Friday, August 31, 2007

Peapod Gets It Right!

As I am quite sure that there will be loads of bitterness ahead in upcoming posts as I try to get my phone issue figured out, I figured I should provide proof that I do actually think some companies and services are excellent. One example is Peapod - the grocery delivery company. When I was without a car and far away from stores while at graduate school in Boston, I discovered Peapod and then kept using them once I got back to Chicago (still without a car). While I did enjoy looking like a dork pushing my Granny Cart to and from the supermarket in the pre-graduate school years, it killed my back and was nearly impossible to pull off in the depths of winter.

So now, even in the summer, I use Peapod for almost all of my food-buying needs. If they (or a service like them) exist near where you live, you should try them out, even if you do have a car! Here is my case for Peapod:

1) They remember your orders. stores every separate order you've ever made through its site, as well as combines everything you've ever bought into one huge "jumbo order." So upon return visits, you just pull up the jumbo order list and put a check mark in the box next to any item you want once again. Lazy people and/or people with no memory, rejoice!

2) The search engine on their site is actually really good.
You can type in a brand name, a type of food, or something fairly obscure and it will come back with a list of categories or products that could be matches, and I've always been able to find what I was looking for. Even though the web isn't exactly a new-fangled thing anymore, it's frustrating how many sites out there still have awful search capabilities (or none at all). Peapod invested wisely in search functionality.

3) You can use coupons and take advantages of sale prices, just like in a regular store.
I think a big reason why some people may be afraid to try a service like Peapod is that they fear it may be a lot more expensive. That simply isn't true. Their prices are the same, if not better, than what you will find at your local market.

4) You often don't have to pay any delivery fee.
They have so many promotions running over the course of a year, I think I've only paid the $6.95 delivery fee (for orders over $100) about 30% of the time.

5) They have nearly everything you could find in a "real" grocery store and are adding more every day.
My husband likes this certain kind of juice that they didn't sell on Peapod. So we would always trek to the grocery store to get it every few weeks. Now Peapod has it, hooray! You can even send them messages about certain products you would like them to start stocking. If you don't know what you're looking for, there are pictures and ingredient/label information for about 90% of things sold, and the site is organized into logical, intuitive sections. One of the things I was worried about when I first starting using them was the quality of fruits and vegetables they would bring - but time after time I have found that what they deliver is always better than what I've been able to pick out myself in person. They also have non-food items that you would typically find in a grocery store (cleaning products, storage products, balloons, etc). I've even gotten flowers from them a few times and they were great. I guarantee that you can find things easier on than you could in your average grocery store. No more wandering around the aisles whining, "Where in the hell is the cinnamon? I just want cinnamon, is that so wrroooooong?"

6) Their delivery process is organized and simple and they always come in the time period in which they're supposed to.
After you've entered in your order, you move on to a screen where you select the delivery time you want. You don't even have to be at home if you don't want to! Usually there is a two-hour window that you can choose from at almost any time of the day or into the night. I have now used Peapod dozens of times and never once have the drivers not been on time - and we're talking through snow, hail, sleet storms, you name it.

7) They have great customer service.
When Peapod arrives with a delivery, it's a big deal at my place. My dog goes NUTS when he hears the buzzer, and I have to hold him back when the guy starts bringing in the bags of food. I think I have met all of the drivers now, and they are all incredibly friendly. We all know how rare it is in this age of snarkiness for any employee of any store you go into to actually be helpful, much less smiling. The Peapod guys could be slugging bags around in over-100-degree weather or getting soaked in the pouring rain, but they are always nice and happy to serve you. On top of that, if you have a problem with your order, they don't hassle you about it. There has been only one time that something I ordered wasn't in the delivery but yet I was charged for it. I realized it after the guy had left, so I called the customer service line, got right through to a human, and they were like, "OK, those charges have been removed." WHAT?!?!? Just like that?!?! They didn't need me to fill out a form or take digital pictures of my fridge without the items in it or send back the grocery bags or get the driver to sign something in blood? They just gave me back the money since it was their mistake?!? Unheard of!

8) You will spend less money if you order online.
You've probably read the studies about how if you shop with a grocery list, you will spend less money than if you wander around browsing the aisles and picking up a whole bunch of crap you don't need. Well, that same concept applies to ordering groceries online. The "jumbo list" I mentioned earlier makes it that much easier for you to stick with the essentials. For those of you who think you would miss seeing the latest and greatest in food creations, rest assured that they have a "What's New" section of the site, as well as the ability to "browse aisles" if you don't know what you want. Now that I'm spending so much time at home and therefore eating in more often, I knew I needed to branch out a bit and so with a few clicks, I had put a few "Chef's Creations" (meals you just need to warm up geared toward people like me who cannot/will not/should not cook) into my virtual basket. But if I was in a store, I would've wound up with 5 tubs of the newest ice cream flavors!

Happy shopping,
- e

There's No Way Around It - I Have to Call AT&T

An update to last night's post...

I awoke this morning full of hope... hope that my new miracle phones would be charged and ready to bring forth a crystal clear dial tone and all the popping static I'd been hearing for over a week would be but a bad memory.

It was not to be. The phones are all charged, but the static remains. So now, I need to make the dreaded call to AT&T. If at some point in the near future I stop putting up new posts, it's because AT&T has come to 'fix' the line and instead destroyed both the phone and Internet connections.


- e

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Forgive Me, For I Have Shopped at Best Buy

Those of you who have been with me for a long time may remember my tirade against and attempted boycott of Best Buy after they screwed up my Lost Season One DVD set order nearly two years ago (it's under the last heading on that page). Ever since, I have avoided Best Buy at all costs.

But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I had to begrudgingly return to Best Buy today to buy a new cordless phone set. (If you are wondering why I just don't use my cell phone - the answer is that The Man reclaimed my cell phone, and I really haven't needed to get another one - - e prefers email!)

As you may have heard, there were some crazy storms here in Chicago over the past few weeks... I was telling anyone who would listen that on one especially bad night, I was confident that the Wicked Witch was going to zoom past my window on her broomstick - it was tornado time! Trees were uprooted, traffic signs were flying around - utter mayhem. While my lower level amazingly did not flood (as it did a few months ago during a strong storm), something went haywire with our home phone line. After the storm, the already-poor connection got worse - snapping and crackling overpowered anyone's voice - and in the few seconds that the line would clear during any given call, I would then hear a weird musical tone and other people's voices. It got so bad that I could no longer even hear voicemails left for us - so I knew that I was either going to have to 1) call AT&T to have them come check our line or 2) see if getting a better phone would help. I didn't want to do either of these things - but I decided that the lesser of two evils was buying a new phone. If the storm had never occurred, I was planning on getting a new phone, so this gave me the push I needed to make it happen. (After the new phone is charged, I will let you know if I still have to deal with AT&T - pray that I don't!!!)

Alas, when you live in my area and you don't have a car, there are very few stores nearby at which you could buy a high-end phone. Best Buy it was. Since I wanted to spend as little time in the store as possible, I pulled up their site before heading out and researched my options. They had a new Panasonic model that came with 4 phones and guaranteed a clear signal because it operated at some frequency at which apparently nothing else in the world does - using "DECT 6.0 technology." I don't really understand any of that stuff, but what I did understand is that everyone across every site I visited while researching phones LOVED this model. They love, love, LOVED it. I put a lot of stock in customer testimonials, so I figured I would give this phone a try. It was $129.99 on, and they were running a promotion that bestowed a free hands-free headset upon anyone buying any phone over $60.

I checked the availability of both the phone and the headset at my nearby store, and they had both in stock. Then I called the store to ensure they would give me the free headset, and was told "we will match any online offer." Hmmmm.... do I walk several blocks on their word, or do I waste a few more days waiting for it to be shipped to me and just order it online? I decided that I could use the exercise.

I got to Best Buy and managed to find the phone, even though it was not on the shelf where the label for it was. Then I saw that it was marked $149.99. The ol' blood started boiling. I found the headset, which was $1 more than it was online (which shouldn't have mattered because it was supposed to be free, but still).

Within 5 minutes I was up at the register, itching to get out of there - but immensely worried that I was going to have to fight with someone. My brother once threw his body across the check-out counter at a Best Buy and just remained there out of protest because they didn't let him combine his Reward Zone coupons - so I knew I was going to have to top him, should it get ugly.

The check-out kid seemed nice enough. I explained to him that I had called in and was told that I could get the headset free because of the promotion they were running online. I also told him that the phone was $20 cheaper online. He replied, "Ummmm, I'm going to have to call someone about this - I don't know if I can do this here - you may have to go to Customer Service." The hairs on my arms started to prick and stand up straight, like what happens to the back-hair on my dog when he meets some yippy scrawny poodle that he doesn't like.

Then the check-out kid realizes that a manager is standing right next to him on the opposite side of a low wall, stocking videos. The check-out kid explained the situation, and the manager said, "Yeah, just do it."

So the check-out kid took my word for the price, and deleted out the $149.99 and put in $129.99. AMAZINGLY, a window then popped up saying that the headset should be free, and so it was. The kid said, "I'm so glad he was standing right here!"

I got my receipt and was back out into the fresh air in less than 10 minutes. I had survived.

But a critical lesson was learned, was it not? Through my pain of having to go back into Best Buy, we have now all learned that you absolutely MUST check their web site before buying anything there!!! Not only would I have been charged $20 more for the phone, but they would not have proactively told me that I could get a free headset with it - that box only popped up when he actually rang up the headset, not because he rang up the phone. I bet Best Buy isn't the only store that operates like this, as crazy as it may seem. What's even crazier is that I could've told him the phone was $60 online and he probably would've entered it in!

So put the power of "The Internets" to good use and research any major purchase before you buy it in a physical store, then demand the lowest price. And if you don't absolutely have to go in there, still try to avoid Best Buy! They can never make up for my lost Lost DVD snafu - NEVER!

- e

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Book Review: Eat, Pray, Love (no spoilers)

I did not intend to buy Eat, Pray, Love.

Several months ago, I stomped through Borders on a mission to find the second and third books in the His Dark Materials trilogy, but came up empty-handed. Frustrated, I made my way back toward the exit but stopped short in order to skim the huge wall of best-sellers. My eyes landed on Eat, Pray, Love, and I vaguely recalled reading a favorable review of it in a magazine. The cover didn't hurt, either... "eat" formed by pasta, "pray" made out of prayer beads and "love" created by flower petals. I read the back cover to refresh my memory - it was the true story of a woman my age who ditched everything to spend a year abroad and "find herself" - one-third of that time in Italy, one-third in India and one-third in Bali. It seemed intriguing enough and it was only $15, so I bought it.

And, like so many other books I've skipped home with in the past, it proceeded to sit on my shelf and collect dust - week upon week upon week.

Until I went to the dentist. Strangely enough, I was reminded about Eat, Pray, Love by my dentist's assistant, who was talking about how she was on a never-ending quest to perfect her pizza dough recipe (I'm assuming she was just trying to fill the silence as she was scrubbing the tea stains from the inside of my teeth). She remarked, "It's kind of like in that book Eat, Pray, Love, when..."

"AAHHHHHH!!!!!" I cut her off (she had my mouth pried open at this point, or else I would've said something intelligible. "I bwaaa tha boo buh haduh raaa uh yuh!!!!!"

Since you must be highly skilled in understanding gibberish to become a dental technician in the first place (little known fact), she said no more - realizing that I did indeed have the book she mentioned, but hadn't read it yet.

When I arrived home with my dazzling teeth, I spent about 15 minutes trying to find the book again. I kept it out as a reminder to take with me when I went to New York. Fast-forward a few weeks to a Thursday night when I arrived at Miss M's place -- and what did she just so happen to be reading, too? That's right, Eat, Pray, Love. The mostly rainy weekend in the Hamptons allowed both of us to finish the book by Sunday.

So here's my take on it... and I will not give anything away whatsoever by some of the points I call out, I promise - you know how I hate spoilers!

Overall, I did like the book. If you are a woman, then you should probably just read it. If you are a guy, I'm not so sure. No matter who you are, this book will make you feel better about yourself, I guarantee that. Either you will identify with some of the things Elizabeth (the author) has gone through and be reassured that you are not alone and feel somewhat inspired by her story, or you will not really be able to relate to her, but will therefore feel not as screwed up as perhaps you thought you were, and still enjoy the story. I fell into the latter camp.

There were some aspects of Elizabeth's personality that I understood - especially since she is a writer by trade and works through a lot of things by writing stuff down. And like her, I know how it feels to be confused about whether or not you want kids... and I certainly love to travel. I also connected with her thoughts about religion and spiritualism... because the more you travel, the more you see the similarities in religions rather than the differences. But what I didn't like about the book was that there was just a bit too much navel-gazing for my taste. I had been looking forward to reading more about the places themselves - but there was hardly any of that. I have been to Italy and spent a month in Bali - so I thought it would be fun to reminisce when she happened upon certain spots I recognized. And since I've never been to India, I was even more excited to read about her experience there. Unbelievably (for reasons that would be spoilers in a few cases, so I won't say why), there was almost no mention of any specific places she visited across the three countries. So I was greatly disappointed in that aspect of the book; the story was very, very focused on her spiritual journey - much more so than I had expected. And much of that journey for her seemed to be about getting over certain men in her life, which came across a tad adolescent. She struck me as boy-crazy and fairly obsessed with sex. The more the book went on, the more she reminded me of this insane client that I had to travel to ten countries with back in the day (who fit the physical description of the author as well), and then I couldn't get the picture of that client out of my head, and it was awful. But you won't have that problem, so you've got that going for you.

So, if you are prepared for this book to not so much be a travelogue but rather a memoir about trying to find inner peace, then you'll probably enjoy it. While, as I mentioned, she doesn't delve into the places she visits that much, there are interesting people that she meets along the way, which is always the best part about traveling. Ironically, even though she's in these other countries, my favorite person in the book was a Texan, just because of the ridiculous things he said. Texans have some of the best expressions ever.

I just read an article that said that the movie rights for this book had been bought by Paramount, Brad Pitt's Plan B company will produce it and Julia Roberts is set to play the main character. Then when I looked it up on, it said that the movie was slated for 2008, but if I wanted to know more I had to sign up for the "14-day free trial," and we all know how those things go! So that's all I know about the movie. My thoughts on a film-version of Eat, Pray, Love are as follows:
1) It could be very good - there are enough interesting things that happen... so if they did it right, it could be better than the book.
2) Julia Roberts?!?!!? Nooooooooooo!!!! First off, the author is pale and has curly blond hair. Julia Roberts is NOT who comes to mind. Secondly, I cannot STAND Julia Roberts. That topic deserves a post of its own because I know I am going against the popular opinion on this one, but she bugs the crap out of me. So I'm hoping she doesn't screw up what could've been a great movie.
3) The more important question in my mind is - who will play the Texan?!?!

If you've read this book - let me know your thoughts!

- e

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

You Give Love A Bad Name

There's nothing newsworthy about Courtney Love right about now (and truly, was there ever?), but it has been a while since I ripped on celebrities so I figured she was as good as any to target. I knew a post about her was in the making because several weeks ago, I was so shocked by a picture of her that I saw online that I immediately saved it, knowing that I was just going to HAVE to comment on her scary looks sooner rather that later. So first, behold her transformation since the nineties (I admit to you that I never realized she looked half-way normal in the past until I saw this picture!):

She looks like she could've been Renee Zellweger's sister back in the day. But no longer... She's had even MORE plastic surgery since that 2006 picture! Behold once again (this is the picture that inspired this post):

She has become the first human Muppet! OK, while you're already traumatized, just look at this one - it's more recent - after ANOTHER surgery to get her "nose and wonky lips fixed." She looks especially puffy because she went out shortly after the surgery and is still in the recuperation period waiting for the swelling to go down.

Now this is taking the concept of Smashing Pumpkins a bit too far, wouldn't you say? Stop the madness, Courtney! I just can't bear to look at any more pictures, or subject my beloved readers to them anymore, so I will stop. This woman has been on every drug known to mankind, has been extraordinarily horrible to her body, is obviously mentally unstable - so there is one mystery that cannot be explained. How is her daughter with the late Kurt Cobain - Frances Bean - so seemingly normal? Let's hope she stays that way... (I lied, here's one more pic)...

- e

Monday, August 27, 2007

'Once' - The Movie That Keeps on Giving

Last night after a wonderful dinner with friends (shout-out to CM and MM), my husband and I decided to walk across the street to the local "artsy" movie theater where they pretty much only play independent films. We had been hearing great things about Once, and since my husband loves music and I love all things Irish, we figured we couldn't lose with a movie set in Dublin about struggling musicians. It has been out for a while, so we also figured that if we didn't see it now, it would have to join the other 200 hopefuls on the ol' Netflix queue and who knows when we'd get around to actually watching it.

Other than knowing it had gotten a lot of great reviews and that the two people in it were dating in real life, I knew nothing about this movie as we made our way up the aisle to grab seats (I of course would know the gossip before the plot points!). Sometimes having no expectations and being absolutely blown away is better than having your high expectations met, wouldn't you agree? Well, that is what happened with Once - I think it's fair to say that both my husband and I were really impressed - and probably for different reasons. I don't want to actually call it a "musical" per se, because there was no dancing around or choreographed routines or anything like that, but full-length songs were the focal point of the film. They were pulled off in straightforward ways while progressing the story along. I think the audience nearly broke out in applause after a few of them - it was like you were at an actual performance, that's the only way I can think to describe it. The other surprising thing is that what you think is going to happen does not happen... and as Forrest Gump would say, that's all I have to say about that!

When the movie was over, my husband told me that the lead guy was the singer for The Frames (which of course I had never heard of). He classified the music in Once as "very Irish singer-songwriterish" and seemed pleasantly surprised that one of the climactic songs in the film was "in 5/4 time," which I guess is out of the ordinary. I am only noting these things for people who know more about music than I do! All I knew is that I really loved the songs and had to download them immediately. I am a sucker for duets where the male and female voices sound better together than they ever would on their own. When I got home and was downloading the soundtrack, I read that Glen Hansard (the lead singer) has worked with my other two favorite Irish singers - Paddy Casey and Damien Rice. Now my ultimate trinity of Irish singers is complete, yay!

If you like good music, then you should go see this movie, it's as simple as that. I feel almost guilty that I didn't see it sooner and then alert my blog peeps to it before it left theaters. So, if it's no longer playing by you or you are too cheap to spend $10, then at least download the soundtrack for $8. And if you're even too cheap to do that, then just trust me, do yourself a favor and download these two songs for a grand total of $1.98: Falling Slowly and When Your Mind's Made Up. You will thank me later! If you STILL need convincing, then watch the trailer (though it does give away some small plot points, beware!).

Now I am REALLY jealous that my friend Uncle Grambo actually got to see the two peeps from the movie, who play as The Swell Season, in concert not too long ago. I just took a look at the band's site and it appears that they will be coming back to the U.S. in November, so I hope I can catch them then.

Have you bought those songs yet?

- e

Sunday, August 26, 2007

5 Quick Movie Rental Reviews

As you know, I'm a big fan of going to the movies on opening night for shows that I'm really excited about. But for everything else, I'd prefer the comfort and quietness of my own condo in which to watch films because I usually get too annoyed by some loud-talker or popcorn-chomper sitting near me in a big theater.

So if you rent movies or are always looking for choices for your Netflix queue, here is my short take on 5 recently-watched flicks: Click, Breach, A Good Year, Music and Lyrics, and Thank You for Smoking. I will not give any spoilers away, so sorry for the few that seem vague.


Synopsis: A guy (Adam Sandler) is a workaholic and is prioritizing how he spends his time quite poorly. He is given a "universal remote" which grants him the power to go back to certain points in his life or fast-forward through things he doesn't like.

e's Review: Great moral, but poorly executed because of tired fat jokes and toilet humor in some parts. If you can get past those scenes, it's still pretty cheesy, but isn't absolutely awful - and it does make you pause a bit and consider what is important in life, which is always a good thing. I typically do like Adam Sandler, but Christopher Walken was very much wasted in his role, and Kate Beckinsale is poop and was a ridiculous choice to play Adam Sandler's wife. There are a few other people you will recognize in bit parts.


Synopsis: The true story of a kid (Ryan Phillipe) who works for the FBI and is asked to track his new boss (Chris Cooper), who is about to retire. The real reasons the FBI wants this man tracked are not revealed at the outset, but let's just say that he's a pretty bad dude. Did I mention it's a true story?

e's Review: I was interested in seeing this movie because my brother went to law school with the guy that Ryan Phillipe played, and in class this guy talked a bit more about what went down after a Dateline segment about the case aired. I found myself wondering exactly what I would do if I was this kid, and even though I knew how the story ended, there were several tense moments in the movie where I was totally stressed out. I don't like Ryan Phillipe and I don't like Laura Linney (who also played a fairly major part), but I love Chris Cooper and he rocked the house once again. One complaint I have heard about this movie, which I agree with, is that it was never made clear WHY the "bad guy" did what he did (it was only vaguely hinted at). But perhaps that's because in real life, a justification was never given either. This movie had gotten excellent reviews across the board, but didn't do as well as hoped in the theaters. Probably because Ryan Phillipe is hated for cheating on Reese Witherspoon!

A Good Year

Synopsis: A guy (Russell Crowe) who works way too much is forced to slow down after he inherits a vineyard and estate in France and needs to figure out what to do with it.

e's Review: While this movie was nearly 2 hours... and it went by very, veeeerrrry slowly, I still liked it. I'm not sure that Miss M (who watched it with me) or her family members (some of whom fell asleep) would say the same, though. I also must admit that I was often distracted by just how much I thought Russell Crowe looked like an older version of Ryan from The O.C. But anyway, a whole bunch of random stuff happens in this movie and it all gets tied up neatly (and Miss M would add "very obviously") in a bow at the end, but it's another "good moral" flick that doesn't necessarily have anything wrong with it except its turtle pace. And I didn't hate any of the actors or actresses in this movie, which is a rare thing indeed. I think I actually prefer Russell Crowe in more "normal" roles such as this one, rather than all beaten up and yelling and stuff.

Music and Lyrics

Synopsis: A has-been 80s icon (Hugh Grant) gets a once-in-a-lifetime chance at a comeback if he pens a song for teen sensation Cora. He can still dream up the tunes, but alas, he sucks at writing lyrics. Enter his crazy new plant-waterer (yeah, I know, plant-waterer? Drew Barrymore) who just so happens to be a lyric-writing genius (or so we are meant to believe). Can they pull of a hit single for Cora, or do they both have too many "issues"?

e's Review: A movie has to be pretty damn bad for me to look at my husband early on in the film and ask whether we should consider ejecting it from the DVD player. That is what we nearly did during the first part of this film because Drew Barrymore's character was so annoying. But since the movie had started out with a hilarious video from Hugh Grant's character's 80s band, "Pop," we gave it the benefit of the doubt. Do not get me wrong, though - this movie was probably one of the cheesiest movies I've ever seen EVER. But it got better as it went along. The Britney/Shakira character of Cora was pretty funny, and, since I have no shame, I am not ashamed to admit that even now, over a month after watching this movie, I still could sing of the major songs from it. To take it a notch further - I am considering searching for them on iTunes because I'll bet they were part of a soundtrack. Yes, I have no problem with throwing a total of $1.98 toward two songs that are goofy but that I would want to hear every once in a while, if for nothing else than to just get them out of my head. The other crazy thing I realized while watching this movie is that I am truly a sucker for Hugh Grant. Even after all that nasty prostitute business with him back in the day, I just like him. Those damn British accents - they have special powers! Drew Barrymore I can usually do without because her lispy voice and the weird way she moves her lips bugs the bejeezus out of me, but it was bearable this time around (and in The Wedding Singer, but that's about it). So, if you want a very feel-good, cheesy movie, and if you are a female, you will probably like this movie.

Thank You for Smoking

Synopsis: A guy (Aaron Eckhart) is the spokesperson for the tobacco industry/cigarette companies, and therefore people are constantly attacking him. We see how he has the unbelievable ability to spin almost anything, and how it affects his family, but there's really not much of a plot beyond that.

e's Review: I'm probably one of the most anti-smoking people alive, so I wondered how upset I was going to get while watching this movie (based on the book that I've never read). However, it was quite amazing to see the level at which everything can be spun, re-worded and confused. And Nick Naylor (Aaron's character) wasn't trying to promote smoking - he was trying to "defend the right to smoke." Well I demand my right to breathe and not die of second-hand smoke! But I digress. As I mentioned above, there wasn't really a storyline, it was more about how this guy does what he does. Katie Holmes played a reporter out to make him look pretty bad, and she, of course, was awful. I can't stand the way she talks, either! If she and Drew Barrymore were ever in a movie together, I might explode. Since I didn't really know what to expect from this movie, I was pleasantly surprised that it held my attention and was often humorous. Yet I find myself struggling to categorize it and other reviews I've read were pretty mixed. If you are at all interested in lobbyists (no matter what the issue is they're lobbying for/against) or politics, then it would probably be interesting to you. It's got a very strong supporting cast and is only 1.5 hours, so you don't have a lot to lose!

- e

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Clever Advertising or Dirty (Sexy) Marketing?

Lately while reading some gossip web sites, I've noticed items that appear to be breaking news on people I'd never heard of. Was I suddenly falling behind in my knowledge of celebrity comings and goings? How could this be?

After a few seconds of panicking, I saw the small "Advertisement" acknowledgment above the item in question, and then realized that the background color of this article was different than the rest of the "real" articles were on the site as well. But I was still confused, because there was no product that was obvious in any of these sneaky ads that were appearing everywhere. Then at the gym I was reading Star magazine (yes, I am very, very deep!) and, like usual, they had a two-page spread touting the latest fashion craze. Celebrities were lined up in a row from left to right on the page, all in similar garb... and then there was some chick I didn't know. What was going on?!?! Sure enough, up in the right hand corner, solely over the last woman in the line-up was the word "Advertisement." Grrrrrr.

Yesterday when I was walking my dog, I finally figured it out after passing a huge poster for "Dirty Sexy Money," a new show premiering this fall on ABC. It had all of the people who had been popping up in these guerrilla ads. I wasn't sure if I was really mad or really impressed. Having a marketing background, I have to appreciate anytime something new is tried to promote a product, brand, or in this case, TV show. But I could also see this sort of tactic getting extremely annoying, just as product placement in movies and on television has gotten over the past few years.

While looking into this show, I read that similar "faux articles" had appeared in the NY Post as well. They even went so far as to fly a banner around L.A. during the Paris Hilton Jail Frenzy, appearing to be sending best wishes from "The Darling Family." So between the web sites, the magazines, the billboards, the plane banners and the newspapers, ABC must have spent a pretty penny to market this series... but get this - apparently they just stopped production on it after the fifth episode!!!!
D'oh! However, I guess that doesn't mean that the show is doomed...this is a technique that sometimes is used to wait and see if a show is successful or not before filming more of it (it premieres September 26th).

Since Lost doesn't return until February, I probably will at least check this show out for the first episode or so and see how it is - there are a lot of pretty big names starring in it. But they can stop with all the ads, already!

(And no, ABC did not pay me to give them even more publicity... e will never sell out... unless the price is right! Hee hee.)

- e

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Best Cab Driver in the World

A few weekends ago, I went to the Hamptons with Miss M. When we returned via the Long Island Rail Road to Penn Station, little did we know what we were in store for when we climbed into an unassuming cab to head back to Miss M's place. As soon as we got in the car, the driver announced that we were very lucky, because we were going to get a ride from "the best cab driver in the world." I'm quite used to jokesters driving cabs at this point in my life, so I didn't really think anything of it.

For about 15 seconds. We were just past a very crowded intersection when, out of nowhere, this guy decides to make a U-Turn and then another quick right turn to start heading down a different street. He couldn't just wait to turn like a normal person at the next block, he had to nearly cause a wreck by wheeling around and disrupting the flow of traffic. So at that point, I thought: OK, he's trying to PROVE that he is the best cab driver in the world by his crazy maneuvering.

But I was mistaken. It wasn't his ability to drive that actually qualified him (in his mind) to be the best cab driver anywhere. It was the fact that he was a genius.

My friend and I were pretty tired and zoned out, but soon our eyes focused on a large, laminated paper hanging in front of us. This plaque of sorts explained that we just so happened to be riding with The Human-Computer, and that if you gave him absolutely ANY date (month, day and year), he would immediately be able to tell you what day of the week it fell on. And apparently he had calendars going back over 100 years to prove it to you if you didn't think he got it right. You must understand that this guy was like the Russian version of Borat - he was very loud, spoke in broken English with an accent, and seemed to revel in his own jokes and personality.

I didn't see anything on the sign about having to pay him for this "day-guessing service," and there was really no getting around it, because after he could tell we had read the sign, he started shouting, "DATE! DATE!!! I NEED A DATE!!!! WHEN WERE YOU BORN!!??!!" He gestured toward me. I mumbled to Miss M that I didn't remember what day of the week I was born on anyway, so I wouldn't even know if he was right. But he insisted, so I told him. He said it was a Monday. That sounded vaguely correct. Then Miss M told him her birthday, and he told her what day that was. Then he passed back an electronic calendar so we could see it with our own eyes. I ended up telling him my husband's and my brother's birthdays (I knew my brother's, and sure enough The Human-Computer was right), as well as the date of my wedding (which should've been easy as most people get married on a weekend).

After guessing the days, he was not done with us. He started making a ton of very lame marriage jokes, such as: "I will tell you the day of your first husband's birthday... and your second husband's... and your third husband's... and your future husband's!!!" He was yelling out the names and numbers of divorce attorneys. And then he passed us back this clipboard that had a laminated article from The New York Times on it (the link to the left contains a picture of him in his cab, too, so you can get the full effect). It was an article about him! He wanted to MAKE SURE we knew we were in the presence of greatness! I admit, it was kind of cool that we just so happened to pick a cab with such a character at the helm.

So I had to know - how does he do it? I asked him.

"I will tell you this - it is three things," the Ukrainian Borat began.

"Astronomy... mathematics... and..... GENIUS." He was dead serious.

I loved it. We were nearly at our destination, and he started scribbling a bunch of things down - I had no idea what he was doing. As it turns out, he was creating little slips of paper commemorating our experience for us - he wrote the date we had told him and the day of the week it was. The slip also had his pre-printed phone number, email address and web site on it (turns out he will make appearances at parties for $50!?!)! The absolute best part about all of this is that his email handle is "mentalmathandcatlover." WHAT?!?! Where did the cat part come in? Anyway, IN ADDITION to the slips he gave us, he handed me a business card (which was hilarious because it had a clip-art type of photo with arms extended in a handshake in the spot where a logo would normally go), AND a larger postcard-size instruction sheet with his picture on it. This sheet told me how to write to his cab company and tell them that he was the "best cab driver that I've ever had in my entire life and that it was the best ride I've ever experienced, and I am moving from my home city to NYC after meeting him." God bless him, I bet his cab company hates him!

The most interesting thing was that after all of this was over and we were getting our luggage out of the trunk, the total fare was $8.40. I had in my head to give him $11 since he was such a goofball. But before I handed him any money, HE said: "If you will give me $14, you will make me very happy. $14." Miss M whispered to me, That's nearly double the fare! But what can I say? I'm a sucker for this type of thing. Here is a guy who is trying to market himself and do the best he can for himself, and three dollars more than I was going to pay him in the first place wasn't going to kill me. So I gave him the $14 and he actually looked a bit surprised! Perhaps most people aren't pushovers like I am! Anyway, we waved good-bye to him and I'm still thinking about it two weeks later.

I checked out his web site, and it definitely captures his spirit. You should read his brief life story underneath the picture on this page. And should you ever need a cab in NYC, perhaps you will come upon him yourself. Although, I'm sure the odds of that are very, very slim. Who would be able to guess those odds? The Human-Computer!

- e

Thursday, August 23, 2007

It's Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry for Screwing Up These Lyrics for Over 20 Years

I bought a MacBook Pro a few months ago, and today I started the process of loading songs into iTunes that I didn't have on my iPod yet. I foresee MANY posts about some of the tunes I've been delighted to rediscover during this project, but for now I need to share my embarrassment... or rather, defend my misunderstanding of the lyrics to the song "It's Hard for Me to Say I'm Sorry" by Chicago. Believe it or not, "Chicago's Greatest Hits (1982-1989)" was one of the CDs that hadn't been gracing my iPod to date.

Just in case you can't immediately place this song (for I know you know it!)... it starts out:
Everybody needs a little time away,
I heard her say,
from each uuuu-ther

You're starting to sing the rest of it right now, aren't you! Ha HA! You DO know it.

So here's the part where it gets ridiculous. I fully realize this makes no sense whatsoever, but for over two decades now, I have thought part of the chorus went as follows:

After all the hool you've been through, I will make it up to you!
I promise to!

Yeah, that's right, "the hool."

Quite honestly, I was never sure if it was spelled hool or houl, but I was sure that's what Mr. Peter Cetera was singing, and I just figured it was a word I didn't know yet. Cut me some slack, it was released when I was in second grade! What was I to know of hool? And as time went on, how much could I really expect from the guy who sang "Glory of Love" for The Karate Kid II soundtrack (though that movie rocked!)?

So just NOW... as in, less than an hour ago in the year 2007, a full 25 years after the song came out, I was singing along to the CD and I cut myself off right after "hool."

You know, I thought, I bet he's not really saying hool.

Therefore, I turned to Google for the lyrics. Imagine my surprise when the lyrics read:

After all that we've been through, I will make it up to you!
I promise to!

What? There is no way he was saying something that normal. I refused to believe it. I played that part of the song over and over and over, with my eyes shut and my ear crammed down to the speaker on my laptop, concentrating like my life depended on it. Hmmmm.... he was indeed saying "that we've" instead of "the hool you've," there was no denying it. But he didn't sing "we've" like a normal person would, he made a big WHA sound at the beginning of the word and then somehow made it into two syllables. Quite frankly, I prefer my version with the made-up word and I'm going to keep singing it that way! Perhaps I've converted some of you to my lyrics as well?

- e

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I Need a Routine

There is at least one being on this planet who is NOT happy that I've stopped working for The Man -- my dog.

My dog LOVED his daily routine. Every morning before I got ready to go toil for The Man, I would come down to my dog's plush bed and snuggle him, and then he would invariably start wiggling all around on his back so that he would be well-positioned for me to rub his stomach. I would always say "You're a goof!!!" and then get in the shower while he was still rolling around on the carpet. He would get fed, go outside, and then go to his crate. As in, he himself would walk into his cage, we never had to put him in there. The story of why he has to be in a crate while we're gone is for another time, but just know that he loves it and stays in there on his own all the time even when we're home (especially if it's storming outside). Our dog-walker would take him on a 25 minute walk every day around 2 pm; I would get home by 6 pm and feed him and let him out again. When my husband got home he would go nuts and run up and down the hall with his toys to show off. We would go for an hour-long walk in the evening and then we would yell "Time for bed!" around 10:30 pm. The bed-time routine is his favorite... he runs with each of his toys from his bed in our main room to his bed in our bedroom - barreling down the hall back and forth until all bones and chew toys have been transferred. Then he would wiggle around on his back and get more tummy rubs, and then he would be out like a light - often snoring.

Until I stopped working.

His food and walking schedules remain the same, and nothing is different about when we get up and go to bed... but now, I am home during the day. And when I am home, he doesn't sleep. He may still lie in his crate, or he may curl up on his dog bed, but the second I walk over to the fridge, he's by my side. I am coming in and out of the house to run errands and he needs to snoop into what I've brought home or sniff for any other dog smells on me.

He does not know WHAT is going on. And he does not like it one bit.

He is SO TIRED, it is really sad to see. I guess when you're used to sleeping for the vast majority of the day and then all of a sudden you need to (or in his case, think you need to) stay alert during that same time period, it would be rough.

Therefore, I really need to get some sort of routine established for myself. They always say that people are like their dogs and vice versa, and watching my dog suffer has made me realize that I, too, have kind of broken down over this past week of freedom. Yes, I'm enjoying not having to get ready in the morning and commute back and forth and all that, but I feel a bit lost at the same time. It is not in my Type A nature to just relax!!! So, once I get all of these random errands out of the way (getting a new water heater, fixing a snapped cord on one of our blinds, going to the doctor, getting new shelf support pins because one of our shelves collapsed... and on and on and on), I need to figure out how I'm going to operate on a daily basis. Perhaps if I always plan to leave the house for the gym or for errands at the same time each day, that will help my dog be confident that he is going to get some shut-eye during those hours. And I definitely will be keeping one regimen from my days with The Man - my breakfast ritual. Every day I would have a whole wheat bagel, low-fat cream cheese and a mug of Earl Grey hot tea. Every single day, without fail. The tea being the most important part of the ritual. Now that I'm home I'm mixing it up with waffles and berries every few days just to try and be a bit healthier with some fruit intake, but the tea I cannot live without. Maybe once my dog gets used to me being around and starting the day off the same way after my husband has left for the office, he won't feel like he needs to stay awake anymore.

Unfortunately, I think it's going to be a few more weeks before there's any sense of normalcy around my place. Until then, if I DO see him dozing off, I will let sleeping dogs lie - literally!

- e

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Movies That Better Rock

As you may have already guessed by now, I am a pretty big movie fanatic (the theme of my wedding reception was "the movies/great movie couples," and there is a room in my condo decorated with movie posters and stills...). However, there hasn't been a lot out in theaters recently that I've been excited about. Typically my husband and I are going to see something at least every few weeks... but not lately. However, there is hope. Below are some upcoming films that I am pretty psyched for based on their trailers (one is even already out, but I chose to see Superbad last weekend instead).

- Stardust

This one's already playing, so I need to make a theater run soon. While it hasn't been doing too well at the box office and it's gotten wildly mixed reviews, I have hope that it is in the same vein as The Princess Bride, my all-time favorite movie. Claire Danes annoys me, but I hope that everything else in the movie will outweigh that. If anyone's seen it, let me know!

- Into the Wild - September 21, 2007

Written and directed by Sean Penn and based on the best-selling book by Jon Krakauer... starring Emile Hirsch (The Girl Next Door was good - admit it and deal with it and embrace it!) as the main dude, with Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener and some other big names as the people that come in and out of his life. It looks excellent, hooray! This was a book I could not put down despite the fact that I thought I would not like it. And since my memory is so poor, it's actually a big deal that I not only remember this book but also remember the process of reading it - sitting in my bed at grad school, staying up way too late in order to finish it. I hope the movie does it justice.

- The Golden Compass - December 7, 2007

I have already mentioned my excitement for this movie in previous posts, so I won't go on and on... but it does look awesome and if you haven't read this book (the first in a highly acclaimed trilogy) and you like this sort of fantasy/sci-fi genre, you should check it out in the next few months. When I was in New Zealand last year on my search for Frodo and Gandalf, I met some people who told me I should immediately buy the books (once they found out how nerdy I was). There was also a play based on the trilogy that they held over the course of three nights in London a while back. Anyway, it looks like they have done well enough with the film version, however, that you could just be lazy and enjoy the movie on its own. You can also see what your daemon would be if you lived in that world! I took the test (it's 20 questions) a few months back, and I got matched with a gibbon. But I just took it again and I was matched with a fox, which I think suits me better. It said I was modest, dependable, assertive, competitive and solitary - I mostly agree with that analysis. Alas, I see no fox following me around.

- I Am Legend - December 14, 2007

I go nuts over stuff like this! And what can I say, I love Will Smith - he'll always be the Fresh Prince to me - word to big bird! This movie is technically a remake (it's based on a book by the same name, but there have already been two movie versions - The Last Man On Earth (1964) and The Omega Man(1971)), but I never read the book or saw the other films, so I don't care.

- Untitled J.J. Abrams Project aka Cloverfield - January 18, 2008

Not so sure about this trailer (which has garnered a frenzy of speculation by people with A LOT of time on their hands... piecing together stills to find secret codes and clues, etc.)... but I have all the faith in the world in the creator of Lost!

- Vantage Point - February 18, 2008

Good Lord, Lost is going to be back in February AND I get a dose of The Mad Doctor on the big screen in that same month? It will be like heaven on earth. Plus the movie looks good and I love stories that unfold after you see everything from different perspectives.

Any others I missed?

- e

Monday, August 20, 2007

No "Happy Feet" for e

I vaguely remember banging my right foot against something a few weeks ago. I am extremely clumsy, so I am always getting bruised and battered and really can't keep straight which body part I hit against what at any given time. But I did notice that my toenail on my big toe seemed to have stopped growing recently. And when I went to change my nail polish, the nail looked yellowish. And then a few days ago, a huge red bump started forming at the base of that same toe's cuticle. What was going on?

All I could figure is that I must have banged my foot against something that caused my toenail to get jammed back into my skin, because it now looked sunken and shortened. I asked my husband to look at my feet and tell me what he thought, and he didn't see the red bump I was talking about. Now, why I didn't keep in mind that he is basically blind, I'm not sure, but perhaps I just wanted to keep believing that everything was OK.

Well, yesterday when I went to have my massage, I told the masseuse to stay away from that toe because of the bump. She looked at it for about two seconds before remarking, "Wow, you really need to see a doctor about that." "Yeah," I replied nonchalantly, "I was thinking of calling the doctor tomorrow." "You really better," she repeated, sounding quite concerned.

I put my funky toe problem out of my mind during the massage (though was conscious of the fact that the masseuse stayed FAR AWAY from that area...), but I was quickly reminded of it when I got on the bus to return home. I kid you not, a woman boarded the bus a few stops after me wearing sandals that exposed that she had NO BIG TOES. I could not believe it. It was like on that one Seinfeld episode where there's a painting of Kramer that someone describes as "a loathsome, offensive brute, yet I cannot look away." I could not stop myself from continuing to try and peek at this woman's feet. I was horrified, yet captivated.

After a half-hour or so passed, the woman got off the bus. I had been sitting slightly behind her, so she did not see me trying to examine her toes the entire ride. What I concluded was that she either 1) had some sort of deformity, 2) had to get some of her toes amputated because of frostbite (I had determined that she was a mountain-climber, not sure why, but I felt sure of this), or 3) had also banged her feet (simultaneously, I guess?) against something, ignored the resulting infections, and THEN had to get her toes amputated because of her laziness. I was sure this woman being on my same bus was "a sign" directly from the universe to me. She had paraded her missing toes in front of me for the sole purpose of motivating me to save my own "little piggies," as my mom used to call them.

Last night I proceeded to have all sorts of nightmares about having to get my toenail removed (the thought of which makes me swoon) as well as getting my toes, feet, and even my legs chopped off. When I woke up at 2 am because there was a huge storm and I feared my basement might be flooded again, I was sure that I felt pangs of pain emanating from my toe up my entire leg. Oh Lord, I was going to lose the lower half of my body, no doubt about it.

Needless to say, I called my doctor's office the second they opened today. I got an appointment at 11:15 and was sitting there in the waiting room 20 minutes early.

My doctor informed me that I had a "nail bed infection" (she called it by some fancy name as well) most likely caused by banging my toe into something that resulted in my toenail jamming back into my skin. Strangely enough, I was prescribed Cipro, which anyone who's traveled to a third-world country is probably intimately familiar with (I'll leave it at that). I'm supposed to take it for ten days and call her if the red bump hasn't gone down in 4 days. There was absolutely no mention of amputation.

Now that I'm not going into an office, there are very few people who have to bear witness to my gross toe. My dog doesn't seem to care about it, and my husband could apparently never even see it in the first place. So unfortunately the only people who are now disgusted by this are you, my dear readers. What can I say, I need to keep it real!

- e

e's Present to Herself

One of the things I did to celebrate my emancipation from The Man was to book myself a 110-minute massage on Sunday. That's right - a nearly TWO-HOUR massage! My husband gets me spa gift certificates for both Christmas and my birthday (or, should I say, I TELL HIM to get me those and he is a smart guy so he does), so I had been saving them up for this day. However, the woman I usually go to - a plump, Nordic masseuse named Helena - wasn't available yesterday. What I love about Helena is that she doesn't try to talk to me during the massage (I want to RELAX, dammit!), she doesn't brutalize me (I hate when they try to "dig into your knots"... I'm always high-strung, I can live with it - I don't want to get MORE tense trying to brace myself against the masseuse's fingers of steel!) and she always begins each session with a sing-songy order: "Ooooo-kkkkaaaayyyy.... reeee-laaaaxxxx, let your stress and worries floooowwww onto the taaaable." She rocks.

But Helena wasn't there, so I went with a new person, Renee, instead.

In preparation for this event, I had stopped using my beloved Jergens Natural Glow for several days, and had been vigorously trying to slough off all remaining traces of it with a loofah sponge every time I took a shower. But it was NOT COMING OFF! My knees were all white, but on my calves and thighs I was a faded yellowy-tan with spots. I just figured I would start up the lotion again after the massage, but I wanted to begin with a clean slate or else all of the discolorations would remain.

So imagine my luck when I met Renee and she said that an earlier appointment had canceled, and she therefore already had an exfoliation treatment mixed, and would I be interested if it was at no extra charge? Would I be interested? Is my black lab black? Hell yes, I was interested! So she said that she would do the normal massage for 90 minutes, and then the exfoliation for the remaining time.

While I had tried out a spa service called a "cocoon" before, I had never had an exfoliation. A cocoon is where they mix all this crazy crap together (mud, seaweed, etc) and spread it all over you like frosting on a cake, and then wrap you up in foil (I'm not lying - it's aluminum foil!) and then wrap blankets around that so you are literally in a cocoon. It is not for the claustrophobic or those prone to feeling like they have to itch their nose or head when their arms and legged are pinned down (I speak from experience on the latter). An exfoliation is where they rub sea salt mixed with a bit of aromatherapy oil all over you and pretty much take off the top layer of your skin.

While initially it feels a bit rough, it doesn't really hurt, and the only part I had a weird reaction to was when it was put on my stomach. YOU try getting oily salt rubbed all over your stomach and see if you aren't ticklish! The gist of the whole experience is that you feel like you were put on a beach and rolled around in the sand, with the benefit of not getting any of it on your face or in your hair.

If you don't think that sounds like your thing, I can't say I was too sure about it, either, until it was over with. My skin has never been this soft EVER. It is like I am "Baby e" all over again. And all of the Jergens spots were defeated on top of it! I am back to being my ultra-white self, only smoother.

The unfortunate part about all of this is that nary 24 hours later, the effects of the massage have vanished. I was just outside walking my dog and all of a sudden, I sneezed really hard. One of my flip-flops flew off, that's how hard I sneezed! But I also must have contorted my body in some strange way because now it feels like someone has a vise grip between my left shoulder and my neck. I must've pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve or something. Perhaps it is The Ghost of The Man, trying to ensure I don't enjoy myself too much now that I am away from his lair. If it doesn't go away soon, I may have to give the spa a call and see if Helena OR Renee are around to save me!

- e

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Surprised by 'Superbad' (no spoilers)

I was prepared to HATE Superbad.

After I ordered tickets a few days beforehand for Friday's (opening night) 8:30 pm show, I immediately had buyer's remorse. I spent a lot of time reading movie reviews (once again, after we bought the tickets) and determined that the situation was going to be pretty grim, and I forewarned my husband that I thought we had made a bad choice. All we knew of the movie was a really funny clip (supposedly the only safe-for-TV part of the movie) on The Daily Show a few weeks ago, and then the trailer, which I had to jump through hoops to see because it was so foul (the Internet Police REALLY wanted to ensure I was over 18). My husband and I looked at each other after the trailer was done with that 'Hmmm-I'm-not-so-sure-about-THIS-one' look. But, the tickets were purchased - we were going.

When we got to the theater, the employee checking tickets at the door was this little teeny kid, and he was fighting with someone because they didn't have ID with them to prove they were 18. WHAT?!?! They still actually check for ID?!!? This was going to be hard-core! I got really nervous at that point. (As a side note, do you remember the first R-rated movie you ever saw? I do. Mine was A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon in 1988. I wasn't 18 yet and I don't know if my friends and I beat our parents into submission about it or had a friend's older sister get us tickets or what... all I remember is that we HAD TO SEE IT because River Phoenix was in it.)

Back to Superbad... The show was sold-out and as the lights went down and the preview trailers lit up the screen, I knew we had a good crowd (the main reason why, as I've said many times, I try to go to movies only on opening nights) because everyone started cheering and clapping. The first preview was for The Dark Knight, which has been filming here in Chicago on and off for months, so of course everyone went crazy for that one. But then it became this running joke over the next seven or so trailers, no matter how bad they were, to keep up the clapping. I was happy that we had a fun theater. But then I braced myself as the main feature started...

I'm not going to talk about anything that happens in the movie, so don't worry about spoilers if you intend to see it. What I will say is that the reason I thought I was going to hate it is that I did not like The 40-Year-Old Virgin because I thought the language in it was awful and gratuitous and just total overkill. I like Steve Carell and all of the parts with him in it were OK, but his appliance store friends I just couldn't take. Most people I know liked that movie a lot (and they aren't all guys), so I figured I had a lower tolerance for bawdiness and left it at that. I didn't see Knocked Up because I don't like Seth Rogen, I don't watch Grey's Anatomy and therefore don't care about Katherine Heigl, I have been known to faint when anyone even talks about giving birth (much less having to watch it), and I knew that Seth Rogen's character was a big pothead and I never found any of that type of humor funny. So when going into the theater for Superbad, I came to the realization that I am more of a Old School/Wedding Crashers/Office Space kind of girl. I didn't think the new breed of comedies helmed by Judd Apatow was for me (the lone exception being Talladega Nights, which I liked).

I will start with the good news first - I did enjoy the movie. My expectations were set so low that I was pleasantly surprised. The two main characters were perfectly cast and are great actors and I suspect they will be leading the next wave of comedies for a long time. All of the supporting characters were impressive as well, so absolutely no one can claim that the acting was amateur in this movie. As far as the bad language went... well... it was bad. It was way worse than anything in any movie I've seen, but for some reason it didn't bother me. All I can figure is that even though it was really filthy, it was spoken by these high schoolers who you knew were just trying to be cool, and therefore it wasn't really as disturbing as in The 40-YOV when it was grown men talking like that. Furthermore, the characters in Superbad were "good guys" at their very core, and as much as they liked to talk tough, when it came right down to it, they were very innocent. This movie was more a movie about friendship than anything else. And no matter what you were like in high school or how long ago you went to high school, there is some part of the movie that you can relate to - they did an excellent job of having it be true-to-life in that sense. While I still don't like Seth Rogen and he had a small part in the movie, he was bearable.

My prediction is that this movie will become one of the younger generation's classics. It is one that will still be funny if you watch it again... and if you go see it, you will probably need to watch it again because half of the time people were laughing so hard that you couldn't hear what was going on. It is a movie that I wouldn't want to recommend to anyone because I would be scared that they would think I was a freak if they went and were subsequently appalled by it. It had a good opening night, so I am interested to see if it gains steam or withers away into cult favorite-dom. If nothing else, this movie has left the world one of the best characters of all time: McLovin. And if you want to know what that means or who he is, then you need to see it for yourself!

- e

Saturday, August 18, 2007

e... is... FREE!

Hello my dear friends -

I haven't written in a few days because a major event has happened in my life. Those of you who have been reading my Lost write-ups for the past three years are well aware of my constant complaining about Working for The Man.

Well, I can complain no more. I AM FREE!

The Man and I parted ways a few days ago! Don't worry - it was amicable and mutually agreed upon and I am a very happy blogger. I have no plans to go running back to The Man any time soon - I will be taking the rest of this year off and then attempting to make a living freelance writing after that. So if you or any of The Men you work for ever need any writing assistance of any kind, you know where to come!

While I'm definitely a tad unnerved about completely switching gears and trying to figure out an entirely foreign industry, I did not have the breakdown I thought I would have once this situation became final. What is driving me to do this is the fear of looking back on my life one day and wishing that I had given the whole writing thing a shot. To me, regret is the worst thing in the world. As one of my favorite quotes states (widely attributed to the always wise Mark Twain): "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do." And then of course there is the more succinct: "If not now, when?"

So, rest assured that this blog will continue, because it serves as a tool to help me write as often as possible - every day if I'm not traveling... and now I REALLY don't have any excuses for not posting, do I?

The hardest part about my situation so far was having to tell my dog-walker that we were going to have to go on hiatus for a bit. She has been a tremendous help to us for many years, and my dog absolutely loves her. However, as you know, I can never sit still for long, so I already have some traveling plans in a mere month... and she will come see my dog again then. Speaking of my dog, he is NOT happy about this whole thing, because he LIKES his daily routine and now I am messing with it. All day yesterday, my first full day of freedom, he walked around crying because I was not constantly giving him pets and belly rubs. In my next life, I better be a dog!

Anyway, my first day of freedom was otherwise wonderful... I slept in a bit, ate a big breakfast of waffles and berries, had my Earl Grey, and caught up on emails. It was an absolutely glorious day outside - low 80s and literally not a cloud in the sky - like the universe was saying, "See what you've been missing, e?" On top of that, it was practice day for the Air & Water Show - which is my favorite event in Chicago. So while I was on a walk down by the lake, I got to watch a good portion of the show, unfettered by all the crazy crowds that will be here for the rest of the weekend (not to mention the fact that it's supposed to rain today!!!). Then I walked over to my friend DY's house, and went with her and her adorable son to the best cupcake place in the entire world, Sweet Mandy B's, where she treated me to some cupcakes in celebration of me leaving The Man. And of course I got a bunch of goodies to take home. By the time I returned it was 5 pm... I read a paper, perused some gossip sites and then went to go meet my husband to see "Superbad" (review forthcoming). I figured watching a ridiculously crazy comedy about high schoolers trying to cram a bunch of experiences in before heading off to college somehow fit with my situation (not sure how... maybe the irresponsibility of it all?).

Admit it, you're jealous of my First Day of Freedom!

So, before I get back to my "normal" posts about celebrities, pet peeves, random observations, book/concert/movie reviews and the like, I just wanted to once again thank everyone who reads both this blog and Long Live Locke. You probably didn't think that by leaving me nice comments about my writing style or my recaps, you would encourage me to forgo a paycheck and attempt to become a full-time writer, now did you? But seriously, ever since I've been in third grade I've wanted to do this, and those who know me the best are glad I finally stopped ruminating about this idea and JUST DID IT, already! The only favor I ask of all of you is to tell all of your friends about my sites so that I have even more encouragement - I'm very needy in that way. And since above I mentioned leaving comments, I figured that I should let you know that I have changed the Comments function so that it doesn't spawn a pop-up window, as I know The Man blocked the ability to see pop-ups for many people. Try it now and see if it works - it should go to a new page rather than a pop-up.

There you have it!

e is free and poised at her Mac... waiting for the Lost producers to call and beg her to come write for them...

... maybe just for Locke-centric episodes?


- e

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Double Pain! John Mayer and Cameron Diaz are dating?!?!

I cannot decide what is worse: when a celebrity I really like starts dating an idiot, or when two celebrities I can't stand start dating each other. What do you think?

When it's a celebrity I like, I think to myself, "Noooo, you seem so normal! Don't go out with XYZ, he/she will ruin you! Can't you tell that he/she is using you!!?! That is why you need to come to Chicago and be friends with normal ol' ME, and I will steer you in the right direction and be your business manager! LISTEN TO ME!"

When it's two celebrities I can't stand, I don't necessarily care, it's just that the annoyingness of seeing them together on every magazine and in pictures everywhere seems many times worse than seeing them covered separately. John Mayer and Jessica Simpson was nearly the end of me... and I admit, that was still worse than John Mayer and Cameron Diaz, who are supposedly now dating. Back in the "There's Something About Mary" days, I really liked her. Even as recently as "In Her Shoes" I have enjoyed her movies. But after reading about how psychotic she went on Justin Timberlake (or as his good friends like me call him, "JT") after they broke up, I changed my mind. The fact that she even came within 20 feet of Criss Angel, much less DATED him, sealed my judgment of her. That dude is nas-tay!!! Wash and comb your hair, brotha!

But back to John Mayer and Cameron Diaz... if they actually ARE dating, I will make a prediction that I think it will last a while. He seems like he needs low maintenance tomboy-ish girlfriends, and she fits the bill from everything I've read. However, I really, really, REALLY hope some other celebrity couple emerges over the remainder of the summer to eclipse these two, because I do NOT want my Us Weekly pages filled with the likes of them!

Because, as you already know, John Mayer is poop!

- e