Friday, July 25, 2008

Reviewed: LL Cool J's Microphone Stand

I'm sorry, but have you SEEN it?

100 stars. 'nuf said.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fun Boss Movie Day: Hiding Out

Here's the tagline for this movie---ready?

"There's only one thing more frightening than murder...high school."

Really, that's all you need to know to deduce that it was made in 1987. Why were people in the 80's so fascinated with high school? (I say, hypocritically, with a printed off e-mail from my high school crush that I can't bear to throw away.)

Hiding Out was on Showtime last weekend and I was in heaven. I have a weakness for Jon Cryer. Not only because of Ducky--although it goes without saying that the character will live forever in film history--but also because I have a soft spot for cute, neurotic and slightly cocky underdogs a la Michael J. Fox.

So here's the plot of the movie: a successful stockbroker witnesses a murder and goes on the run, taking refuge with his cousin and pretending to be a high school student while he hides out from the mob. A really great performance by Jon Cryer as a 30-something guy (or maybe 28? I was trying to figure out what they could get away with) who unwittingly inspires the student body and falls in love with a high school senior after she writes a paper about how big of a crook Nixon was.

Best scene ever: Sitting in class as the grumpy history teacher berates the high school beauty (Annabeth Gish) for having the audacity to say such things about the old lady's hero, Nixon, Cryer guffaws and looks around for some shared sense of disbelief at her idiocy. The joke is, he's the only other one old enough to remember.

Yeah, it gets a little creepy sometimes thinking that the love story is probably statutory rape, but I'm pretty sure they never actually do the deed during the movie. And Cryer is incredibly boyish. That makes it okay anyway. Right?

91 stars in all it's 80's-montaging gloriousness. Netflix it immediately.

Reviewed: July

It's so not fair that a grumpy (not even) two weeks can ruin a whole month. And I'm still on the path of misery, since I said I was going to go to the gym today and I still didn't do it. I suppose I still could, but that might put me in a better mood and I'm so cranky I can't imagine being in one. It was a little under two weeks ago that I got back from a really great vacation in Florida and wish I was still there.

July is usually one of my favorite months. Nice and hot and you go on vacation or you think about vacation and you sometimes even do things you don't usually do, like outdoor concerts or playing frisbee. You get to wear sundresses! And sandals! And sunglasses (RayBan tortoise-shell wayfarers--exciting!) And at night when it cools down a bit you roam around the city and it's different and you love it and you think it will never feel the same again...but then the very next night when it cools down it does, and that's an even better feeling.

This is the first July that I've started to feel old. Not old old. But you know, like that shelf on your shoulders now holds a lot more stuff. And then yesterday after 8 hours on my feet at work I noticed that my heels were dry. This morning when I shamefully (vainly) confessed to Joe he joked, "Uh-oh, do you need a ped-egg?" Ew! No way!

The point is, it's not something I ever had to worry about. For one thing, for seven years I lived an hour from the beach where the natural wonder of sand kept my soles youthfully soft. (I miss the beach.) But now I get it why they do all that buffing and lotioning and heel waxing in a pedicure, and not only do I get it but I friggin' need it. I remember my mom complaining about this fact of nature, buying fancy lotions to rub on her feet, but it was one of those things I only half-heartedly listened to. Advice I didn't need.

July, you jerk. Or maybe, it's just New York. All that walk, walk, walking around and then walking around some more. When it's hot I'd rather kill myself than descend into the smothering heat of waiting for the subway underground. Ick. I miss the Julys of my youth, driving around the midwest in my oil-slurping old jeep with the top off, playing stupid cat-and-mouse games with idiot rednecks, laughing it up like we were so above it all, and most of all, that long drive home alone, through the cornfields and the crickets and up the gravel driveway to my house where everyone was asleep, and I'd turn off the engine and walk inside and the stars would be so crazy up there and bright like hell.

Aw jeez, it's 70 stars for the difference of 8 million more people and 10 years later.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reviewed: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Hurry up, guys. Go see it while it's up.

But first--our deepest apologies. We reviewers have been a little behind on the blog lately. I wish I could use the excuse that it is summer and there's stuff like sunburn and mosquitoes and finding illegal Tennessee fireworks to deal with...but I know that you know this neglectful streak has been going on since December. Some day we might get our stuff together and start posting more regularly, but for now we're irresponsible. Sorry.

I had to return for a brief bit to share with you the little project Joss Whedon (of Buffy fame...even though I was never a fan of the show...or, for that matter, anything else he did like Angel or Firefly--granted I never saw it, so maybe I would have been) took on during the writer's strike. With Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day in the main roles, Whedon's penned a "unique little epic" of a musical, told in three parts and available online for one week. Acts I and II have premiered earlier this week, and Act III premiere's Saturday, with everything going offline on Sunday at midnight. They will later be available for purchase on iTunes.

But trust me, go see them now. NPH is fantastic. Completely and totally hilarious and darling and I love him so much. You won't be disappointed...but you will if you miss out.

One billion stars.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Warning: Diatribe

I’m very reluctantly (almost angrily) addicted to Chrissy Coppa’s Storked! Blog at It happened after the original Slaves to Fashion blogger left (got fired? or the more genteel ‘let go’?) and while that was offline, bored, I clicked over. The blog is about Coppa’s experience being single and pregnant at 25. I abhor it, and yet, I keep reading it, perhaps in the same way I would be irritatingly glued to the profile of my arch enemy or ex-crush on facebook.

Maybe I’m just being a jealous jerk because she has a book deal, but Coppa annoys me in so many ways. She writes about her life in New York pre-pregnancy—how glamorous, how witty, how sassily independent she was, as were all her friends, and oh how the men came running after them—so heavy on the narcissism it’s like she might as well stand outside the theaters of Sex and the City crying “that was my life!”

I’m being mean. I am just a jealous jerk. But seriously…today she wrote a haughty post about how a young, single woman in the grocery store didn’t smile at her baby. And she was pissed about it:
“I watched as she looked at him. Looked away. Looked at him, again. No emotion. Would it have killed her to smile at my BABY? No.” And then, “Suck it up. Smile at my baby, because I strongly believe if you can't smile at an unassuming BABY then you really need a reality check.”
Coppa acknowledges that maybe the woman was having a bad day or (horrifically) “might have had an abortion or something.”

I’ll easily admit that I’m one of those people who doesn’t smile at babies, and it’s not because I just had an abortion. Sometimes I just get tired of the Mom Smile I get in return. The “Yeah, I know my baby is the most adorable/cutest/sweetest, and now you know, too” Mom Smile. It just irks me. Sometimes I know the Mom in question is waiting for me to notice, and something just won't let me give her the satisfaction. Hey, I never said I was nice.

Your baby will get a smile, ONLY if he or she deserves it. You see, Chrissy, I take smiles kind of seriously and not all babies earn them. And if I’m having a bad day or just got an abortion, I kind of think that it might be your kid’s job to really put it out there and make me smile….and if he or she is not up to the task, what do you want me to do.

Reviewed: Feeling like a kid

Today I’m cooking one of my newfound favorite lunches—Amy’s Organic Alphabet Soup. I accidentally stumbled across this soup, which tastes exactly like Spaghetti-O’s (only healthier with green beans and other vegetables) after having half my mouth numbed at the dentist and nothing else to eat. Obviously, I spilled it all over myself.

Even in a normal day as much as I try to be careful, invariably, I spill food all over myself. Joe witnesses these messes and just shakes his head like he can’t believe it. I guess I wouldn’t limit it to food either, since last month I dropped an inky pen on my chest. No one was around to see me do it, for which I am glad, because it involved some borderline-idiotic pen flipping.

I have many painful memories of childhood spills, one of which involves French dressing on the carpet in front of my dad and the other involves the worst fight I ever got into with my little sister, who ended up spraying carpet cleaner in my face.

Anyway, I’m in a dilemma right now as to whether or not I should give in to fate and change my clothes—out of the Robert Rodriguez dress I got at Beacon’s Closet for $24 and which retails elsewhere for $400, and into my Derek Jeter shirt—or take the risk that I am capable of eating grown-up Spaghetti O’s without ruining my clothes.

11 Stars. The soup, however, is delicious.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Reviewed: DIY

So today I watched Georgia Rule instead of working on my DIY project. I guess what I’ve come to realize is that I don’t really believe in DIY. Perhaps it is because growing up my father was so pro-DIY that it was the only option, which is the reason why none of the toilets in the house flush without having to hold down the handle. I would rather DIWSWKWTD(*) which means Do It With Someone Who Knows What They’re Doing (and they do all the work).

And you know what? Georgia Rule was actually kind of good. I might even be enchanted enough with it to remove the “kind of” and just go for the good. It’s weird, too, because I usually hate Lindsay Lohan. I mean, that stealing thing was kind of yuck. But I think the biggest part of the problem with the movie was that it was marketed as a feel-good comedy when it is far from it. LiLo is the scene-stealer of the movie as a victim of sexual abuse, and Felicity Huffman is almost just as good as the mother who just then finds out. Jane Fonda, you know, whatever. I wasn’t impressed. And also, how does Cary Elwes, aka As-you-wish-Wesley, manage to be so child-molester creepy? Yikes.

So the thrift store dining room chairs I’m going to repaint got about half-sanded. Sanding is hard work. Don’t they make machines that do that?

30 Stars. And, Georgia Rule’s on HBO On Demand right now. It will save you the embarrassment of renting the movie.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Reviewed: American Idol Gives Back

Today I finally got my e-receipt for my donation to Idol Gives Back. It’s probably not in good form to reveal all my amazing charitable donations but since I only did it for the chance to talk to Ryan Seacrest on air I get a free pass. I’m proud of myself (Pat, pat).

Aw geez, you know I kid, right? It was actually Bono that made me do it, and made me cry a little, to boot.

The charities under the Idol umbrella were all ones that struck a chord and always have with me. You can make fun of Idol all you want from your I-don’t-watch-TV platform high in the sky, but to me this was a good example of all the kind-of, sort-of amazing things that can come out of crazy American suburban tv-watching. The crazy viewership of Idol raised over 60 million.

The tv-watching public is beautiful after all, don’t you think.

99 Stars.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Reviewed: Dirty Dishes by Cynthia Rowley

After my wedding it was only about 6 months before all those beautiful dishes our friends and family bought for us started cracking and chipping and looking like hell. In fact, MACY’S, you jerks, I should probably be reviewing your shoddy craftsmanship (ahem, the Cellar) instead. Especially after I even nerded it up by taking the time to write you a letter and then you insisted it wasn’t your problem. Huff.

So, just two years later when we had to replace our dishes we went with the brighter whites collection from Fish’s Eddy, which is a fantastic place to get quirky and classic dishware, or hunt through their exhaustive vintage stuff for some unique finds. I couldn’t resist, while I was there, snagging a set of the Cynthia Rowley-designed “dirty” coffee cups, adorned with half-naked ladies lounging around the top.

Bright white with a fancy gold border-line where the lovely chicks lie exposing themselves, the cups are sweet little conversation pieces in my cupboards. Unfortunately, Joe is opposed to the idea that all of our dishes have naked ladies smiling back at us, but I’m hoping I can sneakily expand my collection.

93 Stars. To top it off the whole collection is currently 50% off.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Reviewed: Now What? By Ann Patchett

As it is nearing May and the time for graduates is upon us, Harper’s has done us a big ol’ favor and published this book. Now instead of buying Dr. Suess’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go, moms and dads across the nation have a new option. The book is the published essay of the commencement speech Ann Patchett gave at Sarah Lawrence College, tricked out with some “life-pondering” photography.

I should disclose that I’m a huge fan of Ann Patchett. I met her a couple years ago in Tallahassee and she is not only an amazing writer but a really lovely, charming lady as well. The essay is a perfect example of what I like about her—that she’s honest, unflinching and humorous and perfectly describes the post-college malaise so many of us find ourselves in. The essay caters to our kind, and by that I mean you, Gen Y, with your whiny find-yourself-self-involvement. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not criticizing—I’ve got it, too. Gone are the days of emerging from youth to suck it up and go to work in the coal mines. Now we get to ask ourselves, where do I really belong? Ugh, it’s atrocious. I sometimes get tired of myself.

So I was, of course, shiny-eyed with recognition at Patchett’s admission of too many years of wandering lost, waitressing at TGIFriday’s, trying to figure it all out. The essay is something us crazy kids should read, if we’re anywhere between 20 and 30, but the package it comes in, on the other hand, might make you want to poke your eyes out. I suspect that, to stretch the page count, the publisher stuck in as many inspiring images as they could. I mean, the amount of illustrations and photographs used to demonstrate for us dummies the idea of indecision (e.g., footprints in the sand going around in a circle, a lone figure standing before a giant maze) is really astounding.

The essay alone earns 90 stars. The packaging it comes in is so atrocious, I give it 4 stars. Moms and Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas, don't let me dissuade you; it will make a nice graduation gift.

Update: I just realized that, including the cover, there are no less than 3 pictures of mazes in this book.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Reviewed: August Rush

I really wish I didn’t—I truly wish it wasn’t true—but I watched this incredibly ridiculous movie this afternoon and enjoyed it. I don’t know, maybe I have diabetes or something, because this is the most idiotic movie I have seen in a long time and that means something coming from me; I once sat through feardotcom in the theater. But I’m the kind of person that, for the sake of a good story, I can usually suspend my disbelief easily. I do it willingly. It may be one of my only positive character traits.

In order to enjoy this movie, here’s what I had to convince myself of: when you are unconscious your dad can forge your name on your newborn’s adoption papers and then tell you your kid is dead, The Julliard School will take a runaway kid under their wing without calling the police because he’s a music prodigy, The Julliard School will then get that crazy runaway kid his own concert with the New York Philharmonic in Central Park, and if the dude who unknowingly impregnated his true love doesn’t know her last name in 1995 he can pine away for eleven years and then suddenly very easily find her address on the internet.

This is a bad movie. Yes, I liked it but I also like Young Guns 2.

27 Stars. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is gorgeous. I saw him at Jacques-moi’s in New Orleans about four years ago and he was bouncing around the bar looking all coked up. He looks better now.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Reviewed: Strathcona Hotel, Toronto

A lot of people wonder, why Toronto? We ignored those people. We went, we watched hockey, we ate some Tim Bits. It took us 12 hours to drive from New York. Google said it would only be 7. Of course, Google didn’t add in necessary breaks for candy and giant fun cranes.

Being in charge of the Toronto leg of the trip, I decided to treat my fellow reviewer and pull out the big (moderately priced) guns. When we pulled up to the hotel I let her take the bags up herself while I parked the car, so that she could open the door to our swanky accommodations first and drink in the hipness. She told me later that she gasped, and she even met me in the lobby and handed me the key so I could do the same when I went up.

Later that night, as we watched Juno on our 15 inch television, I laid on my bed underneath the two rectangular windows along the ceiling and thought about what the guy at the front desk said about window-breaking hobos in the parking garage. The city lights were shining in through the blinds and maybe that guy in the hallway near the ice machine was still talking about how the government knew about 9-11 and let it happen. Maybe. For now, I was just a world traveler, kicking up my feet after a long day, relaxing in my twin bed.

79 Stars.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Reviewed: MissGuided and Perez-Hate

There are lots of things I am able to forgive the American public for—Dancing with the Stars, Taco Bell, Hummers—but not Perez Hilton. I guess as a writer it incites a mini-rage in me to see a total and complete moron become successful for being bitchy. Because, really, I wouldn’t exactly categorize Perez Hilton as a bitch; he’s way too retarded for that. I guess I don’t really know what he is and what made him successful, but I really wish that the viewing public could take it all back.

Anyway, it has seemed so far that for whatever reason no one wants to mess with Perez...until now. Last night the Ashton Kutcher-produced new series MissGuided totally ripped the gossip idiot apart and it was hilarious. The show revolves around Judy Greer’s role as a guidance counselor at a typical high school, with Chris Parnell playing the hilarious assistant principal. When Parnell hunts down high school gossip blogger “Lindsey Lopez” who had posted a suggestive picture of him with a student wrestler on the mats, the mystery blogger behind the computer turns out to be a surly, overweight student with pink hair and attitude—ha!

Catch the show next time it is on, especially if you’ve been missing Parnell (I have.)

88 Stars.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Reviewed: Toronto Maple Leafs Vs. Philadelphia Flyers

The one and only thing we could think to do in Canada was attend an NHL game. As I tried to point out to my boss, what else do they have in Canada? It's not like they have the NFL, or the NBA, or the MBL. He counteracted with the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Bluejays. Regardless, Canada is the home of hockey.

We arrived at the game and found our seats after perusing the Maple Leaf memorabilia. Our seats were a few sections from the top, but really good. We could clearly see the rink and all the action, including the fight that broke out during the second period. It was the first game for both of us, but we have now become hardcore Philly fans. The goalie, Martin Biron, was amazing (editorial note: hot). Although he let in the 4 goals that ultimately won the game for Toronto, he saved about 50 others. Shots were constantly taken at him. The Toronto goalie even skated off the rink near the end, so another defensive player could take the ice. Other than Biron, Philly lacked a solid offensive strategy.

Since hockey is made up of three periods, that means there are TWO half-times. The half-time shows were some of the best I have ever seen. The first consisted of two 10 year-old hockey players attempting to make goals and win money for their respective little league teams. A montage of the player in action flashed across the jumbotron as his stats blared over the loudspeaker: "Josh has made a record 57 goals for his team the Mini-Rangers. He loves watching the Suite Life of Zach and Cody and hates his dad."

During the second intermission two dudes dressed in huge hockey puck outfits came to center ice in order to shoot goals and win money. The second guy only managed to make about 2 goals, so he was booed by anyone still in their seats not buying the $5 pizza slices. Cassie got our pizza just before the second break in order to miss the crowd; we should have just skipped the pizza. We should have gotten some beers instead. That way we could have toasted our drinks with the "ever-standing-drunk-guy" in a Flyers jersey.

82 stars: I know why fights break out in the hockey stands now. It is because of the eight year old girls screaming SHOOT in a tone that makes my ears bleed and their annoying father who won't stop uttering "you never know what's going to happen" in a slightly drunk lilt.

Also, take a moment to check out Biron up close.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Reviewed: Chevy Aveo, roadtripping

“Jail or Canada. Both of them suck.” -Max, Across the Universe

You’d think with all my neuroses and travel anxiety I would be a terrible candidate for a roadtrip, but there’s where you would be wrong because I actually LOVE being on the road. Now all I need is my own car.

We started our roadtrip with a backbreaking trek to the Jersey City Dollar Rent-a-Car, carrying our bags down into the subway, up three flights of stairs to W 4th St., four blocks to the PATH, down the stairs, up the stairs, through the Jersey City mall, across the mall parking lot and finally into the sweating hot office of Dollar, where a lady with super long fingernails took an hour to type our info into the computer. Even though we were trying to be badasses and deny it, our bags were heavy. Plus, I had packed a whole mess of CD’s for the road, which was awesome when I found out our economy Aveo didn’t have a CD player, tape player or even electric windows. Do you know how many tolls are in New Jersey? Welcome to handcrank city.

The Aveo is an okay car, I guess. I’ve never really known anyone who drove a Chevy except for my sister’s boyfriend back in high school and his was blue. I always thought of him as driving fast, but maybe it was just his driving pose, because in this Chevy even though it hit 80 with the rest of cars on the road I didn’t go above that because every time I did the car started making a weird sound and we thought we might crash. It was severely lacking in the comfort department and Murph kept stealing my arm rest to get close to me (in her defense, it does seem lame that only the driver gets an arm rest.)

There’s two kinds of roadtrips—really fast and just dicking around. I only like the really fast kind when it starts to become a kind of dangerous game—like how fast can I go without killing us all, and dammit, no we aren’t stopping so you can go to the bathroom. But mostly, I like the slow, dicking around kind because you get to do great stuff like stop in Scranton and go to the Steamtown Mall, or play every single fun crane machine you find at travel plazas (Fun Crane 8, Us 3). On the way home we tried to make time and cut our drive down a couple hours, but then we saw this pirate ship next to the road
and it was about the coolest thing we saw in Canada, besides hockey of course.

Chevy Aveo: 41 stars, roadtrip: 99 stars, Canada: 30 stars.

To be continued with…hockey, Steamtown Mall, giant fun crane, border agents, etc.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I Can’t Believe We Ate the Whole Thing

You know what else I can’t believe? We forgot our one-year anniversary. (February 16. It all began with a pillow from Calvin Klein.) I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Lots of stuff has changed in both of our schedules since starting this blog. We’ve now both watched every episode of every season of Six Feet Under. And we’ve both gotten our passports, leading to much anticipated international travel (Canada, watch out!) I've finally learned how to cook fish and braise leafy greens. Murph tells me secrets about her boyfriend. She also manages to keep four jobs and go to school.

Today is my second wedding anniversary and tonight Joe and I are going to go out for delicious food and wine. Last week the one thing I have been working on for the past year ended at 4:30pm on Friday when I mailed my book in. I’ve been bordering on wreckage ever since. So when a good friend invited me over to her apartment for a drink Tuesday night I readily agreed…until I got off the phone and Joe said, “Tuesday night, as in our anniversary.” My friend even called me back to say, “Isn’t that your anniversary?” This is but one example of the mess that is my brain. I am not fit to re-enter society.

Next week look for Reviews from the Road where the reviewers will be blogging our trip north.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Reviewed: Lindsay Lohan Poses as Marilyn

Not only do I own the Mean Girls DVD, but I also saw it in the theater twice. I initially saw it because I am a fan of Tina Fey and enjoyed her work on Saturday Night Live almost as much as I now enjoy Andy Samburg (Hot Rod shoutout). The second time I saw it I took my high school age sister thinking she would pick up on its feel good themes. By the end of the movie, I was wondering if my sister could teach me to dress like Lindsay. Before she dyed her hair blond and got scary skinny she was a beautiful, talented actress.

I'm not going to make any comparisons between her and Marilyn Monroe because, quite frankly, I don't think there are many to be made. However, remembering her acting skills of past, I thought she might do an adequate job recreating the Monroe photos. I was sadly mistaken.

I should mention, the amount of time I spend watching America's Next Top Model has allowed me to become a premier photo critique.

Her hands looked dead in most photos, limp and solid not indicating any fluid movement. Her eyes in many shots lacked emotion. She needed to dig deeper with the scarves, seduce the camera in the ways she certainly knows how (see above photo.) Had these pictures been for the pure amusement of my boyfriend --who commented on his appreciation of her big boobs-- I would understand the lack of feeling. However, these pictures were for New York magazine by a noted photographer. If only Nigel would have shot them.

35 stars: I do appreciate her freckles weren't airbrushed over.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Reviewed: Possible D2 Sighting

Yes, I’m talking about D2: The Mighty Ducks. I should say D2 and D3, actually, because Dean Portman was in both of them. The Bash Brother from Chicago. Today I was totally walking down the street in my neighborhood headed to the bank and this attractive guy in a long wool coat crossed my path. In my head I went, hey Dean Portman.

Anyway, at this point I’m not really sure if it was or wasn’t him. I mean, Dean Portman doesn’t exist no matter how much I wish he did. But I imdb-ed him and found out that the actor who so delightfully portrayed him, Aaron Lohr, is no stranger to Broadway. I just can’t see what reason he would have to be in Brooklyn on 5th Avenue ‘round 11th Street. There was a Payless, a sidewalk pillow sale, and a lunch cart selling meat pies.

But wouldn’t it be fabulous if it was him? Turns out besides being a Bash Bro, Aaron Lohr has played parts in tons of my other favorite shows; Sister, Sister, Family Matters, Step by Step, the Disney movie Newsies, and best of all….ready?....St. Elsewhere. Man oh man, Ed Begley, Jr. I can’t even imagine getting to meet that guy.

Oh, I don’t know, how about like a million stars. Cake-eater.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Reviewed: Life

I, too, will soon have a passport to call my own. I will put it carefully in the ancient blue folder/envelope that reads "Important Documents" on the outside my mother gave me with about a dozen notarized copies of my birth certificate. Like the birth certificates, I hope to one day find a use for my passport, but I am certainly glad to finally have one.

I started the day at Walgreen's where a strung out hippie, hands covered in blue ink and gold rings, took my picture. He pulled down a screen at the end of the aisle for me to stand in front of while a lady with a cart waited patiently to pass. Apparently I had my eyes closed in the first one, so he took three more. He never offered to show them to me and I didn't ask to see them. Despite his use of a digital camera and the modules anyone can print a picture from, he informed me it would be thirty minutes until my pictures were ready. Like Cass, I am unable to take a good picture; however, unlike Cass I don't possess a natural beauty. When the Ian from High Fidelity lookalike finally handed over my pictures I saw I was smirking and my eyes were barely open. As a matter of fact, the lady at the post office had to question Gary "The Picture Guy" if my picture was even acceptable.

Speaking of the Post Office, I had to make an appointment to file my application, which they clearly didn't want to make for me. I showed up and was told to go into a small room with a table and chairs. Finally a woman walked in through a secure, locked door on the other side of the room. She sat down and meticulously looked over my documents, crosschecking my application information to my birth certificate and periodically asking me questions like when I was leaving and where I intended to visit. She then scribbled a signature and slid the paper back for me to sign. She told me I could say the oath aloud, but I silently stared at it before scribbling my own name.

10 Stars: $90? I paid $100 for the ten year humiliation that is my passport picture.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Don't Miss the Cutedown!

Finally! The Cute With Chris Live Show is online. Kitties with laser eyes galore.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Reviewed: Life

It’s not anything noticeable, but something is different about me. Can you guess?

The answer is I’m finally a passport holder. (Forget the guessing thing, I was never into that game anyway.) Well, I will be in approximately two weeks. I was talking to a friend the other day who was appalled to discover I didn’t have mine. He’s a savvy traveler whose destinations constantly make me jealous. Someday I’m going to make him take me on a trip. (Which will be hard considering I hate flying, and considering what an awful traveler I am in general.)

First I got my passport photo, which is awful and completely my fault. I figured there was a 50/50 chance that not smiling would be better than smiling since smiling has gotten me nowhere in the past (ahem, check card.) At the moment when it counted I kind of thought that I was doing a barely noticeable half-smile, or at least a smile with my eyes, but the evidence proved contrary. The photo-clerk even gave me the option of going again, but I stupidly declined out of embarrassment that I might take such an awful picture twice.


Our loyal readers know my feelings about the post office, and once again today I wasn’t disappointed. Photo upset aside, I was legitimately excited to apply for my passport. I waited patiently and never once had bad thoughts about any of the postal employees or the other people in line. I was saintly. I practically pranced to the window. But then the lady behind the bulletproof 3-inch dingy plastic squashed my hope and sunshine right through the little change slot where I slid my papers. I don’t think she even once looked up between barking at me for a second form of ID and scrawling illegibly and trying to get her pen to work all over my carefully prepared application.

Ninety dollars, please.

15 Stars. On a side note, have any of our readers been to Niagara Falls? Recommended trip or not?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Reviewed: Walnut Dining Table from Target

First of all, I just want to say that Super Tuesday is next week so go and VOTE…for Obama.

Secondly, the Walnut Table from Target is a pretty sweet deal. I don’t know how many of our readers are in the market for home furnishings, but if you are you’ll find out soon enough that things get expensive. Did you know that dressers not made from MDF are upwards of 1000 bucks? I’ve run the gamut of furniture shopping; Room & Board, Crate & Barrel, Target, JC Penney, craigslist (although, someone told me a bedbugs story the other day and it totally freaked me out), the flea market on the corner and Pottery Barn. The trick is doing a little something called “mixing hi and lo” (this term may seem too fancy for your blood, but just think about it and you'll understand.) Not everything in your apartment needs to be super quality, so save some money and find some low cost items that can be paired with something expensive to look chic.

Recently I purchased this stunning, elegant table for $99. It got to my house in, like, two days, and it only took me about an hour to assemble (good ol’ alan wrenches!) It’s the perfect size for our short-on-space apartment, since if you’ve ever shopped for dining room tables you’ll see that most of them are gigantic…and 1 out of 3 people on craigslist spell it ‘dinning’. This one is only 47X30, making it easy to seat 4 and maybe 6 in a pinch if you all bumped knees and elbows (nevermind, that is a terrible idea.)

The table is just as good as it looks in the picture—nice dark stain, real wood, smooth surface, sturdy and simple. So far the top seems to be pretty scratch-happy. Yesterday all I did was set my cereal bowl down and it looks like a tiger attacked (a miniature one, with tiny claws.) It's definitely not good because we’ve had the table for a week and are continuing to eat hunched over our coffee table, but then again big deal. I don't want to be one of those people who obsesses about the condition of my furniture--it's too easy to end up with a plastic-covered couch and tennis balls on the legs of the chairs. Speaking of chairs, we found two vintage ones at a shop down the street for $30, which I'm going to repaint and recover the seats, and then added two chairs from C&B and now I'm kind of proud of myself for putting together a dining set.

88 Stars. Convenience, price and style factors still outweigh functionality in this case. I can always invest in patriotic placemats and plastic-coated floral tablecloths.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Reviewed: Looking Back

I always get this way on the eve of finishing a big project—emotional, nostalgic, introspective, regretful—and most of my friends know to expect a round of e-mails asking, “remember when?” Currently the project I’m on now is the biggest project I’ve ever attempted to finish and the fact that I’m finishing it—that in some respects it is already done—is pretty mind-blowing. I’m in the emotional/nostalgic danger zone for sure, which is probably why the other night I had a pretty strange dream involving a kid from high school who has completely disappeared from my life, in fact probably disappeared the day after graduation and I have not thought of him since.

I’ve talked to a couple friends about this and they have both insisted that everyone is emotionally retarded in high school, that none of us ever knew what we were doing and can’t be blamed for the things we said or the actions we took. They are, of course, right. But it doesn’t help me in this state, feeling way more jerky and awful than I probably should.

Here’s what happened: we rode the same bus (yes, in high school before I got my driver’s license I occasionally still had to ride the bus home from school.) We rode the same bus and one day before he got off he shoved his Green Day Dookie CD at me and said, “I think you’ll like this. You can borrow it.” He was shy, like me. We were both shy, awkward.

A while later, when we both could drive, he stopped me in the hall and asked me to do something with him. I said I couldn’t because I was taking the ACT the next morning and had to wake up early. That night, while my dad was watching television in his underwear in the living room, the dog started barking and it was him, the kid from the bus, at my door. We stood awkwardly in the entryway of my house—I think we talked about Kurt Cobain—for about five minutes before I confirmed that no, I couldn’t go out. I wasn’t convinced that he actually liked me—it was new to me, to think that someone liked me. The next day he came to a basketball game that I was at (he never went to basketball games) and after the game he followed me and my friends for about one minute out of the parking lot in his truck. I, of course, being the emotionally immature brat that I was—and probably deep down totally scared of boys in general—told my friends he was stalking me, and relayed the entire story from the night before. We turned it into a game (stalker, high school girls love it) and laughed at him, and the next day when he left a note in my locker telling me that he wanted to get to know me better, I ignored it and ignored him.

The only reason I am obsessed with this now is because of the aforementioned emotional/regretful state of my brain in the aftermath of artistic exhaustion. But I can’t help but feel like the most awful brat alive, particularly because one of the only things I can specifically remember from the locker note was this line, “It took a lot for me to come out to your house…”

Does anyone else ever have those realizations? What do you do about them? There’s no way I would ever find this guy and say, “Hey, I’m sorry about that.” It would be totally crazy and he wouldn’t even care, or remember. But maybe it’s just enough for me to write down, right here, that I know I have done stupid things before and I regret them. I swear to god I’ve friggin’ matured.

6 Stars.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Reviewed: Epson Stylus CX6600

Three years ago for Christmas Joe got me this 3-in-one copier/printer/scanner. The wrapped box was so big I practically had a nervous breakdown trying to guess what it was (the entire Criterion Collection on DVD? a pony?) I had just gotten a digital camera and the Epson came with photo paper so Christmas afternoon I printed off a bunch of pictures...which might have been the last time, since now I’ve forgotten how to do it (and not in a grandma can-you-set-the-clock-on-my-microwave kind of way, but a how-does-iPhoto-work-with-this-printer kind of way.

Anyway, this review might be a bit outdated because Epson probably doesn’t even sell this model anymore and I can't even really remember the last time I actually needed to print something (although it does give me pause when I buy something online and they're like "For Safety, Please Print a Copy of This Receipt" even though I know they are going to e-mail me a copy anyway. You never know!) But I’m posting my thoughts anyway, because I’m betting the corporate moneymongers at Epson haven’t changed one truly irritating feature: once the printer is out of ink, all functions shut down.

This means that even if you run out of Cyan or Magenta—colors that, otherwise, you can totally get by without refilling—not only can you not print, but you can’t scan either. The machine literally clams up and continuously flashes the “Refill Ink” sign until you get up, comb your hair and change out of pajamas, go down the street to the Office Depot and purchase the Epson ink cartridge for $15-20. Then about two days later you run out of Yellow. This annoying feature has kept me from scanning in some old photos like this:

And this:

And even this (staged photo):Wait a second...what was I talking about?

37 Stars.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Reviewed: Brown Faux Leather Open Top Media Storage from BB&B

This week I’ve been engaging in one of my nerd-time hobbies, organizing my DVDs. I’ve been searching for a good media storage system for a while now, since my collection has outgrown this (see picture) old spinning shelf I got from one of my favorite friends, Tony. I’m reluctant to give it up—it has kind of been special to me, since it’s usually hard to find cool revolving pieces of furniture and I liked to sit in front of it when I was bored and twirl it around. Before my DVD’s, I’m pretty sure it used to house one of Tony’s roommate’s porn collection.

Anyway, I stopped by Bed, Bath & Beyond the other day and picked up one of these fake leather boxes. It was kind of annoying because the tag said it fit both VHS and DVD and I’m pretty sure they designed it that way on purpose, since the replica leather sides are about an inch and a half shorter than the height of a standard DVD. Seriously, who has videos anymore anyway? Grandmas who own The Mirror Has Two Faces and Because of Winn Dixie? It took me a long time to give up on VHS, but I’m young so I had to. I don’t yet have the luxury of living in the past.

The pleather box fits about 25 regular DVDs and I only bought one. I did that on purpose; it didn’t say how many it held on the tag--I sure as heck didn’t think I would fit all 60 or so of my DVDs in one small bogus leather box--but I just thought I would try one out first before investing in more. Probably a bad plan, because now I do want to invest in more and that just means I have to go back to BB&B.

56 Stars.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fun Boss Movie Day: Atonement, Speechless

Having finished the second major leg of a huge project I’ve been working on, yesterday I decided to become Fun Boss again and award myself a movie day. I went to the Regal at Union Square and whaddayaknow, got a free popcorn (which I realized had more to do with them getting rid of the stale afternoon popcorn than with me being lucky.) But I was lucky enough to be sitting behind the lady who answered her phone during the movie, in prime kicking distance (take that!) and finally winning one battle in my attempt to teach people not to be annoying in theaters. But I should probably say something about the actual movie, hm?

It was as gorgeous as The English Patient or The Thin Red Line. Full of deliciously repeating lines (“Come back to me”) and dialog exchanges that were sparce but full to brimming with subtext--especially the library scene, how two characters admit, I love you.

I love movies that make me want to move to the English countryside. I wanted to see it again the minute I walked out of the theater.

But as I was leaving, I inexplicably thought of a Geena Davis/Michael Keaton movie that I haven’t seen in ages. It has nothing to do with Atonement. I repeat, nothing. But guys, have you seen Speechless? If not, queue it up immediately. (I heart Michael Keaton.) It’s a rom-com about two speechwriters who work for opposing candidates/parties of a New Mexico senate race and fall in love during a shared bout of insomnia. Yeah, the ending gets a little cheesy, but lots of movies do. I recently caught Bird on a Wire the other day on HBO—come on, shootout at the zoo? Anyway, it is worth it alone just to see Christopher Reeve's hilarious performance.

90 stars.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Reviewed: Gossip Girl vs. The O.C.

If you haven’t gotten it by now, here’s a confession: I love cheesy, melodramatic television and I fear I always will. The networks keep producing cheesier, more dramatic stuff every season and I eat it up (although I’m following Jace’s advice a la the WGA strike and resisting the urge to watch stand-in shows.) My goodness, I was practically salivating at the 2 hour premiere of One Tree Hill this week….which, by the way, was glorious (Nathan in a wheelchair! Brook on the red carpet! Lucas with a bestselling book! And only four years after graduation!)

But I did have that moment last night during Gossip Girl—the one where Blair is about to leave on a helicopter (to get to JFK? Wouldn’t it just be faster to take a limo? Enough with the excess, B) and Serena talks her out of it. They always gotta have those moments, don’t they, when you’re supposed to be tricked into thinking something dramatic is about to happen but you already know it won’t because someone is going to come in and save the day. Someone always saves the day.

That kind of stuff happened on The O.C. all the time, and considering both GG and OC are Josh Swartz and Stephanie Savage projects they’ve got a lot of similarities. Music and clothes (although New York style beats the West Coast), insightful teens and adventurous parents. Serena practically is Marissa; completely gorgeous and messed up, but generous and fair with a true heart of gold. I have love for both series, but I still think The O.C. was a superior show.

My beef with Gossip Girl is that it’s a little too much—the money and glamour and the fact that gosh darn, they give Brooklynites such a hard time. And I know he’s super rich and all, but why does Chuck get so easily served in every bar? For god’s sake, I’m 27 and people still give me a hard time sometimes (little girl face, erg.) Little brother Van der Woodsen can psychoanalyze Serena and solve the who-spread-the-rumor caper in less than 3 minutes and the show suddenly resolves.

I’m going to keep watching because that’s what I do, but I’m just saying. More stars to Marissa Cooper.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Reviewed: Pureology Hydrating Shampoo

This morning I was in the shower thinking about reviewing razors (I had one of those winter WHOA leg hair moments) but I didn’t because I realized I had already done so, and because I was sickly thinking that, while it’s warm in New York right now, there are definitely some super freezing days in the future where I might want that extra layer. So instead, I looked to the line of scented bottles at the back of my shower.

Lots of girls are picky about their shampoo, probably because some pseudo-scientific commercial has done it’s misleading job and convinced us of its merits. I’m more of a sampler, mostly sticking to salon brands and whichever bottle is prettiest at Trade Secret. However, about 4 years ago my stylist started using Pureology in her salon and I have coveted the ridiculously expensive brand (about $25 a bottle) every since.

It’s supposed to be super healthy for your hair because it’s all sulfite-free and whatnot, but it also smells awesome and it’s a delicious purple color that reminds me of My Little Pony. Plus, I have to say that my hair, which is always difficult—dry and frizzy—has been somewhat behaving lately. It might be that awesome prayer I did the day I was really sick (ha!) but it might just be the shampoo. I’ve only made the plunge and bought one bottle so far, and now that this one is about out I’m sad because I’m currently on a budget (which always is so hard, especially knowing that these Frye boots are just out there, existing in this world.) I’ll probably just end up using the rest of the cheap bottle I buy for Joe and instruct him to use instead of mine (he has amazing hair and can handle generic Suave and no conditioner.)

89 Stars. Also, the conditioner smells like mint, and I imagine is kind of a nice wake-up in the shower.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Reviewed: Myself (Extended Version)

I was thinking, why the heck should anyone take my word for it if they don’t even know who I am? Well, hmmm…You don’t know Lindsay Lohan either, do you, but American Apparel sold thousands of grey fleece hoodies when she blacked out and drunk drooled in one. But the point is, how am I ever going to sell you on Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa Mix or the entertainment value of One Tree Hill if you don’t trust me? Ergo, I compiled some tidbits.

1) As a kid my claim to fame was that I possibly had the largest personal VHS collection in town, including such gems like The Pest with John Leguizamo…or that I pronounced “breakfast” as “breaf-tast.” Either one.
2) I was disappointed that Hillary Clinton didn’t win the Iowa caucus last night but then I watched Obama’s victory speech and now I’m in love.
3) I think having a favorite color is stupid.
4) Tomatoes are the most excellent fruit.
5) I once spent an hour in Nerdland creating an alphabetical, cross-listed spreadsheet of my DVDs. (Crap, I wasn’t going to reveal that to anyone.)
6) My mother, in a moment of weakness that is hilarious upon reflection, broke down and called the 12 year-old me a dumbass. (I totally deserved it. My mom's awesome.)
7) I got a 27 on my ACT the second time. Wait, actually I think I got a 26.
8) Olive Garden is my favorite restaurant.

I just realized that I’m totally out of touch with anything other than pop culture, which is making my interactions with new people sort of odd. I can talk for an hour on the WGA strike, but stare dumbly when you ask me about the presidential election. This is mainly because of 1) Dr. Weil, whose 8 Weeks to Optimum Health recommends staying away from the stressors of local and national news, and 2) the Iraq War was getting more depressing than ever and the writing life is depressing enough. But apathy is kind of unfamiliar territory for me and I felt like I had accidentally killed a bunny the other day when I didn’t know anything about the Bhutto assassination. “Who’s Bhutto?” I said to Joe. Ugh, I know. I’m disgusting. In college I was the girl in the long batik skirt asking you to sign a postcard for endangered species. Now the most significant thing about politics I know is that Edwards has got a pretty f-ing good haircut.

Anyway, I’m totally undeserving of all the Christmas presents people bought me. Joe bought me this:
Or rather, he did after I exchanged what he bought me for this. I got him the DVD of Big Trouble in Little China. (Among other things, geez. The gulf of expense wasn’t that wide.) My grandma got me cute red leather gloves and a red knit scarf. My mom got me seasons 1 and 3 of 30 Rock and The Office, respectively. My aunt sewed for me the most amazing needlepoint. And my sister got me Marc Jacobs Daisy. I love the little gold pouch.I also got the stomach flu and cried and vomited and laid on the bathroom floor moaning, had to cancel my flight, decided not the put the $1000 change fee to go a day late on my credit card no matter how tempted I was, lost 4 pounds, couldn’t eat a real meal for a week, went to the Met to see the baroque Christmas tree and convinced Joe to leave with me before the lighting (I was weak from flu, and geez, it wasn’t even a REAL tree---come on, Met, get with it), was sad about zoo-kept tigers and the WGA strike, and accidentally killed the rosemary plant that I had brought inside for the winter and then forgot to water. And now I’ve created the longest post ever, entirely about me. Can you believe it?

Hmmm. 47 Stars? (Barely.)

P.S. #8 is a lie. Double ew.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Reviewed: Papermate Sharpwriter Pencils

Of course it happens now that I’m to the revising process of my book--the pens and pencils stage--there are none in the house. It is moments like these that make me realize how attached I am to my Powerbook, and also how much things have changed. It’s like looking at the signature (circa 9th grade) on your social security card, the way each individual letter is formed in perfect cursive, and you realize that you’ll never go back to that ever because you can’t remember anymore how to write the cursive r.

So I’m going to the store this afternoon to pick up some Papermate Sharpwriter #2’s. Those are the plastic mechanical pencils with a twisty (instead of clicky) graphite dispenser. These guys are truly the masters of mechanical pencils, showcasing the same yellow color as the old school woods, but without the annoying scratchy thing that happens before you need a sharpen. Sharpwriters served me well throughout my education and I hope to continue utilizing them in the future, that is, until we start living in a paperless society and the government breaks down so that the police become on-the-spot judges and cities are contained within walled enclosures and cars fly and I’m totally looking to Sylvester Stallone because he’s had experience with this before.

84 Stars.