January 2008 archive

(25 entries)

January 30, 2008

A state that's untouchable like Elliot Ness

I am going to California in March! Finally I will officially be able to say that I've been to California! I sort of was in California this summer, but I'm kind of embarassed to check it off the list, since the entirety of my time there was landing in San Diego, then taking a cab to the port and getting on a ship. And I could still see the airport from the ship, so I didn't even travel that far within San Diego. This time I will actually spend multiple days in the state and see things and take pictures of things other than planes taking off!

I am very unfamiliar with my California geography, but I am told that I am going to a magical place called Mountain View, which is apparently near San Francisco, which is where you can ride on cable cars with seals while eating Rice-a-roni. I am also going to insist on going to Grant Avenue and wearing a flower in my hair.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKWiwfOhI6U

My visit has been announced to many Sanfriscoonies in proper monster truck rally style ("THURSDAY THURSDAY THURSDAY!"), so I imagine there will be lots of people to see and things to do! Or vice versa!

Dear California,

Please do not break off and fall into the ocean while I am on you.

srah | 8:07 PM
Tags: california, open letters, san francisco, travel

Tomorrow is another day! Fiddle-dee-dee!

January 24 is supposed to be the worst day of the year, but for my money, it's January 30. The blogosphere sounds cranky today, I couldn't sleep last night, I had so much work to do today, crazy amounts of multi-tasking had to be done to get things finished (which they are, sort of, almost, or will be by the time they need to be, I think) and everyone around me is sick. I almost wish I were sick. I always get sick when no one else is sick, and then when things are going around and striking down half the campus population, I'm fine.

Anyway, I hope all of you lovely little bunnies have a happier tomorrow than your today was (and if your today was very happy, then don't tell me. I don't need you rubbing it in!).

srah | 6:47 PM
Tags: health, stress

Ah do-run-run-run?

(The most annoying thing about blogging is that the posts do not write themselves. I have been making notes all week and am only now catching up on actually writing out the damned things.)

My favorite office on campus, the Office of Employee Health and Well-Being, has come through again with yet another exciting activity. Starting last Monday, I am now a member of Team [University I Work At], a training program for a 5k run/walk race in April. I originally thought that I would just sign up for the race and not waste $20 on the training sessions, but I'm glad that I did, because it's also an opportunity to socialize with new people. And the $20 covers my registration in the race (as well as a free t-shirt that I'm told is Very Exciting and Fancy), so there's no backing out now!

I spent the first training session jumping back and forth from the Walk Group to the Walk/Run Group. I'm not quite sure which is best for me, because I hate running, but I have a feeling that the Walk/Run Group might be able to teach me things about running that would make me hate it slightly less. My usual MO for running is: run really hard for about... ten feet... then collapse on the floor while my lungs explode. Apparently this is not the ideal way to do it. Apparently we are supposed to slowly glide along the floor, which I like a lot better. I can do it for longer periods of time, it doesn't have the jarring bounce that the fast running has, which always makes me sort of sick, and it's better for the joints. So I can actually do it. Inside, anyway, where the cold air doesn't hurt my lungs.

I am much more motivated to walk now that I know I have to meet up with the group every Monday evening. Yesterday I had more than 10,000 steps for the first time in a long time. And I had an opportunity to pimp pedometers, Omron pedometers specifically, and Walker Tracker to my groupmates when the coach asked us if we had any tricks for motivating ourselves to exercise.

Wheeeeeee! It's nice to finally be active again. Let's see if it lasts more than two days!

srah | 12:54 PM
Tags: employee health and well-being, exercise, health, running, walking

January 28, 2008

Purple haze all in his brain

Mansfield Park is possibly my least favorite Jane Austen novel. I'm actually not sure exactly how I would rank all of her novels - it would be something like:

  1. Persuasion/Pride & Prejudice (tie)
  2. Northanger Abbey/Sense & Sensibility (tie)
  3. Emma/Mansfield Park (tie)

I have a general idea of how much I liked them, but I've also never sat down and read each one in succession and my memories of the books are very much influenced by the movie versions. Mansfield Park, I think, suffers the worst from this, because I've never been satisfied by a movie version. Although I'm not that fond of Emma (the character or the book) I like the Gwyneth Paltrow movie and Clueless and that makes it a little more attractive.

Another problem is that the heroine is not very likable and - unlike Northanger Abbey's silly Catherine Morland - is not interesting enough to make up for it. Nor does she have a fascinating suitor like Mr Tilney. Altogether, Mary Crawford is much more interesting and has all of the clever lines in the book.

There is not one in a hundred of either sex who is not taken in when they marry. Look where I will, I see that it is so; and I feel that it must be so, when I consider that it is, of all transactions, the one in which people expect most from others, and are least honest themselves.
What gentleman among you am I to have the pleasure of making love to?
Selfishness must always be forgiven, you know, because there is no hope of a cure.

Mary's a wicked character who doesn't suit Edmund at all, and she uses her wit in meaner and more suggestive ways than - say - Elizabeth Bennet. She's still more likable than Fanny, who doesn't do much of anything other than mope. Fanny doesn't seem to have much of a journey as a character. Henry Crawford tries to seduce her, she doesn't give in and she comes out on the other side of it pretty much the same as she started. I guess it could be argued that it's Edmund - not Fanny - who has the journey in the book. He's tempted by flashy Mary Crawford but then comes to appreciate the loyalty of the stalwart Annabelle Veal Fanny Price.

The Austenpalooza version of Mansfield Park seemed to stick by the idea that it's Fanny's story, but doesn't add much to back it up. Again, like the others that came before it, the movie was weakened by the cuts that had to be made to fit it into the time slot and character development seems to have been the aspect that got the ax. It could have been interesting to see Edmund's fondness slowly develop into love for his cousin. They also could have shown the tension and the idea that Fanny might actually have been tempted by Henry Crawford's apparent kindness to her family, the contrast between his wealth and her family's lower-status life in Portsmouth and her lack of prospects and the hopelessness of her love for Edmund. Instead he seems to have been a temporary annoyance in her life. My friend and I laughed out loud at the way she ignored all of Henry Crawford's advances and occasionally even seemed to be ignorant that he was speaking at all.

Unfortunately that was not the (unintentionally) funniest part of the movie. That was when Edmund, after living under the same roof as Fanny for eight years, heard her say to his mother, "I like the purple" and immediately woke up and fell in love with her. What? It just happened like that? I also liked how his mother schemed to send them on a lavender-hunting expedition just to give them some time alone. "Lavender," said Fanny, just before he kissed her. My theory is that Edmund's ardor could be enflamed only by listing off shades of violet and Fanny finally found the key to unlock this purple passion. Aubergine! Lilac! Indigo! Heliotrope! If we had been treated to a Fanny-Edmund sex scene, that's what it would have sounded like. Ew.

And yet again, this one ended with waltzing around on a lawn. What is with the lawn-dancing scenes? When Mrs Bertram said, "Edmund and Fanny have invented a new dance!" or something, I shouted, "Oh god! That can't be the last line of the movie!" and spent the last few minutes cajoling the characters to say something else. Fortunately someone had some much less memorable line after that, so the movie didn't end on quite as terrible a note as I thought and feared that it would.

(ALRIGHT. I have made it this far without remarking on the physical attributes of the actors, but I can't hold it in anymore. Where did anyone get the idea that Billie Piper could pass as a natural blonde with those eyebrows? The eyebrows! The eyebrows! I might have been able to overlook a lot of these things in the movie if it weren't for those eyebrows! Also, Edmund had this weird stringy emo-hair that made him look like he should be in a terrible band that people on Never Mind the Buzzcocks would make fun of.)

Next week: Srah has to decide between the Superb Owl Commercials Extravaganza and Miss Austen Regrets. Srah is not particularly inspired by either.

srah | 10:12 PM
Tags: books, jane austen, mansfield park, movies

You know, they call me the cautionary whale

It's a good thing that I went to Kroger in my pyjamas that one time, because otherwise I think this would have turned entirely into a pop culture and movie-reviewing blog. Don't expect that to end anytime soon. My movie-viewings are usually more exciting than my real life.

And so, with no further ado, I bring you... Juno!

I am really glad to be able to say that I've seen Juno. It makes me feel like that much more of a legitimate moviegoer, since my Oscar-nominee-viewing was - pre-Juno - at three, and none of those had been nominated for something important like Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor/Actress or Best Supporting Actor/Actress. I have, however, seen some of the finest nominees, I'm sure, in the categories of Best Makeup, Best Sound Editing and Best Original Song. So... go srah. Very deep and high-brow.

The thing that has surprised me most about Juno is just its popularity. I thought it was going to be too "young" for some people, too "indie" for others or too "teen pregnancy" for some, but everyone I've talked to has just loved it. I did too, but then I'm a sucker for a young, indie teen pregnancy movie. Who isn't?

I've come to realize recently that what I like in books or in movies is:

  1. character/relationship development
  2. witty, clever dialogue
  3. an appreciation for language and a playfulness with words

Juno does all of these things very well. The characters are interesting, the things they have to say are interesting and the way they say them is the most interesting of all.

"That ain't no etch-a-sketch. This is one doodle that can't be un-did, homeskillet."

srah | 8:41 PM
Tags: academy awards, academy awards 2008, juno, movies, reviews

January 26, 2008

Srahnanas in Pyjamas are shopping at the store/ Srahnanas in Pyjamas go down in Srahtown lore

As I was leaving work one day this week, I promised to bring in brownies the next day, as some of my officemates had a big deadline the next day and I had a new recipe idea I wanted to try out. I went home, changed into pyjamas, puttered around a while making dinner and surfing the Internet, then went to start the brownies. Then I realized that I had used all of my eggs last weekend and that I was going to have to go out and buy more.

I weighed the situation. I could change into street clothes and change back into PJs when I got home, or I could just pull on a coat and boots over what I was already wearing. I'd been to the grocery store in pyjamas many times in college and I always see students in pyjama pants and sweatshirts on campus, occasionally showing up to appointments in my office dressed like they rolled out of bed just to come learn about study abroad. So my laziness won out and I decided it wouldn't be a problem.

I drove over to Kroger, walked up to the building and froze just outside the door. I am NOT in college, I suddenly realized, I am not a student anymore. I am an adult now and I live in a very small town and I am wearing my pyjamas in PUBLIC. I looked down. And my pyjamas are BRIGHT RED PLAID. These were not going to pass for "lounge pants" or the like and were very very conspicuous. I seriously considered - just outside the automatic doors of Kroger - driving home and changing into jeans and coming back, but I couldn't bear the idea of going out in the cold twice.

So I pressed on, head down and eyes on the floor so as to be as unrecognizable as possible. I tried to shrink down so that the area of the bright red plaid showing between my coat and my boots would be as small as possible. I sped to the back of the store, picked up a carton of eggs, shuffled to the self-checkout so that I wouldn't have to interact with anyone and completed my transaction in record time, anticipating and answering all the machine's questions before it could finish a sentence.

The problem with this situation is that I employed the very mature strategy of "If I can't see them, they can't see me." For all I know, everyone I know in Srahtown could have been in Kroger that evening, watching me speedwalk around the store in my pyjamas. I'm likely to find out only when the gossip spreads to one of my coworkers. Fortunately they really liked the brownies, so I think they might forgive me any shame I bring upon the office.

srah | 10:20 PM
Tags: fashion, srahtown

Lazy Reviewing

It's about time I finally got around to watching Northanger Abbey, since Mansfield Park is on tomorrow! I shall shamelessly copy and edit - only slightly - my own Facebook/Flixster review of the film rather than writing anything original. Alas, poor readers!

It was good, but leaves room for improvement in future film versions. When I read the book, I felt that the judgment of Catherine was coming from inside - from the narrator and the reader, so that we were sort of laughing at her from our side. In the movie, it's all Henry and I felt a bit left out of the joke.

This adaptation took Catherine more seriously than the book does, I think, but it worked because this Catherine was a little more serious and sensible than she is in the book.

Not my favorite Austen adaptation ever, but not bad. And they did the only thing that could make Mr Tilney more attractive in my eyes: give him an actual corporeal form (and a cute one to boot).

srah | 4:20 PM
Tags: jane austen, movies, northanger abbey, reviews

January 25, 2008

'I've met a lot of Scotch people. They want what we've got: order, sobriety, hope...'

I'm celebrating with a traditional Burns supper this evening, except that instead of haggis I'm having pizza, and instead of whisky I'm having water and instead of reading poetry and toasting and dancing, I'm going to the movies. But other than that, you know, quite traditional.

You may all celebrate by watching this lovely Scotch-themed episode of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. It is... The American Way. I mean... it is The Scottish Way.

Hoot mon!

srah | 5:02 PM
Tags: burns night, holidays, scotland

January 24, 2008

It's impossible to be unhappy in a poncho

Time for something happy around here! Therefore I present to you this lovely lolpanda picture (the only useful thing about pandas).

funny pictures

And also, a meme! Thanks to inspiration from Elisabeth, I have finally gotten around to finishing my list of:

50 Things That Make Me Happy

  1. The Pont du Gard
  2. frothed milk
  3. fondue
  4. dangling earlobes
  5. visiting my family
  6. petting kitties, then leaving them with their owners when I'm done
  7. playing with children, then leaving them with their owners when I'm done
  8. making forts
  9. baking
  10. old people in love
  11. dressing up in costumes or strange outfits
  12. Ann Arbor
  13. The Treachery of Images
  14. Mika
  15. huggy-hugs
  16. Mr Rogers
  17. maraschino cherries
  18. sushi, especially if someone else is paying
  19. Vince Noir
  20. the Amaretto Biscotti Torte from Conor O'Neills
  21. pierogi
  22. hearing people properly pluralize things like "attorneys general" and "courts martial"
  23. blog comments
  24. being around people who I'm comfortable enough with to be my real, nerdy self
  25. attractive men in well-fitting pants (not tight, but not the horrible baggy nonsense that is so popular, either)
  26. clothing that comes in petite sizes
  27. dill pickle soup
  28. introducing other people to dill pickle soup
  29. students who want to go to Africa
  30. things that glow in the dark
  31. jalebi
  32. Belgium
  33. singing in the car
  34. making waffles
  35. steampunk/neo-Victorian fashion
  36. Rupert Grint
  37. In the Good Old Summertime
  38. Death By Chocolate
  39. meeting new people in Srahtown
  40. Christopher Brookmyre
  41. my comforter, and especially burrowing under my comforter when it's very cold
  42. clothing with cherries on it (pictures of cherries or cherry prints, that is, not the actual fruit)
  43. new car smell
  44. new baby smell
  45. accents
  46. when I know something about sports that I was not expected to know, thereby impressing my family or other listeners
  47. donkeys
  48. The 20¢ metal rings that hold our Study Abroad Contact List together and which are pretty much my favorite thing I've ever proposed that my office buy
  49. Buster Keaton
  50. dancing my own spastic, 60s-throwback way

srah | 9:58 PM
Tags: happy, lists

RIP Heath Ledger

I have been quite upset by Heath Ledger's death. I'm rather surprised at how much it seems to have affected me. So - because I seem unable to write anything this week that isn't in list-format, either at work or in my personal life - here is a list of the reasons why I am upset about Heath Ledger's death, in descending order of importance.

  1. OUT960703It was a surprise. I don't think anyone saw this coming. Lindsay Lohan? Britney? Pete Doherty¹? Yes, I could see that. But Heath Ledger? Where did that come from? The first I heard about it was when Elisabeth twittered "RIP Heath Ledger." My first thought was, "What's he done now? Has he embarrassed himself in such a way as to damage his career?" It never even occurred to me that he was actually dead. Even when Erica's next tweet was "I'd rather hear about Heath Ledger than about Britney Spears" I just thought, "Oh boy, this must be some good gossip" and checked out Yahoo! News to see what they were reporting. It never occurred to me that he actually could be dead until I read it there.
  2. He was young. If you'd asked me before he died how old Heath Ledger was, I would have guessed that he was somewhere in his 30s. It turns out he was only a year older than me. He'd made some really good movies and played some important roles, but he had a lot of potential left to explore.
  3. He had a young daughter. She's - what - two? So she probably won't remember him. I feel bad for her and for her mother.
  4. The media is descending. He never seemed to be someone who sought media attention, and the media didn't really search him out either. Now that he's dead, we have these reports all over the place. "There was a $20 bill in the room! Maybe he snorted drugs with it!" "Never mind; they tested the bill and it's clean." "He died in a pile of pills." "Oops, our bad. There were pills in the room, but not strewn around the bed like we said earlier." There's always something new, and most of it is really stupid and irrelevant. I'm interested to see what the results of the autopsy are, but I don't need the endless speculation in between.
  5. I wanted to save him. I frequently have this reaction when a famous person is reported dead - that if only they had told me when he/she was dying I somehow could have saved them. When you tell me they're dead, there's nothing more for me to do. At least give me some hope, no matter how little sense it makes!
  6. Batman. I had a discussion the other night with a friend about how his death might affect The Dark Knight, in which Heath Ledger played The Joker. My friend was concerned that they might not release it, but then we did some searching online for precedent and discovered that movies are always being released after stars died. The best example we came up with was that Giant was released after James Dean died. Another that I came up with later: The Crow.
  7. He seems to have been a pretty nice guy. Here are some stories from people who knew or met him.
  8. The term "male masseuse." I keep hearing reports about the male masseuse who found him. You can't be a male masseuse! Masseuse is a feminine term! A man can be a masseur or a massage therapist or something.
  9. Personal guilt. I feel bad because I am profiting, in whatever superficial way, from Heath Ledger's death, as I have him on both of my Fafarazzi teams. I picked him because I thought he was going to be big news when Batman came out! I didn't know it was going to be because of this!
¹ I really like how Doherty sounds like "Dockerty" when English people say it.

srah | 9:13 PM
Tags: heath ledger, rip

January 23, 2008

Song she brang to me

I'm not in a terrifically bloggy mood right now, but I have just noticed that I have blogged on January 23 every year since 2002. That's a pretty good record and I hate to blow it. I wonder how many other days that's true for.

So here's a musical meme for you, via J! Bloggity blog!

My Top 10 Most Frequently Played Tracks in iTunes
1: Simon & Garfunkel - "America"
2: They Might Be Giants - "Man, It's So Loud In Here"
3: The Beatles - "If I Fell"
4: Mathieu Boogaerts - "Sens"
5: Neil Diamond - "Forever in Blue Jeans"
6: Simon & Garfunkel - "Kathy's Song"
7: Billy Joel - "The Longest Time"
8: The Fifth Dimension - "Let the Sunshine In"
9: George Harrison - "My Sweet Lord"
10: Journey - "Don't Stop Believin'"

The meme continues after the jump with some questions about these songs...

srah | 10:00 PM
Tags: george harrison, memes, music, neil diamond, simon and garfunkel, the beatles, they might be giants

January 18, 2008

Barouches of Fire

I guess I should finally finish writing this post, before it's Sunday again and time for more Jane Austenpalooza (I've never seen a film adaptation of Northanger Abbey so I'm looking forward to that one, but I think I'm going to have to tape it).

Things I liked about Persuasion (2007)

  • It was produced by Clerkenwell Films.

  • Rupert Penry-Jones is ridiculously handsome and smoldering.

  • I felt like Mary Elliot Musgrove was a more complex character in this adaptation than in Persuasion 1995. In 1995, her hypochondriac tendencies seemed more like annoying attention-seeking personal traits, whereas in this version it was more like mental illness. She also seemed to fit in better with Elizabeth and Sir Walter in this version. I didn't get the same impression in 1995 of Mary's social snobbery. I didn't realize that she was putting on airs and trying to elevate the Musgroves above their current status when she thought that Henrietta could do better than Henry/Charles Hayter¹. I thought she just didn't like Hayter for some reason. I didn't have quite the same impression of the inequality between the Elliots and Musgroves in 1995 as in 2007.

Things I didn't like about Persuasion (2007)

  • What, no naval uniforms? I have no idea what the norm would have been for a naval officer who was home from the sea, but it was weird seeing all the captains dressed like civilians.

  • Also, sailors should be old-looking and weather-beaten - just the complaint that Sir Walter makes about them. Not glorious and glowing like Rupert Penry-Jones.

  • Mary Musgrove was the only one of the supporting characters who I felt had any depth.

  • Mary Musgrove sort of stole every scene she was in and distracted me from the main story.

  • In 1995, the Charles-Anne backstory was sort of sad and touching. If they had gotten married, he probably would have been much happier than with Mary and would have had better-behaved children that he would have been closer to. Anne might even have come to love him, even if she never loved him like she did Wentworth. In 2007, Charles will not shut up about guns. Guns this, guns that. Kids are a nuisance, guns guns guns. In 1995, you know that Anne rejected Charles because she was in love with Wentworth. In 2007, you think 'Maybe she just rejected him because he was so damned annoying!' It's not anything that should really make Wentworth go "What? She rejected Charles Musgrove? It must be because she still loved me! That is the only explanation!"

  • I felt like Anthony Stewart Head was trying really hard not to play Sir Walter in the almost cartoonishly foppish way he was portrayed in 1995 but never came up with a different way to play him. "I'm not going to play him that way!" "Well okay, but how are you going to play him?" "Um... well, not that way!"

  • The Anne/Harville conversation about men and women and love was wasted in the middle of the film. It's an important conversation that should be overheard by Wentworth, leading him to believe that she still cares. DRAMA! Instead they just chatted around the dinner table and that was that.

  • The ending. What the hell was that? First of all, the running through the streets was not appropriate. But I will let that slide, because I can interpret it as the director's way of showing that she no longer cared for "keeping up appearances" in the way that her father and sisters did, and was going to do what was right for her, rather than what was right for the family image. But why did the movie have to end with Wentworth buying Kellynch (is that even possible, when it's entailed to Mr Elliot?) and them dancing on the lawn? It could have ended romantically. Instead it ended with... real estate. And waltzing.

All in all I liked it, but it's no replacement for the 1995 version. Your thoughts?

¹ He's Charles in the book, Henry in 1995 and Charles in 2007. I've never understood why he was named Charles, when there's already a Charles Musgrove in the same scenes. It's more confusing that way. Maybe Jane had her reasons. Maybe he was based on someone. Maybe people named Charles represented marrying down on the social scale. I wish she'd named him something else, though. Also, when the 1995 couple got married, they were Henry and Henrietta Hayter. I hope they had kids named Harry and Harriet.

srah | 12:29 PM
Tags: jane austen, movies, persuasion, reviews, tv

January 17, 2008

I'm out of it for a little while, and everybody gets delusions of grandeur.

Fox was apparently surprised and dismayed to find that the viewership numbers for American Idol are down this year. Fox had assumed that the writers' strike would mean that more people would turn to reality television, but from everything I've seen and heard anecdotally, it sounds like more people are turning to Netflix and to Doing Other Stuff. I have turned to the Internet, to my local library's DVD/video collections and to Not Procrastinating.

It might help if Fox's advertising approach were something other than "It's the only thing on!" I watched part of Tuesday's episode and decided that was enough for me. I won't be watching again until they get to Hollywood. I've found it increasingly annoying as the seasons go by that the audition episodes focus on the bad singers and attention-seekers and just briefly flash past the good ones. Now they go so far as to go into the homes of the bad ones, getting us invested in their story, making us think they're someone we're going to be watching all season, only to point out that it was all a joke. There are a lot of people in these audition rounds who seem to have serious mental problems that are being mocked by the judges and the show rather than being addressed seriously. I find it all distasteful.

There was one girl on Tuesday's episode who auditioned with Princess Leia buns and a Star Wars belt. She wasn't that bad; she was an okay singer, but nothing to write home about. When she was rejected, she went on a tirade about how American Idol won't have dorks on the show - they just want the pretty people who all look the same. This was overlaid with a montage of Golden Ticket winners from that round, as though American Idol was trying to say, "Oh, they all look the same, eh? Well look at all these people!" The thing was, she was right. They were all different races and all different sizes and all different ages, but there was definitely a type. They dressed similarly, they were all polished and made-up with styled hair. Clay Aiken got a makeover so that he could look like a star instead of a dork, but I'm not sure American Idol would be willing to take the same risk with a girl.

Is this a sign that I'm becoming a grumpy old person, or is American Idol actually getting worse every year?

Wake me up when they go to Hollywood. I'm going to be over here, watching old episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles on VHS instead.

srah | 5:09 PM
Tags: american idol, american idol 7, nerdiness, tv, writers' strike

January 15, 2008

I am very busy and important.

I got hooked on a new lifestyle trend this weekend called Going To Bed At A Normal Time Instead Of Staying Up Until 3am Watching British TV Shows on YouTube. It's amazing! I was actually motivated to do things like be social and clean my apartment and do this other thing called Doing Something That Has To Be Done Now, Rather Than Saying "I'll Do That Later" And Never Doing It. I even felt guilty when I wasn't being productive!

And it's continued into the week! Last night I went to bed at 10pm, and when my alarm went off this morning, I woke up, rather than pulling the pillow over my head and snoozing until the last minute. Tonight I might even do some homework! Who is this person, and what has she done with srah?

srah | 12:37 PM
Tags: cleaning, productivity, sleeping

January 11, 2008

De-lurk de-lurk de-lurk... </Pink Panther theme>

Apparently it's been De-Lurking Week¹ all week and it took me until Friday to catch on and finally blog about it. So happy De-Lurking Day! Please feel free to comment here, lurkers and non-lurkers alike. Welcome, and thank you for reading. Tell us the tale of how you found your way here! Tell us your favorite Disney movie! Tell us your favorite verb! Tell us your favorite herb! Tell us that you're okay, that you're okay, Annie! Tell us what you want, what you really really want! Have you got a New Age girl? Tell us what she's like! Mr Blue Sky, tell us why you had to hide away for so long!

Exclamation points! Loud noises!

¹ The Internet is a big higgledy-piggledy pot of anarchy, which is why we have a De-Lurking Week in January AND a Great Mofo Delurk in October. I just like to yank the lurkers out of the woodwork a couple of times a year.

srah | 12:32 PM
Tags: delurking

January 10, 2008

One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other

This SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY, coming to a TV near me (and maybe you, if you're lucky!) is the three-month Jane Austenpalooza on Masterpiece Theatre. In case this is the first you're hearing of the loveliness that PBS is providing in our hour of television need, here's the program:

  • January 13: Persuasion
    The Amanda Root-Ciaran Hinds version is probably my favorite film version of a Jane Austen novel, so I'm a bit hesitant about this one. Can it be anywhere near as good?
  • January 20: Northanger Abbey
    I've never seen a film version of Northanger Abbey, but it's the novel that I've read most recently, so it's freshest in my mind. I'm looking forward to seeing how they pull off saddling such a great male protagonist with such a silly female one.
  • January 27: Mansfield Park
    I'm not a huge Mansfield Park fan, but I'm really looking forward to this one, mostly because I'm intrigued by the cast. A time traveler and the son of a mad scientist are in it!
  • February 3: Miss Austen Regrets
    Don't know much of anything about this, except that it seems to be a film about Jane Austen helping her niece find a husband.
  • February 10: Pride and Prejudice part 1
    February 17: Pride and Prejudice part 2
    February 24: Pride and Prejudice part 3
    Delightful. I will probably skip these weeks and watch it on DVD, so I can rewatch the wet-Darcy scene over and over again if when I choose.
  • March 23: Emma
    This one came out in 1996 but I've never seen it. Not sure why they did TV remakes of only four of the films.
  • March 30: Sense and Sensibility part 1
    April 5: Sense and Sensibility part 2
    I took a quiz this week that said the Jane Austen heroine I most resembled was Elinor Dashwood. I think I'm part Elinor and part Marianne, but I mostly keep the crazy Marianne parts inside my head.
  • April 20: My Boy Jack
    (Unrelated to Jane Austen, but starring Harry Potter in a Terrible Moustache)

srah | 9:53 PM
Tags: daniel radcliffe, emma, jane austen, mansfield park, movies, northanger abbey, persuasion, pride and prejudice, sense and sensibility, tv, writers' strike

I can has tap-dancing class?

Our classical Indian dance class ended in December, and the Thursday lunchtime activity being offered by Employee Health and Well-Being this semester is Tai Chi. The instructor kept talking today about communing with nature and pulling energy from the ground and storing our qi in the "qi bank" just below our navel. It made me just as uncomfortable and out-of-place as when I have to go to church, and this distracted me from the mind-opening and consciousness-awakening or whatever it was we were supposed to do. I really like the concept of qi¹, just like I agree with a lot of the stories in the Bible. I appreciate all these things as symbols and parables and interesting ways of looking at the world, but I don't actually believe in them. But the way Tai Chi is being taught here, belief in the qi seems to be assumed. You can't just accept it as a symbol, because you have to push it all around the room and feel it flowing through you. I feel nothing. I have an active imagination, but not that active.

Indian dancing did not require faith in the supernatural! Give me back my Indian dancing!

I'm pretty sure Tai Chi is supposed to relax and energize you, and not fill you with existential angst. I think I'm doing it wrong.

¹ Though I prefer QI.

srah | 9:40 PM
Tags: employee health and well-being, exercise, faith, religion, tai chi

January 9, 2008

We have no time to lose! Let's go! To my secret woodland acting training area!

Last week I watched Who Am I This Time?, a made-for-TV movie starring Christopher Walken and Susan Sarandon. This movie is perfect for anyone who ever saw Christopher Walken playing a homicidal lunatic in any of his millions of homicidal lunatic roles and thought, "You know what? I need to see this guy playing a romantic lead."

In this movie, instead of playing a serial killer, Christopher Walken plays an extremely shy hardware store clerk-slash-thespian who Susan Sarandon manages to seduce through the THEATAH! And who is probably a serial killer.

It was actually pretty terrifying. I kept thinking, "Give up now, Susan Sarandon! He is going to snap at any moment and go loco!" It's not even just because he's Christopher Walken, it's because the character shows no personality at any point in the film, except that which he's gleaned from his leading-man roles¹. So he's Cyrano de Bergerac, he's Stanley Kowalski, he's Jack "Ernest" Worthing but underneath it all, we have no idea who he is or what his motivations are, and he's probably just psychotic.

I hope I'm not giving too much away by telling you that in the end, Susan Sarandon wins the hand of the creep-o actor by convincing him that although he can't express himself in his own words, he can just recite lines from plays to her for the rest of their natural lives. Now I like quoting things as much as the next man², but if I actually knew someone who could only speak in quotes from plays, I think that would seriously interfere with our efforts to communicate. I'm going to have to put that on my list of deal-breakers.

Anyway, I highly recommend watching the film if you can get your hands on it. It is a huge delightful trainwreck of strangeness.

srah | 12:27 PM
Tags: christopher walken, movies, quotes, reviews, who am i this time

Psst! Carrots!

I rediscovered this morning a list that I made a little over a year ago for my own use. It occurred to me, upon rereading it, that others might be interested. It is equally likely, however, that you will all just laugh at me. So, at risk of great personal embarrassment, I bring you:

The List of Gilbert Blythe Appearances in the First Two Anne of Green Gables Movies (Because the Third One Is an Abomination) Complete With DVD Chapter Number and Approximate Time of Appearance

(This is particularly useful in Anne of Avonlea (aka Anne of Green Gables - The Sequel), which has a lot of boring non-Gilbert stuff in it.)

srah | 12:09 PM
Tags: anne of green gables, gilbert blythe, movies

January 8, 2008

Crimpity crimpity now now, crimpity crimpity ask me how

Dear American Idol,

If it is not too late to suggest this (which it probably is, but you can use my ideas next year), I humbly suggest the following themes for the eleven "Top 12" weeks of American Idol:

  1. Queen
  2. Neil Diamond
  3. Musicals
  4. #1 song from the day you were born
  5. The Cure
  6. Wizard Rock
  7. Gilbert and Sullivan
  8. Famous commercial jingles
  9. Crimp Night
  10. srah's choice
  11. Live Crocodile Night (no singing involved)

srah | 12:00 AM
Tags: american idol, american idol 7, open letters, tv

January 7, 2008

Nana, Nana go away, come again another day

In the last few days, I've been plagued by a series of old people in line in front of me, holding up the line because they're busy nattering on to the cashier about their life stories and complaining about The Way Things Are Today.

That's what blogs are for, old people. Get with the times.

srah | 12:18 PM
Tags: blogs, old people

January 3, 2008

This is all one sentence, because I don't know how to punctuate

Just once, I would like to see a commercial where a woman gathers her friends all around her, glances at them conspiratorily, then shows off her left hand while excitedly announcing "He went to JARED!" and that this time instead of a diamond ring, she would be holding a great big Subway sandwich.

srah | 5:57 PM
Tags: commercials

January 2, 2008

I'm going to murder you, you bloody woman

I have always dreamed of being rich and famous.

"Someday when I'm rich and famous," I tell people, "I will have someone to drive me around all day and I'll never have to drive anywhere again."

"Someday when I'm rich and famous," I dream, "I will own fancy shoes that cost more than fifty dollars and make The Manolo proud!"

"Someday when I'm rich and famous," I say, "I will have my own reserved parking spot."

"Someday when I'm rich and famous," I muse, "I will buy all of the hats in China¹ and never be sad for a lost hat again."

("Someday when I'm rich and famous," I mutter, "I'll have you all killed.")

Sometime last weekend it was determined that since I am not famous yet and am in a place and field where I am unlikely to become famous (and I am a terrible neglecty blog-neglector, so I'm not going to be famous that way), the only avenue left to me is to become a serial killer.

The problem is: this only solves the "fame" part of the bargain. When did you ever hear of a serial killer who became rich and famous? I would have to be a little bit Robin Hood and a little bit Queen of Hearts: Steal from the rich, then off with their heads.

Alas, I don't think I have the drive or the energy to be a very effective serial killer, so I would probably be caught pretty quickly. So maybe I should add that I want to be rich, famous and at liberty to roam around where I please, without having to wear a stripey jumpsuit and leg irons.

Back to the drawing board. I guess I have to become a children's book author, or marry for my riches and fame or something. Drat. I don't suppose I'm the long-lost heir to the throne of a tiny European nation or something, am I?

¹ Hats? Tea? What? Never you mind.

srah | 7:51 PM
Tags: fame, future, murder

This is an outrage!

I wanted an egg salad sandwich, so while out running errands on my lunch hour, I swung by The Place Uptown That Sells Egg Salad Sandwiches. Unfortunately there was no parking available anywhere near TPUTSESS so after driving around the block three times, I gave up and bought an egg salad sandwich from the student center cafeteria. It was half as expensive, but not half as good as the egg salad sandwich from TPUTSESS (and I would have gotten a pickle from TPUTSESS!).

If the economy of Srahtown comes to a crashing halt because I'm not supporting it with expensive-but-delicious egg salad sandwiches, I will take no responsibility. Srahtown should give me my own reserved parking place in front of TPUTSESS and then I can spend money there all the live-long day¹.

Note: Comments along the lines of "Couldn't you have parked farther away and walked, like you resolved to do yesterday?" are not allowed. It is cold out. Waaaaaah.

¹ Somehow I got it into my head that the phrase was "all the ding-dong day." DING-DONG!

srah | 12:57 PM
Tags: egg salad, food, parking, srahtown

The Most Exciting Thing That Happened to Me Over Break, by Srah, age Seven (or in the style thereof)

The most exciting thing that happened to me over break was when I lost my hat. It was a red hat. It was windy when I lost my hat. My hat flew right off my head! I could not chase my hat because my hat was blown away. My hat plus the wind equals faster than me. I hope a homeless person finds my hat and my hat keeps the homeless person's head warm. It is a good hat. I miss my hat.

The End.

srah | 12:49 PM
Tags: hats, readers' choice, stories, weather

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