31 December 2009

The best way to begin anything

This video has been out since July, but I just saw it for the first time today. Definitely ranks high for me among web videos, and it's the best wedding entrance I've ever seen.

I don't really expect to get married, but after hearing the bride and groom's first song, "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?" at a friend's wedding years ago, I started making a playlist for my nonexistent reception so future busyness would not doom me to such a song. For the first time ever, I started to consider what my wedding, if ever such a thing were to occur, might be like: duration of ceremony, clothes, food, and of course, music.

I'm not a get-walked-down-the-aisle-by-Dad sort of person, but otherwise I hadn't given it much thought. What I love about Jill and Kevin's entrance is that it's fun; the music and dancing take out the solemness and stiffness and replace it with joy.

I would like to say: YES! If ever... Something like that... but I don't currently know enough people who I'd want in my hypothetical wedding who'd be willing to dance down the aisle. Guess I should I work on that. :)

3 years ago on TTaT: The books of 2006

30 December 2009

Vestigial lists

In recent years, I've found it curious what my family won't buy me for xmas. Don't get me wrong: I'm very grateful for the loot they've given me. However, there are items no matter how many times they've appeared on my lists, what level of high priority I've given them on Amazon, or how much I've talked them up, that they just don't buy. If I were asking for pygmy goats*, ponies, or Porsches: items expensive, difficult to acquire or maintain, I'd get it, but that's not the case.

I thought I had it figured out this year, gamed the system if you will, but I was wrong.

The first time, several years back, it was just a DVD. I'd mentioned two on my list: Legally Blonde and But I'm a Cheerleader. My parents and my brother and his wife both got me copies of Legally Blonde**. (I exchanged 1 copy for the other DVD and now routinely remind them all to cross-reference their shopping lists.) That case I chalk up to familiarity: they picked the movie they'd heard of.

The Amazon catch as I think of it is that their wishlists display the date you added items. My parent's logic is that if an item's been there for years, you would have bought it yourself if you really wanted it. Which makes sense except for borderline items. You don't need them or crave them enough to buy yourself, but they'd be really cool to have. That's why I picked up a couple now out-of-print DVDs for my sister-in-law from the early days of her list this year despite having to deal with third party sellers.

To get past the Amazon catch, I added another version of DDR to my list this fall, rating both DDR games high with everything else the default medium or even low. The third party sellers were likely the deal-breaker this year, however. Shipping & handling pillage, anyone?

Or it may have been as simple as them thinking that I already have one DDR game, so why not get something new? I get that.

What really makes me laugh this year is that my Mom often comments on how particular the items on my lists are (often true), so this year I included generic requests, i.e., brands and styles weren't important, and got none of them.

Getting a list from my Mom, on the other hand, was excruciating and what was most clear about her pitifully short list was that she'd rather get something that wasn't on it. Mission accomplished.

As for DDR, I've hit the tipping point. I'm going to buy myself a new version to play before they go out of print. And in the meantime, I'll play with the rest of my cool loot.

Is there anything on your list that your family continues to bypass? Or is that just me?

*OK, technically I have but only in jest.
** Rather good commentary tracks actually.

A year ago on TTaT: And then the week seemed short

20 December 2009

Last minute wrapping tips redux plus bonus tips

Bonus tip #1: If you want some wrapping inspiration, check out Andrea Seigel's theme wrapping. Bows aren't the only accessories you can add to a gift and you don't have to use traditional tags.

Bonus tip #2, advanced: Use double-stick tape when wrapping for a seamless look. (I still did the ends with regular tape since I was not up for that additional level of hassle this year.)


These tips assume you know the basics of wrapping and are meant to make the process a little easier and the results more satisfying.

1. Work on a large, hard, flat surface.
A table is ideal, so you can sit most of the time while you work. Your bed may seem tempting, but it is too soft if you want to make those crisp wrapping paper edges. Put a board on it, you say. OK, but make sure it's hard. I used one of those large, thick cardboard things for cutting sewing patterns, but the folds in it caused me all sorts of trouble since it didn't lie completely flat. Also, standing and bending over the whole time will wear you out in no time.

If you don't have a table that will work, make plan B the floor but avoid carpets with a thick pile.

2. To make your wrapping look neat, don't cut too much paper for your package.
This is the main key to avoiding crumpled, sloppy edges.

Make sure you have enough paper to cover your package end-over-end on all four sides plus a couple inches.

Then for the other 2 sides, you want a little more than will cover 1 of those sides completely. (When you wrap the paper around the package the long way, it will effectively double up so both sides will get covered. Just be sure to center your package on the paper left to right.)

3. Don't cut too little paper for your package.
If your cutting goes awry as it inevitably will when the hour is late, don't go crazy starting from scratch if it's just missing by a small amount. Cut a strip of paper large enough to cover the gap and place it under the seam where the paper was supposed to meet. Then place your tape from one edge, across the strip, to the other edge and it will hold it all together.

If it will look neater putting your bandaid strip of paper on top, do that, but it will take a lot more tape to hold in place.

Wrapping purists and perfectionists may disagree with the patch theory, but when the hour is late and the paper is short, this is the way to go.

4. If your package is slim and vertical, wrap it on its side if it's OK to rest it that way.
I know from experience that it's a lot harder to wrap these sorts of things standing upright. Avoid it if you can. If not, I refer you again to #1.

5. Crease the edges for a sharp look.
Once your package is wrapped, but before it is bowed, run your knuckles along each of the edges to give the paper more of a crease on its corners. (E.g., one knuckle on the top while the other runs next to it on the side.) Make sure to run your knuckles over any seams in the direction that won't rip the paper. Doing so will also prevent potential paper-cuts.

6. Even if you finish wrapping early, you may not be done.
It's likely family members will enlist your help wrapping their gifts. If you can't get out of it--or want to be nice--offer to help with the stocking stuffers. Roll stuff up in tissue paper, fold over the ends, tape and you're done. In my house at least, stocking stuffers need not be neatly wrapped. Failing that, offer to wrap a few packages but leave the bows and ribbon to them. Gift garnish is a real time and momentum killer.

Those are the main things that come to mind without getting into a full-on tutorial. Share your own tips and revelations in the comments. Good luck!

Two years ago on TTaT: Having a brother

19 December 2009

45. Abelardo Morell

45. Abelardo Morell photography by Abelardo Morell; foreword by Richard B. Woodward (4.5/5)

Some very cool still lifes, but the photos I like best are his camera obscura shots--just excellent. I want to try that.

I definitely recommend reading the foreword as well. It's short and informative discussing modern and post-modern artists, and where Morell fits into the mix. It also provides useful tidbits about Morell's photographic process.

Tons of cool shots on Abelardo Morell's website as well. The camera obscura shots in color are really something. Yea internet!

A year ago on TTaT: The snow began

15 December 2009

Astley & Fitch

A few weeks ago at a mall beyond my usual realm, I walked into an Abercrombie store to see what they had these days. Guess they've dropped the "Fitch", I thought to myself. There was a lot of faux-wear, seams on the outside, and plaids that didn't interest me among the clothes. The shortness and skinniness of the pants and shirts didn't strike me as unusual since I'm forever wandering into petite sections by mistake.

As I walked further in, scanning the clothes laid out on tables and the promotional posters of sexy half-naked men and women, I thought, Damn, these clothes are all really small. Maybe they've changed their target audience to the 0 to 4 crowd. Then I finally saw a sign that read: Abercrombie Kids. Really? Are you fucking kidding me? Damn. I walked out.

Around a corner and across the hall about fifty feet away, I spotted Abercrombie & Fitch. I went in and it had the same sexy posters and the same clothes, just larger.

A couple weeks after that, I was on another shopping adventure in a different cardinal direction. I spotted another Abercrombie store and was reasonably certain it was the kid's store. I poked my head in briefly to confirm my thought because I didn't want to have to walk back if I had misremembered which was which.

Further down the hall, I walked into Abercrombie & Fitch. They were not playing Christmas music which was a glorious reprieve. I looked at sweaters and scarves and soaked in the familiar pop tune. The really familiar pop tune. They were playing Rick Astley's "Together Forever." It wasn't "Never Gonna Give You Up," but I still stopped and looked around waiting for someone to tell me I'd been Rickrolled. I wandered through the rest of the store thinking what an odd music choice that was for their store soundtrack. The moment I crossed the store's threshold, the music switched from "Together Forever" to a recent pop tune. Weird.

I'm not paranoid though. much.

3 years ago on TTaT: 46. East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North

11 December 2009

My cold, it's good for this at least

So...the cold: the having of it sucks. It's been kicking my ass the past couple days and nothing I've taken has eliminated my symptoms, perhaps ameliorated them though so maybe it could be worse.

Last night I kept waking up every couple of hours. Around 4 AM, I looked out the window next to my bed. The curtain--just one panel on that window--was mostly shut but I'd left it a few inches open on one side. The sky was so clear, a lush midnight blue, with myriad bright stars. And then a bright shooting star zoomed by with its long trail within the confines of my limited view. It was awesome despite the not being able to breathe.

09 December 2009

Heifer International

Heifer International is a rockin' charity that's working to end world hunger.

Watch this 60-second video from Alton Brown to learn how Heifer's animal gifts give struggling families the tools to achieve self-reliance.

[Alas, no longer available.]

Truly awesome. Visit the Heifer site for more info about their projects and approach (gender equity--hell yeah!).

But wait, there's more! Author Patrick Rothfuss is running a Heifer International fundraiser with loads of loot you could win by lottery, bid for in auctions, or just buy with proceeds going to Heifer. Lots of books--many signed, music, and other cool stuff. I may hold out for a t-shirt or to see what Joss Whedon donated (Joss freaking Whedon!). Here is Pat's FAQ for more info.

ETA: 50% of your donation will be matched if you donate through one of Rothfuss's options!

A year ago on TTaT: And then there was calm, at least temporarily

08 December 2009


There were lines at every register at the grocery store. I scoped the options and picked the register that had one person waiting even though she had a full cart of items. A full-to-the-top cart of items. I second-guessed myself for a moment but none of the other lines seemed much better so I decided to wait. Once the scanning starts, it's just one transaction so it won't take that long.

I held the stocking stuffer I'd snagged for my dad and watched the black woman ahead of me--early forties?--place a rack of ribs on top of the first layer of food items now covering the conveyor belt. (Ribs aren't racist, are they? I just noticed them because they looked appetizing.) She glanced at me and my one item and went back to unloading her cart. It still looked mostly full, but I'd accepted the need to wait so it didn't bother me.

She looked my way again and I could see her considering my single item versus her multitude of items. I knew I could ask to go in front of her but she was rightfully there first and I didn't mind. The person in line ahead of the black woman finished her transaction and was gathering up her things.

The third time the black woman looked at me, she said, "Just one thing?"

"Yup." I smiled and shrugged.

She summoned me with the inch long nail on her forefinger and said, "That's just silly, you with one thing waiting behind all this."

As I slid past her cart and her, I said, "Thank you."

I handed the cashier my item and paid for it in cash and proper change. The cashier handed me my receipt and bills and said, "Have a nice night."

"Thanks, you too."

The black woman was still unloading her cart, her back to me, but I paused and said, "Thank you very much."

She turned and said, "Sure thing," at the same time the cashier said, "You're welcome."

A year ago on TTaT: Long Shot

05 December 2009

Gettin' My Groove On... (vol. xiii)

...with a winter wonderland:

Claire and reflection of winter wonderlandclaire's reflection of winter wonderlandClaire points to reflection of winter wonderland
(Previous grooves.)

Initially I was going to tweet about the falling snow and coated tree limbs but it seemed lame not to include a photo. If I had a laptop, I'd just swing it around and take one. I could borrow a digital camera but I don't feel like monkeying around with uploading afterwards. That's when I turned and saw the mirror leaning against my closet door. Not stellar representations of winter perhaps but entertaining for me to shoot.

If you feel deprived of a proper winter wonderland, check out these posts:
  • Film is better...

  • I'm dreaming of a...

  • Fallen snow

  • A year ago on TTaT: Dear ABC execs: Don't cancel Pushing Daisies

    03 December 2009

    As long as it's sir with respect...

    So it's been a few months since I got my haircut and it's been at the decidedly shaggy stage for a couple weeks. Usually I just let it grow all through winter, style be damned, because I hate it when my neck is cold. This time, however, I just wasn't feeling the shaggy.

    With coupon in hand and mid-fifties weather, I decided to roll the dice at SuperCuts. The lone black man in the shop threw me a bit since I'd never seen a man working there before, but he was friendly so I signed in for my cut. His accent made me think of the Caribbean, but I really couldn't place it for certain. Besides, he said he'd lived in Brooklyn so he could easily have lived in the US all his life and still have an unusual accent.

    As I sat down in the chair, he said, "When you first came in, I thought you were a boy. I'm sorry."

    I shrugged and said, "That's OK."

    I've been mistaken for male numerous times over decades. I'm tall, most of my clothes are masculine (I like dark colors and usable pockets--what of it?), I don't wear makeup, and I don't have a big rack to tip people off. Doesn't seem to matter if my hair is pulled back in a barrette or down. If someone calls me "sir" out of politeness, I'm not going to make an issue of it. Often they soon realize the mistake on their own and apologize.

    When I've told family and friends about various mistaken gender encounters, they regard me in disbelief. They just don't see how someone could that mistake which is sweet but clearly biased.

    What was unusual in this instance is that he made the assumption and realized his mistake before saying anything to me but then felt compelled to tell me anyway. I don't know what the point of that was or what he expected me to say. I'm not going to apologize for or justify the clothes I wear, or my lack of makeup and earrings. I think he was just saying what crossed his mind, but with a different inflection it could so easily have been mean or come across as an attempt to embarrass me.

    I do not fit your expectations; I get it and I'm good with that.

    A year ago on TTaT: Prop 8 - The Musical

    02 December 2009

    Hiccups and epistaxis

    It was late and I was exhausted after a long day. All that was left was to wash my face and I'd be ready for bed.

    That's when the coughing fit started. I tried to be quiet so as not to disturb the sleeping without much success. Well without success in being quiet. I didn't hear anyone stir. The coughing let up but then I felt my nose start to run a little. Wondered whether I could leave it since I didn't want to start another coughing jag. Decided no, it would drive me nuts to leave it, and it's just as well I did since it wasn't running but bleeding.

    Just the one nostril and not too heavily but enough.

    That's when the hiccups started. I walked back to my room, tissue stuffed up one nostril, willing my diaphragm to be calm. I sipped some water and thought calm breathing thoughts. The hiccups slowed but did not stop.

    It was after 2 AM and I just wanted to go to sleep. What to do.

    Checked my breasts for lumps but the hiccups and nosebleed had not subsided by the time I finished. Now what? I would use twitter but my computer's not on. Maybe I should set up my cell to tweet. I could use restraint, right? Well, that doesn't help me now. If the hiccups would stop, I could sleep with a tissue up my nose. But I don't want to get blood on my pillow and the last time I fell asleep with a tissue up one nostril, I dreamt that I was shot because I actually couldn't breathe when the other nostril plugged up.

    I looked at the clock: 2:20. Several seconds would pass and I'd think maybe they've stopped, but then hic! I placed my cool hand on the back of my neck. I'd read somewhere that was supposed to help stop nosebleeds but I'd yet to have any definitive success with the technique. I looked at the stack of books I'm reading but was too tired to deal with any of them.

    I could try drinking water upside down!

    I picked up my water bottle, leaned over, and wondered How do people do this? All I could picture was spilling water all over myself which I was not in the mood for. Then--it felt brilliant because I was so tired--I took a swig right-side up but then leaned over to swallow it.

    I waited a few seconds. Nothing. I waited some more. Still nothing. Are you kidding me? Did that actually just work? OK then.

    The epistaxis had also finally stopped so I gratefully shut off the light and crawled into bed.

    A year ago on TTaT: Men's