Thursday, March 29, 2007

Linking Thursday

It's time for me to suggest some ways to waste time based on the ways I've been wasting time online. Huzzah!

1. No list would be complete without McSweeney's so let's get that out of the way. As usual, I'm all up in that pizzle, if I may employ the phrase. Teddy Wayne's "My Interactive Call Center" includes the following sweet phrases: "Please hold while I passive-aggressively stall. Your expected wait time is: until after my show is over." Awesomeness. Okay, just one more. Because I can picture this being truly hilarious to attempt, Renee Prince's "Six Steps to Total Relaxation in the Workplace" gets the nod as well. I won't spoil it by hinting.

2. Hubster found a humorous article about Bono being knighted. Good for Bono!

3. Slate's always good for a random article. This one's about sleep and what purpose it serves for the human body. I may learned all about REM sleep for my fifth-grade science fair project, but it was nice to brush up.

4. I can't believe I haven't link to this next blog before. I've been reading slacktivist's Left Behind posts for over a year now. He's reading through the book (yes, that one) and picking it apart, posting weekly on Fridays. He does an amazing job of pointing out its problems from every angle: characterization, plot holes of every stripe, and of course, the theological issues that can arise from holding a Dispensationalist perspective. Despite how uninteresting that sounds, he really does a great job of keeping things fresh, alluding to pop culture, politics, history, scifi, and news. If you're intrigued, or if (like me) you have a pesky friend who keeps trying to get you to read these books and you want to have some ammo, check it out. (Note: the page is an archive that starts at the bottom with most recent posts on the top.)


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"Babbling" is I think what you'd call it.

After this evening's Lenten program at church, and my friend ExPatria (we'll call her that because she's not originally from these parts) and I ducked out to enjoy some coffee and a good chat. We had such a good time! Apparently, she too has a 70's-era sewing machine with which she does battle to alter clothing and, recently, make a new duvet and sham set for her bedroom. We chatted over sewing adventures, her sister's impending baby shower which she's trying to plan and the many, many weddings I'm attending this year. It was so good to catch up that time flew. Also, the slice of Tres Leches Cake that I bought flew off my plate. Sweet fancy Moses! Stay tuned for a future cooking experiment with that recipe because yummmmmm. Heads up, Hubster and other loved ones: remind me to make this for a party so I won't be able to eat the entire thing by myself. Thank you.

Onward into miscellany! I decided to switch out the site template, as you can see. I like it, but it's so "90's Laura Ashley dress" and therefore so unlike me that I'm still getting used to it. I usually avoid the pastels. Pastel blue is The Enemy in my clothing shopping because it's freakin' everywhere, and I own like one shirt in that color and I'm sated. Still, I love those flowers and the Squidfingers background image, so why not try something new?

In the interests of full disclosure, this is my second attempt to write this post after my cat wandered in the narrow space between my file cabinet and the wall where all my computer's power strips reside. Yeah, Pooper cut the power on me, and now I'm too tired to come up with a nice, round three-item post. Amuse yourselves in the comments - at my expense, if you like. I'm gonna get me a Martini and bid you adieu.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


Last Wednesday night, Dad-in-law came down for dinner, carrying a cat grass plant in tow. Mum-in-law purchased it for me after hearing me whine and complain about its unavailability last November. The kitties considered it the best thing since kibble. I took copious snaps. A good time was had by all.

The Tiny approaches cautiously. She immediately chows down.

The Little notices the commotion, decides to investigate. "Investigate" means pull an Alpha-Cat and kick her sister off the tasty nibbles.

Best. Face. Ever.

Although this one with the tongue sticking out? Awesome.

She looks inebriated. Calm down, sweetie, it's not cat nip!

And now the faceplant - weeeee!

Farewell, Cat Grass. This shall serve as your funeral pic because you've already been devoured by our very happy felines.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Erica as Inigo Montoya, Film at 11.

Sooooo . . . last week sucked. My employers got me a back-up hard drive at one point, and I loaded and (foolishly) used the software that came with it. It turned out to be the perfect software for people who want large amounts of their image files overwritten to look like that one file they scanned and then didn't need at all. As an added bonus, it corrupted random batches of my Photoshop files - you know, the layered ones with hours of work that went into them and great usefulness for the future? Yeah, I didn't want those. This disaster happened last August but I found more defunct files LAST WEEK. I believe the term blue streak might apply to my reaction. Not one of my more noble moments. As I struggled to recreate files I'd already struggled to create once, my vocabulary darkened to midnight blue and I cut off contact with civilization, preferring instead to cry into my cats' fur and beg my husband to get take-out.

On a related note, I've decided to become a less-dedicated version of Inigo Montoya - I'll seek revenge, but only if any of the creaters/purveyors of that software should ever cross my path. I'm going to stop short of spending my entire life hunting them down because THEY'RE NOT WORTH IT. (Right? Right. Maybe.)

There were other things going on, but they're boring and you don't care about them. Trust.

Anyway, I'm back.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A few days late . . .

I'm sorry I didn't write this post on Sunday night, but I've decided to take the week off from blogging. I've got work stuff and church stuff stressing me out, so I'm afraid making sure I post has become a burden and not a delight this week. I'll try to be back next week. Later, kids!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Again with the church-related rhapsodizing!

I'm still working on a serious post, but this is one, too. It seems as though I return from my church's Lenten programs every Wednesday and I'm on fire. I haven't been like this since . . . honestly, I can't remember. High school, I suppose.

I used up any eloquence I might have in the car, thinking about all this, processing my emotional response. It's hard to find the words to reflect the change in my life and faith over the past two years. After college, I was really hurting. I had been depressed. I hadn't found a good church at college and had spent chunks of my senior year unable even to bring myself to go to any church at all. I felt not only unconnected from the people but unconnected from the Body of Christ - from its ministry and its leadership. I watched people like myself who'd grown up in the faith experience the same disenchantment. As my own faith was expanding and God was changing my heart, the churches around me seemed to be shrinking their welcome, their communion, their friendship, and most of all the reach of their God - church was for the holy, and I knew well enough that I may look holy, but I was still very much a work in progress. Who was I to dare to worship with them?

I remember church hopping once we arrived in Maryland. We even thought we'd stay one place, and did for a few months, but I kept wondering what else was out there, who else might have a communion like the one I'd grown up with - doors and hearts open, teaching from the heart as well as the mind, fellowship with my brothers and sisters. I went to church with J. Morgan and Mair and experienced their parish and knew that, though it wasn't close enough to be my church, the one we'd halfheartedly settled on wasn't either. It's hard to look for a house, and it's hard to look for a church home - you don't know anyone, you don't know the surroundings or the culture of that specific community, you keep wondering what you can sacrifice and what's indispensable, and it's hardest of all to keep getting close and missing the mark. God (and my good friends) encouraged me to try again, and Hubster and I headed out the next Sunday and found our home that day.

We started coming faithfully in the summer, and I quickly joined the choir, and I guess I didn't talk about it much in 2005, but the floodgates were opened last year during Lent, and suddenly I saw that spring had come again to my faith. I had my doubts that anything had lasted through all the frustration, loneliness, and stagnation of the last few years and suddenly, I was alive and growing in all directions.

I guess I'd been growing all along. The spring metaphor looks good on paper, but I have to keep reminding myself that tough times don't make us hibernate as often as they make us grow, awkwardly and uncomfortably perhaps, but they're as much a part of the growth as those happy days of warmth and peace. I gotta say, though, it's nice that it's spring again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I'm working on a serious post, but I don't have it in me tonight. I'm tired, and I'd really like to hang out with my husband right now. More tomorrow or soon. Good night and enjoy the flowers I got you:

Monday, March 12, 2007

300 Blood Drops Per Minute

My parents left me. They returned home to chilly Michigan leaving us to enjoy our 60ยบ sunny day and an evening showing of 300. We did more talking and eating before they left, but you don't want to hear about that, do you? Nooooo, you want to read a movie review? Oh. You don't?


So, first off, every frame was stylized to the hilt. Much hay has been made of the film's look - the blown-out highlights and exaggerated shadows, the burnished gold color cast, the desaturated color with rich textures of iron shields and rough robes - oh, and leather speedos. The film is beautiful, and I spent much of it trying to analyze how they created such gorgeous look. The story is an OLD story, done once again, not much deviation from form, but done rather well, I thought. The music and probably many of the stylistic elements on the Persians were anachronistic, but they worked with the stylization, and really, that's what you paid for. In fact, for its mix of electric guitars and plainsong solos, the soundtrack flowed well and added the bombast needed to make the look work.

The gore? Gory. They break up the battle sequences by focusing on the home front's political problems, so that helps, but it is not for the faint of stomach and most certainly not for anyone who thought they might be overplaying the gore factor in the previews. It's very balletic violence at times, but it is no less violent. I'm sure the CG people spent more time rendering blood droplets than just about anything else.

Honestly, I don't know what to think of the graphic novel's creator, Frank Miller. I didn't see Sin City (anther of his graphic novels adapted to film), but Hubster said the look of the film was incredible, and that he enjoyed it. If you don't mind gore, you liked the aesthetic you saw in the previews, and you've got $10 burning a hole in your pocket, hie thee to the cinema and see it. Otherwise, stay home and read Homer or something.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

"The 411," As The Cool Kids Say.

My parents are in town, so I've been busy with them - showing them around town, but mostly talking, and eating. As my father put it "We're one of the those families who can sit discussing our next meal while absolutely stuffed from the last one." Mom and I went shopping at G Street Fabrics and found the fabric for her dress for my brother's wedding this June. We've hit up the National Gallery of Art for some 19th Century French as well as 17th Century Dutch Art - Rembrandt self-portrait REPRESENT! Ahem. We wanted to see the American Impressionists, but the American Art section was closed for renovations. Just FYI, there.

Of course I woke up last Wednesday morning with a sore throat. I was hoping it was a fluke from sleeping with my mouth open or something innocuous like that but no, by Thursday morning it was full-blown sore-throat-itis. After getting freakin' PNEUMONIA this winter, I'm kinda on high-alert when it comes to cold symptoms. Fortunately, though it felt even worse yesterday morning, I'm getting better now. At least it didn't ruin my visit with my parents - I can still taste and talk!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Quotation Wednesday

I'm reading a couple of good books right now, but I've been hanging on to these quotes from Zadie Smith's The Autograph Man, and posting them now means I can read more. Yay for reading more!

On Wrestling Matches: "And of course it's ridiculous, but the thing is, they are not here to express genuine feelings, or to fake them and dress them up natural like on TV; they are here to demonstrate actions. And all of the kids know that. Any fool can tell a story - can't they? - but how many can demonstrate one, e.g., This is what a story is, mate, when it's stripped of all its sentiment. This afternoon, these two hulking men are here to demonstrate Justice. The kind Mr. Gerry Brown (Block M, Seat 117) can't get from the courts in compensation for his son's accident; the kind Jake (Block T, Seat 59) won't get from school whether he chooses to squeal on those bastards or not; the kind Finn (Block B, Seat 10) can't seem to get from girls no matter what changes he makes to his wardrobe or record collection or personal hygeine; the kind Li-Jin (Block K, Seat 75) can't get from God." (p.33)

"Alex believed in that God Chip in the brain, something created to process and trigger wonderment. It allows you to see beauty, to uncover beauty in the world. But it's not so well designed. It's a chip that has its problems. Sometimes it confuses a small man with a bad mustache and a uniform for an image of the infinite; sometimes an almond-eyed girl on a big screen for the stained-glass windows in a church." (p.101)

"The last of the suburbs were still passing by, hunkered down for the winter and still as Sunday. Alex felt a particular yearning for the suburbs between an airport and a city; he wanted to stop the car and knock on one of those pine doors, and squeeze in between the fireman and his wife until someone rose to make breakfast and the kids started to yell. But you need a specific address for the suburbs. Only in the city can you be dropped off in front of statues and behind opera houses. The suburbs are by invitation only." (p.191)

"FACT. Women have an endless capacity for anecdote. Men prefer jokes and stories. Alex didn't mind any of the above, as long as he was doing the telling, but Kitty and Esther had set off, before he arrived, on their open-topped bus, on their nostalgia tour. They rolled round the deserted soundstages of old studio lots, the penthouses of closed hotels. They did not pause and there was no opportunity for Alex to get on board. His exit from the room, after a pronounced sulk, went unnoticed." (p287)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Spy Jeans, Secret Ingredients

1. I finished reading Colin MacKinnon's Morning Spy, Evening Spy. I bought it along with John LeCarre's Mission Song because the hardcover editions of each were on sale right before Christmas and I wanted good books for Hubster. Morning Spy was compared to LeCarre ("at his best," no less), so I thought we both might enjoy the books. Well, Hubster didn't love it, and I liked it more than him, but still, meh. It's not LeCarre, I'll tell you that. On Amazon, someone described the prose as "clipped," and I agree. Sometimes that means concise and appropriately jarring, sometimes that just means missing something. Some of the characters seemed crudely drawn while others were good. The suspense was weak, too, because we can piece together how it'll end fairly early on. Bottomline: It's a decent spy drama, but it's not a must read. If you want to read it, try not to read reviews or even the dust jacket to preserve the (little) suspense the book has. I think I liked it more not knowing much about it.

2. I found zafu through Amalah's Wednesday Advice Smackdown, and it's awesome! It's a website designed to rank all kinds of jeans and to recommend them to you based on fit and style questions you answer. They show you everything from Target specials to Saks selections so you can choose to splurge or spend and do it with search tools in the comfort of your own home. They provide you with exact style names, so they also spare you the Dressing Room Showdown between 20 ill-fitting pairs and transform it into a matter of gauging the size and slapping down the Benjamins (or Hamiltons). Awesome work, zafu!

3. You know that saying "Same song, second verse, could be better but it's gonna be worse?" (I grew up in an industrial town, but man were we folksy talkers!) Seems like this applies to Rhonda Byrne's The Secret. This Newsweek article does a fair job of breaking it down to its derivitive, wishwashy pieces, but I keep asking myself "doesn't a book like that come out every year?" Anyway, the article is good, and worth reading if only to sooth your soul when someone asks for it by name at the Daedalus Books counter. Grumble.

4. I mentioned that we made a recipe from Rachael Ray's Express Lane Meals cookbook recently, but I didn't write much else about the book. Ray gets a lot of flack for being incessantly upbeat, creating less-than-gourmet meals, being overexposed, and all kinds of other stuff, but she's on to something in the 30-Minute Meals format. After working all day, I do not want to mess with complicated recipes involving 25 ingredients, 3 pots, and five cooking techniques. I want to make a meal and then eat it because darn it, I'M HUNGRY. Most of the book is dedicated to recipes, but she also talks about her kitchen workflow basically - how she has a list of staples she keeps always in her kitchen and the quick trip she makes for specific ingredients. I haven't followed it to the letter, but I've incorportated a few ingredients as I've gone along, and I must say it was helpful to have the nudge to buy them and then specific recipes in which to use them. A couple of days ago, I bought chipotle chilis in adobo because she recommended them, and I ended up using them for a recipe in another cookbook. I'm looking forward to trying out more recipes and incorporating more interesting ingredients into my repertoire, and I like almost all of the 4-5 recipes I've already tried. As cookbooks go, you could do a lot worse.

Well, that's about all I've got for you. You stay sexy, Interweb!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Picture Post: Help! I Can't Quit Edition

Because I did it all last week, and because I took more pictures this past weekend, I can't seem to avoid another picture post. Meh, I guess it makes up for all those long written posts without any pretty distractions, right? RIGHT.

So J. Morgan and Mair visited. Mair blogs about it here, and I heartily agree with the sentiments therein expressed, but you can read her good words and I'll just give you the (brief) play by play.

We kicked back Friday and talked until late, but Saturday, we hit up Ellicott City for strolling, lunching, and shopping. We ate at Johnny's Bistro on Main, and the food was muy rico, let me just say. We especially enjoyed the Warm Mushroom Salad and the Hummus Plate.

Ellicott City's main drag on Old Columbia Pike.

The Lovely Mair enters a toy store with an adorable name.

A fantastic wine store hid behind this cask and store window. We were enthralled by their selection.

And then we came home (after our sidetrip to Daedalus Books, DANGEROUS) and made awesome fish tacos from Rachael Ray's Express Lane Meals cookbook. Huzzah for cheap tilapia and guacamole dressing!

J Morgan and Mair devour their tacos with gusto. And then leave us - wah!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Picture Post Week: Details, Details

Relief work on a gate near the Capitol.

The moon was out, at three in the afternoon, and it positioned itself behind the dome. The shot practically took itself.

I was chilly, sitting in a bus stop, and waiting for Hubster to find the car, dig it out, and pick me and all our luggage up at the curb in the Metro station. I blame boredom.

And this last shot seems to be taken in another world. It's another image taken from our hotel room's window, but this time the pedestrian had no umbrella. Sucka.

And that's all for the first-ever FyF Picture Post Week. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed uploading images and writing captions. That's "quite a bit," in case it wasn't self-evident. Happy weekend, kids. I'm going to spend it with J. Morgan and Mair. ¡Chau!