Monday, January 31, 2011


Intuition, a novel by Allegra Goodman, is about a world I have never experienced: the world of a cancer research lab and the quest for a cure. Goodman creates wonderfully real characters, and as flawed as they are, you still like them. You still want to know more about them.

Sometimes authors let their characters be pulled along by the story, as if their inclusion is merely a passing thought. With some books, the characters are so one-dimensional and predictable it's as if the author believed the story to be good enough without significant character development.

Not so with Intuition. And that is its predominant strength. Goodman's writing is a close second.

Intuition follows the lives of several post-doctoral students toiling away in a cancer research lab run by two eminent researchers. Some have more success with their experiments than others, and jealousy, pride, and ahem... intuition come into play.

Cliff is struggling with his assignment. The virus he had been injecting into the test mice was doing nothing to cure their cancer. He is aware that his appointment at Boston's Philpott Institute is in jeopardy, but he can't imagine not doing research.

His girlfriend, Robin, a fellow post-doc at the Institute, understands his pain. Her research interests have been pushed aside while she is expected to conduct experiments for the good of the lab and she is frustrated. Her life is research - it's what she's good at. She's working on getting better at her personal life.

And then we have Marion Mendelssohn and Sandy Glass. Sandy, the head of the Philpott, is a brilliant oncologist, though a bit headstrong. Marion, his colleague and professional partner, is more collected and inquisitive. These two characters have everything and yet nothing in common. They work together quite well, and are, at first glance, stereotypical opposites. But Goodman doesn't let that happen. She created a beautiful partnership in Mendelssohn and Glass, and doesn't allow them to evolve into parodies even when faced with crippling negativity.

The plot is actually quite simple: Cliff's experiments start to get positive results and Robin is seemingly jealous. What follows is a whirlwind that no one expects. The ending is perfect.

Goodman writes so well. She equalizes the most trivial processes and specific scientific terms with her descriptions of the human experience, bringing the reader to a level footing. By explaining the scientific jargon - but not treating the reader like an idiot - she is able to make every sentence interesting and important. A story that could have drowned in terms is enhanced by her style. Her extensive exploration of cancer research, lab environments, and post-doctoral attitudes just enhances the book's quality.

Goodman introduces a good number of secondary and tertiary characters, and you can't help but enjoy each and every one. She allows each to be more than just background - they all enhance the plot.

Intuition was languishing on my bookshelf for over a year. I am so glad that I finally gave it a chance.

Monday, January 24, 2011

It's FINE!

Everyone at work thinks that I should just "give up" and "let it die," but I think that they are all extremely pessimistic. I think that it's got a little life left, in a Charlie Brown Christmas sort of way:

Besides it is NOT my fault that I didn't water it for like, a week. I was the one to pick off all the dead petal/leaves, wasn't I?

Whatever. I've been told that it has until the end of the week. PRAY. FOR. MOJO. you guys.

Did I mention that it's a poinsettia? Yeah...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

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.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

It Was So Freaking Good, You Guys

The last time I ate at Five Guys was sometime in 2007. Because I made the decision to move back to Michigan so quickly, I really didn't have time to do all of the things that I wanted to do before leaving DC (most were food and alcohol related). That included visiting Five Guys for a caloric free-for-all.

When an Ann Arbor bookstore closed last summer, its amazing location was just begging for something to appeal to the college crowd. Right in the heart of campus, I pretty much jumped for joy upon learning of the new tenants.

I didn't go on opening day - good thing, too, as I would have had a bit of a wait. The line led out the door and wrapped around the corner - ironically, just as it did when the store was one of the student bookstores. It wasn't that long when I hopped in line, but there was still a bit of a wait. Although this time, I knew that I wouldn't be buying a grossly overpriced 150-page paperback (that I would later only be able to sell back at one twentieth of the price), and instead get a fabulous burger.

I splurged and got fries, too, because it was a banner day. A banner day, you guys! I took my lunch to my desk and proceeded to stink up the entire office with the smell of french fries and beef. Mmmmmm... beef.

God, I love a good burger.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Look how fat they are!

My neighbors fill up that bird feeder every single morning, and by nightfall, it's empty. Lards.

At one point, there were FOUR squirrels on this feeder, but two of them were intelligent enough to take off when I edged closer and closer with my camera.

These two? Too engrossed in becoming enormous.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

This Is What Happens When Left Alone to My Thoughts

Mike's mom got me a neat calendar for Christmas (among many other fabulous gifts), and it's already provided me with daily entertainment.

For example, there are word searches and mazes, opportunities to doodle and daydream, and I have done JUST THAT.

For example, this day asks, "If you could, what would you write on your office's hallway wall?" So many things, calendar. SO MANY THINGS.

They can totally suck it.

This day requests that I "Doodle the planet this guy is going to land on." Fine:

I bet he didn't know that the planet was full of
bloodthirsty killer cats and lovely flowers.

So Mary - was this what you expected? You're only aiding my eventually fall into insanity, you know.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Today Can Suck It

I set two alarms this morning. TWO. You'd think that two alarms would be enough to get my ass out of bed on time, but no.

No, they were not.

I have cause to think that there may be something legitimately wrong with me. Why do I not get out of bed? What is wrong in my brain? I get out of bed to walk across the room and turn off the alarm, so why do I crawl back in?

I think that I should look into this.

An hour after the alarm first sounded, I finally jumped out of bed, grabbed my glasses from the nightstand, and promptly dropped them on the floor. I was still half asleep and it took me a minute to even figure out what happened, and I think that I spun in a circle or two, looking around.

I picked up the glasses, ran to the bathroom, hopped in the shower, and managed to get ready in record time.

After slapping makeup on my face, I grabbed my glasses. But. Something was wrong. They were slightly crooked.

One of the nose-rest piece things was gone. Gone!

Cut to me crawling around on the floor, half dressed, searching for a clear little nose piece and an itty-bitty screw. Miraculously, I found them both!

And then I almost immediately dropped the screw down the heating vent.

Then I remembered that most of the area had been bombarded with freezing sleet and rain since about 2 a.m., and my street was ignored, AS USUAL. My subdivision was a disaster, but the main roads were fine. Of course, this didn't stop people from driving FIFTEEN mph in a FORTY zone.


And then I ate all of my remaining Green Apple Tic Tacs for breakfast, and they are gone, and I am now sad.

Is it time for lunch yet?

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's Cold, But Not TOO Cold. Nothing's Too Cold For Evil Genius Cat

"What do you think you're doing, walking to the bus stop?
Do you think that I care about your bus?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Best Thing to Happen All Weekend

Mike found these at the gas station:

See, and I thought that the only non-mint Tic Tacs worth a damn were the orange ones. These are spectacular, and I am now on a mission to find every single pack in southeastern Michigan.

The snozzberries taste like snozzberries, you guys!

Friday, January 14, 2011


I'm not really sure where to start with this one. Have you seen Fight Club? Or better - have you read the book? If you answered "yes" to either of those questions, then you are fairly aware of the nature of Palahniuk's imagination and originality. Or insanity. I'm not sure. If not, then I highly recommend opening your mind to his prose. Start with this book!

Rant: An Oral History of Buster Casey tells the title character's biography using oral history interviews. Palahniuk introduces characters by their own narratives, one by one, and as the reader learns more and more about them, from their own interviews and those of others, he becomes fully entrenched.

The only character we never hear from directly is Rant himself, as he is dead. Or presumed dead.

As usual, I am wary of giving away too much plot for fear of ruining your own reading experience. I would feel awful if I deprived you of any sharp intakes of breath or any exclamations of incredulity.

But really, the main reason that I am having such a difficult time with this review is because Rant is a colossal, amazing, ridiculous mind fuck. And I mean that in the best possible way.

By blending science fiction and what we consider to be the "normal" human experience, Palahniuk created a world that seems completely plausible. And terrifying. The reader simply accepts that some of the citizens in this United States are "Daytimers," while others - the more undesirable lot - are "Nighttimers." Throw in a rabies outbreak, ports, "party crashing," and a healthy dose of fear, this mandated class-based society begins to unravel with even the threat of infection.

The real star of this novel is Palahniuk's writing. I even stopped to write down some of the best lines. When describing one of the characters as pretty, he wrote, "...the pretty you only look when you love the person taking the picture." I think that I mulled over that one sentence fragment for five minutes. Think about it - what a great thought.

This form of storytelling, the oral history, might be slightly unusual when reading fiction, but is not new. Palahniuk's writing is fluid and powerful, and its strength comes from the fact that the characters are "interviewed" after the true story has already happened. There are mini cliffhangers peppered throughout the text that found me flipping through the pages as quickly as possible, and never once did the story falter. Palahniuk cleverly included a "disclaimer" that easily explained away any inconsistencies in the text by explaining that oral histories may have contradictions because people remember their pasts differently than others.

But I never really noticed contradictions.

All of the "interviews" are mostly with people who knew Rant best: his family in Middleton and his "big city" compatriots - fellow Party Crashers. Additionally, we hear from anthropologists, epidemiologists, historians, and government officials. Because of Rant's actions, he's become both an urban legend and a hero. A boogeyman and a role model. He dared to question the status quo and for that he is both feared and revered.

Other reviewers have read Palahniuk's work before. I have not. They were not nearly as enthused as I was after finishing Rant, but still praised his work. I saw a lot of Fight Club in this novel, with an alternate reality and a secret otherworld, and they were similar enough that it helped me to understand the story. I'm sure that some readers might be annoyed by the similarities, but I found them refreshing. I do wonder, however, if this is the format followed by the majority of Palahniuk's novels.

The complexity of Rant is only palatable if one opens his mind to the possibility of a very different world. Allow yourself to be completely absorbed by this world and let go.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Predictive Text, You Win Again

Clearly you were correct. Clearly you are always correct.

When I wanted to type the word "hurts," as part of the sentence, "My ass hurts," because I'm a moron and I fell on the ice, and you thought that I wanted to type "My ass gurus."

Ass gurus.

And then, "My ass gusts."


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Christin!

Today is my cousin Christin's birthday! We're only two years apart, so we grew up together taking ballet, going camping, making up ridiculous plays, and the like.

Though she's far away in Arizona, I know that she's having a happy day - she's like bottled sunshine!

Happy Birthday, my beautiful cousin!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Could Have Broken a Hip, You Guys

So not only am I an old woman with creaky knees, but I'm pretty sure I broke my ass today.

Or I bruised my tailbone. WHATEVER.

It started snowing today around two in the afternoon. I can't pinpoint it exactly, because my office is in the basement (ahem: lower level) and I am completely cut off from the outside world. We don't get cell phone reception down there either.

In short, it's pretty much Hell.

I went upstairs to text Mike around four (to tell him that Michigan finally hired a football coach), and I noticed that the outside was totally white.

We've had snow on and off for the past few weeks, and there was already a good amount on the ground, but it was accumulating pretty quickly.

I cut through buildings on the way to the bus stop, spending as little time outside as possible, and when I was walking out of the final one, I slipped and bump-Bump-BUMPED down the steps. More shocked than anything else, it wasn't until I stood up that I realized I was in for a world of pain.

The first few steps to the sidewalk were painful. Like, REALLY painful. Obviously, I was convinced that I was dying.

Luckily, I had driven to work. I winced my way to the parking garage and eased myself into the driver's seat.

It was a long three-minute drive home, let me tell you.

Added 1-17-11: I AM STILL BRUISED.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

I'm Not Really All That Ready For Some Football

I'm... a little sick of football.

With the college bowl games almost over, I was looking forward to hockey. Just lots and lots of hockey.

But Mike woke up like a kid on Christmas today: "NFL Playoffs start today! NFL Playoffs start today!!!!!"

After the Lions pulled out four wins in a row, something that was both miraculous and inspiring - especially for the long-suffering, yet loyal fans here in Michigan - I have to admit that I was a little excited, too. But then it was the end of the season, the Lions were definitely NOT moving on, and I was fine with that.

But now I have another month or so of football to watch. It's fine, really, it's just that I like college football more. And Jesus does, too.

Jesus wears football sandals.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

This Is Why You Don't Open Presents Early

About a week before Christmas, Mike conned me into opening one gift early. I gave in. What can I say? He's really cute.

At this point, I was not finished shopping. And the two things that I knew he really wanted? Were definitely NOT yet under the tree.

I opened a gift first. It was the Friends Scene-It DVD game! I've been wanting it for years, but no one would buy it for me for fear that I would want to play the game and thus beat my opponent to a bloody, whimpering pulp.

Mike excitedly looked from gift to gift, finally settling on an innocent-looking cube. He tore the snowflake-covered paper off and ripped into the box - violently taped closed to contain what was within.

There were four items inside, all thickly wrapped with tissue paper. One by one, he unwrapped four different foaming hand soaps from Bath & Body Works!

He... was disappointed.

Nobody loves me.

I immediately went on the defensive. "But you like the soap from there! You don't want to buy it yourself! You're running out of it in at least two bathrooms!"

And his response each time?

"I got... soap."

Then he decided that I tricked him into opening the horrible, evil soap, even though that is NOT what happened at all. I merely mentioned that the box he settled on was a "good choice." He knew of almost every gift that he was to receive, and the box he chose was actually a surprise!

"You got a kick-ass game to play with and I got... soap."

Of course, come Christmas (well, Christmas Eve - we couldn't wait), he received many delectable gifts from yours truly. And yet he still returns to... the soap.

"My hands are really clean! And they smell so nice!"

It's a good thing that I love him.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell


Well, it was long. Over 1000 pages, and it took me a very long time to read (it's been a few months since I first cracked it open). It sat on my shelf numerous times as I read other books. I wasn't really compelled to read it, and there were days when I would only read a chapter at a time.

It seems like I am composing its death sentence here, yes? It sounds like it's not worth the effort, right? On the contrary...

This book was excellent. BUT. It is not for everyone. Let me just start by saying that many online reviewers have pegged Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell as "Harry Potter for adults."

No no no no no. NO.

The only thing that this book shares with Harry Potter is magic. And that is all. And it certainly isn't the same kind of magic found in Harry Potter. If you want a quick read, then... well, read Harry Potter. This is not a quick or easy read. It is difficult and time-consuming, and it must be read very carefully (there are footnotes, people. Footnotes!), but it is SO worth it.

Susanna Clarke has created a masterpiece that feels like a historical text at times (she uses people and events from history, like Napoleon, Lord Wellington, and the Battle of Waterloo), and like fantasy at others (faeries, other worlds, incantations). And concurrently, by diligently sticking to the social norms of the time, she has created a text in the style of Jane Austen. It is unlike anything I have ever read.

JS&MN is - to completely overuse the word - magical. Its writing is absolutely superb. There were slow parts, yes, but Clarke's prose made even the dullest subjects interesting. The social commentary, the historical details, and above all else, the character development, make this book one of the best I've read in years.

What is about, you ask?


Set in the early 19th century, magic has been absent from England for hundreds of years. The mysterious departure of the Raven King, a man brought up in the land of Faerie, removed magic from the lands. Learned men study theoretical magic, but no one has actually been able to practice magic - not for lack of trying, however. They are just unable to make magic work.

When Gilbert Norrell sweeps into London from Yorkshire, determined to prove that he is the only worthy magician in all of England, he demands that all theoretical magicians cease their studies immediately. With help, he quickly climbs the social and political ladder, proving himself indispensable to both the Prime Minister and Lord Wellington. His popularity is at an all time high after performing magic to help a man and his new bride.

But when Jonathan Strange enters his circle and grabs London's attention, Norrell seeks him out immediately. You see, Strange announced that he, too, is a magician, and Strange is threatened. Strange becomes Norrell's student, and while Strange is eager to make advances in his studies, Norrell cuts him off from his famed Yorkshire library, limiting Strange to theoretical texts only.

And the practice of magic is strictly forbidden.

As you might imagine, Strange does not take well to this prohibition and before long, the plot thickens, as they say. Strange begins dabbling in darker forms of magic and soon the world around him changes, his loved ones change, and he puts the whole of Europe in a panic.

Norrell is a fascinating character in that his pride and social ineptness have removed him from society and severely limit his abilities to be a leader. When challenged, as he soon is, he retreats into a world of secrets and refuses to give up power. He desires change, but is terrified to return to the past -- the past of the powerful Raven King.

Strange also desires change, but he will stop at nothing to get it.

Don't let yourself revert back to college by ignoring footnotes -- the information included there is almost always important to the plot, because it includes stories and lore of the Raven King's past. (Not a spoiler - the Raven King is kind of a big deal.)

I can say with all certainty that some people are going to be underwhelmed with this book. It moves slowly, plot points seem to fade away, and there doesn't seem to be much going on. At the same time, others will gobble this book up.

If you feel yourself losing interest, or wondering when it's going to pick up the pace, do try to stick with it. It is immensely rewarding.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

So Are These Like, the Slap Bracelets of the Day?

So I got free rubber bracelet things from my coffeehouse today. What the fuck are these things, anyway? When I don't have it on my wrist, it's the company logo. When I wore it for five seconds (long enough to take the picture), it looked like a retarded, wonky mess.

What the hell is this? Is this supposed to look cool? Because it does not. It looks stupid.

Not that we didn't wear stupid things in the eighties. Scrunchy socks, pegged jeans, overalls with one shoulder unclasped? We looked dumb.

Remember slap bracelets though? Those things were super sweet. Of course, my elementary school banned them because the administration was convinced that we were going to sever our arteries with them. Clearly.

Hey, we were pretty much the last generation to be allowed to play with lawn darts. I think that we could handle bracelets. God.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Mike gave me an amazing gift this Christmas - a gorgeous watch. I got him soap, but that's a story for another day.

Now, I don't doubt that he wanted me to have something pretty. And it is. IT'S SO PRETTY. But I do think that he might have had ulterior motives in mind.

The last time I wore a watch was over five years ago. It was the same watch that I had since 1998: a gift from my parents during my freshman year of college. I loved that watch. It was dainty and sweet, and it fit my bony wrist perfectly. I had to have almost half of the links removed in order for it to fit, and I replaced an infrequent dead battery immediately. This watch worked just fine - why get another?

Annnnnnd I lost it in DC coming home from the bar. The clasp had worn down and I hadn't really noticed. And I had been at Ella's, so... free sangria isn't always a good thing.

So I went without. I had my cell phone anyway, and could check the time almost as quickly as looking at my wrist.

But Mike said that he wanted me to have something pretty. And then he got me the prettiest watch ever:


Thing is - and this is where ulterior motives might come into play - I am notoriously bad when it comes to punctuality. My whole family knows it, and while it annoys them, they have come to expect it. They also know how to deal with it - they tell me to be there 30 minutes before they really need me to be there.

Mike has adopted this practice, and I have to tell you - when I am actually there when he mandates, and he's not ready? It's annoying!

Taste of my own medicine, I suppose.

I realize that having a watch will probably not make me magically arrive places on time. But it sure is pretty. And I love it.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


Nope, not an Anchorman reference.

This year, I am participating in Pajiba's Cannonball Read III.

Basically, I read a book a week, write a review, and if it's good enough, it might get posted on the main pajiba site. Neat!

I don't think that this will change the amount of regular posts here, though you might get more pictures of fat squirrels and fewer instances of the moronic thing that I did that day, I don't know. There really is no end to the moronic things that I do, so I think that we're okay.

But I'm thinking that I will be re-posting some of my reviews from the past. Maybe this will remind people to read them, I don't know.

Monday, January 03, 2011


So, um, 30 Seconds to Mars - Here's the thing...

I think that you're just fine. I really do. I get what you're trying to do. I've enjoyed what I've heard on the radio, which is pretty much that Kings and Queens song that the stations played 2300 times a day. It was catchy and angst-ridden, which is exactly what I would expect from Jordan Catalano.

I've since heard a few more songs, which... do they all feature a live audience? Do you ever have a hit song that is recorded in a studio?

Just wondering.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

I Want to Lose Weight. Shocker!

Do I have to do an obligatory "New Year's Resolution" post?

Because I don't want to.

Coincidentally, I don't want to do any of my resolutions, either.

The only thing that I really want to focus on this year, besides learning how to be more patient (yeah, right) is getting in better shape. Cliche, I know, but this past year has really shown me what happens when one grows older. One gets fatter.

So what about you? Have any resolutions that are more exciting than mine?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

2011? Really?

Happy New Year, you guys!

How was your night? Mine was pretty sweet, except for the migraine, but we'll get to that later.

Mike and I joined my brother and sister-in-law at Roast, a phenomenal restaurant in downtown Detroit. The food was fantastic - we all ordered steaks and shared a few different sides. Was it the best steak I've ever had? Pretty much (though the steak I devoured at the Boulevard Woodgrill in Arlington, Virginia, is probably a close second).

(Oh, and let me interject here - I was forbidden from taking pictures by both Mike and Steven. They said that it would be "embarrassing." So I do not have pictures of said food, or of any of us. All to keep the sensitive men folk from being embarrassed.)

Now, I like my steaks cooked, but just barely. I can't imagine anyone ever wanting a steak to be cooked well done. It makes me shudder, actually. And as I am currently reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, I can pretty much guarantee that you never want to order a nice cut of meat to be cooked well done.

Trust me on this. And read that book.

Anyway, I ordered mine medium rare. And wow. It was amazing.

Enough about my food. I know that you are all dying to find out what wild and crazy things that we did after dinner.

Well, first we drove back to Mike's house, stopping for gas on the way, because apparently I am a complete moron who only notices the fuel tank when it is practically blinking red and threatening to explode. Wondering if we were going to be hoofing it down Michigan Avenue? Priceless.

It gets infinitely more ridiculous from here. And by ridiculous, I mean lame. Super lame!

I had made some delicious snacks, including a twist on caprese salad, cookies, chips and guacamole, and even deviled eggs. I introduced my brother to black velvets.

Then we played the Harry Potter Scene It! dvd game. Because we are THAT COOL.

We also played the Friends version (a Christmas gift), but I was preemptively silenced for five seconds before I was allowed to answer a question. It was UNFAIR. I still won, of course, but still. It's the principle of the thing.

After they all got their asses handed to them, we returned to Harry Potter, briefly switching to tv at 11:59 to see Dick Clark in all his robotic glory.

My head had been pounding for some time at this point, and once Steven and Kari left for home, I popped a migraine pill and fell asleep in the living room. I don't know what time I woke up and went to bed, but it was a great way to ring in the new year!

Here's to a great 2011 and to ALWAYS remembering that red wine makes my head want to explode.