06 November 2008

Multimedia message

I am not sure if you can see this but that sign says 1.98!!

"Saying 'President Obama' is not getting less awesome."




Oh, hey guys. What'd you do last night? See any history being made? Yeah? Me too. AND IT WAS AWESOME.



Kennedy once famously said, "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." What I think people are now starting to realize is that, in the end, it won't matter if President Obama does all he says he will, or if he merely patches us up a bit and sends us on our way. Because for the first time in a long damn time, it's not about the man in the Oval Office, but about the people in this country who are gratified and uplifted and inspired by that man; people who want to do more, and be more and love more, who want to be worthy of a country who might just start being worthy of them. If he can do this, we can do anything.

Yes We Can.
Yes We Did.
Yes We Will.

16 October 2008

The Audacity of Hop(ing you can finish your mac 'n cheese in peace).

Every Wednesday night, people from my office go out for Wednesday Night Dinner. This is primarily people not of my social group, but I know all of them through various projects at work or because they are friends with other people I know. I don't usually attend, because if I'm not working, I'm usually spending that night with friends, but tonight I decided I was being too antisocial of late and that I wasn't spending enough time with people to whom I feel indifferent. (Everyone I know falls into three distinct groups: People I Adore, People I Hate, and People To Whom I Feel Largely Indifferent. The People I Adore group is small, but I am fiercely loyal to them. The People I Hate group is even smaller than the first, and can actually be numbered on one hand. Not a primate hand, either. Maybe a Simpsons hand. The third group is vast and is comprised of 98% of people I meet.)

That turned out to be a bad idea.

Discussion turned, as it is wont to do in the climaxing weeks of the election, to politics. I don't mind a spirited, reasoned political debate with people of opposing views. Hell. I'm a Libertarian. EVERYONE has an opposing view to me. Even my own party doesn't agree with me half the time. (Libertarians have, instead of a party platform, a pack of those slimy frogs you could win as prizes at Showbiz Pizza when you were young. Each frog is a different stance on a political issue - we just throw them up on the wall of Federalism and see what sticks. This is, incidentally, why a Libertarian will never hold any office above school board president. [First action: disband school board.])

But what I got was less "reasoned debate" and more "eleven McCain supporters tell Erin, who mentions that she's supporting Obama in this election, everything that is wrong with the way she thinks/feels/lives her life." I'm not great at confrontation on the best of days - despite being pretty loud and obnoxiously opinionated, when people raise their voice to me, I immediately assume the beaten puppy look: head down, tail tucked and eyes darting around trying to find a safe exit. But it is worse when the things people are saying are so ridiculous as to inspire baffled laughter rather than a courteous, yet direct response. Here are some "facts" I was taught tonight:

1) Obama is a Muslim extremist who will blow us all up. (really, that one's been going around for years. New material, people, come on!)

2) Obama is not a citizen of the United States and is ineligible to run for President.

3) Obama has not served this country. (Apparently, to serve this country, one's only option is to enlist in the military. Nothing else - being an upstanding citizen, protecting other citizen's rights, or just being a really helpful person willing to lend a hand to one's neighbors and/or bake cupcakes - qualifies. By the way, this fact was told to me by someone who's never served in the military.)

4) Obama is part of organized crime.

5) I will lose my job if I vote for Obama.

6) I will have to take three jobs to support my kids if I vote for Obama. (No one had a good reply to my pointing out that, in McCain/Palin's dream world, I would have about 7 kids to support because I wouldn't be able to control what happens to my own body.)

7) Obama is racist against white people. (well, who wouldn't be, with such fine examples as this?), and

8) Black people are lazy.

If you're wondering, "black people are lazy" is about where I just stopped trying to talk and stood there, mouth open. The thing is, I'm no stranger to racism. You can't have the legacy of Mississippi stretching like a shadow behind you and be shocked by racist behavior. I witness it every day. I think what shocked me was more that the natural progression in any person's brain when debating politics would be "I don't like this political candidate. And also black people are lazy." I make the argument a lot that the kind of racism that's destroying our country is the kind you can't point out as being textbook racist - the things people think or say and then pat themselves on the back in self-congratulation for being so forward-thinking and "with the times" - but I don't know, there may be something to be said for blatant, old fashioned, in-your-face-all-that's-missing-is-the-white-hood, Jim Crow racism. It's as nostalgic as malteds and long-playing LPs!

The problem, of course, is that you can't argue with "black people are lazy." To argue against a point, there has to be a point - "black people are lazy" is just a ridiculous non-sequitor wholly unsupported by facts, anecdotes or good manners. It's the racist equivalent to the ex-boyfriend who doesn't quite understand why you won't return his many phone calls. You can't call him to say, "please stop calling me;" that's it; you've lost. All he wants is for you to validate his behavior with a response; once you've done that, he wins. So, instead, there was the aforementioned mouth-gaping, followed by a head cocked to one side and a befuddled "okaaaaay."

I realize that my shock in the way this evening played out smacks of naivete, and I assure you that I'm not Pollyanna-ing my way through life. I know that people feel this way. I even knew, at some level, perhaps, that these people feel this way. It is not as if we sit around discussing the latest and greatest from the ACLU; I know these people are mostly NeoCons. I think what continues to surprise and confuse me is that these people - the people who genuinely believe that Obama is the Muslim Antichrist Terrorist sent from Hell to blow us all to bits - even the person who dropped "black people are lazy" on me - these people like me. They think I'm charming and vivacious and adorable and spunky . . . but they hate everything I believe in (and, to be fair, I hate everything they believe in). Does personality transcend belief? I've always thought it did not; that we are, in summation, merely a reflection of our passions and beliefs. That who we are is intrinsically tied to what we want and how we feel. I'll never be accused of being the most open and honest person with the public - what I present to the public is rarely an indication of my actual self - but even my public persona isn't the type for which anyone would reasonably think that "black people are lazy" is a good argument point. So, do they like me in spite of my beliefs? Or are they so entrenched in their own beliefs that they can't recognize that I could possibly hold a different view?

This blog has gone way off-topic, so I'll bring it back around with this question: There are just a few more weeks until the U.S. Presidental election, and the nation is at a fever pitch. What is your favorite part of election fever? What do you really hate? And how many people have you pissed off this week discussing politics?

In summation, I offer you this political sign, which apparently HR will not let me put up in my office, and to whose creation I committed at least five minutes in MS Paint:



It's funny if you're me.

03 October 2008

Reshaping history, one indie music mag at a time

You guys, TELEVISION IS BACK. Dirty Sexy Money! Chuck! Gossip Girl! The Office! It's been a v. enjoyable couple of tv-having weeks for me. (Also, I guess now EVERYONE I know is getting engaged, even fictional people on cinema veritae television shows.)

But Jim and Pam or Chuck's awesomely evil machinations or Other Chuck's adorable quirky grin aren't the subject of this post, more's the pity. I just thought I'd mention it.

You guys! I'm totally famous and influential! After years of slogging through hipster crowds and having drunken adventures with rubbish musicians, I've finally made it into the NME. Not for anything people normally make it into the NME for (in order: having homosexual love for one's bandmates; releasing an album for which the NME will hail a band as the vanguard of indie music, only to come back three weeks later and proclaim them tired, once they become too popular; or being slagged off by Lily Allen), but rather for this:



No, I'm not in that picture. That's not me; that's Dirty Pretty Things, and they just dissolved their band. In typical garments-rending fashion, the NME have devoted their online picture gallery to "The life and times of Carl Barat," as if Carlos has died or something. There are many photos of both DPT and Carl's former band (the much-missed Libertines) on NME.com, and that's one of them. But dig the caption at the side, in which the NME explains that Dirty Pretty Things was the band's second choice in band names, after the far more amazing "The Bearded Clam Lovers' Experience."

Except, um . . . I made that up. Like two years ago, as a joke about the band's charmingly rubbish homosexual love for one another. (Courtney: "I can't tell if they're gay, or just English.") I even made up that story about there being another band with that name, and that's why they had to change theirs to the slightly less offensive "Dirty Pretty Things."

Part of me thinks I should email the NME (who are obviously not the world's best researchers . . . unless one of the staffers I met at sxsw is giving me a shout out) and correct them, but let's be honest: having my creation in a magazine, even if it is something as stupid as a joke I made on the internet once, is essentially like being published, right?

Next step: rewriting Wikipedia. Soon, I'll be able to exert a Colbert-esque level of influence on the internet.

18 September 2008

Step One: Don't piss off Mother Nature

You know how sometimes when you were a kid, you may have intentionally backtalked your mom? Just to see if you could get away with it, cause you knew she would never actually do anything to you, because she is your mom and she loves you?

DUDE. Mother Nature? Is so not like that. If you sass her, she will smack you DOWN.

Since early Friday evening, I have been living life without power. If you had suggested to me a week ago that I could make it one night without the cool comforts of air conditioning, I would have laughed in your face and told you that you were crazy. I basically AM global warming, okay? My house is an icebox. But, thanks to Ike and some downed power lines and transformers, I have been living power-free this past week. And honestly? It ain't that bad.

No, seriously. Hear me out. Okay, so, sure, you can't do a lot of the things you're maybe used to, like washing your clothes or blowdrying your hair or eating any food that doesn't come out of a tin or a box. And it's best not to mention how you feel on Monday nights, knowing the rest of the world is watching Gossip Girl and you are watching mosquitos feast on your skin. But living without power is, in some strange way, incredibly freeing.

Dig my daily routine:

1) Wake up from state of semi-slumber, due to the stillness of the air in my bedroom and the fact that the mold is making my allergies go beserk.

2) Shuffle way to bathroom in the dark. Turn on battery operated paper lantern and light candles.

3) Take shower, which would be sort of romantic and softly lit, if it weren't so cold.

4) Dress. Try to match stuff.

5) Feed cats using light from a flashlight beam. Stub toe. (my toes are really hurting, fact.)

7) Comb wet hair.

8) Drive to work.

9) Blow dry hair.

10) Be happy to be at work, because there's air conditioning.

11) Try to consume one meal made with fresh ingredients. Pretty much give this up for a bad job every day, since not much is open, and those restaurants that are open aren't serving full menus.

12) Go home while it's still light out.

13) Sit outside in front yard (under tree that may end up going through my bedroom window) and read. Visit with my neighbors and their puppies, as everyone is hanging around outside.

14) Drink lots of wine. (PRO TIP: Wine does not go bad.)

15) When the sun sets, go to bed.

That's it. No other responsibilities or chores; no working late into the night, no tv or internet or even staying up late to read. No cleaning or laundry or any of the number of chores or hobbies I use to fill up my nights because I always feel vaguely guilty for "not getting things accomplished." If my daily routine were any simpler, I'd be in a coma.

Someone asked me today how I could stand to live without power, and as I was explaining that it wasn't really all that bad, what I was struck by was how quickly I'd slipped into my new lifestyle. It's second nature to debate whether a store or restaurant will be open now. I know I'll have to dedicate a few hours' time in order to get gas or ice. I've got a million ways to jazz up triscits and wheat thins now. I've only been living in this surreal half-life since Friday, but already it seems normal to me. It made me wonder about the resilience of humans as a species and how good most of us are at picking up a new routine, new niche, new life. Maybe that's why, despite sometimes our best efforts, we are thriving as a species. It's our ability to survey the situation, file it away and ask, "okay, what next?"

All that said, as I drove home tonight and saw the lights in the neighbors' windows, I felt my heart sing with joy. Getting power restored just in time for the America's Next Top Model makeover episode?? I am like 99.9% sure that's scientific proof of a higher power.

12 September 2008

this must be how tina turner felt

There are tons of things I don't like about living on the Gulf Coast (the heat, the humidity, the . . . okay, mostly the heat and the humidity), but one thing I love is hurricane season! Yes, yes, I know that hurricanes are destructive and bad and I shouldn't wish that they come our way, but . . . I secretly do. And now, as long as the massively large Hurricane Ike stays on track, Houston will actually get a hurricane! For like the first time in a coon's age! Amazing!

So here, in case you are wondering, are all the great things about hurricanes:

6) Getting the day off work. My work actually closed the building for Friday! That never happens! Of course, it was our Off Friday and not many people were working anyway, and of course I've been working since I got home tonight, but still! Hurricanes are like snow days but with less chance of frostbite.

5) The names. Every storm which reaches Tropical Depression strength becomes a "named storm," which means that NOAA gives it the next name in the alphabetical rotation (or, in the case of the year of Katrina and Rita, runs out of names and starts assigning them Greek letters.). Sometimes, if you get lucky, they name a storm after you! I've lived through seeing two storms named Erin - both talked a big game and then petered out because it was too lazy to continue. Tell me large formations of oceanic low pressure ridges don't know their namesakes!

Also sometimes NOAA goes crazy on the naming for the year and you get things like Tropical Storm Eduoard. I really wish they'd start taking a page from Hollywood's book and then we could have Tropical Depression Apple and Hurricane Kal-El. Actually, it'd be way better if all storms could be comic book references instead.

4) The weather. I don't know if you've heard this about Texas and the rest of the South, but, um, it gets kinda hot during the summer. Like, "break into a sweat walking to your mailbox"-type hot. Hurricanes drop the temps a good ten degrees and bring tons of fun thunderstorms to watch out on your porch, or from the safety of your plywood-covered windows.

3) The comraderie. Remember how, after 9/11, everyone was really nice to each other? For, like, a few hours? Until the threats against the Muslim communities started? Tragedy brings communities together. When confronted with a giant force of nature (or otherwise), you have no choice but to band together and realize that, as humans, we are merely pegs in the giant cribbage board of Fate. I think that's a proper analogy, anyway. I never actually learned to play cribbage. Plus, it's pretty easy to bond with your fellow man when you're stuck in the checkout lane at wal-mart for five hours with the rest of the yahoos in your town, just to fill up on bottled water. Which leads me to:

2) The hysteria. Okay, okay, the pre-hurricane hysteria's not a good thing when you're stuck in evacuation traffic or can't go to Target to get the latest Jemma Kidd makeup collection cause all of Houston is freaking out over how many bottles of water and D-batteries they have personally stored in their garage. Plus, everyone knows that the only good store to hit up during a hurricane is Spec's, due to the number one, GREATEST thing about hurricanes, which is:

1) HURRICANE PARTIES! Look, when you're faced with the certainty that your power will blow and all your food and beer will be ruined unless you consume it quickly, your only option is to band together with your friends and neighbors and glutton yourself on food and booze. My friend Suzanne's husband owns a restaurant near my house, and during the Hurricane-That-Wasn't (Rita), he lost power at the restaurant for three days. What other option did he have but to liberate all the steaks from the restaurant's fridge and have a bbq? You don't want that sort of thing going to waste, after all! There are starving people . . . somewhere else.

So, I say, bring it on, Ike. Or, shift east to Lake Charles at the last minute like the coward you are. Whatevs.

10 September 2008

"barring cupcake-related disasters, the day actually is going quite well."

I know. I know. I don't know how it's happened, people, but I've actually sat down for more than two minutes and decided to write for this blog again. Prepare for trembling earth.

So, it's autumn, obstensibly. The leaves are changing - or at least that's what many movies and New England tourist guide pamphlets lead me to believe - kids are going back to school, and the weather is turning cooler. Actually, the weather here in Texas was nice for like ten minutes this past weekend. But now we've been beset by another heat wave which will apparently push Hurricane Ike down south further to Brownsville. BOO.

Autumn is my favorite time of the year, and it all kicks off on the second week of September, i.e. today, i.e. the offspring's birthday. She turned five this year, guys. FIVE. Was it seriously five years ago today that I was holding a newborn m'elle in one arm and a turkey sandwich with spicy mustard and a coke in the other? (Look, they don't feed you during the whole "giving birth" thing, and it is pretty exhausting business. Once that kid popped out, all I wanted was caffeine and tryptophan and a whole lot of drugs.)

m'elle just started pre-school at her brand new school, so today we had a lunchtime party for her birthday! It was a good chance to meet all of her classmates, most of whom are usually not there when I drop her off or pick her up from school. But before I take you on a visual journey of the sprog's classroom, let's talk about something that's really important.

Cupcakes.

I kicked it old school this year with the birthday cupcakes and made ice cream cone cupcakes. These were huge in the 80s; in fact, I'm like 90% sure that my own mother made them for my fifth birthday party at school, which is also the day that little Trevor Jones cornered me outside the girls' bathroom and gave me my very first kiss. (Best. Birthday. Evs.) No boys better be kissing my kid outside the bathroom at school, but these cupcakes ARE pretty tasty, so they may inspire acts of love. Forewarned is forearmed, folks.

Magnolia Bakery's Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.


Tasty, non? I topped them with Magnolia's vanilla buttercream icing, which proved nice and pearlescent, thus making the cupcakes look a bit like homemade ice cream. See?






Unfortunately, my baking skills do not extend to my transportation skills, and all the cupcakes fell down and were pretty much ruined. But thanks to store-bought icing (ugh), sprinkles and my ability to talk on the phone and type with one hand while refrosting cupcakes with the other, the day was saved! On to the party!



These kids? Are amazing. They sit next to m'elle in class and are total hams. Christian, the little boy, has Derek Zoolander as his personal life coach, I think.

m'elle, on the other hand, is not that amused by their childish antics, since she is now five. She does, however, sport amazing pizza-face that sort of makes her look like her very favorite movie character of 2008, The Joker (apple didn't fall far from the tree, what can I say?):



This is Titi, alongside Christian. His job today was to be the Caboose. That means he goes to the end of the line and makes sure everyone walks quickly. (There are also other jobs; m'elle's job today for instance was to be the Helper, which means she gets to help the teacher pass out worksheets and pencils. Exciting stuff!) I am like 88% in love with Titi and want him to be my bestie:



And here's m'elle's whole little class (plus her awesome teacher, Miss Nicole)! Aren't they adorable in their uniforms?



Oh, and speaking of the entire class, DIG THE NAME BOARD:



Can you spot the most amazing thing you've ever seen? There, at the bottom left? That's right! THERE IS A CHILD NAMED KANYE IN MY KID'S CLASS. I wonder if I can convince him to do an entire concert about aliens and robots who only come alive to the strains of "Gold Digger."

But possibly the coolest thing to happen for m'elle's birthday was the card that mere made. Posh Pants has blogged about it on poshdeluxe.com, so you can check it out there. BACON!! On a birthday card!! (In case you don't know, m'elle loves bacon. In fact, at breakfast, I usually have to take it away from her and tell her she can only have it if she finishes the rest of her meal. Like some parents might say about dessert. That kid should be super-grateful she goes to a Christian school, cause pretty much all other major religions are just not going to work with her lifestyle.)

I know I've gone on (and on) about the kidlet today, which I normally do not do on this blog, but one's fifth birthday is a pretty big day. Never fear, though, I've got six weeks' worth of discussion on politics, tv and dirty indie boys saved up in my head, so it's back to business as usual. Hopefully not six weeks from now.

24 July 2008

Latitude

So, every year (well for the last three years) I have gone 25 miles down the coast from where I live to a music festival called Latitude. Some background here- though Latitude is quite new, only three years old (why, yes, I have been to all of them), it's run by Festival Republic, who run Glastonbury, and the Reading and Leeds festivals. The big guys basically. Latitude is their attempt to have a different sort of festival in the UK- not just about the bands, but also about literature, theatre, comedy, dance and cabaret. There is even an area dedicated just to live poetry. And it's mostly successful in that aim- I know lots of people who go who barely see a band all weekend.

Not me though. You'll need to google and see if you can find their blogs. I mainly just go for the joy of being in the great outdoors, drinking cider and deafened by guitar bands. Though I did see the Sadler's Wells dance company perform next to a lake which was fairly awesome, and see performances by WordTheatre (http://www.wordtheatre.com/events/index.php) which included seeing Richard Ayoade in the flesh. I mention this only to bring it to Cat's attention once again. Also Wordtheatre had some guy from CSI doing readings in a field in Suffolk, which then confused me when I saw them wandering in said fields (and then two days later, they were spotted on a boat off Ibiza with James Blunt and a load of models. Never let it be said that celebrity's lives are like ours.)

This year, my Latitude joy was tempered somewhat for a few reasons-
1. It was cold. Very cold. I was wearing legwarmers in the middle of fucking July, people. That's just not right even for the UK.

2. There was no band that I love and was desperately excited to see. Lots that I liked and looked forward too, but for the last two years they've had a band that I've been goofily excited to see- Snow Patrol the first year, and the Arcade Fire last one.

3. There were so many people there (25,000). The size of the festival has doubled since it started two years ago. I can't see how they can make it any bigger without expanding the main arena somehow. They had a much larger comedy tent, and it still was totally overflowing all weekend. The queues were better than last year though.

That out of the way, I did have a lovely time overall.

The first band I saw were one of the best- The Joy Formidable: http://www.myspace.com/thejoyformidable . Really good, girl fronted buzz pop.
I also loved Noah and the Whale, who are charming folk-pop, was pleasantly surprised by Foals, after failing on a couple of occasions to see them last year, and really liked Franz Ferdinand's new songs (though Afrobeat, my ass. They sound like Girls Aloud. And there is no higher compliment).

Joanna Newson was charming, and totally lovely, as were The Breeders in a very different way. Blondie were ace on the Sunday night, and confusingly in a tent rather than the main stage. They do sound somewhat like the best Blondie cover band ever, but who cares when you are dancing. Grinderman were less scary than expected, and Sigur Ros were the magic pixies of my best hope. Elbow bored me overall, as did Death Cab for Cutie (and I was looking forward to them). Campfires are ace. Beth Orton's slightly dippy performance made us suspect that this was her first trip out since having her baby.

And then I ran away from the site during Interpol's headling set on Sunday night (I know this makes me a rampant heathen with no taste, but any time I hear them, I kinda wish that Editors were playing instead), got totally soaked by a sudden downpour and made it home by midnight . Hurrahz for festivals (which are just down the road from me)! Sign me up for next year.

01 July 2008

Summer's Guilty Pleasures, TV Edition

One of the reasons I like summer (really, one of the only reasons I like summer, because summer sucks so hard) is that, instead of being bound to my regular TV-watching schedule, I can record a bunch of fun stuff instead. My current favorites:


1) Ninja Warrior (G4)
Japanese show where competitors try to complete a four-stage obstacle course. I'm in awe of these people because I couldn't even do the easiest round. I couldn't even do the first task in the easiest round.

It's easier to show you the awesomeness of Ninja Warrior than tell you about it:





Sometimes I watch Ninja Warrior at the gym (because G4 airs it 24/7, I swear to God) and I almost fall off the treadmill because I make involuntary sympathy movements while the competitors are running the course.


2) Snapped (Oxygen)
I freaking love this show - currently, there's about 30 episodes teed up on my DVR. Each 1/2 hour episode is a mini-doc about a woman who murders her husband/lover/random person. The show's title is misleading, because you think that the women have SNAPPED and were driven to kill. But mostly, they're just really greedy and want lots and lots of money.


3) The Shopping Bags (Fine Living Network)
Canadian show featuring two women who test and recommend the best of everything from roller blades to sake to maxipads. I watch it because they say "aboot". I like Canadian accents.


4) Intervention (A&E)
*sigh* This show makes me feel icky and heartbroken. And I'm cynical that the featured substance abusers can stay clean. But I hope. And Jeff Van Vonderen is pretty rockin'.


5) True Life (MTV)
"I'm a Pregnant Alcoholic Black Sheep on Steroids Who Lives a Double Life in Staten Island."

!!!

*makes popcorn*


6) Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (Food Network)
I certainly don't watch this show for Guy Fieri (to be fair, however, he's supposed to be a really nice guy. DD&D has filmed two episodes in my town). I watch this show solely for the burgers. Buuuuuuuuuuurgerrrrrrrs.


7) Doctor Who (Sci Fi)
I know that some of you (especially those of the British persuasion) consider Doctor Who some mighty fine quality television. And I can agree to some extent. David Tennant is tremendous. Steven Moffat's episodes are well-crafted. I'm genuinely enjoying the current season. But overall, I definitely consider DW a guilty pleasure because it's so cheesy (need better aliens!!). Also, I've also been recording...the Rose era. *shudder*


8) Mystery Diagnosis (Discovery Health)
True Fact: Sometimes I attempt to beat the show to the diagnosis by Googling the person's symptoms. This should give you a good idea of the extent of my geekiness (vast).


9) Psychic Kids (A&E)
Do I really need to say any more?

27 June 2008

Insert random New York quote here.

I've just returned from my annual trek to NYC. As usual, my daily routine was something like this: eat, museum, eat, shop, eat. This year, my friend and I hit a lot of our favorite spots and found some new and awesome things.

But first, let me mention that, on the train up, a 62 year-old women WHO WE HAD NEVER MET BEFORE started telling us about her mastectomy and was so proud of the reconstruction that she pulled up her shirt and bra and showed us her rebuilt tit.

Anyhow.

MUSEUMS

We hit the MOMA the afternoon we arrived, but decided not to go in because there were no exhibits we were interested in. Instead, we went to the MOMA design store so I could get a sweet kitty totebag from their new Japanese collection. Alas, the kitty totebags were all sold out (SOLD OUT, ERIN!! *sniff*) and I was sadface. However, I bought a t-shirt with well-known MOMA paintings converted to stick figures.



So that cheered me up quite a bit.


The next day, we spent 4 hours in the Met, which is just the best American museum ever. You could go to the Met an hour a day for two weeks and see something different each time. This year there were several exhibitions that we were interested in, and one that made me squeal like a 6 year-old.

Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy

OHMYGOD IT WAS SO GOOD. The Costume Institute set up an amazing exhibition of haute couture, athletic wear, and movie costumes divided by types of superhero costumes.

(Make sure you click the "View Images" link on each page linked below so you can see some of the clothes that were featured.)

The Graphic Body
This section focused on Superman and Batman. Lots of fun couture and athletic wear, and also the costume that Christopher Reeve wore in Superman and the regular and black costumes that Tobey Maguire wore in Spiderman.

The Patriotic Body
Mainly Wonder Woman styles. They had the original costume worn by Lynda Carter in the 70s TV show. I used to idolize Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman when I was little, so seeing this was a big deal to me. The blue on the costume has faded to purple, I wish someone had taken better care of it.

The Virile Body
No superhero costumes here, alas, but some pretty badass menswear by Galliano.

The Paradoxical Body
One of my favorite sections. The fashion was fine, whatever, but what I really was excited to see (to the point where I kinda embarrassed my friend who does not share my love of comic book movies) was Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman costume from Batman Returns. I have no idea how they got her into it - they must have sewed it on her. The workmanship was just incredible.

PS - Michelle Pfeiffer was really, really tiny in 1992. Like, really.

The Armored Body
Who gives a crap about the clothes in this part, because OMG IRON MAN!!! They had the second, all silver Iron Man costume on display and the chest light and eyes were all lit up and it was so freaking cool that I almost wet myself. Also, they had the Christian Bale's batsuit from The Dark Knight, and the thing actually looked like it was breathable. Not one big nippletastic piece of rubber like George Clooney's.

The Aerodynamic Body
No movie costumes here, but a lot of athletic wear like speed skating suits.

The Mutant Body
Mystique from The X-Men's costume, if you can call it a costume. Rebecca Romijn has teeny calves. Also, a dress and headpiece from Thierry Mugler '97 couture collection that has to be see in person to be believed.

The Postmodern Body
Lots of references to Ghost Rider, but thankfully, no Nic Cage costumes. Another rocking Thierry Mugler, this time a motorcycle-inspired bustier that I remember from when it walked the runway in 1992. It was cool to see it for real.

I wish that The Met site had pictures from the actual exhibit - like, how it was set up. That's part of what made the exhibit so great. The backdrops and lighting and positioning of the figures, all of it.

If you're going to be in NY before Sept 1, go, you'll love it. You don't even need to be a big geek like me.

Other exhibits we enjoyed this go-round:
Framing a Century: Masterworks Photographers, 1840-1940
New Galleries for 19th- and Early 20th-Century European Paintings and Sculpture, including the Henry J. Heinz II Galleries (This is a perennial favorite of mine, but the gallery space was new, so it was like seeing a new exhibit.)
Tara Donovan at the Met
Pop Art: Works on Paper

Also, The Met Store was having a good sale, so I got a Steinlen cat print because it was cheapie cheap.



So, confession time. Despite 3 years of living in New York and countless trips since then, I had never been to the American Museum of Natural History. I don't know why. But yesterday I did, and it blew me away.

We spent most of our time in the fossil halls, but we also visited the meteorites and gems, the biodiversity exhibit, the hall of human origins, the hall of ocean life, and the hall of Asian peoples. There were many other halls of people we could have visited, but by then my feet hurt sooooo much. Oh, we also ran through the American mammals, African mammals, etc, but I was really skeeved out by all the taxidermy, so when I say "ran", it was just about that. A fast trot.


NEIGHBORHOOD

For a change of pace, we stayed on the Upper West Side (henceforth known as the UWS). We were going to stay in the west Village, but I got cold feet and moved us uptown. I think we're going to stay here from now on. I can't tell you how happy I was not to experience even a glimpse of Times Square this trip, and my friend felt the same. We agreed that this was the most relaxing visit we'd ever had.

Most of that comes from the UWS neighborhood. It gets kind of a bad rap from the hipster crowd as being boring and slow. And it is, a little. It's mostly families, and not very touristy at all. And it's a bit quieter, I think. But staying on the UWS felt like I was living there again, not just visiting. We stayed at Jack and Judy's Bed & Breakfast, but it wasn't really a B&B at all - it was a brownstone, and we rented an apartment for a few days.

Another reason we liked the UWS was that it was super-close to the museums. The NH museum was only two blocks away.


FOOD

The restaurants in the area were good, too. Our favorite was Celeste, one of those little Italian places that makes fresh pasta and doesn't take credit cards. You're sitting so close to the neighboring tables that you would barely have to reach more than a few inches to grab a bite from another diner's plate. The food is heavenly. I had homemade spinach and ricotta ravioli in a butter sage sauce. Mmm.

Also good were two places we went for breakfast. First, Sarabeth's, which is a local chain but they make perfect eggs. They also have nummy chicken sausage over applesauce. The next day we went to the Popover Cafe, which is infested with teddy bears but has very tasty food. Their claim to fame are popovers as big as a baby's head. Unfortunately, I didn't get to try one, as I had the Coconut-Almond Crusted Challah French Toast.

Last night, we had Indian, but it was a slightly bizarre experience. All I will say about it is that it involved naan and canned fruit cocktail.

Oh, we also tried one of the many, many burger places that have sprung up all over Manhattan in the last year. Burgers are way trendy right now. We lunched at BLT Burgers yesterday. It was pretty good. In my opinion, the burgers weren't any more tasty than 5 Guys' burgers. Their sweet potato fries were yum, though.

I took a spare duffel bag with me so I could bring home lots of food. Yes, I'm one of those people. I don't care, though. I can't get this stuff normally unless I want to pay a fortune in mail order, so don't judge me.

H&H Bagels. The best bagel ever. * Located about 4 blocks from our apartment, yet another reason for staying on the UWS.

* Mmmm, Montreal bagels probably are tied for best bagel ever, but it's like comparing a hedgehog to a sparrow.

Zabar's chocolate babka and rugelach. Nom nom nom. Located across the street from H&H.

Rocco's Pastry Shop on Bleeker Street in the Village. I get something different every time I go there. This year was little almond cookies, chocolate shortbread, and macaroons. And a few biscotti. I'm a little regretful that I passed up the almond horseshoes this year.

Murray's Cheese Shop Just down the street from Rocco's is a lovely cheese shop called Murray's. I got a few raw milk cheeses to share with some friends here.

Crumbs Bake Shop Cupcakes as big as a large man's fist. I got a black and white cupcake but I ate it immediately. They had the cutest little sampler of 16 different mini cupcakes but I knew they would never make the trip home without being squashed. Or eaten.


NON-FOOD SHOPPING

Honestly, between museums, eating, and buying food, there wasn't a lot of time for non-food shopping, and what we did do was kinda boring. However, we did make time to go to Lush on 76th and Broadway (yay, UWS!) where we both spent too much money. I did get a great deal, though - one of the items I wanted to purchase was a biofresh mask, because Lush doesn't do them mail order (very perishable). They were running a special where if you spent $40, you got a free mask! My friend didn't want hers, so I got two!! One smells like chocolate and I want to eat it. :)

Boy, this was long and rambly. And I talked about food way too much.

Oh, one more thing. Please wear your helmet when you ride your bike. We witnessed a terrible accident in Central Park where one cyclist had to stop short and another cyclist plowed right into him. The bike lanes in the park allow the cyclists to go very fast, and the impact of the collision drove the 2nd cyclist, an older man, right into the pavement, face and head first. He wasn't wearing a helmet, and if his skull didn't crack somewhere it's a miracle. So wear your helmets, kids.

19 June 2008

"i require 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to party."

I've been really super busy (as usual) lately, both with work and with pursuits outside of work, so I haven't had a chance to talk about the International House of Amandas' housewarming party that was held this weekend. But now I can!

This is Amanda. And Amanda.



Okay, so the Amanda in the girl apron goes by Mandy, whose face as you may know is a regular feature on this here blog. Her roommate, Amanda C, is just as awesome as the Mandy I've known and loved for ten years (jesus, we're old).

Because their new duplex was constructed in the 50s, they thought it only right to warm the house in the same style. So we all put on our very best pearl necklaces and took a good handful of qualuudes and proceeded to twist the night away.

Well, first, we had to do a little 50s recreation. Here are Matt and Mere - Mere is doing her job as a woman and keeping the house clean (and her parched throat satisfied with booze), while Matt makes sure she stays in line with a little bit of casual domestic violence. Gender oppression is fun!



(Also, while I have taken or seen tons of photos of Uncy Matt over the ten years I've known him - UGH! OLD! - I think this is the very best. He looks so cartoon-y!)

But 50s women didn't just make sure their floors were as sparkling as their reputations, they also prepared food for their hungry husbands to consume after coming home from a long day's work at the Savings and Loan. Here Anji demonstrates the appropriate way to prepare meals while also looking perfectly put together:



I can't wait for her pot roast! And that's not a vaguely inappropriate joke about sex! I just really like pot roast!

Everyone looked freaking amazing, and very authentic (down to the valium I took just to get through the day). Even Mister Rupert Fantastico got in the spirit:



Hey, hound dog!

But the best part of all was that the party was truly a family affair. Dig Amanda's awesome parents (to the left in both photos)!




And look at Mere and Miss Pretty Lady (aka Kasey, her sister), all decked out in pearls and polka-dots:



Hey, guess what? I got adopted and am now an honorary Borders! I was telling Kasey how sad I was not to have a sister (well, Aly's my sister, but, like, a genetically related one) and she agreed that she already has about 12 siblings, what's one more? So now I'm a Borders girl! yay!

I've saved the best guests for last! First, there was a TINY LITTLE BABY (eight weeks) named Beckett who was there, with his awesome Flo's Diner-waitress mama and his Tall Drink of Water daddy. Baby Beckett was a greaser, and he was Fully Committed to the cause. Look at his manly bicep!



Sarah, I can hear you squeeing from here.

Also, there was Mia Belle, aka The Lemur, who added frivolty and fun and gorgeousness to the party. I adore her! She's my favorite kid who isn't m'elle or Sophia!



That's an IBC root beer, by the way, for authenticity that's still legal.

Plus, she's sort of a tough cookie:



Trust me, you don't want to mess with Mia Belle when she's on a bender. Kid is fierce.

Thanks for hosting us, International House of Amandas! I look forward to many more evenings of keeping my mouth shut and not interfering in man's business!

In conclusion, here is a picture of TC, because I always love taking pictures of him (plus you can see Amanda and her awesome outfit in the background):

16 June 2008

"gosh golly-day, Cathy, I'm super-sorry for raping you just then."

One of the dumbest things about me is that sometimes I do something I know I won't like, but continue to do it, just to punish myself for being so stupid as to have had the bad idea in the first place. Not huge things; I don't stay with my abuser, or anything After-School Special like that. It's the little things; like ordering double-shot macchiatos when I don't even like coffee, and then forcing myself to drink the entire thing as a reminder not to be so fucking stupid in the future.

I've spent the last week doing one of these things.

See, it all started with that guy in Austria who locked up his daughter for 24 years and fathered seven kids by her. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I proceeded to tell anyone who'd listen about how much it reminded me of that V.C. Andrews book, Flowers in the Attic. The guys all went, "wha?" and all the girls went, "Oh my god, I know EXACTLY what you mean!"

It turns out there's sort of a secret society among girls my age; it seems like almost all of us spent our formative years reading V.C. Andrews books and have very fond memories associated with those books. And that's a truly terrible idea; not just because no 11-year old should be reading about rape and incest (and incestuous rape!), but also because the incestuous rape is poorly written.

Seriously. They are really fucking terribly written books. I sort of forgot how bad they actually are (also, I was a precocious 8 when I read Flowers in the Attic, so I wasn't exactly a literary critic just yet). But because I am stupid, and make mistakes and then persist on seeing them through to the bitter end, I recently purchased a copy of FITA and re-read it.

Oh boy. Ohhhh boy. Suffice it to say, its overly-florid prose, terrible characterization and numerous plot holes left me rolling my eyes and begging, pleading, with ol' Freaky Andrews to just get to the incest already. And when the INCEST is the high point of a book, you know you've got problems.

Another major flaw of mine is that I'm incapable of just letting things go and not worrying about their conclusions. I'm a freak; I have to read/watch the sequels to every book or movie, even when those sequels will surely suck, even when those sequels are not even written by the same author who wrote the original book. Y'all, I've read Scarlett, okay? And watched the miniseries. NUMEROUS TIMES.

So I already know that I'm going to have to follow up on this misadventure in terribly-crafted incest with the rest of the Flowers in the Attic series, which, strangely enough, I can still remember the major plot points of, nearly 20 years after reading them. (Incest, incest, incest, Bart's fine mustache, fire, fire, fire, Chris is in love with Cathy, Cathy does it with lots of boys, her kids are crazy, the end.) But I just don't feel like squandering my time and my reputation at my local Half-Price Books for absolutely no gain. And so, I present to you, A New Blog.

Don't worry; it's not taking the place of this one, or anything. There will still be plenty of my inane ramblings about cheese and revelry right here, and maybe even sometimes less-inane ramblings by my blog cohorts (that's a giant hint, guys). But I'm determined to share with the world (or, like, five people, whatevs) the true horror of V.C.Andrews, through reviews and general wtfery posts about these strange worlds she's crafted, where everyone - EVERYONE - does it with their brother eventually (sometimes their uncle - I remember the Cutlers!). Be afraid. Be VERY afraid. I certainly am.

(But while you're being very afraid, definitely drop by and say hi.)

10 June 2008

I am not a monkey cause I don't eat bananas.

The other day, Courtney sent me this link to hilarious science fair experiments. There's some quality stuff in there; I especially love "Crystal Meth: Friend or Foe?" I think I've discussed this on here before, but meth is just the one drug I cannot wrap my head around. Pretty much every other drug I've heard of has at least some good points to it. Heroin makes you completely useless in life, but I'm pretty sure it feels good at the time. Cocaine has a tendency to turn otherwise mild-mannered people into obnoxious, aggressive assholes, but on the upside, the kitchen counters are sparkling by the end of the high.

But meth is just the one drug I do not get. What is its upside? I suppose it does make you lose weight, but even I think that most guys would hesitate on banging some size 0 chick if she's covered in OPEN SORES. Not to mention that the jacked-up meth teeth add an unhealthy dose of danger to Ol' Faithful, the beej. And it tastes (I hear) and smells like slightly warmed over ass. Seriously, meth heads! What is the point?

However, that link led me to another link, which is sadder and scarier than the idea of our children schlubbing their way through the public school system. And that's the idea of children not setting one foot in a public school. And by "public school," I mean "school outside of the confines of one's own home."

Behold, The Creationists' Science Fair.

See, the name in itself is ridiculous, because Creationists cannot be scientists. I'm sorry, they can't. Science is anathema to the very idea of Creation, and vice versa. One cannot claim to legitimately believe that all of life was created within six days (and don't trot out that tired, "well, we didn't say how long a day WAS" argument that they tried to use on me in grade school) and also that life, the existence and maintenance of, is a mystery only to be explained through dedicated study, the answers to which we may never know, which is science in a nutshell. You can't do it! It's impossible! Or it is until someone can come up with a theory which argues that such impossibility is not truly impossible, backed up with reams of data and maybe some theoretical math thrown in!

And see, despite being a scientist, and an anthropologist at that, I take no issue with Creationists. Really. Believe what you want to believe, I say. However, THAT SAID, if you are a Creationist, quit calling yourself a scientist. You're not one! And that's okay! That's fine! But stop borrowing our language in an attempt to make your beliefs come across as less crazy!

The point of science fairs, besides the embarrassment and run on posterboard, which are merely bonuses, is to teach children the Scientific Method. That's it; nothing more, nothing less. Science fairs aren't meant to change the world or discover the cure for the common cold; their entire purpose is to teach children the difference between a Hypothesis and a Theory, studies and data. The goal is merely to make the student understand the process by which scientists study the world around them. So, "my uncle is not a monkey because he declined to eat a banana" is not actually a scientific statement. Hell, remove science altoghether, the entire idea is a fallacy. Is this what we want to teach kids? That just by saying something, it makes it so?

All that said, I find "Rocks can't evolve, Where did they come from, Mr. Darwin?" to be just shirty enough to warrent further investigation.

08 June 2008

miz curtis will read from a prepared statement. no questions plz.

hey, did you know that I'm sort of a big deal?

Well, no, that's not true, but my friend Sarah (aka miz poshdeluxe), with the help of Merelicious, interviewed me for her blog. You can read all about me here. I know, you're WAY excited.

06 June 2008

I enjoy pomp AND circumstance.

Hey, my grandpa's in town!

This is pretty awesome, since I don't get to see him too often. He lives in Mississippi where the rest of my family resides, plus he's, like, a month shy of 90, so it's not like he can just zip over any old time. Hi, PaTom! Give me like twenty minutes and I'll be saying hi to you in person!

He flew in today cause tomorrow's my little cousin Thomas's birthday. Here is a photo of my cousin Thomas:



No, okay, that's actually a picture of Napoleon Dynamite. But when that movie came out, everyone in my family had a good laugh, cause that's basically exactly how Thomas looks/sounds. We like to watch the movie when we all get together and then make fun of him. Um, in a loving way.

I actually know three people who are graduating high school tomorrow - my cousin Thomas, my family's friend Andreea and my brother's girlfriend, Staci. Yeah, my brother's dating someone in high school. And yes, she out-matures him.

I kind of love high school graduations, despite the hours-long ceremonies and the fact that I almost always run into people I don't like, if they're anywhere near Houston. Kind of like a wedding, there's just this overwhelming feeling of promise and hope, people standing poised to reach out and make their future their own. Or at least that's what we tell them, and then quietly chuckle to ourselves when they graduate and realize that college is just more of the same thing. Ha ha, grads, joke's on you!

My own high school graduation was AMAZING. I mean, I already knew it would be, because it meant that I got to say goodbye to all the people I knew in high school. And since I didn't like most of the people I knew in high school, this seemed like a grand prospect. But it actually turned out to be amazing in other ways; the transformer blew on the football field (where we had our graduation cause apparently our class was broke) so we did half of the ceremony in the dark over a megaphone. Someone smuggled in beach balls and silly string (and considering they did actually frisk us to make sure we weren't concealing weaponry under our robes, I have to marvel at where they might have stored this stuff) and the whole ceremony turned into a giant beach party. My mom told me once that while she expected to cry buckets, she couldn't do anything but laugh at my graduation ceremony, as groups of kids tried to spell out "Terry '98" in shaving cream on the football field. (I didn't tell my mom but they tried to spell out several naughty words as well, only they ran out of shaving cream.) And as I stood there laughing at it all with my little circle of friends, something really strange happened - all those people I couldn't stand came over and were friendly to me. I mean, for the past 6 years, they did nothing but torment me, and now all of a sudden, they wanted to be my BFF? I realized that they, like me, were just a little unsure of their place in the great big world that was about to greet them, and they wanted to latch on to someone familiar.

I smiled very nicely and then walked away. I'm sentimental, not stupid.

But it's a great feeling to graduate high school, to feel like finally your life is your own to mold and shape how you will. I think that quiet hope we have then is gift we give to ourselves, and I can trace the best moments of my life to when that feeling comes over me once again. When I can step back and look at my friends or my family or my job and think, "yep, this is the life I've made myself, and just look at where I can take it."

So congrats, Thomas and Andreea and Staci! I hope you all fulfill the promises you make to yourself this weekend! And if your promises lead you to a job which earns you a lot of money and/or free stuff, I expect that you will keep me in mind.

31 May 2008

for sherrie, on her birthday

It's my friend's birthday today.

I've repeated that to myself all day, like a mantra, like a wish, even a reminder, maybe, since she's no longer around to remind me herself.

It's hard to lose someone you love. That's universal - it hurts no matter how they leave your life. But when they make the choice to stop living, like Sherrie did, it becomes almost impossible. When someone commits suicide, the grief which overwhelms the living is tainted, I guess. It's sticky, it's hot, coated in anger and guilt and shame and fear. But maybe that's true of all death, maybe it's true of every ending; these are the things of which I am still unsure.

Last year on this day I opened a bottle of champagne, because Sherrie loved it, because we used to be rock stars, and proceeded to drink it methodically, almost maniacally, desperate to cling to memories of her. I didn't do that this year, but the memories still come. They are no longer unbidden.

I'm not sure when I'm supposed to stop grieving her. I'm not sure whether it should have happened already - am I getting better? I can't tell. Hearing her name only feels like being punched in the stomach most of the time now, instead of all of the time, but I still can't talk about her with most people. I watched the days slip by this week and fought back the rising tide of panic at the encroaching date of her birth, but today I woke up and it was almost a normal day. I've learned to blame less people for the circumstances of her life, and even fewer for the circumstances of her death, but the hate and rage still slick my stomach, and if I'm being honest with myself, I still blame everyone for everything. I blame strangers on the street for not knowing her, even. But mixed with that is a sort of pity, "I feel bad for you," I think. "You missed out on knowing a great girl."

I guess that's why I'm writing this here, which I normally would not do. Because some of the people reading this didn't know her, and I feel sorry for those people. They missed out on knowing a great girl. They missed out on knowing a girl who would hunt up decades-old used books from bookstores in Australia on the most ridiculous subjects because she knew a friend who'd be interested, a girl who would leap airport turnstiles to greet people, dressed in combat boots and a frilly skirt, a girl who'd craft little storybooks as birthday cards, pieced together out of glitter pens and construction paper and bits of magazine.

I miss you every day, Sherrie. And every day I keep expecting, hoping, that things will get a little easier, that hearing your name won't cause my stomach to twist in knots, that I can see a picture of Vinnie without being overwhelmed by guilt, that something funny or clever or stressful or heartbreaking will happen and I won't immediately think, "I wish Sherrie could hear this." That hasn't happened quite yet, but something I didn't expect - something I didn't know to hope for - has: every day I remember something about you I love; every day I remember something you said or did that I'm grateful for. So maybe I can't quite accept your death yet, but I'm learning a lot about celebrating your life. And that's why I can say happy birthday, and mean it, because no matter how you left, the point was, you were here.

26 May 2008

"just play the feckin' chord!"

This weekend was the host of a Very Large Checkmark In The Con Column in the lives of many people who are tired of living in America. No, I'm not talking about the release of Indiana Jones IV or some mishap involving a bbq grill and a can of lighter fluid, not even of Hillary Clinton vaguely alluding to Obama getting assassinated during the California primary, although that was certainly awkward. No, my friends, this weekend saw America once again missing out on perhaps the greatest spectacle ever to be simulcast on televion: EUROVISION.

Why is it that America, land of the free, home of the brave (eh, ish), inventor of the light bulb and the phone and cable tv cannot enter Eurovision? WHY? Oh, because we're not European? So? Who wants to be European anyway?

Well . . . I do. But only vaguely European. Like, can I be European, but only with regards to cheese? Would that work?

Even though Eurovision coldly and without good reason prevents the United States from joining the competition, it's still one of the greatest things in the world. I first learned of Eurovision like I learn of many things: through television. In this case, I learned about it through an episode of Father Ted, in which Father Ted and Dougal decide to enter a song in Ireland's Eurovision qualification competition. Their song is a MASTERPIECE, obviously:



In all honesty, I didn't realize that Eurovision actually existed. I thought they'd just made it up for the show. I mean, a giant, multi-country contest about SINGING? Seriously? The Olympics aren't cheesy enough, now we have to add power ballads to the mix? This opinion wasn't helped by Father Ted's video for "My Lovely Horse."



I think I persisted in thinking that Eurovision was a made-up comedy bit for about two years, until Courtney sat me down very gently one day and said, "no, no, Erin. You see, Eurovision is REAL. That's where ABBA comes from."

Which is true, ABBA did win Eurovision for Sweden. And even MORE AMAZINGLY, Katrina and the Waves won it for, I guess, England. (Germany? Where the hell are Katrina and the Waves from? I always thought they were Canadian. Don't tell me Canada's allowed to enter!!)

But perhaps you, like me, were unaware of the existance of Eurovision. Or perhaps you, like Meredith, are unconvinced of the awesomeness of Eurovision. Never fear! Thanks to youtube, all your musical prayers are about to be answered.

This year's Eurovision final was held in Belgrade, because Serbia won the contest last year. See, the winner hosts the next year's contest. This was Serbia's winning song/performance last year:



This gives you a general idea of your typical Eurovision entry. There are ALWAYS interpretive dancers in crazy costumes. ALWAYS. Sometimes the interpretive dancers are dressed like VAMPIRES, like in Switzerland's painstakingly literal entry from last year, "Vampires are Alive:"



By the way, the exclusion of "Vampires are Alive" in last year's finals really threatened to put me off Eurovision. For some reason, the people voting (uh, Europeans, I guess) are not quite on the same page as to what Eurovision is supposed to be about. It is NOT supposed to be uplifting Celine Dion-esque ballads performed by spunky lesbians. It is DEFINITELY supposed to be techno songs about vampires. Jeez, Europe. Get a clue, would you?

This year, I missed out on watching the English airing of Eurovision, with Terry Wogan's wry, steadily-getting-drunker commentary about all of the shitty performances, as well as his conspiracy theories about the Eastern European voting bloc and how Eurovision is merely a herald of the eventual rise of Eastern Europe and the fall of London and Paris. Sometimes I think poor Wogan's been through too many Cold War drills. But I can still bring to you some select highlights from this year's Eurovision contest:

Here we have Azerbaijen's entry. As you can tell from the DEVILS and ANGELS and their DANCE BATTLE, this country has the right idea about Eurovision entries:



Germany's entry, however, is not so great. In fact, the less said about it, the better. I do wonder how Heidi Montag (surely that is her, the blonde in white?) got a girl group together and managed to convince Germany to let her perform their entry.



And then . . . we have Bosnia. What they do well, they do REALLY WELL. I mean, crazy Flashdancing by a woman dressed as Raggedy Ann? Robotic lead singer who looks like a Hedwig reject? People in overalls doing dances with brooms for which I can only imagine is an homage to the Buffy musical? Yes, please. And yet, they had to RUIN EVERYTHING by putting a live bird ON STAGE. Bosnia! What are you DOING to me?? The 90s weren't bad enough? Now there have to be birds involved?



And now, let's narrow it down to the winners, shall we? Greece came in third, with their impression of a pre-breakdown Britney cribbing moves from Bob Fosse:



This video reminds me of one of the STRANGEST things about Eurovision: non-English speakers singing songs in English. I don't know why they do it, unless they're pandering for votes from the UK, but it always tickles me, because the songs don't make any sense. "To win a destination in the center of my heart?" Huh? What does that even mean, Greece? Sing in Greek! It's a lovely language! Why are you trying to sing in English?

Also, who is directing this show? Does he have to use the bathroom, or something?

Ukraine came in second, because their Fossian moves were better, plus the entire performance was a bit more eau de strip club:



But because Eastern Europe is going to rise up and take us all over soon, Russia won the show with their song from some guy who enjoys writhing around the floor and singing with a lisp. Well, who doesn't? I presume that they won for their addition of a random, nonsensical ice skater:



Seriously . . .why is there an ice skater? What am I saying? This is EUROVISION. Why isn't that ice skater wearing a live turkey on his head, that's the question I should be asking.

Still, though, if I had anything to say about it, and, as an American, I think we've established that I should have EVERYTHING to say about it, I would have voted Latvia as the winners of Eurovision 2008. I mean, how can you beat PIRATES? You seriously can't.



Sarah, Mere, why didn't we get these guys to play the Pirate Party? Would have been amazing. Plus, I am sorry, but "Wolves of the Sea" is really catchy. See if you don't start humming it to yourself at work.

I mean, it's no "My Lovely Horse," but what can be? Actually, Ireland's entry from this year, Dustin the Turkey, comes pretty damn close:




If you can't beat them, write a song mocking them and have it performed by a giant puppet turkey with what looks like disco balls for boobs, that's what I always say.

Okay, now that you've seen some of the videos, what is YOUR favorite part about Eurovision? And don't you think Americans deserve to enter, even thought we're not technically a part of that continent??

21 May 2008

ni hao, world.

I was uploading photos to flickr, and today's greeting is in Mandarin. But then I went back to the home page, and it was in Swedish. Hej, blog.

This past weekend was fun-filled and action-packed, like a summer blockbuster movie. I got to spend time with a wealth of Houston friends, which was great, because it's already getting to that point in the Texas summer where it's fight or flight - I either go out and Do Things and Be With People, or I spend all my time hiding in a cool, dark room, praying for it to be October already. I don't particularly like the latter way of getting through the summer, so it's glad I am that I have amazing friends nearby so that I can do the former.

On Friday, I met some of my friends at our local institution, Warren's. I love Warren's - it's walking distance of the Rice, which means free parking for me, they pour whiskey with a liberal hand, the bartenders actually know how to make a whiskey press correctly (this is v. rare, trust) and we go so often that they totally know our group, what we like to drink, even our names. Plus, we're a bit like a gang, and no one messes with our territory - the balcony seats are ours, Houston. In fact, except for the rare but deadly occurrances of BeCargoShorted Douchebags trying to court me ("good luck at your gig!"), Warren's is pretty much perfect.

It helps to have great people to hang out with, though.


Jerry, Patrick, Matt and Ray

Tabletops looks really confused. Except, I'm not supposed to call him Tabletops in public anymore cause he says it makes him look bad. FINE. Patrick looks really confused.



Mere and I, on the other hand, are totally going to be cast in some sort of Identity Switch movie, no? Maybe we're secretly sisters! But we're going after the same man! And he can't tell us apart! Oh, the comedy of it all!



Ray told me later in the evening that he tried really hard not to look at the camera once, because he was working on not being a camera hog. Ray, hello, that is why I love you! That, and your slick dance moves. And the fact that a lot of times you have a flask on you. So, okay, there are three reasons I love you, but the camera thing is totally number one.


Alexandra and Jill

Alex came! I hadn't seen her since . . . oh gosh, new year's? Can that be right?? It was funny, we were wearing the EXACT SAME SHOES. Only hers were black and mine were yellow.

Also, Sunday was Jill's birthday. Happy birthday, Jill!



Here is Ray studiously not looking at the camera. Even Juliet thinks he's being silly.



I can't remember why people decided to show me their muscles, but I remember telling them that I could take them all single-handed. And then Patrick showed me his actual muscles. They are bigger than my head.



After we had scared off the rest of the patrons of Warren's with talk of circumcision (don't ask) and rotting vegetable smells (REALLY don't ask), we decided to go back to the Rice to see Jerry and Jill's new apartment. It's super cute, and they have TONS of windows to look out on the streets below. We also drank Matt's AMAZING homebrew that he made for the St. Arnold's brewing competition (more on that later). It seriously was some super tasty beer.







Then we just hung around and talked till the wee hours, spied on people and had a dance party to MJ and also Kanye. It was a perfect way to close out a pretty stressful week.

On Saturday night, I went to have dinner with my BFF Aly, her husband Josh and their little girl, Sophia. (Oh, and Josh's brother Jeremy, as well.) I've known Aly for almost 24 years, which is so insane that I can't even wrap my head around the idea. She truly is my sister in pretty much every way but sharing DNA (does swapping it count?); her parents are my second parents, Josh is totally my brother-in-law, and I know that no matter what, I can always go to Aly with anything. It's funny, with her job and mine, and our family obligations, we don't get to see each other as much as we'd like to, but it's never weird or awkward when we do get together. It's like no time has passed - we spend three minutes filling each other in on any major surgeries (her) or boys whose hearts we've broken (usually me. sometimes her, though) and then we go about our business like we were never apart. I can't imagine what life would be like if it weren't for Aly; luckily, I don't have to.

Also, she just found out that she's preggers again. Yay, Aly! She and Josh have been wanting another baby for a while now, and since she just made the decision to leave work and go back to school for her Masters, it sort of couldn't have come at a better time. Also, if Sophia is anything to go by, this second kid is going to be a brilliant knockout.



Hi, Phia! ILU!!!

Sophia's so smart, guys; she can practically read already and can spell her name and do all sorts of crazy babygenius stuff. She's only two!! Plus, Josh always teaches her really funny phrases to say to people - this weekend she was running around telling everyone "Du hast mich!!"

After dinner, Josh started talking about Two Girls One Cup, which I had FORTUNATELY never heard of before. I say fortunately because my inquisitive nature would not allow me to rest until I saw it, even though everyone, even Josh (who once showed me a video where a man sticks HIS ENTIRE HEAD up a girl's vajayjay), told me NOT TO DO IT. Let me please reiterate their advice. DO NOT WATCH TWO GIRLS ONE CUP. DO NOT DO IT. BAD. BAD IDEA OKAY?

After leaving Josh and Aly's, I went to Meridian to see The Virgins/Be Your Own Pet/She Wants Revenge. I love Meridian; it's probably my favorite place to watch shows, because there are multiple bars and the antechamber has tons of places to sit and people-watch between acts. The Virgins and Be Your Own Pet were both really good - The Virgins were fun and peppy and everyone was dancing along. Here is video, not from me, and not from their show at Meridian, of them performing "Rich Girls" for your enjoyment:



I like how one of the comments on the video is "Film the bassist for god's sake!" It's like I spoke through this stranger on youtube, like I guided his/her hand while typing that comment. Actually, I should like to point out that at no point on Saturday night did I hit on a bassist, so I think I'm actually growing and maturing as a person.

Be Your Own Pet were, of course, exhausting, in the best possible way. Watching Jemina is like watching a wind-up toy which someone has put down on a stage; she just goes and goes and goes. AND GOES. Ah, to be young. This video sums up the movement, if not the noise:



I left in the middle of She Wants Revenge. As it turns out, while it's great to be a Joy Division fan, and while it's great to know Joy Division fans, being in the same room with three hundred Joy Division fans is just annoying. Especially when they're all there to watch a band who couldn't come close to the brilliance of Joy Division in their most fervent fantasies.

On Sunday, I met Mere, Matt, Jill, Daniel, Sarah and Henri (phew!) at St. Arnold's brewery. We were all there to support Matt in the homebrew competition. Look how supportive we look!



Actually, we look tired and annoyed. This is because there were two guys (The Beer Choads, for lack of knowing their actual names. No, that's not true; I did know one of their names. But Beer Choads is certainly more accurate) were having a competition to see who could be the most obnoxious and overly loud. I'm not sure who won, but I know who lost: all of us who had to sit there and listen to them. Only my deep and abiding affection for Matt would cause me to sit through that.

While Matt didn't win (although I still suspect a kickbacks situation), he had a super high score, and all the judges were really effusive in their praise of his excellent beer. I'm so proud of him! He worked really hard on that beer and the results were mighty tasty!

Here we all are celebrating his good score outside:


Jill, me, Mere, Daniel, Matt, Sarah and Henri

Okay, everyone else is celebrating. I'm busy thinking, "oh shit, I've put my 600 dollar camera into the hands of a total stranger outside of a brewery! What have I done??"

I feel like this photo accurately sums up my and mere's friendship:



Everyone else is busy focused on the reason we're there, and we're busy laughing over something privately.

After leaving the brewery, we decided to drive to some mysterious bar that only Daniel had heard of. We walked by this mysterious bar (still not convinced it exists!) about 5 times before realizing that it was closed. THAT IS HOW MYSTERIOUS IT IS. (That, or we were sidetracked by the American Apparrel shop windows. Hipster habits are hard to break.) So, instead, we went to Agora, where we had caffeine and booze and a few minutes more with Sarah and Henri before they had to leave to go back to Austin. Bye, Sarah and Henri! See you next month!


Daniel practices his life of leisure at Agora.

I'm glad I got to see everyone - with everyone's summer plans, it's going to be a long time till we're all back under one roof. Don't fly away too far, friends! Unless you're stowing me in your carry-on!

17 May 2008

Hellllllllo, Miz Lady!

I was really looking forward to seeing the new Indiana Jones. Now I'm starting to hear bad buzz about it, which makes me sad. I have a gene that makes it nearly impossible for me to spend money on a ticket for a movie that I know sucks.

I say "nearly" because the one time I went against my instinct, I ended up going with friends to see "American Wedding", a movie so bad that it made me want to cause harm to others and to myself. Everyone liked it except me, so maybe I was wrong, BUT I DON'T THINK SO.

Some of my friends expect me to see Sex & The City with them, and I probably will go, but I reserve the right to back out. We'll see what the reviews are like.

Here are movies I'm particularly interested in seeing this summer. I've already seen Iron Man (awesome awesome awesome), but it was the first theater movie I've seen in 2008, which I can't believe. I'm gonna try to see these (unless they get bad reviews, natch):

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

This has to be good. It will break my heart if it blows. I've already got a date for this movie - my mom, who turned me on to The X-Files in season 1 because I was too dense to start watching it immediately when it premiered.



Eeeeeeee, Billy Connolly!!!



Step Brothers

I really had no interest in this until I saw the preview at Iron Man. Will Ferrell's Pablo Cruise shirt hints at greatness.





Pineapple Express

Eh, this will probably suck. I've enjoyed pretty much everything Judd Apatow has touched, like, ever. One day he will disappoint me. I'm hoping this one isn't it.





Tropic Thunder

I know, I know, this is the third comedy in a row. Whatever. Robert Downey Jr. is a freaking genius, and I will beat down anyone who says differently.



I will even tolerate Ben Stiller to see RDJ in this role (although Simple Jack is so wrong it's right). Red Band trailer:





Hamlet 2

This film may never make it to my town, and I'll have to wait until it comes out on DVD to see it. But if it does show up, it'll undoubtably play in the art theater in my neighborhood. Hurrah!



"Rock Me Sexy Jesus" infects your brain like syphillis.


Soooooo many comedies. I do actually prefer drama, I swear. There's just not any coming out this summer that interest me.

Speaking of, I just saw The Orphanage, which was beautiful and heart-breaking and scared the hell out of me. I highly, highly recommend it. My friend and I talked about it for two days afterwards.



See it see it see it.

In conclusion, a baby hamster eating popcorn on a piano.