Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
I am still clipping, but the big reward I am giving myself next month is to pay off a credit card completely, using the monies I earned teaching summer school. This is not as huge as it sounds, perhaps, given that the balance is in the low four-figures (but the APR was 20-some%), but it is a great reward for me. The class has been great fun--and since it is the second time I have taught it, this gives me the chance to perfect a few rough places from the first run.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
But this afternoon I made a point of going to see The Proposal once my laundry was done (no, I did not do it until this morning). I had dinner with two friends last night (that I did check off my to-do list, of course), and she recommended it--HIGHLY.
So despite the fact that Sandra Bullock has been batting .333 in romantic comedy since Practical Magic (I.M.H.O.) I went.
Well. I enjoyed it--a lot. I'll give the cons right up front: I am really tired of senior citizens gettin' jiggy with sextalk and especially with Betty White doing so. I do not find it funny any more than I find babies saying "poop" and "shit" and "penis." Ugh. Also, Sandra Bullock's indictment of the Modern Working Woman's inability to do anything without her Louboutins is a tad embarrassing and stereotypically two-dimensional.
I worked in publishing for years and I will say this: without family money (New or Old) and/or marriage to a Park Avenue plastic surgeon NO WOMAN IN PUBLISHING, be she Editor-in-Chief or not, can afford to accessorize herself with the large-size Kelly Bag and multiple pairs of Louboutins and Louis Vuitton luggage sets, unless they were gifts from adoring fans.
IT IS NOT POSSIBLE.
OK, on to pros, which are substantial. First, I LIKE the chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock -- finally, a co-star who isn't just a male stereotype. In fact, far from it: Reynolds' character is more honest than Bullock's, and the actor really shows his chops in terms of comic timing, physical humor, line delivery, and character development. Both Bullock and Reynolds are better than the script, which has its moments of intelligent humor (like the scenes where Bullock arrivs at work and everyone in the office reacts to her with fear, awe, and fear) but also pulls out some sorry moments that miss (like the only "exotic" dancer in Sitka, Alaska--it would have been better contextualized somehow, rather than allowing us to think, hey, maybe the writer is serious and this is the pinnacle of culture in that little town). Mary Steenburgen is under-used but wonderful as always; instead of bonding with Gammi Betty White, I'd like to have seen Reynolds' mother Steenburgen getting to know her new daughter-in-law-to-be Bullock: would have given more depth and nuance to the characters in total.
But... seriously, see it for Reynolds (who has already impressed me this summer in Wolverine--okay, mostly for his abs, but still....--and in Adventureland) and Bullock. They also handle the older woman/younger man thing with adroitness (finally!) and make it work. Yahoo! There's a reason older Bullock has a realtionship with younger Reynolds: he is her assistant. AND he is neither wimpy or too testosterone-laden to be believed. The writers and directors and characters are not embarassed nor apologetic for the age difference: they use it beautifully. See, it can be done. And for character performances by the editor-to-be-fired (and Bullock's lambasting of him), the INS man, and the super cute puppy.
I have to give praise to Bullock, who has refused to give up on romantic comedy at the same time she has refused to pretend to be an ingenue. Refreshing. This is not exactly His Girl Friday or The Lady Eve, but closer than Bullock has ever gotten to the witty, intelligent, physical comedy she would actually sparkle in. In fact, I would recommend Bullock look at Stanwyck's Ball of Fire and consider some kind of remake.
Go see The Proposal.
P.S.: I worked for this woman when I was in publishing. I once overheard her tell the in-house head of advertising, regarding an ad that had run in the NYTimes Book Review with wrong information, that she planned to blame the advertising agency for the mistakes, because she didn't want anyone thinking she would employ someone in-house who was that stupid. And this was with her door open and the Voice that carried all the way down the hall to my little corner office... She could have taught Torquemada a few new tricks.
Well, it would be, but I am being restrained by my computer for "administrative issues" so it won't let me download photos. It doesn't recognize me an administrator... which basically means that my computer is telling me that I am not the boss of it.
Which is true... but I digress.
The blue bike in the foreground: my exact bike.
OK, I have short hair cut extra short for summer heat and wore a ball cap... but still: Wheeeeeee!
Remember this post on frugality back this spring? Well, I got the front basket (detachable, too!), the bell, and even light blue color-coordinated grips.
All on monies saved from coupons, deals, EBates, and selling books on Amazon. Now I'm going to start saving for the next "big" project: a new mattress and box spring. Good times.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Yes, it is Friday, which is a No Class Day. My big plans include:
1. Picking up THE BIKE: walking to the shop, getting my photo taken (the shop's Friday ritual!), then riding home. Ah, exercise... in the blazing/relentless/nasty DFW midday heat... good plan, eh?
2. Dinner out with girlfriends at chic local eatery featuring pizza and salads: Fireside Pies.
3. Laundry (gotta love the No Class Day, which translates to Home Rituals and Cleaning Day).
4. Reading the latest issue of Dwell magazine, my new favorite magazine. I dream of buying/building a small pre-fab house... also Entertainment Weekly and Fast Company.
5. Reading about Parisian visual culture of the 19th century. More interesting than it sounds, perhaps.
6. Replying to emails I have neglected all week.
7. Tuning my radio to Michael Jackson tribute stations, hopefully for the pre-scary years. Rest in peace, MJ.
8. Feeling envy about my friends' trip to Scotland: weeks in that lovely country, visiting Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the B&B I stayed in the Mactalla.
9. Did I mention picking up THE BIKE? Oh, I did.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Yes. I ordered it on Tuesday, and will pick it up TOMORROW!
Can you tell I am EXCITED!
I hope I will have pictures, but my camera is refusing to intersect interrogate interact interface with the laptop, so it may not be immediately possible.
it is a light blue Cruiser bike, with light blue rubber grips, a white front basket, a side mirror, a zingy bell, and, yes, the LOCK OF LOCKS so that it doesn't go walkabout.
I will be very cool, in a short-middle-aged-lady-in-a-skirt cool manner.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Cushman is considered the first great native-born American actress. She was also an anomaly in that she didn't physically fit the leading lady type: she was tall, broad shouldered, and had a deep voice... for a girl. She was, however, surprisingly popular with audiences from the beginning; she also found roles that foregrounded her abilities. Rather than play Juliet or Ophelia--typical ingenue-heroine roles in mid-nineteenth century America--in favor of Romeo and Lady Macbeth.
Between 1835 and 1874, she worked the entire east coast of the US: Boston, New York, New Orleans, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Albany... and everyone in between. She managed the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia--making her one of the first female managers in American theatre, although few people write or discuss this aspect of her work.
William Winter, the drama critic for the New York Times, said of her “She was incarnate power: she dominated by intrinsic authority; she was a woman born to command and to such minds as comprehended authentic leadership she achieved immediate, complete and permanent conquest. Cushman herself said of her art “Art is an absolute mistress, she will not be coquetted with or slighted; she requires the most entire self devotion, and she repays with grand triumphs.”
Cushman died in 1876 of breast cancer.
Kemble came to the USA in 1832, accompanying her father, Charles, on his acting tour of the new country. In 1834, she married a young man who had swept her off her feet: Pierce Butler, the grandson of a signer of the Declaration of Independence and heir to a tobacco/cotton/rice plantation off the coast of Georgia. On marrying Butler, Kemble gave up the stage to take on the role of wife. She accompanied Butler to Georgia, to his inherited plantation, in 1838... and saw slavery first-hand.
Friday, June 12, 2009
I admire it for two reasons. First, that it is private. The inhabitants have actually decided not to live their lives in everyone else's face. And second, the tumbled glass rock wall. Here's a closeup.
I think this is really killer. The wall is full of fist-sized glass rocks, and the end effect is also as if they had a wall of water. The texture and color are fantastic.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
We have now entered the summer weather months--better known as Summer Weather Months. Since moving to Texas I have been startled repeatedly at how HUGE a topic weather is during its season (much like high school football during the late summer and autumn months). Weather is NEWS: but given the possibility of sudden hail, thunderstorms, flooding, and tornedos, I sort of understand now.
Last night my evening class was interrupted by the tornedo siren, so my class of 8 and I trooped downstairs to the basement from the third floor (good exercise) to wait in large open area with all other faculty and students for the mysterious signal that we could return aboveground. Before and after that, my students were distracted by the rapidly darkening sky, the thrashing treetops, and the thunder. Oh, and lashing rain.
By the time we left class about 9 pm, the rain had trickled down to almost nothing. Which was good, because I had to park a good walk from the building. I don't fear muggers, but rain? Yikes. I've lived in Texas long enough.
I had to drive to the grocery store for catfood after, oh well, so saw the streets puddled up. And I mean "puddled": the kind of standing water that makes huge slices of water when you drive through, no matter how slowly you proceed. And most people just bullet through, which is how you ruin your brakes, get stranded in flooding, and soak walkers (who are, after all, on their own simply because they walk, which makes them fair game here in the Lone Star State where walking is practically a crime and certainly a sign of slight mental derangement... unless you are power walking--ok, now I am wound up on that topic! Stay focused, here).
Everyone has a weather story: a flooding story, a tornedo story, a hail story. Stranded, stuck, struck.
The upside is that the a.c. can be turned off, the ozone smells strongly in the air, the thunder rumbles distantly, and I sleep really, really well. Which is how I am pretty certain I will wake up in Oz without realizing it.
Note: image from Saskatchewan, another photographer; couldn't find any good images of DFW rain
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Yesterday I took the Big Trip to Frisco... to IKEA Dallas. Armed with catalog and list of names/numbers/sizes, I travelled north on the Tollway to the Big Blue Box I love so much. In time, of course, for their breakfast deal (free bottomless coffee).
It will be delivered on Friday, "some time" between 9 and 9. Old couch will be removed by Salvation Army on Saturday, "some time" between 8 and 6... so there will be an overlap of 24-33 hours where I have two couches in what is decidely a one-couch apartment. Oh, well. The real trick will be getting the Ikea men to a/ move the old couch and b/ put the legs on the new couch. And should I tip them? Such many questions!
Regardless, I have a new sleeper sofa, which is great after 13 years. Admittedly, the current sofa has a great mattress, hidden by an increasingly faded outside. Incredibly comfortable, without good looks. I hope it finds a new home. It may be joined by a wicker chair and ottoman I inherited from a friend, but have never quite settled on.
Ikea is always an interesting trip for me, here in Dallas. Since my first trip to Ikea was in Paris, round about 1999, the contrasts are really strong in my mind whenever I go. In Paris, one must take public transpo (Metro, then bus), while in Dallas I drive $2.80 worth of Tollway to Frisco. In Paris, the Box is located near the airport, in the 'way out 'burbs; in Dallas, Frisco--and the Ikea stop--used to be out in the middle of deserted Texas farmland, but now the store is surrounded by strip malls featuring other chains (Container Store, low- to high-end furniture and home deco stores, and lots of eateries, if you don't like the limited choices at the Ikea cafe). The open, brown prairie that surrounded it: GONE. More roads, more chain/box stores, more stuff growing like a rabbit colony... or Starbucks franchises in the aughts.
I am always pleased to find things that are cost-efficient, useful, and attractive--like yesterday I bought a small white ceramic flowerpot that I'll use as a pencil cup, prettier than the black mug I have now. But also inexpensive white magazine folders, glass plates to match my white ones that are in a discontinued style (oh, well), an espresso cup and saucer, a rubberized placement for using my laptop on the dining room table, wooden hangers, a cheap towel to keep in the car to cover the steering wheel and my seat during summer months, new shower curtain, black iron hooks for everything around the house, and a second Arstid lamp, this one for my bedroom. Besides the couch and cover.
A delightfully successful day.