Thursday, July 31, 2008

Yes, AGAIN with the book thing (or, The Longest Post of All Time)

(Beware, lots of scrolling on this one!)

Probably nobody gives two hoots about what I've read except me and perhaps my mom and maybe Jules' mom (whose total would, I'm sure, put mine to shame). But I don't care!

I stole this book quiz from another blog. Below is a list of books printed by the NEA-sponsored
The Big Read, which apparently seeks to "restore reading to the center of American culture." They say, though, that the average American has only read six of the following hundred.

1) Bold the books you have already read
2) Italicize the books you intend to read
3) Add asterisks ** to books that you LOVE
4) Added bonus! Snarky comments by me are in parentheses.

1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen**
2) The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
3) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (I have not technically finished this book, I am counting it anyway. I have gotten halfway through it THREE TIMES, but I cannot seem to get through it. Effort made. Ultimate failure.)
4) Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling** (Um, duh.)
5) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee**
6) The Bible (Is it wrong that I'm not putting asterisks by this one?)
7) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
8) Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell (I'm not sure how it's possible that I'm nearly 25 years old and have not read this. But it's true. See also: #41)
9) His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman (Have read 2 of 3, and the last is on my beach reading pile.)
10) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
11) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott** (Favorite Book of All Time)
12) Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
13) Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
14) Complete Works of Shakespeare (Don't know if I've read EVERYTHING--I mean really, every last sonnet? Doubtful--but I've come close.)
15) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
16) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
17) Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
18) Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
19) The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger* (This book pretty much rocks. It is not on my Best Books of All Time list, but I'll give it one asterisk.
20) Middlemarch by George Eliot
21) Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
22) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
23) Bleak House by Charles Dickens
24) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
25) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (Seriously? This is on the list? I finally read this one summer while home from college because several of my male friends in high school were horrified that I had not. So I read it, and we discussed it during many late-night Ultimate Frisbee games.)
27) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28) Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
29) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll** (Would you like me to recite The Walrus and the Carpenter for you? Because I can.)
30) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
31) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
32) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
33) Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis (Have read a few. Own them all.)
34) Emma by Jane Austen (I am working my way through all the Austens, so I'll get there. Currently on Mansfield Park.)
35) Persuasion by Jane Austen**
36) The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis (How is this different from Chronicles of Narnia?)
37) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
38) Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres (Started once. Read 1/3. Got bored. Made effort, so am counting it.)
39) Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
40) Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne****** (They should totally add Now We Are Six to this list, also.)
41) Animal Farm by George Orwell (See also: #8)
42) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
43) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44) A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving
45) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
46) Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
47) Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
48) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
49) Lord of the Flies by William Golding (I can't remember if I read this or not...)
50) Atonement by Ian McEwan
51) Life of Pi by Yann Martel
52) Dune by Frank Herbert
53) Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
54) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
55) A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
56) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon** (Loooved.)
57) A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
58) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
59) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
60) Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez**
61) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (No, but I've seen the opera, which is NOT GOOD.)
62) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
63) The Secret History by Donna Tartt
64) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
65) Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
66) On The Road by Jack Kerouac (Similar situation to #25. Seriously overrated, in my opinion.)
67) Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
68) Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
69) Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
70) Moby Dick by Herman Melville
71) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (HOLY COW, does Dickens really make up half of this list?!)
72) Dracula by Bram Stoker (Either this or Frankenstein, I can't actually remember...)
73) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
74) Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson (Liked a lot, but Bryson's A Walk in the Woods is by far the best. Recommended to anyone!)
75) Ulysses by James Joyce
76) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77) Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
78) Germinal by Emile Zola
79) Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
80) Possession by AS Byatt
81) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (FINALLY, a Dickens book that I've read!)
82) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
83) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
84) The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
85) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
86) A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
87) Charlotte's Web by EB White** (I think this might be my mom's favorite book.)
88) The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom (Nope, but I've read Tuesday's With Morrie!)
89) Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90) The Faraway Tree Collection by Enid Blyton
91) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (I started this once, but it wasn't exactly beach reading--which is where I was at the time--so I stopped. Will try again sometime.)
92) The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93) The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
94) Watership Down by Richard Adams
95) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
96) A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
97) The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98) Hamlet by William Shakespeare (Again...doesn't Complete Works of Shakespeare cover this?)
99) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
100) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Total: 39 (sort of)
Not bad. I think this list is pretty weird, though, considering that practically the Complete Works of Charles Dickens are on there (yet not in one single category, a la Shakespeare) and several things that I would consider worthy are not. I, for instance, would include the magnificent The Tender Bar, which has some of the most richly drawn characters in literature. Also, where is Hemingway? I'm not the hugest fan, but no The Sun Also Rises or The Old Man and the Sea or SOMETHING? That one surprises me. And I could add numerous others. But whatever, it's kind of fun anyway.

UPDATE (9:05PM): Jules thinks that I should create my own list of must-reads, so I believe I just might do that.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Off the wagon (almost)

I have been trying SO HARD to curb my spending habits--specifically, my Ann Taylor Loft addiction--but they keep sending me emails! I've been successfully resisting until today, when they announced their August line and I immediately discovered this. It is ALL I CAN DO not to buy it RIGHT NOW. I would get 15% off! And free shipping!

And then there's this, but I need another black dress about as much as another pair of flip flops (which is to say NOT AT ALL). I mean, I already own five, three of which are from (SURPRISE!) Ann Taylor Loft.

I can already think of eight ways to justify both of these purchases. It is an ILLNESS, I tell you. As much as it pains me, I might have to unsubscribe. But I'm not sure I have the strength.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Heard... (well, typed, actually)

...on G-Chat while discussing lodging arrangements for Ash and Jason AND JULES AND MICHAEL's (yaaaaaaay!) trip to DC in August
Me: And if you don't [find a hotel], we will have a serious slumber party at my house--
one on the couch, one in the bathtub, one on the carpet, and someone in bed with me!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We are Party Prawns, ohkeh

WORD. Jules is coming next week to finish up with the Florida move, and we have made all sorts of exciting [former] Roommate Bonding plans, including:

1) Hair appointment (Jules)
2) Dentist (me)
3) Chipotle
4) Pedicures
5) Mamma Mia
6) Ice cream (I just added that one right now. I don't think Jules will mind.)

Technically, the first two are not communal events, but we have planned them into our schedule, because we are big nerds.

(Why, yes, this IS the third post today. Is that a problem? No? Good.)

Adventures with Lola: Automotive Mishap (kinda)

So. Lola and I have been estranged for the last few weeks, due in large part to my reluctance to relenquish the excellent parking spot that I had in my neighborhood. (And, yes, I was out of town for a weekend.) Anyway, I went out on Saturday evening to head to CZ's birthday party over near Eastern Market and discovered (as soon as I had pulled out and someone else had jumped into my spot, of course) that Lola had a flat tire. Oh, the tragedy.

So I called AAA--who, to their eternal credit, sent someone to fix it within 45 minutes--and then proceeded to the party via cab, arriving quite late and quite sweaty, but alive nonetheless.

(TANGENT: And, by the way, I am FAMOUS. I got to CZ's house, and both of her roommates and several of her friends were like, "Oh, HANNAH, we've heard so much about you! It's so nice to finally MEET YOU." Which was kind of disconcerting, but apparently I am beloved.

TANGENT EXPLANATION: CZ was my assistant/sidekick/partner in crime at the Previous Job. I adore her, and if I could create a position for her at Current Job, I would do so immediately.)

Right. Anyway. So, on Sunday morning, Lola and I and the temporary spare "donut" tire trundled out to Montgomery Mall to get the injured tire checked out. The injured tire, of course, wasn't punctured on the tread (which is usually fixable--this I learned from the very helpful Vincente at Sears Auto Center, who, btw, used to live not far from where I live now... Anyway. Sorry, back to the story), but rather on the SIDE of the tire. tire! There went $90 that I wasn't planning to spend.

We also got Lola's oil changed, in preparation for our impending journey to South Carolina, as well as a nice car wash on the way home.

And then, of course, I inadvertently took the Bumpiest Road Ever back into town. (Oh, so you just got the cast off your broken leg? Good thing, because you have to SCALE THAT MOUNTAIN to get home.)

So now Lola is well and has four working tires, though the clean car lasted less than 24 hours before a bird christened it.

Picture it: Sicily...

It is a truly sad day. Sophia Petrillo is no more.

In memory of the hilarious Estelle Getty, I offer you this:

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Suggestions, please

I'm thinking about buying a digital camera, and I could use some recommendations. What kinds do you folks have? Would you recommend them? What kind of technical specs (megapixels, memory, etc) are good for a casual photo-taker? Any feedback would be appreciated.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Why I love Neil Patrick Harris (and other stories)

So, I think I have mentioned before that I love Neil Patrick Harris. (Actually, maybe I haven't mentioned it on here, but it has definitely come up in Real Life.) Because I do. I find him Awesome --that's with a capital A--and I think we would be friends. You know, if he knew who I was.

He is also on my list of Five Famous People I Would Invite For A Dinner Party. I've been refining this list for a while. So far it includes Neil Patrick Harris and Desmond Tutu. They're the only two I've decided on so far. (Wouldn't THAT be a party? Doogie Howser/Barney Stinson and Desmond Tutu? You know you'd want to be there for that.)

Anyway. The reason I love Neil Patrick Harris today (and all this past week) is because of this: Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. (For those keeping score, this is created by Joss Whedon, he of Buffy fame, among other things. It was conceptualized as a way to Stick It To The Studios during the writer's strike earlier this year. Here is why.) Is Neil Patrick Harris too famous or cool to do a web-only mini-musical? NO HE IS NOT. And it is fabulous and wonderful. Parts I and II are up now. Part III will be posted tomorrow.

I toyed with not posting this at all, since the entire thing will be removed from the web on Sunday and turned into a DVD, but if you read this before then, CHECK IT OUT. Because, as I said, it is awesome.

Case in point:

The goggles. They are reason enough to watch.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Books, again

I am having a bit of literary A.D.D. right now, because I am in the middle of no less than FOUR books. (In addition to the two listed at left, the first of which is for Book Club, I'm still reading The Maytrees and The Secrets of a Fire King, which is actually short stories.) It is driving me batty, yet I'm far enough along in each of them that I don't want to stop reading and resume later.

Then again, I might get through them faster if I read for more than the ten minutes before I fall asleep each night. But I've been NetFlixxing SportsNight (which brings up another topic, Why Are TV Network Executives Determined to Cancel Awesome Shows?, which we will cover another time), so my evenings have been pretty booked up.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to beach time in August. I think I'll be there for four full days this year, so I should be able to power through three or four books in that time.

Dear Internet, WELCOME BACK!

I have missed you. Please never leave me again.
Love, Hannah

Our internet was down at work all day yesterday, and it was AWFUL. To hear us, you would've thought the AC was broken or the toilets weren't flushing or something. There is nothing worse than sitting in front of a computer for eight hours and not having internet access. (Okay, there are actually lots of worse things. Cancer. Famine. Climbing an out-of-service Metro escalator.)

Speaking of Metro escalators, this morning was weird. There were oodles of open seats on the train. There were THREE PEOPLE going up the escalator out of Dupont South metro this morning (usually there are eleventy billion). And, weirdest of all, I ordered a tall, black iced tea (two pump sweet!) at Starbucks this morning, and it was handed to me--perfectly sweetened (which is what the two-pump stipulation is supposed to ensure, but frequently doesn't)--in less than ten seconds, no lie. And I don't think they charged me for it. AND! And. My favorite blogger, who has been MIA since December, posted this morning! It's like Christmas.

WHAT IS GOING ON? I am so confused.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I am now a hermit

Truly. The thought of venturing out just generally exhausts me. Last night, I had every intention of going to see Wall-E with Ed and Val, but I got home, sat down on the couch, and my body said, 'Ha. Right.' And I didn't move until bedtime. You know, because going and sitting quietly in a dark, temperature-controlled theater for two hours is so tiring.

I blame it on the fact that last weekend, while super fun (and educational! did you know that gooey butter cake comes in 60-some flavors? I did not)(oh, and productive! WE FOUND A BISON. And we weren't even looking...a watched pot, and all that right?)*, was not particularly restful--I need a vacation after that vacation--and it was preceded by a lengthy visit from Gretchen (and we all know how strenuous that was, what with all the tennis-watching).** That's 11 straight days of fun. Fun is exhausting, people. Plus all this heat and humidity just makes me TIRED.

I rationalize the hermit-ness with my lengthy, apartment-specific To Do list. Like, for instance, cleaning. I haven't done that in a while (except for the floors, but we all know how well that's going). Unpacking/pitching the two giant boxes from the move that are still sitting in my room. Under a pile of clothes that I should probably put away. Or dry clean. And I have a sizable stack of books that aren't gonna read themselves.

I also keep meaning to hang the curtains in my room. But UGH, that requires getting a CURTAIN ROD, which means I have to go BUY one. And it's so HOT. We'll save that for another day. Maybe in October sometime.

The fact that all of these things have been on the To Do list for, oh, many months does nothing to dissuade me from my fervent need to stay home To Accomplish Things. I'm making progress on the books, but that's about all.

Anyway, I am a hermit (and, apparently, really lazy). If you want to see me, come here. Otherwise, see you in September, or whenever the heat goes away.

*You didn't know that it was acceptable to use back-to-back parenthetical phrases in one sentence, did ya?
**How's THAT for a sentence? They don't call me The Editrix for nothing. (...Yeah, they call me that. At work. I am totally the next Anna Wintour.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Improv Blogging, Part 2: Slippers

Improv Blogging is a feature where you, my (tens of) loyal readers, suggest topics and I write on them, no matter how random or out there. Full details are here.
This is possibly the weirdest of all the suggestions: Ed asked me to blog about slippers. (Really, Ed? That's the best you can come up with?) My initial thought was that I have no opinion about slippers. They're nice, I guess, particularly in the winter when my feet get cold. But I'm generally the queen of bare feet. My toes need breathing room.

There are two memorable pairs of slippers in my past: the zebra striped ones that traveled to London with me junior year and experienced lots of shenanigans in the Persian mob-run Normandie Suites where we lived, and the pink fuzzy ones that I had senior year and on River Road. Technically, these are only memorable because they're the only slippers that I specifically remember having.

(...this is really a pretty dull post, isn't it?)

Anyway, I'm sitting here right now wishing I had a pair (I threw my last pair away when I moved out of River Road. They were g-ross) because I cannot keep my wood floors here clean TO SAVE MY LIFE, and it is not for lack of trying. So every night I have to dust off the bottoms of my feet before I get in bed. It's icky.

My point here is that my position on slippers has changed from "eh" to "possibly I should get a pair." In case you were wondering.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Heard... (St. Louis edition)

...while waiting for the fireworks to start last night and, for some reason, discussing Sesame Street

Ash: [in Elmo's voice] Elmo loves independence!

Upon request, I am blogging

So, I am in St. Louis and I am having a delightful time, mostly because I'm staying with The Greatest Hosts of All Time. I've been here for approximately 30 hours, and we are eating our way through the city. Seriously. Nothing on this trip was planned in advance except for EVERY MEAL. I am not kidding. Today we made TWO different dessert stops after lunch.

Also, I have seen both the Gateway Arch and the most amazing midwestern mullet of all time, plus I heard "Meet Me in St. Louis" played on a Wurlitzer organ, so I'm pretty much good to go.

Anyway, we got home tonight and Ash said, "Hannie, blog!" So I am. More to come, I'm sure.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Wi-no wi-fi?

I am traveling through four major airports in over the next four days and NONE of them have free wi-fi. So much for my romantic notions of blogging from the Northwest Airlines terminal in the Detroit airport.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"Hello, I'm an idiot" and other stories

Despite the promise of a new Improv post this weekend, I have been MIA. Sorry. But my sister is here for a week and she's keeping me busy.

Okay, that's a blatant lie. I actually think she's a little bored (though she won't admit it) because I've been forcing her to watch many hours of Wimbledon (hello, horrendously long Andy Murray-Richard Gasquet match) and the Olympic swimming trials (Dear Aaron Piersol, Are you married? If not, hi. Love, Hannah).

We have also done a lot of eating.

But it has been fun, and also helpful. Helpful, you ask? How has it been helpful? Well, I shall tell you.

But first, a story. As I'm sure you all know, first-born children are, naturally, the smartest. I don't mean book-smarts and IQ, but in wisdom and life experience. Younger children are blessed (blessed, I tell you) with being able to benefit from the knowledge and path-blazing of their older siblings who were fated to be the first out of the familial nest, so to speak. My sister and I are no different, and there have been only a handful of times in our lives that my wisdom has failed me, allowing her to (temporarily) appear smarter. [Ed. Note: I say this in jest. I hope that's obvious. But if not...well. In jest.] One of those was last year. She and our parents were picking me up from the train or something, and I was hobbling along with my blue roll-y carry-on suitcase which has a short handle, requiring me to lean over slightly when I pull it. And, without so much as a hello, the conversation commenced:

G: Why don't you pull the handle out all the way?
Me: [with disdain] Um, because this is as far as it goes? I've used this suitcase for years, and this is as far as it goes..
G: No, it comes out further.
Me: No, I have hauled this suitcase all over the country, I think I would've figured it out by now.
G: [reaches over and pulls the handle out six more inches; gives me the "So there!" look]
Me: Huh.

So I'll get back to the Helpful story. First, you need to know that the Cold handle in my shower has been stuck since I moved in. For nine months, I have taken relatively hot (read: usually scalding) showers because I'm too lazy to call the super. I have created my own special version of the military shower. Anyway, on Saturday morning we had this conversation:

Me: I'm getting in the shower.
G: Ok, but how do you get the temperature right? It's always really cold.
Me: ...what? Cold?
G: Yeah, every time I stay here I end up having a lukewarm shower.
Me: I have spent NINE MONTHS being burned by the water, and you're telling me that you've been taking COLD SHOWERS?
G: [has not had her coffee yet and isn't sure why I'm raising my voice at this early hour] ...yes?
Me: Please show me how you have done this.
G: [walks into bathroom; turns the Cold handle turning it down rather than up (like the Hot handle]
Me: [dumbfounded]
G: [cracks up] That's a blog post!

See? Helpful. I can now bathe myself without having to do a jig in the shower. I know you're all so proud.

So anyway, that's what I've been doing: eating, and watching lots of sports, and getting schooled by my sister. Next up, St. Louis! I'm sure I will return with many stories, and I'll try to get back to the Improv-ing soon.