Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Things That Suck (vol. I?)

I've noticed I've been really negative lately because a lot of negative things are happening in my life at the moment, so why not make it official and put it on ye olde blog.

1. cars

I'll do my best to make this brief, since fully detailing the history of my car's suckiness would take 26 paragraphs. I have a 2000 Saturn wagon. When I bought it in 2008, it had just under 60,000 miles on it and was in top condition. Since then, I shudder to realize I've spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $3000 on repairs.
My car hates me. And it's just me. On three separate occasions at two different mechanics, the car has been operating perfectly after being worked on for hours, the bills paid and the keys handed over to me, only to shut off spontaneously within a few miles of the garage. When taken back to the mechanics, the car behaves like a saint. They can't find a trace of the shenanigans that caused me to break down in the middle of traffic.
I'm currently suffering from the latest spate of this behavior. After two weeks at the mechanics (he was shorthanded and really busy, but I mean still, come on) and a number of parts replaced, I still have service lights illuminated on my dashboard and the spontaneous-shutting-off syndrome. All of this just reinforces my desperation to move to Europe where vehicle-free living is perfectly possible.

2. Apple

For a company that was started to make computers for mentally handicapped people, they sure make it pretty hard to get in contact with them.
I'm having problems with my ipod (first and not last evidence of this anecdote that Apple is lame) so I set up an appointment on the Apple website at the salt lake store to meet with a "genius" (their label not mine). It soon became clear that my car would prohibit me from going to my appointment, so I looked up the number of the Salt Lake store to cancel.
Instead of connecting me with a store associate, it connected me to an automated computer system, but not before playing a lengthy greeting listing what Apple products my loved ones would most enjoy this holiday season.
Once I got to the numbered menu, none of the choices even vaguely resembled "talk to a store associate, " so I went with option 5 for "other miscellaneous questions." After letting the phone ring about 286 times, I realized that Apple was never going to let me talk to a store associate, or even a real person for that matter. The Salt Lake Apple store probably doesn't even have a phone in their building; the listing that I found for them is most likely a flimsy facade to temporarily pacify people like me who are trying to honor common courtesy by saving some harried Apple employee a little time during the holiday season. Sorry for trying to be polite.

3. eating- No matter how many times I do it, I always just get hungry again a few hours later. Greedy stomach.

4. working out- No matter how many times I do it, my abs refuse to resemble a washboard. Greedy stomach muscles.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Questions I Am Tired of Being Asked: 4th ed. How did you start playing the harp?

This is not an interesting story people, but I suppose I get asked so often because the harp is a less common instrument. I mean, I don't think I've ever asked anyone how they started playing the piano. That could just be because I'm incredibly self-centered though.

Hey it's me! OR it's a picture of a stranger I took from a stock photo website. We'll never know.

See that woman on the left side of the picture my mom failed to include in the photo? That's my harp teacher, and my mom met her at a wedding reception she was playing at. When she took a break, my mom started chatting with her and asked if she gave lessons and if I could come try it out. I had never expressed any actual interest in picking up the harp, but that didn't stop my mom from setting up my first lesson, and the rest is history. She wanted a child who played the harp, and I had no objection to learning. I mean, why wouldn't you want to play the harp?

Ok, THAT one's definitely me. I was 17 and still had that ugly mole that I later got remo... um, wait! No, this a stock photo too!

At the same time, I never applied myself as hard as I could during those high school years of weekly lessons due to my crippling laziness. I enjoyed playing the harp very much and still do, but I was definitely more excited about getting my driver's license than becoming accomplished at a beautiful and unique instrument. Typical teenage ingrate. If I ever have kids, I'm shipping them off to an isolated farm during their teenage years.

Questions I Am Tired of Being Asked: 3rd ed. What ethnicity are you?

Or any other variation of that question. (Hint: I'm white.)
I wouldn't be tired of hearing this question if people didn't ask it so awkwardly. I think they are worried they'll offend me or be politically incorrect if they straight up ask me what race or ethnicity I am. Instead, people come up with really roundabout ways of asking me this, i.e.

Why are you so exotic looking?
Your eyes look so Asian!
What is your genealogical background/ancestry/gene pool/etc...

(Side note: Is it un-P.C. to directly ask someone what race/ethnicity they are? I would not be offended, but one girl I worked with years ago who was half black got really mad at me when I commented that I couldn't tell what ethnicity a certain customer was. Oh, and then she wouldn't tell me why she was mad, so I remain puzzled.)
Egyptian has been a common guess, along with Asian, but I'm about 99% Caucasian. Exciting, no? I do have a Native American greatgreatgreatgreat (more greats?) grandmother on my Father's side, as do many Caucasian Americans. Her name was Running Deer and she was Mohawk.

an authentic depiction of my Grandma and Grandpa on their first date

However, I have a hard time believing whatever exotic qualities people see in me can be attributed to that tiny fraction of my genetics, so the original question goes unanswered. We can speculate that my mom fooled around with the postman, but he was white too so I don't know where that leaves us.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Questions I Am Tired of Being Asked: 2nd ed. So if you don't eat meat, like, what do you eat?

No I am not kidding. Apparently some people really eat THAT much meat that they would starve if they couldn't eat it anymore.

The problem is that whenever I am asked this, I never know what to answer because I barely have to think about it in day to day life- I am never struggling to think of things to eat.

Some of my favorite foods:

-any kind of fresh fruit
-peanut butter
-Kefir (basically just a yogurt drink that's really good for digestion)
-cereal and the entire rest of the carb world
-lots of different kinds of soup
-Mexican food
-Indian food
-Italian food
-Chinese/Japanese/Thai/Korean food
-Middle Eastern food

Let's not forget about all the meat substitute products available in all supermarkets these days. I can still have burgers, chicken nuggets, ground beef, and corn dogs. I have more recipes saved up that I want to try than I will ever have time for. And the size 10 dresses and pants in my closet testify that I'm not about to starve anytime soon. It is so easy to eat vegetarian and it disappoints me when this has to be explained to others.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thrifty Makeup Secrets

I am by no means a professional makeup artist or even makeup junkie, but when I do bother to put on makeup, people often ask me if I'm wearing fake eyelashes or where I get my eyeshadow from. The answers to those questions are, respectively, no and Coastal Scents. I'll come back to the mascara part in a second, but coastal scents is for girls (and boys. I don't hate. but guyliner is still dumb.) like me who lust after MAC products but not MAC prices. I have this 78-color palette that I bought for about $20 but they have lots of variations if you want more or fewer colors in your palette or ones with shimmer, etc.

I've tried so many eyeshadows, and this one definitely bests them for how long they last and how intense the color is. Can I reiterate how freaking good a deal this is? $20 for this quality and quantity of eyeshadow? Steal of a lifetime.
As for the mascara, I am addicted to huge black exaggerated eyelashes, but the one time I tried on false lashes, it just weighed my eyelids down and made my eyes all squinty. Not hot. So I've done my research, kissed a lot of frogs, read a lot of online customer reviews, and my favorite mascaras are L'oreal Lash Architect (sadly, not manufactured anymore so it has to be bought online. Try ebay.) and L'oreal Double Extend- available in most any grocery or drug store.

I highly recommend getting the waterproof version. It's just better. No, I don't know why. It's slightly more expensive than a few other drugstore variety mascaras (like $10 or so if I'm remembering correctly, but I get coupons in the mail for l'oreal all the time) , but you get what you pay for. Remember, you're getting a mascara AND a primer, and the primer really does make all the difference in the world. I just do the primer and then two coats of the actual mascara and I'm all set. It's really not clumpy but I do keep a hi-tech safety pin around when I put mascara on so that I can separate my lashes as needed. It works a lot better than those dumb eyelash combs.
WARNING: Be so so so SO careful if you put a pin anywhere near your eyeball. Always keep the pin pointing straight up and down and never horizontal toward your eye to minimize chances of poking. I've poked my eye a couple times when I wasn't being careful and it's not fun. Luckily it didn't do permanent damage but my eye freaking HURT for like a half hour.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a paid endorsement, I'm just spreading the gospel of cheap but worthwhile makeup for those of us not interested in spending $14 on one eyeshadow.

Social ineptitude around celebrities, 1st ed: David Macklovitch

The singer of the wonderful duo Chromeo. I've, written. I hate when people use blog as a verb. Or a noun. It's a stupid word. I've written about my love for him previously so go back and read that if you don't know who he is. He's not paparazzi/tabloid famous, but that didn't stop me from acting special ed when I met him a few weeks ago.
It was at the W Lounge in Salt Lake, where Chromeo was doing a DJ set/after party after opening for Big Boi at the Twilight free concert series (no relation to the vampire books).

I spent about a half hour trying to get up the courage to go talk to him, which is saying something considering the amount of liquid courage I had in me at that point. They finished DJ-ing and he was just hanging out in the club, talking to fans here and there like a totally normal person and not the god that he is. Remmington finally pushed me off the dancing stage and toward him as he was starting to migrate toward the exit. My suave and clearly infallible plan was to speak French to him since he is a phD candidate in French lit at Columbia, so that would surely set me apart from the rest of the adoring fans there that night as special, intelligent, intriguing, etc, inducing him to want to get to know me and eventually, marry me. Brilliant plan, right?
What actually happened is that when I got within five feet of him and he graciously stopped so that I could say hi to him, I conveniently forgot how to speak ANY language, let alone French. So I stood there for an undetermined period, gawking at him while I tried frantically to make my brain and my mouth communicate with one another, and he quizzically looked at Remmington standing behind me, who just shrugged and shook his head.
Finally I squawked out a "hi!" and stepped a little closer so I could mumble some probably grammatically incompetent French sentence about how great I think he is. He was wonderful, laughed politely and let me say a couple more sentences in French about how I wish I went to Columbia (huh??), blah blah blah, est-ce que je peux prendre un photo avec toi? THANK GOD FOR REMMINGTON'S IPHONE, because I did not have my camera on me.

Remmington and my other friend there, Ryan, both made fun of me for about a week after the incident because apparently I couldn't stop grinning like a moron or re-hashing it for a couple hours after it happened. Did he really have his arm around me? Did I look cute? I hope my French accent wasn't too terrible. How long did I really stand there awkwardly before I said anything? Wait, let me look at the picture again, are you sure I didn't have my sunglasses on? And so on... Needless to say he hasn't proposed to me yet, but I'll keep you updated.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Questions I Am Tired of Being Asked: 1st ed. Why are you a vegetarian?

As the title suggests, this will be the first in a series of blog posts. Today's edition is the inaugural post for a reason: it is the question I am MOST tired of being asked. It is a sad sign of today's American society that so many people cannot fathom on their own why anyone would choose to abstain from meat and thus feel the need to ask me, apparently the first vegetarian they have ever encountered, why? Dear God, why?!
My story begins in the tenth grade. I was 15 years old, in honors biology class, and we were in the middle of the fetal pig dissection unit. Rotting, putrid baby piglet carcasses stored in formaldehyde, with morsels of their decaying insides occasionally migrating up through their digestive tracks to other parts of the body, which I then had to clean out. Appetizing, no? NO.
After several days of this, I remember sitting down to lunch in the cafeteria with my friends, beginning to eat the lunch meat-turkey sandwich my mom had packed for me. As I chewed the cold, moist meat in my mouth and thought about its texture, I was strongly reminded of those rotting, brownish green specks of who knows what that I had to clean off the pig's tongue, and of the brown/gray-tinged layer of fat and tissue lining the inside of the pig's skin, aka the part where meat comes from. It didn't help that I could ALWAYS smell formaldehyde on my hands no matter how long I washed them during the two to three week fetal pig unit.
Trying to eat my turkey sandwich that day triggered my gag reflex and I had to stop eating for fear of throwing up. I had no appetite or interest for meat from that moment on, and I remember thinking in my 15 year old brain, what if I became a vegetarian? Why not? I can just see how it goes, it doesn't sound that hard. The thing I was most scared of was not being able to eat Taco Bell mexican pizzas anymore, which is not all that heavy of a cross to bear when you think about it. I would later find out that Taco Bell employees everywhere are happy to make me my beloved mexican pizzas without the beef. They're just as good, and I've never once looked back.
Reinforcing my vegetarian choices was the Persuasive Paper I wrote the following year in my 11th grade English class on treating animals more humanely. I read heartbreaking stories about the mistreatment of circus elephants and baby bears and the insensitivity cows in the beef industry undergo. I even touched on research about how much more detrimental to the environment the beef industry is than the transportation industry; a topic that has been thoroughly canvassed in today's media but was only just starting to grab attention in 2002.
This November, I will have been a vegetarian for nine years, and my motivations are largely the same as when I was 15.
1. Inhumanity: animals in the food production industry are often killed inhumanely and kept in unsanitary and cruel conditions while they wait to be slaughtered.
2. Environment: the amount of oil needed to run the beef industry is shameful, as is the degradation to our world's farmlands. Furthermore, the inordinate number of cows that are bred for the food industry are destroying the ozone layer with all the methane gas they emit. (i.e. if people ate less red meat and milk, cattle operations would keep fewer cows around and greenhouse gas levels would decrease)
3. Health: The current average American's consumption of meat (especially red) is gluttonous, unnatural, and unnecessary, even harmful to human health.
4. Unsustainability: The oceans are rapidly being depleted of marine wildlife because of the demand for sushi and other seafood. I love sushi, but I want fishies to still be around in 100 years so I get mine with just veggies (it's still scrumptious).
5. Frugality: Not actually a motivation, just a nice benefit- food without meat is pretty much always cheaper than chicken, beef, pork, seafood, etc. so I'm saving on my food costs in the grocery store and when I eat out.

Do I miss meat? Most people I talk to think they would miss meat too much to stick with being vegetarian, and maybe they would. I don't though, ever. I'm notoriously lazy and unregimented, so if being a vegetarian was hard, believe me I would not be one. I used to miss corndogs of all things, but they make meat-substitute versions of those now (they're not bad!), plus it's been long enough that I stopped missing them several years ago. And no need to tease me about the corndog thing, I realize it's the equivalent of saying I gave up TV and all I really miss watching is vH1.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why Americans are fat

Michael Pollan wrote a 464-page book on the topic involving complex cultural comparisons and an in-depth look into food production in America, but he was wrong. And it doesn't have to do with an aversion to exercise either.

The real reason we're fat? We eat too much.

I realized this when I went to Iceberg Drive Inn (known locally for its thick shakes) for the first time the other day since I've been back from Europe. This is the ice cream at Iceberg:

And this is the ice cream at a popular gelato shop in France, Amorino.

Both ice creams are shown in the smallest size offered. Anyone else notice a ludicrous size difference? The American small is an overflowing 20-30 ounce cup while the European small is roughly the size of a tennis ball.

Mystery solved. Sorry Pollan.

Friday, April 9, 2010

other peoples' brilliance

Amy: Someone took advantage of you, and as usual, you just backed down.
Tim: I didn't back down, I stood there and made sarcastic comments.
-From the latest episode of The Life and Times of Tim

"Last night I went out with a girl named Hadar...she usually goes by Dar so of course I call her Darth Vader. One time I said "Hadar-ken!" but she didn't know what I meant, so I'm not sure if I like her." -my brother

Sunday, April 4, 2010

the view outside my bedroom window this morning

Merry Christmas!

No? What? Wrong major Christian holiday? Oh.

Do you think maybe it's Mother Nature's commentary on the historical inaccuracy of the dates we've chosen for Christmas and Easter? Just a thought.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

boys I am in love with

"I have a crush on every boy!" I made the very diplomatic decision to leave off any boys I actually know in real life and who might see this through facebook or other means. So if you're a boy and I know you, don't lose hope- I might still adore you!

1. David Macklovitch

If you don't know who this is, shame on you, but I can't say I'm surprised. He's the lead singer of the two man act Chromeo- one of my favorite bands. He's Jewish (a classic turn-on, I know), he's a great dresser, great dancer, not gay for once, and most importantly a phD candidate at Columbia in French literature. He also teaches French there to undergrads. Damn, I wish I would have known that earlier or I would have transferred to Columbia instead of UVU. No snide comments, please. Anyway, he's the first one on this list for a reason. Here's Chromeo's latest video if anyone needs more proof.


I don't even know where to start. The perfectly curly hair, the voice to die for, the delightful kookiness of his music and videos...thank God someone took this picture so we know what perfection looks like up close. And yes he admits to being bi, which means he's probably gay but you know what? Sexuality is not really a criteria for a list of guys I will never have.

3. Eli Roth

This is only a recent obsession, but I got a chick boner from witnessing his raw aggression in Inglourious Basterds. Let's not try to analyze why, but his display of sheer power and uncontained force really does it for me. Maybe also gay (heard from a totally not authoritative source so forgive me if I'm wrong. I just assumed the source was correct because most guys I'm obsessed with turn out to be gay)? And definitely also Jewish. Man I love Jews. I think it has something to do with their generally dark coloring- it just makes them look so manly.

4. Jeff Goldblum

Only one more Jew after this, I promise! I had no idea I loved him until I recently saw a pretty old interview of him on Late Night with Conan. Sure he's on the old side and he gets mocked a lot for the way he talks, but he just exudes virility and confidence. Through all the stuttering, you get the feeling he knows how to treat a lady. And that he's up to no good at the same time.

5. Conan O'Brien

Image from Entertainment Weekly

Speaking of Conesies, yes he's goofy and ginger, but that's why I love him. The self-deprecation is so endearing, and there is no dance sexier than the string dance.

6. Brian Rosenworcel aka Thunder God

This is the drummer of Guster, and you will not fully appreciate this one unless you've seen them play live. I saw them play before I was really a fan of the band at all and was immediately intrigued by the manic bongo player. Besides being a scruffy, hot Jew, he also exudes force, energy, and a raw animal intensity when he's on stage. I timidly scrambled up to him after a show many years ago and got to touch his calloused, amazing hands and snag a photo.

(Editor's note: Not to be a finnicky girl, but I need to point out that I was fatter then and this is my bad side. And my bff manda in the red, who unfortunately lives across the country from me and is one of the best people on the planet.)

7. Ben Folds

I saved the best for last. Neither Jewish or gay, but his musical genius defies all mankind and god. He (Ben Folds Five, to be precise) was my first musical love that wasn't a part of the Backstreet Boys genre and I've only fallen more in love with him in the 13 or so years since.

So there you have it. If this insight into my psyche doesn't classify me as disturbed, then I don't know what would. Except maybe if I was a serial killer and/or cannibal. That would probably be a bigger sign. Everyone on this list is either Jewish, gay, or married with children. That actually sounds like a good variation on that game show, "Gay, Straight, or Taken." I've never watched it, but I might if they replaced the straight with Jewish.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

the bastardization of Holi

For those of you not living in Utardia (or Asia I suppose), Holi is a Hindu holiday that is celebrated by thousands of Utah college students at the Hare Krishna temple in Spanish Fork.

(I foolishly have not taken a picture of the whole temple myself so I stole this lovely image from this person's flickr )

It's more commonly referred to as the festival of colors around here because you throw powdered, colored chalk at everyone while a band plays ethnic-ish music, and then a witch* is burned at the stake.
La foule, as the French say.

The real festival is a two week long ordeal in India and some other Asian countries that celebrates, among other things, brotherly love and the end of winter. Wikipedia "Holi" if you want to know more.
Anyway, I attended Holi three years ago and then again yesterday, and the difference between the two experiences astounded me.

1. I like lists. They allow me to put less effort into construction and transitions when I write, while also making the text more accessible.

2. The biggest difference: 3 years ago, holi was about losing yourself in the music, spirit, dancing, and the simultaneous sense of community and anonymity in the midst of a community of generally straight-laced mormons. This year, holi was about taking lots of pictures of yourself comically covered in brightly colored powder so that you can have a new facebook profile picture.
For the record, this is not (nor has it ever been) my profile picture. And leave it to me to frame the picture so that the headrest in front of me takes up half the shot.

3. The change in atmosphere. As people just arriving at the festival walked by our chalked-out group and saw me holding a half-full bag of chalk, at least 4 or 5 of them stopped, screeching "get me!" and holding out their arms. Um, excuse me? The point is to ambush people, not to oblige willing participants in their planned-out vanity. I did my best to keep things out of control though, by smearing chalk in their hair instead of on their outstretched arms, or by simply dumping the chalk in their faces, leaving them shrieking and coughing in alarm.

4. There was a jamba juice shack set up next to the temple. WTF is all I can say about that. There is nothing less rock and roll than jamba juice. Now holi has been bastardized AND commercialized.

*chosen from among the girls wearing sleeveless tops, shorts cut above the knee, or with multiple ear piercings

Sunday, March 14, 2010

For the past 7 and a half years, I've been a vegetarian, or as I like to call it, "I don't eat meat." The reason I like to avoid the term "vegetarian" is that it has negative, subconscious associations for many omnivores. They think I'm going to be a hippie, or activist, or at the very least give them a hard time about eating meat (I am none of those things, at least not unless provoked). They also, upon hearing the word "vegetarian," think I eat a lot of vegetables. Also not the case. I eat some vegetables, to be clear, but people are always quite surprised when I mention my hatred of certain vegetables.
1. Asparagus

Asparagus tastes horrible, I'm reminded of wet, dirty laundry whenever I try to eat it. Even when smothered with butter, salt, or any other seasoning, the dirty laundry taste still dominates. Furthermore, so many people seem to love this disgusting little piece of greenery. Why? I'm convinced this plant was never meant for human consumption.

2. Mushrooms (not a vegetable, but ask me if I care)

Some varieties are worse than others (namely black), but even the firmer varieties are still mushy, poor in taste, and generally unappetizing. Just thinking about having a mushroom in my mouth makes me want to throw up.

3. Olives

They look like frog eyes and the taste is just awful. I can't even think of anything to compare it to because no other food is dumb enough to bear any resemblance to olives.

4. Celery

Completely bland and has possibly the worst texture of anything I've ever eaten. One of my earliest memories is of my family having a picnic. My mom handed me a celery stick with peanut butter and raisins in the groove. I took a bite, gagged, then licked out the peanut butter and rasins and handed the celery stick back to my mom. I stand by that decision I made as a small child to this day.

5. Water chestnuts

Once again, we have a vegetable that has fallen prey to the trap of gag reflex-inducing texture. The taste is slightly bitter and not at all pleasant, so let's just discard it from our recipe boxes and grocery stores, ok?

I hope after this list, I will never again be questioned over being a vegetarian who hates a few vegetables. People who eat these foods are weird and probably ate paste and/or their own boogers as a child. They should be the ones under scrutiny, not me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


We're switching all our well liquors at work right now and still haven't gotten in our new light rum, and I guess they threw away the old one?? I have a hard time believing we ran out because I'd bet three-fitty that we had a backup bottle. Either way, we have no light (non-flavored) rum right now. So it's not a huge problem since we sell a lot more beer and wine than anything involving hard liquor but tonight someone ordered a zombie. Zombies have light rum as the main pour and two different kinds of dark rum in the recipe (and are extremely delicious). After asking my manager what to substitute and receiving no helpful answer because he secretly would rather be a bartender than a manager and is always looking for excuses to try to sneak in the bar and make drinks when I'm not looking (I could go on but that's a whole nother blog post), I improvised and just used a shot of vodka and a packet of sugar. HAHA. Light rum really isn't much more complicated than that anyway right??
Speaking of alcohol, I threw away a completely intact pineapple the other day because it was extremely ripe, to the point of mushiness. Thinking back, I wish I'd saved it, cut it up, and tested if I could get buzzed off eating pineapple slices. LIGHTBULB! I'm going to make pineapple wine, if you steal my idea I will kill you, or at least pay a gang of feral dogs to do it for me.
....wait what do you mean wine doesn't work like that?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

the Valeries

With the Oscars rapidly approaching, here is my list of movies of 2009 that I loved. I'm not a movie critic nor do I claim that this list is comprehensive or definitive, just a list of movies that touched me in some way. I'm extremely cynical about Hollywood and am always going off about how 42 horrible movies are made for every good one and what a waste of money and time and effort, etc, blah blah blah but for once I need to eat my words. I was in love with so many movies I've watched over the past few months and decided to make a brief list of my favorites here. I think they're in chronological order? But I'm certainly not going to double-check.*

Coraline- just enchanting. Stunning visuals and a cute but spooky story with quirky and original characters.

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li- just kidding.

Obsessed- this movie blew chunks but it's on here because it was hilarious to mock with my friends and almost worth sitting through to see Beyonce beat a white chick.

Up- It was well-made but I'll never watch it again because I cried four (4) separate times while watching it in the theater with my parents, one of which occurred within the first ten minutes. Not ok, disney.

Inglourious Basterds!!!- possible my favorite movie of the year. There are no words. Just see it if you haven't. I'm always opposed to gratuitous violence but Tarantino somehow always makes it palatable. I am also in love with Eli Roth, not that this is relevant to my love of this movie (except it is). And can we talk about Christoph Waltz?! If he doesn't win an Oscar then I will, um...kick a baby. Ok I would've done that anyway.

Extract- worth it if only for the David Koechner plotline. But all the other parts were good too, like Ben Affleck as the drug-addled, hippie bartender, the best braindead 17 year old poolboy ever, and Jason Bateman's general existence...I like Kristen Wiig too but there just wasn't much humor to her role in this movie.

The Invention of Lying- so funny. so so funny. Louis CK was heavily under-utilized though. If you remain skeptical, just look at the billing on that poster and tell me you're not curious. Plus for It's Always Sunny fans, there's a brief cameo from one of the Mcpoyle (sp?) brothers that helped me reach Jungian self-actualization.

Zombieland- I hate horror and violence and gore movies but this was funny and well-written and acted and all that. Best cameo EVER. You know what I'm talking about if you've seen it.

An Education- This movie inhabited my soul. I don't know how else to explain my love for it. Peter Saarsgaard is always just delightful, even when he's not supposed to be.

Men Who Stare at Goats- weird but funny and interesting.

Fantastic Mr. Fox- Wes Anderson ftw. Maybe my 2nd fave movie this year? Every scene with Jason Schwartzman made my life complete.

Up in the Air- I didn't actually agree with the final message that George Clooney's character learns but I did agree with everything else about this movie (not just talking about plot here).

Avatar- the plot, characters, and dialogue were stock, but still compelling and entertaining and I don't think I need to go into the visual effects. Yes, James Cameron is an unoriginal hack, that fact has already been well-established by his previous work, but the man knows how to spend money on special effects. You can't understand what they mean when they say this movie is a game-changer until you see it. (Note that I am not including posters for movies that were widely enough advertised that I'm guessing everyone already knows what the movie poster looks like. Or that I simply am too lazy to get a poster for.)

The Secret of Kells- precious little Irish animated movie. The style is whimsical, original and beautiful, wrapped up in a magical and moving story. I cannot overemphasize how stunning the visual experience alone of this movie is, all without motion capture and CGI. Just wait until you get to the forest sequence. James Cameron could learn a few things from these animators. Namely that it's possible to make a visually stunning movie without spending $500 million on motion capture and CGI.

The Young Victoria- this movie stayed way more under the radar than it should have. Great acting, great writing, great story, unbelievable costumes and set. I watched it twice in two days, that's how much I loved it. This is tied with Fantastic Mr. Fox for my 2nd fave movie of the year. To be fair, its biggest strength is probably the crazy-elaborate costumes, so here's a peek at one of Emily Blunt's many dresses.

The Hangover (I've officially stopped any attempt at chronology or order in my life.)- Keep walking grandpa.

Role Models- LAWL. Just lawl.

Julie and Julia- cuuuuuuuute. Proof that chick flicks can be great cinema. Although I just watched The Lovely Bones the other day and the fact that Stanley Tucci can be so creepy in that and so charming and likeable in this makes me simultaneously more creeped out and impressed with his acting skills. There are a lot of actors out there who only seem to play one role in any movie- Will Smith, Michael Cera, Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise (don't argue with me, when was the last time besides Tropic Thunder that he played a role with any character depth or variation? And even in that one he was hiding behind a fat suit, prosthetics and a lot of accessories/makeup) come to mind, but Stanley Tucci is NOT one of those actors. Good for him.

Away We Go- also cute. and funny. and moving. lots of great performances. I cannot recommend this movie enough because so few people seem to have seen it. And yet Transformers 2 was the 4th top grossing film of the year? Excuse me for a minute, I need to go rail at God.

Funny People- just watched this last week and it made me fall even more in love with Aubrey Plaza and Jason Schwartzman.

Movies that are very deliberately missing from this list: 500 Days of Summer, Transformers 2, Harry Potter 6, Taken, He's Just Not That Into You, Watchmen, Star Trek, The Hurt Locker, District 9. I have subjective reasons for disliking only two of these, the rest I can come up with solid, objective criticism of, which I may do at a later point. If I feel like it. So there.

*they're not.

Friday, February 5, 2010

please don't judge me

Clearly my project of putting all/any worthwhile old blogs on here got sidetracked, what with work and school and my commitment to never miss the Daily Show. How else am I supposed to stay informed? I'm still not doing that, I just felt the need to write about addiction. Afrin is addictive. So is my job.
Most people know about Afrin's addictive potential but do most of them also know how dangerous it is? Apparently it can cause horrible side effects like semi-permanent closure of the nasal passage, hallucination, suicidal thoughts, gnashing of teeth, killer robots, etc. I discovered this b/c I took afrin tonight (and cough syrup. I'm drinking it out of the bottle these days, don't judge me. It's really more to do with impatience than irresponsibility) and had a bad reaction as I do from time to time with Afrin. My throat has been irritatingly dry and prickly for the past couple hours. I've been sucking on citrus vitamin c drops non-stop in an attempt to get my throat to re-hydrate itself to no avail.
In the height of my discomfort, I googled "afrin throat needles" or something like that to see if my problem is common and/or has a simple remedy. I did not find any forums or sites discussing my particular problem but I did find a woman describing how Afrin had basically ruined her life. It makes me think twice about using it, except not really because the aforementioned woman, let's call her Beth for convenience's sake, took Afrin for five days straight, whereas I adhere strictly to the three day max rule as proscribed on the bottle. Besides, Afrin is magical, I could never give it up. What other over the counter (or prescription) medication works as instantaneously and well as Afrin? NONE that I've ever tried. When a product delivers on that level, I cannot abandon it. But I'm still scared of it. Kind of like Lady Gaga. I guess we didn't really need to name Beth, did we?
But what really inspired this post was my job. It takes longer than three days to become addicted, but the addiction is just as life-ruining. I hate myself. I hate people. I'm tired of my friends, and I can't hang out with the friends I'm not tired of because I'm too busy. I have little to no faith in the world, I get angry more often and faster than I used to, I'm a bigger asshole when I drive now, and I can't lose weight b/c of my ridiculous schedule and because I'm surrounded by fatty restaurant food.
But I can't leave because I'm addicted. Why? The money. I'm not a Rockefeller, or even one of the hussies that Tiger was probably paying off in vain to keep their mouths shut, but I'm living pretty comfortably as a college student. I can go shopping or go out to eat whenever I want, rent a private room in a nice, newer apartment, buy dvds and $44 Flight of the Conchords tickets, afford the monthly payments on a car with leather heated seats, take a road trip to LA, pay for unexpected $1200 car repairs when I break down in the Mojave desert on the way to LA, etc. I was a poor college student before I had this job, and I'm not going back!
I need these luxuries like a heroin junkie needs her needle. And unfortunately, I've become accustomed to prostituting myself at the feet of Utah Valley restaurant patrons in order to get my fix, just as the junkie would prostitute herself on the Reno street corners to get hers. Drugs do not beget happy, fulfilled lives, and neither does restaurant work. Yet so few of us seem able to leave it behind and build a more functional life. The parallels between drugs and my job are disturbing.
The light at the end of the tunnel, of course, is that I'm set to graduate in a few months, at which time I intend to throw my apron down dramatically on the line and leave the service industry forever, having acquired the necessary qualifications to find a bleak office job and wither away in a 9 to 5 life.