My commute this morning took me almost two hours, but I didn't mind. It's Chicago. Yes, it's snowing - hard - but I expect it. It happens EVERY YEAR. Really! For serious! And yet every year people freak out....50% of our offices are dark because people "couldn't make it in." I envy them their day off, hanging about at home sipping hot cocoa, extending their weekend by a day while I type up minutesssszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...But if I can get to work, I get to work. I blame my mom for my work ethic, her and her: "Sure I have a migraine that is so painful I have to keep checking the mirror to make sure my head isn't really splitting open, but I can sleep when I get home! Just lead me to the door - I can't see so good from under this huge comforter I've covered myself with which to keep out any trace of light and to muffle as much sound as possible from my overamplified eardrums...."
So anyway - I had my coffee, my Podfreq so that I could listen to my iPod clearly through 107.1, (EXCELLENT CHRISTMAS IDEA!!!!), a few novels, a couple of foreign film DVDs I knew Shannon wouldn't be interested in - I was set for a long drive. Unfortunately, it appears that, somehow, the Cook County/Lake County authorities did NOT expect snow, DESPITE the fact snow warnings have been in effect for this date since, like, March. I could not believe how crappy Lake Cook Road was. It's a ginormous, incredibly busy, very high traffic road, for those of you who've never been north of Foster except to go to Great America on the tollway.
I had considered taking the train this morning, but thought, what the heck! I take only major roads all the way to work, and our officebuilding has it's own plow, evidenced by the AWESOME 25-foot pile of snow outside my window. I'm glad it's over 100 feet away or it would be a little frightening.
Turns out that despite the months of warnings, the streets on my commute - Lincoln, Howard McCormick, Old Orchard Rd., the 94 - were barely plowed.
Kedzie Ave. An oasis of plowed road
I wish I worked on Kedzie....
I, of course, was cut on my way here. Twice. BOTH times by women on their cell phones in their SUVs and BOTH on the North Shore within 4 blocks of eachother. I honked at the first one because she came REALLY close to hitting me, and I was barely able to brake enough to let her in. Man, did she look startled to even see me there! She seemed not to realize they still make cars smaller than 3000 cubic feet. I really hope I didn't interrupt her stunning conversation! Oh! Nope! She's still blathering away.....
The second one I didn't honk at, noting from the clean and shiny exterior of her Lexus that she must have traveled, oh, I don't know....18 feet? from her garage, so I figured she was going to do something stupid. Sure enough....She pulled into my building's parking lot, went down the aisle I was about to turn into after passing it, drove down about 20 feet, and just....stopped. I waited about 20 seconds then finally went around her and parked across the lot where they'd plowed.
I think she may still be there waiting for some man to come and shovel out a spot for her, guide her into it, and then carry her to her office..... Almost all the men I work with called in today, so she could be there until May.
Did I mention I wish I worked on Kedzie?
Wanna gaze into my crystal?"
...I have no idea what that means.
This pic is especially for you, ButterNugget - fellowe
Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Stupid Christopher Lambert. *hrumph*.....
What the heck was I talking about....? Oh, yes! Mirromask! *visibly brightens!*
So yeah! Unlike Sarah in Labyrinth who wants the real world to get out of the way of her dreams of forgetting lines and putting on lipstick, Helena wants to do the opposite. She wants to leave the circus to join the real world. For more of a plot summary, click here. Mirrormask does lack David Bowie so if you need a Bowie fix, I highly recommend The Prestige which should be out on DVD soon. Bowie plays Nikola Tesla, a scientist contemporary with Edison. He invented these coil things that made lots of cool sparky things that get Hugh Jackman very excited.
I believe Helena would have made a far more believable love interest than ultra-whiny
"It's not FAIR!" Sarah.
"You say that so often. I wonder what your basis for comparison is?" ponders Jareth (shown pondering above).
The magic and imagination that went into Mirrormask seriously reminded me of Labyrinth, a movie that I must have watched 20 times in high school. Both take a normal girl at the end of childhood (although Sarah and Helena are very different) and place them in a magical, amazing world - alone - where they have to figure out how to get back home.
Or whether they really want to.
Like I said, times change. I can't stay up late on Sundays anymore, so instead of Dr. Demento at 1AM, I'm listening to the radio at 7AM during my work-a-day commute. My eartreats during my drive in to work include "Lin's Bin" on WXRT, and NPR - in that order. Lin's Bin is played on 93.1, WXRT, at 7:15AM and 6:15PM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and it's worth the two minutes of your time. XRT DJ Lin Brehmer chooses a question from a listener and, though he doesn't always actually answer it, he uses it as a theme for his show. My most recent favorite was on medical ethics, a two-parter where he used alot of quotes from characters on SCRUBS - especially my favorite - Dr. Cox.
Today I could swear Brehmer used the Billy Crystal/Christopher Guest line of "I hate when that happens" in his show, thereby proving I am not indeed the only person who is familiar with that astonishingly brilliant cast of SNL: 1984-1985.
*moment of silence for what arguably may very well be be the best SNL cast EVER.*
A few months ago, Lin brought joined past and present by marrying his show with my fond memories of Dr. Demento by playing Kip Addotta's "Wet Dreams" after his segment on puns. This was by far one of my very favorite Dr. Demento songs. I urge you to regress along with me now and laugh along with the lyrics - one of the most brilliant streams of puns I have ever heard put to music.
I'm in Seattle on bidness this weekend. Seattle is a really great city, one that I'd definitely come back to. The air is clean; it's been a bit rainy and blowy, but not terribly cold; the coffee is fabulous and so is the seafood (I had fried oysters and a mug of clam chowder my first day here - YUM!!!!); and there's plenty to do as opposed to where I was stationed previously in Philly and PIttsburgh (I really liked Pittsburgh but it was DEADSVILLE after 6PM and on Sundays; and my overall impression of Philly was "dirty, stinky, and gross." You'd have to pay me to go back. Luckily, they do!).
The children's hospital we've been administering our exams at is just stunning. It's HUGE and sprawling, so getting candidates (not to mention our examiners!) situated was a great challenge, but we got that under control and got things running smoooooooothly by lunchtime the first day. I had time yesterday afternoon to explore the hospital, make a few kids giggle (I could totallly work at a kids' hospital - especially this one!), and try the coffee at Tully's - Seattle's third largest chain, the largest being Starbucks and the second largest, Seattle's Best, being owned by - Starbucks. *heavy sigh*. Explained why the menu boards for both Starbucks and Seattle's Best were so similar, and why the coffee at both was so dang good!! (o: Starbucks is EVERYWHERE here. I half expected the exams to be sponsored by them.
I realize the hospital I was stationed at is a children's hospital, hence it's name: Children't Hospital; but it really is WONDERFULLY kid-friendly. The halls children may be wheeled down in gurnees have brightly colored trains chugging along near the ceilings, complete with tunnels and foliage and bright, sunny surroundings. The painted sky is a soothing, lightly clouded blue. There are mosaiced fish all along the floor embedded in the tile. The elevators are hand-painted underwater portals with friendly, curious, gently smiling porpoises peeping in. The kids chairs are exactly the same as the grown-ups', only smaller. The staff was AMAZING and SO helpful and friendly - nobody's too hurried or stressed to help or find help, and everyone is quick with a smile. I loved seeing kids everywhere. Even though some were in wheelchairs, or had IV poles to drag around, this was their place and the overall feeling was one of calm - "everything's being done to get you well, and we're working hard to prevent future illness of all sorts. So while you're here - check out this cool-fun-thing over here and enjoy the bright paintings and climbable animal sculptures!" Most of the kids - inpatient and out - smiled at least once that I saw. I'm a huge believer that smiling and laughter are extremely conducive to healing.
The child theme began as soon as I arrieved at SEA-TAC. The baggage belt wasn't moving, so I copped a squat on a nearby long bench and cracked open my Straub. (Confidential to you "Scare The Bejeebus outta OrangeMoJoJo" participants, Paul is VERY FAR in the lead with his submission of "Ghost Story". I even had to leave my light on for a few minutes last night - something I haven't had to do in YEARS!! It was awesome!!!). Two smallish, quiet forms appeared, one on either side of me. I didn't pay much attention - I was pretty absorbed in my book. (Dr. Jaffer's apparent suicide may have been "obviously" caused by an unsound mind as a result of his narcotic addiction to the majority of the town of Milburn, but Hawthorne, James and I weren't fooled!) A woman came by and brought me back to my surroundings by congratulating me on my two adorable children. I gave her a look of "...Huh?" then glanced to my quiet companions on either side. There, on this bench at least 20 feet long, I was closely flanked by two adorable kids - a blond girl about 7 and a dark-haired boy who was maybe 4. Nobody else was seated on the bench. A few minutes later two different sets of parents came by after grabbing their luggage and took one kid apiece, and the kids waved and laughed like I was an aunt or someone they knew. This sort of thing happens to me all the time. Kids for some reason are drawn to me. I had one lead me around the giraffes at the zoo once, chattering all the while.
I'm currently watching the Seattle Seahawks battle the San Francisco 49ers. And the 49ers are winning in the second quarter. What the hell...????
Do you remember Tom Hulce?He's the guy that played Mozart in Amadeus. For those of you who had high school crushes on his Mozart in high school (I know who I am! erm, I mean, You know who you are!) you also remember him as cute'n'sweet Larry from Animal House. Though he's done a couple dozen other film and tellie appearances, I stopped seeking him out after the tedious Dominick and Eugene. The acting was excellent, but without the tights and high-pitched hyena laugh...At least in Animal House he was wearing a toga for a while.
I came across Hulce twice today, which gives me great hope as sign that his career is rebounding. The first time was when I was doing an imdb.com search on Simon Callow. We saw him play the most brilliantly wonderful evil villian I may have ever seen in the Masterpiece Theater rendition of Wilke Collins' The Woman in White, Count Fosco. See the movie. Read the book. Both are EXCELLENT. Callow looked (and sounded) sooooooooo familiar...., I had to look him up. Turns out he played Papageno in Amadeus - link to Hulce #1. I remember Callow best, though, for his role as the brightly-colored waistcoat-wearing Gareth, Matthew's partner, from Four Weddings and a Funeral.
The second time I came across Hulce's name was when I did some research into a film I'm really looking forward to seeing, despite it's starring Will Farrell (Let's just say.....NOT a big fan of Will Farell) called Stranger than Fiction. This movie also stars Emma Thompson (reason number one for wanting to see it) and - Tom Hulce (now a close reason #2.).
Hopefully he'll give us a tiny wink and a nod to his brilliant role in Amadeus by letting out just the slightest hint of his hyena laughs....
I'm off to Seattle for the rest of the week, so I won't be blogging until at least Monday. This will give you time to see Stranger than Fiction and report back to me when I return.
I'm thinking now that my car has gotten a clean bill of health, new tires to replace the balding separating ones, and an updated 20G iPod chock full of Off Broadway, Queen, the Scissor Sisters, "Weird Al," and They Might Be Giants; we might have to take a road trip to Ohio to check out this ORANGE friendly, awesome-hot-chocolate-sportin', fair trade friendly, WiFi providin', hotspot within the next few months. It's never too far to drive for a good cuppa coffee. Maybe we could get to Fools to perform in their small performance space!
Besides, now that we have no kitties of our own to spoil with affection, we can spoil our neice and nephkitties! Why does Emma hate me?
I'll admit it - I really like Starbucks coffee - ESPECIALLY their Eggnog Latte, one of their seasonal drinks that makes an appearance each year from November through January. I'm probably going to have one or two of these over the next couple of months - especially since I'm going to be leaving for Seattle, Starbucks' home base, on Wednesday to do work-related stuff. I'll admit my weakness for Starbucks - it's no secret!
I've been struggling the past few months with a decision I'd made to ban Starbucks until I felt they'd resolved a union complaint (or several) made against them. See, I LIKE Starbucks. They're mochas are consistently yummy, the baristas are almost always pleasant, and their coffee has helped get me through more committee meetings than I can count. Besides their coffee and mochas, though, on a larger scale, I like that they sell and promote fair trade coffee. Their Cafe Estima blend is fair trade, and, in my opinion, the tastiest of the brews they sell (I was a die-hard Sulawesi fan until I tried Cafe Estima). I like that they extend their benefits to the partners of gay couples, and that their benefits are really quite extensive and generous. I like that my brother worked there and liked the job so much he stayed there longer than he has at any job since (ie: > more than 4 months). I like their stupid seasonal travel mugs. I like that they're outspokenly liberal. I like that there's one always within walking distance so I always have someplace cozy and safe and incognito to lounge when I'm travelling on business and want to get away from everyone. I like that they collect Toys for Tots, and Books for Children, and that they urge their customers to recycle their coffee grounds by using them as compost, going so far as supplying a coffee ground depository within each store so eco-friendlies can collect them and use them in their gardens. I like that they sell items from which they'll donate up to a buck a sale to needy children. I like that they donate money to the democratic party. (thanks a latte, Starbucks, for supporting the democrats!) I like that there's actually a corporation out there - a HUGE one - that I actually think uses it's money to try to do some good and raise awareness. Of course they're raking in FAR more than they're putting out ($12.00 for 1/2 lb of Ethiopian coffee? Eeep!), but they really seem to try to keep themselves concious for the most part.
A dear close friend of mine has had nothing to do with them since they charged firemen for the water they took on September 11, 2001, for example. Yes, they did reimburse the fire department, but it shouldn't have happened in the first place.
More recently (as in "now") Starbucks has been having labor issues from London to Chicago. Former employees are claiming that Starbucks fired them solely on the basis of their exercising their right to organize a union. This is, to put it mildly, not sitting well with me, and I am glad the union is pursuing the matter. However, it seems that the union effort is finally taking hold, though there is more ground to gain. I'm finding it hard to find the facts on both sides, so if you can supply me with them, please do so. I am finding plenty stating that these employees (most recently Isis Saenz) were fired simply for trying to unionize, but one of them (Gross) is reported to have threatened a manager.
When I was working at CVS a union tried to organize us pharmacy technicians and Corporate sent each of us a letter - along with our paychecks - saying that a union wasn't in our best interest. The hell it wasn't! Looking back, I'd work up to 10 hours (rarely - usually it was only 8) without so much as a break, only to have Corporate take out 1/2 hour for a lunch I'd never ingested . Depending on the pharmacist, I was often forced to punch out on time even if I worked over (I refused to ever work with these pharmacists again). If this happened once or twice, that would suck, but this happened again and again and again. I had it pretty good, though, next to the pharmacists. They'd sometimes work 16+ hours in a row their so-called "relief" decided to call in and no coverage could be found. God forbid the pharmacy should ever for a minute close! We didn't have a way to close it, now that I think of it....
I still shop at CVS though, because Walgreens treated us far, far worse, and I'll never, EVER set foot in a Walmart unless Shannon's life, or that of one of my pets, depends on it.
Back to the coffee talk!
Alternatives to Starbucks:
When my favorite coffee house in the Chicagoland area - Urbis Orbis in Wicker Park - went out of business *tear!!,* I had originally thought it was Starbucks' fault. Turns out it was MTV's! They'd taken the building to use as the site of the Wicker Park season of The Real World. My favorite coffee house since then has been Cafe Express in Evanston, and my favorite drink there is their Dante mocha (a mocha with half a mandarin orange squeezed in - YUM!!!). For those of you who absolutely will NOT patronize Starbucks, you'll appreciate the prominently displayed bumper sticker on the wall which reads "FRIENDS DO NOT LET FRIENDS DRINK STARBUCKS". Cafe Express is followed closely by another wonderful coffee shop in Evanston - The Kafein, whose 3-shot Zombie has given Northwestern students the liquid ability to pull all-night cramming sessions for at least 15 years. If you don't live in Evanston or are too groggy to drive there, Caribou Coffee has quite a few locations countrywide. For a really good, really fattening mocha, try Caribou Coffee's Campfire Mocha. Note to dieters - even if you go for skim milk, you HAVE to get the campfire mocha WITH whip cream AND marshmallows AND chocolate shavings, or it's just a skim mocha. The extras are what makes it so darn good!
My very VERY favorite, and least accessible, coffee shop is Queen's Lane Coffee Shop in Oxford where I spent many many hours studying and staring out at High Street, watching the real students (I was a transfer student) take their exams in all their splendour across the street at Uni Hall. They'd start arriving in a thin trickle beginning round 7AM, then a steady stream of bicycles and black robes would flow towards the doors until 8:45, then up until 9:05AM a few extremely flustered and anxious students would be BOOKING it full-speed towards the Hall, frantic about being even a moment too late, red-faced with their robes streaming behind them. While they took their exams, I studied life in Outremer, relieved that I didn't have to take those exams, yet more than a touch envious all the same....
Sheldonian where Oxford grads matriculate from.
This guy just looked so dang happy exams were over with!
Incidentally, the latte foam art pictures were found on this Website: http://www.latteart.org/Your_Cappuccino.htm
"WE *BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP*ING HATE YOU!!!!! WE HATE YOU SO MUCH WE'VE VOTED IN TWICE THE NUMBER OF DEMOCRATS WE NEEDED INTO THE HOUSE!!!! WE TOOK BACK THE SENATE!!!! NOW WILL YOU LISTEN TO US?!?!!??! WE VOTED OUT REPUBLICAN INCUMBANTS BECAUSE MAYBE ONE DAY, NO MATTER HOW LONG AGO, THEY MIGHT HAVE SHOOK YOUR HAND!!!! HOW CAN WE MAKE IT ANY CLEARER HOW GODAWFUL AND LOATHED YOU ARE!??!??!?! BRING OUR TROOPS HOME!!!!!"
As to the role played in Tuesday's widespread GOP losses, Bush said, "I believe Iraq had a lot to do with the election, but I think there were other factors as well." He suggested that a variety of congressional scandals may also have played a role.
....???? Where has THAT guy been the last 6 years?????!!!!
"I'm obviously disappointed with the outcome of the election and, as the head of the Republican Party, I share a large part of the responsibility," President Bush said during a East Room news conference.Actually, Dubbya, you OWN a large part of that responsibility. THEY'RE sharing it with YOU. I know, I know. I'm a stickler for semantics, and you never were all that good with words.