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.