Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy Thoughts

If this doesn't give you a happy glow for at least five seconds, um, well that would be bad.

New Year's thoughts

Let's chat about New Year's. I feel like, in many ways, it's New Years that has the greater set of expectations surrounding it. You are not required or expected to spend New Year's with your family - not as a whole anyway - so perhaps that leads into the idea that surrounded by people of your own choosing, you should have a bang up time. Then there is the decision making, do you go out on the town, or gather at someone's place. If you go out - what happens with transportation? If you go out, do you go to an organized do, or more standard bar hopping? What is the budget? Where is everyone meeting? And on, and on.
I have to say one of the best New Year's was when I was living in a house, and a bunch of us gathered and played board games and drank a bit. (A bit because we had an underager, a pregnant person, and a teetotaler so, you know.) It was easy for me, since I was already home. It was low key and therefore really fun. In contrast we had the one year where we waited until ten that night to make any sort of decision about where we were going. We picked Adams Morgan, known for its plethora of hot spots and corresponding dearth of parking. After snagging a parking space only a mile and a half or so from any fun, we started walking in the cold crisp air. And it triggered asthma in one of our party, who sadly had left her inhaler behind, as had I. So we returned to where preparations had occurred to retrieve said inhaler. Which now put us really close to midnight. Determined to party a little we headed to College Park and to a bar looking place on the main drag. And went in. They had a private party downstairs so we sat upstairs and drank and chatted a bit. And then we noticed that everyone from downstairs was headed upstairs. Strange. Then we decided to look further afield for more interesting fun and went downstairs to exit which was when we noticed glass everywhere. And cops. The plate glass window in the front was shattered. As we headed to our car, we noticed some agitated gentlemen in the parking lot. Still a yard or so from the car, one of my companions shouts, "Gun!" causing us all to race for the car and head out very quickly. All ended well, for us at least.
Another good one - we got tickets for the Black Cat's New Year's Extravaganza. we were there crazy early, but Tuscadero (sadly now defunct) played so it was awesome. Other than the weird guy who slapped his hand over my mouth when I yawned (putting me squarely on Kelly Ripa's side, let em tell you) things went well. Most of the crew was underage and/or driving at that point so there was no alcohol. Then we headed back for a sleepover. The lone guy in the group was saddened to learn that we were not planning to sleep in teddies or have pillow fights, but I think even he would agree it was still agood night.
And back to the bad-ish, the plan was for my roommate and I to hit a party. Roommate volunteers to be the designated driver, so on arrival I have my cup filled up with alcohol (the hosts were pouring quite generously). My roommate encountered someone who claimed to have come up with a concoction that tasted like something or other, so off she goes to try it. Apparently she enjoyed it too much, as she approaches close to midnight to inform me we will need to take a cab home. I stop drinking at this point (notice the singular there) but I am a lightweight so, I don't expect to be sober enough to risk driving in time. Between arrival and this announcement I have seen little of my roommate. This is not a complaint - as I had been making new friends. Apparently so had she. I learned later that she had been being very friendly out on the front lawn (hanging with a smoker). So, midnight comes and goes. The folks I have been chatting with - for the most part - leave. The hostesses go up to bed. We are down to about five people - my roommate, her new friend, myself, and another two guys. My roommate and her friend are holding hands. Immediately the guy sitting next to me grabs my hand. I am looking at him like, "What the hell?" and trying to disengage. My roommate sees the hand holding and says, "Oh good, you're getting laid tonight." I respond through gritted teeth, "No, I'm not." There is discussion because now my roommate thinks she doesn't want to go home. I, personally do not care, but I would really like to leave and move towards whatever steps need to make that happen. Roommate's new friend (RNF) says that we don't need a cab, he can get us home. Turns out he means grabby hands (GH) can drive us (I have no idea if RNF had no car or just didn't want to drive or was trying to set up a group deal - no idea.) So, the four of us get into the car and head home. Roommate and RNF go to her bedroom leaving me in the living room with GH. GH, despite the fact that I mention several times that I have to be at church in six hours, does not take the hint. He stays (as we listen to the lovely strains of roommate and RNF). Finally, (yes I should have done this sooner, I was tired) I say very clearly that I need to head off to sleep. GH asks if that means he should leave (ya think?). He asks for a goodbye hug, I agree and then GH turns into grabby lips and tried to kiss me - I move my head out of range. He tries again. Dude - go away! GH&L leaves. (Roommate did apologize when informed of the getting laid comment.) GH&L later tells RNF that he likes me, RNF tells roommate, I tell roommate that yeah - not subtle and not interested.

A Weekend's Reading

I have not been ignoring the book review bits, I'm a little behind, but it is partly I have read a few Silhouette’s from a UBS and while they were wonderful, it seemed mean to tease with stuff you can’t necessarily go buy.
Sweet Hush by Deborah Smith
I got this along with something else and I confess when I unwrapped it I was sure there was a mistake because this did not look like my kind of book. So I scanned the back and found the sentence in the description that reminded me why it sounded interesting and put it in the pile. So, I went into this with prejudice it is fair to say, and that was not eased by the fact that after a brief in media res scene in the present we went back to the heroine’s great-great-great grandmother. I stuck it out and the story moved further very quickly (yay – I was not in the mood for a sweeping multi-generational portrait, although it still sort of is) and also yay, did not spend too much time focusing on the bad shotgun marriage the heroine gets in. This is not to say the marriage is not revisited, because it is, it is clearly a huge part of the heroine’s life and ties in to her building of the family’s apple business (sweet hush apples, hence the title). The story kicks into gear when the heroine’s college aged son arrives home unexpectedly with his surprise bride. (And I must say, that the characters were much more gracious than I am, because I would have pointed out to them that if they weren’t mature enough to share their marriage with their family for six months then they possibly weren’t mature enough to be making big choices like ditching college because they already know everything they need to know.) The twist is that said bride is also the First Daughter. This leads to some power plays as the apple family goes for supportive, and the presidential family leans more towards lets fix this mistake now – and both families have strong matriarchs. There are also security issues and concerns for the apple family as the attendant media spotlight threatens to reveal things they may not wish to share. And of course the presidential family has a trusted family member who they send down to keep an eye on things, and he is handsome and single, and so on. In the end I really liked the story, although there were moments where I found the scene switching a little disconcerting sine everything is in first person even though there are two narrators.
Grade: B+

To the Edge by Cindy Gerard
A series (I like series) – this one is actually the first, however I read the next one already, but whatever. Anyway the premise is that four siblings run a security firm that their dad established (and named after them). Each sibling went off and did official government ball busting of some sort before becoming part of the firm. This on is about Nolan** who has just gotten out of the military and is carrying around a duffel bag or two of guilt about not saving one of his men but is convinced to pick up a job be his brother. The job is to either convince local newscaster and socialite Jillian to go stay with her parents until her stalker is caught or accept the bodyguard. Nolan figures he can scare her quickly, collect the money and go back to drowning his sorrows. Turns out, she doesn’t scare that easily. I really liked the story – there were a couple of spots where the conversation that produced some background exposition was a little stilted, but nothing hideous. And I love that Jillian saw through most of Nolan’s attempts to be crappy to push her away, and not in the wimpy, I know deep down you love me kind of way, but in a more kick ass it is not acceptable for you to treat me like this kind of way. My one gripe is the stalker – the reason ends up being something there was just no way the reader could have gotten to, in fact no one figures it out until the stalker does the Bond-ian confession. I get that likely that is more realistic, but I felt it was a bit cheap. Not enough that I don’t still like the story and want to hunt down the next two, but still.
Grade: B+

Crazy in Love by Luanne Rice
This is another book I started with prejudice. When I really like an author, I usually don’t read the back. I think they give away too much, so I end up reading in anticipation of it leading to what the back has promised rather than just going with it. And sometimes, it’s inaccurate, or really misleading. In this case I read the back, to determine if this was one I had read yet, and was worried because I am pretty much over the whole wife finds out her perfect life is nothing like she thought it was storyline. But this is Luanne Rice, so I decided to take a chance. Without giving away much let me start by saying the back – or my interpretation of it – is extremely misleading. As with most Luanne Rice stories, this is about family. It is about the complex and changing relationships people have with their spouses, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, in-laws, and nephews. Georgie and her husband live next door to her mother and grandmother who live next door to her sister’s family. Her sister’s husband and her husband and some other folks all commute via seaplane to NYC. Georgie has recently started a project whereby she examines other people’s stories. This is one of those books that it is really hard to describe what happens, because it is not a traditional formula. I would say it is a love story although Georgie is already married. It is a snapshot, a year in the life if you will, where you get to peak in on this family – through Georgie’s eyes and watch the relationships and interactions. It is a great read. I started Sunday morning, read through much of the day, took it with me as I hit the grocery store and promptly left it in the grocery store. I went to Starbucks, read my back up book (I was almost done with Crazy in Love) and went back to the grocery store, at which point the book had been turned in, saving me having to hit a bookstore on the way home. Phew.
Grade: A-

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Things People Should Know #12

Okay guys, my very first "Things People Should Know" was about a bus driver having sex in a school bus on school grounds. Well, now a local bus driver has been charged with first-degree child sexual abuse after allegedly having sex on the bus (after the route was completed, thank goodness) with an underage girl. Now seriously people, it's not a great idea to have sex while at work. Or even still in your workplace (unless you work from home or something). It's really dumb to have sex with teenagers without clarifying their age. It's also looking like the driver had a suspended license, so one would hope he would have been on his best, under-the-radar behavior. But apparently not.

Needles

Since all the cool knit bloggers seem to talk about their favorite needles, I thought I would jump on the bandwagon.

My first needles were from a beginner needle kit so they were generic straight metal needles. At the time I was vaguely aware that there were needles without ends (aka double-pointed) but was unaware of the plethora of knitting needles available. One of my early projects (which did not go well so never quite got finished, user error on my part) was a spiral scarf, for which I purchased my first set of circulars - addi turbos. I loved them. I loved the idea of circulars and pretty much was ready to toss out my straights.

However, as I knit more and more, my hands started to hurt. And the typing and mouse usage at work seemed to make it worse. I self-diagnosed myself with tendonitis and determined that maybe metal needles were part of the problem. It was around this time that I saw the Needlemaster in a craft store. The idea of interchangeable needles seemed excellent, except that the needlemaster used metal needles.

After some web research I discovered the Denise Interchangeable Needles, which as it turned out was made by the same folks as the Needlemaster. (Check out the web site for that and the cutest story about the current owners and how they came to be such). I love them. I won't say I've never bought another needle, because I have (bamboos - circs and double-points) but I am now in fact the proud owner of two kits due to my starter-itis issues. (I'm working on it). And I'm debating getting the special breast cancer set. I know I don't need it....

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Scarf

Last year, as I was still in the first blush of born again knitting, the Washington Post did an article on knitting and included the pattern for the spiral scarf. The pattern was indicated as easy and so I set out in search of the tools and started. First, I bought addi turbos - my first circulars (yay!). They are metal and this pattern calls for an insane number of increases. Quickly I noticed my hands hurting. I kept going. I bought several skeins of yarn in lime green and dark green. (I suspect they did not have enough lime green so I got the dark green to finish out, ignoring the fact that they were different textures and widths.) For this pattern that is not a huge obstacle, but particularly with the lacy-ness caused by all the increases you want to think about where you change skeins and I did not know enough to figure that out. Suffice it to say this pattern kicked my butt. I talked to a more experienced knitter who said that she quickly lost the glow and had used even bigger needles (I was using fifteens) to finish it out. In the end the yarn got hopelessly tangled and sat untended and unfinished.

This year I decided one person on my holiday list was going to get something bigger than a dishcloth. And I thought of the spiral scarf. I figured my improved increasing, my Denise needles, I could make this happen. And I found some gorgeous acrylic/alpaca yarn in my stash (Patons Rumour Hibiscus Heather). And I began. This is one of those patterns that, as long as you know how to increase and be patient, actually is really easy. It is also mind-numbing. It seems as though it should go faster since you knit it from the side. Okay, I have no idea why that would be so, but that's how it always seems to me. And the spirally bit is not visible until you bind off, so just know that it will be there. So, I took a look at the skein as I was debating whether to go up to 800 or 1600 and realized I did not have enough yarn to finish the row I was on. Crap. I was sure I must have bought another skein. I looked - nothing. Okay - I was sure I got the yarn at the local craft store - one of them. I hit the road.
It was of course not at the first one I went to (which was just as well since their lines were crazy). I did not see it at the second one but had the presence of mind to bring in the WIP so I could find a good coordinating color. The Hibiscus Heather is purple, but a reddish purple that looks weird with bluer purples. I did find a fuzzy pinkish Paton yarn that went well and then, on a second pass through I found the yarn! Yay! I bought three skeins, to finish out the scarf, possibly make one for myself, and who knows maybe a coordinating hat. It took almost the whole second skein just to bind off. But as it turned out, with this yarn, 100 stitches is a bit to much to start off with - unless you are planning for something crazy long. So while the original scarf took twice as much yarn as I expected it really made two scarves (see, I'm not crazy).

And I did have enough for a hat (where I used the fuzzy yarn as an accent).


I'm So Happy

(Okay, that headline is way funnier if you have seen "Men in Tights" and can recall Amy Yasbeck saying it in a faux British accent. Otherwise, just move on.) But, my googling has uncovered this still mostly fresh news about Victoria's Secret, and as we head into sale season, I am so happy.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It May Not Always Be Apparent

But really - I am a marshmallow. So, in the spirit of the season, I share stories of cheer, kindness, fun , free stuff and madness from across the blogosphere.

*A kind customer looks out for a caffeine deprived retailer.
*A knitter and her family encounter lovely airport and airline people in their travels.
*Knitters attempt to save the world, a bit at a time.
*Nostalgia for gifts from the heart
*J A Konrath has free e-books#
*A gingerbread CTA station
*Ornamental stories
*Proof (again) that everyone's family (and interactions therein) is a little bit nuts.
*The line between pretty and tacky lights gets seriously trashed.

#Yeah, I know he put them up in November, but it's still like a present.

The Snow Can Only Slow Them

It is sort of intersting when you think about it. Postal Carriers are a group of people we all depend on, probably (hopefully) more often than police, fire service, and paramedics. And yet there are no movies or television shows about postal workers. Sure there was a postal challenge on season one of "Project Runway" (Jay was robbed), and Tommy Lee Jones' character in "Men in Black 2" goes to work in the post office, but really the two most well known fictional postal workers are Cliff from "Cheers" and Newman from "Seinfeld" who are both best known for not working.
As someone once said, if you handed your best friend thirty nine cents and a letter and said, "Hey take this to California for me," they would laugh at you. (Even if you are in California, I suspect thirty nine cents would not be enough to convince a firend to make a delivery for you.) So, the US Postal Service, as much as we all gripe about the rising stamp price, is still a good deal.
And why am I talking about postal workers today? Well, as you likely know, the postal service delivers six days a week (except holidays). AS you probably also know there was a huge storm in Denver that left tons of people and planes and such stranded. Well, postal workers went in to work this past Sunday and even Monday and went out on their routes to help get packages and mail to people who may be expecting it for the holidays. So, thank you.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Blue Lights


Dear Homeowners,
I grew up on the other side of Massachusetts Avenue. I don't remember what year it was that my mother discovered your amazing display, but she loaded us all into the car to see it. I am in my thirties now, my mother and sister have moved to other states but my brother and I still live in the area and still make a point to check out your display each year. It is an easy conversational topic, in our family, to discuss what the blue light house looks like this year. My sister and mother are always interested to hear about each year's display. I have no idea what kind of time and energy must go into putting together such a wonder, but I wanted you to know that my family has appreciated it greatly. Thanks, and best wishes for the season.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Wonder

I keep seeing the ad with the package and the plastic deer for the US Postal service. I enjoy the ad, but my overwhelming question is, have people really forgotten that the USPS does in fact pick up things from your house six days a week? Or is it just that with all the pretty UPS and Fedex people in their ads, the USPS felt it had to compete. And if there are people who don't realize that the post office picks up (as well as dropping off) is this ad really enough for them?

It's Not Just Me

I’ve been doing a lot of online training lately, and while overall the training is great and it’s great that we have it and I like being able to jump in and out of a course as my workload permits, there’s been a little something starting. I was starting to get bored. Sure, it could be my sometimes short attention span. It could be that I usually do a few screens of training, do something else, a few more screens, and so on. Or it could be that some of these courses assume I am pretty dumb. I tried to brush it off, we all have different skill levels and experience levels. It’s just because I’m bored that it seems silly. But in a course that states its target audience are HR professionals, do I really need a test on the difference between mental and physical abilities? Honestly, the first screen I was willing to allow that they were being thorough and not assuming too much prior knowledge. But do I seriously need to be quizzed – if I ask you to lift a box is that a physical or a mental ability?* I was tempted to get it wrong to see if the little good job/try again box that popped up would say something along the lines of: really at this point you may want to consider another career. But my competitive nature will not allow that. Maybe after I finish.

*This is not an actual quote. But it is seriously close to the real question.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Fun at Work

I saw and heard many amazing things when I worked in a call center. In one fabulous scenario, I watched a co-worker explain (super kindly, I want to emphasize) that she was going to put the caller on hold because he was getting a little agitated and she wanted to offer him the opportunity to calm down. (It worked too. She was a caller-whisperer.) And while it occurred to me to have fun with my customers – in a respectful manner of course – this is totally awesome.

Kilt Thoughts

I hope that the shortage of kilts gets the same treatment that other military shortages got. Just saying.
As a wench and someone who attended school in Scotland, I have seen my share of kilts. At faire (or fest)one has to be on the lookout for kilt checks (which Utilikilt amusingly lists as an advantage to wearing them).
Kilts are like all clothes, in that some people look better in them than others. They turn out to be quite slimming. And, as females already knew, true Scotsmen or not, it requires some changes to the way one sits. I went to a school with a uniform and we wore shorts under our skirts, theoretically to speed changing for gym but really so that we could sit however we wanted (especially sine we also rolled our skirts up to make them shorter). My father was quite concerned that I would forget my skirt etiquette and have a Lindsey Britney fashion faux pas - I explained that I really was able to recall when I was wearing shorts and when I was not.
Since kilts at university were brought out for dorm balls and formal dinners, there were students who decided to try them for the first time. They were often easy to spot as they would gather in the lounge (our dorm was a former hotel, and so had a great lounge/lobby area) sitting spread-eagled, often with one leg propped up. Fortunately the folks who did that tended not to be exploring their true Scotmanship. (Do guys not have to think about coordinating their underwear with their outfit? Because I saw a lot of polka dots - polka dots with plaid is not a good choice. And yes, I should never need know, but still.) Their was one incident in particular where my friend and I ended up in prime viewing position and - as we tried to look away and not look at each other either - ended up in hysterics. The object of our hysteria did not make the connection until one of the others seated with us told him to close his legs. Perhaps you had to be there.

PS Thanks to the Cherry who sent me the link!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Catching up on My Reading

Everything That's Yours is Mine by Sandra Scoppetone
I thought this was a great story by Scoppetone (I have read the first of her fifties detective series). This is a story about a PI in New York, who is also a lesbian, who is hired to investigate a rape. The twist is her client is killed fairly quickly after she meets her, so she is left to figure out whether the rape and murder are connected and if any of the victim's family members are telling the truth. The other interesting piece is that this story, while written as a contemporary is not a bit of a historical since it takes place in the early nineties when the internet was mostly a bunch of bulletin boards and since the main character had resisted the computer age, there are bits as she learns about computers and modems that are a trip back to when computers all had green screens and people didn't carry cell phones. The story is great, and the characters, and their relationships, are well written.
Grade: B

Pleasure For Pleasure by Eloisa James
Fourth of the Essex sisters series, and highly enjoyable. The series can be read out of order, but there are a few references to how the elder sisters met, and to some prior insults that the heroine (who believes erroneously that she is fat) had received, but they are explained well enough. Eloisa James has restored my faith in historicals, which I had mostly given up after reading characters roll their eyes and say, "Whatever" while wearing a corset. As with many of James' stories, the characters get married due to circumstances and then have to come to the various realizations that allow them to confess and/or realize their feelings. This is not to say that the story was formulaic, but perhaps follows a familiar pattern.
Grade: B

Monday, December 18, 2006

My Left Foot

I have a friend who has such a reputation for foot injuries, that her lovely and compassionate mother will burst into laughter at the suggestion that she may have once again injured her foot. I appear to have picked up a similar affliction.
The first I can recall was a while back I dropped the shampoo bottle on my left foot. In addition to hurting much more than one would expect a plastic bottle to hurt, I got a gorgeous purple and blue bruise over the top of my foot. I found one pair of sandals that had a wide top strap that covered the area – all the others in my closet covered part of the bruise, so that when I walked in dug in – and wore those. Since my workplace is mostly carpeted, I removed my shoes at work. And was promptly called on it. My pleas of, “I have a bruise” were not met with a lack of sympathy exactly, but they were countered with a strong request for me to put my shoes back on. (I do realize there are OSHA regulations about the wearing of shoes in the workplace, but that was not what was going on here.)
Cut to a few years later – I tripped. And while my little toe hurt like crazy I figured I had somehow stubbed it and it was nothing a good night’s sleep couldn’t fix. Except that, the next day it was black – well the outer half was. And the bruise went along the side of my foot and spread out over the top. The weird bit was that the bruise along the top always looked pretty good in the morning, but as the day wore one, it would darken up. I guess, it isn’t that weird when you think about it. I called the doctor and they told me I was welcome to come in to determine whether I had bruised or broken it, but the end result would be the same. They would recommend buddy taping the toe to the next toe, rest, and wearing closed toe shoes to prevent re-injury. If it was bruised it should be better in a few weeks, if broken a few more.
This occurred close to Thanksgiving, and my mother offered me a ride to my grandmother’s, which I accepted (gas savings and I had a manual car). My mother shared the story of how they told her the same thing when she hurt her toe, and she had demanded x-rays and an orthopedic surgeon consult. I asked her if that was the time that he fixed her tow with a pen. Actually – now that I think about it – maybe this is inherited. My mother dislocated a toe running into my brother’s crib in the middle of the night, and broke a toe playing soccer with a nerf ball (my parents discovered that night why the squishy balls were not so good for living room soccer). Hmmm.
So, cut to now. I went to see The Legwarmers (totally excellent, I highly recommend them) Friday. At one point a throng of people I have nothing nice to say about even though I don’t know them and have no good reason for this (well, one reason) were dancing enthusiastically in front of me. And one of them danced backwards - why do people not understand this is a bad idea? – onto my foot. She was wearing heels. Ouch. (She did apologize, but only after I pushed her off of my foot.) So now I have a bruise across the top of my foot. Again. The bruise has spread beyond the opening of the ballet style shoes I was wearing at the time of the injury. (Not the best choice, in retrospect.) So, I am down to a pair of rubber sandals that don’t press too much. They are super comfy.

Julia Sweeney

On NPR they talk about driveway moments. While I am sure that NPR likely didn’t invent this term, they do have a CD of such moments so that’s where I hear the term. And certainly NPR has provided several driveway moments. One in particular was technically a parking lot moment, since it was Saturday and I was on my way to the grocery store. “This American Life” was on, and they were running the episode with Julia Sweeney’s monologues about her family’s experience with cancer. Since my mother was coming through the last course of radiation this has special poignancy for me. Oh – and it was really funny – in the way that tragically real and really tragic stories are. (You can listen to it yourself here - June 9th.) I arrived at the grocery store at about the halfway point in the show, and sat in my car waiting for what? For it to stop being funny? It didn’t. For a commercial? It’s NPR. For it to end? Was I really going to sit in my car listening to the radio for another thirty minutes. I decided I was not. So, I did go hunt it down and listen to the rest later. It is just such an amazing story and if I watched SNL with any regularity this would make me sadder that Sweeney never really got the chance to be this funny there. (I mean Pat was funny, but really.) So, how did I not know she has a blog? And it’s very interesting (I’m catching up on old entries) as her current focus is figuring out religion and it’s place in her life and her child’s life. Sweeney is a lapsed Catholic. And she is struggling with – to a certain extent what my parents struggled with – how do we give our children that spiritual grounding without making religion a chore* she is also looking at how to find the right balance of stories and spirituality for herself and her child.

*My parents’ solution was to baptize us, but not take us to church. And to encourage us to go to church with grandparents when we or they visited and to send us to Christian schools for parts of our educations. Their idea was to let us make our own choices, even though I suspect they were thinking along the lines of Christian church going or agnostic, not say Muslim or Buddhist.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Pearl Harbor the Movie & Me

I finally watched Pearl Harbor a weekend or so ago, and let me just tell you I am so glad that, other than my cable bill, I did not pay to watch this.

Note: I am not going to talk much about the plot, I am more interested in speaking to the historical items and some background issues so it will not spoil much of the movie for you if you have not seen it. But, it will possibly ruin your ability to enjoy it, so you decide.

First - some background. My grandparents live (and my grandmother still does) on O'ahu. My grandfather was a policeman and my grandmother was a nurse at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. My dad was just over a year, and my aunt was just a few months old herself so my grandmother was not at the hospital the day of the attacks. My brother and I went to visit the Arizona Memorial just a few years ago (we had tried on an earlier visit and missed the last boat - literally). So it is a time, place, and event that has particular resonance for me. I also have read a ton of historical fiction about World War II, including a book called Pearl. While I - erroneously, clearly - thought since the movie was called Pearl Harbor it might start with the event, I got over that. I did appreciate the inclusion of the Hiroshima bombings to provide counterpoint that the Japanese weren't the only mean people in this story. However, there were to me gaps.

The first being that Hawaii has always been a bit of a salad bowl, and like much of the west coast there are large Asian communities (after all without them, who would we have interned during the war?). And yet, all the setting shots where we see people - not military (because I do grant that, the military in pre-war Hawaii would have been much less racially diverse) but kids playing baseball, people in restaurants and at gas stations - there would have been people who were Hawaiian, and Chinese, and Korean and Japanese and all sorts of other things. They have one character, who is a doctor, who's only purpose is to freak out a soldier he tries to treat during the attack. That's it - that's the some total of their non-military racial diversity. A movie that takes place in Hawaii and yet has no Hawaiians. And sure, some of these people could already be mixed such that they appear white (as I do) more than their other heritages. But it struck me as wallpaper Hawaii story - there are pretty beaches for the characters to fly over and make out on. But Hawaii, which at that point was a territory that had a tense relationship with the military - gets no real screen time. There was no mention that I saw of the military takeover of Hawaii that occurred after the attack, no mention of the internment of Asians - and they already had a token* Asian doctor who surely would have been affected. (I admit my attention had sagged at this point, more mention of the doctor's nationality/heritage may have been made, however if you think only Japanese people were swept up in the camps, you would be incorrect.)

Now, for those of you who have seen the movie you are likely thinking, is she crazy the movie is already three hours long, and she wants more? And I agree - I have yet to see a three hour movie ("Gone With the Wind" comes close) that couldn't lose at least thirty minutes and be the better for it. And yes, the movie tried to do too much, uniting two essentially unrelated stories such that one felt like filler and trying to spend too much (IMO) time on the politics before and after the attack. It was also interesting that it spent a lot of time with the Japanese soldiers as they approached Hawaii and then, nothing. No more time with them.

Did it make me cry - yes - but I felt silly as I did. Aware that I had been manipulated with simple story "twists". So, overall, thumbs down.

*I realize the term token is somewhat divisive and I probably shouldn't use it facetiously, but this drives me crazy. This is just like setting a show in New York and never seeing a Hispanic or black person, when any tourist would find out on the walk to the hotel that that was not realistic.

I'm Back

Yesterday my company's web filter software decided that blogger should be tagged "Sex". Mind you, it would let me read blogs, including mine, just not log into mine. Now, I would like to point out that:
-My company does not have a blogging policy.
-I don't usually blog at work, although I often post at work.
But, after being in a big sugar requiring snit about it yesterday, today I can get in.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Thank You, TV Peeps!

Thank you, NBC! NBC is moving "Friday Night Lights" to Wednesday thereby assisting me on two of my nights - Tuesday because even my Dual Tuner Tivo couldn't keep up with Tuesday. And Wednesday, which okay I had been using to catch up on the overflow from Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, but still. Wednesday is mostly dead. No "Law & Order", no "Veronica", no "Project Runway" and okay I've been watching the seriously manipulated "Top Chef", but really. And sure, I caught up on reading and writing, and cleaning, at least theoretically, but this is much better. Yay!

And itunes now has season three (current) episodes of "Veronica Mars" - yay! Go catch up!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

When is it Stealing?

The growing potential scandal about Ian McEwen's Atonment, has created some interesting questions for me. I read about it on Smart Bitches (links below). What it boils down to, is McEwen wrote a book about a that is in part about a wartime nurse. Lucilla Andrews, who herself was an author, had written a memoir of her experiences as a wartime nurse. McEwen acknowledges her as being a helpful source but has apparently found her so helpful that he cribbed a few passages. I have read neither so I am unaware of the level of cribbing other than what has been reported (which is a few paragraphs where McEwen clearly lifted with some non-essential word swapping). However it is creating an interesting debate as to where the line between appreciation and plagiarism is. If there are only a few sources for a particular type of character, is it more likely that you would have to rely heavily on that source. If you relying heavily on a source where is the line between use, tribute, and stealing? Is it better or worse if you are an established author found to have possibly plagiarised than a new author? If you credit your source does that make it not plagiarism? Adding into the mix, Andrews had apparently been recently made aware of the similarities and had planned to address it, but sadly passed away before she could.

In order-ish:

Original post at Smart Bitches - the post and the comments have great links and discussion.

Interview with Nora Roberts at Smart Bitches (Roberts was a victim of plagiarism).

Follow up post at Smart Bitches with link to follow up article by writer who pointed out the similarities.

Bookseller Chick provides the link to Slate's coverage.

Semantics

I am slowly noticing - I hesitate to use the word backlash, but an increasing concern about being known as feminist as well as a desire from people who feel they write literary stuff to refute the label chick lit. I don't know if these things are tied together or not. But in both cases it seems there is, in part a misunderstanding about the label or a feeling the the label is not all encompassing. I suggest this because I don't see any reason to believe that these famous-ish people who are stating they are not feminists are against gender equality (which is really the basic premise of feminism) so it seems a backlash against people who take positions they don't agree with under the label of feminism. Just imagine for a moment, what would happen to Christianity if that happened. (And okay, reformation, millions of splits, Protestants of every shape and size, it kind of did.)

I feel like the anti-chick lit issue is similar. As far as I can tell the thing that unites chick lit is that the main character is a girl. And sure often it's a middle class, twenty something, white girl but again, I don't think that is a function of the label. I find book labelling (from a bookstore perspective, rather than a dewey decimal or other cataloguing perspective) morbidly fascinating. Why is Pat Booth in Fiction but Jennifer Crusie is in Romance? And then there are people like Alesia Holliday and Linda Howard and Kay Hooper who have books in both Romance and Mystery and - depending on the store, Fiction too. (Holliday also has books in YA, but under a different name). And why is Christine Feehan in Romance and not Sci Fi? But anyway, the label or section marker is really just a starting point. Sure, I don't spend a lot of time in the History section, so if your book got shelved there chances are I won't see it but that's why books are all over the store these days. That's why there's an information desk. That's why there's kiosks and stuff. And honestly, if your story is about a woman, being called chick lit or women's fiction or whatever today's heading of choice is, is not inaccurate. (We won't even talk about what happens if your story is chick lit about a guy.) So, feminist, chick lit author - it's all good.

Okay, it turns out this is not new, and Sars has spoken eloquently on the feminist label rejection issue here: http://www.tomatonation.com/youare.shtml

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Real is In the Details

I've been thinking about what makes a story - not resonate - but seem real. Recognizing that all stories call for some level of a suspension of disbelief, what is that helps you get there. I've seen mention on a few blogs where people were fed up with unrealistic sister relationships. I recently started skimming a book after the chaaracter did a number of things that didn't jibe for me. So what makes it seem real? And a lot of times it the little stuff. One of the things I love about "Friday Night Lights" is the relationship between Coach Taylor and Tammy, his wife. Their interactions seem (to me who, yes, has never been married) so real - they have tensions but they are not always the drama of the week. They apologize to each other, but not always with huge gestures, often with simple words. I know I already talked about the grocery store DJ in Why Moms Are Wierd but that' the kind of thing that has me giggling in recognition and it draws me deeper in. A lot of the articles about "Veronica Mars" talk about the relationship between Veronica and her dad, and I think that's part of what grounds the series so that as she does things that are a little dark for a now college student, you at least know she has that center - even if they are disagreeing about curfews and boyfriends.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I Knew About the Condoms...

...Due to my extensive military fiction reading, but the Silly String was new.
Silly String in Iraq Apparently, it helps reveal trip wires. Very cool. I just wonder who had the Silly String the first time they tried it.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Grammy People and I Have Some Differences

Not that this is a shock. But "Jesus Take The Wheel" is nominated for best song and best country song, well, you know how I feel.

(I am very happy for the Dixie Chicks, Miranda Lambert, The Wreckers and Corinne Bailey Rae, and many other folks.)

Thoughts on Differences and Education

I was pondering out treatment of race and sexuality.  At my church, a
standard part of the announcements process welcomes visitors explaining
(paraphrased) that this community welcomes people of all genders, sexual
preferences and affections, race, and all other things that make us different
from one another.  And while I recognize that there are people who view
transgendered and/or homosexual people as having made a choice rather than
living out a biological destiny and that affects their ability to view those
things as "acceptable", in the end these are all just differences.  While
there is still work to do in gender equality, it is interesting to me to
listen to some of these discussions about race or sexuality and the rights
that should be afforded and the quotas and things we can use to try and create
diverse student bodies and replace the word race or sexuality with gender and
imagine the reaction.  If there were a school district that was somehow
ninety five percent boys, wouldn't everyone agree that busing to create a
better gender balance was a good idea for all of the students? 


On the flip side of that is the Kamehameha schools in Hawaii.  The
Kamehameha schools were founded as a result of a bequest that asked for
schools to be founded to promote education of and for native Hawaiian
students.  (I realize Hawaiians are often the forgotten tribe in this
country so let me digress to remind you that: the teaching and speaking of
Hawaiian was forbidden for many years, the US government overthrew the
legitimate Hawaiian government for fear Hawai'i might align with Britain, the
Hawaiians were only granted reservation land in the 1990's.) These schools do
also accept people without Hawaiian origins, but give preference to those who
can demonstrate any native background (no matter how far back, as long as you have papers).


A case has been making its way through the court systems, Doe v. Kamehameha
Schools, with a student who was otherwise qualified but denied a spot since
the year he applied there were more native students who were accepted than
spaces*. (While this certainly isn't the only driving factor here, I should
mention that tuition for this well-regarded private school is about
$6,000.)  The suit states that this is a racially prejudicial application
system.  Now to nutshell it a bit, the current court view (in general)
seems to be leaning towards an acceptance of race as one of several
considerations, but not as a sole factor.  Except - as far as I can tell
- with regards to historically black schools.  The rulings have gone back
and forth a bit on this case, but some of the rulings have mentioned the legal
standing for schools that show preference to groups that have experienced
"socio-economic and educational disadvantages"*.


To tie this back to the thoughts that started this, I was applying to college
during the VMI and Citadel brou-hahas.  (A student with a gender neutral
name applied and was accepted to the Citadel, and then it turned out she was a
girl!)  Well, the upshot of the case was that since the Citadel (I don't
think VMA was directly involved, it was just they realized their situation was
analogous) received federal money that were not allowed to continue with a
prejudicial admissions policy, so they had to either stop taking federal
monies or accept qualified females or form a parallel institution that offered
equivalent instruction to females.  (They went with option two). 
What interests me with the Kamehmeha case, is that the school does not receive
federal or state monies.  So, if we follow the closest analogous case
that I am aware of from a gender perspective - we're all good.  And
people seem to accept that while public education will not have gender
divides, it is acceptable in private institutions.  And as far as I am
aware no one is challenging the right for traditionally black institutions to
remain predominately black.  It would be interesting to see what would
happen if someone tried to start a school for homosexuals (to educate them,
not 'retrain' them.)



* The student has applied four times, the other three the student was not
accepted for reasons other than lack of space for non-native students.


**http://www.ksbe.edu/staticpages/index.php?page=legal_summary

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"Grey" Thoughts: Perspectives

I was thinking entirely too much about last week's episode of "Grey's Anatomy" and Izzie's initial kick-ass "I don't do coffee" response to McSteamy. I was thinking about how in character that seemed for her and why that would be her knee jerk response whereas Alex's was to do it with a sigh and not even request reassignment after days on not being allowed to learn. It occurred to me that the more I thought about this, the more it made sense. Izzie grew up in a trailer park and worked as a model to get herself through med school. All of that, combined with being female, blonde and pretty means she has encountered many people who think they can roll over her and stick her with the scut work so she has had practice standing up for herself.

Alex in contrast was an athlete in high school and I believe college and then a med student. He is (as much fits with one of the overlapping themes of "Friday Night Lights" accustomed to people handing him things. I am sure as an athlete and I'm guessing frat boy he went through some hazing. So from his perspective this errand running is a proving ground he just has to get through or past. He doesn't see it as sexism, or beauty-ism and, as an arrogant person himself, he sees nothing wrong with arrogance when , as McSteamy apparently can, you can back it up in surgery.

I Know This Is Mean

I know this is mean, but I am sorely tempted to download the ringtones all of my obnoxious co-workers have (the obnoxious co-workers who leave their phones unattended and yet have friend or relatives who call six times in a row because they are too good for voicemail - those co-workers). Why would I want ringtones that are constantly hammered into my brain? Because the second part of my plan is to play them over and over, sending the co-workers scrambling for their phones only to find it's not their phone. I realize the joy I would receive from this would be small and fleeting, but nonetheless the idea persists. And then, hopefully these same co-workers would change their ringtones so that they wouldn't get confused and then, well, then I'd at least have new obnoxious ringtones to listen to.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Good News

For those of you who have (or haven't) been following the story of CNET editor James Kim and his family who disappeared a week ago Saturday, his wife and children have been located in great condition considering they were sitting in a stuck car all this time. Hopefully the good news will continue.

12/7/2006 - Sadly Mr. Kim's body was recovered. My thoughts are with his family and friends.

A Little Rant About "Heroes"

List of Things That "I'm sorry" Can Fix
I'm late.
I forgot to do a small favor.
I forgot to put toilet paper on the roll.
I bumped into you accidentally.
I spilled something on you accidentally.
I accidentally cut in line.
I left something behind I was supposed to bring.

Nowhere on this list, or I'm guessing any other is "I'm sorry that my alter-ego shot at you with a long range rifle". For those of you did not watch "Heroes last night (or have not yet watched) this will not make much sense. I'm not saying that "Heroes" is a perfect show, but honestly that little plot jag last night would have required the entire bottle of wine had I been playing along with TWoP/Erin's suggested crappy writing drinking game. The show has a great concept and some really excellent characters. And I'm am admittedly out of patience with trying to figure out how having an alter-ego makes you 'super' instead of a candidate for therapy, but nonetheless. I don't care how crappy your life is, how much I love you, how messed up I know you to be, how many kids we have together, you shoot at me with a rifle trying to kill me and we are not talking for a while. It is not a scenario where you say, "I'm sorry" and I go, okay, let's get you some help. You and our child are not going to go anywhere together, not without at least bulletproof vests. It's not that I don't have sympathy for people with superpowers or dissociative identity disorder. But the reality is, in all of these scenarios you have to take responsibility for your actions. And I'm sorry is just the beginning.

(Yes, I do know these are fictional people. Really.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

On a Lighter Note

One of my favorite email forwards is the things to do when bored at work, which includes "page yourself, don't disguise your voice". On a similar vein I adore the Overheard in the Office blog in the isn't it nice to know we all work with idiots vein. (Disclaimer: My immediate co-workes are mostly awesome, other internal and external clients have been known to leave something to be desired.) But for whatever reason, this entry has me giggling still, days later.

Thoughts About "Day Break"

I had an interesting thought about "Day Break". I read a review somewhere that commented that the show started to get interesting as Hopper (Taye Diggs) figures out how to play with the day he gets to relive over and over, and I agree. But one of the things that seems to make it work, is that, unlike "24" in which a bunch of people have one really unbelievable day, Hopper's day is complex because, as with most of us there are tons of storylines playing out beside and around him and with each shot he's learning a little more about what happened. This is not to say that the danger that this one day is so freaking full of crap doesn't exist, but so far it's working. Hopper learns enough each go around to make it seem worthwhile, and in th emost recent episode one plotline seems to have been resolved such that he may not have to add it to his ever growing list. The other interesting thing that they did is each time Hopper relives the day he not only retains the information he learned - which sometimes screws him up because sometimes he forgets which day he called his sister back for example - but he also retains any injuries and such. I thought that was an unfair rule at first, but then realized that's so he can't take unreasonable risks, since assumedly it would mean if he dies in any of the verisons, he won't get to try and fix it the next day.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Trying to Find a Balance

  1. Sigh. I just - sigh. It's not just the only Christians can appreciate Christmas conceit, but also the idea that Christians don't find Christmas and all its trappings stressful, or that all Christians even celebrate Christmas or - sigh.
  2. Woo-hoo ! Maybe now they'll do a musical episode. Also, it's further proof that "How I Met Your Mother" has a rocking (and warbling) cast. (Link from ALOTT5MA)
  3. While I love shout-outs, and the scene in "Bull Durham" where Kevin Costner tells Tim Robbins the five things you need to know to talk to reporters rocks, who knew it would turn out a bunch of folks would crib from the Beach Boys ?
  4. Maybe I'll win this.
  5. Kerfuffling in various places on the net about amateur book reviewers. Summarized/Linked up nicely here . Imagine untrained, unpaid people thinking they can talk about stuff. And of course the sad public who believe what they say, because surely they are not able to make good decisions either.
  6. I watched "My Boys" and it was good. Props to the appropriate combination of actors and director, because the little motions made it all so realistic.
  7. Trying not to read too much into the fact that all my good things in this list are about television.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I won!

It is very exciting to me even though it doesn't mean the story is done or not full of gibberish or any of that. It was one of those many things you participate in hoping it will give you the kick in the pants you need to at least stop saying that you don't have time. I'm hoping I can contintue some of this momentum and yet figure out how to intergrate things like laundry and excercise back into my schedule.

Two Weekends of Reading

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

This book took a bit for me to get going, possibly because I was reading it while commuting, little snippets at a time. And because of NaNoWriMo. But once I got into it, it was excellent. The story takes place in the 1800's in China, and it is a story about women. The women get married and have children, but the story is about them, and about the secret language they used to communicate with each other. My only complaint is that the story - which is being told after the fact by the main character - starts when the main character is three. Her memories are very vivid for something that happened many years ago and that bugged me a bit until I decided she may just think her memories are very clear and really we can just move on. I enjoy historicals but I am very wary, having read so many bad ones. This one is very well done.

Grade: A-

We Thought You Would Be Prettier by Laurie Notaro

Yes, I am an addict. Again - I loved it. Uncontrollable giggling such that I had to exercise caution as to where I read it. Notaro has a great story-telling sense.

Grade: A

Born in Death by JD Robb

I love this series in part for the great mysteries - I was very proud of myself for figuring out part of it. But I also love, the ever expanding group that surrounds Eve, the heroine. And part of what I like out this, much as with Robert B. Parker's Spencer series, is the relationship between Eve and Roarke. This case causes a little snag, and it was great to watch how they worked through that and how they are growing into each other, if that makes sense.

Grade: A

Santa Baby by Jennifer Cruise, Lori Foster and Carly Phillips

I have read stuff by each of the authors before, and I would say that these three stories, two of which have previously been published (the Crusie is new) are typical for each author.

Jennifer Cruise's story about the heroine's search for a toy for her nephew on Christmas Eve was fast-paced and full of strong and vulnerable characters. A great read.

Lori Foster's story about a woman taking action on the crush she's had on her dad's company's number two, who is now her employee since her dad passed away recently is sexy. I found myself irritated by little details - the heroine is wearing a robe so think the hero doesn't realize that she has underwear on, but then he can see her nipples through the fabric. [spoiler]The story was sexy, and of course they end up engaged after a fabulous night in bed. Yes, they had known each other for several years, but I'm wondering if it took them that long to kiss, would they really just go okay, the sex was good let's get married. Maybe.[/spoiler]

Carly Phillips' story about a woman also with a crush on a co-worker. However in this story she accidentally kisses his twin and discovers that may be better. There was just too much mushy - meeting of the souls and seeing inside each other and total understanding as if to make it okay that since it's a short story they are going to have sex the night they meet. Oh and the hero has time to mend serious fences with his brother too. It was a very busy twenty four hours.

Grade: B-

Found Dead

In my latter two years of college I had six roommates. After one of those found dead after two weeks stories, we had a discussion about how long it would take for us to notice if one of us passed away. Since four of the people had shared rooms the determination was that it the time would be pretty quick for them. For the other three it might be a bit longer, possibly even a day or two - assuming of course we passed away in our room rather than in a common area. (Had anyone expired in one of the two bathrooms, I figure there was about two hours before someone would have broken down the door.)

So this story saddens me because this woman, who lived with relatives, was not found for two weeks . And it was not that her relatives were away or somehow failed to notice her absence, they had in fact spent that time trying to find her. I find it also very sad that she died smothered by her own bookcase, while trying to adjust a plug. It is so mundane. My thoughts are with her family.

Reading - School Days

I have recently finished School Days by Robert B. Parker - it is part of the Spenser series, and concerns a school shooting. There were two things that I really want to talk about, but first let me say that the book is excellent. So much so, that I was able to overlook a crucial plot point which is one of the things I will get to. So, Grade: A

Concern:
First, and warning this is a teeny spoiler so if you want to go spoiler Mary, then, skip ahead. Spenser had been hired by the relative of one of the boys, ostensibly to prove his innocence. If you have ever read a Spenser novel before, you know that he just finds what he finds and is often more interested in a greater truth. Anyway, at one point Spenser is questioning various people about possible reasons or motives for the two teens who have confessed to the school shootings. One person mentions that the teen Spenser has been hired to assist had been finding dark things on the internet. It is established that the teen could not have done this at school, since the computers there are heavily restricted as far as what can be accessed. (We are just going to ignore that of course any dedicated teen could likely get around that and move on.) So, Spenser asks the parents if he can look at the teen's computer and finds that he doesn't have one, and his parents don't think he knows how to use one. No. I'm sorry - this child has floopy (my technical term) parents. I would be willing to believe that the teen had been given a computer and had lost or broken it, part of his punishment may have been not getting a new one. But it is not realistic that a middle class teen, with a doting grandmother, attending a high pressure prep school not only never asked for a computer, but was not in some way required to have one for school. No way.
And this thing is, this whole bit is just a set up to help Spenser figure out that the person who told him that the teen had been going to bad places on the internet was lying. Certainly there was something else she could have been lying about. As I said, the book is well written, and aside from that blunder, is a great story which why I gently closed it to yell, "Bullshit," instead of throwing it across the room. I adore Robert B. Parker's Spenser series, but did none of the editorial staff catch this? On to the good (or more of it).



Pondering:

One of the things that got me was a conversation Spenser has with Rita Fiore, a lawyer who recurs throughout the series. In questioning classmates as to what they thought the motivation for the two alleged shooters doing this is, one of the students comments that she's surpised it doesn't happen more often. This leads to Spenser and Rita discussing the various things that are outside your typical prep school teenagers control: what they wear, their schedule, when to talk, how to talk, what activities to particpate in, and so on. All this added to adults telling you this is the easist and best time of your life.

I was so struck by this. I was in a meeting with other adults who work with teens and we were asked to think back to what our experience as a teen was like. The person next to me - who read her list first - had freedom, no responsibilities, hanging out with friends, and having fun on her list. My list included lack of freedom, choices being limited, transportation constraints, lack of control. I am certainly not denying the validity of the other person's list. But for me, I had great friends, but I was really hoping life got better after high school. And in many ways it did. I'm not saying I didn't have fun in high school, or that there is something wrong with people who do, but this mythology that this is the best part of your life I think does everyone - young and old - a disservice. If you are having a crappy time, how depressing to hear that this is the pinnacle. And if you are having a great time, how depressing to hear that it won't ever get better, it's all downhill.

Now certainly I did not get my driver's license until I was in college (my parent's did not even let me take the test until I was in college - after my younger sister had already gotten her license, but my mother will tell you I wasn't motivated) and I had been attending the same school - by the time I graduated - for ten years, I wore a uniform, and my junior year coincided with some serious family issues that made home life suck. But I was not in a position to change these things. Goodness knows my life (as does anyone's) needs constant work and attention, but at least as much as can ever be expected is in my control today. Sure there are days when I want to give that responsibility back, to lend it out temporarily, and sure I still can't wear just anything or do just anything if I want to - for example - keep my job. But I much prefer this. Much prefer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ten Reasons I Love "Veronica Mars"

I honor of an awesome episode last night and because I missed blogging about Thanksgiving - let's just roll it all together here. One of the many things I am thankful for is "Veronica Mars". And since it's list season, here we go:
  • "Real Genius" shoutout. Seriously - my sister, her friend and I were all camp counselors together one summer and we watched that movie obsessivley (not at the camp). And then we spent the rest of out waking hours reciting bits to each other. "It's a penis stretcher." "This, this is ice. This is what happens to water when it gets too cold." So any show that incorporates a "Real Genius" shoutout (on top of the previously done TWoP and Couch Baron shoutouts) gets my love. If it didn't already have it.
  • Veronica will taser you. Which rocks. This show gets compared to "Buffy" a lot and while I get it - high school girl who kicks ass, I think its a very superficial comparison. If they were talking about great shows with intelligent plotlines, I could see it. Buffy had supernatural powers. Veronica is just like the rest of us - except she has a taser.
  • Layers like an onion. The show has layers - which is not to say some shows that are single-layered aren't great too. But layers rock.
  • The show does not assume you are stupid. I can't stand it when a show batters me over the head with something, in the assumption that the trail of breadcrumbs spelling "this is a clue" was not enough for me. (Really it was).
  • This probably ties into layers - but better with multiple viewings. Some shows lose their sheen after a few viewings. Not this one.
  • Great cast. Seriously - they are amazing. And not hard to look at either.
  • Great storylines. Fluffy for "Veronica Mars" is someone stole all my possessions.
  • You'll laugh; You'll cry. The whole gamut.
  • Even when they are predictable, it's not predictable.
  • What else are you doing? (Okay you might be watching "House" - but use a recording device. It's worth it. Come on, you know there are whole nights when television sucks, save one for then.)
  • Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    Season Passes - Update

    I know I keep comparing everything to dating, and I'm going to do it again. We've got some takers on this list. And - yet the networks are the ones making me have to finally break it off. (Although some of them I can apparently still hook up with over the internet.)
    Veronica Mars: To crib from Sara M, when I say this season isn't as completely rocking as the first or even parts of the second that it not to say that the show doesn't totally rock - because it does. But, if we grade on a curve this season so far would be a B comparatively. And part of that is that I, mildly obsessive fan, am catching continuity issues. And if I can catch them, continuing on this road it's only a matter of time before the non-obsessive fans start to notice. (The rabidly obsessive fans have already congregated in a bitterness thread.)
    House: Back from baseball hiatus, and here's the thing. Every year - right around this time - they introduce an arcing storyline and while I love this show, their arcing storylines tend to..suck. This one is no exception. The rest of the show is still excellent.
    The Office: I really enjoyed the opportunity to watch one of the episodes while I was actually in Stamford. (Yes, I am a dork.) This is one of those shows where the comedy circles rather than grabs. But it's worth it.
    How I Met Your Mother: Always worth it. And they do such a great job of lulling you into thinking, TV vet that you are, that you know where it's going, and then they'll tweak it one bit that has you going, Oh! Awesome. Swarley!
    Gilmore Girls: This is totally one of those things where I am hanging on to old times. There are still great moments. But there are more bits that annoy the crap out of me. But I'm still there.
    Battlestar Galactica: The most beautifully crafted show about politics and religion I think I have ever seen.
    Intervention: Addictive. (Yeah, I know - that was bad.)
    Grey's Anatomy: Popcorn.
    The Amazing Race: Enjoy the changes to the format this year. But we have now reached the point where I in some way dislike all of the remaining teams, which is affecting my enjoyment a bit.
    Friday Night Lights: This shows continues with the greatness.
    The Nine: Still intrigued. It's not unfolding at a totally glacial pace, but I am left wondering how much I care. Apparently I'm not the only one, sine they are not ordering any new episodes. And I'm a little sad about that.
    Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: I feel a sense of deja vu when I watch this show. Some episodes a good enough that I get over it, others, not so much.
    Runaway: Deleted. Gone. Cancelled.
    Heroes: A bit like a soap where I only like some of the stories - so I wait through them for the people I care about. And I get it that she's the cheerleader, but her hair gets more beauty queen every freaking episode. Is that part of her powers? But every week they do something that has me gasping.
    Ugly Betty: I finally gave in to the camp, and I'm liking it better. especially since they've juggled up some new plotlines.
    Standoff: Enjoying it.
    Brothers & Sisters: I really think I keep watching this because with Grey's moving I have nothing else to do. Well, okay I could watch "Intervention" but that's on repeats right now. There are great moments, but so much of it is a yawn.
    30 Rock - Every episode is the same. Jack does something. They all try to deal with it. Deleted.
    The Game - Very cute. My second football show - although this is a comedy and is very different from FNL.
    Top Chef - God, this show makes me hungry.
    Day Break - I love Taye Diggs (although I still never watched Kevin Hill). And the show has done some things that intrigue me. Hopefully soon he will better understand howit goes and stop telling people he figured stuff out yesterday.

    Shows That Still Haven't Started:
    Knights of Prosperity
    My Boys

    Over or On Hiatus:
    Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County: Ended.
    Project Runway: The season has ended and I am sad.
    Eureka: On hiatus now.
    Psych
    The 4400

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    Sign of the Crazy

    I am a renter which means my experience with homeowner's association rules are non-existent. My current building has a rule about stuff on the windows that could be considered advertising, but that it about it. But I have heard that many homeowner's associations have rules about lawn length and shutter color and what have you. And fine - since homeownership is generally considered an intentional community there are rules that can be made in that scenario that wouldn't fly elsewhere. And certainly I understand wanting to have rules about signage. But in a certain part of Colorado there have been complaints about a peace sign . Seriously?

    First, I suspect that this is CYA more than anything, apparently there were complaints registered so then the association decided they should take action, yada, yada. I assume it is easier to ask this one house to take the sign down, rather than explain to other people there is nothing remotely offensive about a peace sign. You may not be for peace, but hey, I may not be for Christ but I'm not asking you to take down your creche. And here's the thing - the association board asked the committee in charge of such things to ask for the sign to be removed, and the committee refused. So, the committee was fired.

    These are the complaints listed about the peace sign (from these folks in the community):

    -Some residents have children in Iraq. Peace is a bigger concept than one war. And just as there are all kinds of Christians, there are all kinds of peace-niks. Some are against all war. That doesn't make them anti-military, just anti-war. Some are hoping we can get to place where war is not our default diplomatic solution, but don't think we are there yet. The sign says peace, not "Soldiers deserve to die".

    -Some believe the symbol is Satanic. It's not. Just because someone mistakenly thinks that it is does not make their removal request more valid.

    -Some believe the symbol is anti-Christian. It's not. In fact the Bible is sort of anti-killing people, or so I hear, which would suggest that peace is really a Christian value. Which is not to say that non-Christians aren't for peace.

    -Divisive symbols are not allowed. I recognize that this is a bit of a judgement call, but it saddens me to imagine that a peace sign could ever be considered divisive.

    -Someone else could put a pro-bomb sign up. So the concern is not about this view, but that an alternate view might be more divisive. I think this is flawed and even circular reasoning.

    My thoughts go out to this woman who is potentially facing huge fines for putting up a peace sign on her house.

    Meathead Hats

    I finished two meathead hats this week. I used the pattern suggested Lamb's Pride Bulky in Seafoam and Pine Tree. I had not previously used this yarn, but liked it, it's a nice cozy wool that's not very scratchy. The pattern uses the yarn doubled so that it knits up on fifteens (I used two Denise Circ's - see that's why I needed the second kit) so it goes pretty quickly. For embellishment, I went for fairly simple. Using the contrasting color I added a fingerknit (ie. loose i-cord) bow and a coiled single chain.




    I had bought both colors toying with making a striped hat but ended up going with one color. I made the larger size since I have a big head, and that fit well. I tend to knit really tight, so I had yarn leftover, not a lot, but enough that I'll dig through the stash and possibly make a third with some other yarn added in. It's a great pattern and I have enjoyed seeing what others did with it - embellishment-wise and I can't wait for the book.

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006

    Reality Show Integrity

    I'm sure I've said before that I have no intention of ever participating in a reality show for a number of reasons. (This may be that they haven't yet come of with the combination of skills and prizes that will entice me - a reading and knitting competition perhaps? Somehow I don't see that making good TV). The follow up to this is I am driven crazy by contestants who seem to be unfamiliar with the workings of the game.

    I watched "Survivor" for a few seasons and the thing that drove me nuts was the people who in their interviews would say, "I can't believe they lied to me. These people are all manipulators and backstabbers." Um hello? The game is "Outwit, Outstay, Outlast". There are no points for being nice or honest or any of that. And while you can argue that some of the bigger backstabbers have lost in the end because more people on the jury thought they were mean than the other person - none of that matters if you don't make it to the end.

    I recognize that a portion of this is just venting on the part of contestants, it would certainly be tiring to be examining everyone's motives and then to be constantly questioned on what I personally think all those motives are. All of this brings me to "The Amazing Race". Key word - race. A race implies that people who are faster - at getting places and at doing things will succeed. Sure there have been contestants who did things like cancel other team members cabs and stuff - and you can choose not to stoop that low. And certainly at the beginning, it may make sense to pool resources. But in almost every round someone is going home. And it's one thing to choose to succeed without being mean. It is another to fail on a point of niceness.

    For those who have missed out on this season of "The Amazing Race" there were three teams who banded together. They shared travel information, they followed each other to tasks, they waited for each other so they could all leave places together. Which was all fine while it lasted. But then it became clear that one team wasn't buying in all the way, they were willing to make use of shared information, but they weren't willing to wait or help anyone else out much. And perhaps during those rest breaks that aren't filmed they clarified that to the other members. Two weeks ago - after being saved from elimination twice - one of the teams (which it seems may have been the glue that held the other two a bit) was eliminated. The two remaining teams were now in the back two positions - so - without major shifting - one was going home. Well - the Chos finished a task and waited for the Alabama moms to finish. And they all got to the airport and got on the same flight. The Chos got a map and got directions, the Alabama moms agreed to follow them. But the Chos proved very nervous about their directions which led them to stop several times. Not once, that we saw, did the Alabama moms offer to go get directions or to start leading. Instead they complained that it was taking to long. So after they both completed the task (with the Chos again waiting) the Alabama moms pulled in front and then complained when the Chos followed them. Which would be fine in normal race circumstances (the complaining) but hey - you followed them out and they didn't try to ditch you.

    Well for the next task the Alabama moms peeled out leaving the Chos in the dust. The Chos then got lost - ended up going to a different task - and then took a wrong turn no the way to the pit stop. The problem is the wrong turn was down a road that had been closed so they were then questioned by the police before being allowed to proceed. So, the Chos came in significantly last and were eliminated. But they are proud, because they raced as friends. Okay, you race however you want to race, but seriously? Ronde and Tiki Barber are freaking twins - but when they're teams play each other does Ronde say you know, I'm going to soften up a bit because he is my brother and I don't want to mess with that? No he does not! It doesn't mean they don't love each other; it means they have jobs. And sure a reality show is not a job - although considering you are taking time off from yours in order to do this you should sort of treat it as such, but whatever. If you are just there to make friends you didn't even need a reality show to begin with.

    Monday, November 20, 2006

    Yay!

    Entertainment Weekly's Popwatch informs me (Yes, just me) that "Veronica Mars" has been picked up for the remainder of the season. Yay! Because this season keeps getting better, even if the promos have been wierd to say the least. (Last week's promo spoiled most of the last five minutes.)

    Another Button

    I read this article in Knitty and just thought that was so cool. As hip as I wish to be, installation art sometimes doesn't make sense to me but this did. Objects knit by the same people all over the world - except they all knit the same thing. Just the scale of it was amazing to me.
    Well, Larissa is now having a giant knitalong as part of a book she's putting together and people are making hats again except this time a little personalization is involved. I'm so excited. A great excuse to go yarn shopping.

    Friday, November 17, 2006

    Knitting Pictures

    I have resolved the computer picture issue. Yay. So, now I can share lots of pictures with you. I posted two more dishcloths for the dishcloth KAL. I finally sent off my square for the Grandmother Purl blanket. I made it with the same Kiwi TLC Cotton Plus as I used for Amazing Lace. The square is Chinese waves, with some accent garter stitch rows.

    Then, as previously referenced, the scarf I made from the yarn my birthday buddy sent me. I haven't finished up the edges yet, I have a border planned with some more Noro.

    And the also previosly refenced Halloween yarn - also known as Manos Del Uruguay Woodland. It started as a vest. I have enough yarn that it is going to get sleeves as soon as I detangle the yarn.

    To Be Anonymous

    I've been thinking a lot about anonymity. And the subtle difference between a pseudonym and a username - or if their really is one. What sparked all this is some back and forth between bloggers. An author, who blogs under her author name but also references her actual name made a comment about her publisher in an interview . Another blogger, who is an agent, but who blogs under an internet name ranted that complaining about your publisher was a recipe for disaster . Several others have responded wondering if the original comment merited the response it got, if this person is really an agent , and if so why her rant offers no suggestions for how she would advise this person to handle this problem, and if she is using anonymity as a cloak to shield her backlash.

    Now I have no pretensions that my little blog is anything like Miss Snark's as far as readership or anything like that. But I can - clearly - see reason people might choose to operate on the internet under a different name than they use professionally. They would primarily be reasons of safety - whether personal or professional - but nonetheless they exist. Bookseller Chick - who I adore - blogs anonymously in part (I have gathered from various entries) because she started the blog as a way to vent about her job which involves run ins with customers.

    And certainly in this day and age, when employers are still working out the rules about blogging, many people don't want current or prospective employers to be able to find them in an easy first pass.

    So, in the end I'm not sure if it matters that Miss Snark - or anyone - uses an alternate name for her blog*. What matters is if you are willing to stand behind what you say - in life, on the net, wherever. This is not to say that you can't ever change your mind. Just that you are willing to take responsibility for your words.

    *I have heard rumors she might also operate an additional blog under her actual name, which would maybe suggest that the Miss Snark side is totally for venting that she doesn't want associated with her real name, in which case, that might change the story a bit.

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    But What if it's a Burrito Sandwich?

    A judge in Massachusetts has ruled that a burrito is not a sandwich. Why does anyone care? Because Panera signed a deal with a shopping center where they opened a store that no other sandwich shops would be able to open up in the same center. (Downtown Silver Spring has both a Panera and a Potbelly, and they seem to be surviving, but I digress.) A Mexican place has plans to move into the center and Panera was arguing that this violated the agreement since a burrito - a tortilla with filling being equivalent to bread with filling - counted as a sandwich. The judge ruled that a burrito, taco and quesadilla are not considered to be the same as sandwiches. A number of food experts apparently testified similarly.
    While I understand what Panera was getting at - a similar portable food - the idea that an equivalent bread product makes for a sandwich would expand the definition to insane proportions. After all pizza crust could be considered an equivalent bread product - and pizza has filling. What about calzones, empanadas and pot pies? And what happens with breaded chicken? Does that become a sandwich equivalent? What about nachos? If a tortilla is really bread, does cutting it in bite size pieces change the concept enough to get around the bread equivalent's presence along side filling? The possibilities are endless.

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Weekend Reading #2

    This batch are all parts of series too, but the first two are the first installments at least.

    Black Ice by Anne Stuart
    This was the one that inspired the bad sex entry. Since the issue was never fully discussed in my opinion, I came to the conclusion that if I could understand and even forgive what Joe did to Eve (which I won't spoil) in the Iris Johansen series, then whatever I was bothered about something the characters had moved on from. There was a cringe-worthy, "I know you're a good guy deep down inside" moment, but other than that the story was really good. I will probably pick up the next one, I'm just not in a hurry.
    Grade: B-

    All American Girl by Meg Cabot
    What? It was good! This story takes place in DC, and unlike so many others didn't have me completely pissed off at the stupid really easy to fix errors. (Cabot gets bonus points for referring to them as metro PD, instead of DCPD the way so many others do.) It's the story of a teenage girl who ditches her art class and ends up saving the President. One of my favorite bits was where she was asked at the press conference what was running through her head when the guy pulled the gun out from underhis coat and she doesn't know what to answer because her first thought had been, oh he's pulling out a gun. Phew.
    Grade: B+

    I Love Everybody and Other Atrocious Lies by Laurie Notaro
    I enjoy funny stuff but I don't tend to find a lot of stuff that gets me laughing out loud. Not even TWoP sometimes. Smiling yes, enjoying, yes, laughing - not often. But I laughed aloud and often witht this book, such that reading it in public was dangerous. These are vignettes from Laurie's life, it is her thrid book - so technically you could argue I have started in the wrong place, but I don't care. I will be getting all the rest (the next is already in my posession). Worth it for the line: a woman who cannot control her tampons should not have children.
    Grade: A

    Does This Mean His Wife Didn't Vote For Him?

    Randy Wooten ran for mayor of Waldenburg, Arkansas. His wife went to City Hall to check the results and they showed he had received no votes. So his wife asked him if he had voted for himself, which he says he did. Apparently some other folks have said they voted for him too. A runoff election is scheduled for the two gentleman who received the most votes: 18 each.
    Since I'm in the midst of gathering results for my relative's election, which went to recount, I find this particularly funny.

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    Next to the Talker

    I went to see "Babel" this weekend. I really enjoyed the movie - one of my neighbors, not so much. This theatre seems to skew older, as in my friend and I were doing our best to bring the average age of the audience down. And sure, the movie helped with that too.
    It was at this same theater that we saw "Good Night and Good Luck". Ten minutes into the movie the person next to me said (and not quietly at all), "Look, honey, that's the same guy we saw in 'Syriana'."
    For "Babel", my neighbor made more than her share of oohs, aahs, and oh my gods. Which, while a little irritating due to their number, was acceptable. It was the additional, "Are you kidding me?", "What?", "No way!" and "Oh, don't tell me" that tipped me over the edge. All of these were uttered at a volume that I could hear them perfectly over the loud soundtrack. We reached a point, about halfway into the movie where we could barely change camera angles without it causing some sort of exclamation or utterance. And, of course, due to their short (but frequent, did I mention the frequent?) nature, they were not long enough for me to do any shushing, to do anything more than glance over and hope she was finally done.
    Still, the worst movie talking experience remains "Shrek 2" where I was seated in front of a child who had already been to see the movie. The child ws accompanied by an adult, who it seemed had not seen the movie. But apparently the adult was not at all bothered by the child narrated the plot three scenes ahead of where we actually were on screen. It's a good thing "Shrek 2" doesn't contain any serious plot twists, because I had a future broadcast of everything ahead.
    Perhaps, in addition to the small children seatings that many theaters now offer, there should be a talkers seating. That way all the talkers could be together driving only each other nuts. And sure, I'm a bit of a reformed talker myself, which probably makes me like a reformed smoker, more annoying than others. But still. I can listen to you talk in Starbucks.

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    Bad Sex

    Back in the day, by which I refer here to the eighties or so, it was considered acceptable in romance novels for the hero and heroine's first sexual encounter to be rape. There was usually some very unusual misunderstanding that led to the hero raping the heroine and in some cases there were apologies offered afterwords.
    Well, as readers, and one imagine writers, complained that rape is really not romantic no matter the circumstances, this fell out of favor. But there remains a subtle variation which I shall refer to as a "taking". In a taking the heroine never utters the word no, thereby absolving the hero of being properly accused. She may have told the hero on several occasions that she is not interested in him, or is unwilling to accept the circumstances that would surround their relationship. But then she always kisses the hero, or doesn't struggle much when he kisses her, so it is okay that he ignores her statements.
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting - in fiction or in real life - that contracts and terms or a constant, "is this okay?" is required for consensual sex. But the idea that the hero's behavior is now kosher because he pressed her up against a wall before she could protest and then held her against the wall in such a way that she was unable to struggle bugs the crap out of me.
    I am currently reading a book in which the hero and heroine met while he was undercover. His cover involves a (fictitious) wife. In this short time he has already slept with the wife of one of the other guests. So, the fact the the heroine, while attracted to him, does not want to be in a realtionship with him is quite understandable. And when he decides they need to have sex so that he can find out the truth about her, it's not sweet. (To be fair the book does not protray it as such).
    But, I find myself over-identifying with the heroine's internal struggle here. She is mad at the hero for fucking her (on a number of levels). And she is mad at herself - she never said no. (His internal monologue stated that he knew she would want to struggle so he held her in such a way as to make that impossible - so there is no real misunderstanding here). However, when she mentions to him that she feels raped, he throws back that she didn't say no. Why is that the sole determining factor. Rape is sex had without your consent - not being able to voice your dissent does not make it not rape. And so the heroine has been berating herself for "allowing this" and I'm berating myself becuase I'm still reading. Other than this, the book is written really well. And I keep hoping that there will be a conversation or something that will snap the characters out of this stupid justification. I'll let you know if that happens.