Movable Type 3.2
February 27, 2010
When I tried to go home from work yesterday, I . . . couldn't. All access routes were closed off and/or blocked by trees. So I drove to my parents' house in Connecticut. I just heard from a wonderful friend who went to check out my house, and the roads are still closed (although they're letting residents in) and the power is still off. Joy!
February 26, 2010
Like the rest of New Hampshire, I have no power at home. (Luckily, my office DOES have power, so it could be worse.) Trying to figure out how long this will last and what to do. In the meantime, this means that I didn't get any posts lined up for today the way I usually do. If anyone's been wanting to guest post, now's your chance... e-mail me.
February 25, 2010
Hand Cream Day 3: Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream
Our next candidate: Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream
Song of the Day: "I Want Her She Wants Me"
I mentioned the Zombies to Alyssa yesterday, and she brought up this song. I'm not sure I'd ever heard it before - my Zombies knowledge is pretty limited to a few songs they played on the oldies station when I was a kid - but I love it. Take a listen.
American Idol vs. Google Voice
As I've mentioned, Katie Stevens, a girl from my small hometown, is on American Idol this season. She has now made it to the top 24, which means that, on Tuesday night, I was trying to figure out how to actually vote on the darn thing for the first time ever. And I couldn't do it. I got a busy signal a few times, which seemed reasonable, but then it just kept ringing and ringing. I IMed a friend who's a regular Idol watcher. "Is it supposed to just ring? Is something supposed to HAPPEN?" Yes, he assure me, something was supposed to happen. I was supposed to hear a recording that thanked me for voting. This never, ever happened.
On a hunch, I turned off Google Voice (which I LOVE, except for now this one issue) for this one call and tried again. Success! I immediately got the recording I had been told I should get. So. It turns out that I am not too dumb to vote for American Idol after all, and I can assure you that that is a relief. If you're using Google Voice and are not sure how to turn it off for such purposes, here are some quick instructions:
1. Open the Voice app. (NOT the Dialer.)Now, when you go to your Dialer and enter a number, it will ask you whether to call with Google Voice or not. You can select no for these voting calls and yes for everything else.
Erik or Raoul?
As I posted yesterday, my favorite ice dancers, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, skated to music from The Phantom of the Opera in their free skate. There was some discussion around Twitter as to whether Charlie was skating as Erik (the Phantom) or Raoul (the, uh, non-Phantom guy). I thought he was Erik, but I wasn't sure, so I asked Rachel, my on-call Phantom expert, to watch it and give her ruling. Here's what she said:
Wow, that was fantastic. I'd say he's Erik (the Phantom). There's definitely a feeling that he's alternately wooing/abducting her. He's *dressed* more like Raoul, and I have a hard time getting past the fact that he looks more like a pot-smoking college sophomore (I can NOT get used to the way guys wear their hair these days) than either a French nobleman or a tuxedoed and emotionally tortured musical and mechanical genius, but IMO his role is Erik. They don't even include "All I Ask Of You", which would have made it a harder decision since that's Raoul and Christine's major song together. All their songs were Erik songs.Thanks, Rachel!
And in case you somehow missed it:
West Wing Not-Quite-Reunion, on Your TV Tonight
So! It is POSSIBLE, I suppose, that three completely other people are going to be on the show tonight, and the Whitford/Malina episode will be later this season. But! When you hear hoofbeats, don't look for zebras.* I think it's pretty safe to assume that it's tonight. (And SOME West Wing folks will be on regardless, so...) Set your TiVos! Comedy Central, 10:30pm Eastern.
Why do I call it a not-quite-reunion? When I asked Malina whether he and Whitford were appearing together, he told me they were on the same episode but did not actually work together. (Because of this and their well-publicized practical joke war/the way they "hate" each other, I would like to nominate them as dark horse and possibly tongue-in-cheek candidates for this. But I doubt it's actually them.) But still! Two of my favorite actors in one half-hour episode. I will not complain.
UPDATE: After I wrote this post, Josh Malina confirmed that he will be on tonight's episode. All my detective work turns out to have been unnecessary. Ah well!
* This is a phrase that my physician mother actually uses, and that the interns were taught on Grey's Anatomy. I point this out only because I feel any time something on Grey's resembles actual hospital practices, it should be noted, as it is so rare.
February 24, 2010
Okay, so forget those other two stories. THIS is the Paterson story. (We think.) It's starting to look like there's a there there.
In happier political news, the Glee kids will be performing at the White House. I also heard a rumor that "Total Eclipse of the Heart" will appear on an upcoming episode of Glee, at which point my inner 15-year-old will die of, um, glee.
Matt Damon as RFK? Hmm. That might work.
For tomorrow night: Women's Figure Skating Drinking Game (h/t Carl)
Congrats to Shani on her first TAP article! Black Women Don't Need Billboards
Why I Am No Longer Giving Up Coffee for Lent
The short version: The Church and I are on a break.
The slightly longer version:
So . . . I don't know. I'm still thinking about things. There's a lot about the Church I really love. But sitting there and being quiet about it isn't working for me anymore. So we're on a break. And I'm drinking coffee.
Hand Cream Day 2: Aveeno Intense Relief Hand Cream
Our next candidate: Aveeno Intense Relief Hand Cream
Song of the Day
Thinking about making "Song of the Day" a regular feature. What do we think?
This is one of those songs that I had basically forgotten about, but when last.fm played it for me I got all excited and realized I love it. I don't know what was in the water in Liverpool in those days, but there must have been something...
Pros and Cons of Small Town Life
THAT was an exciting commute.
They won silver...
But I could watch Meryl Davis and Charlie White forever.
February 23, 2010
Starbucks is coming out with a Dark Cherry Mocha. Hmm, worth a try. After Lent is over.
Scott Brown: maybe not the great conservative hero after all.
Between Brian Orser's obvious decades of guilt and poor Joannie Rochette's mother's death, I no longer have any idea who I want to win women's figure skating.
I feel the collapse of the Dutch governmetn has been underreported, so I'm just throwing it out there.
Hand Cream Day 1: Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Hand Cream
Our first candidate: Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Hand Creme
Your worlds-colliding Hollywood news of the day
Jane Kaczmarek has been cast in a pilot called Who Gets the Parents? about a divorcing couple and their adult children. Playing her ex will be Adam Arkin, who you may know as Dr. Stanley Keyworth, trauma therapist to Josh on The West Wing. Josh, of course, was played by Kaczmarek's real-life ex, Bradley Whitford. Two of the children will be played by Andrew West and Derek Richardson. Kaczmarek and Arkin are both fine actors, so I'll be checking out this one if it actually makes it on the air.
National Pancake Day
According to IHOP, it is National Pancake Day and they are serving free pancakes. I am not sure whether this is an IHOP-created "holiday" or what, but hey, pancakes! (Yes, last Tuesday was some sort of pancake day too.) I didn't end up making any last week, so I might do so tonight. Anyone have a favorite pancake recipe? I grew up on Bisquick, and recently I've been using one of Bittman's recipes, as he's my go-to source for basic stuff. Other good ones? And upon perusing my pancake bookmarks, it occurs to me to recommend Smitten Kitchen's Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Sauteed Apples. Those were great.
Oh, New Hampshire.
It feels so deceptively springlike this morning.
You'd never guess it's going to SNOW FOR THE NEXT NINE DAYS.
Yes, I like snow. I do. But by late February, even I am getting a little sick of it. Although I'll take however much snow now if it means no snow when I'm trying to go on planes and such next month. Just for the record.
February 22, 2010
What the Buffy cast is doing now.
Ezra Klein's first Newsweek column.
Songs that should appear on Glee, Part I
Please tell me that I'm not the only Glee fan who now listens to the radio and thinks about who should sing which songs on the show. Here are a few that have occurred to me recently...
The Beach Boys - "Be True to Your School" (Some sort of vaguely ironic but still-adorable version)
Coming Up: A Week of Hand Cream
My cousin Liz and I used to have a favorite hand cream: Savannah Bee Magnolia Hand Lotion. Then they stopped making it, and we have been bereft. As part of our quest to find a worthy replacement, we used a different cream each day for seven days. Now we're going to tell you about it.
But first, an intro from Liz with some information on what she needs in a good lotion:
Hi everyone! Before getting down to business I'd like to introduce myself - I'm Katie's cousin Liz. I live a few hundred miles south of her in Philadelphia, where I'm going to law school. I walk and use public transit to get around (which means a lot of hand washing), and I'm an infrequent mitten-wearer. I have some dry spots on my hands I'll be paying extra attention to. To top things off, I picked this week to try to get back into a regular workout routine. In my case this means the rowing machine, which means I'll be getting blisters that will hopefully build up into calluses.It's a little colder in New Hampshire, where I live, and I sit at a desk all day, so one of my main criteria is whether I can type right after applying the cream. Check back tomorrow for reviews of the first cream we tried!
Why I Love Twitter, I
I honestly don't understand people who hate Twitter or who swear it's completely useless. I mean, if you don't want to use it, fine, your loss. But some people apparently feel the need to hold Twitter up as this completely useless thing, and - no. It isn't. Anyway, all that is by way of saying that this is the first of an occasional series of posts giving examples of the entertaining and/or useful aspects of Twitter.
Let's start with a silly one. The other night, a friend was swearing that the Conehead sundae at Friendly's was a wizard. His wife and I knew that it was obviously a clown, but he wouldn't budge. So she and I both asked @EatAtFriendlys, the official Friendly's Twitter account, for a ruling. And we were correct. Hah.
I'm heading to Texas for vacation in a few weeks - mostly to the Dallas area, with a few days in Austin. I'm going primarily to visit friends, but I thought I'd throw this out there in case anyone has an favorite attractions/restaurants/etc. I should check out. Thanks!
I kind of want the Olympics to be over.
Okay, I really don't. I love the Olympics. But they're wreaking havoc with my sleep schedule, not to mention my TV watching or my quest to see Oscar nominees. I keep staying up so late watching that I then sleep late. I think I've given up and switched my alarm time to six for the week. Oh well.
At least they seem to have planned the figure skating events around my schedule - there haven't been any on Wednesdays, when I have a standing West Wing date with friends, and they skipped Saturday night when I had other plans. Last night was the ice dancing original dance, and my favorites Davis and White did wonderfully as always. If you missed it, you can watch their dance here.
February 21, 2010
I'd been meaning to update the list of sites and blogs on my sidebar for, I don't know, a few years now. I finally got around to it. Here's the new list:
Alyssa RosenbergI'm convinced I accidentally left off someone I really like, so if it's you, please don't take it personally. And if I'm on your blogroll and you'd like me to reciprocate, let me know!
Baby Hat and Blanket
This morning I finished up two gifts for a friend's baby-to-be.
February 20, 2010
I was listening to the Guys and Dolls album yesterday, and it struck me how similar "If I Were a Bell" is to "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy" from South Pacific. Both tell of a woman trying to find the words to describe being in love for the first time, and they're chock full of great similes, from "I'm as corny as Kansas in August" to "if I were a salad I know I'd be splashing my dressing," which is one of those wonderfully inexplicable lines that doesn't make a whole lot of sense on first glance but somehow perfectly gets at its point.
(Random: The latter recording is from the 1992 Broadway revival, which I'm pretty sure my parents saw. And my mom definitely had a sweatshirt with that Guys and Dolls logo on it.)
February 19, 2010
Apparently Tommy James (of "and the Shondells" fame) has a book out about how his entire career was run by the mob. Who knew? I really want to read that.
Related: His version of "I Think We're Alone Now" is clearly the only REAL one, and all of you who go on about Tiffany or whoever are just insane.
I doubt this is actually about Sarah Palin, but wow, that would be quite a story.
It looks like the thing I posted the other day wasn't the actual Paterson story. This is.
These people are maybe a little too into Apple.
Wondering how this crazy new(ish) figure skating scoring system works? Here you go.
Oh, Toby. Past Life has been cancelled. My question: Why is The Deep End still on the air?
Siblings from the U.S. are representing Georgia and Japan in ice dancing. I can't quite decide how I feel about this.
What famous friends should Matt Damon and Ben Affleck play? The Sorkin-penned Ben and Jerry's biopic would be BRILLIANT.
Slightly spoilery Gossip Girl pictures.
Yglesias stands up for brie. I had some with my dinner in solidarity.
Search terms of the week
Lots of Olympics-related terms this week, especially things to do with Loreena McKennitt. Some interesting ones:
"working at borders" "the avenue"
The Slate Podcast Pledge Drive
Slate is running a pledge drive of sorts for its podcasts, but instead of asking for donations, they're asking their listeners to get more people to listen. And I have absolutely no hesitation in highly recommending them. Slate consistently puts out some of the best podcasts out there. I especially like the conversational format of the Political, Cultural, and Double X Gabfests as well as Hang Up and Listen (which is about sports). I also listen to The Big Money, and the book and movie discussions whenever I've read/seen the piece in question. If you're unfamiliar with podcasts, the link above gives good directions. If you can't figure it out, let me know and I'll try to help. No, you don't need an iPod. No excuses. Go listen.
Friday Listicle: 9 Perfect Pieces of Music
Johann Pachelbel: "Canon in D" (c. 1694)
Race Car Drivers for Senate!
(Warning: complete silliness ahead.)
Before all this Bayh stuff exploded in the last few days, I will readily admit that most of my associations with Indiana had to do with the Indy Racing League rather than politics. So I thought - hey! A bunch of racing type people live there. Maybe one of them could end up in the Senate. I asked my friend John Andrews, who writes the Techie column for the Hippo and is the one who got me into racing in the first place. Here's what he said:
Well, a number of 2009 drivers claim at least partial residence in Indianapolis.Are those in order of least to most foreign?
And by "increasingly foreign," of course, I mean England (parent) -> New Zealand -> (fellow colony) -> South Africa (they speak English, right?) -> Japan (don't even write with letters). Will Power is last because he only claims partial residence, and his hometown of Toowoomba is far too silly-sounding for him to have a chance.And on second thought:
I think South Africa should maybe be before New Zealand. Looks like they gained full independence in 1931, and New Zealand didn't bother to ratify the same document until 1947. Or maybe that means they're farther away, barely? South Africa is like the oldest cousin and New Zealand is a younger one?
* Correct: "No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen." Therefore, I believe Sarah Fisher would be the only one of the above who would actually be eligible.
Someone has appropriated my Snuggie.
Your Friday morning Dewey:
February 18, 2010
Katie Stevens, the girl from my hometown, has made it to the next round on American Idol. Round? Level? Whatever.
Read Alyssa's essay on how she learned to drink.
A South Carolina state rep is trying to ban U.S. currency in the state. BRILLIANT.
Game Change: full of astounding sentences. Kind of like Barbara Delinsky!
Vague but promising Bones spoilers.
Um, the Walk 'n' Talk Network? Sign me up. (Wait, I have it all on DVD. Still.) I would also like the Geek Victims of Fox network and the NYC Yuppie network.
As always: read Gail Collins.
We all know that Americans would hate to spend the next 90 years enveloped in serious wine and universal health care. But think about how much more threatening Romney's warning must be for the French. Where are they supposed to go in this new world order? Do you think France would rather be the Latvia of the 21st century or the Finland?Ginny Weasley and Caius? Huh.
Just call it "Turin."
I hadn't given a lot of thought to the name of the "Torino" Olympics until I read Yglesias's post about it. But the man makes some good points, and I think I'm on his side. There's no reason why we call that one Torino and not Turin, when we call every other Olympics host city by its English name. The Times agrees.
TV's Top Couples, Round One
Round One voting has begun in the TV's Top Couples tournament. There are 64 couples, paired into 32 matches. Vote for your favorite from each pair. A few observations:
1) Can anyone figure out what order they're in? In other similar tournaments, contestants have been alphabetical.
2) Seriously? Seriously? There are this many couples and they're making me choose between Josh/Donna and Buffy/Angel in ROUND ONE? Unfair.
3) I'm disappointed in several who apparently didn't make the top 64. I can forgive them, I suppose, for snubbing Studio 60 and Avonlea. But where are Meredith and Derek? No one but Cooper and Charlotte from Private Practice? No one but Helo and Athena from BSG? No one from The Mentalist? Ridiculous.
4) I absolutely love that the tenth Doctor and Rose made the list, and that they are thoroughly trouncing Denny and Izzie.
Why I will NOT watch Caprica
I thought the premise of Caprica sounded interesting. And it's getting great reviews. I've been TiVoing it, but I hadn't actually been able to bring myself to watch any of it. Then I read this, and realized I never would. (That piece also made me decide I need to brunch this weekend. Read it! It will apparently change your life.)
As Elon says, "Fool me once, shame on Battlestar Galactica. Fool me twice..." I liked some of Battlestar Galactica. The beginning of it. Okay, I really liked "33," and a few other episodes were okay too. I was more or less okay with the trajectory of the show in the first season, but I thought it went downhill very quickly from there, and by the end it was a complete mess.
Now, I'm not saying that TV writers should have the entire plots of multiple-season shows worked out before they even start. I am saying that if one of your show's taglines is "They have a plan," you should, you know, have a plan. BSG had such potential, until it became clear that the writers thought they were Deep or something and saying Important Things about things but didn't bother to come up with a coherent plot or explanations for things. So now, even though their new show sounds good, I Just. Don't. Trust. Them.
I deleted it from the TiVo this morning. More space for the Olympics!
Why I still watch Grey's Anatomy
(There are some spoilers for recent episodes Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice below. You have been warned.)
Practically everyone I know who used to watch Grey's Anatomy gave up on it, maybe when people started talking to dead people or Addison left and got her own show or George died or Derek and Meredith got married on a post-it. And yes, I will readily admit that the plots are often completely ridiculous. But I'm still watching, and I'm watching Private Practice too, and I will probably watch Shonda Rhimes' new show (also about doctors). And it's not just because these shows are full of pretty, pretty men, although they are, and that certainly doesn't hurt. But the actual reason I watch is because, however silly the plots may be, the actual characters are more real than practically anyone else on TV. As a friend put it a few years ago when she was convincing me to start watching the show, and I'm paraphrasing here, the characters are all messed up, but they deal, and get on with their lives, and it's presented as though it's okay that they're messed up, because we're all messed up.
More specifically, I was thrilled with this piece of dialog from last week's episode, because I feel like I've been waiting for years for someone to say this:
"I said that I love you and it's out there and I know that I can't unring the bell but I'm unringing the bell. I take it back. . . . I miss my friend Owen more than anything. I miss my friend. The rest I can deal with, I can deal with it . . . I'm gonna be fine. You and I are going to be friends. . . ."I realize that my experiences are probably somewhat unusual, but this, from Teddy to her ex, in front of his new girlfriend, strikes me as far more realistic than practically any other way the dissolution of relationships has been shown on TV. I spent years thinking (and occasionally saying) this. I don't care who you date. I can get over it. I need you to be my FRIEND. And hey, Teddy, it worked for me! I'm over him. We're friends. You can do it too. Good luck! (And apparently, like Teddy, I now have no qualms saying this in front of everyone involved. Hi Caitlin!)
The same night, on Private Practice (the Grey's spinoff), Addison said something I had said almost word for word to someone earlier in the day: "I don't want to be that girl who only comes to you for whining." The longer this show goes on, the more I identify with Addison. I don't know. Maybe it's just that she's from Connecticut. But something about the way she thinks just seems real, in the midst of her highly ridiculous and unrealistic life. And this line from one of the first season episodes remains one of my favorite lines in all of TV: "I'm not a prude. It's just . . . I'm from Connecticut." (Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I should mention that, unlike Addison, I have never cheated on anyone, and my parents are orders of magnitude better than hers.)
Meredith's voiceover at the end of the episode perfectly encapsulated what I think is the actual theme of the show, and my reasons for watching it:
"We have to constantly come up with new ways to fix ourselves. . . . So we change. We adapt. . . . We create new versions of ourselves. . . . We just need to be sure that this one is an improvement over the last."
The Hurt Locker
I'm way behind on writing up movie reviews, so I'm going to banish the word "review" from my mind here and just tell you a little about what I thought.
In brief: The Hurt Locker was very, very good. I don't tend to watch a lot of war movies - I can't remember the last one I saw, unless we count White Christmas or The Sound of Music. (Dad: Feel free to send me a list.) So I wasn't really sure how I would like this, but the reviews were so good that I had to give it a try. I wouldn't say that this was an enjoyable movie, exactly. It was uncomfortable to watch, and I realized I was pretty tense. My shoulders hurt by the end of it because I kept steeling myself for imminent explosions. But movies don't have to be fun to be good, and this was one of the best movies I've seen in a long time.
In case you haven't heard much about it: The Hurt Locker is basically an action movie about a team of soldiers in Iraq who are responsible for defusing IEDs. It manages to follow the stories of these soldiers without turning the movie into too much of a political vehicle. Jeremy Renner is amazing as William James, the main technician who is something of a wildcard. So far, at least, he's my choice for Best Actor, as he manages to display a wide range of emotions without having a whole lot to say. I thought Anthony Mackie was the other standout among the actors, and he should have gotten a Supporting Actor nod.
There was one plot point that I thought was completely cliched and obvious, but other than that, the whole thing was pretty nuanced, and about as understated as something about explosions can be. There's been some discussion about how factually correct this portrayal of the Iraq War is, but honestly, I don't know enough to come down on one side or the other of that. I just know that it was a powerful film. (Also check out Alyssa on the gender-role reversal here with a woman making an action movie.)
February 17, 2010
THIS was the Paterson story? Really? After all that? In other unexciting political "news," Charlie Bass Tweeted/Facebooked/etc. that he is officially running for his old seat in NH-02. We'd kind of guessed, seeing as how he's been actively campaigning for months.
Todd Eldredge is covering the figure skating in Vancouver for the Times.
The U.S. men's hockey team: full of Ryans.
More shocking news: a piece of historical fiction may have historical inaccuracies! I KNOW!
Here's the Interweave Knits spring preview. I want to make practically everything in it.
EW asks the essential question: Are we ready to like Marc Blucas? Personally, I think I'll have a much better chance of liking him now that he won't be up against David Boreanaz. (See also: Mark Feuerstein in Royal Pains as opposed to The West Wing.)
I, too, am concerned for Kristen Bell and Alexis Bledel.
Shen and Zhao Win Gold, Finally
The pairs team of Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo won China's first gold medal for figure skating on Monday night. I was happy to see them win, for a variety of reasons. It's always nice to see a new country break into a sport previously dominated by another. And Shen and Zhao themselves have been around for a long time: they won the bronze in the past two Olympics (and came in fifth the time before that), so it was nice to see them finally win gold.
To expand a bit on my comment at Ta-Nehisi's place, I think it's really interesting that the solo skating events are all about the kids (more so in women's than men's), but in pairs and ice dancing, there's definitely some advantage to age. The length of the partnership really matters: Shen and Zhao have been skating together since they were 14 and 19. That's longer than Caydee Denney, one of the American pairs skaters, has been alive. This gives them a synchronization and knowledge of each others' bodies that I don't think you can really rush. Sure, some teams just naturally have better chemistry than others, and I'm sure there are plenty of tricks to help the skaters learn to skate together. But can all the chemistry and tricks in the world make up the difference between a couple who has done this every day for eighteen years and one who just met three years ago?
Another issue: Shen and Zhao are married (although they got married after skating together for fifteen years). From the commentary Monday night, it seems that virtually all the other teams have some sort of drama: they're dating people from rival teams, they used to date but broke up, they hate each other for unspecified reasons. I kept thinking that it was weird that the coaches didn't try to do something about this, but what could they do, really? These teams generally start out as adolescents who train together for hours a day, often with highly sexualized routines. Odds are, some romantic drama will ensue. I guess the brother/sister teams manage to avoid this, but they open up a host of other issues with sibling rivalry, etc. Plus, all those romantic routines are downright creepy then.
Words for Ash Wednesday
It's Ash Wednesday. Read some Eliot.
Because I know that time is always time
And now I vacuum the turf at SkyDome
I just read that President Obama is having lunch with the King of Spain. There is only one possible response.
I don't know why you say goodbye
Glee is coming back on April 13, and there's a new promo out!
And yeah, yeah, Madonna episode, whatever. The real news here? They apparently got the rights to a Beatles song ("Hello Goodbye"). Whoa.
Pawlenty and Santorum: On Their Way!
Tim Pawlenty announced on his Facebook page that he's heading up here for the Manchester Republican Committee's Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner on March 25. Rick Santorum will be here in April. Of the two, I'd say that Pawlenty would be more appealing to New Hampshire voters, who, I believe, care more about fiscal conservatism than social conservatism. (I'll try to find some polling on that.) The Huckabee supporters I met here in 2008 were very enthusiastic, but not very numerous. I know Romney didn't win here last time, but it was close - he had 32% to McCain's 38%. I'm inclined to think he has an advantage this time, unless someone else manages the "completely conventional and socially acceptable but also supposedly rebellious" shtick that sent the state into the arms of McCain in both 2000 and 2008. Romney did much better against McCain here in 2008 than Bush did against McCain in 2000, and that might be telling as far as what kind of candidate the New Hampshire voter is likely to support.
(Oh, yeah. McCain will be here next month as well, but I refuse to speculate that that might have something to do with 2012, because I think my brain would break.)
February 16, 2010
The Tuohys of The Blind Side are writing a book.
That NH state rep claiming that Nashua public schools were teaching gay sex to fifth graders? Retracted it.
The worst figure skating costumes ever? Enh. Some of them are bad, but I kind of like Boitano's soldier costume. And there are so many other awful ones that didn't make the slideshow.
Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief: Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries have been renewed.
I'm a fan of Nora Ephron's movies, so I was interested to see her Top 11 Romantic Movies. Alyssa and others have pointed out that almost all the movies are older, and that one of the reasons for this is that older movies tended to have more going for them, plot-wise, than modern romantic comedies do. But I think there's another reason, too: I would put at least You've Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally toward (maybe even at) the top of my list of best modern romantic comedies. Ephron's too modest for that.
Ned Lamont is officially running for governor of CT.
Your daily Indiana update
Jamelle says it best: If Evan Bayh really thinks he has any chance in a 2012 presidential primary, he's delusional. Yglesias says it pretty well too. Dave Weigel thinks D'Ippolito is basically nuts, and I'm inclined to believe him, because what is he if not an expert on political lunatics? (And here's a tip-off.) But it doesn't matter anyway, because she doesn't have the signatures. Chris Cillizza, as always, sums up the winners and losers.
Meg Cabot is creating an audiobook collaboratively. With Twitter. I'm skeptical about the literary merits of the result, but it's an interesting experiment. Want to join in? Go here to read what they have so far and then tweet your suggestion for the next line with the hashtag #bbcawdio. Cabot and the BBC people will pick which lines to use. More info here.
I have to say, this idea of Shrove Tuesday being about pancakes is pretty new to me. Anyone know if it comes from a certain country or ethnicity? Of course, now I'm thinking about making pancakes for dinner, because they do sound good.
I did go to Starbucks and get a mocha this morning, because I'm giving up coffee for Lent this year. The barista was rather sad to hear that, but I promised I would still come in for chai.
Guest Bloggers All Over the Place
You should be reading Attackerman and Ta-Nehisi Coates all the time anyway, and I'm disappointed in you if you aren't. But you should especially be reading them today because Jamelle Bouie is guestblogging over at Attackerman and Alyssa Rosenberg at TNC.
I guess it's half timing and the other half's luck.
I had heard Michael Buble's new song "Haven't Met You Yet" a few times before, but last night it struck me that it's basically in the same genre as Rebecca St. James's signature song "Wait for Me:"
Buble gives the secular and, um, less "pure" version:
And - ha! That video! It's the dorkiest thing ever but I kind of love it. The marching band bit made me remember this one from The Music Man. Here's the incomparable Kristin Chenoweth:
I'm too annoyed with John Mayer to embed a song of his here, but I have to admit that "Love Song for No One" fits in here as well, although it's whinier and more demanding than the others. Shocking!
And really, we can't end this in any other way than with a little Ella:
February 15, 2010
Elle magazine has a new lit blog.
The 43 sexiest presidents, in order. The Bush 43 description is particularly great:
It's hard to separate politics from the image with the younger Bush, but lets be honest, if he had remained owner of the Texas Rangers, he would have been one of the sexiest businessmen in America. He's fun, spontaneous, obsessed with his body, and knows how to party. Bush is great one-night-stand material for all the same reasons that he was a terrible president.I would have reversed numbers one and three on their list, but otherwise it seems right on.
Ezra Klein, one of my favorite bloggers, will be writing for Newsweek. Congrats!
This blog post is so weird that I don't even know what to say about it. (h/t Kate)
Alyssa presents a compelling argument that the American TV season should be shorter that also just makes me want to watch British crime shows.
I feel bad for Weir and Lysacek being set up into this "the talented one"/"the hardworking one" dichotomy, because I grew up with people saying that about me and my nextdoor neighbor in regards to music. Therefore (shockingly) I am on Team Lysacek, if we have to pick.
I am wary of all three of these books, but I will probably read them anyway.
This piece on casting the John Edwards Lifetime movie is made of awesome. And not just because it includes Bradley Whitford. (For Young, not Edwards.)
I have to say, I am rather looking forward to voting for this guy.
Did they plan this just for me? Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen (yes, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Darcy) are going to be in a WWII-era British political crime drama.
These Chinese love consultants are pretty interesting.
Yet more on Bayh
And - really folks. Stop getting excited about D'Ippolito.
More on Bayh . . .
A random collection of interesting and/or funny things I've come across:
So who will be the new candidate? It looks like the Indiana Dems will get to choose a candidate, as the deadline for filing petitions is Friday and they're assuming no one will make it. But don't count out Tamyra d’Ippolito, who has about 1000 signatures to go. Everyone will be watching to see if she pulls it out - and, I'd assume, hoping she doesn't, as the party would rather pick someone. Here's some more about d'Ippolito.
On the Republican side, no, Pence is not running. I've read that about 500 times today, so I'm not even going to bother with a link. Supposedly, one good thing about Bayh waiting so long to drop out is that it didn't give the Republicans enough warning to get a really good candidate to run, now that they have such a better chance.
If Roemer runs, Ackerman will give you money. Just a head's up.
"That whore could be [his] mother!"
Okay, here's the deal. I'm past even calling Gossip Girl a guilty pleasure. At this point, I honestly think it's good, and I'm impressed with the way they took a series of books that aren't good and made them into a show that's much more complicated than the books ever dreamed of being. The show is basically a nineteenth century novel transplanted into the twenty-first century Upper East Side. The extreme soapiness cloaks the actual depth and complexity of the characters and issues. (The show is a lot better written then the books, too.)
Anyway, all this is by way of saying that the show has, sadly, been on hiatus, but it's coming back on March 8, and here's a promo:
One request: Let's just do away with Dan and Vanessa, okay? Can't we send them off to, I don't know, Hamilton or somewhere?
I refuse to make a "Bayh" pun.
Well! Evan Bayh is not running for reelection. I can't say I was ever really a fan - he really comes across as a petulant child a lot of the time - but this is pretty bad for the Democrats. Here's some coverage:
Bayh's Retirement (The Atlantic)
It's mistake rib, which is one of my favorite scarf stitches: easy but not boring, reversible, and unisex. Just cast on a multiple of 3 (I think I did 42 here, because, well, you know) and *K2, P1* (repeat) on each row. The yarn is Patons Classic Wool - my default worsted wool - and I've lost the ballband but I think the color is Palais. Yes, it does the zig-zaggy thing itself. Love it. I may have to make one (or several) for myself in the various colorways. (Ravelry page here.)
His Appointed Orbit
Catholic writer Stephen M. Barr presents an elegant argument against Intelligent Design. It's theology like this that keeps me in the often-questionable Catholic Church, at least for now:
The older (and wiser) form of the design argument for the existence of God - one found implicitly in Scripture and in many early Christian writings - did not point to the naturally inexplicable or to effects outside the course of nature, but to nature itself and its ordinary operations - operations whose "power and working" were seen as reflecting the power and wisdom of God.I can't look at the ocean or the trees or the changing seasons and not see God. Read the whole thing.
February 14, 2010
Frank Deford: Figure skating is broken.
Make sure you vote for your favorite TV couple. There are 128 to choose from, so you should be able to find one you like. The top 64 vote-getters will go on to the next round.
A Valentine from Code 58
We now have video proof that Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks are action heroes:
Happy Valentine's Day!
February 13, 2010
Already? They're planning a Valentine's Day sequel. New Year's Eve. Of course.
I know we've all moved on from the Super Bowl to the Olympics, but I really liked this Josh Levin piece - I could actually understand the sports talk, and the end made me choke up a bit.
The final Hunger Games book will be called Mockingjay. Here's the cover.
I'm a little too excited about this: an adult Sweet Valley book.
Make sure you check out the Olympics-themed Google logos each day. I'm really liking them so far.
Gail Collins is on the filibuster reform bandwagon. Also, I feel I should point out that a rather high percentage of text messages from my father consist of "How are you? Read Gail Collins today!"
Loreena McKennitt's "The Old Ways"
Here's the Loreena McKennitt song that they played at the beginning of the part of the ceremonies last night with the fiddler in the floating blue canoe, before the madness with the plaid and tattoos and dancers started. This is actually my favorite of her songs, but I just thought it was weird that they chose to use a song so obviously about Ireland in the yay-Canada part of the show. In fact, they said that segment was specifically supposed to pay tribute to Quebec and French-speakers, did they not? Anyway. It's a good song! Listen:
Richard Schiff on Tavis Smiley
He's charming and well-spoken as always - and pretty much admits that he's doing the show because he needed a job. (And honestly? I'm completely fine with that.) Apparently he's a D-Day freak. And his stepfather was one of Dr. King's lawyers. Oh, just watch the whole thing. It's good.
Another Opening Ceremonies Liveblog...
While writing my own liveblog, I was also reading and commenting on the Slate liveblog. It's pretty hilarious. Take a look.
February 12, 2010
Olympic Opening Ceremonies Liveblog
7:30: The actual ceremonies don't start until 9, but the broadcast starts at 7, so here I am. I actually have no idea who's supposed to be there. I mean, besides the athletes. Don't they usually have a few celebrities? Wasn't Bjork involved at least once?
Citius, Altius, Fortius
I love the Olympics. I'm not that huge of a sports fan in general - although I have been making an effort to learn more about sports, of late - but I'll watch anything if it's the Olympics. I love all the drama and the breathless excitement of the announcers and the emotional little stories about the athletes. And the winter Olympics are my favorite, because figure skating is the one Olympic sport I really follow on off years, and I love curling and the luge and all that crazy stuff. Plus it seems like 90% of the summer Olympics has become beach volleyball, and that gets boring.
All of this is to say - yay! The Olympics are starting tonight! I'll be liveblogging the Opening Ceremonies coverage starting at 7:30pm Eastern. See you then!
Friday Dewey: Blurry
I need to start taking more pictures throughout the week so I can actually pick a good one to post on Friday. And to avoid the weird sun-isn't-quite-up light thing I have going here.
But he's still cute.
February 11, 2010
Chuck shippers are giving all of us a bad name.
Something happened on this week's episode of Chuck that has fans up in arms. Coincidentally, I just started watching the show the other day (via Netflix), so at this point I don't really understand the controversy. (There's some info here.) But I can tell it has something to do with the Chuck/Sarah relationship not going the way people want. Honestly, at four episodes in, I would be inclined to ship Casey/Sarah, but it should be obvious to anyone who has eyes and has maybe seen a TV show before that Chuck/Sarah is the endgame here.
So, first of all, people, calm the heck down. It's a TV show. Nine times out of ten (I'm looking at you, Battlestar Galactica), the obvious couple will get together by the end of the show, so relax and enjoy the ride. Because you know what happens when they get that couple you love together? Either the show ends, the show gets bad, or they break them up for no reason. (Grey's Anatomy is a notable exception to this at the moment, but I think that's only working because there are so many other couples on the show that are not stable.) Wouldn't you rather wait until the end of the show and let them get together for good, instead of watching them break up?
Second: People are talking about organizing a boycott of the show until the writers do what the fans want. STOP IT. A boycott will only make the rating go down so the show gets cancelled. And I don't care how much you love the show or how many Subway sandwiches you ate or whatever last season to keep it from getting cancelled. It doesn't make the show yours. It's someone else's intellectual and artistic property, and they have every right to do what they want with it. You, of course, have every right to stop watching if you no longer like the show, but that's different from trying to force them to change course.
But the real problem here is that this controversy is leading to a lot of articles like this that define shippers as "people whose enjoyment of a show hinges entirely on the progress of a romantic couple." No. That's just not what it means. Look, I'm a shipper. I ship TV character, book characters, whatever. I ship race car drivers, for God's sake. But I'm completely capable of watching a show for other reasons, regardless of how my favorite couple is doing. I watched Veronica Mars. I survived seven seasons each of The West Wing and Gilmore Girls. I kept watching Buffy after Angel left. I don't think any of the couples I liked ever got together on Enterprise. We're on season five of Bones and they haven't gotten together, and I'm still watching. I generally watch shows if I like the writing and the characterization and the plot. Having a couple to root for adds to the fun, but it isn't the be all and end all of TV watching for me. And this goes for pretty much all the shippers I know, and I know a lot of them.
So, Chuck people, please stop it. The rest of fandom will thank you.
Knitting Olympics Sign-Up
Want to sign up for the Knitting Olympics? Go here. I think I'm actually going to sit this one out. I have a lot of self-imposed stress and commitments right now, and I'm trying to be reasonable. But I will be cheering you all on!
Buzz "Following" Order
I understand why some people don't want Buzz to automatically display their contacts. The issue hadn't really occurred to me, because I have no anonymous sources and I don't think there's anyone I talk to who I wouldn't want my other contacts to know about. But I do understand why others are concerned.
Anyway, the part that seems weird to me is the common perception (has Google actually stated this? Not sure.) that the list of people you're following are in order by how much you e-mail or Google chat with them. This seems blatantly untrue. The person who is first on my list . . . well, actually, I was going to say that yes, over the whole time I've had Gmail, he's probably the non-listserv address I've e-mailed most, but he started using his current address not too long ago, so that's not even necessarily true. But it might be. So I'll give them a pass on that one.
But there are two people who I've talked to on Google Chat practically every day for years. Wouldn't you think they'd be at the top of the list? No, they're numbers 11 and 14. Someone else I've talked to practically every day for the past few weeks is even further down. Number 4 on the list is someone I e-mail maybe twice a week on average. So . . . I'm sure there is some sort of ordering going on here, but it's not what we think it is.
More on Buzz later today . . .
February 10, 2010
La la la I am pretending this isn't happening.
Hey, Bones fans - spoilers ahoy. Don't shoot the messenger. (h/t Alyssa)
More on misogynistic Super Bowl ads. (h/t Kate)
Thank you, Mr. Google! If anyone wants to follow me, my ID there is katelinnea. Let me know yours.
When I was twelve or thirteen, I was consistently annoyed with my piano teacher because she made everyone play Chopin all the time. I wanted to play Bach, but no, it was Chopin Chopin Chopin. She looooved Chopin. One day, she told me that I was just too young to get it. She said I had to grow up and fall in love and have my heart broken and come out on the other side, and then I would appreciate Chopin.
Now that I've started playing again, fifteen years later, I realize that she was completely right.
(But I still prefer Bach.)
Dear Mr. Google,
When rolling out your new Buzz service, I think it might be nice for you to prioritize faithful users of your other services. I bought an Android phone. I changed my number for Google Voice. I use Google Groups. I practically run my life out of Google Calendar and Google Docs. I signed up for Wave, although I still don't know what to do with it. I all but abandoned AIM for Google Chat. I pretty much live in Gmail and Google Reader.
I still don't have Buzz.
What more do you want from me?
Review: Meet Julie
Meet Julie by Megan McDonald
This is the first in another of the American Girl historical series, if we're calling things set eight years before I was born historical. Which I suppose we are. This is set in 1974, in California, maybe San Francisco? Julie's parents are divorcing, so she and her sister are moving with their mother to an apartment over her mother's shop - I want to call it a hippie gift shop, but I guess it's a little late for that. Anyway, Julie has to leave her best friend and go to a new school, where she has to fight to join the all-boys basketball team.
The book seemed a little heavy on the issues - divorce! Working mothers! Title IX! Vietnam vets! American Girl books are always like that, I guess, but usually the story is strong enough that it's less obvious. This one wasn't quite there, and the quality of the writing wasn't as high as usual. But it was still enjoyable, and much better than many books aimed at this age group. It just didn't quite have the usual American Girl magic.
February 09, 2010
Chris Hayes has a book deal!
Monopoly is getting an update. I'm not sure how I feel about this.
Sarah Chalke as a Congresswoman on TV? Interesting.
I have to say, I am interested in this untitled and as-yet-plotless movie just based on the cast.
Okay, I'm kind of excited about the prospect of Google Buzz, especially if it works as a Twitter client. Or something. But, of course, I don't have it on my account yet. Anyone get it yet? Did you try it? What do you think?
Past Life - Tonight!
Perhaps the saddest part of all is the presence - barely - of "West Wing" alum Richard Schiff as McGinn and Whatley's boss. Schiff is an actor with a deserving Emmy on his shelf, and I don't begrudge him for picking up a paycheck, but he constantly looks puzzled both about how he got on this show and why no one's giving him anything to do. He spends the second episode in a subplot (with equally underused co-star Ravi Patel) about re-writing a grant proposal, for Pete's sake. And I believe that grant proposals are the heart of good drama even less than I believe that I might have once been a refrigerator repairman in Tupelo.Oh, DEAR. But I'll watch anything with Richard Schiff, at least for a while.
February 08, 2010
In the Philippines, people are getting killed over Sinatra karaoke. Just a warning.
Watching The Mentalist always makes me want tea.
I have to say, my dual goals of watching lots of Oscar-nominated movies and clearing the TiVo in preparation for the Olympics aren't really going well together.
RIP John Murtha
Reasons to Go to the Movies Alone
I have decided to make 2010 the year of going to the movies as often as there are things I want to see. More often than not, this means going alone. And I've decided - contrary to popular opinion, I love this. Here's why:
See what you want, when you want. This is obvious, I guess, but it really can't be overstated. I can't tell you how many movies I missed in the theater during the past year because some friend or other said they wanted to see it with me, and then either our schedules didn't mesh or we just never got it together to make a plan. No more of that.
Get there when you want. I like to get to the movies early. (It's my father's fault.) I understand that some people do not. But it drives me crazy when my movie companions laugh at my suggested arrival time, and then when we actually do get there, the show is sold out or we have to sit in the front row or whatever. If you just got there early, this wouldn't happen. Gah.
No one thinks it's weird if you knit during the movie. Well, okay. People probably do think it's weird. But they're strangers.
Get popcorn, if you want. I usually don't, actually, but once in a while I'm in the mood. But it's always weird to be the one person in the group who wants popcorn. And don't even get me started on sharing popcorn. I can't stand it, for reasons I can't quite figure out.
Stay until the end of the credits. I almost always do. (I think this is my dad's fault, too.) Many people get up as soon as the credits roll, though, and I don't like making them stay if they don't want to.
Fewer distractions. I find it much easier to immerse myself in the world of the movie if I'm surrounded by strangers.
There is one benefit to going to the movies with others: my father is much, much better at shushing loud neighbors than I am.
The Truth about Sherlock
Sherlock Holmes may not have been the most faithful adaptation ever, but I'm not going to lie: Every time I've been to the movies since I saw it, I have for an instant been tempted to forget about whatever I had planned to see and just see that again.
10 Thoughts on the Super Bowl
1) I am not particularly a fan of either team, but I was rooting for the Saints because a) I like underdogs and b) that's who my father said we liked. (I tend to outsource these decisions to my father and/or brother.) So, that ended happily.
2) This is self-evident, I suppose, but football is so much more interesting now that I have some idea what's going on.
3) Of course, the problem with caring about both the football and the commercials is that it makes it hard to figure out when to get up to get a snack.
4) So. THAT was the Tebow ad? Well played, Focus on the Family, well played. You got us all excited about something that didn't even mention abortion. The message was in the pre-ad controversy, not in the ad itself.
4a) To all of you saying how bizarre it is for a college football player to tackle his mother, I ask: Have you spent much time with college football players recently? They do that all the time. In my experience, though, they're usually joking around and don't actually knock their mothers over.
5) The rest of the commercials, though! If they are a reasonable metric of society (and I certainly hope they are not), women are evil and/or worthless and men must assert their masculinity by buying cars. Or, um, pants. Seriously, though, I was shocked by the consistent level of misogyny, and if Twitter is anything to go by, I wasn't the only one.
6) Mark Sanchez's ad about women and heart disease, however, was a lovely exception to the ongoing assumption that only men were watching this broadcast.
7) And Google's ad was adorable. I choose to believe that the fact that they advertised does not mean that they are in any danger from Bing, but was instead done as a public service to give us a break from all the awful ads.
8) Oh! And the Harry Potter thing! I want to go!
9) So yes, The Who are past their prime, but I enjoyed their performance. But then, I like old British rockers. (I was disappointed that they did a weird medley thing instead of whole songs, though.)
10) Drew Brees's son is adorable. And who did the little ones in pigtails belong to? SO CUTE.
There should be another music Oscar.
I started thinking about this when watching Up in the Air, and decided for sure while watch An Education. There needs to be some sort of non-original score award. Best Compiled Soundtrack? Something. It's a totally different act from that of composition, but it takes real talent to find the perfect arrangements of the perfect songs to go along with what's happening in a movie. An Education, especially, was brilliant with this, with everything from the Ravel at the concert to the French music on Jenny's record player to "You've Got Me Wrapped Around Your Little Finger." I walked out of it thinking "Sure, actress, screenplay, whatever, but it should really get an award for that music."
February 07, 2010
Presidents and Football!
I was noticing that it's the 44th Super Bowl and we have the 44th president, and I figured something could be made of that, but I couldn't quite get there. Luckily, someone else did. Via Andrew Sullivan: America Bowl.
February 06, 2010
Josh Malina's Haiti PSA
Josh Malina is one of my favorite actors from Sorkinland (Jeremy on Sports Night, Will on West Wing), and he wants you to donate:
February 05, 2010
Richard Shelby may be my new least favorite senator.
SyFy is doing a new series of fairy tale inspired Saturday night movies. Will they be awesome or awesomely bad? I'm excited either way.
Speaking of fairy tales, here's a review of Red Riding: 1974. Can't wait for that one.
Neil Patrick Harris as P.T. Barnum? Yes, please.
Pluto is changing color. Maybe it's trying to get our attention so it can become a planet again.
Let's not discuss how many articles mentioning Winter's Bone at Sundance I read before I realized that it's based on a book I really liked. But now I'm a lot more interested in the movie!
Hey, fellow Olympics fans: the Times has a blog about the Games. Aw, the Jamaican bobsled team didn't qualify.
Make sure you read Alyssa Rosenberg on autism in movies.
Interesting search terms of the week
Some interesting that led people here this week:
foyle's peace news I have no new news. Do you?
And to answer the most common questions people seem to be asking: No, I don't know why Bradley Whitford got divorced. And no, I won't do your Sarah Dessen-related homework for you.
I was supposed to be away all weekend, but unfortunately the baby shower I was going to in Pennsylvania has been canceled due to the impending snowpocalypse. I'm sad that I don't get to go, but it strikes me that this is the perfect weekend to devote to seeing as many Oscar-nominated movies as possible. I think I might go to the movies every day this weekend - after work tonight (The Blind Side), Saturday matinee (An Education), and Sunday matinee (Crazy Heart). Because why not, right? I didn't expect to have any of this time free, and it will still cost less than what I had budgeted for the weekend trip. I'm also getting The Hurt Locker from Netflix, and if I get really ambitious, Food, Inc., Paris 36, and Il Divo are on Netflix Watch Instantly.
I ordered a digital piano (and found exactly what I wanted on sale, even!) at the beginning of the week, and UPS says it will arrive today. I am beyond excited. I'll take a picture to properly introduce you as soon as I get it set up. And it will need a name, of course . . . hmmm . . .
Lunchtime Update: UPS still says it is scheduled to arrive today, but while the stand says it is "Out for Delivery," the keyboard itself (different tracking number) does not. Bah.
And here comes Pence.
(Note: This is the first of a new category of posts about the 2012 New Hampshire primaries. I know some of you really don't care about this, but, well, I do. :) For those who don't know - New Hampshire traditionally has the first primaries in the presidential race [after the Iowa caucuses], so we get lots of candidates coming through, and things start, well, now.)
We've already had Gingrich and Pawlenty visit, and . . . I feel like there was someone else I'm now forgetting. Romney supposedly lives here now, so maybe it was him. But next up: Mike Pence! He'll be at the Hillsborough County GOP Lincoln-Reagan Dinner. Want more information or tickets? Try here.
Your Friday Morning Kitten Picture
(Plus bonus shot of my nightgown sleeve and slipper!)
February 04, 2010
Note: I wrote most of this earlier today, but I am actually posting it from my phone because I forgot to post before I shut down the computer. I feel accomplished.
The TV listings for the Olympics are up. I will admit that I am worrying a bit about figuring out the best way to TiVo as much as possible without interfering with other things too much. I love the Olympics!
You know when you start reading a new-to-you author and then find out that they're already dead, and it's all sad? Yeah, that just happened to me with Stieg Larsson.
Want cute? Hipster Puppies.
Sites That Should Improve Their Search Functionality
It's a beautiful day for a listicle:
Palindrome, and My Photogenic Father
Now, this photo looks pretty normal, but take a look at the other pictures I had to take first to get the one decent one:
Love you, Dad!
Put the kettle on.
Alexander McCall Smith has a lovely piece about the wonders of tea. I loved this line:
"How can you possibly put sugar in your tea?" is a wonderfully superior question to ask of others. That one did the same thing oneself for 20 years or so is beside the point.And on the subject of switching over to loose tea:
It was not easy; families can be split on the subject of tea bags. My wife and I were adamant that we would not use them, even when we were staying in houses where tea bags were all that was available. We did not openly criticise our hostess's tea arrangements, but we began to travel with supplies of loose-leaf tea in our suitcases, along with a teapot. We also acquired a small heating element that could be put into the teapot to bring the water to the boil before the tea was added. Taking private supplies in this way is a big step, as it constitutes a judgment on your hostess – a judgment of inadequacy in a crucial department.Oh, just read the whole thing.
Up in the Air
Warning: Spoilers ahead. I'll try to save them for the end of the post so you have time to avert your eyes.
I saw Up in the Air a few weeks ago, but just realized I never posted about it. I haven't seen any of the other Best Picture nominees yet (working on it!), but I certainly wouldn't be disappointed if this won. The script was witty but not overwritten - and made me want to read the book - and the movie was beautifully done, all around. I thought they did an extremely good job of showing how similar all the airports and cities seemed to Ryan without actually making it boring and repetitive to the viewers. I'm one of those people who loves airports and planes, so this movie actually left me with the overwhelming urge to travel, which I realize is not quite the point. But still.
Confession: Before this movie, I'm not sure I could have picked George Clooney out of a lineup. (Rosemary Clooney? Sure!) I know, I know. I just looked at IMDb and the other thing of his I've seen is his guest spot on Friends. Yes, this seems ridiculous to me, too, and I clearly have some catching up to do. But anyway, I thought he did a very good job, and it made me want to watch more of his movies. He made the character work in all his isolation and prickliness but seem likeable at the same time, which is quite something.
Vera Farmiga was fine as Alex, but among the women, I thought the standout was clearly Anna Kendrick as Natalie. I think her Jessica (with shades of Cordelia Chase, no?) is one of the highlights of the Twilight movies, and I'm excited that she seems to be taking her career in this classy, adult direction. And I had to repress a squee when I saw Chris Lowell's name in the opening credits. I've loved him since Veronica Mars and I think he does some really good work on Private Practice, even though that show as a whole tends to be something of a mess. He did a fine if small job here as Ryan's assistant, although I hope he gets to play a part that doesn't involve answering phones soon. (He's the receptionist/midwife on PP. Yes, I know. I told you it's a mess.)
And now, a few words about the ending. A few friends had warned me before I saw the movie that the ending was disappointing and/or would anger me. It didn't. At all. (Now that I think about it, I wonder if some of the people who said that know of my "happy endings only" rule for fan fiction. I guess I look for very different things in different forms of media. That might warrant its own post.) Anyway, I went into the movie expecting a drama, rather than a romantic comedy, so the ending didn't surprise me. And my dad had recommended the movie, and he's rather known for liking depressing things. (He says he was surprised by the ending, though.) I assumed from the beginning that Alex wasn't exactly what she appeared, and as soon as Ryan got on the plane for Chicago, I figured that either she was married or she had made up a fake identity/given him a fake address.
I liked the ending better this way than I would have if it had been a typical You've Got Mail style sudden revelation and ecstatic declaration of love. (Not that I don't love You've Got Mail, but I don't want everything to be like that.) Ryan developed a lot internally over the course of the movie, but that doesn't magically change anything. He made a small step in writing the recommendation for Anna. But I found it refreshingly honest that he couldn't actually change his life that much, at least not all at once. Even if you have revelations, change your own priorities, decide you want to be someone else, it doesn't mean that the past is erased or that you no longer have to live with the consequences of all of the previous decisions you've made. This ending made Up in the Air both truer and more poignant. (And I wouldn't be surprised if the less-happy ending helped it get its Oscar nominations.)
This may be the weirdest political ad I've ever seen:
Would any of my conservative Californian readers like to weigh in?
February 03, 2010
Zachary Quinto as George Gershwin? Yes, please!
Beach House on tour. Anyone want to go to the CT or MA show with me?
Whoo! Chris Lehmann has a book deal!
A Case for the iPad
First, two caveats: 1) I have not seen an iPad in person and have no inside information. The following is all based off the Apple site and news reports. 2) I work for a company that sells Apple products and may sell the iPad. But I'm not in sales. And while I want people to buy things from us in a theoretical sense, so we stay in business and I keep my job, I get nothing out of people buying this product as opposed to the hundreds of thousands of others we sell. So. Proceed at your own risk!
Farhad Manjoo, Slate's great tech writer, says the iPad is the computer he's always wanted. He says:
For more than a year, I've been looking for the perfect second computer. I wanted a flat, portable, easy-to-use machine that I could use for e-mail and reading the Web. The iPad is that device. Jobs described it as the perfect hybrid of a laptop and a phone, and I agree. Everything about it - its size, shape, weight, and fantastically intuitive user interface - feels just right.That's pretty much how I'm feeling too. I actually bought a second computer last year - a netbook - and I like it but tend to get frustrated when I'm trying to do anything but word processing or maybe checking e-mail. It's basically just not fast enough, and the iPad looks like it will take care of this issue.
I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but the one single aspect of the iPad that most makes me want to get one is the $30/month unlimited data plan. I've been wanting something like that for my laptop for years, but those plans all seem to be at least $60/month. I'm not willing to pay $60, but I'm willing to pay $30 - a dollar a day - for virtually constant Internet access.
A question from the comments: A friend tweeted that you can't browse the web and listen to music at the same time - this is true? Is it a priority for you? What about no Flash or video (or still) camera capabilities?
I haven't found anything that specifically states that you can't browse the web and listen to music. (If anyone has a citation, please let me know.) I'm assuming that this is an extrapolation from the fact that the iPad does not multitask, in general. But it uses the same operating system as the iPod Touch (which I have), and on the Touch, you can listen to music while running any other one application. (Except maybe applications that include their own sound. I'm not sure I've tried that.) Until Apple states otherwise, I'm operating under the impression that the iPad works the same way. If it didn't - hmm. That would be something to think about, but I'm not sure whether it would be a dealbreaker, for me personally.
I don't really care that there's no camera. It seems like it would be really large and awkward to use as a camera anyway. The Flash issue is more problematic, but I'm assuming/hoping that most video providers will come up with their own apps so it won't matter that there's no Flash. See below for more on what particular apps I want.
Rachel asks: But, ok, what is this thing good for, anyway? Is it like a laptop? Is it a Kindle? Does it work as a phone? A camera? I am curious and out of the loop. Please provide examples of what a person would do with this thingamabob. ;)
Short answer: Not a phone or a camera, but it could be anything else you listed.
Long answer: Here are some examples of situations in which I feel it would be useful. I am trying to restrict this to things that are actually applicable to my own life.
At Work: I currently listen to podcasts and music from my iPod all day at work, so the iPad would take over this function, and also allow for streaming music or radio stations. It would also be convenient for checking personal Web stuff during breaks.
Conferences: (Subset of Work.) I feel like this will be perfect for conferences, making it easy to take notes or look things up during sessions and to check e-mail and whatever else during breaks without worrying about power outlets and wireless access. The GPS and maps features would also help with finding food near the convention center, etc.
At Home: I sit in front of a computer all day at work, and when I get home, even if I'm primarily reading or knitting or watching TV, I end up basically sitting in front of a computer again, so I can keep up with Twitter, approve blog comments, look things up, etc. I realize that this is a lifestyle choice I've made, and I'm not complaining, but it would be a lot more comfortable to curl up on the couch with the iPad next to me or on the coffee table. And, counterintuitively, the fact that the iPad doesn't have start up or shut down times means I might actually spend less time online in the evenings than I do currently. My laptop takes a while to get going, so I just turn it on when I get home and turn it off when I go to bed, and since it's there and on, I can get sucked into spending more time on it than I'd like. Perhaps the iPad would help avoid this.
Some specific home applications: I'm thinking this will be great to prop up in the kitchen while cooking from an online recipe, to avoid having to lug the laptop into the kitchen (and cut down on crumbs in the keyboard!). Similarly: prop it up on the coffee table while knitting from an online pattern. Bring it upstairs if you want to read some online articles in bed (or be able to check the news if you wake up in the middle of the night. Not that I ever do that.).
Outside: I take my laptop outside occasionally, but both the long battery run time and the unlimited data plan will make this sort of thing work much better with the iPad.
Travel: The iPad seems perfect for traveling, and if I travelled more (I wish!) I wouldn't hesitate at all before buying one. There's a GPS. It's perfect for killing time while waiting around and much more comfortable than a laptop to use on a plane or train. The long battery life helps too. The data plan means you can easily look things up from the road. And no more worries about finding hotels that offer wireless access.
Social Situations: Yes, I'm one of those people who often wishes she could pull out her laptop to look something up at a party. I know, I know, I'm causing the downfall of civilization. It's not like I would whip the thing out at a funeral, but you know those times when you're sitting with your lunch buddies or your knitting group and you're all trying to figure out what the name of that actor in that movie was, or arguing over the official languages of Switzerland? The iPad would solve those issues nicely. Last summer, I was at a family picnic and people wanted to know how the baseball game was going. They were extremely impressed by the play-by-play I could get on my phone. Imagine how much more they'd like the MLB.com app!
Now, a word on ebooks: The ebook reader is one thing being hyped about the iPad, but I'm not entirely convinced about ebooks in general. I'm certainly not ready to switch over. But I do think it could be useful to have a few books on the iPad as a "just in case I get stuck somewhere with nothing to read" measure. (I do this with my iPod, but that screen is teeny.) I think I'm willing to start integrating ebooks into my reading routine.
Some people have said that the iPad is too large for them to carry around as a matter of course. I'm not worried about this. I very rarely carry purses so small that it wouldn't fit, and it would replace four things I usually carry: iPod, paper planner, paper notebook, and "emergency" paperback. The screen size is a lot larger than that of my phone or iPod, which is good - there are plenty of things that my phone can do, but I often don't have the patience to scroll for 500 years to get to the part of a Web site I need to use, for example. The bigger size of the iPad will make browsing much more convenient.
As you can probably tell, I'm leaning toward getting one. But I'll want to verify that it supports at least most of the following sites/services before I commit:
Gmail (check!)Basically, I want the Internet to be in my brain (Anderson's Feed notwithstanding), and the iPad takes us a big step closer to that point.
Colbert vs. Harold Ford
Aside from all the obvious issues that have already been discussed with this candidacy...
1. If you're going to use NC-17 movies as part of your argument for parental notification for abortion, you might want to actually learn the term "NC-17" and not call them "NR-17."
Cowboys! Aliens! Coming to a theater near you!
I somehow either had entirely missed the fact that Cowboys & Aliens is going to be a movie, or not realized that it's THAT Cowboys & Aliens - the one for which my college friend Alana Joli Abbott was writing. (She's mentioned at the very end of the first article I linked there.) It's the sort of thing I would probably see anyway - sci-fi plus nineteenth century America? Sign me up! But now that I realize the connection, I'm very excited.
But February made me shiver
It's the anniversary of The Day the Music Died. Take a listen:
And those who were lost:
February 02, 2010
Unlike everyone else on Twitter, I am not watching Lost. Just for the record.
The nerdiest Superbowl bet ever?
I've never read Louis Auchincloss, but this obituary makes me want to.
Jenny Sanford says Mark took the "fidelity clause" out of their marriage vows. Um. Big red flag, no?
Why isn't Avatar considered an animated film?
I heard the Lady and the Tramp song on a commercial, so I glanced up at the TV and saw Taye Diggs. And then Miss Piggy. By that point I was thoroughly confused. I eventually figured out it was this:
It's cute, and I certainly can't blame Miss Piggy for finding Taye Diggs dreamy. Don't we all? But what about poor Kermit? Aww.
The nominations are here. I'll have more on my thoughts for particular categories later, but first, I want to try to see as many as I can. I'm not sure what's still in the theaters... okay, let's see. (In the lists below, except for the first one, the movies are in approximate priority order, based on the number of nominations, category of nominations, and how interesting the specific movie sounds.)
I have seen these:
These are already out on DVD or Netflix Instant Watching, or will be out before the ceremony:
These are either scheduled to be released after March 7 or don't have DVD release dates on Netflix. Some might still be in theaters. (Okay, this list got crazy long so I'm only including the ones that seem to have a chance of appearing somewhere nearby.)
Definitely in theaters:
I don't get Groundhog Day.
So. The groundhog saw his shadow, six more weeks of winter, blah blah blah. But the whole thing seems pretty problematic, and yes, I realize I am completely overthinking this, but IT BOTHERS ME. Okay. Here are my questions:
1. How do you know what a groundhog sees or doesn't see in the first place?
I know this is just a ridiculous tradition, but apparently it's so ridiculous that it's bothering me.
Happy Primary Season!
February 01, 2010
Allison Janney has joined Matthew Perry's pilot Mr. Sunshine. Oh, please please please let this show be picked up.
New Sade. I think it hit me at exactly the right moment when I listened to it Friday night - at the end of a long day at the end of a long week, while I was knitting on the couch and cuddling with the kitten. Perfect. (h/t Alyssa)
TV's 22 Best-Ever Female Characters Thoughts? Additions? I would add Veronica Mars and maybe Dana from Sports Night. Oh, and Buffy!
Here's a nice little Richard Schiff profile.
Time for a new/old hobby
At my parents' house the other night, I played the piano for a few minutes, and it was the most relaxing thing I've done in recent memory. I took lessons from about age six to fourteen, but I hadn't really played in years. From age ten to seventeen or so, the violin was my main instrument, and I was pretty serious about it for a while. I still play sometimes, but I discovered that, for whatever reason, I get more out of playing the piano at this point. I don't know if it's because I started it earlier, or was never quite as serious about it, or maybe because the piano just works better as a primarily solitary instrument. It's also much easier to just sit down and play for a few minutes - getting out the violin and bow and tuning and everything is much more of a process.
I was going to say that it seems like piano playing might be one of those "like riding a bike" things, but honestly, I've always found it much easier to play the piano than it was to ride a bike. In any event, I did better than I'd expected; I found the sheet music for a Bach piece I'd played years ago, and I certainly didn't do a good job of it, but I managed and I think it was even recognizable. And it was just so much fun. When I got home last night, I pulled out all my old sheet music, and - well, for one thing, it's certainly an interesting mix that I might have to write about at some point. For the moment, it's all sitting on my kitchen table, and it's so nice to have it out, especially my beloved Bach . . .
All of which is to say: I think I'm going to finally do what I've been talking about doing for years and buy a digital piano. (More affordable and easier to handle than a real piano.) And I'm determined to get into the habit of playing regularly. I'll let you know how it goes.
Update on my parents' TV-watching
Thanks for all your suggestions as to which TV series my parents should watch. I brought them a few options this weekend, and they picked Sports Night. We watched the first six episodes, and - man. I've watched the entire series twice in the past year, and on this third time around I was still blown away by how much better it is than basically any other sitcom I've ever seen. If you missed this one, I definitely recommend checking it out. And no, you don't have to like or understand sports to like or understand Sports Night.
(I left my Sports Night DVDs with them and took back the West Wing seasons they had. This means that all seven seasons of my West Wing DVDs are in my possession for the first time in months, and I recently got my Buffy discs back too, and I must admit that it feels good just knowing they're there if I need them. DVD security blankets?)
Do we need more Pieces?
I had somehow missed the fact that Hershey's has branched out with the Pieces line. Interesting. I've always thought of Pieces as a very Reese's-specific thing. On the plus side, the new flavors are based on three of my favorite Hershey's candies - Almond Joy, York, and Special Dark. But I'm actually a bit skeptical as to how these particular candies will translate to the Pieces form factor. First of all, in a world with dark chocolate M&Ms, is there really a need for Special Dark Pieces? Next: I love Almond Joys, but the candy bars include actual almonds and shredded coconut. I'm less a fan of almond- and coconut-flavored things. And I'm assuming that in this small size, the taste will basically just come from flavoring. I'm most hopeful about the York versions, but even there - peppermint patties have that great creamy texture. Will that be lost?
I made Kiri (PDF) for my mom for Christmas, and actually finished it on time for once. But of course that meant I forgot to take pictures. I finally remedied that this weekend.
Ravelry here. I used worsted weight wool, so it's more substantial but still pretty. I didn't get too sick of the pattern, which is saying something for something that large and repetitive. And Mom says she's actually wearing it, which is always the goal with knitted gifts. So. Success!
When Blogging Pays Off...
Remember how I was writing about my frustration with New Hampshire calzones last week? My parents saw that post, so when I arrived at their house on Saturday, practically the first thing my dad said to me was "We're going to get take-out tonight, so you can get a calzone." Yay! It was delicious.
My brother goes to college in Maine, so he also has the calzone issue. And he defined it perfectly yesterday: "It's like they just take regular pizza and fold it in half." It IS. I don't get it.
I pretty much hate Facebook, and use it as little as possible. But last night when I couldn't sleep I went through and sent friend requests to a bunch of people - mostly relatives and neighbors from growing up. Now that they're confirming my friend requests, I feel like maybe I should actually post something there. Sigh.