AFI Top 100 List finally COMPLETE!!

Truth be told, back in November I only had 2 films left to watch.  Then Netflix decided that it did NOT want me to complete my list, and despite the last two films being at the top of my queue, and it being very unlikely that there were tons of subscribers clamoring over them, Netflix nonetheless kept sending everything and anything else EXCEPT those films.  Last night, I realized that I could, ta-da, finish the list by watching films through Amazon’s streaming service, and TA DA, here we are!!  I have now watched all 100 films on AFI’s Top 100 list.

AFI 100 yearsThe 100 films are all great films, but Westerns as a genre are overrepresented, as are films from the 1960s and 1970s.  The films from the 1940s and before are very clearly classic films, but once you get into the 1960s-1970s, it seems like several of the films selected were a function of just being the favorite films of the AFI members.  I think a top 100 film should be timeless and resonate with the viewer, regardless of the viewer’s time or background or circumstances, due to universal themes.  Many of the films from the 1960s and 1970s on the list were so heavily dependent on context that they were boring and virtually meaningless to me.  In particular, All the President’s Men, Easy Rider and The Last Picture Show stood out as films that hardly spoke to me at all, and I think just didn’t belong on the list.

There were a number of films that I absolutely loved that I probably would not have watched at all, were it not for my quest to finish this list.  Singin in the Rain, Sunset Blvd., The General, Network and Do the Right Thing all stood out as amazing films that I only picked up because of this project.


30 before 30: Baking a Babka

Wow, I’ve only got a couple days til I run out of time on my 30 before 30 list! Sure, I didn’t hit some things, but I’ll get to them eventually.

Last weekend I had a super-fun time crossing off Item 26: Learn to Bake a Babka

My friend, Amy, of Straight from the Oven Bakery was my teacher for this adventure. I have to admit that for years I thought babka looked gross, and then I tried one she made, and thought “WHAT HAVE I BEEN MISSING FOR ALL THESE YEARS?”

Babka is a beloved Jewish dessert, that is a chocolate and cinnamon stuffed bread. It has a shortbread-like quality because it is stuffed with butter. My initial goal was to bake a babka (as in one), but a single recipe actually makes either 3 big loaves or 9 mini loaves. I ultimately went for 1 big loaf and six mini loaves. They freeze very well, but shamefully I only froze 2 of them. And we’re almost done with all the rest of them. Whoops.






I’m glad I had such a great instructor for this activity.  The recipe for babka has about 9 steps, which is about 4 steps more than I’ll usually tolerate.  I have a very low threshold for baking effort.  Although baking took a few hours, the steps were not complicated, and the payoff was delectable.  It’s fair to say I’ll try this again.  Even though you have to invest a fair amount of effort, you get a ton of babka out of it, so this is perfect to bake if you are looking to make homemade gifts.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to help myself to another buttery slice of babka!


40 Before 40: Call for Ideas

My 30 before 30 list will be drawing to a close in less than a month.  I have accomplished many of the things on the list.  There are a few I won’t get around to, but I’m not worried about it.  The point was to get myself to get around to actually DOING things I have been wanting to do.  Stressing myself over crossing everything off a to-do list isn’t the way to go.

Once I hit the big 3-0, I’m going to start on a 40 before 40.  I will probably carry over a couple unfinished things from my 30 list (see: go for hot air balloon ride).  But since I’ll have 10 years to work on my 40 before 40 list, I plan to have several more grand goals.  One goal I have in mind is to hike up to Macchu Pichu with Mountain Lodges of Peru (this will also involve me learning how to hike, and learning to LIKE hiking, which are no small feats for me).  There will probably be several travel goals on there, and goals to take certain kinds of classes (I’d love to take some cooking classes, particularly a knife skills class).  Maybe I’d even like to set a goal of learning something other than just the most rudimentary photography skills.  Of course I will also set some goals related to my career, whether it involves publishing articles or benchmarks on building my own client base.

What Would You Have on your 40 Before 40 list?

Completely Gratuitous Photo of my Kid Helping with the Shopping. Because She is Cute.


30 Before 30: PostSecret, and other Misc

1.  30 Before 30: PostSecret

Well folks, I did it.  I sent in a postcard to PostSecret.  I selected the postcard about a year ago, and have literally been carrying it (blank) in my purse ever since.  Even when I changed purses, the postcard moved to the new bag.  I am not a person of secrets.  What I wrote can hardly even be called a secret.  But I am a person that is terrible at letting go, and terrible at forgiving, especially myself.   I wrote about something that makes me sad enough to not talk about, and by writing it down and sending it away, I’m trying to let myself let go of it. 

I actually hope my card is not published on the site.  I am not seeking a sense of community from my words.  I love reading other peoples’ secrets, but for me, the act of writing those words and dropping them in a letterbox was so much more moving than having someone else read them. 

2.  Get Moving.

Hello Ladies shared this message on Monday, and its been “running” through my head ever since (haha):

So true. I need to get myself to the gym, stat.

3.  SWAN Day, Yinzpiration, One Young World, and I’ve got nothing.

Pittsburgh is overflowing with BIG IDEAS right now. 

Last Monday, I had the fantastic and fun experience of being interviewed along with my friend Sandy for SWAN day. SWAN (Support Women in the Arts Now) Day is a multinational celebration of women in the arts, and in Pittsburgh the No Name Players take the lead in interviewing women in all ages, editing and distributing the footage to women artists, and organizing an exciting performance evening to showcase the works.  I was proud to participate as an interviewee, and Tressa and Don (the No Name Players) were so friendly and fun.  The 2013 Celebration will be on March 23, 2013, so mark your calendars now! I am so excited!

Kate of Yinzpiration is back in the swing of interviewing inspiring Pittsburghers.  Yinzpiration is one of my favorite Burgh Blogs, because it’s a concrete reminder of how devoted and hardworking 20 and 30-somethings are to making Pittsburgh and an amazing place to live, as well as a reminder that in Pittsburgh there is always opportunity and support to take your Big Idea from idea to reality.

The One Young World conference starts tomorrow in Pittsburgh, and WOW, just WOW. Delegates to that conference don’t just have Big Ideas, they have BIG IDEAS.  When I hear about the work those young people are doing, I wonder what the heck have I been doing with my life?  These delegates are tackling global issues without fear, with real results. 

I want to have a Big Idea.  I want to do something that is interesting and clever and inspirational.  I’m not talking quit my day job for an art project– I actually really like my day job, and I suck at art.  But I want to have some kind of Big Idea that makes a difference in our City, and I have absolutely no idea what to do.  I’m totally awesome at the logistics side of things, I know I can make something come to life.  I just don’t have any idea how to get that Big Idea.  I know that I have readers who have had a Big Idea, and have made it come to life. So readers, how did you get your Big Idea?


30 Before 30– Sahside Step Trek #steptrek

It’s been radio silence on the 30 before 30 front for a while. I’ve been making my way steadily through the AFI Top 100, and I have a few things coming down the line. Some things I know I’m not gonna get done (not going to do a hot air balloon ride before Nov 18, because I don’t want to blow $500 on a novelty right now, and vacation happened so that whole pay-off-the-credit-card thing did not), but I’m not stressing myself over this. My purpose for the list is to have FUN, and to finally get around to doing things I’ve wanted to do, but haven’t made time for. Some of the things I’ve gone above and beyond with– for example, I’ve had several legal articles published, and Baby Beez is a total pro at please/thank you (sometimes a reminder is needed). As my 30 before 30 draws to a close, I’m working on thinking up a BIGGER and BADDER 40 before 40. It will mostly be travel focused, and be on a larger scale, since I’ll have ten whole years to get through it. Now, on to the day’s adventures!

We made the Southside Step Trek a family outing. Mr. Beez enjoys hiking, and he totally spoils me, so he agreed to do the trek and he carried Baby Beez in the beco carrier. Climbing the steps of the Sahside is way easier when you do NOT have a 25 lb toddler strapped to your back. Last year the Step Trek was on Yom Kippur, so that was a no go. I almost bailed on the outing today because the sky was drizzly, but it cleared up beautifully.


Grouchy face


The Southside slopes combine history, charm, and industrial grit. The views from the hills are breathtakingly picturesque. The streets are small, winding and inconsistent. If it weren’t for the Step Trek, I probably would have never explored the slopes. It’s almost entirely residential, and I wouldn’t have seen much reason to go wander around a neighborhood where, on my own, I would get terribly lost. The Step Trek is an awesome event to get a glimpse of a part of the city you might otherwise not see, to support a helpful neighborhood group. and to have fun with friends or family while having some exercise. The stairways are separated by fairly long flat paths, so you don’t have to be in the best of shape to be able to complete the trek.


Thanks to Pittsburgh’s working class mill town history, the city is covered in city stairways that millworkers used to use to go to and from work.  The stairways are frequently designated as streets, so if you every try to get around using a GPS you may get the unique treat of being instructed to make a turn onto what you discover is not a street at all! Instead, it’s just a stairway that is identified as a street on maps….. Recalculating! Recalculating!




The Step Trek is phenomenally well executed. The trek is self paced, and at check-in, you get a booklet with a map and written directions, complete with interesting historical facts. There are two routes, Black (3.1 miles) and Gold (2.6 miles). With the little one in tow, we opted for the shorter one. Had we not been hauling her around, it would have been fun to do them both. Each of the routes takes 60-90 minutes, so completing them both would be a long endeavor, but doable. The routes are very well marked with signage, which is so amazingly helpful.


Mr. Beez designated me as “navigator,” but I’d be better known as “lostmaker.” Thanks to the excellent signage, we managed to stay on path. Kudos to the Step Trek for an event well planned!





The Virgin Mary and a fallout shelter…if praying can’t help you, come hang out in our bunker…




Trekking is hard work!