Tis the season for me to want to do nothing but read, watch movies, and take a snooze. Hence, here are some consumabley highlights.
Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt.
I got this at Book Expo before it came out and it has been sitting on my shelf ever since, so I finally picked it up. I had no idea what it was about and had never read any DeWitt before so I had no expectations at all. Well, I am trying to think if I have ever read a weirder book than this. I am sure I have, but this one has a very specific brand of nutty that I have not experienced before. How do I even explain it? It is about a vacuum cleaner salesman who spends his spare time fantasizing about ladies in some sort of glory hole situation. So like, he can see their bottom half, but the top half is somehow not seen, like the lady is leaning out a window or something. STAY WITH ME. He then spins this fantasy into an actual prostitution business for corporate America, whereby business-dudes are provided with glory hole services in their corporate bathrooms as a motivational technique and sexual harrassment deterrent. It is a satire about corporate America, and selling ideas, and sex and gender and heterosexuality and all like that. And sure, the satire works. But still. Wow. I just keep thinking that as an author, one could write about anything. And this author was like: I shall write a scathing satire about corporate America, and the central idea upon which it will all rest? Glory holes. Okey dokey.
Crazy Stupid Love
Before I talk about this movie, let me tell you about The Golden Child. Remember that movie? It's the one where Eddie Murphy goes to Nepal and rescues a little bald asian kid who has magical powers and Charles Dance is Satan and I am not even kidding you that is really what is going on. It is just a mess. However, Eddie Murphy is charming in it, with his laugh and his funny comebacks and his leather hat. It was the first Eddie Murphy movie that I saw where I was like: no matter what the shitty premise is, somehow Eddie Murphy is still funny and likable. What kind of trick is that? Now, I am not saying that Crazy Stupid Love was as bad as The Golden Child, don't get me wrong. All I am saying is that the whole thing relied way too heavily on the fact that people like Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone. And Julianne Moore too, I guess. Do people go crazy for Julianne Moore? I don't know. The point is, I wanted this movie to be worthy of them too, I really did. But I think it worked because they are them. Which is ok I suppose. Pet peeve: dude who is shitty to women all of a sudden becomes the perfect boyfriend when he finds The One. You think you can get away with this because it's Ryan Gosling, script-people? I see what you're trying to pull, and it won't work.
This is not a spoiler because it happens at the very beginning of the movie. It opens up with Eric Bana and his daughter Hanna (Hanna Bana! ok not really since that is his real name and her character name, but I SO WISH), who are spies in hiding. Eric has taught her everything about fighting spying and running around all stealthy because if they are ever to assimilate into society, The Bad Guys will come after her (for reasons that are explained later in the movie). Here's what I don't get, and if any of you who have watched this movie get this, please email me and explain it to me or comment or something. If and when Hanna Bana wants to assimilate back into society, she has to activate this electronic box. The box immediately alerts The Bad Guys that she is now officially assimilating back into society. My question is: why did she need to activate that weirdo box? If she wanted to assimilate and disappear and live her life, why doesn't she go do that? Why does she has to say YOOHOO I AM ASSIMILATING NOW, COME AND KILL ME to her enemies via an alert box? I so totally didn't get that. Also, on an unrelated note, if Eric Bana taught her to speak in multiple languages and know complex scientific processes and all kinds of other brainy genius stuff, how come he couldn't tell her what a remote control is? The spy training had major holes in it, is all I am saying.
I am sad that Dancing With the Stars made me like Hope Solo a little less. Not that I even really knew who she was before, other than that she plays soccer and took that nude photo. Still. I don't like it when I like someone less. Like, I was watching Anderson Cooper's talk show a little bit. I maybe watched 3 or 4 episodes. And now that is making me like Anderson less. This should not be the result of a tv show, should it? Anyway, Dancing With the Stars. That Kardashian kid over Ricki Lake? Are you joking me?
A Christmas Proposal
Tis the season for made-for-tv holiday movies. The first one I sampled this week did not disappoint. It had all the elements. (1) It starred Nicole Eggert, who no longer wants Charles in charge of her, thank you, and this other guy who looked like Patrick Dempsey, who she did want to have in charge of her. Also, Tom Arnold, who apparently is in 45% of holiday movies these days because he was in that one I watched about Saving Santaville. Let's see, what are the other elements? (2) People from the big city are horrible, selfish people. (3) Country people are good, kind people, smug in their folksiness. (4) City people can be converted back to love and light if they end up in a small town and somehow get stuck there and can't leave. (5) Horrible city people, upon conversion, cause it to snow. (6) City ladies in particular are the worst. They are career gals who hate children and kittens. (7) Country ladies wear cozy sweaters and have rosy cheeks, and often bake cookies. (8) There is some sort of Christmas deadline. The town must be saved by Christmas, in this case. There is lots of town-saving in these movies. I shall not do any spoilers by telling you if Nicole Eggert and Poor Man's Patrick Dempsey fall in love (causing it to snow) or if the town was saved or if any city people were smothered to death by Santa or anything.
Hell on Wheels
The jury is still out on whether I'll keep watching this. Lordy knows I love dramas that are set in the 1800s. It was all that Little House I watched as a child. Plus it stars Chief O'Brien, and if you don't know who Chief O'Brien is, then your nerd card is immediately forfeit. However, I think that Deadwood may have set the bar so high on 1800s drama that I am ruined forever.
I feel like that was a particularly grumpy Consumables. Let's turn it around, shall we? I watched a bunch of short films recently, and my favorite one that I watched was Lost and Found, an animated short. I loved it.
Tis the season for me to want to do nothing but read, watch movies, and take a snooze. Hence, here are some consumabley highlights.
I've somehow found myself at a party wearing a tiara that says zero on the front all night. Because my Sunday nights make total sense.
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I have a feeling that it's going to be a cold winter. I have no facts to base this on, and I don't even have some sort of ache or pain that can forecast weather, as apparently some people do. What is with those weather-related aches and pains? "My goiter is telling me it's going to hail tomorrow!" The Weather Channel should totally have some sort of mascot related to this idea. Like a puppet hip-bone with googly eyes on it that says "I'm aching, so get hip to the fact that we'll have rain tonight, homies!" You know, to relate to today's youth.
I am a font of dumb ideas, you guys. That is just the tip of the iceberg, you have no idea. Or should I say the hip of the iceberg? Haaaaaa.
In other wintery news, this week we pretty much only ate squash. Our CSA box is trying to turn us squashitarian I am pretty sure. I am not complaining though, because it has been tasty times. We have had butternut squash soup, and roasted delicata, and Indian Sweet Meat (dirty!) squash curry. This could get old pretty soon but so far I am loving it. We have also been having a Martha Stewart versus Deborah Madison smackdown each night, since they are our two go-to recipe people these days. So far, Deborah is winning, but Martha is scrappy. She may take over at any moment.
I am not a person who prefers the winter, never have been. This was most unfortunate when I was growing up in Michigan. There is nothing, I am sure, quite like the whine of a child whose parents came from the sunniest awesomeness on earth and ended up in the frozen midwest. Although I am now living in a much milder climate than the one in which I was raised, I am still not a huge fan of the winter months. To combat this, I shall try and list some sweet things that have happened this week that were made all the better because it is butt cold out.
1. Did I mention the squash? Let's start with the squash.
2. I met my friend Crafty Jenny for tea and warm cookies the other night. Mmmm.
3. The moon was full this week and looked so icy and silvery. Beauteous!
4. Our new furnace is rocking my SOCKS, you guys. Apparently our old one was made of ass, because it is so much nicer in our house now.
5. Our new insulated cork bedroom floors are nice and toasty. Makes it so much easier to get up in the morning.
That's all I got for now. But five is a good start right?
I one hundred percent stoled this from my friend over at Pixel and Post. I love it.
First of all, a couple of people called me out on naming anything that is required in the urban Seattle area "winter boots" in my last post. And yes, we seldom need snow gear to tromp around the puddles here, it is true. Maybe I should have called them rain boots. Consider me correcting this, lest you all think that Nordic Boy was sporting a pair of full on mukluks or what have you.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let's talk about two things that are basically the same but yet somehow I manage to love one of them and have a strong dislike for the other. The two things? Makeovers and "Before and After" photos.
For some reason, I am not a fan of calling something a makeover. I have no idea why. I must have had a really, really bad makeover in a past life or something. Like, maybe I was me in ancient Egypt and some ancient Egyptian spa person redid my whole look and gave me those Egyptian straight-across bangs and I was all "my forehead is too short for bangs, yo!" Because my forehead really is too short for those kind of bangs. And I assume that forehead dimensions are something that one carries from life to life. If I do really terribly in this life and come back as a dung beetle or something next time around, I assume my beetle cranium will still be equipped with a threehead.
On the other hand, I adore a set of two photos with the title "Before and After" to describe them. Same concept right? You take a picture, you change something up, you take another one. LOVE IT. I love a before and after in fashion, in interior design, in construction, in anything. I love those articles where they show you a photo of how a street looked a hundred years ago and then put the current same street view beside it. It doesn't have to be a before and after of improvement. I just like to see change over time, or circumstance, or effort. I am sure my feelings about the word makeover have something to do with commercialism, in that Charlie-Brown-Christmas sort of way. And the fact that people who do makeovers, especially on tv, seem like condescending buttholes a lot of the time. But let's not get into that, because it's tiresome.
Ever since we moved into our house, I have been in Before and After hog heaven. Nordic Boy is not the greatest at documenting his efforts, so it fell to me, and omg I LOVE IT. I have reams of photos of things that no earthly person besides me and him would ever care to see. Before the new wiring! After the new wiring! Before the caulking! After the caulking! I am not kidding. It is ba-nuts.
I take these photos, and then download them, and sometimes he and I look at them, especially when we look at our list of things still left to do and feel overwhelmed (that's mostly me, not him). It helps to look back and see, wow, actually a lot has happened already.
I feel, about these photos, like I would never subject them to other people. No one cares about our new light fixtures, I think. But then, I see how hard I salivate over other people's befores and afters, and it makes me think: maybe some of these might be fun to share? Ok, not the caulking ones (ha ha, I love saying "caulking"), but some of the other ones?
All this is to preface (SHUT UP AND SHOW THE PHOTOS ALREADY) that I might start putting some befores and afters on the bloggy. Shall I? Yes, I shall.
Let's start with a big one. When we bought our house, let's just say that we had to have a lot of Vision. It had good bones (ha ha, caulking and bones) but the other stuff was super janky. Nordic Boy knew this was our house the moment he laid eyes on it, but me? I sort of knew it, but really, I had to trust Nordic Boy's Vision. I can be Vision-impaired on things like this, especially when there is disrepair and disgusting cat pee carpet and smoke-stained yellow walls and a Jumanji yard.
One of the things that I hated about our house was the fireplace. At that point in time, we had much bigger fish to fry but I complained about that fireplace until Nordic Boy wanted to pitch a fit I am sure. Finally, he asked me what I would like the fireplace to look like. I replied that I didn't think it possible that I could EVER love that thing, no matter what happened. Nordic Boy took serious umbrage to that statement and dropped what he was doing and spent a weekend putting the fireplace problem right. Usually he will draw a picture/plan of what he is thinking so I can see it (due to my lack of Vision) but this time he didn't, and that was ok because I trust his aesthetic, and I trust that he knows mine, and actually those two things have a lot of overlap. Can I just tell you that I can't imagine being with someone who didn't understand my aesthetic? Like, if he all of a sudden wanted all white wicker furniture or something? That would be grounds for dismissal.
Please do not hate me, white wicker lovers. It is just not my thing, but it's ok that it is yours. Go forth and wicker yourself to your heart's content, by all means.
Anyway. Here's what it looked like when we moved in. It was a Pa Ingalls hot mess.
Here it is today.
Monday. Blah. Here's my list of what's in my brain today.
1. I kind of want to do NaBloPoMoBloJoHo (I just like to add that last part on there because I am juvenile), and started to do it last week, but that didn't last very long. I guess I am still trying, if it even makes sense to do that. Just set your expectations way way low on that one though. Dial it all the way down.
2. The weather has turned. The best we can hope for is some blue sky every once in a while, but we know those days are numbered as well. This weekend, Nordic Boy started wearing his winter work boots while doing up his carpentry rigamarole in his shop. "The days for summer boots are gone," he said. Then we sang the chorus of Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" with the words "boots of summer" inserted, because that's how we do around here.
3. I have a new phone. I now need a new phone holder thing. I am having trouble finding one that meets my own personal design specifications. I came back from a shopping trip and Nordic Boy asked me if I found a phone case, and I said I didn't see any that I liked, and he said "I think we're starting up another pencil cup situation here." Because I spent three years looking for a pencil cup that met my aesthetic needs. And I never found one. So I just decided that I didn't need a pencil cup. And Nordic Boy never once said to me "IT IS JUST A PENCIL CUP GET OVER IT." Because he knows a battle that can't be won, plus he is nice to me like, all the time. Anyway, maybe I can just be really careful with my new phone?
4. I spent part of my weekend browsing some stores for wintery clothes. I have trouble with wintery clothes, mainly because I am not a fan of bulk, but I am also not a fan of being cold. My solution to this problem has been to just wear summer/spring/fall clothes which solves the bulk issue but doesn't solve the being cold issue. Between this and the pencil cup thing and the phone case thing I really find myself unbearable sometimes. It does save me money though, since impulse buying is sort of out.
5. Biogirl and I had a full on therapy session over the weekend about the remakes of Dirty Dancing and Footloose. In the conversation the following phrase was said: "YOU SIR, are no Kevin Bacon!" I think we can all adopt that phrase in a multitude of situations.
6. Biogirl, who has been coveting the Norm-in-Cheers status of "regular" for many years, finally got her wish at the brunch joint we frequent. We go there almost weekly, so it's about bloody time they recognize us. They knew her name! And what she wanted to order! It was a grand day in her life. I was glad to be there to witness.
7. We had dinner with our friends HVDM and her husband J. Afterward, we came over to my house and played Outburst. I was seriously off my game and this was evidenced by the following. I could not name all ten Robert Redford movies on the dang card, and I couldn't name off ten Shakespeare plays. What the eff, me? I might as well have forgotten the alphabet as far as I am concerned.
8. I finally signed up for pinterest. Let me know if you're on it too and I'll follow you.
9. It was Alli's birthday yesterday. There are a few things that make me feel melancholy around this time of year, and not being there for Alli's birthday is always one of them. We always did birthday shenanigans when we were kids! How dare she grow up and move away! Wait, that was me that moved away. I hate it when I have to blame myself for my own whining.
10. YOU SIR are no Kevin Bacon! I just wanted to say that again.
I was sitting at my desk at work, juggling too many things. Too many windows open on my desk top, too many lists going on at once. An IM pops up on my screen. As I chat with my co-worker, I realize I have forgotten to do something for her that I said I would do.
"Poop!" I think to myself.
I turn to write down, on my to-do list, this thing that I should do for my co-worker. I write it down, only I don't write down what the task is. Instead I write down what I had said to myself in my head. Which was, let us reiterate: "Poop!"
I wrote Poop on my to-do list.
A few minutes later, I looked at my to-do list and realized what I did. It totally looks as though I had to make a note to myself to remind myself to do a deuce.
The classiness just blows you away, don't it?
Last week, Nordic Boy and I went to see the Merce Cunningham Legacy Tour. How to describe Merce Cunningham to non-dancey folks? That's a tough one. Let's just say that he was super prolific, his work was super brilliant, and to probably most people out there, his stuff is very, very deeply weird.
If you know something about ballet, and modern, and how they started to mush all together in the mid-twentieth centrury, Merce is totally fascinating. Where he took ideas about collaboration and autonomy of form and musicality (or lack thereof) can boggle a mind for sure. I happen to enjoy his work on its face, but I also enjoy it almost more for the ideas he's executing. I feel, when I watch his work, the same way that I feel reading a really dense piece of literature. It makes my brain hurt with everything that is going on- so many levels, it's just OUCH. I want a rewind button so I can go over parts of it again and again to figure it out, much like re-reading a passage in a book because the first time it's just WUT. In a good way.
I have a thing I do when I see dance in person, on tv, wherever. If I am engaged in what's happening, I sit on the edge of my seat, literally. I lean forward and stare. It's annoying I am quite sure. But I don't think there is anything on earth that makes me pay more attention than watching a kick ass dance. And Merce has me in that state.
That said, if you don't know what you're looking at, or even if you do, his shit is wacko looking. I would fully expect people to watch it and roll their eyes and giggle. I don't blame you, really. It looks strange. The music is strange. If I didn't know what I know, I would think it was coo coo for cocoa puffs.
When we were at the show last week, there were these two ladies that were sitting behind us, and I don't know what they thought they were there to see, but clearly they weren't expecting the nutty cha cha that was in process in front of their faces. After each piece, there would be a short pause, maybe of about 5 minutes. During this five minutes, these two ladies, who were apparently raised in the school of If You Can't Say Something Nice Don't Say a Goddamn Thing, tried to find something nice to say. The first pause went like this.
Lady #1: Well.
Lady #2: Yes. Well.
Lady #1: I, um. That was interesting.
Lady #2: Yes. Yes it was.
Lady #1: I thought the costumes were cute.
Lady #2: Me too! Definitely.
The costumes, let me point out, were plain off-white unitards. That is it. Pause #2?
Lady #1: Wow, that was just... great.
Lady #2: Sure. It really was.
Lady #1: They really must have to train a lot, huh?
Lady #2: I'm sure they do. Did you see their calves?
Calves. And costumes. You could just hear the strain in their voices. They wanted to yell out WHAT THE EFF AM I LOOKING AT, THESE PEOPLE LOOK LIKE THEY ARE HAVING FITS, but they were too refined for that. It was adorbs. I sort of loved those ladies.
During the show, there were a couple of points where I too reached my limit of weird. I can sustain a lot of weird, but Merce got me twice. Here's how.
First of all, there was a soprano who accompanied the first piece, and she was singing some crazy shit. It was like free jazz, only more free. No melody, no words. There was high, low, gutteral, and everything in between. She even had sound effects with her- she held up a jack in the box to her microphone at one point, and honked a horn at another point. It was kooky, but I was into the dance, it didn't matter. Go crazy, kooky lady, I can handle this. Until a really weird sound came over the mic, and I was like oh no she isn't, and I looked over and people! She was straight up GARGLING into the microphone. Holding a cup of water, head tipped back, holding a gargly note.
My weirdometer broke on that one. To paraphrase Meatloaf: I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR DANCE, BUT I CAN'T DO THAT.
I could not go with the gargling.
The second time my concentration was breached was during a point where a bunch of dancers were out on stage, jumping in a disjointed manner, all separate and deceptively random. The music was also dissonant and random, with sounds that included car horns and doorbells. Nordic Boy leaned up to me, in all my seated-at-the-edge-of-my-chair seriousness, and whispered: "Oh we are so doing this dance when we get home." Dudes, it was FUNNY. It was like when Jerry Seinfeld put his Pez dispenser on his knee at the piano show and Elaine got the giggles. I was Elaine. I am sure all the fancy dance people were appalled.
Anyway, despite these things, I loved the show. RIP, Merce. Thanks for the intellectually, artistically challenging wackness.
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