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Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Simplest, Yet Snazziest, Word Site I Have Ever Seen
"Battlestar Galactica" started without us. TiVo must have sensed our (unintentional) apathy and deleted the first episode - after all, it has been recording reruns all summer which we have steadfastly refused to view.

So now I am all discombobulated, because I have seen the third episode of the season but not the first two. The second episode is sitting on the TiVo because John realized at some point that these were new episodes, not reruns. I will have to go back in time a bit whenever I have 40 minutes to spare and catch up as best I can.

But how pathetic is it that we have a machine that records the things we want to see automatically and we still missed the opening episode of one of our favorite shows? I shall be on guard in future - the new season of "House" is not going to get by me.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Welcome Back
Rockin' Out with the Yuppies
John and I went down to Bristow, VA last night to see a concert. This is a pretty big event for us - we don't generally get out to see live music a lot, as much as we like the shows themselves. The logistics are often daunting, we can't stand cigarette smoke, and big crowds really aren't our thing. But due to my thirty-odd year obsession with James Taylor (shared by most of my family - musical obsession: nature or nurture? Discuss.), we got dressed, loaded ourselves into John's new car, and headed off to the show. Driving the second family station wagon to see James Taylor? I know. If you're about to leave a hipper-than-thou comment, don't bother. I'm very comfortable in my dorky yuppitude.

We had an additional impetus to go to this particular show, not that I really need one, as JT is my desert-island disc of all time. A classmate of mine now plays keyboards in JT's band, and we were able to spend about 20 minutes with him and meet the trumpet player as well before the show started: an unusual and really nice way to spend some time before a concert.

The concert itself? Fantastic. I am amazed at the way he can take something he has played hundreds of thousands of times and make it new, together with providing small fillips of humor throughout. An example of both: since he is now touring with horns (including a former member of the Blues Brothers), the oft-requested tune "Mexico" had a Mariachi flair to it. When the horns soloed, a roadie popped up behind them and plonked sombreros onto their heads (complete with dangling price tags). The players continued along, swinging in unison from side to side to highlight the silliness. When the gag was over, the roadie popped up and removed the sombreros. Silly, goofy, underplayed, and never overshadowing the music. James to a T.

*Due to the new job, the blogging schedule has been trashed, at least for now.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Not Trying to be Coy or Anything...
...But my past history has caused me of being wary of making premature announcements.

The announcement is that I do now have a job. Big sigh of relief. I shall not blog about the job, other than the fact that I have it, I am in it, and I am currently traveling to support it (hence the incommunicado).

I need to see how the new schedule shakes out in order to fit in my usual musings. Some alterations are just about inevitable.

Thank you for your kindness, your patience, and your support throughout the last year and a half. And thank you for checking in.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Dear Readers:
The 18th of this month through the 22nd will likely be insanely erratic. Our Heroine's post-on-time-by-9-AM rule will likely be shattered to smithereens for the week. I apologize in advance, will post when I can, and beg your sympathetic indulgence. All is well, just hectic.

Thanking you in advance for your anticipated cooperation -


Friday, July 15, 2005

Be Sure to Watch the Video
In the Fine Tradition of Bloggers Everywhere
I have a metric boatload of things to do today and will not be able to post a "real" essay. Therefore, we will have... (drumroll, please) Gratuitous Cat Blogging!

I do think this is the funniest picture ever taken of the normally gravitas-laden Simon, so please, Dear Readers: amuse one another by posting possible captions in the comments. The funniest caption-writer will get to bask in the glow of his or her own funniness.

Where am I going?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Pas de Backhoe*
Taking the love between man and machine to an entirely new artistic height. (Video with sound - work-safe).

*Patrick Nielsen Hayden came up with this title, not I.

Out and About in the World
What a strange feeling. My website contains an anecdote about our DIY plumbing mishap (now thankfully fixed). Via the magic of links, our household is now, I gather, a cautionary tale about the dangers of doing your own faucet-fittings (ours is the one labeled "Plumbing Mishap"). The linkage is provided by a company in Long Island that does home repair.

Now all of this is dandy - I am not one of those nutters who thinks they can control who links to WoT, in both the immediate and the global sense. What does squick me a little bit is that now my cautionary tale is being used in a more-than-tangential way to sell home-repair services. "See? See what being self-reliant does for you?" it seems to say, slowly wagging an admonishing finger. "Call in the professionals, or this might just happen to you." My squawking about the insanity of doing DIY home repair is apparently being taken quite seriously on Long Island.

So, I would like to reiterate: we did have some issues with the sink. John was able to fix them. It took some time, but he did it. We now have faucet fittings that don't cause nausea in someone of ordinary aesthetic sensibility. I've got nothing against hiring professionals, but let the record show: in this instance, the amateur job did work.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Sick. Also, Funny.
Shocked, Shocked I Tell You.
I have been reading Robert B. Parker's books for about 20 years now. He cranks out at least one beach-read per year, so it is inevitable he repeat himself. I can practically flip through his books without looking and put my finger down on one of the many instances where someone in a Spenser novel inevitably says, "We'd be fools not to." Generally, they're just predictable enough to be comforting, just different enough to hold my interest. Cue the sassy detective, the self-involved client, and the not-quite-tough-enough bad guys.

But his latest, Melancholy Baby, is almost an exact duplicate of Early Autumn. Substitute female detective Sunny Randall for Spenser, make the irritating kid (who happens to be a very young woman instead of a teenage boy) be the client instead of a parent, change a couple of motivations, bingo. Entirely different book, really! Except that it's all about the detective becoming substitute parent to this irritating lump of humanity, thereby redeeming the detective and the irritating lump in one swell foop.

There is a kind of funny "world's collide" subtheme - Susan Silverman, Spenser's love interest, is Sunny's therapist now. It's interesting to see Susan through someone beside Spenser's eyes. I am also a cheap sucker for that frisson of recognition, hey! I know her! She's in a different book! Interacting with a different character! Oooh!

Do I really care that Parker's slacking here? No. I'm not out any cash on this - I get his books from the library. I'm not out much time, either. He makes for a zippy read. But it would be nice if there were something new under the sun here. I mean, the man's going to sell no matter what: is this repetitiveness laziness or contempt for his readers?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Something for the Knitters, Something for the Comic-Book Fans
WoT Google Searches, v. 10
This is a short-ish list of the latest whack-jobbery that has come to me via the hallowed portals of Google. The surreal selections have been fewer, but more piquant, somehow. Volume 9 is here.

typing just for fun - That sounds like a compelling book title. And just think of the sequel possibilities:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome for Excitement and Profit!
Slumping Over a Keyboard: the Early Years
60 WPM: Unsafe at Any Speed

how can i fix my life - Well, not treating Google as the Oracle at Delphi would probably be a good start.

smith dump bodies - Eeeeuuuuuuwww. No. Just... no.

Dump Hollis NH - The Social Hub of that crazy little town.

coconuts in hindu weddings - Heee. I am sure Alicia and Guillermo would find that very funny.

john otter time traveler - I think this is another potential book title, but it needs better punctuation. John Otter: Time Traveler!

Monday, July 11, 2005

"More Gods than You Can Shake a Stick at"
I have to say, this website, which refers to the Norse goddess Freya as "a bit of a goer," is rather appealing.

Back to Yoga
Yesterday marked the end of a weeklong break from my Yoga practice. As I mentioned Friday, I have tendonitis in my hip, and while it took me a while to get to the point of actually giving it rest (okay, it took a month) and getting it checked out, it finally seemed like a good idea.

So yesterday's class with Sharon marked the return of my body to its hour-and-a-half of lifting, bending, and twisting. I am pleased beyond all belief that I can walk this morning, as the class was fairly vigorous. It was also difficult to predict what would be a bit too much for the wonky tendon, and I have come to the conclusion that I like my injuries straightforward and easy to cope with. Bashed toes - I can handle those (though I would prefer not to, of course). Goofy pains in my inner hip that require a physician's diagnosis? No thanks - you can keep that.

Pain aside, the real oddity in yesterday's class was just not knowing what I was capable of. Even a week off can cause abilities to erode, and I was concerned that I might have a spell of un-mindfulness and launch myself into something I am usually quite able to do and find it missing. Waking up this morning to the feeling of muscles well- (but not over-) used was a good one.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Your Very Own Expert
I once had a research assistant who was a whiz-kid at getting Excel to sit up, beg, and twirl biscuits on its nose. This could potentially help you to get that good.

John sliced the tip of his finger off last night while making dinner. He's on the phone to Kaiser being told that we missed our window to get it stitched up (he didn't think it was that bad last night, but apparently...). Well, maybe not. Off we go.

Anyway, since I went to Kaiser just yesterday for what turns out to be tendonitis in my hip, they are going to wonder if the Smiths are literally falling apart. Yeah. Euuugh. Have yourselves a lovely weekend.

ETA: He's fine, but given the amount of time the doctor's visit took, he's taking the rest of the day off.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Holy National Symbols, Batman
Now that's a big knitting project.

The Diminution of Delight
Do you have a friend who can absolutely ruin a movie or book you love by pointing out its flaws? Don't you hate that?

I recently found out I am that person for my friend Michele. I am feeling shame now.

We love what we love for our own reasons. I have found myself unbelievably affected by some pretty sentimental twaddle and not cared one iota. Sometimes we don't see the things that might draw us out of the moment. Sometimes we are willfully ignoring them. But either way, the infatuation with a piece of art often does not survive the pointing out of flaws by certain people. There is something about that critical third-party gaze that causes delight to withdraw. When that process occurs, it is often a fairly short slide to disillusionment.

I don't know why some people hold this power and others don't. I can read an article about Joss Whedon's flawed world-building and shrug. I still love Buffy. But I have had people in my life who probably could have killed my enjoyment in the series if I had let them.

I don't want to be that person for Michele or for anyone else. So I have stopped critiquing movies around her, because there is little enough wonder in the world. I don't want to be responsible for reducing it.

New Gig
Hey all - I have an essay up at Yogalila! Read it and... well, learn?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Strange Jobs I have Had
When I was a much younger Heroine, I worked two Octobers at the Minneapolis Haunted Hayride. These are the lengths I would go to to earn money for Christmas presents: the first year, I spent long, cold nights hopping around in a rubber mask every time a tractor-driven haywagon went past. I had the company of Alicia and Jenn during those frigid evenings, and we learned some surprising things about ourselves and one another. I can still say "I am very cold - especially my nose," in Spanish thanks to Alicia (NB: for some reason, "Tengo mucho frio - especiamente mi nares," must be said in a baby Peter Lorre voice. Do not ask me - ask 'Lis. She makes the rules, I just abide by them). We also learned that we could generally get through an entire rendition of "I Will Survive" in the time between wagons (between the three of us we knew all of the words too - and speaking of that song, it's been a while since this has made the rounds - go have yourself a larf on me).

The second year I worked the Hayride, I was a "scout" or tour guide. I learned much then, too. I learned that when you stand for hours on a swaying wagon every night for a month, the jeans that just fit when you started the month will be loose with longjohns worn underneath by the end of the month (it's the Hayride exercise plan - I should patent it). I learned that my tractor-driver was my best ally. And I learned that drunken, threatening frat boys can be cowed by said driver offering to remove them bodily from the wagon. I also learned that people will be stupid enough to pony up hard cash to go on a ride that celebrates All Hallows Eve and then be affronted because it has occult-ish elements (though rubber masks are probably not part of the usual coven attire).

Life and hayrides - they have one or two things in common: stay away from drunk, scary, or stupid people, cultivate your friends for amusement and protection, and always keep your hands and feet inside the wagon.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

::Applies Back of Hand to Forehead::
Declaration of Dog-Dependence
Three years ago today, John and I did a very daft thing. We set out from the two-bedroom apartment where we were temporarily living until we closed on our house and took a two-hour drive to western Maryland, near the West Virginia border. A few hours later, we returned to the beige box we called "home" with seven pounds of attitude and fluff:

Baby Mac II Baby Mac

Looked at objectively, it is an act of purest insanity to get an animal when your life is in flux. It was also not particularly fair to the cats who were also going through trauma from having been forcibly relocated. But we did persist in our madness, and harmony more or less reigned from the outset.

Baby Mac and Simon

So, happy third anniversary of your adoption, MacIntosh. Today we redeclare our dog-dependence.

Toshie Twist

Oh, Heck Yeah.
Friday, July 01, 2005

Bad Blogger, No Biscuit
John has car troubles this morning, so I am off to take him to the dealer. Hence, no essay. Have a great Fourth of July weekend, all.