Powered by
Movable Type 3.2

December 14, 2010

Cheer Interrupted

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!

Posted by Kat at 07:27 AM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2010

Morning Cheer (12/9/10)

Good morning! Cookies, anyone?

Molasses Cookies

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.

Posted by Kat at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)

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.

The United States of America According to Google Autocomplete

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.

The Fight to Preserve Jesuit Heritage in Bolivia

To Fool Baby Panda, Human-Shaped Chinese Scientists Sport Panda Suits

Posted by Kat at 07:51 AM | Comments (1)

December 07, 2010

Nutcracker Nation!

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 . . .

Nutcracker Nation by Jennifer Fisher

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!

Posted by Kat at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

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:

Posted by Kat at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)

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:

The Joy of Lists

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.

An online retailer seeks bad publicity to up his Google score, and Google changes its algorithm.

Posted by Kat at 07:57 AM | Comments (1)

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."

Posted by Kat at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2010


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?

Winter in Russia

Yes, food is part of the culture wars.

The Roosevelt Island Tramway has reopened.

How Republicans are using WikiLeaks to indulge their spy thriller fantasies

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.

What's each 2012 candidate's big vulnerability?

The Clarence House Christmas tree arrives!

I have been waiting for metamorphosis puns for months. Thank you, Byron Tau!

The Wonder and Terror of College Football

Why do we hate modern classical music?

A slightly different take on the economics of gift-giving.

Automats have always sounded kind of fascinating.

Infidelity in Russia

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.

Posted by Kat at 10:20 AM | Comments (1)

December 03, 2010


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.

Hannukah, Rekindled

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 WikiLeaks cables as literature

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.

Posted by Kat at 08:13 AM | Comments (1)

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.)

Posted by Kat at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)


My God, is this week over yet? No? Really? Oh, but happy Hannukah to those celebrating!

Today's Morning Edition highlights: Does Paterson have a future in sports radio? What makes a good diplomatic cable?

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?

Dave Weigel read Sarah Palin's new book so you don't have to.

Where are the departing senators going?

This piece about the student demonstrations in London is fascinating, and has a picture of the best protest sign EVER.

I know I was talking about going to see Oscar contenders, but this weekend, what I actually want to take myself to see are Burlesque and Tangled.

Posted by Kat at 08:04 AM | Comments (2)

December 01, 2010


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.

Slate's 80 Over 80

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

Bloomberg? Really?

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.

Does Shonda Rhimes ever sleep?

The new Nutcracker movie sounds AWFUL, and that makes me sad.

Bob Geldof knows he wrote the worst Christmas song ever. He's sorry.

Posted by Kat at 08:04 AM | Comments (1)

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!

Under $5

The Christmas Gig
What is it? A free 13-track download of holiday music by indie bands, from target.com. (Downloadable starting November 28.) No, I have no idea why it's called what it's called. Bands include Guster and, um, other people I've vaguely heard of.
How much? Free!
Who is it for? Broke hipsters.
What's wrong with it? Well, it's free. Which is fine, but since it's so obviously free, people might be offended if you give it to them as a "gift." This is the sort of thing I would certainly TELL my friends about - and I'm working on a "free holiday music" post so I'll add it to that, and likely download it myself - but I wouldn't call it a gift, exactly.
Grade: C-

"Norwegian Wood" on iTunes
What is it? A digital version of the song. (By the Beatles. But you knew that, right?)
How much? $1.29
Who is it for? They say you could give it as a "token" to a Beatles fan who undoubtedly has it already, but that seems dumb. And I'm not sure this is the best song to use to introduce the band to someone who isn't a fan. Hm. Actually, if you have a relative who has all the albums on vinyl and you're trying to convince them to try digital music, this might be a decent way to start.
What's wrong with it? As I said last year when they recommended a Darlene Love song, I'm skeptical of "giving" a one-song download. There's probably a way to buy it and send it to your friend's email address. (Okay, I finally gave in and looked, and there is a way.) But it still seems more like a nice friendly gesture than a gift, per se.
Grade: B for content, D for presentation


Decoy Gift Box
What is it? An empty box made to look like it's for a fake product like a USB toaster or an underwater cell phone case. (Wait, but those actually do exist.)
How much? $7.99 for one, $25 for 4, or $37.99 for 7
Who is it for? People who like gag gifts
What's wrong with it? Well, it's way more than I'd want to spend on a joke, but you may have someone on your list who would love this.
Grade: C

Glee: The Music, Vol. 4
What is it? An album of music from Glee.
How much? List price is $13.99, but you can find it cheaper in all sorts of places.
Who is it for? Glee fans, or maybe fans of Gwyneth Paltrow or Darren Criss, as their songs both made it onto this album.
What's wrong with it? Well, nothing, and I might actually put it on my Christmas list. I'd just check that your Glee fan doesn't already have it, because there's a lot of hype around these albums and people tend to pre-order or buy them on release day.
Grade: B+

I Live Real Close to Where You Used to Live
What is it? A book of kids' letters to Michelle, Malia, and Sasha Obama. Proceeds go to charity!
How much? $12
Who is it for? Kids, Obama fans, anyone into presidential memorabilia
What's wrong with it? Well, I would make sure I was aware of my recipient's (or his parents') political views before I gave this, so as not to offend, but that issue aside, this is a great gift!
Grade: A-

Let's Bring Back
What is it? A book of interesting things that have been forgotten, been made obsolete, or just fallen out of fashion. Examples: the automat, paper dolls, serenades, Mae West.
How much? $13.57
Who is it for? Nostalgic people; those into social history
What's wrong with it? Well, on a philosophical and political level, I tend to get annoyed at all the "The past was obviously better" stuff, but this book looks really fun and interesting and I certainly wouldn't mind receiving it!
Grade: B+

Atlas of Remote Islands
What is it? A book about isolated islands, with both narration and maps. It promises cannibalism and "macabre glee." SIGN ME UP.
How much? $18.48
Who is it for? ME. I WANT. Also, it would be an awesome gift for my professor who taught that Literature of Isolation and Exile class. Anyway, also good for people into maps and sea adventure stories, as well as amateur anthropologists, maybe.
What's wrong with it? NOTHING. Well, it looks kind of dark, so make sure you get it for someone who likes that sort of thing. But seriously, it looks awesome.
Grade: A

Water.org CamelBaks
What is it? A fancy water bottle. Proceeds go to charity.
How much? $18.99-$24.99
Who is it for? Hikers? People who work out a lot? These seem to be popular with college students at the moment, too. Also: Matt Damon fans (he endorsed them).
What's wrong with it? Well, it's a little expensive for a water bottle, but not unusually so, I guess. Trendy water bottles vaguely annoy me, but I actually can't articulate any reason why this would make a bad gift. Ooh, unless it's hard to clean. That tends to be my issue with water bottles and travel mugs.
Grade: B


Green Toys Fire Truck
What is it? A toy fire truck made of super-safe recycled plastic, safe for any child over one.
How much? $24.99
Who is it for? "The kid whose parents won't let him have anything." Children of overprotective ecoconscious hipsters.
What's wrong with it? Well, it's a little precious, and expensive for a toy truck that doesn't light up or make noise or do anything fun, but they're right. It is perfect for that precious little child who only eats organic baby carrots and isn't allowed to get dirty.
Grade: B

Community: The Complete First Season
What is it? DVD set of the (very funny) sitcom Community.
How much? $26.99, but it's been on sale practically everywhere for less.
Who is it for? People who like funny things. Joel McHale fans. Maybe people who work at or attend community colleges, if they can take a joke.
What's wrong with it? Well, it's a great show. But I always have issues with TV show seasons as gifts, unless they're specifically asked for, because otherwise there's a pretty good chance you've given the DVDs to someone who has never seen the show and might or might not be interested, OR you've given them to a fan who has seen every episode and may already have the DVDs. So . . . I wouldn't. But Community itself is probably the best sitcom on TV right now, so.
Grade: B-

Kiehl's Creme De Corps Holiday Collection
What is it? Lotions and stuff with labels by Jeff Koons. Proceeds go to charity.
How much? $27
Who is it for? People who like fancy bath and body stuff. Jeff Koons fans.
What's wrong with it? Actually, $27 isn't bad for nice lotion, and the interesting labels and charity aspect make this into a really nice gift! Just make sure your recipient can use scented stuff. (I have several people in my life who can't.)
Grade: A

What is it? 236 little magnetic metal balls. No, really.
How much? $29.99
Who is it for? Older kids or adults who like sciencey things or abstract toys or just interesting things to fiddle with.
What's wrong with it? These actually look pretty awesome. Just make sure you don't give them to kids with younger siblings who will eat them, because that would end badly.
Grade: A-

Electronic Spy Camera Shirt
What is it? A t-shirt with a picture of a spy - but his camera actually works.
How much? $39.99
Who is it for? Wannabe spies, people who like nifty gadgets.
What's wrong with it? Well, it's sort of for a niche audience, I guess, but it's pretty great.
Grade: A

iPod Shuffle
What is it? A postage-stamp sized iPod that holds 2GB of music, but has no screen and limited controls.
How much? $49
Who is it for? I'm . . . not sure. See below.
What's wrong with it? My feelings on this are complicated. I mean, first of all, OMG, you can get an iPod for under $50! We really are living in the future! Awesome! On the other hand, now that iPods and other mp3 players are so cheap, pretty much everyone who's serious about music (and wants one) has one. And I know I would be frustrated by the lack of a screen; I also sort of assume that makes it harder to navigate your music or control what you listen to, but I don't know that for sure. I think the two big categories of people who don't have mp3 players yet are little kids and older people who are wary of the technology. This would probably make a fine "my first iPod" for a kid. I'm less sure that it would be good for an older person, because of the aforementioned no-screen issue. (I'd probably spring for a Nano instead.)
Grade: C+

Disney Epic Mickey
What is it? A Wii game about Mickey Mouse that is hard to describe but sounds pretty cool. Battling evil! Forgotten Disney characters! The chance to play Mickey as heroic or self-serving!
How much? $49.99
Who is it for? Are you the sort of family that tries to do a "family gift" for everyone to play together? And has a Wii? If so, this would be perfect for you, as it promises that it's accessible to kids but also interesting for adults.
What's wrong with it? Very little, actually. Just make sure your recipient has a Wii and not some other gaming system.
Grade: A+

Slings and Arrows: The Complete Collection
What is it? All three seasons of the critically-acclaimed Canadian dramedy about a somewhat dysfunctional Shakespearean theater troupe.
How much? $49.99
Who is it for? ME. I've been meaning to Netflix this for years. Also, people who like critically-acclaimed dramedies. This might actually be good for people who watch a lot of British TV and need some new things to try, because it sounds like it's in roughly the same vein as a lot of popular British shows, but since it's Canadian, they might not have seen it.
What's wrong with it? This is one of those things that's for a bit of a niche audience, but for that audience, it's perfect. And my usual reservations about TV on DVD as gifts are somewhat lessened here, because a) this hasn't been shown on American TV (I don't think) so it's less likely that people have seen it and b) it's the whole series rather than one season.
Grade: B+


Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
What is it? A racing game. I think it's the kind with lots of crashing.
How much? $49.95-$59.95, depending on platform.
Who is it for? Teen and twenty-something guys, mostly.
What's wrong with it? Well, if you have someone on your list who likes this sort of thing (and either has parents who don't mind it or is old enough that Mom's opinion doesn't matter), this is probably a good choice. Make sure you get the right version, and if you're getting it for a real fan I'd check that they didn't buy it themselves on release day.
Grade: B

The Making of The Empire Strikes Back
What is it? A gigantic book about, uh, the making of The Empire Strikes Back.
How much? $50.68
Who is it for? Star Wars fans, movie buffs, people who like "behind the scenes" stuff.
What's wrong with it? It's a little expensive, but it sounds really interesting.
Grade: B+

40: A Doonesbury Retrospective
What is it? A book with 1,400 comic strips, essays, and more.
How much? $63
Who is it for? Doonesbury fans, presumably. Leftists. People who like comics.
What's wrong with it? Well, I am not really a person who likes comics. I mean, I don't dislike them, but if someone was going to spend $63 on books for me, I can think of many, many titles I'd pick over this. But for people who do like comics (and aren't going to be offended by the strip's political position), this looks neat.
Grade: C+

The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series
What is it? A DVD set of this comedy set behind the scenes at a late-night talk show.
How much? $98.49
Who is it for? Fans of the show who don't have it on DVD yet. People intrigued by all the late-night drama in the news the past year (with Team Coco et al.).
What's wrong with it? Confession: I had no idea what this show was until I read this description, which makes it sound like the Sports Night of late night. Now I kind of want to watch it (although probably not own it). But my usual caveats about TV on DVD apply.
Grade: B-

The Pacific
What is it? WWII miniseries; follow-up to Band of Brothers
How much? $56.99
Who is it for? Band of Brothers fans. WWII buffs. This will probably be one of the season's most popular Dad/Grandfather/Random Hard-to-Buy-for Uncle gifts.
What's wrong with it? Well, I certainly wouldn't kick it out from under the Christmas tree. I guess it's probably pretty violent, so that's something to keep in mind. Oh, and this link seems to be specifically for the Blu-ray; unless you're sure your recipient has a Blu-ray player I'd just go for the DVD.
Grade: B+


75 Years Of DC Comics: The Art Of Modern Mythmaking
What is it? Okay, I said that Star Wars book was gigantic, but this is really gigantic: 15 pounds, 720 pages, of DC Comics (Superman, Batman, etc.). Plus some annotations and such.
How much? $126
Who is it for? Fans of comics, superheroes, or the history of pop art.
What's wrong with it? This looks like a beautiful gift, if you have a comics fan and $126 to spend.
Grade: A-

Microsoft Kinect
What is it? A thing to add to your Xbox to be able to play games with no controller - it uses a camera and your body movement.
How much? $199 with two games
Who is it for? Like the Wii, this is probably mostly for less-serious gamers who want to do dancing and sports type things. And already have an Xbox.
What's wrong with it? Well, make sure the recipient has an Xbox - it doesn't work by itself. And make sure they actually want to play the kind of games this uses, or it's a waste of money. But I saw a demonstration of it on TV and it was pretty nifty.
Grade: B-

Lost: The Complete Collection
What is it? Complete DVDs of the show, plus some extras and interesting packaging.
How much? $148.99
Who is it for? Lost fans who aren't quite fanatic enough to have bought this already.
What's wrong with it? Well, my usual TV on DVD issues apply, especially with a show so ridiculously popular and well-known as this. But I hear that this set is pretty neat, so if you do have a Lost fan on your list, this would be great!
Grade: B-

The Rolling Stones Limited Edition Remastered Vinyl Box Sets
What is it? Boxed sets of remastered Rolling Stones records. Yes, on vinyl.
How much? $277.27 for 1964-1969, $296.90 for 1971-2005.
Who is it for? People you really really like who really really like the Stones.
What's wrong with it? I mean, I like the Rolling Stones as well as anyone. At first I thought this was a remastered CD set, and I could get behind that idea, but . . . Really? Almost $600 for vinyl? I mean, fine, if you have a lot of money to spend on a vinyl purist. But most of us don't.
Grade: C-

Posted by Kat at 07:54 PM | Comments (3)

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.

Posted by Kat at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2010

Brunch-time CHEER

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:
Goblets for the Holidays (Slightly random, I know, but I love goblets.)
Last Minute Things to Do before you entertain
Setting Up a Beautiful and Efficient Buffet

Posted by Kat at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2010

Dickens' Village!

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:

Dickens Village

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:

Dickens Village

And if you'd like to see close-up pictures of the various pieces, click here.

Posted by Kat at 12:32 PM | Comments (2)

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:
Where to Buy Last-Minute Thanksgiving Pie in New York
What all the food magazines are pushing this year.
The women of Slate on mothers and holiday cooking traditions. (Warning: This made me cry.)
I know I already recommended this Awl series in general, but this apple pie recipe reads like some sort of cross of Spencer Ackerman and Jay McInerney, and it's completely hilarious and now I want to make pie. (The pie crust article it links to is pretty great too.)
Backstage at the Macy's Parade

These were written for Thanksgiving but will work for the whole month of holiday events to come. Want to win all the arguments at the holiday dinner tables? Slate and Foreign Policy have you covered.

Happy news! The early, out-of-print novels of Rafael Yglesias are now available as ebooks.

Looking for a movie to see with family or friends over the holidays? TWoP has you covered.

Annie Lowrey visits the offices of one of the companies that makes those airport scanners everyone's talking about.

Which books are Penguin authors giving and hoping to get this year?

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.

Ten Things I Hate About Slideshows [A Slideshow]

Posted by Kat at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2010


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!
3a. Remember the gift guide review I wrote last year? (Did I only do one? I thought there were others. Hm.) Anyway, I'm going to try to do a few this year.
3b. And I will write my own gift guides! Definitely a few about books for various demographics, and maybe some other stuff.
3c. I will also write you PERSONALIZED GIFT GUIDES. I did some gift coaching on Twitter last year and enjoyed it, so I'm going to put it here this year. I can recommend books for practically anyway, and can do music or movies or other stuff for some people. So send me the specifics of your hard-to-shop-for person (at least age, gender, any known interests, whatever else you want to tell me) and I will suggest things. Also, let me know if I can answer publicly here or if you just want an email back.

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!

Posted by Kat at 10:58 AM | Comments (1)

Page design by fluffa! Hosted at prettyposies.com. Powered by Movable Type 3.2