five

Fiving at Three A.M.

From here.

  1. You are awake at 2:30 in the morning on a work night (or school night). What is the most likely reason?
    Well, thanks to increased work on job 2 (which is now job 1), I’m usually up at that hour because I’m working. I kind of set my own schedule, and I’m finding that I work best in the wee hours. If I’m not awake because of that, I’m probably awake because I’m old now and I have to get up and pee two or three times a night.
  2. Time Magazine says you are a candidate for 2014’s Person of the Year. What is the most likely reason?
    For singlehandedly keeping the local Starbucks in business, for my dominance in Scramble with Friends, for smiling at dogs and strangers, and for always making sure the toilet seat is clean and dry in a cafe restroom for whoever uses it after me.
  3. Your hometown is naming a geographical or civil landmark after you, as in Mary’s Creek or David’s Corner. What is the most likely name of this spot?
    Dwyer’s Hill is steep incline about forty yards in length, right in front of my house. I often walk up and down it for an hour or so, listening to podcasts late at night. I don’t have a treadmill and don’t really want one, so I use this hill the way I would use a treadmill if I had one.
  4. Your best friend from high school calls to ask a favor. What is the most likely nature of the favor?
    He hasn’t spoken to me in a while; I pissed him off somehow and don’t really know what I did, but I don’t doubt that it was highly offensive. I’m hoping the favor would be to help him, perhaps with some editing for something important, like wedding vows or maybe a paper for some class he’s taking. But most likely it would be not to come to one of the class reunion events (my class always plans a whole weekend’s worth of get-togethers to make it worthwhile for those who come home from abroad), so he could come and see everyone without having to deal with me.
  5. Twenty-four hours from now, you’ve got a great smile on your face. What is the most likely reason for this smile?
    That would be three in the morning Saturday night. I’m going to say it’s because I’m dreaming of the Raiders beating the Chiefs in a few hours, or maybe I’m dreaming of Julia Stiles buying me a cup of coffee so she can get to know me better.

I should really do the Friday 5 more often. Writing the questions every week isn’t super super super hard, but it is quite a task to try and keep the material fresh.

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Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Meme

Bunch of memes to end the weekend.

Sunday Stealing:

One Thing …..
that makes you smile:
Puppies.

that makes you cry:
Expressions of kindness.

that you love to do on the weekends:
Sleep in.

that you do for only yourself:
I’m going with swimming at the beach, even though I haven’t done much of that since the end of January.

that you have in your underwear drawer that’s NOT underwear:
Cobwebs. I don’t put my clothes in my dresser anymore; it’s only got clothes in it that I haven’t worn in years, plus a few spiders.

that you do before going to sleep:
Set the alarm.

that you do within the first 15 minutes after waking:
Check my phone for messages and notifications.

that’s in your purse:
I don’t have a purse, but in my backpack there is a phone charger, among a few other things.

that you actually LIKE to clean:
I like washing my hair after a swim.

that you DETEST cleaning:
Ah. Windows.

that other people would find odd about you:
I hate getting food on my hands, so I eat potato chips from the bag in a peculiar way: usually with chopsticks.

that you would buy if I handed you a $100 bill:
Food first, since this has been a Weekend of Extreme Frugality.

that you feel you HAVE to do before you die:
There’s one thing that leaps to mind but I think it’s inappropriate for this space, so I’m going with publish a novel.


I changed my mind. I feel like writing, but the memes don’t really interest me right now, and there isn’t anything on my mind worth jotting down here. Maybe I’ll just type whatever I’m thinking for a few moments.

My former boss gave me Season 1 of The Newsroom for Christmas and I finally got around to watching the first six episodes (of ten). It’s quite good. I’d seen Alison Pill in a few things before, but I had no idea she had this in her. She’s the frenetic center of a great cast, including Jeff Daniels and a surprising Sam Waterson. Looking forward to finishing the season, then watching it again with the commentaries. Then probably getting myself Season 2.

The new Yes album was scheduled to be released July 8, but Wikipedia says July 16, and Amazon says July 22. So darn. I’m really looking forward to it. The last album was great, one of my favorites, and this one’s got a new singer. Sometimes a thing like that is what a band of old guys like Yes needs in order to jolt it into something fresh.

I’ve had the same two Netflix DVDs in my possession since the middle of March. I decided, when I rejoined the service a couple of years ago, that I wasn’t going to stress about getting my money’s worth, because that’s what ruined the experience for me the first time. I don’t want this concept of getting my money’s worth to dictate what I will watch or when I will watch it. Just having access to the service is worth the few bucks per month it costs me, the way you pay for the availability of cable television even when you don’t watch it. Still, four months is kind of ridiculous. I finally just ripped both movies (Tiger Eyes and About Time) to my laptop and I’ll watch them sometime this week (then delete them, of course). Time to get past this stasis and get something new in my mailbox. Satisfaction (with Justine Bateman) and Winter’s Bone (Jennifer Lawrence) are up next.

I recently finished John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (I read Looking for Alaska a couple of months ago) and look forward to Shailene Woodley in the main character’s role in the film. Green is a good writer, but boy is his style ostentatious. I’m re-reading Lynne Rae Perkins’s Criss Cross, one of my favorite books, and it is reminding me of what I want to accomplish as a writer. It’s funny, because my writing partner made me read Looking for Alaska, so I made her read Criss Cross. Neither of us likes the other’s book nearly as much as the one we each recommended.

Almost 1:00 in the morning and the laundry is finally done. About to hit the sack. Here’s to a good week.

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I Like to Smash the Noodles Up, Then Pour the Hot Water over Them in a Big Mug

Man, it’s been an exhausting few weeks. I expect the madness to continue for one more, and then I expect a sudden, dramatic silence. Three days a week, I teach these courses and it’s all I have the mental and physical energy to do, despite a four-hour break between classes. I had grand visions for how I’d be using that time, but I was way, way off.

I have to admit that, except for the six hours three days a week I’m teaching class, the summer’s been a bit of a slog. My spirits are down because I’ve been stuck on these last couple of financial things I’m trying to take care of, and the situation at work isn’t helping.

I’m having one of those instant-ramen-for-breakfasts-and-lunches weeks, which I mostly don’t mind: I like instant ramen, and before this week, it had been quite a while since I’d had any. This realization was a neat thing, because I suddenly felt kind of blessed. It’s been more than two years since I had to have a week THIS frugal, and believe me, it’s not because I was rolling in cash. Somehow, I’ve managed to avoid hitting the lower tiers of my famine menus. It really gave me a good attitude, one that I’m still feeling today, a couple of days in.

You hear that sound? That’s me taking a deep breath and just sucking it up.

Friday 5 from here.

  1. What’s your favorite tomato thing?
    Grape tomatoes in a fresh salad with papaya-seed dressing. Number two is probably canned whole tomatoes.
  2. What’s your favorite celery thing?
    I do not like celery, but in very small amounts, it’s pretty good in tuna salad.
  3. What’s your favorite broccoli thing?
    Just plain, blanched broccoli alongside cheesy mashed potatoes. Broccoli is one of my two or three favorite foods.
  4. What’s your favorite eggplant thing?
    I really like it in roasted veggie dishes, like with cauliflower, zucchini, and squash. I think, however, I like even better this stuffed eggplant dish they have at the Chinese restaurant near my house. Yummy.
  5. What’s your favorite spinach thing?
  6. It’s tough to beat spinach artichoke dip! I also really like this Japanese preparation for which you blanche the spinach, then put it in the fridge, then chop it up and mix it with goma ae no moto, a powdery sesame-seed mixture. Oh man, it’s delicious.

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The Sun Shall Not Smite Thee by Day

I’m behind on everything because I’ve had a cold all week. I’m almost better so more deep thoughts by me are just around the corner.

It’s time for the annual Friday 5 Scattergories-inspired questions.

What random letter was generated by the online random-letter generator (this doesn’t really count as one of your five questions)?
I rolled a V. Just great.

  1. What article of clothing, whose name begins with the letter, have you never worn?
    I can’t say for absolute certain that I have never worn a veil, but I honestly can’t think of a time when I would have. So veil.
  2. What book, whose title begins with the letter, are you looking forward to reading?
    Oh, this one is easy. I have so far read only up through T is for Trespass in Sue Grafton’s alphabet murder series featuring Kinsey Milhone. The books have been a great escape for me over the years, and I look forward, when I get there, to V is for Vengeance.
  3. What mode of transportation, whose name begins with the letter, seems like it would be fun?
    My first thought is velocipede, since there are many I have never ridden, but I have ridden bicycles, which are velocipedes, so I guess I can’t really claim that I haven’t ridden one. Oh, you know what? I have never been in a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia and I really want to own one someday.
  4. What form of exercise, whose name begins with the letter, have you recently engaged in?
    How about vigorous housecleaning? Sorry, it’s the best I can offer. But you know, I’m talking about don’t-slow-down, dedicated housecleaning. It’s a workout.
  5. What fictional character, whose name begins with the letter, would be good company on a long trip?
    I’m going way, way off the board here and taking Vicky Austin, the main character of four books by my favorite writer, Madeleine L’Engle. She’s smart, she’s pretty, and she’s the sort of girl I’ve been looking for my whole life. Interestingly (or not), the plot of her second book, The Moon by Night (my favorite in the series), involves a cross-country family car trip, so I already know I’d enjoy spending the time with her because I sort of already have. About twenty times.
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A Couple of Memes

Sunday Stealing.

  1. Last time you had butterflies in your stomach?
    Probably about a year ago when I interviewed for this job. I was nervous and spoke WAY too much and altogether too quickly, but my boss said I did okay.
  2. What was your last alcoholic beverage?
    I had a beer Friday night, some orange-flavored Blue Moon variety. It was extremely drinkable and pretty tasty. Would have been a good breakfast beer.
  3. Who can you trust?
    I trust almost everyone. It’s the only way to help people be trustworthy. And the world is a better place when we trust each other; I sincerely believe this.
  4. Where was your first kiss with your current significant other?
    I don’t have a significant other, but my first kiss with my most recent significant other was in Tennessee one summer.
  5. Favorite Band?
    The last time I answered this question, I think I said Spock’s Beard, but that was several years ago. Now I think it’s the Choir. Their new album, which I will be reviewing in this space before too long, is amazing.
  6. What is something you’ve learned about yourself recently?
    I’ve learned that I’m still capable of making myself feel the kind of stress that makes it impossible to turn my head in either direction, a debilitating stress I haven’t felt in a very, very long time. I kind of thought I was past that.
  7. Do you like anyone?
    I do. I’m very fond of an elementary school teacher I know, someone I’ve been friends with for about twenty-three years. I have a very strong suspicion that she knows about my fondness and is trying to discourage it. I plan not to be deterred for a while. Once I get up enough courage to make an earnest move.
  8. Do you know anyone who is engaged?
    I did, but they got married this past weekend. I’m trying to remember if there’s someone else and I’m not coming up with anything. How about Leonard and Penny?
  9. What’s your favorite number?
    The worst thing about these memes is that those of us who’ve been doing them for a long time get asked the same questions. Over and over. And over. My favorite numbers, in order, are 12, 32, and pi.
  10. Who was the last person to make you cry?
    Gregg Popovich, when he was interviewed by Craig Sager, Jr. Popovich is the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, and he is notorious for being curt, abrasive, and downright rude during in-game courtside interviews (and I don’t blame him; those interviews are so stupid and they never really reveal anything). He has a talent for making even the most intelligent interviewers look stupid. But Craig Sager, Sr. had been in the hospital for a couple of days, fighting leukemia, when this interview took place, and when Pop did this, I got teary-eyed the first twenty times I watched it.

  11. Did you ever go to camp as a kid?
    I was a Boy Scout. Camping is the whole reason for being a Boy Scout. In some ways, I feel more comfortable in a sleeping bag in a tent than I do in my own bed.
  12. When was the last time you cried?
    When I watched that interview with Popovich and Sager Jr. Aren’t you listening?
  13. What is one thing you miss about your past?
    I miss being completely certain I was right, even when I was wrong. I miss being R’s friend. I miss being in the classroom. I miss my friend Ryan. I miss Mark Heard and Gene Eugene. I miss the metabolism I enjoyed when I was young.
  14. What is one thing you’ve learned about life?
    Ugh. What a stupid question. For today, I’ll go with this: I’ve learned that there is no reason not to keep smiling, no matter how things are turning out. The people around you deserve a smile and can be encouraged by a smile, so why not give it?
  15. Are you jealous of anyone?
    Jealousy is one of the least-productive emotions in the book, and I do my darndest not to go that route. I have felt twinges of jealousy in recent years, but I would like to believe I have risen above those twinges and stayed positive.
  16. Is anyone jealous of you?
    Ha. For once in my life, I think I can safely say no. There is much about my life to be envied, but I think the people around me have no need to be jealous about any of them.
  17. Has a friend ever used you?
    I suppose, but I like being used by my friends. That’s what I’m here for. Use me. One of the worst thing you can do is tell someone you’re his friend and then never ask anything of that friendship.
  18. Has anyone recently told you that they like you more than as a friend?
    Wow. No. It’s been eons. I don’t think Mochi Girl even told me that.
  19. Who was the last person you drove with?
    I took Anto home from his birthday dinner at Chili’s. That was about a month ago.
  20. What are you looking forward to?
    I’m teaching a couple of computer classes beginning next week and am itching to get started. Also, I’m going to try to get some long-overdue bodywork done on my car soon, and I’m really, really looking forward to getting that checked off my list.

These won’t publish until several hours from now, but here’s the Friday 5 a little early.

  1. A breakfast sandwich is typically made with some kind of bread with egg, cheese, and some kind of breakfast meat. What’s the best variation on this theme you’ve tried, or what variation would you like to try?
    I’ve seen this in a couple of places (Carl’s Jr. and the recently deceased Byron’s Drive-In) and it always puzzled me that the fast-food places don’t offer it regularly: a breakfast hamburger. Also, when I make a breakfast sandwich at home, I like it with a nice, yolky, over-easy egg, and I don’t understand why the fast-food places don’t offer that as an option.
  2. A sandwich cookie is typically made with two thin cookies with some kind of sweet, creamy filling. What’s the best variation on this theme you have tried, or what variation would you like to try?
    Can’t remember the name, but I really used to like those slightly thicker flower-shaped sandwich cookies with the hole in the middle. Also, the only Girl Scout Cookies I ever really liked were the All-Abouts, a vanilla sandwich cookie they discontinued a few years ago.
  3. A melt sandwich (such as a tuna melt) is typically some kind of bread with some kind of filling plus some kind of cheese, grilled or fried until the cheese is melted. What’s the best variation on this sandwich you’ve tried, or what variation would you like to try?
    I’m a big fan of the Monte Cristo: a turkey and cheese sandwich between slices of French toast (or dipped entirely in French toast batter and then griddled), with grape jelly on the side. Holy, holy moly. I would like to try a Monte Cristo with thin, Philly-style slices of steak and provolone.
  4. If all you do is smear some peanut butter and jelly between two slices of bread, you have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. What do you do in order to make yours just a little better?
    Have you ever had Uncrustables? Man, those things are great. So although I’m a crust-eater, for PB&J, I like to cut the crusts off. Also, I’ve taken to making my own peanut butter in my food processor, and the difference is astounding. This might be cheating, but I also prefer PB and honey, so that’s usually the route I’ll go.
  5. What are your thoughts on sprouts in a sandwich?
    Sprouts——especially alfalfa, onion, or radish sprouts——make a good sandwich great. I freaking love the freshness they add, and that little bit of bitterness and that little bit of crunch. Lettuce on a sandwich? Boring. Sprouts on a sandwich? Exciting!
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A Movie Meme

From here.

A Movie Meme

  1. What is your all-time favorite “costume” movie or period piece?
    Not sure if this link to my Criticker ratings will work, but according to them, my highest-rated period pieces are Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (set in 1779) with a rating of 94 and Les Miserables (set in 1815) with a rating of 93. Those are some pretty good representatives. I love costume dramas. Other faves are Dangerous Liaisons (92 rating), Little Women (rating 91, the one with Winona Ryder and Kirsten Dunst), and Sense and Sensibility (91, with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet).
  2. What classic film would you nominate for a remake?
    You know, as much as I love Key Largo, which stars my favorite actor and favorite actress, I’ll bet a movie like that could be a great remake with the right actors and director. Maybe someone like Sam Rockwell in the Bogey role and Julia Stiles in the Bacall role?
  3. Name your favorite femme fatale.
    Boy, it’s tough to beat Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, but I also love Kathleen Turner in Body Heat, a film I remember almost nothing about.
  4. Name the best movie with the word “heaven” in its title.
    I’m going way off the board here with Made in Heaven, a forgotten 1987 film with Kelly McGillis and Timothy Hutton, and one of the neatest romantic films I’ve seen. Cameos by Ric Ocasek and Tom Petty are cool too.
  5. Describe the worst performance by a child actor that you’ve ever seen.
    I actually dislike most performances by child actors because I think few of them are actually acting, according to my understanding of the concept. I’ll tell you what, though: a lot of people loved Jonathan Lipnicki in Jerry Maguire, a movie I hate, and I thought he was awful in it. Sorry Jonathan if you’re reading this; it’s not your fault. I just really hate that movie.
  6. Who gets your vote for most tragic movie monster?
    Does the Beast in Beauty and the Beast count? Because if he does, I’m going with him. Shout-out to the original King Kong, too.
  7. What is the one Western that you would recommend to anybody?
    I think I’ll go with John Wayne’s The Shootist (1979), which also stars Ron Howard and Lauren Bacall. There’s something sweet about this film, and the Bacall/Wayne dynamic is charming.
  8. Who is your ideal movie-viewing partner?
    It was R, but I guess we’ll never see a movie together again. Penny’s good because she’s always down for a good conversation about the film afterward. I have this other friend, who shall remain nameless but probably knows who she is, with whom I have seen several late-night movies over the past couple of years, and she’s great but I wish she’d sit just a little bit closer to me. She’s the only person I leave that armrest up for and she never takes advantage.
  9. Has a film ever made you want to change your life? If so, what was the film?
    This is one of the cinema’s greatest gifts: the ability to inspire us to be bigger and better and nicer and realer than we are. More than escapism, more than enlightenment, this one aspect of a great film is what makes me love film. Off the top of my head, in recent years I can name Akeelah and the Bee, Juno, The Hobbit, The Impossible, Groundhog Day, and Cast Away.
  10. Think of one performer that you truly love. Now think of one scene/movie/performance of theirs that is too uncomfortable for you to watch.
    Boy, I’ll tell you what: Anne Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” scene in Les Miserables is a beautiful thing, but it’s very hard to watch.
  11. On the flip side, think of one really good scene/performance/movie from a performer that you truly loathe.
    I know there are actors I loathe, but they escape me for some reason, so I’ll mention two I’m not especially fond of who recently surprised me. Benedict Cumberbatch, whom everyone just adores, is so ubiquitous and overrated. He has this way of overacting that I think passes for underacting somehow, but I’m not fooled. But man, he’s really, really good in August: Osage County. As I mention in my review of that film, I just did not think he had that in him. I’ve also never been a fan of Rob Lowe, and while he’s not outstanding in About Last Night…, it’s a strong movie and he does a pretty decent job.
  12. What movie has the best soundtrack?
    Best soundtrack, as in a list of the songs that are played in the movie, is Inside Llewyn Davis. Best score, as in all the music you hear during the film, is easily Ennio Morricone’s of The Mission.
  13. Favorite actor with a mustache?
    I’m assuming mustache means without a beard? It’s tough to beat Wilford Brimley. That mustache should be nominated for a lifetime achievement Oscar.
  14. Shadowy film noir from the 1940s or splashy colorful musicals from the 1950s?
    No contest. Give me a noir almost any day. There’s a reason Humphrey Bogart, and not Bing Crosby, is my favorite actor.
  15. Favorite classic Disney?
    Pinocchio among the first wave. Beauty and the Beast from the second wave.
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