Sunday, December 09, 2007

Five Things

I've been tagged by KT at Fluffy Puffy Puppy and now I have to do this:

If you have been tagged, please follow these rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So, let us begin.

1). I realized yesterday that I can't recall ever doing homework at home during high school. Surely I must have done at least some, but I don't remember -- don't remember ever sitting at my desk or on the floor with my lap desk, working on anything for school. I think I did it all during my free study periods or during other people's scenes in drama classes or over at my friend Katherine's house. It's almost like my house was too comfy to concentrate on doing my homework. I mean, I'm sure I must have written the occasional paper there or something, but I don't know. I had easy classes all through high school, though, so that would account for a lot of it.

2). I have a half-finished novel that I wrote. I keep pushing back the finish date goal. Now it's by my 40th birthday. First it was by my 30th, then my 35th. My sister hates this about me. I once let her read the beginnings of a novel I started writing back in college that I scrapped sometime in my mid-twenties, and she's been angry with me ever since for never finishing it and leaving her hanging. (Stace -- here's what I know: it was to have a happy ending, but first the main character was going to lose someone else close to her and then she would come of age by traveling around the world on her own. Because isn't that how we all come of age?)

3). Since it's getting near Christmas, I'll share this: my favorite Christmas movies are all the uber-schlocky ones they show on ABC Family and the Hallmark channel all the month of December. It is entirely possible to watch only Christmas movies for an entire weekend, even if you stay up all night. My all-time fave was always The Night They Saved Christmas, starring former Charlie's Angel Jaclyn Smith as the mom. My new faves are Snow, in which Tom Cavanagh plays the son of Santa Claus, and Ashley Williams (sister of Kimberly Williams-Paisley, of Father of the Bride and marriage to Brad Paisley fame) as his love interest. The only really bad part of this movie is right at the very end, where Tom and Ashley ride off in the sleigh and the effects are just terrible. I also watched one called Sons of Mistletoe yesterday, with the guy who played the fiance in Father of the Bride; he plays this guy who runs a small boys home which Roma Downey as the cold NYC businesswoman is planning to sell and thus shut down; of course he and the boys from the home melt her cold steely heart, and all ends happily because... it is a Christmas movie.

I also love Prancer. Classic, classic, classic.

The one Christmas movie I absolutely loathe? A Christmas Story. Everyone I know loves this stupid movie, and I just don't get it. Never have, never will. Hate that Peter Billingsley kid, hate the movie. Seriously, just an ad for this movie makes me cranky. Talk about overhyped -- this movie is in the dictionary next to the word.

4). I hate the great outdoors. I think this is probably the weirdest thing about me. I mean, what kind of human being hates the outdoors? And not just the great outdoors, like the mountains or whatever -- I just hate being outside in general. There are a couple of reasons for this -- first of all, I'm allergic to about 90% of whatever's out there. So generally, I go outside, and 10 minutes later I'm miserable, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, etc. etc. And also, being sent outside was punishment for reading too much and being too solitary when I was a child, so it still feels vaguely like punishment now. So I just resent and resist it. I think because of this, I am more appreciative of the times when I am truly able to enjoy a day outdoors.

5). I was in a sorority in college and I loved every minute of it. Make of that what you will.

So, I tag Melissa, Doreen, Trent, Rob, and Heather. I am far too lazy to engage in the lengthy process which would allow me to link to any of their blogs, but they will read this and they will list their five things.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Christmas Wish Lists

Okey dokey, here are the Christmas wishes for our family "Secret Santas" ...

Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel -- the eau de cologne type about $50.
Or half of a year wine of the month??????

-A really warm pair of winter gloves -- black,size L or XL depending on make. He has seen them in Cabela's catalog -- they are called Cabela's Gore-Tex Thinsulate Men's gloves. Probably size L. $29.95 list price. I'm sure the sports stores have similar gloves.
-Also the new Celine DION cd (Taking Chances).

I want a set of soft pastels. Here's a specific link since no one would even know what they are otherwise - if you scroll way down to the bottom, the ones I want are the Set of 60 - Half-Sticks for $44.99 (2nd up from the bottom):
If that's too geeky, I could also use a cute hat/gloves to go with my black wool coat, or a half-zip pullover fleece to wear hiking and stuff.

Nate wants a hat and shoes like these ones at LL Bean. Size 12 and the brown color for the shoes. The hat doesn't have to be this specific one - he just wants one of these baseball hats with the fold down ear flap - they also have them at Eddie Bauer and outdoorsy stores.

the Ugly Betty Season 1 DVD set.

Our Big Dumb World book by the Onion, and an iTunes gift card.

Linens and Things gift card.

Barnes and Noble gift card.


Daniel is "probably" going to receive a Nintendo DS from Santa Claus and he would like games for that -- little kid and educational games. Older games labeled for Game Boy are also compatible with the Nintendo DS. He is also a huge fan of the Borders or Barnes and Noble gift card and loves nothing more than being able to go the bookstore and buy his own books with his own "credit card."

Aspen could use some warm clothes for the mountains -- especially a hat and mittens. She could also use a warm coat/snowsuit. She's got lots of toys, but books or bath toys would be nice. She's pretty easy to please.

Happy Shopping, everyone!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Awesome Bag

Whenever I go to Canada, I can't stay away from the Roots store. This time we got sweatshirts for Daniel and Aspen, and a slew of t-shirts for Rob and I. But the best purchase was this, my awesome bag:

I love this bag for three reasons:

1). It is huge. See how it dwarfs the actual scrapbooking tote next to it? It is ginormous, and therefore it is awesome.

2). Inside, it has special pockets designated for a cell phone, an iPod, and headphones. These pockets are awesome because they perfectly fit my cell phone, my iPod, and my headphones, and because these pockets are awesome, the bag is awesome.

3). It is the color of the maple leaf on the Canadian flag, and therefore it is awesome.


All I asked was for one nice smile. One teeny, tiny nice smile for a photo showing off Daniel's favorite shirt and latest haircut. But oh no. Because... he's Daniel.


We went to my aunt Gail and uncle Kevin's to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. Below is my favorite cousin Shelby and her boyfriend...

Here's Daniel with his hero, cousin Zachary.
And here's Daniel with cousin Jake, who gave Daniel jellybeans before dinner. That adds up to a way cool cousin.

Niagara Falls

We headed to Niagara Falls on our last day in Ontario. Unfortunately it was real rainy and foggy that day and so much steam was rising from the center of the Horseshoe, we didn't get a really nice view of it. Rob was very disappointed as he'd never been there before. Oh well -- we'll go back next time.

Isn't Daniel a cutie pie in his new Roots hoodie? Yeah, I thought so too.

Toronto Zoo

We took Daniel and cousin Noah to the Toronto Zoo to see the dinosaurs... which, admittedly, sounds a bit weird given that dinosaurs are extinct. But there was this traveling exhibit at the zoo with life-size animatronic dinosaurs, like the ones used in Jurassic Park, and we thought it would be fun to go see them. It gave a whole new perspective that you don't get just from seeing the reconstructed fossils at the natural history museum -- T-Rex was enormous and frightening, and the Allosaurus was vicious looking. Below, Daniel and Noah imitate T-Rex.

We weren't that excited about the rest of the zoo, although it did have an outstanding children's experience area with things like these sea turtle shells to climb into and a bunch of other stuff to climb and play on.
Daniel and Noah found a hippo statue to climb on. Actually, there were very few things Daniel and Noah didn't want to climb...


So we spent a couple of days in Cornwall with my grandparents and made sure to hit a few highlights: the chip wagon for fish and chips...
Quebec, just to say we'd been...
and the cemetery at Nana's church, so we could see her and Poppa's plot. Morbid, yes, but it was important to her that we go see it. Actually, the graveyard is quite lovely. I find that often to be the case with graveyards -- they're quite peaceful and pretty. There are graves dating to the 1600s in this cemetery. Some of them are so old the engravings are completely worn away from weather.

Great Poppa/Great Nana

Some photos from our recent trip to Canada. Daniel had a wonderful time visiting with his Great Poppa and Great Nana, and they were both so happy to have Daniel there. I wish we could have stayed longer. Daniel really liked learning about the river from Poppa, and all the hugs and ice-cream he received from Nana. He also got to ride on all of Poppa's fun toys... the motorized scooter chair, and the chair that Poppa has to ride up and down the stairs. Of course I didn't think it was such a great idea that Poppa let Daniel try and drive the scooter, and of course I was right -- Daniel nearly crashed it into the neighbor's garage door. But Poppa thought that was funny. We slipped some Lancaster perch onto Daniel's dinner plate on night and told him it was chicken. He ate it all but told us it tasted strange. Hee.

Rob gets his electronic hand held Yahtzee! on.


We did trick-or-treating with Daniel's best friend Andrew and Andrew's sister Casey, as well as their cousins. Here are some photos of the kids checking out their haul. And Andrew's blue tongue, which his mother was not keen to take a picture of but I was all, "Stick out your tongue, Andrew!" and snapped it twice to make sure it came out right.

The kids before trick-or-treating -- Daniel was a mummy. It was impossible to get them to all look at the camera at the same time, but at least they all look cute.

The Package Shark

So I'm sitting here watching tv as usual (VH-1 Classic -- Eddie and the Cruisers just ended, and now Mark Goodman is about to play the "Do They Know It's Christmas?" video, which as we all know was the better and cooler predecessor to the crap that was USA for Africa's "We Are the World") and this ad for something called the Package Shark came on, and I think I've realized that there is a genre of ad that I do actually love: the Low Budget Extremely Useful Gadget Ad.

The Package Shark, despite its questionable name, is something everyone really needs. It's a little cutting tool that will easily open all those dreadful plastic packages things are sold in -- the worst offenders are found in the children's toy department, but in the ad, they showed real razor packaging, a curling iron package, and packages for larger sized batteries. It's got a concealed blade that you'll push a button to release as you run it around the edge of the package (similar to a couple of tools invented by a client of mine to open DVD and cd packaging), and voila! The damn thing is open. I was so excited by this tool that I didn't even check to see how much it costs, but the great thing about ads like this one is that the items featured are always the same price -- $19.95! And they always throw in a couple of extras -- in this case, special wrapping paper scissors and an extra Package Shark. I would totally pay $19.95 for two Package Sharks and a pair of special wrapping paper scissors.

The great thing about these ads is how low key they always are. I mean, they always start with some poor over-acting by some actor pretending to be a frustrated housewife who's trying to stuff extra sweaters into a closet or a drawer (in the case of the vacuum pack bags whose name I can't recall right now), or the one who can't find any lids for her Tupperware in the kitchen (in the case of the plastic storage container organizer... again, the name escapes me), or my new favorite, the woman trying to open a plastic package containing a curling iron, who tries everything -- scissors, knife, and then a chainsaw! So the Package Shark ad is even poking fun at itself, in a way. And then following this funny little household drama, they show you the product, and demonstrate it like 40 times in 2 minutes so you can have little doubt that this thing will work. No one shouts. There are no flashy graphics. These ads actually kind of require a longer attention span than most ads. And at first, you're kind of irritated because they're interrupting your show or whatever, and they're so low budget that just looking at them is annoying. And then you're sucked in by wanting to make fun of the ad. But then you can't, because the product being advertised is something you really need in order to effectively operate your life.

Can you imagine how much time everyone could save fighting with plastic packaging on Christmas morning if everyone got a Package Shark in their stocking?

The really funny thing about the Package Shark is that it totally looks like the sort of product that would come in the offensive plastic packaging it's designed to break through.

I love how VH-1 Classic has a little logo that reads "Classic Current" so they can get away with playing new videos by older artists. Sly.

The guitar player for Steely Dan is probably the creepiest looking man in rock and roll. This is why I shouldn't ever watch VH-1 Classic.

But later they're going to show the documentary called The U.S. Versus John Lennon!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Commercials I Hate

I hate most commercials; they insult our intelligence in an onslaught of bad dialogue and poor lighting -- and then we're expected to swoon over whatever they're selling and head right out to buy it. Personally, if a commercial annoys me enough, I will never buy what it's selling -- any Swiffer-related product being the sole exception to this rule. But herewith, the commercials that annoy me more than any others:

1). Any ad featuring the OxyClean guy -- the annoying guy who shouts and most likely spits while he talks. There are about 6 different ads starring this guy, who purportedly is the guy who invented all the products he's shilling. I would be too afraid to buy any of it for fear that he would leap out of the packaging and start shouting at me about the state of my toilet bowls or something.

2). Any Westwood College is excruciating because they are clearly so low budget, but the worst is the one with the fully nerdy girl in a red sweater who's all, "Want to know what today's HOTTEST careers are??" And I'm thinking, "Hell no, because anything you think is hot probably involve Renaissance garb and hobbits, and I just don't want to go that deeply into your mind." I mean, seriously, who thought this chick was sexy enough to sell an ad about "the hottest jobs"? Ick.

3). Allstate ads. Here's what I'm going to tell you about the "discounts" and "credits" advertised by Allstate: they will build them into the premium rates. Therefore, you aren't really getting a discount or a credit at all; you probably won't save with Allstate more than you would with any other insurance company. If Allstate is the company that can offer you the lowest premium for the best coverage, more power to you, but don't be deceived by ads that say you won't be charged for an accident -- there's not a single insurance company on the planet that won't raise your premium for an at-fault accident. What Allstate's going to do is charge you for it in advance; then, after you have it, they can be all, "See? We didn't raise your rates!"

4). And while we're on insurance, let's talk about the State Farm ads where the insurance agent shows up at someone's house in the middle of the damn night when some drunkard drives through the client's living room wall. Sorry, but drunkard or no, your insurance agent isn't showing up to your house in the middle of the night. You won't even have your insurance agent's home phone number (unless your premiums total over $50,000 a year -- then you might). Talk about insulting our intelligence. I mean, do people really believe this shit is real??

5). Toilet paper ads that use puppies to demonstrate the softness of the toilet paper. I'm not even sure where I'm supposed to go with this -- am I supposed to take the puppy's word for it that the toilet paper is soft? Puppies poop on the lawn and don't wipe -- how would they even know? Or am I supposed to be thinking, "Well, puppies are soft and this toilet paper is going to be soft, like a puppy." That's just disturbing, because I don't want to wipe my ass with a puppy.

6). Proactive Solution ads, and now the ones by their competitor. First of all, I can go walk down the street or head to the store or any other public place and see a bunch of people with hideous skin. I don't want to see it in high definition in the middle of a What Not To Wear marathon. It's just so foul. And then, on the Proactive ads, we have to see which unintelligent celebrity is the dumbest, between Diddy, Jessica Simpson, and Jennifer Love Hewitt. What's really sad is that I can totally believe Diddy having all kinds of nasty acne, but not Jessica or Jennifer. Because he's a man and men are so lazy about their skin -- even Diddy. And the more serious they try to make Jessica and Jennifer behave, the dumber they seem.

7). Hair color ads. Or really any kind of hair care product. These people always look like they're having such a fantastic time. No one ever has fun styling their hair. It's a chore, and then it either looks like shit when you're done, or you luck out and have a good hair day. Either way, you don't get all excited about. You might glance at your reflection in the mirror and be all, "I look kinda fierce today," but that's about it.

8). The car ad with the "gospel choir" that's all singing about the car. This alleged choir is full of skinny, beautiful people and I'm sorry, but first of all, no car is going to move the spirits of an entire gospel choir to sing about it. And no gospel choir -- or any other choir -- is this good looking.

9). Victoria's Secret -- the new ads for the push up bras. How old is this chick, like 14? I think it's hardly appropriate for her to be prancing around on television in that outfit.

10). Kay Jewelers. Someone just shoot me. These ads make me want to die. Or vomit. They are actually worse than the Jared ads. If anyone I knew ever bought me jewelry from Kay or Jared, I would know that a) they had no imagination, and b) they waited till the very last minute to do their shopping.

Alas, it is now the official Christmas shopping season, so I'm sure I'll be treated to more and more of my favorites as the weeks pass.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

At the armoury...

This picture cracks me up because Daniel is SO serious while the guy in the armoury was just making a goofy face. It has to be said, Daniel doesn't mess about when it comes to the purchase of a new sword and shield. The Ren Fest is no time for frivolity -- there are dragons to be slain and people to charm and fake tattoos to be painted... I gotta tell you, the expression in this photo is one of my favorite Daniel faces. Because Daniel is really not serious at all, if you know him. He's so funny and fun-loving. So it kills me when he gets into character and makes this serious face. And look at those eyes. Please. Can you resist those eyes??

For you, Neerod...

Yes I am a pirate... but not a very scary one. I'm the sort of pirate you want to just kiss on the cheeks and laugh with.


It has recently been suggested that Ginny Weasley is not worthy of Harry Potter's love; that Hermione Granger is a bit of a wet blanket; and that Ronald Weasley is a twit... and unworthy of Hermione's love. And I have to say, I heartily disagree... heartily.

Ginny Weasley is gutsy and strong; she has always proven herself thus. She is not some lovestruck girl waiting on her romantic hero to come back to her. Just because she plants an amazing kiss on him in honor of his 17th birthday doesn't make her lovestruck -- she does it to remind Harry that he has something, someone to live for, someone to come back to after his task is complete. She steps up when she needs to step up -- plays Quidditch with the best of them, has a wicked sense of humor (cultivated by older brothers George and Fred), holds her own in a battle. And she has a deep understanding of what Harry's been through, and what he needs, because she was his friend first and his girlfriend later. Apparently she's really hot, too, which I hear tell men find to be a big added bonus.

And I just can't have people insulting Ron Weasley. Ron Weasley is Our King. Ron Weasley is hilarious, a true and loyal friend, a brave Gryffindor, at times a voice of reason, and someone capable of great things. He grows tremendously through the course of 7 books, and Hermione, astute of character as she is, understands him and what he is capable of. Indeed, I feel sorry for anyone who isn't capable of understanding Ron, because he is one of the most fun characters in the entire series -- all those small things I love about JK Rowling's writing all wrapped into one tall redheaded dude. But most importantly is his ability to be a true loyal friend, and his ability to admit when he's been a prat. And sometimes, just being the very best friend you can be is enough, and this is why Harry and Hermione both see something in Ron that others may not.

As for Hermione... I'm not sure what else people want from this girl. Has she not done enough? I think the whole point behind Hermione as a character is to show that brains are enough -- you don't need to be beautiful (even though rumor has it she cleans up pretty nice), you don't need to be funny, you don't need to be sporty, because being smart is enough. We didn't have to see Hermione destroy the horcrux she destroyed, because that's not what we're supposed to see about Hermione. We're supposed to see "cool intellect in the face of fire" -- Dumbledore's words at the end of book 1, and the words about Hermione that stick with me longer than any others. But in addition to her considerable intellect, she too is a loyal friend and a person capable of seeing in others what they often fail to see in themselves. She teaches Harry and Ron -- and everyone around her, whether they admit it or not -- so much, and all she asks in return is that no one ever insult her intelligence. Just because the books aren't called "Hermione Granger and the dot-dot-dot" doesn't discount the fact that she's one of the strongest female characters I've ever seen in children's literature. Strong to me isn't a physical thing, it's a character thing, and Hermione's strength of character is probably greater than any other character in the Harry Potter series... Dumbledore included.

And yet, she can kick a Death Eater's ass in a duel with the best of them.

I think sometimes, in literature as well as life, we just need to accept that what people have to offer is enough, rather than projecting our own needs and desires onto them and expecting them to meet these needs and desires.

Ginny is a goddess. Ron Weasley is a hero. Hermione is a genius.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

June 2007 Playlist

I can't believe I keep going so long without posting in here, but I do want to share my June 2007 iPod playlist because I think it's worth my time and energy to do so, and worth your time and energy to give some of these tunes a listen. So:

Jet - Paul McCartney and Wings. This is a good song for summer. I was pretty excited when iTunes put up the Paul McCartney catalogue -- he's done some good stuff in his post-Beatles career. Also, this reminds of a summer when I was 19 and working at the movie theatre and this hot punk boy named Jeph also worked there and my friend Tanya and I were all into him and we made up a song about him to the tune of "Jet" by Wings... That's just how we roll.

Town Called Malice - The Jam. A forgotten gem. I love songs by angry British post-punk bands from the early 1980s. I'm sure this song is a rant directed at Margaret Thatcher; I'm just not positive of all the lyrics, so I can't say for certain. But it featured very heavily in a pivotal scene in Billy Elliot, so I'm sure it's about feeling screwed over by the shitty system. I don't know. If you're not into caring what lyrics say, it's got a really great beat and you -- and Billy Elliot -- can dance to it.

5:55 -- Charlotte Gainsbourg. I've been trying really hard to ignore Charlotte Gainsbourg's album because it's such a critical fave, and I find I'm often so bored by the stuff that every music critic on the planet loves. But I gave the album a listen the other day and was quite taken by the fact that it sounds like Air with a chick singing. Which isn't surprising, given that Air produced and played on the whole thing and she just did the singing. So... it's Air with a chick singing. Lovely stuff.

Dancing Queen - Abba. I've been listening to far too much Mika and Scissor Sisters lately and that's put me in the mood for Abba. I had this distressing moment the other day where I realized that my ex somehow kept the Abba cds in the breakup and all I had on my iPod was the Mamma Mia! soundtrack. So I got some Abba tunes and they are making me happy. Especially this one, as it was the theme of Muriel's Wedding, and I'm getting married. Not that one has anything to do with the other.

Os Novos Yorkinos - Bebel Gilberto. Lovely, lovely stuff. I lurves me a little bossa nova. And Bebel's voice will make you melt. Which makes this good for summer. If it ever actually gets hot out, that is.

Knock 'Em Out - Lily Allen. Another critical darling I wanted to hate, and actually, a lot of her songs I do hate. But not this one. This one's just good times. Chicks out having fun, and irritated by annoying blokes trying to chat them up. Get stuffed, blokes! Which is what Lily says but not exactly in those words...

Oh No - Lavender Diamond. I love Lavender Diamond the same way I loved Arcade Fire when I first heard them -- it's retro in feel, but just sounds so unlike anything I've heard recently or even not recently. The lead singer was training to be an opera singer, but she wasn't excited about that and kept doing these side projects with different musician friends, and eventually she brought them all into one room and they became Lavender Diamond. I love her voice.

Any Other World - Mika. I love Mika because he's everything that's good about ELO, old Elton John, and Queen with a dash of Cher all rolled into one cute package. And this song is everything that's good about that.

Beautiful Flower - India.Arie. I'm a sucker for India.Arie. Her voice is gorgeous -- deep and rich and lovely. And she's so positive. I'm sure that's why she's not more popular than she is -- the constant positivity put forth in her music. This particular song was inspired by the young girls of Oprah's Leadership Academy in South Africa. How bad can a song be that just wants to tell the young girls of the world that they're all beautiful and amazing?

SOS - Abba. More Abba. I like the harmonies on the chorus. I'm a sucker for a good Abba harmony.

Feel Better - The Nadas. I was turned on to the Nadas by Brandon Routh, who played Clark Kent in Superman Returns. Not that I know Brandon Routh or anything -- the Nadas were on his iTunes Celebrity Playlist. I wound up downloading three complete Nadas albums. This is my current favorite Nadas song. It's what a jam band would sound like if a jam band actually had a point.

Maybe I Should Drive - Trashcan Sinatras. This wound up on the playlist out of brief (10 minutes, maybe less) nostalgia for the early 1990s. Then I realized how much the early 1990s sucked, but I still like the Trashcan Sinatras. Kind of a precursor to Pulp and Blur and everything that's good about Brit Pop.

True Beauty - Mandisa. Daniel and I loved Mandisa last year on American Idol. She put voters off by performing a gospel song too early in the proceedings and got ousted. I thought she was gorgeous when she was on the show, but boy, that was nothing compared to how beautiful she looks on the cover of her new album. This is another song by another strong black woman about what beauty really is... what's inside.

Can't Tell Me Nothing - Kanye West. Actually, I'm really disappointed by this. It feels really self-indulgent, and it just doesn't have that vibe, that energy, I've come to expect from Kanye. Here's hoping the rest of the album is way better.

Our Last Summer - Abba. Yeah, again with the Abba. I loves me some Abba. I love this song because it's about Paris in summer, and I loves me some Paris in summer.

Secondhand Serenade - Vulnerable. I'm not sure it's appropriate for "vulnerable" to sound so much like "adorable," but this song does have some really nice guitar hooks.

Stolen - Dashboard Confessional. I know, it's so emotastic of me. But this is a really good song.

Far Away - The Nadas. This is Rob's pick for Nadas Tune of the Month.

Open Your Heart - Lavender Diamond. Another gem from my new discovery. Kind of melancholy, but not. This is the sort of music I wanted to listen to in high school, but the only approximation was Strawberry Switchblade and The Lover Speaks. I could have done with a few more groups like this.

The Operation - Charlotte Gainsbourg. A little bit morose, but in a good way. This one's all in French, I believe, so it just gives you space to think. Unless you speak French, of course.

Smile - Lily Allen. I still can't decide if I really like this tune or not, but Rob likes it, so I put it on the list to give it a fair shake. I can't play it around Daniel though, as it has bad words. I like the singing better than the music itself, which is sort of unusual for me.

Azul - Bebel Gilberto. More melting.

Love Song in B Flat - The Nadas. This is also Rob's choice. It's actually not one of my Nadas favorites, but I suspect he loves it because it's all romantic and stuff. That's just the way he rolls.

Only the World - Mandisa. This is a fine example of how uncrappy Christian music could be if only Christian artists made more of an effort, but then, this is also more in the Gospel music tradition than the Christian rock/pop "tradition." I love Mandisa. I think there's hope for her.

Set Yourself on Fire - Charlotte Gainsbourg. Again. See how I loves me some Charlotte Gainsbourg?

Momento - Bebel Gilberto. I also love melting.

Take It Away - Paul McCartney. This was one of my favorite videos back in the early years of MTV. We're going to break out some cheesey dance moves to this song at our wedding.

Happy Ending - Mika. Oddly, I didn't put this at the end of the playlist on purpose, it just sort of got moved down there as other songs got moved up. But it's more vintage Mika. And I dig that.

That's it for now; it's a pretty short playlist for me. But I do plan on adding a few songs. I think it needs some old Rod Stewart, and maybe some Arcade Fire. We'll see.

Also, on my list of links, I've added a blog I stumbled across quite by accident called "Getting the Girls." It's totally not what you think -- it's by an American family adopting two Ukrainian girls who have grown up in an orphanage in Odessa. It's so touching -- totally check it out if you have some spare minutes. You'll be totally sucked in like I was.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Some of you might know that I am one of that rare and most irritating breed of drivers, the kind who drive mostly at the posted speed limit or maybe up to 5 miles an hour above, unless I am out on the open highway in which case I will take it up to about 19 over the limit. I drive this way for practical as well as safety reasons -- being an insurance agent, I see daily the toll speeding takes on a person's insurance premiums, and I also see details of the sorts of grisly accidents that happen when someone who thinks they're a good driver speeds and loses control of their vehicle -- total freakish accidents, and always attributable to speed. I also have issues with people who speed with their children in the car; I think it is all fine and well to take one's own life into one's hands by speeding or driving carelessly, but not a child's. You'll find that 93% of police officers agree with me on that, and anytime you're pulled over by one of that 93% for speeding with your child in the vehicle, you will never talk your way out of a ticket.

But it's not generally something I get up on a soapbox about or anything; I could care less what you do when you're driving your car as long as it doesn't affect me directly. I'm not going to lecture anyone for driving like a maniac unless they are taking my son somewhere, and occasionally I'll let someone know I'm not in a huge hurry if I'm in the care with them and they happen to be barreling down the road at twice the speed limit or something.

What does irritate me to no end is this: police cars who are sitting in a speed trap who don't pull anyone over when a car flies past at several miles an hour over the limit. What are they waiting for, someone to cause an accident, and then they'll start dishing out tickets? What is the point of the speed trap when no one has to actually slow down?

So imagine my neverending delight this afternoon at the following scenario: I'm driving back to the office from an appointment, actually doing about 10 over the limit for a change because I'm feeling sorta zany. I'm coming up to the place on this freeway where the speed limit abruptly goes down to 45 from 55, and where cops often set up a speed trap. I'm out in the left lane because amazingly, I was driving faster than the people in the right lane -- this is rare for me any more, it really is. As the traffic crests the hill, the lower speed limit sign is there, and just a little ways ahead, I and anyone else with half a brain can see one of Colorado's finest parked on the right, just outside the trailer park, waiting... and everyone slows down.

Everyone, that is, except the jackhole who came flying up behind me at 70 miles an hour, slammed his brakes on three inches from my bumper, and proceeded to switch abruptly from left lane to right and back to the left, trying to get around me and all the other slow drivers. I mean, am I really expected to believe he didn't see the cop? Everyone else did! And sure enough, as I'm cruising along at a safe distance behind the car in front of me, I see the cop put his car into gear, turn on his lights, and make his way into the traffic. And the jackhole behind me just rides my bumper some more, and then veers again into the right lane, and accelerates, and the cop got right behind him and pulled the halfwit over.

It was all I could do not to put my hands in the air in a victory gesture. What a stupid moron. I hope he got ticketed for following too close in addition to the ticket for speeding 20 miles an hour over the limit. 4 points! Haha. He'll be paying for that ticket for three years by way of an increased insurance premium. Hope it was worth it. Don't see how it could've been, given that he had to stop for the cop and all, and didn't even get where he was going 5 seconds faster than he would have if he'd just slowed down with the rest of us...

It was totally awesome.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

You Win! A Life Partner, and 25 Bucks

So, as many of you faithful readers of my blog already know, Rob and I are engaged. He proposed on Thursday night at one of our favorite pub quizzes. If you click the link below, you can see some photos and the quizmaster's blogging about the occasion:

The proposal was amazing, so I'm going to go on about it a bit here, since I promised so many of you details. I had known for weeks that Rob was up to something, and had a pretty good idea that perhaps he was planning to propose (emails and secretive conversations with my sister; strange meetings with my parents; viewing jewelry websites and then leaving them in the cache for me to stumble upon later; rifling through my jewelry box for a ring; etc.), but I had no idea where or when. Valentine's Day and my birthday both came and went, so I figured maybe I'd misread the signs, or else he just wasn't planning it for any time soon. So I was pretty surprised when he made a whole production out of proposing at trivia.

The first sign of something being up that night was that, while he told me he was guest-hosting the music round, he refused to tell me what the theme was, or any of the songs he was using. Then, he got there before me, which meant that he left work early, and his excuse was that he came early to "practice" for the music round. Um, whatever!? Then, the guy who started Geeks Who Drink was there; Rob said it was because he was there to check that Jason, the quizmaster, was doing a good job... a quality control inspection. I thought that sounded stupid since Jason had been doing the quiz for a while, but I just let it go. Then two more quizmasters from different pubs showed up, and that too was very strange, especially given that one of them had his quiz to host later that night; their excuse was that supposedly, Jason was training someone that night, and they had to watch and learn how to train. That sort of made sense in a weird way; too bad Jason was standing up there all by himself.

The quiz began; we were playing with Kyle and Nicole, and we had a great first round. Then it was time for Rob to head up front to do the music round for round 2. As Jason started introducing him, Rob went into the bathroom, which was pretty funny; we joked about how he must have been really nervous about his music round, but little did I know how nervous he really was. So, he came out and went up to the front, and introduced the round as "Songs that have the word EVIL in the title." Kyle shoved our answer pad and pen over to me, but I passed it back as soon as Rob played the first song -- something by Metallica that turned out to be called "Am I Evil" (all this evilness, by the way, is owing to Rob's trivia nickname, Evil Rob). I believe I said, "I'm gonna suck at this round. I don't know ANY songs with the word evil in their titles."

Then, that wretched song from the 1970s, "Shannon," began playing, and while I cringed, because I hate that song and assumed Rob was just trying to be cute and torture me, the entire bar erupted in protest, since it doesn't have evil in its title. Rob accused the quizmaster of tampering with his music round, and then moved onto song number 3, which was some silly song by Vanilla Ice, apparently called "I Love You" -- this was all lost on me, given that I have never voluntarily listened to a Vanilla Ice song in my life. But then suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone who looked a lot like my brother in law Nate stroll into the restaurant and set down a baby carrier, and when he stood up, I saw that it was definitely him, and my sister Stacey was close behind. And then I saw my friends Beth and David standing back there too. So naturally, I got up to go say hello and ask what the heck they were doing there, and when I did that, I noticed some other friends over by the door to the establishment, pretending to read the free newspapers. And I began to get suspicious.

By the this time, the songs had shifted to all being "our songs" -- "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys; "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol; "Tupelo Honey" by Van Morrison; and "The Adventure" by Angels and Airwaves. I was still quite concerned with getting the round answered correctly, but mysteriously nervous and blanking out on the names of these songs!! The final song I didn't know at all ("Wedding Bell Blues" by the Fifth Dimension), and I was all flummoxed and not at all clear about what was happening.

Then Rob announced that there would be a bonus question for that round, even though there isn't normally a bonus question for the music round. But he said the bonus question was only for one person in the room, and that the prize wasn't a free pint. And the entire place got silent, and he said, "Shannon, will you marry me?"

I of course flipped out and started crying, and ran up front and hugged him and said "Of course I'll marry you!" And everyone was cheering and congratulating us and I was shaking and crying and stuff. And then I made my way back to our table where all our friends were waiting; Rob had invited them all to share in the festivities. He produced a little velvet box from his pocket and his hands were totally shaking, and he kept turning the box around and around, trying to find the side that opened, and then handed me a beautiful ring.

Later, after the game was over and we scraped a win in overtime, Jason the quizmaster came over and said, "All right! You win! A life partner, and 25 bucks!"

It was totally an awesome and special proposal, and I was beyond thrilled. I'm so excited to marry Rob and spend the adventure of life with him at my side.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Funny Stuff

The first funny thing I want to mention is this DVD I'm seeing advertised called "The Miracle Man" or whatever, a strange looking claymation tale of Jesus, just in time for Easter. It's not the claymation that's funny though -- it's the fact that Ralph Fiennes does the voice of Jesus in the movie. This is funny because this is the same dude who plays Voldemort, the epitome of evil, in the Harry Potter movies. I know he's an actor and these are just roles he's been given, but still -- it's funny. Lord Voldemort is the Lord Jesus. Hmm.

Next up, the lady with the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich. She turned up on Miami Ink tonight (why is it that I only ever blog during Tuesday night viewings of Miami Ink??), wanting a tattoo of said grilled cheese sandwich, which she had archivally framed in a shadow box setting and recently sold for $28,000. She wanted the tattoo so she would always have her Virgin Mary grilled cheese with her. So apparently, this woman has this huge following of worshippers or whatever, just because one morning she woke up, cooked a grilled cheese, and saw an image charred into it that looked like the Virgin. It definitely looks like the face of a woman, but having never seen Mary, I have no idea if it's her or not. What I don't get is why this woman has a following. I could see the grilled cheese having a following, but what's so special about this woman? She got the tattoo on her boob, too. That seems like a weird place to get a tattoo of a grilled cheese with a picture of the Virgin Mary in it.

Kat did a really good job on the tat, though. It totally looked exactly like the grilled cheese in question.

The men on American Idol this season are soooo booooring. I like exactly two of them: Chris Sligh, and the beat boxing dude. I'm already over the men. Totally over them. Bo-ring.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It's Almost My Birthday

I was just looking over my resolutions and they seem pretty keep-able. I've been thinking a lot about the tattoo, and I think I know what I'm going to get. I'm dead serious about going to Miami Ink, and I'm going to get a tat from Kat, who does really amazing portraits. And I think I'm going to get my two grandmothers on my arm, using photos of them from the early 1940s. It'll be so amazing.

Daniel has informed me that he's going to have Yohji do a tattoo for him when he's old enough. He's all, "Yohji rocks! Kat's boring!" I love it when Daniel get all hip on me.

Rob's mad because I still haven't posted his Proust questionnaire.

The Astronaut Farmer looks like a terrible movie. I mean, the only redeeming feature is Billy Bob Thornton, and I think we all know that's not necessarily a good thing.

See, this is what I usually do in my LiveJournal and don't subject the rest of you to. But I was feeling all bloggy tonight.

I've got frickin' All American Rejects' "This Ends Tonight" stuck in my head. Not cool.

I got the teensiest bit of laundry detergent on my lip earlier (long story short: it got on my fingers, I wiped most of it off, but missed some, and scratched my mouth or something and got it on my lip) and then licked it off and swallowed it, and so now I've been tasting damn laundry detergent for like an entire hour.

I'm not feeling American Idol yet this year. Usually I'm excited about SOMEONE by this stage in the game, but no. All I can muster is something resembling enthusiasm for Chris Sligh, who totally rocks.

I'm having a bowling party for my birthday on Saturday. I'm so excited. What's so hilarious is how excited people are about coming! If I'd known that all it took was mere mention of the word "bowling" to get a bunch of fun friends in one room, I'd have hosted a bowling party much sooner. Of course, Rob, Daniel and I suck at bowling, but we have a blast doing it. Apparently some of the party attendees are really good bowlers, so I'm hoping they'll kick my ass on my birthday. Something sick in my personality thinks that would be so funny.

I'm itchy. Specifically, my pinkie finger is itchy. How weird is that? An itchy finger. That seems odd.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


I can hear all of you snarking about how amazing it is that I've actually posted something new...

I've decided to take a page out of my sister's blog and make some New Year's resolutions. Except for me, the new year never really truly starts until closer to my birthday, so it's perfectly okay that I'm only just making the resolutions. So here they are:

1) Quit thinking that homework in kindergarten is stupid and just get it done.

2) Get to work on time more than twice a week.

3) Go a little deeper than "I love you" when I'm talking to Rob. I'm sure he'll understand.

4) Start saving up for my Miami Ink tattoo. I'm thinking Daniel's face on my upper arm. But I will likely chicken out and get it on my back...

5) Don't chicken out -- get the tattoo where I want it.

6) Keep better track of the books I read. Last year, I read about 100 books but only managed to write anything down about maybe 30 of them. Lame.

7) Figure out what the hell is wrong with the big toe on my right foot.

8) Finish reading U2 By U2 by the end of February (that one's for you, Trentster!).

9) Exercise.

10) Eat better food.

11) Learn to cook Indian food.

12) Work on my novel.

13) Put the Christmas decorations away before St. Patrick's Day.

14) Get car fixed.

15) Win more trivia contests. It feels good to win trivia contests. Or get second place when there's decent money on the line... Google "Geek Bowl 2007" for details... Being a geek is totally fun.

16) Speaking of being a geek, get really good costumes for Renaissance Fest.

17) Figure out long term solution for sensitive skin. Am tired of breaking out in hives at the slightest provocation.

18) Stay in better touch with people who live far away. For example, I haven't sent out Christmas cards since Hal and I were together. That's not on.

19) Brainwash my niece into liking good music. Of course, maybe this can wait a year or two, but really, it's important to begin early or people wind up like her dad, listening to KOSI 101.

20) Drink more tea.

21) Quit letting Daniel watch inappropriate television (i.e. Heroes, Lost, The O.C.).

22) Seriously: WTF is wrong with my big toe? It just gets worse and worse.

23) Stop judging grown women who talk like infants. I'm sure they're lovely people deep down.

24) Set some new goals.

25) Get addresses changed on ALL magazine subscriptions, not just the three I've done...

26) Blog more often.

27) Make final decision as to whether or not I'm going to become an American citizen before 2008 Presidential election.

28) Buy more shoes.

29) Stop prioritizing t.v. shows.

30) Prioritize comics instead.

31) Host "Potter Party" for fellow HP geeks on July 21st.

32) Get something fabulous done with my hair.

33) Buy bookcases.

34) Learn how to bowl properly. Am certain it will still be fun if done properly.

35) Stop fantasizing about Captain America. And Tony Stark. And Bruce Wayne. And Supergirl. They are comic book characters and therefore inappropriate to fantasize about.

36) Put more effort into photography.

37) Only make resolutions I'm capable of keeping.

There -- I'll be 37 on my birthday, so 37 resolutions it is.

Stay tuned for some pic spam and a Proust Questionnaire from the love of my life. The bald one, not the short one.