Monday, June 29, 2009

Time to go organic?

I always thought we should listen to the frogs.


So, the most recent ad campaign for Philadelphia Tourism is all over the city right now. It's "With love, Philadelphia" (as in, the sign off to a postcard) and it's part of the "Philadelphia, the city that loves you back" ad campaign that's been going on for a few years. There are signs all up and down Broad St saying "With love, Philadelphia" in several different languages, I suppose trying to show you how cosmopolitan we can be here in the city. I think this whole campaign is kinda funny. Aside from NYC, I have never been to a place filled with such anger and impatience. People are not nice here. And if you are nice to them, they're suspicious (like, what do you want from me?). There is traffic everyday, at rush hour, as expected. Yet, everyday, people are honking the hell out of their horns all the time. Homeless people masturbate on the sidewalk. People are screaming all the time and most weekends, there are roving bands of drunken Jersey fools screaming various forms of the "F" word for all the world to hear. Don't get me wrong, I love Philly. I think it's eclectic and rough around the edges and full of working class neighborhoods where families have lived there for decades. I am pretty sure it's where "stickball" originated, and man, are we nuts about sports. But lets not misrepresent, right? I mean, yes, we have world class museums, wonderful universities, great art, music and theatre. But I guarantee you, you will see someone pissing on the side of the road as you make your way to said places. I'm not sure there is an ad campaign that would tout that (or would want to) but Alex and I came up with some "ironic" slogans just for fun. Let me know what you think!
  • Philadelphia: We're really fucking trying, OK?
  • Philadelphia: Buy your guns here!
  • Philadelphia: Teach your kids the proper way to use curse words all in one trip!
  • Philadelphia: Yes, that man is jacking off, honey.
  • Philadelphia: You better not be wearing the other team's jersey or we will kick your ass.
  • Philadelphia: Didja hear me?
  • Philadelphia: We will SERIOUSLY kick your ass, even if you're a grandma!
  • Philadelphia: What the fuck?
  • Philadelphia: Don't expect bus drivers to help you.
  • Philadelphia: What corruption?
  • Philadelphia: What do you mean cheesesteaks and pretzels are not a food group?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP, Michael

There's not a slumber party I remember that did not include the Thriller video. Thanks for all the good times, the amazing music, the videos. You will be missed.

An Affair to Remember?

I have attended several weddings this year (and last). A fair number of my friends are now married and I have watched most of them stand up in front of friends and family and take the vows of a lifetime. I have witnessed as they fell in love and chose a partner (and even as some have reproduced - eek!). We've all formed families of our own choosing, with our own unique signature. A lot of my friends are in science - we are apparently the "educated elite" that was so reviled in this past election (good God, no! not a smart president!). We are or will be significant contributors to society and most of us will hold pretty powerful positions. We are all driven and determined and many of us have put off having a family in order to pursue a career. To each his own. What I am not understanding is this connection between holding positions of power and cheating on your spouse. For one, how long are you going to be in said elected position? Seriously, Bill, can you keep it in your pants for 8 years? It's not that long? Do you have to go AWOL, fly to Argentina to get laid? Really? Hire a prostitute? WHILE IN OFFICE? I realize, people have sex drives and egos and that not all marriages last forever. I realize that sometimes you don't think and you make mistakes and you need to apologize. I get that. What I don't get is the forethought part of it. If you are so calculated as to have reached a position of power (trust me, it's a long hard climb), don't you examine your priorities? Your actions? Watch your steps? Don't you know that people are depending on you? Looking up to you, even? Do you think about that? Have you seen others fall? Have you learned from their mistakes?
I realize that nobody's perfect, that people living in the public eye might have it harder than I do. I'm just disappointed and disgusted. I have no idea how this affects a family and a career and a life. I just feel like this betrayal is so prevalent - and I'm sorry, but a PRESS conference to announce it? Oh, you are so full of yourself. How about doing YOUR JOB - showing up on a daily basis and letting people know where you are? Is responsibility that hard?
I guess I'm an idealist. I just hope that all my friends' marriages and relationships are built on more steady ground than these peoples'.
getting off my soapbox now...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

First Harvest

kale from our garden - I picked and cooked WAY more than this!

our first peppers from our garden :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Movie Review Monday

For some reason, I feel the need to explain why I would watch this movie. I'm not sure why - I think that romantic comedies are one of my favorite genres (even though I know they are completely out of touch with reality) but they are looked down upon as something intelligent people wouldn't possibly want to watch. Which is not necessarily true, right? I mean, every once in a while, we need an escape, and, in general, romantic comedies are so light, fluffy and airy, it doesn't require much energy or a "mood" to watch them. Anyways, I discovered this great way of watching some movies on Netflix - you can just stream them and watch them on your computer (hence, no wait time and no need to get the DVD). Last night, this is just what I did. Alex has gone to a conference, and I have the house (and the remote control) to myself. Since Alex would never in a million years want to watch this movie (or this genre) I was excited to curl up on the couch and take it in. Altogether, this movie is exactly what I expected. Patrick Dempsey plays a womanizer whose best friend is a woman (played by one of those Monoghan girls). Dempsey is, of course, a commitment-phobe with all these rules to keep any sort of relationship forming. As soon as the girl decides she's met "the one" and is getting married, Dempsey must now confront his feelings for her and try to win her as his bride. There were some funny parts, like him and the guys planning the bridal shower (mostly because I've done all that shit recently) or the dorky guy always trying to play some b-ball with them. It's also kind of touching but also unrealistic - I mean, are guys really going to talk about this stuff? And the whole "changing from a womanizer / unfaithful man to a wonderful man you might want to marry" is the oldest story in the book. Dempsey goes from a selfish asshole to a great guy - while I think this happens at some point in a guy's life (I mean, the do eventually get out of high school), I'm not sure it would happen when the guy is 30ish. Anyways, it's a great movie to suspend disbelief, enjoy some funny scenes and have an evening in front of the tube. It's not deep and meaningful, it doesn't tug at the heartstrings and it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. However, it's light, airy and fluffy and precisely what I wanted to see.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dear Dad,

I love that you send me random pictures from your iPhone. It makes my day every time and it makes me feel like I am a big part of your life. I wish I could be there to celebrate with you and the family. I hope you have the most wonderful Father's Day because you're the best Dad I could have ever hoped for.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Holy Batmobile Haiku Friday

End of a busy
week; Alex's Dad coming
in today. Please! No rain!


Two dance classes, house
cleaning, cooking, laundry, work
also yoga class.


Why do I feel like
I am fighting a losing
battle v. chaos?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book Report Thursday

On my most recent trip home, I happened across A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve in my Mom's library. I have read other books by Shreve and have found them to be entertaining and fairly good, so I thought I'd check this one out. The story is broken up into a weekend, with sections for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The novel takes place in a small inn in the Bershires run by a woman named Nora. The wedding is for Bridget and Bill, high school sweethearts who met again after many years apart and decided to get married. The people invited to the wedding are all old high school classmates who knew the couple "way back when" - surprisingly, there are few family members invited to the wedding (that wouldn't make a good story, right?). The novel follows several characters, including Bridget, Agnes, now a teacher at the high school they all attended, Harrison, a publicist, married with two kids, and Nora, the owner of the inn. All of the characters have some sort of unrequited angst or unfinished business from high school. We catch up to these people as they are in their late 40s, seeing what they've done with their lives and where their lives are headed. All of the characters experienced a tragedy during high school, and many have not seen one another since graduation (again, bizarre group of people to invite to your wedding, right?). And many of the scenarios described in the book are overly dramatic or exaggerated. Por ejemplo, I understand having had a crush in high school, but let me tell you, I am way over that by now (and I am not in my late 40s). Seeing my crush might bring back pleasant memories, but it certainly would not lead me to sleep with the person and consequently cheat on my spouse. All of the characters have flashbacks to the days of their youth, attempting to illustrate how far they have come or how many obstacles they have overcome. But, realistically, since the book is not about them in high school, it's hard to match the teenaged character with the characters in the book. And, ultimately, it's really sad. A teenager with lots of potential stuck in a dead end job, never married and unhappy (and, realistically, such a boring character that the author has her write a "short story" as part of her character sketch). I liked this book, and I found the writing pleasant, descriptive and interesting. I guess I just have a problem with people who complain about their situations or their lives without doing anything about it. They just kind of sit in their sorrow and sadness and just live in it instead of trying to do something to change it. I hate that. It drives me bananas. It also bothered me that the female character fighting off cancer had to always wear her wig and just kind of accepted that she would die from this disease, instead of doing everthing possible to fight it. Shreve's characters are definitely flawed, as we all are, and perhaps that's what I didn't like about the book. However, it obviously made me think (and, realistically, I had no idea this post would turn out so negative!). And I found myself drawn to the book, wanting to know what happen to the characters. Even now, some of the scenery comes to mind, pleasant and interesting. I guess, overall, I would say this book is like watching a movie where you're not entirely invested in the characters, but it's interesting to watch it play out. Oh, and some of the most interesting characters are merely supporting cast or characters that die off, unfortunatley. Perfect summer reading for me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hellfire and Damnation

God knows, I hate weather. Anything but sunny and 80 degrees and it's always a struggle for me, especially since I've no car, so I must navigate by my own two feet. This morning, I was woken up to the sounds of bombs being dropped on our neighborhood in the form of thunder and lightning. Holy Jesus. I seriously thought we might die. Not only does thunder sound like and oncoming earthquake, but the whole g-damn house shakes too. It literally looked like a tornado would touch down any second. No, thank you!
Man, I gots to get back to CA :)

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Saga of the Toilet Seat

On Friday night, Alex came downstairs with a funny look on his face. Half laughing, half crying he confessed that he had broken the toilet seat. I seriously laughed my ass off. Alex is by no means a fat dude - he's super skinny and it as funny to tease him that he had put on some weight (he has not, trust me). The seat had always been a little "off" and apparently he was just the one to sit on it and turn in such a way that it broke. So, off he pedaled to Home Depot to buy us a new seat for th throne. Not only was he kind enough to buy us a schwanky padded seat (reminds me of my childhood at Randi's house) but he also had to pedal his ass home, carrying a toilet seat under one arm because it wouldn't fit in his backpack. And, of course, he happened upon a block party or two on his way home. I have no idea why toilet seats are so damn funny, but I am still laughing my ass off. And thought I would share :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In Bruges

Last night, I had the rare evening at home and was able to settle in and watch a movie. I chose In Bruges, mostly because I really like Colin Farrell (despite what people might say about him) and I tend to love European films. Plus, it was nominated for some kind of Oscar, so I thought it had to be good. Let me tell you, rent this movie. It is phenomenal. Funny, contrite, disrespectful, mean, violent, bizarre, fascinating - all of these things and more. There are two hitmen, Ray and Ken, played by Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, who are sent to Bruges in Belgium, a beautiful medieval city with a small town feel. They are told to wait there for their next assignment, Ray feeling trapped and bored to death and Ken taking the opportunity to sightsee and catch up on culture. The film is both funny and serious, and it reminded me of what Quentin Tarantino tries to do (with the black humor and super violence) but I thought this film did it way better. For one, the violence did not feel like porn, the characters are ones you and identify with and they show their humanity in a way that I've never seen Tarantino's characters do. Farrell was amazing as this child-like, kinda dumb "new" hitman and Gleeson was phenomenal as his "mentor". Ralph Feinnes comes into play and he's hysterical, even though I still can't figure out why his name is pronounced "Raiph". The ending is interesting and ties into a painting the hitmen see while sightseeing around Bruges. And the "extras" on the DVD are really funny and interesting. Altogether, an A+ for this movie.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Thousand Splendid Suns

After reading The Kite Runner several years ago, I absolutely was waiting and waiting for this book to come into the library at Penn. Fortunately, from all my bitching, my mom bought the book through her book club and lent it to me. I was not disappointed. I was trying to figure out what it was that I liked so much about this book. Is it that it takes place in a land far away, yet I still identify with the characters? Is it that is deals with cultural identifications I know little about? Is it that it describes a country which I have only heard in the news as being "bad" as a wonderful place full of interesting people, places and things? Perhaps it's all of these things and more that drew me into this book. For two days, I could not put it down, did not want to leave the story line, could not get the pictures the book created out of my head. The story is of two women, Miriam and Laila and their relationship with each other. The story starts by describing the girls' upbringings (very different), but it leads them to the same place eventually. At the same time, the author has incorporated Afghan history and culture into the story, talking about the ongoing wars, the changes in government, power and overall culture, and the effects these have on the main characters. It's also a powerful testament to the treatment of women in some of these states which practice extreme Islamic law. The story is sad, yes. The characters endure things I could not imagine. There are many hardships, heartbreaking situations, awful circumstances. Yet, I don't doubt this story is true in so many aspects. I was humbled by the storyline and almost ashamed of all I have and all that I will have in my future. It's hard to be reminded that we are very lucky people which very little to want for. This book was beautiful, endearing, touching, heartfelt and phenomenal. I am sure there are people like Laila and Miriam all over the world today. And we should celebrate these women, and fight for more equal treatment of women all over the world.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Good Morning, Monday

I finally finished a book entitled Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer (the author of Into Thin Air). This is another one of my inherited books and I started this book prior to my many weddings and travels last month. It's not such a good travel book, I'd say, but it was interesting. It begins with the story of a murder carried out in a small town in Utah. A woman and her infant daughter were murdered by her husband's brothers who had received a message from God saying that they were to murder her and her daughter. The book then goes on to explore the culture of the Mormon religion, delving into Mormon history, looking at the formation of fundamentalist sects and the eventual convening of the "School of the Prophets", where men receive prophecies directly from God himself. This book was fascinating for a number of different reasons, namely that it talked about Mormonism, which has always been something I am interested in, though know little about. It talked about the founding of the religion by Joseph Smith as well as about some of the historical occurrences the Church itself has tried to "sweep under the carpet". Because of my experiences in Christian and Catholic schools, I am always fascinated by the hypocrises and aberrations in religions (meaning, they aren't all as perfect as they want you to think they are). Krakauer is a thorough and detailed author, but he tends to jump around subjects, not staying with one particular subject long enough for the reader to fully appreciate the points he is trying to get across. His basic thesis, that from the beginning of the Mormon Church, there lies within a tendency towards fundamentalism and fanaticism which ultimately has led to several horrible incidences throughout it's short history, is supported quite well with his arguments and illustrations, but I don't know that this is anything new or particularly unique. The story is bizarre, right down to the murderer believing he is the prophet Elijah, who will herald in the second coming of Christ (from his jail cell???) and reads somewhat like In Cold Blood, although it does show some bias and is not nearly as "journalistic"-for lack of a better word. I'm not sure this book is one I would recommend. It's not really a "true crime" book, and it's not really a history book, it's a combo of both genres that might not necessarily be done very well. It is disturbing and fascinating to think people are so ridiculously religious as to think God would order them to commit murder, but perhaps it sheds some light on the religious fanaticism we see all over the world.