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Showing posts from December, 2012

Happy 2013!

Ho ho ho! Another year soon comes to an end, and a new one begins! Unlike last year, 2012 contained a minimum of fiasco and a maximum of fun, with a side order of frenzy. Whew! Let's review!

January opened with me still getting used to my new job. I moved in with Boyfriend in February. I had Lasik surgery at the end of March, and instantly became 1.75% prettier. Papa came for a visit in April, and Boyfriend casually asked him "if it would be okay if we got married." Papa said yeah, okay.

Boyfriend had a big party to celebrate a milestone birthday in May. We watched a Red Sox game up in a box! Some guy clambered over the seats and tried to crash the party, and security promptly booted him out. There is no messing around in the Fen, kids.

June was a haze of barbecues. July saw me in upstate New York enjoying nature with Boyfriend's extended family. The end of July happened to be my birthday weekend, a milestone one, thank you for asking, and Boyfriend had a surprise u…


In true holiday tradition, I have been overeating and drinking. Ho! Ho! Ho!

It started out with the Boston Pops Christmas concert, a Fiance family tradition. As always, the orchestra performed wonderfully. Santa made an appearance to request "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and he was, naturally, immediately tailed by hopeful children. Meanwhile, we downed white wine and snacked on chips and shrimp. Then we went to Capital Grille to have a proper dinner. Fiance had the largest bowl of French onion soup ever -- it was practically a trough. I had oysters to start. Most everyone had steak, but I opted for shrimp stuffed with crab and lobster. There were five pieces but I could only make it through four because of too much pre-eating.

The next day, we went to the 'burbs for a Yankee swap with the man's extended family. There were meatballs, cream cheese and jam and crackers, turkey, ham, fruits, and several battalions of dessert, all intent on fattenin…

Giving = Receiving

I love humanity...on principle. I can be nice. I help out lost tourists if they ask. (Do I send them in the right direction? Generally speaking, yes.) I tip generously. If drivers clearly have to rush home to poo, I let them go ahead when I'm at a crosswalk. I give to charity. I recycle. I call my mom every day. And today, as I listened to her laments about her bad back, it dawned on me that giving isn't better than receiving. Giving is receiving.

Allow me to elucidate. My mom puts up with a lot of crap at work. Apart from the evil administrators who deprive employees of basics like use of the microwave and going outside to eat, her coworkers apparently keep borrowing small amounts of money for lunch and then never pay her back. No big deal; both my parents believe that relationships are far more important than money, and have drilled this value into our heads. But it gets annoying after a year, right? So that's her situation: give, give, give. But then, recently she had …

Game Review: Star Ocean: The Last Hope (XBox)

Star Ocean: The Last Hope is the latest installment of the Star Ocean RPG series from Japan. The Last Hope is actually a prequel to the three other games that came before. It begins with WWIII, and how the ruined Earth prompted humanity to look toward space -- the "star ocean." With the secret help of a race of aliens called the Eldarians, Earthlings develop the hyperspace technology necessary to launch space ships to the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

The main characters in the story, Edge Maverick and Reimi Saionji, are crew members on one of the ships assigned to find a suitable planet for human relocation. As the fleet of ships prepares to launch from the moon base, famous hero Commander Kenny calls the two "Seeds of Hope" in his head. Since Edge is 20 and Reimi is 19, and they're somehow part of a mission where the future of humanity hangs in the balance, that's pretty much a dead giveaway that they're genetically altered to be superior to the res…

Vegetarian Nacho Salad

In honor of Reverend Cowherd, founder of the UK's first vegetarian church, I present this delicious and easy meat-free recipe.

Serves Two!*

Black beans (8 oz.)Green leaf lettuce1/2 cup salsa1/4 of an onion and 1 tomato (chopped)Grated cheese (optional)Tostitos Blue Corn ChipsInstructions:
Cook the black beans. Once cooked, drain.Put the beans back in the pan. Mix in the salsa, onion, and tomato.Shred the green leaf lettuce.Put the chips in a wide, shallow bowl. Add the lettuce on top.Then add the bean mix.If you want, add grated cheese.Bask in the praise from your impressed victim fellow diner.
This meal has protein via beans, plus other nutrients from the lettuce and tomato. The raw onion adds bite. The cheese has calcium. Meanwhile, the chips save it from being completely healthy. Can't have too much of a good thing!

"I could eat this every day!"

*Bonus: Contains one serving of moral superiority for hav…

Movie Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

My dad used to read The Hobbit to me when I was a halfling. He also got me the three-issue comic with David Wenzel's awesome art. I clamored for more, and received the animated video. That thing was hideous. When I grew up, Fiancé bought me the single-volume revised edition of the comic. Nerd love just can't be beat.

I say all this as a proviso. I love The Hobbit. I can recite every riddle in the scene between Gollum and Bilbo. I can pretend to lip sync to the many songs the dwarves sing during the journey. Most of all, I want a Gandalf of my very own, especially after watching Sir Ian McKellen in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In other words, this is not the place to go for an objective take on The Hobbit.

I love it like cake. It has all the requisite ingredients of a Tolkien epic in cinematic form: panoramic vistas; a soaring soundtrack; snappy dialogue; and moral commentary. And then there's the cheese. Oh, the cheese. Thorin, leader of the dwarves, has a fiercely trag…

Movie Review: Attack the Block (2011)

Attack the Block is an enjoyable teens vs aliens movie. The main character, Moses, starts out as just another juvenile delinquent leading other hooligans. Then the aliens come, and Moses and his band of loyal followers bring it. Well, eventually. After all, they're up against giant beasts with a double row of teeth that glow in the dark.

As the aliens close in, the boys retreat back into their apartment block, where they gain unlikely allies. They also manage to antagonize the local drug dealer along the way. That doesn't stop them from making a beeline for the safest place in the block: the dealer's fortified weed room, which incidentally holds the source of, and solution to, their extraterrestrial problems.

The soundtrack of the this movie is pimp. The beats pound away as the youths' inner city lives come into focus. Attack the Block isn't shy about social commentary. At one point, Moses speculates that the aliens have been sent in to "kill black boys."…

Book Review: I Shall Wear Midnight (2010)

Young witch Tiffany Aching stars in I Shall Wear Midnight, a touching, thoughtful foray into responsibility, friendship, and power. Terry Pratchett introduced Tiff to readers when she was nine, in The Wee Free Men. Now she's almost sixteen, and is as smart and stubborn as ever, but with the added duties of being the witch of her homeland, the Chalk. In this adventure, she must stop the Cunning Man and prove herself worthy of having her own steading.

In the book, Pratchett spends a lot of time deconstructing the idea of witches. Mostly he does so through Tiffany's musings. He also uses a witch we've seen before: Mrs. Proust, who runs a novelty shop in the big city. Tiffany and Mrs. Proust both clash with the superstitious view of witches. Tiffany usually wears green dresses, while Mrs. Proust is constantly shilling a new line of humorous poo-shaped products. But they both wear the pointy hat, and they both do what needs to be done. On the Discworld, being a witch means tak…

Bowling Sucks

My company just had its holiday party yesterday. We had a bowling tournament, and a lot of people signed up. I got out of joining by reminding the organizers that I was one of the few women who volunteered to play basketball when we had our summer office sport event. But the real reason I opted out is that I think bowling sucks.

Let's examine this activity. You fling a heavy ball onto a flat wooden surface with the goal of knocking down ten pins. You get two chances to knock down as many pins as you can, then it's someone else's turn. To be the bomb at bowling, you practice your ball release techniques, which are limited to a grand total of two. You can swing it straight and hope for the best, but the ball will usually gravitate to the gutter. Or you can do a fancy hook move, crossing one leg behind the other as you release. This makes you look like a penguin with a hip problem.

Then you need to master a delivery style. Wikipedia says there are three. Basically, it's …

Don't Join the Harvard Club

Do you have standards? Then don't join the Harvard Club.

Sure, the Downtown Club offers beautiful views of the Charles River and downtown Boston. Yes, the food is delicious and the service is unparalleled. And I'm sure the Main Clubhouse is a veritable hall of delights.

But their member services staff can't get their act together. Allow me to expound.

At Fiancé's urging, in mid-October I electronically handed over a few hundred bucks for the privilege of eating out and name-dropping. Were I one year older, I would have had to pony up over a thousand bucks. Fortunately, I am still 30.

A couple of weeks pass by. Nothing from the Harvard Club. In November, I email a member services person. He apologizes and says the new member packet is on its way. In the meantime, I am to use the guest member number 666* to enter the premises. Fiancé and I still need to submit photo IDs every time we want to go up the Club. The guards at the front desk of One Federal have to open the tu…

Light Books I Have Read Recently

It's Wine Wednesday! I've got a Malbec waiting for me at home.

In lieu of my joining Twitter, I will post my book reviews in 140 characters or less. You're welcome.

The books below take about three hours maximum to breeze through.

Suck It, Wonder Woman! (2010)
Olivia Munn reveals the gross insanity sometimes found in Hollywood, plus all the fun she has as a biracial TV personality with geek credit.
When You Ride Alone, You Ride with Bin Laden (2002)
Bill Maher points out that addressingoil dependency, religious extremism, and the War on Drugs will in fact help the war against terrorism.
Bossypants (2011)
Tina Fey talks about her childhood, improv, SNL, and 30 Rock (Alec Baldwin). Book’s title misleading; Fey is more workaholic than bossy.


Boy, that was unsatisfying. I had no space to talk about Munn's frank discussion about how her love of pie made her gain weight; Maher's belief that the US has been the nicest superpower in history so far; and Fey's anxiety …

Time Difference

Welcome, reader, to Sweeping Generalizations Monday!

The topic for today is CPT, or Caucasian People Time. This phenomenon differs from the original CPT, Colored People Time. For purposes of our sweeping generalization, we will label the latter CPT1 and the former CPT2. You'll pick up which is which from context.

CPT1 holds that your physical presence at an event can only occur at least 30 minutes past the time you were supposed to be there, or preferably 45 minutes to an hour. In other words, you're supposed to be always late. By contrast, CPT2 requires a commitment to reaching the party destination as close to the appointed time as possible, with cheese and crackers in tow. In other words, come on time, but bring food to tide you over.

In the CPT1 timeline, if you're invited to any sort of gathering involving food, the food will be there at the appointed time. Whether it's a full, catered buffet or a more modest, homemade spread of children's spaghetti, roasted …

Movie Review: Lincoln (2012)

Watch Lincoln. It features terrific acting, an excellent screenplay, and a gripping look back at a key moment in US history. Daniel Day-Lewis dominates this film with his portrayal of the 16th POTUS. His fellow cast members also shine, especially Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens. He has unbelievably great one-liners that he launches with relish.

The movie follows Lincoln as he tries to pass the 13th Amendment through the House of Representatives. Many are opposed to the abolition of slavery. Lincoln asks for help from the founder of the Republican Party, Francis Blair, who demands that the president allow him to negotiate peace with the Southern states. Meanwhile, William Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State, deploys that era's version of lobbyists (including a delightfully sleazy James Spader) to solicit support from lame duck Democrats. There are such clashes of personalities and ideologies that the waiting for the outcome of the vote becomes tense. Anti-abolitionists ro…