Movable Type 3.2
December 14, 2010
Hello out there! Sorry for disappearing on you. I was traveling, and now my computer seems to be taking an extended vacation with my parents in CT, while I'm back in NH. I'm blogging on the iPad, which is doable but a little clunky, and makes it much harder to add links, video, etc. So some of the more complicated holiday posts I'd planned will probably end up waiting until next year, alas. I'll try to come up with something, though. Thanks for your patience!
December 09, 2010
Morning Cheer (12/9/10)
Good morning! Cookies, anyone?
That's what I've been doing this morning. Today is my Friday, and I'm off to Connecticut tonight and then New York tomorrow! I'll try to set up a few posts for the weekend in advance, but we'll see how it goes.
Britain's whole "number one single at Christmas" thing is adorable and quaint, but this John Cage contender is awesome.
Yes, Gibbs was making West Wing jokes yesterday.
Blue Valentine: No longer NC-17.
TWoP Gallery: TV's Naughty and Nice of 2010
The RSS reader summary of this straightforward Times item about Oprah picking Dickens for her book club read, in its entirety, "The author is not expected to appear on her show."
Christine O'Donnell is just . . . I don't know. There are no words.
If you only read one piece on Elizabeth Edwards, make it this one by Ezra Klein.
December 08, 2010
Morning Cheer (12/8/10)
Good morning! Wednesday. Right? I think. I'm having trouble keeping track of that this week. Elizabeth Edwards died yesterday - very sad. I'll try to round up some of the links to stories about her for you tomorrow. Today is the thirtieth anniversary of John Lennon's death, so I should post his Christmas song, even though it has never been one of my favorites.
Related: Is Paul McCartney the "Most Uninteresting Person Ever to Inspire a Mountain of Literature"?
Matt Bai and Matt Taibbi: two different people. Honestly, I did that with Michael Dirda and Michael Dibdin for years. Except I never actually met either of them, so it was less embarrassing.
These may be the worst interview questions ever.
Google has a new e-bookstore.
It seems like there are Russian spies all over the place recently.
Uh-oh. Mistletoe under threat!
People are still trying to make George Pataki happen.
Oh, but speaking of "inexplicably still trying to make people happen," Eliza Dushku is off her pilot.
I would like the German Christmas market craze to catch on here, please.
December 07, 2010
Hello! I feel I have been neglecting you in the cheer department. I'm sorry. I had so many big plans but then work is busy and I am tired and . . . you know. I am working on things, but they are coming along more slowly than anticipated. This evening I DID finish almost all of my shopping, so that's something. I just have a few more things that I'll be looking for during my trip this weekend. I even had one of those Amy March moments of putting back a dress I was going to buy for myself so I could buy more for the needy family I "adopted," so now I'm ruining all actual virtue involved by telling you I feel vaguely virtuous about it.
My Hanukkah cards finally went out, but there is STILL TIME to send me your address if you would like a Christmas or general winter CHEER card!
Oh! But I do have a little book review for you . . .
I don't remember whether I mentioned that I am GOING TO SEE The Nutcracker this weekend. In New York! The New York City Ballet! The Balanchine version! This one. When I was a kid, once of my absolute favorite books was called A Very Young Dancer, and it was all about a girl who played Clara in Balanchine's Nutcracker in 1976 or so. The book is (sadly) out of print, and my copy is MISSING, but I got it out of the library so I can reread it before I go. But ANYWAY. I was looking at the display of holiday books at the library and I grabbed Nutcracker Nation, partially because of my trip and partially because it's the sort of thing that would jump out at me anyway.
It was not at all what I expected, and that's a good thing. I didn't look at it that closely before I checked it out, and I was expecting. But that was good! I thought it was going to be one of those pop history Christmas books, but it was actually fairly academic - published by Yale University Press. It told the history of the ballet and then did a sociological and ethnographic study of a few productions in the 1990s. The author spent months with the dance companies and did extensive interviews. There's also plenty about other productions, movies, The Nutcracker in popular culture, etc. If you're interested in dance and social history, I definitely recommend it.
Oh, did I mention that my goal for 2011 is to read 100 books, and to write at least a few sentences here about each one? So that should be exciting.
I should go get some sleep, but I will TRY to have a playlist for you tomorrow. Good night!
Morning Cheer (12/7/10)
Good morning! It's Pearl Harbor Day, and Julian Assange was just arrested. And I'm rushing off to try to get an oil change before work, so I have little for you this morning, except eek! Someone stole a Stradivarius! I realized I haven't posted any Hanukkah music yet this year, so here's one of my favorites:
December 06, 2010
Morning Cheer (12/6/10)
Ah, Monday again. Three more work weeks until Christmas! Today is Dave Brubeck's 90th birthday, so we're going to take a break from the Christmas music for him:
I can get behind the Awl's "JUST DRINK BOURBON, YOU WUSSES" campaign. I mean, alcohol-infused whipped cream could be interesting on some desserts, but just as an alcohol delivery method? No.
December 05, 2010
Sunday Brunch Cheer (12/5/10)
Good morning! What's everyone up to today? I think I'm going to stay home and try to get stuff done around the house. I went and saw Tangled yesterday, and it was adorable. Highly recommended.
Hee. The lieutenant governors had a convention.
This project doing statistical research on Victorian novels is fascinating.
Does Apple have its eye on console games?
Marilyn Stasio's Notable Crime Books of 2010, which includes the amazing line "To be really bold, give gifts that make people cry."
December 04, 2010
MORNING CHEER (12/4/10)
Good morning! Happy Saturday! My weekend plans consist of cleaning, Christmas shopping, reading, and maybe seeing a few movies. You?
Important Notice: It has come to my attention that some people might not realize that Ari Shapiro is hot. Now you know.
Okay, I have a LOT of links for you today, because I've been getting behind. Ready?
Before we get into the rest of this nonsense, you should really take a moment and read Yglesias on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It's short but important. And then Jamelle Bouie on the Catholic League and National Portrait Gallery. Same deal there.
People. PEOPLE. The President will not get a serious primary challenge. Charles will not and should not abdicate for William. Can we just STOP with these two rumors already?
Yes, food is part of the culture wars.
The Roosevelt Island Tramway has reopened.
The Times talks to a Christmas tree man.
People love single-focus restaurants.
I would be in favor of a port revival.
Hey look, a TV Advent Calendar.
This is the best explanation of the Comcast/Netflix thing that I've read.
I have been waiting for metamorphosis puns for months. Thank you, Byron Tau!
A slightly different take on the economics of gift-giving.
Automats have always sounded kind of fascinating.
Amazon Prime is a genius business move. And yes, I figured, considering the amount of money I now spend with them because of it.
Manjoo is right: disposable computing is the future.
I really kind of want some of these Lego architecture sets.
I now want to have holiday parties just to make these drinks.
Baking isn't scary if you just follow the recipe.
The Bartender Who Played with Fire isn't quite as weird as a Stieg Larsson book, but it's close.
December 03, 2010
MORNING CHEER (12/3/10)
Happy Friday! My God, it has not come a moment too soon. One of my goals for the weekend is to finish planning out my baking and card-sending and all that. Wish me luck.
This Steve Martin story is completely ridiculous. Really, people? Really?
The Times has named their Ten Best Books of the year.
The real-life Swedish murder that came before Larsson and Mankell.
The state of the Hannukah song.
There are no Kennedys in Congress right now. Who's next?
Even when you look at it from a purely economic standpoint, Republican opposition to extending unemployment benefits makes no sense.
I liked this article about the NYT selling their share of the Red Sox just for this line:
Even in 2002, the general consensus was that a print newspaper with $75 million to invest would have been better served throwing the money--literally throwing it--at the first programmer, TED panelist, or bronchial hobo who said he had an idea for making money off the Web.But I'd also forgotten they owned the Sox!
The Atlantic's Ideas of the Year
What's with Betsy Rothstein?
I like Doctor Who as much as the next girl, but I'd only pay $4500 for a TARDIS bed if the Doctor actually CAME WITH IT.
December 02, 2010
Holiday Book Spotlight: The Gregor Demarkian Mysteries
(First in an occasional series on my favorite holiday-themed books.)
Jane Haddam's first Gregor Demarkian novel, Not a Creature Was Stirring, is set at Christmas, and she moves through any number of other holidays (and back to Christmas a few times) in the next twenty-four volumes. Demarkian is a retired FBI agent who moves back to the Armenian neighborhood in Philadelphia where he grew up, and takes on cases as favors for various powerful people he knows. These definitely aren't cozies, holiday themes notwithstanding; they're more along the lines of Elizabeth George or P.D. James.
The later books are a little less holiday-themed than the earlier ones, but they're all great, and this is one series that, on average, improves as it goes rather than declining in quality. Unfortunately, the first bunch of books are out of print, but you can probably find them at your library. If you can't, just jump in later. It looks like the fifteenth, Skeleton Key (set at Halloween) is the earliest in print, but I started with the next, True Believers, and then went back and hunted down the older ones. The mysteries themselves stand alone, but if you read out of order, you will be spoiled for some events in the characters' personal lives. (It didn't really bother me in this case, and I care more about that sort of thing than most.)
MORNING CHEER (12/2/10)
My God, is this week over yet? No? Really? Oh, but happy Hannukah to those celebrating!
The last Mitford sister has published her memoirs.
This history of ballet sounds fascinating.
This article about how Kate Middleton will fit into court protocol is detailed and fascinating, but sheesh, people. There are rules. Just follow them. Why all the drama?
This piece about the student demonstrations in London is fascinating, and has a picture of the best protest sign EVER.
December 01, 2010
MORNING CHEER (12/1/10)
Oh, hey, look, it's December! Wow. Monday and Tuesday went pretty smoothly, at least around here, but today is a little rockier so far, so here's a cute video to ease you into Wednesday: A cat adopts a baby squirrel and teaches it to purr.
What are diplomatic cables, anyway?
I've always wanted to try making sourdough. This Slice Starter-Along might be enough to make me finally do it.
You should really read this essay by a Harvard student who was brought to the U.S. illegally as a child.
I've been looking for a list like this: 13 Movies to See Before the Oscars
I could get behind the drip coffee backlash backlash. I mean, seriously. A few minutes ago I tried to put a coffee filter in my teacup. The more labor-intensive coffee preparation methods sound nice and all, but don't ask me to do that before I've had caffeine.
The new Nutcracker movie sounds AWFUL, and that makes me sad.
Bob Geldof knows he wrote the worst Christmas song ever. He's sorry.
November 29, 2010
Gift Guides 2010: Time's Holiday Shopping Guide
Time's guide was the one I reviewed last year, so it seems appropriate to start with them this year. They seem to have dropped the charity aspect, so we just have "this year's coolest books, music, DVDs and gifts for every budget." Here we go!
The Christmas Gig
"Norwegian Wood" on iTunes
Decoy Gift Box
Glee: The Music, Vol. 4
I Live Real Close to Where You Used to Live
Let's Bring Back
Atlas of Remote Islands
Green Toys Fire Truck
Community: The Complete First Season
Kiehl's Creme De Corps Holiday Collection
Electronic Spy Camera Shirt
Disney Epic Mickey
Slings and Arrows: The Complete Collection
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
The Making of The Empire Strikes Back
40: A Doonesbury Retrospective
The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series
75 Years Of DC Comics: The Art Of Modern Mythmaking
Lost: The Complete Collection
The Rolling Stones Limited Edition Remastered Vinyl Box Sets
MORNING CHEER (11/29/10)
Good morning and happy Monday! We're at that point at which we're just past Thanksgiving and it seems like it's time for Christmas, but then comes the realization that we have another four weeks of work to get through first. Sigh. So let's have some nice mellow music to get us through this Monday morning back at work:
I don't know much about this blog in general, so I'm not endorsing their overall program or anything, but a friend sent me the link to this list of things to do now to get ready for Christmas and it has some good ideas.
This Morning Edition story about a gay Marine discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell was very interesting.
Leslie Nielsen has died, and here's where I admit that I've never seen any of his movies. I know, I know. I shall Netflix Airplane posthaste.
NPR is doing a Christmas Carol-themed series on the deficit. I love NPR.
November 28, 2010
It's not technically morning anymore; I'm sorry. But hey, it's Sunday, so we'll call it brunch! It's been a busy morning at my parents' house and now I'm getting ready to head home this afternoon. I'm thinking "Home for the Holidays," with its mention of traffic issues, is good for days on which I'll be driving a lot. Are there other songs about traffic, or should I just use different versions of this one? Hmm.
Three good links from Apartment Therapy:
November 27, 2010
I set up my Department 56 Dickens' Village yesterday. I usually set it up at my parents' house, since that's where I actually have Christmas, and since they entertain more, so people will see it, and since they have no cat to knock it all over. This year, we decided to put it on the hutch in their kitchen, and I like the result:
The problem with using the hutch is that there's nowhere to hide the cords, so Mom decided they would look better if I braided them. Let's just hope they don't need to take it down in a hurry for some reason. (Mom's response to that comment? "Like what? If the Nazis come?")
Here's a blurry picture taken with no flash so you can see how pretty it looks all lit up:
And if you'd like to see close-up pictures of the various pieces, click here.
MORNING CHEER (11/27/10)
Good morning! Welcome to your first edition of MORNING CHEER! The dog (my parents' dog) and I are the only ones up, and he's gazing at me adoringly, which is nice, but he's kind of stinky. Anyway! You need a morning song! I promise I won't use Glee music every day, but we've been decorating my parents' house, and I love their version of "Deck the Halls" . . .
A few Thanksgiving-specific links I didn't manage to post before Thanksgiving:
Looking for a movie to see with family or friends over the holidays? TWoP has you covered.
I liked the Avalon High movie better than the folks at Forever Young Adult did, but their take on it is hilarious regardless.
Not quite feeling the holiday spirit? This is for you.
November 26, 2010
Welcome to THE CHEER FACTORY!
Thanksgiving is officially over, and I'm more or less ignoring Black Friday, which means . . .
Time for CHEER! A few of you have asked exactly what I mean by that. Basically, it's short for Christmas cheer or holiday cheer, but this particular usage of "cheer," and the spreading of, originated, I believe, with author Maureen Johnson. You can read her blog posts on the subject here.
So this year, I will be following her lead and devoting the blog to spreading CHEER from now until New Year's. I have a variety of plans, and have outlined them below, but if you have any CHEER REQUESTS, please let me know! What would make YOUR holiday season more CHEERful?
1. Holiday cards for all! Yes, the real, paper kind. If I don't have your address, email me! And most of the cards I have are secular Christmas cards, so if you'd be offended by that, please mention. I have a few Hannukah cards left, plus some non-holiday winter CHEER cards and some religious Christmas cards.
2. MORNING CHEER. This will be like Morning Coffee, but different. I will give you a holiday song to listen to each morning, plus, if I have time, some links and general commentary.
3. Gift Guide Extravaganza!
4. Music! I have very definite opinions on holiday music, and I will be sharing them. Lucky you. I will give you at least one iMix for iTunes users, and probably some album suggestions here. (If I see you in person, I am also liable to start shoving CDs at you, as Caitlin and Bobby can attest.)
5. Lists! I love lists. I'm working on a list of favorite holiday movies and one of holiday books. Any other lists you'd like?
6. Recipes! There will be baking. You'll get a recipe or two.
7. Answers! I know a lot of random holiday stuff, and I love research, so if you have QUESTIONS about holiday history, traditions, etc., let me know! Or about what I do for holidays, or, I don't know, whatever. I also give pretty good advice, so if you have a weird holiday situation with your family or friends or something, I'd be happy to give an opinion.
That's all the categories of CHEER I can think of right now. Do you have others I should add? Tell me!