Archive for the ‘fun’ Category

fit, not fiat

Newest thing?  I bought a car.  Yep.  A copper color 2011 Honda Fit with only 13,200 miles on it.

I had been looking at the Fiat (for about 3 years, actually, ever since I saw one in Lake Como, Italy when I was there with Dad), but I was definitely soured on the idea by effing JLo.  Not the only reason, of course.  Chris indulged my love of that wee beauty, but urged me to get a reliable vehicle with a good track record.  And the “back seat” of the Fiat truly is a joke.  My niece was able to sit comfortably even when I pushed the driver’s seat all the way back, but she’s about as wide as a gymnastic balance bar, so a normal human-sized person might hurt themselves.

Then someone at work said she had a friend who was a salesman at Honda in Natick, MA.  I was in the market for a new car so that was great news.  I’d already done the “build your own” on the Honda website at least a dozen times so I pretty much knew what I wanted.  So I got the information from my friend regarding her salesman’s hours and such.  It’s always better to go in with a recommendation.

So Saturday, March 10th I got back from a lovely two-day trip to Philly with Tony and Sean for Mel and Jules’ birthday feast, called the dude and made an appointment for Sunday at 12:30.  Called a few different friends hoping someone would be able to come with me, but that part didn’t come together.  I debated rescheduling for when Chris would be in town, but as much as I wanted him to be with me, his male presence as well as his opinion, I felt impatient.  And since I feel like I always reschedule things, I went.

Mel was the first person I knew to get a Honda Fit.  She bought hers the first year they were available in the US (2007) and when she drove it up for Thanksgiving she let me try it out.  Hers is orange, too, but it’s a different orange.  Mine is copper and shiny metallic and hers is more of a muted rosy orange.

I tried 3 different Honda Fits (including a brand new 2012 with only 4 measly miles on it) but the copper one really spoke to me.  In fact, I was more interested in a the dark purple 2010 model on the lot (they don’t make that color this year), but it had more than 26K miles on it.  *AND* it was priced at $1,000 more than the copper. Eff that.  But it was really the feel, the price, the mileage and THEN the color that made me say yes to the deal.

Since I couldn’t drive myself back to pick it up alone and I didn’t want to burden anyone with hauling my ass all the way out to Natick, I asked if someone at the dealership could pick me up at the commuter rail station 5 minutes away.  They could and I came back the next day and picked up my new car.

Because I hadn’t told anyone about my purchase (including my husband - he knew I was maybe going to test drive it) I felt like I was doing something naughty.  Fun naughty.  Then in my excitement I got on the Mass Pike going the wrong direction - GAAAH!!! - and added 15 minutes to my drive home.  Silly me.

time well-spent

There is just far too much good TV on right now.  Too much content in general.  Striking a balance is a constant struggle, everything is vying for my attention and I always question myself and wonder if I’m making a mistake, choosing the wrong thing.

Not that it matters in the end, duh, but my life is a continuing process of judging myself and my choices.  HA!  And who has the time to watch everything?  So, considering how much I love lists, herewith are my current can’t miss TV shows.

  • Breaking Bad (Jesus H. Christmas this is one killer show. So dark, so complicated.  So unexpected.)
  • Drop Dead Diva  (Appeals to my happy cheesy side.  Quite the opposite of BB.)
  • Nurse Jackie  (One of the most complex and real characters ever on TV.)
  • Hoarders (not Hoarding, Buried Alive, Hoarders was first and it’s better)
  • Masterpiece Mystery (Rufus Sewell as Aurelio Zen in this short series of 90 minute mysteries.  You had me at Rufus.  LOVE.)
  • Louie (Louis C.K. is my favorite comedian right now and has been for the past 3 years followed closely by Eddie Izzard.  Everything he says is right on.  If Anita didn’t already have dibs and she and I weren’t both married (!!!) I’d find him and bring him home to momma.  We saw him live at the Orpheum Theater a couple years ago and it was magical.
  • Project Runway (Beside myself with excitement that the new season has finally begun.  I was a late bloomer with this one, but I’m full-on sold now.)
  • Modern Family (Very excited for the next season. One of the best-written comedies EVER.  And still manages to pull goosebumps up my arm with its heartfelt codas.)
  • The Ricky Gervais Show.  (His and Stephen Merchant’s obsession with Karl Pilkington and his seemingly feeble-minded and always over-thought observations make for stomach grabbing laughs.  Kills me.)

And here are a few not quite must-see/can’t-miss, but gee, I sure do enjoy them.  And maybe I dvr them.

  • American Pickers (What an amazing job to drive around the back roads of America and go through the stuff people have collected or let rot in their barns for years?  Helps to know what you’re looking at when you find it all rusted, but reparable and utterly engrossing.)
  • Real Housewives of New Jersey  (Dad would not be proud.  Ran across this by accident, I swear!, and thought it was fascinating.  To use a tired cliche it’s like driving by a car crash and you can’t look away.  These people are so far removed from anyone I’d ever run into in my daily life let alone get to know, it’s like watching aliens.  How great is it when the show is over I can turn off the TV and not be living their bizarre shallow gaudy lives.)
  • Man Vs. Food  (Dude canNOT continue in this vein without exploding in some way.)
  • Chelsea Lately  (She’s funny and she gets great comedians on her panel every night.  Usually stop before the interview portion unless it’s someone I reaaaally care about.  Saw her stand-up live a couple years ago and she was great.  Unexpected.)

That’s all I can think of at the moment.

scary movies

When I was six years old the commercial for the horror movie It’s Alive was on TV every five seconds. I was entranced by the slowly turning bassinet and the building suspense of the voice-over before claws emerged over the cradle’s side.  Seeing that scared the shit out of me; my adrenaline raced and I loved it.  I HAD to see that movie.

Fortunately my friend Grace Ann’s mom was stupid permissive, or maybe just stupid, and took us to see it.  Ever since, I’ve been obsessed with scary movies.  The Shining, Poltergeist, The Exorcist, The Birds, Psycho, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, you name it, I saw it.

Throughout high school my friends and I rented every horror film the video store had.  We appreciated them all from the frightening to the cheesy and hokey, from the budgeted to the low/no-budget, from Last House on the Left to Black Christmas, from The Evil Dead to Evil Dead II and even The Brood and Freaks, whatever we could get our hands on.  The blood, gore, cheap effects, drearily awful soundtracks and tremendously hilariously bad dialogue made for uproarious sleepovers.

I still love horror films and being scared.  Scream was a good horror flick.  What Lies Beneath was amazing and goosed screams out of me more than once.  It helped that I watched it all alone in the freakin’ suburbs.  The Mothman Prophecies was haunting and spooky and cool.  Final Destination was good fun and the third one was actually pretty awesome.  The Blair Witch Project?  Meh.  I don’t know, it didn’t do anything for me and I really wanted it to.  Oddly (or not) the last scary movie to have a lasting effect on me was The Ring.  It creeped me right the fuck out and when I think back to that girl coming out of the television I still get a pit in my stomach and feel cold in my legs.

So here’s my conundrum.  I’m torn to pieces about seeing Paranormal Activity.  The bits I’ve seen are compelling and creepy and it looks like it could be seriously, devastatingly scary.  I HAVE to see that movie.  But frankly, I’m afraid it might have repercussions I can’t control, especially considering it takes place in a house, mostly the bedroom.  Maybe one of the reasons The Blair Witch Project didn’t do it for me had something to do with the fact that they were in the woods.  I don’t camp out, so it didn’t apply to me.  I do, however, sleep.  Inside a house.  In a bedroom.

What to do….

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.

cash cab

I love Cash Cab!! It’s brilliant and so much fun!

Wait, what? You’ve never seen it? Cash Cab is a TV game show that takes place in a New York City taxicab. Unsuspecting patrons get in the cab, settle in and get startled by a noise and flashy lights all around the interior. Driver turns and tells them they’re in The Cash Cab, explains the rules and they can decide if they’d like to do it or not.

He drives and asks you questions. As you get them right the meter shows all the money you’re winning. During the course of your ride, if you feel you don’t know an answer you have both a mobile shout-out and a street shout-out. For a mobile you call anyone you think would know the answer. For the street you pull over and pick someone on the sidewalk you think might know.

There’s also red light challenges (when you’re stuck at a red light) where he’ll ask you to name, for instance, 4 of the Star Wars movies and you have 30 seconds to list them. (Phantom Menace, Empire Strikes Back, Clone Wars, Return of the Jedi) You get it right you win another $250, but if you don’t get it right, you don’t lose anything.

If you reach your destination having gotten fewer than three wrong, you have the option to take the cash you’ve won and be on your merry way or go for double or nothing on a bonus question. I LOVE IT!! <Chris and I were thinking we’d go for it only if we’d won less than a $1,000. Who knows what would happen if we actually ended up there…>

What a terrific concept, right? Win-Win!! Say you don’t win any money, but you’ve reached your destination for FREE. And you got to enjoy a good trivia game and I’m always up for that. I wish I’d come up with this. BTW, kudos to Ben Bailey as the excellent driver/host. He’s unassuming, funny and not over-the-top.

bad ads for deliciousness

I love Snickers candy bars.   Yes, I love many a chocolate bar, ’tis true.  I go through phases where different ones are my favorite; sometimes it’s Twix, then $100,000 Bar (please note I refuse to call it “100 Grand” as it has no ring to it - “hundred thousand dollar bar” is perfect), then maybe M’n'M’s or Mounds, but Snickers is a consistent fave, a go-to chocolate bar that really is the bomb and definitely satisfies.  The new Snickers billboard ad campaign, without mincing words, sucks.

These advertisements, billboards mostly, consist of bewildering, puzzling, made-up words supposed to indicate that Snickers bars hit the spot and, well, satisfy.  These inscrutable words are showcased in the same font and frame as “SNICKERS” is on the bar itself - how clever.  ?!?   I find myself consistently puzzled and read the “word” aloud hoping to enunciate out some meaning.  Nine times out of ten it remains a mystery and the one time I do understand it, I’m disappointed.

Who came up with this awful ad idea?  I can’t help but think that brainiac should be fired immediately and fired hard.    Frankly, aren’t Snickers so delicious and so woven into the fabric of American consumer society as to be omnipresent that they need no advertising at all?  Maybe it’s just me.

wind sculptures in the snow

I had the funnest (I am aware that’s not a real word) spin class this past Monday morning and it wouldn’t have happened without my JoJo.  Usually we go to class Monday nights, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it to that class.   My 2nd colonoscopy was scheduled for Tuesday so on Monday I would be on a liquid diet.

Anyway, JoJo happened to see that our favorite instructor was going to be subbing for someone else’s class on Monday at 9am.  We both had the day off for MLK Day so I figured PERFECT, I’ll get in a good workout before I’m weak from not eating all day.

Great idea in theory, but when my alarm went off at 8am I didn’t even hit snooze, I turned it off.  When my phone rang I ignored it.  10 minutes later I saw that it was Jojo who’d called and I listened to her adorable little message - she was whispering so she wouldn’t wake up her husband - letting me know she was leaving soon and offering to give me a ride.  I figured I’d already decided I wasn’t going, but I wanted to call to thank her for the offer.

As soon as I heard her voice I knew I should go and actually wanted to go.  She was already at Porter but was willing to come get me if I could be ready in 5 minutes.  HA!  Have you met me?  I can’t be ready in 5 minutes, it’s not in my nature and gets in the way of every instinct I have.  I don’t know if I’ve always been this way, but there’s something about the getting ready process that I get stuck in - I think I may enjoy it more than going out.   In any case, despite my half-asleep state, or maybe thanks to it, I was able to break the natural laws to which I so desperately cling and was ready in 8 minutes.  I even brushed my teeth and gargled mouthwash.

In order to fully understand why I was so excited to get a ride to the gym, you need to know that it had been snowing.  A lot.  For a few days straight.  When I went to bed on Saturday night it was snowing.  When I woke up Sunday it was still snowing.  It stopped for maybe 3 hours on Sunday and started right back up again around 8 that evening.  And I may have lived up here long enough to be considered an honorary New Englander, but the sheer volume of snow we get still surprises and thrills me.  Nashville’s Snowbird would declare Davidson County schools closed for three months if it saw what I was seeing.  It was a beautifully untouched winter wonderland out there.   BUT it would require quite the trudge to get to the gym, so a ride was enormously appreciated.

We arrived with plenty of time, found the bikes we liked and started riding before class started.  The view from our spin studio is of Porter Square T-stop at the intersection of Somerville, Massachusetts and White Avenues.  We were looking at snow piled almost a foot high along the metal arms of the traffic lights and atop every single pole and parking meter.  There were also approximately 70 icicles and icicle groupings big enough to see from two blocks away.  The natural light and view are what make this studio so special.

I noticed that the wind sculpture outside was thoroughly shellacked with snow in exactly the form and shape of the sculpture.  It was also standing stock still, not turning even an inch, as though the snow weighed the whole beast down.  I pointed it out to Jo and hoped we’d get to see the snow slip off during class.

The wind sculpture at Porter looks like three big red metal hot-air balloons.  Here’s a link so you can see it for yourself:  Gift of the Wind.  If I’d had my iPhone w/me in class I’d have taken a shot it gloriously snow-covered.

The first snow to drop were the piles along the streetlights.  They fell in huge, rectangular chunks and exploded on the street below - very satisfying.  After a while the sculpture started to rotate and the sun began to intermittently peek through the clouds.  Throughout class we watched the snow slip off the wind sculpture and smash to the ground like a small avalanche.  The whole class and Jon were all in on it and we were whooping and squealing whenever some more would fall.  It was amazing.

All this went hand in hand with the fact that I felt great.  Physically I felt like I could easily have done a double and mentally I was filled with childlike joy and pleasure at the snow show.  It was all kind of surreal and awesome.

As I write this I’m trying to see it from a 3rd person perspective.  I can imagine someone might consider me dramatic or overly sentimental, but I’m all about the little things.  If I’d stayed in bed I would have missed it all, so thank you so much, JoJo.  <3

game show host

I don’t remember my dreams every morning, but sometimes I wake and I just can’t believe what my brain put together.  Rarely do they have a straightforward storyline.  If there’s even a semblance of one, there are too many discrepancies and disjointed moments like how-the-hell-did-I-get-from-the-kitchen-to-the-back-of-that-bus-like-that to relate it to anyone else.  The gaffer on the movie of my dream has one hell of a big job to clean up.

But the other night I had a strange one wherein I’m climbing these white wooden stairs outside a house and it’s raining.  I see this wee orange cat mewing and crying and soaked.  In the dream I’m aware of a backstory to this kitty, that it’s always been skittish around me, but because of its circumstances it lets me pick it up to bring it somewhere dry.  I look around and there are even more cats and I realize I already have a squirrel in my arms.  It’s acting very sedate and I remember thinking, ‘cool!  I get to have a pet squirrel like I always wanted!’  I put the orange cat down once we’re under an awning and it looks up at me and says, “You should be a game show host!”  and starts laughing in this weird, cartoonish high-pitched yet scratchy voice.   The other cats (about 4 total) all start laughing too and saying, “Yeah, YEAH, he’s right!  She SHOULD be a game show host.”

That’s about all I can recall.  Normally I can make some sense of my dreams, can figure out why certain people or characters make appearances, what specific events are being symbolically played out and what my brain is trying to work out.  Those are all well and good, but the above-described dreams are the real gold.  Seriously, come on!  What the hell does that mean?  Who knows?  Who cares?  It’s funny!  That’s all I need.  Absurdity and humor, preferably mixed together in the cocktail glass of my skull.

But that one’s nothing compared to the dream Chris had the other night.  We each half awoke long enough for him to tell me about it and fall back asleep.

He was driving down an empty street when he came upon a lion.  He couldn’t drive around it, it was lying in such a way as to block any egress.  So he stopped and sat in his car to wait it out.  The lion got up and came toward his car, then climbed up on top of his hood.  As it reached the top of the passenger compartment the roof buckled and he said the noise was so loud and so real, he was stunned his brain could create that noise.

The lion continued down on top of the trunk of the car and moved on off the back.  When it was a safe distance away Chris said, “Yeah, so I got out and I lifted up the front end of my car to see what damage the lion had inflicted.  I looked and saw my struts were made of bacon.”

I love how everything in dreams is dismissed as normal.  Not only did he have to stop because of a lion in the road, but the lion climbed over his car and he was worried about what it did to the car so he simply got out and lifted it up like it was a coffee table and, oh, some of the cars parts are made of bacon.   I laughed my ass off.  I love it.

funny footballer

I’m a Patriots fan, but I love the MasterCard ads with Peyton Manning.  I think they’re hilarious.  Clearly he has a strong sense of self and the commercials showcase his excellent sense of humor.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.  It’s quite the paycheck, but have you seen this one?  Last year’s were good, but this is my new favorite.  peytonmastercard