Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Constructive Criticism

Mike thinks that my blog has "gone downhill" since the end of the Punk Ass Museum Dinosaur Gang era. Perhaps he has a point, but he usually skips posts unless they have lots of pictures.

Regardless, I tend to remedy the lack of dinosaur gangs.

What he doesn't know is that I discovered the Punk Ass Museum Dinosaur Gang in all sorts of confrontations and moments. I documented these occurrences.

Lastly - and this is intense - I came upon a new gang elsewhere. Yes. They're more ferocious than you could even imagine and a meeting between the two gangs could prove catastrophic!

Stayed tuned for several more glimpses into the world of yesteryear. When giant reptiles roamed free! When that ball of light in the sky seemed to be getting bigger and bigger!

OMG, you guys! What is going on?

Friday, November 26, 2010

How to Make an Apple Pie

When I lived in DC, I used to make a full-on Thanksgiving dinner for 15-20 people. For five years in a row, I baked and boiled and chopped and mashed. I soon realized that being a control freak was only going to send me to an early grave and learned to let other people help me.

Behold my 22-pound masterpiece!

So when my mother tasked me with making a pie, I recognized it for what it was: a desperate cry for help. But being me, I put it off until the last minute.

I got to leave work early on Wednesday, and after a quick stop at home, I headed to Mike's. I had everything for the apple pie in a bag: measured out ingredients for the crust as well as the interior spices. I would pick out apples at the grocery store. It was a perfect plan!

Here are the steps to making an apple pie for your family on Thanksgiving:

1. Go to the grocery store on Thanksgiving Eve. Curse everyone and everything that gets in your way. All you want to buy is apples and beer, goddammit! Wait in self-checkout line for twenty minutes as people lose their shit and forget how to do ANYTHING and clearly shouldn't be allowed out of the house, let alone near machines with lasers.

2. Arrive at your boyfriend's house and prepare for the baking of the blessed, blessed pie.

3. Realize that you have absolutely everything to make the pie except for the rolling pin.

4. ...

5. Refrain from punching boyfriend in the throat when he suggests that you use your arm as a rolling pin.

6. Call mother. Bitch and moan. Tell her that you will NOT cave in and just bring a store-bought pie, because that would be giving up! And though you are a self-confessed lazy ass, there is NO WAY you will give up. Fucking pie.

7. Debate with the imp in the back of your mind. Does your family really need an apple pie? Can't they just eat pumpkin pie and be happy with that? Won't they just get over it?

8. Call mother again. Announce that she'll be getting an apple crisp instead and will LIKE IT.

9. Realize that you are lacking the ingredients for an apple crisp, including oats, brown sugar, and spices. You have spices at home, of course, but your boyfriend's pantry is positively lacking in baking staples, and you can't make apple crisp with cheez-itz. Well, you could, but maybe just the one time.

10. Go to Target. Hope upon hope that you won't have to go back to the grocery store where the dregs of society are buying up Stovetop Stuffing and canned cranberry sauce and writing checks at the checkout and slowly driving others to murder.

11. Bask in the general emptiness of Target. Practically prance with happiness to the grocery area. Find everything necessary for apple crisp.

12. Also buy toothpaste.

13. Arrive back at boyfriend's place. Prepare delicious topping. Refrain from eating it. Have beer.

14. Remove apple peels with knife, as boyfriend does not have a peeler (Is it called a peeler? Yes, I guess so). Realize that you are wasting a good amount of each apple.

15. Sigh audibly. Have more beer.

16. Bake apple crisp at wrong temperature. Alter temperature. Cook longer. Beer.

17. Realize apple crisp is now perfect. Set aside for evening.

18. Take apple crisp to Thanksgiving Dinner at parents' house and graciously accept praise for apple crisp even though it's a little too sweet for people's tastes and an apple pie would have been just delightful, but this is nice, too.

19. Sigh audibly. Have more beer.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Never Let Me Go

It's not often that a filmmaker is able to craft his/her own vision of a film while still staying true to the vision of a novel, but I feel that Never Let Me Go is an exception.

Set in the early eighties in Britain, Never Let Me Go is a fascinating examination of the human condition. Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield), and Ruth (Keira Knightley) live and learn at Hailsham, a boarding school tucked away in the peaceful English countryside. There as long as they can remember, Hailsham is their home. They don't know any differently.

The children at Hailsham are special. They (and we) are constantly reminded of this, and along with their daily regimen of vitamins and exercise, they learn to appreciate their lives even though they don't fully understand what lies ahead.

One day, a new teacher, horrified by the attitudes of those surrounding the children, shatters the illusion of Hailsham and painfully explains to the children just what they are. And what it means for their collective futures.

Soon, the children are eighteen and move to a sort of "halfway house" to await the beginning of their duties to the nation. Ruth and Tommy are now a couple, while Kathy's secret love for Tommy silently boils below the surface of her serene face. While coming to terms with their fates, the three painfully coexist and attempt a chance at "real lives."

But soon, as with all those before them, they are one by one drawn to their fates.

Expertly based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go is a beautiful, yet devastatingly haunting film. With amazing performances by the three main leads (especially Mulligan), the characters are brought to life on screen. The talent of these actors completely held the film, for its bleak storyline and slightly slow-moving script would have been insurmountable if the casting department had experienced an off day. Mulligan really carries the film with a naivety and sweetness that forces the viewer to relate with her, her life, her soul, and her fate. She is able to convey emotions without saying a word, and a single facial movement is a soliloquy.

This film conjures many philosophical debates and makes it amazingly difficult, yet completely understandable, that the people of this alternate universe are so accepting of their world. The former headmistress of Hailsham explains, "You have to accept that sometimes that's how things happen in this world. People's opinions, their feelings, they go one way, then the other. It just so happens you grew up at a certain point in this process."

While the film barely deviates from the novel, I was a little disappointed that the "secret" of Hailsham is revealed so soon. In the novel, the story builds to that point, releasing clues, but never explaining everything, until those clues wash over the reader in a wave of shock and understanding.

Of course, that "secret" is not the main theme of the film, or the novel. The main theme is love and the ways in which it can be shared. How souls intertwine and relationships build... and sometimes crumble.

(Read my (short) review of the novel here.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Do you think that they saw my post?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University

When I was in high school, my cousins bought tickets for the three of us to see the band Jars of Clay. They're a Christian band, but I liked them for many other reasons - the songs were catchy and they didn't seem to have a super-religious overtone. But wow. We were in for a surprise. The "concert" ended up being a evangelical come-to-Jesus kind of thing with a multitude of bands intercut with preaching, testifying, and singing, and when Jars of Clay finally emerged, they only played five songs.

What made it really strange to us, though, having grown up just as Christian as everyone else (so we thought), was that everyone around us seemed to know the various prayers and hymns. "You know the song! Sing along!" And everyone around us would be belting out lyrics, one arm raised to the ceiling and the other on the heart, and the three of us glanced at each other, confused. Left out.

Then people began running down to the stage to be "saved," and we decided that it was time to leave. We were worried that someone would notice that we were different and try to convert us. Try to get us to be... saved.

It wasn't until recently that I finally understood that event.

When I put The Unlikely Disciple on hold at the library, there were nine people ahead of me on the waitlist. And now that I've finished it, I understand why. It is a best-seller because the author experienced first-hand what it was like to enter the evangelical Christian community as an outsider, and the book was received so well because the author chose to learn why these people tick rather than writing a tell-all mocking them.

Kevin Roose, a student at Brown University, enrolled at Liberty University for one semester with the goal of learning more about a community of people with beliefs far from his own. Founded by the controversial evangelical minister, Jerry Falwell, Kevin immersed himself in a completely new lifestyle for months. He joined the choir at Falwell's church, he made good friends, he learned to follow The Liberty Way, and he even dated a bit (of course, hand-holding was as far as he could go physically, or he could run the risk of paying a fine and earning demerits).

What he discovered at "America's Holiest University" was that the students, staff, and faculty were, for the most part, very good people who truly believed in Jesus, the Gospel, and spreading the word of God. And getting through college.

Oh, and finding a spouse, of course.

But Liberty University had policies that made Kevin shake with rage, especially their deeply-held rule against the teaching of evolution and the criminalization and immorality of homosexuality. Professors were carefully chosen by the administration, and anyone who threatened to overturn the set curriculum was dismissed.

Once in a while, at one of the tri-weekly convocation sessions, someone would be "saved." He or she would accept Jesus and pledge to live his or her life in service of the Lord. And it would be the talk of campus. The whole thing was somewhat interesting, until it was revealed that only those who were "saved" would be accepted into Heaven. Your religion didn't matter - Catholic? Methodist ? Baptist? Sorry! You're going to Hell.

Unless you get the call to serve the Lord, of course.

Roose writes very, very well. The book flowed more like a work of fiction than an autobiographical account, and it was almost impossible to set down. Roose maintained his journalistic integrity, but peppered his account with his own thoughts and opinions, making the narrative even richer. The fact that he was very deeply opposed to many of the things that occurred on Liberty's campus made it more than an interesting read - one had to wonder if he was ever going to snap.

And there was always the chance that he would be discovered as an outsider.

I highly recommend this book. I would especially encourage those of you with a more liberal mindset to consider picking it up, as it really gives humanity and truth to a group of people who, I think, are mostly misunderstood as crazy, religious zealots.

Had I read a book like this before going to that concert years ago, the whole experience would have made much more sense. I wouldn't have been as confused (and frankly, scared), and perhaps I would have been able to enjoy myself more.

But I probably wouldn't have gone down to be "saved." I'm a hell-bound Catholic, after all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Proofreading for Retarded Monkeys

My boss made me take a Proofreading course offered by HR. I find this humorous, as I routinely find multiple errors in almost every written thing he produces, but I forget to add a motherfucking comma just once, and I am the antichrist. I'm sorry -- the retarded antichrist.

Luckily for me, this course is on South Campus, near the football stadium, and it's fairly close to my house. Plus, it's from 1-4, ensuring that once I catch the bus back to Central Campus, there will be about six minutes left in the work day. So I get a free hour.

Amazingly, this course is offered in two sessions.

The first day was beyond painful. People there represented offices from all over campus, including the President's Office, the Law School, and the Development Office.

And they were... oh my gosh, you wouldn't believe how stupid these people were. We (and by "we," I mean "everyone except me") had a ten-minute debate over the placement of apostrophes, and I wanted to jump out of the window:

"But I don't understand. You said that the car belonged to Kevin, so it should be Kevins's car, right?"

I did learn some things, however. I learned that the University follows the grammatical rules put forth by the Chicago Manual of Style, which is nice because it's the guide used by most historians. I also learned that the final comma has returned when listing a multitude of items, which pretty much made the entire course worth the headaches.

For the past few years, the following sentence would be correct:

"I am going to the store to buy apples, bananas and oranges."

This always pissed me off to no end - bananas and oranges are NOT ONE UNIT. Luckily, my rage found salvation while sitting in this course. While the above is considered acceptable, the preferred sentence is below:

"I am going to the store to buy apples, bananas, and oranges."


Oh, and did you know that "MA" no longer needs periods, but "Ph.D." still does? FACT.

And... that's about all that I learned. I did get to finish worksheet after worksheet listing the plurals of fifty different words, finding the typos in form letters, and use a piece of paper to read only one line of a paragraph at a time.

So it was an amazing use of my time, is what I'm saying.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Like most people, I'm guessing, I have more than one email address. There is my work email address, which delivers nothing but boringness, pain, work, headaches, and more work. And anything from my boss, which makes me want to murder things.

Then there is also my regular, non-work email address, which receives lovely email messages from my friends and family, as well as an email alert when one of you nice people comments on something I write here. Also sometimes I get reminders of the hair appointment that I have coming up this month, and ways in which I can cancel this appointment for whatever reason (this month's reason: lack of money). Also, I get updates from The Facebook, which are basically the only times I manage to check The Facebook.

But then there exists my "other" email address. This is the email I use when signing up for free shit online, for emails from Borders and Barnes & Noble, grocery store coupons, and something called "Clean Water Action." I think that I signed their petition once. All I remember is that it possibly had something to do with Candians or Ohioans trying to steal Michigan's water. I don't recall. I just knew that I didn't want Canadians or Ohioans anywhere near our water.

(I don't like Canadians, by the way, for no good reason. My main reason? Alex Trebek. He's Canadian and I pretty much hate him. Hence, I hate Canada).

Right, so there are actually a few other email addresses, but one is used only for when I am applying for jobs, so it hasn't been utilized lately, and the other might have something else to do with this blog, but I can't remember. And I can't be fucked to find out.

Anyway, I have the "other" email. I have it courtesy of yahoo. It seems fine, and I've had it for years. I don't think that I've ever really had a problem with it. But as this is the email address that gets screwed, this is also where I get the most amazing amount of junk mail and spam.

I received this one today, which inspired this blog post.

From: Bra
To: recipient@yahoo.com (it looks like I replaced my name with "recipient," but I did not. This is actually how it was addressed, which honestly makes me wonder how I got it at all. "Recipient" is not my name.)

Then, there was this gorgeous photo, peppered with words and phrases that may or may not have been added by someone for whom English is a second language.

Also, maybe they would luck out, and one of their "recipients" would be preggers!

I don't think that she is pregnant. Maybe a little sad, though. It's her eyes.

But I'm still trying to figure out how I got on this mailing list. Do you think that National Geographic sells email addresses? Because it's my first suspect.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


For years, Ann Arborites learned to rake their leaves, and when the designated day arrived, push them into the street for a massive sucker-truck to come collect them. What happened to the leaves was anyone's guess. I'm hoping that we took them to Canada or something. To Alex Trebek's front lawn, preferably.

This year, to save money, there will be no sucky-truck coming to suck up the leaves. Inevitably, half of the people in my neighborhood will shove their massive leaf piles into the street, large enough that an idiot child could choose any one of them for a hiding place (which means that I can't barrel through them in the Focus, fucking kids), and there will be absolutely nowhere to park.

But there are some people out there, hoping to make a little fast cash:

Leave the clean-up where?

Monday, November 01, 2010