Friday, April 4, 2008

"She's the Man" Is Funnier than You Think

I just wrote most of my blog post, and then accidentally hit control + n, which promptly gave me a new, blank blog. I was going to just list my top 5 blog posts for the week, but I'm not quite that lame.

Oi with the poodles already.

Top 5 Shakespearean Plays

1. Hamlet
2. Macbeth
3. Much Ado about Nothing
4. Twelfth Night
5. King Lear

Ask me why later.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Time Is on My Side... Yes It Is

Without going into any detail whatsoever, suffice it to say I feel surrounded by people in the midst of change. What's funny about drastic change in one's life is that it is never speedy. It seems as though if something huge were going to occur which would change your entire future--love, health, career, what have you--that it would be sudden. You can be a certain person one day and once you've made a decision, or fate has thrown its fist upon you, or you've heard different news, things would suddenly then be different. Alas, it is not so. You must make arrangements once things change. You must plan your calendar. You must make many calls. You must balance your budget. Then, you must wait.

I once heard about some survey that said Americans hate waiting more than anything else. Though vague, I guess I can relate. Sometimes bad news is better than "wait and see," and sometimes you already know exactly what's going to happen, you just need to sit around and let it come. There are great things to wait for, too, though we don't need surveys to explain the things we like to do; we'd rather just enjoy those things in the moment. We use words like "anticipate" and strangely "can't wait." I hope the people I'm thinking about can find ways to sanely get between now and what they're waiting for. In the mean time, you can waste your waiting on my lists, or even make your own.

Top 5 Things I Love to Wait For

1. Someone's Plane to Arrive
Maybe you're not really into picking people up at the airport, but I love it. These days, I tend to take the light rail into the airport and then I wait for friends or family at the baggage claim. The first great thing about waiting for people to arrive is that they have endured nauseating take-offs and landings and breathing in stale air just to see me. The second great thing is that the second I see someone I am expecting, and the second they see me, I grin and everyone walks a little faster and we hug each other, and there's so much to say. For the most part, these are happy occasions. On top of all this, I get to be an expert. I have usually planned all the fun things we'd do in my hometown, and then we get to go do all those things. What's better than a trip?

2. Class to Start
I never leave work for the last minute. I used to, but these days, I'm so anal retentive about getting my work done ahead of time that I set the time right before class aside. I ride the bus or Brian drops me off, always with tons of time to sit around and wait before class starts. (Yeah, I'm also anal retentive about being on time.) So, before classes start, before the work and thinking begin, I can sit and relax. I always have a book to read. I listen to music on my headphones. Those are two of my absolute favorite activities. When other people get there early, I get a few minutes to talk to my classmates and better get to know them. We must cherish our stress-free moments.

3. A Movie
I love going to the movie theater. I will go and see some of the most awful moving pictures ever made if it means getting to go to the theater. I get my ticket, maybe some popcorn if I'm in the mood for it and my budget allows. Once I'm in the theater (preferably early) I pick my seat--in the center and little towards the back so I'm looking slightly down at the screen. After all the annoying ads for Coca-Cola and undoubtedly a recruitment mini-film for one of the armed forces, most theaters play their ridiculous rules across the screen. You know, don't smoke, be quiet, turn off your cell phone. Most of these sets of screens are highly entertaining in their own right. Then comes the best part of the movie-going experience: the trailers. Somehow when you see them at home they're just annoying commercials, but in the theater, previews can be so fun and entertaining you're sorry they're over. If you see enough of them, you can't even remember what movie you came to see in the first place.

4. Christmas
You can blame the malls and superstores all you want, but Christmas starts in September for me, too. I actually usually start my shopping before that, at the end of the summer. I go way overboard for this holiday, shopping for people, spending my allowance money on gifts and decorations, and making things. I get very crafty at Christmas. I bake a lot. I make handicrafts and force them upon people. The thing about Christmas is that it evokes happiness. Even the people who "hate" Christmastime are laughable. They never have a good reason. If they hate commercialism I just tell them not to buy anything. If they aren't Christian I tell them that doesn't mean they can't like sparkly lights. If they have a problem with winter, then they have a problem with nature--and that is way bigger than a holiday. Oh, I love December 25, but I love December 24 more, because it all lies ahead.

5. The Alarm Clock
I hate nothing more than waking up in the morning. It doesn't matter if I've gotten plenty of sleep with a great day ahead of me--I just don't react well to the waking process. Once I hit that snooze, I don't mind the time before it goes off again. In fact, I relish it. What's even better is when I somehow--miracle of miracles--wake up before the alarm goes off at all, and I just lay there. It's warm and snuggly. Sometimes Brian is there, sometimes my dog or a cat. Sometimes I curl up and hug the spare pillow, and other times I stretch out to all corners of the bed.

May you all make it to the time you're waiting for. Do what you can not to waste the time until then. If you're that bored or anxious, give me a call. I just might answer my phone.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

If Food Be the Music of Life, Eat On

My god, did I eat today. Erin and Scott came up from Rochester to shop and hang out. Do you ever just make a list of everything you consumed in one day? Hmm... let's see:

1 cup hot black tea
1 cup grapefruit juice
1 bowl Caramel Crunch cereal with milk (not as good as it sounds)
2 large Irish breakfast iced teas from Caribou
1 hunk French bread with dip
3 pieces crunchy breadstick-thingummies
2 more glasses of iced tea
1 egg salad sandwich
Side of fries
4 more glasses of iced tea
3 lettuce wraps of black laab
2 scoops fried rice with guacamole
1/2 skewer of chicken tikka masala with rice and vegetables
3 small spoonfuls of elote
bunch of marshmallows with chocolate, hazelnuts, and a cinnamon cookie

It makes me never want to eat again. Yet, how satisfying is it to just feed yourself really well with delicious food for a day? When I know I'm going to have a great meal, I look forward to it days in advance. I just enjoy food. Perhaps you can tell by looking at me, but I'm definitely going to have to find a way to get in shape by exercising, not in giving up my favorite foods.

I've had some great meals in my life. Victoria and Albert's at Walt Disney World serves ridiculously good multi-course meals (and they're a little pricey), but it's nice to get a little gussied up only to suck in my gut two hours later. My sister has taken me to The Lobster a couple times, the restaurant where's she's worked in Santa Monica Pier for the last eight years. I even make some killer (and perhaps artery-clogging) quesadillas on my stove at home. Perhaps the best meal I've ever had in my life was at our hotel on our honeymoon in Pärnu, Estonia. Brian and I were served a five course meal complete with two bottles of wine and cognac. For the record, I will never drink cognac again, but I'm glad I tried it. Each course was brought into our suite, which had windows overlooking the beach, and was decorated with red roses.

What makes food so great is the rest of the experience. The following are my favorite restaurants. They're not 5-star cuisine, but I have good memories from these places, hanging out with friends and family. I could go back to any of these restaurants and have stories to tell.

Top 5 Eateries

1. Dunn Brothers North, Rochester, Minnesota
"Seriously?" you're probably thinking. Besides the delicious Mocha Ice Cremas, this is one of my favorite places to eat lunch with my lady friends when I visit Rochester. I tend to order the veggie quiche of the day and a Caesar salad. For a special treat, I'll get a loaded shortbread. Who wants much more than that for the midday meal, anyway? Sure, the food isn't spectacular, but I was mighty disappointed when I visited a Dunn Bros. elsewhere in the state and realized that there was nothing good to eat. My favorite memories from Dunn Bros. are my old Fridays with Brian. When we still lived in Roch, I'd pick Brian up early from work every Friday and we'd go hang out at the DB and play Trivial Pursuit while the live musicians set up for the evening. I love dating my husband.

2. Pearl Cafe, Denton, Texas
The best things I got out my time at the University of North Texas are a few great friends and a plethora of learning experiences. That's code for being around a lot of idiotic people and figuring out how to avoid similar people for the rest of my life. Jen was right there learning alongside me. After both being ousted from a certain social group, she and I would walk to this now defunct Chinese restaurant about a mile from campus every single Sunday. We would proceed to spend about five bucks while the servers brought us plate after plate of delicious MSG-infused food, while we attempted to make sense of the splintered relationships we possessed with this particular group of people. Best crunchy noodles ever.

This is why I can't stand Domino's. I don't even acknowledge most national chains as producing food remotely related to pizza. I grew up eating pies on the boardwalk by the shore. This is the stuff you have to fold in half because the slices are so thin and huge, they'll otherwise fall apart. Throw a little pepper or basil on that stuff and it's perfect. You can load it with toppings if you want, but cheese is just fine with me, because the sauce and crust is nothing to cover up.
4. Bohemia Bagel, Prague, Czech Republic
I practically slept at this place when I was living abroad. Once, twice, or even three times a day I'd dip my bagel in their tomato soup before spending some spare crowns on the Internet to email all my friends back home. I'd entitle all my letters according to the lyrics of the song I was listening to. This was where I met--and met up with--other expats. I had to cross through Old Town Square to get to the place from my Metro stop, and once I even saw Matt Damon briefly on my way to Bohemia Bagel. He was in town filming The Bourne Identity.

5. Magnolia Cafe, Austin, Texas
I had dropped out of high school and was waiting to find out whether I got into college or not the summer my sister came home from her freshman year at UCLA. A little after midnight, Sarah and I wanted to find a cup of coffee, so we went cruising around South Austin. That's when we found Magnolia, the digs I can't go without patronizing every time I visit Austin. I bring everyone there, and all the food is delicious. Every town deserves a 24-hour greasy spoon. Every person deserves their own Magnolia Cafe.

I have stories from all these places, just like I have stories behind the most delicious meals of my life. As I look forward to the next couple months, I know I'll be eating in Las Vegas and Denver with my sister. Brian and I hope to vacation somewhere we've never been before, and I'd even like to explore Minneapolis a little more. I hope I come home from these experiences with a little more than a full stomach.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Approval Is the Kiss of Death

Okay, so I didn't quite get my blog in under the wire last night, 'cause the post was just after midnight, but I figure it was before I went to bed, so it counts for Monday. Maggie doesn't believe that I can do this every day this week, but I consider that more of an incentive to accomplish my goal. It's so sad when I feel like someone doesn't believe in me. You know, that makes me think of how people just don't give enough chances to others sometimes. Don't worry, Maggie, I'm not talking about you anymore. I'm talking about this corporate world that art must somehow find a place in.

It's strange how individuals or groups of people put their hearts and souls into dance, movies, paintings, writing, what have you, only to have some dink with a business degree say it's not good enough. What's more, getting a big break often isn't big enough. There are constantly critics, agents, managers, executives, producers, and any other number of gate keepers ready to slam you out the door without notice. You're only as good as your last moment, and if the general public didn't receive it well according to who knows what kind of arcane system, you're out, and you might never see the inside again.

I know a lot of people ready to poo poo television without a second thought. Don't get me wrong, it's fine by me if you don't really watch the tube. There are plenty of mediums I don't like: online gaming, musicals, roleplaying. However, I'm not about to say I'd never enjoy any of those things, or that there's no possibility I'll ever find myself addicted to one. So here's the thing--television, like all art media, is full of a lot of crap. But if you can sift through the crap like I have, you'll find some real gems. And just when they show you enough for you to fall in love, they'll cancel it on you. Hey, I'm defending television here, not CEO's.

*Note: Brian has requested that I link to more external sites on my blog. Look out for clicking fun, and may the interaction begin.

Top 5 Brilliant but Cancelled Television Programs

Before The West Wing and long before Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Aaron Sorkin created and wrote this half-hour comedy about the behind-the-scenes life of the employees of a SportsCenteresque highlights show. Yes, it's like he stole his own idea for Studio 60, but decided to make it a lot lamer. If you can get past the horrible (HORRIBLE) laugh track, you will find yourself rolling on the floor. Peter Krause is cute but manipulative, his usual MO. Joshua Molina is cute but dorky, again, his usual. Josh Charles is just cute. None of the women are cookie cutter, and the dialogue is fabulous. If it weren't for his ear for human speech patterns, I wouldn't have a shred of respect left for Sorkin. He's great at what he does, but it's no exec's fault this show went off the air. He left it in order to do West Wing, and when you're as big of a control freak as he is, you leave no one behind to pick up the pieces. If any of you did watch Studio 60, Matthew Perry's character is Aaron Sorkin, complete with autobiographical relationship problems projected onto the small screen for all of America to see. I really feel bad for Kristin Chenoweth.

Boy, do I like puzzles. You might remember this show as the mystery produced by Ben Affleck and that other guy where some lucky viewer would win a million+ bucks for putting the clues together by the end of the season. It was only supposed to run for a total of 13 episodes anyway, and it made it through 7. It had to have been pretty bad, right? Unfortunately, the gimmick wasn't necessary, and it might have even dug a deeper grave for the show. This one just turned out being way too weird for most of America, and if viewers hadn't tuned in for the first one or two, they might have felt it wasn't worth catching up, since they hadn't seen the presentation of the first two episodes' clues. I'm not sure how Lost can do so well and Push couldn't, but perhaps it was a little ahead of the curve on prime time esoteric entertainment. What I really loved about this show were all the little details, the red herrings, the interconnected touches which turned out to be literary allusions and historical references. It was smart, and I was upset that Mr. Daredevil wouldn't just front a couple more bucks to finish out the season himself. Well, 'vongilnail' you, Mr. Affleck.

Jason Bateman, marry me. Talk about tying up loose ends. Nothing happens in this show that doesn't come back later, and that might be what killed it. There can be a line at the beginning of season 1 and you've got to wait until the middle of season 2 to hear the punchline. Continuity is the key to such writing--that and a lot of ad libbing, planned bleeped expletives, a hook hand, a seal, a cooler, and something that looks like a photograph of the Iraqi desert but...well...isn't. This show effects my daily life. Every time I call up Jimmy, I greet him with a "Hey, brother." I like to yell "No touching" at every available moment, and I still think that breakfast is the most important thing, not family. I will never hear "The Final Countdown" the same way again. Countless lines just pop into my head from this show, and it seems the critics were really happy with it, too. Apparently when the movie finally comes out, it will be me and six other people with light-up clicky pens in the theater. Unfortunately, it wasn't making enough money for the execs. Perhaps they should have looked in the banana stand.

The tagline says it all: "What high school was like for the rest of us." Think My So-Called Life without the drama. And that's the thing about high school really, isn't it? There was pretty much zero drama in my life as a teenager. I've made more of an interesting story out of those years now that I'm well into my twenties than how I felt about them at the time. I was over high school. I was over the drama. By the time I dropped out, I was over every kind of organization imaginable. Enter the kids of Freaks and Geeks. They're a bunch of rag tag kids who don't have anything figured out, don't talk like psychoanalysts, don't get into any real trouble, and don't really accomplish anything either. For those of us who didn't have our lives mapped out at 15, this is the show to watch. Plus, it's a Judd Apatow program, so virtually everyone who starred in it is now recognizable to anyone who went to the movie theater last year.

The mother of all cult shows. You've got this dead girl. Everyone in town is a suspect. Throw in a giant, a dancing dwarf who talks backwards, a smiling bag, a man with only one arm, and the smell of burning motor oil, and you've got yourself the most fascinating murder case ever seen on TV. K Mac plays the lovable FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper with a penchant for damn fine coffee and cherry pie. By the time you find out who killed Laura Palmer you're so much more interested in the goings on of the rest of the town, it just might make you a little sad how soon the dead are swept away. Or are they? That new girl looks so familiar...

I've done little justification for these awesome shows. I considered a lot of other options: Journeyman, Love Monkey, Lucky, My So-Called Life, Firefly, Eerie, Indiana. I guess I just shouldn't ever become a network decision-maker--I'd drive it into the ground with fabulous programming.