Friday, December 30, 2005

If I won the lottery....

While driving in the car I sometimes fantasize about what I would do if I ever won the lottery. This usually occurs when the lottery jackpot has grown to hundreds of millions of dollars. I'm not a regular lottery player so about the only time I actually purchase a ticket is when the jackpot is huge and gajillions of people are playing, thus, reducing my already infintesimal chance of winning. So if I won the lottery what would I do with the money?

1. Pay a tithe to my church.
2. Pay off my credit cards and get out of debt.
3. Buy/build a house.
4. Give money to all my family members.
5. Set up college funding for my nieces and nephews.
6. Buy a bus or RV and hire a driver so I can tour the US in comfort.
7. Live in London for a year.
8. Start a private school and hire all my teachers friends.
9. Go to a fat farm and get healthy.
10. Start a charitable foundation to help single moms with daycare costs.

I think it's a pretty fair mix of selfish and altruistic. That's what I keep telling God anyway. So far, he's not convinced I can be trusted with that much cash--at least that's what I assume, since I haven't won the lottery yet.

Reading List

I've been on vacation since the 23rd. Other than the little blip caused by Christmas entertaining life has been one long read- eat- sleep-watch tv- and occasionally shop fest. Since tv schedules right now are appalling, (boy, would I like to gripe about that), I spent a ton on Christmas which limits my shopping, and I've gained ten pounds from eating and then sleeping, I've had a lot of time for reading.

I'd love to claim that my reading list is erudite and of the highest intellectual content. After all, I sometimes post fascinating (to me) intelligent (to me) and absolutely right-on (to me) comments on Ann Althouse's website. Someone from Althouse might someday come to my blog. I can't let my rep down, right? I'm a brain, right? Brains read brainiac things, right? Uh...not so much. I do like biographies, histories, etc. sometimes. Mostly I like to read lighter fare however. So--I admit it--I read ROMANCES. Eek, gasp! Those poorly thought of books which are supporting the rest of the book industry and which get no respect unless Tolstoy wrote one. I could try to ignore this unsavoury (to some) aspect of my life in my blogging but that limits my blogging. If I refuse to blog about the most significant part of my reading, I'm going to be looking for topics to blog about pretty quickly.

So what's on my reading list? At Border's the other day I picked up the new Sherrilyn Kenyon: Unleash the Night, the new Lucy Monroe : Willing, the new Jennifer Greene: Blame it On Chocolate, and the new McCaffrey/Scarborough: Changelings: Book One of the Twins of Petaybee. I was very excited to see the Petaybee book because I thought the series was done.

I whizzed through Willing, while my sister read Unleash the Night. Both books received a thumbs up rating in our household, if anyone cares. In the meantime, I've also been re-reading some old Lynne Graham and Anne Weale books. Anne Weale is a wonderful author and I enjoy her books for many reasons, but mainly because her heroines are never stupid. She doesn't rely on miscommunication as a plot device. Her heroines make me want to be neater and better groomed. I always feel like giving myself a manicure after I read her books because her heroines are so pulled together. Lynne Graham, on the other hand, writes wonderful alpha male heros who are usually bullies needing to be taken down a peg or two. Her heroines managed to deliver a satisfying blow to the alpha male egos which I enjoy tremendously.

Have I mentioned that I'm not a linear thinker? Maybe reading this blog makes that obvious, but just in case, I'll warn you now. I'm associative--I leap from thought to thought so where a post starts may not be where it ends up. Oh, well. ;o)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Katie Holmes

After seeing Katie Holmes in Batman Begins, I've concluded that she could have played a part on Seinfeld if she were a little older. My sister and I noticed a picture of Katie in one of the weekly magazines which feature celebrities--can't remember which one, Life & Style or In Touch; where she's got a down-right ugly look. Depending on the lighting she can look very haggard with hollow-cheeks and eyes, drastically older than her actual age. It reminds me of the episode on Seinfeld "The Strike" when Jerry has a new girlffriend who can look ugly or beautiful depending on the lighting.

I guess we could attribute this phenomenon to living with Tom Cruise. (I have disliked him since he dumped Nicole Kidman. I refuse to go to his movies since then too.) Anyway--possibly having a relationship with Tom is adversely affecting Katie's looks. Wonder what the Scientology take on plastic surgery is...

Batman Begins

On Christmas Day, we watched Batman Begins with our guest. Not a bad movie, but not my favorite. (I liked the one with Catwoman best--Michelle Pfeiffer rocked!) I was a bit surprised by what a small role Katie Holmes had in it. The other female stars have had significantly more screen time. I do think the movie did a good job of taking us from Bruce Wayne to Batman. The explanation of all the gimmicks and technology that he has were logical. I have never understood how Bruce and Alfred could have built the entire Bat cave by themselves, but having the structural work done during the reconstruction of the house is very plausible. The movies certainly make Batman out to be filled with angst, don't they? Since my impressions of Batman were formed by the tv show in the '60's, it's an adjustment to see him brooding and dark. I kind of miss all the ZAPs! and POWs! blaring colorfully across the screen too.

Quotes to live by...

I love the following quote written by William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar Act IV Scene III:

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

I read this quote a few years ago in a book in which it was used to describe the decision making process. Whenever I have been faced with difficult choices, most recently when I had to decide whether or not to relocate 1000 miles across the country, this quote comes to mind.

So far, using the quote to make decisions is working out pretty well for me. I went on to complete another degree and I moved to Maryland where I'm very happy.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Transplanted Holidays

This year for the first time I stayed home over the entire Christmas holiday. That probably has something to do with living 1000 miles from the rest of my extended family. I have to say, I enjoyed it. Christmas is much less fraught when you don't have to run here and there making visits. Yes, it's lovely to see family and enjoy extended time together, but there's something to be said for the joys of hanging out at home and relaxing too.

Since we've recently relocated to Maryland as part of a company transfer, we've shared our holiday with others from the company who relocated too. Being a host on a holiday was a new and enjoyable experience. For both Thanksgiving and Christmas, we had company. Three guests for the first and one guest for the second. Enough to make you feel like making an effort, not enough to stress you out.

On Thanksgiving we served up a traditional turkey dinner with gratifying results. Empty plates and lots of compliments. I have Food Network to thank for that. I watched a lot of programming and learned some critical skills (gravy-making) from Alton Brown and Rachel Ray. For Christmas dinner, we went non-traditional and had steaks. Yep, STEAKS, porterhouse steaks to be exact and they were excellent. They were served with salad and baked potatoes and baked corn. The baked corn was the biggest hit of all! So here's the recipe, it's a winner which I must credit to my sister Karen.

Baked Corn

one can whole corn
one can creamed corn
one cup sour cream
one box Jiffy corn muffin mix
one cup melted margarine
two beaten eggs
one tbsp sugar

Mix everything together. Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan. Bake at 350 degress for about 45 minutes.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Project Runway-The Lingerie Challenge

Project Runway, while still compelling, was a disappointment this week. At the end of the lingerie challenge one of my favorites was ousted. That the decision to get rid of Daniel Franco seems to have been based on something other than good design seems a betrayal of the show's purpose. Daniel Franco's quiet personality, perfectionistic tendencies and issues with time management just didn't have the vibrance desired for reality television.

I haven't read anywhere that anyone thinks that Santino's hideous and ridiculous heidi-like with ruffles and tasteless adornments (Is that a codpiece on the panties?) designs and models made up to look like deer were anything but the ultimate in bad taste and utterly lacking in aesthetic appeal. Unfortunately, Santino's massively overblown ego and talent for saying catty and incomprehensibly arrogant, snarky remarks about other contestants makes better tv.

I think the producers underestimate what it is that makes the show compelling. I adore the show because I'm fascinated by the way these talented strangers interact with each other. I'm interested in their reaction to the stress of art on a deadline. I'm intrigued by their creative process. I love watching them design and seeing how differently the outcomes can be, based on the inner qualities and artistic vision of each designer. I don't need to see meltdowns every week to keep coming back. I do need to believe that the person who ultimately wins the competition was the most deserving. If the show isn't going to be about talent then I'll stop watching.

My disclaimer: I'm nowhere close to being an expert in fashion--it's way outside my knowledge base. I buy InStyle magazine and I used to watch Elsa Klench on CNN every Saturday years ago--that's it. In spite of those handicaps, I'm certainly aware that Daniel Franco's designs depended upon the same themes--contrasting colors/fabrics in the bodice, tailoring, etc, but so do Santino's! Those ruffles from his dress from episode one were an element in the lingerie and showed up in the Barbie outfit. Frankly, all the designers rely on known techniques and design elements. I've visited their websites and viewed the portfolios and collections some of them have. Nick and Chloe are repetitive too. Is this a bad thing? It need not be. Really, it's almost inevitable that they'd rely on design elements they've used before given the time element of the challenges. I mention this because I've heard Daniel F. criticised for being too samey-samey and I just think that's unfair.

On January 4th, I'll still be watching but perhaps my joy in the show will be tainted with cynicism. After all, Santino was told his designs were ugly and he had no integrity because he blamed Emmett. Daniel was told his designs were too similar although prettier, and that he was ethical for taking the blame. For Daniel to be ousted after that commentary makes you really wonder about the ethics and hypocrisy of the producers.

I remember now...

I remember now why my first attempt at a blog failed. It's hard work blogging. You go in thinking, hey, I'll just post a little something daily, no problem. Then you realize, shoot, I haven't posted in a week! Oh rats, no wonder I don't have any readers!

One part of the problem is that I have to work for a living. That takes a big chunk of time. Then I have all the interests about which I might potentially blog. For example, watching the Martha Stewart Apprentice Finale takes time. Finally, I live with someone and I have friends and coworkers. Inevitably I vent some of my opinions at them, then I discover that my need or desire to blog about it, is reduced. It's a vicious cycle.

In the end--do I have the stamina and the passion to blog? Do I have anything that interesting to say? We'll see.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Movie Reviews

I'm not much of a movie person--I prefer episodic television by far. I hate to be completely out of the loop with regard to movies however, so I try to catch a few movies a year that that look like they might have some appeal to me. This year's movies have included Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick The Pacifier,(I became obsessed with Vin Diesel) Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, The Village, Hitch, Robots, Sahara, and The Skeleton Key.

Since I rarely go to the movies DVDs are the method of my madness. I calculate that the price of a DVD is actually cheaper than two tickets (before 5:00 prices) and the couple's popcorn and drink special. That costs about $20 bucks altogether. A new DVD purchased in the first week of its release can usually be found in stores for less than $15 bucks. That's my rationale, anyway, for buying movies which I don't watch for months and months.

This weekend I pay-per-viewed Bewitched . I rate it an OK-not as bad as Hitch-but I'll never watch it again movie. You know what you're going to get with a Will Ferrell movie after all. I was fascinated by the 'interesting' performance by Nicole Kidman. What exactly attracted her to this rather dippy role? I wonder. I was entranced by the poor continuity of her hair. In the same scene it blipped from well-groomed to drooping and past its prime. Somebody should have been docked some pay there.

After Bewitched, I watched The Skeleton Key which had been gathering dust for a few months. If a movie is good because you keep thinking about it after it is over, then I suppose The Skeleton Key was good. I did keep thinking about it. Of course, what I was thinking was that Kate Hudson's character was a moron who deserved everything she got so maybe that isn't the best standard for what a good movie is...;o)

Since the opinion of a movie critic is not complete without some idea of movies that they really liked-- I'll add that I loved the movie Billy Elliott, Sahara was fun and I liked the little heard of Beautiful with Minnie Driver and A Mighty Wind.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Glomming an Author

Glomming an author is a phrase used among avid readers (of which I am one) to describe the act of reading or re-reading many or all of the titles by a certain author. When I discover a new author that I really love, I'll generally look for all their backlist of published works so that I can read everything they've written.

When I discovered Lois McMaster Bujold, for example, I ran through everything she'd written with obsessive intent, and then I re-read them all again. I LOVE the Miles Vokosigan series and I fervently tout the books to all I can. I re-read certain pivotal books in that series once or twice a year (Memory, Komarr, A Civil Campaign). My point--from which I have slightly digressed, is that there's just nothing like the realization that you've found a new author that you love and the joy of discovering they've got a substantial backlist!

Currently, I'm glomming Jayne Ann Krentz. I've been reading Jayne's books for twenty years now--which upon reflection makes me feel quite ancient--and picking up one of her earlier books is like visiting an old friend. Some I know better than others, I could probably re-write "Ravished" the regency published under her Amanda Quick pseudonym from memory. Right now I'm glomming her contemporaries, and I've just re-read "Twist of Fate", "Lost & Found", "Sharp Edges" and "Trust Me". I'm ready to start "Absolutely Positively" but I was diverted from the glom by "The Song of Bernadette" which is the book upon which the movie with Jennifer Jones is based. I adore the movie and I'm enjoying the book as well.

I generally like to re-read books when I'm going through a stressful time--busy at work, or caught up in something outside of work that limits my concentration and energy. Reading a new book requires focused energy that isn't always available and then there's the risk that the book will disappoint. I know some people don't understand why people re-read books, but for me, it's a guaranteed win-win. I know I'm getting a book I'll enjoy, and I know that it'll relax me because I know what's coming next, and if I really like the characters or the author's voice then it's comforting to revisit.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Project Runway-2

I discovered Project Runway-Season 2 this week and I am hooked! I can't believe I didn't run across the first season last year, but I've taken care of that--I ordered the DVD set from Amazon yesterday. Hopefully, my Christmas vacation will be one long Project Runway Marathon.

Anyway--My favorite designers so far are Chloe, Daniel Franco, and Nick. In task 2, Chloe made a fabulous dress from very little material. The entire look of her dress was changed. It was elegant and wearable. In task 3, Nick's Barbie outfit had everything; stunning color with an exciting contrast print--wonderful details and wearable by the average person. Daniel's such a precise, clean-lined designer I love everything he's made. I'm worried he'll fall apart because of his perfectionism so I almost hate to root for him because I fear he can't win.

Designers I dislike are: Santino, Zulema (butt-hanging out dress girl--what was she thinking?) and older lady from Allentown. I should be able to remember her name, I guess, but hey, we're only three shows in. I really detest Santino the most! I can't wait for him to crash and burn. My dislike started the moment he groused that Chloe had won the second task because the judges didn't want to give him two in a row. How rude and egomaniacal. The fact that he wouldn't congratulate either Chloe or Nick when he won the Barbie tasks also speaks poorly for his character. Meanwhile he (Santino) had lots of different fabric to work with on task 2. I hated the wierd leather skirt thing he made, particularly the fact that you could still tell it was a jacket because the zipper and collar had been left intact. The bizarro shrug was just a fussy add-on. It may be "couture" but real people wouldn't wear it. As for his outfit for Barbie, it was pretty enough but the ruffles were something he had used on his first task dress and the colors didn't stand out. Not a loser dress, but not The Winner either. The pouting and acting like a baby didn't go over very well either.

So that's my summary in brief so far--

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Apprentice Finale

Well--the Apprentice Finale was a major disappointment to me. I was amiably inclined toward both Randall and Rebecca and I had been teased by the notion that Trump would hire them both since they were both so deserving. Now however, my goodwill toward Randall has evaporated by his over-aggressive attack on Rebecca and his refusal to accede to Trump's not so subtle suggestion that he hire Rebecca too. All my goodwill for Randall *poof*. How small of him, how selfish, how insecure. Hope Trump hires her in the morning. I certainly will be turning the channel if Randall shows up on my tv screen.