Friday, June 28, 2013

Bugs and Bubbles

That sounds like the title to a childrens "edutainment" program, doesn't it?

It's not.  It's my workplace.  Though it is pretty juvenile.

Yesterday, because our office is oh-so-pretty and pristine, a dead bug flew out of the air vent and onto my head.  Laughter ensued--but not mine.

Today we're popping bubble wrap.  Not just any bubble wrap, though, the big, industrial-sized-bubbles bubble wrap.  Our boss said we have to.

I'm not sure whether we just crack up easily, or if we're just cracked.

(True:  I never cared for that magazing, but Spy vs. Spy was pretty awesome...)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Watch This! Much Ado About Nothing

Remember when I told you how excited I was for Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing?

Well, last night I saw it.  And it was awesome.  And you need to see it too.  Four hundred year old spoilers ahead...

Okay, I'm going to get the "cons" of the film out of the way so I can hurry on to the good stuff, 'kay?

Marry, as much as I adore Alexis Denisof, his performance in the first bit of the movie is a little wooden.  For the first couple scenes, I was quite aware that he was acting.  But he really hit his stride in the scene where Don Pedro, Leonato, and Claudio are setting him up to fall in love.  That bit of physical comedy seemed to jump start him, and from there on, all was well, and ended well, too.

Sixth and lastly, though I didn't see it, the Dude said the actress playing Conrade kept looking at the camera in the scene where Claudio and Don Pedro learn they have been duped into accusing Hero.  The Dude found it distracting, and it would serve to sort of break the fourth wall.

Thirdly, the film is not being shown in most theaters near me, which is the greatest downside of the film, and to conclude, you need to see it anyway.

Got it?  Okay, moving on.

I'm having a difficult time figuring out where to begin with the things I liked about the film--there were a lot.

Going into the movie, I was curious to see how the casting would play out (see what I did there?).  Beatrice is usually cast and acted as a brash character who can hardly wait to get her next dig in. Amy Acker plays the part differently.  If you've seen her as Fred in Angel or the doctor in Dollhouse, you'll know she excels at bringing a delicacy to boldness.  What I mean is this:  where one might expect a character to puff out her chest and have a "bring it on, dude" attitude, Amy Acker manages to show an underlying vulnerability which makes that kind of brashness more sympathetic.  Her Beatrice is deeply sympathetic--haven't we all trash-talked an ex at one point or another?

DON PEDRO:  Come, lady, you have lost the heart of Signior Benedick.

BEATRICE:  Indeed, my lord, he lent it me awhile, and I gave him use for it, a double heart for his single one.  marry, once before he won it of me with false dice.  Therefore your Grace may well say I have lost it.

(Act 2, scene 1)

And Clark Gregg as Leonato was simply incredible.  Much Ado is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, and I've seen multiple versions of it, filmed and live.  Gregg's performance was without a doubt the best I've seen.  His anger, betrayal, and violence-tinged grief when Hero is accused marked the first time the scene almost had me in tears, and definitely the first time my sole consuming thought wasn't You should be on her side, dummy.  Gregg played the part with such aplomb that for the first time, I felt sympathy for Leonato and Hero both.

As a whole, I love the way the cast worked as a unit.  In this production, it didn't seem to be a play about Benedick and Beatrice, with some other characters giving them things to do--it was truly an ensemble cast.  Some people may consider the fact that those two weren't always front and center a downside, but it really let the rest of the cast--parts that are often just fodder for Benedick and Beatrice's antics--to shine believably.

And that's another thing.  This play has lots of slapstick, "big" comedy in it, between Benedick/Beatrice listening in where they shouldn't be and of course Dogberry and the other men of the night watch (Nathan Fillion was fantastic as expected, btvw.  Though Tom Lenk as Verges might have just managed to upstage him.  His fumbling sunglass-whipping--a la CSI Miami--had me in stitches.  And the two other watchmen perfectly nailed the "my boss is an idiot" thing.).  Most productions I've seen have turned up the physical comedy to 11.

This production, however, was treated above all with subtlety, enhanced by fact it was filmed in black and white.  From this, Hero gained a strength of character (not just an obedient foil to Beatrice, with just about as much depth) usually not seen.  Leonato, as I mentioned before, was finally a sympathetic character.  Conrade didn't melt into the background--that other bad one, you know.  Sean Maher as Don John wasn't a mustachio-twisting cardboard villain.  And the humor, then, was likewise more subtle--and no less laughter-inducing for it.

I also really liked the fact that it was set in the present day.  If you're familiar with Whedon's body of work at all, you know he likes his women strong, and he's very aware of the issues women face.  By setting this work today, lines such as, "Oh, that I were a man" take on a significance not usually present.  Yes, yes, but it's not like that now, the audience can think.  Not so in this production, where these lines highlight the extent to which things are still like that.

Look, here's the thing:

If you like Joss Whedon, you should see this film.
If you like Shakespeare, you should see this film.
If you like strong female characters, you should see this film.
If you like a great cast, you should see this film.
If you like to fangirl out over Nathan Fillion and/or Agent Phil Coulson, you should see this film.
If you like good movies, you should see this film.

Actually, I'd argue that if you breathe, you should see it.  Yeah, it's that good.  Hopefully, it's in a theater near you.  Otherwise, aren't you due for a road trip?

(True:  Interesting further reading on the "pre-history" of Beatrice and Benedick can be found here.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Culture Shock

I spent several months in London while I was in college.  I was well-aware that some things would be different than I was used to, and they were.  Same goes for my shorter visits to other countries.

Chicago is four hours from my hometown.  Other than big-city-versus-tiny-town stuff, I figured most things would be the same. 

Chicago is four hours from my hometown.  It's the only place where I've experienced culture shock.

Like "gym shoes."  Did you know Chicagoans call tennis shoes "gym shoes?"  Clearly this is wrong.  No one else does this, Chicago.

Can you even see the tiny green dot that is Chicago?

And they don't call it a "bubbler."  Dude, it bubbles.  It makes bubbling sounds.  It's clearly a bubbler.

See?  One of those tiny states out east agrees with us, and that makes it totally legit.  Also, my European geography is better than my American geography.  At least I can tell the difference between Latvia and Lithuania, right?  That's what's really important here.  And also bubblers.
(Both these maps, and twenty others equally as entertaining, can be found here.  If you language is interesting and people are weird, it's right up your alley.)

Also, would you believe that I had cannoli chips for breakfast?  I didn't even really know what cannoli was before I moved here, and now I find out it's available in delicious chip/dip form?  Dude, it's worth moving here just for that.

On a less appetizing note, "Sally" is used as an insult here.  As in, "You're afraid of spiders?  You're such a Sally."  Because no Sally ever would smoosh a spider without cringing and squealing and probably crying of course.  Get it?  It's because she's a girl.

(True:  This photographer in Texas took photos of her daughter that make me feel better.)

(Also true:  Spellcheck thinks "bubbler" isn't a word.  But it thinks the same thing about cannoli.  So there.)

Sunday, June 23, 2013


I am very sorry to announce I will no longer be accepting comments from anonymous posters.  I love comments immensely, but I will not tolerate creepy anonymous comments of the variety I have been receiving of late. Go look for porn or join a website dedicated to creeps.  You're no longer welcome here.

If you're an anonymous commenter of the uncreepy variety, I'm so sorry for the inconvenience.  I hope you'll still read and maybe build a profile so you can continue your much-appreciated commenting.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Oh For Pete's Sake

You know that song "High School Never Ends"?  Yeah, it's terrible.

It's also a lie.  I honestly believe that once we reach fifth grade, we just stop maturing.  Sure, there's some boob-growing and lexicon-building after that, but nothing fundamentally changes.

Several grown-ass men in my office are daring each other to eat a beetle found on someone's desk.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hops in the Right Direction: Sometimes, You Gotta Play Mama Bear

I've gotten a few snide comments about my dog.  Usually it happens when I'm on a long walk or am out for the day with Prada, and I've got her in the belly bag.  Because you know, purse-dog stereotypes blah blah blah.  I've snarked back a time or two--in my polite way, of course.  It's amazing how far a, "yeah, it's great that there are more options for handicapped dogs these days, isn't it?" will go.  (Cue the stuttering and agreeing.  Because while plenty of people are willing to make fun of purse-dogs, not too many are willing to be an asshole about handicapped ones.  Kind of like people who are really nice--except to waiters.)  More often, I just grin at them to let them know I've heard and move on.

I don't think I should tell someone anything about their dog that I wouldn't say about their child.  Or, more universally, if you don't want to feel like an asshole, don't be an asshole.  Asshole.

Because sometimes, you've just got to play mama bear.

Naturally, assholes aren't limited to snarking on dogs with altered mobility.  Purse dogs, small dogs, dogs they've decided are a mean breed or just ugly, whatever.

Which leads me to an incident my dad described to me.  My folks were recently at a national invitational for rally obedience.  (Yeah, they got invited to nationals their first year doing it.  Dad and Linka took 3rd place in Rally 2, and tied for 6th in Rally 3, the hardest level.  Against the best dogs in the country.  Not too shabby, right?)  At the same event was a conformation show--the standard kind you see on Thanksgiving, for pure-breds only. 

Now, Linka is a pure-bred miniature schnauzer, but she has a small white line on her chest that disqualifies her from participating in conformation.  So Dad has no real reason to groom her within the parameters of conformation--Linka's got a cut on a variation of the standard, which is more suited to her active lifestyle/running around in the woods all the time.  Okay, okay, I'm done with the exposition.  Here's the actual story:

My mom was holding Linka during a break between rallies.  She wandered over to the conformation show to admire the dogs.  A woman with another schnauzer came up to my mom and asked, "What are you doing here?  You're obviously not here for conformation."

"No," Mama Bear said.  "We're not here for the frou-frou dog show--we're in the competition for smart dogs."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why I'm Too Grateful to My Body to Diet

I always knew my body was a capable one. 

I remember being small, and deciding that my family was waiting too long to put up our Christmas tree.  So I dragged the box--probably bigger than me at that point--carefully downstairs, negotiating several tight corners and a narrow, steep staircase--downstairs and set the thing up myself.  It became a tradition for me to do it, and early enough on that I don't remember how our family did the tree thing prior to that.

I remember how easily I'd get bored of my bedroom, frequently rearranging furniture for a change.  I almost wrote "quick change," but it wasn't a quick process at all.  I could only push or pull one end of my dresser a few inches at a time, walking it forward, and then moving my bed in the same manner.

In high school, in the season I didn't play a sport, I lifted weights for fun.  In field hockey season, we'd run miles during practice, much of it in a semi-squat.  (Yes, it's a bit of a different sort of sport.)  My idea of fun as a child was riding my bike up and down our dead-end road or horseback riding.  I never worried about whether my body was capable of accomplishing a task or participate in an activity.

I got sick my junior year.  It took a while to diagnose (an undifferentiated autoimmune disorder, which is what they diagnose you with when they know the problem is with your immune system but not what the actual cause is), and the first few months were frightening.  I became so accustomed to hearing the latest worst possible prognosis that I forgot that there was any other option.  This viewpoint was helped along by the chronic fatigue and pain I was dealing with at the time, and exacerbated by the fact that I was unwilling to give up a single activity, pushing my now-limited endurance far beyond what was reasonable.

Suddenly, playing field hockey was not just physically challenging, it was incredibly painful and exhausting.  There were days I was too sore or too tired to manage a flight of stairs.  I refused to give any extracurriculars up, so it was the norm for me to go from class to field hockey or softball practice to play practice to prefect duty and then home at 10:30 to start four hours of homework.  It kind of sucked there for a while.

I got my health under control my freshman year of college.  I was angry for a long time that I'd ever had to go through all that, but now, almost decade later, I see the experience differently.  My body made it through that mess as best as it could, even while I was ignoring what it needed to get healthy.  My body works hard for me, and I've gotten better at treating it right.  I eat better, sleep more, and call it quits when I'm running out of steam.  I try to be active, though I hate working out.  Since getting my health under control, I've climbed all the stairs of Notre Dame and tackled the Eifel Tower and huge national parks.  I live in a third-floor walk-up without a problem.  I got an air-conditioning unit up those three flights of stairs alone.  My body works.

So I'm not going to hate it just because my thighs touch or because my belly has a bit of squish.  It's been too good to me to turn on it for such a petty reason.  It's a (mostly) healthy body in a normal body fat range.  If that changes, I'll need to renew my dedication to treat my body well.  That doesn't seem to be what dieting is about.  The focus of dieting has always seemed to me to be deprivation--punishing yourself.  I owe my body better.  I used to worry about my weight all the time, constantly striving to keep it in check.  But I've come to realize:  this body of mine?

It's good.

Monday, June 17, 2013

I'm Getting a Fashion Update. Or Downdate. Or Something.

It wasn't a fanny pack (bum bag for you British folks, and please pardon my language).  I swear to god it wasn't a fanny pack.

But it was a belt with a pocket in it that had just enough room for your ID and maybe one key.  And it was flat!  Flat does not equal fanny pack, okay???  I just didn't want to deal with a purse at a theme park, and the belt was totally hidden beneath my t-shirt.  So just stop maligning my dignity right there.  I am unquestionably dignified at all times.

Needless to say, I took a lot of flak for it.  But then I discovered these:

It's a chatelaine, and women in the 18th century hung them from their belts to carry their necessities.  Pretty, right?  So I took everthing out of my purse, and I'm going to make one for my necessities.

Classy, right?

(True:  Last weekend I saw a dude unashamedly rocking a fanny pack.  But he also was wearing short shorts and work boots with the shoelaces artistically untied, so I don't know if that's a sign the fanny pack is making a comeback or if he was just a hipster prepared for the zombie apocalypse.)

Friday, June 14, 2013

If This Doesn't End Up On At Least One Refrigerator, I'll Be Very Disappointed In Humanity.

I heard a joke I really liked, so I illustrated it.  It goes like this:

A giraffe walks into a bar and says,

This is original artwork.  I know you're very tempted to steal it and try to sell this fine-quality piece of artworkit on Ebay for gobs of money, but do try to restrain yourself. 
 Get it???

Okay, on second look, I think maybe this illustration needs a bit of explanation.  The orange stuff is liquor.  The things in the bartender's hand is glassware.  The giraffe has hooves or toes or something, not high heels.  The giraffe is the spotted thing.  That's not a tumor on it's face, that's its lower jaw.  Because, you know, the giraffe is talking.  So his mouth is open. 

You're welcome.  I'm here all week.

(True:  This is probably the best thing I've ever drawn.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I used to weep drunkenly into my keyboard, obviously.

In the mirror, no one stares back.
Eyes and lips are drawn, lids and cheeks colored.
And so a face appears from nothing.
The mannequin, costumed, proceeds to the door
And out into a world, peopled.
Chatter can be heard--syllables crash and twinge and jab.
The sounds wash over each other and away
With the smog of the evening commute,
Leaving only traces of grime on unoccupied bus stop benches.
In the night-place, there are box-sounds and can-laughter,
And dinner, which is the same.
Finally, the face and day are scrubbed away--
Only naked honesty remains.
In the mirror, no one stares back.

Don't be alarmed.  I am perfectly (I almost wrote "pervertly," and that's pretty accurate, too) fine.  I just sort of stumbled upon/remembered a bunch of things I wrote in/immediately after college.*  Some of it isn't half-bad.  Some of it is pretty awful.  Some is super-dee-duper angsty.  And most of it was written mid-drunk.

Dear readers, let me introduce you to me, five years ago...

A Downer Commons Lamentation

"Why ever did I think
It'd be a good idea to sink
My teeth into that fried
Wildebeastie?" I cried.
Now my belly's a-churning
And my mouth is a-burning.
I think I'll just lay down and croak.
Do you have Sprite?  No, not Coke.
Alkaseltzer or Tums?
When I'm gone, tell my chums
That I'll miss them.

Ode to Vicks

You smell real nice,
And make me tingle.
My sticky chest
Keeps me single.
But it's hard to mind
When you're around, dear,
Since you've the talent to
Make my nasal passages clear.
Some people don't like you,
But I really don't get it:
There's nothing better
When I'm feeling like shit.

To sum up, quickly:
When you're looking sickly
There're no excuses
Not to use this.
Rather than toaster and tub
Try Vicks Vapo-Rub!

*Some of this may or may not be posted online in an abandoned blog.  No, I'm not linking to it.  By "some of it is pretty awful" I mean, good lord, almost all of it.

(True:  It is probably terrible that now-me finds past-me pretty freaking funny.  If, you know, hungover.)

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Three Things I Need Before I Can Achieve Self-Actualization

A K-9 poodle skirt.

I need more time to
Write really awful haikus
To inflict on you.

To be Batman more often.

Villains, beware.

(True:  This is my face.  Hi, Internet!  Please don't do anything weird with my face.)

Friday, June 7, 2013

I was going to post, but then I nerded out instead.

But you know, it's Much Ado about Nothing.  By Joss.  And with everyone I love.  And Shakespeare.  And it comes out in two weeks, and I can honestly say I've never been so excited for a movie in my life. 


So, yeah, I may have just gorged on everything about the film I could find instead of putting together a proper post.  Or eating lunch.  Because, you know, priorities.

(True:  I have more filmed versions of Shakespeare than I can shake a spear at. Ba dum chick.)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mr. Sandman, Bring Me a Dream. Not a Fucking Mess, You Asshole.

I live on the top floor of my building.  Heat rises.  So in the summer, my apartment gets really hot--generally, whatever the temperature is outside, it's ten to fifteen degrees warmer in my home.  (Thank god for my window AC--that keeps it about the same temp as outside.)  And in the winter, all the massive amounts of heat pumped out by our cast-iron registers--which is either on or off for the entire building--creeps up to my apartment.

I sleep with the windows open.

But something that happened last week is making me rethink the wisdom of that.  Because apparently, even on the third floor, weird shit can get in your windows.

Like sand.  I woke up one morning last week with a significant amount (maybe a cup or a cup and a half) of motherfucking sand all over the windowsills and nearby floor. 

How does that even happen?!

(True:  I just referenced The Chordettes in this post title.  I am officially old.)