Thursday, January 27, 2011

Top 5: Bruce Willis Movies

I am a huge Bruce Willis fan. I've seen every movie he has been in with the exception of the latest two movies, Red and The Expendables. (I'm trying to keep the illusion that he's still a young whippersnapper. It's similar to not reading the end of a book so that your favorite character can live forever.)

Side Note: I feel a barely recognizable Halloween costume in the making when I look at this poster. All I'll need is a black hat, sunglasses and a few Da Vincis.

Top Five Bruce Willis Movies
Hudson Hawk
Bruce Willis plays the title role Hudson Hawk, a just out of prison cat burglar. He keeps time by singing excellent tunes. This movie also makes little to no sense, which I approve of.
Die Hard
Willis is John McClane, action hero. He saves the day and kills bad guys in an office building. Yippe Kay ay.
Now as Joe Blake, Willis plays another just out of prison burglar (this time bank robber.) He teams up with Billy Bob Thorton and they rob banks and share a red headed woman.
Fifth Element
Bruce is Korben Dallas, a taxi driver/ex-special forces major. He delivers a super sexy red head and some stones to a temple with a priest and a radio personality. This movie has excellent dialog, a futuristic setting, and weird alien gore galore.
The Last Boyscout
To mix things up, Willis plays Joe Hallenbeck, private detective/former secret service agent. He takes down a drug ring, avenges the death of a stripper (Halle Berry) and dances a jig atop a football field. His on screen daughter has a dirty mouth and a strange relationship with a hand puppet. This movie also has excellent dialog and one liners. The chemistry between Willis and Wayans is tangible.

For the record there are only two Bruce Willis movies I dislike: Pulp Fiction and Unbreakable.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Income Based Repayment

I recently read a blog entry from a person who could possibly be reading my blog right now. This post is for you.

If you are low on funds and recently graduated, you should look into federal loan programs. One is the IBR program. This is a program that can lower your loan repayments to nothing. It acts as deferment if you currently are broke and lowers payments to where you can afford them if you aren't broke.
how to take action now: call your loan provider and tell them you want to apply for the Income Based Repayment program.

If you are low on funds and not sharing food with someone high on funds, apply for Foodshare. It's the Wisconsin food stamp program. It isn't embarrassing to use; if you qualify, then you need it.
how to take action now: click "Apply for benefits" and find your last month's pay stubs.
*side note: if you are in school and reading this, you will need to be a part of a work-study program and be working 20 hours a week.

If you are not in Wisconsin (Hello, Erin and Amy.) and want to see what benefits you qualify for, use to see where you stand.

Also, using block quote html tags reads a lot better than centering a paragraph. And, you can't be mad at me for reading your blog, after all you obviously read mine and get post ideas from me. If you didn't, then you couldn't respond to this anyways, and I'm just being paranoid.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Trendy, Trendy Minimalism

Minimalism is becoming a trend in America... or at least in blog topics. Lately, two specific "movements" have caught my eye and a good amount of press. These two movements are The Compact and Six Items or Less.

The Compact is extremely simple. Don't buy anything new for a year.

Six Items or Less is a little more complicated. It's a challenge to wear six clothing articles (excluding undergarments, swim wear, work-out clothes, work uniforms, outer wear, shoes and accessories) for a month.

I actually really enjoy The Compact. I like the idea of not buying new items. This will better hone in on what people do not use and better utilize what they already have. It encourages people to shop their closet and evaluate their reason for shopping. Plus, extending the challenge to a year can make for a lifetime change. After 36 days a person can break or make a habit. 365 should cement the crap out of it.

Six Items or Less is... I can't think of a better word than "worthless." First off, this is not minimalism. The website actually encourages those participating to purchase multiples in the same color. A lot of books and blogs focused on uncluttering tell you to get rid of multiples first, because having two of something you need one of is a no brainer when narrowing down your closet. Not to mention the list of excluded items is pretty vast. Also, how is it a challenge to wear the same thing day after day? Steve Jobs does this all year round. The month long challenge is more of a cocktail conversation starter than a life changing experience.

This is a little picky of me, but I'm also bothered by the marketing of the two ideas. Six Items or Less looks to have a graphic designer at its disposal, and The Compact... is a yahoo group. But, good ideas don't need glitter to make them shine.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Top 5: Glee Edition

Top 5 Songs That Glee Did Better
"Gives You Hell" - The All-American Rejects
"Marry You" - Bruno Mars
"Take a Bow" - Rihanna
"Young Girl" - Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
"Gold Digger" - Kanye West

Top 5 Glee Songs That Make Me Die Inside
"Gold Digger" - Kanye West
"I Could Have Danced All Night" - My Fair Lady
"Vogue" - Madonna
"Bohemian Rhapsody" - Queen
"...Baby One More Time" - Britney Spears

My favorite Glee performance is "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," but James Brown cannot be beat. And, "Teenage Dream" made me tear up, for reals. The whole Rocky Horror episode was awful.

"Gold Digger" is on both lists, because although I like how Glee sounds in this song, the amount of censoring necessary to make it TV appropriate kills me.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Girl of Your Dreams

My cousin Rachel had a dream about me and posted it in her blog.

Road Most Traveled

Robert Frost (1874–1963).  Mountain Interval.  1920.

The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;        5

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,        10

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.        15

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.        20

I have virtually no opinion of the above poem. However, every time someone talks about taking "the road less traveled" as some great thing, I swallow back a whole lot of rant. Where is it ever stated that the narrator was proud or even happy that he took the unbeaten path? What I read is that he spoke with a sigh... and that the choice "made all the difference." That last phrase can be read similarly to the backhanded compliment that something is "unforgettable."

Personally, I am a firm believer in not being outstanding. I believe in doing what you do well and with your head high. Aiming high, dreaming is not for me. I dream of having a mid-level salaried job, a cozy (see: small) house, a dog and little to know financial responsibility (see: kids). I don't have the urge to be famous, popular or rich (see: Trump).

I'm not sure if these life choices are about being realistic. I just think that life's disappointments are more readily reached when you try get rich schemes or to hack it out into the world on your own. I'd prefer to age into moderate wealth over winning the lottery.

This mind set keeps me happy. That and the idea that every setback is an opportunity in disguise.

Something about growing up poor makes you feel like at any moment the bottom could drop out. I am building my sand castle one grain at a time. Right now, my life is great; I am taking the road most traveled (in America). (We can talk about how the "American Way" is the only way in modern lit later.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Holidays on Ice: A Review

David Sedaris is one of my favorite authors. I'm making a point in 2011 to have read all seven of his short story collections. What I love about his books is that he talks about his family and his daily experiences in a way that makes the mundane hilarious and memorable. All the short stories are independent of one another and can be read in any order. Before reading Holidays on Ice, I read Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim and When You Are Engulfed in Flames. These books were written later in Sedaris' career and were centralized around his own experiences. I compare Holidays on Ice to these books, because it is hard not to.

Holidays on Ice is a collection of twelve short stories focusing on Christmastime themes. "SantaLand Diaries," "Dinah, the Christmas Whore," "Jesus Shaves," "Us and Them," "Let It Snow," "Six to Eight Black Men," and "The Monster Mash" were short stories, told in the first person, referring directly to life stories of David Sedaris. "Season's Greeting to Our Friends and Family!!!" is written as a end of year newsletter which evolves to reveal a family secret and later evolves into a personal account from a prison cell. "Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol" is a overall negative point of view of children's plays. "Christmas Means Giving" is a satirical story about competitive donations. "Based Upon a True Story" is about a television producer's plea to a small town. "The Cow and the Turkey" is a fable personifying barn yard animals.

Overall, Sedaris' best work are his personal stories. The above mentioned fictional pieces were funny, alarming, but lacked the charm of his usual work. The best story in Holidays on Ice was "Six to Eight Black Men" where Sedaris explores international traditions. Although, in a close second was "SantaLand Diaries" where Sedaris recounts working as an elf in a department store.

I was drawn to this book wanting to read something about the Christmas season. What really drew me to purchase this Sedaris novel was a review listed first on the back cover from Liesl Schillienger of the New York Times, "Not remotely politically correct or heartwarming." I laughed out loud at this remark and at the inclusion of such review in a prominent location.

I would suggest this book to Sedaris fans. But, for those new to his humor, I would rather have them start off with When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Sedaris has a more consistent voice in his latest novels.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Natural You

I just watched a fantastic documentary on beauty on Hulu called America the Beautiful. I had a huge reaction to this film... much like my reaction to Good Hair. And now, I welcome you to a beauty slash health rant.
I will open with a confession that I have permed and dyed my hair, exercised obsessively and whined over every little lump and bump on my body. I also own makeup and a padded bra. None of these things exclude me from general disgust at the beauty industry, if anything these things help to instill my message: Nothing is more beautiful than normal, natural you.

America is a society where people are led to believe that what they wear and how they look defines who they are. It tells us that those oh so tight jeans, striped tee and possibly ironic tennis shoes... if properly accessorized can speak volumes about your personality. It also leads people to believe that others not only take note but care. (I am not encouraging everyone to run about naked --especially not in this Wisconsin weather-- nor dress inappropriately for the occasion. I will threaten a much shorter, louder rant on sweat pants.)

I find a lot of this paranoia based in insecurity. The beauty, fashion, magazine, food... health care etc. industry relies on women and men alike to think that they are less of a person, that they are broken, that there is something foul about them. It's a business plan based on denying people the thing a lot of them crave: The idea that they're okay and whatever they're doing with themselves is fine.

An article relayed to me through (a site that I highly recommend) touched me deeply and not in my heart, but in my brain. It made me realize that I have never been skinny, but I've always been healthy. I sometimes joke that my numbers (when tested at the doctor's) are always good. I have an excellent standing heart rate, blood pressure, iron count, cholesterol level. You name it. I have it, and it's all good. With the teeny tiny exception of my height to weight ratio. From the time I hit 100 lbs in the 8th grade until now I've always been marginally overweight. Right now, I'm a thrilling 156 lbs. (Naked, of course. Try washing that out of your brain.) I'm 5'2'' tall and a size 6 in pants, 10 in dress. (Mostly, from the boobs.) It's taken years of therapy and far too many grovels over dieting to realize that this is not fat. I'm not fat. In fact... until you've reached the point where you are endangering your health... who gives a fuck. Excuse my french. So, now I don't diet. I do eat well, not because I'm forcing myself to either. I just like carrots, bananas and grapefruit. I get twice my weekly servings of fruit and vegetables, because they are delicious. I also eat pink-dyed coconut covered Snowballs for the same reason.

I also am not a fan of makeup and hair enhancement. Some of that stems from laziness, but most of it comes from the fact that I look pretty awesome without a layer of paint. The other Universe sized problem I have with cosmetics is medically labeled as dermographia. I have pretty, puffy, red reactions to a lot of different products. ("Pretty" was sarcasm.) But why does this matter to you, the reader? Because my reaction to products can be severe and triggered [not instantly but] pretty darn fast. I consider this a great advantage. I get to know what's bad for me right away. I don't need to expose myself to a product over and over again to figure out it's filled with chemicals my body can't take. And, once I accepted that I can only buy Wet and Wild mineral foundation, it's cut down my beauty box to a tenth the size it used to be. Now, imagine what chemicals are absorbing through your pores and consider how long it's going to take your body to react.

I do want to take note that while I choose to go barefaced out into the world (except for special Wet and Wild occasions), I am totally cool with ladies who love themselves and love makeup. Those people who want to experiment and want to doll themselves up, but can feel confident without the extras... you guys rock! My message is to those who consider makeup the means to an end. The ones covering themselves, hiding their perceived "ugliness." I want to say to those ladies that I am all about the idea of letting your freak flag fly. Be you, exactly who you are... don't cover that up, because I want to assure you that it is awesome.

I watched a news segment this last year on a group of popular teenage girls who choose to not wear makeup once a week. I was shocked that these girls considered this to be a publicity stunt. Then I was more shocked that the stunt got such publicity. Imagine it... women whose faces are just faces. Shock and awe. This newscast added to the hundreds of reminders that I face everyday that looking like you woke up and washed your face this morning is a strange thing. How truly shocking is it to want to look the way you do lumps, acne scars and all? Why is the world so bent on covering the faces of women?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cleaning in the New Year

I'm setting the same New Year's Resolution I did this year as I did last year: I will make an effort to be more thankful for what is provided to me and the people in my life.

However, I am embracing the idea that there is no future; there is only now. I'm doing this by creating a thorough list of what I need to do to clean my house.

Plan of Attack: Clean House
Always clean the floor last.

 Sink Done 1/9/11
 Mirror Done 1/9/11
 Toilet Done 1/7/11
 Floor Done 1/7/11

 Stove top Done 1/4/11
 Counter tops Done 1/9/11
 Go Through Misc Drawers Done 1/4/11
 Rearrange Pots/Pans Done 1/4/11
 Added 1/4/11: Sort Through Misc Plastic Storage Containers Done 1/9/11

Living room
 Dust Between TV and Wall
 Dust End Tables
 Move Couches and Sweep
 Move Coffee Table and Vacuum Rug

 Do All Laundry  Done 1/3/11
 Clean Under Bed (If Necessary)  Determined Unnecessary 1/4/11
 Vacuum Floors

Dining room
 Take Down and Store Christmas Tree and Ornaments Done 1/2/11
 Move Table Under Light Done 1/2/11
 Remove ALL Knickknacks From Tables 85% Done 1/2/11

This is my weekend off, which I intend to spend relaxing at home. However, on Monday I would be working eight hours answering phone calls, but instead I have the day to myself. I plan on devoting the majority of my waking hours to the list above ... I would also like to put together the puzzle I started last week Done1/2/11, send out my thank you cards Done 1/3/11, cook our weekly meals  Done 1/5/11, and call my favorite aunt Done 1/3/11.

I'm also striving to not look into moving until the 11th hour. I need to stop pouring over Craigslist and Google researching apartments without a clarified budget and timeline.
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