Archive for November, 2011

The Muppets

One of the highlights of my Thanksgiving weekend was going to see The Muppets with my sister. I loved it. Jason Segal (and Disney) did an amazing job. I think Jim Henson would have been happy with how The Muppets turned out.

Many of the articles and reviews of The Muppets characterized the movie as a last-ditch effort to save a dying franchise. This surprised me a little, because I truthfully had no idea that the Muppets were dying out.

They have always been a part of my life, and I still consider them to be highly important to me. As a kid, I loved everything that had to do with the Muppets, including the obviously sub-par Muppet Babies and Muppets Tonight. I can’t remember how old I was when I first saw Muppets Take Manhattan, but my earliest memory of profound, desperate sadness is when Kermit wakes up in the hospital and has amnesia. And I watched The Muppet Movie countless, countless times.

Someone expressed surprise to my mom that my sister and I were so excited to see a kids movie. My mom correctly explained that it may look on the surface like a kids movie, but it was actually directed at large part exactly at me and my peers, given that we are the Muppet generation.

Furthermore, there were too many things in the movie that felt like it was made especially for me! They include:

– My girlfriend, Rashida Jones
– My boyfriend, John Krasinski
– The dreamy Donald Glover
– Music by Bret of Flight of the Conchords
– The truly marvelous song, “Me Party,” which may become my new personal theme song

In the end, I think what truly impressed me the most was the general faithfulness to the original humor and spirit of the muppets. They managed to update it without ruining it. I know now that this movie was intended to reboot the franchise. It’s going to be very, very interesting to see what Disney does next with it, and whether they can maintain that same spirit moving forward. I feel skeptical that they can, but then, nothing about the Muppets is cynical.


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Christmas Cookies 2011

Unlike previous years, when I was chomping at the bit waiting for the Christmas season to begin, I am not really feeling Christmas this year. It just seems like a lot of work and a lot of money, and I would probably rather go take a nap. I am already feeling ready for Christmas to be over, which is not my typical attitude.

I don’t know what’s different this year, except perhaps that I had such an incredibly busy October and November. I may be too worn out to enjoy Christmas this year.

But it’s early yet, and I’m hoping something happy and festive will kick in. In the meantime, I have started baking. Last year, I made 600+ Christmas cookies, and I am on track to make that many again this year. I’m planning to make cookies for everyone in both of my dance classes (30 people), for my work holiday party, and for my family’s Christmas Eve gathering, as well as my own general enjoyment.

One thing that’s different about this year’s baking plan is that I’m only using fair trade chocolate to make my cookies. When I learned recently that much of the chocolate I’ve used over the years was brought to me in part by enslaved children, I decided that I needed to make a change and vote with my money. Fair trade chocolate is definitely more expensive, but thanks to Trader Joe’s, I can get 3.5 ounces of milk chocolate or dark chocolate for $1.99. I’ve bought a little bit of chocolate every week, which has helped spread out the cost.

I’ve been trying to deterimine which cookies I’m going to make this year. So far, I’ve decided on:

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies
White Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Chocolate Toffee Rounds
Oreo Cheesecake Cookies (the plan is to do homemade oreos to make these!)

I’ll also probably make this sticky gingerbread just for my family and me. However, I am still looking for a few more awesome recipes. I’m hoping now that Thanksgiving is over, the many recipe blogs I read will begin sharing cookie recipes instead of pie recipes. Does anyone out there have a recommendation for something exciting I should make?

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Faceless Characters

I am trying to finally pull myself out of the new job daze (given that I’ve been in my “new” job for nearly a year, so it’s not actually “new” any longer) and write more. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year, but I am excited to get back to writing fiction. The most exciting thing about doing NaNo last year was that writing fiction was a lot easier and more fun than I thought it would be.

One aspect of writing fiction that I did struggle with was physical descriptions of my characters. I realized that most books provide a description of what characters look like, and that I had no interest at all in doing the same.

I don’t create pictures of characters in my head when I read. I assume this is because I am (self-diagnosed) moderately face blind. In my most beloved book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, I have no sense of what the main character looks like. I have a feeling of who he is, but when I read the book, I picture Muchings End and Tossie’s dresses and the bishop’s bird stump and Coventry Cathedral on fire, but I never picture any of the faces of any of the characters.

(I can’t hold a clear mental picture of anyone’s face in my mind, including my own face or the faces of my closest family members and friends. I didn’t think this was out of the ordinary until a few years ago, when I realized that other people can easily remember what people’s faces look like.)

Would Harry Potter be Harry Potter without the messy black hair and green eyes and lightning-bolt scar? Of course not. However, when I think of Katniss from The Hunger Games, I didn’t realize that I had no clue what she looked like until I heard people complaining that Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t olive-skinned with dark hair. I think of Jessica Darling, from another of my favorite series of YA books, and I have no clue what she looks like.

Is a physical description of a character important to you when you’re reading?

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The Outfits Spreadsheet

People like to mock me for it, but I’m pretty sure that’s because they’re actually jealous that they didn’t think of it first.

One stressful aspect of my current job is that attire matters a great deal more than it did at my previous job. I am not a clothes person. I am terrible at putting together outfits, and I hate spending money, so it’s been hard for me to adjust to needing a more professional wardrobe.

For a while, I was wearing my favorite outfits repeatedly. Too repeatedly. I was also forgetting about other clothes I had that I should have been wearing. And most mornings, I would stare at my closet in a panic, thinking, “What in God’s name am I going to wear?” It was not sustainable.

However, there was a solution! THE OUTFITS SPREADSHEET!

Starting with my warm-weather attire, I typed in every acceptable work outfit I had into a Google spreadsheet. Then, each time I wore that outfit, I typed that day’s date into the spreadsheet. As I acquired new clothes, I added new outfits to the spreadsheet.

So, what am I going to wear tomorrow? Well, just LET ME SEE. It seems that I haven’t worn my teal sweater and striped gray pants since 10/27/11, so that seems like a perfectly valid option.

People mock me, but it has completely improved my life. One of my co-workers told me, “You have way too much time on my hands!” Implying, I suppose, that only a bored fool would take the time to organize her wardrobe. But of course I have more time on my hands! The time I spent stressing about my wardrobe has been eliminated! Who’s the fool?!

(If the outfits spreadsheet could only wash and iron my clothes as well, then I would truly be in business.)

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My New “Choir”

Speaking of performing, I have “joined” the Doctor Who Fan Orchestra. I discovered this marvelous group when Murray Gold, dreamy composer of Doctor Who’s music, tweeted a link to DWFO’s latest production.

I am a huge fan of the music on Doctor Who, so given that DWFO includes vocalists, I couldn’t help but ask to be included. ESPECIALLY when I learned that the next production would be Rose’s Theme and Doomsday. Because of the connection to Rose Tyler, these two pieces of music have both made me weep more than once. (Rose Tyler, along with Ten, continues to be perhaps my very favorite part of anything relating to Doctor Who, ever. The fact that there are Rose haters blows my mind.)

I am super excited to record my submissions, and it has even occurred to me that perhaps I might want to audition for the solo on Doomsday. I consider myself to be a solid choral singer, and not much of a soloist, but it can’t hurt to try.

Sometimes I forget that I had all these years I spent being involved with music. Choirs were a huge part of my life for ten years. Choral music took me all over the world and made me a part of history, when I sang at the 2001 presidential inauguration. It’s not really much of a part of my life now that I’m more involved in dancing–even though I’m a much better choral singer than I am a dancer.

I’ve been away from singing for so long that I’m sort of afraid I’ve lost it! I guess I’ll find out whether I still have it when it comes time for me to record my part and listen to it in the cold, silent light of day.

It’s exciting, not only because I love being a part of fandoms, but because I will get to bring a small, manageable bit of singing back into my life. I’m so excited for the finished product, and to perhaps hear my voice (and see my face?) as a part of it!

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High School Musical

Over the weekend, I went to see my high school’s production of “The Wedding Singer.” A girl in my dance class is in it, and that seemed like a good excuse to revisit the past. Additionally, the girl who was in the show is so awesome that my sister and I both wish she were around ten years older so that it would not be weird for us to totally hang out with her. It was really fun to see her on stage.

(I also discovered once I got to the show that a girl I used to babysit was also in it. I changed her diapers, and now she is on stage as a PRE-ADULT.)

The show was fantastic. I couldn’t help but compare it to the one I was in my senior year of high school. The costumes seemed better fitting. The sets seemed more elaborate. The dancing was definitely more complicated. How did those kids get so talented?

I really do not remember my generation of students at the school being that good. It was a performing arts school, so presumably everyone who goes there is talented, but then, they also let me in.

Maybe it’s the time away that has turned my rose-colored glasses dim. It has been ten years since I graduated from high school. It does seem very far away, and perhaps in those ten years I have developed a better appreciation of talent than I had when I was actually in high school. It’s possible that at that time I saw all of the boys as either boys I had crushes on or boys I did not, and all the girls as people the boys liked better than me. Talent was not as much of an issue.

High school felt very, very far away. Yet, when my sister and I were sitting in the theater before the show started, a group of theater kids sat down behind us. We were able to hear every word of their conversation, because theater kids know how to project and they prefer that everyone hears what they have to say. They started talking about the Doctor Who movie and how terrible it was that David Yates was planning to ruin everything, and it suddenly felt like I may not be as far away from high school as it seems.

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Today, I am getting ready to go out of town to a wedding, so I have to be quick.

A coworker recently shared a phrase with me that is basically the best, most true thing I have ever heard. In fact, I now share it constantly because it is so applicable to all areas of everyone’s life.

The apple tree is only ever going to make apples.

Do you need lemons? Well, this tree here makes apples. And that is it. So either find a way to use the apples, or go find another tree.

I tell myself this every time I expect something other than apples. Is that an apple tree? Then why the hell was I expecting a big slice of chocolate cake?

Any faulty expectations are mine. They’re not the fault of the tree.

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