Friday, August 28, 2009

Mamma Mia!

So, Mamma Mia is coming to town, and I want to go see it. My husband declines. I guess I can't blame him, considering he did go with me to see the movie last summer, and he has seen it live twice. Seeing it live three times might make him a little gay, and as much as I enjoy the music of ABBA, I'd rather not force Matt to have serious conversations with his masculinity. All that aside, Mamma Mia led me to have some serious internal conversations myself. The basic plot involves a young bride-to-be on a quest to determine which of her mother's three former lovers is her father. Maybe it was because I saw the movie in the midst of my own fatherless wedding planning, but the idea intrigued me. Apart from my childhood dreams that I was adopted as an infant from my native Italy, and that perhaps my real family would return to claim me and change my name to Raquel, I have mostly lived with the idea that absent though he is, I know who my father is. But it's a lot more fun to imagine that I have a real dad out there somewhere, though he is three months too late to walk me down the aisle. Here is my list of excellent father figure candidates.

Let's begin with the Men of Mamma Mia themselves, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgard. Unfortunately, I have to eliminate Pierce because of his other life as 007, and that's not an appropriate lifestyle for me to be raised in, not to mention that business from The Thomas Crown Affair. Stellan is eliminated because all I know about him is that he's Swedish and I don't know how to pronounce his last name. This leaves Colin Firth, my lucky day! Colin would be a great dad! I would love to move into Father's English Manor, where we would spend our days walking in our English garden, reading out loud to each other from the collected works of Jane Austen, and lounging in front of the fire, with our Springer Spaniels at our feet. Some Sunday afternoons, my Godmother, Meryl Streep, would come over for afternoon tea, and if we felt like a good laugh, we'd pop in Mamma Mia and sing along. And we'd laugh, and laugh, and laugh...all the way to the bank.

Another excellent father figure candidate is mentor and fashion diva Tim Gunn. He is totally a badass father figure to the fledgling designers on Project Runway, I'm sure he'd love to adopt me. He's a classy man with impeccable taste, and we could split our time between New York and LA. Daddy Gunn is always patient, and always ready with a kind word or bit of inspiration. He'd allow me to make my own mistakes, but I'm no dummy, I'd always take his advice. Especially when it comes to my wardrobe! I'd hate to wear something that was 'out' to Heidi and Seal's Christmas party. I was thinking about Clinton Kelley as a potential dad, but then I decided that Daddy Gunn could adopt Clinton too! He'd be the best big brother (another childhood dream denied) ever, in addition to BFF and shopping buddy. I think we'd all live very fashionably together.

And how about Barrack Obama? Clearly, he's a good father, not to mention well-dressed, well spoken, intelligent, etc. etc. Plus, I would get to travel the world in a fabulous JCrew wardrobe. I would receive an impeccable private school education, which would really help me write my memoirs. I hope that my new sisters like me!

So there's my list of dads I wish I had. Runners up include: Elliot Stabler (too tough...also fictional), Albus Dumbledore (I'd have to compete for his love), and Jon Stewart (because I couldn't decide between him and Stephen Colbert). Dad Fails: Alec Baldwin, Jon Gosselin, and George Lucas.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Places That Begin With P

Not too far down the road from us, there are a series of places I like to spend money. Three of them begin with P. They are all great places to spend a Sunday afternoon. First stop: Pier One. Pier One is an excellent place to find extravagantly priced items that you desperately want, but have no need for. For example, I have no need for an enormous green glass bowl that costs $45, but I sure would like to take it home with me and put it on my coffee table. I resisted this temptation, however. We ended up with a new wine rack and a table runner for the aforementioned coffee table. Pier One has an interesting magnetic property. I can not won't enter one for a year, but after I go, I start planning out an immediate consecutive trip. I love my new table runner so much, I want new throw pillows to match! I might need some new coasters to protect my new runner. And fall is approaching, so I will need to stop by and pick up some wicker pumpkins and some cider-scented candles, and some brown and orange mosaic candle bowls to put them in.

There are two restaurants on either side Pier One...Panda Express and Panera. Two delicious options to chose from! We ended up at Panda Express because I had never eaten there before, and because of the novelty of eating at one while not in an airport. We both got Orange Chicken and rice. The chicken was very tasty. Also, they have plain cream cheese Rangoon, delicious little dumplings without the annoying Krab. Yum! Next time though, I'm definitely going to Panera. I love Panera so much. I am addicted to carbs, so I have to appreciate any place that gives me a delicious sandwich with a side of additional bread. It's true that Panera is a little expensive, but I find it very filling. I like to get the half turkey sandwich and half Caesar salad, with a side of bread of course. Plus the cookies...delicious, chewy, moist chocolate chip cookies. Who doesn't love a good cookie?

I've spent the entire time writing this entry trying to incorporate these 3 places that begin with P into some kind of witty joke about C-3PO...but I failed.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I think it's a good time for my first food review! Don't be alarmed, I am completely qualified to review food. I may have the palate of a nine year old, but I also watch both Top and Iron Chef. Plus, I have also been known to cook something myself now and again. Something besides macaroni and cheese! Ironically, the other night, I did make macaroni and cheese, but it did not come from a box. No sir, I boiled the pasta, and composed a sauce. And it was quite delicious. Unfortunately, I will never make it again, because my cookbook told me it has about 700 calories per serving. Bummer. However, cheesy pasta and calories are not the topics I will discuss today. I want to talk about burgers.

Every now and again, I get a yearning for red meat. And the quickest and cheapest way to satisfy this craving is with a juicy burger. However, I'm not really a fan of fast food burgers. McDonald's are too sweet (weird, I know), and Wendy's has more delicious chicken options. I prefer to limit my Sonic intake to delicious frozen treats. There isn't a Burger King close enough to my house to really consider. If I was going to get a fast food burger within 5 minutes of my home, I would go to the A&W/ Long John Silver's combination. Long John Silver's is disgusting, and the restaurant itself smells vaguely of fish, but you can get a pretty tasty burger, plus a frosty mug of on - tap root beer. And root beer is delicious! I really should drink it more often, I just forget how much I like it.

All things considered, if I'm really in the mood for a burger in town, I would go to Five Guys. Five Guys has mastered the concept of ridiculously simple menu and ridiculously simple food. Seriously, all you can get there is burgers, fries, and hot dogs, but if you get a hot dog, you suck, so don't even consider it. As an added bonus for a picky eater like myself, you order the burger with whatever you want! It's so easy. And the, this entry is not about fries, but the fries here are so amazing. The eating areas are lined with big boxes of potatoes, and there is always a sign posted telling you where they came from. They are usually from Driggs, Idaho. Driggs has a population of 1,000 people, 900 of them potato farmers. (One of those stats is true). Aside: I was watching Jeopardy, and one of the contestants was from Driggs! I felt like we had a connection! Anyway, the fries are perfect. The come in a wonderfully greasy paper bag, and they're hot and salty and crispy on the outside, and all around fantastic. And the burger is great too. High scores to both the bun and the patty size and flavor.

My burger of choice in Columbia is a Boone Burger from Boone Tavern. There is no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in Columbia then eating a monstrous burger and washing it down with a Diet Coke and grenadine. You need to bring lots of friends with you though, because you'll probably be there for an hour before the waitress notices you. The fries are definitely nothing to write home about, but the burger is great. I heard somewhere that Boone Tavern uses local beef for the burger. That sounds like it might be good for me, and environmentally conscious. I don't really care though, I just like the burger. And thanks to the condiment bar, I am not hassled by ordering a burger how I like it, I can just add the items I like.

In a perfect world, I could get a Boone burger and Five Guys fries. With a frosty mug of root beer! And for less than 700 calories! Next summer, when I buy a grill, I'm going to see if I can recreate this burger deliciousness from the comfort of my own home. Good eats!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mary Higgins Clark

I am an avid fan of the collected works of Mary Higgins Clark. I realize this makes me an old lady. I also enjoy wearing cardigans, and drinking hot cocoa. Furthermore, I like drinking hot cocoa while reading Mary Higgins Clark. I thoroughly enjoy the mixture of suspense, psychological thriller, and yes, mild romance. (If you're looking for something more smutty, try Tami Hoag). Offhand, MHC is the appropriate way to refer to this authoress. Not Clark, not Mary, MHC.

Now, there are several key characteristics essential to this mystery delight. First of all, the heroine is young, beautiful, and spunky. Second, the story is told from multiple parts of view, and seemingly unimportant characters, like the cleaning lady, are actually essential to the story. Don't get overly attached to these minor characters though, because they are just as likely to be murdered. Unfortunately, MHC's most recent works have been written from the 1st person point of view. I feel these are not as well written, nor as enjoyable, as her earlier works. (I consider her heyday to be late 70s-early 80s, with a resurgence in the mid 90s. It's actually quite amazing that she is still producing new novels, especially considering she has written about 40 books, and Wikipedia tells me she is 81. That was a long aside.) The point is, I feel the 1st person point of view limits the overall story arc, and I miss the minor characters. The third characteristic I would like to emphasize is the romance. MHC is also the mistress of the mystery of the heart. For example, brave young prosecutor Katie DeMaio must not only find out who murdered a pregnant woman and uncover the secrets of a creepy fertility clinic, but also decide if she can put the past behind her and open her heart to the handsome medical examiner, Dr. Richard Carroll. Now that's entertainment.

So judge me if you will, for reading the suspenseful fiction of the elderly. Judge me for trying to figure out the mystery, but not before I figure out which man the heroine will end up with. But don't judge MHC. The woman knows what she's doing.

Monday, August 10, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

This weekend, my husband and I saw the movie (500) Days of Summer. We go to the movies regularly when we are bored, and that night was no exception, as we were there with no idea of what we even wanted to see. I hadn't even seen a preview of this movie, but had seen online reviews, and was interested. As a bonus, it looked like a hip, cool, indie kind of movie, and Matt and I are always up for doing something that increases our coolness.

I was in love with this movie within the first 15 seconds. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (from Angels in the Outfield) is Tom, and Zooey Deschanel (from Elf) is Summer, and they are hip young people who live in awesome apartments and have different views on love. The basic boy meets girl story is freshened up by telling the story out of order. Not that I know anything about film making, but I thought it was intriguing bit of cinematography to show the relationship out of order, with the end of the relationship being shown before the beginning. And who doesn't enjoy a scene with characters breaking into dance? The soundtrack was also great, and we downloaded it as soon as we got home.

In addition to making me want to go to IKEA, this movie also changed my entire perspective of sweater vests. Sweater vests have made me hesitant in the past, because I don't think they work for people, unless they are going for a quirky professor look. However, I was misinformed. Sweater vests are not only adorable and trendy, but they make you look smart as well as hip. I plan to buy one for my husband immediately.

Go see this movie!

Why Blog? Why Now?

The way I see it, there are a lot of reasons to write a blog. First of all, if the previews of Julie and Julia are any indication, writing a blog means that you will gain fame and fortune as well as life experiences, and the adorable Amy Adams will portray you in a movie. So if I want to be the focus of a major motion picture, or at least a Lifetime Original Movie, I had better start blogging. The question is, what to blog about? I feel like I need a theme, or else I run the risk of every entry reading: "Today I woke up, played with my puggle, and went to class". I could write about the ups and downs of our first year of marriage, but being married is suspiciously similar to being engaged, except with nicer towels. I could write about teaching, and the lessons my students teach me, but that sounds like a liability, and I can just picture the Lifetime movie, staring a blonde starlet opening the doors to the world of literature for her underprivileged students, as they learn principles of justice and integrity by writing raps about Atticus Finch. Then it hit me...or more specifically, my husband. I should write about things that I like! The choice is obvious. It's clearly a great idea to spread my opinions as far as I can. So this blog will encompass reviews and reports on things that I like, and would recommend to my friends. I'm going to report on books I read, movies I see, maybe even places I go. Stay tuned for my first review!