Friday, December 28, 2007

Gingerbread cookies

It's the end of the day on Friday after a crazy holiday week. Not only has it been Christmas, were Mr. H. and I scored big with a Wii and an Xbox, but the company I work for is going through a merger and Day 1 is January 2. So no rest for the weary in my office - well at least not for my boss. I have been getting plenty of rest. But I'm now starting to feel the strain. All these things that aren't done. Of course, transitions and change is never smooth, so I'm not expecting anything great. What makes matters worse is the gifts we were supposed to give each of our employees in our office are held up in customs. Seems they are unsure what the country of origin the hats are so we can't have them yet. I mean really. They're made in China. Where else would they be made? If customs worked this well all the time we wouldn't have tainted toothpaste. But no, it's holding up our hats and mugs. But no matter. Nothing we can do now. We'll just give the gifts out another day. In the meantime, I'm having another gingerbread cooking and going home to play my Wii.

Happy weekend.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fact or Fiction

The other day I was in Urban Outfitters doing some last minute Christmas shopping (I didn't buy anything there, just kinda looking around) and I happened upon some books. First, it's kinda weird that UO has books, like real books, not just funny coffee table books. They have a lot of Chuck Klosterman (who I've mentioned here before) and they had some funny sex books (which I didn't look at at all, Dad). But they also had this book called "Go Ask Alice." You've probably heard of it. It's written by that prolific writer Anonymous, about a teenage girl in the 60's who "accidentally" takes LSD and then gets hooked on drugs, runs away, has lots of casual sex, gets raped, goes back home, tries to kick the habit, gets tricked into doing drugs again, ends up in the psych ward and finally gets off the drugs and back home before she mysteriously dies at 17 (accidental overdose, suicide, we'll never know).

Anywhoo, I read this book back in jr. high (though, having gone to 6-8th grade in Chicago, didn't actually go to Jr. High, but whatever). I remember being fascinated with this true story. It's so interesting to see into someone's inner thoughts. Unfortunately, as I was flipping through it, I realized that there was no way this book was written by an actual teenager. The voice just didn't sound true. So this morning I looked it up (I love the Internet) and sure enough, while it's never been 100 percent confirmed, the story is made up. The psychologist/"editor" of the book, Beatrice Sparks may have used patient stories to weave this cautionary tale, but the more you learn about her (she's a Mormon) and the other books she's written (fascinating tales and pseudo journals such as "Jay's Journal," "It Happened to Nancy," and "Annie's Baby: The diary of Anonymous, a Pregnant Teenager," you start to see a trend.

So now I'm starting to feel jipped, in the same way Oprah and the rest of the reading public felt jipped by "A Million Little Pieces" and James Frey. We like to peep into people's hidden lives, but we don't like to be lied to. Of course, it doesn't help that Beatrice also seems to have a bit of an agenda. The article on Snopes outlines all the ways the book not only makes it clear that drugs are bad, but that any part of the 60's counter culture and broken homes spells doom for teenagers.

Regardless of her agenda, I do find it interesting why we like to know private stuff about each other. Is this a cultural thing? Mr. H. generally ignores gossip and tabloids. Maybe it's because he's English. Of course, some of the best tabloids are from England, so that can't be it. Maybe it's just human nature. We want to know what makes other people tick so we can figure out what makes us tick. When I read memoirs, I know that my life isn't that bad or that crazy or that I'm at least normal (whatever that means).

Friday, December 21, 2007

Barely Knitting

Before
After

I know, aren't they cute. I knit these bears for my nephews (Jack, George and Alexander - I realize that's three nephews and only two bears. One bear had just finished washing his fur and was in the middle of blowing it dry and so was not available for this picture). For my niece, Eva Kay, I'm kitting a rabbit. The brown bear is going to Jack, who lives in Cleveland. Notice he is Cleveland Browns colors. Mr. H. wrote this to go along with the bear:

Dear Jack,
Once upon a time, after the Brown's utter decimation of The Cincinnati Bengals on September 16, 2007, when Derek Anderson threw for 328 yards and 5 touchdowns and Jamal Lewis ran for a staggering 216 yards and one TD, this bear was discovered inside the winning game ball. Fearing the wrath of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, as well of the possibility of incurring hefty fines from the league itself, Romeo Crennel hid the bear in an earthen basket and set it adrift on the Cuyahoga river. Several weeks later it washed ashore in Chicago, having somehow managed to switch waterways entirely, and was found by [Melly] one Sunday afternoon directly following the Browns thoroughly convincing 8 to 0 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Fearful of vengeful and jealous acts of cruelty by a city whose football team has abandoned them to defeat and despair, she thought it best to send the young bear to a safe and loving home, far, far away. Of course, she immediately thought of you. So please take care of this bear, Jack. He has been through so much already. Give him a name. Teach him to maul. Love him dearly.
Happy Christmas, and GO BROWNS!


Isn't that cute? So like everyone else who tries to leave Cleveland, little brown bear is just going back. He begged me to stay, but I could not let him. I know that Jack will give him a good home. Better than I could. Any little bears in my household must do the dishes. I suspect Jack will mostly have him storming castles, eating lions and tackling footballs.

The other two bears are Chicago Bears colors. The bunny will be white with blue and orange ears. As you can see, I was very taken by the football spirit this Christmas (the football spirit is the lesser known spirit of Christmas that comes and shows you games your favorite team would have won had you been a better person and cared more about your employees and neighbors. Most CEO's don't really care about this spirit that much because they just bet against their team when they're loosing, still finding a way to make money off of someone else's misfortune, so it usually gets cuts from those popular stories and movies about the Christmas spirits.)

Those are all the gifts I knit this year. I tried to knit Mr. H. an XBox 360, but the pattern for knitting a circuit board is a little beyond my skills, and I couldn't find a yarn I liked. Maybe next year.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hanging with the fam

On Friday, the family and I started our festive holiday season by going to the annual "Welcome Yule" holiday concert. My sister started this tradition several years ago with her husband, and then, when they got tired of each other, started inviting the moms, sisters and brother. Then Mr. H. got roped into it a couple of years ago. And this year, my nephew, who is finally five, and therefor able to sit still for more than six minutes got to attend.

His assessment of the evening was "I think I stayed up to late" but he decided he'd sleep in the next day so no worries. He seemed to enjoy Santa and the Chicago police officer who was ticketing Santa and his sleigh for violating various city codes such as parking on a snow route, farm animals in city limits and causing a public disturbance. Mr. H. and my brother especially liked the wandering carolers and felt that wearing a cape was the way to go. However, they didn't buy Rudolf and couldn't see his motivation.

For my part, I thought last year's performance was better, but this may be because, unlike previous years, we were on the floor (third row) instead of the balcony. It was neat being able to see the dancers up close, but you don't get a really good view of the orchestra when you're on the floor. One of my favorite parts is watching the percussionists race around during Sleigh Ride, which has lots of sound effects - I love it when they make the sound of the snapping whip.

The best part, or one of the supposed best parts, is that they audience gets to sing along to certain carols. Mr. H. doesn't normally sing, however, this year he decided not only sing but do so in his best baritone voice (I think he was trying to impress the cape wearing caroler) much to the amusement of my sister and me (and I'm sure the people behind us). And while I have a lovely singing voice, I was a little shy this year being so close to the other carolers. Next year we'll be back in the balcony and I won't be afraid to belt it out!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy Blogoversary To Me!

That's right, today is the first anniversary of my blog. I'd like to thank all my faithful readers which I think has grown to an amazing six or seven. Dee and Sarah, you've been such constant faithfuls, if it wasn't for you, I'm sure I wouldn't have continued. Jackie, Dad, Jennifer, I know you like to check in from time to time, and again, it keeps me going. Mr. H. - even though we sometimes don't see eye-to-eye (mostly because you're taller than me) on the topics of my blog, or my blogging regularity, you are my source of inspiration and my blogging muse.

Thank you all, and here's to a new year of blogging and blogging.

Melly

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Hatton V Mayweather

What's that you say? You're watching boxing. But Melly, you don't like boxing. That's true. I don't. However, if you want to have fun on a Saturday night, what's better than watching two 150 pound guys beat the shit out of each other. What's even better is that tonight I'm doing my first attempt at live blogging. That's right, I'm watching the match right now (well, it hasn't started yet), and I'm going to give a play-by-play of this wonderful sport.

First off, the event is sponsored by Rockstar Energy Drink which you can enjoy here and in the UK (in case you didn't know Hatton is from Manchester). Mr. H. is pulling for his copatriot. But then again, the Leedsians and the Manchesterites don't really get along, so I'm not sure why he'd be rooting for him. There are a lot of English people in Vegas. So many that they drowned out the singing of our national anthem - which was kinda rude. But then again, they had to listen to Tom Jones sing God Save the Queen, so I don't really blame them. 

OK, we're getting ready to RRRRRRUMBLE.  OK, now we're rumbling. The English, like they do at all sporting events, are singing. I don't know how they keep them from singing at Wimbledon. 

Mayweather's wearing some nice velour shorts and shoes with fringe. Hatton's got some weird sparkley shorts with the Union Jack on the butt. Very attractive. Now apparently, according to Mr. H. and Don, Mayweather is really fast. They all look fast to me. OK, end of 1st round. Hatton's kinda red, but then again he's English, he has no melanin. 

Second round. Watching real boxing isn't like watching Rocky. They keep hugging each other and putting their heads in to wards their chests. The ref, who has a weird over bite, just called time to remind the boxers how to hit each other. Oops, looks like Hatton got hit kinda hard there. Now Hatton landed a nice hit, and I can't understand a damned word this ref is saying. Oh, I get it. The ref has a mouthguard in. I guess that makes sense. Apparently Mayweather is holding Hatton and he's going to get points taken away from him. End of second round.

Third round. They're doing a lot of the dancing around again...oooh now they're doing some girly type fighting. Hatton's getting the better of Mayweather, but then again, what do I know. Don and Mr. H. are saying Mayweather is waiting until longer in the fight. Some lady in the fourth row is going crazy and now Hatton has a cut above his eye. End of round three. Apparently Hatton has some ex-London cab driver who is the only person who can stop his cuts from bleeding.

Round four - they're throwing punches left and right and one of the commentators is talking all over it. Who are these people who come to these fights? We got to see the parade of stars before the fight started, the Jolie/Pitts, Tiger, Jude, Becks, Slater. Mayweather just landed a couple of good punches but the white guy isn't giving up and now Hatton's eye is bleeding again, about time to call in the London cab driver and one of the commentators just said "this is definitely not Dancing with the Stars" in case you were wondering. End of round.

OK, now looking at these replays is just painful.

Round 5. These guys are just ripped. It's crazy. They need to eat some more. Hatton's got Mayweather in the corner, but I'm not sure it's doing him any good. There's so much hugging in this sport, if it weren't for all the hitting, you'd think these guys really like each other. OK, apparently that was a Ricky Hatton round. I guess he landed some good punches. And now we're looking at pictures of Hatton's parents. His mother doesn't look too happy - but she's wearing some nice bling, so she can't be too unhappy with her son's career choice.

Round 6 - and Hatton got Mayweather on the outside of the ropes and gets a point taken away for hitting Mayweather on the back of the head. So now, as with all angry Englishmen, he's going after his opponent with fury. Hatton likes to keep Mayweather on the ropes, and Mayweather just keeps letting him push him against the ropes. End of round.

Round 7 - just another reminder that this is fight (and my blog) is being brought to you by Rockstar Energy Drink. Right now they have Hatton up by one point. For some idiotic reason they are talking about what the cut guys in the UK use on their guys versus what the US cut guys use. Whatever. Like there's a fight going on, why are we talking about cuts? See, it's a boring, stupid sport...we're back to the cut solution now. Oh, now one of the other commentators is talking about the "cut tutorial" and let's get back to the action. End of round.

Round 8 - Hatton seems to do a lot of chasing Mayweather around - which leads me to believe that maybe Mr. H. and Don are right and Mayweather is waiting until the end to really put Hatton away. Mayweather is landing some good punches now and if these keeps up there's going to be a bunch of disappointed Limey's. Oh, now the American's are getting back at the Brits booing over the national anthem with chants of USA. And now Hatton is getting the shit beat out of him and it really might be over this round. There's 16 seconds left and Hatton's coming back, a little.  End of round. The replays for that are going to be good.

Round 9 - In between the round, the ref is over at Hatton's  corner making sure he's OK. His trainer seems to think so, but I'm not so sure. Mayweather seems to be landing some good punches and he doesn't seem to be hurting at all. Of course, that hasn't stopped the singing from the English. In the meantime, I think Mayweather is dancing to the music they're providing, because he doesn't seem tired at all. I have no idea what they're singing, but it's to the tune of "Winter Wonderland." End of round.

Hatton's not looking good, and his mother doesn't look happy, but she's got some nice cleavage (it's not my fault - the camera angle is right down her dress). Round 10 - Only three rounds left. Mayweather's pulled ahead a couple of points. Hatton's down. He got hit with a left hook and propelled himself right into the corner post.  Oh, it's not looking good. He's down and he just got knocked out. 

Well, props to the English fans, they're still singing. Now the fighters are kissing and making up, and all's well that end's well. 

Maybe not the best play-by-play ever, but you can't say I didn't try. 

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Black Sheep and other Zombies

Last night Mr. H. and I watched Black Sheep a lovely little film about a New Zealand farm boy who returns to the farm 15 years after his father dies to deal with his fear of sheep and collect his half of the money his brother is making by selling the farm to bioengineers.

Have I mentioned Mr. H.'s love of all things zombie? I'm not sure what the deal is, some traumatic childhood experience possibly, that has led to this obsession. Maybe it's because he hails from a country that eats things like black pudding and haggis. Who knows. Anyway, he loves himself some zombie movies. Of course he's a fan of the father of all zombie movies, Night of the Living Dead, and all of the Living Dead series - but hey, who isn't? But he literally eats up any movie with a zombie in it - Pet Sematary, 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, Resident Evil, Slither. These are all pretty main stream variations on a theme zombie movies. Something happens, either man induced or extra terrestrial and people start to rise from the dead and start eating people. Not the best after dinner movie, but whatever.

Lately, however, he's been branching out into other zombie themes. Most notably animals as zombies. The sheep in Black Sheep become zombies because humans can not just leave well enough alone and must play around with sheep DNA, even going so far as to cross our own with theirs. This leads to rabid zombie sheep who when they bite you (and they do bite) turn you into one of them, hooves and all. This makes Black Sheep more of a zombie/weresheep movie. Fun for the whole family. Another recent zombie flick I've been force.. er enjoyed is Fido. Zombies in this movie have been tamed and now do all the jobs that only illegal immigrants currently do - housekeepers and yard workers. A boy takes his zombie and turns him into a pet, Fido, and, well as with all zombie movies, it just doesn't turn out well.

Anyway, I can't blame the zombie movies all on Mr. H., I mean, I do encourage him. A few Christmases ago I bought him the complete Living Dead series (even the remake of Dawn of the Dead - which is a personal favorite). This year for his birthday, I bought him glow in the dark zombie figurines. I only really complain about his zombie obsession when I wake up and find him gnawing on my leg.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Good Night, and Good Luck

Mr. H. and I watched Good Night, and Good Luck last night. I know what you're saying. Your saying "boy, you and Mr. H. sure do watch a lot of movies." It's true. We do. We have a Netflix account and HBO and other cable channels. I really like movies. I like writing about them (this one made me kinda sad but also glad that there are people in the world ready to stand up for the right thing). I probably do spend too much time in front of the television. I'll never watch all the movies I want to. I mean, right now, our Netflix cue has 165 movies on it. Even watching three movies a week, that's a year's worth of movie watching. And that doesn't count the hundreds of new movies that come out each year. Plus, we mainly watch American movies (though we do branch out into the foreign films from time to time). There are just so many movies out there, I could literally just watch them all the time. If someone paid me to watch movies all the time, I would. I'd even take a pay cut because I would save money by (a) not having to commute (b) not buying clothes cause I'd just wear my pj's (c) cancelling my Netflix and HBO or at least claiming them as tax write offs. However, my popcorn bill might go up.

I don't remember the first movie I watched. The first movie experience I do remember is seeing Star Wars at a drive in when I was five or six, which is probably one of the reasons I am such a movie fan. Can you imagine sitting in a car with a huge screen blasting the images of star ships at a six year old? I wish I can remember more about the experience, but all I remember is I was there and pretty much since that day forward I have loved movies. I like going to movies, but I also like just staying at home watching them. I like analyzing how this movie is similar to that writer's or director's other movies. I like picking apart the actors' performances. But most of all, I like just letting go of myself and watching someone else's life. This is probably why I am such a terrible (read do it all the time) eavesdropper. I like learning about other people's lives (even if those people are made up). That's why I'll watch the bad movies, the stupid movies, the sappy movies. They all allow me to get a glimpse of someone else's life.

Tonight Mr. H. and I aren't going to watch a movie but some episodes of Angel. This is another thing NetFlix is great for. Watching TV shows without the commercials. But don't worry. We have plans for Thursday night that do not involve a television set.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Live Free or Die Hard

Last night Mr. H. and I watched Live Free or Die Hard. What can I say. John McClane is back and he still won't die. Mac is there, which leaves me wondering why PC isn't getting these kinds of movie deals. A lot of stuff blows up and there's a lot of swearing. It's a fun romp in classic Die Hard style and really makes you wonder what would happen if the computer hackers actually tried to take over the world. How would you read Melly's Musings? **shudder** let's not think about it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Superbad

Last night Mr. H and I went to see Superbad. I'm tempted to make a joke about the movie not being bad but good, but I'll spare you. I'll just get straight to the it was good part. First, we went to see it at the Brew and View at the Vic. If you've never been there to see a movie, you should totally go. It's lots of fun. It's always a good thing when you can drink and watch a movie at the same time. Plus it's only 5 bucks for a double (sometimes triple) feature. Anyway, I had heard that Superbad was pretty funny so I was expecting to be entertained. While it definitely took from lots of teenage comedies (American Pie jumps to mind), I still thought it was a fresh take on the teenage angst that the end of high school and beginning of adulthood brings on. The films protagonists, Seth and Evan, played by Jonah Hill and Michael Cera respectively (and cutely named after the movies writers) find themselves at the end of their high school career (though boy, they sure looked too young to be seniors in high school - which of course is a sign of aging on my part) being geeks, facing separation from each other and without girlfriends. With the intentions of supplying the liquor to a pregraduation party and getting a couple of possibly interested girls soused, the boys hope to move on with their lives (and have something else to ease the pain of their imminent separation from each other).

There were many knee slapping moments in this movie (and I actually slapped my knee at one point). When Seth and Evan realize that they truly love each other and that it's OK, when Evan's would-be girlfriend tries to seduce him but ends up throwing up on him (ah teenage love) and when Seth ends up dancing with an older (read my age) woman at a party who ends up staining his jeans with blood (I'll let you guess how) - all of those moments were great. But, as happens in so many of these movies, the real talent and hilarity come in the secondary friend character. In this case it's the friend with the fake ID, Fogell. Played wonderfully nerdy by Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Fogell changes his name to McLovin (one name) on his fake ID and well, pretty much from there the hilarity ensues. Fogell's genius nerd is on par with such nerd greats as Urkel and well, the entire cast of Revenge of the Nerds.

If you haven't seen Superbad, the DVD comes out on December 4. Get ready to curl up and relive your awkward phase.

Friday, November 30, 2007

How I am sometimes not the best wife in the world

Sometimes when Mr. H. and I are having a quick catch up on your day afternoon phone chat just to say hi and we're winding it down and ready to get off the phone he'll say "I love you" and I'll say "OK, bye."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Are You Ready for Some Football?

I was once told by a male friend during an extremely dry dating spell (this was back in 2000 or so before I had gotten back together with Mr. H. and became Mrs. H.) that he didn't know why I didn't have a boyfriend cause I seemed like I'd make a pretty good girlfriend. His reasons for saying this were (1) while he totally had the hots for me, he couldn't act on them because he was married, thus we kept our friendship strictly platonic (2) I love movies such as The Matrix and Star Wars and (3) I will watch sports.

I think I've mentioned here before that while I'm not a huge sports fan, I do enjoy the sports. I enjoy watching a winning team (which doesn't make living in Chicago right about now any fun) more than teams that lose (unless of course you happen to be a MLB team located on the South Side) - but that doesn't mean I don't still like to get out there and watch the Cubs and the Bears. In fact, watching the Bears last Sunday was pretty exciting wasn't it? I mean, I turned the TV over at half time because (a) they were loosing (b) Grossman was still throwing the ball (c) even when G. could actually throw the ball well, no one was catching it and (c) they were loosing. Mr. H. went to take a shower so I switched over to TBS and settled in to watch Stir of Echos. However, Mr. H. got out of the shower and insisted I switch it back. And get this, he's not even a Bears fan. He likes the Browns. Which is the team I've basically been watching all season (at least they have a decent record). And I support the Browns like they're my home team because Mr. H. likes them. I even purchased a Browns shirt to wear while watching the games (and also for Alexander's football-themed birthday party - put hey, it's gonna get lots of use). So yeah, even though in past years I haven't been that in to football other than when the Bears actually look like they're doing well, I've jumped aboard this year (my sister having the NFL ticket and a big screen TV hasn't hurt either 'cause I really hated going to smokey bars to watch Browns games with a bunch of drunken louts).

I've gotten into it so much, I kinda want to watch the Packers/Cowboys game tonight. And, since I have Dish Network, I will be able to, because I have the NFL network. But let me tell you, and this is only because I've been paying attention to the NFL this year, the NFL is really screwed up. Maybe this is old news to all you out there - but seriously. On Comcast cable, NFL network is an additional pay channel on its "Sports Tier" (actually, that's a Comcast issue - another one of my favorite companies). And on some other cable companies out there, you can have the NFL network on your lineup, but when the six or seven games a year that they broadcast solely on NFL network are on, you're stuck watching some History of the NFL show (I bet it's riveting). So add that to the whole not paying for their players pensions stuff and the NFL totally sounds like a company I want to run out and work for (maybe not as a tight end, but I could be one of those chain carrying guys).

Does this mean I'm going to protest and not watch the NFL? No. Why? Because, like I said, I'm a good supportive wife who indulges her husband's desire to watch sports (at least it's only some sports not EVERY sport) and even enjoys it. I'm good like that.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fuck

Last night, Mr. H watched Fuck. OK, so first off, I'm sorry if there are people out there who are offended by this word. You will probably not appreciate this review, so you might just want to come back later.

As far as documentaries go, this wasn't the most insightful or interesting one, but it had its moments. Filmmaker Steve Anderson explored many sides of this controversial word from people who love it to people who hate it. We learn that it isn't derived from an acronym as so many people think, but has been in the English vocabulary for 100's of years as a term for sex. It would have been interesting to learn a little more about this history of the word - how it evolved from sexual connotations to an expletive, but the movie offered little more than just a brief overview.

We get a history of its inclusion in movies (first one MASH with one instance to the chart toppers of Scarface and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back). Of course we got to watch video of Lenny Bruce (who my sister has no knowledge of but knows that he is "not afraid" and likes to sing that line of "It's the End of the World as We Know it" in her best Ethyl Merman voice - I guess you had to be there) and George Carlin expounding on the words you can not say on television and radio.

What this movie did well was interview people who had strong and interesting views on the word. It was fun to watch Pat Boone explain how this kind of language is harmful to children and no one should use it and then watch Ice-T decide that if he can't use the word fuck, he's going to turn "boone" into an expletive. The funniest by far had to be Billy Connolly expounding how much he loves the word and there is no English equivalent or definition - it just is.

Mr. H. and I are pretty much of the same mind about bad language not really being bad. That at times it's appropriate, and others it's not so much. My sister left before she could finish watching the movie, but we promised to talk about it more at Thanksgiving dinner, so that should be fun. Until then, fuck off!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Spider-Man 3

Last night Mr. H. and I watched Spider-Man 3. Wow, what a piece of crap. Really. Sure, there were some good effects. But nothing we haven't seen in Spider-Man 1 or 2. CGI just keeps getting better and better (the sand guy was pretty cool), but whoa, hire some writers. The story line is pathetic. Peter's all in love with himself and this random space black goo makes him even more so, he dumps on Mary Jane, he kills (well he thinks he does) the sand guy and he tries to kill his friend/enemy Harry/Goblin. And all of this gets drawn out and then tied up in 139 minutes. Seriously, half way through the movie we were saying what crap it is. I didn't even bother to watch the extra features on the DVD because really, who cares? So that's my not review of Spider-Man 3. Just glad I didn't pay nine bucks when it came out.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Guests

The last couple of days I've been getting some unusual guests on my blog. People from around the world seem to be clicking the "Next Blog" link up at the top (that's it next to the Search Blog and Flag Blog buttons) and getting to my blog. I've done this in the past. It's an interesting way to find different blogs that are out there. There are a lot of foreign language blogs that look cool, but that I can't read. I assume that's where these visitors are coming from. Unfortunately, as my web stats show, they aren't sticking around to read my blog or vote for what Christmas present I should buy Mr. H. (though I did get one vote for a Monkey, which while inspired, not quite in my budget). I'd love to make my blog more friendly for these international readers, but not sure what I should do. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Christmas Shopping

I'm at a total loss of what to get Mr. H. for Christmas this year. He keeps telling me he wants either a (a) xbox 360 (b) playstation 3 or (c) a flat screen tv. None of those are really options because we're being frugal this year and not going over our $100 - $150 limit. Anyway, I have a few ideas, but I thought I'd put it to you (don't worry, Mr. H. never reads my blog, he just pretends he does). If you have a suggestion for something you think Mr. H. would enjoy, that fits within the budget (or you would like to contribute to the Buy Mr. H. an XBOX 360 for Christmas Fund), feel free to fill it in.

Note: I have moved this poll to the right-hand area. There's still time to vote!

Below are some pictures of some of the items I'm considering, just so you know what you're voting for.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Alpha Dog


Last night Mr. H. and I watched Alpha Dog. It's one of those movies that is based on real events. Which just makes the whole thing sad. These thug kids who have grown up in the lap of luxury steal a kid because his brother owes them money. Over the course of the weekend, several people see and party with this stolen kid (even referring to him as the stolen kid) and don't do anything. To them it's a game. It's a game even to the stolen kid who thinks it's cool to hang out and drink and get high with these wannabe gangsters all the while believing his brother will pay the debt and save him. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a happy ending.

I remember when this movie came out and all I thought of it was that it was a vehicle for Justin Timberlake. He has a central part, but he's not the main bad guy, and he does a decent job. The main baddie's played by Emile Hirsch (who also plays Christophe McCandless in the recently released Into the Wild). He's a drug dealer who's got his friends out selling his drugs while he takes the profits. The brother with the debt is played by Ben Foster (who also played the crazy guy in 3:10 to Yuma). Once again he turns in a great performance. Unfortunately, his story line is never followed through on and we're left wondering what happened to him.

I didn't realize until the end of this movie that it's telling the true story of Nick Markowitz (the stolen boy) and Jesse James Hollywood (the drug dealer and yes, that's his real name). I know bad things happen, and people do bad things for no good reason. But it's interesting to me to think about these kids who seemingly had everything and choose a life of drug dealing and end up killing someone. Hollywood had apparently made enough money by the age of 20 that he paid cash for a $200,000 house. Where were their parents? Hell, where was the IRS?

As with all movies based on actual events, there are fudges and time lines that are changed. But the essence of this movie relates what really happened: these kids live in a very real, very dangerous world of drugs, but to them it's just a game. And everyone around them basically treated them like they were just kids having a good time. Someday they'd grow up. Unfortunately, one of them didn't get to and other's are growing up in jail.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sahara

Remember what I said yesterday? About watching movies so you don't have to and all that stuff? Well ditto on this one (can you tell Mr. H. and I are in between mailings of our Netflix?) Anyway, Sahara is one of those "blockbuster" movies with the hot, swashbuckling kinda guy (Matthew McConaughey - or McConahotty as my sister likes to call him) the zany side kick (Steve Zahn) and the improbably hot doctor for the WHO (Penélope Cruz). She's trying to find the source of a mysterious plague that's plaguing villages. They're trying to find a Civil War ship. They're in Mali in Africa - hence the name. They meet, and lo and behold , they're searching for the same thing (OK, not really, but the their things end up being in the same place and totally improbably connected). There are lots of action scenes, racing a yacht on the Niger, racing and then jumping onto a speeding train from camels (good thing the boys are special ops trained and she's a doctor or they never would have pulled that one off). There's a bad bad buy, a bad guy who's really a good guy and a guy who thinks he's good but turns out he's actually bad. All this in 124 minutes. Mr. H. and I are hoping this will be re-released at the IMAX, cause watching it on our little screen did it no justice. If I had a rating system, I'd say don't bother. But I don't, so do what ever you want.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Idiocracy

Ah the wonder's of cable and the HBO package. Eventually you just run out of stuff to watch and you begin to think that reading is a much better way to pass your time. But fear not , I venture into the depths of cinematography so you don't have to. You can read your books and watch enlightened films, while I schlep through the dregs of celluloid.

Last night Mr. H. and I watched Idiocracy. A film by Mike Judge (did you know he was born in Ecuador - me either) staring Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph. OK, so here's the deal - Wilson's character, a private in the army, likes to shirk duty, so he gets signed up for this experiment where he's going to be frozen for a year. Rudolph, a prostitute, is the female counterpart in this little experiment. Of course, things go horribly wrong and they end up being frozen for 500 years. Well 2506 is not the flying car future of our dreams (of course, neither is 2007, but that's another post). Seems everyone has gotten pretty stupid over the preceding 500 years because well the smart people aren't reproducing and the less that smart people are. When Luke wake's up, he's literally the smartest person on Earth.

Out of my say dozen friends my age, only two of those friends have kids. All the rest of us (maybe not the smartest people out there - but not among the less smart) are either still thinking about it, or not planning on having kids. Now, I don't have any friends I would consider "less smart" so I can't really speak to whether or not those people having more kids. But I definitely do feel sometimes that there is a dumbing down of the world. Sometimes I feel dumber, but that's probably all the dumb TV I watch. Anyway, even if the "smart" people aren't having kids, are we really getting out there and helping to leave no child behind or are we just sitting around watching our big screen TVs and hoping these problems take care of themselves?

I think this is the point Judge was trying to make with this movie. Unfortunately, the scathing wit he used to make Beavis and Butthead and Office Space was dumbed down just a little bit too much.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Halloween is definitely one of my more favorite holidays. I wish I had a house that I could decorate and dress up and hand out candy at. When I was a kid, a little kid, my dad (who was basically a kid himself) made a haunted house in our garage. There are pictures of a two-year-old me wearing scary masks hanging out next to the fake dead body. Last year, Mr. H. and I decorated the door of our apartment. But we knew our neighbors then and thought they'd get a treat out of it. This year we're on the top floor and we don't know any of our neighbors. We didn't even bother to carve pumpkins or get any of the Halloween decorations out of the basement.

Speaking of the basement, the family that lives in the garden apartment have decorated as much as the little steps and landing area leading to their apartment (and the laundry room) will allow. There's cobwebs, dead bodies, talking skeletons and other creepy stuff that is just one more reason to not do one's laundry. There are kids that live in the apartment, but I'm sure that was just the excuse the adults needed to decorate.

Halloween is a weird holiday. It's strange to dress your kids up and then let them go out begging for candy from strangers. We were the kids that usually had homemade costumes. We ran the gamut from hobos to mummies. And we never missed a Halloween. One year it as raining so much, our mom took us door to door in the car. It seems silly now, but back then, it was essential. Now I'm too old to go trick-or-treating unless I'm with a little kid. Good thing I have two nephews and a niece.

If you've got access to little ones, grab 'em and enjoy the candy. If not, at least put on a spooky mask and scare your neighbors.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sledding might be an option

So there are six days left until Doomsday Part 1 arrives (no, it's not a new blockbuster movie, it's the first round of service cuts and fare hikes for the CTA). I just send pleading letter to the sate reps and governor through the Save Chicagoland Transit website (www.savechicagolandtransit.com). If you live in the greater Chicago area and use public transportation in any way (or count on others to use it so the roads aren't completely tied up), I suggest you jot off a note or give 'em a call yourself. I'm actually looking forward to the cuts. Maybe it's what we need to get (a) Rod out of office and (b) Daley out of office. I know it's not entirely their fault, but seriously, could we live in a city (and now state) that was any more corrupt?

Speaking of living in this city, lately I've been wondering if it really is that great of an option anymore. I mean (a) the city's raising taxes (b) the county's raising taxes (c) the state's raising taxes and (d) services are being cut. I know it's simplistic, and generally I'm all for more taxes to pay for services. But I'm just not seeing it. Plus, I totally don't trust our current administration to spend those taxes wisely. Apparently all of our money in Chicago/Cook County/Illinois just goes to grease someones palm (and it sure ain't mine). But where's a girl to move? I'm not sure I can handle larger than Chicago (so New York and L.A. are out). But I want metropolitan. Somewhere you can live and work in the city. So what does that leave me? Philadelphia? Boston? I'm open to ideas.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Scary Movies

Seeing how it's coming up on Halloween, Mr. H. likes to increase his scary movie watching. Below are some synopsis of some scary movies I've been forced to watch this last weekend in case you want to check 'em out.

Thursday night - Wicker Man
We started off our weekend of horror on Thursday night with this Nick Cage thriller. He's a cop who's on leave after witnessing a horrible accident. He decided to take up an ex-lover's plea for help and goes to her uninviting island community where the women rule (OK, uninviting for him, nice for me). Except not really, as these women are nut cases and seem to engage in sacrifices to ensure a successful crop. Cage is worried that his ex's little girl (you can guess who her daddy is) is this year's sacrifice. All the women speak in strange riddles and none of the men speak (pretty sure they're missing tongues). It's driving Cage batty and leave me wondering why in the hell anyone would put up with it. I'd have gotten of the island and called the police and let them deal with the wackos. But since this is a guy who like to wear a sweater under his suite jacket, even when he's excavating a grave, I don't think he's that rational. In the end though, we learn who the real villains and sacrificees are. It was pretty easy for me to guess, so I'm sure you'll get it too. It's a real sad statement when I "get" the twist before they want you too as we all know how naive I can be (oh days of The Sixth Sense where are you?). On another note, I really liked Ellen Burstyn, who seems to just be getting weirder and weirder as she ages, and the chick who played Nick Cage's ex, Kate Beahan, has weird lips. Overall, a good way to kick off our weekend of horror.
Friday Night - The Thing
If you've never seen this classic John Carpenter movie, feel free to borrow it from Mr. H. In addition to it's great cast - Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, and Keith David to name a few - it's got lots of gory, gruesome, 1982 special effects. To sum up: alien lands in Antarctica (of all places) stay frozen until some Norwegian scientists thaw it out. It kills them and then moves on to the Americans. The rest of the movie is figuring out who has and hasn't been taken over by the alien and the alien systematically killing just about everyone in great, bloody scenes. The effects are a little dated, but the story line is good and there are lots of talking points for afterward including (1) why would this creature choose to be so ugly? (2) how on earth does it plan to fit back in that space ship (3) and did how did Wilford Brimley get his oatmeal while he was in Antarctica.
Saturday - The Reaping
You gotta love a movie that about the biblical plagues right? I mean, what's more fun than a unborn-again preacher and full time paranormal debunker, Hillary Swank, traveling to a little town in the bible belt where the river's turned red? Ah yes, we've got a river of blood, literally, dead fish and frogs falling from the sky. We've got cattle that are going crazy and dying, we've got boils and dead first sons. And in the end, we have a crazy bible belt town and crazy/innocent little girl at the center of it all. I'll admit, I was scared a good bit of this movie, which meant I watched it alternately through my fingers and with a blanket over my head. It was fun to figure out who really was the bad guys/girls were. Now, movies like this are what makes me happy I live in a big city where we know who the crazy folk are and if you're different than everyone else you're not chastised for it, you just move to a new neighborhood. However, like all movies with a biblical theme, there was even a lesson to be learned: never sleep with devil worshipers.
Sunday - The Plague*
What do you get when you cross Clive Barker, James Van Der Beek and zombie teenagers (wait, I thought JVDB was a zombie teenager) that's right, you get this convoluted horror flick that didn't even frighten me. OK, so here's the story. 10 years ago, all children aged eight and under fall into these weird comas. And by all, I mean all. Everywhere. Around the entire world. And new children, just born ones, they're in the coma too. So no more kids. Now, 10 years later, JVDB is out of jail for killing some guy in a barroom fight (what this has to do with the plot I'll never know) and he's coming back home to help his brother. That night (how's that for timing) all the kids wake up and start offing all of the adults. They're not really eating their brains, but putting their hands on their skulls and taking their souls (or something like that) by which they all learn what that person knows. So they have this big collective unconscious. Of course, they're fairly strong for being bed bound for 10 years. JVDB teams up with his ex-wife and some 19-year-olds (the last generation) to stop the kids. But they can't. Somehow JVDB realizes he has to give his soul willingly and it'll stop. So he does, and it does. Expect it doesn't. They're still there at the end and we're left wondering (1) why did the kids go in to the coma in the first place (2) why did they come out (3) what are they doing (4) was there a point to this movie.
* Unlike The Reaping, no mention of what exactly the plague is in this movie, plague of annoying, zombie teenagers I guess.

Shh...don't tell anyone I've gone shopping

I've signed up to be a secret shopper (and diner) with a couple of the secret shopper places. So far I've gone on two secret shops and tonight, Mr. H. and I are going to dinner. You don't really make that much money doing this (less than 10 bucks each time) but it's kinda interesting. I feel like a spy. One place I went, a popular clothing store, I didn't actually have to do any interacting with the sales people (other than to say "Just looking"). I just had to find some products and see if they had the sizes. It's funny because they make you memorize all these products types, so you can easily find them in the store. So you end up spending a bunch of time memorizing them in addition to the time in the store ( I think it took me about 45 minutes to find everything - of course, that included a 10 minute wait in the line for the dressing room so I could surreptitiously write some stuff down). So, the per hour pay isn't really that great. Plus, then there's the other types of shops, where you're directly reporting on sales people. I did this other office supplies store and I had to go around to several departments. I'm sorry to say that the employee who helped me, though very nice, and pretty much all I would hope for if I had been shopping, didn't try to "close the sale" so I had to report that. And then the person in the printing department was on break, and, of course, no one else in the store could help me, so that didn't reflect too nicely. Of course, if I had actually needed some printing done, I would have been annoyed with that. But still, it makes me feel a little bad to tell on these people who are basically working a crappy retail job that they (rightfully so) probably hate.

Tonight, Mr. H. and I are off to eat dinner at some bar/restaurant. You get a little money (5 bucks) but basically it's a free meal. And since we're trying to spend less money going out, doing these occasional dinners as places we've never eaten at before sounds like fun. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Getting to work

With the (yet once again) talks of raising transit fares ($3 a ride...are they kidding?), my desire to do some part for the environment, and my never ceasing dislike of my butt, I bought a bike and began riding to work occasionally. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned I'd blog about my commute to show you what it's really like to hop and a bike and brave the traffic. This morning I finally managed to haul myself out of bed in time to do it. So here's the background information. My ride is a little over five miles, not really that far. I don't push myself to go fast because I'd rather get to work in one piece than in an ambulance. I take Milwaukee Ave. most of the way downtown. It's a pretty popular bike route, and I see lots of other riders. I see some that are already dressed for work. Now a lot of these people look like they have the types of jobs that let them wear jeans and a t-shirt, though I do occasionally see a guy that's in dress slacks. This is not me. I prefer to ride to work in sweats, get sweaty and then shower at the gym. Yeah, it means I'm at the gym a couple of times a day (three if I go to yoga at lunch and then go after work) but I'd rather do that than sit around in my once sweaty clothes all day at work.

So I did a Google map of my route. You can see it here.

So today I'm going to describe my ride from my house to Milwaukee Ave. (Follow along the map if you like).

Once I leave my apartment, get downstairs, get my bike from the basement, and hop on, I head East on Altgeld. Atlgeld is a one-way street between Fullerton and Wrightwood. Wrightwood has a shared bike lane on it, but since it's early, I just head down Altgeld to Kedzie. The only problem with riding down Altgeld is it is a narrow one way street. If there is a car behind me, I have to get over as far as possible to let them pass. If I don't do this quick enough, I will invariable get honked at or the car will pass so close to me I think they're trying to knock me over. But, I usually leave my apartment by 6:45 a.m., so there are not too many drivers.

After five blocks on Altgeld, I reach Kedzie. One of the pretty city boulevards, it's usually pretty easy to zip past this four lane street and onto Albany. Albany is a cute little quiet street that curves from Kedzie to Fullerton. It has a light at the end of the street, so it's easy for me to make the left turn on to Fullerton. After making the left, I'm on Fullerton for all of one-and-a-half blocks. I have to say, this is sometimes the worse part of my commute. Fullerton has no bike lane on it. It also has drivers that expect to be going over 30 and apparently don't have time to slow down for a bike. What makes it even more interesting is that in a couple of places, after Sacramento for example, the right lane gets pretty narrow, so cars have to go into the other lane to get around me (if there are cars parked, which there always are). I usually get honked at while riding down this stretch. Once I get closer to Milwaukee, a lot of cars will pass by me closely as they are speeding up to get in front of me to make the right on to Milwaukee. I always try to signal that I'm turning right, but it doesn't seem to matter.

All-in-all, my ride to Milwaukee takes about 10 minutes. I hope reading about it was as fun as it was riding it this morning. I'd like to make this series of posts interactive. Feel free to ask me questions about my commute and I'll respond to them.

Tomorrow: Milwaukee Ave. - Does having a bike lane make riding easier?

Monday, October 1, 2007

I added Google Analytics to my blog. So all those out there lurking but that never leave comments, I won't know who you are, but I'll know that you're out there lurking. Sometimes I think I'm just talking to myself (well and my three readers). Sometimes I think the only reason the page counter moves is because of me (and my three readers). But apparently over the weekend like six people checked out this blog (and I have confirmation from two of my three readers that it wasn't them). So thanks for coming by. One of the reasons I started this blog was to write more. And while sometimes I do write creatively (and I count my little movie and book reviews with that), most times it's just me babbling. So this week I'm going to start a story and publish it on Sunday. I'm not promising it'll be anything spectacular, just something. So I'm counting on you for keeping me to this.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Bug

Last night, Mr. H. treated me to the movie Bug. Treated isn't really the right word. First of all, it's not like we went out, he rented it from Netflix. Secondly, a movie about people going insane and thinking that they are infested by tiny little bugs and a scene that seriously almost made me throw up wasn't a treat.

So the premise is, Agnes (Ashley Judd - who would have thought she'd be in something so bizarre as this) is a screwed up, alcoholic woman who's getting mysterious phone calls from no one and meets a similarly screwed up Peter (Michael Shannon). They both descend into the depths of paranoia because of a perceived bug infestation. They think it's a minuscule Aphid (a type of plant lice).

Obviously not a happy movie, I spent the first 40 minutes or so wondering why this woman hated her life so. Other than her perfectly arched eyebrows, Ashley looked pretty screwed up. We then find out that several years ago, someone kidnapped her six-year old son and he was never found. Sure, that's going to screw with a girl. Throw in a ex-husband (played by Harry Connick Jr.) who was recently released from jail, like to hit and doesn't ask before he steals money and cigarettes out of her purse, and you're bound to go a little crazy. To make matters worse, she lives in Oklahoma.

I watched the second half of the movie cringing and marveling at the shared craziness. When it was over (not a happy ending - that's all I'll say), I looked at Mr. H. with what was apparently disgust and incredulousness because all he could say is "what?" like he didn't know. Now, aside from the grossness of this movie (which normally doesn't bother me - maybe it's just the idea of tiny little bugs crawling all over my skin), I thought it was pretty good. And I like movies that make you think. Maybe they're not really making it all up. What if there is some sort of conspiracy? And I usually like movies that don't really have a point other than to tell a story. And tell a story this one does. It's a watning to (1) never live in Oklahoma (b) always watch your children while you're in the grocery store and (3) don't let strange men who may or may not have been experimented on by the government stay overnight.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

special people bike riding

Tooling on my way to work on my bike this morning when I hear my cell phone ring. I pull over to the side of the road (I've seen people on the cell phone while riding but it's not something I recommend). It's Mr. H. calling me to tell me that my sister has called and I'm supposed to be at her house so I can go to my nephew's "Special Persons" day at his preschool. Holy crap, I forgot! I turn the bike around and make a beeline for her house (riding down Ashland Ave. isn't fun by the way). I make it there in time to take a quick shower and get appropriately dressed for the "Special Persons" day.

It was fun. I and the other special people (mostly grandparents, but also some nannies, aunts and uncles as well as a few moms and dads) got to hear a story about the hello/goodbye window and do the head, shoulders, knees and toes song with the kids. If you're ever invited to a Special Persons day, I highly recommend you go.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

i lied

i didn't ride my bike this morning. i had a 7 a.m. conference call and it just wasn't going to work. tomorrow afternoon i have a doctor's appointment (no worries, just a leg issue) so I won't be riding then either. I guess my little experiment is going to have to wait a few days.

sorry.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune ran an article about riding your bike in the city asking the question "Is Chicago Bike Friendly." While a worthwhile question, and one I wanted to see answered, I, and other readers, were disappointed in the story. They didn't really answer how bike friendly the city is overall, just how friendly it is to a person who admittedly hadn't been on a bike in years. So I've decided to step up to the challenge. To get an idea of how bike friendly part of the city is (the stretch of Milwaukee Ave. I take to work), I'm going to blog for the rest of the week about my ride.

My regular readers know that I recently started riding to work. And, if you pay attention to my little "how much money have I saved by riding to work" section, you'll notice that I don't ride to work every day. There are various reasons for this. Back in August, There were some sweltering days I just didn't want to ride (a bad reason, but a reason none the less). Other days I may have something to do after work that would be difficult with the bike (never drink and ride). Other days, like today, I wanted to ride my bike to work but just couldn't get the motivation up. And frankly, after reading the story in the paper and hearing about the girl killed by the garbage truck, there are days I'm just not into risking my life. Which is why I have a couple of rules for myself that make my riding experience safer.

I like to leave early in the morning to beat most of the traffic downtown. While there are more cyclists on Milwaukee Ave. in the 7 a.m. hour, I find it much less stressful to leave the house by 6:15 or 6:30 a.m. This way I don't have to deal with as many cars, and frankly, I don't have to deal with as many cyclists who don't seem to care about the other cyclists on the road any more than they care about the cars on the road. Leaving this early means I get to work early, but I go to the gym to shower there. However, this pretty much means getting everything ready the night before - what I want to wear, my toiletries and lunch. Someday I'll work at an office that doesn't require me to dress nicely. Maybe it'll be OK for me to be slightly sweaty in jeans or shorts. But for now, the office requires business casual (emphasis on the business) attire.

My other rule is I try to leave the downtown area later. This usually means gonig to the gym after work (how much exercise can one woman take?). I've ridden home during rush hour, and let me tell you, it's just not fun. Every one is eager to get home and in addition to the cars, there are a lot of other cyclists out there, who, as I said earlier, don't seem to give a hoot about the other riders.

Other than that, I just try to go at an easy pace, not get distracted and not worry about all the other riders who pass me by. I know I can go fast if I wanted to. I'd rather get home safe and sound.

Tomorrow, the first half of my ride to work!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Running on Cold

Saturday morning Mr. H., my sis and I went out to do the Walter Payton 16,726 Yard Run in Arlington Heights. Now I didn't do all 16,726 yards. I did the 5k run. Mr. H. and my sis did the full 16,726 yards, which is Payton's career yardage. The run benefits the Walter Payton Cancer Fund - so that's a good thing, and it's always a good thing to get up early in the morning and get your exercising out of the way. I even made a friend the last mile. We ran kept each other company so we didn't just give up. I came in 14th in my age group (35 - 40, so I'm a youngun in that group). Not too bad, though there weren't really that many people in my age group (30 to be exact). I ran a 30.27 (so less than a 10 min mile pace, which is good for me) and finished 128 overall. The really fun thing about this run was the weather. September begins really good running weather because it has finally cooled down. But Saturday morning was a record setting low temperature, and it was in the 40's at 8 a.m. when the race began. My hands never did warm up, and Mr. H. said it took him about 3 miles for his hands to warm up, so I guess if I had kept running, maybe I would have been able to feel my fingers. But, no need, once I was done I was able to put back on my sweatshirt and wait by the finish line for Mr. H. and the sis to get in. They both had pretty good times, 1.13.06 (17th in age group, 75th overall) and 1.32.33 (14th in age group, 283 overall) respectively. I really have little to no desire to run further than 5 miles at any one time (though I am training for a 10k next month). The sis has talked about doing the marathon several times, and was training for it this year, but her training went awry. Mr. H. has wanted to do a half marathon, but now that he's got his first taste of distance running, he's started talking about doing a marathon. I'm more than happy to stick to my little 5ks and the occasional 8 and 10k. I've never really liked running that much, I don't think I have the right body type for it (I'm a better cyclist). But I have grown to like it more, and I like the effects of the exercise. And being competitive, I like seeing my times improve and getting faster (even if I'm still going slow). Check back and I'll have pictures posted from the run.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Chasing Cézanne

Last night on the train ride home, I finished reading Chasing Cézanne by Peter Mayle. I picked this book randomly off of our bookshelf. If you haven't seen our books shelves, I'll give you a little idea. We've got four pretty much fully lined with books Mr. H. and I have read (or been meaning to read). It's like a little library in our second bedroom. When we moved in together, Mr. H. and I realized that oddly enough, we didn't have that many over lapping books. Which was nice, cause now we have all these books that neither of us have read to choose from (though I get the feeling sometimes that Mr. H. doesn't really want to read any of my books). Regardless, I've been working my way through his books (some of them, some I don't really want to read...like he's got a lot of heady literature that I'd need a PHD to read, which I don't have). So after finishing Light on Yoga, I needed a novel that wasn't going to be too involved. So I picked up Chasing Cézanne. At just under 300 pages and a review by People magazine on the back, I figured I was in for an easy ride. And easy it was. We are quickly introduced into the world of decorating magazines and those who photograph them through Andre, the half French half New York (what a combo) photographer. We get whisked away to France to watch him photograph some old ladies icons when he accidentally oversees a Cézanne being removed from a house under unusual pretenses. Andre isn't in the world of the rich and powerful, just close to it, and so this book keeps us on the outskirts of that world, giving us a glimpse into what it would be like not only to own a Cézanne, but be rich enough to want to have it forged and sold so your kids don't have to pay the inheritance tax on it.

Alas there is no real mystery of why the Cézanne is being sold (unless you're like me and have no idea why someone would buy an expensive painting just to keep it hidden away). But the chase for it leads through some interesting descriptions of wonderful meals (Mayle seems to love France and its food). I wasn't disappointed in this book, but I wasn't in love with it. The end left me a little flat as it just seemed to end and so I wasn't sure exactly why I started.

Then I remembered, I started because this is one of the books Mr. H. has that I haven't read and I needed something to read. Funny thing is, Mr. H. has never even read this book (and now probably won't). When I told him I was reading it and didn't understand the inscription in the book he told me its story. Apparently a while ago he was at a bar with his sister Andrea. While sitting having a drink, another patron of the bar started chatting with Mr. H. Apparently he was smitten and rushed home to return with this book. He said it was his favorite and Mr. H. must read it. The inscription inside says: To J... Bon Appetit. Steve Z.

Well Steve. Thanks for giving Mr. H. this book so I had something to read on the train.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hot Fuzz

warning: contains a little itty bitty spoiler

Mr. H. and I watched Hot Fuzz last night. It was funny. It's by those guys that made Shaun of the Dead, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. If you've seen Shaun, then you'll notice the several references to it. At one point, Simon's character, Nick, takes a short cut over several gates. He does it with the expertise of a well-trained gate jumper. In Shaun, he takes a similar short cut, falling over the gates. As in Shaun, the stupid mundane things become funny. But, as with my last review, sitting at my desk the day after watching the movie (OK, it's really three days after watching the movie because it's actually Wednesday, not Monday like I said it was at the top of this post - but don't tell anyone) I can't remember anything really funny that would totally want to make you watch this movie. Just trust me, it's funny. I watched the outtakes and some of the cut scenes the next day (which would be impossible for me to tell you if this was really Monday as it wouldn't have happened yet, but since it's Wednesday, it's totally possible), they were funny too. All in all I give this a big NetFlix it. Mr. H. has already added Shaun of the Dead to our at home collection, so I could see this joining it. Of course, this one doesn't have zombies, just weird old towns people killing other towns people because they are spoiling the perfectness of said town (which is why little English towns are so cute) - so that may keep this one off the list of must owns. But it's definitely a movie I could see wanting to watch again - so possibly an own it.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

3:10 to Yuma

Went to see 3:10 to Yuma with Mr. H., my sister and her husband last night. I have to say, I'm not really a western movie kinda gal. But I did enjoy this movie. The plot is your basic good trying to do good for his family (Christian Bale) bad guy trying to do bad (Russell Crowe) and they manage to come to an understanding. The end was a little too typical, but as Mr. H. said, they kinda painted themselves into a corner and it ended the only way it really could.

What I was really impressed with was every one's accents. Now, relative newcomer Dallas Roberts is from Houston (go figure) so I'm not that overly impressed with his southern/western accent. Bale continues to astound me with his ability to not sound Welsh. And Crowe was not only impressive with his accent, but this is the first movie in a while that he's been in that I thought he did a really good job in. Now I remember why I like him as an actor.

OK, so the accents are the best part of this movie. But I keep forgetting to take my notebook with me whenever I see a movie so I can write a decent review. I wasn't dissapointed other than with the ending (which I won't spoil) but it's not too much of a surprise. Overall, I give this a go to if you have the time and a definite rent.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Finding the way home

Since having moved out of the hub of Lakeview, I realize how much I miss being able to walk to so many places, and how much I miss being able to just get a cab whenever I want. Mr. H. and I are having to rely on the Jetta much more than we used to. But the other day, when we went to have dinner at a one of Mr. H's co-worker's house (in the Belmont/Craigen neighborhood), we decided to be more environmentally friendly and take the bus. But as the night was (finally) coming to an end, we called for a cab and was told several times over the course of an hour and a half that no cab had "picked up" the call. Apparently this cab company leaves it up to their drivers to respond if they wish. And I guess no one wanted to drive to the Belmont/Craigen neighborhood to pick up someone wanting to go about 4 miles. Unfortunately, it was a little too late to take the bus back (being one of those lines that doesn't run all night) and I wasn't really in the mood to walk down Diversy with a slightly tipsy Mr. H. I had visions of being stuck there all night with an asthmatic and cat allergic Mr. H. wheezing while being kinda creeped out by all the tribal masks said co-worker has hanging around his house. Fortunately, we were able to get a ride home and my fears didn't come true. Next time I'll know that if I'm going that way, I should drive and know that I probably won't want to drink much anyway. As for living in a neighborhood where you can't just hail a cab whenever you want, it takes a little more planning than I reckoned. Don't worry, I've learned a valuable lesson, and will definitely plan more appropriately next time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Big Bounce

Last night we watched The Big Bounce featuring Owen Wilson, Charlie Sheen, Morgan Freeman and Gary Sinise. The movie is an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel and a remake of a '69 based on the novel. I'd never heard of the movie before, but as I scanned through the upcoming movies on HBO, I thought I'd DVR it because I'd never seen it and it had some good names in it. Well, I was wrong. The acting in this is terrible. Owen Wilson plays pretty much his funny, goofy good bad guy character. Gary Sinise and Morgan Freeman play their roles OK, but they're not really in it much. Charlie Sheen had a bit of an out of character role, playing a sleazy, mustachioed guy. But the acting that was truly horrible was Sara Foster who played the girl that gets Owen Wilson in trouble. Maybe she was being directed to act the way she was, and I realize that her role as the hot girl didn't need much more talent that her perfect body (which we definitely got to see - she's an ex model making her movie debut here), but I guess I expected a little more from a movie with this caliber of actors. I don't even know where to start with what I didn't like about her. Pretty much everything. She seemed more like she was play acting to be a bad girl rather than actually acting the part. Pretty much everyone seemed like they were calling in their parts rather than actually acting. Of course, when Sinise and Freeman do this, it's still actually OK, but very sub par for them.

The movie's supposed to be a comedy while keeping you guessing about who is really conning who (oh, did I mention the plot is that Owen and his girl are going to rip off her lover except you're not really sure who is actually conning who - I guess I forgot since it's a typical Leonard plot). There were few laughs and I actually figured out the con well before you were supposed to (which is saying something because normally I'm pretty obtuse about that kind of stuff).

Overall, don't rent it, don't even bother to DVR it when it comes on HBO. Just skip it all together unless you have a specific reason to see it like you're trying to watch every Sinise movie ever made (in which case, my thoughts are with you on this one).

Friday, August 31, 2007

Is it really a great america?

For several years, my mom, stepdad, my sister, one of my sister's friends, one of my friend's and I would pile into our car ( I don't ever remember having a car that large - but I guess we were smaller back then) and drive out to Great America. Each year we'd all guess what time we would get there. It seemed so much further away than it does now. It also seems like we left before day break, but that can't be true, since I don't think the park opens before 10 a.m. It was great. We'd get 20 bucks at the door and told what time to meet up for lunch and we were off. Of course, Great America had it's ups and downs (no pun intended). It was so exciting to go on the different rides and test your stomach. But it sucked having to wait in the long, long lines. And those lines just got longer the older we got (and I think my stomach got weaker too). So after a while, around high school, my Great America (and Cedar Point when I lived in Ohio) goings trailed off. I once went with Mr. H. (way before I was Mrs. H.) to Cedar Point. He didn't really like it. Lines too long, humanity too stinky, something like that. And I think the last time I went to Great America was maybe more than 7 years ago with my brother-in-law's sister. Neither of us was really feeling too good that day, so we left after only a few hours.

Well, after all this time I'm going back, and taking Mr. H. with me. It's the Merc's annual Great America outing, and as customers of the Merc, we're eligible to buy tickets. I've hear it's so much cooler when there aren't millions of people at the park, just thousands. My sister's been to with the Merc before, and she said it was pretty cool. Also, my mom and my brother are coming with us. Little bro J. has never been on a roller coaster (not an adult must be over 54 inches one anyway). Now that he's over 72 inches, I don't think we'll have a problem getting him on the rides. So, maybe it's a bad idea and it'll end badly. Maybe I'll end up getting woozy like I did last time. Maybe Mr. H. won't care that all of humanity isn't represented, it's still humanity and he hates it. Maybe J. will be a scaredy cat and not go on any of the roller coasters. And maybe my mom will throw out her back. But that's not stopping me from being excited!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Locked Out

Last night, after going to the Whole Foods Market Days with my sister, her husband and the kids, Mr. H. and before we went to dinner, Mr. H. went to the car to get something out of it (a pair of my sister's shoes I had borrowed and some leeks if you must know). Despite his best efforts, he could not get the door unlocked. I came out to help, and sure enough, it wasn't our keys, but the door that has refused to unlock. Now, if you read my recent posting about the Jetta, you'll know that our driver's side lock does not work (the lock cylinder broke during a cold snap a couple of winters ago - if you must know). So we only had one working lock. Now we have none. We have various theories on why the lock won't unlock:
  1. The Jetta is tired now that it's hit 100,000 miles and is trying to dissuade us from driving
  2. The Jetta knows how expensive gas is and is just trying to save us a few bucks
  3. The Jetta misses the Lakeview neighborhood (and hates the Logan Square where we routinely only see one other Jetta) and so is prohibiting us from leaving

Unfortunately for the Jetta, and fortunately for us, there are locksmiths. We left the car there (being a Sunday we didn't want to pay Sunday locksmith prices) and my sister gave us a ride home (harking back to my no car days). Today, Mr. H. met the locksmith there and he opened the door (without, I imagine, the help of a rock - which was my idea on how to get the car door open). Now it's on to the shop to fix the locks (probably both since it's obviously a bad idea to have only one working lock) and to coax yet a few more miles out of our Beat up Old Jetta-liner.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Note Taking

yellow papers strewn about
in front of the school
notes scribbled
vocabulary words
algebra equations
doodles

they flutter in the wind
scattered by some unknown force
the teasing bully
the frustration of learning
the joy of knowledge

the school year is too new
for these notes to be here
they are still needed
gather them

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Beat Up Old Jetta-liner

The Red Jetta hit 100,000 miles this weekend. It was quite an event. Mr. H. and I were on our way home from celebrating our 1 year anniversary, we were stuck in traffic outside of Chicago and the odometer was slowly ticking down the last few miles to 100,000. There was no party, no balloons, cake or champagne. Just a quick high five before I got both hands bank on the wheel.

The Jetta's not in perfect shape - we can only unlock the car from the passenger side, getting into first can be sticky, the rear right door doesn't open at all (nor does it have an interior covering) and the truck opening button inside the car only works every once in a very great while (having it work was one of the highlights of our anniversary weekend) - but it's still a good little car.

We tried to name it after we got it from my sister and brother-in-law. But Mr. H. has had a couple of Jetta's, so all the good names were taken: Joan Jetta, Bennie and the Jetta's, so we never did it. Now she's getting on in age and probably won't last much longer...or she shouldn't last much longer. She's been in the family for several years now, and there's some talk of teaching my brother to drive stick on her because really, how much more could he screw up the transmission? But for now, Mr. H. and I are holding on to her until she stops running or we feel we must get a new car.

PS - Sorry D - I'll write something new tomorrow.

PPS - That's not a picture of our Jetta, just another '95 I found online.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My life in the movies

I have a splitting headache and a very strong desire to tell every person that is any noise at all to shut the hell up. But this goes entirely against my desire to understand and accept people around me as all followers of Yoga should do. Instead I will chew on a piece of gum and tell you a story.

Mr. H. and I watched a movie the other night, The Science of Sleep. It's a good movie, but it's French. Which isn't a bad thing. But, having to work with a stereotypical French man every day, my tolerance level of French weirdness is apparently somewhat strained. On the good side, it has Gael Garcia Bernal in it. If you don't know who he is, you should check out his movies. He's been in the Motorcycle Diaries, and Y tu mama tambien, and Amores perros. He's a wonderful actor in some great movies. He's also very pleasant to look at.

As you probably know by now, I really like watching movies (and not just ones with cute leading men). There are some movies I think are close to perfect and there are other movies that are just entertaining. Rarely do I find a movie I actually can't stand. However, the other night Mr. H. insisted on watching Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - that awful Kevin Costner film that came out in '91. I can't believe how bad it is. I knew it was bad, I'd already seen it back then, but it's really bad. Costner in NO WAY has an English accent, the plot is almost as ridiculous as the costumes, and did I mention Costner's accent? Anyway, less than half way through I left the room in disgust. Mr. H. gave up a little while later, but that was just because it was time to go to bed. A few days later, he tried again...but after half an hour he conceded that much like Waterworld, this was not Costner's finest work.

How does one live down a truly horrendous movie? I mean, Costner had some good movies - Dances with Wolves (which actually came out just the year before RH), Bull Durham is one of my favorite baseball movies, and you already know I like The Untouchables. He was also in Night Shift as Frat Boy #1 - so he can't be all bad. But really, some of the crap he's done since then. Has it just become a pay check for him (which really, can I fault him because it's not like I'm out there trying to win any Academy Awards for my job - but then again, I don't quite have as much control over my job as I imagine him to have).

So who can say what kind of movies I'd be making if I had continued along my acting path that I took up in grade school instead changing my major to journalism. Would I be making wonderfully provocative yet somewhat annoying French films or banal, useless big budget Hollywood movies? Who knows, maybe I'd be big in Bollywood.

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