Monday, December 31, 2007
2. Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Cameron Crowe. Itt was a book before it was a movie! Who knew?! I was a little surprised that this one was in the Young Adult section of the library, as some of the content was pretty explicit. Enjoyable, but if you've seen the movie, there's not a whole lot more in the book.
3. Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan. This novella is a quick, enjoyable read.
4. Perishable by Dirk Jamison. This is a memoir about a guy whose entire family was basically bonkers. It was OK, but not a "must-read-again".
5. Sister Mine by Tawni O'Dell. I read "Back Roads" by her and liked it, but I couldn't get into this one. Never even finished it, actually.
6. Dishwasher by Pete Jordan. The memoir of a guy who set out to wash dishes in all fifty states. I liked it, but this guy is such a major slacker, he was really getting on my nerves by the end.
7. Right now, I'm reading "Peace Like A River" by Leif Enger, and it's very good. I'll be sad when I'm finished reading it.
So! That's what I've been reading! Does anyone have any suggestions for good books to read?
Friday, December 28, 2007
I know some people turn up their noses at the whole "thrift store" thing, and yeah, sometimes you've gotta wade through a ton of crap to find anything good, and yes, you are buying clothes that someone else has worn (admittedly kind of skeevy, but hey, that's what washing machines are for), and yes, you are shopping where the poor people shop, but damn, I love a bargain! And there is no way I could afford my wardrobe if I was buying it retail.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Oh, and would anyone like a Jeff Foxworthy "You Might Be A Redneck" page-a-day calendar? No? I didn't think so. I'm still on August 28 of this year's "Bad Cat" page-a-day calendar.
Maybe it's intentional. Is there such a thing as passive-aggressive gift-giving?
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I spent a good chunk of the movie with my hands over my face, peering out between my fingers like a little kid, because, well, ZOMBIES! But it was ok, because there were only about six other people in the theater, and I don't think any of them saw me. I also may have yelped out "Yikes!" once or twice.
The whole "Bob Marley love-is-a-virus" speech was kind of a dud, and I couldn't figure out why they brought in the God factor, but overall I enjoyed it. The computer-generated zombies weren't particularly scary, other than the fact that, Hello, they're ZOMBIES! Zombies=scary, but there were some nifty special effects, and loud explosions (REALLY loud, the volume was cranked), and I was glad I went. And I only got teary-eyed twice (once with the dog, and once with the grenade, for those who have seen it).
Although, afterwards, when I was getting ready to take a walk by the creek, and I had to think it over, because there might be ZOMBIES by the creek, I realized that I may have taken the movie a bit too seriously.
Monday, December 24, 2007
It scares the pants off of me that people might actually vote for Barack Obama just because Oprah endorsed him. Oprah. Effing. Winfrey.
Now, I have nothing against Barack Obama. Heck, I might even vote for him. Might. To be honest, I have not really researched the presidential candidates yet. I figure, I've got almost a year, right? Plenty of time. And you know that there are plenty of candidates currently in the race who are going to disappear off the radar screen completely between now and next November.
But it scares me to think that there are people out there who are not going to do any research at all. Who are too effing lazy or ignorant or who just don't care enough to get off their hind ends and go pick up a reputable newspaper or newsmagazine (NOT the National Enquirer, thankyouverymuch) and find out what these candidates believe and what they stand for (or against). Heck, you don't even have to pick up a paper. Just go on line. Again, to reputable sites. Check your sources.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who will not make the effort. But will go vote anyway, because, heck, if Oprah says he's a great guy, that's good enough for me! And that's a shame. Do me a favor: If you are not willing to take the time to be an informed voter, stay away from the voting booth. Just stay home. There are enough jerks out there who will vote for someone just because Oprah (or Chuck Norris, or Curt Schilling, or whoever) said to.
Sidebar: According to a column by Chuck Raasch (who I don't normally read, so don't get all up in my butt if the guy's a tool), the following appears on a Chuck Norris fan club web site: "There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of animals Chuck Norris allows to live". That cracks me up.
Anyhow, here is my point (and I do have one): Your vote is YOUR VOTE. No one else's. Use it wisely. Or just stay home. Seriously. There'll be enough uninformed voters out there as it is. Just look who's in the White House right now. A few more voters doing a little more research could've stopped that rat bastard right in his tracks.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Here's the problem. I don't wear silver jewelry. Never have. I do not like silver jewelry. While I wear jewelry to the office every day, it is always gold. (Ok, ok, gold-PLATED. Because I am cheap.) While I am grateful for the gifts from the boss, I always wonder where he got the idea that I like silver jewelry, seeing as how I never wear it.
So! Guys! I know you have not started your Christmas shopping yet, and will not start until Monday evening. And that's ok. But here's the thing: Find out what your significant other would actually LIKE to receive as a gift before you head to the mall. Because those salespeople are pushy this time of year, and you will get confused.
It's ok to ask. Really! A simple, "Honey, what would you like for Christmas?" is just fine. Believe me, she knows how much you earn, and unless she is a total gold-digger, she's not gonna ask for something completely out of your price range. Oh, and if there's advertisements for a certain pair of earrings taped to the fridge, that's a pretty safe bet. Also: You can ask her mother. Moms always know what their daughters like. Although, if your significant other does not get along with her mom, you probably want to avoid this route.
Also: If you have never seen her wear, say, purple, DO NOT BUY HER A PURPLE SWEATER. If she never wears purple, she does NOT LIKE PURPLE. There, that was easy, wasn't it? If she wears a lot of, say, blue and green, a subtly-patterned blue and green sweater is probably a pretty safe bet. But keep the receipt. Just in case.
Finally: That "Lane Bryant" store in the mall? Is for plus-sized women. If your woman is plus-sized, this is a fine store to shop in. If your woman is not plus-sized, she will not appreciate a gift from Lane Bryant. Trust me on this one.
That is all! Hope I helped.
The hostess's dress was very nice. Classy. And she could breathe, raise her arms, and walk in this one.
Country-singer guy said that he wasn't looking for voices that blend, he was looking for lead singers. For the millionth time, it's a CHOIR competition. Gah. Also, he talked about how he still knew nothing about choirs. Really? After five weeks? That's a slow learning curve. He was probably sitting in a bar doing shots and trying to picking up women while the choir was rehearsing. Oh, and he "lip-synced" his guitar part during the first song.
Team LaBelle did "No More Drama". Basically a solo, but a good solo.
Team Lachey did "What a Wonderful World". Actual vocal harmony - holy shit! (Yeah, bridgett, you're right; let's just cede the solos to the ones who can actually sing - i.e., the black people). I enjoyed this one.
Oh, no, then came another "death story". After which the hostess (talking about the performance), said, "You guys killed it! killed it! killed it!" Oops. Hahahahahahaha.
You know what I'd like to see? A competition between already-existing choirs. "Real" choirs. Doing "real" choral music. Then again, I watch the Drum Corps finals on PBS every year.
And then it was the big moment. And the winner is ......... Team Lachey. The End. Thank God.
bridgett, feel free to chime in!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
SO! As far as the hostess's dress is concerned, all I can say is, Domo Origato, Mr. Roboto! Too bad she couldn't lift her arms. Or walk. I'm beginning to think Bai Ling may have had a hand in this.
First up was Team Rowland, singing "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas". They seemed to be having a little trouble dancing and singing at the same time, although they soldiered on admirably. I got to wondering how much rehearsal time they actually had, which was answered later in the show, when someone mentioned something about "five weeks". I'm not sure if that's good or bad. I mean, are they really good for only working on this stuff for five weeks, or should they be a whole lot better after FIVE WEEKS of practice?
Which leads me to a later performance, Team Shelton doing "Home". Singing, dancing, and ..... stomping? What's next, patting their tummies and rubbing their heads? But you had to love Lurch in the striped shirt. He was working so hard, you could just tell he was thinking, "onetwothreeSTOMPonetwothreeSTOMPdon'tfuckitupdon'tfuckitup......."
Oh, and this show was just filled with DRAMA! People whipping out their Cancer Cards left and right, which annoys the shit out of me. I wonder if they had to show their Cancer Cards to get into the auditions.
Team LaBelle did "Jesus Take the Wheel". That song just cracks me right up. Yep, that's what they teach you in Driver's Ed - If you spin out, just throw your arms up in the air and wait for God to take over. (Oops, sorry, it was Cancer Girl #1 singing that one. Uh-oh, then she started crying. Then sobbing. Folks, it's only a matter of time before A Very Special Performance of "Amazing Grace".)
I just caught a little bit of the end of "Flight of the Bumblebee" - Now that's what I'm talking about! Finally! Good stuff! Too bad I missed most of it (sniff).
Oops, team Bolton got sent packing. Once again I call it wrong.
Did Patti LaBelle say she was 63?!!? Paging Dorian Gray! Holy shit, she looks great!
Oh, and at some point country-music guy made some vaguely homoerotic comment about Nick Lachey - WTF?
Team Shelton decided to mash the carol "Joy to the World" with that "Jeremiah was a Bullfrog" song - I can see what they were going for, but, yuck, no. And all of the teams were just flinging the melismas around like loose change. Don't hurt yourself here, gals.
Patti LaBelle soloed on "Over the Rainbow" - Beautiful.
Was it my imagination, or at the end of Nick Lachey's solo, was the hostess interviewing The Lollipop Guild?
OK, so I know this veered wildly from choir critique to song selection critique to choice-of-striped-shirt critique, etc. Like I said, I only caught parts of the show, due to a reluctance to cover my living room carpet with glue/mod podge/paint. Oh, and while I was working in the kitchen, NPR had on a choir concert with a real choir! How refreshing.
bridgett, I'm exhausted. Feel free to jump on in here.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Right now, the world hates me. In addition to the roaming gnome kicking my butt, I showed up for a scheduled doctor's appointment Monday at 9 a.m. only to be told ....... I had no appointment! Nope, not on the computer! Not at all! Even though I had written down this particular appointment on all three of my calendars! So .......... did I dream it? WTF?
And then I got this nasty email from someone I ordered a used CD from via Amazon. You see, I had ordered "Streetlife Serenade" by Billy Joel (lame, I know, but the song "The Entertainer" still rocks), and what showed up was "Streetlight Serenade" by someone named Lon Williamson. So I emailed the seller, explaining the situation and asking what to do, and they emailed me back that I had ordered the wrong product. Obviously I am a simpleton who does not know the difference between Billy Joel and Lon Williamson (whoever the hell he is. Amazon has NOTHING by him on their music web site, including the CD that I mysteriouly received). Even though when I checked my order, it clearly said "Billy Joel". But, the seller is graciously refunding my money, even though it was OBVIOUSLY my mistake. Oh really?
Oh, and last Friday, a local department store (hello, Boscov's!) had a coupon in the paper for ten dollars off any purchase of ten dollars or more. Suh-weet! So Saturday morning, I grabbed the coupon, headed for Boscov's, and found a pretty pretty bracelet for twenty dollars that was marked 50% off. That makes ten bucks, right? Less the coupon equals free. Now, I knew they would try to screw me out of "totally free", but I figured I'd give it a try. Sure enough, when I got to the register, the bracelet rang up as $9.99. The cashier explained that I would have to buy something else to get the total up to at least ten dollars in order to use the coupon. I explained that twenty dollars times 50% off equals ten dollars, not $9.99, but no dice. Other customers in the store were complaining about this same situation, but the cashiers were having none of it, and one cashier in particular was being a real bitch. (Not to me, fortunately. I would have raised holy hell.) Thanks for the Christmas cheer, Boscov's!
And I have STILL not heard back from Travelocity with an email confirming my (unwanted) change of plans. And my trip is not showing up on the web site. UPDATE: After emailing customer service at Travelocity, they informed me that once changes are made to an original itinerary, the reservations are no longer viewable on line. Gee, Travelocity, that's really helpful! I can no longer look up my booked flights on line! Way to run a web site! And I'm still stuck flying out of Dallas at six-freaking-thirty in the morning! (Although this does appear to be US Airway's eff-up, not Travelocity's. US Air arbritrarily cancelled the connecting flight I had scheduled. Which worries me: If they are screwing with their schedule SIX WEEKS in advance, what the hell's gonna happen on the day of the flight?)
Oh, and I called the vet's office a day and a half ago about changing Rocky's arthritis meds, and they have yet to get back to me. Although they did, apparently, call here at work last night at 6:30 p.m. (Huh? I asked them to call my home number after 5), but they declined to leave a message. (I know this because we have super-secret spyware James Bond tracking on our phones. If someone calls and lets the phone ring long enough for the voice mail to pick up, even if they promptly hang up without even listening to the voice mail message all the way through, their call shows up. Heh heh.)
The leaky tire that I had repaired a while back is leaking again. Out of the set of four tires Kost Tire & Muffler sold me, all four have developed leaks. Thanks, Kost!
World, please give it a rest. Just a little?
Once again, the hostess was forced to wear an odd dress, this time involving a napkin ring. And did anyone catch the part where she was all, "and we're SO SORRY one of these fine choirs has to go home", and she actually started to laugh? You go, girl!
First up was team country-guy. Good soloists, but again, I WANT CHOIR! And they should've sped up the tempo. When Michael McDonald did this song (Takin' it to the Streets) on Austin City Limits, he did it about twice as fast, and it really rocked.
Next was team LaBelle. Again with an amazing soloist, but I'm starting to feel like I'm watching American Idol with back-up singers. The song (I'll Stand by You) was ok, and there were good choral vocals at the end. (By "good", I mean "some", at this point.)
Ooh! Commercial Break! "The Celebrity Apprentice". Um, no. Anything involving that gross guy from KISS, I am not watching. Ever.
Now it's the Lachey (sp?) group. "Friends in Low Places"? Really? As a choral arrangement? Bleccchhh. Just no. And the ass-wiggling is getting really tiresome. I think these guys might be the next to go.
Big announcement time! Sent packing is ........ Team Rowland! WTF? Looks like ol' Bolton gets to fight another day. I sure called that one wrong.
So! Here comes team Bolton! And they do this big dramatic segment about how the lead singer lost his voice. Drama! But, um, "lead singer"? IT'S A CHOIR CONTEST, DAMMIT! Oh, my. This is really starting to get on my nerves. But the performance, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", is pretty good.
Well, that about wraps it up. As I said about five million times in this post, I wish it was less about the soloists and more about the choirs. But then again, I'm picky.
I just hope that folks out there who may have been mulling over joining their local community choir don't think that they have to dress up in skin-tight miniskirts, shake their asses, and sing like Mariah Carey in order to do so. And I hope that all the lovely community choirs out there do not get any big ideas from watching this show.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
1. These are really more "show choirs" than traditional choirs. Which is ok, because I understand that they're going for ratings, and a bunch of people with white tops and dark pants standing in tiers? Not so much. But all the jumping around and arm-waving and booty-shaking was distracting from the music.
2. Each choir had one or more soloists, and the rest of the choir was basically singing backup. Which is not really the point of a choir, where, except for rare solo opportunities, everyone is trying to blend in together.
3. Could that hostess's dress have been ANY TIGHTER?!! Poor dear. I wonder how on earth she even got into that thing. Maybe there wasn't even any fabric involved. Maybe they just painted it on. I mean, she did look stunning, but how did she breathe?
4. They auditioned choir members individually, but at no time did I see group auditions. Most choir directors want to audition members both individually and in groups, to see how well they harmonize with others. Being able to sing an alto part while the person next to you is singing soprano is a big part of being in a choir.
5. Speaking of auditions, how big of a tool is that country-music-singer guy? An actual CHOIR DIRECTOR came to audition, and the country-music guy picked his brain and then told him he didn't make the cut. Oh, and country-music guy? LEARN HOW TO READ MUSIC. Jeez.
Sorry for all the ranting. Once a choir nerd, always a choir nerd. Oh, and I predict that Michael Bolton's crew will be first to get the cut.
So much for "eco-friendly" ethanol.
Monday, December 17, 2007
But the rest of it? Not so much. I still have to frame a couple of photos for office gifts, wrap my Mom's stocking stuffers, etc., and yet, somehow, mysteriously, none of it is getting done. I've lost my Christmas mojo.
But! I did make Christmas cookies yesterday. Homemade sugar cookies with homemade colored frosting! And sprinkles! I plead temporary insanity. I couldn't find my Mom's recipe for sugar cookies, and calling her and asking is pretty much out of the question, although I probably would have ended up with a reaalllllly interesting recipe. (Mom has Alzheimer's. And no, I'm not being cruel. If you know someone with Alzheimer's, you know what I'm talking about here.)
SO! I hauled out the Betty Crocker cookbook someone gave me for a wedding gift twenty-plus years ago and looked up the sugar cookie recipe, to make sure I had all the ingredients. Almond extract? In sugar cookies? Really? Well, if you say so, Betty!
So I went to the store (that was the day before, actually; this whole cookie mess was inspired by an impending snowstorm), got all the crap, started blending ingredients, and got to the part where it said, "chill at least two hours". Ooooops!
So, out on the porch the dough went, for almost (ok, not really) two hours, and much flour-adding was needed to get that dough roll-able. But cookies were cut out, baked, frosted (the frosting never really "set up", and is really, really gooey) and decorated. And hauled into the office this morning.
Well, even if the rest of the stuff ends up getting done at midnight some night this week (a distinct possibility, given my odd lack of motivation), at least there's cookies.
So, I called Travelocity, and my call was answered somewhere in India by someone with limited English-speaking capacities. After half an hour on the phone, I now have to leave Dallas at the ungodly hour of 6:20 a.m., instead of the much more civilized (and originally booked) 1:15 p.m.
Shove it, roaming gnome!
Friday, December 14, 2007
Honey, you met, you fell in love, you got married, you had kids. The End. Jesus Christ!
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Does anyone have some sunshine they could spare?
*I really hate that word, "Nor'easter". It's just so .... corny. With that little apostrophe in the middle and all. So .... Yankee. Oh! And has anybody read "Yankee" magazine lately? It used to be this really cute little magazine full of all kinds of quirky articles. And now ... it's like a miniaturized "Town and Country". With splashy layouts of kabillion dollar "cottages". Bleccch.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Am I in big trouble? I have never, ever made a late payment before, and I don't know what to expect. Is this going to screw my credit rating? Is the interest rate on the card going to skyrocket (although since I pay my balance in full every month, that's not really a critical issue)?
Hey, if other peeps can watch "Dancing with the Stars" without shame, surely I can watch televised choir practice, no?
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
"Christmas comes but once a year for ev'ry girl and boy,
The laughter and the joy they find in each toy
I'll tell you of a little boy who lives across the way;
This little feller's Christmas is just another day.
He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot,
And goodness knows he didn't want a lot.
He sent a note to Santa for some soldiers and a drum;
It broke his little heart when he found Santa hadn't come.
In the street, he envies all those lucky boys,
Then wanders home to last year's broken toys.
I'm so sorry for that laddie;
He hasn't got a daddy,
He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot."
I believe that Nat King Cole maybe sang this one. Thanks, Nat, for recording possibly the most depressing Christmas song ever! Oh, yeah, and thanks too for the not-so-subtle inference that kids without Dads GET NO CHRISTMAS. Suck it up, kiddo! Daddy split? Then you're SOL with Santa! Happy Holidays!
Monday, December 10, 2007
Which begs two questions:
1. Just exactly how stupid am I?
2. If sardines are not the little end-to-end fish, what are? Anchovies?
I am an idiot. And also sorely in need of some remedial reading lessons.
So, looks like I'll have to buy myself something else for Christmas. I mean, there's gotta be something under the tree, right?
*Not a paid advertisement. They can't pay me unless they find me, and that's not happening any time soon.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Last week, I gave him some of the fish I was having for dinner (NOT anchovies, other fish), and he really liked it. SO, in my continuing effort to put some weight on him, I thought I'd pick up some fresh fish at the store for him.
Eight bucks a pound? Not so much. Now, Rocky will (for some inexplicable reason) not eat tuna. Tuna juice? Oh hell yes. The actual tuna? Nope. And I am not willing to eat tuna sandwiches for the rest of my life so that he can have his tuna juice fix. So after nixing the fresh stuff, I thought, wait, they selled canned fish other than tuna, right? So I headed for the tuna aisle, and sure enough, there was canned salmon, sardines, and anchovies. The anchovies were the cheapest, so guess which I bought?
I got home and cracked open the tin of anchovies, and OH MY GOD it was gross. For some reason, I thought that anchovies were those little teeny fish that came all packed in the tin head-to-tail. Maybe that's sardines? Cause it sure ain't anchovies, or at least the (cheap cheap cheap) anchovies I bought, which were probably canned in China and contain high amounts of lead and plutonium.
These anchovies? Are gross. Big chunks of grayish-pinkish fishy material, with SCALES, and lots of stinky juuuiiiiccccce. (Shiver) And Rocky? LOVES THEM. Loves loves loves.
Me? I do not know if I can get past the visual. Also the stink factor. The fact that people voluntarily put this stuff on pizza floors me. There oughta be a law.
Oh, and we're not even gonna talk about the post-anchovy litterbox.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
My Dad was born in 1923. His Dad was a farmer, and his Mom was the Postmistress (do they use that word anymore?) of their small community, and they made it through the Depression ok. He had one brother and two sisters.
At the age of 18, Dad married my Mom, who was 17 at the time (can we say "shotgun wedding", anyone?). He worked for a couple of local companies, then started his own business, and ended up a successful man. He did all this with only a high school diploma.
Dad served in the Merchant Marine and then in the Navy during World War II. He volunteered for the service right after he and Mom were married, and she was pregnant with my brother. My Mom's family was furious, convinced that he had signed up so that he could get out of the marriage. Dad was never sent overseas. He spent most of his service stationed around the Great Lakes area, and returned to Mom when his service was over. They were married for 58 years, until he died.
My Dad always wanted sons. And when his firstborn was a boy, he was elated. Then came a girl. Then another girl, and another, and another. Then, finally, me (also a girl). Legend has it, that when Mom went into labor with me, Dad took her to the hospital, then came home later that night, walked in the door, said, "It's another girl, dammit!", and went upstairs to bed.
Nonetheless, Dad treated all of us girls (and his son, of course), fairly. He was a pretty stern guy, which I did not come to appreciate until later in life, when I learned that sometimes it helps to have a backbone. I do remember one time when I was very small. I was terrified of thunderstorms, and on one particularly stormy evening was pitching a pint-sized fit. Dad took me out to the covered stoop behind the garage, sat down with me, and we watched the storm together. I was never afraid of another thunderstorm.
Even though I swear like a sailor on this blog, in real life, I very rarely swear out loud. Because when I was young, Dad never swore (at least around us kids), and he made it very clear that he did not want to hear swear words. I was terrified of slipping up and swearing in front of him, so I never developed the swearing habit. (At least out loud; I swear on this blog and I swear when I talk to myself.)Dad loved to tinker with car engines. He developed a love of boating, which eventually led to him buying a marina, which he ran for many years after he sold his first business. (We'll save the story about how he came to be called "Captain Bligh" for another time.) During this period, Dad and Mom spent summers at the lake and winters in Florida.
Dad died of cancer in 1999. He passed away one night, six weeks after his diagnosis. In a way, I think it's good that he passed away before Mom's Alzheimer's became obvious - I think it would have broken his heart to watch her deteriorate. I miss him.
Monday, December 03, 2007
It's very strange.
Back to The Spec That Would Not Die. Yes, we're one week in and counting.