Friday, November 6, 2009

The Friday Afternoon Post

Here I am, Erin!

Now that I am writing, I'm thinking perhaps the real problem behind my seeming lack of creative thought was a lack of caffeine. Because today I have had more than plenty and my fingers are eager to flit about the keyboard in a manner reminiscent of yesteryear (and by yesteryear I mean a couple months ago.) We'll see if we can keep this going.

Let's see...tales to tell...last night, having returned home from various wedding related errands (relating not to my own wedding- don't worry, I have no surprising news that I've chosen to reveal to everyone by burying the lede in a random blog post - but rather to the TWO friends' I am looking forward to participating in come January), I spent a leisurely hour or so just pottering around before going to Lacey's. You know, stacking up unopened mail, eating pasta, taking a shower - that sort of thing. Francis was darting around, being his usual weird self, but I noticed he was taking particular interest in a pair of heels that were laying on the floor beside the couch.

Not that I blamed him, these shoes being bright red and of the J. Crew persuasion, but up til now he hasn't really demonstrated that much interest in footwear so I decided to check it out. Then I thought to myself, what is that smallish fuzzy looking thing huddled in my shoe, where the ball of one's foot would usually rest? The cat quickly darted away as I exclaimed my surprise at realizing it was a relatively small rodent, of the mouse persuasion. After collecting myself, I realized that Francois had terrified the poor thing into a state some might call frozen, as it was not moving, except to wring its tiny hands/feet.

At this point I reached a conundrum. Initially, out of surprise, I could not think for the life of me what one would do with a small mouse. I stood in the living room, perplexed, as the tiny thing continued to wring his hands, crouched in my shoe. If I put him outside, he will surely freeze to death because even though I have yet to turn my heaters on this winter (please see this post for explanation on that), it has to be warmer inside than out and he is surely a domesticated mouse. However, one clearly (unless one is Phoebe) doesn't just let rodents run rampant in one's home, plus Francis would surely put a swift and grisly end to that anyhow.

I settled on placing the little fella, whom I named Stuart, in the stairwell of our small apartment building, thinking that it would be warmer than outside but less health-hazardish than letting him live in my apartment/putting him in a shoe box. I decided over night that I would put something in the stairwell for him to live with, like a sock or something, and share some of Francis' food with him. Unfortunately...let's just say this plan was unsuccessful. I'm comforting myself by thinking that he was an elderly mouse, and lived out his final days (barring a harrowing adventure with le chat) in the peace and comfort of my apartment building.

Just so we don't end on kind of a downer note (sorry about that), speaking of mice, please look at this amazing picture of Claire's child, dressed as Minnie Mouse for Halloween:

Pretty much my favorite child.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An Eternal Flame

Firefighting. Just one more facet to the myriad of skills I am picking up in my sojourn through the world of publishing. Unlike some skills (for instance my apparently incredible quickly-stapling-things skills, which my boss suggested I could utilize as a full-time career), firefighting is one that I really wouldn't have thought would come in handy here, but you learn something new every day.

It was a happy day for the folks in the creative services department - a catered lunch, how pleasant. The conference room beside my desk filled with the happy sounds of people eating quesadillas and black beans.

After lunch, however, when the delighted munching was merely a memory, I went in to turn off the light and what to my wondering eyes should appear but the light of not one, not two, but four flickering sterno lanterns. Cheerily burning away in the empty room, dutifully warming two large aluminum pans full of water.

I consulted the folks in creative services about this, and they had decided that it was difficult to put them out, so they would just let them burn until there was no more fire left in them. On another, colder day in the office, I might have accepted this, and huddled like a Hooverville hobo over the warmth of the little gas flame, rubbing my hands together as I propped my bandana tied to a stick against the wall. Today however, it was more temperate in the office, and I chose instead to alert my boss. His first attempt at squelching the flames with a plastic serving spoon only seemed to make them angrier. After removing the hot aluminum pans filled with water, however, he was able to extinguish them with bursts of breath, leaving the office safe for one more day.

Other than that, not a lot going on this afternoon. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Silence is golden?

It's awfully nice of you people (my aunt, Walker & Tap, Chase) to notice that I have become the worst blogger ever in terms of actually writing in my blog - for you I will try! I honestly don't know what's up with my brain lately. Maybe I haven't been reading enough? Whatever it is I have just not been in the literary mindset. I think it's a possibility that the problem is the sub-arctic temperatures we've been enduring in the office lately. Supposedly, the computers in the IT room have to be kept at a certain temperature, to the detriment of everyone's extremities, but I'm pretty sure that's a sham. It's not like we just got the computers, and it hasn't always been this cold in here...

Writing is one of those things (like most things, I suppose) where if you try too hard to come up with something great, you just end up coming up with nothing at all. You wonder so much why it is that your brain used to be fine at coming up with nonsense to ramble about and now can only think of the fact that it can't come up with nonsense to ramble about. I feel like Kathleen Kelly in You've Got Mail when she's recalling how when someone says something awful to her, she wants so badly to say something in return but her mind is a complete blank. "Even now, days later...nothing."

I'm starting to get ready for the holiday season. I'm not to Amy Grant Christmas mode yet (you at least have to wait til after halloween) but now that it's fall I'm getting more and more ready to watch Home Alone.

Every year at Thanksgiving, I have the honor of attending the feast on the night before Thanksgiving at Catherine's house, with her family and also Scott, another honorary guest. We all gather around the table with the candles glinting off the silver and the glasses and share a delightful meal, though my favorite part is after dinner. We've established a tradition over the years of going around the table to say what we've been particularly thankful for, and then some of our favorite things over the course of the year, like movies or books or albums. I've already started considering my options for these important questions, though obviously it is too early to reveal the contenders.

And now I'm going home. I'll give it another shot tomorrow and hope it turns out more clever than this.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Afternoon Post

Hullo everyone, it's the Friday Afternoon Post.

I do hope you haven't given up on me. I am hoping that fall will provide me with ample inspiration and the font of words will once again begin to flow. For now I am mostly inspired by my inability to sit still. I am experiencing "fall fever," the autumnal equivalent of the spring affliction of similar nomenclature. Every 30 seconds I turn and look out of my patio here at work (read: the windowed storage closet behind my desk) and bounce a bit in anticipation of being outside. I am having visions of myself, and others, walking down leaf-strewn sidewalks in sweaters and boots, perhaps carrying books and listening to Chris Thile on ipods.

College football starts this weekend, and though I am certainly not the most avid football fan, it does fill my little Auburn heart with cheer to think of College Gameday - even attending the UTC Mocs game last night (record setting attendance of more than 14,000 people in Finley Stadium...yeah, big time) made me happy.

Oh how I pine for a hint of cool in the evenings that I might wear my new cape (yep, it's a cape. And it's navy, with gold buttons. And it has a sash. Oh fine, it is this, from Modcloth:

As I think this post is almost completely ridiculous by this point, I might as well close with some poetry:

To Autumn - William Blake
O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain'd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may'st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

'The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust'ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather'd clouds strew flowers round her head.

'The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.'
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,
Then rose, girded himself, and o'er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

It's a five o'clock world. Happy Labor Day, all!

Monday, August 31, 2009


Yesterday was my Aunt Starr's birthday. I am a bad niece and missed it by a day. I don't usually do the birthday posts, so if you have a birthday (that would be everyone who reads this) and I don't write about you on it, please don't be annoyed with me or think that perhaps we aren't real friends.

Starr is my mom's little sister. She is several years younger, so when I was little, she was kind of like my really cool older sister as opposed to my aunt. I used to spend the night with her and she would make me laugh, and we would drive around in her cool car and listen to Shawn Colvin sing "Riding shotgun down the avalanche, mmm mmm mmm..." She gave me (perhaps unintentionally...) the first cds I ever owned (Counting Crows "August and Everything After" and Harry Connick, Jr. "25", in case you're looking for those, Starr...) and she and her husband gave me my first cd player. Her husband, my uncle Kendall, was there for me in lots of ways when I was a kid, and helped teach me how to drive (and even allowed me to play Ben Harper while doing so even though he is more of an Eagles type of guy.)

All that to say that I'm lucky to have a Starr like her and I love her and I hope she had a very happy birthday!
Starr with her little girl Lauren. Alas, no pictures of us together on the world wide web.

Get thee to an apple orchard

Or something to that effect. There are a lot of places that fall immediately makes me wish to visit, and since today it was like 85 degrees instead of 90, everyone is talking about fall and how it's happening and so I want to visit those places.

Mostly, fall makes me long for college campuses. I'd settle for any pretty one (ah, Sewanee), but my own in particular. As soon as I stepped outside for lunch today, the cool breeze (aided by the shade of the TFP overhang at the door) and sunny blue skies immediately tossed my mind back to Auburn. Walking down Magnolia with my backpack and a crisp breeze, past Erskine Ramsey hall and the Art building, through Toomer's Corner, along the sidewalk under the canopy of trees...

It is kind of a bummer that backpacks play no part in my daily life now. I loved my little navy L.L. Bean backpack that traveled all the way through high school and college with me. It's in the trunk of my car (along with a whole lot of other things...) still stuffed with notebooks. I also miss sitting in history classes, taking pages and pages of notes on the Civil War or Argentinian politics or H.L. Mencken. I'd like to see all the RVs start gathering in their spots in the field with the orange and blue paper lanterns and giant, inflatable, light-up Aubies, and the tailgaters relaxing in their lawn chairs, waiting until 4 so they can rope off their spots for gameday. The rolling plains of Dixie are beautiful at lots of points in the year, but I love them especially in the fall.

So war eagle for autumn, I suppose is what I have ended up saying.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Story hour suggestions and Politifact

In preparation for the Ali's Challenge 3 post (due tomorrow) I was just reading the imdb site for "The Rescuers." You see, this week Ali and Kevin (of this tale) are enjoying beignets and crawfish (hopefully seperately) in NOLA, leaving me challengeless. So I told Ali that perhaps I would instead write a story about their adventures on the bayou, a la "The Rescuers," which is one of the more awesome Disney movies of all time (Miss Bianca? Bernard? Evinrude? So great!)

However now I'm a little skeptical of this idea as a) I can't get a good grasp on an idea and b) how do you improve on "The Rescuers" (without making "The Rescuers Down Under," which has already been done though isn't so much an improvement as a lateral move on the awesome scale) and c) would I be messing with some sort of copyright restrictions by tampering with their storyline?

Anyhow, if you have any suggestions for this week's fun fact that I can utilize in the challenge, feel free to submit them.

Also, I heard a guy from this website talking on NPR yesterday, and in looking at it, it seems pretty handy for those who prefer facts to hyperbole when considering things like politics and healthcare. The site is meant to provide non-partisan analysis and "just the facts, ma'am." How rare. Also, in case you've been wondering where one might read the thousands of pages of the Healthcare bill itself, here you go.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday Afternoon Post

The Friday Afternoon Post this week will be dedicated to John Hughes, who passed away this week. While he is being most memorialized for the, yes, classic films he made in the 80's like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, I'd like to honor the film of his that most touched my life. That film is, of course, Home Alone.

This movie is completely wonderful. It has honestly played a significant role in my life. My entire family - aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins - watches it together EVERY Thanksgiving after dinner. Not to mention the number of times I watch it in the entire holiday season, it's pretty amazing the tape still works (yeah that's right, it's on VHS. Old school is what you call it.) It has formed the basis for a significant part of more than one friendship, most notably myself and Ali (among other things, like the Beastie Boys and Gilmore Girls and Chinese food and Black Cherry soda.)

I think I could pretty easily quote the whole film in its entirity without the aid of the film itself if pressed. So anyhow, my tribute to John will be the following selection of memorable quotes from my favorite Hughes film.

"Is this toothbrush approved by the American Dental Association?"
"Well, I don't know. It doesn't say, hon. "
"Well, could you please find out?"

"This house is so full of people it makes me sick. When I grow up and get married, I'm living alone. Ya hear me? I'm living alone! I'm living alone!"

"I took a shower washing every body part with actual soap; including all my major crevices; including in between my toes and in my belly button which I never did before but sort of enjoyed. I washed my hair with adult formula shampoo and used cream rinse for that just-washed shine. I can't seem to find my toothbrush, so I'll pick one up when I go out today. Other than that, I'm in good shape. "

"Hi, I'm Mitch Murphy. I live across the street. You guys going out of town? We're going to Orlando, Florida. Well, actually, first we're going to Missouri to pick up my grandma. Did you know the McCallisters are going to France? Do you know if it's cold there? Do these vans get good gas mileage?"
"Gee, kid, I don't know. Hit the road. "

"Where did he go?"
"Maybe he committed suicide. "
"I'm over here you big horse's ass, come and get me before I call the police. "
"He's gonna call the cops!"
"From a tree house?! Come on!"

"I don't want to sleep with Fuller. You know about him, he wets the bed. He'll pee all over me, I know it. "

"Ma'am, I'm eight years old. Do you really think I'd be here, alone? I don't think so. "

"Well where's your mom? "
"She's in the car."
"Where's your dad?"
"He's at work."
"What about your brothers and sisters?"
"I'm an only child."
"Well, where do you live?"
"I can't tell you that."
"Why not?"
"Cause you're a stranger."

"You're not at all worried that something might happen to Kevin? "
"No, for three reasons: A, I'm not that lucky. Two, we use smoke detectors and D, we live on the most boring street in the United States of America, where nothing even remotely dangerous will ever happen. Period. "

"Say good night, Kevin. "
"Good night, Kevin."

"Kevin, if Uncle Frank says no then it must be really bad."

"Are your parents home?"
"Yeah. "
"Do they live here? "
"No. Why should they? All kids. No parents. Probably a fancy orphanage."

"That's the one, Marv, that's the silver tuna. "

"Guys, I'm eating junk and watching rubbish! You better come out and stop me! "

"We'll go thru the back. Maybe the kid will let us in, you never know. "
"Yeah. He's a kid. Kids are stupid. "

"I wish my grandparents did that. They always send me clothes. Last year I got a sweater with a big bird knitted on it. "
"That's nice. "
"Not for a guy in the second grade. You can get beat up for wearing something like that. I had a friend who got nailed once because there was a rumor he wore dinosaur pajamas. "

"He walks up and down the streets every night, salting the sidewalks. "
"Maybe he's just trying to be nice. "
"No way. See that garbage can full of salt? That's where he keeps his victims. The salt turns the bodies... into mummies. "
"Whoa. "

"Everybody in this family hates me! "
"Then maybe you should ask Santa for a new family."
"I don't want another family. I don't want any family. Families suck!"
"Just stay up there. I don't want to see you again for the rest of the night. "
"I don't want to see you again for the rest of my whole life. "

"Why the hell did you take your shoes off?"
"Why the hell are you dressed like a chicken? "

"Hey, I'm not afraid any more! I said I'm not afraid any more! Do you hear me? I'm not afraid any more!"

"We'll come back tonight, about nine o'clock, that way it's dark, see?"
"Yeah! Kids are scared of the dark!"
"You're afraid of the dark too, Marv, and you know it. "
"I am not!"

"There are 15 people in this house, you're the only one who has to make trouble. "
"I'm the only one getting dumped on. "
"You're the only one acting up. Now get upstairs. "
"I am upstairs, dummy. "

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ali's challenge story hour 2

Today's fun fact: Russian Soccer Fans going to Wales to support team urged by the country's fan organization to drink Welsh whiskey to ward off swine flu virus.

"Garbled Russian, warmed by the smokey afterglow of whiskey, is nearly impossible to understand, sir" the little translator said to the police chief.

"Why Archie, that was quite poetic," the chief responded magnanimously. "But you've honestly no idea what the man was saying?"

"We'll just have to wait til he sobers up, I suppose," Archie responded, shaking his head to indicate that no, he had gleaned nothing from the hour of questioning largely composed of the Russian tumbling repeatedly out of his chair. "Something about the pigs, and clearly something about whiskey. Welsh whiskey."

A muffled thud sounded from inside the cell followed by a brief silence, a groan, and then some remarkably tuneless singing. "What's that he's singing?" the chief asked. "It's, ah, Tubthumping, sir," Archie said, and cleared his throat. "Eh?" the chief responded, fuzzy eyebrows arched. "It's ah, erhm, they play it sometimes at sports matches...'I get knocked down, but I get up again...never gonna keep me down..." Archie's meak rendition did nothing to assuage the chief's confusion.

They both peered into the cell and saw the lanky man performing a drunken hula dance, complete with head bobbing, in time to his self-provided music. Noting his audience, he offered a large grin and a thumbs-up.

Archie and the chief turned away again. "Well," the chief said, "What I don't understand is why, if he had previously been at a football match, he then careened through the city, managed to locate a farm, and stole a herd of pigs." "Perhaps it's some kind of tradition, like a celebratory thing?" Archie offered. They turned and faced another cell, in which there stood ten rather large and disinterested swine, one of whom was at that moment chewing a bit of carrot and squinting at them dully from beady black eyes.

"They really doesn't look at all like Babe," the receptionist lamented from her desk, and the two men shook their heads in agreement. "Not a bit gallant," the chief noted disappointedly.

After arresting the man, along with the pigs, for causing chaos in a liquor store, no one at the station had been able to determine what should be done. The suspect was not in any condition to provide useful information, not to mention the fact that the man was an international visitor to Wales. And how would they return the pigs to their rightful sty? As discerned upon their arrival, pigs apparently wear no identifying items or markings - anyone could drop by and claim them as their own. Plus, their odor was not contributing positively to the aesthetic environment of the police station.

After drinking a cup of tea on the stoop of the station - the pigs made the inside rather uncomfortable - Archie and the chief questioned the Russian again. More lucid this time, he tried to explain what had happened. If the fan organization head thought the whiskey would protect people from swine flu, why not go right to the source? He was simply trying to inoculate the pigs against the virus.

"He's blaming the pigs," Archie explained to the chief. "You know, for the row in the liquor shop." They both glanced at the pigs, now dozing like so many dirty pink pillows on the floor of their cell. "He says British pigs can't hold their liquor."

Just then, a ruddy-faced old man in a rather stereotypical tweed cap poked his head in the station door. "Hullo," he warbled. "I seem to have lost rather a lot of pigs - oh, hello there!" He interrupted himself as he noted the pigs, now squealing with apparently delighted recognition in their cell. The Russian, sensing what was going on, began speaking loudly and utilizing dramatic hand gestures in effort to communicate with the farmer. "He would like you to know that your pigs are now safe from harm. From the swine flu. Also they may be a bit drunk. And he asks that you not punish them for getting arrested as he's sure they didn't intend to cause trouble."

"I see," said the farmer, looking puzzeled. "Well then. I suppose I'll let them off this time." He gave a whistle, and the pigs, freed from their prison, pranced out the door in a line, snorting happily. The Russian waved, and then promptly fell asleep, presumeably satisfied with his good deed.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ali's challenge story hour

Another new feature! Given my love for a vignette, Ali will provide me with a fun fact, which I will then be challenged to create a short story around. The fun fact will be the only true part. Please keep in mind that much of rest will likely be illogical.

Today's fun fact: A massive earthquake in the Tasman sea has brought New Zealand 30 cm closer to Australia.

Bertram bobbed in his life preserver, annoyed. This had been his shot at doing something truly amazing. Leave it to New Zealand to screw it up.

"Stupid Hobbits. I should have known." As he floated, he held the frayed ends of the cable in his hands. Now, looking back, there were so many things he would have done differently. For one thing, there had to be another two bits of land 20 km apart that he could have gone between. He winced as he imagined the disappointment in his coach's eyes. He then thought of the smug look on his brother's face now that his less-than-confident prediction about Bertram's goal had come true.

"Tight-rope walk across the Cook Straight?! You're out of your mind, you'll never make it. That's like twelve miles!" Marcus had said on the phone. Right you are, Bertram had thought at the time. 12.4274 miles, to be exact, and I will hold the world record and finally, finally he thought, you will have to admit that I've done something impressive.

The tension on his cable had been perfect. The foremost tightrope hanging expert in the world had attached it at both shores with the utmost formality. Though it was not in the least like a boat, aside from being something of a means of transport, the man had crashed a bottle of champagne over the end of the cable before Bertram began. The flash of the reporters' cameras gave Bertram a boost of confidence, and he waved gallantly as he mounted his cable with the grace of a very slender cat, or some such equally graceful creature.

There were buoys every half mile, with his cable snugly attached to them. For safety, two boats flanked him once he got out over the water, a net drawn between them. Though he found it a little embarrassing, Bertram supposed it would be pretty disappointing to make it most of the way across only to lose his footing and be immediately and handily swallowed into a waiting shark's open mouth. Now, floating in the shallow waters of the South Island's shore, holding the snapped end of his cable, he wondered if that would have been easier than returning home untriumphant. For thanks to that blasted earthquake, all his plans had been foiled.

Was he really supposed to believe that the island itself had actually moved?! Apparently it had only barely shifted, though 30 fresh centimeters of land had supposedly appeared on the west coast. It seemed that one centimeter of genuine shift was all it took to snap the end of his cable on the last line. He had reached the last buoy feeling ten feet tall, saluting the crew of the boats on either side of him. He'd even made it most of the way across the line when it happened. He supposed that even if the cable hadn't snapped from the one centimeter of stretching, he still would have fallen off, given the rumbling of the tectonic plates.

The waves lapped against the shore of the south island, now itself one centimeter closer to Australia. As they dragged Bertram in the net through the shallow water, he calculated that he had at least made it 12 miles, his dear brother's scoffing estimate of the distance. He felt himself begin to bump across the sandy shore as the water shallowed, and he dropped his cable with a small sparkling splash. Fair enough, he thought.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

There might be hope for us after all!

I was going to email this to various people, and then I realized that I was emailing it to so many people that what I really ought to do is shout it from the proverbial rooftops.

The news that the Crocs Shoe Company is on the verge of bankruptcy gives me new hope for America.

Oh, America

I think I'll add a new segment to the blog with the recurring theme "oh, America." As in, "oh, America, this is why citizens of other countries laugh at us."

(Not that we don't laugh at them too - I mean, this morning NPR said that the French government actually requested that their citizens smile more to boost tourism - this is pretty funny.)

Today's installment of "oh, America" is a phone message I received here at work, in which a lady requested that I call her back so that she could "prescribe" to the magazine.

As though our magazine was some sort of prescription drug that she could prescribe to herself as an antidote for not knowing enough about the city and its inhabitants.

Like I said, "oh, America."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


So, it's Wednesday. Not feeling particularly inspired about anything at the moment but maybe if I keep typing that will change.

Tonight I am going with Luke and Lacey to see the new Harry Potter and the Teenage Wizards movie. They are fans, but I have previously only seen one other Harry Potter and Teenage Wizards film, and that was on Monday because otherwise I would have been confused (and no doubt annoying) during this one. I am wondering if that weird blonde girl will be in this one because I like her, I think she and HP should date. Also am hoping that HP and Teen Wizards will have as little interaction as possible with nose-less guy because of his creepy face. It's funny to me that they made his voice sound like someone who just has face where their nose is supposed to be would probably sound. Just seems like usually with monsters they don't really take into account how their features would impact their voices.

It is also funny how there is a clear tension between Harry Potter & Teen Wizards and Twilight & Teen Vampires. At least this new phenomenon of fantasy is forcing American teenagers to embrace their nerdiness. Next thing you know it will be the cool kids playing "Magic: The Gathering" at Auburn coffeeshops instead of kids who regularly get their bikes stolen.

Once again I am avoiding working on the calendar which I used to enjoy but now loathe as a result of the severe lack of big events going on in the summer. Unless you are really into bluegrass, because there is at least one bluegrass festival every month around here, if not two or five. I wish I could just write "go to Nightfall on Fridays, movies in the park on Saturdays, AEC film series at Loose Cannon last weekend in August, Boys II Men at Starnight Aug. 29."

Yeah, you read right! Starnight, which benefits the Siskin Children's Hospital, is featuring Boys II Men. This August. Not August of 1995. Whose idea was that? Ok, back to work.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Friday Morning Post

I went to the beach last week! Hence, no posting. This week I really have no excuse. Also as I am trapped in the past, I did not document my beach trip via digital camera and cannot share photos. Apologies!

My favorite thing about my beach trip incidentally did not really involve the beach. Said trip took place at my grandparents' beach house, which is in a little tiny town called Port Saint Joe, FL. We've been going there since I was about two, and the town has only recently begun building popularity with the rest of the world and getting some fancy shops and restaurants and a couple neighborhoods worth of Rosemary Beach-esque vacation mansions. Since the beaches are perfectly white, and the sea they accompany is technically a bay (therefore generally calm and clear), it's surprising that it's taken this long for folks to visit.

Anyhow, considering that the big adventure in town when I was a child was a trip to the Dollar Store where we could pick out different types of candy, the emergence of some new things is positive.

With the hip new wood-fired pizza place (yum) and cute little boutiques with names like The Fuss, has come a new weekly tradition the good folks of St. Joe call "In the Park after Dark." I realize that sounds a little sketchy, but it's actually a family friendly gathering involving a giant screen, lawn chairs, a park by the beach, and a different movie every week.

Ah, the outdoor movie. One of my favorite things in life. There is something so decidedly pleasant about sitting in one of those aluminum chairs with the cris-crossed vinyl straps on a breezy evening, pine trees and stars above, watching "Mamma Mia" beside the bay.

Incidentally, I am of course way behind on this but "Mamma Mia" was so fun! Abba's music automatically makes you happy. It's probably my favorite Meryl Streep role (judge if you will but her movies are almost always depressing - "Bridges of Madison County"? Ugh.) Pierce Brosnan is generally so smug that it is very fun to see him dancing - badly - and singing - even more badly. Karen from "Mean Girls" is so cute, and I love seeing the guy from "History Boys" in something else. Also, Greece is beautiful. Sigh.

I highly recommend watching it in a park sometime soon. I saw an article earlier today that said NYC is showing movies right below the Brooklyn Bridge, with the city in the background - it's called "Movies with a View," and if I lived in New York I would so be there. Last time they showed "Raising Arizona," how fun is that?

Chattanooga will be hosting its own "Movies in the Park" events every weekend for the rest of July, although it's mostly kids movies. I plan on attending next weekend, though, because they'll be showing "The Wizard of Oz"! Come one, come all!

Friday, June 26, 2009

It's not very original, but...what I have to say about MJ

It's true, that's totally MJ at the White House with the Reagans.

Michael Jackson, though he may have turned out to be quite odd, was indeed one of the greatest entertainers of all time. Even on NPR this morning, they did multiple stories and interviews about him. One of the people from Motown Records was talking about him as a child, and how he was just magnetic, even then. He was an original, there had never been, and won't ever be, anyone else like him. But someone also said that his house, at Neverland, was just filled with hundreds of enormous, life-sized statues, and how it gave everyone the impression that he was very lonely, which is really sad. They played a clip of him singing "I'll be There," as a little kid, and it may have made me tear up a little. It doesn't seem like someone who's already such a legend should die, I guess.

I used to work at this cafe here in the summers, and one summer this guy named Andrew was also working. Andrew was a teacher, so he was just using the job to make some extra money while he was out of school, and we often had the same schedule. He was really into music, and a little older than me, and he told me one time that when Kurt Cobain died in 1994, he was teaching at a boys school up north. It was a boarding school, and he said that day he was walking through the courtyard in the middle of the dorms, and suddenly all the windows flew open, and simultaneously, stereos in all the buildings started thumping that first rhythm of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and the boys poured into the courtyard, shirtless, in a collective moment of teenage boy upset.

Listening to them talk about the crowds filling the streets outside of Jackson's hospital this morning, I thought of that story, and pictured somewhere on a campus collective stereos blasting those first synthesizer strains of "Thriller" into a courtyard, and everyone suddenly gathering to do that iconic dance on the lawn, arms raised with hands curling claw-like in time to the beat.

R.I.P., King of Pop.

Watch this. And, of course, this.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

There must be something in the water...

Wow. Did John Ensign put him up to this?

Democrats everywhere must be cackling gleefully into their Barack Obama coffee mugs. Apparently, the Republican party has fulfilled the quest they've been barking about for months - nay, years; re-defining the brand of the GOP. Perhaps they're hoping to collect a younger demographic with the edge-y "Moronic middle-aged guys who can't keep their pants on" branding. I'm thinking that may not test real well with their usual demographic but perhaps it will draw in some outlier groups. Like maybe people who are big Bill Clinton fans?

My questions about this whole situation:

a) What on earth made him think that as one of only fifty governors in the country, he could disappear without actually telling people where he was going for a full week and think that no one would question it? Did he want to get caught?

b) He says his wife has known about the affair for five months. If he had already admitted it to her, why would he continue it??

c) I ask once again why everyone ignores Ron Paul despite the fact that he is brilliant and can keep it classy. The Republicans wouldn't even let him into some of the debates.

d) I wonder what our country will be like once we have a one-party political system as the Republican party is clearing crumbling from within like a house of feta cheese built on a foundation of sand...

Yeah, yeah

Since I know most of you probably didn't power through the epic of libraries, I will leave you some lighter fare today. Perhaps a first for this little blog: a movie review!

Folks, last night Katie and Lacey and I went to see "The Proposal."
For one thing, let's be honest, we've all missed Sandra. She is gorgeous and adorable and funny. Also, let's note that Ryan Reynolds (while I slightly judge him for being married to Scarlet Johanson) pretty much fits the same description, although to a slightly lesser degree on all counts.

Secondly, I will say that the movie itself is hysterical. Truly enjoyable hilarity throughout, and not in a please-don't-smoke-on-the-roof-and-set-the-house-on-fire Meet the Faulkers kind of way (I hated that movie and all movies like it) or in a crude-but-you-still-have-to-laugh kind of way. Just funny. Everyone in the theater was shrieking at various points, including the few men who had been brave enough to venture into a movie called "The Proposal."

Yes, it was pretty predictable, and yes at the end I felt that they didn't really bother making the ending legitimate, but I didn't really go into it expecting "Life is Beautiful" or something. If you are in the market for some light, really delightful and straight-up funny film fare, I recommend it.

Or you can go see Transformers 2, which has been described by pretty much everyone as "loud, obnoxious and loud."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Salute to libraries

This is the Peabody Library in Baltimore. It makes me wish I lived in Baltimore. This photo is really ubiquitous, but this particular version is from leafar's flikr page, whoever that is. Once in 7th grade our teacher did this exercise where we were supposed to close our eyes and picture an ideal, peaceful place, and if I had seen this picture then, this is what I would have pictured. What I actually pictured was a room with lots of big, sunny windows, shiny parquet floors, salmon-y coral colored walls, bookshelves, and a big beanbag/floor cushion thing upon which I would sit. What would you picture?

This is Andrew Carnegie, steel magnate and builder of more than 2,500 libraries. I like him. He is the real focus of this essay. Mainly because I went to the Chattanooga Bicentennial Library last week for the first time in forever and before I even walked in, I could smell the library smell - books and carpet and dust and old newspapers and a little disinfectant and the ink from the check-out date stamps. It reminded me of how much I love the library.

Although libraries are not everyone's favorite place, and I did avoid the one at Auburn as much as I could, (too much fluorescence - further ranting on my hatred of cfl lights and the fact that ambient light in this country will be forever ruined by the year 2012 later) the library makes me happier than most places. 

One of the many great things my mother did for me when I was a child was keeping me in constant supply of books of all genres and sizes. I enjoyed nearly complete collections of Nancy Drew and the Boxcar Children, and classics like Little Women, Girl of the Limberlost, Anne of Green Gables, and Narnia. There were also the slightly more obscure tomes like the Five Little Peppers, and the Betsy books (omg, so wonderful I wish I was reading one right now), and All-of-a-Kind Family books, and The Twenty-one Balloons (which I gave all the students in my class last year for Christmas), and Ginger Pye, and a book I stumbled upon at the library called The Little White Horse, which was old and odd and a truly magical story. 

I created rituals for myself with some of these books - Little Women I read every year over Christmas from second grade through college, The Little White Horse I read every summer for about as long. Going to the library in and of itself was a ritual for me once the summer began. When I was little, we would park at the Choo Choo and get on the electric shuttle, which would deposit us at the Broad Street entrance of the library, right in front of the giant fountain composed of books made of steel. Then through the doors onto the Brady Bunch-era orange carpet (still there), turning right in front of the information desk constructed out of dark possibly-wood. To get to the children's section, you go up the stairs with the smooth shiny handrails to the second floor. 

This convenient photo is from a website called

When we got back on the bus, the bus driver would tease me about my giant stack of books (even she could sense my nerdiness.) By the time I was ready for the grown-up section, we had moved to Brainerd and started going to the East Gate library, which was smaller and not as cool, but I still liked it, and would roam the stacks forever. I remember exactly where I found All's Quiet on the Western Front, and Agatha Christie. 

Anyhow, all this to say that the library was integral to my childhood and adolescence, and I think I would probably be different if I hadn't had access to all those books. "You are," as Frank Navasky writes about 'The Shop Around the Corner', "what you read." Annie Dillard, in the oft-mentioned An American Childhood, remembers that her father's bookplates stated "Books make the man," over a picture of a ship with full sails. Both true, in my opinion. 

From Annie Dillard, I also learned about Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-born immigrant who came to America with his family as a child and started working at 13. Carnegie, as we know, was the developer of US Steel and played a key role in building our nation's railroads, which in turn dictated a great deal of the development of our nation in general. 

As a result of this and some other smart investments, Carnegie amassed an enormous fortune and felt that it was a major responsibility on his part to disperse his "surplus wealth" for the betterment of mankind. "One of the serious obstacles to the improvement of our race is indiscriminate charity," Carnegie once said, and his philanthropy was based on this principle. He believed in giving to the "industrious and ambitious; not those who need everything done for them, but those who, being most anxious and able to help themselves, deserve and will be benefitted by help from others." Ah, indeed, Mr. Carnegie. 

As a young man, Carnegie worked for a telegraph company, and his boss would let the workers have access to his private library on Saturdays. Carnegie was endlessly grateful to this man who had given "working boys" the opportunity  to acquire knowledge and better themselves. The memory of this gift is likely what inspired Carnegie to choose libraries as one of the chief means of distributing his surplus wealth, for as he said, "I choose free libraries as the best agencies for improving the masses of the people, because they give nothing for nothing. They only help those who help themselves. They never pauperize. They reach the aspiring and open to these chief treasures of the world -- those stored up in books. A taste for reading drives out lower tastes."  

What he had gathered from the gift of books had been stepping stones to becoming the person he was, and he felt that enabling others to find those stepping stones was the greatest gift he could give. (Incidentally, he also gave a great deal of money to other things like universities and health care facilities, but libraries were his dearest gift.)

Anyhow, in addition to the more than 2,500 libraries he built around the world, we also have Carnegie to thank for the way libraries work these days. Before he started designing them, going to the library to get a book meant asking a clerk to go back into the closed stacks and pick it up for you. Carnegie wanted people to be able to explore the books, and be pulled in by what they saw, making their own selections to build their stepping stones, so he designed open stacks that people could wander and browse. This concept is key to the library experience, so grazi, Andrew. 

His libraries were all beautiful buildings, aesthetically supervised by his secretary, James Bertram. Most feature a prominent entrance reached by a staircase, to symbolize elevation by learning. Each library also generally featured a lantern or lamppost outside, which represented enlightenment. The first library he built was in his hometown of Dunfermline, Scotland, and over the door he had enscribed "Let there be light." Since he was such a classy guy, we will forgive him for what could be taken as an overuse of symbology and appreciate the sentiment. 

This is a Carnegie Library in Oklahoma. Note the classy dome and columns. Very nice, Andrew. 

This is a Carnegie Library in England. As you can see, Andrew insisted that the libraries be beautiful, welcoming places that people would actually want to go into. Very classy.

Carnegie, like many of his fellow titans of industry, became the model for today's philanthropists. The MacArthur Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and many others follow his ideal of inspiring people with goals and dreams to better themselves, and to rise above whatever their circumstances might be. I feel like I owe a lot to Andrew Carnegie, and so I felt compelled to write this little ode to him, for which (if you've read this far) I appreciate your indulgence. 

Here are some awesome things that Andrew said while he was alive. I wish I could shake his hand:

"Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success. A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you. Achieve! Achieve!" This is my favorite thing that Andrew said. I feel like it should be emblazoned on the walls of every school in the country. Of course then people would just get used to it and ignore it. 

"And while the law of competition may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department." Ah Andrew. It is a shame you aren't around to remind people (government people, especially) about this.

"He that cannot reason is a fool. He that will not is a bigot. He that dare not is a slave." Tell it like it is, Andrew.

"There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration." I really appreciate Andrew's definition of democracy, which rests on the tenet that men are free when they pursue knowledge and achievement by stretching their minds. Seems unique. George Will would approve. And Ron Paul. That's how you know it's good. Also, I wish people still said stuff like that, just in general. People in the 19th century were so much more eloquent. Thanks a lot, television.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Morning Post

I continue to be freakishly busy as deadline approaches but beseech you all to please, please read this post from The Cajun Boy of Gawker because I have tears coming out of my eyes as I laugh silently at my desk. Here's a teaser:

"As you can tell from the photo at left, the poor blogger, "D.Billy," didn't even get to crack the top on his can of Pepsi One when the feathered beast flew in through the open door and dipped its razor-sharp talons into his lunch."

I realize that my reading Gawker makes it seem like maybe I'm lying about being freakishly busy but it pops up on my Google reader and sometimes I need a brief break. Unfortunately I don't always think fast enough to come up with witty and relevant blog posts during that break, which is why I am sending you to read this hilarious tale.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I meant to write about this last week...

It's been kind of crazy around here.

Ok, first, political culture consultant Ali called this to my attention late last week. If you don't trust our brilliant recommendations enough to read the article (come on, it's funny! for real!) then I will summarize by saying that Kinsey, one of the Post's opinion writers, proposes that we pick a new, more singer-friendly national anthem, and offers several viable suggestions. Reason being that the song spans nearly two full octaves where most normal people (read: not Martina Mcbride) have a range of less than one octave. This means that the majority of Americans cannot actually sing our national anthem without at some point sounding ridiculous.

Now, on this part of his thesis I can't really argue because true or false: everyone has heard more painful performances of the Star Spangled Banner than you've heard Jillian the Bachelorette say "ah-booot" instead of about. Ok, maybe not because she says that a lot, but everytime I hear someone sing it I'm crossing my fingers they won't miss the high notes.

So anyhow he also notes that our national anthem is terrifically filled with lyrics about violent battles. Well, sure it is, because it's about the American Revolution and the endurance of the flag (*symbol alert: representing patriotism) so I don't have a problem with that (although some of the other verses are a little more intense than the normal verse. Probably why we don't sing them. Also since there are like 6 it would take forever, you'd have to start singing before batting practice was over so the game could start on time.)

Kinsey also claims that "home of the brave" is kind of ludicrous because there's "nothing in the American myth (let alone reality) to suggest that we are braver than anyone else." However, historically here I take issue with him because the whole deal with the patriots was that they were brave enough to stand up for what they believed in despite seemingly insurmountable odds and unbeatable enemies (read: the entire British army/navy.) Also, as a result of the role America has played in most major wars, I'd say that bravery is certainly a part of the 'American myth', as it is something that is often lauded and poeticized and made movies about. So while there are certainly brave people in other countries, I'd say that having "home of the brave" in our national anthem isn't that absurd.

Of his suggestions for replacements, my pick is certainly "The Battlehymn of the Republic." So fun to sing and with classy and inspiring lyrics to boot. Although a rousing chorus of "God Bless America" complete with clashing cymbals would be fun too. I was always inspired by that country song "An American Child," too, which goes nicely with one of my favorite books, "An American Childhood", though the two are in no other way connected.

Ok, time for lunch. There was something else I meant to write about last week too but now I can't remember it...maybe later.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hey, I've got an idea

Dear City of Chattanooga (and all other muncipalities with parking meters),

Please learn how to make parking meters that accept pennies.

For one thing, parking meters in general are a pain and a rip-off. A quarter = 20 minutes? I remember when a quarter was worth half an hour, sonny. I even remember when I could park at Coolidge park for free (not a tough memory to conjure since that was like last year, but still.)

All I want to do is run in Figgy's or Ankars and grab a quick lunch, but if I am out of change, no such luck. I must drive all the way down Broad Street to the Subway (because the one downtown requires change for meters too.) This is a plastic world, folks. I almost never have cash. Which, conversely, means I almost never get change.

Except, there are ALWAYS pennies.

Everywhere, lurking. Because there is no use for them (no offense, Honest Abe.) I have been known (on occasion) to throw them away when cleaning out a purse because they're so basically useless and I don't want to carry them around.

HOWEVER, if I could put them in parking meters -- Oh, the utility! How much easier my life would be, and how coppery-clutter-free! Zip down to Figgy's, pop 10 shiny pennies in the meter, the city is satisfied, I am satisfied, it would be genius.

Why is it that machines reject our coppery little friends? No coke machines, no bubblegum machines, (obviously) no parking meters...what gives? Why do machine-makers hate on Abraham Lincoln? Maybe somebody knows this. Walker, you're an accountant, any ideas? Amanda Youell, you read this on occasion and are very smart/work with numbers, perhaps you can help?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Consistant blogger I am not

Saturday night, we went to this festival/fundraiser in town to celebrate Jason's birthday, which officially happened yesterday (happy birthday to Jason!)

The festival is called Bella Sera, and involves lots of people strolling around one of the riverfront parks, armed with a wineglass and hopefully the phone number of a cab company (or, as in my case, an apartment within walking distance.)

Your ticket to the event entitles you to tapas from five different restaurants (who were all set up under tents along the sidewalk) and all the wine you care to slosh into your glass. The event's proceeds go towards a local organization called Endeavors, which seeks to help people who've been released from prison get their lives back together and get on a positive path.

The evening began clear and warm, and as the sun set over the river, folks from all around gathered under the trees to taste yummy things and chat. My favorite food item from the evening was one I already knew I liked. I don't care who you are, the chicken tortilla soup from Taco Mamacita is AMAZING. They give you a bowl containing neat little piles of fresh ingredients, like avacado, tomatoes, some sort of tasty Mexican cheese, lime and cilantro. The server then pours steaming broth over the contents of the bowl, creating a delicious fresh soup. Their guacamole is also pretty amazing. I'd say my favorite wine of the night was Riesling, which makes my wine tastes disappointingly girly. I tried to drink red but I just plain don't like it.

After picking up our third round of tapas, we sat down at a table with several people we didn't know. Later, we ran into one couple, and the guy (we'll call him Jim) goes "hey it's our neighbors!" His girlfriend goes "um, those aren't our neighbors..." and we all kind of laughed. Then the guy is like "NO from the TABLE," which was true enough. We later sat down with them again. We learned that Jim and his girlfriend (we'll call her Karen) and their friend, the vegan (we'll call her Kate) are entertaining.

Jim has a very distinctive accent, combination southern drawl and someone very, very chill. In response to queries regarding what he does for a living, Jim tells us "I make teeth." To the understanding follow-up question of "how did you get into that?" he offered the clarifying explanation that he formerly worked in a tattoo shop, but doing piercings.

Karen asked if we both lived in town, and upon finding out that Jason lives in Atlanta, all three of them made faces like they'd smelled something dead and chorused "WHY??" (coincidentally, he received this response not just from this group, but from almost every person we talked to at the event. I found this amusing and edifying.)

Jim learned that it was Jason's birthday, and when he heard Jason's new age, he stared at him for a second and then said "dude...I don't know what the h*** you're eatin', but I want some." This was flattering for Jason and amusing for all. (Mild expletive abbreviated for curse-sensitive readers.) It turned out that Karen, Jim's girlfriend, is a nurse, so we consulted her about Jason's sprained ankle. She examined it and began explaining proper care for such a sprain (/ligament damage), all while Jim is interjecting with comments like "dude, no, don't listen to that. you're FINE. just have a couple drinks and you won't even be able to tell. Ice it? Naw. This is just a bunch of malarky."

Eventually we launched into a discussion with Karen regarding swine flu, and she was adament that when a vaccine is available, everyone should get vaccinated, because last time there was a swine flu (in like the 1920's), it went away and then came back even worse. As you can imagine, Jim found this ridiculous also. His solution to avoiding infection?

"Drink scotch and don't wash your hands. I guarantee it."

You heard it here first, folks.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A short story, or, sometimes cats are dumb.

Francis, feline though he may be, is fascinated by water. He loves nothing more (besides looking out the window) than drinking out of the running sink. He watches in fascination while I am washing dishes (this may be more because this action is so rare due to lack of dishwasher that he is shocked by it.) He waits patiently each morning (sometimes batting at the curtain or sticking his head in to signal that he is losing patience) while I shower so that he can explore the empty tub. Ordinarily, I let him hop in there after I'm done, he walks around, attacks the shower curtain a little, and leaves.

I must provide the caveat that my tub is currently draining slower than it ought - I need to get some draino. But that is not the point of this tale. So I have recently just been shoo-ing him away from the shower til all the water is drained out. (You might be able to see where this is heading.)

So this morning while I am brushing my teeth, Francis manages to sneak into the bathroom undetected, thanks to his cat stealth. (*shout out to anyone who remembers the episode of the O.C. where Seth gets drunk and then claims to be "stealth" before falling across Ryan's car.) I am brushing away happily when I hear the following:


Curiousity, as they say, kills the cat - or, in this case, severely dampens him. I turned to see that Francis was frozen halfway between sitting and standing, with an expression on his face that said "what the..." (Not that he should have been surprised at the outcome of his decision given his usual habit of staring into the tub at the water draining before leaping in. As noted in the title, cats are sometimes dumb.)

He then attempted to sit, acting as though he had meant to jump into a giant puddle. He quickly reconsidered this and decided to try and get his footing to leap out, but the water made this a real challenge. By this point I had rinsed the toothpaste out of my mouth (didn't want to swallow the stuff and be poisoned - priorities) and got a towel to capture the cat, who lept from the tub into said towel. I then spent ten minutes rubbing him with the towel, then drying his tail, legs, and half his tummy with the hairdrier (in attempt to prevent damage to our new white bedspread.) You can imagine how much we both enjoyed this.

I didn't even bother trying to explain why I was slightly late to work this morning.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Smiles all around

This story from made me so happy I just had to post it. It contains:

A) minor league baseball players
B) old people in assisted living homes
C) general happiness and delight

Hope it makes your day like it did mine!

It's almost Friday, right?

Big Red is great chewing gum. At least as far as flavor is concerned. But am I the only one that feels like I'm causing real damage to the interior of my mouth every time I chew it? I think there's gums missing now. I mean, there are pictures of flames on the package, maybe they're being literal.

A second ago I was looking at my to-do list, and realized it was kind of funny. It says the following:

-Zoo --> photo of Hank the chimp
-Little Richard
-Photos of "stars" for Dancing with the Stars Chattanooga
-Pops on the River --> calendar (fireworks pic.?)

One might easily fall under the impression that I'm running a three-ring circus. Especially when combined with the fact that there are high school baseball and softball players strutting around in the hallways in their uniforms.

Last night I went up to my friend Katie's [gorgeous] house because she's started selling Stella & Dot jewelry, which you do by having little parties. The jewelry is SO cute (see below) and the prices are great. I don't know if when you order from the website you can like put in a sales rep.'s name, but if you order some tell them Katherine Watson sent you!

Short one today, but that's about all I've got...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Francis update

For those of you who are eager to see Francis in his altered state, I have to say that we went conservative and he ended up getting just a trim, as opposed to the full-on lion cut. I know. I was a little disappointed too, but in retrospect, I don't think his hair is fluffy enough for a lion cut to be truly impressive. But we might try it out next summer. My boss was very disappointed that I did not bring in photos of his new 'do, but really, if you're not used to looking at him it probably isn't very remarkable. He kind of looks like this now:

(This is not Francis, but a cat very similar to him in regards to color and current hair style.)

He now just pretty much looks like a short-haired cat, except his tail which is still long and fluffy (by request.) He's got such a lovely tail and he loves to unfurl it and parade around with it waving behind him, I would have hated for it to be reduced to a creepy rat-esque state. He looks much slimmer now, which I am pleased about because he is more kitten-like. And the choppy nature of a cat haircut is still kind of funny to look at. I'll attempt to post some actual Francis photos later.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Friday Afternoon Post

Ahh, Friday. Friday has such a festive air about it - it's like a small version of that feeling of joy and anticipation you have on the last day of school before summer break. It helps if the day is sunny and delightful. This Friday, at least in Chatt-town, cannot seem to make up its mind. It's cloudy and grey, wait - no the sun is shining, was that thunder? now it's monsooning, now it's clear and sunshiney again & not a cloud in the sky, oh wait - cloudy again. So tricky, weather. Making my Friday feeling fluctuate.

Today is the day for young Francis the cat to get his hairs cut. I know, I know. But he's got this really long thick coat, and lately he's taken to sleeping either on the cool tiles in the kitchen or on top of the glass coffee table, directly under the ceiling fan. Given my window air conditioners, and the fact that I run them as little as possible because I am cheap, I fear that he is sweltering. He is bearing it nobly, only kind of complaining, but I feel bad for him. So, I went to his vets at the Cat Clinic (they also groom - these people REALLY like cats) to consult, and they recommended a cut.

Now, when we were in middle and high school, Lisa Swafford (now Vanderwall) and her family had a cat whose name was Kristen Faith Swafford. Kristen was one of those real kinds of cats, and she had big blue eyes and beautiful luxurious white fluffy fur. Very long white fluffy fur. Every spring, Kristen would get her long fluffy fur shorn so that she would not spontaneously combust in the heat of a southern summer. She was moderately stand-off-ish when she had her full coat, but after her trim, I remember she just acted embarrassed. She would skulk around the edges of a room, and hide behind furniture when possible. No one could catch her. Her cut looked something like this:
(this is not Kristen, but the photo of someone called misplacedparadox on flickr.)

As you can see, this look could be somewhat amusing. Maybe not for the cat, but for the owner and other humans. I wasn't sure about committing to something this drastic though (what if instead of funny Francis ended up looking like a giant bald rat?) I ended up telling them just to give him a trim, which they said is sometimes hard to make look normal, and if it looks weird, go ahead with the full-on lion. I am very interested to see what he looks like/if he still speaks to me when I go pick him up after work.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wednesday? Already?

Wow, I have been sort of bad at blogging this week. Sometimes I just can't think of anything particularly interesting to write about. I suppose I should be more disciplined in making myself think of things. That wasn't interesting. Rats.

First I suppose I should issue congratulations to Lucy, who has stepped it up to the big leagues (literally) by independently making her way across Claire and Reid's living room. Please see for video footage of this historic event.

So, you know what my lack of creative thought means...


1527 - German troops began sacking Rome, bringing about the end of the Renaissance. The Germans immediately regretted this, saying "OH you said RENAISSANCE...we thought you said ghosts and plagues...sorry..." No one really believed this excuse.

1682 - King Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles, France. This, you may recall, included pretty much all nobles, so that he could keep an eye on everyone. It also made it possible for him to constantly humiliate these people into submission by making them do silly things like pretend to be foxes so he could practice hunting on horses. (Ok, I made that up, but he did make them do lots of silly things for this purpose.) He later moved back to Paris, complaining "there's just not enough closet space."

1856 - Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was born in Freiberg, Moravia (present-day Pribor, Czech Republic). Through analysis, he realized this had something to do with his mother. And probably his father, too.

1882 - The U.S. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. The act barred Chinese immigrants from the U.S. for 10 years. It was finally repealed after Congress realized they were being huge jerks.

1915 - Babe Ruth hit his first major league home run while playing for the Boston Red Sox. "Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world." High five, Babe Ruth!

1937 - the hydrogen-filled German dirigible Hindenburg crashed in Lakehurst, N.J., a tragic event made doubly sad by the loss of the world "dirigible" from every day conversation.

1954 - Roger Bannister became the first athlete to run a mile in less than four minutes, finishing in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds during a track meet in Oxford, England. I mean, that's fast.

1960 - U.S. President Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1960. Now everybody likes Ike.

1981 - A jury of international architects and sculptors unanimously selected Maya Ying Lin's entry for the design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Her design was originally created for a class project at Yale, for which she received a B. Her professor also submitted a design for the memorial, and was clearly not selected. Something to keep in mind.

2004 - The final episode of "Friends" aired on NBC. 20-somethings the world over sang "So no one told you life was gonna be this way..." through their tears.

2009 - By celebrating his birthday, George Clooney becomes the hottest 48-year old in the world.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Friday Afternoon Post

Yesterday when I was getting off the elevator on my floor (yes, I know, I should take the stairs) the elevator landed, and the doors slid open to reveal one of the department heads who is an older man, probably in his sixties. He was standing, prepared to board the elevator, wearing grey slacks, a lavender dress shirt, lavender and blue patterned bowtie (the real kind) and tortoise framed glasses, holding in his hand a gigantic cigar. This vision clearly made my day.

There is, of course, no smoking inside our building, but he was going downstairs to the sidewalk. I told one of my bosses about the delightful vision I had just seen, and he said "oh yeah, if you walk to lunch, you'll probably see him just strolling down the sidewalk smoking his cigar, looking like he owns the city." I have always thought this department head was just swell, mainly because of the bowties and the glasses (which he wears regularly), but now I like him even more. Someone who's good at fiction should write a short story or something about this image because I just love it. Too bad Scott Fitzgerald isn't around.

(For a peek into the life of a famous Chattanooga bowtie-wearer and his ice cream empire, see this month's magazine!)

Today is May Day, being the first day of May, which of course brings to mind May Day at GPS, one of my favorite traditions. This event honoring seniors, pretty dresses, and old school activities such as dancing around the May pole (see below photo, not of GPS but from some website called is fun for everyone, pretty much, except for the grounds crew who spend like a month worrying about whether it will rain on May Day and then if it does, coming up with innovative ways to try and dry out the grass. It is also not fun for male teachers at GPS, who for the most part think it is ridiculous. I, of course, think it is fantastic and feel lucky to have gone to a school with long-lasting and fun traditions. Having hung out with Babs in her capacity as YoungLife leader a little bit, I am happy to say that I've met this year's May Queen and she strikes me as a genuine delight.

In other news, my parents reported to me last night that in watching the local news the night before, they learned a valuable tip regarding transport in Tunnel Hill, Georgia (a nearby town.) Don't drive your horse drunk. Two men were apparently arrested after officers responded to neighbors complaints that they were riding recklessly. After being released from jail on bond, the men supposedly sold the horses immediately because (according to my parents, this is a quote from one of the men) the only reason they had bought the horses in the first place was to ride them when they were too drunk to drive. My stepdad says that the son of one of the men said on the news that he didn't understand why they'd been arrested, because they'd ridden the horses before when they were "a whole lot drunker than they was last night." Ahh, song of the south.

And people say television news is always bad news.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Knock on wood apparently what I should have done after that last post in which I was all like "Ooh la la, I love spring, la-di-dah, look at the beautiful sunshine streaming through my windows" because the weather was immediately like "Regulate!" and now it's going to rain for TEN DAYS STRAIGHT. Thanks, for that heartening news. Francis has already begun moping around with his furry face downcast because he cannot have his windows open during the day which, as he often reminds me, is one of his chief pleasures in his very simple life.

In a recent trip to Target (aka the danger zone) I spotted season two of "Psych" on sale for $19.99. While I admit to being something of a "Gilmore Girls" addict, with occasional stints of "Dawson's Creek" thrown in, I have taken a recent hiatus from both. Back in the day, during my first six months in Atlanta, when I lived alone and had very little going on in my life aside from occasional visits from Haynes (thanks buddy) - and when I also had cable - I was a dedicated follower of "Psych". For anyone who ever watched "The West Wing" (sigh...) one of the main characters on "Psych", Gus, is played by Dule' Hill (you'll know him as Charlie, President Bartlett's assistant.) The show is like a funny, witty, 80's pop culture reference-laden version of that show "The Mentalist" on CBS. Shawn, the other main character, is a hyper-observant person because he was trained by his cop-father. He pretends to be a psychic detective so people will take his observations seriously (despite how plain silly he is), and he and Gus are best friends since childhood, and partners in their psychic detective agency, called Psych. Shawn and Gus have a delightfully quick and witty reparte', and the cases they solve are always unique. If you're looking for a new show to netflix, I recommend Psych! Season Three should be coming out soon.

Shawn: "Well what about your teen wolf theory??"
Gus: "That's just fact! If any of us were in high school and some dude turned into a werewolf, we would not be cool with it just because he could dunk a basketball. I certainly wouldn't be making I-heart-wolf t-shirts."

Ok, that's all I've got. Enjoy your Wednesday!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Duly noted

Given the lack of comments on my excited post re: split infinitives, I take it my select group of readers (thanks you three) is not interested in grammar.

You know something I think is awkward? When you're walking down the hall at work, and you pass the bathroom door and someone is coming out. It is right up there with riding the elevator with someone you don't know in the list of awkward office interactions. Especially if that person is of the opposite sex. I mean, this person has just used the restroom, and then you're like "hey..." and they are kind of like "hi..." but you're thinking, I know you were just in there...I hope you washed your hands...Maybe no one else finds this uncomfortable but it just happened and I thought I'd share.

I am SO EXCITED that it's finally warm and sunny. This is my favorite time of the year. I get so excited just being alive when it's beautiful and warm outside. My apartment is on the second floor and surrounded by lots of leafy trees, so it feels like a treehouse when the windows are open - which they have been pretty constantly since it got gorgeous outside. I know you're supposed to go outside when it's nice, and I do, but something about being in my apartment with the windows open and the trees rustling outside and the sun shining in patterns across the floor, and my new pomegranate tea and vanilla apple air fresheners (amazing - Target continues to be awesome) just makes me so happy.

Ever since I had the Merry Maids come and clean (yeah, I did) I have been a straightening champ. It's been like two weeks and my apartment has been neat as a pin ever since. (If you've ever lived with me, this information is no doubt amazing - but believe it.) Francis feels like he has a whole new home. After I get the picture/painting collage I've been planning for months hung up, I will post some photos of our Treehouse (on Tremont street - coincidence? I think not.) My next project is getting out of bed on time in the morning. (Yikes.)

Ok, that's about all I've got today. Is it five o'clock yet?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nerd alert, nerd alert

Since we had Mr. Henry for eighth grade English, and he got sick of trying to teach us to diagram sentences when we were clearly bad at it (and instead would make us bang our hands together and bark like seals because he thought our lack of grammatical knowledge made us ridiculous), I never learned what a split infinitive was.

Ok, it's possible that he did teach us that and I wasn't paying attention, or that I heard Ms. Exum talking about it in the hallway or something. However, I wonder about it every time I watch the Gilmore Girls episode where Paris is yelling at Bill in the Daily News office saying something to the effect of "Do you read the Washington Post, Bill? 'Cause they love to split their infinitives at the Post - but I don't! Fix it!" Since I read the Washington Post, I have been meaning to look it up for ages to see what she was talking about and today I finally did and was so pleased with my grammatical realization that I thought I'd share:

Split infinitive = breaking up the basic part of a verb (basic meaning "to run, to breathe, to eat") with some other part of speech. All the grammar websites say that the 'most famous' of all split infinitives is "to boldly go where no man has gone before," with the adverb 'boldly' interrupting the basic verb phrase 'to go.'

There's an on-going debate among "grammarians" regarding whether or not this type of phrase is grammatically correct. I realize I am nerdy, but I was excited to learn this. So excited that I followed it up with a realization about another grammatical phrase I've been perpetually unsure of - the dangling participle.

This one I'm pretty sure I did learn about in the past, but just forgot. This could be because it's often interchangeable with a grammar favorite, the misplaced modifier (word arrangement makes the sentence confusing or incorrect - She opened the refrigerator and saw the salad dressing.)

However, a dangling participle involves a specifically participial phrase, for example: "Turning the corner, the view was quite different." In this sentence, there's no noun that the participial phrase 'turning the corner' is modifying, so it makes it seem like the view is what is turning the corner, which is pretty improbable as a view is not really the kind of thing that turns corners. This type of phrase seems to be more straight-forwardly frowned upon by "grammarians."

Learning these things, the task of writing seems so much clearer.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Afternoon Post

This day in history is back again - mainly because I'm busy today!

1492 - Christopher Columbus signed a contract with Spain to find a passage to Asia and the Indies. He sailed, as you might recall, with three ships (say it with me- Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria) and discovered something else, but figured Ferdinand and Isabella wouldn't know the difference. And there you have it - America!

1521 - Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. A direct result of a) being struck by lightening and b) nailing a list of 95 problems - of which his 'kicks' weren't one, to the church door at Wittenburg.

1704 - John Campbell published what would eventually become the first successful American newspaper. It was known as the Boston "News-Letter." Campbell was recently overheard muttering "I should have invented soup before my cousin" after news that many major dailies like the New York Times were on the verge of collapse.

1810 - Pineapple cheese was patented by Lewis M. Norton. Only one word for this one - SCORE.

1917 - A bill in Congress to establish Daylight Saving Time was defeated. It was passed a couple of months later. One more piece of evidence that even if Congress manages to make a good decision, they'll find a way to screw things up later.

1947 - Jackie Robinson (Brooklyn Dodgers) performed a bunt for his first major league hit. Hooray Jackie Robinson!! (Who else read In the year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson as a child? Ahh, third grade.

1961 - About 1,500 CIA-trained Cuban exiles launched the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in a failed attempt to overthrow the government of Fidel Castro. As this was an unmitigated disaster, Castro and his familia continue to rule over Cuba despite the fact that most of the people who live there would leave if their fishing boats could make it to Miami.

1967 - The U.S. Supreme Court barred Muhammad Ali's request to be blocked from induction into the U.S. Army. Really Muhammad Ali? You thought they'd let the best fighter in the country skip the war?

1970 - Johnny Cash performed at the White House at the invitation of President Richard M. Nixon. He played "A Boy Named Sue." Everyone at the event wondered why the president looked so uncomfortable when Cash sang the lines " Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean, My fist got hard and my wits got keen, I'd roam from town to town to hide my shame."

2001 - Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants hit his 500th career home run, becoming the 17th major leaguer to reach the mark. Now he holds the all-time major league record with 762 home runs. I mean, steroids or not, I'm pretty sure I couldn't hit that many home runs.
Cartoon from

Also, today is Jennifer Garner's birthday. Wonder if she's 13-going-on-30? Happy weekend!