Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tiz List - "If I'd Won the Lottery" Version

I imagine that many of us spent at least part of the past few days contemplating what we'd do with 2/3 of a billion dollars. Even if you didn't buy a ticket, I'm sure you probably had at least a glancing thought about what you'd have done with the money.

I figure that the mere idea of that much money got people using their imaginations more than they have since they were six years old. I know it got mine moving.

So, here is a Tiz List of some of the things I might have done, had I won the money. (Not sure about what a "Tiz List" is? Check the others in the left-hand margin.)

1) Make my financial advisor's day by setting myself up for an awesome retirement.

2) Quit my job - or, maybe, buy the company (it's a decent concept, after all), dump the people who (seriously) don't do anything but watch YouTube all day, hire in people I know who could actually make it work, give everyone living wages that recognize what they do, double the size of the staff to match the amount of work everyone does, and start working 2-day weeks - if I feel like it.

3) Get a private jet, complete with pilot.

4) If not #3, then start flying everywhere First Class - and buying an extra seat or two so that I never have to deal with cramped legs again.

5) Bump out the side of the house by about four feet so that we could expand the dining room and kitchen so that we could entertain more often.

6) Condos in New York and Paris (to start), then maybe houses in Britain, Northern California, Montreal, and Vancouver. (These are parts of why I need #3 and/or #4.)

7) Major donations to my hometown - to the school system, to the town in general.

8) Lots o' philanthropy - arts organizations, medical organizations, maybe put myself on a few boards of directors so that I could actual be pushy AND listened to.

9) A massive party to celebrate. Possibly using those planes, or one or more of the new residences, or at least the expanded house.

10) Trust funds for my nephews and niece.

You know... Looking at that, I seem a little boring. But in my mind, those are all so much more fleshed out and amazing. There would be yearlong travels by plane, train, and oceanliner. There would be lots and lots of fresh flowers. There would be hours of time spent with friends I don't get to see that often. And there would be time to take time to not have to stress out about anything.

As it is, I did not win the lottery. Christopher and I got up today, went to brunch with a group of friends, ran a bunch of errands, stopped for a malt at Dairy Queen, came home and walked the dog, and are spending the evening at home.

Would the lottery win have been nice? Hell, yeah.

Would I give up a day like today for it? Hell, no.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's a Bunny, But...

Remember how, a year ago, I decided to make an Easter Bunny Cake? If not, you can read about it, here, or - heck - here's a picture of the finished product:

Well, over at Betty Crocker (which really is just "over there" for me - I mean... I could drive there in about 10 minutes), they're always looking for ways to make things more interesting.

There are bunny cupcakes. There are bunny cookies. And then there's... yes, you may have guessed, already...

(wait for it...)

the "Bunny Butt" cake:

I really have no words for that. Except that I think it's great - and only slightly demented - that they've sprinkled crushed chocolate cookies around the feet and carrots to indicate that the bunny has been digging.

And, okay, I'm holding off on some comments because, really, it's a "Bunny Butt" cake, which is kinda cute and really pretty fun to say.

**The recipe and decorating instructions can be found here.

Bunny Butt. :-)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Travel Tuesday - The Bug

You know that feeling you get when you feel like you just have to get out of town? The feeling that you want to step out of your everyday life for a few days? Where you imagine shaking off your cares and woes for just a bit?

Sure, I'd love to win a (big) lottery jackpot - enough for Christopher and me to quit our jobs and travel the globe for years - but I don't entirely expect that to happen (hope - yes; expect - no). So when I'm watching a movie or something on TV and see the ruins at Petra, or get a cruise catalog for the Queen Mary II, or hear Christopher talk about Rapa Nui and have to ask him - again - what that place is called in English, I kind of set if off to dreaming.

But then there are those times when you can actually start to get a grasp on real travel. And it's amazing.

Take, for instance, the fact that I'll be driving home to visit my parents (everyone say 'hi' to my folks!) over Easter weekend. I'll probably be there for just about 38 hours, bookended by two 5.5-hour drives. And, of those 38 hours, I'll be asleep for about 18. But I know it'll be worth it. I'll be somewhere else for just a little while. Somewhere where I won't ponder the things I'll have to do at work the next day, or whether I should have done laundry.

We've started talking about how to maximize our shared vacation time for the year, too. Unfortunately, since Christopher gets almost 4 times as much time off as I do in a year, even if we plan carefully I know that he'll be out of town more than I am. And since one of the things that connects us is our love of travel, I (as much as I can) completely understand and support that (as long as he sends postcards).

Still, even with limited time, the possibilities for what we can do together are nearly endless.

Will we visit friends? Will we go somewhere on our own? Will we fly? Drive? Take a train? Can we see a show? Will I need to get new shoes before we go? Will it be somewhere new or a return? Sunscreen or a scarf? Dogfriendly, or will we need a dogsitter? Where will we go out to eat? When is the next lottery drawing?

Yep. I think that Spring Fever and the Travel Bug are both in full swing for me. Now if only I could also catch a jackpot.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday 'Splainin'

For the first weekend in a *really* long time, I barely turned on my computer this weekend.

It all started when I left work early on Friday because I was feeling a tad under the weather. When that turned into something that felt like full-on food poisoning on Friday afternoon/evening, I just never thought about going online.

Then, on Saturday, while trying to recuperate, I was also helping Christopher out as we were preparing to host some friends in the evening. I was online just long enough to make sure we didn't get any last-minute "regrets" emails, but shut it down just after that.

Today I really could have spent all day online. But, instead, I spent the day watching some bad TV, reading the newspaper, talking on the phone, and scratching the pup. I finally logged in about 9 o'clock tonight (after watching The Amazing Race), with the intent of clearing out what was in my inbox before the week started.

And, you know, I only had one personal email that I'd missed. Twenty-six in my spam folder, but only one that was actually to me. But I had missed out on a bunch of semi-news, and posts in a bunch of blogs I follow. (Which I'm sure is why all of you check out the online world daily, right?) (Don't answer that - unless you simply want to stroke my ego.)

And now it's time to log off and start prepping for the new week - which is apparently going to start with "seasonable" temps and rain. Which, frankly, is going to be really really weird. Kinda like nearly 48 hours without my computer.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

45 RPM John Barrowman Sighting

It has come to my attention that John Barrowman had his 45th birthday about a week and a half ago.

I think I've discussed, before, how I tend to find actors/actresses/celebrities who are "my age" and then kind of look to see how "we" are doing. Sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad. But, for the most part, I find that people my age are doing pretty well.

This year, I actually stumbled across a 45-point posting on John Barrowman (it seems weird to just say "Barrowman" and way too personal to say "John") on, and although I fully admit I don't understand all of the references, I thought it was a pretty cool way to celebrate a 45th birthday. (If you click here, you can see that whole story - which is really mostly pictures.)

I guess I can deal with turning 45 in a couple of months, if this is what 45 looks like these days.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Movie Monday - Crazy, Stupid, Love.

(Yes, that's the correct punctuation of the movie's title.)

Let's start out by putting all the cards on the table. This movie has Steve Carell possibly divorcing Julianne Moore and getting coached on wooing (or at least "sex-wrangling") by Ryan Gosling until he lands Marisa Tomei, all while his daughter Emma Stone deals with Josh Groban and an incredibly scene stealing friend (whose name I don't know), and his son (unknown) has a crush on his babysitter (unknown) who has a crush on Steve Carell.

Got all that?

The important things to know: Romantic Comedy with some Drama thrown in.

Steve Carell (comedic everyman) +
Julianne Moore (Drama - yes, capital "D") +
Ryan Gosling/Emma Stone (whoa, Nelly sexy - yet funny and kinda sweet) +
Marisa Tomei (romantic, comedic, dramatic, and - yeah - kinda nutso) +
a script that brings in the other characters =

A movie I should have paid money to see, but I'm really glad I at least saw via Netflix.

There is a plot in it, involving divorce and love and soulmates, but it's really kind of a "daily life" movie - assuming your daily life is always filled with all that stuff in the first real paragraph of this posting.

But the movie is just *so* good. You want to love and hate most of them all at the same time. You see yourself in them - or you want to see yourself in them - or you really hate that you see yourself in them - depending on which character and what part of the movie.

And there's this full-on apocalyptic melt-down that involves a mini-golf windmill which is just priceless. (And, yes, there's a scene that will make at least one of my Ryan Gosling-adoring friends very glad that we live in an age with DVD players with pause buttons...)

Overall score: A. It's probably an A+, but I would have liked to have seen Emma Stone's best friend more.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Media Morals

So, have you tried out the new ABC Sunday night snow "GCB," yet? (I talked about it last Sunday, here.)

It's a blend of soap opera and comedy and camp, and it's got a bunch of good looking sexually charged people.

And, during the last week, I saw some political pundit complaining about it, saying that it's an assault on Christianity and Christians.

My first thought on this was "Dude, it's a TV show." My second thought was "Obviously, you've never seen the show."

Then I realized that, just possibly, the show is hitting too close to home for his comfort. You see, the show's main characters spend an awfully lot of time in church, and quoting Bible verses, all while casting a whole lot of stones and aspersions.

Basically, the show is making fun of people who spend all their time saying that their Christians, while acting like anything but.

Perhaps if the politicos who are complaining took the time to watch the show, they'd realize that. Or, perhaps, they've already spent time looking at it and realized that they want the show to go away before too many more people realize which side of that coin they fall on.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cookie-ing and Cleaning

I don't know much about computers. I do know a decent amount about baking.

I know that if you put cookies on your computer, you get crumbs. And that's bad.

I also know that some cookies - of the computer-based variety - are beneficial.

I just wish I knew more about the rest of the ins and outs of them.

In the meantime, I hope I can remember all of the passwords for the websites I regularly use. Because I just cleared all my cookies, and I'm not entirely sure I meant to.

(If you don't see me for a few days, you'll know why...)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Travel Tuesday - L'Odysee de Cartier

I stumbled across an ad for Cartier (yes, the Cartier jewelry folks) a few days ago, and decided to check it out, just because it looked kind of different.

I mean, I have no aspirations of buying anything from Cartier any time in the near future. I don't really even know what kind of stuff I would look at, let alone buy.

But the ad... well... it just looked like it might be interesting. So I clicked on it.

It took me to a YouTube video, and I watched it and was... to put it mildly... amazed. I enjoyed it. It was cool. And even though it was Cartier (and you know that it's Cartier), it was just so nifty.

As you all know, I'm crap at trying to get video embedded in here, so you'll have to click on the link here to see it. (Really. It's worth it to wait until it loads in and then watch it.)

If anyone can figure out how I can travel that way, I'd be all over that. I might even buy something from Cartier for the chance at that journey.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Annie Potts as Mary Jo Shively, the Second

Have you seen the new show "GCB" on ABC? It's on Sunday nights at 9pm (Central), and it's about this woman who was a mean girl in high school, but has had to return home to Dallas to live with her mother after her husband runs his car off the road (while being sexually pleasured by his mistress) after embezzling a ton of money. Oh, and have I mentioned that it's a soap opera?

Anyway... The main character is played by Leslie Bibb who, once upon a time, played a mean girl on the TV show "Popular." And while she's disgusted by her treatment by the people she may or may not have stepped on on her way up the social-climbing ladder, she's also not against playing their games to get back to an even footing.

Most notably, she's using the church as her pulpit for getting even. (In the second episode, which is still on right now, she is said to have "out-Christianed" her primary nemesis.)

The show has some promise. It's apparently based on a book called "Good Christian Bitches" (hence the "GCB"), and among other things has a whole lot of side activity - like very attractive male cast members, a couple of whom just happen to be having an illicit gay affair.

But back to my main point.

Along with the primary cast (the nemesis is played by Kristen Chenowith), our heroine's mother is played by Annie Potts - who those of us of a certain age will always know as Mary Jo Shively on "Designing Women." And I'm guessing that's also how the writer of the show remembers her, because Gigi Stopper (her "GCB" character) has had moments of Mary Jo (and Julia) in each of the first two episodes.

And, while I'm enjoying the show on its own merits, I have to admit that seeing her - in a little bit of both time frames - is making the show completely worth my Sunday night time.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Things That Go Bump

It's strange how some noises, though not exactly normal, are easier to accept and understand than others.

While we were having dinner tonight, there was a loud thump near the front door. We'd had a pizza delivered, and so we know that it wasn't the pizza guy because we were already eating.

I was sure I had latched the storm door, so it wasn't that. Which, considering how strong the wind seemed, was a good thing - otherwise it probably would have ripped the door off its hinges.

It finally hit me (after probably about 3 seconds of all of these ideas whipping through my brain) that the noise was our mailbox getting bounced around. It was, after all, that same noise that we hear when the mail gets delivered.

It's strange, though, how after the sun goes down noises seem to sound different. Even so, and even without looking, I'm pretty sure it wasn't either a Girl Scout delivering cookies or a Yeti ripping the house numbers off.

If it was, though, I would really prefer mysteriously left behind Peanut Butter Tagalongs over the number-stealing Yeti situation.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday, Oreos!

Today, it seems, is the 100th "birthday" of the Oreo cookie.

I fully admit I haven't gone to look up the history of the cookie or anything. I just know that my gut reaction, upon hearing about this, was that I needed to go out and buy some - and eat them - prior to the end of the day.

They've actually come out with a special edition "Birthday Cake" Oreo, and although I considered buying those (and still might), they were almost 1/3 again as expensive as the regular, or golden, or Double Stuf, or spring Oreos.

And then I found that there was a "Dollar off now" coupon attached to the spring Oreos, and that sealed the deal for me. After all, I like spring. Spring Oreos are also seasonal. And, yeah, they were cheaper.

I have not, yet, broken into the package of Oreos, because I've had other things going on this tonight. But they *will* be my nightcap tonight.

In the meantime, if you think it seems like I've written about Oreos before, well, you'd be right. Here's that posting from almost 2.5 years ago. Obviously, I'm a firm believer that as long as the glass of milk is your own, double dunking is totally okay.


Got Milk?

I would like to apologize, in advance, if the following blog posting causes any mental pain or anguish. Or cravings. Or uncontrollable humming. Or midnight shopping trips... (You've been warned...)

Oh Oh Oh Ice Cold Milk and an Oreo Cookie...

I am closing out my Thursday by watching the news and having a glass of milk with some Oreos. Unfortunately, Christopher has already gone to bed, so he won't be able to attest to the fact that I am NOT eating an entire third of the package (as I did when I first opened them). I'm being very good, in fact. My glass of milk is half gone, and I've only had 2 so far.

They forever go together, they're the perfect combination...

I'm not sure what it is about Oreos that does it for me. I like the chocolate. I like the filling (and have been known to eat it before eating the cookie "sides"). And, for the most part, I'm a purist. In fact, up until a few years ago I was known to turn my nose up at the Double Stuf ones -- although I've come to appreciate them, lately.

When a dark, delicious cookie meets an icy cold sensation...

And, yet, I'm not a big fan of the various flavors of them. I've tried the mint ones (fine, but not as good as Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies). I've tried the peanut butter ones (if they show up in your area, don't try them). The ones with the coffee flavoring aren't bad, but they just don't taste like Oreos. And, as for all of those seasonal ones with the colored filling... well... they're fine (especially after the holiday when they go on sale), but I do think they taste different.

Like the one and only creamy crunchy choc-o-late O-R-E-O...

So here I sit, with my glass of milk, dunking my cookies. And, to make sure they get plenty of milk, occasionally dropping one in (okay, I'm up to 4, now, for the evening) to let it float on top until it's fully saturated. Then, when you pick the cookie back out of the glass, the logo on the cookie stand out in relief against the white milk that is trapped in the crevices. Yum. Does it get any better than that?

(Keeps your milk from getting lonely)

** Stormy sidenote ** I feel that, before I sign off, I should comment on the big weather than hit Minneapolis and the surrounding areas on Wednesday. Christopher actually got to watch some of the tornadic action from his window on the 20-somethingth floor where he works in downtown Minneapolis. The storm, which did in fact spawn a twister, did some fairly large damage about a mile south of downtown, and Christopher saw things flying around as it went through. Most of us just got lots and lots of rain -- about 2" in the past two days. Very strange August... ** End stormy sidenote **

Oh. There is one problem with dunking and eating Oreos. It's almost impossible to dunk and blog at the same time. So... Yeah... You're on your own.

They forever go together, they're the perfect combination...

Monday, March 5, 2012

Movie Monday - The Artist

By now I'm sure you've seen the hype about "The Artist." You know it's in black and white. You know it's a "silent" movie. You've seen that it won the Oscar for Best Picture, and that Jean Dujardin won Best Actor.

I knew all of that going into it, too.

What I didn't know was just how good the movie would be. Yes, even with all of that, I still had my doubts. And, when my friends started to tell me they really liked it, well, then I started to get my hopes up about it and worry that "The Artist" wouldn't be able to live up to my expectations.

I'm happy to say that my expectation were met, and that I think that the movie deserves all of the hype.

It really was fun. And sad. And moving. And attention-grabbing. And black and white. And mostly silent. And at no time did I miss the voices.

There are moments where the "background" music disappears and you realize how silent everyone in the theater is, as well. Christopher commented that the audience for a movie like this is probably "self-selecting" - so you don't get the loud talkers and the texters and everyone in a silent movie. Whatever the reason, it was blissfully interruption free in the movie, yesterday.

So, let's cut to the (classic car) chase.

Overall rating: A+. I think it did live up to the hype (which can be very hard), while also being true to itself. (And, okay, Jean Dujardin... well... let's just say that I'm hoping we see him in some more movies on American screens, soon.)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Crazy Night Out in Lammermoor

Christopher and I went out last night to see the Minnesota Opera production of "Lucia di Lammermoor" by Gaetano Donizetti.

Now, before you glaze over and think "this is *so* not something for me," I'd like to say that you should, please, read on.

Let's face it, if you've read any of my posts, you probably know that when I go to a theater to see people singing, there's probably also going to be dancing... and speaking... and the composer will be someone named Sondheim, or Hammerstein, or Brown. But Christopher likes opera, and so I go with him to the opera.

Before we got there last night, we had a drink at the St. Paul Grille, and Christopher gave me a quick rundown of the plot of the show. Honestly, all I'd known before this was that it was in Italian and that one of the arias was featured in the movie "The Fifth Element."

Turns out that tragic heroine Lucia has fallen madly in love with Edgardo, one of her family's sworn enemies. Her brother vows to kill Edgardo, so Lucia and Edgardo swear an oath of marriage one night before he flees Scotland for France.
(Show artwork from the Minnesota Opera website)

But her brother, being rather a power-hungry ass, forces Lucia to marry the powerful guy from the next territory to bolster the family. And, well, Lucia kind of has a breakdown and things go terribly terribly wrong - the banquet/wedding scene and the party that follows... well... there's some serious crazy going on there.

This is, frankly, opera at some of its most operatic. We're not talking about massively ornate sets. We're not dealing with a cast of thousands. We've got one woman with an amazing voice putting every emotion into song before she decides to take matters into her own hands. (And, let's face it - I told you early on that she was a tragic heroine.)

Some pluses and minuses:

Plus - I loved the starkness of the set and how the two main pieces moved and shifted. And I enjoyed most of the costuming - although I had expected a tad more plaid.

Minus - Not sure the "White Cliffs of Dover" look of the set really stands in that well for the Scottish moors. But, well, swampy grasslands probably wouldn't be quite as operatic. And Donizetti had probably never travelled there to get a feel for the area before writing it, anyway. On the other hand, I still can't figure out why one of the main characters basically showed up dressed in a black turtleneck, black trousers, and a black leather blazer like he was going out to dinner in New York.

Plus - Susanna Phillips (as Lucia) was incredible to listen to.

Minus - Of the male counterparts, the only voice I enjoyed (and could consistently hear over the orchestra) was that of the minister (played by Ben Wager).

Plus - The music, overall, was truly amazing. Although I wasn't blown away by the male voices, there was something about the score that really pulled me in.

Minus - As a musical theater fan, I'm always thrown by how operas cast for voices, primarily, and not for looks. I just couldn't see Lucia falling for any of these guys.

But, really, if you're going to splurge a bit on some art this week, I'd highly recommend it. (You can find full info on the production - and ticketing - here.) (The MNOpera often does "rush" sales just prior to the show if seats are available, if you need less expensive tickets - call their box office for details.)

Overall rating (from my "movie" scale): B+ because I just couldn't get into the male leads. But don't let that stop you from seeing it, because... well... you really just should.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Facial Hair Follow-up - Mustaches

About a year and a half ago, I posted about Beards (yes, that's a link to that posting if you want to refresh your memory) - and my opinions of all of the hipsters trying to grow beards and looking, frequently, ridiculous.

While I continue to have mutable facial hair, and Christopher has had a closely-cropped full beard for quite some time, I've been happy to see a lot of the beards that I used to pass in the hallway at work fade away. And, as natural selection - or maybe just good taste - has taken over, the beards I still see seem to be pretty nice.

Friends of ours have great goatees, fantastic full beards, cool close-cropped beards, and the occasional marvelous mustaches. Oh, and we even have a bunch of friends who are clean-shaven. Although how they can do that every day instead of getting the extra five minutes of sleep I will never know.

But the most talk about facial hair I've seen (or heard) in quite a while happened during - and after - the Oscars. It wasn't about Brad Pitt with his goatee (which seems to have almost as much grey in it as mine does - which isn't bad since he is 4 years older than me). It wasn't about some of the random facial hair from audience members and presenters.

It was about Bradley Cooper and his mustache.

And, I gotta say, while a lot of people were kind of unsure about it, some of my friends and I really liked it. It was clean and tidy. It fit his face. And, well, it was on the face of People magazine's sexiest man alive for 2011, which didn't hurt.

If you missed it, here are a couple of shots I found online.

Note: Images were found on a couple of blogs,
without photo credits.
Sorry I can't point you toward the sources.

To me, it seems very old Hollywood. Debonair with the tux.

Not that I want mustaches to become the new facial hair fad and everyone to start showing up with them, but if Bradley keeps showing up with that I know that I certainly won't complain.