Friday, August 31, 2007

Top 10 Overrated Celebrities

(Not even going to mention the Paris or Britneys of the world. Even though this list is perfect for them, I would just prefer to pretend that they don't exist.)

10. Jessica Alba- There sure is a lot of talk about her body, and how she is so hot (she just won the Teen Choice Award for "Choice Hottie"). And as far as I can tell, that's the only reason people are still casting her in movies. She isn't particularly talented, and the movie producers seem to be realizing this, casting her in fairly one dimensional roles, or in high-profile films that don't require a great deal of acting abilities ("Into the Blue," "Fantastic Four"). Jessica is indeed terribly gorgeous, but beyond that I just can't seem to figure out why we are so fascinated by her.

9. Chris Rock- I guess some of his stand up is funny, but why is this man still making movies? "I Think I Love My Wife"...."Head of State"...."Down To Earth".... Shall I continue? I thought not.

8. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt- A two for one! Okay, I like do like them, I really do. In fact, I think "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" is hilarious. And although I really don't think they ask for the attention that they receive, we would all agree that it's Just. Too. Much. They do some great things, like drawing attention to overseas adoption and building houses in New Orleans. But ever since they became the First Couple of Hollywood, America has been Brad and Angie crazy. I know they are good looking- in fact, sometimes they are so good looking they kind of freak me out. They are just everywhere, doing everything, and we are all transfixed by their every move.

7. Julia Roberts- She is great, and I love a lot of her movies. But she has been the number one actress for ages now! I just don't understand why we find her so captivating, or how she got so incredibly famous. She seems kind of like a lot of other actresses, doesn't she?

6. James Dean- Gosh, I love James Dean, but for some reason (most likely his fatal car accident and 2 post-humous Oscar nominations...), this guy has been turned into some sort of god. He is quoted and referenced, and you can find posters and calendars of him at even the most main stream stores. But I doubt that the majority of the people in my generation who idolize him have even seen one of his movies. Speaking of his movies, many are surprised to hear that he really only starred in three movies ("East of Eden," "Giant," and "Rebel Without a Cause") before dying at the age of 24. He was an great actor for sure, but let's lighten up on the hero worship.
5. Ben Stiller- I don't think it's a secret that Ben Stiller has fairly limited acting abilities. We all know that he plays only two roles: obnoxious idiot ("Zoolander," "Dodgeball") and loveable everyman ("Meet the Parents," "Along Came Polly"). Yet he has become a film staple, appearing in (seemingly) every comedy for the past five or so years. I guess he is mildly funny, but he is "funny" by doing the same gags every time! The guys that he pairs up with are much funnier than him (Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson), so maybe he should just try being the straight man.
4. Cameron Diaz- I don't get it. She is just not a good actress! Have you seen "The Holiday?" Her 'freak out' at the beginning of the movie was laughable; like something you might see at a beginner's improv class. I've never thought her voice fit her character in "Shrek," and still don't know why they cast her. She really hasn't been good in... anything, and yet we continue to flock to her movies for some unknown reason- maybe she will get better? Cameron is a really pretty person with an infectious (and loud) laugh who has had some extremely good luck in her career.

3. Sidney Poitier- I almost feel bad writing this, but it's true. He is just completely overrated, and everyone, including Sidney (especially Sidney!) treats him as God's gift to acting who can do no wrong. He has done some exceptional work (I loved him in "In the Heat of the Night") and he certainly did a lot for black actors in Hollywood. But he has gotten so incredibly pretentious and smug, when he should have just remained gracious and unassuming.

2. Scarlett Johanssen- Wow, I am really tired of her. Has she not been in pretty much every other movie the past couple years? Because it sure seems that way. I guess she is pretty, but I have yet to be blown away by her acting abilities. Her accent was laughable in "The Prestige," and no one seems too impressed by her in "The Nanny Diaries." Maybe it's about time for the Scarlett obsession to end?

1. Marilyn Monroe- Blasphemy, I know, but hear me out. The idolization of Marilyn Monroe by girls in their teens and twenties as some kind of inspiration is baffling. What is she so famous for (to them), and what did she accomplish? Other than being extremely pretty and starring in a string of films, she is still predominantly known as a pin-up, and her face now adorns many a MySpace background and college dorm wall. Her fans know that she died young, and they know the picture of her dress blowing up around her, and that probably is the extent of it. Sadly, Marilyn isn't remembered for being an actress, she is remembered for being a Playboy model and a victim of a drug overdose.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cat Woman

I don’t want to be a cat lady. Of course, the fact that I do not own a cat greatly prevents this from being the case. Also, I might add that I am severely allergic to cats. I don’t really mind cats, except for that whole constricted breathing thing. Actually, I don’t really enjoy the smell of any animal, and having a house that smells like an animal is a 50/50 ratio of possibility if you have a cat. So the good news is that I don’t plan on getting a cat…ever.

The bad news is that my evenings are starting to take on the routine feeling of someone who is a cat lady. There’s no need for me to even report what I will be doing on almost any given evening because it’s always the same. I come home from work, go to the gym, cook dinner, watch something on T.V. for an hour, maybe two, take a shower, talk on the phone, and then read until I fall asleep. Somewhere in there I also set my two alarms and load or unload the dishwasher.

Last night I decided that I had had enough of routine. No one was going to catch me eating during “Top Chef.” The world was my oyster and I was throwing it into the winds of fate as I weighed anchor in the blah, blah, blah. I went to Barnes and Noble right after work. That’s right. I did the reading FIRST. I stayed at Barnes long enough to discover two more words I couldn’t decipher in my book (Webster’s to the rescue on elucidate and pleonasm), and then headed home to yes - cook my dinner, eat my dinner, and watch a little T.V.

Sadly a little T.V. turned into the Bravo marathon of “Top Chef”. I guiltily continued to watch as the sky grew darker and darker. By 9:15pm I determined that I could not, in fact, go to the gym unless I wanted to be up until 1:00am. (How did I run at 10:00pm in college and still manage to fall asleep? NO CLUE!!) So, I’m not getting my recommended cardio and it’s 10:00 and I’ve already read enough to feel like any more would equal actual studying…and heck, my class doesn’t start until next no actual studying until then. So I got ready for bed, battled with my STUPID floss that can’t seem to come out of its plastic container without a performance, talked on the phone, and then turned out the light. Wonder what tonight will bring? One can only hope.

Stupid cats.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Top 10 Tearful Television Moments

10. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition- Anything and everything from this show. There's just too much. The last 15 minutes of this show are always magical, and I could never pick just one, or even 5. There was the man who had a ton of kids whose wife had just died. There was the blind guy. The little girl who couldn't go outside. The family that got a football field. The kids whose military mom was killed. I could go on and on. So this whole show gets its own spot.

9. Grey's Anatomy- This show is sad so much of the time, but it doesn't often make me cry. There was one instance, though, when a patient was finally honest with her teenage daughter about the fact that she wouldn't survive much longer: "Honey, I’ve been sick for along time and the doctors don’t think that I’m gonna get better." This would be bad enough, but she proceeds to impart some motherly advice to her daughter. Then they are both crying, and she finally says, "So you’re going to feel sad for a little a while and that’s okay, that’s fine. But don’t feel sad forever, okay? You can promise me that? You promise me that you won‘t feel sad for too long?" I know that this show can be manipulative, and everyone has a soft spot for dying mothers, but you have to think that somewhere some mother is giving her daughter the same speech for real.

8. Alias- I think the saddest thing ever would have to be witnessing your own funeral. Especially if you were alive and within shouting distance of your loved ones but couldn't tell them you were there. But that's exactly what happened to Sydney Bristow. She's restrained and in a van, but her captors are twisted enough that they force her to watch the grief and anguish of her boyfriend, father, and friends as they eulogize her on the beach. It's infurating and heartbreaking at the same time.

7. Friends- This may be a cop out, but I would definitely have to pick the last scene of the series. The gang leaves the apartment for the last time, and the camera returns to a final pan around the room. Big fans of the show like myself can see all the scenes that happened there over the past decade, and it's so sad to see it empty. Finally the camera lands on the back of the door and the famous gold frame. Nothing sad happens in this scene per se, but it represents a lot more.

6. Sex and the City- When Carrie hears that Miranda's mother has died of a heart attack, she is instantly more emotional about it than Miranda is. But at the end of the funeral, Miranda is walking behind the casket and is crying harder than I think I've ever seen someone cry. Carrie doesn't hesitate at all, she just leaps into the aisle and joins Miranda for the rest of the walk out of the church. As they near the last few rows, they catch sight of friends Steve and Aiden, who just showed up unexpectedly to support Miranda. It's one of the saddest single moments in the series.

5. Lost- For pretty much the entire first season, Sawyer and Jack were constantly at each others throats. There was always something to fight about, and I'm pretty sure Jack was relieved when Sawyer decided to leave on the raft. They tell each other good luck and have a quick second, and at the last second Sawyer decides to tell him a story. Turns out Sawyer had met Jack's dad Christian in Australia just before Christian died. He had told Sawyer all about Jack, and the fact that he was proud of his son, though he had never been able to tell him so. (Over time on the island, Sawyer had put two and two together, and realized that Jack was the son of this man he had met.) Sawyer lays out this story to Jack, and as Jack realizes who he's talking about, he slowly becomes more and more emotional. Finally Sawyer comes to the end: "And this guy, Christian, tells me he wishes he had the stones to pick up the phone, call his kid, tell him he's sorry, that he's a better doctor than he'll ever be -- he's proud, and he loves him." At this point Jack has completely broken down, and you know all the guilt he had over how he had left things with his father is gone, and now he's free. It's a very touching scene.

4. The OC- Kirsten's addiction to alcohol developed slowly, but soon it got to the point where her family knew they had to do something, so they organized an intervention. Her son Seth didn't agree with the thought of sending his mom off to rehab, so he didn't take part ("I just don’t think I can do it. Not to mom"). The rest of the family gathered in the kitchen to confront her, and of course her reaction was that everyone was overreacting. Even after hearing from her husband, sister, and adopted son, Kirsten was still balking. She snaps that she is not going to rehab, and turns to leave. That's when she almost runs into Seth, who has finally shown up to the intervention. "Mom, please. You gotta do this." This is when Kirsten completely breaks down, and knows she has to go. Sidenote: the person who transcribed this episode (for me to get those quotes!) had written by this scene: "this part here was what had me in tears, Seth being there when she turned around was just SO powerful." Excatly.

3. Oprah- I know it's a cliche, but there are so many teary moments from this show. I loved the little boy who had been saving up to go to Disneyland but decided to give the money (about $300) to charity instead. So of course Oprah had him on the show and he got to go to Disneyland anyway. I loved the man from Africa who had seen a girl only one time but was instandly captivated by her. He came to America with just a picture of her and a Bible. Then one day he walked into a church and instantly recognized her. And now they're married. The ultimate tear-inducer, though, is Oprah's little friend Mattie Stepanek, who battled muscular dystrophy his entire short life. He was wise beyond his years, and actually wrote several books of poetry. When he died in 2004, his funeral was attended by over 1,300 people (including Oprah), and his euglogy was delivered by Jimmy Carter. When I saw the footage of all this, I was a mess.

2. Gilmore Girls- After Rory decides to leave Stars Hollow to cover the Barack Obama campaign, Lorelai is quietly heartbroken, but still remains supportive. One night just before Rory is to leave town, Lorelai sneaks into Rory's room to watch her daughter sleep. Soon she is silently sobbing, and the only sound is the familiar and melancholy strummy la-la music. There are no words spoken, but the scene is beautiful.

1. The Office- Most of the time, Michael Scott is a complete idiot. He tries to hard to impress his coworkers, his boss, the documentary film crew, and everyone in between. But every now and then, he calms down enough to have a surprisingly genuine moment, and it always ends up being particularly touching. Whether it's telling Jim not to give up or passing out Halloween candy to some neighborhood kids, he always finds a way to make it heartfelt. One of the best moments came in season 3, when Pam had her first art show. She invited all of her co-workers, but attendance ended up being pretty abysmal. At the last minute Michael comes in apologizing that he is late, and instantly is mesmerized by Pam's drawings. He seems genuinely amazed that she drew them, and exhibits a child-like wonder and awe as he discovers each new picture. Then he pauses and says, "I am really proud of you," and you know he means it. It's one of the most honest pieces of acting I have ever seen, and Steve Carrell carries it out beautifully.

Friday, August 24, 2007

How do you spell Monolo?

I've learned much from my years of following "What Not To Wear" and catching plenty of makeover stories. I love it. Most women love makeover shows. Who doesn't want to look 10 years younger or to have your kitchen completely redone with someone else's money? Sign me up! Thanks to these helpful programs, overalls and holiday sweaters have been banished from my closet and all of my picture frames are grouped appropriately. But secretly, I'm really hoping that one day Stacy London is going to walk around the corner and offer me a $5,000 credit card for a new wardrobe. The truth of the matter is that I think looking nice is an excellent idea, I'm simply not willing to shell out the cash to get there...or apparently any effort.

I have this blue polo shirt. It's great. I love it. In fact, I wear it all the time. It's dark navy and has a small Nike swish. The other interesting part about this shirt is that I wore it on the first day of 6th grade. That was in 1993. I paired the top with large silver heart earrings, red/white/and blue plaid shorts, and red/white/and blue plaid tennis shoes. Also, placed carefully over my pony tail was a lacy white scrunchy. Mind you, now 14 years later, the only part of that outfit that I still wear is the blue polo...but I wear it. I don't know why I hold onto it so tightly. Believe me, it's not because of it's "perfect" condition. There has been a small one inch hole in the left armpit for about the past 4 years. 3 years ago I closed a safety pin around some of the remaining fabric to try and hold it together. I know how to sew, I just can't ever bring myself to actually do it. So now when I teach and have on the blue polo I can only lift my right arm.

Speaking of arms, I hate ironing. I hate lugging out the ironing board. It sits to the side of my washing machine holding the clothes that need to make it to the dry cleaners at some point. In college I faithfully pulled out the wrinkle-releaser spray, but I don't even do that now. Since moving into my new apartment (9 months ago) I have pulled out the ironing board less than 10 times. When I iron, I also don't put forth the effort for more than one garment at a time. I have shirts that haven't been worn since the first time I bought them because alas, they became wrinkled in the wash. The words "wrinkle resistant" elicit the same euphoria in me that "cashmere" might for others. I'm wondering if my aversion to the iron is genetic.

You know what definitely isn't genetic? My shoe upkeep and care. I have a slightly different way of storing my shoes than you would never see in my mother or grandmother's closet. They keep their shoes in the original boxes...for years and years. (And yes, my grandmother is 10X's the fashionista that I will ever be. She showed up to my college graduation in pink stiletto heels. Excuse me while I kick off my flip flops.) I keep my shoes in a box. One box to be exact. It's an large box and it currently holds about 30 pairs of my shoes. It's an HP box, as in Hewlett Packard. It once held a computer monitor. I dumped my shoes in for the move, and other than the flip flops and an occasional tennis shoe, they haven't had the chance to make an appearance in Arizona. Don't worry, the 4 best pair are sitting out on the only shelf in my closet getting some air. And by best I mean the newest ones from Target.

Oh the things I do in the name of fashion.

Overdue Letters

Dear Schick,

Remember when my little brother cut his face open with one of your lady razors? I know you felt bad, but it really wasn't your fault. What five year old boy wouldn't want to try and shave his face with his mother's razor while in the shower? We heard him crying and I was sent to check on him. When I screamed at Mom that his face was bleeding, not only did she literally jump out of her shoes, but I could swear that she left a little cloud of dust behind. In fact, I think as she ran, the background started repeating over and over and her legs turned into those giant circles. Of course he was fine, though he still has a scar from that little adventure. Don't worry, the family will not be bringing about a lawsuit as a result. We realize now that a five year old should never be left alone with a sharp razor in temptingly close distance.

Not your fault,

Dear Hellmann's,

One time my sister and I were left alone to clean the kitchen after dinner. This included rinsing out the jars, cartons, and other items to be recycled. Now I don't think Ginger had a full understanding of physics yet, because when she turned the water on full blast and stuck the mayonaise jar under the faucet, she didn't exactly expect the water to come shooting back out at her. One good squirt and she was covered with a substantial amount of mayonnaise-y water. Oh, and did I mention that Ginger hated mayonaise? Because she did. A lot. So needless to say, this travesty was about on par with being covered with vomit.

Now the scream Janet Leigh let out in Psycho? Has got nothing on my sister at that moment. A few of the windows in the kitchen actually cracked from the sound. It wasn't long before she had sprinted out of the room, stripping off her t-shirt as she ran. Soon after, I heard a door slam and the water start running. Naturally a travesty of this magnitude warranted a shower so that she could be cleansed of all traces of the mayonnaise. I know this doesn't sound good for you guys, so I just wanted to write and tell you that this event was not a reflection on the quality of your fine product. Just yet another example of what it's like to grow up with an overdramatic sister (though to this day I still believe it was just a detailed ploy to get out of cleaning the kitchen and leaving me with the rest of the dishes).

Don't take it personally,

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Little Orphan Annie

Confession: I just squeezed chocolate syrup straight into my mouth. Good thing no one else eats any of my food. I'm listening to the soundtrack of "Oklahoma" in my one-bedroom apartment having just swallowed a mouthful of chocolate syrup. I'm listening to "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" debating whether to wash my hair and chiding myself for digesting chocolate right after a trip to the gym.

So the real confession isn't actually the previous paragraph, it includes the entire day. I have the oddest days. Today included a lunch meeting with 7 other employees, all who are married. 15 minutes of the conversation was confined to whether or not they had gotten to eat at their wedding receptions. I didn't mind it at all. What I did mind was the looks and smiles and "we're boring Ginger!" (I think that exact sentence was spoken.) Granted it wasn't a thrilling topic, but I wasn't mourning my own lack of contribution to the discussion. Suddenly all faces were turned my way and nods were shared around. At that moment I was willing to bring up my views on the '08 Campaign just to get rid of the mood at the table.

So of course I had to do my very best to jump into the conversation and push through. I felt like an orphan. Not because I don't have a wedding story, but because of the looks. Those "Dearest, give the poor girl a farthing" looks. I'm not sure if you know the look, but I do. And I have a feeling I've given that look before too, obviously just not regarding my Wedding Reception. Sometimes I like to throw in the look with a "You've never been to Europe?" I love getting the look from others when I haven't seen someone's favorite movie. "YOU'VE NEVER SEEN Die Hard? Are you even an American?! Who are you?!!" Appalling isn't it? How about this one: "You've never eaten Cottage Cheese?" (I try never to put something in my mouth that looks like a Mama Bird has chewed, swallowed, and then spit back up for her little ones.)

So no - I don't have any wedding stories for my married co-workers, but I do have all of the songs from "Oklahoma" memorized. don't have them memorized?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Brushes with the (semi) Famous

Some people I know have legitimately met famous people. They've had actual conversations with these people. My own encounters have been few, and though you probably don't even know who I refer to, they are celebrities to me. They aren't even real encounters, unless you count an autograph signing, a MySpace page, and an email. But I do. Oh, I really do.

The first has to do with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And yes, I am a fan. Though let me clarify: I am not a fan of the mythology, creatures, languages, and races. I am a fan of the movies themselves: the actors, the crew, the behind-the-scenes stories, and the adventure of spending years on 12 hours worth of films. Granted, that doesn't make me much less of a dork, but it's an important difference.

Anyway, it was the spring of 2004, just after the release of the movie, and I was in Oxford, England. And soon I learned that Andy Serkis, voice and movement behind the character of Gollum/Smeagol would also be in Oxford, for a book signing. Long story short, we arrived there hours early, stood in line in the rain, and finally made it in for our autographs. I babbled about being a fan, we took pictures, and that was that. Andy has gone on to be in 13 Going on 30, King Kong, and The Prestige, but his name still elicites blank stares when I mention my encounter.

I only mention my experience with Jenna Fischer of The Office because I am that crazy about the celebrities that I am a fan of. This one isn't even that much of an experience, but I'm including it regardless. Jenna keeps up a really interesting MySpace page, and last Halloween she invited anyone who had dressed up as something Office-related to send her a picture. Since I had dressed up as 3 hole punch Jim (you'd have to watch the show), I uploaded a picture and sent it off to her. And I'll be gosh darned if she didn't make a slide show of all those crazy Office folk and include me in it! Few people understood how exciting this was, but one friend understood completely, saying this was thrilling because it meant Jenna had actually seen my face! Looking back, I realize how weird that sounds, but that's just what it means to be a fan!

My last celebrity encounter was actually just yesterday. Let me first explain who I'm talking about. His name is Jason Marsden, and if you were to enter his name into imdb, there would undoubtedly be a lot of things you recognized, most notably various TGIF shows. You know who he is-- that one guy! He played a rich guy vying for DJ's affections on Full House, Eric's best friend on Boy Meets World, and JT's best friend slash Dana's boyfriend on Step By Step. He has also done a ton of voiceover work, including Tino from the criminally clever cartoon series "The Weekenders." But most importantly, he is the voice of Max Goof, from A Goofy Movie. He played Goofy's son. I know- it's big.

A few weekends ago I was surfing the net and found an email address for him, one that people swore was really him, and I wrote him a fan letter, trying not to sound to dorky or in awe. Not sure I was actually able to do that, but the point is that he actually wrote me back! I was shocked, and might have started shaking a little bit as I read it. It was pretty short, but he shared some very interesting information. For instance, like me, he is a fan of Heroes, and loves Harry Potter. Two peas in a pod, me and Jason!

So there you have it. All my weird celebrity fandom moments, the few that there are. I'm proud of my handful of "encounters" with famous people (at least in my mind). And I think that meeting, or hearing from, a celebrity that you are a genuine fan of is way more exciting than meeting a person that everyone knows, but who you have no special connection with. I would much rather have a glimpse of an Office or Lord of the Rings castmember than have a celebrity sighting of a Jessica Simpson-type any day.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Conflict Resolution

I've always tended to run from conflict and confrontation. But sometimes you've got to just stop and fight.

At some point when I was little I remember my dad telling me that if a boy ever hit me that I had permission to kill him. I didn't really take much notice of that freedom until much later.

I got these pencil toppers in 5th grade. A set of 4 different troll doll pencil toppers...really lovely as troll dolls tend to be. Each with colored hair and completely unattractive. I gave one to Kelly, one to Tara, and one to Sara. At the end of the day I walked in on Jeff trying to steal Sara's troll doll. He shoved her and made her fall on the ground. Her skirt flew up and she was humiliated. He had also managed to take the troll doll. I walked right up to him and asked for the troll doll back. I don't remember what exactly happened next, but I do know that Jeff pushed me. I looked him right in the face and let him know the situation.

"My dad said that if a boy ever hit me that I could kill him."

So I reeled back with my orange igloo lunchbox...and decked him on the side of the head.

Jeff never messed with me again. I wish all conflict resolution was this simple.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Secret Single (or always single) Behavior

Some people call them "guilty pleasures." Sex and the City (err...never seen it) would call it "Secret Single Behavior," as in the things you could never do in front of your boyfriend. Carrie confesses that when no one else is around, she likes to eat grape jelly on crackers standing up at the counter while reading Vogue.

Most of the time, it's not all that secretive, and we don't generally feel guilty for doing it. It's not always even that outrageous, just something that's slightly weird. For one of my college roommates it was always blowing on her curling iron before using it on her hair. Obviously it's nothing too secret or embarassing, otherwise I wouldn't be listing it in a blog. And I would never refer to it as "Secret Single Behavior," because I've never really not been single. I'm going to list just a few of my little quirks, and hopefully you will comment with some of yours!

-Coming home after work and immediately removing all articles of clothing and going straight for pajamas at 5:30 p.m.

-Sometimes I like to work out to classical music. Lately it has been Beethoven's 6th Symphony.

-High School Musical. Is it wrong that I own both the dvd and the cd? And that I can't wait for the sequel to come out on Friday?

-I fall asleep to Gilmore Girls. Every night.

-I'm not an organized person in the least, but my dvd's (all 160+ of them) must remain alphabetized at all times.

-I watch all of Kathy Griffin's comedy specials whenever they're on Bravo. Usually several times.

-Still purchase and read Archie comics. Still.

-Many times I will have entire conversations with someone in my car. By myself. Either things I really wish I could say, or things I would say if I could actually talk to that person. Sometimes I end up yelling, and a lot of times I end up crying.

-Practicing the poses and challenges I see on America's Next Top Model. I know.

-I eat peanut butter right out of the jar.

-I eat honey right out of the jar.

-I eat a lot of things right out of the jar.

-I love to file my nails while laying on my couch and watching E! News.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Llano Drive, the closet under the stairway

When we added the extra story to our house in Plano, we ended up with a little closet under the stairs. The closet had been a small bar with metallic wallpaper that was used for little more than storage. I take that back. There was a faucet and sink that was used to fill up the watering can to water the plants in the atrium.

The small closet had a gradually lowered ceiling and some shelves. The details are a little fuzzy to me now. To get to the door of the closet you had to walk through the utility room and through the small bathroom. The closet may have housed many things, but the only thing I can remember are the soft drinks...the cokes.

Unlike my cousins, we were not allowed to have coke at any point during the day. I can still remember the shock of having a coke offered to me at breakfast. At breakfast?!! I couldn't recall the last ordinary day I had been allowed a coke, much less for breakfast. Cokes were very special in our house, only to be consumed on special occasions: birthdays, celebrations, holidays, as a remedy for a jelly fish sting, etc.

The amazing thing about that little closet was that you could lock the bathroom door and therefore, lock the closet. Thirsty for a coke? Sure. Special day? Not really, but now it is. My brother, sister, and I would go in, lock the door, and crack open a coke. The hard part was the evidence of the coke can. We would shut them in the drawers and hide them behind whatever we could find. I know my mother found random cans from time to time, but I don't remember getting in trouble for the evidence.

That closet was a great addition to the house.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Saltwater Coke

Some of the best days of my life have been spent in the little town of Galveston, Texas. The beaches were brown and carpeted in seaweed, but to me it was a glittering tropical paradise. Each day we'd load the car full of chairs, coolers, boogie boards, buckets, and the kitchen sink (well, maybe not that last one) and head down to the beach. We'd spend the morning splashing in the (murky) water, building sandy drip castles, and digging deep holes in the sand before grabbing our sandwiches and soft drinks and settling down to lunch. The sandwiches were sandy and the cokes were warm, but anything is satisfying when you're sitting out in the beating sun and watching the crashing waves.

After lunch, feeling especially mischevious, Ginger and I would sneak down to the water with our empty coke cans and carefully fill them halfway full of ocean water. Then we'd nonchalantly make our way back up to the rest of our group, pretending to drink from our soda cans, and trying our hardest not to giggle. Finally we'd approach our dad and proclaim that we simply could not finish our drinks, and would he like to have the rest? Perhaps because he was distracted, or maybe because the heat affected his powers of reason, he would always say "Sure" and take the can from us, not suspecting a thing. He would raise the can take a big swig until SPEW!! He was sputtering and spitting out the disgusting taste of saltwater. And Ginger and I would double over in laughter, as this clearly was the funniest thing in the world.

Looking back, I'm sure we weren't nearly as devious as we thought, and that he always knew what he was getting himself into. But is there anything funnier than pulling a prank on your dad? We absolutely loved it. To this day we have remembered our hilarious trick, and apparently it has stuck with us enough to become the name of this blog. Thanks, Dad!

Friday, August 10, 2007


I know that it's possible to imagine bits of one's past through rose colored glasses. I'm sure my own memories are swayed by photographs and images that take over the actual reality. But what I don't understand is why I would make up or imagine something that has very little significance.

I tend to get canker sores, you know, the horrible little things that make eating and sometimes speaking detestable? Mine tend to surface in groups of three to six at a time. I know, lovely topic of conversation. Every couple of months I am attacked by them, whether from stress or acidic food, I'm not sure, but they come and threaten my very livelihood.

The last time this happened when I was visiting my parents, I walked into the kitchen to prepare the remedy I had been taught as a child. I selected a small glass from the cabinet, poured in a teaspoon or so of salt, and then ran the faucet with as hot of water as possible. Once the steam was rising I placed my glass of salt underneath the water and filled it 3/4 of the way full. I then took a mouthful of the salt-water and swished it around in my mouth. I repeated this until I had used all of the water from the glass. I'm not sure if my mom walked in while I was doing this, or if I told her that I had "medicated" the sores.

Mom: "Why did you do that?"

Ginger: "Because that's what we've always done for canker sores."

Mom: "Why?"

Ginger: "That's what you told us to do when we were growing up!"

Mom: "WHAT? NO!!"

Ginger: "Are you kidding me? We've done this our whole lives. Maybe 10 times a year."

Mom: "NO! Why would I tell you to do that?"


And so, I pose the question to you, reader: Why would I make something like that up? The memory is vivid. I think I can even see my mother making up the glass of salt-water for me. I know I can. The amazing thing about my mysterious sister remembers it too. Sorry Kerry. It happened. You taught it to us. And now, you are reading this on saltwatercoke...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

80s in the 90s

Echoing the unfortunate post below, I would like to back my sister's statements and verify that the 11 years at private school really does have such a detrimental effect. On my first day of 7th grade, I wore high top tennis shoes, denim shorts, and a black shirt underneath a sleeveless pink button up shirt. Left open, because I am sassy like that. In addition, I wore my hair in a side ponytail. No, I think you need to read that again. My hair. Side ponytail. Also, please bear in mind that we are not talking about the 80's here. I started the 7th grade in 1996. Please allow that to sink in.

Let it also be known that Ginger was my stylist. It's true. Often she helped me pick out a "cute" outfit, and the first day of school was certainly no exception. Read that again. The girl with the socks and sandals. Picked out. My clothes.

I don't know what kind of time warp existed in that school to allow an otherwise perfectly sane person to not only dress like that, but to actually fit in. If I ever get to the bottom of this mystery, I'll be sure to let you know.

What am I, German?

On the first day of 8th grade I wore white socks and sandals. I confess. I wish I had the picture and could scan it in. Black granola sandals, white socks (not ankle, but maybe calf length), black short-overalls, and a pink polo shirt. Please add to that equation braces, a home perm, and glasses. The picture is amazing.

The most alarming part is not the black denim jort overalls, but the socks and the sandals. I would like to plead the 11th. The 11th is the 11 straight years that I spent in the parochial school system with the same 20 people in my class. As part of our dress code we could not wear t-shirts, holes in our jeans, sweat pants, or shoes without socks. Who can blame a girl for wanting to wear sandals on her first day of 8th grade?

Maroon Out, Perot

What's more amazing than having biases ingratiated into you from early childhood is that fact that those biases are likely to remain with you, even to a small extent. This has certainly happened to me. And no, my parents never tried to brainwash me (though my older sister may be another story). I am talking about all the little prejudices, beliefs, and viewpoints that naturally occur as you grow up.

Everyone tells dumb people jokes. For some people those come in the form of blonde joke. For others, they are redneck jokes. For me, they were Aggie jokes. I can remember being about six years old and honestly believing that the word Aggie implied a shortage of brain cells or some sort of mental deficiency. Basically I thought if you called someone an Aggie, you were calling them stupid. Only later did I learn that the word refers to a person who has attended Texas A&M. All the jokes that normally start out with "So a redhead, a brunette, and a blonde...." for me began with "So a Longhorn, a Raider, and an Aggie...." (As a sidenote, I'm sure this bias had nothing to do with the fact that my dad went to the University of Texas and my mom to Texas Tech.)

Another bias involves the politics. Despite being eight years old and knowing nothing about politics in 1992, I sure had a lot of opinions about who should be in the White House. I can still remember my childlike evaluation: Ross Perot was a joke, Bill Clinton was dumb, and George Bush was... the best. What information did I form these in-depth thoughts on? I actually have no idea, but it must have been a combination of what I heard at home and at school.

Ah, school, where someone thought it would be a great idea to have our own mini presidential election. And since kids will fight over anything and everything, who you were voting for quickly became sumpremely important. Even as elementary students, we endlessly discussed the election at lunchtime teasing the Perot voters for "throwing their votes away." Who you were voting for became a status symbol, even if none of us comprehended even an iota of what we were talking about. And I can still remember a joke* that spread throughout the school like wildfire about all the candidates.

Of course Bush ended up winning (we're talking about a Christian school in Texas), but we all know that's not how things turned out in real life. I have the distinct memory of going to bed the night of the election and announcing to my mother that I would instinctively know who had won when I woke up in the morning, because "If I wake up and have a bad feeling, I'll know Clinton is our president!"

So naturally we have grown up with these little quirks and mini biases. The dangerous thing that happens, and it happens a lot, is that so many of us carry on these beliefs without re-evaluating once we're older. That's how prejudice gets passed down, and how so many people don't learn to think for themselves.

As I grew up, I gradually conceded that Aggies are not stupid people. I recognize that A&M is a good school. But that hasn't stopped me from forming my own opinions through personal experience with Aggies, who as a group can be more than slightly obnoxious, but perfectly lovely as individuals. I believe it's a combination of my childhood bias and my own experiences that still make me cheer for just one college team : whoever is playing the Aggies.

*Bush, Perot, and Clinton are in a plane. Perot throws a dollar bill out the window and says "I just made one person happy!" Clinton throws five dollar bills out the window and says "I just made five people happy!" Bush throws Clinton out the window and says "I just made everybody happy!"

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Saturday Night

For the longest time I thought that I would want to name my first daughter McKayla, after Dr. McKayla Quinn, Medicine Woman. I loved watching Dr. Quinn on Saturday nights. I think I watched every season of that show.

I have a great city library that has an excellent movie collection. The collection includes all of the seasons of Dr. Quinn. For some reason I just can't bring myself to check them out. I think I'm afraid that I will be dreadfully disappointed this time around. It's probably better to just leave them as they remain in my memory.

So now, I come home on a Saturday evening hoping for something as equally entertaining. Alas, I am consistently unimpressed. Why is "48 Hours Mystery" still on the air, and why choose Saturday nights as the air time? I don't want to watch the "E - True Hollywood Story" of Rock and Roll wives. No thank you. Is it time for a Saturday Night Live rerun yet?