Friday, August 27, 2010

(Amanda) final thought(s)

I am sitting in the student union here at school, and the television screen in the snack bar is flashing "Have a Great Summer!" on a seemingly endless loop. While this is a bit obnoxious, as summer is decidedly over, I can reply wholeheartedly "I did indeed, thank-you-very-much-for-asking, have a great summer." It was far too long, and far too short, and interesting, and educational, and too far from home, and frustrating, and really, really lovely. It is so nice to know that the seemingly random assortment of skills one picks up over the years can be applicable in a "real" job. Whether or not I will be able to find said job when I graduate is another matter entirely, but it is comforting to know that the sort of thing I want to do actually exists, and that I am capable of doing it.

That is all from me, back in the mitten, and not-quite ready for my last year of college.
Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 23, 2010

(Maddie) Final Thoughts

As I sit here, I am simultaneously waiting for school to start and looking back on a rather eventful summer. I've gained a lot fo experience and contacts in the film industry. It was a great summer. I needed to be away from home. I've had a little time to reflect:
  • The "Hollywood Mystique" is now gone. I no longer get starstruck when celebrities walk by. I never really did in the first place. It was always interesting to watch people go on "Starline Tours" or freak out over a person who gets mroe screentime than the average Joe.
  • On the Necessity of Sunglasses...California gets too much sun. I'm a Northerner...I do not like this. Oh, the things I put up with for film!
  • I'm not a big fan of L.A. There are too many people. The traffic is horrible. And, the general culture is somewhat antithetical to my beliefs. I don't understand the appeal. But, I love the film industry and will go where I need to go to be involved in it. If that means moving to L.A., ok. Once I get myself established, I hope to be able to split my time between L.A. and elsewhere (with a little more time in elsehwere).

I wish I had more time and brainpower to write something a bit more profound. But, I feel that if I wait any longer to write a final post it will never happen. This is my final post, unless anything else comes to mind. Thanks for tuning in. Good night, and good luck. :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

(Maddie) Hurry Up and Wait

So....LAX....not my favorite airport. I haven't been to many - just DTW, PHX, and LAX. But, the layout for LAX is the worst. It could use an update.

Anywho, our airport hell began early in the day. As is typical in my family, we arrived several hours early to miss traffic, turn in the rental car, avoid lines, and eat some dinner. The airline of choice was Spirit Airlines - a small airline based out of Detroit. Most of the time, Spirit has flights to/from Detroit and the Caribbean. It has a few lines to the major cities, mostly red-eye flights (which are cheap). It ain't schnazzy, but it gets the job done. Well, at least in Detroit. We arrived at LAX around 3:30pm. We learned from the Frontier-Midwest Airlines counter that the Spirit people would not arrive until 7 freaking 30 PM:P If only they had told that to us sooner! So, we sat/napped on rather uncomfortable chairs. Soon, other people found themselves in the same position. We got through tickets and security by 8pm (our flight being at 10pm). We were all getting a little cranky because our blood sugar was rather low by that point. So, we got some awesome burgers at Ruby's. And then, waited in more uncomfortable chairs.

Finally, the plane arrived, we got on board, and were quickly under way to DTW. The price of our tickets definitely reflected the quality of the plane's interior. The seats were reminded me of the airport seats, only worse because I really wanted to sleep at that point. As the plane took off from the runway, I watched the sparkling lights of L.A. sink into the mist. Between short naps, I woke up to look through the window at the world below. I'm glad I did. Flying at night is absolutely beautiful. Wispy, galaxy-like cities and twinkling towns shone through the milky mist. I had the odd sensation of looking *down* into space. I did look up and see that vast sky. In fact, the mist and clouds made it look as if the sky and land bled in each other.

I was happy to land in DTW. I haven't been so tired in a long time. And, what a kink in my neck! Oye Vey! We went down to the baggage claim and saw a sign stating that DTW was voted one of the top airports in America. I believe that. So much better than LAX... As we waited for our luggage, we saw two families being greeted by their pet Yorkies, reminding me of my Yorkie-sibling;) How I miss her. We got a shuttle to our car, drove back home, and slept like a pile of rocks. Mmmm...REM cycle.

I should have a few final posts to wrap this up. Hopefully they will be entitled "The Hollywood Mystique" and "On the Necessity of Sunglasses and Other Final Thoughts." Later, alligator:)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

(Maddie) Last Day on the Job

As promised, I will write my final blog posts. There might be a few more here and there before school starts, as I am still mulling over my experiences in California. I write from my home in Michigan, thoroughly enjoying the variety of weather phenomena (but hating the horrid homidity). I feel like swimming through the air - why, moisture, why? And, it's nice to be back in the Midwest:)

A week and two days has passed since my last day at the film production company. I found myself becoming rather sentimental/nostalgic, even though I had only spent 10.5 weeks there. It's amazing how quickly you can become acclimated and attached to the places you have seen and the people you have met. I enjoyed every bit of my internship. The company had a great culture and the people were wonderful. I finally discovered that I belong in the production & development side of the filmmaking process. I now have a long-term goal to reach. I have learned so much about the film industry, gained so much experience, and became friends with so many lovely people...this all made it difficult for me to leave. And, of course, when I finally find my stride and become friends with my co-workers, it's time for me to go. But, I won't be gone too long. And, I'm looking forward to my last year at college. It's going to be great. But, I will have one foot in, one foot out.

I remember my last day at the production office rather clearly. It was a quiet day with very little to do. Despite this, I was deperately trying to finish up any projects I had left so as not to leave anything unfinished. I left work late that day, but didn't mind one bit. I said goodbye to my boss, my fellow interns, and other people around the office. It was particularly hard for me to say goodbye to several people, as I had gotten rather close to them. I walked out the door, took the elevator down, and started walking toward the restaurant where I would meet up with my parents for dinner. I felt the tears welling up, but kept myself from sobbing. I am so freaking sentimental.

Next day, LAX. Ick...that's a story for another post;)

Friday, August 13, 2010

(Amanda) cold pizza crust you flicked an ant off of and double stuf golden oreos = Breakfast of Champions!

I am finally glad that I keep a change of clothes in the trunk of my car. After work yesterday I changed into long pants and a long sleeved shirt and spent the night on the Mayflower II - as a chaperone type person for one of the summer adventure groups. After games, and ship's food, and rowing, and a showing of Desperate Crossing (much more interesting when you can recognize faces among the re-enactors and historians!) I bunked down in the Great Cabin, but not for too long, as I had the 4:30am-6:30am "watch." There had to be an adult up at all times (and I guess I count as one of those) to handle emergencies/bathroom runs/et-cetera. It was a bit chilly and damp (thanks to those who loaned me blankets) but I got to watch the sunrise over the harbor from the deck of the ship, which was an amazing experience. I drove "home" in the morning, slept for a few hours, put myself back together, and went to my last day as an Intern here. What with the exhaustion, the fun, and the last minute running around/envelope stuffing, the last two days have been pretty surreal.

Now, on to laundry and loading up the car :o)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

(Amanda) boxes

I'm not leaving until Saturday, but I spent today packing anyhow.

Two more days of work, then an event at the museum, then four days of driving about the countryside (well, on freeways mostly - with stops to see old friends and people I have yet to meet) until I am back in the mitten. This has been a lovely time, but I'm longing for home and familiar faces.

(Mary) hooray Michigan!

Land of Koegel's hot dogs and Coney islands, of American cars and overbearded hunters, sunsets over freshwater oceans, islands, sand dunes, lakes, trees, beauty...

it is so good to be home

(Maddie) Parents' Week - Part 2

Monday, I had to work, so my parents tooled around Malibu. Lucky stiffs:) Tuesday was a delightful day. I took my parents to the Getty Center, of which I have already written extensively. We spent most of our time in the amazing garden, but gave a fair shake to each of the art galleries. The looked like it would turn into another gorgeous evening, so we thought we would give the Griffith Observatory another shot. SUCCESS! *just like Dexter from Dexter's Laboratory* We found a parking space in the overflow along the road. If required a little bit of a trek, but we got there in time to see the sun set and saw the "Hollywood" sign in the distant mountains. We quickly aquired tickets to the Planetarium show in a few hours and then went about our business. The building itself was built during the Great Depression, utilizing the Art Deco style. We had a great view of Los Angeles that would only get better as the sky dimmed. We thought the line looked really short to the telescope, so we got there just in time to see them switch from Venus to Saturn...and I was the first one to see it! Score! As I was waiting for my parents outside, I realized that we had accidently cut in line, which extended through the terrace. I felt kind of bad...but not really. No one told us that we cut. Also, it looked like everyone was just looking over the scenic view, not waiting in line. Their fault, not mine;). The sunset was beautiful. We tooled through museum and saw the Tesla Coil, the Pendulum, typical elementary science / physics displays...Then, we went to the Planetarium show, which was freaking awesome. It reminded me of how small we actually are in the Universe. After we got out, we looked out to L.A., which glittered like a pile of jewels on a black velvet cloth, stretching for miles. By the way, one of my favorite movies - The Rocketeer - was filmed at the Observatory. It was a wonderful, fun-filled day. If you are ever there, you need to visit Getty and Griffith:) They are both worth your time.

Wednesday - second-to-last day at my internship. My parents visited the Reagan Library in Simi Valley. On Thursday, we ventured out to the La Brea Tar Pits. I was expecting dinosaurs, but no. The tar pits did not form until the ice age...*raspberry* It was still pretty awesome, though. There was one major tar pit, which reminded me of the Bog of Eternal Stench in Labyrinth. Methane gas and tar balls bubbled up everywhere. The museum needed some updating, but they had a lot of full skeletons from the Ice Age. There were some smaller pits which were being excavated. Some of the mini-pits were only 2 feet wide, but still had fences around them;) As a part of their interactive exhibits, they removed some tar from the pits and put it in a plunger thingamajigger. When you pull the plunger, you got to see how powerful the suction is. As we were leaving, we noticed that a movie crew had set up to film a scene from NCIS: Los Angeles next to the big tar pit. Everyone flocked to be a part of the extras. We fled the scene after observing it for a few minutes, not wishing our faces to be part of the background.

I will write up a post about my last day (Friday) at the production office and our trip back to the Mitten in the next few days. Again, I must subject you to suspenseful waiting. Poor you.

(Maddie) Parents' Week - Part 1

I am now back in the world of the living...jetlag no longer has any power over me. But, alas, Pacific Standard Time still does. Damn time zones. Meh. I am back in America's High-Five (the Mitten); but, I am still going to recount my amazing adventures over the last week of my internship. I had been following a mostly-routine schedule in the days after my last post. Nothing special. I'm sure I could have churned out something witty and sarcastic, but, I'll be honest - I was just too damn lazy;)



My parents arrived in LAX late Friday evening and picked up a rental car. I had told them to take the 405 at their own peril. You see, L.A. traffic never ends. It is somewhat akin to the Energizer Bunny. Although it would take longer, the Pacific Coast Highway would have been far less stressful. They took the 405 at 11pm on Friday night. As my Mother said, "The GPS paid for itself that night." My poor Father, worn down Spirit Airlines, had to take his life into his own hands and enter the hell that is California's highway system. Be Aggressive, B-E Aggressive! Since everyone is from somewhere else in L.A., there is no established road ettiquette. Turn signals are optional equipment, horns are near-constant backround noise, weaving in and out of lanes is a normal way to get into the next lane, and illegal texting is still a common past-time. Fortunately, they arrived in one piece. Poor Dad had to drive around in this crap for the rest of the week. (Traffic is one of the major negatives in L.A.). Let's just say I appreciate the public bus system more after this.



Early Saturday morning, I took Mom and Down down to Santa Monica Beach, the place I frequented on my free days. It was a foggy, nippy morning with barely a soul on the beach. We walked barefoot in the wet sand. Dad got his ankles (and the bottom of his jeans) nailed by a particularly wiley wave, prompting him to yell a benign expletive and giving me a great photo-op. We walked down toward the Pier, picking up a sandwich-bag-full of seashells along the way. We walked up and down the Pier, laughing at the strange, New-Jersey-esque people we saw. When the sun came out, we shrank away like vampires toward the Third Street Promenade, protecting out pastiness. Burgers, Pinkberry, a walk down the Promenade, and we were on our way back home. It was a wonderful day and deserved a siesta in the afternoon.



I took my parents to the OPC Church I had attended while in L.A. They got to meet everyone I had gotten to know over the 10 weeks I was there. In the evening, we noticed that it was going to be a crystal clear night sky. Apparently, so did everyone other frickin' person in L.A. Since Dad and I are astronomy nerds, we all decided to go to the Griffith Observatory. Our stressful journey took us through the narrow streets of Korea Town, whose signs were mostly in Korean. Ironically, I saw more Hispanics there than Koreans. Oh well. After driving through hills of old Hollywood homes, we arrived at the Observatory Road, only to find the parking lot full and the overflow parking streching down the hillside. Not tonight. Double damn! I think most people were there because it was free, not because they were astro-nuts. Whenever something is free, I always feel more inclined to use/take it, even if I don't need or want it. For instance, I have a collection of bus maps and L.A. Weekly's in my room. I don't need or particularly want them. I just feel like taking one anyway. Maybe I have a mild, subconscious form of kelptomania.


Now, you must wait in suspense for part 2. Mwahaha!

Monday, August 9, 2010

(Mary) there's no place like home

I'm ho-ome! And it's great to be back. I've got a few loose ends to tie up, but for now, I'm home.

I've got different glasses on now. It's weird. I don't see bursts of life standing amid the broken concrete; I see weeds invading a vacant lot. Stuff like that all over. Not everything's wonderful here, but it's home.

I'm painting my room.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

(Amanda) Hmm?

I need to finish up cataloging the maps in the next few days, so I have spent all day flipping through the huge folders and typing the relevant information into excel (a program I am coming to terms with...slowly). The current batch of maps includes some aerial photos of the MA coast taken in the midst of WWII. They were produced by the Army Corps of Engineers, and have "RESTRICTED" stamped on them. I feel rather illicit, even though the information is no longer sensitive. These particular maps are printed on shiny white paper, when I turn them over in the folder they have the gloss of almost-done meringue.

I'm in a meringue-y WWII map induced haze.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

(Amanda) indecision

This afternoon I took an accidental driving tour of the Boston suburbs. You see, I am a good driver, and a good navigator, I simply cannot do them both at the same time. I was double checking my route when I overshot my exit and ended up on the turnpike (there are so many tolls!) which is like prison, or a roach motel, or something equally hard to get out of (the one turnaround exit required a toll pass, which I do not have! discrimination!). I was never lost in the strictest sense of the word, but I did take the (very) long way home.

Once I returned to my home turf, as it were, I stopped by a thrift store and the grocery store. Now, when I am grocery shopping I, as I assume most people do, keep a running tally in my head, rounding each item up to the closest dollar, so I can stay on-budget. As I stepped up to the register I thought "this should be $16." The lolling checkout guy rang through all my items and, lo and behold, my total was exactly $16.00. He mustered up some energy and said "hmmm, well, umm, that doesn't happen very often." No, no it does not.

I'm currently trying to decide what to do this evening. I could go to an event at 5:30, or I could stay here and cook/read/watch things/read/sleep. I am horrible at making decisions where absolutely nothing is at stake and I will be happy either way. Just ask my grandmother and my aunt how good I am at deciding where we should go for dinner....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

(Mary) bourbon

I had to take yesterday afternoon off for something not related to work but still important. I found myself in Owosso, Mich., then Flint, Mich., and got back to Toledo pretty late. I finished my work and got to bed around 4.

My normal alarm is 7 a.m., though I usually wake up before it goes off. This gives me plenty of time to shower, read, enjoy the morning before Betsy gets up and we eat breakfast. We usually leave the apartment between 8:30 and 8:50, except on Tuesdays, when we have to be in an hour earlier.

I was wiped. I set my alarm for 7:45 -- because 45 minutes makes a huge difference, I know -- and fell asleep.

I woke up before my alarm -- maybe 7:42 or so -- and realized that it was Tuesday morning. I woke Betsy up.

"Betsy? It's Tuesday, right? We have to be in the office at 8, right?"

"Yeah. What time is it now?"

"Seven forty-five."

"Okay. If we get out the door in five minutes, we can make it."

We did, and had a wonderful lunch with an assoc editor, and I am still tired.

Monday, August 2, 2010

(Amanda) sweet endings

Last weekend we went to OSV, and had a lovely time walking the grounds. It reminds me of what Greenfield Village used to look like, if the village was all from in the 1830s.

The next day we (a different "we") found ourselves at a bookstore with the (entirely accurate) slogan "books you don't need at a place you can't find." It is in a converted mill building, near a really pretty river. We looked at books (and of course bought some), had dinner, splashed around in the river, and had a long and muddy drive back home.

I got back to "my house" around 11, tidied up, fell asleep, then woke up and began my second to last week of interning here. This afternoon I finished the presentation draft of my Ed. project (those pesky vocabulary words took forever...). I'm hoping I can try it out on actual visitors, so I can provide *real* feedback with along with my proposal.

We took a field trip to Pilgrim Hall today. The curator showed us around for more than two hours. They have a really impressive collection, and he did a great job of explaining the significance of everything we were looking at. It took me a while to figure out why he seemed so very familiar, then I realized that his manner, speech pattern, and wardrobe made him the Nikolai Wenzel of curators. They have the same way of geeking out about their subjects in infectious ways (and a similar affection for the brewer's arts :o)

So, yes, it has been a really nice couple of days...if more than a little tiring. School might mean less sleep, but it also means less travel.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

(Mary) mac vs pc

Thank you, Kennedy, for this one.

I have to admit, this made Macs (or, at least, Apple) look good in my book.

Friday, July 30, 2010

(Mary) stealing from DCD again

It's summer. Two college students are sharing an apartment in Toledo. The $12 bookends cost more than any of the furniture in the apartment. The closet door is open and hanging over it is a beach towel -- both students are too stingy to pay for the dryer. Washrags are draped over rungs of chairs and dress clothing lies flat on the floor for the same reason. The vinyl tablecloth is masking-taped under the table and the fan clicks as it spins. Two sunhats flop over a chair.

On the windowsill: an assortment of pots (origins, left to right: antique store, flea market, Mom's garage, brother's beer mug collection, thrift store; contents, left to right: dead basil, rosemary, empty because the spider plant got spilled, live basil, ivy), two tomato paste cans (one with quarters, one with pens), a pile of receipts, a glass of water, and a mason jar.

On the floor: a Mac, a PC, six pairs of shoes, one pair of socks (about four feet apart), two mugs, a pair of sunglasses, a mixing bowl, Early Christian Writings, a DVD of 30 Rock Season 2, a laundry bag, a pile of newspapers, a postcard from an indie/hippie store, a camp hat, a mirror, and a draft of a big project.

On the walls: a drawing of Ernest Hemingway, a map of Michigan, and an art print that looks like horses if you're a girl and dinosaurs if you're a guy. No curtains. A broken air-conditioning control.

On the bookshelf: a pen and a pencil, a crochet hook and an unfinished project, a few stamps, a pair of cheap binoculars, a 4x6 file box, a copy of the lease, a box of frog notecards, a coaster with a parrot on it, a pile of bulletins from several churches, a flyer for the art museum's psychadelic 60s exhibit, a long receipt listing now-overdue books from the public library, craisins, and the little thing that broke off from the air-conditioning control.

On the other bookshelf: overdue library books (lots), a frisbee, and a little cardboard box.

In the cupboard and drawer: three forks with blue paint on the tips, five knives from various thrift stores, too many spoons, a borrowed set of (matching! china!) plates/saucers/teacups, four bowls from somebody's Greek grandfather's restaurant, four boxes of South Beach Diet Strawberry Harvest cereal, and too many frying pans.

What are they eating for dinner?

a) pizza
b) macoroni and cheese
c) hamburger helper
d) salmon and vegetables sauteed with spices and a hint of lemon on top of farfalle with olive oil

(Amanda) *long pause*

Well, um, life.... progresses

After today I have two work weeks here, then I set off for home. Things are fine, but as usual the work sort of snowballs towards the end and everything feels a bit rushed and blurry.
It rained yesterday, then in the evening it was really nice out, today promises to be lovely as well (I have devolved into talking about the weather...sorry).
This weekend is a trip to Sturbridge, so that should be nice... and that is just about all that is going on. I research and read and catalog and go home and research and read. I started a novel yesterday, my first of the summer (at least in MA) and while I really liked the beginning I am not happy with it right now. Do you ever feel like an author has betrayed your trust? I want to finish the book, because the characters are stuck in an interesting situation, but I also want to throw it down in disgust and walk away (or, rather, walk it back to the library)... ah, well.

I saw a hummingbird yesterday Mad, but it didn't make any noise, as far as I could tell :o)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

(Maddie) Who Knew Hummingbirds Could Be So Loud?

I was washing dishes in the kitchen and heard a loud shrieking bird noise. So, I went out into the living room and looked down at the alley. The alley itself is filled with various flora, including a grapefruit tree (still waiting for those to ripen), several pines, and a bunch of flowering bushes. When I looked out of the living room window, I thought the source's size would be proportional to the incredibly loud noise it was making. Wrong again. I searched for a minute or two until my eyes rested on a perturbed Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. He was very fidgity and would puff up his feathers before spewing out another cacophonous serenade. Since his "tweet" called for rougher, tougher name, I named him Hogarth right before he flitted off. It felt like naming a Chihuahua "Butch." I guess you can't judge a bird by its tweet/chirp/squawk.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

(Amanda) spitting into the wind

This weekend has been very busy! Lots of running about, being touristy, riding trolleys, teleporting to Timbuktu with a toucan and a (touch-screen) telephone.... also a lot of needless alliteration, but that is only in my mind...

Saturday we drove up to Quincy to the Adams National Historical Park. This was a great idea. The drive could not have been easier (three turns off of the freeway), we got in for free (as students) and the tour was very well run. It was pretty standard National Park fare, with rangers reciting the scripted bits about each site - but the sites themselves were so interesting and the rangers so clearly enjoy their jobs that it was easy to have a good time. We visited the birthplaces first, the houses where John and John Quincy Adams were born (the houses are right next door to one another, because John Sr's father accumulated the properties around his original home from many people). Then the trolley takes you to "Peacefield" where John and Abigail lived after they returned from England, during his term as President. This is a lovely house now, but it sounds like it was quite the fixer-upper when they bought it, sight unseen, while they were overseas. The best part (aside from the 18th C. portraiture in the house) is the library (or, rather, the Library) that Charles Francis Adams (John's grandson, John Quincy's son) built in 1870. It is one small-ish room, two levels, and is filled floor to ceiling with books (roughly 14,000 of them). It has such a lovely, studious atmosphere.

When we got back "home" I decided to stick around for that night's performance of Twelfth Night. Now, I have *very* strong opinions about the way this show should be done, it is one of my favorite Shakespearian comedies, and I have both acted in it and directed it...so, yeah, I am invested in the show. I must say they did an absolutely amazing job. There are only 7 of them (well, 6 and a technical director who pops in occasionally) so they had to do some serious cuts and line consolidation just so they could make all the required exits, entrances, and costume changes, but these worked really well overall. Feste lost a lot tho, which is a shame, but I think it was made up for by, well...everything else. *sigh* so much awesome.
For Romeo and Juliet they cover the beard of D who plays the Nurse (and Paris, and, and...) with a thin hankie, pined to her coif. In 12th Night, W plays Maria and Sebastian, and for Maria they made no effort to cover his beard. Somehow, after the first scene, this was not distracting or strange at all. I am going to chalk this one up to Theater Magic and darn good acting. It really is amazing what you can get away with once the audience has bought into the vision...

Today we took the ferry to Provincetown, where we wandered around (we found this amazing military surplus/junk/clothing store (where, among other things, I got a Czech military surplus single serving pudding steamer...life is grand!), ate lunch (chicken fingers and spicy fries), climbed the Pilgrim Monument (built to resemble a campanile...nothing like characteristically Roman Catholic architecture memorializing the first landing of the Pilgrims on Cape Cod...this country is weird), ate ice cream (soft serve made in the store! mine had vodka, kahlua, baileys, and chocolate chips in it...because apparently I like my ice cream made of liquor...), wandered around some more, buried our feet in the sand at the harbor, and caught the return ferry. I am only vaguely sunburned around the edges, so I shall count today as a rousing success.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

(Mary) sorry, guys

So I was thinking wow, I haven't been blogging in a while. Then I get back and find out that-- yeah, wow, I haven't been blogging in a while.

Sorry, guys. I've been swamped with work -- I actually have been; I'm sure I'll tell you all about it when we get back to Hillsdale. But...

Do you ever look at yourself and wonder how God could have been so good to you? I was thinking that... I almost don't believe it.

Last weekend I went up north. Highlights:

-Fr. Bob, high school chaplain and dear friend, called me Friday morning, just a "hey, I haven't heard from you in a while" call -- I hadn't heard from him in a while, maybe a year -- and I said hey, I'm going up north anyway, so we had coffee in Ann Arbor Friday afternoon. (I say "had coffee" because that's what people understand. I had a smoothee or juice or something.)

-Made it up to Houghton Lake, where my mom's family was, and talked my cousins into swimming and my dad into a bike ride. Slept like a rock.

-Woke up, said goodbyes, took pictures, said goodbyes, and I drove off to camp.

-Camp? Ran into Cathy, who's deaf, and she taught me how to sign "visit." Jumped on the brown dump (truck) with some dear friends and drove around on an equipment move (the best part of camp work). Ate lunch, went climbing, went sailing, hiked around the lake (there's a trail for maybe 70 percent of it; the rest is guessing your way through trees and muck and sometimes almost solid ground), shot a .22 and Jason's mauzer (sorry for spelling; it's Chilean and around 1885, I think), learned how to say "you have spinach in your teeth" in Slovak, went out for pizza ("a purse? Mary, you have a purse? what happened to you?"), burned stuff, slept like a rock. Woke up, changed my blinker bulb, cried, said goodbyes, hugged, went to Mass.

-Met a friend after Mass, went to Subway, discussed aesthetic vs. metaphysical beauty.

-Drove home, had dinner with my family (=parents and sister), slept like a rock. Woke up at 5:45 and hit the road.

-Got back to the apartment in time for a nap before Betsy woke up.

This weekend? Tony came.

(Maddie) There's a Starbucks on Every Corner

Similar to the correlation between New York City and Delis, there seem to be Starbucks' everywhere in L.A.. I pass about three on my way to work everyday. I usually try to go to local coffee shops and avoid national/regional chains when I have the option. Well, in my corner of L.A., there isn't much of an option. It's Starbucks, Starbucks, Starbucks ... or the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. I tried this alternative, but did not find their coffee to be that great. Since I am often sent by my superiors to go get coffee orders from the local Starbucks, I have since become accustomed to patroning this corner store (paired with a Barnes & Noble). The baristas there are great - they rarely mess up orders, they are very personable, and the drinks they make are consistently good. Mind you, not every Starbucks is like this. In fact, most of the ones I have been to have gone down in quality ever since I've been in college.

Needless to say, I often go to this Starbucks for several hours on my days off to sip coffee and read. Thanks to this rigorous regimen, I have completed A History of Histories with a month to spare. I also use the time to knit, to listen to music, to read a book abotu producing, and to chip away at books for script coverages.

There are some regulars. First, the baristas. There is one very happy blonde girl who always smiles and remembers my name. I try to avoid the loud Eastern European lady sho gives me a headache every time I approach the cash register. There are a couple of homeless people who hang out outside begging for coffee. I occassionally end up talking to people who sit near to me. One lady had a baby who kept giving me the most serious, sarcastic baby-face ever! He was so adorable... I did run into one creepy guy who obviously woke up on the wrong, drug addled side of the Sixties. That made me leave Starbucks in a hurry. Oftentimes, my knitting attracts stares (apparently they haven't seen people knit before).

My favorite days at the corner coffee shop are cloudy, cold, seaside mornings that beg for a Grande White Chocolate Mocha with whip cream and whole milk:) Just me, my coffee, my knitting, and my book.

(Maddie) Jaywalker Stalkers

So, for those of you who don't know, Los Angeles has laws against jaywalking. Yeah, these laws are stupid when applied to sidestreets and only make sense on major thoroughfares. Yes, the only reason they have passed these laws is to raise revenue. With that preface out of the way...a person I know who lives in the L.A. area jaywalked across one of the quietest streets in town. Guess who showed up to give him a $150 ticket? The police. They followed him to the laundromat and gave him the ticket. Luckily, this person is going to contest this in court after going through the agonizing beaurocratic process of setting up a court date for next year.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

(Amanda) on shallops and crying and really nice deli counter guys

Today after work we headed to the ship, expecting the run of the mill behind-the-scenes tour. But no! We got to go out in the Shallop! The shallop is the ship's boat, designed for doing repairs, running between ship and shore, that sort of thing. We sailed out into the harbor (by "we" I mean the talented folks who actually know how to sail) and tacked back and forth for about an hour. I got to help tie off ropes each time we tacked. The wind was lovely and just right for our little jaunt. The sky put on a nice show for us, the sun tucked behind some clouds so the sea wasn't blinding, and then the sky went all purple and red around the edges. So pretty.

Just as we pulled back up to the ship I got something in my left eye. It hurt. A whole lot. And kept hurting. Now, I have a bit of a head cold presently so when I began crying, the snot, well, let's just say I became something of a mess. The Captain, lovely man that he is, fished some eye wash out of the shallop's first aid kit, but I couldn't do much with it until we got back to the gatehouse (tho there was a sort of comedic moment where I was trying to rinse my eye out on the rocking shallop as we tied up to the boat...) My attempts to fish whatever it was out of my eye were unsuccessful, tho I did succeed in making my eye entirely bloodshot and evil looking. So, um, yay. I was under orders to not move my eye too much, to patch it over and go to the doctor if it was swollen in the morning. This seemed like a good plan, but also like a bit of overkill.

First, we needed to go to the grocery store (by "we" I mean myself and the three other interns on the shallop ride). So off we went. I was meandering around the store, trying to keep my left eye closed as much as possible, tearing up a bit every now and again, and sniffling because my nose was still running. I stopped in at the deli counter, to get my cold cuts for the week. As usual I forgot to take a number right away, so it took a few minutes for me to be served. I asked for my 1/2 lb. turkey and 1/4 lb. pepper jack, and the rotund, middle aged deli man with a salt and pepper beard (and a little paper hat!) looked sympathetically at me. I probably looked like I was having a *very* bad day. I watched carefully as he cut and packaged my purchases, and I noticed that he slipped more into my order than he charged me for. Not enough to be obscene, but two or three more slices than were weighed. He saw that I saw and gave me a sweet little smile. It really did make my day.

On the way home I tried to cry out the whatever it was in my eye. It is strange to be in a good mood (I had a productive day at work and the shallop ride was amazing and the deli guy was kind) and crying. This tactic did not work. Upon arriving home I stopped crying on purpose and took a shower, being sure to blink a lot under the water (while avoiding the soap...). This seems to have worked, my eye is still irritated, but the pointy thing (probably sand or salt) seems to be gone.

In other news, I am tired, and going to go to sleep now.
This weekend we are taking a trip to Quincy, so brace yourselves for John Adams-y-ness!

Monday, July 19, 2010

(Amanda) potentialities and a lack of sharp edges, or "I have the fabric but not the scissors"

Often, when I don't feel like reading or watching something, I browse design blogs (Yummy! as my graphics professor's former graphics professor would say :o) Looking at pictures of pretty things displayed/worn in beautifully furnished homes makes me want to make things and decorate rooms (preferably on someone else's budget... someone who is actually employed...).
I have a bag of fabric from a spur of the moment JoAnne's trip (grey corduroy and a japanese umbrella print) that will become a (really, really awesome) skirt someday, but lacking sewing scissors and pins I am not in a position to make much of anything from it right now.
I don't move into our school-year apartment for a month and a half so any "decoration" currently takes the form of meandering, tentative e-mail exchanges between my roommate and me (is this chair ok? which cups should we bring? can we use this as a bookshelf? This last is the ultimate question. I think the answer is probably "42." As in: "yes, we do need 42 bookshelves...each").
So I suppose I'll just have to take copious inspiration notes and keep the (figurative) drool from damaging my keyboard.

(Amanda) how to cure the blahs

Today began in a less than stellar manner and, while it got better, never quite reached "happy" or even "mostly comfortable."

So after work I took myself out for dinner and drink (no "s" - the price of driving yourself to a pub :o). After some amazing macaroni and cheese (with sausage, mushrooms, and caramelized onions thankyouverymuch) and a pint of Newcastle, I finally felt more than halfway decent. I brought some scholarly reading with me, so I am sure I looked rather silly, dining alone with my nose in a book, but it was really nice. There was a moment of panic when I could not locate my debit card and did not have enough cash to cover the bill, but eventually I fished the truant card from an obscure corner of my purse... *shudder*

Upon returning home I went downstairs to make my lunch for tomorrow and I discovered a care package from my (wonderful) parents awaiting me. It contained the perfect treat to make my day downright lovely. Thanks mum.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

(Maddie) Ummmm....*awkward turtle*

So, I just thought I'd update you all on the strange people I see in L.A. As I was waiting for an extremely late bus line (1 hour late, jerks!), I saw a near-emaciated old man walking down the sidewalk. Now, what do you think he was wearing? This is L.A., after all, so your imagination needs to be waaaaaay out there to guess this one.

Ok - you probably won't guess. This old man was wearing an XXS tank top that only covered his ribcage, followed by a girl's 10-inch plaid/pleated skirt. To complete this disturbing image, just add a pair of gray/black argyle nylon thigh-highs and girl's commando boots, and we have ourselves a winner. This is on the level of skateboarding Asian man wearing a kilt while playing a dijareedoo...but not quite as awesome. It was more disturbing. Yeah. Please erase this image from my brain.

*awkward turtle* times a hundred.

Friday, July 16, 2010

(Maddie) To Kill a Mockingbird

Literally. Sorry, Harper Lee - there will be no attempt at deep symbolism here. I was trying to be witty when I came up with this blogpost title. However, the more I end up waking up in the middle of the night due to this feathered pestilence, the more I want to act out the title. The garden in our apartment complex is home to a particularly mimicry-adept mockingbird. He truly earned his title. He hasn't been too active as of late, but he was a beast earlier in my internship. During the first couple evenings, I thought someone was trying to jack a couple cars on the street. Lo and behold, the bird can make himself sound like a BMW, a Toyota, a Honda, etc. (they don't have too many American cars here). Mr. Mockingbird can also mimic a multitude of other organic and inorganic sound bites: building security alarms, various birds (confuses the hell out of the male morning doves), dogs, cats (Stella is often perplexed, especially when he mimics her mimicking birds), various other animals, too many cell phone ringtones to count (from Beethoven to Beyonce), beeps, tweets, honks, alarms, horns, and other mockingbirds. Of course, he can only practice his craft at night, at 3 FREAKIN' A.M. in the morning. Oh, how I simultaneously admire and loathe your skill, Mortimer Mockingbird! Why must you torture me so, you damn bird!?

(Maddie) Things That Go "ARRR!" in the Night

My apartment complex is located on a street full of - you guessed it - more apartment complexes (which is a common building pattern in most of non-rich L.A.). There is a fifteen to twenty foot grass alley between my sublet and the next apartment building. My room has a window that faces this alley, that normally acts as an amplifier for outside activities. The young "lady" who lives in the unit directly across from my window likes to throw parties, usually causing me to wake up sleep-deprived or extremely disorented from strange dreams. When the windows are open, I end up hearing the strangest things, normally just around the time I am trying to go to sleep (which makes for interesting dreams). This is something that took me a while to get used to in the first week or two. Now I am desensitized:)

Many of the things I overhear are inocuous (but not all): giggling (which may or may not be innocent), slurred speech, beer bottles breaking, juvenile jokes and MOVIES. When these frequent partiers feel like playing a drinking game, they pop in Pirates of the Caribbean at about 11pm (when I am going to sleep) and take a shot whenever a plot hole becomes apparent. As one can imagine, they get absolutely sloshed rather quickly. As I drift off in an attempt to peacefully slumber, my brain begins to process pirate "Arrr!"s and Hans Zimmer's swashbuckling score. And, voila! Pirate-themed dreams. I have never had so many pirate-themed dreams in such a short period in my life. What makes this more confusing is that they will also randomly break into American-butchered versions of Mexican drinking songs while watching the movie. This normally happens when they have reached the ending scenes in Cortez's cave, when it becomes apparent that no one knows what the full conditions of the curse are. If you have read this just before going to bed, do not be surpised if you see a half-drunk, lurching Captain Jack Sparrow mumbling some nonsense at you while dancing to a Mariachi Band's street corner performance. He is a frequently-confusing cast member in my dreams/nightmares, courtesy of my neighbors.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

(Amanda) uh, should I blog about...something?

Well, things here have fallen into a pretty regular pattern with little aberration (outside of my weekend travels that is). It is strange (and vaguely comforting) to think that I am half done here, as of this week. Yet, despite the lack of proper news and events, I feel obligated to post about something, so here is some random trivia regarding my life in MA:

The shelf above the sink in my bathroom here hits me in the forehead in exactly the same place as the shelf above our dorm room's "airplane" sink hit me all of last year. It gives the place a nice homey feeling (especially considering that the rest of the bathroom is only slightly smaller than our dorm room..."see over there by the non-functional jacuzzi? yeah, that's where my bed would be").

I don't particularly like driving on the freeway in torrential rain, but I don't really get freaked out. Also, this is one of the few times I have seen MA drivers *not* exceeding the speed limit. Amazing what flash flood warnings can do.

I just ordered my books for next semester. Ordering used books is sort of like playing Russian roulette with your future self. Will I open the book and find that every line has been highlighted in bright pink, rendering it nearly unreadable? Have I sacrificed too much to save a few dollars? Will I regret these decisions until the end of my days? (I get rather melodramatic about my books, bear with me)

Cooking is still going well, the basic directive of "don't starve" is being met on a daily basis. Yesterday I had a really awesome lunch, so awesome in fact that I had the same thing for dinner...
Mix together and heat:

rice pilaf (or normal rice, try brown?)
cannellini beans
zucchini and onions sauted in garlic
a small spoonful of prepared pesto sauce

mmmmmmmmmmmmm



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

(Mary) Cinderella

Today we were jay-walking from the health food store to the car. The red hand started blinking and we started jay-running. My foot hit the pavement without my flip-flop. I spun around looking for it behind me, threw a panicked look at the lined-up cars, saw the sandal two steps in front of me, hopped over, stuffed my toes in, and scuff-runned to the opposite curb.

Today was a good day.
.

Monday, July 12, 2010

(Maddie) _________-induced Eye-twitch

So, one more blog post for the day. I noticed that I have had a slight on-again/off-again eye twitch for the past several days. It is not noticeable to anyone but me. I just feel a spasm in my right eye muscle on occasion for 10 minutes at a time. This could have been brought on by one or more of the following, relatively-recent (but temporary) changes to my lifestyle:
  • My more frequent use of coffee as a defibrillator/mental stimulant in the afternoon. If a script is bad, it becomes necessary to induce alertness through caffiene.
  • My internship requires me to be on the computer for more hours straight per day than a college history research paper. Luckily, screen brightness is an adjustable feature of most laptops, including Nommo.
  • It is hard to cook healthily for one person when you are bushed at the end of an 8-hour work day and do not cook meals with a roommate. Also, food is very expensive around here. I am eating enough, but I may be (*probably am*) deficient in something. I will write a short treatise on microwavable meals soon.
  • So far, I have read approximately 1500-2000 pages for my internship and have wrote at least 75 pages. My eyes are probably begging for a break, although they got one over the Fourth of July. Man up, eyes!

Hopefully, I will figure out this little conundrum before I need to invest in a pirate patch.

(Maddie) A Concise Commentary on the Current Climate of California

How was that for alliteration? I thought of it while getting a VERY HOT drink at Starbucks today;) *cough* So, I want you to do a mental exercise for about 10 seconds. I want you to close your eyes and picture Southern California/L.A. in your head. Include stereotypes. You see a hot summer day with palm trees swaying in the Pacific breeze, your feet sizzling on the sandy beach. The sun beats down upon you, baking you into a sunburnt crisp (ouch!). You run into the water to cool off after hours of lying on a beach towel. Sounds good, doesn't it?

REALITY CHECK! IT IS FRICKIN' FREEZING (comparatively speaking, of course). "June Gloom" is still in full swing...in July. Why can't the weather check the calendar? Southern California is currently experiencing its coolest summer on record: low 50s-60s, high 70s. So much for "Global Warming." Michigan is having a way hotter summer than SoCal. This is nice to a certain extent because I whilt in heat, like my Father before me. In fact, I like the cooler weather of mid-summer better than the hotter (dry-heat) days of late May. But, this is not awesome in the early morning when I have to wait for the bus. I did not prepare for cooler weather in the clothing department. I need more socks. Snazzlefracken!

(Mary) spices

I brought some spices with me. Pepper (in a 2.5g grinder thing), salt, garlic, basil, sage.

We finished my pepper and bought another one. We finished my garlic and bought another one.

We finished the second pepper, so I bought a refillable pepper grinder, and next year I will smuggle it into Saga.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

(Amanda) going places and eating things

This weekend we went to Maine and ate lots of salad.
Then we went to Harvard yard (Yard?) and I ate a fish taco.

Now I am back and I have no food here. Time to go to the grocery store...



(Mary) libraries

I love sitting in the children's section, reading children's books, watching children.

I love sitting on the children's chairs. My feet touch the ground.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

(Maddie) WARNING: Earthquakes May Cause Seasickness

I experienced my first earthquake while conscious today. The last one apparently occurred whilst I was asleep during the first week of my internship and caused a painting in teh apartment to become crooked. This one was a palpable earthquake, reaching 5.4-5.9 on the Richter Scale for Sourthern California. The production office at which I work is on the second floor and felt like it was made of jello for 10 seconds. I was so focused on reading a movie script that the motion of the building made me feel like I was seasick. Betcha the Surgeon General never warned you that earthquakes can be a cause of seasickness...on land.

(Amanda) things I resemble

lobster |ˈläbstər|noun
a large marine crustacean with a cylindrical body, stalked eyes, and the first of its five pairs of limbs modified as pincers.
Homarus and other genera, class Malacostraca: several species, in particular the American lobster ( H. americanus).
a deep red color typical of a cooked lobster - the color I currently sport on my back after a lovely afternoon at the beach.

I hadn't been in the Atlantic for years. I think it was mostly worth the burn...



(Mary) the play's the ...zing!

I mentioned earlier that I was reading Hamlet on my four-mile walk a couple days ago. I forgot to mention one thing: I walked from shortly before noon till 1 or 1:30 or so and got sunburned. I guess that means I came back well-red? (I'm really proud of that one.)

Yesterday I made chicken soup without chicken soup base. Betsy and I learned how to make vegetable stock, and I used that for my base (with lots of sage, salt, pepper, probably garlic but I don't remember). It was really, really good. (I'm proud of that, too.)

Went to the main library yesterday and came back with eight books, seven of them Newberries. I was looking for Christopher Paul Curtis's new book (which I'd seen at Borders on Sunday) but ended up with a non-Newberry about Isle Royale by someone else Curtis. I think what I'll have to do when I start writing novels is take a pen name that's alphabetically next to one of my favorite authors, so when people look for his books, they find mine.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

(Amanda) walls!

Today I worked with Graphics (doesn't that sound fancy? really it's just one person), working on the layout for the interior front wall of the new black box theater (yes, the area is hard to describe). The wall in question is 9' long and the graphics will fill 7'. Now, the joke last year was that I think in 5"x7" so this really did present a challenge to my grey matter. I was charged with live tracing (tho clearly Illustrator did most of the work in this phase), cleaning up, and colorizing an image created by the Stage Manager - then deciding on fonts (from the institutional standards) and sizing and so on. I also worked on some less important paper signage, also for the theater.

Later I had a meeting with Education, to discuss my project for them, which will demand all my powers of content and styling - I have to say I'm rather excited (and nervous). I think my plan will fill a real need at the museum...I hope it works out...

Then dinner and sewing and The Tempest and making lunch for tomorrow and sweating like mad and hopefully going to sleep soon (it easily reached 100 degrees today, yick).


Monday, July 5, 2010

(Maddie) Rodeo, Hollywood and the Fourth

So, I discovered that I have a Fourth Cousin in the TV comedic screenwriting business (who'd've thunk it?). Last Saturday, we decided to get in some familial bonding (as we have never met before) by visiting the touristy locations of Los Angeles, i.e. Rodeo Drive and Hollywood Boulevard. I have to say, I had fun being a pseudo-tourist for a day, expecially with someone who knew the "ins" and "outs" of the areas. It beats taking Starline Tours, the "premier" Hollywood tour company. Imagine a double-decker bus filled with overweight, sun-burned, obnoxiously-loud New Jersey-ites with bookie visors and fanny packs. Got that picture in your head? Not very attractive, is it? I didn't think so either. I will take the passenger seat of my Fourth Cousin's Lexus convertible any day. Check out the (horrible) picture I took of the Hollywood sign from the convertible!



She decided to take me to Rodeo Drive, the famous high-end designer-drenched shopping district of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. As we were walking, we noticed a bunch of tourists crowding around a really expensive Italian sports car, all taking pictures of or with it. My Fourth Cousin wanted to take me into a coupel stores. She immediately nixed Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Chanel, and some other fancy-schmancy designers; the pre-requisite for becoming a staff member is that one must have the pretentious disposition of a snobbish, vapid jerk. So, we stopped at Harry Winston, the premier diamond jewelers in America. This is the company that loans out jewelry to the stars for the Oscars. We stepped in and talked to representative named Raymond, who was absolutely delightful. Even though he knew we weren't going to be buying anything, he was thoroughly enjoyable to talk to and answered all of my questions. He left me try on a half-inch big sapphire ring! The pieces were works of art. I was thoroughly impressed by their work and their professionalism. The only other shop we stepped into was Armani. My Fourth Cousin got an Oscar dress from this well-known Italian establishment, and they still remember her. We were helped out by Zohar, a man who proved to be very knowlegeable in fashion and, like Raymond, was fun to talk to. My cousin asked if he could show us a few of his favorite classic pieces. He excitedly pulled out his favorites and lovingly showed off each one as if he were the curator of a museum showing off their Impressionist collection. His enthusiasm was contagious. he told us that Armani only makes five copies of a dress per country so that no one will where the same dress to an event. They personally tailor each gown to the wearer's body for free. The staff of Harry Winston and Armani impressed me. Even though they knew I was nto rich and would not buy a thing, they treated me with kindness and respect. They reminded me of the way shops used to be run - personal, not mass-marketed commericialism. I now understand why people would spend such large amounts of money for such great service.

After seeing more bleach-blonde bimbos in booty shorts and ugg boots than I could count, we were back in the convertible and zooming down the pristine, palm tree-lined Beverly Drive toward tourist trap known as Hollywood Boulevard. Hollywood Boulevard is the most famous, yet seemiest side of the Los Angeles area. It was also the most crowded place I have seen during this internship. Torrents of tourists rushed down the star-studded sidewalks along the street, converging upon Grauman's Chinese Theater. Of course, I had to see this at least once in my life...so we parked. The near-impenetrable stream of tourists was the closest I have ever gotten to white-water rafting. I got to see the hands, shoes, messages and signatures of stars, old and new, etched into cement for eternity so that we may walk all over them. Of course, I focused on the older stars, because they actually have talent (plus a few geeky choices): Bette Davis, Roy Rogers + Trigger, Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Fredric March, Gregory Peck, John Wayne, Clark Gable, Cecil B. deMille, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Jimmy Stewart, the Marx Bros., George Lucas + Steven Spielberg, Star Wars (R2D2, C3P0, Darth Vader), Cary Grant, Peter Sellers, Gene Kelly, Harry Potter (Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe), Star Trek crew, Myrna Loy.

Since Independence Day fell on Sunday, I spent half of the day at Church. I have gotten close to one family in particular adn they invited me to come out with them to a Cove close to their house. The view of the Pacific Ocean was beautiful. Unfortunately, high tide was in full swing at the cove and I did not get to see the anemones, hermit crabs, octopi, etc that were promised. It was a stone-covered beach. When the waves crashed in an out, the sound of round rocks rolling over the beach mixed with the sound of rushing water. Some of the larger boulders had cracks in them filled with sparkling crystals. Even though I did not get to see the marine life I was hoping for (damn the Moon!), I had a great time hiking and exploring the area with the church faimly. After dinner, they all drove me back so we could catch some fireworks on the way back. At one point on the highwaty, we saw 7 different fireworks displays! I have to say it was a good Fourth of July weekend. Although, I missed participating in the yearly familial rituals with my parents: watching 1776, playing crochet and bocce ball, and lighting sparklers!

P.S. Here is a little gem from the Grauman Chinese Theater. There were tons of other people crowded around this one. Enjoy my nerdiness! ....And may the Force be with you!

(Amanda) sewing, spiders, fireworks, and listing things in reverse order

Inspired by the amazing tribal stitch patterns found in this manga I just read (stop sniggering, it is beautifully drawn and the characters are just as lovely), I picked up my embroidery project again. While it is nothing so elaborate or useful as the work the characters undertake, I find it rather satisfying, and as my knitting project is at a momentary standstill it provides a welcome respite from thesis work (and hulu browsing).

Today I killed several spiders on or near my bed. This. Is. Not. Ok.

Last night I got to watch the harbor fireworks show from the deck of the Mayflower II (!). We got to the ship early, after wading through the crowds, and watched the sun go down while chatting and laughing - perhaps a bit too much. The sunset was absolutely gorgeous. The fireworks weren't bad either (though lacking the dab hand of Pat Sajak). I even managed to wear red white and blue....well, it was more like maroon, blue and tan, but hey, I tried.

(Mary) angst

So I read through my last post and realized it sounded really angsty and whiny. I'm actually feeling quite content right now. So I will post some good news:

1. I walked four miles today, and it was gorgeous.

2. I'm almost finished with Act IV of Hamlet.

3. I finished all my library books (which is good or bad).

4. I made chicken soup today, and it wasn't my best chicken soup, but I did make it without any chicken soup base and it was decent. There's hope for better soup to come.

5. We've got an "Honest Tea" jar with three black-eyed Susans and one big thing of Queen Anne's Lace and a couple other green things, and it makes the apartment look a lot nicer.

6. I'm almost finished with Fr. Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul by Tony Hendra. It's almost 300 pages and I started it yesterday.

7. We've got cherries, Michigan blueberries, and peaches in our refrigerator.

8. Point #7 is a solid defense of the serial comma.

9. My little basil plants and my spider plant are doing well, as is my ivy. (My big basil plant is droopy and about dead.)

10. I found out I can buy a huge 2x4 at Home Depot for $2.

(Mary) home

Michigan will always be home. It always has been and always will be, until I die.

things that anger me.

"you're from where? I'm sorry"
"I can't wait to get out of here"
"isn't it all a bunch of crime there?"
"it's so flat"
"I would never raise a family there"
"so you're from the hood?"
"you know all about the ghetto, then"
"isn't it winter all the time here?"
"and you haven't been shot?"
"I heard it's not doing so well"
"I miss my mountains"
"there's nothing to do here"
"it's too cold"
"it's too hot"
"that sucks, that you have to deal with winter and 100-degree summers"

things that are beautiful.

four seasons, all intense
blue-collar work
car mechanics
freshwater lakes almost the size of oceans
flat land and big sky -- "you could watch your dog run away for days"
muddy shoes, worn
baseball
homeless people in libraries
alleys
brick showing through the asphalt
African art
live music over lunch
pumpkins, apples, blueberries
cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice
no tics
maple trees, and oaks
panhandlers and street preachers
American cars
empty buildings
hard knocks
hard work
home

I walked four miles this morning. Felt really, really good.

I badly want to build and paint.

My basil plant looks like a palm tree. It's lost almost all its leaves, and is an empty stalk until the top. My ivy is doing quite well.

I finished all my library books.

Yesterday, we were going to celebrate by going to a Mud Hens game and watching two sets of fireworks afterward. It was 100 degrees and there was no parking, so we came back to the apartment, intending to start season 2 of 30 Rock. (It's a little embarrassing that we got through a whole season in a week.) Unfortunately the librarians had forgotten to unlock the DVD case. We youtubed methods of unlocking DVD cases and tried a few, but ended up calling Blockbuster. The guy said he'd try to unlock them if we brought them in, but when we got there we discovered that Blockbuster uses a different locking device than the library.

We celebrated by reading. Silently.

I can't wait till I have a real job and a real place where I'll be for more than six months, where I can actually move in. I can't wait till I have a salary big enough that I can pop over to the craft/hardware stores anytime and buy things and make things.

Domine, ut videam!

Friday, July 2, 2010

(Maddie) A Day at the Museum

Although not nearly as action-packed as Night at the Museum, my day at the Getty Center was freaking awesome! The museum is free, but the parking lot will getcha. I have no car, so I took the bus line I usually take to work. However, that only got me 1/3 of the way. So, I had to finish the trip on a line I had never used before. Just in case you were wondering, I made it. If I hadn't, this entry would not be nearly as long as it currently is (with pictures). My total round trip was $4.50, way better than paying $15 for parking. (SIDENOTE: On the way, I passed through UCLA campus, including the Chi-O, Pi-Phi, and KKG houses. THEY'RE EVERYWHERE.) After I arrived, the tram took us up and around the mountain upon which the Getty Center sat. What a view! One can see the entire panorama of the metro-L.A. area. I could even see my end of town!

The Getty Center itself is an amazing piece of modern architecture. Built in 1997 out of a private trust, it looks as if it were built out of stones laid on top of each other without any mortar. There are crystal clear fountains everywhere. One in particular flows from one side all the way through to the garden's centerpiece. The fountain pictured to the left is the main fountain and does not flow through the garden. This is the first time modern architecture has actually impressed me. Most of the time, modernity in architectural expression reminds me of a cleaner version of a Costco warehouse made out of slightly more expensive materials. This then makes me crave Greco-Roman Columns, Baroque, Rococo....something obnoxiously ornate.
I immediately went to the main garden so I could hit it before all of the other tourists came and ruined its tranquil beauty. The garden floored me. Normally, I hate modern gardens. But the textures, designs, plants, shapes, colors, and the overall plan were so well done. The water from one of the smaller fountains near the main plaza spilled into an artificial creek, which then ran through a wooded patch filled with trees and succulants, and then came to a waterfall into the main water resevoir. Here is the final destination (pictured right). The central water-shrubbery was so perfectly manicured, I could not believe my eyes. The maze in the resevoir reminded me of Labyrinth - so much so that I half expected David Bowie to come prancing out in his tight pants singing "Dance magic, dance!" with Jim Henson puppets in tow. The photo that I took does not do it justice. The pink flowery "fountains" on the sides are awesome! As you can see, they are pictured to the left. [SIDENOTE: I have better pictures, but I do not want Google to weasle its way out of privacy clauses and publicly declare that they own them. So, if you want to see more, I will show them on demand (and not on the interwebs, which I obviously don't trust). At least these photos are not the best examples of my photographic prowess - suck on that Google!] After I finished drooling at the succulants (I am such a sucker for succulants! - forgive the pun...), I had lunch at the gigantic cafe (oxymoron?) pictured behind the flowery thingamajiggers. It was an awesome view to say the least. (Had enough of the parentheses yet?).

Now that my random anti-Google rant is done (which is highly ironic because Blogger is controlled by Google, like the rest of the world), on to the exhibits!!! Getty's collection is rather impressive. I first went to the North Pavillion - art before 1700A.D. The Medieval and Renaissance art was intriguing, but not my cup 'o tea. There were wonderfully-illuminated manuscripts and Bibles. I started yawning, so I quickly jumped ahead several hundred years to the Impressionists. The room for Monet / Renoir / Van Gogh was PACKED with people. I got to see Sunrise (Monet), La Promenade (Renoir), Irises (Van Gogh), Wheatstacks (Monet), whatever the heck the famous bridge over a pond painting is called. And, to prove it, I have scattered my horrible phtographs of these paintings through the rest of this blog entry. HA! After I was finished with the West Pavillion, I quickly hopped over to the South and East Pavillions to check out art from 1600s through 1800s A.D. Again, they had amazing pieces of work - sculptures, paintings, incredibly ornate decorative art. My favorites were Walk at Dusk (Friedrick), Waiting (Degas), some other ballet painting by Degas that I forgot the name for (pictured right), Grand Canal (Bellotto), A Calm at a Mediterranean Port (Vernet), etc. There are too many to mention. There was also a special exhibit on Jean-Leon Gerome. His quasi-photorealistic style is amazing. Apparently, he was highly controversial, having been accused of producing commercial art by his contemporaries and shunned for not jumping on the impressionist bandwagon. We were not allowed to take pictures (even without flash) in that exhibit:P My favorites of his include The Execution of Marshal Nay, Jerusalem, Pollice Verso (Thumbs Down), The Tulip Folly, Oedipus, and Lion on the Lookout. His paintings tended to have a darker quality to them.
At teh very end, I decided to sit at a cafe, drink some coffee and knit. I found out my daily limit for coffee once my eye started twitching. Then, it was down the mountain on the tram and back to the bus stop for me.
I hope to go back again before I leave. There was just too much to soak in for one day. If you ever visit L.A., make sure you go to the Getty Center. It is definitely one of my favorite things:)
Check it out online: www.getty.edu/museum.

(Amanda) "an heirloom variety of I don't know"

The woman stood, small plastic root vegetable gripped between thumb and forefinger. "What is this," she asked us calmly, with a look that demanded an answer. "Ummmm" we said "a turnip?" "No, this does not look like a turnip," she replied thoughtfully, and a bit disappointedly, as she walked away.

Some days you just don't have the right answers.


Today was Free Friday, underwritten by a local foundation, and the place was pretty darn crowded all day (something like 5-6 thousand people over eight hours). I was, along with the other Curatorial girls and our boss, stationed in the children's exhibit. So, really, I just helped a thousand children play dress-up. Pretty intense.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

(Maddie) Makeshift Cat Cave + Refurbished Fishy Toy

Stella has destroyed all of her favorite toys and still expects me to play with her, putting my fingers in harm's way (i.e. Stella's claws and jaws). SOLUTION:
  • Cat Cave - Take one blanket and drape it over the arm of a couch. Make sure it touches the floor. Cat Cave creates a mysterious, suspenseful ambiance for the thrill of the hunt.
  • Refurbished Fishy Toy - Take old fishy toy used to play fetch. Take a foot-long piece of yarn, put one end through clawed/chewed-out hole, and tie string to dilapidated fishy. To protect fingers from imminent danger, hold refurb toy at the end of the string and NOT the fishy. Swing around and use in conjunction with Cat Cave to increase cat's enjoyment.

New cat toys cost money. Home-made ingenuity is cheap:)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

(Mary) one thirty seven

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept at the memory of Zion.

On the poplars there we had hung up our harps.

For there our jailers had asked us to sing them a song, our captors to make merry, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion."

How could we sing a song of Yahweh on alien soil?

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand wither!

May my tongue remain stuck to my palate if I do not keep you in mind, if I do not count Jerusalem the greatest of my joys.

Remember, Yahweh, to the Edomites' cost, the day of Jerusalem, how they said, 'Down with it! Rase it to the ground!'

Daughter of Babel, doomed to destruction, a blessing on anyone who treats you as you treated us, a blessing on anyone who seizes your babies and shatters them against a rock!

Monday, June 28, 2010

(Amanda) just call me "Shredder"

Today I made friends with a diamond cut, quiet running, electric shredder.

I must say I feel pretty badass, I think I need a biker vest or something.
Removing staples can be a dance with death, and the rusty ones are a dance with tetanus... and the documents I'm disposing are pretty dangerous.... like "Comparative Earnings For 1981" or "List of the Board of Governors for 1966" or even "Incident Report"* and documents from the '70s have a creepy way of jumping out of the pile and giving me papercuts...

So yeah, buy me a vest and call me Shredder
(if you are found in the archives, and cannot be trusted to a landfill intact, I will end you)



*some of these are actually kind of funny...

(Mary) thoughts

Yesterday I decided what I want to do with my life. I'm ready to pack up and get started. Problem is you can't really jump into middle age.

Betsy says she's not a pop culture junkie, but she feels like one around me. Understandable. We got the first season of 30ROCK at the library and I'm actually enjoying the show. The Ru..Ju..?

I found Hamlet at a garage sale for 50c and also bought his complete works for $1. I had to stop reading Lord of the Rings because [spoiler] and that hasn't really sunk in yet. I started reading Hamlet and some Flannery O'Conner short stories.

My poor basil plant might make it. We've only got a north window so none of our plants are getting much sunlight, and the basil plant has been losing leaves like a maple tree in late October, except it's a basil plant in late June. But it's got some new leaves at the top, which is a hopeful sign.

Cinnamon and nutmeg make vanilla ice cream a lot better.

Surprisingly, I haven't had any major existential crises yet this summer. I think it's in part because I always have people I need to respond to and I'm never really by myself, and in part because I just ignore the questions when they come up. I usually clear my head by writing, and most days I just can't handle using words anymore -- words is all I've been doing all day -- so I just forget the crisis and draw or something.

I want to paint.

I've been trying to figure out what to do with panhandlers and people who ask for money. It's absolutely wrong to brush by and ignore them (cf. Mt. 25:31 ff), but handing over $5 probably means enabling an addiction or bad habit, and that's also wrong. Some people say "take them out to lunch" but most times I honestly don't have time for that. (Plus it can't really help that much.) Some people tell me "you're in college and you don't really have extra money" but cf. Mark 12:41 ff.

Here's the thing, though. My time isn't really "my" time -- I've already pledged it to my employer. Maybe feeding the hungry is objectively more important than the particular task I've been assigned, but I owe to my employer that I obey him and that I give him the time I promised to give him. If he sends me on an assignment, I have to do that assignment (unless it's specifically immoral). So no, I really, actually don't have time to take someone out to lunch because the time isn't mine anymore.

Same with money. I owe it to my parents to finish college, and I actually do need to buy my textbooks. Maybe feeding the hungry is more important than memorizing declension patterns, but that isn't my decision to make. It isn't "my" time that I spend studying, and it isn't "my" money I'm spending on books. I owe it to my parents to buy my books, and therefore the money isn't mine to give away.

I think the best thing to do is to know where these people can get help, and smile and point it out to them. "Sorry, ma'am, I can't actually give you any money, but if you go to [street] and [street], the people there can help you" or "Sir, I can't give you any money, but here's the phone number of [whatever mission]. Give them a call; they should be able to help you."

A man holding his hat out is still a man and we ought to treat him as such. But we should also recognize (with humility) that we are human and limited in what we can do. I can't solve all the world's problems; I can't solve all this man's problems. But I can point him to people who can help.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

(Maddie) The Dog Lover and the Cat: A Story of Confusion

Those who know me well have either heard or deduced that I am in fact a dog lover. I grew up with a Yorkshire Terrier, who for all intents and purposes was my pseudo-sibling (I'm an only child...it makes sense in my head.). Needless to say, I AM NOT CAT PERSON. Alas, the amazing sublet I obtained came with one string attached--a female cat named Stella. I knew I could live with this feline annoyance for the good part of a summer. Stella is an unusual cat. Most cats that I have met have an attitude that can only be described as a middle age malaise/resentment/crankiness. Stella is the friendliest cat I have ever met and she has a few quirks that make her somewhat endearing:
  • Stella fetches. Yes, you read that right. She fetches. But, there are only two things she will fetch - a mutilated red fishy toy and a bendy stick that at one point had a feathery boa thing at the end of it. She loves to play in a very energetic fashion and it is enjoyable to join in.
  • She has crazy moments. Her eyes will get big, as if she is looking as something supernatural. She will tense up into a lump of fur on end, twitch violently, and then run somewhere far away so the paranormal object of her attention will not attack her.
  • This cat is WHINY. She yowls and meows A LOT, particularly when she wants you to pay attention to her or she wants you to do something for her. For me, that means getting out of the room at the appropriate time in the morning.
  • I do not let Stella sleep with me for a very good reason: she will not sleep on top of the bed covers. She climbs up the side of the covers like a mountain climber on Mt. Everest and plants base camp at your feet. If you happen to be the unfortunate sleeper who moves around a lot, this means a night of biting and scratching. So not happening. Good night Stella....hope you like the carpet outside my door.
  • She thinks that I am her new master and sticks to me like glue, regardless of how many anti-cat vibes I radiate. She loves me despite my liberal use of a spray bottle. I am trying to establish a comfortable boundary between me and the cat. But, I have a theory: cats know what you want them to do, but they could give a damn. You exist to serve at their pleasure and are lucky to be graced by their presence. Now I understand where "hearding cats" is an impossible task.
  • She LOVES strawberries and blueberries. She will beg like a dog.
  • She likes to randomly flop on her back, splay her back legs out, grab her tail with her front paws, bring her tail between her back legs, hold it to her chest and chew on it. I have an awesome picture of this feat of flexibility:)
  • The most interesting characteristic of this quirky cat is the fact that she will hang out at the window and chirp like a bird. She actually sounds like a deranged/disturbed morning dove. Stella truly has a knack for mimicry. I think she is trying to lure in a prey that she will never obtain...indulging in some ancient instinct that has not yet been bred out of her domesticated genetic code. How poetic....and funny to watch. If only I had a video camera.

In the end of the day, Stella is one exception to my anti-cat policy. Her quirky, friendly characteristics balance out the fact that she is of a species spawned by Satan.

Friday, June 25, 2010

(Amanda) Culinary Laws

It's true: hummus really does make everything better

including eggplant and onion spicy barbecue tacos...




Thursday, June 24, 2010

(Maddie) Toy Story 3Ds: Disney Drags in the Dough, by Hook or by Crook

So, my review for Toy Story 3 will not nearly be as harsh as the rebuke I gave for Robin Hood 2010. Comparatively speaking, TS3 was a cinematic oasis in the midst of a creatively-parched Hollywood desert...but overall I was not as impressed with this movie as I was with A Toy Story and Toy Story 2. CAUTION: There be spoilers!

GOOD THINGS:

  • Spanish Buzz - Me gusta Buzz Lightyear en espanol. At some point in the film, they accidently activate Buzz's Spanish mode, which produces a rather funny attempt at a sexy Antonio Banderes voice. His mannerisms also undergo a transformation - he develops a machismo attitude and amazing latin dance skills.
  • Barbie and Ken - nothing like Barbie watching Ken do a 60s-90s fashion show. Very funny.
  • The 3D technology shuts the kids up - always a plus in my book. I hate having my movies interrupted by whining, crying, loud, ill-disciplined, oboxious brats. For example, when I went to see Red Eye, some parents decided that it would be a good idea to save money on a babysitter by taking their 5 year old child to a PG-13 movie with VIOLENCE, BLOOD, and Cillian Murphy being STABBED IN THE THROAT with a cartoon pen. Guess who turn around and told them to shut their kid up?
  • I sympathized with Andy in the movie. When I was getting older, I found it hard to part with some of my childhood toys. I have to admit, I started tearing up a little.

BAD THINGS:

  • Sequel Fever - apparently Hollywood is so scared of taking a creative risk during a recession that it feels compelled to continue to puke out the same, unoriginal garbage. There are too many other sequels/remakes scheduled. Star Trek 2009 was awesome - that needed and could handle an update. I have to admit that I am a tad bit excited about Tron: Legacy this Christmas. And, we'll see about Shamalamadingdong's film version of Avatar: The Last Airbender. But, SciFi and Fantasy tend to make better remakes/updates by virtue of their genre. Toy Story 3 felt like a stretch. Only Mouschwitz (I mean, Disney) would be willin' for the shillin' enough to cash in on such a wonderful Pixar creation.
  • Disney acquired Pixar a couple of years ago. The deal called for sequals on Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and The Incredibles. Just stop - stop cashing in on and destroying Pixar's original creative genius. You make enough money, Disney. Miley Cyrus won't be fully depleted until she hits the "skank" period of her sad, short-lived starlet life...she's not quite there yet. Eventually, she will be replaced with another Disney test tube baby. Please see the Onion videos "Enterntainment Scientists Warn Miley Cyrus Will Be Depleted by 2013" and "Disney Lab Unveils Its Latest Line of Genetically Engineered Child Star" for more information. Check out http://www.theonion.com/, search for the videos and see what I mean. Walt is rolling is his grave right now...more like spinning, methinks.
  • Bigger is not always better, just as 3 dimensions are not always better than 2! I felt like the 3D gimic is being used on every new film that comes out so that Hollywood has an excuse to charge more for tickets. A movie about toys - with no explosions, magic, lasers, etc. - does not belong in 3D. I feel like 3D is being used by Hollywood to cover up the fact that it is not producing anything orginal. Cameron's Avatar was just Pocahontas / Dances With Wolves with giant Smurfs. Cameron needed the 3D in order to force you to focus on the amazing graphics, thus diverting your attention away from the boring, unispired story with horrible dialogue and cliche Cameron characters. If it isn't compelling in 2D, it isn't a good story. THREE-DIMENSIONAL FAIL.
Overall rating: 2 out of 4 stars (the standard ratings system for movies). 2 is average. Good family film, but not nearly as good or original as TS1 and TS2. I was entertained, but not enough for a $11.75 ticket (originally $15 before coupon). It was worth $6-7.

P.S. I still love you Pixar, even though my stock in you was converted to Disney stock when they bought you out. Continue to shine through the Disney darkness.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

(Amanda) vermin wars

Today we chased a chipmunk out of the archives/library/collections storage area. This was a wild chipmunk, a chipmunk without manners or tact. This episode led me to think:
"I don't like chipmunks. They're coarse and rough and irritating and they get everywhere."


(this post is dedicated to Maddie :o)

(Maddie) Highway to/from HELL!!!

Over the past weekend, I had to go to a bunch of networking events that were located 45 minutes to an hour away from my area of L.A. None of the other interns lived close enough pick me up and then drive there. So, I had to go through the annoying process of renting a car. Apparently, no one turns their cars in on time and I had to wait an hour after my scheduled pick up time to get a Ford Focus. I got a good deal - $30 per day. Woot. After they get me the car, they made me buy car rental insurance for $15 a day. Bugger. Then, they warned me to fill up the tank before I turned the car in, else they would charge $4.50 per gallon. Jerks. With that, I was on my way, clicking through radio channels until I settled on 91.5 KUSC SoCal Classical Channel:) Score!

When I got back home, I had to sit down and memorize the map. I would have rented a GPS if it didn't cost $25 a day to rent it. Snazzlefracken. Memorizing the map wasn't that bad. In fact, it helped me to get more familiar with the L.A. area and gave me the chance to soak in some scenery. (SIDENOTE: I think people rely too much on the GPS technology. Maps are great. It serves you better to be familiar with a paper map then to rely on a stupid computer that the government can hack into. I, Robot anyone? Thanks for allowing me a moment of paranoia.)

By the way, the scenery was absolutely gorgeous: rolling hills, small mountains, desert landscape, sprawling ranches....typical Southern California. Even though it was just 70F, the sun was beating down and airconditioning became a necessity.

I was rather nervous to drive on the L.A. highway system - people are crazy drivers around here. But, they are not nearly as bad a Massahussetters. Those people are nuckin' futs! Anywho, here are my Los Angeles traffic pet peeves:

  • Curves - The highways and back roads are very curvy. Many go through canyons, hills, and moutains...hence the curviness. Instead of slowing down, SoCal drivers like to speed up and weave in and out of their lanes as a part of their mountain-worship ritual.

  • Dust - We're in the desert. There is sand. There is also dust. Wind kicks up the dust. Dust lands on car. Someone writes "wash me" on the car.

  • Traffic - I knew that the infamous L.A. traffic would be bad. But, I did not realize how horrid it really was. People react to it differently. Some get angry and honk their horns, looking as if they are nuclear reactor about to explode. Others fall asleep, causing the angry people to honk more. Others seem to have had too much coffee beforehand: they lurch the car forward at every opportunity to move up an inch. Still others get on their cell phones and refuse to get off them when traffic moves...which brings me to....

  • Fake blondes - You know exactly who I'm talking about. Even if you haven't met one, you've at least seen one on TV. They usually have fake blonde hair, dark roots, big sunglasses, ugg boots, booty shorts, low-cut tank tops, and orange spray-on tan skin. They butcher the English language with the overuse of the word "like," a linguistic bastardization that can be traced back to the Valley. They tend to drive their BMWs while drinking Starbucks coffee and texting, often all at the same time. It is a wonder they have not succumed to natural selection. You have that image in your head now? They do in fact exist and are some of the worst CA drivers that I have encountered thus far. Stereotype win!

  • Car signals - Apparently, turn signals are optional equipment in SoCal, just as speed limits and lane lines are mere suggestions.


3-day car rental = $100
3-day rental insurance = $45
Full tank of gas = $22
Passing a texting blonde driver on a mountain curve (and thus avoiding death by idiot driver) whilst listening to a crescendo in Aaron Copland's Rodeo. = PRICELESS.