Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tee Hee!

I saw this ad tonight on a website, and it made giggle.

Baby in a bag! It does kind of make sense, but that doesn't mean it's not hilarious.
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Sunday, April 27, 2008

This Makes Me Laugh

That is all.
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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Madison is Crazy

So, last weekend, I witnessed something that I had really not expected to see. Madison is a pretty actively hippie town (I mean, it's no Boulder Colorado, but still), which results in a lot of protests/rallies/general public gatherings that have some relation to some sort of cause. I mean, there were Free Tibet rallies in Madison before it was cool.

That may be why I would have sooner expected a "George W. Bush: Awesome President!" demonstration than what actually happened last Saturday:

Pro-China Rally!

Seriously, it was a good thing that (usually for such events) the participants were not aggressively handing out flyers. I wouldn't have had any response at hand besides, "Are you kidding?"

(They weren't kidding.)

That one is "Go Olympics! Go Badgers!" Many of the China ralliers even wore Wisconsin shirts because--fortuitously!--they're red. Other signs included:

"No OlymPolitics!";

one with some slogan I can't remember about being pro-peace/anti-riot;

the unintentionally-scariest one, which read "One Dream/One World/One China";

the informational poster telling its readers that Tibet has been a part of China since the 1300s (neglecting, I'm sure, that military force has also been necessary to keep that true for centuries)

and the one that genuinely made me angry, which was "Judgement without Evidence is Ignorance" (because, hey, let's think--why is there a lack of first-hand evidence about what's going in Tibet? Hmm, that's a tricky one. It sure couldn't be a Classic Commie Media Stonewall, could it?).

Another observation: the pro-China people were uniformly Chinese people. Pro-Tibet people are mostly people of Chinese descent, but with others mixed in, too; the pro-China ralliers all appeared to be exchange students, either from the main UW campus or who had shown up from other UW branch campuses (I saw a bunch of UW-Platteville t-shirts, for instance).

Now, I'm sure the pro-China people are nice people. Nothing ugly or violent went down--there was a pro-Tibet rally going on at the same time (not a coincidence, I feel sure; somebody from the Tibet camp got on a microphone to introduce a speaker they'd brought in and she reminded the China group that the Tibet people had a permit to be there and the China people did not). There was some pretty fervent chanting at some point, but it dissapated when the microphone person asked it to.

Also, I get it that it would be pretty frustrating to be abroad just when everybody is dogpiling on your country. Still though, there's liking your country and there's self-delusion. I feel like both sides were represented at the rally. In my admittedly rough estimation, the people defending China's right to host the Olympics belong to the former, while the people equating Tibet with violence and China with peace are suffering from the latter.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Good Times

Well, winter and the winter-esque leg of spring seem to be officially over now in Wisconsin (excuse me for a moment while I go knock on all the wood in my apartment).

Yesterday, for the first time this calendar year (and probably for the first time since October? September?) the temperature broke 70. Oh man, it was awesome. And today? It's going to do the same thing again!

A corollary to general weather awesomeness is some particular clothing awesomeness. I bought this shirt off the internet a month or two ago, but it's been tricky to wear because I don't have anything that looks very good underneath it. But today, Dinosaurs on Bikes Shirt will be flying solo!

Good times indeed.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

An Unfortunate Happening

I got some very disappointing news today.

Netflix is sending me the wrong show.

I went out of the way to put one set of TV on DVD at the very top of my queue, because I just sent in the first disc of it, and now I'm really addicted to it--I even changed over to the two-discs-at-a-time plan (which I'd been thinking about doing, but this show really pushed it over the top). But, for no discernable reason, they're sending me two discs from a different series instead! Man, I can't believe that instead of (the fancy Showtime historical drama) The Tudors, they're sending me (incredibly trashy VH1 reality show) Rock of Love.

No wait, I put that wrong. Instead of Rock of Love, they're sending me The Tudors. And I am severely bummed about it.

I mean, The Tudors is in my queue, and I recently watched the first disc of it, but I'm pretty on the fence about it. I was even debating taking it off of the list, whereas with Rock of Love, I received, watched, and sent back the first disc in a 24-hour period to expedite getting more Rock of Love. It's . . . it's awesome, you guys. It's like if The Bachelor was sleazier and trashy and much, much, much drunker. It's one of those rare things that actually does manage to be so bad, it's good. Except I'd go so far as to say that it's SO TERRIBLE that's it's TOTALLY FANTASTIC.

Here's the bright side, though: really, when you look at it, The Tudors and Rock of Love are not that different.

I mean, look at the basics. Rock of Love is about a whole bunch of women--who have to co-exist in the same tricked-out LA pad--all competing for the attention and love of one man, Bret Michaels of Poison. The Tudors is about a whole bunch of women--who have to co-exist at court--all competing for the attention and love of one man, Henry VIII of England. In both cases, the dudes are totally not worth it. Bret Michaels is a washed-up 80's hair band frontman who is way too into the physical side of relationships for his own good, but is underneath everything kind of a good guy. Henry VIII is the narcissistic ruler of a second-rate European power who is way too into the physcial side of relationships for his own good. He's also just a really horrible person. The winner here is, clearly, Rock of Love, because it's hard to get involved when your main character is in all ways unlikeable.

The two leading men also have some glaring physical flaws. In Bret's case, it's his "flowing" "locks" that are now, cleary, a wig. Poor guy just can't let the long blonde hair go with dignity. In the case of Henry VIII as played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, it's that he's a teeny tiny itty bitty shrimpy little squirt of a man. I try not to nitpick historical fiction too bad, because it's like complaining that a movie based on a book isn't like the book. Of course it's not, it can't be. And drama about history can't be exactly like history, because it just wouldn't fit. So anyway, I'm willing to overlook things. For instance, in the show, Henry's sister Margaret has to go marry the very old and gross King of Portugal. In real life, it was Henry's sister Mary who had to go marry the very old and gross King of France (his sister Margaret was already married to the King of Scotland). I'm ok with this. See, in the show, they've already shown a King of France, and he's young. Also, Henry's daughter is named Mary, so they probably just didn't want to clutter the thing up with Marys (although, seriously, people back then had, like, eight different names to choose from. They're going to run into this problem eventually).

But the thing is: Henry VIII was a big man. Even before he was fat in his old age, he was a big, tall, athletic man, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers is definitively NOT. He's not just kinda small; he's invariably the smallest man in every scene. Even some of the chicks are bigger than him (maybe that's his secret reason for not being in love with his first wife anymore). (This also happens to Bret Michaels, by the way--there's a Polish lady who's probably 6'2". Yow.) Also, it's not just a physical thing, it affects the character. It's like he's Henry VIII by way of Napoleon Bonaparte. He ends up wresting with the King of France at one point ( . . . really.) and of course totally loses, because he's a teeny tiny itty bitty shrimp of a man. And then he throws this fit in which he throws all his furniture against walls and stuff. If he was a big, athletic Henry VIII, that would be kind of intimidating, but since he's Napoleon Tudor, it's really just kind of sad.

Where was I?

Oh, right. Bret Michael's hair is better than Jonathan Rhys Meyer's height, because Bret almost always wears a bandanna and/or a cowboy hat. This . . . may be a problem in and of itself, I realize. But still.

Then, of course, there are the ladies. OK, "ladies." Well, except on The Tudors, some of them really are Ladies. But both shows have an assortment of women: there are the heartless schemers, like Lacy and Anne Boleyn; there are the comparatively innocent ones who are uncomfortable with the man's philandering ways, like Sam and Lady Elizabeth Blount; and there are the very serious older ones, who are very sincere in their affections and take motherhood very seriously, like Rodeo and Catherine of Aragon. (Man, if I had a nickel for every time a comparison was drawn between Rodeo and Catherine of Aragon . . . there would be one nickel extant in the entire universe.) Just a few seconds into this video is one of my favorite of the many sincere/slightly crazy Rodeo interviews [caution: Rock of Love has adult language and sexual content. So does The Tudors, come to think of it. The difference is that there's more of it on Rock of Love, but since The Tudors is on premium cable, none of its swears or nipples are bleeped or pixelated]

Again, though, I've got to give the edge to Rock of Love. Those women, though on the whole mind-bogglingly trashy and mean, are just so fun! When Henry let Mary Boleyn go as a mistress, did she shoot the double deuce to him and the rest of the court? No.

So, as I've been saying,

is better than

but I know that, somehow, I'll make it through until Netflix sends me the one I really want.
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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Phone Pictures

I got a new phone a while back, and although I hate it, I've never had a phone with a camera before, so that's kind of nice. I always thought that if I had a camera phone, I would take pictures of quirky things and write about them in my blog, and now . . . that dream is coming true!

This is one of my earliest attempts. I had to go on a Bureaucratic Red Tape Quest one frigid, frigid morning, when I saw an interesting clock on the side of a bureacratic building:

Like I said, an early attempt. I'm not sure if there are any camera phones with zoom, but wouldn't that be cool? I've zoomed in on this here computer in an effort (a dubiously successful effort?) to make it easier to tell what's going on:

It's a Bucky clock! His arms tell you the time! . . . Look, I promise it's cool in person.

This next picture is about showing you that Wisconsin is how you think it is. People here are very positive on cheese, very positive on bratwurst, very positive on beer, and very very positive on all things Green Bay Packers.

This is the sign for a bar by my house from a couple of days after Favre announced his retirement. Usually, they have some weird pirate-related slogan. I think the other said something like "WE LUV YOU FAVRE."

Finally, I give you a puzzle.

This was something the gentleman caller and I saw in the dairy case at our local grocery emporium. We looked at it in confusion. Then I picked it up to read the label: "Butter Lamb." But that just didn't erase any of my questions. Question the first: What? Butter Lamb? Question two: But why a butter lamb? Question #3: Are butter lambs something that happen that I just don't know about? I mean, are all of you out there reading this and thinking, "Geez, you've never heard of a butter lamb before? What, have you never been to a [social event traditionally involving butter lambs] in your whole life? You need to get out more"? I just don't know.

In all seriousness, if anyone has any answers about the butter lamb, I would really appreciate it.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Truly, We Live in a Marvelous Age

Tonight, I have had two occasions on which to marvel that we live in a time when almost all knowledge one could hope to have is instantly accessible (more or less as far as the instantly, depending on whether the wireless connection is acting up).

1. My roommate mentioned, for some reason, eidetic memory, which led to a conversation about photographic memories, which led to the surfacing in my mind of these vague, shadowy memories of some book (or books?) I had read when I was a kid. All I knew was that the main character had a photographic memory, and her name was Cam (do you get it?!?), and she solved mysteries or something, and she would say "click" when she was committing something to her photographic memory. So I typed "book Cam photographic memory" and voila! The Cam Jansen Mysteries!

Before the internet, I would never have been able to figure out if I was just making that up. (Because, seriously? She actually says "click"?)

2. For the first time ever, I was able to hear a song that my dad used to sing when I was kid and that I was pretty sure he had totally made up. In my defense--first of all, my dad likes to make stuff up (you know it's true, Dad) and second of all,

What kind of gullible kid would believe that was a real song?

But anyway, now I know for sure that--against all odds!--it really was.
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A Grim Post

I think this is the creepiest time of the year. It's April Scary-Times.

(Maybe I should think of a more ominous-sounding name.)

Bad things happen around this mid- to late-ish part of April, in large part due to conscious copycatting. For examples:

April 19th, 1993: Branch Dividian fire
April 19th, 1995: Oklahoma City bombing
April 20th, 1999: Columbine massacre
April 16th, last year: the Virginia Tech massacre
April 18th, last year: that crazy ex-employee busting into NASA in Houston and killing a guy

Now, I know this probably isn't actually statistically significant, out of all the horrible things that go on in the world every day; this is just something that makes me personally nervous. It's just that those first things established a pattern in my young mind, and those last two brought it all back.

(A side note about the impact of Columbine on my generation: today in my random undergrad class, the professor brought up Columbine and asked us if we remembered that. I hope he didn't see me when I involuntarily looked at him like he was an idiot [my too-honest facial expressions have and will continue to get me in trouble, I know]. I know that I'm a few years older than most of the people in there, but A) there was wall-to-wall media coverage on that B)big events often, in my opinion, have an even greater impact on the young because they're just not as used to Everything; events that happen during your formative years etch themselves into you, especially in the case of C) those kids were my age. That wasn't just a big huge deal that happened, it was a big huge deal that happened to people exactly like me. And for those undergrads, to people practically exactly like them. Proof of my thesis: the prof was trying to remember the nickname the kids who perpetrated the shooting had. "What were they called?" he said, half-musing to himself. "The Trenchcoat Mafia," the entire class chorused. Yeah, sir, we remember Columbine.)

I hope this post doesn't sound like I'm trying to make the Virginia Tech and Columbine shootings all about me--I'm not. What I'm saying is, you guys be careful out there, during April Scary-Times. And remember to think about those poor kids whose lives were snuffed out by people too distorted even to turn the guns on themselves first.

The worst thing about the events that have made April Scary-Times scary is that, in that moment, if you were there, what could you really do? Because in most cases, the answer is nothing. Maybe all we can really do is add our own little ounces of prevention by showing kindness to people. Come to think of it, if everybody did that, that would solve . . . everything.
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Aaaand . . . We're Back!

So, it's been awhile since I've posted here, and even longer since I've posted regularly. Sorry about that. Here are some of the things I've done since I last updated the ol' blog:

Taken in my wedding dress to get it altered. The dress I got (because it came in a petite size) was so close to perfect that I don't need to get it taken in or out or anything, but I do need the slightest of hems. But no matter how slight, it's the same price (read: expensive).

Purchased the entire album of that lady from that song on that MacBook commercial. It's pretty good--more songs are in Hebrew than are in English, but foreign languages make for good study music, because it's less distracting.

Finished a paper that's been crushing my soul since December! I did that yesterday, so now I can focus on the more important stuff, like my master's thesis.

Speaking of, I guess this is as good a time as any to tell you--I've officially decided that once I finish that master's thesis (probably this summer), I'm out. That is, I'm not going to go to grad school anymore.

I thought that getting a Ph.D. and becoming a history professor was what I really wanted to do, but it turns out I was mistaken. What it boils down to is A) I'm just not self-motivated enough for the whole process (for example, that soul-crushing paper was due in December, but in grad school [at least, at my grad school], they let you take more time, which is just terrible for a procrastinatrix like myself.) and B) there's always something more to do; you're never totally done with your work.

That was one of the greatest things about that year off I took--when you have a job, you do it, and then you go home and (in most cases) you're not doing it anymore. When you're in school, you're in school 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your work isn't measured by time, it's measured by the pages you need to write or the time you think you need to study to get the grade you want. Grad school is like that, except more so, because you're supposed to know as much as you can possibly know, so if you really want to do well, you can never be done. And I realized that it would continue to be that way if I became a professor. At least, if I wanted to be a good professor.

So anyway, grad school/professoring is not the answer to Finding My Life's Purpose. There are some big upsides to this, like going out and getting a Real Job that will pay me some Actual Money, and of course that the gentleman caller and I aren't going to have to try to find two professor jobs at the same place or in the same area. Even with "spousal hires" and whatnot, that was not going to be easy.

The biggest downside is that I have no idea what I do want to do (besides A Job for Some Money). . . . Any suggestions?
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