Coffee with Helen Mirren

Would we drink coffee with Helen Mirren?

Kristy: Holy crap yes!  I’m going to admit that for a heartbeat there I almost said “no” out of pure intimidation.  I have serious doubts about whether I am worthy to share a cup of joe with Dame Helen.  But at the end of the day I just don’t think I could pass up the opportunity.  I just think that she is exquisite.  She’s one of those people where I feel like the very fact that she exists makes me feel better about the world.  I know that sounds a little over the top, but it’s true.

My love for Helen Mirren might be a little odd in that I’ve actually seen very few of her films.  I was just scrolling through on IMDB and seriously, just a handful.  And I’m guessing the one’s I’ve seen are not necessarily her best work (through no fault of hers, just being slightly less awesome scriptwise).  So if not for her acting, why do I love her so much?  For starters, I think she’s beautiful but in a very human way.  I love that she doesn’t make any attempt to cover up her age (and why would you when you look like that in your mid 60s?).  It’s strange because just now I read a quote from her about being cool with not being gorgeous, and I thought that was so crazy because I think she is gorgeous.  And she always seems to dress so cool.  I love that she’s kind of a bad ass with her tattoo and all.  She always seems so articulate and amazingly grounded and self-possessed in interviews.  For all I know it’s just a public front, but it’s really breathtaking how open and direct she always seems to be about who she is and how she feels.  I read this one interview where the interviewer made a comment about how she could have helped open doors for women in directing if she’d pushed her way into directing and, in a very polite British way, she just ripped the interviewer a new one.  She made it very clear that she wouldn’t have helped women directors at all because she’s not a director, she’s an actress.  And if she tried to be a director she wouldn’t love it and she wouldn’t excel and she might cause more harm than good.

So yes, I would drink coffee with Helen Mirren and just hope that some of her coolness would rub off.  Even just a tiny smudge.

Cammy: Oh, wow.  I really don’t know.  This woman is a walking definition of classy and awesome.  She’s been fantastic in every role I’ve ever seen her play, and she looks fantastic (and mad props for rockin’ the white hair), but I honestly don’t know what kind of conversation I could strike up with her.  I’m sure she’d be gracious and polite, but, that’s one more reason NOT to subject her to my parochial, bumpkin nature.  Kristy, you’re going to have more common ground (in the love of performance if nothing else).  Just pass along that she has awesome hair and assure her that I’m not worth talking to.  And afterward I will have you tell me everything and I will be envious of your smudge of coolness.

Tweeting Awards

Some of you may have noticed that Kristy and I have a habit of tweeting award shows.  Honestly, if it weren’t for the potential of entertaining twitter exchanges, I probably wouldn’t bother watching some of these awards.  After all, I tend not to go out and actually see that many movies, so my stake in the winners is low (and often I don’t agree).  For the TV awards, it’s usually a piss off because my shows don’t even get a nod.

But when you can hop on twitter and criticize the bad hair and weird clothes and unfortunate red carpet interview answers with your best co-blogger?  Suddenly another awards show becomes a fun event.

Even though the nerd awards still get shunned to another night, the guys doing the animated shorts have to hike from the back 40, the acceptance speeches are mostly embarrassing, and I’m pretty sure that not only will my pick for best Pic not win (Inception), it will probably lose to my least favorite nominee (The Social Network–honestly, it was entertaining, but not all that), I can still enjoy exchanging peanut-gallery-esque comments.


Living My Mispent Youth. Finally.

So this post is late.  There’s a very good reason for that.  Some of my colleagues hosted an Eastern European feast last night.  It seems Eastern European feasts require consuming potato vodka.  Which leads to me not coming home until 4am because I had to wait till I was in driving condition.

It’s caused me to reflect on something very strange that has been happening lately in my life.  For some reason or another as a grown ass 30 year old woman I’m now experiencing a few aspects of the college experience that I missed in my first two stints in university.

Last month I went to my first keg party.  Okay, there was only 1/6 of a keg and I didn’t actually drink any beer.  But still, it was a first.   I’ve still never done a keg stand and somehow I don’t see that ever happening, but I can now say I’ve been to a keg party.  Woo hoo!  I’m a real college student.

Last night I played my first undergrad style drinking game (“Bowling Ball” maybe?)  I want you to picture this.  A bunch of graduate students ranging in age from 23 to 33, but most of us clustered towards the upper end of it, getting in touch with the youth we “missed” because we were all in the library.  I’m not sure I played the game right on account of during the whole thing I only went through one beer (an imported Czech porter… also perhaps a sign I’m not doing this right.  Aren’t you supposed to do this with cheap swill like Natural Light?)  But anyway… once again, I’m a real college student!

And um… it might be a little overrated.  I think I might like the library better.


Various and Sundry

I have no topic on my mind tonight that justifies a single post, so I’m going to rock this Twitter-style (though, probably not 140-characters…maybe more Tumblr-style?)

Winter Weather:  Kristy’s already voiced her hatred for this never-ending winter.  I second that.  My company started 9/80 work weeks, meaning I should be getting every other Friday off.  My last off-Friday I had so much work to do, I clocked a 10 hour day in the office.  I was looking forward to this Friday off, promising myself a trip to the art museum and out to start shopping for a fountain pen.  That got shot to hell with ice and snow that started yesterday.  And led to the next point of discussion:

Rear Wheel Drive Pick Ups On Ice:  I had no choice but to get out on these shitty roads in a rear-wheel drive pick-up.  Dad’s truck had to be re-tagged by the end of the month.  I’d purposely marked this off-Friday as the day to accomplish this.  I’d planned to get the inspection, do the registration and then head out to the museum in the truck.  Instead of an easy jaunt up to the inspection station, I had to wrestle heavy sand bags into the truck bed and fight to get them in place over the rear axel so I could get something approaching traction.  Even so, let’s just say it was a very interesting drive.  Very.

Pandora Is Ignoring Me:  So, based on recommendations from some of you, dear readers, and the ease of access on my BluRay player, I’ve been using Pandora.  Unfortunately, it’s not being very intelligent.  It keeps trying to give me Tim McGraw.  And Lonestar.  And Rascal Flatts.  And assorted other people I don’t like (based off of my putting in Reba).  Even with my liberal use of “Thumbs Down” it appears not to believe me.

Pinto Bean Milestone:  Despite the fact that pinto beans and cornbread have been a favorite staple of my family for as far back as I can remember, I have never actually attempted to cook this meal.  Black beans, lentils, navy beans–I’ve done all these numerous times and fairly well.  But the one bean that defined my childhood, I avoided. I suspect there’s some kind of psychological reason, like a subconscious fear of making something inferior and rendering me completely unworthy of being a part of either side of my family.  Well, this week, I couldn’t stand it.  I haven’t had a good pot of homemade pinto beans in over a year (since Mom hasn’t been around to make them, and I haven’t gone down to TX).  And lo….I am worthy of the family.  I feel terribly proud of myself.   And possibly a bit gassy.


Damn You Time Vampire!

Tonight’s Time Vampire comes via a colleague of mine who linked it on Facebook (yes, I know Cammy, it’s a scary place and I shouldn’t go there).  I love this time vampire because it’s updated frequently and consistently brings the funny.

I hate this Time Vampire because it’s frequently updated and consistently brings the funny.  Which means that every time I’m desiring a little procrastination, it provides.  I’ve become quite the junkie.

This vamp is called Damn You Auto Correct! Basically it consists of funny autocorrects from text messages on iPhones.  I’ll confess that having never used an iPhone myself, I don’t quite get it.  My desperately in need of updating cell phone doesn’t have autocorrect.  Any mistakes in my text messages are my own.  Apparently the iPhone feature is malicious?  I don’t know.  I don’t get how it makes some of the corrections it does, but I hope they never fix it.  Because in its present form it’s providing me with lots of funny.  However, my productivity will go way up if they do manage to create a more efficient feature.

Lær meg å kjenne

Until 10 minutes ago, I’d fully intended to talk about the “Ballad of the Alamo” since 23 February marks the start of the 13 day siege of the Alamo.

But then I got an e-mail informing me of a not-unexpected death in the family and about the only thing I’m really feeling like listening to is Sissel’s rendition of “Lær meg å kjenne.”

You can google fairly easily to get the words/translation from Norwegian.  The lyrics are meaningful, but I mostly listen for the music.  Oddly, despite the rather somber nature of the tune and the lyrics, the best rendition I’ve ever heard of this was performed by Sissel at the wedding of Norway’s Princess Märtha Louise to Ari Behn in 2002.  Wouldn’t have pegged it for a wedding tune, but it worked, and if I had the rather obscure link to that footage, I’d share it.  As it stands, the best I can do is point you to one several other videos from a concert special.

On a different night, I’d gush a bit about how much I love this song, but I’m not much up to it.  It will either stand on its own merits, or not.

Going to Hell on a City Bus

I’m tired and cranky and possibly getting sick and it’s been wintry mixing all day long.  So that must mean it’s time to put some more people in hell.

Today we’re targeting a group of people I encounter on a daily basis.  I’m calling them “Bus Blockers” for short, but what these people are more broadly are people who don’t know how to ride buses.  To be clear, I’m not talking about people who rarely ride the bus and have an excuse for not knowing how it works.  I’m talking about people who ride the bus on a daily basis and still don’t understand how basic rules of conduct.  Here are a few pieces of bus etiquette that the people on my bus route seem unable to grasp.

–When the bus stops, you have to let exiting riders get off the bus before you can get on the bus.

–This whole process can be made easier if you exit through the back doors while new riders are boarding through the front doors.

–When the bus is full, your backpack does not get its own seat.

–Sitting on the outside seat of a two seat bench so that no one can have the inside seat when the bus is crowded makes you a douche bag.

–When all seats are taken and you have to stand in the aisle, it is customary to go all the way to the back so that others can board.  You don’t just find a comfortable place and stop.  You don’t clump with your friends around the back doors and block everyone trying to get on and off.  I don’t care how important your text message is; blocking the aisle so you can send it makes you a douche as well.

It’s not that difficult.  And yet, for the average college student?  Apparently impossible.  Which is an endless source of irritation to me during my daily commute.  For this reason I’m putting bus blockers in the third level of Hell.

Coffee With…A Side of Glasnost

Would we have coffee….with Mikhail Gorbachev?

Cammy:  Once upon a time, when I was very small, I never would have thought to have coffee with Mikhail Gorbachev.  For one thing, back when I was 6, he was the face of what we were still being told was the Soviet “threat.”  For another, my mother told me coffee would stunt my growth.

But my fear of the man with the Kool-Aid® stain on his head collapsed right along with the Soviet regime and my belief that Mom was telling the truth about coffee.  He became an innocuous figure in the collection of “World Leaders Of My Elementary Years,” kind of like Reagan.  In fact, I kind of feel like there ought to be novelty salt and pepper shakers featuring Gorby and Reagan.  Oh, and Margaret Thatcher (maybe as a cream jug?).

Today this old fellow seems to have popped onto my Google feed out of the total obscurity in which he’s been dwelling since sometime in the 90s to talk smack about Putin.  I’m thinking coffee is a fabulous idea.  First of all, anyone who’s willing to call a man as f’ing scary as Putin on his shit is worth buying a cup of coffee (after all, it could be his last).  Second….what does he think of Russia now?

We’re more than 20 years since the wall came down in Germany, and it won’t be long before we’re whipping out the retrospective footage of that incredibly awkward Olympics where the Soviet Union was gone, but there was really nothing certain in its place.  And where’s the former world power now?  The situation is scarier than it was in 1985– in a totally different way–and every bit as shaky as in the 90s–but in a totally different way.

And what does Gorby think of all this?  He was the first of the USSR’s leaders to have been born post-revolution.  In an effort to try and revive the Soviet economy (which was circling the drain at a vastly accelerated rate), he began introducing radical reforms, additional freedoms, and moved to De-Stalinize the country.  In the end, it didn’t prevent the end of the Soviet Union.  Does that bother him?  He’s still very much a socialist, so the rampant capitalism in Russia has to grate.

I think this could be a multi-pot-of-coffee type of conversation.

Kristy:  Definitely.  Like Cammy, I’d like to get his take on Russia now.  Not just what he thinks of it, but what he thinks can be done, if anything.

I’ve got another reason for wanting to have coffee with him, though.  The one factoid that always sticks out in my brain about Gorbachev is one my Russian prof told me years ago.  Evidently he had a strong southern accent, and for that reason people made cracks about him being stupid.  It seems that the stereotype of southerners being slow in more ways that one reaches beyond US borders.  However, my prof swore he was one of, if not the most intelligent leaders the USSR ever had.  So yeah… I’d like to discuss the impact of stereotypes and see his take on it.

Ice Skaters OF DEATH!

Fans of The Colbert Report know that Stephen Colbert has a segment called “Who’s Honoring Me Now.”  I’m creating a segment called “Who’s Trying to Kill Me Now.”

No, it’s not Mother Nature this time around.  It’s a far more dangerous foe.

Small children.

People who know me know I’m completely devoid of maternal instinct and don’t even like other people’s children all that much.  Someone has let the word out to the little ones and they’ve gone on the offensive.  You know how they say we’re hard wired to find children cute so we will want to take care of them?  I think it’s so that they can get close enough to kill us.

I went ice skating with a group from my department yesterday.  Keep in mind I’m a southerner and this was my third time on ice skates ever.  Yes, I walk on ropes for a living, but skating is hard!  I finally got to where I could do it a little without holding on to the wall.  I can’t stroke with my left foot and attempting to do so invariably results in me spinning around without meaning to.  The thing is that when you’re a super novice skater you might be able to move forward and you might be able to follow the contours of the rink, but steering and speed control are not necessarily tools at your disposal.

This wouldn’t be that much of a problem… except for the children.  Yes, because someone out there thinks it’s a good idea to let a bunch of little ones with metal blades on their feet loose on the public.  Free spirited little things they see no need to skate in the direction that everyone else is skating in.  They see nothing wrong with stopping for no good reason.  And they have no problem switching direction without warning and cutting you off.

They’re just asking to be run over.  Only you can’t.  Because their cute and they cry loudly and people will look at you judgmentally if you body check a four year old.  I assume.  Not that I have ever attempted such a thing.  I swear.

Keep in mind that this is a low risk enterprise for them.  If they fall they drop about a foot and a half.  If I fall I drop about four.  They’re nice and soft and squishy and if they hit the ice they just bounce right up.  If I hit the ice I lie there for a moment hoping no one saw and trying desperately not to cry until I can get to a bathroom stall or quiet corner.  And being small children THEY KNOW NO FEAR!

I am happy to report they have thus far not succeeded in their evil endeavor.  I escaped the ice rink with no wound not inflicted by my own skates.  But I dare not hope they have given up…

Procrastination Mentality

My hero of all time, Sandra Day O’Connor (allegedly) once said that “Slaying the dragon of delay is no sport for the short winded.”

Sadly, I’m about as asthmatic as Kristy here.

I’m a semi-guilty procrastinator.  The “semi” comes from the fact that while I feel bad for my bad habit of delaying, I don’t feel bad enough to overcome it.

Housework is the worst.  As I type this I’m surrounded by laundry I need to iron and fold, a kitchen I need to clean, paper-recycling I should have hauled off weeks ago, bags for Goodwill donation that have been lurking in corners for, well, some of them for nearly a year.  There’s always mañana, right?

But the oddest and most disturbing part of my procrastination is the weird self punishment that comes with it.  I’ve been itching to write for months now, but I steadfastly refuse to allow myself to do so until I finish the housework.  So I wind up alphabetizing CDs on the shelf  (a chore that I’m not keen on, and which honestly didn’t really need to be done).  Same with reading.  You remember my battle with The Stack?  Yeah, I’ll never win as long as I tell myself I can’t pick up that book until I unload the dishwasher.  So I opt to rearrange the drinking glasses and then read some fanfic.  I have several films I want to see but until I’ve taken that recycling up to the bins at the school, I can’t watch–but I can totally watch TV and dust bookshelves.

Whiskey.  Tango.  Foxtrot.

The bizarre weighting of activities in the court of my brain is just beyond nuts.  I can only conclude that not only am I procrastinating against doing crap I don’t enjoy, like housework, but also against doing things I really, really love.  I’m left swimming in a sea of activities which fall in the middle of the enjoyment scale and rank low on the scale of necessity.  I guess I should appreciate the symmetry, but mostly I’m worried about my own mental state.

And I’m also worried about mustering the give-a-damn to finish sorting socks before Monday.