Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What is it about the New Year?

As I sit here on the cusp of New Year's Eve, I'm encouraged to start the New Year with some fresh vision and goals. What is it about the New Year that fills me up with hope and a sense of renewal...verging on the sense of a do-over? Or have I just bought into the commercialism of "New Year Resolutions"?

For better or worse, the resolutions I'm tossing around in my head look appallingly similar to last year's goals. Or like everyone else's.


After finishing "The Watchmen", I know one goal--to read more. I think I'm going to make a reading list of books I've been meaning to read or finish ones that I started.

What else?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Dayquil, what time is it?

What is in DayQuil that makes me want to jump into a bed of flowers and whisper my secrets to them?

What day is it? I just remember getting ready for Christmas and passing out. In and out of consciousness, I vaguely remember things like opening presents, watching the X-men trilogy, finishing the Watchmen, eating myself into a See's-induced coma, waking up late, seeing "High School Musical on Ice", going to the Page Museum, and eating a stick of butter in one day.

And now I'm off to work.

Happy Monday.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Secret Santa Revealed

On the last and final day, my Secret Santa gave me:

Actually, there was some gum too, but I chewed that already. It turned out that my suspicions were right and my Secret Santa was none other than my good friend, Heidi.

Having Heidi as my Secret Santa was awesome. It was kind of like when you were a depressed teenager and you would fantasize who would come and cry at your funeral if you died--and looking down you'd be amazed how a lot of people did care for you after all. (Relax, I know I wasn't the only teenager whose mind wandered like this.) It's kind of like that but without the dying part. The Office collage and the Pringle face was pretty darn amazing and it's really touching that Heidi did it all for me. Thank you so much, Heidi.

As for my efforts as a Secret Santa myself, I had Erika. For Day 1, I had a feeling she appreciated Star Wars so I put Darth outside her cube (the sign says, "Erika I am your Secret Santa"):

I also gave her some DIY hot cocoa and a scratcher (I had the girl do the writing):

I put it in a hot cocoa box and wrapped it in Batman paper, which I hope she'd appreciate:

As of Day 1, Erika didn't suspect me...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Day 4 - My Secret Santa is Nostradamus

It turns out I should have totally been ingesting those Emergen-C packets when I got them on Day 2 from my Secret Santa because I've come down with a case of the sniffles. How did my Secret Santa know that? And darn smug me, I didn't heed the gift. You can bet your good hair day that I took one this morning.

Anyhoo, because I didn't receive anything from my Secret Santa yesterday morning, I narrowed down my Secret Santa suspects to those who were absent yesterday. But I got thrown for a loop because when I came back from lunch, this was on my office wall:

Here's a close-up of the delicious part:

Yes, my Secret Santa is Nostradamus. How did she (or he) know I was getting Pringlie inside? Or more specifically, wanted to get Pringles inside my tummy...all the time? So my Secret Santa knows I have a weakness for Pringles. Hmmm. And is also crafty enough (or knows someone crafty because there is evidence of glue gun use) to make an awesome smiley face Pringle sculpture, complete with unflattering pictures of me (and some of my friends at work--hee!) from previous holiday parties. And perhaps as an unplanned bonus, they taped it in front of the motion sensor of my light switch so my lights would turn off every 20 minutes. Which of course, is the best excuse to get up, turn on my lights, and eat Pringles.

And does it get any better? YES. Extra Pringle cups in my mailbox:

Too bad I didn't check my mailbox before I ate so many off my Pringle face:

I think I have a very good idea who my Secret Santa is. Today is Day 5--the final big day of Secret Santa. We're opening final gifts, having a guess, and doing the big reveal at 2pm. Can't wait!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Awesome Day 3 from my Secret Santa

I got to my office door yesterday morning to see this:

As you can see it's an AWESOME photo collage of "The Office":

Plus, I got a package of Rainbow Twizzlers in my mailbox!

And could it get any better? YES. Later, photos from OUR office, specifically from our Holiday Awards Banquet, were added:

Including this gem with me on the dance floor:

This was, by far, the best gift from my Secret Santa. I'm pretty sure I'm leaving this on my door for, like, forever. I will have to say this has thrown me off the trail a bit in terms of the identity of my Secret Santa. Though, I have to say, she (or he) is pretty darn, well, awesome.

Secret Santa work on the Side

A couple of us Secret Santas got together to do something nice for "M", someone who wasn't doing Secret Santa but had volunteered to keep the master list and be the go-between the Secret Santas and Secret Virginias. So we spent an hour after work turning his cube into a little gingerbread chalet cubicle:

Do you like the tiling on the door in Hammermill salmon, green, and ivory?

And we brought a little winter magic "inside" with a sky full of snowflakes. Kind of like the dining hall ceiling at Hogwarts, right?

And a little peek of the gingerbread chalet from the outside, complete with a feeling that it's "forever snowing":

You're welcome, M.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Second visit from Secret Santa

So on Day Two I came to my desk and found this from my Secret Santa:

And inside were these items:

So here comes the fun part, trying to decipher who my Secret Santa is. From Day One's gift, I have determined my Secret Santa is female. Let's face it, ornament buying is pretty much a lady's game. I equate the enjoyment level of buying ornaments to taking my car in for an oil change, so my Secret Santa is a LOT more femmy and high classy than me.

But wait, is my Secret Santa trying to throw me off with Day Two? These items could easily be purchased on a pit stop at the 7-11 on the way to a party while picking up a 6-pack of Zima. Or hastily purchased that morning at the gas station--crap! I've got to do Frances's Secret Santa stuff again! ummm...I'll get these Vitamin C thingies, some gum--yeesh is there any cheaper gum? And some Slim Jims for myself... Not so femmy and high classy, now is it?

Or is my Secret Santa trying to tell me something? When I told other folks at work what I received from my Secret Santa, the common reply was, hmm, interesting...did you put that stuff on your wish list? And unfortunately, my reply would be, uh, no. And the tacit response was of course, that maybe my Secret Santa is telling me to lay off the strong coffee and garlic hummus and quit my annual case of Mucky Lung Fever.

Perhaps the 3rd visit from my SS will be more enlightening...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Operation Valkyrie is in effect

I'm kidding. Actually, I need Tom Cruise to say, "Operation Virginia is in effect," sans Nazi uniform. And eyepatch. After being absent for a couple of years, our office brought Secret Santa back. It kind of fell to the wayside because some folks had trouble with the pressure of 5 days of giftgiving, some were disappointed in their Secret Santa, blah, blah, blah humbug... I was one of the fervent supporters of bringing back Secret Santa.

Come on, who couldn't use some holiday spirit? Believe again, my fair co-workers, believe again.

I'll have to share what I gave later because I can't risk my Secret Virginia from finding out that I'm that person's Secret Santa. But look what was on my office door:

A closer look (I like the crafty use of office supplies):

And behold, my first gift from my Secret Santa:

See now? Who wouldn't want to start their Monday with this? Thanks, Secret Santa.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The answer was yes

My daughter's bestie came by with a brownie plate. "My mom got these for you at a bake sale."

The girl and I thanked her and told her what a sweet surprise it was and how delicious they looked.

The friend smiled, "You're welcome."

She then looked at us with a wry smile that comes from knowing our lifestyle as well as your kid's bestie does, "You're going to eat them all in one day, aren't you?"

Friday, December 12, 2008

This is easy

The Animal Rescue Site is having trouble getting enough people to click on it daily to meet their quota of getting free food donated every day to abused and neglected animals.

Jaded person that I am, I was dubious that anything could be so easy, free, and with no strings attached (e.g. being put on some annoying e-mail blast list), but honestly, it's requires totally minimal effort--you don't have to sign in (or give ANY information, for that matter). You simply go to their site (just hit the link above) and click on the purple box 'fund food for animals' for free. A Thank you screen shows up letting you know how much food you "donated" and shows who the sponsors are. This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate food to abandoned/neglected animals in exchange for advertising. Give it a try--can't hurt, only help.

You know what's not so easy? Trying to "maintain" my weight during the holiday--so far I'm up 2 pounds to 156, despite near-daily visits to the gym. Though it's hard to counter my eating activities, like the 3 Hannah Montana cupcakes I ate at work yesterday.

And on a different note, you know what's maddening? The Sudden Death OT rule in the NFL! Totally screwed my first pick this week. Come on, has a team losing the OT coin toss ever won? Ridiculous. sigh. This just means I'm going to nail the rest of my picks this week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jon Stewart and Prop 8, sort of

There was a blog I used to hit daily but she started doing video posts, which turned out to be a pain because they take a lot longer to listen to than read, and the quality could be crappy sometimes. So I haven't visited her blog in a while. But I've noticed that nearly all my posts this week have included video. I'd like to think that it's not as frustrating because the video is supplemental; you don't have to watch the video to get the post itself.

Obviously, after a disclaimer like that, I've got another video. This was a discussion between Jon Stewart and Mike Huckabee regarding gay marriage. To a degree there weren't many new points, Huckabee opines that "marriage still means one man one woman, life relationship", while Stewart points out how marriage has been redefined through the ages, e.g. polygamy.

The salient point of the interview comes when Huckabee pushes that "...marriage still means a male and a female relationship. And until the laws are overturned, it still means that." And Stewart counters, " know... segregation used to be the law until the courts intervened."

Huckabee: "There is a big difference between a person being black, and a person practicing a lifestyle and engaging in a marital relationship that-"

Stewart: "Okay. This is helpful. This gets to the crux of it...Religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality. And the protections that we have, for religion- we protect religion- and talk about a lifestyle choice! That is absolutely a choice. Gay people don't choose to be gay.At what age did you choose not to be gay?"

That really is heart of the matter, isn't it? Many people still believe being gay is a lifestyle choice. And perhaps since one doesn't wear sexual orientation like skin color or gender, then it must be a choice, despite genetic research proving otherwise?

So the question is: what will it take for the general public to understand that gay people don't choose to be gay?

For those who don't want to watch the 7 minute video, here's a transcript at this blog.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

WW on hold

Per the suggestion of my blogging mentor, I've kind of let go of the WW program for the holidays. It's just ridiculous around here--between work (with the gift baskets and homemade goodies brought in) and home (where we've been decorating anything edible with red and white frosting)--ridiculous.

In an effort to stave off horrific weight gain, I've been hitting the gym nearly every day, doing at least 20 minutes of cardio. I'm also trying to eat well between holiday goodie pigouts, though the can of Pringles I ate entirely by myself on Sunday night is not good sign of restraint. Nor is the bag of Butterfinger "Jingles" I finished up last night.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My girl and Troy

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High School Musical, HSM2, HSM3

I think my girl was one of the last girls in America not to have watched any of the High School Musicals. Until now.

With High School Musical 3 hitting theaters, and last year's gift of High School Musical 2 DVD that still sat unopened, we decided to borrow the first HSM and catch up on all of them.

Honestly, I was bracing myself for a Disney cheesefest--after all the pretty and glorified press on the cast, I was expecting that I'd be clawing my eyes and ear canals out at the second step-ball-change. But it turned out to be similar to my Barney experience.

Anybody remember Barney? When I was a teenager, Charles Barkley did a sketch on SNL where he played one-on-one with Barney and ended up trashing him. This was when Barney just came on the PBS scene and he was taking the infant set and their parents by storm. At the time, I just remembered him as a goofy purple dinosaur and I laughed so hard at every blow Charles Barkley gave him. When I had my own baby, however, and she became enamored with Barney, you can bet your Cinnabuns that I would have kissed his purple a$$ for all the laughter he brought out of my baby girl. I wouldn't necessarily say Barney deserved an Emmy but I came to respect the purpose and life lessons of his show and I enjoyed watching the shows together with my young daughter.

Anyhoo, these HSMs are really well done. Directed by Kenny Ortega (a world famous choreographer who has choreographed for Michael Jackson and the movie, Dirty Dancing), the musical numbers flow easily and the choreography is excellent, reminiscent of great musicals like West Side Story and even Thriller. And the songs are really catchy and are hit pop song caliber.

It helps that the HSMs feature a very talented cast. Zac Efron (plays Troy) totally has a future in front of him beyond Disney. Until I saw his work here, I was pretty much ready to dismiss him as an annoyingly pretty kid. But the boy has got talent. He reminded me of John Travolta in Grease--charming and handsome with great comic timing and musical chops to boot. He overuses a Renee Zellweger pout in HSM2 but really shines in HSM3. Ashley Tisdale (plays Sharpay) is super in this--given a fairly two dimensional character, she is really engaging as the selfish yet popular girl and fills out the role with relish.

Though excellent for movies aimed at the tween set, there are weaknesses. These movies are obviously centered around Troy whose struggles are well fleshed out, but the supporting characters (played by very talented actors) are fairly two dimensional. The worst, for me, being the girlfriend-as-wet-blanket character. Vanessa Hudgens is quite lovely-faced and voiced as Gabriella, whose character provides the focus and conflict for Troy. My grievances are with the dramatic devices her character is given, the worst being some early start program by Stanford that has her start college during her senior year of high school in HSM3. Really?! I'll spare my diatribe on Disney's female characterizations in general. For now. Other talented actors, Lucas Grabeel as Ryan, Sharpay's suffering brother, and Corbin Bleu as Chad, Troy's best friend, get to show off their skills in some of the best musical numbers, but again I feel their characters serve more as devices to move the story along or flesh out Troy's character. But perhaps, that's the nature of musicals. There is, after all, a lot of singing and dancing to be done.

Overall, this HSM trilogy is very well done and entertaining, with huge credit to the director, Kenny Ortega. I appreciated watching them with my tween daughter and I enjoy watching the girl sing along to the songs as I did with musicals when I was a kid.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

I had heard so much buzz about Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire" that I really wanted to see it, especially after seeing this trailer:

Unfortunately, I heard there were a police interrogation scene and I was a bit consumed with worry about whether I could watch it. I'm one of those people who cannot, CANNOT, watch torture. I know, I know, it means I've missed out on some great movies, such as "The Last King of Scotland". Turns out, the interrogation was one of the easier scenes to watch.

The brutal slum life, on the other hand, was harder to stomach. I'm not just talking about the ease that someone's life could end, but the habitats nested in garbage and filth, the desperate hustle for money, and the wide disparity between poverty and comfortable living. A part of me was torn between wanting to ease the life of these "slumdogs" and hoping Mumbai would get a comprehensive recycling system.

Anyhoo, the art is in the storytelling and Boyle does a great job. It's a pretty fantastic story to begin with and the young actors playing them as children and adolescents bring it to life. Boyle arrestingly weaves misery and joy, precious and cheap, principles and compromise, hope and cruelty, both visually and aurally. The only disappointment to me were the actors playing the despairing love interests as adults. The storyline makes you want to root for nice, principled Jamal, but Dev Patel plays him with a stoic, inoffensive reserve that does little for me than say, he's a nice guy...yeah, okay...he deserves a nice girlfriend. The woman playing Latika is ridiculously gorgeous so I was surprised that I didn't feel a bigger spark of chemistry between the two. The two were quite sufficient in their roles but darn, after the outstanding performances by the kids and youths, it was a touch of a letdown.

Overall the story is magic. Harrowing at times, especially watching the hard lives of those in poverty and the exploitation of such children, but the story is shared so wonderfully, that you realize that winning the big gameshow pot doesn't really matter, that there is a difference between living and being alive, that love and hope matters. You walk out valuing the bites of joy and sunshine life gives you. And wanting to go home and hug your children and telling them how precious they are to you.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hey Sinners--if you've got 3 minutes

I happened upon this Prop 8 musical featuring Jack Black, John C. Reilly, and others:

If I didn't embed this right, click here to see it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Is it just me?

Or is Timothy Geithner kind of attractive? Perhaps it's the fact that the Dow Jones rose nearly 500 points at the mere announcement that he would become our next Treasury Secretary. Now that's appealing.

Frankly, if this guy can save our economy from going down the crapper and he purred I would have never voted for Prop 8 in my ear, he might actually be the inaugural real person to make the list.

On a related note, I'm going to make a slam dunk on my football picks this week. I mean it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Old Lady Stinkeye

I don't know when I crossed the line into crabby old ladydom. I know I'm no longer hip, I don't comprehend why Paris Hilton is famous, I don't know who is on "The Hills", and I admit that if I'm lucky, I know about 10% of the albums on those annual Top 100 Albums of the Year lists. I also admit that I say things like, "Kids today...", "When I was young...", while I shake my fist in the air. And not in any kind of cool, fist-bump kind of way.

One thing that totally happened in the black hole between my youth and my current age is the "hip" fashion for young men to wear their pants super low, exposing their boxers.

I was at the gym yesterday morning and there was this kid, I'm guessing about 20, whose basketball shorts were so low that I swear, his basketball shorts were below the butt cheeks of his boxers. If it weren't for the doorbell in front holding up his shorts, they would have been down around his ankles.

How did this look ever become popular? First, it's not flattering in the least. A thin veneer of plaid divides my sight from your sweaty butt cheek skin. Who do you honestly think that attracts? Do you really think that's a good thing? Second it's completely annoying to behold, kind of like watching a kid who has a rivulet of snot running down his face or a child whose hair is covering their eyes. You just want take a tissue and wipe their face or sweep the hair away and scream, how are you functioning?! And finally, exposing so much of your boxers looks stupid. This appearance is up there with hair krimping and "Hammer" pants. It looks good on no one. No one.

Admittedly, I could have been extra grouchy because it was early and despite exercising every day of the Thanksgiving holiday, I still managed to gain weight, but I was totally irritated by the sight of this kid's sense of "style". I gave him the crankiest stinkeye, which frankly was pretty easy since my cranky was already set to 10.

Struggling through a set of lunges only ratcheted my cranky up to 11. Right then and there I was pretty much ready to walk over to the boy and say, Look, I don't know if the string on those shorts needs to be re-tied or if you're cultivating a look. Because, unless the look you're going for is "Big Gay Bear Bait", you're failing. Please pull up your damn shorts, son.

But lo and behold, when I finished my lunges, he had pulled up his basketball shorts. The stinkeye worked. Which, of course, means I must have one ugly old lady stinkeye.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mini "Caramel" Apples

We were lucky to be invited to a Friendsgiving dinner and asked to bring a dessert that was neither a pumpkin or chocolate pie. The girl and I decided to try to make these Mini "Caramel" Apples, per FamilyFun magazine.

After scooping out "mini apples" from Granny Smiths with a melon baller and piercing it with a lollipop stick cut on a diagonal, we squeezed the mini apple dry so the melted chocolate would stick to it.

Working with melted chocolate was best, the melted peanut butter chips were second, and the butterscotch chips (which we could melt all the way) were a clumpy mess.

Then it was ready for decorating:

We rolled it in various toppings, like toffee bits, coconut, cashew dust (which was supposed to be chopped cashews but we overdid it in the Magic Bullet), and sprinkles.

These are the toffee bits:

And wha-la, mini caramel apples!

I would emphasize one note of caution: these are best enjoyed within a few hours, because despite best efforts to dry the exposed apple, the juice from the apple will eventually cause a mushy, chocolatey mess at the bottom (similar to chocolate covered strawberries that aren't inhaled immediately), which isn't so appetizingly cute.

You're able to get quite a few mini apples out of each apple (about 8), so it doesn't take many big apples to produce a lot of mini ones.

Cute and tasty--*if you eat them soon after you make them!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Bear knows

Unfortunately productivity went out the window for this long weekend, as exemplified by our cat, Bear:

I made a lame effort of hitting some Black Friday sales but I didn't really have a list so it was unfocused and the reward was miniscule.

I should have just stayed home and caught up on movies.

Yeah, I know.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a safe and warm Thanksgiving.

Since I'm the only one who likes dark meat but is now a vegetarian, I make a turkey breast for Thanksgiving. I know, no drumsticks or wishbone, bummer...but it means all white meat for these meat-eaters who are missing the delicious dark meat gene.

I was at a loss for a centerpiece for our Thanksgiving table. I didn't have anything autumny, let alone Thanksgivingish, so the girl thought it was clever to simply create a centerpiece highlighting the bookends of Thanksgiving:

After all, who isn't grateful for the holiday spirit and those who vanquish monsters?

Monday, November 24, 2008

I have the power

I am He-Man.
Just in time for Thanksgiving. This pretty much took me all Sunday--filing papers, putting my craft supplies away, deciding what to just toss. Now on to the rest of the house...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nerd Alert

There was a huge annual sale at our local comic book store, Alakazam. And we went a little crazy:
All the comic books we got were $1 each, and all the other stuff (the graphic novels, compilations, and Mad book) were 20% off.

Check out some of these gems:
"If you've got to die...die fighting!" Sing it, pal!

And check this out, one of literatures oldest heroes:
And he's battling Dracula!

And the cool thing about this Tarzan comic:
has to be these enticing words:

Though I have to confess, I was a bit disappointed with the Ape-English Dictionary:

Or maybe I just have to meet up with some more articulate apes.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weight Watchers Week 1 Redo - FAIL

I weighed in at 155. I gained a pound. And honestly, it's not just about the numbers. I'm feeling muffin-toppy, double-chinny, jowlly, and slow.

Ugh, I shouldn't have put too much hope kicking off WW on a week where we had a Thanksgiving potluck at work. I've eaten a paralyzing amount of butter, white carbs, mayo, french-fried onions, and pie the past two days. I did exercise 3 times this week and I guess the bright side is I could have gained a lot more weight. sigh.

Well, I'm not giving up. It's a new week.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

By the power of GraySkull

I will conquer this:

Paul had his doubts about posting this picture of our messy table but there's something that motivates me to be accountable when I post it on my blog. Sad to confess we have been eating on this table. How? When it's time to eat, we dig a little clearing in the clutter to make room for our plates. I believe you can actually see three separate spaces. Sort of. Ugh, terrible, I know. But it's getting cleared up this weekend for sure. I'll post a picture to prove it.

Just as terrible, this is pretty much what the rest of the house looks like. But I am definitely not brave enough to post pictures of that.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gone Baby Gone

So I happened upon Gone Baby Gone on cable the other night. There had been tremendous buzz about Ben Affleck's directorial review, the acting, the story, etc. To which I have to say, believe the hype.

Wow. I had no idea that Ben Affleck had such a eye for making a film. I had no idea that Casey Affleck could be riveting as a Boston native trying to do the right thing. I had no idea that Amy Ryan, who I had only seen as Michael's goofy paramour in The Office, had such amazing range to play this deeply flawed, druggie mother. I had no idea that a character named "Cheese" could be so scary.

At first glance, this movie started looking like a spin-off of Mystic River, which isn't a bad thing, but to Ben Affleck's credit, it had its own vision of Boston. The similarity may be due in part that both movies are based on novels by Dennis LeHane, which both focused on working-class Boston and crimes involving children. This movie opens up with the kidnapping of the daughter of Helene (played by Amy Ryan). Amy Ryan builds a character you end up alternately villifying and sympathizing, and man, I have to say it again, I can't believe this is the same woman who played Michael's nutty girlfriend in The Office. Morgan Freeman is Captain Jack Doyle, who is in charge of the investigation and had lost his own daughter in a kidnapping crime. Morgan Freeman to me, is untouchable--I love him in everything, right down to those Olympic Visa commercials he narrated over the summer. I wouldn't say this is his best work but as always, he's got my attention whenever he speaks.

The cast overall, was just dynamite. From Casey Affleck as a private investigator hired by the kidnapped girl's aunt (played dead-on by Amy Madigan) to Ed Harris (once you let go that, yes, he's got an obvious hairpiece on) to all the supporting characters. The film does a great job questioning our senses of idealism, justice, and humanity, that right and wrong isn't always simply black and white. And a lot of that is due to Casey Affleck's ability to draw us in as his character questions such conflicts himself.

There was one flaw, however, which was the final revelation at the end. And because I want to avoid spoiling the ending for anyone, I have this analogy:

Did you ever hear this joke? (Edited to add: apparently this joke appears in Maxim this month, though that wasn't my source.) A smug lawyer is pulled over by a cop. The cop says," License and registration, please." "What for?" says the lawyer. The cop says, "You didn't come to a complete stop at the stop sign." Then the lawyer says, "I slowed down, and no one was coming." "You still didn't come to a complete stop," says the cop, "License and registration, please." The lawyer says, "What's the difference?" "The difference is you have to come to complete stop, that's the law. License and registration, please!" the cop says. The smug lawyer says, "If you can show me the legal difference between 'slow down' and 'stop', I'll give you my license and registration, and you give me the ticket. If not, you let me go and don't give me the ticket." The cop says, "That sounds fair. Please exit your vehicle, sir." At this point, the cop takes out his billy club and starts beating the lawyer and says, "Do you want me to stop, or just slow down?"

Now, the problem with this joke, police brutality notwithstanding, is that I felt that someone came up with the punchline first and built a joke around it. So the joke feels contrived: who would think that a police officer can't define the difference between slow down and stop? Or for that matter, what five-year-old couldn't tell you the difference?

The final revelation of Gone Baby Gone felt contrived to me and raised similar questions of logic, in as much as it brought about another crucial conflict about right and wrong. The film is finely crafted with many layers both in terms of characters and story. This was one layer that just felt like it came out of left field.

Despite this, I would still give this movie four stars. And I'm surprised I'm saying this, but I gotta say it, I'm looking forward to the next film Ben Affleck directs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Win some, lose some

The awesome news this morning is that my Borders order has shipped! I'm hoping to have Planet B-Boy in my excited hands by the end of the week...

On the flip side, despite having tying for the most number correct picked in the football pool (12 out 17) this week, I lost the the tie-breaker (total points of the game). Boo.

So close to finally winning a week in the YEARS I've participated in this football pool. sigh. Well, I've got 6 more chances...

Friday, November 14, 2008

To a good weekend

Well, two days in a row, I stuck with it. Drank my water, ate my veggies, exercised. Hooray for me. Today I weighed in at 154. Which is lower than the 155-156 I have cruising around the past couple of weeks, but higher than my last lowest weight of 152. I am encouraged and I plan to stick to it, one day at a time.

I'm looking forward to a great weekend. I've got a class at the Scrapbook Oasis and then UFC 91 (besides the long awaited Couture vs. Lesnar fight, Florian vs. Stevenson will be exciting to watch too) is on Saturday night. And to top it all off, I'm just going to kick butt in my football picks on Sunday. Right?

It might be difficult to top last weekend, though. Our friend CJ had a photography project and we were invited to do a little photo shoot at the beach. Here's one that is going on our wall (sorry for my mediocre watermark effort):

Now to kick it off with a productive Friday--

Thursday, November 13, 2008

one day down

Not only did I drink my 6 servings of water, but I also stuffed 5 servings of vegetables in as well. And I exercised! And...I'm thinking if I calculate my points I might have stayed in my daily range yesterday as well.

Okay, I'm a little encouraged. I'm going to go for 2 days in a row.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oh. My. God. Becky, look at her butt.

Unfortunately, unlike the Sir Mix-a-Lot song's reverential tone, I'm feeling totally gross about falling off the wagon. I have eaten so much Halloween candy, bread, and grilled cheese that I think I could just apply it topically to my second chin and thighs to get an accurate week-later forecast picture of myself.

Worse, I don't want to stop.

To a degree, the cooler weather has been enabling my desire to just curl up on the couch eating a big bowl of spaghetti with a stick of butter in one hand and a Kahlua & cream in the other. And of course "DodgeBall" or "King of the Hill" would be blasting on tv, softening my brain like these extra calories are softening my butt cheeks. To be sure, there are variations on this vignette, it could be something deep-fried or enrobed in melted cheese or drenched in ranch dressing that I'm eating. Or perhaps something chocolatey or caramelly or peanut buttery that I'm shoving in my increasingly corpulent face. Maybe I'm even watching serious tv. Does a "Scrubs" rerun with a sad ending count?

I haven't logged in my Weight Watchers log since September.

5 servings of vegetables? Do potato chips count? How about the herbs in ranch dressing? 6 servings of water? Try coffee with a generous splash of half&half or a cold hefeweizen washing down my potato chips. And exercise? Ugh. I'm dragging myself by my jowls, but at least I've managed to get to the gym at least 3 times a week. Though honestly, I'd have to confess I'm kind of phoning it in. I get on the elliptical, move my legs so the machine isn't standing still, zone out for 20 minutes, and...I'm out.

At work, the picture isn't prettier. Folks at work have sharing their kids' and un-handed-out Halloween candy. (Unlike our stash, which we keep by the tv in a big basket and eat like pretzels at a sports bar.) Do you know how many fistfuls of fun-size candy I've been swiping from the candy bowls on people's desks? It's shameful and pathetic.

I need to straighten out big time. But this is the worst time. Instead of wanting to get fixings for a salad, I want to get candy melts to make more of those decorative candy pops. And then promptly eat them. Like the last batch we made. Or make holiday cookies. Or shovel mashed potatoes or any carb cooked in a pound of butter into my face.

How do I start? Okay, baby steps. Today I vow to drink my 6 servings of water.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Redeeming this regret

I try not to regret things.

Instead, I try to look at such things as "learning opportunities".

One of the things I pretty much regret, however, was not seing Planet B-Boy in the movie theaters. I should have realized that documentaries have a very short life span in the theaters and this was no exception. Stupid, stupid. To quote Artie Fufkin, Do me a favor. Just kick my a$$, okay? ... Come on. I'm not asking, I'm telling you. Kick my a$$. This was pretty much plaguing me after it left my local theater. I seriously considered driving to San Francisco or Arizona for a screening. Unfortunately, a combination of my job duties and my laziness to drive great distances, failed my endeavor to see Planet B-Boy in theaters.

For those who haven't pieced it together yet, my confession is this: I love watching break dancers and crews. Love it, love it, love it. The expression, the athleticism, the coordination, the choreography, and sometimes, the storytelling are just so amazing to me. I'm not alone here but I do recognize that its following is not as big as say, the Star Trek fan base, but I know it's bigger than say, folks with foot fetishes. Or at I'd like to think so.

Anyhoo, here is my redemption:

No regrets this time around.

Did I learn anything?

Oh yes. This baby is so mine.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The other Bradley effect

My friend Heidi let me post this picture of us on Election Day:

Apparently the 10 pounds I need to lose are from my fat head.

As we saw so many votes supporting Prop 8 (to eliminate a gay rights to marry) come in, we couldn't help but think that Prop 8 had its own version of the Bradley effect. I'm aware that a lot of folks who voted Yes on 8 don't harbor ill will or violence for gay people but it was disappointing to know people who are friends and even related to gays who still chose to eliminate their right to marry. Hey, I know some gay people and I'm fine that they "chose that lifestyle", but...please keep it in the closet and don't let my kids see it.

Anyhoo, as I questioned yesterday about the conflict of adding an amendment that contradicts the current state constitution, it appears that Prop 8 may be heading to the courts on those grounds. This has made me wonder how the whole proposition protocol works here in California. How did this proposition get on the ballot in the first place? Also, how do the propositions that make the state create more bond debt to support a new train line or hospitals get on the ballot? If I get enough signatures, can I get the "Frances needs a scrap room" proposition on the ballot? Don't worry, the bond will be peanuts compared to the ones on the ballot this year. It will for sure, be less than a billion dollars.

But back to Proposition 8--here's my suggestion if the lawsuits don't work. Per the language of the California Education Code, so fearfully quoted by Yes on 8, that marriage and committed relationships is taught in schools, there should be a push to include gay domestic partnerships in that education. If children were taught in an objective manner about all sorts of families, whether they be gay, straight, blended, single-parent, adoptive, foster, interracial, et cetera, there would be a lot less fearful, hushed tones that influence a child's prejudices as they grow older. As we saw in the presidential election this year, the younger generation played a significant role in the changing the direction of the leadership in the US. Perhaps instead of trying to change the fixed minds of the older generation, we should focus more on enlightening the next one.

I don't think this struggle raised by Prop 8 is over yet...