March 31, 2011

090: Out like a lamb...?

Lovely day today, temperatures approaching 50F, snow melting, et cetera.  March has apparently decided to go quietly into the goodnight, for the most part.  Of course, I'll probably be complaining about rain and snow tomorrow, but for the time being, let's appreciate the spring that must, surely, be on the way.

Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well

images via We Heart It
 (And, of course, the baseball opener!)

March 30, 2011

089: Intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism

New Doctor Who trailer!

Neil Gaiman tweeted that a line from the episode he wrote made it into the trailer, so I'm amusing myself by trying to figure out which one it is.  I'm less than thrilled by the return of River Song; I've never been fond of her, and the constant reminders that she's Someone Important! to the Doctor have just annoyed me from the get-go.  Also, I could do without the kissing -- if anyone's going to be kissing, it should be Amy and Rory, who are kind of the best couple ever.  I'm intrigued by the fact that parts of the new season were shot in the States, and I wonder if that means there will be American actors in those episodes, as well, or if we'll have to endure a full season of terrible accents that are only American in the minds of the actors mangling them.

We shall see.  (And so very soon!  Huzzah!)

(Subject line props to Craig Ferguson)

March 29, 2011

088: Out of foolproof ideas

I listen to this song at least once a day. Sara Bareilles FTW.

March 28, 2011

087: Dollars and cents

Did my civic duty and filed my taxes today.  I'll be looking forward to a refund equivalent to my last paycheck.  Also, I didn't realize that I am technically poverty-stricken, but my income for all of 2010 was a four-digit number.  Crikey.

March 27, 2011

086: Goldberg

It's been about a year since this video, but it's still great.

March 26, 2011

085: Favorite Things IX

I feel like that subject up there ought to be followed by a colon and "THE RECKONING" or something.  "FAVORITE THINGS IX: THIS TIME IT'S PERSONAL."  Or perhaps, "FAVORITE THINGS IX: REVENGE OF THE STUFF"...or not.

via We Heart It
The local CBS station sometimes does a segment featuring shelter animals up for adoption during the noon news, and the collie puppy they had on this week is, quite possibly, the most adorable dog that has ever lived.  Now, I'm not a dog person, but puppies are just darn cute.

I read a book this week that used the phrase "streets ahead" and couldn't help but think of Community's Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase). The oddball characters, improbable situations, and this week's Pulp Fiction/My Dinner With Andre homage episode all contribute to making the show the first Favorite Things repeat. I just wish they'd stop pushing the Jeff/Annie relationship; I don't buy it.  Of course, I didn't like Jeff/Britta, either.  In any case, I'll keep watching in the hope they'll top the paintball episode.

Aaron Sorkin on 30 Rock
I loved The West Wing.  It remains the only grown-up TV series for which I own the official companion book and a collection of first-season scripts (I have copies of most of the tie-in novels for Ghostwriter, but that's another thing altogether).  I still quote the show on a regular basis, wish I could vote for Jed Bartlet, and "pedeconference" gets regular use in my lexicon.  So I was pleased to see a very West Wing-y walk-and-talk scene with Sorkin and my beloved Liz Lemon on 30 Rock

via We Heart It
Secret double lives
One of my favorite things about superhero comics and movies is the cover identity; I loved the opening to The Incredibles, where Mr. Incredible is on a schedule as he tries to beat the bad guy so he can be on time for his wedding to Elastigirl.  The classic is the sheer implausibility of Clark Kent "disguising" himself by putting on glasses.    Then there's The Secret Lives of Jeopardy! Contestants to consider, too.

Apparently it's just a Liz Lemon-themed week.  There is a certain joy derived from browsing the cheese section at Costco.  Why, yes, I do need over a pound of Havarti!  How did you know?  If I'm not careful, the whole wheel of Brie could be gone by Monday.

March 25, 2011

084: WTF

The fact that OMG and LOL were added to the Oxford English Dictionary was news today, and a part of my soul dies every time I see the headline.  Also new is the heart symbol (♥), which isn't a word at all.  In which part of the dictionary do you look for ♥?  Between this and the increasingly frequent use of "gooder" in TV commercials, can the death of the English language be far away?  Woe!

Now a real word.

March 24, 2011

083: Occupational hazards

This is crazy.  You could not, under any circumstances, convince me to be a war correspondent.  I do not have the guts for this job.

Holy crap.

March 23, 2011

082: Unemployed Again (Naturally)

Today was the last day of my temp appointment, so I'm once again on the hunt for a way to make ends meet.  It was an odd last day, altogether.  There was (yet another) snowstorm overnight, which meant that my express bus hadn't shown up after about half an hour, so I accepted a ride from one of the other commuters, a lovely woman named Phyllis, who braved heavy traffic and terrible road conditions to drive four of us to campus.  I later heard from a coworker that buses were running up to an hour late...yikes.

(I only slightly regret missing the opportunity to exchange pleasantries one last time with the friendly and handsome morning bus driver.)

I don't think the fact that I no longer have a job -- even if it was part-time -- has sunk in yet.  At the moment, I'm looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow morning, and that's about it.  For the time being, there's still the massive purging of the hoarded crap in the spare bedroom to finish, and I haven't even started my taxes yet.  Then I have to photograph and list all the stock for eBay and Etsy that I've been putting off.  There's fellowship writing to be done and applications to be investigated and submitted.  I feel obligated to try to help with the care of my elderly grandparents (happy 87th, Grandpa!) so my mother can, on occasion, get some work done.  So there's plenty of work to be done, even if most of it doesn't pay particularly well.

It's Weird Wednesday!  Let's all do some introspection.

March 22, 2011

081: Obsolescence

Got sucked into three hours of Electric Dreams on public television tonight, in which a family went through all the technology changes between 1970 and 2000, jumping forward one year in technology each day.  It's amazing that kids born in 1995 don't even recognize technology from the 1980s.  And not one of them thought to pick up a book when they couldn't go play video games.  Furthermore, they didn't seem to see the joys of LPs over CDs.

image source
We have two record players in the house; one is a radio/CD/cassette/LP player and one is a USB record player that I use to convert old records into mp3s for myself.  See, kids of the '90s?  Old shit can be hip and techy, too!

Kids these days, I tell you.

March 21, 2011

080: La Tour

Tour Eiffel, Paris, 2007.
I've been to Paris five times, but I never get tired of the Eiffel Tower.
(click to view larger)

March 20, 2011

079: (Steam)punked

Some things would be even cooler if we lived in a steam-powered clockwork world.
(click photos for sources)

March 19, 2011

078: Favorite things VIII

Late-breaking favorites...

And it's a good thing, too, since I'm spending a lot of my time doing it.

via Things Organized Neatly
There's nothing quite like reclaiming a closet and some floor space by shoving a whole lot of junk into a trash bag.  That, and putting in neat piles things that were strewn all over.  I spent a couple hours stacking yards and yards of fabric on new shelving units in my grandmother's sewing room.  Anybody in the market for some '70s doubleknits?

There's been a steady, fast-moving stream down to the storm drain at the end of the street, and most of the snow has melted on the front lawn.  In a related story, we thought someone had stolen our ice chopper, but after a foot or so of snow melted near the front steps, a familiar handle was spotted sticking up out of the snowbank.  Moral of the story: don't leave your snow removal tools out in the path of the snowblower.

via We Heart It
I've been having trouble getting up before 9AM recently, because it's just so much nicer to be asleep.  Zzz.

Specifically, listening to the Minnesota Orchestra's Beethoven cycle, courtesy of my public library.  Shamefully, I haven't been to see the Orchestra live since I was in elementary school, but the CD releases of the Beethoven cycle (conducted by music director Osmo Vänskä) seem like a good way to get reacquainted with the local band.  Good, clean fun and excellent music.

March 18, 2011

077: Strategy

Fun with see-through chess sets.
Part of a series shot for a digital photography class at the University of Minnesota.
(Click for larger image.)

March 17, 2011

076: Luck of the Irish

This morning, I woke up to the sound of sirens wailing as a fire truck sped down the county road; it turns out there was a fire around the corner from my dentist's office.  Then I sat down to breakfast around 9:00 and turned on the TV to find that there was a natural gas explosion and massive fire in South Minneapolis.  The Star Tribune's photo gallery from the latter is impressive; it gives a pretty good idea of how huge that fire was -- and yet, even through two explosions and heat so intense it melted cars in a nearby parking lot and the sign on the Cub Foods building, no one was seriously injured.  Crazy, crazy morning.

(In other news, happy St. Paddy's Day!)

Luck of the Irish, indeed.

March 16, 2011

075: Chuck weather

Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, 2006.
Today, I wore my beloved purple Converse high-tops for the first time this year. The beginning of Chucks season always makes me happy.  Fun fact: the above photo was taken in the cheap seats at the Metrodome during a Twins game in 2006, back when the place still had a roof on it and Target Field was but a distant dream.  Those shoes are a little more beat-up now, five years later...

March 15, 2011

074: Pod people

via We Heart It
I don't listen to a lot of podcasts on a regular basis.  I just don't have the space on my iPod to dedicate to them, and I got tired of the weird looks I got at work when people saw me sitting alone at my desk, snickering at the podcast from Russell Brand's defunct BBC Radio 2 show.  However, on the advice of a friend, I started listening to the Nerdist podcast recently, and it's rekindled my love for the format.  There's just something about listening to a bunch of guys sitting around, making fun of each other and talking to celebrities that warms the cockles of my bitter heart.

Last spring, while I was working a couple of temp positions at my former employer/alma mater/current employer, I would stream Made of Fail and Wil Wheaton's Radio Free Burrito and Memories of the Futurecast to pass the time while I puzzled over how to organize Swedish newspaper clippings (a difficult task, as I do not speak Swedish).  Made of Fail was nice, since their marathon-length episodes would cover almost the entire time between my lunch break and quitting time (and one of my favorite snarkbloggers, Cleolinda Jones, is a frequent guest).  "The Official LOST Podcast" with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse was a source of amusement and frustration throughout the run of Lost, while the BBC's Doctor Who commentary podcasts during Russell T. Davies' tenure were well-intentioned, but basically pointless by the time the DVDs came out.  Almost all of the programs I've mentioned so far 1) talk about the things I like, 2) have interesting and amusing people talking about the things I like, and 3) don't take up too much of my time having interesting, amusing people talk about the things I like.  Make me laugh and I'm sold, podcasters.

Nowadays, I'm subscribed to a handful of news podcasts -- the Anderson Cooper 360 podcast, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, and CBS Evening News with Katie Couric -- that I watch as soon as they're posted, while Chris Hardwick and friends from the Nerdist tend to pile up until I have a few hours to spare.  Sometimes it's more important being informed than being amused.

Any favorite podcasts you'd suggest, random internet reader?

March 14, 2011

073: Light-headed



First haircut since November 2008.  It may not look different to you (apart from the too-strong contrast and odd colors in the second photo...), but the difference in weight hanging off my head is enormous.  It's like I took off a lead hat.  Thanks, Great Clips $7.99 Haircut Sale!

March 13, 2011

072: Cast on

If I can manage to finish the second sleeve for my cardigan, I'll be starting my first-ever commissioned knitting project tomorrow.  Granted, it was my mother who commissioned it, but it's a commission nonetheless.  I have two weeks left at work before my current appointment is up, so I'll (theoretically) have plenty of time to work on it.  Still, it's a big project, as compared to pairs of mittens, so there's only one thing to do:


March 12, 2011

071: In lieu

Light 'em up
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, 2009

No favorite things today.  I'm almost literally buried under the latest cleaning project.  You know those houses on the television shows about hoarders?  Yeah.  That's the corner bedroom.  Egad.

March 11, 2011

070: Seismology

Please, blog visitor, consider donating to aid those affected by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan.  The American Red Cross has a dedicated fund to aid disaster relief in Japan and areas around the Pacific that experienced tsunami damage in the aftermath of the quake.  Also at that link, you have the option to donate to the fund to aid relief in North Africa, disasters in the U.S., or to help military families.

If you have the means, please consider either visiting the above link or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

March 10, 2011

069: The Fair

After a 136-year run, Nevada will have no state fair this year.  That would never -- never -- happen in Minnesota, and as a faithful fairgoer, it makes me sad to see the end of such a longstanding tradition.  Of course, I'm aware that most state fairs aren't as popular or well-attended as the Minnesota State Fair, which takes place right in the middle of the metropolitan area.  The Fair is so popular that Minnesota expats try to recreate the experience elsewhere with bar food and the company of other Midwestern transplants; I happened to be in New York for Minnesota State Fair Day last year, which was both odd and fun.  Then I came home and went to the real thing, for what was probably the twentieth year in a row.


They call it the Great Minnesota Get-Together, and it's hard to argue with that when you look at the numbers: the 2010 Minnesota State Fair saw over 1,776,000 people walk through the gates.  And it felt like it when we were shuffling down Judson Ave. with the rest of the state.

You lookin' at me?


(Those cream puffs were delicious.)

Man, I can't wait for August.

All photos by M. Tam

March 9, 2011

068: So say we all

So I got an email from Twitter this morning:
click to view bigger
...which was cool.  I'm sure he just reciprocates any follows that aren't bots, but still, it was pretty fun to see that in my inbox this morning.

March 8, 2011

067: Ladies' night

Or, rather, International Women's Day.  Have you appreciated women today?  While we consider how to close the social and economic gender gaps that (sadly) still exist, here are a few women I admire:

Michelle Obama
Between her Let's Move initiative, the vegetable garden she planted at the White House, and her wardrobe, there are both serious and shallow reasons I think Mrs. O is fantastic.

Tina Fey
I love her. I kind of want to be her. That's all.

Jane Austen
I think she might have been the Tina Fey of her day.  The paragon of wit to which the rest of us aspire.

Katharine Hepburn
I aspire to someday be half as self-possessed and confident as the great Kate Hepburn.

Pat Peterson
Mrs. Peterson taught my AP Composition class when I was a junior in high school, and she was fantastic.  She was the first teacher I ever had who was unabashedly sarcastic in the classroom, and she was, therefore, a role model for me.  I think she's retired now, and more power to her; after what she put up with from that class alone, she deserves a nice, quiet retirement.

Right.  Happy International Women's Day, ladies (and gents)!

March 7, 2011

066: Spring, unsprung

We've hit that peculiar time of year again, where we know, intellectually, that winter is supposedto be on its way out, but in fact it snowed again last night and your next-door neighbor got stuck on the plow-created snowdrift at the bottom of his driveway this morning.  I was hopeful I had hauled the shovel down to the curb for the last time this year, but evidently not.  Curses.

 You would think that, this being by twenty-fourth Minnesota winter, I'd know by now that the damned groundhog is a hack, and even meteorological spring means basically nothing around here.  I don't think I'd mind so much if we were still in the Pretty Winter phase.  But by now, the snow has half-melted and refrozen so many times that all the snowbanks are dingy and disgusting and everyone's cars are the same shade of brown-gray.  And there's nothing to look forward to except record flooding and (probably) more snow mold than anyone's ever seen before.

Whine, whine, complain, complain.  Hey, it's Monday; what do you want from me?

March 6, 2011

065: Portrait of a Friday Night

Friday night
Kitty Kat Club, Minneapolis, 2009.

March 5, 2011

064: Favorite Things VII

This week, it's all about...
I love getting a deal, and between the $6.99 DVD yesterday and the $3.19 pair of tights today, I'm doing fairly well this week. I'll admit, one of the biggest reasons for renewing my AAA membership is for the retail discounts. One of my major weaknesses is that I like getting new stuff, and if the stuff is cheap, I like it even more. is your friend.

via We Heart It
James Bond
I'm watching Casino Royale while writing this blog. I had forgotten how scrappy Daniel Craig's Bond was in his first outing. I would pay good money to see a fight between Casino Royale Bond and Jason Bourne. It might be sacrilege, but I do like Craig more than Sean Connery as 007, in part because Daniel Craig has never dismissed a woman by declaring it time for "man talk" and smacking her on the ass.  Those are the only two Bonds I've seen in recent years, so I can't pass judgment on anyone else in the role, though I do remember playing the tie-in video game for Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64 with my cousins during family get-togethers in the '90s.

Lisbeth Salander
I just finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest today, and Stieg Larsson's hacker heroine Lisbeth Salander is as impressive as ever. The books aren't high art -- the way Larsson name-checked numerous brands throughout the trilogy bothered me, as did his tendency to relate absolutely everything a character was doing -- but there are some truly standout characters, of which Salander is the best. Having also watched The Girl Who Played With Fire yesterday, I'd say that Rooney Mara has some seriously big shoes to fill when she follows Noomi Rapace's performance as Salander.

I've never liked perfume, but I found a sample-size bottle of Clinique's Simply while going through a decade's worth of free-with-purchase Clinique stuff and it struck my fancy. Supposedly it smells like flowers "in full bloom" and anise, but I think it just smells better than any other fragrance I've been forced to huff in elevators over the years. Too bad it's been discontinued, just like every other product I've ever liked. (Story of my life.)


It's what's for dinner.

March 4, 2011

063: Moving up in the world

Good things come with bullet points:
  • I must have done something right over the last year or so.  The last time I applied for a credit card, I was rejected for a lack of credit history.  Prior to that, Target demanded I give them everything but a DNA swab just to get a store card -- which I didn't.  Kohl's did give me a card...with a $300 limit.  Yesterday,  I finally got approved for my first real credit card.  Does this mean I'm definitely a grown-up now?
  • Twin Citians and western-suburb-dwellers, I recommend Cooper Irish Pub in the West End complex in St. Louis Park; I got lunch for less than $9, tip included, and the food (fish & chips) was darn good.  My high school buddy Emily got a quinoa salad, also delicious, for not much more than I paid.  Also?  Free underground parking FTW.  Cooper is the suburban sibling to my old downtown haunt, Kieran's, which has also spiffed up its food since moving to the new location.  Tasty!
  • Costco, in addition to having the cheapest gas in town, was selling Much Ado About Nothing for $6.99 today.  How could I not buy it?  Fun fact about that movie: I watched it after I read the play and just before we were going to discuss it in my utterly useless Shakespeare intro class my sophomore year of college.  The class was taught by a professor who was all but senile, and probably should have retired about a decade ago.  He always had us read the plays aloud and attempted to direct us, as though it were a real production, rather than a bunch of undergrads sitting in a circle, slowly dying on the inside.  I was assigned the part of Beatrice, did my very best Emma Thompson impression, and the old fool thought I was the BEST ACTRESS HE'D EVER SEEN.  It was one of the most ridiculous things I've ever experienced.  So thanks, Emma Thompson, for making it easy.
  • Did I mention it's Friday?  TGIF.

March 3, 2011

062: Sticker shock

Filling up the tank yesterday was a painful experience, even at discount Costco gas prices. The price at BP went up ten cents within an hour, and gas in the 'burbs (and in the Midwest) isn't nearly as pricey as it could be. Thank goodness my car 1) has a teeny gas tank, and 2) gets really good mileage. Still, I get the feeling this is going to get a lot worse before it gets cheaper.

March 2, 2011

061: How long is a wink?

From where did the term "forty winks" come? How long is forty winks? How do I know if I've achieved all forty of my allotted winks for a night? (No, I'm not going to Google it.)

I ended up chatting with a friend two time zones away until after midnight, then spent a good chunk of the 4AM hour awake when my grandmother turned on the television and my grandfather got up to supervise whatever it was she was doing in the wee hours. By the time I woke up again at 8:30, my mother was the only one up and about, and she was running on only two hours of sleep (that's what, ten winks?).

In any case, my tried-and-true sleep aid came in handy, both blocking out the television noise and lulling/boring me to sleep.  What's my lights-out secret?  Coldplay.

Seriously, put Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head on shuffle when you're tired, and the utter sameness of every track will lull you into slumber.  Works even better when you're in a moving vehicle.  True story.

March 1, 2011

060: Meh

Tuesdays are always sort of a wash. Today was particularly lackluster; the most interesting thing that happened was the afternoon express bus running fifteen minutes late. The weather was pretty good, but nothing spectacular or awful. Tuesday night TV has been boring since I fell seven weeks behind on The Good Wife (I'll get around to clearing the DVR soon, really...) and we eat salmon every Tuesday in my house, so even dinner isn't a surprise.

This, I suspect, is a First World Problem.

There's only one course of action to be taken: giggle at these photos, then set up a chat-date with an out-of-town friend.

both via We Heart It

Check and check.