Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

I normally would have taken another picture since I have a kind of meh expression on my face, but I decided it pretty accurately reflected how I ended up feeling about this outfit. 

Originally, I wanted to wear these cords since it was cloudy and autumnal when I was getting ready, but being July a cardigan would have been a bit to much, too heavy, especially since the weather soon turned bright and sunny. But the lightness of the material in the blouse ended up contradicting the heaviness of the pants, and the  primary tone of the blue was a bit off compared to the earth toned light brown/tan. Next time I might try a t-shirt (not tucked in) or stick with the cardigans and save the corduroy thing for colder seasons. Stay tuned, this is riveting stuff.

P.S. I am an excellent speller, but "corduroy" gave me a minor fit. The first two times I wrote it, I wasn't even close enough for spell check to know what I meant.

Totally Unrelated

1. My favorite blog, mental floss, had a link to an article about microexpressions. That article had a link to a test which is supposed to tell you how good you are at reading quick, involuntary facial expressions that give away a person's emotions. It does do that, but it also has the added bonus of being unintentionally creepy. Try it out for yourself here.

2. The Daily What posted this really awesome nerdy bookmark (given away at Urban Outfitters stores) a few days ago. Want.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Those Sandals. That Pose.

1.I just pulled these sandals out of an "extra shoes" tub under my bed, and have been wearing them a lot.

2. I noticed I do this pose a lot when Joe is taking my picture. Hands in pockets or out. Actually, I do this pose a lot in general for outfit pictures. I feel a little silly doing the "staring into space" thing, so I end up just looking at the camera.

A Heavy Book Review

I think this year I have read the least amount of books since I graduated high school. Somehow I started out slowly and never quite picked up steam in the reading department. Lately, though, I have begun to return to my former glory.
Seriously, I can't stop wearing these shorts. And now back to what I was saying.
I have been tearing my way through books lately, at least in the sense that I've read about as much in the last month as I have the rest of the year combined. I think a lot of it comes from nice weather that beckons me out with a cold drink, a good book, and a heavy dousing in spray sunscreen. And the rest of it from Joe's recent interest in reading, something he's never much been into, and especially not in the year and a half we've been together. Since we live in separate towns at the moment, when we're together I feel kind of guilty reading if he's around, so usually we would end up watching movies or TV or hanging out with friends. But now that he's started reading, we can do it together. It's nice, actually, since reading is a great interest of mine, and it's nice to share it.

Anyway, in the past couple of months I've made it through the first four books in the Percy Jackson series,  The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern, and The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. I've had a rather good run of luck, and have enjoyed them all in different ways.

Just yesterday I finished Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky, the same man who wrote a lovely memorial article about Wallace for Rolling Stone after his suicide in 2008. The article referenced material that would become Although, gathered by Lipsky during a few days the men spent together at the end of Wallace's book tour for Infinite Jest in 1996. Lipsky was gathering material for an article that, at the time, didn't surface. But after Wallace's death, Lipsky revisited the interviews and tapes and decided to release the transcripts. The result is a fascinating, difficult, heartbreaking picture of a man called by many a genius.

Wallace's death, of course, biases any reading of Although hopelessly. As Lipsky says in his afterword, "Suicide is such a powerful end, it reaches back and scrambles the beginning." To hear Wallace hope for marriage, children, speak of himself as an old man, speculate about his future, and recount his past brush with being on suicide watch, culls a painful resonance in the heart of the reader, as one empowered with Cassandra-like vision of his grim future. Wallace's thoughts, as recorded by Lipsky, are so sharply observant beyond the capacity of the average person as to make his "normal" utterances (jokes, contradictions, fumblings to find the right word, the time he mistakenly refers to Gwenyth Paltrow as Blythe Danner when discussing Seven) seem an endearing treat, a conspiratorial gift that reassures us that he's still only human. And to read this book, more than anything, was for me a validation that Wallace's suicide was in no way romantic, or inevitable. This man, David, was not and Author, a Writer, a Genius. He was a guy whose need to write led to a lot of good things, and a lot of hard times, and caused a lot of trouble in his life. 

I've never been much of a fan of Wallace's fiction, though granted I have only read Girl With The Curious Hair. But his nonfiction has always astonished me. He mines his subjects with such relentless abandon, the final product is simultaneously full and empty of him. I read his essay about about David Lynch without having seen a single thing he directed, of John McCain's presidential campaign though I hate politics, of the porn industry's equivalent to the Oscars. Tennis, lobsters, cruise ships...anything seemingly mundane or beyond my scope of interests became fascinating in his hands. So while most of the conversation in Although revolves around Wallace's best-known work, the 1,000 plus page novel Infinite Jest which I have never read, I breezed through Although in just a few days. And now, of course, my curiosity is strong, and while I've contemplated reading Infinite Jest before, I have never been able to bring myself to do it.

So what should have been an interview about a book became a book about a man and his book, but of course about everything else as well. Thankfully, Lipsky gives us a transcript of the vivid, vital man that Wallace once was, before he went of his medication for depression in search for something better, before the doctors failed to find something, before he tried to go back on the original medication and found it no longer worked, before he (as his mother imagines) kissed his dogs and told them he was sorry and was gone.

Although, of course, he never quite got to finish becoming himself.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Inception vs Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus

Yesterday, I went to see Inception. But to avoid spoilers or black holes of speculation as to what it meant (I have a theory, but it's rather incomplete), I'd rather talk about another movie I saw recently. It is called Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.

Ignore the pizza stain on my lapel, and read about
a cinematic materpiece

First of all, let's get one thing clear. It's a giant OCTOPUS, not a squid. That was mentioned at least twice in the film, and is apparently of great import. To be honest, I was watching it with about five other people, and we only paid attention to stuff like when the shark jumped out of the sea to eat a plane out of the sky. Which begs the question....why is it eating a flying object anyway? As far as I know, normal sharks don't eat birds. I mean, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, it's not like I'm a shark expert or anything. But I'm pretty sure that's not Standard Operating Procedure. So why would a giant shark try to eat what it could only perceive to be a sort of giant bird? Can't it find, like, a whale to munch on?

Of course, the main reason to watch Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus is to see the two creatures engage in a thrilling battle to the death. Unfortunately, they spent most of the movie far apart from each other, barely interacting. And then, when the inevitable face-off ensued, the really horrendous CGI (which contributes to much of the movie's charm and mockability) left me feeling cheated. At best, it looked a bit like they were trying to make hybrid baby sea creatures, not ruthlessly annihilate and destroy each other. 

I guess that explains the new Syfy movie coming out: Sharktopus. Yes, it's real. (Well, not the sharktopus, but the movie.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


The other day at work, I was checking in books and I came across this book, published in 2006 by Random House.

Then, whist perusing Amazon's book blog Omnivoracious the same day, I noticed a book that had just been published last month by Viking:

Okay, so the fonts are different sizes, and the author and title order are switched around, but still, there are major similarities. Especially the use of italics underneath the picture. 

Is it just me? 


Random House, 2002

This is getting ridiculous.

Shipwreck Day

I'm not sure what possessed me to wear this vintage scarf I had lying around today, but I felt a bit like a flight attendant in it.

Today was Shipwreck Day in my town, a day when the main street is overtaken by what is basically a giant garage sale. There are hundreds of vendors, some who sell antiques, jewelry, vintage clothing or whatever for a living, some who are just trying to get rid of some junk. You get a little bit of everything and there's treasures at every price point. I worked, as I always do on Saturdays, but I managed to get a half and hour there on my lunch and scored a houndstooth rug for three bucks. I LOVE HOUNDSTOOTH YOU GUYS! And my I felt very at home there in my vintage shoes, scarf, and purse.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer Reading

Since I work part-time, I have some days off in the middle of the week when everyone else seems to be working. Today was one of those days. And for once, the weather was ideal, hot but not too hot. I'm always longing for perfect summer days when I can lounge around in my bathing suit and read books, and today's conditions are the best I've seen yet this year. 

You may think that laying out in the sun all day is a pretty low-maintenance pastime, but over the years I've learned a few very basic techniques which increase enjoyment and effectiveness. 

1. Good conditions. The best weather is mostly cloudless and breezy, with temperatures in the mid-seventies to mid-eighties, depending on your tolerance. Any cooler, it's not summery feeling enough. Hotter, I can't lay out comfortably.

2. Speaking of comfort: a good spot to lounge. Since I don't currently own lawn chairs, and my back yard is only a deck and gravel, I have to lay down on a hard surface. My other option is the front yard, but I'm not too keen to exhibit myself to random passers and drivers-by, since I am usually just wearing a bathing suit. Just laying on a beach towel is an okay (though not ideal) option on grass, but with a wooden deck I face a minor conundrum. Solution: get out my sleeping bag and use it as padding. Guess what? It works great! And I always have pillow issues, not wanting to dirty the ones I sleep on, and constantly fighting with and folding them to get a good shape. This year I have a few hand-me-down throw pillows we never use on the couches, and stacking two of them works better than anything else I've tried. If I'm on my stomach, it props me up enough to get a good view of what I'm reading, and if I'm on my back I can get in a semi-upright position and hold my book on my stomach.

3. Sunscreen. I have most of the indicators of someone with a very high risk of skin cancer, so I cover myself in SPF 30 at least. Fifteen is the minimum anyone should use, ever, and don't even get me started on lecturing you. At the very least, you should avoid a future of leathery, wrinkled, spotty skin. And you could end up saving your own life.  My mom works for a ophthalmologist, and I've heard enough about weird cancerous growths her office has removed from someone's face to take a minute and sunscreen it up. I prefer the spray kind, since it not only saves me time, it covers me much more thoroughly than hand application. Some sprays are better than others, I've had great luck with Coppertone Continuous Spray No-Rub. It's clear, non-greasy, and you really don't have to rub it in at all. It even gets the back of my ears, my part, and any other weird spots I might forget to cover normally. Another bonus is that I'm more diligent about wearing it times I never did before, since it only takes a few seconds to spray down my legs and arms. In years past, if I was just heading out for a quick walk, or going out and about to run errands, I would never take the time and trouble to get out sunscreen and coat myself, but now I can do it quick as I'm running out the door.

4. Enough lecturing, here's a tip. If you bring flip-flops outside to slip on for trips back and forth from the house, make sure to keep them upside-down or in the shade. Otherwise, you end up having to stick your foot into a hot piece of plastic approximately the temperature of a frying pan.

5. Okay, a little bit more lecturing. Bring something to drink out with you and drink often. It's easy to get dehydrated.

6. A good book! Today I finished The Imperfectionists, read through Sh*t My Dad Says in about two hours, and started on The Things They Carried.


This dragonfly came in my house and can't get out:

Every few minutes I hear the frantic flapping of wings as it tries once, again, to get out through the closed window. Though, as far as I can tell, it is no longer moving from its perch on the frame of this mirror, so I guess it's having periodic panic fits but has given up all hope of escape. I feel bad for it, but am too squeamish of bugs (especially large ones with random frantic wing-flapping tendencies) to try and free it. 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

This Year's Summer Wardrobe Essential

Slim dark cuffed denim bermudas. They look great with a casual outfit as seen here:

And they're a great alternative to booty shorts, especially if you don't like showing off too much of the goods. Let's face it, we can all appreciate a little more modesty and sophistication in the world when it comes to summer dressing.  And you can put them with slightly fancier separates as seen here:

Versatility is the key. They are cute and body-conscious, but still conservative. They're a great middle option between too-casual shorts and too-dressy skirts, and look very modern and chic this year. They can go from a barbecue to a nice dinner, and look great with blazers and cardigans. I just got mine, and haven't been able to part with them long enough to wash them yet...three consecutive days of wear isn't THAT bad, is it? Oh, it is? Oops.

Word of warning: really dark washes of denim may dye your thighs so that in the shower you momentarily panic, thinking you have contracted some strange disease that gives you giant blue veins and bruises.

(Thanks to Joe for the photography. He took a normal shot of the second outfit, but I thought this one was funnier.)

In Which I Wear Inappropriate Shoes For a Record-Breakingly Hot Day

The verdict so far on my man-shoes: Joe thinks they're weird. Everyone else thinks they're awesome. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pretzel M&Ms: A Review

While searching for an image to post here, I came across two other reviews of the new Pretzel M&Ms. Both reviews were highly favorable. I believe it is my duty to offer a voice of dissent. While I did enjoy them to a certain degree, I was not fully won over. As you can see from the picture, the pretzel ratio is very high, and the chocolate very low. While this is consistent with the amount of chocolate typically used when covering regular pretzels, a combination I agree is delicious and appropriate, it does not serve the shape of the M&M to its full advantage. 

The problem is, it's a round, thick, chunky piece of pretzel, thicker than my palette is used to, and the thin layer of chocolate is not substantial enough to compete with the filling. With M&Ms, it is my contention that the chocolate should be the main attraction, and the flavor, whether it be peanut, pretzel, or otherwise, should be an enhancement. So, while I liked them to a certain degree, I find there is room for improvement. Back to the drawing board, Pretzel M&Ms. So close to greatness, yet so far.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

When I Come Around

I was initially opposed to the menswear-inspired shoe trend. Then slowly, over time, I changed my opinion completely. And I bought these at Value Village for ten dollars.

Some of you may balk at the idea of sticking your bare feet into a stranger's shoes. Well, I never said fashion was logical.

The Bah Humbug Changes her Tune

Well, I took a bit of advantage of my vacation time to hang out at Joe's for a couple of days. We left on the afternoon of July 4th. Neither of us are much for fireworks, and we didn't have any other solid plans. So off we went, and spent the day inside doing some recording. As you can see, I tried to get into the spirit of the day a little bit with my red cardigan, striped shirt and blue shoes. I decided to pose with Tyler Durden, though I think his outfit might be better than mine.

Joe's apartment is across the street from the campus of the university I graduated from, so I know my way around a bit. I had an idea where we might be able to watch fireworks, so we bundled up and headed out for the mile or so long walk to the spot I suggested. However, when we got there we found that about fifty other people had the same brilliant idea. So we kept going, and ended up finding a spot with a better view completely to ourselves. I even found a rose on the ground on the way there. Now, I'm not exactly a romantic, sentimental fool, but it was pretty great. We could see out across the town over the bay, and there were hundreds of fireworks going off all around as at any given moment. I tried out the special fireworks setting on my camera, but I only took a few because I didn't want to miss too much. That's why the picture looks weirdly velcro-esque. So I, who hours earlier had been disparaging the 4th of July, ended up having a magical evening.

And the next day I discovered another miracle:


Sunday, July 4, 2010


I, the ever-vigilant champion of sunscreen, apparently missed a spot on my right arm.

It's kinda hard to see, but that's why I'm making the sad face.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Liberrian Love

My new favorite blog is Love the Liberry, updated faithfully by a reference librarian who chronicles the absurdness and redundancy that library workers deal with every day. Though I work at a library, I am not a Librarian, which would require a couple of more years of schooling. But the public doesn't really know that there is a hierarchy, so they tend to approach any of us who work there as the same. The main difference is that I get to pass off questions with time-consuming answers off to a reference librarian.

So in honor of my new discovery, I decided to write down a few of the things that happened to me yesterday. The patrons actually dialed down the crazy, I've have much more interesting days, but a few things of note still occurred. 

1. Checking in books in the morning, I came across one of my pet peeves, a book returned with copious amounts of human and pet hair sticking out of it. I looked at the title and author, and both were appropriate--Don't Look Twice by Andrew Gross.

2. Another from my check-in shift. A book called Electronics of Radio came back. It came with a supplemental informational disc. FLOPPY disc. (I sent it to be considered for discard.)

3. Two nice ladies donate 300 books. (It's not unusual for us to get hundreds of donated books each day, but not usually in the space of ten minutes.)

4. While working at the front desk, I see a young woman in the lobby on a laptop, using our wireless and trying to corral her baby who is restless and constantly trying to crawl away. I walk past to put some magazines in our free rack, and see that she is web chatting, presumably with her husband. I return to the desk and my coworker and I spend a few minutes helping patrons. When we're finally not busy anymore, I'm about to go tell her she can come in and use a study room or go in the children's area, just as she is leaving. 

5. It's a warm day outside. I see a guy leaving, wearing a fleece zip-up vest, jeans, and no shirt.

6. A young man has used up his internet time, but he wants to get back online for a minute to log out of Facebook. I sign him on with a guest pass. He takes no longer than a minute on the computer and leaves. A teenager who is respectful and honest? How refreshing!

Vacation Day One: Pretty Anticlimactic

Today is the first day of a little over a week's vacation for me. I am too poor to go anywhere, and mm car insurance payment is due in a couple of weeks, so mostly I'm going, I don't really know what I'm going to do. Today I spent a couple of hours hanging out at my parent's house, reading on their deck in the nice adirondak chairs. It was sunny and pretty nice out! WHAAAAAT?! The picture is of me a couple days ago, the first day of July. Don't let the semi-sunny picture fool you, most of the day was crap. Note that I am wearing jeans. I'm pretty sure the temp was in the low sixties. 

In related news, I read that while sales of sunscreen are up in basically every part of the US compared to last year, here in the good old Pacific Northwest they are down something like 20%. 

I've put aside the Percy Jackson series, which I hope to get back to soon, to take on The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. I've stopped and started on it for months, but I'm over halfway done now and it's finally starting to pick up, so I'm determined to finish the thing, and soon. One strange quirk I have is that if I start a book, I HAVE to finish it, no matter what. On the one hand, I think it's partly out of a stubborness and of not letting the book win ( I will conquer you!), and in another I think it's because I feel that I can't give a book negative feedback or harbor a bad opinion of it unless I've seen it through. I'll admit that it's rare I change my opinion drastically from the beginning to the end of a book. But sometimes a certain writing style takes time to get used to, or a story takes awhile to get rolling. More than once I've pushed through a difficult beginning and come out loving the book in the end. Though that's not necessarily the goal. It's more about being open to new ideas and  not pigeonholing myself. If I wasn't so varied and experimental in my reading, there's so much I would never have discovered. 

I never get pictures of myself outside, so that's why these shots are both taken in my yard. I really wanted to wear my denim skirt this day, but it was TOO COLD. Once again, don't let the sunny sky fool you.

Didn't really get the shoes in here, oh well. Same old black flats. I need some new sandals.

Oh yeah, so back to my vacation. This morning I ate Wheat Thins. Actually, that's all I've eaten today. Ok, lunch time. Bye!