Tuesday, May 28, 2013

all the thiiiiiiings

Your way random list of things I command you to read today:

  • I really, really rarely recommend music, but I really, really liked this song by Keren Ann when I heard it on Nurse Jackie the other day. So then I listened to the rest of the album and was, like, meh. But this one song is the coolest.
  • And, by the way, Nurse Jackie is so lame without Dr. O'Hara.
  • Folks who've followed me for a while know of my involvement with the Tired & Stuck website with fantastic fellow bloggers and friends Christina and Libby. Well, Christina has some amazing news
  • Which, when I was told in person some weeks back: Major waterworks, dudes. I've wanted this for her, desperately, for years, so for it to finally happen really blew my mind. 
  • Have I told you about Orphan Black? It's a pretty good sci-fi show on BBC America, if you're into sci-fi. (Here's the trailer) One actress plays like nine different people, which sounds hokey but is actually quite awesome.
  • All right! Movie time. Here's what you need to go ahead and watch on Netflix streaming (or whatever):
  1. Jeff, Who Lives At Home. So good. So not what I expected. Jason Segel, Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon. Segel plays a slacker 30-year-old who lives at home and smokes too much pot. One day he gets a sign from the universe, and the rest is history. It ended up being really touching. 
  2. Safety Not Guaranteed. A group of young journalists investigates a man who posted the following want ad: "WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before." Starring Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Rec), Jake Johnson (New Girl), and Mark Duplass (The Mindy Project).
  3. Bernie. Based on the true story of a friendly funeral director (Jack Black) who befriends a very mean old lady (Shirley MacLaine), and then things go a little wrong. I believe I saw the Dateline version of this movie as well! 
  • The quote of the week is: "The difficult choice is usually the right one." 
  •  For San Joseans looking for good food to eat: Dry Creek Grill. It's really good! Standouts were the crab cakes, bleu gem salad, and fresh baked cookie for dessert ... 
  • So, we are all working our way rapidly through Arrested Development, right? The new season is genius! I need to rewatch it when I'm finished just so I can catch all the stuff that's going on in the background, since everyone's story overlaps. Really intricate storytelling. 
  •  I keep running into young people who pretend there is no way I am in my 30s. And then, when they reveal their ages, I'm always surprised that they're even younger than I would have thought. Lookie here, young 'uns. Don't patronize an old lady. Just give me my iced mocha and I'll be on my way. 
  • I'm also working my way through Behind The Candelabra. So far, so faaaabbbulouuuuus! 
  • Oh! Last but not least, The Bachelorette started last night. I'm not writing recaps this time, but I have chosen a top 5. They are: Nick M (who reminds me of Ricky Shroeder), Will, James (even though he has a big neck and appears to start drama later in the season), Brian, and Dan. If forced to pick a No. 1, I'm going with Nick based purely on instinct. I haven't read any spoilers. Tell me your top picks!
  • Also, magicians are right up there with clowns. If I were Desiree and a magician showed up, I'd have security remove him immediately.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

a booky day

Ok, no absolute must-reads this time, but a couple strong contenders and one that's being released on film in November, so ...


I felt like The Explorer had so much potential. So much. It's about a journalist who's on a mission deep into space with a bunch of scientists, but then people start to die. It ends up feeling a little bit like the movie Moon, which I've extolled the virtues of at length (hie thee to Netflix and watch ASAP, I tell you), but then turns out to be sort of boring and disappointing. The ending felt like a huge cop-out. I'm afraid I can't really recommend it.



Now, I think Me Before You is probably worth your time. It's a sweet, well-written novel about a woman who's stuck in a bit of a rut, until she loses her job and then finds herself working for a surly quadriplegic. I found it uplifting and also a bit sad. It's thought-provoking and lovely. Four out of five stars.



Somehow, I'm just now reading this classic, which was first published in 1985. I found it pretty entertaining, if a little strange at times. The writing felt a bit older than 1985 -- like the boys using variations of the word "fart" to insult each other and the fact that racism is alive and well in space ... I mean, I sort of envision race issues going out the window if we can manage to populate other planets, but perhaps that is wrong and naive of me.

For those unfamiliar with the premise, the world has basically hanged its only hope of survival on a child named Ender, whom they're hoping will eventually be able to command their armies in battle against a hostile alien race called The Buggers (again, not loving this name but it's apt, I guess). The book is the tale of Ender's training and attempts to win over his peers, who've been turned against him in some instances. It also touches on his evil, psychotic brother, Peter, and loving sister, Valentine.

I gave it four out of five stars for keeping my interest, although as I say, I have my quibbles. At the end of the book, whole years flash by with just a little description, which is quite a bit different from how the rest of the book is written. It's a minor annoyance. Anyway, it kept my interest enough that I will certainly be reading the sequel, Speaker for the Dead. And, as I mentioned, Ender's Game is obviously being released on film in November and looks pretty killer.



Another Orson Scott Card book? I know. This one was published in 2011 and the reason I read it was because I got hooked by a preview that was included at the end of Ender's Game. It's about a boy named Danny, who lives on a compound with his family in Virginia. They're all descendants of old gods who were trapped in "Mittlegard" when Loki closed some special gate that let them travel between worlds. Anyway, they've been trapped here for like 14 centuries and their magic is waning. Danny fears he's been born without magic, but that may not be entirely true ...

The Lost Gate definitely smacks of some of the same themes from Ender's Game. We've got a young boy whom many people are prepared to hang their every hope on. Unfortunately, it dragged a bit. It spent quite a bit of time going on about gates and how gates are formed and who can lock them and yadda yadda. I gave it three out of five stars. That said, if you're a big OSC fan, it might be worth a read, and the good news is it's a series (that I won't be reading).


I haven't chosen a new book, yet. I'm sort of Orson Scott Carded out at the moment and need a breather. I'm considering Stephen King's Under the Dome, which you probably know is going to be a miniseries that starts on June 24.

How about you? Read anything awesome lately?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

things

  • Recipes from the Internet that I tried last week, with great results: 
  1. Smitten Kitchen's Favorite Brownies. These are fudgy and not too sweet. Love 'em with a little vanilla ice cream.
  2. Ina Garten's Mexican Chicken Soup. So tasty. Suggestions: Use fewer tortillas than the recipe calls for. I'd say 4. Or even omit the tortillas and just fry a few up all nice and crispy as a topping. Secondly, definitely half the batch. I didn't even have a pot large enough for this recipe and ended up splitting it between two pots. But it is a delicious soup.
  3. Eat Live Run's Spaghetti With Meat Sauce. She claims this is the best sauce on the planet. I find it to be pretty yummy -- it reminds me of something you'd get in a good restaurant. My husband loved it because the sauce was nice and thick and coated the noodles well, plus it was simply tasty! I love all the veggies (bell peppers and mushrooms) and wine in the sauce. (And this is another recipe you'll want to half unless you want an ass-ton of spaghetti sauce to feed an army or something.)
  • Have you seen Small Town Security? What, exactly, are you waiting for? Pull the first season up on Netflix, watch it, and then catch up on season 2, which just started last week. Reality television gold, people. GOLD. 
  • Blog posts that have interested me lately: 
  1. Ginger's post about lipstick. Please, someone, help me find the right lipstick for my dumb face!
  2. Katie's breakup posts. Start here, then go here, then here, and then finally here. Katie, if you're reading, I don't want to exploit your breakup; it's just this is some of the best, most honest, raw writing I've seen on a blog in far too long.
  • I am a terrible person because I like Angelina Jolie just a little bit since she revealed she had a double mastectomy. 
  • Please, someone, recommend a waffle iron. A really great one. I need to make these waffles.

Monday, May 06, 2013

adventures in phlebotomy

I just need to tell this to someone, and seeing as how I just tried to tell my husband and he was like OH GOD I CAN'T, guess who gets to hear it? You, my friends.

This is not a story for people who faint while having their blood taken. Read no further if you are one of these people.

So, because I am old and my body is crumbling into dust, I find myself having blood drawn fairly frequently. Today is one of those days. I wandered in, added my name to the rapidly growing list of people waiting to have their blood drawn, and proceeded to wait for almost an hour, which is certainly one of the longer waits I've experienced. I could see there was a new girl doing all the blood draws, and she seemed flustered and nervous, so I figured she was probably new to phlebotomy in general and trying to get the hang of things.

Now, I don't mind having my blood drawn. It doesn't make me nervous. I have great veins and no one has ever had difficulty sticking me. Some phlebotomists are better than others, but in general I'm in and out and it's no big deal. Which is why it was no big deal to me that this girl was new.

Finally my name is called and I take a seat and proudly present my above-average veins. The new girl is jabbering away nervously. My name is Jane and I'm going to be taking your blood today. Congratulations Jane, let's hop to it! I'm going to use a butterfly needle. Super.

She's about to get started and suddenly stops and says Oh my god I almost forgot to change my gloves. I'm supposed to change my gloves for each draw. So I'm like: Ah yes. Clean gloves. Please and thank you. Doesn't inspire confidence but I'm still sympathetic to the new-girl situation. So she changes her gloves.

Then she says One, Two, Three, and inserts the needle, and all is still fine. And then she says Oh God, your vein blew. And I'm still like, Honestly, don't care. Is blood coming out? Let's do this. But she's freaking out: Oh God Oh God Oh God I'm gonna take it out. So I'm like, Ok, you can take it out and use my other arm.

So she takes the needle out and my blood sprays all over her lab coat. Straight up red human blood all over her white coat.

So at this point I'm like: For starters, I have no idea what a blown vein is and I'm just hoping it doesn't mean I'm going to die. My arm is aching fiercely and she's acting like I might have a brain aneurysm any second or something. Secondly, I'm thinking Jane should maybe be worried that some of my blood got on her face or something. I mean, I don't see any, but still. What if I had AIDS or something? And thirdly, I am a little nervous about Jane tackling my other arm.

So because my blood is all over her jacket, she changes into a clean one and then we move on to the other arm. And everything went so smoothly. One, Two, Three, jab, suck me dry, see you later but oh my god hopefully not before you've drawn like 4,000 more people's blood because sweet lord you are bad at this Jane. So very bad and scary.

The irony is that most often the person who draws my blood is this very angry woman who seems like not only is she pissed off that she's working, it's possible she is also pissed about something in her personal life, and I seem to have personally pissed her off as well. She's never gentle and I don't think she's ever said more than "make a fist" to me, but she certainly knows how to draw blood without it spraying all over her, and she's never injured me. So here's to you, angry phlebotomist! I'll take you over nervous nellie any day.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

thoughts

  • Anthony Bourdain drunk is the same as Anthony Bourdain sober. This is quite the feat. When I'm drunk I just get loud, red, and annoying. And then sleepy.
  • I'm constantly on a mission to figure out how to get my cats to barf less (this is why we can't have nice things). Brush them more so they don't eat their fur: done. Vacuum more so they don't eat random fur/fuzz on the ground: done. Experiment with more easily-digestible food: done. It all seems to help somewhat. And then we wake up and there's a giant cat poo dingleberry on the living room rug (always on the rug. Always. Never on the hardwood). You can't win with cats, I tell you. I should live in a plastic white box that gets sprayed down with bleach every day.
  •  I need your help with this Google-Reader-Going-Bye-Bye situation. I switched over to The Old Reader, but it's slow. Should I just suck it up? Or is there a better reader out there? I'd love to use a reader that's not connected to Google, if such a thing exists.
  •  Chocolate chip cookie recipes on the back of chocolate chip packages are not to be trusted. I am now such a cookie snob that I threw out a significant portion of cookies I made while following the Ghirardelli package instructions. The problem was they were too sweet/had too many chocolate chips. It called for the whole package of chocolate chips, and really, I'm thinking no recipe should call for more than a cup. For the record, here are my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipes. An easy one is the peanut butter chocolate chip recipe I tweaked just ever-so-slightly from a Betty Crocker recipe. But the best chocolate chip cookies I've made are Martha's ultimate chocolate chip cookies. I don't make them often because you have to chill them and use parchment paper and that's just a lot of prep.
  • Do you follow the morning news wars/drama? The battle between Today and Good Morning America? Ann Curry's ouster and the demonizing of Matt Lauer? Here's an interesting article about how Curry was given the boot, in what was allegedly termed "Operation Bambi" by Today's executive producer. Frankly, it sounds like everyone on the show is an a-hole. We switched over to local morning news -- watching these people fumble through a broadcast is just too awkward.
  • Have you seen Friends with Kids? I watched it last weekend and whoa. Major deja vu. There's a scene where all the friends are getting together for dinner. One couple has two small kids and another couple has a newborn. The last two are singletons who don't have children. The dinner dissolves in the parents yelling at each other, children screaming, and general anarchy. The singletons depart to a bar where they stare at each other, shellshocked. It's an awkward, somewhat stressful experience as a nonparent, I can attest. And it's no one's fault. I fully intend to have children and will then, perhaps, be that person yelling at her husband while her child screams bloody murder and guests uncomfortably fork food into their mouths, plotting their getaways. Kids change everything, yo.
  • It has been brought to my attention (by my 60-ish neighbor) that I say the word "totally" too much. He's totally right.
  •  I discovered my new favorite salad dressing. Have you heard of Penzey's spices? They have locations across the country but I've been ordering their stuff online since none of them are close to me. They have a Country French Vinaigrette mix my husband and I have been enjoying quite a bit. Definitely worth a look if you're wary of supermarket dressings and looking for a tasty alternative.