Mike and I saw Wanted last night. It...

Well, did you ever see a movie and leave the theater thinking that the trailer was waaaaay better?


I was pumped for this film. A few seconds into the trailer, months ago, Mike and I turned to each other in awe. It had the bad-ass Morgan Freeman, my boyfriend, James McAvoy, and the baby factory herself, Angelina Jolie. There were car chases and knife fights, curving bullets and massive amounts of blowing up of things. AWESOME. I am not a Jolie fan, but the movie looked far too rad to worry about that.

But dammit. It wasn't that great.

First off, as I read in another review (which I noticed last night, but which I will link to here so that they don't accuse me of plagiarism. Not that they would read my piddly little blog anyway, but whatever), Wanted immediately brought to mind Office Space and Fight Club. So... do what you will with that.

"Do you think that I'm wearing enough eyeshadow?"

James McAvoy's character, Wesley Gibson, is a cubicle jockey with no direction. He's an accountant with a fat, bitchy boss (trust me on this one, as she is AMAZING), is completely aware that his best friend (Chris Pratt, far removed from his Everwood days, and oh how I loved him on Everwood) is boning his bitch girlfriend, and is flat broke. He has no drive, no ambition, and suffers from anxiety attacks. When Fox (Jolie) pulls him into the middle of a gun fight in a drug store, he awakens to find out that he has been chosen as a new recruit to The Fraternity, headed by Sloane (Freeman).

Over one thousand years ago, The Fraternity was founded by weavers. Yes, weavers. I know. You'll find out why shortly. And Wesley pledges them but good. The boy deserves an extra can of Natty Lite for his efforts, bros. He's the tits. He EARNED IT. Because his training sequences? Are where the Fight Club bits trickle in. There are some unwatchable, cringe-worthy scenes of this "induction" during which I really thought that I was going to lose it all over the floor. But I was wearing flip flops and thought that it would be gross, and so managed to reel it back in.

Wesley's father was a Fraternity member, recently killed by a rogue assassin. Hearing Morgan Freeman say this made me die a little inside, honestly. It sounded RIDICULOUS. This rogue is now after Wesley, and Wesley, apparently, is the only one who can kill him. And avenge his father's death. It's a two-for-one!

The stunts are sweet and mind-blowing, and I know that my complaining below is silly now that I know I went into this film expecting too much. Had I just expected a blow-em-up action-thriller, maybe I'd be happy with the mediocre plot.


Warning - stop reading if you actually want to see this movie and be "surprised" by what goes down.

This movie was entertaining, and that's about it. The plot was recycled and trite, the characters were unappealing, and Morgan Freeman as the good-guy-but-OMG-secretly-the-bad-guy was hard to believe. Wesley's "father" was just killed, but he tells us in his monologue that his father left when he was seven days old. So he just takes their word? OF COURSE HIS FATHER IS ALIVE AND ALSO A GOOD GUY. GOD.

But the part that made me - and half the theater - laugh out loud is where Wesley finally comes to his senses and asks where the kill orders originate. Sloane leads him to a room occupied only by a gigundous loom. Sloane pauses, to make it hurt, and says, "This... is the Loom of Fate."

APPARENTLY, the loom weaves and weaves, and occasionally makes a mistake. Oops, not a mistake! When one of the threads is woven over instead of under, it can be recorded in BINARY and spells out the name of the next target. And... okay, I get that things are supposed to happen for a reason, and Jolie-Fox gives us a twenty-year-old tale of why the LOOM OF FATE matters so much to them, but come the fuck on. A fucking loom?

Fuck off, LOOM.

Oh, and Morgan Freeman delivers a line that should have NEVER COME OUT OF HIS MOUTH, and the theater collectively tittered about that, too. Seriously, Morgan, leave the swearing to Samuel L. Jackson. At least we believe it when he says that there are motherfucking snakes on the motherfucking plane.

One saving grace was a dirty old man sitting in the front row of the theater. During a scene where Jolie-Fox emerges from a paraffin bath naked (body double? Who cares?), the theater was dead quiet. Once her tattooed back and ass came into view, this guy emitted the creepiest, old-manniest, giddy laugh/chuckle, "heh, heh, heh." The entire theater busted out laughing. Not that it ruined the scene, though, as it really couldn't be saved - even with gratuitous nudity.

"Heh, heh, heh..."

Also, the pajiba review I linked to above? It's crap. The reviewer must have reverted back to his thirteen-year-old self in order to love the movie as much as he did. Maybe guys will just LOVE this film because of the blow uppery things and guns and Jolie-Fox's ass, but it seemed that the majority of the theatergoers last night were unimpressed. I don't quite feel like I wasted my money, but it's a close call.

And you know? I like movies with violence - I don't shy away. Pulp Fiction? Fight Club? I loved them both. The violence was necessary to the plotlines and was accepted because they each had PLOTS THAT MADE SENSE. In fact, the goriest, most violent film I've ever seen, Pan's Labyrinth, is also one of the best movies I've ever seen. The violence was practically a character in that film and completely and utterly necessary to the plot.

So don't be all, "Meh, she's a stupid girl! She doesn't GET violence." Because I do. Wanted's violence was gratuitous and vomit-inducing and no thank you to that.

See for yourself, though.

Finally, I think that this will be hilarious to you even if you haven't seen the film. "Also, I adopted a couple of kids." Man, I love TWOP.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Reason to Love Ann Arbor #3

The Arb

In 1907, Nichols Arboretum was established by the University of Michigan as a "living museum" and has since grown to 123 acres of trails, open meadows, and river access. It is a beautiful place to hike and enjoy - just what Mike and I did last weekend.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Whatever Happened to the Berenstain Bears?

While shopping for my niece's birthday a few weeks back, I ventured into Toys R Us and just about passed out from the intensity. Have you been IN one of those stores since you were seven? Holy crap on toast, I thought that I would get lost and hyperventilate.

Once I found the dolly stroller, in pink, thank you very much, I wandered over to the book section. And thank the sweet Lord that I did, because otherwise, I would have never known about these AMAZING publications:

I can think of a lot of other things "F" stands for.
Namely, farts.
Why, what were you thinking?

If... you beat up that bitch baby at daycare.
If... you wet your bed.
If... you get fat and slobby.
If... you bring home someone of the same sex.
If... you find mommy and daddy's stash.
If... really, the possibilities are endless here.

Hey, I have an idea!
Let's create a child prostitute character!
Kids love to think about their future careers!

Work it, Nancy.
Or Wayne Brady might have to choke a bitch.

Grocery Shopping and An Internal Monologue

I left work, made a stop at the library, and headed home. It had warmed up considerably, and I walked a little slower than usual, attempting to avoid the inevitable beads of sweat collecting on my lower back.

Yeah, it didn't work.

I got home and immediately changed into a strategic slip dress. "Strategic" in that it is there, at my house, ready for me to pull on after peeling off my work clothes.

I jumped into the Focus, sped to Kroger (yes, Kroger. Me and Meijer are in a fight ever since they were out of ice scrapers. On January 2nd. Don't fuck with me again, Meijer, and we'll see about a reconciliation. I mean, you do carry this, after all, and that is HILARIOUS).

Once there, things went downhill fairly quickly.

"Clearly I came in through the wrong door. Where the shit is the produce section?"

"Oh, there it is."

"Get your freaking children out of my FREAKING WAY."

Sweet smile to their mother.

"Oooh, strawberries are on sale! But... where are the other berries?"

After having walked around the produce section three times, "Where the hell are the other berries? They have to have berries. WHERE ARE THE GODDAMNED BERRIES?"

"Oooh, fresh salsa!"

"I think I should get bread. English breakfast sounds nice. Bread, bread, bread, hmmm."

"Oooh, avocados! I'm totally getting two."

"Now what was I going to get?"


"Oooh, rotisserie chickens are on sale!"

"Beans, beans, pork and beans, beans, beans... these signs tell me NOTHING."

"Why in the hell would they split up the food and put inconsequential things in the middle? I'm here for groceries, people, not for LAWN CHAIRS. Oh Christ, there are those kids again. Don't people use those leashes anymore?"

"I really want an English breakfast tomorrow. So I'll need bread. Did... I already get it? Hmmm, no."

At this point, I had crossed from one end of the store to the next. Twice.

"Where in the hell are the baked beans? I need those vegetarian baked beans - I think that there is blue on the label - and there is NO AISLE that lists canned goods."

"Oh, there it is. I'm too short to see the signs. Discrimination!"

"Bread! Where's the bread?"

"I need chips to go with that salsa. Mmmmm... multigrain Tostitos... AWESOME I FOUND THE BREAD. I SURELY DESERVE A PRIZE FOR THIS SCAVENGER HUNT."

"Checkout, checkout, checkout... ooh, scan-it-yourself!"

In the parking lot, "No bitch, if you want my space, you'll have to wait. I'm not going to throw my food in the backseat all WILLY NILLY so that you can save yourself a few extra feet of walking."

Driving, "La la la la la OH HELL I FORGOT APPLE JUICE. Maybe I should... fuck it. I'll drink water."

And that's why you should not shop with me. I'll probably voice all of this aloud, add a half hour to your trip, and cause you to forget something.

Mike knows this, but I think that he tunes me out when we shop together. He's smart.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Karmic Payback

Now that I'm back living in Ann Arbor - a college town that thankfully loses half its population during the summer - I relish the emptiness and relative free-for-all available to me as a townie.

First of all, there's this:

I haven't had a hand stamp in a looooooong time, especially since I stopped hitting DC clubs years before I actually left, so this rite was all but forgotten.

It was a college reunion of sorts, which found the former residents of Alice Lloyd Hall reminiscing about 1998-2002 and the fact that admissions carelessly grouped us together. Maybe they knew something. (Other than putting half of the 1998 male graduates of Troy High in the same hallway, I don't think that they have any sort of plan whatsoever, but what the hell do I know - half the population of Long Island seemed to end up living in Mary Markley Hall.)

We started out at Mitch's (oh man. Don't follow that link. It looks like the lamest bar in existence), now in a completely different location than it was when we were twenty-one, and when we arrived to an empty room at 9:30, we felt... well, older. It was then off to The Brown Jug, somewhere I had rarely frequented as a student unless you count pizza and pop with my dad.

So that was new.

Then there were the short-skirted girls who stole chairs from our table each time their occupants went inside to use the restroom.

Should I be worried about karma because we stuck them with our bill?

Short answer? Yes. My karmic payback came the next morning, hungover from two beers.

Ha! Really!

I know that my tolerance is down, as I've really been slacking on the drinking front now that I've discovered alcohol to be one of the antecedents to my recently-diagnosed migraines.

(Wow, how hard was I trying with that sentence?)

But really, my tolerance is way down.

Karma's a bitch.



Really, though.

Every so often, I'd catch an episode of "Veronica Mars", and was pleasantly entertained. Perhaps it aired at the same time as one of my coveted programs, perhaps not. Either way, I never really latched onto this show when it was still on the air.

Man, I wish I had.

The writing? The storylines? The character development? All pristine. I was drawn into the life of the titular character from the opening sequence of the pilot episode and have been enmeshed in her amazing backstory ever since.

My love for Netflix has never been stronger, especially since the first two discs of season one had been sitting next to my television for days, just waiting for me to be in the mood for intrigue and sassy female leads.

Veronica Mars is an outcast at Neptune High School. She used to be popular. On the pep squad, she had a best friend named Lilly, and had Lilly's brother, Duncan, as her boyfriend.

All of that changed, however, when Lilly was murdered.

Veronica's dad, Keith, was the town sheriff at the time of the murder. When he pinpointed Jake Kane, Duncan and Lilly's father, the number one suspect, the town quickly responded by removing him from the office of sheriff. Jake, beloved by the town for creating jobs and turning each of his employees into millionaires when his company went public, could do no wrong in their eyes.

Oh, and the fact that someone else confessed to the murder.

Five minutes into the first episode, I'm gone. Netflix will not be able to send the DVDs fast enough, is what I'm thinking.

Veronica not only had to deal with the death of her best friend and the breakup of her relationship, but her mother up and left, too. Seems she couldn't handle the stress and shame of being married to the ostracized sheriff.

Girl's been through a LOT.

In this, the establishing episode, Veronica makes a few new friends/allies, holds her own against the oh-niners (kids from the prestigious 90909 area code. You know, the ones with money who don't look like pasty white twins from Minnesota?), and discovers that her father is still pursuing the Lilly Kane murder case.

I've watched the first eight episodes so far. I'm seriously considering upping my Netflix subscription just so they'll send me the next disc today.

Update - I stopped at the Ann Arbor District Library on the way home to (finally) open an account. And to get the next disc of Veronica Mars. Pwnage!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ten Top Ten?

I'm no movie critic, but I'm going to have to call shenanigans on this one.

(Except... I think that I would be a terrible critic, because I don't think that I've ever flat-out hated a film. But that's another post altogether...)

The other day, I watched The American Film Institute's Ten Top Ten. This three hour program ranked the top ten films in ten different genres, and while it was incredibly interesting and entertaining at times, some of the choices were so far out of left field that I wondered if a circus monkey was just picking them out of a hat.

I do now acknowledge that these films were not chosen for the amount of money each generated at the box office, or because of their commercial appeal, or for historic value. They were all chosen for a multitude of reasons, some of which I think were sentimental or, dare I say... politically correct?

I saw that the "Ten Top Ten" was about to start on CBS and called my Dad to get him on board. We both decided to watch and agreed to discuss the lists the next day.

But these lists were immediately deemed crap, by me, after the first round. Sleeping Beauty? Was not included in the top ten animated films.

At the first commercial break, the top seven animated films had been announced and reminisced over, and were now up to the best three. And, they were... Pinocchio, Bambi, and Snow White? The hell? Have you seen those? They're good, but... As soon as my phone rang, I knew it was my dad.

Now, I can see why Snow White was number one - it was the first full-length animated film and its historical significance and its subsequent effect on the Disney brand should place it in the top ten. But Sleeping Beauty, in my opinion, is one of the most richly animated films ever made. The detail of the backgrounds, the overtly angled subjects, the small details like the bark on a tree... Add the Tchaikovsky score and you've got me hook, line, and sinker. There has not been an animated film since that looks or sounds anything like Sleeping Beauty. I can honestly say that it's my favorite film of all time, animated or not. I am a sucker for princesses in love, and this one is the simplest, purest, and loveliest. Roman Holiday and The Princess Bride fall directly in line behind, but don't claim that coveted spot.

But Bambi and Pinocchio have nothing on Aurora.

Looking at the top ten, I noticed that five were from the early, glory days of the Disney empire, and five were much more recent. Interesting...

Anyway, the other top ten lists were fairly predictable - with a few surprises - but mostly followed the same formula as the animated choices:

#1 Romantic Comedy - City Lights. Chaplin. I haven't seen it, so... But Roman Holiday was number four! That was a nice surprise.

#1 Western - The Searchers. John Wayne. I... really don't like westerns. So I haven't seen it. (My parents think that this is sad - that I don't like westerns, that is. They think that I should try and watch a few, and I know I should - they are one hundred-percent American cinematic creations, after all. So for their historic value alone, I'll get around to it. I promise.)

#1 Sports - Raging Bull. Hmm. I got nothing. It beat Rocky? And The Pride of the Yankees? Gritty choice, that is. ("I thought that I was gonna see a film about Yankee pride, and then, boom! The guy gets Lou Gehrig's disease." "Uh... the guy was Lou Gehrig. Didn't you kinda see it coming?")

#1 Mystery - Vertigo. And... well, it's on my Netflix queue. That's a start, right?

#1 Fantasy - The Wizard of Oz. Amazing, of course. But the list also included... Groundhog Day?

#1 Sci-Fi - 2001: A Space Odyssey - I know people who think that this is the dullest movie ever made. Those people make me sad. I also knew that if it wasn't named #1 in its category, my dad would be flipping the channel immediately. Star Wars IV: A New Hope was number two, by the way. Rightfully so.

#1 Gangster - The Godfather. Like they even paused to consider another. I was pleased to see Goodfellas in the second spot.

#1 Courtroom Drama - To Kill a Mockingbird. No arguments here. I love this film. LOVE. I also think that every single film on this particular list was worthy. In fact, if you haven't seen Anatomy of a Murder, do try to see it. Or read the book. Simply amazing.

#1 Epic - Lawrence of Arabia. Wow. There really was no other choice. Have you seen it? Wait, though. If you haven't, seek out a theater. You won't know how important it is to see this film on the big screen until you've done just that. (I know that the AFI Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland shows it each summer, because that's where I was lucky to see this masterpiece stretched across the canvas.) OH MY GOSH, AMAZING.

Anyway, I think that the main thing I can take from this list of lists is that we will forever be debating movies and their cultural impact on our country. This program cultivated immediate discussion between my dad and I, and I was up waaaay too late on the phone, talking about film.

What is it about movies that gets people so excited? Each and every person experiences a film differently, and because film has the power to evoke feelings and memories, there will always be room for discussion.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Squealing Tires, 80s Pop Music, & a Very Happy Father's Day

When I was sixteen years old, I was lucky enough to have a driver's license. The Michigan state law had yet to be amended to include waiting periods and restricted driving times for teens, and I didn't even have to take a road test. Sure, I had my learner's permit for almost an entire year, but when I turned sixteen, I was free.

Well, I was as free as I could be while having to depend on my parents for a car. Most of the time, I got to drive my mom's Ford Windstar minivan, which, when he started driving, my brother affectionately nicknamed "The Pimp Van."

I think it was the tinted windows.

I remember turning the corner from McCann Street onto Pennsylvania Road, somehow squealing the van's tires, and sending me and Kelly into a fit of giggles. "You squealed the tires in THE VAN!" I remember carting people all over Downriver in that red Windstar, toilet-papering teacher's houses (no I didn't, Mom), stealing election signs and putting them all on one lawn (that was the other kids, Dad), piling out of it at the Dairy Queen, or packing it up for a picnic at Willow Metropark.

I know that I was lucky to have trusting parents.

But I also know when I was the luckiest: when I got to drive my dad's Camaro.

Oh, that car. It was cherry red, with black interior and t-tops. It had the best pick-up of any car I have ever driven. I had to move the bucket seat so close to the steering wheel in order to reach the pedals, that I looked like a little Lego person behind the wheel.

It was a 1992 model, the 25th anniversary edition, and it had a tape deck. In the summer of 1996, there was nothing more satisfying than cruising the streets of Southgate, blasting Nirvana, Counting Crows, or Gin Blossoms. Or... Bon Jovi.

I taped Bon Jovi's Crossroad from Kelly's CD, and that tape got more play than anything else in my collection. We belted out the words to "Livin' on a Prayer" at the top of our lungs.

I got the 'Scort in the autumn of 1997 and my mom bargained with the dealer to put in a tape deck. By that time, I had lost my Crossroad tape. Once I got to college and I eventually broke down and bought the CD for myself.

But I didn't lose it. It was still in my dad's car.

So for Father's Day this year, I got him Crossroad. He specifically requested it, as he's played my copy so much that it's no longer in the best condition. I wonder if he knows how awesome this is. I wonder if he recognizes the irony in that, for the first time, I introduced him to some of MY music, rather than the other way around. After growing up on the Beatles, Cream, Beethoven, and Mozart, I got him listening to 80s and 90s pop music.

I mean, it's not like he isn't hip. For my fourteenth or fifteenth birthday, my brother got me an 80s compilation CD, and we listened to it as we ate dinner. When "Karma Chameleon" came on, my dad casually asked, "Hmmm. Isn't this The Boy George and the Culture Club?"

I don't know why I found it so funny, but thinking about that moment still makes me laugh.

My dad still has the Camaro, but after almost fifteen years of Michigan winters and salty roads, it needs some work. If I had the dough, I would have it restored in a second. He loves that car.

But I'm poor. So he gets Bon Jovi instead.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy. I love you. I hope you don't lose your voice singing along to "Livin' on a Prayer."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Book Thief

"I'm always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both."
-The Book Thief's narrator, Death

I'm not really sure that I will ever be able to adequately describe my feelings for The Book Thief. If I consider the impact this book has had on my life and the ways in which I live and love, it's easily one of the top three books I have ever read.

As a World War II historian, I know full well the horrors of war. And unlike many of the people in my collegiate courses who more interested in the battles and strategic decisions that propelled the bombing of cities and attacks of naval bases, I studied the sociological and cultural implications of those on the Home Front.

I read memoirs and newspaper articles. I read accounts of life in Germany, Poland, Great Britain, and Austria. I read about rationing and bomb shelters. I read survivor's stories of the brutality and inhumanity of the concentration camps. I read about Jewish children, saved from certain death and sent to live with foster families in Great Britain, who never saw their parents again.

But even reading the true accounts of what ordinary people experienced on the European Home Front could not have prepared me for this electrifying story by Markus Zusak.

How can you simultaneously love and hate a book? How can you crave each word, each upcoming sentence, yet curse those words for making you cry? Brilliant, thoughtful, imaginative writing has the power to do these things. It is strong enough to keep the pages turning, even when the reader knows what lurks around the next corner.

For Liesel Meminger, life has changed drastically. Her mother has made the decision to surrender Liesel and her brother into foster care.

Her brother doesn't last the train ride.

Near her brother's freshly dug grave, Liesel notices a book, lying in the snow. At the last possible minute, she snatches The Grave Digger's Handbook. This single act of thievery will define her young life.

She arrives on Himmel Street, in Molching, and meets her foster parents. Rosa Huberman is a large, foreboding woman, strict from her first words to Liesel and quick to insults. Her contrast is her husband, the kind, warm-hearted Hans, who takes an instant liking to Liesel and teaches her to read the beloved books she steals.

The Book Thief is the story of a young girl who learns her life lessons far too early on. Living in Hitler's Germany exposes her to more than injustices; her life in Molching reveals the true nature of people.

Early on she learns that the punishments reserved for the pure of heart are sometimes worse than those doled out to those who consciously act improperly. Early on she learns that secrets are more valuable than rewards. Early on she learns that love can't always conquer all.

It's... kind of heavy.

What I loved and yet hated about this book was the unpredictable nature of its storyline. If you know anything about the Nazi regime and why good people failed to do right, more often than not, you'll be surprised. Sometimes the surprise will be pleasant. Mostly, it won't. I loved that I was wrong about the conclusions of certain storylines, but hated that their alternates were even more difficult to accept and understand - for the mere fact that I wasn't expecting them, and wasn't prepared for the emotions that poured forth.

Zusak's writing is absolutely brilliant and completely engaging. Every word has its purpose, and that is one of the central themes of the story - the power of words. I was so impressed by the creativity and originality of the oft-told story and the ways that Death, the narrator, dealt with... well, death.

As I devoured each word, I continually wondered how The Book Thief had been designated a young adult novel here in the United States (in other countries, including the author's native Australia, it was marketed as an adult novel). I thought that the subject matter was extremely advanced, and the details were much too intricate for a young person to comprehend.

But then I thought of myself at fourteen, reading books far ahead of my grade level and while I didn't fully understand parts of books, I was able to use the clues in the text to understand the author's message.

Most reviews state that The Book Thief should be reserved for sophisticated teens and adults. That sounds about right. However, I urge you to avoid reading any online reviews, as they generally give away every single important storyline and their results.

This is a book that will be in my mind for a long time to come.

Just Because

My niece, Savannah
6 months

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rainy Day Flowers

Today, after awakening to a complete downpour outside, decided to walk to work anyway. It took about twice as long once my flip flops were inundated with water, causing me to slip and slide like an idiot, but it really wasn't that bad. I did have to stop and wait under a tree at one point, as the water came down in sheets.

By eleven o'clock, the skies had cleared, the sun came out, and it was a gorgeous, warm spring day.

By 4:45, it was pouring again.

Jerk ass Mother Nature must have thought this was pretty funny, making us working types sit inside during the good, lovely sunshiney weather and force us to deal with the torrential rain once we finally escaped from our dungeons.

As I began my long walk home, I spotted a gorgeous flower, enjoying the rain. Then I saw another. And another!

And these are the moments for which I am glad I carry my camera around:

I like how everything is in focus except for the one in the foreground.

So I guess it wasn't such a bad day after all.


Look at all of the lovely drinking containers, lined up in a nice row.

You might be thinking to yourself, "Wow, that's a cool looking Nalgene-type bottle. I wish I had one of those for myself. But... huh. Hrmm. What... are those little things to the left?"

If you're thinking that they might be a form of feminine product, you're right.

This next picture is one I took after turning 90 degrees to my left.

Hi, I'm a bathroom.
Leave your dishes here, please.

Why? WHY?

Why would you keep your drinking vessel in the PUBLIC RESTROOM? I just don't understand the logic here.

And you know? What is it about me and bathrooms?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Steel Droplets of Sadness

I like movies.

Movies - well, good movies - have the ability to whisk you away and into a new, different world. And if not an alien world (because, let's face it - if we continue to allow George Lucas to make Star Wars films, eventually there will be a point of no return. And that point? A movie starring Jar Jar Binks. Oh, you don't think that it could happen? THE MAN CREATED THE WORST, MOST ANNOYING CHARACTER EVER TO GRACE THE SCREEN, AND WHEN SPIELBURG GETS WIND OF IT, THEY WILL SOMEHOW GET IT GREENLIT BECAUSE STUDIOS THINK THEY ARE BOX OFFICE MAGIC), then one similar enough to our own to be interesting. But not so similar that it's unsettling.

The other night, I had a plethora of films to choose from for my viewing pleasure. They all started at eight o'clock. Several came close to sparking my interest, some I'd seen, and others I owned on DVD.

And isn't that the dilemma? The age-old problem? If Matthew Broderick is all up on my screen in that sweater vest, I'll watch Ferris Bueller. Yeah, I'll watch his Day Off like I've never seen it before. I'll put down the remote no matter how far along it is - whether he's faking out his parents or leading a parade float down a Chicago street. I'll watch it even though I own it on both DVD and VHS.

(I still have a VCR. There, I said it. I haven't gotten around to replacing such classics as National Lampoon's Vacation ["The Wagon Queen Family Truckster. You think you hate it now, but wait till you drive it."] and Girls Just Want to Have Fun - starring a not-yet-so-horsey Sarah Jessica Parker, and I don't want to live in a world where I can't watch family road trips or sequined dance-offs at the drop of a hat.)

This particular night, however, there was a movie on TNT that I'd yet to see and always wanted to watch versus Clueless on Bravo. Normally, as I own Clueless, I would have flipped to Bravo and Alicia Silverstone. She's cute, she's funny, the late 90s fashion is so deliciously entertaining, and Paul Rudd. Yes, normally I would have switched to Bravo to make googly eyes at Paul Rudd, but apparently my brain took over.

And that, my friends, is the story of how I watched Steel Magnolias.

Sweet, merciful Jesus Christ in Heaven. What were the filmmakers TRYING TO DO? By the end, the heartbreaking, wrenching, I-must-be-masochistic end, I was blubbering like a little bitch.

This film ranks third on my all-time tearjerkers list. First? Titanic. I HYPERVENTILATED in the theater on that half day of school during my senior year. People were genuinely concerned for my lung capacity. Someone even offered to get me a paper bag. The second? Love Story. If you've seen it, well, you know. If not, well... Love means never having to say you're sorry for getting snot all over the couch from the heaving sobs.

Steel Magnolias, though. Hot damn. I'd always heard that it was "a bit" of a tearjerker, but I'd never heard that it was so damn laugh-out-loud funny! Shirley MacLaine delivered lines that made me guffaw so abruptly that I'm convinced the people across the street heard me (impressive, as their house is painted so loudly looks like it belongs on the Candyland gameboard and someone there has a drumset). I mean, her character's name was pronounced "Weezer," for crying out loud.

(It was spelled "Ouiser" for those keeping track.)

The premise of the film isn't that confusing: Louisiana ladies congregate at a beauty parlor, their lives entwined by marriage and small town roots. One is getting married, and has a colorful relationship with her mother due to her health issues, and I found this relationship to be the centerpiece of the entire film. They were snarky broads and extremely off-color and it was grand.

It's super sad and extremely predictable, but that's okay. It's meant to be a tearjerking nightmare of a chick flick, and any man forced to sit through it has my sympathy. Sure, Tom Skerritt has a role, and he's Viper for crying out loud, so he might save a few minutes for the guys, but really? It's the ultimate chick flick.

Right, so, Magnolias: sad and hilarious. Make the masochistic decision to watch it today!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Reason to Love Ann Arbor #2

The nerds.

Seventy-five Cent Summer

So I have this new car now.

Okay, I've had it since February, but I couldn't bear to take pictures of my darling in awful weather. She deserves a perfect setting.

Anyway, I love my little car. I love walking home from work, turning the corner onto my street, and seeing my adorable little car smiling at me.


When I lived in DC, a car was simply not necessary, what with the public transportation and walkable grocery stores (though I must admit - I'm playing it fast and loose when it comes to my definition of "grocery store"). Aware of this, I drove my beloved 'Scort back to Michigan in the spring of 2005, which led to the ill-fated weekend of my first niece's baby shower and six stitches in my skull.

I became accustomed to living without a car. Sometimes I wished I could just get the hell out of the city for a while, but there were always rentals.

I also got used to not having to pay for gas. Or insurance. Lord.

When I was in high school, life was easier (man, was it easier). Summers were like a completely different dimension. Kelly and I worked for a friend's aunt, the assistant manager of a Michigan title company. This particular company owned a warehouse in Milford, a good hour drive from our hometown. The Warehouse housed the old, musty, archived files, and not much else. We worked a bizarre 7 am - 3 pm schedule, which meant that we would leave for work at 6 in the morning. We were there to organize the warehouse and pull any needed files for Dick, a sweet, mustachioed, cigarette-auraed man, to come collect. If he arrived early, we would leave early.

It was lovely.

It was lovely and cushy, and we were lucky. For two soon-to-be high school seniors in the summer of 1997, making ten dollars an hour was a pretty good deal. Especially when you consider how much work we actually did.

Or, didn't do, rather.

We would arrive at the warehouse, a nondescript building in the middle of a rather random lumber yard, around 7 a.m. We'd stop at Speedway or McDonald's for breakfast and we'd listen to Detroit's Drew & Mike morning radio show (now "Mike in the Morning" without a retired Drew).

After a while, we had a pretty set routine:

7 ~ Arrive at warehouse
7-10:30 ~ Listen to Drew & Mike until they went off the air
10:30-12 ~ Play "dots," write retarded stories, nap
12-1 ~ Lunch, usually at Subway, with which we were obsessed for years
1-1:45 ~ Arrive at satellite title company to receive fax of files to be pulled
1:45-2 ~ Go to Kroger for pop
2-3 ~ Wait for Dick to arrive to collect files
3 ~ Leave for home

It all went downhill the day we brought in sleeping bags and pillows and slept on the shelves.

Really, we did.

And we got paid for this.

We would take turns driving - even at seventy-five cents a gallon, we were still just high school students. Me in my 1996 Escort, her in her 1985 almost-good-as-new Topaz (affectionately named "Klancy"). The days she drove were usually more entertaining. Merging onto I-75 was usually a brush with death because there was almost always a massive semi barreling up behind us in the right lane, laying on the horn, unable to switch lanes. Y'all, Klancy couldn't outrun a big rig, even when driving through Detroit, where the speed limit would inconceivably drop to 55 miles per hour. So, every other day we'd fire up Klancy and find ourselves in the middle of a situation comedy - turning around slowly, spying the semi, and screaming in unison.

That summer was a blast. I was home from work by 4 p.m. and then I'd head to the pool or the park or anywhere else. I'll never forget the day that gas dropped to $.75 per gallon. Seventy-five CENTS. We cruised the main roads, as everyone did, though the 'Scort and Klancy weren't all that awe-inducing. But we didn't care. It was summer, we were seniors, and we owned the world.

As far as I remember, the price per gallon hovered around one dollar for the entire summer.

Now? I still walk everywhere I can, and as much as possible. I suppose that I could drive the two miles to work, but I refuse to pay $1.10 an hour to park. I'll walk it. The gas prices aren't affecting me that much, and I'm lucky to get good gas mileage. But I still have to pay!

It's summer again, and it's been over ten years since that glorious high school summer. My life might not be as carefree as it once was, but I suppose that's part of growing up. Living in DC changed me, though. I don't think that walking to work would have been conceivable to me in 1997. I would have thought that it was too far, too hot, too time-consuming... Now I feel guilty for driving, for wasting gas and for blowing money on parking.

I mean, there's always the bus.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chicken and Brown Rice

This recipe is a bit of a cheat, but I DON'T CARE. It's awesome and I've had it twice this week already. ENJOY.

1 small rotisserie chicken from the market, regular flavor
short grain brown rice
1/4 red onion, chopped finely
fresh cilantro, chopped roughly
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1/4 lime

Buy the chicken anytime, but try and deal with it as soon as you return home. It'll be much easier to remove the skin while it's still warm.

Remove the skin from the chicken and discard. Or, place in a pile and eat while cooking your healthy meal. It's fun to be ironic.

Once skinned, dismember Ms. Chicken. First, remove the dark meat from the bones of the legs, wings, and thighs and shred apart using two forks. Next, cut away the white meat from the breast bone. Shred one breast and add to the dark meat (there will be much more than you think), setting aside the other to slice for sandwiches (or shred the whole damn thing. I don't care what you do!).

If you're using regular short-grain brown rice, it'll take about an hour to cook. It's EXCELLENT, and well worth the wait, but if you're impatient/starving, I recommend the "Fully Cooked Organic Brown Rice" bowls from Trader Joe's. They cook in the microwave in only 90 seconds. They're BRILLIANT, and almost as good as waiting an hour for the bagged rice.

Anyway, cook your rice up all pretty like.

Meanwhile, chop the onions, cilantro, and grape tomatoes. Toast the pine nuts in a small pan over medium heat, but keep an eye on them - they burn very quickly when, instead of paying attention, you're texting your cute boyfriend or washing that knife. I'm just saying.

Mix all ingredients together and squeeze the lime over top. You shouldn't need any salt, as the chicken will have some, but you could add pepper of you'd so prefer.

Now that I think about it, garlic would be good in here, too...

Monday, June 09, 2008

One Year Already?

On June 9, 2007, Merrick made Gerald an honest man.
I was on hand in a floaty dress to take pictures.
And cry, of course.

Congratulations, Merrick and Gerald!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Heroic Adventures of Sammy the Sauropod

At the La Brea TAR PITS...

Donny the Dimetrodon is not impressed with Tony's offer...

"Why would we want to join your sad little gang?
You losers strut around like you own the Pits."

Tony, arrogant as ever, never skipped a beat:
"Not you, loser - you're not even a dinosaur!
And we don't take too kindly to your kind."

Albert "The Ace" weighed in:

"Dudes........ you know, be........ dudes."


"Right. Well you know the code.
If you turn down my offer, we fight... to the death."

Albert the Ace wanted no part of this.
Like most Anklyosaurs, he was a staunch pacifist.
But before he could speak his mind, Donny the D
took matters into his own hands - by spiking Tony on the claw.

(Which, come to think of it, didn't really matter as his arms
were pretty much useless.)

But Tony was actually a huge puss when it came to minor pain.
Now he was pissed.

When he attempted a bite of Donny's sail, Donny,
very fleet of foot, tripped him. Tony fell backwards
into the TAR PIT.

As he dangled over the edge of the TAR PIT,
the end looked near for Tony the T.

All of a sudden, Sammy fearlessly leapt into action,
moving faster than any had ever witnessed!


Sammy launched himself upon Donny the D,
and a quick flick of his tail sent Donny hurtling
into the deepest, darkest, no-way-out-of-est
section of the deadly TAR PITS, thus saving
Tony the T's reptilian ass.

"Gurgle... bleegggggggghhhhh... GAH!"

He was dead.

This selfless act of heroism shocked the gang:

Stan: "Wow, Sammy! That was awesome!"

Troy: "Where'd you learn those sweet moves?"

"Been practicing. No big whoop."


"Thanks, Sammy. You're the best. I'm so lucky you were here.
Can I buy you a pterodactyl burger?"

"All I want is to be your friend. And maybe quit calling me fat."

Stan: "Yeah but it takes you six hours to climb up the hill."

Troy: "And you always finish our candy when
we're not paying attention."