Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Diagramming Won't Help This Situation

It's been over 3 months since I last posted, and I know a poem barely counts as a post, but I really really liked it and identified with it and maybe it'll get me back on the blogging bandwagon. Here you go:

Diagramming Won’t Help This Situation
by Kevin Brown

Grammatical rules have always baffled
me, leaving me wondering whether my
life is transitive or intransitive, if I am the
subject or object of my life, and no one
has been able to provide words to describe
my actions, even if they do end in –ly.

But now the problem seems to be with
pronouns: I am unwilling to be him
and you are unable to be her, so we
will never be them~the ones talking
about what they need from the grocery

store because the Rogers are coming for
dinner tonight; the couple saving for a
vacation, perhaps a cruise to Alaska or a
museum tour of Europe; the two who meet
with a financial advisor to plan their children's

college fund while still managing to set enough
aside for their retirement~and so we will
continue to be nothing more than sentence
fragments, perfectly fine for effect,
but forever looking for the missing
part of speech we can never seem to find.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Skating Rap Babies Love Bottled Water

Watch this:



Am I the only one who's a little creeped out by this? I think I'm in the uncanny valley here. (Yes, I only know what that is because of 30 Rock.) Also, bottled water is evil.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

When Going To Church Isn't Enough

Did you hear? God's on Facebook!



The person who created that page sure has some hubris. Also, "Become a fan of God" is just too silly of a sentence.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Have Something In Common With A Sick Pug



We each puked on the NYC L Train between Bedford and First! However, the police didn't threaten to put me down when I did it, nor did they arrest my friend who provided me a bag in which to vom. Also, he probably had more right to do it; I was just hungover.

(Okay, so that's not the pug in question, but ain't he cute?)

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Surprise! Your Food System is Unsustainable



"Food, Inc." is a very well-done, well-intentioned, informative film, and if you've done any sort of reading about the American food system over the past five years, you don't need to see it.

The movie functions as sort of a "greatest hits" of food issues; the film is composed of several segments, each one detailing a different problem. (America is run by corn! Monsanto is evil! Animals are treated badly!) This scattered approach is both its strength and weakness; it'd be an excellent first exposure to these matters for anyone who isn't aware of these issues, but it's much more likely that those who are seeing it are already quite into this stuff and won't get much more out of it. About half of it is pretty much just The Omnivore's Dilemma in movie form, complete with Michael Pollan interviews and a visit to Polyface Farm, and the other half covers the intellectual property issues that were already covered in more detail in The Future of Food. There's also some stuff about how terrible fast food is, featuring Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation. To its credit, the film does conclude with steps you can take to help solve the problem, but it basically boils down to "Buy organic" and "Shop at a farmer's market."

Despite this seemingly negative review, I think Food, Inc. would be a great introduction to these matters for the unaware, but if you've seen/read any of the above materials, it's probably not worth your money to run out and see it. However, if you need a refresher on how fucked up things are, by all means, check it out.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

What Else is in the Teaches of Peaches?



Last Wednesday, I was lucky enough to see Peaches perform at the 9:30 Club here in DC (an excellent venue, I must say.) It was awesome. Click through for my review (containing NSFW language, but hey, no one's looking at your screen that closely.)

As the lights dimmed around midnight, a song began playing over the loudspeakers - it was Peaches singing "I Touch Myself," which while extremely obvious, was still highly amusing. She then ran out and performed two songs from her excellent new album, "I Feel Cream," and asked the crowd, "Are you ready to get fucked in the ass by Peaches?!" The crowd responded enthusiastically. This set the tone for the night, and if you're more uncomfortable than amused, then this probably wasn't the show for you. BUT I LOVED IT. Here are some other awesome things that happened:

- While singing "Operate" (the one from Mean Girls!) she crowd-surfed while holding a digital camera, even standing up on the hands of audience members.
- During "Mud," she ran around the balcony of the club, periodically stopping to straddle the railing.
- At the start of "Talk to Me," her latest single, she announced she had cousins in DC. Two ladies in bikinis and Cousin Itt wigs came out and performed a disinterested dance while Peaches shouted, "Why don't you talk to me?" at them. It was awesome.
- "Fuck the Pain Away" was the last song of her main set, naturally, and she started it by standing on the bass drum of the drum set and saying "I want you all to look at the peach!" A light in the vaginal area of her bodysuit then began to blink rapidly. She then deep-throated a drumstick before angrily banging on a cymbal during the song.
- Oh yeah, there were like, 4 encores too. She expressed how "hardcore" the audience was before telling us it was the longest show she had played all tour. Holler.

So yeah, it was a pretty fantastic show. She played material from every album, and even songs like "Rock and Roll" which didn't impress me much in their studio incarnations were good fun live. She's definitely not for everyone, but if you can handle over-the-top and over-sexualized, get thee to a Peaches show.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Old Jews Telling Jokes

A friend recently turned me on to a website/podcast called "Old Jews Telling Jokes," which is exactly what it sounds like. I have yet to encounter a joke that wasn't absolutely charming, and most they're never longer than a couple minutes. Highly recommended. Here's a recent favorite of mine:

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In It For the Eggs


I just listened to a fascinating interview of Woody Allen conducted by Terry Gross on Fresh Air. As a huge Woody fan, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it; he goes out of his way to insist that he's just a regular guy who drinks beer and watches sports, but then at the end of the interview, identifies two artsy Ingmar Bergman movies (The Seventh Seal and Shame) as some of the movies he's watched the most. He also says he was always the first kid picked for a team and was never poor, but then talks about how his father held several jobs and his mother always had to work as well. He's probably just making shit up, but if you're into him, it's an entertaining, enigmatic perspective of the man that I certainly haven't considered before. Give it a listen!

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Drag Bingo!

If you're reading this, you're probably already my friend and probably know that I recently moved to Washington, DC. Well, I recently did something fantastic that I could not have done in my previous homes; I attended drag bingo! Yes, on Tuesday night, I went with some friends to Drag Bingo at Nellie's, our local gay sports bar. It was hosted by these two fabulous ladies:



Shi-Queeta-Lee, and...



Akasha S. Cassadine!

Now at it's core, this event is just bingo being conducted by drag queens, but the following things greatly elevated the event:

- Shi-Queeta-Lee was on something, thus causing her to be even more insane than usual. She made a few references to giving out pot as a prize, but I think it was something stronger, based on her behavior.

- It was some girl's birthday; Shi-Queeta-Lee first called her Ugly Betty and then convinced her to flash her boobs to the bar. In return, the girl was given a bucket of beers.

- Shi-Queeta-Lee also removed the shirt from a straight guy who was silly enough to admit to being straight. He was a great sport about it, though, and I question his proclaimed heterosexuality; when he bumped into my roommate while trying to sit down, he said, "Sorry honey, I have a fat ass."

-And most importantly, my roommate won a waffle iron! Drag queen-supplied waffle brunch is totally on this weekend.

So yeah, it was a great time. If you're in DC on a Tuesday, you should go. Yay city life.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Phoenix Down

So I realize it's been over a month since I last blogged, but I'M BACK YA'LL and I've got a great video of a kitten hiding in a couch:

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

It's been a while since I last posted. As it turns out, finishing up the last weeks of grad school takes up a lot of time, but now in addition to intermittent blogger, I can add Master of Science to my resume. Holler. I may write more about this and I may not.

MORE IMPORTANTLY, look at this picture:



That's right, Michelle Obama just got more fabulous. She's making an appearance on Sesame Street, and from the looks of that basket of anthropomorphized food, will be discussing eating healthy things that grow in gardens! God I love this woman. LOVE.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Forty Days of Foliage: Conclusion

It's 12:18 on Easter morning, which means two things: Jesus is back and I can eat meat again. So far, I have celebrated by eating a couple leftover chicken nachos from my brother's fridge. Yum. Yes, I'm going back to meat (at least in limited capacity), but I think I've gained some new perspective:

- I no longer fear cooking tofu. (And I'll buy it because I like it, not because I see it as a substitute.)
- I've learned that I can get pretty inventive with the same three or four vegetables.
- I will no longer feel weird about ordering non-meat dishes in restaurants.
- I'm probably not going to cook meat very often. And when I do, I'm going to try to get it from local/more sustainable sources.
- I'm going to hold myself to a loose "Meat Only Once a Week" diet, making exceptions for dinner parties (I feel bad inconveniencing others) and cravings. (This will not hold this week - I will be presenting my master's project on Thursday and taking great comfort in burgers and such until then.)
- On a broader level, I have willpower! I held out for 40+ days, and it wasn't even that hard.

And so the experiment ends. I applaud myself.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

She Crazy

I've mentioned before my love for Lady GaGa. I just found another reason to love her more:



My Thoughts:
1.) Electric piano does not equal acoustic.
2.) Foot on piano does equal awesome.
3.) I want to be her best friend.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Study in Contrasts

There are two big stories about the gays in the New York Times today. The first, which you're probably more aware of, is about the possibility of more victories on the gay marriage front due to the recent excitement in Iowa, Vermont, and to a lesser extent, DC. Here's a key portion, although the entire article is definitely worth reading:

New York, New Jersey, Maine and New Hampshire are among the states where such proposals have gained legislative support in recent months.

“This is a reminder to those legislatures that they should finish the job,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, a national advocacy group based in New York. “Contrary to the claims made by the opponents of equality, it’s not just judges, it’s not just the coasts, and it’s not just going away.”


This is truly very exciting, and even though it's all very Northeast-based at the moment (Iowa excluded, natch), it's still very heartening to see this all happening (and so quickly!). However, I then flipped over to this article about how openly gay men in Iraq are being systematically murdered:


In the past two months, the bodies of as many as 25 boys and men suspected of being gay have turned up in the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City, the police and friends of the dead say. Most have been shot, some multiple times. Several have been found with the word “pervert” in Arabic on notes attached to their bodies, the police said.

...

“I don’t care about the militias anymore, because they’re going to kill me anyway — today, tomorrow or the day after,” said a man named Sa’ad, who has been taking estrogen and has developed small breasts. “I hate my community and my relatives. If they had their way, the result would be one gunshot.”


I suddenly felt really guilty for caring about getting married. I know I shouldn't, but it's hard to get excited about my theoretical husband when there are people in similar situations getting killed for their openness. I don't mean this as a buzzkill, though; by all means, let's all get gay married! Let's just not forget what's going on elsewhere.

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Off With Your Head

I was not really a Yeah Yeah Yeahs (YYYs hereafter for brevity's sake) fan upon hearing "Date with the Night," the band's first single. In fact, I kind of hated it. I can handle screamy and abrasive, but to me, it was, "Look at how screamy and abrasive we are!" without anything interesting about it. I had written the band off when I heard "Maps," which went a long way toward rehabilitating them for me, but I considered it mostly a fluke and continued to mostly ignore their output.



This began to change, however, when I heard a review of the new YYYs album, It's Blitz!, on the NPR show Sound Opinions, in which the hosts each gave it a "Buy It" ranking (their highest mark). The song clips intrigued me, so I sought out the album, and whoa do I love it.

It's Blitz!
shows a dancier, calmer, more vulnerable side to the band that is instantly becoming after the borderline obnoxious swagger of their past output. There are a number of surprisingly affecting ballads, in which Karen O. shows off the yearning and likability we first saw in "Maps." The best of these is "Hysteric," which is so successful in winning you over that you don't really notice the cliched nature of lines such as "You suddenly complete me." (Close second: "Runaway," which is propelled by an aching piano line and moody synth strings.)

There's still some edge to the sound, lest ye be concerned the YYYs have lost their edge. "Dull Life" is yelping and energetic without being grating, and lead single "Zero" is probably the most instantly exciting song on the album. The best track on the album is of this vein: "Heads Will Roll" features Karen declaring "Off with your head/dance 'til your dead" over a thumping disco beat and it's awesome. (This may have to be my new life motto.)

How you feel about this album will probably have a lot to do with what you thought of prior YYYs work. If you're one of those "Date with the Night" fans, you might see this as a cop-out from the band, or even worse, a mellowing with age. However, for me, It's Blitz! is just a refinement of their earlier sound to something more interesting, engaging, and ultimately, more satisfying.

You should probably get it.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

You are the Blood

You may have heard of the excellent new compilation "Dark Was The Night," put out by Red Hot to raise funds for AIDS research. It's not amazing from start to finish, but there are a ton of great bands on here (Arcade Fire, Spoon, Grizzly Bear), some pleasant surprises (My Brightest Diamond's cover of "Feeling Good" - I thought I was too attached to the Nina version, but I guess I was wrong), and only a minimal amount of Feist and Ben Gibbard to sit through. It's pretty much a white person's wet dream. The highlight for me, though, is Sufjan Stevens's epic contribution "You are the Blood."



I've been a Sufjan fan since Michigan came out; although the initial draw was "omg someone made an album about my state," I've stuck with him over the years and can even admit that Illinois was better than Michigan. I got sort of Sufjan-ed out for a while, though, as he became more ubiquitous (I blame Little Miss Sunshine) and then seemed to disappear. But with this new track, I'm ready to hop back on board.

"You are the Blood," at just over ten minutes long, is possibly the strangest song of Sufjan's career. I just tried to type out a description of it, but it doesn't really do the song justice; one can't get a sense of this without giving it a listen. (Multiple times. The first is sort of overwhelming.) It encapsulates pretty much every phase of Sufjan's career: meandering Michigan-esque moments, the dense electronic blasts of Enjoy Your Rabbit, and the bombastically orchestrated Illinois are all showcased to great effect. If this is where Sufjan is heading, I think we all have reason to get excited about him again.

(PS: I've uploaded the mp3 for you! It looks like it can only be downloaded ten times, but go here to download it. Run! Don't walk!)

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Forty Days of Foliage: Day 34

Sorry for the lack of updates, folks; it turns out things get busy as you near the end of your graduate education. I realized, though, that I haven't updated ya'll on the status of my vegetarianism for a while. I have accomplished the following vegetarian feats since my last post:

- I made a dish with tofu! Yes, it was a stir fry and basically impossible to screw up, but it tasted good and therefore represented a major coup for me. Next, I intend to try this dish that Nanc TWoP recommended/commented on. (On a side note, someone from TWoP found my blog and felt the urge to comment? Awesome.)
- I also made a cabbage and potato soup, representing the second time in my life I've made a soup from scratch. Unfortunately, I only had chicken bouillon cubes, so I had to cheat a little bit when making it (I didn't even have other veggies with which I could have made stock), but I'm not going to count it as a major failure on my part. It was quite good and fed me for several days.
- However, my biggest adventure recently was when I made kale chips. Yes, I had an abundance of kale and needed creative ways to use it beyond things like "kale rice," so I gave this a go. I used balsamic vinegar instead of the apple cider vinegar the recipe calls for, but I have to say, they turned out very well. They have a very potato chip-like texture, but with a greener flavor, obviously. It's worth a go if you have more kale than you can handle.

I've realized my self-imposed vegetarianism is soon coming to a close (Easter is two weeks from this last Sunday), and honestly, it hasn't been that difficult. Yes, there have been times I've really craved meat, but the occasional fish tends to ward that sensation off quite handily. Also, I'm pretty sure I've lost some weight; now, those of you who know me know that I have no need to lose weight, but I also don't mind the thought of losing unnecessary meat pockets. Now I just need to develop some muscle. Next Lent: giving up sedentary-ness.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Inch by Inch, Row by Row

In case you haven't heard, Michelle Obama has given us yet another reason to love her: she's planting a vegetable garden at the White House! Some choice quotes from the NYT article:


“A real delicious heirloom tomato is one of the sweetest things that you’ll ever eat,” she said. “And my children know the difference, and that’s how I’ve been able to get them to try different things.

“I wanted to be able to bring what I learned to a broader base of people. And what better way to do it than to plant a vegetable garden in the South Lawn of the White House?”

“You can begin in your own cupboard,” she said, “by eliminating processed food, trying to cook a meal a little more often, trying to incorporate more fruits and vegetables.”


LOVE YOU MICHELLE.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Life's A Drag

I've been thinking about drag a lot lately.



No, not that kind.



Not that drag either.



Yes, that's the one.


Yes, I've recently spent a lot of time ruminating about drag queens. This has mostly been spurred on by the superb reality show RuPaul's Drag Race, which is sort of the drag queen version of America's Next Top Model, but 100x better. (If you haven't seen it, all the episodes are online at the offical site.) While watching, I've come to realize the extent to which I think drag is an important part of gay culture, although I'm still having a hard time articulating why.

I think what I like about drag is that it's still something very "other" for our community. The gay movement is becoming more and more about gaining equal rights and assimilating into society as a whole, and while I think this is an admirable goal, I still like the idea of having something for ourselves. Drag fits that niche for me; it's something fabulous and strange and wonderful that many straight people just don't get. For example, when the drag episode of Project Runway aired last year, my mom expressed her concern at the preview, saying that the queens were "sort of scary." (She ended up enjoying it, though.) I like that notion of maintaining something important to gay history (Legend has it that a drag queen threw the first stone at Stonewall) as we move forward, even if I'm possibly being deliberately separatist from the larger heterosexual community.

Of course, lest I get too weighed down by lofty rhetoric about the virtues of drag, I also have to point out that it's just really fun. There's nothing quite like a really good drag performance; it's hilarious, entertaining, interesting and makes you want to give the performer your money. Plus, drag queens are some of the wittiest folks around. For example, observe this interaction between a Canadian drag queen named Fahren Heit and a patron in the crowd who was wearing a pink plaid shirt:

Fahren: Are you a top or a bottom?
Guy: Um, I can do either.
Fahren: Honey, you don't wear a gay tablecloth to the bar and pretend like you're a top.

All this thinking has led me to consider the obvious question: would I be a good drag queen? I like to think I can be rather wittily caustic when I need to be and I'm pretty good in heels, but that's about where it ends. I don't think I'd make a very attractive queen, and I'd probably want to lip-sync Kate Bush or Adult. or something else entirely drag-inappropriate. (Although when I dance to "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga, it gets pretty draggy.) Plus, when you're a queen, everyone comes after you. Straight society thinks you're crazy and bitchy patrons think you're not doing a good enough job. (I speak as a bitchy patron, although I've never told a queen she wasn't good.) I wouldn't be able to handle the pressure. (However, the Rupaul's Drag Race Drag Name Generator on Facebook told me that if I were to be a queen, my drag name would be Barbara Seville. I like it.)

In conclusion, I encourage you to show your appreciation for your neighborhood drag queen. Shout "WORK!" at her when she does something great. Tell her she looks fabulous. Give her air kisses, and if she's feeling touchy, a light hug. She'll appreciate the attention.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tobias Funke Moment of the Day



Guy in my Class:

I think sustainability is going to have to hurt, you know? It's not going to be easy. We're just going to have to suck it up and take one in the face.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

For St. Patrick's Day, I would like to share with you the greatest thing ever. Enjoy this video of the Swedish Chef, Animal, and Beaker singing "Danny Boy." It's amazing.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Forty Days of Foliage: Day 18

Vegetarianism continues to be both difficult and not much of a problem at all. My main concern is that I'm not being terribly inventive about what I eat. My most common dish seems to follow this pattern:

- Find what vegetables are in the fridge.
- Chop them up.
- Saute them.
- Put them over rice/pasta.

While this is often tasty, I can't help feeling like I could be more creative about this. I'm going to make a big cabbage soup soon, so that'll be something new, and I still have to try and cook tofu, which I'm somewhat afraid of. (It just seems so... tricky.) Restaurants continue to be somewhat obnoxious; salads are good, but other dishes are less satisfying. (Example: Veggie sub.)

Overall, though, this has been not very difficult, and I'm considering it extending it past Lent in slightly modified fashion. Perhaps just meat once a week?

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In Heavy Rotation: Electroladies

As promised, here is the second of the two playlists I recently created. I like to call it Electroladies. Yes, my other way of coping with sadness is by listening to angry/sassy women set to dance/electronic music.




A few thoughts: Although I wouldn't really call these happy songs (Well, "Hey Mami" is pretty fun), I tried to make less bleak selections as compared to my pouty list. Also, I opted for a couple remixes instead of the originals due to the need for increased danceability. (Plus, Fred Falke makes everything better.) What I really like about this list is that I would absolutely listen to it while feeling down, but I would just as easily rock it while getting ready to go out. Woo multi-purpose.

And yes, "Poker Face" is everywhere these days. I still love it.

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The Big 1-0-0

I'm surprised to have gotten here, but this is my HUNDREDTH POST. I got myself a card:



I thought the best way to commemorate this big event would be to highlight some of my favorite of the last 100 posts. Here they are, in chronological order:

AaOF: It's Here! - posted 7/31/2008
My first post! Although it's nothing too special, it does have a picture of Rahm Emanuel and John Dingell awkwardly posing with paczkis.

Brian in the Hot Dog Joint with the Crossword Puzzle
- posted 8/26/2008
My first (and perhaps only?) truly great post, if I do say so myself. It contains three of my favorite things: greasy food, crossword puzzles, and Clue.

How Tina Fey is Saving America - posted 10/14/2008
In which I irrefutably prove that Tina Fey is responsible for Barack Obama's victory in the presidential election.

Got You Pegged - posted 1/5/2009
In which I irrefutably prove that Usher likes it up the butt.

There's No Place Like Home (two parter) - posted 3/6/2009
Sure, this one just happened, but I'd like to think that something good came out of that trek.

Anyway, thanks for those of you who have been reading, and hopefully, I'll make it to the next hundred a bit more quickly.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

In Heavy Rotation: Pouts

So, as I mentioned in my last posts, one of the ways I passed my time in the Providence airport was by making a couple playlists. Given that I was (and still sort of am) feeling rather down at the time, they each reflect a different way I cope with my pouty moods. The first, which I'm going to share with you today, is what you would probably expect: mostly downtempo, mostly sad, pretty much a wallowfest. I tried to at least cover a wide range of sadness, though, so we have breakups, mourning, poverty, loneliness... but I swear, it's still good music.





A few thoughts on this list: All of these songs are a bit bleaker than I actually feel, but some do feel more directly applicable than others (It's sort of like Nina is singing on my behalf). I tried to throw in some stuff that's at least uptempo so as to not get too miserable, but I still went for melancholy throughout. Anyway, check back tomorrow for a very special double dose of In Heavy Rotation, which should be significantly less emo. (At least, less emo in spirit; none of this music could be called emo genre-wise, thank God. I'm not that upset.)

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Friday, March 6, 2009

There's No Place Like Home: Act III

If you haven't read Part I yet, you can find it here.

Act III – Tuesday, March 3, 2009

“How the fuck am I not home yet?” – Me, that morning

Scene I – Cincinnati Holiday Inn/Cincinnati Airport

I managed to get some sleep, having a strange dream about my cousin’s children that involved spilled donuts, before waking up at 4:35 to catch the 5:30 shuttle to the airport. I’m glad I gave myself all that time, because I’m pretty sure I fell asleep for a few 2-3 minute snatches while in the shower. I made my way downstairs to check out, and on the way, after a piece of muzak heard the Rae & Christian remix of Dinah Washington’s “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” which kind of made my morning. (Listen here.) The airport was largely empty, which made sense when I learned that our flight was the first of the day. (I know there’s no reason for that to be a source of pride, but in my semi-delirious state, I did in fact puff up a bit upon hearing this.) As I walked down the stretch to my gate, that awful James Taylor song where he’s all, “Shower the people you love with love/show them the way that you feel,” played, and it took me back to childhood car rides where my parents would play that tape, and for a bit, I was almost comforted. But then Foo Fighters came on, and moment ruined.

Scene II. Flight from Cincinnati to Detroit

On the plane, I sat next to a nice hospital administrator named Mohammed who had an even worse travel story than me; he had been trapped in Denver the night before, and then Cincinnati, all in an effort to get from Las Vegas to Buffalo. We chatted briefly, and it struck me as odd that he seemed reluctant to say the word Detroit; instead, he kept calling it “Motown.” (Ex: "I would sure hate to get stuck in Motown. Not much to do in Motown.") For the first time in a while (I’m generally not awake in time for such events), I saw a sunrise, and while it was through streaks of de-icing fluid, it was still quite beautiful. As we neared Detroit, the sunlight reflected off of factories directly on Lake Michigan spewing large plumes of smoke, and although still horrified, I took some solace in knowing I was home.

Scene III. Detroit Airport/Bus to Ann Arbor/HOME

At the airport, I had to wait a couple hours before I could catch my bus back to Ann Arbor, so I deliberately took it slow as a test of my patience. (I’ll usually walk as fast as I can even when I have no destination.) I had to walk through this large tunnel at the airport I wasn’t aware existed; strange music played while lights on the wall flashed in time with various musical occurrences, which was rather trippy in my overtired state. I remember thinking it was like a demented Space Mountain fun house.

Someone else's video of the tunnel:


I then sat, called several friends trying to find someone to pick me up in Ann Arbor, and tried not to pass out. The bus arrived, I got on, I fell asleep, I got dropped off, a friend picked me up, and then I was home. Never had I been so excited to be back in Michigan.

In the process of traveling home, I used the following forms of transit: subway, commuter train, airport shuttle (three times!), airplane, charter bus, and private vehicle. Not to mention all the walking. And now, I will never travel again. Ya'll are gonna have to come to me.

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There's No Place Like Home: Acts I and II

So I had a hell of a time getting home from my spring break. I decided to type up an excessively prolix travel diary of sorts, which I've broken up into two parts due to length. Enjoy!

There’s No Place Like Home: A Tragicomedy in Three Acts

Act I – Sunday, March 1, 2009

“Home is where I want to be; pick me up and turn me ‘round.” – Talking Heads, “This Must Be the Place (Na├»ve Melody)”

Our story begins in Boston (well, Cambridge, to be precise), where I was visiting a friend on spring break before things went terribly awry. It should be made clear: Sunday wasn’t a great day. Things with a romantic interest of mine became deromanticized over the course of the weekend, and then my laptop refused to turn on (just after being repaired). This was enough to cause something of a meltdown on my part, but of course, my flight home was then canceled due to an impending snowstorm. After a couple of maddening hours on the phone with a few different Delta agents, I managed to secure a new series of flights home. I would have to take a train to Providence, where I would catch a flight to Cincinnati, and then to my home airport of Detroit, arriving around 9:30 pm. “Well… I’ve never been to Rhode Island, I guess,” I thought, reaching for something positive.

Act II – Monday, March 2, 2009

“We’ve been on planes and on trains ‘til we think we might die.” – LCD Soundsystem, “North American Scum”

Scene I – Subway from Cambridge to Boston/Commuter Train from Boston to Providence

I trudged my way through the fresh snow, cursing it as I went for causing me both to lose my original, much simpler flight and get my jeans wet. Thankfully, the subway and commuter train were easy to find and use, and I even had time for an unsatisfying mozzarella sandwich at the Boston train station. (It was quite the inopportune time to have given up meat, I must say.) I had hoped the train ride would be scenic, but as it turns out, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, at least along the train tracks, just have lots of snow-covered trees with no leaves. Knowing that I would be returning to a similar environment in Michigan, I opted to sleep a bit. Upon arriving, I had to rush to catch a shuttle to the airport and almost ran over a bird in the train station with my rolling luggage. Although I thought I was hallucinating at first, I then noticed several other birds waddling around the station. Had I not been in a hurry, I might have investigated this phenomenon further, but home was more urgent than birds.

Scene II – Shuttle to Providence Airport/Loafing in Providence Airport/Flight from Providence to Cincinnati

I caught the van shuttle to the airport just in time, where I was able to listen to a man who apparently was some sort of weather deity rattle off information about the snowfalls in various northeastern cities. We quickly arrived at the rather beautiful Providence airport, where I settled in to wait for my flight. (I had a couple of hours still; I had given myself lots of time since it was all unfamiliar territory for me.) I called my brother, I read for a bit, I made a couple of playlists (which I will share with you soon!), I almost ate a burger before catching myself; it was actually almost relaxing. There was a brief moment of tension when I beat out an older gentleman for a wall outlet, but hey, my phone needed to charge. Sorry, Pops.

Of course, my relative serenity was not to last, as our flight became more and more delayed. I had about an hour between the original landing time and my connection, so I knew I had some time to give, but I was still nervous, and the old crazy lady behind me who gave occasional shouts of “THAT’S NOT OUR PLANE” every time a plane landed steadily increased my anxiety as we waited. We finally took off about an hour after our original departure time, and while on the plane, I had a brief Zen moment of things being out of my hands and feeling alright about it.

Scene III – Cincinnati Airport/Cincinnati Holiday Inn

I sprinted through the airport upon arrival, finding my gate quite deserted. I was given a new plane ticket for 6:40 am and hotel and meal vouchers by very kind Delta employees before being shuttled (again with the shuttles) off to the Cincinnati Holiday Inn (although apparently I was in Kentucky), where they put me up for the night. After a brief sob of frustration in my room, I went to use my meal vouchers on dinner, where for the third time in a very trying day, I did not succumb to my cravings for meat. (Well, not entirely. I ordered the very unsatisfying grilled salmon salad, since I’m allowing myself fish once a week. Sorry veggie friends, but this was necessary. It was almost a steak.) I called various friends to share my tale of horror, took a hot bath while blasting my brand new “Pouts” playlist on my iPod, watched some MSNBC (I’m sorry, but I just can’t get into Rachel Maddow), and went to bed. Despite my extreme exhaustion, I couldn’t sleep; my mind was still in overdrive, and beyond that, knowing I could only sleep for about 4 hours didn’t really comfort me.

Click here for part two.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Forty Days of Foliage: Day 8


I have to apologize for the infrequent posting lately; last week was my spring break (and it was neither of those things), so I've been busyish. However, thanks to break, I have plenty to post about now (including a particularly traumatic traveling experience!) so be on the lookout for new content.

To begin, though, I want to say that yes, I am sticking with my attempted Lent vegetarianism! (And it lasted through the most singularly stressful experience of my recent life, which I assure you, will soon be blogged about in a most extraordinary fashion.) I'm not going to eat meat until April 12, which is Easter Sunday. My only exception is that I'm allowing myself 6 times that I eat fish, which averages out to just over one time a week. I've had fish once already, so I have five more allowances.

So far, I've mainly been eating at restaurants since I was not at home, so the difficulty has been dealing with the fact that at most places, I only have a handful of choices. In one way, this is sort of a relief, as I don't spend as much time agonizing, but it's also sort of cruel to have so many options that I want but can't have. I'm generally finding the vegetarian dishes to not be all that satisfying, but to use an exercise metaphor, I think I'm still in my initial soreness that comes when you start to work out, and then as I get more adjusted, it won't be as hard.

However, I think things will be tough all over again for a bit, because I just got home and I will now be mostly cooking for myself. I'm afraid I'm going to eat the same things over and over with not enough regard for nutrition, but I'm really going to try to diversify and (gasp!) try new things. Mainly, I need to learn how to consistently cook tofu well, because while I like it, it continues to somewhat mystify me.

So yes, I'm a week-old vegetarian. Applaud me!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm a Radio Superstar

Yesterday, I appeared as a special guest on the WCBN environment-themed show "It's Hot in Here" as the "Style and Fashion and Celebrity Correspondent" to discuss celebrities and environmentalism in light of the de-greening of the Oscars on Sunday. You can listen to the episode here. Although the whole thing is interesting if you're down for an hour of eco-programming, you can skip to around the 13:00 mark to hear my segment. While you're there, post a comment about how you want me to make another appearance!

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

KITTENS

I know this has been making the rounds, but if you haven't seen it yet, the following video is the greatest thing ever created by humanity and we should all give up trying to top it:



Best parts:

"I'm her mom!"
"No, she's not!"

and

"lalalalalalalalalalalalalala"

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Introducing: Forty Days of Foliage

I think I'm going to go vegetarian for Lent (2/25-4/12) this year. I don't eat a lot of meat as it is, but I'd like to eat even less, as it's not great for the body and it's even worse for the environment. It's something I've been wanting to try for a while, and while I'm not particularly devout, Lent provides a useful not-too-long, yet not-too-short time span for me to try this out. Although I don't feel like I could ever go completely vegetarian, I think this could be a great opportunity for me to really expand my view of what food can be. Also, I came up with a neat title: Forty Days of Foliage! But here's what I need from you, dear readers:

1.) Should I include fish? My reasons for going veggie are environmental, so I don't feel a particular moral need to not eat fish. Although there are obviously still environmental impacts to fish harvesting, I feel like these are more easily mitigated by smart fish selection. But I also don't want to "cheat," and I think if I become too reliant on fish (which I hardly ever eat currently) I might miss out on the key "lessons" of all of this. Maybe I can only have fish once a week? Once a fortnight? SUGGEST.

2.) I don't like beans (pretty much none of them), so I need you to tell me what other things I can be using as a protein substitute. RECIPES PLEASE.

3.) I need encouragement. Tell me how great this is going to be and how much better I'll feel and how it's going to change my life. Because here's how I'm viewing it right now: The next two months will probably be the most stressful of my life (ack finishing grad school ack) and I'm giving up something that would otherwise comfort me in favor of adding another stressor. CONVINCE ME.

Assuming I go through with this, I'll be writing about my experiences on here every few days during Lent, partly as a document of the experiment and partly as a way of shaming myself if I fail. I hope you'll stick with me as I do this, because I am really going to miss bacon and I'm going to need your friendship to help me through it.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

I Love You Too, Huggykins

Although I find it an entirely inappropriate venue to do so, I've adjusted to the fact that people express their loves and huggles and kissies on Facebook and force me to see it on my news feed. I also knew to expect a great deal of this on Valentine's Day. However, these wall posts between a married couple still made me vom in my mouth a bit (and I don't feel bad sharing them here, since they clearly want the whole world to see):

Wife:
I love you, honey!!!! Happy Valentines Day!!!! God has truly blessed me. I have the best husband and father to my children I could ever hope for...I love you more today than yesterday and more tomorrow than today :-)

Husband:
I love you too, dear. I know you never believe me, but I really can't imagine a better wife and mother of my beautiful little girls. I have never been happier in my life.

Umm... DON'T YOU LIVE TOGETHER? Did she use the computer write this on his wall and then let him get on to read it and respond? God forbid they say such things in person. Ugh.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Five Worst Episodes of Buffy

Although my posts so far this week have been celebrating the heights of Buffy, today I'll be discussing my least favorites of the series. Although a number of episodes were less-than-enjoyable (as will happen with 144 episodes of anything), here are the five (plus one) I've singled out for shame, all of which seem to carry some sort of heavy-handed message:

Almost Bad Enough: The Pack (Season 1, Episode 6)
Xander and some mean kids get possessed by a pack of hyenas and proceed to eat the principal. A crazy zookeeper who hadn't really appeared at all in the episode turns out to be the villain. The only reason I'm not including this episode is that it was pretty early on in the series, they were still going through growing pains, etc. But this still sucks. MESSAGE: DON'T BE MEAN TO PEOPLE AND DON'T EAT YOUR PRINCIPAL.

5. Go Fish (Season 2, Episode 20)
The swim team is turning into fish because of some steroid their coach is giving them. But we do get that shot of them at the end, returning to the ocean, as they were meant to be (except wait, they're supposed to be teenage boys and now they're not.) Is that supposed to be touching? MESSAGE: DON'T DO STEROIDS THAT TURN YOU INTO A FISH.

4. Buffy v. Dracula (Season 5, Episode 1)
What a terrible idea this was. Why does Dracula have to be real in the Buffyverse? Why does he have to be so lame? Why was this the first episode of the season? What was the point? MESSAGE: DON'T DO DRACULA.

3. Hell's Bells (Season 6, Episode 16)
The main problem I have with this episode, aside from the fact that it split my beloved Anya/Xander pairing apart, is that Xander's actions just don't seem like something he would do, based on what we've known of him for the past 5 and a half seasons. It just doesn't fit with his persona; it was just Joss fucking with us because he knows he can. MESSAGE: DON'T FALL IN LOVE EVER OR YOU'LL SUFFER.

2. Wrecked (Season 6, Episode 10)
Lameness abounds in this episode, when Spike and Buffy's rough sex destroys a building and Rack suddenly becomes a really important character even though we don't know anything about him. This was the point where Willow's magic "addiction" really went over-the-top; she gets filled with "magic" by a creepy man, it makes her hallucinate, and then she desperately craves more, to the point where she endangers others. I know the show isn't particularly known for its subtlety, but come on. MESSAGE: DON'T GET ADDICTED TO MAGIC/HEROIN.

1. Beer Bad (Season 4, Episode 5)
In the worst ever episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, beer turns Buffy into a caveperson. This leads to her solving her problems by hitting the guy she had a one-night stand with in the head with a tree branch. Also, college students talk about philosophy or something. In short, this episode is a mess. I might watch it again if you paid me, but it's convoluted, preachy, and worst of all, entirely unentertaining. MESSAGE: DON'T WATCH THIS EPISODE. ALSO, HIT PEOPLE WHO ARE MEAN TO YOU WITH STICKS.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Top Buffy Episodes: #5-#1

It was tough to do, but I think these truly are my favorite episodes of Buffy. There aren't any real left-field picks out of these last five, although as you may have noticed from the earlier installments of this list, it continues to skew toward the latter seasons. Well, except for...

5. The Prom (Season 3, Episode 20)
I'll be honest - this is the first Buffy episode that made me almost cry. Jonathan's speech is wonderfully affecting, especially considering the events in "Episode" just a few weeks before, and Sarah Michelle Gellar seems genuinely moved. Sure, the monster was secondary this episode, but that occurs in some of the best. "The Prom" wrapped up Buffy's high school years with class. (Pun totally not intended.)

4. The Body (Season 5, Episode 16)
Although I list it as one of my favorites, I don't know if I'll ever be able to watch this episode again. It is one of the most difficult, painful hours of TV I've ever seen, and I'm not eager to relive it. Having said that, it is almost one of the best I've seen; every aspect is artfully done (with the choice to forgo incidental music being one of the best decisions Joss Whedon ever made.) It also has Anya's speech about death, which I consider to be the single greatest moment in the series.

3. Once More, With Feeling (Season 6, Episode 7)
The musical episode! SO FUN. Plus, Willow goes down on Tara in entirely unsubtle fashion. The songs are mostly great, and unlike most other series that would have a musical episode as a gimmick, they actually advance the story. We see Anya and Xander's growing dissatisfaction with each other, Tara learns that Willow has gone too far with the magic, and Buffy tells everyone that they yanked her out of heaven. Oops. My only real complaint is that there's no fight at the end, but eh, it's still pretty damn good.

2. The Gift (Season 5, Episode 22)
I had a really hard time picking between this and my number one spot. "The Gift" is the best fusion of the comedic, dramatic, and action elements of the series, and I'm sure there are many times I would favor it. There's just so much to love: Willow saves Tara, Joel Grey is ultracreepy, Giles is a total badass about killing Ben/Glory, Buffy repeatedly hits Glory with a giant hammer, and oh yeah, Buffy sacrifices herself to save the world and makes us all cry. And as corny as they were, Buffy's last words to Dawn get me every time. Although I enjoyed the last two seasons a great deal, this would've been an excellent closing to the series if things had worked out differently. (They still could have revived her for the comic books or whatever.)

1. Hush (Season 4, Episode 10)
I'm sure this will surprise absolutely nobody, but yeah. "Hush" is simply the most entertaining, engaging and interesting episode in all of Buffy. Again, the premise could be a gimmick on other shows, but Joss turns it into a musing on the way we communicate, down to the absolutely brilliant ending. It's also the most genuinely horror-filled episode of Buffy; the Gentlemen are by far the creepiest enemy Buffy faces throughout all seven seasons. And I could watch Giles give his overhead presentation about the Gentlemen to "Danse Macabre" over and over and over.

There it is! The conclusion of my favorite episodes of Buffy. I know I left off some of the early favorites ("Becoming, Parts 1 and 2," "Innocence," "Prophecy Girl"), but I realllly didn't like Angel, so those episodes are irrevocably tainted. Deal with it. Check back tomorrow for my least favorites!

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Top Buffy Episodes: #10-#6

In this installment: Finales! Anya! Alternate realities by the fistful!


10. Chosen (Season 7, Episode 22)
I initially had ranked this, the series finale of Buffy, a bit higher, but after a few day's distance, there was way too much of Angel and Principal Wood in this episode. Also, I know not every death needs to be a huge deal, but Anya was killed off rather unceremoniously; Xander didn't even really seem all that upset. Aside from that, though, this was a fitting way to end it all. Buffy achieves (relative) normality, Spike gets his hero moment, and Sunnydale eats it. I especially loved the montage that plays as women around the world achieve their Slayerdom. Maybe I was just more willing to suspend my disbelief since I knew it was the end, but I was pretty satisfied with the way it all wrapped up.

9. Tabula Rasa (Season 6, Episode 8)
"Tabula Rasa" is one of the rare Buffy episodes that achieves both hilarity and poignancy. The interplay between the amnesiac Scoobies is great fun (particularly everything that happens with Giles and Anya - she summons bunnies, he fights a skeleton, they kiss - fantastic!), but the moment when they regain their memories and Tara realizes what Willow has done is heartbreaking. And although Michelle Branch kinda sucks, "Goodbye to You" actually works quite well in this setting. This is perhaps the most well-rounded episode on this list.

8. The Wish (Season 3, Episode 9)
What would Sunnydale be like without Buffy? Pretty sucky, apparently. Even though you know it's not "reality," it's still pretty rough to watch just about every main character die. (Xander and Willow kill Cordelia, Xander kills Angel, Buffy kills Xander, Oz kills Willow, The Master kills Buffy... phew) But hooray, Giles gets to save the day! Also, we meet Anya, who would go on to be my all-time favorite character.

7. Selfless (Season 7, Episode 5)
Did I mention I love Anya? Here, we learn all about Anya's past, and it's AWESOME. My favorite part: Anya started the Russian Revolution of 1905. And we get another song! Also, Anya's fight with Buffy is one of the most satisfying in the entire series (and I was totally rooting for Anya.) It's disappointing that Anya's new-found development in this episode didn't really go anywhere; after this episode, Anya was mostly relegated to bit moments of comic relief. At least, until she got stabbed and no one really seemed to care. (Except me. I cared!)

6. Normal Again (Season 6, Episode 17)
I mentally refer to this as the Twilight Zone episode of Buffy. Although the whole "What if it's just in a dream/someone's imagination?" gimmick is fairly common, it's done so well here. It seems entirely plausible that crazy Buffy has invented an entire universe, and although we know what choice she's going to make at the end, it's a credit to Kristine Sutherland (the actress who plays Buffy's mom) that her failed attempt at regaining her daughter's sanity is so affecting and ultimately devastating. We shouldn't be rooting for her, but we are.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Top Buffy Episodes: #15-#11

Over the weekend, I finished watching the entire series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and despite my initial misgivings, it turned out to be pretty darn good. Sure, there are rough moments, but overall, I was quite satisfied. So, in celebration of my completion of this journey, I'm declaring it Buffy Week here at Arsenic and Old Face. Over the next three days, watch for my top 15 episodes to be revealed, five at a time. (I know 15 seems like a lot, but hey, I have 144 to choose from.) That will be followed by my five least favorite, and then possibly a more general post about the show to conclude the week. (But I'm not making any promises on that.) Anyway, here are episodes #15-#11 on my list:


15. Witch (Season 1, Episode 3)
One of the only genuinely memorable Season 1 episodes for me, "Witch" introduces us to the character of Amy Madison, who recurs in interesting ways throughout the series. It also is the first "teenage-trouble-manifest-as-monster" episode; in this case, the archetypal overbearing mother who tries to force her daughter to follow in her footsteps as a cheerleader turns out to be a witch who sets other girls on fire. Which is really kind of awesome.

14. No Place Like Home (Season 5, Episode 5)
This episode makes the list for two major reasons. First is that the wtfery of Dawn's sudden appearance is explained, and while Dawn turns out to be pretty lame, at the time, the reveal is fairly devastating; Sarah Michelle Gellar does some of her best acting as she deals with the shock of a fake sister, fake memories, and an altered life without her consent. Second, we meet the best Big Bad (well, maybe second best after The Mayor) of them all: Glory. Now, I know from the Internets that some find Glory to be really obnoxious, but I. Love. Her. I love the way the actress devours the scenery each time she appears, and I love that in her first appearance, she breaks a heel, throws a tantrum, and causes an entire building to fall around her. That moment epitomizes everything I so enjoyed about Glory.

13. Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered (Season 2, Episode 16)
So Xander (especially high school Xander) is ADORABLE. That's why this episode made the list; it gives him plenty of opportunity to be all cute while he deflects overzealous lovers (including Joyce, which is amazing) from all around. Also, it ends with Cordelia finally losing her shame over dating Xander, creating my favorite coupling in the early seasons.

12. The Zeppo (Season 3, Episode 13)
Two Xander-centric episodes in a row! "The Zeppo" is fun not just because of Xander's awesomeness, but because of the way it plays with the structure of the show. What would normally be a B-plot or C-plot (Xander's mini-quest) becomes the focus, while we continually receive hints of a near-apocalypse being averted by the rest of the cast. And as a result, we get a more confident, more self-assured Xander.

11. Dirty Girls (Season 7, Episode 18)
This is where Season 7 really starts to pick up steam. Faith returns to Sunnydale, Caleb shows up (God, Nathan Fillion is so creepy in this), and Buffy makes her biggest error of perhaps the entire series, blindly leading the Potentials into battle. Also, it has two of the most unsettling Buffy scenes: Caleb's vicious stabbing of the Potential at the open of the episode, and the destruction of Xander's eye, which was waaaaay gross. From "Dirty Girls" on, Season 7 is gold.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why We Can't Cite Wikipedia

So I just typed in the search phrase "Bossy" into Wikipedia, expecting to be taken to a page about the song "Bossy" by Kelis, and here's the result I got (click for bigger):



Uhh... I'm not sure at all what to make of this. At the top, under Bossy, it says: "Bossy People Can Be People Who Can Not Find Duty They Get What They Want And They Always Blame Other People If Your A Bossy Porson I Will Turn You Into An Enormas Blueberry Bubble And My Pet Ooompers Loompers Will Roll You Round And Its Happening Right Now If You Are." Whoa. I would hate to be an enormas blueberry bubble being rolled by oomper loompers. That's followed by a few Wiki links, and then, a list of names of people who will be turned into a bubble. Among what appears to be names of people, we find Barry Manilow (and little-known sibling Locky Manilow) and Violet Beauregard.

This is bizarre. I promise I didn't do it. But the fact that this sort of wackiness is still happening on a site as established as Wikipedia is kind of mind-blowing.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

A Geographical Plurality Agrees: It's Pop

Here's a neat map for all of you who make fun of those who refer to carbonated beverages as pop (click for bigger):



That's right - almost all of the northern U.S. (which I'm pretty sure we can all agree is the best part) calls it pop. You'll just have to deal, soda snobs.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Not Top Carl... Top Carla!

So I have to admit, this season of Top Chef has been a little bit lackluster for me. Most of the remaining chefs seem to be unlikable (Stefan, Jamie), not all that talented (Jeff), or a very special combination of both (Leah. God I hate Leah.), but one of the remaining chefs has kept it interesting for me:


Carla!

I looooooove Carla. Why?

1.) She says some ridiculous shit. At first, Carla sort of annoyed me when she said crazy things like "And the most important ingredient? Love!" but then I came to realize that she really believes this stuff. She very genuinely feels that if she's smiling when she's cooking, it affects the output, and don't you dare question it or she will get FIRED UP. Also, my favorite moment of the season might be when she got separated from her teammates and wandered around Whole Foods shouting "Hooty!" (Apparently, this is a Marco Polo-esque system used by her and her husband - the other is supposed to respond "Hoo!") She puts it all out there, which is what makes a truly great reality TV character.

2.) She makes crazy faces. Unfortunately, Bravo doesn't have any great pics of Carla's fantastic facial expressions, but I assure you: with her mouth agape, she manages to look even more like an extraterrestrial bird than she already does. And it's awesome.

3.) She seems entirely genuine. This sort of falls in with the first category, but Carla seems to have no pretense or inhibitions, and seems to truly care about her fellow cheftestants. For example, in the first episode when Ariane almost bit the dust and said it should've been her, Carla immediately began to offer support and comfort, saying she deserved to be there as much as anyone else. She didn't have to say anything, given they all had known each other for about two days, but instead, she was incredibly sweet without being condescending.

4.) She's from Washington, DC. This one's kinda selfish. The reason this is a plus is because I am totally going to be best friends with Carla when I move to DC. She will make me desserts and we will go to public places and shout "Hooty!" at each other and I will tell her how terrific she is. It'll be perfect.

I'm not optimistic about her chances of making it to the end, but here's hoping she stays on my TV for a long time.


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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Inauguration Benediction

I'd like to point out my favorite part of the inauguration ceremony yesterday: Dr. Joseph Lowery's benediction. He gave a wonderful and thoughtful speech/prayer about the need to be aware of the continuing injustices in our country, capped off by this delightful section, which apparently some ridiculous people are calling racist:

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. Let all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen. Say Amen. And Amen.


I Amen-ed at my TV screen. Watch it here:

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hail to the Chief



I know millions of blog posts will be written today, and I know that mine won't add anything special or unique to the rest, but I feel the need to get my (moderately cliched) thoughts down.

I'm ridiculously optimistic right now. This feeling will likely become more tempered as the days and weeks go on, but right now, I'm caught up in the euphoric wave of it all. For my entire adult life, George W. Bush has been president. Although I remember championing Bill Clinton in elementary school, I've never been in a position to truly feel good about the person who is running my country. I was devastated in 2004, when in the first presidential election I could vote, I saw America endorse another four years of division and ignorance. But now, it seems like we're in a position where we can start turning things around.

I'm going to try not to get too swept up in this rush - we have to remain critical and aware, even if we have what seems like an ally in office. (Related note: My school had a little viewing party for the inauguration, and it was really cute to be in a room full of people who also felt moved to applaud at mentions of science and the depletion of natural resources.) In my arena, I hope the environmental groups remain vigilant and don't get co-opted into rubber stamping this administration's policies. I hope that new attention is drawn to human aspects of environmental issues as well - now's the time to start getting serious about environmental justice, which we have a largely unenforced Executive Order for already.

But for now, I'm going to bask and smile, and for maybe the first time in my adult life, be truly proud to be an American.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Next Up: War on Humanities

As if you needed an excuse to be happy about the end of the Bush administration, here's an interesting piece from Chris Mooney at Slate about Bush's so-called "war on science" and what scientists need to do to prevent another flareup. Although I don't really consider myself a scientist (despite currently working toward an M.S. I would only really identify as a social scientist, and only when trying to sound high-falutin'), I certainly rely heavily on scientific data, so I found this especially prescient. Woooooo science.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In the South, In the North

Here's another poem borrowed from The Writer's Almanac. It makes me nostalgic about New Orleans (despite the fact that I've never actually been there.)


In the South, In the North
by Peg Lauber

The grass here is strange paradise to northern feet.
Stiff, it explodes into green when we aren't expecting it
remembering it as greening up much later.
All over town they turn the fountains on again.

If there's one thing they've got enough of,
it's water. Dig down a foot and you have it,
even though brackish, and in the summer
no cold water comes out of the tap no matter
how long you run it. In every yard there's another
explosion in January, camellias, pink, deep red,
white, and we not a month past Christmas.

But up north the frigid season crawls on, takes its time;
even in April and May it's still snowing and sleeting,
then comes hail as winter turns to summer
in one day: 90 degrees. Here, however, people eat sack
lunches on the dull green trolley with red touches still
bearing Christmas garlands over the controls at each end.
The riders open the windows to put their elbows out
while they take the long ride to the end of the line
returning to Lee Circle and Canal Street,
the trolley car whistling and dinging.

Soon St. Charles Avenue, the regular route, will be filled
with high school bands and marching feet, arms waving,
voices crying, "Throw me something, mister," to those
on the floats, as the lines and trees above are decorated
with gold, purple, and green beads, the royal colors of Rex,
against the blue void we call sky.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Deal With It, Cate Blanchett!

Did you watch the Golden Globes last night? If not, you missed out on some good (Ricky Gervais should have presented everything) and some bad (Kate Winslet wins Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress? What the hell?), but mostly, you missed this awesome speech by Tracy Morgan, who accepted the win for 30 Rock as Best Comedy. (My taste continues to be validated. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin also won Best Actor and Best Actress in a Comedy for 30 Rock, and unrelatedly, my much-beloved Vicky Christina Barcelona won Best Comedy.) The quality here sucks (it appears to have been filmed off a slightly out-of-sync pocket television), but you can still hear the awesomeness that comes out of his mouth. He is the face of post-racial America!

(Update: So that video got taken down, but if you go to the official NBC clip, you can see it after a short ad.)

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Got You Pegged

This might be a difficult post for some of you to read, but I've made an important discovery that I have to share. It is both juvenile and somewhat explicit, so consider yourself warned.




Usher likes it in the butt.

Now now, before anyone gets all fired up, I'm not saying he's gay. I'm just saying that he enjoys the practice of pegging, in which the woman in a heterosexual pairing dons a strap-on and... yeah. How do I know this? Well, Usher told me! In fact, he tells us all in his new song, "Trading Places."

Give it a listen:



If you still don't agree, I'll show you what I mean.

I'm always on the top
tonight I'm on the bottom
Cuz we trading places


Now, I know a man can be on the bottom without necessarily engaging in the aforementioned sex act, but view Exhibit B:

Now put it on me baby till I say Oooo weee
And tell me to shut up before the neighbors hear me
This is how it feels when you do it like me


See what I mean? He's not even trying to be coy here. This shit is blatant. A bit after these fine lyrics, we get a good thirty seconds of Usher moaning and screaming in ecstasy/agony, followed by this classy conclusion:

Stay tuned for part 2
You been me I been you
But we gonna switch this thing back
Ima put it on your...


Cute, eh? But he pretty much admits it here - I mean, he says he's "been" her, and really, what's the opposite of him "putting it on her (The song cuts off, but I assume the word is ass - what else fits here?)"

I rest my case.

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