Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sayonara, February!

The only way I know how to get through February is clinging to its holidays and events like life rafts carrying me through a vast, miserable ocean to March's greener shores. We've almost made it--three more hours and we can shake off the last dull droplets of this month. For being such a short month, it sure lasts a long time.

I've been in hibernation mode since my return from Wisconsin: sleeping in, working, eating, going to bed early and repeating. Once again, Alan Epstein has a list of small things to make us happier each month. Here's How to Be Happier: February Edition.

  1. Imagine you have six months to live. Hello, it's February. I felt like I died a little every day.
  2. Do something nice for an animal. I don't come into contact with many animals...but I do like to keep my meat consumption to a minimum, and what I do eat is usually local.
  3. Fall asleep reading one of your favorite books. Just about every night I read to the point of heavy eyelids. I fall asleep faster if I'm essentially already there rather than turning out the light and just telling myself to sleep.
  4. Start getting your taxes ready. Done. I have all the forms I need, just waiting on some motivation.
  5. Begin to plan a vacation. Done. I also took the vacation, last weekend, to Wisconsin.
  6. Let yourself cry. Done. I'm pretty okay at feeling my feelings.
  7. Be vegetarian for a day. Done. Done. Done.
  8. Complete each task you begin. This ties in nicely with my Lenten observance of cleaning up after myself and being aware of my presence.
  9. Completely serve another person. Does making Valentine's dinner for Jesus count? He helped some...I must have made dinner without his help at some point.
  10. Ask someone to be completely devoted to you. He returned the favor the day after Valentine's, taking me out to a Greek restaurant for my very first lamb (from a local farm!).
  11. Give yourself more time to do things. I always give myself extra time-padding and I'm amazed at how much less time I usually need.
  12. Improve your knowledge of history. I just read a novel set in Prohibition-era Boston and Miami. Even though it's fiction, I still learned background info. Isn't it crazy that something totally legit could be outlawed? (she said sarcastically...)
  13. Completely plan your day. When I first typed that I wrote "completely play your day," and I think I prefer that interpretation. Still, there's nothing I love more than a detailed list of things for me to do, guiding me through my day.
  14. Immerse yourself in love and romance. Done. See #'s 9 and 10.
  15. Put everything you value most in one place. The idea here is to make sure all your valuable belongings are stored in a safe place. I don't really have valuables, or a whole lot of space. My money is in the bank and pretty much everything else is in my bedroom. The things I truly value can't be "stored" in the traditional sense. I keep those things in my mind, my memory, my heart, and in my arms (if I'm lucky!).
  16. Put on a movie marathon. This one troubles me. I love watching movies, but if I watch more than about two, I feel like garbage, and if I watch at night I barely make it through one before falling asleep. Book marathons I can do.
  17. Visit a town close by you've never been to before. I would love to do this. There are several suburbs/outlying areas of Chicago that I want to visit as a tourist of sorts. Not in February, though. I want to enjoy my time.
  18. Fix up something you use frequently. I rearranged my room 2.5 times this month.
  19. Ask someone you admire to lunch. I can't remember the last time I was available during lunch time. Monday through Friday I'm at work, and the weekends are brunch time. I admire any and all stragglers who join us for brunch each weekend.
  20. Do everything for positive reasons. What Epstein means is, instead of saying "I have to clean my toilet," say "I get to clean my toilet!" Don't sweep because the floor is nasty dirty, think about the positive clean floor result instead. Cook because you are hungry, not because you will be crabby if you don't get food. I struggled with this one. It was more of a fake it til you make it kind of challenge.
  21. Pay attention to everything you eat and drink. This is pretty typical for me. We don't really have snack foods around the house, so if I'm eating or drinking it means I've put in some sort of effort to prepare the food. Hard not to think about it after chopping, sauteing, mixing, boiling, steaming, and/or baking it.
  22. Learn one new thing about how the US got started. One does not simply learn new things in United States history in an organic fashion--unless you are a frequent watcher of the History Channel, which I'm not. What I'm trying to say is, even after a Google search, I've got nothing.
  23. Visit a public library. Done! About once a week, without regard to the already large stack of books by my bed. Current reads: More Baths, Less Talking by Nick Hornby (a book about books!), tender hooks by Beth Ann Fennelly (poetry about motherhood highly recommended for parents, new and experienced), and A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (a different angle on the witch/vampire phenomenon, so far smart and gripping).
  24. Search for something you've lost, but not when you need it. If I lost something recently, I also forgot it. Must not have been too important.
  25. Take a roll of pictures of one person or thing. This book was clearly written in the days before digital cameras/smart phones.
  26. Make a list of all the things you want to do today and cross off as you complete. See #13.
  27. Write out your life goals. In my journal.
  28. Celebrate something small in a big way. As I said earlier, I cling to February's holidays. Anything that could be celebrated this month, I did. Did I find a half-eaten jar of frosting in the fridge? Must be time to bake cookies! Have I not showered in several days? Turn on some music and light the candles, I'm taking a long bath! Did someone slip on the sidewalk? I guess the whole apartment gets to eat ice cream!
  29. Leap Day: If you are a woman, ask someone to marry you. I was disappointed in Epstein's Leap Day suggestion. Really? Just gonna fall back on lore? 30 Rock did way better with its Leap Day Williams "Real life is for March." Anyway, it's not a Leap Year, so I won't be proposing or doing anything crazy.
I guess this month wasn't the absolute worst of times--I made a lot of good food this month, celebrated some holidays, watched award shows, went home and saw friends and family, and made a slight dent in my to-read list. I'll call it a wash, and I'll call tomorrow a fresh start. Like literally, though, because I just threw out my dry February contacts and I'll open a new pair in the morning.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The 85th Academy Awards

This is it! The last big award night. I'm already tuned into the red carpet interviews and so far I've seen some great dresses (Jennifer Aniston's and Stacy Keibler's). On the other side, Kristin Chenoweth looks a few years older than her age (44) and Anne Hathaway looks like she's wearing an apron with pointy nipples.

7:30 pm: How many voices are we going to hear from Seth MacFarlane tonight?

7:36 pm: YES. Why can't Tina and Amy host everything?

7:39 pm: Channing Tatum is such a great dancer....oh that man. Is he a father yet?

7:42 pm: The sock puppets!

7:42 and a half: Oh My God. That song and dance was great. Daniel Radcliffe is adorable. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is gorgeous.

7:50 pm: Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz. I think I will watch Django Unchained someday. I've heard too much about it to not see it and make my own opinions.

7:57 pm: Animated Short: Paperman. Yay! It was shown before Wreck-It Ralph. It's a sweet little love story, go watch.

7:59 pm: Animated Feature: Brave. I like the strong, independent woman thing, but I haven't seen the movie.

8:10 pm: Cinematography and Visual Effects: Life of Pi. This movie awed me. The book is long, but worth it.

8:17 pm: Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran, Anna Karenina. Did she also design her strange sweater robe dress? Okay, okay, I actually kind of like it.

8:20 pm: Makeup and Hairstyling: Lisa Westcott and Julie Darnell, Les Miserables. Who did their hair tonight?

8:25 pm: Not sold by this James Bond medley. Or the gold dress. Where's Adele?

8:33 pm: Live Action Short: Curfew. Has anyone seen or heard of this? Care to let me know what it's about?

8:35 pm: Documentary Short: Inocente. All the nominees looked sad/serious.

8:37 pm: Liam Neeson, what a man, what a voice.

8:43 pm: Documentary Feature: Searching for Sugar Man. My mom has actually seen a part of it and said it was good.

8:50 pm: Foreign Language Film: Amour. Old people in love, what more could you want? Oh yeah, subtitles and death.

8:54 pm: Chicago tribute...she's lip-syncing, right?

8:57 pm: Dreamgirls tribute...Jennifer Hudson not lip-syncing.

9:00 pm: Les Misérables tribute...what a strange combination of people. Wolverine, Maximus, Karen Smith, Catwoman, Borat, Bellatrix Lestrange...all together for a French Revolution musical.

9:13 pm: Ted looks pretty legit. Nice work, nerds. For real, how are they doing this?

9:17 pm: Sound Editing: No way, a tie? C'mon, Academy. Could you just not choose between guys with long blond hair?

9:20 pm: Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway. She knew. Again, with that dress. Get the one from the Les Mis tribute back! Even that was better than your current pink atrocity.

9:33 pm: I'm glad that the presenters are making a big deal out of the behind the scenes guys who do so much of the work it takes to make a movie. Sometimes it feels like they patronize them, but not tonight. Way to go.

9:35 pm: Jennifer Lawrence and Adele are both like six feet tall. Look it up.

9:47 pm: Kristen Stewart's limp (unspecified injury) gives her some awkward swagger. I wonder how she feels presenting at the Oscars when she's won a Razzie for Worst Actress?

10:02 pm: Can we talk about how great Barbara Streisand looks for 70?

10:09 pm: Can we talk about how not great Renée Zellweger looks for 43?

10:14 pm: Original Score: Life of Pi. Agreed! Original Song: Skyfall, Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth. Not surprised. Has anyone ever won a Grammy and an Oscar in the same year? Answer: yes. Julie Andrews, Barbara Streisand, and Eminem.

10:23 pm: Adapted Screenplay: Argo, Chris Terrio. Did they start to tell winners to rush through their speeches?

10:26 pm: Original Screenplay: Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino. Interesting that he won for the writing considering the controversy surrounding the language used.

10:34 pm: Director: Ang Lee. Congratulations, man.

10:41 pm: Leading Actress: Jennifer Lawrence. Aaaaaaaand she's down. The youngest nominee was 9, the oldest, 86. Who falls walking up the stairs? The 22-yr old.

10:45 pm: Meryl Streep just picked a wedgie!

10:46 pm: Leading Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis. He got a standing ovation and he didn't fall up any stairs! Sexist.

10:51 pm: Has a First Lady ever presented at the Oscars before?

10:55 pm: Guesses??? Mine is....Argo.

10:56 pm: And I win! Well, Ben Affleck wins.

11:01 pm: Bye, folks. Thanks for reading! See you at the next awards.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Adventures Up North

The adventures Jesus and I have had so far:

St. Mary Church Fish Boil: awesome food, plus Jesus got to see my grade school.

Drinking Habits: a really funny play put on by the ShowCase Players, directed by my friend Adam, plus Jesus got to see my high school.

Playing in the Snow: Jesus learned what snow pants are and we played in my backyard for a while. Most couples make snowmen, we made snow vault boxes for back flip practicing (he practiced, I watched).

Grave Encounters 2: possibly scarier than the first?

Brunch, Dad-style: bacon, eggs, and french toast.

Grandpa and Grandma, Rachu-style: dinner with Mom's side of the family for grandparents' birthdays. Barbecue, cheesy potatoes, potato salad, pasta salad,, comfort food.

Church: Jesus is essentially a born-again Catholic by now.

Grandpa and Grandma, Kaiser-style: a quick visit with Dad's parents = Grandpa's ice cream special, raiding the candy drawer, bringing home Grandma Pretzels.

Cluzzle: the game of clay puzzles where a ball of string can be confused for a snake hugging a rock.

Vegging: video games, blogging, catching up on TV, chips, popcorn, wine.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

So Feng, So Shui

My room is rearranged and I slept well last night. Either the blueberry muffins did the trick, or it was the fact that I have approximately four possible ways to arrange my room. My waking life seems to be in a better arrangement as well--I credit my extra day off, which allowed a rare midday nap. I wasn't excited to work today, but it turned out to be an all around decent day. Two more work days then I'm headed north to visit the family with Jesus!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Presidents and Books

Happy Presidents' Day! Here's hoping you observed it in the traditional way: shopping, preferably for a car. I spent it confused about the weather/season.

I also went to Myopic Books, a super eclectic bookstore in Wicker Park. I think I could spend the entire day there and not see all the books I'd be interested in. There are three floors and every available surface holds books. The shelves are so close together, only one person can fit in the aisle at a time. The books range in topic from mystery and sci-fi to cooking to religion to dinosaurs, and while they aren't priced like the thrift store, they are certainly cheaper than anything brand new.

And what's a better way to end a surprise day off than making blueberry muffins? I don't have any eggs, so I'm trying out a vegan recipe. It's my plan that the muffins somehow inspire the next room arrangement I have...I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Same Love

Do you guys have Valentine's Day plans? Dad told me he and Mom are "making leftovers like always." I'm curious as to what the original meal was if they have leftovers all the time. I'm currently [besides blogging] cleaning up the apartment and browsing Pandora's Love Songs stations. Pandora really has a station for everything--even if you are single and hating it today, Pandora has Love Sucks Radio.

I'm feeling in a festive mood: I have two sets of Valentine's Day socks on (it's cold at work) and I have Valentine's Day cookies at my side. Other feel-good things include the Illinois Senate voting to approve gay marriage today. The House still needs to vote and Governor Quinn has to sign it into law (he said he will if it gets to him), but Illinois is on its way to marriage equality!

This song seems to be in order:

[Also to note: I'm trying to learn this song on my keyboard. It's coming along! Come over for a concert. Just not tonight. I have a date. That I need to get ready for.]

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

And to Dust You Shall Return

As a period of prayer, fasting, and abstinence, Lent is usually restrictive. People give up food, pleasures, and vices. Church services are streamlined and things take on a solemn tone. I personally think February/late winter is solemn and lacking enough in pleasures, but I guess that means less temptation. We are supposed to be in mourning, and what do you know, the weather makes me horribly sad.

I don't want to give anything up this year, at least in the traditional sense. As far as food goes, I do my fair share of abstinence challenges. Giving up TV in the age of Hulu and Netflix is pointless; I will just binge on watching episodes online after Easter. What I am "giving up" can also be considered an addition to my daily routine. This year I am remembering I am dust by dusting my apartment. Sweeping. Washing dishes. Keeping things clean.

I'm giving up clutter, dirt, and (in some small way) laziness. Things will go back in their rightful places after I use them, and in this way my apartment will embody the stripped down feeling of Lent. I'm doing this because I've gotten really bad at doing my dishes (I blame MercyWorks); de-cluttering I'm pretty okay at. I want be more aware of the effect I have on the spaces I enter, and therefore more intentional about leaving things the way they were when I first got there, if not improved.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mardi Naw

After devouring a tray of crab dip nachos (a recipe I cobbled together from several I found online), I am about to enter a food coma on my couch. I can't let that happen because I have more indulging to do in the last few hours of Mardi Gras. Listening to President Obama give his State of the Union address isn't helping--yes, pieces of it have been interesting, but I'm not informed enough to know if he's making practical sense--his calm voice brings me closer to a trance-like state.

But no! I will not let that happen. I will drag myself to the kitchen and prepare more food because it's cold and turning the oven on warms me up, plus although I satisfied my salty cravings, I still have sweet cravings to take care of and a jar of half finished frosting in the fridge begging to be spread on some sugar cookies.

This is how I celebrate Fat Tuesday: a Cajun seafood appetizer-turned-entree paired with homemade cookies (I'll pretend they're king cake...maybe even hide a tiny baby inside one?). Add to that some sweetened iced tea and a "Mardi Gras" Pandora station, and I'm pretty sure I have the makings of an authentic New Orleans-themed night. Right?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Grammys 2013: Live Blog

Live-blogging the Golden Globes was so fun, I'm doing it for the Grammys as well. Join me back here at 7 and let's listen/watch together.

7:01 pm: What is this.

7:02 pm: Oh. Taylor Swift does Alice in Wonderland. Um...okay. Taylor, you have a pretty face and I appreciate what you are trying to do, you know, lady power and all...but remember the common denominator in all your failed relationships is you, so.

7:06 pm: Do we know what LL Cool J's hair looks like?

7:10 pm: Elton John and Ed Sheeran could be a father-son or uncle-nephew duo. Awesome. Love the song too.


7:20 pm: Adele, what a lady. I see she got a new dress. Wow, but somehow she pulls it off? Her acceptance speeches are always nice and short, as if she has a flight to catch and she just came to grab her inevitable award.

7:22 pm: Man, fun. is an amazing band. They live up to their name. If only the radio didn't overplay them to the point of extreme annoyance. As Brooke just said, you can listen to their album and feel inspired, even by their sad songs.

7:25 pm: They are actually getting rained on! So awesome. Poor instruments.

7:28 pm: Seriously with the commercials. State Farm remix, amazing. Where were these guys a week ago?

7:31 pm: John Mayer = Willy Wonka?

7:38 pm: Oh country music, how you confuse me sometimes. My comment on this performance: I like the stage/giant tree. Miranda Lambert's pink microphone is cool too. Why does she have to wear a tight glittery dress and heels while Dierks Bentley can just rock jeans and a leather jacket? Not fair.

7:39 pm: I wouldn't say Miguel is sexy himself, but his voice sure is. Wiz Khalifa, on the other hand, super sexy. Only sort of kidding--I could do with adding a shirt or some socks to that outfit, but you gotta admit the guy's got style.

7:43 pm: Did Carrie Underwood just say "golly"? Probably the cutest American Idol we've many are there again? I can only remember five.

7:46 pm: Now there's a Target commercial I can get behind.

7:50 pm: Faith Hill is beautiful.

7:51 pm: Probably could have guessed "We Are Young," for Song of the Year, although all of the nominees were played a lot on the radio this past year.

7:57 pm: I like Mumford and Sons. Can I tell any of their songs from each other? No.

8:03 pm: Ellen and Beyonce, two truly inspirational ladies who only need a first name.

8:04 pm: I wish Justin Timberlake's return to music was a bit more epic. "Suit & Tie" is cool, but it ain't no "SexyBack." Jay-Z is the best part.

8:07 pm: This song is way better. "Little Pusher Love Girl" has style.

8:12 pm: Congrats, Frank Ocean, you and your impossibly high voice. He seems humble and not used to speaking in public.

8:20 pm: Fingers crossed for Coldplay....

8:21 pm: Black Keys for "Lonely Boy," I'll take it.

8:23 pm: I've said this before, but I believe Adam Levine should only sing. His speaking voice is way to whiny for me.

8:24 pm: Yes! I love how tough Alicia Keys looks. I don't love her dress, but I don't hate it either. She's gorgeous.

8:26 pm: What a great mash-up/duet. "Daylight" and "Girl is on Fire" don't instinctively go together, but somehow that really worked.

8:27 pm: Best Pop Vocal Album: Stronger, Kelly Clarkson. Probably the last nominee I would have picked out of the five of them. She's hilarious, though. Wow.

8:36 pm: Here is what I think about Rihanna: pretty voice...not interested in anything else. Attention-seeking is one thing, but her publicity stunts are too much.

8:40 pm: I love rap collaborations. And I'm really glad Jay-Z, Kanye, Frank Ocean, and The-Dream won. Again, Frank Ocean, everyone. So cute/awkward.

8:49 pm: I love Big Easy collaborations too! Who decides which bands perform together at the Grammys? Genius. Give them a raise.

8:54 pm: Okay, okay...Kelly you have a strong voice. You deserved that Grammy.

9:09 pm: I didn't used to like Bruno Mars--he seemed too cocky, too pretty boy--but I've come around to his style. He can dance and he's funny (check out his SNL). Sting's singing voice is as distinctive as his guitar. His suit is pretty distinctive too. This collaboration rocks.

9:10 pm: I love seeing celebrities sing along to songs. They're regular people too!

9:11 pm: This collaboration still rocks, despite Rihanna and her strange dress. Brooke: "You can't go wrong with a Marley tribute."

9:13 pm: Target has really stepped up its game since the Golden Globes. Maybe they read my blog?

9:19 pm: I don't think anyone has or will ever have anything bad to say about The Lumineers.

9:21 pm: Do Jack White and Ruby Amanfu have to share a microphone? Jack White will never not creep me out. "Love Interruption" is such a good song, makes me wish I liked the guy more. That Elvis suit though.

9:25 pm: WOW KATY. Put those things away.

9:27 pm: We all called fun. for Best New Artist...Frank Ocean and The Lumineers gave them a run for their money, but you can't top what they did this past year. As for the other two nominees...who are you?

9:35 pm: Carrie Underwood = Glinda the Good Witch? What is happening on her dress? This is too much.

9:39 pm: Haha, Prince. What are you doing with your life these days?

9:41 pm: Why was "Somebody that I Used to Know" not up for Song of the Year? Kimbra = Tinkerbell?

9:44 pm: I just looked up the difference between Song and Record of the Year--Song goes to the actual song, so the songwriter, Record goes to the recording of the song, so the performer. Interesting.

9:55 pm: How do they decide who gets to be included in the In Memoriam? I mean, besides the obvious dying requirement.

9:58 pm: Once again, loving this collaboration. So random, so perfect. It's like the Grammy people picked names out of a hat.

10:11 pm: Love the entrance, Frank Ocean. The exit as well. And the whistling.

10:15 pm: Nice pregnancy joke, Adele. Can you imagine being her child? Best lullabies ever.

10:16 pm: Album of the Year, Babel, Mumford and Sons. Congrats, sirs.

10:24 pm: Yes, what I've been waiting for all night. LL Cool J performance here we go!

10:27 pm: Sick guitar solo. Not joking. Loving me some Travis Barker too.

10:30 pm: We made it. Thanks for joining me. Now off to the after party aka chips and salsa in bed!

Staying Local Saturday

Last night my roommates and I stayed local. We kept all of our Saturday night activities confined to half a square mile, bordered by Armitage, California, Fullerton, and Western. After eating homemade wings and fries, we decided to check out Fireside Bowl. We continued our night at an apartment near ours for a friend's birthday (helping the neighbor carry a TV inside in exchange for a 12-pack first), then finished with tortas from Los Comales.

Despite its awful website, Fireside Bowl does live up to the no-frills hype. It's a bowler's bowling alley--none of that silly cosmic bowl stuff, just basic alleys, several racks of bowling balls, and a bar/lounge with wood panel walls, a pool table in a low lit corner, and ice cold Jager on tap. We had a Groupon for one hour of bowling plus shoe rentals for $15, which keeps the game moving nicely (if you go over your hour, they charge by the quarter hour, so no biggie).

For some reason, Diego and I get better at bowling after we've had a drink or two. Britney and Brooke, not so much, though Britney did manage to beat Diego by three points. I put up a solid 143 to win the first game. While we played, we tried to figure out the demographic of the patrons. The alley was full and most lanes had three-six bowlers: lots of couples/group dates, and several guy/girl-only parties. Earlier there were a couple families with younger kids, but they were gone by the time we got started. I'd say the average age of a bowler was 35--I didn't see any groups of teenagers, which is uncommon (bowling's a popular activity for kids), but made sense (Fireside Bowl doesn't have cosmic bowling, an extensive arcade, or greasy snack foods, just bowling and a full bar). Because the alley is located in Logan Square, most bowlers could be labeled as hipsters, but they weren't your young/yuppie/popular hipsters--these were people with actual jobs and families and lives who also happen to wear flannel and drink PBR on a Saturday night.

From bowling we made our way to our friend's house party, where Britney and I compared apartments and noted home decorating ideas we want to try out while in the end deciding our apartment is still tops.

By the time we were ready to head home, we had worked up an appetite. Our usual late-night food options were a long walk away, but Los Comales was right around the corner and on our way back to the Naw. This place is also no-frills and gets the job done--I think we found a new tacqueria for nights when we stick to Logan Square activities. My torta was amazing and exactly what I needed before crashing for the night.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Divergent Casting

Imagine a post-apocalyptic Chicago: Lake Michigan turned into a marsh, buildings and trains abandoned, people separated into five separate factions based on distinct character traits they value (selflessness, honesty, peacefulness, knowledge, and bravery)--this is the world of Veronica Roth's novel Divergent.

Now imagine making a movie version of the novel, filmed in Chicago and featuring Illinoisans as the hundreds of faction members inhabiting this dystopian world. Movie and book fans young and old would line up, down the block and around the corner, just to submit their applications to appear in the background of the movie.

That was my Saturday. I woke up early and went to open casting calls for Divergent, filming here this spring/summer. I heard some people got there at 7 am, but Jesus and I held off until a more reasonable 10, when the doors actually opened. We stood in line for about an hour and a half, hopping around in the cold and trying not to think about having to use the bathroom, before shuffling into a giant room that held several hundred people. Final reports are that over 1,500 people came to the call--some had to be turned away.

Once inside, we separated. Jesus got to join the special area for people with military, combat, or gymnastics training. I was with the regular folks hoping to get cast as an extra. We filled out applications that asked basic questions (special skills, experience, hobbies, body measurements for costuming, willing to cut/dye hair, etc), then joined another line to get our photos taken.

With his special blue star, Jesus skipped to the front of these lines and got sent right through. I waited, but once I was at the front, the guy did mark a red star on my sheet, sending me to a shorter line. All that was left was smiling regular for a picture, then giving the photographer my best "adorable, Little House on the Prairie smile"--seriously, that's what he asked for.

Since Jesus has read most of the book, and I've read at least 100 pages (all within the last few days, when we found out about this), we basically know what extra parts we'd fit into--Jesus the brave faction, willing to jump on and off moving trains and from buildings, tattooed and pierced and tough-looking, me the hippie/bohemian long-haired happy fun time peaceful faction--and we spent most of our time in line putting all the other hopefuls in their prospective factions.

Even if they don't ask me to be an extra, I'm glad I went to check it out. Who knows, maybe the casting company has another project in the works that I'd be right for. Either way, I can say I was a part of this movie's pre-production phase and I'll be interested to see if I recognize any of the extras from the time I spent in line with them.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Saltiest Day

Welcome to the First Annual Saltiest Day. What is Saltiest Day? A while back, on October 20 to be exact, my roommates and I decided that America needs a Saltiest Day to complement Sweetest Day. When would Saltiest Day fall on the calendar? Far enough away from Sweetest Day to offset it, and during a really crappy time of year, when things are salty anyway.

Today was the perfect salty day because:

1) It's still not Friday.
2) The weather is awful--rain and snow together, wind, cold, clouds--just awful.
3) M was in full teenage don't want to do anything mode tonight.
4) I was on the phone with AT&T for at least an hour and the problem still wasn't solved (and that was for work--we still need to call them about an issue here at home).
5) Because of the extended phone call, I nearly burnt the burgers I was cooking.
6) We had a super huge pile of dishes to do at home (it's been a salty week here)--before you start worrying about our apartment hygiene, I rolled up my sleeves and powered through them tonight.
7) I had to do all the dishes tonight.
8) We are almost out of groceries, so dinner was: onion, canned beans, cheese. (Ok, ok, that's not all that salty/strange for was actually a good dinner.)

I would go on, but this is just turning into a list of things I didn't like about today and that's depressing. Saltiest Day is almost over, bring on a less salty day and a February that's closer to being over!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Click that Hood

Sorry I'm not sorry for the short/late post today--I'm addicted to this game.

I found it here, on It took me about a minute and a half to finish the starter/20 neighborhood game once I figured out how it works and 13.53.50 to correctly place all 90 neighborhoods. Now my eyes hurt, so excuse me while I take a 10-hour nap.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super? Bowl

If I could only make one comment about the Super Bowl, it would be that it was underwhelming. The game was meh, the commercials were neither hilarious nor overly offensive, and even Beyonce's halftime show paled considering what I hoped to see/hear (Jay-Z). The power outage alone was a fun diversion from an otherwise basic night of TV.

I didn't care about either the Ravens or the Niners, so that right there got me off to an apathetic start. Who are these teams and who cheers for them outside of their respective cities? I have no idea. The sibling rivalry was interesting, except for the fact that no one really talked about it--I wanted to know what family dinners have been like recently and which brother each of the parents rooted for. The Niners made it interesting post-outage, but not enough to bring the game to legendary status.

As for the commercials, the Kia "Where do babies come from?" spot was cute and stuck to the truth of reproduction just enough to be believable. Beer commercials were uninspired, the one Coke ad was plain confusing (why are those four people groups in an unknown desert together?), and even the ads were blasé. 

And Beyonce, I am so sorry, but I really wanted some guest stars that weren't Destiny's Child. Holographic images aside, you are a stand alone performer. Destiny's Child was great, but like 90s great. You guys broke up for a reason, and that reason is your now stunning career. If you were going to share the stage with anyone, shouldn't it have been that other performer in your life? Or maybe Lady Gaga, aren't you guys friends?

I enjoyed the power outage because it meant that even in 2013 we are not infallible. Even at the Super Bowl things can and will go wrong and the announcers won't really know what to do with themselves. Personally, I was sure it was the beginning of a Beyonce encore, so I was ultimately disappointed. Oh well. Bring on awards season.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Books about Books

I went to the library today strictly for returning purposes. I coached myself to not get carried away and reminded myself I have a stack of books at home to read, but still left with five new ones. I then went to the thrift store and picked out four more. I don't think I can be helped. Several of the books I got are just books about books, but they are still entertaining in and of themselves. And since this blog is in large devoted to writing about reading, I feel good supporting other writers who write about reading. The question still begs to be asked: If all I do is read books about books, am I really reading? It's a tongue-twister and a mind-twister, folks.

What I'm working through now are Nick Hornby's collections of essays about the books he reads each month. These essays were formerly published columns in The Believer (the column was aptly titled "Stuff I've Been Reading") and are now gathered in four separate books, The Polysyllabic Spree, Housekeeping vs. The Dirt, Shakespeare Wrote for Money, and More Baths Less Talking. I've added several new books to my list, but I'm also intrigued by the idea of someone getting paid to read & then write conversationally about it.

Hornby opens his second collection with a call to read whatever you like--be that literary fiction or dime store novels--instead of what you (or others) think you should be reading. He mentions people with lists (mental and physical) of books to read before a certain age, or before death. I am guilty of list-having, but rest assured, I only put books I want to read on my list. My list isn't task-oriented, I only need it because I can never remember the books I've been meaning to read. (I should also say you make several appearances on my list, Nick Hornby.)

Reading has never been a chore for me as it is for many people, and I think that's because I do read what I want. I'm not ashamed (okay, just a little ashamed) to admit that I'm not a well-read English major. I haven't read a lot of books I "should" have, and because it really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, I probably never will. Yes, I have been known to judge others' reading choices, but at the end of the day I would rather someone read a trashy novel than nothing at all. I don't like when people say books aren't for them. I honestly believe there is a book (be it a biography, travel memoir, or graphic novel) for everyone. It only needs to be found.