Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Quick update...again

I know it's been on for a few weeks, but I have found myself to be a big fan of Shear Genius. I really thought it would be dumb, and after the disappointments of Top Chef and Top Design, I was very surprised (because my idea for them is Top Exterminator at this point). But seriously, Jaqulyn Smith, always my favorite Angel, was a brilliant choice as a host. They found someone to mentor them in the salon who is not a judge (I hate that Tom Coliccio walks around and asks them questions and makes them feel bad and then uses it against them at the judging table). It's oddly addictive.

As a side note, I noticed on the website that Bravo links to TWoP, which is pretty cool for them.

In other news, I am currently under attack by gypsy moth catepillers. They are everywhere and they are gross. I was sitting on the patio and I looked up and suddenlyr realized about ten of them were bearing down on me. And then there was one on my foot, at which point I threw in the the towel and decamped back to the living room. And it SUCKS, because it is beautiful out in the evenings right now, and dammit, I want to drink martinis on my patio. Stupid invasive bugs.

And finally, I'm about to attempt, this weekend, to make a Black Forest Cake. I've never made such a thing before, but it's what the boy wanted, so it's what he gets. Well, what he really wanted was cheesecake, but he got that on his actual birthday at his parents' house (his sister really does make a killer cheesecake. I gotta get that recipe.). I thought about making a deconstructed cake, but decided that it was probably too odd. But I am sort of making my own take on it - I can't find one single recipe that I like everything in (uses Bing cherries, or uses buttercream frosting), so I decided, what the hell. I'll take the best of what I've seen and do my own. How wrong can I possibly go with chocolate cake, sour cherries and whipped cream? Not too much, I don't think. She said, being possibly overambitious.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bono, Kelly, and the 300

Okay, so apologies for the no postings for the months. In my defense, I got a new job that pretty much completely wiped me out and has somewhat taken me off the track in terms of following a lot of my favorite pop culture websites. However, read a book this week that is worth commenting on, saw a movie I need to talk about, and heard a song that must be highlighted. So, from slightest to most interesting:

1. Kelly
Okay, so I've never been hugely up on music, but the Altguy has gotten me hooked on Sirius radio, and has thus introduced me to completely silly songs by Kelly. Shoes is about, well, a bitchy mean girl who wants to buy shoes, and Let Me Borrow That Top is about, yes, you guessed it, a bitchy mean girl who wants to borrow her friend's top. I will say, Let Me Borrow That Top is a better song than Shoes, but both crack me up. They're totally silly, and sometimes I think that music, and indeed, a lot of popular art in general, will collapse under it's own self-seriousness.

Which, actually, brings us rather handily, to item number 2 on my list, a completely overblown and too serious movie:

2. The 300
Let's make sure the record is straight here. I like a lot, not all, comic books. Readers of this blog know my love of Neil Gaiman and the Sandman, and maybe are not as aware of my complete admiration for Alan Moore (even if he does look like a crazy hermit in his photographs). I think The Watchmen is still one of the most amazing comic books ever written. Also, let me say that I like stylish looking films. My problem with The 300 is that it's all style over substance. I'm not even going to get into any historical inaccuracies. I am interested in classical history, but I know crap-all off the top of my head about the Battle of Thermopylae, but I do know that my emotional reaction to the film was, "And then what?" I didn't care about one character, Spartan society is so unappealing that I didn't care that they were beating off the barbarian hordes, and Persian hordes so unbelievable that I didn't take them seriously as a threat (mutant monsters? For real?). The movie took itself way too seriously, with a speech that echoed, even if unintentionally, Henry V's exhortation to his troops to battle the French (Sort of a combination of "Once more into the breach, dear friends" and "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers") that left me wishing that I was actually watching Henry V. I just couldn't care, because, as stated, I wasn't emotionally involved with the film in any way. I will say that it's technically a very interesting movie - I hesitate to call it beautiful, but it's leaps and bounds ahead of a lot of green screen films. I just didn't really know what to make of it. In my mind, a movie that doesn't elicit some sort of reaction, either positive or negative, qualifies as an abject failure.

3. Killing Bono
Speaking of art that threatens to collapse under its own self-seriousness, U2 has always sort of fallen into that realm for me. Don't get me wrong, I like them. I always tear up at New Year's Day, I think The Joshua Tree is brilliant, but when Bono started meeting with the Pope and campaigning for debt forgiveness for the third world, I thought to myself, "Hold on here, why is Bono the spokesperson for these causes?" I just thought it was weird that a rock star suddenly had the ear of all these well placed politicians. And I couldn't get past the fact that Bono is, well, a rock star, and not an economist. I'll admit, a rock star is sexier and more well known than a economist, but still, it's weird. Well, I just finished reading Killing Bono by Neil McCormick, a school friend of Bono's. McCormick, now a music critic for a British newspaper, wrote a book about his own frustrated attempts to break into the music business, and his jealousy of U2 in general, and Bono specifically, and how this hounded him through his young life. I will say, he managed to change my opinion of Bono's self seriousness. It's clear from this book that Bono doesn't really understand why he's the one in the position to lobby for these political changes, and that went a long way towards increasing my goodwill toward him. But don't read the book for insights into Bono, he's a presence but a minor player. Read it because McCormick's memoir is and affecting and funny book about almost making it in the business.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Art Deco Chicago

Chicago is very cool. I spent a really fun weekend there, and took the Art Deco walking tour (which I highly recommend, by the way. They are given by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.), which give a great overview of a very exciting time in Chicago's architectural history.

That last one is actually called "Echo Deco", which is a modern building built in the Art Deco style. It's built as an homage to a building design that was submitted to the Chicago Tribune for it's competition in the 1920s.

This is the building that won:

But it's a beautiful city. I wish I'd had more time to see it, so I hope to go back.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Welcome, Ninja Librarian

The Culture Maven, infected by her friend the Ninja Librarian, suddenly is posting in the third person. She promises the post will be short and sweet. To wit: her good friend, the Ninja Librarian, has started a blog. See the link over there on the left at the bottom? You know, where it says Ninja Librarian? Click on that. The Ninja Librarian wishes to keep his identity a secret, but the Culture Maven was wily and figured out instantly his real identity. (In case you didn't know it, the Culture Maven is herself a librarian. Not a ninja librarian, but a librarian nonetheless). She will now spread the rumor that the Ninja Librarian is really Batman.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Adventures in Atlanta

Okay. Atlanta sucks. Sorry if anyone lives there, but my experience is that it sucks. Now, partially that’s because I only saw a narrow slice of it, but narrow slice I did see was horribly sketchy. Like, it’s not fun to be walking down the sidewalk and have some homeless guy decide that you need his help, for which you will give him money, even though you didn’t ask him, you don’t need help, and you certainly don’t have money handy to give him. Furthermore, being given a lecture on race politics that somehow stemmed from a comment to my dinner companion along the lines of “Let’s cross the street,” was also not terribly fun. Additionally, being regaled by my waiter over dinner about how he’s saving up money to convert his car over to bio-diesel, while admirable, is not exactly my idea of a dinner conversation I want. It seemed like every interaction I had in the city was rife with personal peril of some sort. Also, the downtown area is not very pretty, given that it’s full of empty lots and sort of scary looking buildings, and thus does not inspire the spirit of exploration.

However, all this is mitigated by the fact that in terminal A of the Hartsfield -Jackson Airport is a vending machine that SELLS IPODS! iPods, you guys! At first I thought it was just skins and power cords and such, and then I looked more closely and no, they sell actual iPods. And not just, you know, “cheap” ones like Shuffles. Oh no, my friends. They sell Nanos and video iPods. And people were buying them! Like, they got to the airport and were like, “Nmmm....I sorta wish I had an iPod. Why look! There’s a vending machine that sells them. Why, I think I’ll go ahead and buy one!” It’s like in Wayne’s World when Wayne gets his money from the television show and goes and looks at the Stratocaster that he craves and, when asked by the clerk if he can put it away now says, “Not today my good man. I’m feeling saucy. I think I’m going to buy it. Do you take-” and then pulls out the wad of cash, “-cash? Cha-ching!”

So, severe homeless problem and feeling like I was being accosted at every turn = Bad
However, a vending machine in the airport sells iPods = Awesome

Maybe that balances out?

In other ATL news, I had two mediocre dinners (one at Azio ($$$) and one at the Landmark Diner ($)) and one great one where I got sushi that was amazing (Ray’s in the City ($$)). Nice bonus was that the meeting had great food for breakfast every morning, coffee that flowed all day (and miraculously didn’t taste like ass), and pretty cheap and good cafeteria (great barbecue).

I think I’m done traveling for a bit. Vacation was great, obviously, but having to go away for four days so soon after getting back from vacation was kind of tough. I think my kitty probably misses me, and I know I certainly miss her, my real bed and cooking in my own kitchen. Also, as I sit here and write this, I have my headphones in and am listening to the latest NYUB podcast, and a woman is sitting, like, right next to me, and is barking into her phone all self importantly about something that happened at work. and, you know, she sat right next to me even though there were, like, a gazillion other seats available. I don’t know if she thinks that I won’t be able to hear her b/c I’m listening to music (so she thinks) or what, but it was odd. Oh, Hallelujah. She just moved away from me. Maybe my glances at her notified her that I could, in fact, hear every word she was bellowing into her phone.

Also, I saw a fashion emergency in the security line of airport. This woman, who looked sort of like Ann Coulter (blond and thinks she’s prettier than she actually is) was wearing, what I’ll call for the sake of an argument, a suit. A black suit that had a bolero style jacket with a Peter Pan collar and three quarter inch sleeves, worn over a cream colored shirt and a skirt with a hem that was shorter in the front than in the back by about two inches and had lace edging and a belt with a giant flower on it. Now, I feel like I see this sort of thing on Project Runway all the time (see the suit that Angela, Laura and Michael made for the Macy’s challenge), but seen in the real world it was extremely jarring. I don’t know if I would take someone seriously at first who walked into my office wearing that. It looked like Romy and Michelle’s idea of what businesswomen wear, as opposed to women in business actually wear. It was a little bit mindblowing, to be honest.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


I forgot to say, in my last post, the funniest thing I saw while in Hawaii. Well, two funny things, one that happened, and one I saw. Both at the Kona airport. So I'm in the security line, trying to avoid the sun that's beating down, and this woman, with her giant suitcase, gets into line behind me saying, "Is this the line for United?" I said, "Well, I believe that these are the United gates. This is the security line." She sighs and replies, "Oh, good." I eyed her for a second and said, "If, you know, you've already checked in." She says blithely, "Oh, I haven't done anything, I just got here." "Well, you have to check in first and get your boarding pass. This is the line for security." She looked at me blankly, not processing what I had said. I turned and pointed to the ticket agents behind us. "You have to check in for your flight and THEN come and go through security to go to your gate." She said, "Oh," and then wandered off. I'm still not sure if she really understood what I was saying to her, and then I had to wonder if maybe she'd never flown before, which I also found unlikely, because if she was FROM the Big Island surely she'd had to fly one of the other islands at some point in her life and if she WASN'T from the Big Island, then certainly she should have, you know, FLOWN there, and thus experienced the airport before.

The funniest thing I saw? The security guys had a table, and on it were displayed all the things they'd confiscated from people's carry on bags. You had a good amount of sunblock there, and a fair amount of lotion and hair care products. And a lone can of Easy Cheese.

I really, really wanted to meet the person who just couldn't concieve of flying anywhere without their can of Easy Cheese. In my mind, a Shatneresque monologue of "Must. Have. Easy. Cheese!" ensued.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sun, Fun, and Surf

So I apologize for disappearing for a month, but things were getting a bit dreary there for me in the dog days of summer. However, I now have two full weeks of vacation under my belt, and I have really had an opportunity to recharge, reconfigure my thinking patterns, and completely get off my sleep schedule. Basically, I spent two weeks in beautiful Hawaii, where I acquired Kona coffee, numerous mental and actual snapshots of amazing scenery, a brand new faded bathing suit, and a sunburn.

My parents, in an display of complete sponaeity, bought a time share in Kauai two years ago when they were partaking of my uncle's hospitality at their time share. So they saved it for two years so we could get two weeks in a row, and invited my entire nuclear family. After much dancing around about "well, maybe we'll go for one week and then spend the other week doing other stuff," from both me (myself and I) and my brother's family, it came about that I was the only one who actually got off the stick and booked flights and hotels and car for myself on the big island. Thus, I'm the only one who got bona fide genuine alone time (of course, I was also the only one, in a two bedroom condo containing eight people, who was sleeping on the floor, so you do the math).

Most awesome things about Hawaii, in no particular order:

- I got to take my long coveted surfing lessons
- The discovery of shave ice, which is about the tastiest treat ever, especially the li ming hui and coconut over macnut ice cream
- The accessibility of the wild world. I saw nenes, monk seals, and sea turtles, and most of them were fairly close.
- The outstanding scenery
- The weather, which was beautiful 98.9% of the time
- Being pretty much right at the beach
- Even at its worst, the traffic is nothing compared to DC

So let's start off by showing you the place I was staying, the Marriott Waiohai:

This is a shot going toward the Pacific from the middle of the resort complex.

Sunset on Poipu beach

Where I did the majority of my pool time (and right outside our patio door)

Kauai, also called the Garden Island, really is beautiful. In fact, most of the time I was there, I would look into the distance and not really believe that what I was seeing was real, because it looked like a matte painting. Like this:

We took a great drive early in the first week up to the Waimea canyon, which Twain described as the Grand Canyon of Hawaii. It is hugely impressive and beautiful. One of the coolest thing about Hawaii is that you'll start driving and you'll be at sea level, and twenty minutes later you're at two thousand feet and the temperature has dropped by about fifteen degrees. when you drive up the canyon road, that's basically what happens.

I decamped to the Big Island, as I said, and spent two days in Volcano National Park and two days in Kilauea on the Kona Coast. The Big Island is pretty barren, actually, and it has a desert in the middle of it. Everywhere I went there were big rock fields from eruptions. The volcanos are pretty amazing, but they don't really make for great images, so here are some petrogylphs that are one of the stops on the Chain of Craters road.

Also: Nenes!

Oh, okay. I'll give you a couple volcano pictures. Here's a giant crater:

Here are some steam vents:

And here's the plume from the volcano that has been in constant eruption for the last twenty-three years:

And I'll leave you with this: