Sunday, November 29

Quick to judge?

So, I've been ignoring this whole Lady Gaga rise to fame thing. I'm sure I've been exposed to lots of her music but I only recognize that Just Dance song and I don't particularly care for it. Mostly I've been vaguely concerned for this Lady Gaga character. Every time I've seen her in the past year I've wondered why she hates her face so much that she makes such extraordinary efforts to hide it. Is it a crazy sense of showmanship? Is she trying to retain some sort on anonymity or is she simply full of self loathing? Frankly these were such vague thoughts I never looked into trying to get answers to them.

I finally caught an interview/performance with Lady Gaga on The Ellen Degeneres show and I must say I was impressed. She was, not surprisingly, an outcast in high school and claims that her wild wardrobe choices are about making her fans (who are often the outsiders) feel less alone and to illustrate how they should embrace their uniqueness. Of course, that could be a load but I kind of got the feeling she was being sincere. I can't remember the last time I thought a pop star was being sincere.

As for any singing talent, I assumed she had none because her music is synthesizer heavy and that is typically a red flag warning "No Talent Zone". I couldn't have been more mistaken. She's not only got a good voice but one with a pretty cool tone to it. I'm still not sure I'd call myself a fan but I sure liked her performance on the show. She wrote the song for her dad who needed open heart surgery but had sort of thrown in the towel on his illness. Lady Gaga (or whatever her name is) wrote the song on the road as a way to beg him to get the surgery as quickly as possible. He did.

I immediately liked the song. Above all I was stunned to realize that as I watched her performance I felt like I was watching a young, female Elton John. It's not just the piano and the getup either. Seriously, did Elton and Bernie Taupin write this thing? I'm a huge fan of early Elton John so I don't say that lightly. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Saturday, November 28


Yesterday Mom and I were discussing our growing sense of dread/doom about our Christmas shopping.

My first reaction was to abandon poor Mom to go online and order a few things. Let me tell you, the online stores had some fantastic deals going on yesterday. I even got a few things for myself. Cruising around online is my way of deciding what to get everyone. I don't like to go to a mall or chain store unless I absolutely must and I know exactly what I want to purchase so shopping online first is helpful. The down side is that I really do prefer to see these potential gifts first hand.

After a little research, my second reaction was to ask Mom if she'd like to do some shopping early this morning at... the mall. We agreed to get ourselves to the mall at 9:00 am and follow a vague route depending on how the first two stops went. Well, they went very well. We hit all of our targets by 10:30. We then took a break and had a nice brunch at The Only Place in Town (which now claims to be called Barney's but I know that if I ever called it that nobody would know what I was talking about).

After brunch we were re-energized and decided to calmly drive by the new Best Buy (aka the Lesser Known Best Buy) for something we'd decided to go in on together. I prefer to shop at independent stores, especially around the holidays, but I don't know of any in the electronics game these days so Best Buy it was. WELL! The LKBB was a dream! Plenty of parking was available and I discovered they even reserve the best spots for energy efficient vehicles.. score!!! Mom and I picked up our target gift and, finding no unruly crowd, decided to shop around a bit. We looked at tvs (which we both are in the market for) and cameras and lots of others things. It was amazing. I always find Best Buy has the worst crowds this time of year and it is always the most dreaded store to visit. I was stunned at what a nice experience we had there today. I even picked up a new clock radio for my nightstand with a docking space for my iPod. The face is mirrored, which may prove to be a regretful choice when I see myself tomorrow morning but we'll wait and see.

We then went to downtown Monrovia. I wanted to hit an antique store there. They sometimes have vintage Christmas tree ornaments and my sister-in-law collects them. I wanted to pick up some ornaments for decoration on her gift. Not only did I find the perfect vintage glass ornaments but I also stumbled upon a bookcase full of old books at 75% off. Typically I find a lot of lame Reader's Digest books in antique stores but I can't help but stop and take a look for some treasure. With just a quick sweep of the shelf I found an old edition of The Oxford Anthology of English Literature. My Mom has a well thumbed copy that I liked to pull down and flip through when I was a kid. (Is that weird?) Well, I have my own copy now so I didn't need a new one but I was happy to see it there. It proved to be a good sign. I kept looking and found a copy of the Modern Library's Great Modern Short Stories in excellent condition. It's one of the best collections I've found and apparently out of print. (I've been on a short stories kick for a while now). I then came across the mother load: Maxims and Reflections by Winston Churchill. I've sort of had a crush on old Winston ever since visiting the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum. I know that sounds incredibly strange but I defy you to visit that place and not come out all googly eyed about the man. (Don't even get me started on his relationship with Clementine. Adorable!) Anyway, I flipped the book open to read the chapter headings, some were: On His Likes, On His Dislikes and, best of all, On Foreigners (SOLD!). While driving home Mom read a few gems out loud. So far my favorite Churchillian observation in the book is regarding Lennon. Churchill states "He alone could have found the way back to the causeway. The Russian people were left floundering in the bog. Their worst misfortune was his birth, their next worst - his death." Nice. I got both books for $2.50. Yea!

I now have a good idea of what I'll be getting everyone in my family for Christmas/birthdays and feel much better.

I'm now off to read and await this big rain storm the experts still insist is on the way. It could be a long wait.

Tuesday, November 24

I'll be going to my brother's house for Thanksgiving where I will enjoy his amazing grilled turkey with all the fixins. Before, during and after my visit to his house I will be watching ridiculous amounts of tv via the American holiday tradition of tv marathons. Here are some I'll be checking in on before I'm force fed football:

Band of Brothers - Spike TV
Godfather I, II, & III - AMC
House - USA
Mythbusters - Discovery
Twilight Zone - KTLA (for you LA dwellers)

Of course, lately all I care about is an excessive dose of Law & Order but since every day is a Law & Order marathon I'll have to gorge on it via USA and TNT tomorrow.

If you're interested in a serious tv coma, here is much more extensive marathon list including Black Friday tv to help keep you out of the mall. (You heard me)

God, I love a well spent vacation.

Monday, November 23

Old Fashioned

I've always been fascinated with the role of women in past generations. My mom once bought an old fashioned etiquette booklet for me from the Huntington Library. It had been originally published in the late 1800's and it, in equal parts, cracked me up and mortified me.

Today I received an excellent surprise from my Mom's dear friend Ann from "back home". Ann sent cook books for me, my bro and my mom. It's the 2009 edition of her community's women's club.

The introduction explains that the club originally began in the 1930's. Apparently the women in town met at a local hotel to play bridge every day. Well, the ministers of the community "worried about all the bridge playing" and suggested the women instead get together to better the town. The women formed the club that continues to this day. I, thought it was hilarious that anyone would be concerned with too much bridge playing but the idea to form a club was a good one and the women wound up raising lots of money through the decades for all sorts of charities. Best of all, I got a super cool cookbook from one of the current members. Thanks Ann!!!

I love old cookbooks and recipes because they offer a great glimpse into the lives of women from different eras. This cookbook features recipes from the current members as well as those from the 1959 club.

There is a recipe for Texas Caviar but it sounds much cheesier than than one I tried, and loved, from Larkin's.

There is a "Congealed Salad" from '59. I mean even back in the 50's that had to have sounded unappetizing. Or maybe it's just me.

"Luella's Old Fashioned Salad Dressing" sounds great because anything from a Luella in Texas has got to be good.

"Anna's Broccoli & Cheese Casserole"? Yes, please.

"Baked Sweet Potatoes with Apricots and Bourbon" anyone? That one's from Ann and I think we have to give it a go.

"Anita's Brisket"? Mom used to make this... holy cow. You've gotta give it a try.

"Chicken with Morels & Tarragon Cream Sauce"? Anyone know what a morel is?

There is a recipe for something called "Johnny Knows It". It looks like a home made hamburger helper sort of casserole. I was all in until I read that stuffed olives were used. If this cookbook is any indication, there was an alarming need for stuffed olives in the 50's. Of course I will now be obsessed with searching the grocery store aisles for stuffed olives now.

Ok, what?! Ann, honestly! How could you let something called "Wet Back Supper" into this edition? It's not even a recipe from the 50's! It's a 2009 submission. Please tell Kaythat she should be ashamed of herself! It requires vermicelli so I'm as confused as is Kay.

"Olga's Rolls". Ok, I don't know Olga but she uses sweet milk and sugar in her rolls so I like her.

Uh oh. There is apparently some sort of Chess Pie smack down on page 68. Apparently nobody in the 1959 club wanted to choose between Walter and Edith's recipes. Maybe we should do a taste test and decide for ourselves.

"Lulu Belle's Cheese Cake" again, any recipe from a woman named Lulu Belle has got to be great.

Someone name "Sis" House (quotes from the cookbook not me) submitted an Osgood Pie. That's gotta be good. Of course, "Sis" makes me think of The Rain Maker and that helps.

Uh oh. There is an even bigger smack down on page 86 with three, count 'em, three Pecan Pie recipes from Judy, Hoppie and Maxine. All require Karo so that's comforting.

Oooooooooh, divinity. My mom used to make divinity. Its' di-lightful.

"Vinegar Cookies"? Well, that's intriguing!

"White Fudge Icing" is from Znobia. Cool!

Man, we have such boring names these days. Where did all of the "Sis", Znobia and Hoppie's of the world go?

Here is a fun site to check out if you too like vintage recipes. Oooooh, yeah. Check out this bad boy. JACKPOT!!!

Monday, November 9

The internet keeps getting better

So, just when I thought nothing could top People of Walmart a friend introduces me to the delights of Texts from Last Night. The tag line of the blog is "Remember that text you shouldn't have sent last night? We do." I know!!! They are supposedly real texts that have been submitted to the site from lucky recipients. I don't know how real some of them are but they are so entertaining that I just don't care .

Many of the texts are just plain gross but others are hilarious. Above all it makes me incredibly grateful that texting didn't exist when I was in college. Phones were tragic enough. Texting is officially so much worse.

So far I like these:
I don't know how long I'll find this site amusing but it sure is cracking me up tonight.


Wednesday, November 4


I cried at work today. This is the second time I've cried in 8 years at my current place of employment. My boss is currently out on stress leave so I'm doing both of our jobs and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. Trouble is I don't want to complain because I don't want to be classified a cry-baby or trouble maker. People are too easily misclassified at work and I just don't want a new label.

Instead I did what any reasonable grown up who needs to cry at work does, I sat in a stall and silently cried for five minutes, dried my tears and went back to work. I was teary for about 30 minutes afterward but my boss' boss saw me with watery eyes and high tailed it out of my cubicle. I think I'll keep some Visine on hand from now on.

I later saw a friend puffy eyed and crying in her office. She had just shut the door after returning from her boss' office. I tapped on the glass wall of her office and sat with her and laughed through tears as I said "What's going on? We don't cry!". I let her vent for a while, then she got mad. My parting words to her were "It's better to be mad than cry around here. Keep it up.". That seemed to help her.

Here are some other quotes that helped me get through this dreadful day:
  • "Dust off your resume."
  • "This is a job NOT a career. I come in, do my job and get the fuck out."
  • "It's not worth it."
  • "Make sure nobody ever has to say 'Get a Life' to you"
  • "DLTLMFGYD" (aka "Don't Let the Little Mother Fuckers Get You Down") - This is what a dear friend's father used to tell us when we were having a hard time in and after college. I thought it was simply DLTFGYD but I spoke with my dear friend who corrected me and said that I had to add the "Little Mother" portion to it. Her Dad used to write the acronym in cards he'd leave for her. He was an awesome man. He died several years ago and I miss him all the time.
But more than anything, what got me through this day was being able to say "Yup", "Yes" and "Uh huh" to the litany of "Did you do..." questions that my boss' boss had for me. When everyone else was pushing work back on us because they were "understaffed and overworked" and "too busy" I just said "Yup".

Monday, November 2


Here is what may be my all time favorite blog post ever. It's called "Secret Snack of Shame-a-thon".

I'm very disappointed in myself in that I never thought to make a plate of those delightful looking pretzel/chocolate filling things above. Those are SO being served at my next get together.

Sunday, November 1

Really? It's Halloween?

I love Halloween but it's a particularly busy time at work these days so I didn't dress up or do any planning. However, I work at a place that has a LOT of people who happen to be creative and who love to dress up. So, how did I know it was Halloween? Well, I started finding clues around the office.

For one, this was one of the conference rooms I had a financial meeting in. And this is after it had been cleaned up a bit:

I opened the refrigerator for my lunch and found this:

I walked by our "open area" and saw this lying on a table for no particular reason.

There were also lots of awesome costumes but I was sequestered to my cubicle and missed most of them. I did, however see the electric wheel chair one artist had converted into the snail from the Main Street Electrical Parade complete with soundtrack. That was pretty great to see. Another dressed up as this guy which I thought was genius:

I heard about another company's runway/costume contest who had a Kanye West who kept interrupting everyone as they walked the catwalk.

That may be my favorite.

I promise to take pictures of the cool costumes next year. They are unbelievable!