28 June 2008


When I related the story of how I am granted every other Friday off in the summer, my friend C remarked at my great skill at having manipulated space-time to get and hold on to a regularly occurring Thensday. You know: a day suspended off of the calendar, not planned, frequently unexpected, and wholly welcome. Snow days. Days when a rolling brown-out shuts down your parent company's server in Jersey and you all get to go home, or when the transformer on your building makes with the big boom and all the computer screens go blank. Every other Friday all summer for me. What better way to spend it than with flagrant idleness, unapologetic consumption, early drinking, and an action movie?

That's what I thought you'd say.

C and S and I arrived at a new-to-me hole-in-the-wall pub in Cambridge at around 11:30 and began to consume mass quantities. And nachos. When the rains came, we retreated from the patio into the bar and said "well, that settles it" and had another round. By the time we began to be a little sensitive about having outlasted multiple rounds of other patrons, the idea came up to go see the 4:15 of the new Angie Jolie shoot 'em up, Wanted.

This is the kind of movie that, upon seeing previews, prompts my ladyfriend and I to turn to each other and start a low, slowly accelerating chant of "brew and view, Brew and View, BREW and VIEW! BREW AND VIEW!!!" The Brew and View runs nights at the Vic in Chicago when they're not hosting a show; for a solid fiver, they play you two (three on Fridays and Saturdays) movies and the bar serves a high-value double (more like triple) well drink for not a ton of cashola. There are certain movies that lend themselves so well to this concept that I want to view them at the Brew and View, even though I wouldn't see them in any other circumstance (in a regular theater, at home, on a plane, at a friend's house...). Summer dreck fares especially well paired with beers, G&Ts, and cheap popcorn swiped off the abandoned table of the couple who are not staying for the second feature.

Wanted is most certainly summer dreck. Only two (almost three) things allowed me to endure it: I love the director Timur somethingsomething (Night Watch, Day Watch), I was drunk, and I have a shameful attraction to Angelina Jolie. That last one is only about 1/2 of a thing, though, as I find her less and less enrapturing as she acquires a colonialist's menagerie of global children. A far cry from "Hack the Planet," which is how I like to remember her. Oh, pixie cut Angie Jolie, you can make it all the way into my wireless network any weekend evening. *ahem* Where was I...ah yes, "dreck." It wasn't the alco-mo-hol that killed my brain cells, it was this movie. It was the un-twist ultimate twist near the end, the non-evocative evocation to action as the final line, the deeply uncompelling characters (how in the bright hell do you make a fraternity of weaver-assassins THIS boring?), and, on top of it all, an overqualified Morgan Freeman phoning--nay, texting--it in. I wanted to say, "This is Jack's disappointment at this worst realization of what Fight Club could be said to have given us as a film legacy." At least the chase scenes were filled with chases, and the film entire had that little Russian "I don't know what" (how do they say je ne sais quoi in Russian? Maybe they don't ever not know what...) that I love from Timur what'shisname.

I feel badly that C and S suffered through it with me, but they were also real tight by this time, and we'd had some ice cream, so the synapses that weren't languid with Newcastle were hopped up on sugar and butterfat.

If that's not a recipe for a summer movie experience, I just don't know what is.

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25 June 2008

Shouts out

I want to take a quick moment to holla for some new additions to my blog roll over there, on the right. No, your right. Stage left. Yeah. Awesome.

The Wilhelm Scream - Helmed by an able gent indeed, the Wilhelm Scream is a GIFT to the blog world and we welcome it and Kumail with open damned arms. Saying it contains movie reviews is like saying that little Reagan had a behavioral disorder. Read it, live it, write a little song for it. I did, and it goes a little someth...hey, where're you going?

Eat Food - It's Sarah's food blog and maybe if we're lucky she'll update it from her summer in Florida. In a string bikini. And an apron, because burning yourself is not funny, y'all.

Real Media Ethics - From the moment Anne launched the good ship OH NO THE MEDIA DI'INT, I've been hanging on her every word. Smart, incisive, and well written, it's everything I didn't even know I needed from a media blog.

The Blog of Diminishing Returns - Econ prof Seth is wicked smart, and consistently pulls the curtain back from those little things that I always think must be fascinating from an economist's point of view. I do not have this point of view: I spent two semesters in econ classes and all I remember is cutting class with DS and, bizarrely, having a strong craving for Diet Coke...

The Highfield Bread Oven - Mark the trucker gets home to Maryland every couple of weekends, at which points he works on his bread oven. Progress is gradual but steady, and I always wish I were there.

They join the ladies at Puffery and the astoundingly thorough and worth it Less Than a Shoestring as topical (rather than strictly personal) reads that I hit.

Surf away, my minions. Can I call you that? Minions? I love you.

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23 June 2008

Getting things done

I did a large load of dishes tonight. First, I was astounded that I used so few bowls and so many spoons. Does not compute. Second, I take a great deal of pleasure in doing as many dishes as possible with as little water and the most appropriate amount of soap possible. Some people get virtuously off when they buy organic food; I enjoy aggressively conserving water. Other aggressive acts of conservation/cheapskatery: we've been using and washing and reusing the same 20 or so gallon storage bags for about three years.

In other news, June's going by very quickly. I'd worked out a complex explanation of why it feels this way, involving the long duration of the first week of June--which was a full week long--and also the pocket of business travel that interfered with my use of the Big Corporate Employer-granted summer hours (every other Friday off). I really thought I'd have a little more summer in my summer, but looking down the barrel of my remaining weeks I see a lot of plans and a little less time than I'd imagined back in May.

Anyway, with my girl in Peru I'd made myself a list of home improvements and crafty-type projects to tackle while I have lots of self time. The first was, ah, to blog regularly. So. Cross that one off. The balance:

* frame comic book (Buffy #1, signed; thanks KP!)

* have framed handpainted fabric from India (two years after acquisition!)

* reupholster chair (found it in the alley!)

* design & sew arm covers for sofa (bad kitty! no shreddy!)

* get all up under the range top on my old stove and clean all the crap left there by the previous tenants (and us...)

* clean and oil dining room table

* top the craft desk with cork

* set up sewing machine/craft table on newly corked desk

* make requested aprons (3x! Late Mother's Day, Christmas, and birthdays! Bad Nora!)

* find killer sundress pattern

* make same

* purge shoes

* organize closet

* organize storage room on back of apartment

* conduct a modest book purge; sell as many as possible via Half.com

* seal tub edge with caulked tape

* get made when this method fails epically

* buy TV from that one kid

* sell TV when it turns out to be completely not what we thought it was

* clean fridge interior

* turn moderately ratty cashmere sweater into cardigan

* turn very ratty cashmere into pillows

* turn super ratty duvet into pillows

I feel like my progress has been adequate, and if I remembered how to write the strikethrough tag in HTML, you'd also feel that way, on my behalf, as you view the many things crossed off. It's a shame I don't remember all that self-taught coding. That's for next year.

+ + +

Another thing on my list: eating breakfast. I was totally inspired by Sarah at Brood. This might not seem so big, but it is for me, for despite my firm belief that breakfast is The Most Important Meal of the Day, I cannot seem to haul my ass out of bed the sufficient five to seven minutes that a brief morning meal would require. I like to think that my first and second cups of coffee at the office are almost a meal, but that's completely delusional. So I've been making breakfast happen, and I've been successful for almost three weeks. I try for protein and speed, and I try not to, oh, slice my finger open or choke or spill on myself or anything. English muffins have been buy-one-get-one lately, so this morning I had one with goat cheese and honey and tomorrow I will eat one with peanut butter. Some mornings I have a hard boiled egg and a ton of fruit.

And what's the freaking deal with fruit salad? I would never sit down and eat a banana, 12 strawberries, a handful of frozen raspberries, and two kiwi fruit - that's a ton of fruit at once, and, having grown up lower middle class, I find eating that much fruit a little decadent. But I will readily scarf that amount of fruit in a fruit salad.

My breakfast has a first name, it's NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM.

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19 June 2008

Moments of silence

Let's have another one, please, for another acquaintance of mine from college who has passed.

My Small Midwestern Liberal Arts College is tightly knit, and my class, the class of 2001, has lost what feels like more than our share of friends. And I would call all of them friends, and I do feel my heart beneath my bones every time we lose one.

To T and his family--and to J and J and B--we are all your family and we remember your smiles and what it was like to share your time.

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14 June 2008

14 June

Today, we are 29. This is the "pushing 30" year, the one about which many people are giving me that look. That look that implies that somehow this is the last good year.

I hate that look.

They're wrong, of course. I'm really excited about getting older; my grey hair is coming in quite evenly; I'm in the best shape of my life; my parents are still alive. I love my career, even though I hate my current job, and I have high hopes for the next step, which could be here even before the calendar year closes. I love my friends, even though I live near so few of them right now. I have a comfortable, small, lived-in apartment with a well-edited collection of books that only just fill the shelves and homemade art on the walls. I like my neighborhood even if I don't like my city. I do what I want, mostly, and am looking forward to the next thing.

Not too shabby, I must say.

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09 June 2008

I swears...

I did not mean to leave you alone out there in the Internet, guideless without my guile.

I have returned.