Friday, July 29, 2011

Nerd Bucket List

Geeks and nerds everywhere rejoiced this week because of a single amazing event.  I am, of course, referring to Comic-Con.  I can't tell you how much I wanted to be in San Diego to join in all of the crazy dorky fun.  It made me realize that there are a lot of geeky things I really want to do before I die or start caring what people think of me.  My Nerd Bucket List is a work in progress, but here is what I have so far:

1.  Attend Comic-Con San Diego
2.  Eat pad thai with Joss Whedon (I know it's weird, but I can just picture myself talking to him while eating noodles with chopsticks)
3.  Star in (or at least be an extra in) a Dr. Horrible sequel
4.  Befriend a supernatural creature with a secret identity. Specifically, I want to help keep the secret identity secret while making snarky comments laden with dramatic irony
5.  Hunt vampires or werewolves.  I don't really care which one--it kind of depends on which one would be nicer to me.

That's all I have for now.  I'm sure it will grow as I get nerdier.  What's on your bucket list?

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #28

It is finnnnallllly Friday, and I have a Saturday off for the first time in a while.  I'm super excited!  This has been the kind of week when everything that can go wrong will, but I've nevertheless managed to identify a hero and narrow down the field to a single villain.

Hero of the Week:  Movie Theater
It's still ridiculously hot outside, which makes summer picnics and other outdoor activities very unappealing.  Thankfully, there is a magical place where I can go where it's dark, cool, entertaining, and full of delicious snacks.  My favorite theater is the Alamo Drafthouse because it has stadium seating, shows interesting (and sometimes bizarre) videos before the movie begins, and I can have fantastic (and very overpriced) food and beverages brought to me while I enjoy my film.  I went there this week to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II this week, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable.  I cried of course, but in a good way.  My second favorite theater is the Delco Cinema.  It's actually a pretty run-down tiny place, but it's only $3.00 to get in.  Plus, it's always playing movies that have already left other theaters, so I get a second chance to see X-Men: First Class.  Anyplace that gives me another chance to see James McAvoy is definitely a hero!

Villain of the Week:  Technology
As I mentioned, everything has gone wrong this week.  The washing machine broke, the TV died, my car guzzled even more gas than normal, and someone hacked into my PayPal account for the second time in a month.  I'm starting to think the Terminator and/or Transformer movies are starting to come true.  I realize that some unsympathetic smart alack might want to point out that if technology is a villain I shouldn't choose movie theaters as a hero.  To that person I just want to say, watch yourself, or you'll be my villain next week!

I hope you all have a wonderful and technology-mishap-free weekend!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #27

It's hot and steamy here in norther Virginia; the heat index was 126 degrees at one point yesterday!  It's the perfect kind of day to stay inside with the shades drawn and read a good blog.  And as luck would have it, it's Friday, which means that I am here to entertain you with new hero and villain picks.

Hero of the Week:
I've spent a lot of time in the car recently.  Between the road trip to Florida and back and my hour-long commute to work, I put in some serious time behind the wheel.  As I've mentioned on this blog before, I absolutely love singing in the car and have very little shame about my tone-deafness.  However, a terrible thing has started happening recently: I've gotten sick of all of the music on the radio!  I tried to mix things up with play lists from my iPhone, and then even hearkening back to the days of CDs, but nothing has been entertaining me as much as I'd like.  Enter  Audible is an Amazon company that specializes in audiobooks.  I am a huge fan of (well-performed) audiobooks.  An interesting story and lively narration makes the time go ever so much faster.  Plus, you get two free books when you sign up for a trial, and they have several that are $5 and under.  I got Water for Elephants and The Book Thief for free, and picked up a "summer book" on sale for my work commute.  For adding hours of enjoyment to an otherwise dreary stretch of time, is my hero of the week. 

Villain of the Week:  Distance 
As much as I love audiobooks, I love even more not to have to drive an hour to get to work.  I would absolutely adore not having to drive 15 hours to see my family in Florida.  All of the pesky miles in between me and where I want to go desperately annoy me.  I want to be able to blink my eyes, wiggle my nose, snap my fingers, or click my heels and be somewhere else.  If I could do that, not only would I get to see my family more often and significantly reduce my commute, but I'd be able to travel more.  There are some pretty great vacation deals out there in my price range, but the airfare is the killer.  So for standing relentlessly in my way, Distance is my villain of the week.

Come back next Friday to find out what makes my day and what makes me mad.  Until then, have a nice cool weekend!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Like Cinderella Before the Whole Shoe Thing

Once upon a time, there lived a little girl who loved fairy tales.  She loved the beautiful princesses, the handsome princes, the fancy weddings, and the fact that everyone always lived happily ever after.  That little girl grew up to be perpetually single and design snarky greeting cards.

While in Florida visiting our grandparents, Kristen and I spent a lot of time washing dishes.  She would wash and I would dry, and we both sang Disney songs as we worked.  During one such dish-washing extravaganza, Kristen said, "I love watching the soap bubbles.  It reminds me of the scene in Cinderella when she's washing the floor and singing.  The iridescent bubbles were so pretty!"  I replied, "You're the only person I know who wants to be Cinderella before the whole shoe thing."

Then it hit me:  Would it really be so bad to be the fairy tale princess before the deus ex machina du jour arrives to whisk her into the lap of trophy-wifedom?  I'm not so sure.  Let's break it down.  Our heroines usually come from loving families, although sometimes said family is no longer in the picture.  They typically have some sort of occupation, usually cooking, cleaning, or weaving.  They have dreams and ambitions, and they find joy through the arts.  They are actually pretty normal.  Really, they aren't so different from me  or the women I know.

I think there is an important lesson to be learned in all of this.  I am a fairy tale character, just one mythical creature away from my happy ending.  And so, dear reader, are you.  If you ever forget that or get tired of waiting, please stay away from spinning wheel needles and apples from strangers.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week #26

As you might have noticed, today is not Friday.  It is, in fact, Tuesday, and last week passed without an issue of Hero and Villain of the Week.  I got up at 4 am on Friday morning, went to work, came home, then got in the minivan and drove through the night to Florida with the family to see my grandparents.  So I've been a little bit busy.  Thankfully, my grandparents had wi-fi installed since my last visit, so I have time to catch up on my blog now.

Hero of (Last) Week:  Firework Spectaculars 
Although my dog despises them, I adore fireworks.  I love the colors and the sparkle and loud bangs and the oohing and aahhing of the crowd.  In general, I much prefer watching local fireworks displays to televised broadcasts.  The lights are brighter, the boom is louder, and there is a delightful smell of sulfur in the air.  Of course, there is the occasional unfortunate mishap when the fireworks are shot into the crowd instead of the air (I'm talking about you, Apple Blossom Festival), but it's a delightful experience in general.  However, this year the threat of thunderstorms and severe allergies kept me inside during the festivities. I had to console myself with the Firework Spectacular specials on TV, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them.  First of all, the silly/drunk people in the crowd are highly entertaining while making me glad that I don't have to be near them.  Plus there is a fantastic mix of pop music and patriotic standards which cause me to ask all kinds of soul-searching questions.  Why do all major networks feel the need to play Katy Perry's "Firework" even though it has nothing to do with America?  Why do all Katy Perry Songs get stuck in my head for weeks?  How did Katy Perry go from a contemporary Christian artist to someone who has been described as having "the desperation of a much older burlesque singer?"  Why do we celebrate our country by singing a song about a man with a silly name (Yankee Doodle Dandy?  For serious?  What was his mother thinking?) who is "handy" with all the girls?  All in all, a very thought-provoking and enjoyable holiday thanks to these flashy network specials.

Villain of (Last) Week: Somnoliving 
Yes, somnoliving is a word that I made up.  Got an issue with that?  Take it up with William Shakespeare!  Anyway, "somnolive" means to drive while incredibly drowsy or asleep.  As you can see, somnoliving can be very hazardous to one's health!  Unfortunately, I sometimes find myself participating in this rather unpleasant pastime.  On my nice long drive between Stephens City and Leesburg, there are ample opportunities to drift off to sleep and consequently off the road.  I'm not opposed to sleeping or driving on principle, but the combination can result in damage person and/or property.  Since I feel guilty for ages if I hit a squirrel with my car, you can imagine how bad I would feel if I hurt something bigger!  Plus, I can't really afford to fix my car if something were to happen to it.  Therefore, I stand firmly, and somewhat hypocritically, against somnoliving.

That's all for this edition.  Better late than never, I suppose.  I'll be back before you know it with another round of heros and villains, and hopefully some zany Florida antics too!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is My Face Red?

I pride myself on being pretty shameless when it comes to my love of all things cheesy.  However, I recently found myself inexplicably embarrassed to admit to my mother and sister that I had TiVod a certain teen drama. (I will not reveal the show here, but I will write a poem about anyone who can guess it's title.)  I've been asking myself why I am only now developing some sense of shame about this kind of thing, and I just don't know.  Naturally, this has led me to study the nature of embarrassment.  Below are my preliminary findings:

When an acquaintance goes by I often step back from my window, not so much to spare him the effort of acknowledging me as to spare myself the embarrassment of seeing that he has not done so.
Georg C. Lichtenberg
 The rate at which a person can mature is directly proportional to the embarrassment he can tolerate.
Douglas Engelbart

But I learned that there's a certain character that can be built from embarrassing yourself endlessly. If you can sit happy with embarrassment, there's not much else that can really get to ya.
Christian Bale

I mean, I haven't been around very long. I can't expect everyone to have seen 'The House Bunny'. Oh God. I am having such waves of internal embarrassment, which now I'm admitting on a tape recorder. This is so one of the things I should keep in my head.
Emma Stone

I won't say there aren't any Harvard graduates who have never asserted a superior attitude. But they have done so to our great embarrassment and in no way represent the Harvard I know.
Derek Bok
One of the most frightening things about your true nerd, for may people, is not that he's socially inept - because everybody's been there - but rather his complete lack of embarrassment about it.
Neal Stephenson
I must say, so far I haven't really learned much, except perhaps that I spend too much time watching cheesy teen dramas.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Occasional Glutton

I love food.  I also really love my family which happens to be full of food lovers.  We have a tradition, which has become somewhat of a joke, that anytime one of us goes out for a meal, one of the first questions asked upon arrival home is "What did you eat?"  Some of my favorite memories come from family dinners together and "helping" my mom in the kitchen.  I am not a fan of cooking, but I love standing in the kitchen and talking to my mom while she cooks.  

As a big fan of food and family, I totally love holiday weekends.  I have my whole family together and tons of delicious food!  So naturally, while celebrating Independence Day, the subject of gluttony came up.  Kristen contends that a sign of gluttony is eating so much that one becomes physically ill.  I, however, believe that gluttony is eating so much that one becomes physically ill on a regular basis.  You're not a full-fledged glutton because you overeat on a holiday; you're just an occasional glutton.  Personally, I think The Occasional Glutton would be an excellent show for the Food Network.  It would be perfect for people like me who love to eat but hate to cook.  

Come to think of it, the show wouldn't have to be on the Food Network.  It could be more Intervention-style with each week devoted to someone who over-indulges in a particular vice.  Of course there would be episodes dedicated to food, but I can also see episodes revolving around Lifetime movie marathons, ABC Family teen dramas, chick lit, vampires, and whining.  If the show is a big enough success, there could even be an episode about someone who watches The Occasional Glutton for hours at a time!

Then again, I may just keep the title for my memoirs.  I think it's sadly fitting.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Jamie's Hero and Villain of the Week # 25

It is finally Friday of the longest week ever!  It hasn't been a particularly bad week for me (and I hope not you either), but the beginning of the week seems like 100 years ago.  I'm looking forward to moving forward in time, but first, as always, I must recap this interminable week by revealing the top hero and villain.

Hero of the Week:  Independence Day
Monday, of course, is the 4th of July.  Erma Bombeck said, "You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it's patriotism."  This statement perfectly sums up what I love about the holiday.  It's a day when we participate in activities that we could be done any weekend, but there is so much more joy because we remember that we have the freedom to do them.  I'm all for a holiday that helps me remember to be appreciative.  Plus, I love fireworks.  They are so pretty!

Villain of the Week:  Past Me
If you read my blog yesterday, you know that I fell short of my blogging goal for the month.  Now that's it's July, I'm obviously much wiser than I was in June.  For serious, I was only 25 for most of June and now I'm 26!  It seems unfair to me that now I'm starting off a new month playing catch-up because that idiot that I used to be made excuses instead of working.  What's that, Past Me?  You didn't get all of the writing done because you were busy at the job where they actually pay you?  Boo hoo!  Tell it to someone who cares!

That's all for now.  I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday weekend!