Sunday, December 30, 2007

Steph’s Best and Worsts of 2007

Now that the crank of Christmas has wrung every penny from my pocket, every cup of sugar from my cabinet and every ounce of Christmas cheer from my soul, it's time to embark on the annual spiritual journey I like to call, F*@! It's New Year's already?

I've taken some time to collect my favorite (and not so favorite), moments of 2007.

STEPH'S 10 FAVORITE THINGS OF 2007
1. America's Next Top Model marathons on MTV and VH1. These provided me with hours of much needed, mind numbing entertainment as well as much needed cultural references like "krumping" which I would not other wise know and which provides me with some fake street cred (though mine just went down for using that term).

2. Candi's wedding, there's nothing more beautiful than one of your best friends getting married to a guy of whom you infinitely approve (complete with break dancing).

3. Kiddo, I never thought I'd be a dog person. But I am. That dog just kicks my heart into happy every time I walk in the door to her upturned face and wagging tail.

4. New York trip, seeing Amy Poehler and Seth Myers at the Upright Citizens Brigade. Totally worth the $5 it cost to get in and the impromptu foil wrapped burrito sidewalk picnic we had to have so we wouldn't lose our place in line.

5. Getting a cell phone: after years and years of resisting and happily living without one, I now feel naked when I leave the house without my little red razor, here it sits now, resting peacefully, faithfully at my side.

6. BEST BOOK: Harry Potter 7; This year's reading was crowded out by Harry Potter (and the preparatory re-reading of the six previous books) as well as the 1,001 books on puppies and Jack Russell Terriers that I read in preparation for Kiddo. Aside from those, Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck tops my list.

7. BEST MOVIE: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The director managed to turn my least favorite of the book series into my favorite of the movies so far. Hot Fuzz and Sicko deserve honorable mentions

8. BEST SONG: Anything by Feist wore out my repeat button this year.

9. BEST RESTAURANT: The Bagel Bakery in the Millhopper shopping plaza where I can often be found eating lunch and having altercations with retired folk.

10. Raising beaucoup dollars at the NOW 25th anniversary banquet.

11. Skydiving/turning 30. The first few months of my thirties have been pretty great, jumping out of planes, race training, let's see if I can keep up the pace.

12. Senator Larry Craig getting caught soliciting sex in a men's room. There's a sweet sense of poetic justice when bigots get caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar. I take pleasure in the exposure of hypocrisy.

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STEPH'S WORST THINGS OF 2007
1. Kiddo: I love the dog, but let's face it, training a puppy is a pain in the ass, This year my dog has harassed, peed on, scratched, and incessantly licked every single person that came through my door. Danny and I even coined a new term, "god dammit levels." As in, "When you reach god damn it levels with the dog I'll take over." (to see an up to date list of Kiddo's wake of destruction see blog entitled My Dog: In List Form)

2. A Funeral, 2007 meant the terrible, terrible loss of my father-in-law, Fernando Gimenez. It was a lonely football season without him and a lonelier Christmas. We miss him very, very much.

3. My Grandma getting ovarian cancer: she called me the other day to tell me she shaved off all her hair which made me really sad since for as long as I can remember she has taken great pride in her hair sprayed helmet of gray. Some of my best memories of childhood are going with grandma to the beauty shop on Saturdays to have her hair "set" for the week.

4. Still no children (and none on the horizon) although the image of a bunch of children on the horizon is quite funny (and creepy at the same time).

5. Almost getting knifed downtown with Lisa. In my head, this story has taken on epic proportions; there are now whole crowds of people bearing sharp objects, flashing lights and sirens, and a bouncer who shoved us into the arms of the Klingon bad guy. (For actual story see blog from October 2, 2007).

6. Those commercials about the fungi that live under people's toenails. Every time I watched that nasty little booger shaped guy flip open a cartoon toenail like it was a car hood I got an unpleasant shiver from head to toe. Blech.

7. Songs that made my ears bleed in 2007: Big Girls Don't Cry by Fergie, anything by Mariah Carey; Britney Spears, Gimme More, made me wish I was drunk so the pain in my soul would stop.

8. WORST MOVIE: 3:10 to Yuma, It managed to make staring at Christian Bale boring and that's quite difficult to do. It was three hours of sitting around a sweaty and slightly drunk campfire. The conflict was flat and the solution was what I like to call a typical "man plan" meaning, I don't feel like thinking of a plan so we'll just figure it out when we get there. (Note to readers: "man plans" rarely work out in real life and this movie was no different.)

9. Beyonce "let me upgrade" commercials. I like to at least pretend that people making music are actually musicians and not simply slaves to the corporate consumer machine, this commercial reminds me that I am a fool and my cynicism is well founded.

10. The senate "accidentally" removing funding for birth control at colleges and planned parenthoods all over the country. Women who were paying $10 a month for birth control on campus, now have to pay $40 or $50, likewise for previously discounted Morning-After Pills. An article I read the other day said the federal government is confused as to why the teen birth rate keeps going up ….and up….and up….

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OFFICIAL NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION
This is the year I will finally get actual, proper bedside tables. I'm tired of precariously stacking books, magazines, glasses, chapstick, phone and water on the craft crate I bought at Michael's when I was in college.

I hope every one had a great holiday and has a happy, safe, bedside table filled new year.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Mist Makes the Case for Wal-Mart Supercenters


WARNING: You may not want to read this if you're one of those people who gets upset when someone talks about a movie you haven't yet seen and " spoils" it for you, even though let's face it you're probably not going to see that movie anyway and if you do it will be when it's on video and you've completely forgotten whatever anyone said about it anyway.

So on to The Mist, which is the movie version of a Stephen King short story
where people in a small town stocking up after a major electrical storm are trapped inside their local grocery store when a strange mist rolls in. They can't see what's in the mist but can hear screams of those that wander in (and also can occasionally see disembodied limbs or torsos).


Overall, I'd say The Mist is worth seeing. Even though I left feeling a little depressed and like I needed to watch cartoons for a while to keep from killing myself. It had all the needed elements of a disaster movie; a religious nut, aisles of canned goods and a hinted hook up between the main "take charge" guy and the nearest blonde woman.


Here are a couple lessons I took from the film.

On principle, I am against the sprawling superstores that crush local business and dash any hopes of community individuality and character. However, if a crisis occurred, this is exactly where I would want to find myself. Inevitably in any disaster/crisis/apocalypse film, people must leave their shelter in search of food, fuel, medicine etc. In The Mist, the small town grocery store is adequate for meeting people's needs until someone gets hurt and needs medicine, so a small band of people make for the pharmacy next door with (predictably) tragic results.

While watching this scene I found myself thinking, if a mysterious mist rolled in to town toting strange creatures from another dimension, I'd high tail my ass to the nearest Super Wal-Mart.

The sturdy cinder block monster houses gas, food, drugs, an indoor/outdoor garden center, everything you need for sustainability should the apocalypse occur. Their anti-birth control policies would make repopulation all the swifter as we rebuild society into a chain of Wal-Mart city-states across the USA. I'm thinking Wal-Mart super centers should adopt this as their marketing strategy: Wal-Mart, the place you want to be when the shit hits the fan.

Another useful lesson I took from the film, if you are not able to find shelter at a super center or have abandoned the super center in favor of the "we must go for help/find other survivors" theory, always have handy a quick and painless way to kill yourself.

You know how when you hear about a friend's computer crashing you think, oh yeah I should really be better about backing my stuff up. That's kind of the feeling I had while watching the final scene of The Mist.

First of all, I'm pretty sure I'm in the group of folks that would remain camped out in the aisles of the store/compound eating pop tarts and playing Nintendo Gameboy, however, if fate brought me out of my cinder block security blanket for whatever reason, I would not want to be in the situation the folks in The Mist found themselves in, a five people with only four bullets scenario. I don't want my last minutes on earth to be spent trying to figure out a logic puzzle. I want to be the person that says, "No really, you all go ahead, I'm covered."


All in all it's a good show. It's suspenseful, there are cow sized spiders and a praying mantis taller than a telephone pole. Plus, it fits within my horror movie escape clause, i.e. there's nothing to fear unless a strange mist is pouring through town. And if it does, you know where to find me.
Happy holiday shopping!