31 October 2007

Calling All Style Gurus

I know I should be blogging about my trip to California, but I don't really have time between Trick-or-Treaters and my dad offered to do the dishes if I handled the door. So it will have to be tomorrow. But I do need some advice. I realized I'm totally bored with my hair. Partly because I'm very, very lazy and don't bother with the round brush/flat iron combo unless it is a very, very special occasion. Also, I am enjoying the length and am sort of having a competition with myself to see how long I can get it. But it looks more and more like I crash landed at 'boule de cheveux' when shooting for pre-Raphaelite these days. So any suggestions are welcome. Unless that suggestion is waking up half an hour earlier, because that just isn't happening.

This is what I'm dealing with:


23 October 2007

Geek Chic

We've all known one, that subset of the male species that is consumed by a passion other than sports. Maybe they are a little too obsessed with the band, a little too good at math, a little too involved with the drama club, a little too entranced by hard drives, a little too knowledgeable about comic books, a little too excited by sci-fi and/or fantasy, a little too used to living inside their own head, a little too short on confidence, or a little too nervous around members of the opposite sex. We give them a hard time, but when we really think about, they are the ones that are always there when your computer sets out to destroy you one eaten term paper at a time or when you want to have a deep discussion about the various merits of superheroes. Maybe we have even secretly loved one. Maybe we ARE one. Either way, our lives wouldn’t be the same without them. Here are the members of my own personal Geek Squad:

Chuck Bartowski / Zachary Levi

Monday nights at 8 pm I will inevitably be found parked in front of the TV watching Chuck. I love this show, mostly due to the character of Chuck Bartowski, played by Zachary Levi. Maybe I identify with the underachieving Chuck, a smart guy stuck in a menial job and generally confused as how to get out. Obviously I don’t have a super-computer full of secrets embedded in my brain, but you understand. However, I think the show works for me because of Mr. Levi. He is so adorable in this role. He blinds you with the cute geekitude and then you remember that underneath the white, short-sleeved button down, grey tie, and pocket protector is a tall, dark, and handsome man with a killer smile running around in Chuck Taylors.

Eric Foreman / Topher Grace

I never got into That 70's Show, but my brother watched it and I would occasionally catch an episode here and there when I was unemployed. And not only does Eric Foreman get points for liking the red-head who just might be able to beat him up, he was an unabashed nice guy. Who loved Star Wars. And props go to Topher Grace, who made the character a three-dimensional one, when he could have become as one-note as some of the others became.

Dr. John ‘J.D.’ Dorian / Zach Braff

I became addicted to Scrubs when I was unemployed and the show was syndicated on something like 13 channels. And while I have to say the character veered dangerously close to being one-dimensional in the later seasons, the early J.D. as portrayed by Zach Braff was pretty great. He could do goofy one minute and serious the next and managed to make the voiceovers engaging, when that sort of thing can get old very, very quickly. Plus, Mr. Braff makes an excellent mix tape.

The Doctor / David Tennant

My dad used to watch Doctor Who in the early 80s (the Tom Baker years) and I have vague memories of it being on past my bedtime and even if I did get to see a bit of it, it didn’t make much sense. But I do remember the hat, the scarf, and the blue phone box. Which I just realized could totally explain my deep love those accessories AND British phone booths. Heck, I could blame my deep-seated Anglophilia completely on my dad. I can’t wait to tell him. Anyway, when I saw that the Sci-Fi channel was airing the new incarnation of it, I sat down to watch it with him. And my, the new Doctor is dreamy. Tall, dark, and quirkily handsome, he pairs natty three piece suits with Chuck Taylors. Which is precisely my cup of tea. Add the accent and the very lovely glasses and I’m suddenly a Doctor Who fan who has obsessively Netflix-ed every season of the show and is trying to come up with a way to both start graduate school AND travel to Stratford-upon-Avon to watch him perform Hamlet with the RSC next fall (for you Star Trek fans, Patrick Stewart is also on board for that production. Want to come?).

Ned / Lee Pace

Finally, Ned the Pie Maker from my other new favorite show, Pushing Daisies. Ned is a guy who can bring people back from the dead with a touch, but a second touch makes them dead again and if he brings them back for more than 60 seconds, someone else dies. So you can kind of see why he devoted himself to pies. He is simply adorable, especially in dealing with the conundrum of bringing his childhood sweetheart back to life, permanently, with the caveat that he never touch her again. Also, he named his shop The Pie Hole. Which is kind of awesome. Come to think of it, he might also do all of this while wearing Chuck Taylors. I have to figure out where my attraction to said footware comes from. Wow, this post is bringing lots of random stuff to the surface. It's better than a therapist!

So there are my favorite geeks. I want to hear all about yours. For now I’m off to first tell my dad that my need for hats, scarves, and all things British is all his fault and then to California for a vacation. That is, of course, as long as the Burbank airport doesn’t go up in flames. I’ll fill you in when I get back!

22 October 2007

Birthday Cake

It was a lovely birthday weekend and to thank you all for your birthday wishes, I thought I would share a cake recipe I kind of invented and people really seemed to enjoy. Since we couldn't have a piece of cake together on my birthday, here is the best I could do:
Chocolate Cherry Cake

  • 1 8 oz can pitted cherries in water
  • 1 8 oz can cherry pie filling (heavy syrup)
  • 1 Devil's Food cake mix
  • chocolate chips in your favorite flavor (milk, semi-sweet, or dark)
  • almond extract

Drain can of pitted cherries, save liquid and set cherries aside. Follow the instructions for the cake mix, substituting the liquid for the water. Once batter is mixed, add drained cherries, 1 cup choclate chips, and a dash of almond extract. Bake in bundt cake pan according to cake mix instructions. Also, be really good about greasing the pan, as this cake is heavier than normal and is liable to stick when coming out of the pan. Cool completely and top with cherry pie filling.

19 October 2007

Happy Birthday, Love George and Cary

These men wish you Happy Birthday! They told me so. Parker

17 October 2007

Reason 713 Why I Will Not Be Home-schooling My Hypothetical Children

I've mentioned before that I teach the Young Women in my ward, specifically the 14-15 year-olds, who are referred to in the Church as Mia Maids. I have no idea why. But I teach them and I have loads of fun with them, especially since I've known most of them since they were born. It is fun to watch them turn into people. But I digress. A new family recently moved into the ward boundaries and their 15 ("but I'll be 16 in four months") year-old daughter has been attending class activities on Wednesday (but, oddly enough not Church on Sundays. Maybe they home-school Church too). Last Wednesday the activity was painting pumpkins (marginally less messy than carving them) and theNewGirl arrived a bit early because her parents had to be somewhere else with another one of their daughters at 7pm. So I tried to get to know her a little better. Here is our conversation:

Scully: So what do you like to do in your spare time?

theNewGirl: Read

Scully (thinking Yay! A Reader!): What do you like to read?

theNewGirl: Romances

Scully (trying to keep from grimacing): Like paperback romance or Jane Austen romance?

theNewGirl: Like romances from Deseret Book.

Scully (trying desperately to keep the bile from rising): Like Anita Stansfield books?

theNewGirl: Yeah, her or (insert some 3-named woman who apparently writes LDS romance novels). My aunt buys them and then sends them to me.

Mercifully the doorbell rang and other girls started to arrive. Sadly, theNewGirl didn't have much to say to the rest of the girls, as they were full of stories from school and comparing teachers etc. Our class president, M, tried to make conversation and even told theNewGirl she looked for her at school, which was when theNewGirl announced she was home-schooled. And then said very, very little else all night long. M tried a couple of more times to include her, but I could tell she was in no way prepared to participate in their conversation. Especially the part of their conversation in which they discussed how uncomfortable the already out-and-proud lesbian that played on a couple of their sports teams made them. As I watched during the whole evening, it became painfully clear how unprepared for the world she is. Even though she is nearly a year older than the next girl in the class, she dresses as if she were still in grade school, in novelty t-shirts with smiling pumpkins. She couldn't carry on a simple conversation with any of the other four girls about anything. The only moment she seemed to enjoy the evening was when she was about to tell me all about the romance novels from Deseret Book. Which makes me wonder exactly what the curriculum is at home. I understand not wanting worldly influences in your home and I understand wanting your children to be safe, to be free from the dangers of this world, but there is a point at which protecting becomes imprisoning in a false Garden of Eden. If one is never presented with the many alternatives, good and evil, that exist in this world, especially when one is able to reside in the sheltered environment of the home, what happens when one runs smack dab into them when one has left that environment? What if one has a roommate with an eating disorder, one who swears like a sailor, one who openly flaunts the rules, or one who simply lives by different rules from those with which one is familiar? Especially if one is going to any incarnation of BYU, where one expects everything to be the way it was at home. I may be totally off, but I just see this poor girl floundering when presented with the real world. She and her parents have created such an environment in which she has very little contact with the world outside and which is reinforced by her reading novels that are little more than LDS fairytales. I can tell she has her life planned out, that she firmly believes that she will follow the Mormon culture's Happily Ever After of BYU, meet-and-marry a returned missionary, multiple children by the age of 30, and a settled life with a house and a minivan. And that doesn't always happen. In fact, it doesn't often happen. And I've seen some people thrown off the rails because what they thought would happen didn't and they were lost and started to question the really important things like testimony and the Atonement and all the other things that matter. And even if it does happen, what if she finds that it isn't all the happily-ever-after unicorns, rainbows and sunshine that she imagines it to be? Do you think, dear readers, that I'm overly-judgemental and need to stop jumping to conclusions or is there something really dangerous about such a sheltered life?

13 October 2007

New Tires Were NOT On The Birthday Wishlist

Friday morning I woke up to a flat tire. Not the way I wanted to start the day. It didn't help that I was already running a bit late to work. Additionally, my father had left two hours earlier to go camping with the Boy Scouts and wouldn't be back until Saturday evening. I managed to get him on his cell phone just long enough to find out where his air compressor was located but not long enough to find out how the tire attachment went on. And from then on he was out of the coverage area. Well, after spending 40 minutes fighting with the air compressor and getting nowhere, and another twenty minutes finding my mini air compressor that runs out of the cigarette lighter and realizing it was in no way up to the job, I decided to just put on the spare and go to Les Schwab. After getting everything I needed from my trunk, I went to work. I didn't get very far because the lug nuts had apparently been screwed on by a Titan. I stood on the wrench and couldn't get the lug nuts to move one little bit. At this point I indulged in a minor temper tantrum that might have included any combination of the following: screams of rage, tears, jumping up and down on the air compressor's tubing, and generally behaving like Catherine Earnshaw-Linton. Also, every adolescent male in the neighborhood, having the day off from school, was not at home. Finally I had to call some friends of my parents and the wife tracked down her husband at work and he came over. While he magically made the air compressor and attachment work, we discovered that a hole had been ripped in the sidewall, so the tire wouldn't hold aire. Back to the tire-changing plan. He also could not get the lug nuts to move until he bounced on the wrench, reinforced with a steel pipe, for a few minutes. It is quite an image to see a middle-aged man in loafers balance on wrench. So finally we got the tire changed and I was on my way to Les Schwab. But not before checking the other tires and realizing all of them were in some state of near-baldness. Les Schwab confirmed that the tire could not be repaired. Also, they didn't have a tire that was the same size as mine, so I couldn't just buy one. I had to buy four new, slightly larger, tires. Which took up all of the money I was saving for my California shopping-spree in two weeks. I could be bitter, but I decided to just think of it as buying new shoes for my car. My car deserves new shoes, right?

11 October 2007

Yet Another Reason to Love Him

For those of you who don't know, George Clooney was in a small motorcycle accident several weeks ago and it was leaked to the press. So now the hospital staff that treated him are facing suspension for leaking the info. And this was his response. (Taken from IMDB: link)
Clooney Appeals Against Hospital Workers' Suspension

Actor George Clooney has appealed to officials at a New Jersey hospital not to suspend staff over the leaking of his personal information to the media in the aftermath of his motorcycle crash last month. Up to 40 employees and medical staff at the Palisades Medical Center are suspected of breaking confidentiality laws by revealing details of the Michael Clayton actor's condition and medical records after his admission to the hospital. Clooney and his new girlfriend Sarah Larson were knocked off his motorcycle by a car on September 21. They were taken to the Palisades Medical Center, where he received treatment for a rib fracture and grazes, while Larson saw doctors for two broken toes. But the kind-hearted star, 46, is stunned by the magnitude of the situation. He says in a statement: "This is the first I've heard of it. And while I very much believe in a patient's right to privacy, I would hope that this could be settled without suspending medical workers."
Now seriously, how much more lovely could he be?

ETA: I got some details wrong, so for the full story go the the NYT article here.

04 October 2007

The Verdict Is In

I told you I would review the following TV shows last week, but then I found out that Pushing Daisies wasn't even premiering until last night and I was uncertain about what I should write about Bionic Woman after just one episode. I still am kind of uncertain, but I figured I should just get this done and then I could watch The Office guilt-free.

I have to admit, I'm kind of meh about this show. I didn't think I would be, seeing how addicted I was to The X-Files, Dark Angel, and Alias. I obviously like shows with strong female leads, a dose of sci-fi, and some action. I should be the target demo. But this show lacks something the others had that I can't quite describe, even to myself. I want to say 'fun', but that doesn't seem right. Maybe I mean humor, but I don't know if a few snappy lines would help, although most of the dialogue does need help. I think I saw some of the actors die a little inside during a few of their scenes. Maybe I don't find it clever enough. Whatever it is, it is missing something. Because I spent much of the pilot episode wishing the show focused on her little sister's life, as it seemed much more interesting. Also, I should not be able to pay more attention to the wardrobe than the plot AND still know what is going on and predict what will happen next. And as you can tell from the above list of TV addictions, I am willing to suspend A LOT of disbelief, but I can't stop being nitpicky about this show. If the nano-bytes (or whatever they are called) can filter out cigarette smoke as one character asserted in the pilot, how does the lead get drunk in the second episode? Wouldn't the nano-whatevers metabolize the alcohol so it doesn't effect her? And even if she did get drunk in the moment, wouldn't the nano-whatevers filter it enough in her sleep that she wouldn't wake up hung over? My last nit-pick isn't just about this show, but more about what writers do to most female leads in dramas like this one and the others I mentioned - they use reproductive issues to up the drama. They did it in The X-Files, they did it in Alias, they did it to a lesser extent in Dark Angel. Why is it that when writers want to really torment a female lead, they focus on their uterus? I have never once seen a plotline revolving around aliens, government agencies, rogue scientists, or cultists messing with a man's reproductive abilities, so why is it the go-to plotline to introduce tension, drama, or angst in a female lead's life? Any thoughts you might have would be totally welcome. Also welcome, your thoughts on Bionic Woman.

I can't give you a full review of Pushing Daisies, as I only caught the second half of the pilot last night because I was helping the Young Woman sew bags out of placemats. Which was an interesting undertaking. Anyway, what I saw, I liked. It was cute, twee, whimsical, and visually wonderful. The best description I can come up with is that it is as if Roald Dahl wrote a tv script. I found the characters engaging. It is possible the whole experiment could go horribly awry and become so enamoured with its whimsy and twee-ness (is that even a word?) that it makes one ill. But even with all the whimsy, it still seemed more real and full of more heart than shows set squarely in reality. I'll let you know if my opinion changes after I watch the full episode this weekend.