AFI Top 100

I have a bit of a head start on this goal, since in the summer of 2003 (?) I tried to watch all the movies on all of AFI’s lists.  I didn’t finish any of the lists, but I did see a LOT of really good movies.  Now several years later it’s time for me to tie up this loose end and at least finish the 100 Years 100 Movies list.



30 before 30

I’m following Lindsay’s example (and that of The 30 Before 30 Project), and assembling a list of 30 goals to accomplish by the time I’m 30.  The big day is in November of 2012, so I have some time to work with.   I’m not in the position to take on a whole lot of time intensive new projects, but it is important to me to take the kinds of things I’m doing now, and make them more fulfilling. Feedback is welcome!

30 before 30

  1. Send in a secret to PostSecret. Accomplished on 10/16/12.
  2. Buy (and drink) a bottle of wine that is older than I am.  Accomplished on 12/20/11.
  3. Write at least 1 legal article and have it published in a bar association (or similar) publication.  Accomplished on 3/29/12.
  4.  Teach Baby Beez to say “Please” and “Thank you.”  (I really wanted to post a video of her nice manners, but she is not cooperative…but believe me, she’s a pro at “please,” “thank you,” and even “sorry.”)
  5.  Attend a film festival. Attended the 3 Rivers Film Festival in November, links here and here.
  6.  Read The Silmarillion. Completed on November 25, 2011.
  7.  Finish watching all the films on AFI’s Top 100 list (I tried to do this in the summer of 2003, and made good progress but never finished).
  8.  Participate in NaBloPoMo, and actually complete the whole month. Completed in November 2011.  See the NaBloPoMo tag.
  9.  Get my blog added into the BlogHer network.  Added to BlogHer directory September 4, 2011.
  10. See oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court. Accomplished on October 11, 2011.
  11. Go for a Hot Air Balloon ride.
  12. Take Baby Beez apple or blueberry or raspberry or whatever is in season picking. Accomplished on 10/8/12.
  13. Learn to do a perfect Smokey Eye. Accomplished on October 8, 2011.
  14. Develop an identifiable “personal style.” See 10/13/12.
  15. Eat at a Michelin rated restaurant. (Preferably The French Laundry). Accomplished on May 11, 2012.
  16. Go for a whole month without eating carry out (happy hour drinks excluded, since that tends to be the most convenient way to see my friends). Accomplished this, as close as it’s gonna get, in January 2012.
  17. Pay off my credit card, and keep it at a zero balance for at least 3 months. (PAID OFF on 10/11/12!)
  18. Go to OUTrageous Bingo. (Accomplished September 24, 2011).
  19. Do a food tour in Philly. (Accomplished September 17-19, 2011).
  20. Fly first class. Accomplished May 13, 2012
  21. Get exquisite personalized stationery, and send old fashioned letters to friends. Accomplished in March, 2012.
  22. See my friend Jen perform.  Accomplished May 12, 2012.
  23. Have at least 3 sessions with a personal trainer.
  24. Go to one of the speeches in the Pittsburgh Speakers Series. (Preferably Azar Nafisi, I loved Reading Lolita in Tehran). (Accomplished October 12, 2011).
  25. Plan and execute a “Perfect Day,” including spa treatments, an outing with Baby Beez, and a date with Mr. Beez. (Accomplished November 17, 2012)
  26. Learn to bake a babka. Accomplished November 10, 2012
  27. Go to a drive-in movie. Accomplished May 19, 2012.
  28. Do the Southside Step Trek. Accomplished October 6, 2012.
  29. Do a workshop at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. (Accomplished February 17, 2013, better late than never!)
  30. Go to a Pittsburgh Passion game.

(I have, on occasion, tinkered with this list a bit. There were a few things I initially put down that just didn’t feel right. These should all be things I really want to do, and if it feels like a chore, it’s going to destroy the fun).


The Hunger Games

Since I not infrequently leave work at six, get home and give Baby Beez a bath and a snuggle and put her to bed at 7:30 and then work from 8 til 10 or 11, I don’t have a whole lot of leisure reading time.  I try to read for a few minutes before falling asleep because I tend not to sleep well when I go directly from work time to bed time.  Over the last couple weeks I have plowed through all three books of The Hunger Games, and my “few minutes of reading” has turned into “staying up entirely too late reading,” which has led to several three-coffee-mornings.

The basic plot isn’t particularly new: In post-apocalyptic America, people are forced to fight to the death as a form of political manipulation and entertainment.   Collins makes things more interesting with a female lead who feels human, not (completely) rigid and symbolic.   The romantic plotlines, while at times predictable, at least are more interesting than the “woman falling all over herself to attract the man of her dreams” idea we’re so used to seeing.

The to-the-death competition takes place in an enormous Arena, designed with care and fatally booby-trapped by the Capitol-employed Gamemakers.  Every inch of the Arena is recorded by surveillance cameras, and the bloody competition is televised to the masses.  Every man, woman, and child is of course mandated by the government to watch.  The Arena, and all of its horrors, was extremely creative and vivid, and my absolute favorite part of the book.  If Collins wrote a whole series just detailing all 73 of the previous Hunger Games (the book starts with the 74th annual Games) and their Arenas, I’d be in first in line to read them.  It is gruesome and terrifying and enthralling.

Collins does a good job of creating an imaginary new America (Panem), divided into districts that are starving and struggling to survive, but controlled by an opulant, wasteful Capitol.  Collins describes how each district focuses on a different industry, but her exploration of the individual districts (besides 12, where the main characters were from) was limited.  I would have been interested in more in depth treatment of each of the districts, to see how current America fits in to Collin’s Panem.  She tells us that District 12 is in Appalachia, and the Capitol appears to be in the Rockies, but I think that’s it.  If she discussed the geography of the other districts, she did so quickly and I missed it.

Collins’ world is very visual.  She spends great care to discuss the appearance of the characters and their surroundings, which really brings the Arena (where the deathmatch takes place), and the Hunger Games and their associated celebrations to life.  However, this teeters into the overindulgent when she gets to discussing fashion, and I don’t think the books would have suffered if she pared down the what seems like page after page after page of description of what certain characters were wearing at times.

The names Collins chose for her characters often distracted me.  A sampling: Katniss Everdeen, Primrose Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, Gale Hazelle (I think that was his last name…), Cinna, at one point there’s a Lavinia, and Castor and Pollux.  I felt like some names were too future-y and “uneek”, while the other ones too heavy-handed in their referencing.  It’s a petty point, but it was enough to distract me while reading.

I’ve heaped on a lot more criticism here than praise, because too much praise would give away the story. The story’s full of surprises and twists and turns.  It’s refreshing and creative and dark and different.


I scream, you scream

This is the kind of week I’m having.  It’s insane. By the time I get home, all I want is ice cream and sleep.  So obviously it is time to talk about ice cream.

New York Super Fudge Chunk is my usual go to for eating my emotions. My favorite part of ice cream is the chunks of candy, cookies, etc. in there, and NYSFC is always generous with the chocolate.  I’m not much of a nut fan, but the nuts aren’t overwhelming. NYSFC consistently has everything I’m looking for to put me in a diabetic black out and forget my day.

I’m a big fan of Oatmeal Cookie Chunk, because it reminds me of the ice cream sandwiches we’d get at summer camp.  I went to a fantastic summer camp when I was a kid (and also worked there one summer as a counselor). It was in the Redwood forest, and it was a Jewish camp where we sang Jewish songs and did the Macarena every day before lunch. (I do not know why).  Occasionally we’d get “Its-it” ice cream sandwiches– two oatmeal cookies with ice cream in the middle, and covered with chocolate. My favorite was the mocha flavor.  OCC is the closest I can get to an Its-it without flying to California and dancing the Macarena.

Delicious. That is all.

Even though fro-yo is trendy right now, and Squirrel Hill seems to have more ice cream places than people, Dave & Andy’s is hands down the best.  I am the kind of person who never orders the same thing twice because I want to try out everything.  The first time I went to Dave & Andy’s, I got Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream.  Every single time I’ve gone back, I’ve gotten Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream.  I can’t get anything else, because then I’d be sad that I went to Dave & Andy’s and missed an opportunity to eat Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream.

Ok, I take that back—in 2005 I was training for a marathon and had just run about 16 miles through Oakland and Shadyside and Squirrel Hill and then all the way out to the Waterfront and back.  My running pal and I stopped at Dave & Andy’s at the end of our run and had sorbet. Best sorbet ever.


Chore Wars

I don’t usually read Time, but this issue was sitting in the kitchen at work and caught my eye.  You have to be a subscriber to read the whole thing, but you can get the gist of it from the summary. Or you can keep your eyes open for it in your doctor’s waiting room (too bad my doctors only carry Mothering or AARP).

The summary of the article (and a follow up) is that when you compare hours of work, whether at home or in the office, men and women’s workloads are pretty much the same (notwithstanding massive overgeneralization for race, income, etc etc etc…).  According to the author, this was true whether the man or woman worked full or part time, and also showed men making a bigger dent in the household chores.  The one notable exception were the stay at home moms, who logged in something like 10 hours a week less of work than everyone else, but that’s another discussion for another day.

Although at times I’ve felt overloaded by everything, I think my husband and I have done a pretty good job of splitting up the household responsibilities.  We both work a lot.  Even when we first moved in together, we new we’d both be working a lot, and not have copious amounts of time for housework.  We split the chores up according to who hated what. I hate cleaning, he doesn’t, so he does the cleaning including dishes and garbage.  He hates (or claims to be incapable of) cooking and laundry, I don’t mind those chores, so I’m in charge of those things.  We split up baby care pretty evenly– most of the tasks in the morning fall to me, and most of the tasks in the evening fall to him.  There have been times where things have felt uneven, and we’ve reallocated some chores.  When one of us isn’t able to handle our part, it often doesn’t get shoved off on the other, it usually just goes undone.  There have been weeks where I’m completely insane at work and I have NO time for cooking, so we eat take out. There are weeks I have no time for laundry, and so I do some mixed up last minute load of laundry because we have no clean underwear. So we get by.

I get how there can be discrepancies in household responsibilities.  I understand getting angry or resentful over feeling like you’re doing much more than your spouse.  What I don’t get is letting anger over this issue fester.  Maybe I’m unusually direct or aggressive or whatever, but I don’t understand why an unhappy spouse wouldn’t speak up and say “We need to look at these responsibilities. Something has to change here.” (I guess the article’s response would be that there isn’t any discrepancy to split).