Archive for August, 2009

zooey shmooey

Like the rest of the hip, with-it world I fell in love with Zooey Deschanel when she played the older sister in Almost Famous. How could I not? Her big, blue eyes, her generous lips and that lilty-sweet innocent-and/or-stoned low little voice… she’s infinitely girl-crush-worthy.

Almost infinitely, that is. When the hilarious movie Elf showed the girl could sing, it blew all our minds, didn’t it? The problem is that her people must have told her she should make an album, so she did. She made a record with M. Ward (calling themselves She & Him) and her classy 30’s sounding voice got mashed into 00’s emo and whoa, it ain’t good. No sir, it ain’t.

I just wanted to express my sincere disappointment because she’s getting so much press lately with her new movie. Perhaps it’s just not my cuppa. I like the music, which is emo-y beatles-esque, but the singing just doesn’t do it for me. she&him

That’s all.

bad mommies

By now you know I love TV and my tastes run the gamut.  One minute I’m watching a depressing yet enlightening documentary on PBS and the next I’m staring at Daisy of Love on VH1.  I’m not proud.  My friend Terri called me intellectually curious.  This was in reaction to the fact I was reading a book about Pigeons and had just read one about Rats and another called In Defense of Food, but I think it’s applicable here, too.

Or maybe I just love a good freak show and let me tell you, the network TLC delivers.   I already love What Not To Wear, Say Yes to the Dress and any program they air about the morbidly obese.  Yeah, intellectual curiosity, that’s it…  Now there’s a show in the running for favorite.  I missed season one, but I’m now digging into season two of Toddlers & Tiaras.

Talk about a freak show.   These poor kids and their kuh-rayzee insane parents.  On the season premier they focus on a particular pageant (in Texas, duh).  One of the children is this little piggy-faced four-year old blonde cherub named Eden who is a real showgirl.  She’s been in pageants since she was 6 months old and they open on her and her mommy in her trophy room.  At first I thought they were in a store, there were too many crowns and trophies to count!   Once it’s pageant time, despite being sick and hating hair spray, when the music starts and it’s time to do her thing, Eden puts on a brave (piggy) face and gets that shit done.  She dances and twirls and blows kisses at the audience in her extravagant and expensive outfits.   SPOILER ALERT:  She wins all but one category and afterwards tells the camera “I rocked that stage.”  Sure did.

Another family they focused on was a mother with fraternal twin 6 year-old daughters who she makes compete against each other.   Yeah, if you’re thinking this is a bad idea, you are correct, sir.  The woman was a pageant child herself (duh, again) so all five of her daughters do it.  The twins are her oldest kids and she makes it painfully clear which of the two she prefers.  I know there are bad mommies out there, but wow, this is the strangest form of abuse I’ve witnessed.  She says the one who always wins “looks like mommy” and so is super cute and has a real presence.  The other one she says “is kinda skinny and has a bigger nose.”  The winner-twin is clearly more comfortable on stage and the other one goes so far as to tell the camera she doesn’t like competing against her sister.  I was practically enraged and yelling at the TV, “so WHY do you make her DO it!?!” and complaining what a terrible mommy that woman is; how awful a person she is.

But I gotta be honest, it’s compelling and I’ve set up my DVR to record more episodes.  I can’t wait.

roo in a new city

I can’t believe it took me this damn long to get to Chicago.  This fact is still vibrating in my body as I sit here remembering my recent trip with such fondness.  Oh, alright, so it wasn’t as recent as it ought to be, which is to say I should have written about it earlier.  This is true.  I find myself with the same problems over and over in my life, the same obstacles and hurtles confronting me even when I think I’ve turned a corner.

Not to get deep, but there’s some real truth to this.  Thinking about something doesn’t get it done.  I was reading an article in The New Yorker about Nora Roberts, an author who has at least a hundred books to her name and is consistently in the Publisher’s Weekly best selling mass market paperbacks.   I’ve never read her and from the sound of it, her books wouldn’t be my cup of tea, but damn does that woman have a fine work ethic.  She says her writing rule is “ass in the seat.”  Beautiful; succinct and true.  Let’s see if I can’t find a way to take her advice, shall we?

Here I am at my desk in my slowly-evolving study with my ass in the seat.  This really is something I need to do more often, which is why I’ve been working on getting the study back in shape.  It needs to be a room I want to spend time in.  It’s getting there.

Ahem.  SO…. I’ve wanted to visit Chicago for quite some time now.   When Todd and I were still dating I’d suggest it as a possible vacation/visitation spot always to be met with a “meh.”   The idea got the back burner.

When Mel was here over Thanksgiving 2007 I mentioned my desire to visit The Windy City to her and she exclaimed that she’d never been there, either - let’s go!  Let’s go next Spring!!!

Next Spring came and went and I wasn’t able to make the time in my schedule.  But around came 2009 and I said we’re going to do this, dadgummit.  We’re going to visit the land of Ferris Bueller’s playground, Wilco’s album cover, the once tallest building in the world and only bustling pedestrian-centric city populated by flat-accented friendly people.  Need I say more?  ….. yes, ok, I will.

We were there from May 27th to June 1st, the weekend after Memorial Day Weekend.  Overall the weather was chillier than expected, which is what we’ve had this entire season, so Mel was glad she decided last-minute to bring her light leather jacket, which I coveted the entire time.  (I’m not ashamed.  I’ve been open about my covetousness.)

What did we do?  What didn’t we do?!  Let me break it down for you:

  • we ate so-so deep dish pizza.  This was my bad.  I pooh-poohed Giordano’s because of the long line.  Plus, it was lit up light a carnival ride and I imagined it being gross and touristy.
  • The Shedd Aquarium.  Who knew otters were so frickin’ unbelievably cute?  My brother David, that’s who.  They’re his favorite animal.  Now I understand.  They’re like water-kittycats!!!
  • The Art Institute.  I highly recommend going on Thursdays at 5 when admission is free.  Melissa, my smart friend, knew about this and we availed ourselves until they kicked us out at 9pm. We could have easily spent a few more hours in there, but my god, our feet were killing us.  We’d walked miles and miles and miles that day.  In bed that night I imagined myself as a cartoon (as I usually do, actually) whose feet were smashed with a mallet - I swear they had to be giant, red and throbbing.  I will say this, it was absolutely worth it.
  • Observation deck of the Hancock Building.    The Hancock is only a little shorter than the Sears and it was around the corner from where we stayed.     Two weeks after we visited Chicago they opened “The Ledge” at the Sears.  I gasped with excitement and disappointment when I saw it in the paper - I wanna do that!  searsledge  The Hancock was great, though.  It included an audio tour of the city its history separated into different by using the view from each of the 30 panels of windows (voiced by Chicago’s own David Schwimmer - BONUS!)  hee hee
  • Architecture Tour.  This is a tour that takes place on a boat going up the Chicago River and through the middle of the city.  On the way out the tour guide talked about the buildings on one side and on the way back, the buildings on the other side.  I wouldn’t have imagined that Chicago had such diverse architecture.  It was beautiful and enlightening and a lot of fun.  And the free oatmeal raisin cookies were delicious.
  • Wrigley Field.  Mel had the forethought to purchase tickets for us online well in advance of the trip.  What a blast!  The subway over was seriously jam packed, but it was a nice day and our seats were remarkably good.  Somewhere around the 5th inning the wind picked up and it started to rain, but it blew over fast.  The game was scoreless till the 7th inning, but the sun shined on the Cubs at the end, literally and figuratively.   And what a gorgeous old park, I just loved it.
  • Second City.  Apparently a friend of Mel’s from college is the stage manager or stage director for Second City and told her if she wanted to see a show she’d get us comped tickets.  I’m not a big fan of comedy, but I thought what the hey, let’s give it a go.    Har har….  DUDE, we had the primo seats in the house, the frozen strawberry margaritas were delicious and affordable, and the show was a riot!  The company did two acts and then came out for a third act that was all improvisation.  Super hilarious - it was easy to imagine the next generation of SNL cast members coming from this bunch.

What else?  It’s a good thing my Orthopedist advised walking on my broken foot because, to paraphrase Morrissey, we walked our legs down to the knees.  In short, I loved Chicago and I definitely plan to visit again.