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.