22.4.08

"Mr President, let me see if I have this straight..."

"You asked Howie Mandel for help with the budget? The man is NOT FUNNY. YOU are NOT FUNNY. HOW MANY TIMES DO WE HAVE TO TELL YOU THIS?!? STAY AWAY FROM COMEDIANS!! Please, for the love of God, if you feel the urge to be funny, DON'T!!! KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT!!! Did you not see what asking washed up comedians for help has done for Hillary Clinton?!?!? Go to your room!!!!"

-Barbara Bush

"What's that, Sonic Screwdriver?"


"You say Mu's gone 'round the bend? Right, we'd better get out of here before he turns into one of those so-called Maineiacs. He's already slipped once and called it the 'Tah-Dis...'"

18.4.08

Princess and the *Beep*

The neighbors upstairs and across the hall really need to change the battery in their smoke detector. It gives off a reminder "beep" every minute or so. It's very faint, but it keeps me awake at night. Shannon doesn't hear it at all, no matter how many times I make him stop whatever he's doing, throw open the door and say "THERE! Did you hear it that time?...okay wait a minute....THERE! THERE IT WAS AGAIN!"


Meanwhile, I slept through this.

17.4.08

PRICELESS!!!!


Shannon and I went to the gym last night, and I ran into my trainer after my work out! Not only was it after my work out, not only was I dripping sweat, but I'd been working on the "ladder" training sprints on the treadmill that she'd assigned to me as homework. Or, rather, gymwork. Excellent timing!! Now the way I've got it figured, she's seen me at the gym working out - I'm off the hook for the rest of the week.

w00t!
(is that the proper usage of that word? I have no idea.)

I'm working up to this:

Sign #567 that Armageddon is Upon Us:

Both Tina Fey AND Amy Poehler are in a movie - and I STILL have absolutely NO INTEREST in seeing it.



I honestly could only get about a quarter of the way through the trailer.

Seriously, this is like if Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton did a duet and I hated it.....

....oh.

Yankees Complete Counter-Curse

After extricating a Red Sox jersey that had been buried in the concrete under Yankees Stadium, the team buried Bernie Williams in the same spot to complete the cleansing ceremony.


One day Mu will be able to photoshop like this!

They'll never find the Red Sox jersey I buried under Wrigley Field - I'm to smart to blab!

16.4.08

New (Only?) Addition to My Dream House

When Shannon and I build our dream barn conversion, the kitchen will have to have one of these:


An Aga cooker [*insert Angelic singing voices here*]. Maybe a chair or two and a table, and a big ol' fireplace in the living room. That's as far as I've gotten in building my dream home.

We spent just over a week with one in the Yorkshire Moors (Day 2 posting soon!), and I only cooked tea, beans and toast, and chicken on it; but I am absolutely head over heels in love with the Aga. I can now imagine building a house - something I've never really put much thought into before - but only if that house has a kitchen with an Aga.

Granted, it was 30 degrees during our vacation (75 below with the wind chill) so the Aga kept the generously-sized kitchen nice and toasty and cozy - that kind of "coziness" wouldn't translate well into a Chicago summer....


Well that means we can't build in Chicago! Or even Illinois! We'd have to turn it off from May through September. I'm loathe to use air conditioning unless absolutely necessary; and having the A/C fight it out with the Aga for an entire season wouldn't sit well with my conscience!

Maybe Maine.....or Seattle! Seattle's weather certainly parallels England's; and we'd get to see Cleff once a year! Or...England! England has Cleff in it all the time, and I can add bedrooms to our dream home to accommodate guests from the US! A barn conversion in England.... *swoooooon*

I mean, not that I'm getting carried away by this Aga thing or anything.



This is as close to orange as there seems to be:



Maybe I'll have to settle for blue?

Fun Family Fact!

This year:

Shannon and I have been married 2.5 years

Kelly and Paul will be married 5 years

Mu and Mere will be married 10 years

15.4.08

Do Chrisi's Homework!

My friend Christoph's girlfriend, Chrisi, is working on her final assignment for her course in art studies. She is dealing with the stereotypes associated with different European countries - including prejudices. As a German, she's having a hard time thinking of prejudices associated with Germans from the outside. Aside from "precision," can you think of any to help her out?


Thank you!

Chris and Chrisi!


11.4.08

My Favorite Peter Segal Moment EVER

I'm a huge fan of NPR's weekly news quiz, "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" and love to listen to them on the way to work via Podcasts, which explains why I didn't hear last Sunday's show until Wednesday's homeward commute. I always laugh out loud when listening to the show - especially when Paula Poundstone is on - but nothing so far has made me laugh as hard as this exchange during "Lightning Fill In The Blank:"

Peter Segal:
"A British Star Wars fan who calls himself 'Jedi Master Jonba Hehol' was attacked in his own backyard by a blank.

Tom Bodett:
A stormtrooper.

Peter Segal:
Close! He was attacked by a guy dressed as Darth Vader.

Tom Bodett:
Oh! That's right. But I think I get a 'ding.' He's actually a stormtrooper.... What? He's got the helmet, and...Oh, all right."

Peter Segal:
.....Darth Vader....Was a fallen Jedi.... whereas stormtroopers.... are clones. It's not. the. same.

I Find It Kinda Funny, I Find It Kinda Sad

....that songs can have such an effect on a person. Here are six that make me cry or absolutely lose track of where I am:

1. "Days to Dust" - Grey Eyed Glances. This song makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up every time I hear it. The combination of the lead vocalist and the male backups' amplified exhalations is just stunning.

2. "Wicked Little Town" (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) - Tommy Gnosis version. Made me cry in the movie, makes me mist up in the car EVERY TIME I hear hear the lines: "You think that Luck has left you there,/but maybe there's nothing up in the sky but air." For some reason, agnostic as I am, nothing makes me feel the massive size of the universe in relation to my tiny, insignificant self like that line does:



3. "Mad World" (Donnie Darko) Gary Jules/Michael Andrews. This one just gets me.



4. "Warning Sign" - Coldplay. I was bawling by the end the first time I heard it



5. "Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" - Elton John. The first half, "Funeral for a Friend" is slow and melancholy beautiful, but when he starts wailing near the end of "Love Lies Bleeding," it just rips my heart out.



6. "Bella Nuit" - Offenbach (Tales of Hoffman; Life is Beautiful) ; New Philharmonic Orchestra: Monserrat Caballé (soprano) and Shirley Verrett (mezzo-soprano). There's no question why Benigni chose this as Guido and Dora's song in Life is Beautiful. It may be the most beautiful duet ever written (Sorry, Bowie/Jagger).



Not that I'd trade Shannon's and my song for the world.

10.4.08

Hillary Reaches Across the Pond for Support

Now, don't get me wrong: I think Elton John is fabulous. "Song for Guy" and "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" are two of my favorite songs EVER.

So there's just one problem with Hillary Clinton choosing him to star in her fundraiser last night:

He's not a citizen of the US. Oh, sure, he says he'd vote for her if he WERE an American citizen, but at the end of the day, he can't. Because he's not.

It sends the message that of the myriad American celebrities, Hillary Clinton can't get a single one of them to book a date for a guaranteed sell-out at Radio City Music Hall.

Clinton's been making some really bizarre moves, and this is just the latest. My confidence in her is waning. I had been very torn between her and Obama until quite recently, to be honest - they're both quite capable. I'd have been happier with either of them if they'd legitimately won the nomination....

...but now I really just want Colin Powell and Dennis Kucinich.

Update, for clarification: How about Dean/Kucinich for the Democrats and Powell/Collins (Senator: ME) for the Republicans?

9.4.08

Clash of the Titans: Redux??


So I was thinking about movies I loved when I was a kid, as you do when you're supposed to be working in the middle of a Wednesday. Luckily I can't hear your laughter through my computer (I turned my speakers OFF), because I decided Clash of the Titans was one of my favorite movies as a kid. Hey! Maggie Smith had to start somewhere!

I LOVED reading the Greek myths. My very favorite book as a kid was D'Aulaire's brightly colored Book of Greek Myths. The fact that Clash of the Titans was only very loosely based on the story of Perseus ("loosely" in that there was a guy in a toga in it, a flying horse, Medusa, Caliban...wait, Caliban?? Giant ... scorpions....??, a golden owl...? God I hated that owl! And .....a .... a Kraken...?!?!?) and, and contained visual "special" effects that 1963 Dr. Who creators would have laughed themselves sick at, didn't deter me from watching Clash of the Titans about 2 dozen times, pointing out what had been accurately taken from the myth versus what had been egregiously added by Hollywood to anyone who would listen (yes, Shannon, like what you had to endure when we watched To Kill a Mockingbird. Huh, no WONDER my sister moved away when I was 11....)

Anyway, I watched Clash of the Titans about two dozen times. Granted, that's 2 dozen times less than Blues Brothers, Ghostbusters, WarGames, or Monty Python and the Holy Grail; but still 23 & 1/2 times too many.

Looking back now, I can sum up the film in three words. Awful. Inaccurate. Ridiculous. (AIR).

Which is why I can't BELIEVE they're remaking it. Thanks to Butternugget's post on the remake of such classics as Short Circuits, I laughingly entered "clash of the titans" into IMDB - and it came up with two choices: 1981 or 2010.

I'll probably see it, though - Pegasus drew me to watch the original 23 extra times, Pegasus will draw me to watch it once more.



I will not be the one to enter "kangaroo jack" into IMDB to find out when it's being remade, though, nosirree.

For The First Time In My Life, I Disagree with Stephen King

Okay, that's not true. I disagreed with his ending of It....and Cujo....and Carrie....and Christine...and Salem's Lot...."The Mist"... Basically I disagree with the ending of [insert Stephen King book or short story here]. But there are several things that I certainly do agree with this Maine-dwelling author of Scots-Irish descent on, like, well, like clowns are creepy; rabid dogs are creepy; vampires are creepy; the phrase "Everything floats down here, Georgie!" is creepy; balloons, in the right context, are creepy; Creepshow is creepy; pigs' blood is creepy; high school is creepy; spiders are creepy; arthritis is creepy; electronic devices and cars that come to life are creepy; bullying is creepy; the song "I Hear You Knockin', But You Can't Come In" is creepy; hotel rooms are creepy; Mainers are creepy; psychopomps are creepy; death is creepy; this warm and fuzzy picture of Stephen King is creepy:


telekinesis is creepy; arson is creepy; physical abuse is creepy; sexual abuse is creepy; fanatics are creepy; doctors are creepy; hauntings are creepy; old, dilapidated houses are creepy; abandoned psychiatric institutions are creepy; walking corpses are creepy; decomposing corpses are creepy; cemetaries are creepy; those cymbal-crashing monkey toys - THOSE are creepy; hobbling people is creepy; being buried alive is creepy; being tortured is creepy; top-secret biological experiments on an island in the middle of Sebec Lake are creepy; flesh-eating, water-dwelling ooze is creepy; Church and Gage are creepy; pet semetaries are creepy - especially when childishly misspelled; aliens are creepy; meteors full of fuzz-growing goo are creepy. These things I agree with.

But I don't agree that kids under 18 need to be playing violent video games. He argues that Carrie and The Shining are violent, but they are also RATED R. They are also over in, like, an hour and a half, and neither is as greusome as some of the video games that have been released since the mid-90s. I understand that he believes that parents should make the decision whether their child should be allowed to play a violent video game, but unlike a rated R movie, a parent is very unlikely to be present in the room and monitoring their child playing Manhunt 2 or Grand Theft Auto 4 every minute. You can't tell me that killing people in a video game for hours on end has a healthy effect on a child's mind. I don't blame violent video games for the rampant school killings...okay, maybe I do. So many of these games have very realistic people killing very realistic people - in really graphic and horrible and very realistic ways. I can't imagine this doesn't desensitize kids, and I have no idea what the effects are - I was playing Nintendo's RPG-esque game Final Fantasy until 4AM some week nights while I was in high school (God, I loved that game!). I don't think a ban on violent video games will hurt anything but the pocketbooks of the CEOs at Rockstar Video Games. Maybe it'll force them to adapt and create some really awesome, nonviolent games.

That said, I can't wait to get my hands on Manhunt 2.

8.4.08

"Axis of Spooky" INDEED!

On a TOTAL WHIM, I checked out this link: today!!!!

AND IT'S BACK UP AND RUNNING!!!! Since April 1*!!! So you can catch up but quick!!!!

YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!

The world is no longer completely full of stupid.



(* If this is a cruel April Fools' prank, there will be blood - the blood of Giblets! Or maybe just a lotta Jo tears.)

4.4.08

*Pssst!* Dude! It's Not REALLY a Miracle!

Thomas Beatie and his wife, Nancy, are having a baby. Nancy is unable to have children, so she successfully artificially inseminated Thomas....

....and now he's pregnant.

Thomas Beatie receives an OprahSound. Yup! He's preggers!


*insert record album scratch here*

No! It's true! Here's the catch: Thomas was born a woman, but felt like a man trapped in a woman's body, so she became a man. He is recognized by the state of Oregon as a man, and he is married to Nancy.

Despite feeling like a man trapped in a woman's body, he kept his female reproductive organs in case he wanted to have a baby some day. Nancy is unable to have children, so Thomas came off the testosterone and, after the second try, was successfully artificially inseminated. Now that he's pregnant, the couple is claiming it's a "miracle" that Thomas, a man, is giving birth.

Let me start off by saying I'm happy for you guys, seriously, and I hope your baby is born healthy, but it's simply not a miracle that Thomas Beatie is pregnant. He was born a woman. Now, if he'd had a complete hysterectomy when he made the decision to become a man and THEN became pregnant - THEN we could start talking miracles.

This is one of those (many) times I do NOT understand why people "have to go public" and share their story. I don't see why a woman - a man trapped in a woman's body, but biologically a woman - feels she has to go on Oprah to say she's pregnant, and that it's a miracle. We're not living in A Handmaid's Tale. Women DO still get pregnant and bear healthy children these days.

"It's not a male or female desire to have a child. It's a human desire," Thomas Beatie said.

Dude, please stop trying to justify your actions. You have no one to answer to. Be happy. Raise your child. And please, God, stay off the national TV daytime circuit or you're going to end up on Jerry Springer and that is NOT going to be pretty. If you're trying to use your pregnancy to bring about awareness for diversity, that's wonderful, but please keep the line between attention seeking and awareness CLEARLY in view or you'll end up doing alot more harm than good - for transgender couples, and for your family.

Seriously, What Is WRONG WITH THIS MAN!?!??

It's no secret that my loathing for the Shrub is bottomless but, to quote Maureen Dowd, "the more terrified Americans get, the more bizarrely carefree he seems." McCain, short of blowing Bush off for his golden endorsement (read: leaden albatross), arrived to the event late. Bush was waiting for him on the White House steps, joking with the crowd, goofing off - he even did a little dance which CNN has on tape here.

Things are obviously going well for Shrub - he's optimistic, positive, cheerful, even giddy. He plays silly and pretends to be ignorant when asked about skyrocketing oil prices like it's all a joke. I realize it takes a special person to become a politician, much less the president, but I never thought of that as "special" in quotes. What makes my stomach positively turn is that he's got something up his sleeve that will keep him taken care of and comfortable for the rest of his life, probably at the expense of his country and his people, and that's all he cares about. And you know what? He's going to be just fine. People like him always are.

I know he'll be gone in January. I do. But he should have been gone years ago, and I'm not sure why we let him stay in office. It's OUR office, the appointee is supposed to represent US (pun intended). With less than a 40% approval rating (and that's being generous), you can't tell me that he has represented the majority in YEARS. Yet aside from making fun of him, throwing up our arms in disgust, being embarrassed by his inappropriate silliness and faux ignorance, there he is "representing" us; there he is - President of the United States. Unchallenged for 8 years. Getting our people killed in a war he lied about to get us into in the first place. He can't even feign, or deign, to care.

Over Hill! Over Dale! - Day One in the Yorkshire Dales

I know this is WAY overdue, but I spent the past two weeks catching up on Go Fug Yourself, which had launched it's March Madness - where 65 celebrities, celebutards, more celebutards, slutebrities and JLo faced off to find out who the Fugging readers thought was the Fuggest of the Fug - THE DAY WE LEFT, so, you see, I had a LOT of catching up to do. It's down to Bai Ling vs Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham! I have no idea who I'm going to vote for on Monday.

In addition to reading, oh, about 4000 Web pages of Go Fug Yourself, I also had to concentrate on beating Peepster 2 more times at Scrabulous for a total of three wins out of like 913 games; and on top of THAT they had me off and running with committees and committee dinners the day I returned to work (I'm now back to having next to nothing to do. FAH!!). In ADDITION, I've been trying to prove that of Shannon, Mu, and myself, I'd be the best choice for Doctor Who #11. Once I have my avatar coat made, there will be no further debate. We'll silence this silliness once and for all!

Shannon and I returned from the Yorkshire Dales Sunday, March 23 where we'd spent 10 days with my parents and Greg, Shannon's best friend from college. On our trip to Oxford 3 years ago, Shannon and I encountered a ginormous Welsh man in a pub in Headington who told us he didn't mind Americans - in ones and twos. This said, the five of us didn't encounter any problems at all during our stay. Indeed, we found the people to be very friendly and very warm.

Yorkshire Dales: Day 1: The Yanks Invade The North of England

"Why do you sound like you're from the north?" - Rose
"Lots of planets have a north!" -Dr. Who

We arrived at Manchester Airport around 6AM on March 13, and started our journey by jogging back and forth between terminals 3 and 1 to find a EuropCar agent who was open. Once we collected our cars (Greg had a tiny manual Ford and we had a Vauxhall Zafira minivan), we were on our way east to the Yorkshire Dales. Greg drove the Ford with Shannon; and I drove my parents in the comfy Zafira.

On the way we stopped in Kirkby Lonsdale where we spent most of the day. We'd chosen it on the map as a meeting place ahead of time because it was a fair sized town, but not too big, so we'd have a pretty good chance of finding each other there. From there, Shannon took over the driving from me (Greg was the only one who could drive the Ford) to lead the way to the cottage. Kirkby Lonsdale is a lovely town, one of the 400 or so I wouldn't mind living in in England. They were having their weekly farmers' market which had just had just opened for the day when we arrived, and there picked up some fruit and other snacky things.

When I was packing for the trip the morning of our departure, I'd searched high and low for my copy of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, and I couldn't find it anywhere. I thought it would have been perfect to read while staying within 80 miles of Haworth, home of the Brontës (and also not too far away from where Orange Girl lived for a year in Bradshaw!). I packed a few other books, including Weiland, a gothic work of literature by the father of American literature, Charles Brockden Brown (Who knew??? I'd never even heard of Brown until a friend of mine at work recommended Weiland to me as "creepy," and asked that I add it to my list of books to read to scare the bejeebus outta myself*) and forgot all about Wuthering Heights - until my mom randomly picked up a worn copy off a table at the market and said, "This would be a great book to read while we're here! Too bad I left my copy at home. I brought Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë) though." I immediately wrested it from her hands and purchased the copy from the slightly stunned bookseller.

My mom and I are always on the lookout for a good tea shop, and we spotted one straight off. After gathering the group, we settled down for breakfast and a cuppa at The Cariad Coffee House and Tea Room where I had what may have been the best veggie sausages in the world.

After that we explored the rest of the town. I bought some Stinky Bishop at Church Mouse Cheeses which was really tasty, but really did stink. It proceeded to stink up the kitchen for 4 days every time someone opened up the fridge in the kitchen until Greg and I finally polished it off. I also bought a pair of gloves and a hat at an army surplus store, having left mine at home. I'd expected it to be in the 50s throughout our stay, but it turns out it was unseasonably cold almost the entire time we were in Yorkshire. It even snowed for the last three days! Shannon had it worse than I did - he'd only brought a weatherproof, waterproof shell; I'd brought my 3-in-one Columbia parka. He didn't seem to mind, though.

On this map, we were located just to the east of the Arkengarthdale, and north of Reeth. (up top). I'll post better maps as I go along.

From Kirkby Lonsdale it was only 43 miles northeast to Hurst and The Schoolmaster Pasture where we were to spend all but one night of our vacation (the last night we spent at an inn near Manchester Airport). Shannon called the owner to let them know we were arriving a bit early, so we'd just hang out at the house until they arrived with the keys. It was a bit rainy when we arrived, but the wind, dear God, the wind. It was, for lack of a better word, awesome. Relentless. Bitter. Biting. STRONG. Howling. Whipping. While waiting for Richard to swing by with the keys (from where we had NO idea, there was nothing around for miles), Momster and I hid from the wind in the car while Shannon did some exploring and Papa Schuetter and Greg ran to Reeth (6 miles away) for some groceries.

(from the Website): This is the road up to The Schoolmaster Pasture from Hurst. That little bridge at the bottom of hte hill caused us (read Greg) a whole lotta grief in the snow when we left:


Here we are a little closer to the house:


Our view looking out from the front of the house:


The house was wonderful, and my favorite part was the Aga stove which kept the kitchen cozy 24 hours a day. I totally want one!!! Once we got inside, we pretty much crashed for the night. We didn't realize until we arrived that though linens were included, towels were not, so we couldn't shower until we bought some. Needless to say, we made a point of adding that to Friday's agenda. Being towel-less was a bit of a bummer, but not a primary concern - after being awake for over 24 hours (none of us slept well on the plane), we were POOPED!


The claw-footed tub THAT NOBODY USED!!! Such a shame!!

Behind it is the shower in which I found a spider THE SIZE OF MY HEAD when we arrived. Okay, it was like the size of a tuppence, but it was blacker than black and had my blood on it's mind. THANK YOU GREG, for killing it! Usually I'm not so squeamish about those things, but for some reason it just gave me, to quote Owen Meany, THE SHIVERS.

I'll post more on The Moors beginning with Day 2 as I go through all of our notes and tickets and pamphlets and things. This gives me an excellent excuse to sort all of this stuff out! Until then, please enjoy these two modern interpretations of Wuthering Heights - the first by Monty Python, and the second by Kate Bush:





* I still have to read Dracula, "Miriam," The Shining, and Seven Gothic Tales; but Papa Schuetter is still firmly in the lead with The Exorcist.

3.4.08

"Am I Freaking You Out, Man? Is This A Freaky Dream?"

AKA just another flimsy excuse to post pics of David Bowie.

And to post videos of Jermaine from The Flight of the Conchords impersonating David Bowie.

And to post a video of Jermaine and Bret singing to David Bowie in space.

It could be I decided to post about Bowie (again) because my husband and brother-in-law have totally dismissed me as a candidate for the 11th doctor, so, after much Bowie research, I've decided to take 1984 David Bowie along as my companion when I become the 11th doctor.

"But...but...what you mean I'm being regenerated??!! My ratings are SKY high! How could you POSSIBLY have found anyone to replace...Oh, NO! OrangeMoJoJo's decided she wants the part after all! To borrow a Caprica-ism - FRAKKK!!!"

Come to think of it, David Tennant would be a pretty fabulous companion, too, but, like Obama and Hillary, I doubt he'd settle for anything less than top billing, even if he were in drag.


He has better nails than me! Bitch!

But I digress from Bowie, which I would say is unforgiveable, but considering the twists and turns his career has made since the late 60s, I think he'd be okay with a David Tennant segue.


In episode 6 of Flight of the Conchords, entitled "Bowie," Bret has a dream of a helpful intervention by David Bowie after he's spent the day fretting over his body image. He proceeds to have two more dreams of a helpful Bowie after that, and each time Bowie appears to him from a different distinct Bowie era.

"Oh, the media monkeys and the junkie junkies will invite you to to the plastic pantamime; Throw their invites away."

"...I'm not really sure what you're talking about."

Dream Sequence 1: Ziggy Stardust-era, 1972 David Bowie offering Bret advice on overcoming his poor body image





Dream Sequence 2: Ashes to Ashes video, 1980 David Bowie offering Bret advice on going ahead and doing something outrageous when the time comes



And finally, Dream Sequence 3: Labyrinth, 1984 David Bowie questioning his ability to help people after his repeated failed attempts to help Bret. The third and final (or is it? The season is still young in the Netflix queue!) dream is followed with the Flight of the Conchords video "Bowie's in Space," which accounts for the extra three minutes.



I'm not sure why the boys are dressed at the beginning of the "Bowie's in Space" video as if they'd just walked off the cover of Queen II, but Queen is pretty far out there, too, man, so it totally works.