what is the american summer?

Sunday, May 31, 2009 | | 2 comments

Elizabeth, whose blog you can check out over at The Occidental Idiot, gave me a challenge a couple of days ago to write an entry answering the question “What is the American summer?”

In purely technical terms, the American summer is the summer season of the Northern hemisphere, which officially starts June 21st this year, and ends September 22nd.  But I assume that I’m supposed to give my own, subjective view of what makes an American summer special.  Or something like that.  So I offer that at its most basic level, ‘summer’ is no school, swimming outdoors, outdoor grilling and picnics, big movies, and…extra time spent with friends and family.  Let’s take it point by point, and make it American.

Summer is the 4th of July, with parades, festivals and fireworks.  I grew up in a town that prohibited fireworks, but in exchange for citizens honoring that, the city put on a huge, 45 minute long fireworks show either at one of the high schools or at a park.  So whoever is in town for the 4th drives over to the site as the sky darkens, parks the car, and either sits on the hood/roof or sets up a picnic blanket on a patch of grass.  Then you just lie back and wait for the show to start.  It’s never guaranteed to be sunny in early July in the Pacific Northwest, though, so I have many memories of running for cover or not going out at all too. 

Summer is when school lets out.  When instead of a classroom, you head to the pool or to camp or to a vacation Bible school.  When the family takes trips, either to visit family or on educational adventures.  When camping happens during the week, instead of only on weekends.  When bug bites and nettle stings and scratches from blackberry thorns are the price of warm, magical evenings spent running through meadows, supping on clover honey and salmonberry delights.  Summer is unlimited reading time, when it’s okay to check out as many titles as they let you from the public libraries, lie in a cool spot somewhere and enter new and fantastic worlds through books.

Summer is the local outdoor pool open every day of the week, and taking a picnic basket down so that you don’t have to go home between swim practice, tennis practice, playing pickle ball, and free swim.  It’s road-tripping to the seaside with friends and inadvertently getting sunburned and almost-ticketed for having an illegal beverage on a public beach.   It’s scouting for seashells at low tide and making movies or taking silly pictures about life’s simple adventures.  And sometimes it’s about having a miserable time that becomes an indelible memory and a story that will last a lifetime.

Summer is a cookout on a friend’s porch.  It’s eating too many hotdogs and burgers to count, and helping my mother make potato salad that I hate to eat.  It’s fixing iced tea in gargantuan containers so that my family doesn’t drain it all in one sitting.  It’s going to a baseball game and eating cotton candy and cheering for the home team.  It’s caramel apples, French fry bricks, elephant ears and other carnival food.  It’s listening to country music in the car with the windows down, drinking Coke and grinning from ear to ear.

Summer is going to the theater to see big-budget movies and action films.  Anticipating each and every Friday night for new releases, scrambling to buy tickets online lest the showing prove to be sold out.  It’s coming out of a show energized, giddy, excited and entranced by the magic of movie-making.  It’s make believe.  It’s leaving a dark theater with friends on a warm night, and looking up into the stars in the summer sky.

But best of all, summer is sitting out on the porch on a warm evening, talking to loved ones, having a conversation that in the winter months would require the intimacy of a car.  Somehow the night feels familiar, closed-in and yet infinite, with possibilities zipping around and knocking into each other like lightening bugs.  It’s catching fleeting glimpses of bats flying by on their insect-eating mission.  And when it’s at it’s best, summer is hearing the gentle lap of waves on the lakeshore while the moon reflects the depths, and sitting out on the dock, contemplating the enormity of the universe in night sky.

zee avi

Friday, May 29, 2009 | | 0 comments

My new favorite musician is a talented singer-songwriter from Malaysia named Zee Avi. I fell in love with her just before Christmas, when her song “No Christmas for Me” was put on the compilation album This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday Vol. 1, put out by Jack Johnson’s label. I looked her up online (she had an empty webpage back then), and found her on YouTube and MySpace, where she had several videos of her songs posted…all featuring just her smooth, jazzy, mellow voice and backing guitar. Her self-titled album debuted on May 19th, and I bought it on release day. I have not been disappointed. Everyone I’ve introduced her music to loves Zee, and I wanted to share that on in blog form. So here are two links: the first is video of her performing three of her songs in a studio, and the second is a SPINearth report. Enjoy!

UPDATES: CNN has posted an article on Zee. She's huge! And a thoughtful and thorough album review.

the problem with airports

Thursday, May 28, 2009 | | 3 comments

I was reconsidering my blog sub-title yesterday, thinking that I hadn’t posted about an un-lucky event in quite a while.  This will end that streak, for sure.  Not that I want to keep experiencing the quirks and failures of life, per se, but they are often amusing to write and read about. Example: spilling something on yourself is much more interesting (and funny, if not fun) than eating a meal faultlessly.  Slapstick humor wins every time.  And works in all languages.  But I digress.

I may have mentioned previously that I don’t have a car.  I do have a scooter (broken, and it’s been sitting on campus for about 6 months now…), and I’m a member of a car-sharing program.  My day-to-day transport consists of a mix of my own two feet and Atlanta’s MARTA public transit system.  So it’s been strange and wonderful to have Lincoln and his car visiting for the last while.  I was able to offer friends rides to the airport as opposed to begging for one.  Refreshing!

I took one friend to the airport on Monday without mishap, and was asked if I could drive a second friend (let’s call her Canadia for the purposes of this story) to the airport this morning.  I was duly warned by friend #1 that Canadia had problems with airports.  Or not with airports exactly, but with arriving at them in a punctual manner.  So knowing this, friend #1 advised me to get to Canadia’s apartment early, and make sure that packing and getting ready were going smoothly.  Canadia and I agreed that I’d pick her up at 10:15am (for a 12:05pm flight), and so accordingly I arrived at her apartment and 9:40am this morning.  Called her cell phone.  She didn’t pick up.  I tried again 5 minutes later.  Still no answer (I started wondering if something was wrong).  I left a message.  Waited 10 minutes, thinking that maybe she was in the shower and/or not expecting me quite that early.  Still no Canadia.  I sent a text.  10am rolled around.  I started texting and calling Canadia’s friends to try and find out her unit number, thinking that perhaps her phone had died, the alarm clock didn’t go off, and she was still in bed?!  (And thus banging on her door would be helpful and not nervous/crazy).  I was imagining going to all of the doors in her building at this point, and asking if they knew where she lived…and meanwhile I kept calling every 3 or 4 minutes. 

The first few texts back from her friends weren’t helpful.  Cue full-blown panic.  I got out of my car and alternately paced and called Canadia’s cell.  10:15am passed.  10:20.  10:23…my heart stopped.  The phone RANG!  It was Canadia, and she sounded groggy.  Ah ha!  I thought to myself, She’s woken up and we can still make the flight.  Here’s a lesson, kids: don’t EVER count your chickens before they hatch, even for half a second.  Canadia’s end of the conversation was as follows: “Cecelia, I’m SO sorry!  Where are you?  S*%&.  I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.  I’m leaving now.  I’m so sorry!  I’m going to cry, Cecelia! (end call)”  What the eff, I thought to myself, is happening?  10:44am, a cab pulled up outside Canadia’s apartment and disgorged the passenger in question.  She was apologetic, frantic, and somewhat incoherent (ya think?).  I took things in hand.  She had boxes that needed to be transferred to a friend's for safekeeping, bags to finish packing, and a sub-let to finalize.  I’ll have you know that I had her packed up, changed and into my car by 11:01am.  We raced to the airport, more apologies and explanations were given along the way (I’m not going to tell THAT story…but suffice it to say that there might have been consumption of a fermented liquid depressant involved, with a dash of dropped phone for good measure?), and I promised that I’d stay in the area in case she didn’t make her flight and needed a ride back in to Atlanta.

Well, not to spoil the ending or anything, but she didn’t make her originally scheduled flight.  She may or may not have gotten on as a stand-by passenger on the flight a couple of hours later.  And I’m still waiting for confirmation that Canadia arrived at her final destination.  But my part in the story is over.  I’m not gonna lie, while it was happening it was equal parts annoying and silly.  But everyone messes up, right?  I certainly have.  Nice to know other people are human.  And the annoying bit just fizzles into humor as soon as the apologies are offered and accepted, so it’s really just a good story for posterity.  Or blackmail.  Hee!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | | 0 comments

Lincoln’s visit is giving me the excuse and opportunity to play the tourist here in Atlanta.  Over the last couple of days, we’ve visited the World of Coca-Cola, The Varsity, Emory’s campus, and the Decatur Arts Festival, as well as checking out several restaurants (Savage Pizza, La Fonda, The Porter...yum!) and going to the movies.

Above is a photo from the lobby of the World of Coke, where we tasted 60+ varieties of Coca-Cola and other Coke products from all over the world.  I definitely enjoyed the ginger sodas from Africa.  Stoney Tangawizi rocks!  We also shot film both today and on Sunday at the Arts festival to make a short movie, and the results of that will be posted eventually.  Come back and check it out!

the brothers bloom

Sunday, May 24, 2009 | | 0 comments

Saw a truly gorgeous movie tonight (well, last night technically, but as it’s still dark it counts).  Drove over to the Tara, through one of Atlanta’s red-light districts on Cheshire Bridge Road, and saw The Brothers Bloom.  It’s an affecting, humorous, and humanity-affirming caper flick, with touches of the unbelievable, absurd and romantic thrown in.  Rian Johnson directs Rachel Weisz, Mark Ruffalo, Adrien Brody and Rinko Kikuchi in a fairy tale-like farcical adventure story.  Does that make sense?  Should it work?  No.  But the writing, the casting, the cinematography and the locations combine to pull off the film, and make it beautiful and enjoyable in the process.

Rachel Weisz plays Penelope, an epileptic shadow box photographer.  Ruffalo and Brody are brothers, the ultimate con men, writing elaborate plots and living out the stories and escapades while robbing the rich.  Kikuchi is an enigmatic demolitions expert who is along for the ride.  Penelope is supposed to be the last mark of the last con before the end of the brothers’ collaboration, and the adventure, romance and twists and turns of that unfolding tale are the subject of the film.

But that doesn’t tell you what is so compelling, so hilarious, so off-beat about The Brothers Bloom.  The devil is in the details, as the saying goes.  In this case, it’s the little explosions, the car crashes, the plans gone awry, unexpected villainy, a stolen apple and a felled palm tree which add up to incredible.  None of that will make sense until you see the film for yourself.  I highly recommend that you do.  It will be on my shelf as soon as it comes out on DVD, and I expect to laugh and puzzle over and revel in the artistry and humor and fun of it over and over again.  5 stars!


Saturday, May 23, 2009 | | 0 comments

I’m the oldest of five kids. We’re all really close in age, but with two girls and then three boys, you can imagine that there was a bit of a divide in responsibilities, activities and personalities. Right now I am being visited by #4 in line, Lincoln. He’s hanging out in my TINY Atlanta apartment until he has to report for his summer internship. It’s been fun (and dare I say it, lazy?), but consequences of two people trying to share this much (or little, as it were) space are by turns hilarious, annoying, and ridiculous.

Maybe I should explain a bit about Link. He’s almost 21, very witty, athletic, slightly introverted leaning strongly towards social, and a multi-talented guitar player, juggler, unicycle rider and reader of Ancient Greek. I also, by way of explanation to my friends, describe him as the sibling most like me, in pure personality terms. We’re both private people with serious social tendencies, we’re basically intellectual, and we like the same foods. There was a point in my childhood where I thought Lincoln was mine. Not as in, I thought he was my child, but I felt very proprietary about him. I would translate his toddler mumblings for my mother, make his sandwiches at lunchtime (we were the only two who refused to eat mayonnaise), and read to him from picture books.

Lincoln has grown into an interesting, humorous and amusing young man. He doesn’t dispute my assessment of our similarities, but to be fair and balanced (for posterity and for when he reads this post later and is horrified) I asked him the other night how he thought we were different. I, of course, proffered the question with the attending statement, “Beyond the obvious stuff. Like you’re a guy and I’m a girl, etc.” This is what he came up with. 1. He’s just plain better looking. 2. He likes camping more than I do. 3. He has different interests, including a different major (Christian Thought…I was Spanish), different musical tastes (he likes The Beatles and oldies in general, basically everything except and I quote “stupid rap and hardcore scream-o. And heavy metal.”), and he swing dances.

Lincoln is a self-confessed lyrical learner. Or something like that. Basically he knows all the lyrics to any song he’s ever heard, and will start singing at the least provocation if he makes a connection between conversation and song lyrics. He’s also been enjoying sitting on my bed, strumming his guitar and making up song lyrics. In the space of writing this post, he’s made up songs disparaging my pet rat, praising jelly beans, and disagreeing with my decision to see a movie later tonight. It’s a trait he gets from my dad, this making-up-nonsense-songs bit. You would think it would be endlessly annoying, but he’s FUNNY. It’s not fair. If I were bugging him this consistently, I would be the evil, nagging, bossy, boring sister. But he just has this quality that makes you laugh or at least smile and lose any anger you were trying to hold onto. Which makes him great entertainment.

So I’m enjoying his visit. We’ve been to a Braves game, out to dinner a couple of times, and around my neighborhood. We’re saving the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola for Monday. And no week would be complete without some misadventure. So far we’ve (correction: he has) broken the hot water tap on the shower, had to trek down past the airport to find a bank he could make a deposit at, and woken up most days at 11am or later. That’s where the lazy comes in. And last night we tried to go to Twain’s, a cool bar in Decatur to play pool, and got kicked out because the small one is too young (lest you think he is actually short, he’s 6’5”…"small one” is just my nickname for him). These events, combined with the fact that this must be the only 10-day stretch of the year in Atlanta without a predicted sunny day are conspiring to make his visit somewhat ridiculous. Fun, yes, but still ridiculous.

He's asking now if he'll want to read what I've written. The words libel and slander were bandied about. So little faith!

adventures in flight

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 | | 2 comments

It has been rather a long time since I last posted.  In the meantime, I’ve been to my brother Peter’s college graduation (from my own alma mater), and afterward road-tripped back down to Georgia with the next youngest sibling, Lincoln.  He is visiting me here in Atlanta for a week and a half before he goes off to his summer internship in South Carolina.  A state which is not that far from Atlanta, really.  At least, it doesn’t look like it on a map.  It’s a quarter inch to a half inch away, depending on how big your map is.

Anyway, with such goings on and traveling things, I haven’t been near a computer in a while, and am hopelessly backed up with fun little stories and adventures (many of which I have already forgotten or will forget and not post).  I likely wouldn’t have gotten around to blogging at all until Lincoln was gone if I hadn’t had the (bad) luck to get a cold.  So now, though I feel like putty recently scraped off a wall in a tenement somewhere, I have the time to write.  Er, blog.  In case you wondered, Lincoln is feeling well, and is out on the porch reading.  I am the invalid resting indoors on a perfectly lovely day.  Who knows what that fresh air might do to me!  I could get well!  Or something. 

The following is a bit of an entry that I started at the Atlanta airport when I was on my way to the graduation last Thursday.  It seems vaguely wasteful not to post a paragraph’s worth of useful material, so I’ll begin there.

The Wednesday night before I flew out, I went to see Star Trek (2009) for the second time.  I heartily enjoyed the film the first time around, when I saw it with friends on opening day, and I had to share the experience with Elizabeth, my fellow movie buddy here in Atlanta.  She was skeptical.  Said she wouldn’t go see it.  I offered to pay for her ticket.  She acquiesced (and drank cider in the theater!).  I think we both enjoyed it.  Last night I found myself at yet another showing of Star Trek with Lincoln, because he didn’t want to go alone.  He paid for tickets, and I really can’t complain, but please, oh please!, next time I go to a movie, can we see something new?  I was trying to remember last night if I’d ever seen another movie thrice in theaters, and the only thing I could come up with was Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.  And that was only because it was playing on the $1 screen at my college campus the last two times.

Having said all that, Star Trek gets 5 stars.  It’s fun, it’s big, it’s action, it’s personal conflict and growth, it’s flashy, new and exciting.  In other words, everything you want a summer movie to be.  Elizabeth and I did go and see Wolverine, the first true summer movie, and it was mediocre and left me feeling unsatisfied.  Trek does not leave you feeling anything but full of excitement and maybe a little wonder at the glory that is big time film-making.  May all the rest of the summer movie lineup be as enjoyable.

Odd note:  Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock in the original TV series, makes an appearance in the new film.  When I was listening to his dialogue, a little sensor went off in the back of my brain, and I kept thinking, ‘Where do I know this guy from?’  He was strangely familiar, but I’ve never watched the TV series or anything… so that was a really peculiar feeling.  Then I looked up his imdb.com profile, and voila!  Nimoy is the voice behind Civ IV, my one admitted computer gaming habit.  It was his voice that is always saying things like “As the potter is to the clay…” and “I got pig iron, I got pig iron!” to me in the middle of the night from my laptop speakers.  Weird.  With a capital ‘W.’  He has a nice, deep voice that sounds very like the grandfather in all of the stories that I’ve ever read.  Well, you know how when you’re reading (to yourself, silently) you give the characters voices to differentiate them?  No?  I’m the only one who does this?  Yeesh.  Maybe I should talk to someone about that…

Now where did I leave off on the real storyline?  Oh yes.  So the night before I left I went and saw a movie.  That was not the best choice.  Because the next morning I’d made plans to breakfast with my mother’s cousins (they’re from Portland, but were visiting Atlanta for a week, and wanted to see me), and I wanted, hypothetically, to sleep at some point.  Between packing and a head that wouldn’t stop whirring (happens a lot, I’m thinking of getting it replaced.  Anyone have a spare brain floating around?), I slept a maximum of two hours.  And then went to a very agreeable breakfast at a place called The Flying Biscuit.  This restaurant has a couple of locations, and is something of an Atlanta institution.  We went to the one Candler Park.  I had an amazing raspberry French toast breakfast and listened and laughed at the foibles of the extended family, and was toted back to my apartment in time to head off to my flight.

I rode to the airport with Elizabeth (she keeps cropping up, doesn’t she?), because her flight left at approximately the same time as mine, and Why waste a good ride to the airport when there’s one to be had?, which isn’t my motto, but is probably someone’s out there.  There are enough people on the planet to practically ensure that.  The plane that arrived prior to mine hailed from Sarasota.  Watching the off-loading process was quite a kick.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many airport attendants (aka wheelchair helpers) preparing to greet a single flight.  The plane was absolutely chock-full of the elderly.  And when I use that term, I don’t mean anyone with grey hair.  I mean a physically impaired, possibly walking with a canister of oxygen at their side type of crowd.  Sarasota is a popular destination with the old, old set, apparently.

And then, lickety-split, I was on my own plane and off to Pittsburgh.  Star space, flying biscuits, and plane rides…that’s enough winging for a while!

compare this!

Monday, May 11, 2009 | | 4 comments

I took the “Which Jane Austen Character Are You?” quiz just now, and learned that there must be a bug in the system.  Because it claims that  

I am Elizabeth Bennet!

Take the Quiz here!

I didn’t try to fool the quiz.  In fact, I was fairly sure I was going to be one of the Dashwood sisters from Sense and Sensibility.  I even said that Kate Winslet or Charity Wakefield would play me in a movie or TV series!  Be that as it may, it’s flattering, if flawed.  To take me back down a couple notches to where I belong is my result in the “Which Muppet Are You?” quiz on Facebook.  I am:

Fozzy Bear


A regular jokester, nobody is safe from your wisecracking and punchlines but it's all good-natured fun.

And my friend Elizabeth insists that I am Oscar in The Odd Couple, and our mutual friend Sean (who I’ve mentioned from cat-sitting) is Felix.  Quite a bevy of comparisons, aren’t they?  

To end with, more photos from the urban hike along Ponce, taken by Eli (organizer).  Including one of me hugging a tree.

pictures from the urban hike

Sunday, May 10, 2009 | | 1 comments
These are the photos that Elizabeth took on the urban hike I mentioned a couple of posts back.
The neighborhood we started the hike in is called Inman Park/Reynoldstown, and they have some lovely community gardens and walkways.  This is just inside the Freedom Park.
The Plaza Theatre and nearby Majestic Diner are pillars of the Ponce area.  And you can see the little sign to the left of the theatre billboard for The Righteous Room, a cool bar with a $3 basket of fries and $5 vegetarian chili fries.  Beat that!
This urban folk art installation is at the corner of Ponce and Freedom Parkway.  Very interesting.
Me again.  The background is a tiled wall underneath a railroad bridge right next to City Hall East.
And finally...how could this happen?!  Ha.  Easily.  The steps leading up to City Hall East, and the police line sign that I was tempted to leave with.

twin misfortunes

Saturday, May 9, 2009 | | 1 comments

My bicycle is slowly disappearing.  Or should I say, it’s slowly being stolen.  I may have mentioned before that I live in a tiny studio in Atlanta.  There is no room inside for my bike, so I have it secured (or I did) to the railing on my equally miniscule porch.  I’m not completely naïve (just a little), so I took off the front tire when I left it out there, to discourage theft.  Within a month, the other tire had walked away with a new owner.  I looked out on my porch one day and thought, “Something weird is going on…”  It was like strange déjà vu where you know there’s an item out of place, or the wall got painted, or maybe a new knickknack has entered the space.  But no, I just noticed that the other wheel was missing.  The nuts and screw were scattered all around the rest of the bike, and I was left with one wheel. 

As you can imagine, I haven’t ridden the bike since.  It’s a girly, sea green, beach-type bike that was really useful in Gainesville (former place of residence), where they have nice and prolific bike lanes.  Here in Atlanta, not so much.  I would trust riding a bike about as much as I trust my Chinese scooter, which is why I walk or bus everywhere these days.  But anyway, to get on with the story…Since the theft of the wheel (the one I have left is sitting in my kitchen behind the trash can), my bike has continued to live on the porch.  I had speculated, back when they took the wheel, as to why they hadn’t absconded with the seat as well: it’s the only other easily detachable part.  Well, yesterday they (or whoever this is) did.  I came home from the grocery store, slid a cursory glance over the porch…and did a double take.  It’s just the frame sitting out there now…and I’m not sure if even that is safe.  I mean, I live off the street, in a converted private home.  Is bicycle theft rife in this neighborhood?  Or is it all an extended prank that I’m not privy to?  In any case, space or not, the frame may have to come live indoors. 

The other bit of misfortune from yesterday is the trial of the cat and the key.  My friend Sean adopted a cat from a local shelter back at the start of the semester, and prompted my own pet buying adventure, which I’ve written about previously.  I digress.  He is out of town this week, and recruited two of us to split the week and look over Queen Elizabeth II (that’s the cat’s name, people).  I had the Thursday to Sunday watch.  I didn’t get over to his place to take care of the cat on Thursday (this is an every other day commitment, don’t worry), and went only for a few minutes yesterday, because I had a lot of things to do.  Elizabeth, the other cat-sitter, had left me the key in my box at school.  I, not thinking, returned the key to the box after looking after QEII, thinking that when I came back today, I’d just nab it again, and have the incentive to go to campus and work, etc.  I forgot that the office where the box is is only open M-F, 8am-5pm.  I remembered conveniently at 10pm.  And panicked accordingly.  Freaked out, had a conniption, felt like I would drown in guilt…all those are good descriptors.  So I called the other cat-sitter, explained my tale of woe and mishap, and she promised to help me figure out how to get the key this morning.  Perhaps we will waylay an unsuspecting professor.  Or…

Yeah.  So, two messes today, one completely my fault (I excel at this type), and the other circumstantial and stupid.  Silly mistakes, unlucky events, things you’ll laugh at later…these are what my life is made up of.  So I'll tell myself a platitude: it'll turn out right in the end.

dear frankie

Thursday, May 7, 2009 | | 3 comments

My latest foray into the world of Netflix was Dear Frankie, a Scottish film starring Emily Mortimer, Gerard Butler, and a young Jack McElhone.  Wonder of wonders, I finished it in one sitting.  I did pause it a couple of times, but for the most part it was straight through to the end.  Departure from my normal viewing habits aside, it was a poignant, sweet and heart-rending film.  Five out of five stars.  Go rent it.  Watch it.  Cry a little bit. 

McElhone stars as 9 year-old Frankie,  a deaf boy who loves fish, and hates that his mother is constantly moving their small family around.  Mortimer plays as the mother, who has told her son for years that his father is aboard the ship Accra, and writes him letters from this fictitious boat.  When the real Accra docks in their town, she must find a solution (and fast!).   I won’t say any more about the plot, but the trust me: this endearing film deals masterfully with the ethics of love, second chances, family dynamics and the day-to-day wonders and experiences that make up childhood. 

But a recommendation from someone whose movie taste you don’t know intimately is sometimes a bit dodgy, yes?  Other people thought this was a great film too.  As proof…it did very well on the smaller film festival circuit, and the director was nominated for a BAFTA (British version of the Oscars).  Further information at imdb.com I found this film via the last one I talked about, Les Choristes.  Dear Frankie was one of the previews before that film, and the trailer looked good enough for me to move it up my queue.  Now I’m glad I did, and I preach the loveliness of the movie to you!  I find that I’m more likely to trust the people who put trailers in front of movies (the thought being if you like the movie you’re about to see, you’ll probably enjoy X movie as well) than Netflix in general.  Not that the algorithms they come up with are to blame, but I’ve historically had more success with my method.  In any case, that’s enough about films.

In conclusion, a quotation posted in my academic advisor’s office:




baseball and punctuality

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 | | 1 comments

I don’t like to be late.  I often am, though.  I hate it, actually.  Being late.  Since I’m a ‘regular offender,’ if you will, that amounts to a lot of frustration (and when I say a lot, I mean at least several tons).  So when possible, when I think about it and plan ahead, I arrive early.  Or as close to early as can be.  This loathing of lateness and paradoxical habitual tardiness are probably related to the OCD tendencies I manage to keep hidden from the majority of the world for the majority of the time.  That’s a story for another day, though.

Today was a prime example of earliness.  Completely planned, of course.  Occasion: a Braves game at Turner Field with Jason (fun, goofy, hilarious, and possibly as baseball mad as me although unlikely, Jason).  The grad school offers discounted tickets a couple of times a year, and back in the autumn as impressionable, it’s barely started, grad school seems great! first years, we went to a Mets game and had a good time.  So, when the notice came out that they were doing it again, we decided for a repeat.  The thing is, we were in charge of our own transportation (last time they put us on a school bus and we had clearly defined start and end times to report for), and we didn’t actually get our tickets through the grad school…we just used the date they suggested (another Mets matchup), and took public transportation (and bought tickets online).

To ensure that we’d arrive at the game in time, I told Jason to meet me 10 minutes before the bus left campus.  Which meant that I needed to be on a bus to get to campus in time to meet him.  I told Jason 5:20.  I left my place at 4:45.  We met successfully and got on the bus we’d been 10 minutes early for at 5:35 (it was 5 minutes late).  Then we took the train, transferred to a shuttle, and arrived at the stadium 45 minutes early: 6:25.  Game started 7:10.  As you can see, it was all very carefully mapped out, scouted, confirmed, and allowances were made for possible bus breakdowns, train breakdowns, losing direction, and extremely long lines at Will Call.  None of which happened, but I was PREPARED! by golly.  Jason teased me about it only a little.  If I strategized and made a point of being on time like this on a regular basis, not only would I gain a reputation of punctuality, I think I’d drive my friends (and myself!) a little mad.  Because although arriving on time is lovely, and something I strive to do daily, I find that if you take it all by itself and obsess (or worry) about it, then it’s annoying, anxiety inducing, and all around not fun.  Of course, terminal lateness also causes those same reactions.  Looks like it’s time to sort out a happy medium.

The game was lovely, though.  Hits in the double digits for both sides, plenty of empty seats all around, good music between innings to dance in your chair to, cotton candy and jumbo dogs galore… And I accidentally spilled ketchup on myself, and an entire large Coke on Jason.  Did I mention that he’s a complete dear?  Coke didn’t even faze him.  He just went on like I wasn’t his horridly clumsy friend, and asked how I’d even managed to tip it over him.  Come to think of it, the extremely friendly Will Call lady didn’t daunt him either.  I shall have to boil him down and sell this wondrous thing called social imperviousness.  Let me know if you want a bottle...it comes dear (or it will).

The entire journey happened in reverse starting at 10:26, though much faster, and I was home safe by 11:32.  Now I know the recipe, so it will happen again soon, I hope.  Although I don’t think I’d care to repeat the spills.  Knowing me, next time it will be a slushie.  Or mustard.   Did I mention the Braves lost, 3-4?

coffee and historic hiking

Monday, May 4, 2009 | | 1 comments

It has come again: another rapturous account of a coffee experience.  Uh...but seriously, I did have a lovely cup of joe the other day, and since it’s semi-attached to an Atlanta happening/my weekend, I’ll share.  Idido Misty Valley coffee (look halfway down this page for a very in-depth analysis of this particular type), prepared in the ‘pour over’  method (which I’ve only ever seen in movies and once in Brazil) at Park Grounds coffee shop in Inman Park/Reynoldstown.   Delicious.  Rich, almost chocolaty flavor, with a hint of blueberry.  Thankfully not over-roasted, and made by dripping the water through a filter in a coffee cup to another waiting below…very slowly.  It made for one of the best quality cups I’ve had in years.  Before you wonder, I did spoil it a couple of sips in with a bit of cream.  It had to be done.  Just too darn rich without it.  I ordered the Misty Valley on the recommendation from the barista (or is that only a Starbucks term?).  I figure they know best, anyway.  I just asked…"what do you recommend in the way of coffee?” and there it was, that gorgeous cup I’m going to stop gushing about any time now…

I was at Park Grounds on Saturday morning because that’s the customary starting point for Urban Hikes Atlanta, as organized by Eli.  Elizabeth and I decided to do the May hike.  Subject: historic Ponce de Leon (a street that runs very close to my place) and surrounds.  We walked through Freedom Park up to Highland and Ponce, and then checked out the old motor hotels, historic restaurants, listened to stories about the glory days of the Atlanta 80s punk and rave club scenes, checked out the site of City Hall East (once upon a time a Sears and Roebuck factory/distribution center), an old ballpark, and eventually ended up in Midtown at the Fox.  We then took the MARTA train back to our starting point.  The whole experience lasted about 4 hours, and was by turns informative, boring, entertaining, annoying, and thirsty.  I might have been a little cranky.

It was definitely interesting to get a walking perspective of the city, and to meet people who were very much NOT graduate students or historians, but yet had an interest in the history of the city, and in seeing it from the ground, as it were.  We had an environmental educator, a journalist and radio personality, an amateur writer, an AmeriCorps volunteer who works with refugee women, and a former club manager among the group, to name a few.  The pace was slow enough for everyone to keep up, and though I wanted to speed it up at a couple of points, it was just right to be accessible to anyone who might want to join.  The other hikes that this organization puts on look interesting as well: I’d definitely go on a cemetery or graffiti hike, for instance.  Photos by Elizabeth to follow (eventually.  And yes, they are silly).

may day, mayday, birthday!

Friday, May 1, 2009 | | 1 comments

It’s my sister Virginia’s (see her blog here) 24th birthday today, and I sort of promised her a birthday blog post. I’ve been pondering all day, and haven’t come up with anything worthy of her. But to summarize how much she means to me, and as a tribute to her many virtues…below is my Introduction to Ginny.

Ginny is a really amazing person. She’s my best friend, my sister, my childhood buddy, my travel companion, and an example for everyone in her exuberance, creativity, compassion, and drive. I always joke that Ginny is the ‘next Martha Stewart’ because she always has new ideas, creative outlets, and the energy to accomplish all her goals and commitments. I mean, she’s not perfect, but she’s pretty close. And my mom calls her ‘Mom Number Three’ (myself being Mom Number Two, of course), because she grew up helping me be responsible for our rambunctious brothers (and we took/still take our job as older sisters VERY seriously). Ginny is really funny, a good storyteller, a faithful friend, and a tried and true sister.

The mutual adoration and friendship thing hasn’t always been the status quo, however. Before Ginny was born, I had been AN ONLY CHILD (maybe also a slightly spoiled one) for sixteen months. So when my parents brought her home from the hospital, I was distraught. In fact, I broke out in hives and threw up. And when they put her in a tiny cradle and left the room, I apparently HIT her (this is only conjecture and family history I am repeating, of course), and then soothed her when she started crying, and repeated the process. BUT, soon afterwards I became fond of her, and even had a pet name for her. Donny. I can’t explain it. Virginia…Donny…doesn’t fit, I know. I tend to call her Ginny or Gin these days.

We fought often as kids, but I think a perfect summary of our relationship is the example of separate bedrooms. When Ginny turned eight, she asked for her own room. We had always shared up until that point, and so she got her wish. It only took a few days for me to feel completely miserable. Ginny was fine (I think), but I was lonely. I packed up my blankets and tried to sleep on her floor. I think she eventually took pity on me and let me sleep in her bed, where my mother later found us and asked Why on earth wasn’t I in my own room? My answer summed it up: I just missed her.

We still fought, and sometimes do even to this day, but each of us loves and misses the other, and there’s no doubt about that. So…on to a Tribute of Ginny (and below, a photo of us in Brazil last summer).

Ginny is really good (better than me!) at: scoring goals in water polo, swimming breaststroke, throwing heavy objects (shotput), teaching English, making money (and saving money), buying and wearing cool clothes, being creative (arts of all kinds), telling jokes, telling stories, being consistent in her spiritual devotions, making people laugh, spilling spaghetti sauce (oops!), making fast friends really quickly, baking awesome chocolate chip cookies, playing video games, getting the boys to follow her directions, and lots of other things that I’m overlooking at the moment.

But you get the idea. My sister = awesome, and I wish her a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

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