Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Snooze Bandit Strikes Again

I am one of THOSE people. You know the ones. The people who set their alarms to go off almost a full hour before they have to actually get up. The people who hit the snooze button over and over and over again. That's me. It's a problem, I know. But admitting that I have a problem is the first step, right?

If you have ever lived (or spent the night) with one of these people, you know how annoying this can be. I have had roommates come from the opposite side of an apartment to tell me that my alarm was going off. I don't hear it. Why? Because I don't want to. My bed, as uncomfortable as my mattress can be, is my refuge from the world - my warm, cozy safe haven from all the worries of the day. And Smelly the Beast Dog loves it too. In fact she contributes to my daily reluctance to get up because as soon as she hears the alarm, she moves closer to me and snuggles close.

When I was a kid, my mom would call upstairs on the intercom to wake my brother and me up in the morning. Each of us would dangle a leg out of the bed and pound our heel on the floor to indicate that we were "up and at 'em," but that was rarely the case. I'm surprised I didn't get in more trouble because I was ALWAYS late to school.

I'm a night person, you see, and mornings are my mortal enemy. I love to sleep and always have, but since I went off to college 14 (yikes!) years ago, I've been running at a deficit. Because I am a night owl, I have a hard time getting to bed before midnight or 1 AM, so when the alarm goes off at 5:45, I'm not a happy camper. Logic would dictate that I should try to get to bed earlier. My internal clock, however, does not run on logic.

I have tried though. All those silly little tricks they say work: going to bed by 10 PM; sleeping with the blinds open so the sun can wake you gradually and naturally in the morning; setting your clock for the actual time that you need to get up; not eating or drinking caffeinated drinks before bed. None of that works for me.

So, to all my former and current roommates and overnight guests, please forgive me and try to understand that I don't push the snooze button to annoy you. I do it because I HAVE to.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Why Women go to the Bathroom Together . . .

Men have always wanted to know the answer to one of the greatest mysteries of human kind: Why do women go to the bathroom together? And, despite the possible repercussions for divulging the answer to this well-kept secret, I will now explain to all of you guys out there why we women feel the need to travel to the bathroom in packs.

It's to make out. Not really. (But you know that's what you were thinking!) It's not as simple as that though. There are actually several reasons why we do it.

  1. TO TALK ABOUT YOU (GUYS): The bathroom is where we can freely express our opinions about your personality, hygiene, sense of humor, fashion sense (or lack thereof), and other traits. Our friends are our sounding boards, and the bathroom is a safe haven for free and uncensored feedback.
  2. FOR SECOND OPINIONS: This one isn't about you guys. It's about us. Is our skirt tucked into our pantyhose? Does our lipstick look whorish? Does our hair look better up or down? You know, girly stuff.
  3. THOSE PESKY FEMALE ISSUES: We know anything related to menstrual cycles freaks you out, so we bring our girlfriends with us to the bathroom so that we can ask if they have a tampon/ maxi pad/ or Midol out of your ear shot.
  4. FOR SECURITY: There is safety in numbers. If we are in a sketchy place, we feel safer if we have someone with us. Also, it could be that we are afraid to leave our friend alone with you. (Bet you hadn't thought of that!)
  5. TO RUN INTERFERENCE: If you've ever been to a bar or sporting event or concert, you know what I'm talking about. There is a line for the women's bathroom that is 45 girls deep. The men are walking in and out with no line. So, putting our mental and physical well-being aside (because, quite frankly, you guys are nasty), we commandeer the men's room. This requires at least two women: one to pee and one to stand guard. (But it works better when there are more women to handle the belligerent drunk guys who try to push past).
  6. TO DO DRUGS OR PUKE: These are not the kind of girls you want to get involved with. If your date and her friend make repeated trips to the bathroom and come back talking a mile a minute and constantly sniffing and wiping their noses, you should call it a night (without her). And if she eats six bites of her dinner and then rushes off to the bathroom, emerging 15 minutes later looking a little worse for the wear, she is probably a "friend of Ana" and that usually means she's got all kinds of other issues to deal with. (And she has taken her friend with her to hold her hair or to make sure that she doesn't have up-chuck on her clothes.)
  7. TO MAKE OUT: Yes. Sometimes that REALLY is the reason why we go to the bathroom with a friend in tow. But don't get too excited. If the girl you are with is in the bathroom making out with her friend, she is intentionally leaving you out for a reason.

I hope this has helped clear up any confusion.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What A Way to Start the Day!

Picture this . . . it's 4 AM and Helen is snuggled beneath the covers, happily dreaming about this and that. She rolls over, reaching for Smelly the Beast Dog, and instead encounters . . . a puddle on the other side of the bed.

Yup. That's what I awoke to this morning. So I got up, stripped and remade the bed, hand-washed my coverlet (because it's too big for the machine), and showered. After all that, I can safely say that I was WIDE awake, so I just went to work. At 6 AM. Ugh.

Some people think I should be furious with her, because this isn't the first time this has happened. (Far from it.) But, you see, Smelly has a bit of a urinary incontinence issue. And it's not her fault. When she was "fixed" at the ripe old age of 6 months, they messed up her plumbing, and now, about every 3 months, she gets a bladder infection and she "leaks" in her sleep. She also has to take medicine every day. As you can imagine, this is a costly proposition.

The last time we went, the vet (not the one who fixed her . . . we stopped going there when they insisted her wetting was a behavioral issue!) suggested that I put her on some super-duper hardcore broad-spectrum antibiotics to see if we could kill whatever was in her system that kept coming back. I was all for it . . . until I found out that the $20 antibiotics I normally got for her were being replaced by $360 antibiotics.

For those of you who have pets and live on a budget, you have probably encountered "the look" from your vet. This is the look that says: "I cannot believe that you would deprive your pet of every possible treatment method to extend and improve its quality of life. You should sell your ass on the corner so that you can afford this ten thousand dollar surgery. Your kids can pay for their own college." Whenever I see this look, I feel these ravenous pangs of guilt ripping through my gut. Then I get over it.

There is not much that I wouldn't do for my dog. I will love her until her dying breath (or mine) and if there is something that I can do that will improve her life, I am all over it. But does sedating her so that they can jam a needle in her bladder and then pump her full of so many chemicals that she can't properly digest her food (pssst . . . that's code for "she gets the runs") for a month really improving her life? I'm doubtful.

What I really want to know is if there are any holistic remedies for these types of issues in dogs. Does cranberry juice work on dogs like it does on people? And how do you get a dog to drink cranberry juice? I'm going to have to do some research.

The Most Excellent of Ideas*

As I sat here on this beautiful day staring out my office window, thinking of all the weekend trips and adventures I have planned over the next few months, I came up with the most excellent of ideas: 4-DAY WEEKENDS. And not just every once in a while. All the time.

Now, there are those of you who think this is just a pipe dream. You are thinking "no one can get paid the same salary and only work three days a week! That's poppy cock!" But really, it isn't such a hair-brained scheme!

Think about it. How much of your time at work do you spend goofing off? If you're like most people, it's a lot. There are the legitimate excuses for being away from your desk, such as bathroom and meal breaks. But how many times a day do you get up and wander around the office to say hello to your friends, get refills of coffee (or some other equally caffeinated beverage), or smoke a cigarette? How much time do you spend checking web sites for the latest international news (or gossip), or the weather, or your friends' blogs? And what about online shopping!

My point is this . . . we could get just as much REAL WORK done in a 30 hour week. I mean, seriously, most of the people I work with goof off for a minimum of 2 hours a day, and some goof off for at least half of the day! Then we could work 3 ten-hour days and be done with it. Of course, there will be those who don't like the idea of a 10 hour day, but they can have the option of working 4 days a week if they really want to.

Now who is with me on this? We need a revolution! Workers of America UNITE!

(*I am in serious need of a vacation. Please take all of this as a desperate cry for help.)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sometimes Virginia's Totally Unpredictable Weather is a Good Thing!

So, it's Sunday, and much to my surprise, it is what can only be described as a GLORIOUS day outside. I had been prepared for the worst (with this week's earlier forecast of yuckiness), but I woke to chirping birds and sunshine. The sky reminded me of the an elementary school art project - stretched out cotton balls glued to bright blue construction paper.

I just had an extended brunch with my new friend Yogi. I met Yogi through mutual friends, and she is also a part of the screenwriting group in which I am involved. We sat on the patio enjoying the perfect weather and chatting about a little bit of everything. What a perfect way to spend the day.

I hope everyone else is enjoying this day as much as I am! And if you're reading this today, get off the computer, go outside, and enjoy the sunshine!!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Camping Season Is Almost Upon Us!

It's almost time to pull out the camping gear and trek off into the woods for a few days of rest and relaxation.

I love to camp. I think it's my inner tomboy crying out to be freed from the bonds of pantyhose and eyeliner. And there is nothing better than getting away from it all by cooking over an open fire, sleeping on the hard ground, and drinking way too much.

Anyway, I hope to have some really interesting camping stories to share with you before long. In the meantime, wander over to Puntabulous and read about his exciting "camping" trip. By "camping" he really means staying in a fully furnished lake house. Bear with him . . . he's a city slicker from NYC.

DC Bloggers, Unite!

Please visit Sour 'n' Sweet to read this heartbreaking story . . .

That's a Slight Improvement . . .

So when I posted last night about the weather being crappy this weekend, it called for showers all weekend. Today, there is a slight improvement in the forecast . . . mostly sunny on Sunday. I'll take it!

I wish I had been a weather man. (Weather girl? Weather lady? Weather person?) How many professions do you know of where you can be wrong SO MUCH of the time and still have a job?! And they are pretty well paid, especially when you take into consideration the fact that they don't ever REALLY know what is going to happen!!

I think I missed my calling.

Some Call Them Annoying. I Call Them Endearing.

Yes, folks. I'm talking about my personality quirks. Just so you know that Helen Skor is a real, live, flesh-and-blood human being, I thought I would share with you a few of my idiosyncratic behaviors.
  1. Laundry - I hate doing laundry, but I hate having dirty clothes even more. If I take something out of the closet to wear and I decide I'm either not in the mood for it or I look like an Orca with it on, off it goes into the laundry basket. Yes, I had it on for 30 seconds, but it has now officially been worn.
  2. Ironing - I despise ironing. Not because the actual act of ironing is terrible. But because the whole process of getting out the ironing board and iron, filling the iron, draining the water from the iron, and putting the ironing board away when you're done is a big old pain in the butt. How do I solve this problem? About once a month, I sit down with a big old pile of clean laundry on a Sunday afternoon and iron for about 4 or 5 hours straight.
  3. Closet Space - I need a lot of it, and luckily I have plenty in my place. I have two closets in my room. The left closet is neatly arranged from left to right: formal dresses, casual dresses, sweaters that need to hang, skooters, short skirts, capris, dress pants, long skirts. Naturally, these are subdivided by color. My right-hand closet is tops: button-ups for work, going out shirts, casual shirts, camisoles, dressy tanks. Again organized by color. (ROY G. BIV is a close personal friend of mine!).
  4. My Underwear Drawers - I have two drawers in my dresser for underwear. The top drawer is for bras, and the next drawer down is for underwear. If you need proof of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you need look no further than these two drawers. I admit it . . . I fold my underwear. The good stuff goes in the front. The not-so-good stuff goes in the back. And if it's really not good, it goes in the trash, no matter how comfortable it is.

And these are just the weird things I do with my clothes. I think it has to do with the fact that I never really had a lot growing up. My parents weren't rich, but we also were never lacking anything that we needed. I wore my brother's hand-me-downs for years and years, so I always dressed like a boy . . . t-shirts and jeans all the time. But even then, my t-shirts were always ironed with military precision and carefully hung in the closet (but NEVER with wire hangers!).

These days, I am much more girly in my choice of attire. And, finally, I have "expendable income" to waste (I mean "invest") on my wardrobe. And I do a LOT of investing. Just ask Jo! But those old lessons die hard. So, in reality, I'm not OCD . . . just meticulous.

How to Make Kick-Ass-Paragus

I've decided that I'm going to share some of my favorite recipes from time to time, starting now. I would love to be able to do nothing but cook for a living. The grocery shopping and dish washing, however, is another story!

I've been told that I'm pretty good in the kitchen, so when I make something that goes over particularly well, I will post the recipe here.

  • On a baking sheet, spread out 1 lb. of asparagus with the base ends cut off about 1 1/2 inches from the bottom.
  • Drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Sprinkle with garlic salt, onion flakes, and a small amount of Montreal Steak seasoning.
  • If you have them, add some pine nuts. Baby Portabello mushrooms also make a nice addition.
  • Bake in the oven uncovered at 350 degrees until they reach the preferred level of doneness.
Some people like theirs still crispy, while others prefer it to be the same consistency as the stuff you get in the cans (yuck!). It's really just a matter of taste. You can also use this same recipe on the grill by wrapping the ingredients in aluminum foil and cooking over medium heat. Asparagus is great, because it can be served hot or cold, and is always delicious. This recipe is quick, easy, and healthy. And, as most people know, it makes your pee smell funny!

Color Me Annoyed . . .

What the hell happened to the weekend weather forecast? Earlier this week (um, yesterday!) the weather guy said it was going to be in the sixties and sunny all weekend. I just checked and saw this! I'm so annoyed. I have a big birthday bash for Beaver's mom on Saturday night, and the rain is totally going to ruin my hair. (Trust me . . . naturally fine, extremely curly hair and humidity do not a happy combination make!)

Come. Sit. Stay a While.

Spring has finally sprung here in the Metro DC area, and I couldn’t be any happier to welcome it back. And I hope it sticks this time! Winter was a bummer this year . . . it was warm during Christmas, and although it eventually got really cold, we never did get very much snow around here. And seriously, what good is cold weather without snow?!

Spring is my favorite season. Mostly, because it reminds me of my time at JMU (Go Dukes!!). My friends and I used to always go get lunch at PC Dukes and then go sit out in the grass near our dorm, eat lunch, and catch a few rays (and maybe a nap). Of course, reminiscing about days long gone makes me want to find an excuse to call out of work tomorrow and sit on my back patio, read a good book, and grill out. That’s out of the question though, so I guess I’ll have to wait until Sunday for that!

Anyway, I hope you are all enjoying these beautiful days as much as I. The weather is supposed to be beautiful all weekend, so try to make the most of it!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Why I Wish I Had More Gay Friends . . .

I used to have a best friend who was gay, and he was perfect. He eventually started dating someone seriously and then disappeared into the dark underworld of "life partnership," never to be seen at a cool place ever again. I miss him.

There are certain things that you can do with a gay friend that you can't do with a straight guy or even with your girlfriends. That's why I wish I had more gay friends.

Some examples of why I love gay men:

  1. They take you out to awesome dance clubs and dirty dance with you all night like you are the hottest piece of ass in the place, but you don't have to worry about late-night expectations.
  2. They will spoon with you if need someone to cuddle with.
  3. They will be honest when you wear something that you shouldn't, but in a way that won't totally destroy your self-esteem. (e.g.- "Honey, that's not for you . . . why don't you try this top instead?!")
  4. When you wear a new outfit or do your hair in a new way, they always notice and tell you how fierce you look.
  5. Unlike girlfriends, you don't have to compete with them for men. (Unless the guy you're interested in is bi.)
  6. They will sit around with you and watch Lifetime Movie Network for 10 hours straight on a Sunday afternoon while completely hung over.
  7. They will go get a mani /pedi with you.
  8. They don't bitch about how long it takes you to get ready to go out.
  9. Even though most of the time they seem like "just one of the girls," they are still very much men, so they can open stuck lids and kill bugs.
  10. They provide very useful insight into the male psyche.

I guess it all goes back to something my mom once told me: "There's nothing like a good fag for a friend." Alas, she was right. Although I'm not so sure I'm comfortable with her choice of words.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I have recently been told that I can come across as combative. I know, I know. It's shocking that someone would say that about me. The context in which I was informed of this went a little something like this: "Rick is attracted to you, but he's afraid to ask you out because he said you can be a little combative." So how did I respond to this revelation? I immediately went on MySpace and changed my screen name to "Combative" to be ironic. Well, the irony of that is that it was the single most combative thing I could have done besides calling Rick and telling him to eff off. (Especially since Rick is on my friends list.) So I'm starting to think there might be some truth to it, and it's a hard thing to accept. But acceptance is the first step.

Last night, I was out with Jo, Bergle, and another friend, and we got into a discussion about tipping. It quickly deteriorated from a discussion to a heated debate between Jo and me. (Bergle, wise man that he is, opted to stay out of it!)

I found myself getting really ticked with Jo because she wouldn't admit that she might be wrong about how much the average tipper leaves. She claimed that it was 12 - 14%, and I argued that it was 18%. She was making the point that when she was a server, she usually made about 14%. I was arguing that, when I was serving, I used to pull in about 18 - 20%. This "discussion" went on and on and on with no resolution.

But how could there be? Here I was getting pissed because Jo wouldn't concede that I was right, but at the same time, I wasn't even considering the possibility that maybe SHE was right. Or that we were both right, and it really just depends on where you work. She had worked in places that catered to teenagers and a much more "mature" crowd (read as: OLD FARTS) here in Northern Virginia, while I had worked at places that catered to a 40-something crowd of regulars in a small town (and many of my customers knew my parents). If you've ever worked in the restaurant business, you probably already know that teenagers and people over 65, in general, aren't very good tippers. And people who know your parents are NOT going to stiff you. So really, we were both right.

This begs a question, however. What is REALLY the average amount that people tip on a restaurant meal? For me, the server starts out with a 20% tip. If they do a decent job of keeping my drink full, bringing me the things that I need, and keeping me informed if the kitchen is running behind, the will get 20%. If I have to chase them down for a drink refill or a bottle of ketchup, their tip will go down. If the service is really fantastic, I've been known to leave a 30 or 40% tip. And if the service is so bad that I feel inclined to leave less than 15%, I am probably going to end up talking to the manager before the meal is over . . . but I will still tip. And Jo pretty much has the same attitude about tipping as me.

But what do YOU consider the average tip? Most restaurants charge 18% gratuity on parties of 8 or more . . . is that the standard tipping rate?

And Jo . . . I'm sorry for being so combative. :-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

On a Love Lost . . .

Jo is in a bit of a panic this morning worrying about the "what if's" in life because of a post on I Now Pronounce You. It has gotten me thinking about what happens when you lose someone, especially if that someone is THE One.

I'm going to lay bare the "Story of Helen" for you folks who don't know me. I come from a good home in a small town. I have wonderful (if overprotective) parents who are still married, and a brother who has always been my best friend, even if I don't get to see him that often. All in all, I have lived a charmed life. My biggest problems through the years have been my insecurity and poor decision-making skills.

When I was in college, I met and fell in love with a guy named Mark. (And no, this is one name that I haven't changed.) Mark was a transfer to JMU from New York, and was just what I needed in my life.

When I was at JMU, I spent my first year wanting to transfer because I was miserable and lonely. My sophomore year, I started making more friends, but I also started drinking a lot, and doing things that I am not particularly proud of. I did quite a lot of those things, got myself in some bad situations, and I'm pretty lucky that I came out of it all relatively unscathed. As my junior year started, I met Mark, and it didn't take me long to realize that this guy was something special. But, like so many of the good things in life, you can't really appreciate them until they are gone.

To say that I was an emotional mess in college (and the few years that followed) is pretty much the understatement of the century. I was so insecure about losing Mark to another girl that I was utterly psychotic about it. I went through some pretty dark times, and despite the fact that everyone else our age was out having a good time, he stayed with me while I cried for days on end. And when I wasn't crying, I was in a rage about one thing or another. Quite frankly, I made his life a living hell. In all fairness though, when things were good, they were really good. I guess that's why he put up with me for so long.

Mark, however, realized something that took me a long time to figure out: As long as I was with him, no matter what he did, I wasn't going to change. So he walked away. I was devastated, because when he left that last time I knew I wasn't going to see him again. And a little part of me died.

But don't worry kids . . . despite its rocky start, this isn't a tragedy I'm sharing with you. Because that little part of me that died was the weak part. Think of it as natural selection for the soul. For the first time in my life, I was truly alone. For the first time, I had to stand on my own two feet and make it. And I did. I wasn't necessarily tap dancing through my days, but I was getting up, going to work, hanging out with friends, and laughing from time to time.

Then I met Mikey. Yes, the famous "Tall Glass of Crazy" guy whose name has been changed to protect his identity. Do you know the best way to cure you of your past psychotic/ needy/ annoying/ cunty behavior? A little role reversal, my friend. This time around, I was filling the role played by Mark, and Mikey was playing me. All of the crap that I had put Mark through the first time around was suddenly painfully clear to me. But I tried to make it work. And I failed (well, "failed" isn't exactly the right word). I realized the same thing that Mark had: you can't change other people, they have to change themselves.

I'm 31 years old now. I'm single. There is no house with a white picket fence, no husband, no kids. (I do have a dog though, so there is that small victory!) But you know what? Despite the occasional bad day, I like my life. I'm happy. I laugh far more than I cry, I have great friends, and I'm independent. And when the Next One comes around, I'll be ready for him in a way that I was never ready for him when I was younger.

And to Mark, if you ever happen to stumble across this blog . . . Thank you. You saved my life. And although you have no place in my future, there will always be a place for you in my heart.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Attention all animal lovers out there . . . if you feed your cat or dog wet food, please be sure you go here to read a press release about a MAJOR pet food recall affecting Iams, Eukanuba, and tons of different store brands (including Ol'Roy, which is what Smelly eats)!
Your animal's life could depend on your knowledge of this recall. A complete list of affected brands is available here.

And She Ran . . .

C-Reg had another race this weekend for the Backyard Burn series. Now, I do want all of you to know that C-Reg takes this whole thing quite seriously. So seriously, in fact, that she went home at 9 PM on St. Patrick's Day (and Pita's birthday) without drinking a drop of alcohol so that she would be ready for her race in the morning. That's dedication.

And her dedication paid off . . . she came in FIRST this time. In fact, she totally kicked the ass of the girl who won last week (by well over a minute!) and now she is first overall for the women!! Go, C-Reg!! Keep up the good work.

The 10 Best Movie Performances by Kids

Pajiba had an article a while ago about the best performances by children (under the age of 13) in movies. While I agreed with some of the choices, I have my own ideas about who should be in the top 10. It has taken me a long time to get around to it, but I have finally come up with my own list.

In no particular order they are:

Christian Bale: Empire of the Sun-

First of all, if you have not yet seen this movie, you need to rent it this weekend. In my opinion, it's the best movie Spielberg has ever made.

Synopsis: Empire of the Sun is basically about a spoiled British kid (James Graham) living in Shanghai trying to survive after being separated from his parents after the Japanese invade. He is eventually captured and put in an internment camp. The movie is poignant and the cinematography is amazing. (I love the scene where he is in the stadium with all the valuables that were taken from private homes.)

Christian Bale takes you from hating Jim, to laughing with/at him, to being utterly heartbroken for him. You will roll your eyes, laugh, cry, cheer, and then cry some more.

Like Christian Bale? Check him out in The Machinist.

Macaulay Culkin: The Good Son -

Forget about those stupid Home Alone movies. They were made to get families with kids to the movie theaters and they did a great job of that (and of keeping Joe Pesci working).

Synopsis: After his mother's death, a young boy, Mark (Elijah Wood), goes to stay with his aunt and uncle while his dad goes on a business trip. Mark makes fast friends with his cousin Henry (played by Culkin). But after seeing Henry in action, Mark realizes that Henry is truly evil, and has to keep Henry from hurting others, because no one believes Mark's stories about Henry.

Macaulay Culkin is utterly convincing as a depraved psycho. Seriously . . . if I ever ran into Mac Culkin I would probably run for my life. In the final scene where the boys are hanging over the cliff and the mother has to decide whether to save her son or her nephew . . . wow.

Like Macaulay Culkin? Check out Saved!

Elijah Wood & Thora Birch: Paradise -

First of all, let me forewarn you about this movie: The two main adult leads are Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith. But you shouldn't let that stop you from seeing this movie.

Synopsis: Willard Young (Wood) goes to stay with his mother's friend Lily (Griffith) and her husband Ben (Johnson) after his father runs off with another woman. Lily and Ben are having marital problems which started after the death of their son. Willard naturally brings the couple back together by reminding them how much they love each other, and they all live happily ever after.

Cheesy, right? Not really. Elijah Wood, who was only 8 or 9 when the movie was made, already showed a great deal of range as an actor. And his co-star, a very precocious Thora Birch (as Billie Pike) is the perfect counterbalance to Willard's pensive, introverted personality. She is nosy, bossy, and just kind of a brat, but at the same time she is a vulnerable, wounded child who really just wants someone to love her unconditionally.

Like Elijah Wood? Check him out in The War, The Ice Storm, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Like Thora Birch? Check her out in American Beauty and The Hole.

Anna Pacquin: The Piano -

This is another must-see movie. Forget for a moment that we are talking about performances by children. Holly Hunter kicked ass in this movie. Oh, and as an added incentive, Harvey Keitel went full frontal.

Synopsis: Ada (Hunter), a mute Englishwoman, moves to New Zealand for an arranged marriage along with her young daughter, Flora (Pacquin), and her prized piano. Her new husband then sells her piano to a neighbor, George (Keitel), who Ada then begins having an affair with. Drama ensues.

Flora (to use Jo's word) is cunty. But when you look at what she has been through, you kind of can't blame her. She is the sole link between her mother and the speaking world; she is hauled off to a strange land; she has no friends her own age. But at the same time, she and her mother have a very close relationship, although not in a traditional mother-daughter sense.

Like Anna? Check her out in A Walk on the Moon and Almost Famous.

Abigail Breslin: Little Miss Sunshine -

Synopsis: Olive Hoover (Breslin), a chubby, glasses-wearing, little girl wants nothing more than to be in the Little Miss Sunshine Pageant, and her father (Greg Kinear) has convinced her that she can win, much to her mother's (Toni Colette) chagrin. The family takes off on the road for the pageant and hilarity (and tragedy) ensues.

If this movie was nothing but the last 10 minutes, it would be well worth the cost of admission to go see it. But when you throw in this horribly flawed cast of characters, and the dynamics between them all, you get one of the best movies I've seen in quite a while. And Olive is a jewel . . . this is a child with no fear (or is she just completely oblivious?!) who is somehow able to bring her dysfunctional family together for a common goal. By the time she was about 30 seconds into her dance finale, I found myself cheering aloud for her, because you just want this little underdog to come out on top.

Like Abby? Check her out in Signs.

Rory Culkin: Mean Creek -

Synopsis: Rory plays Sam, a quiet kid who is being bullied by George. When Sam admits this to his older brother, he and some friends come up with a plan to get their revenge on George. But what was supposed to be a prank goes sour, things quickly start to fall apart, and George ends up dead.

There is one word to describe Rory's performance in this movie: riveting. If you haven't seen this movie, you need to check it out.

Like Rory? You can check him out along with Abigail in Signs.

Miko Hughes: Jack the Bear -

This is the best movie you've never seen.

Synopsis: An alcoholic single father (Danny Devito) struggles to raise his two young sons following the death of his wife. The oldest son, Jack (played brilliantly by Robert J. Steinmiller Jr. ) is left to care for his younger brother, Dylan (Hughes), and grows to resent him. But then Dylan is abducted by a neighbor and life gets even more complicated for this family.

You may not recognize the name, but you know Miko Hughes well. He was Gage in Pet Sematary, Simon in Mercury Rising, and Joseph ("Mr. Kimble are you all right?") in Kindergarten Cop.

Like Miko? Check him out in Pet Sematary, Kindergarten Cop, and Mercury Rising.

Natalie Portman: The Professional (AKA Leon) -

When I first saw this movie, it was obvious that Natalie Portman was going places. This would not be the last time we saw this little girl.

Synopsis: Leon (Jean Reno) is a professional hit man who lives down the hall from Mathilda (Portman), a precocious young girl with a potty mouth and a pack-a-day smoking habit. One day, while Mathilda is at the store, dirty cops come in and kill her parents (who are drug dealers) and siblings. Luckily, through the intervention of Leon, Mathilda narrowly escapes also being killed. Mathilda then decides that she is going to train under Leon to be a hit man as well so that she can get revenge on the cops who killed her family.

Her performance was so raw and emotional (think Jodi Foster in Taxi Driver) that it's easy to forget that she was only 11 years old when the movie was made.
Like Natalie? Check her out in Closer and Garden State.

And I know that I said that these were in no particular order, but I had to save the best for last:

Victoire Thivisol: Ponette -

Sometimes, when you are watching a good movie, a scene or a moment will move you to tears. And sometimes the emotions jump out of the screen, maul and emotionally rape you, and leave you a blubbering, mascara-smeared mess on the floor. That's Ponette.

Synopsis: A 4-year-old little girl (Thivisol), after the death of her mother, tries to bring her back to life through chants and deals with God, while at the same time withdrawing from her family and those around her.

You may say that you don't really like movies with subtitles. Honestly, I'd rather watch my movies than read them, too. But you don't even need the subtitles with this movie. Everything you need to understand is right there in Victoire's eyes.

Like Victoire? Check her out in Chocolat.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Do What You Want to Me, but Leave My Dog Alone!

I was listening to the radio on the way to work this morning, and the DJ was talking about a story out of St. Paul, MN (I think) that absolutely made me sick. A 17-yr. old girl had a dog who went missing a few weeks ago, and she searched everywhere for the him, but was never able to find him, despite her exhaustive efforts. One day she came home and found a gift-wrapped box on her front stoop. In the box was the head of her dog.

There is a special place in hell for the person who did this.

Now, I will freely admit that I am a dog lover. I, like most people with souls, can watch a movie with people being brutally murdered left and right and be just fine with it, but as soon as the killer turns his attention to a dog, I get really, really upset.

I firmly believe that there is a direct correlation between how someone treats animals and how they treat humans. The guy (I am assuming it's a guy) who did this needs to be locked away for the rest of his life. He is a monster.

I just hope that the girl who had the dog will be able to recover from this. I can only imagine how she must feel. I do know that if someone ever hurt Smelly, my revenge would be utterly savage. I consider myself a calm, rational, and loving person, but all that is good in me would be destroyed if I ever lost my four-legged child in a manner such as this.

Why I'm Glad There Were No Camera Phones When I Was in College

You know how it works. You're out with your friends having a few drinks, which turns into a few more, which turns into you making out with some random guy with greasy hair and a shirt that is intentionally unbuttoned too low for polite society. And out come the camera phones.

I graduated from college (Go Dukes!) in 1998. When I was in school, camera phones only existed in spy novels. In fact, very few people even had cell phones. Sure, every once in a while you'd run into someone who had one, but it was very rare, and they usually couldn't get decent reception.

Nowadays, everyone has a cell phone . . . even little kids. And, as my friend Beaver has pointed out, it is actually difficult to find a cell phone without a built-in camera anymore. (She works for a three-lettered government agency and cannot bring a camera phone into her building.) And the quality of the pictures that these cameras take is getting better and better all the time. This is fine and dandy . . . unless of course you've ever done anything stupid and had a friend capture it for posterity.

Back in the good old days (10 years ago), when you did something stupid while drunk or just acting like a fool, one of your friends might capture it on film. This friend would eventually get around to developing the pictures a few weeks (or months) later, you'd have a chuckle about how drunk you were that night, and then this picture would either end up in the back of a photo album or torn up after you wrestled it out of your friend's hand. Worst case scenario - a couple people see the picture and you get embarrassed whenever someone mentions having seen it. But in general, you flashing "the girls" to a room full of drunk frat guys or making out with one of your female roommates* may have been fodder for the "remember the night Helen [fill in the blank with naughty act]" stories, but there is no concrete proof that it actually happened.

No more. Now, if you go out and do something stupid, before you wake up the next morning the picture has been downloaded and posted on your friends' MySpace pages or one of the many sites that let you share your photos with God and everybody. Someone sees the picture and tells a friend, who tells a friend, who has a buddy who has a blog that gets a lot of traffic. Next thing you know, your tits are the 3rd most popular search on Google for 3 days straight. And yes, it's only 3 days, but the problem is that everyone you know has now seen these pictures. Including your co-workers, former teachers, the neighborhood gossip who lives next door to your parents, and the creepy guy from high school who used to always follow you everywhere obsessively licking his lips until they were chapped. (Ew!)

That's why I'm glad I graduated during the last millennium. Yeah, I still occasionally get drunk with my friends and do dumb things, but I generally keep my clothes on now. But if those blasted cameras had been around when I was in college (especially during my sophomore year . . . what a year!) I wouldn't be able to show my face in public.

* This is not a confession to any impropriety on my part, merely an example of what could have happened.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cougarlicious . . .

Ship, always on the cutting edge of culture, has introduced me to a new definition for the word "cougar." Now, maybe I've been living in a hole and need to get out more, but I always thought that a cougar was sort of mountain lion or something . . . four legs, fur, and a ferocious growl. Apparently, I was mistaken.

So far, this is my understanding of what the word now means: Cougars are older women who go after younger men, like predators stalking their prey. The poster child for Cougars, of course, is Demi Moore. Another example would be Julie Cooper who had a fling with her husband-to-be's son who was in his early twenties. (And just so you know, I am fully aware that Julie is a fictional character from the OC, not a real person!) Liz Taylor has also married several men who were substantially younger, as has Zsa Zsa Gabor.

But in terms of Metro DC, what age marks the distinction between just your average 30-something looking for love and a predatory, indigenous cougar? Or does it have less to do with the age of the woman and more to the age gap between her and the men (and often boys) she pursues? Or is it her parental status, or maybe the age of her children?

Somebody help me out here, because I'm terribly confused by all of this! If I, at the ripe old age of 31, go to one of my regular haunts in Clarendon and strike up a conversation with a guy who is 27, am I a cougar? And is being a cougar even a bad thing?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dildos . . .

No, the title isn't just some random word to get you to read the post.

The other night, Jo and I were talking about dildos and vibrators over a few drinks, and I realized that I never really talk to my girlfriends about that kind of thing. Now, I don't want you to be misled by this revelation: I'm no Puritan and I usually say exactly what's on my mind. But sex toys rarely end up being a topic of conversation and I'm not sure why. Are we embarassed about using them? I'm not sure why, because they are absolutely a tool of survival if you're single (and many times, if you're in a relationship), and I find the range of options utterly intriguing!

Not only do you have the various incarnations of the dildo (all different shapes, colors, and sizes, the double-ended variety, ones made of glass, strap-ons, etc.), but then there's the vibrator with its many different options, and the bullets which I haven't tried out yet. And don't forget butt plugs (although I think they are mostly for the boys!). I mean the list of toys available out there is astounding.

So why aren't we all talking about this? Why do we, as women, find it so taboo to talk about something that most of us seem to get a great deal of enjoyment out of using?! I know there is a decent percentage of the population that would be horrified at this thought (my mother included), but a girl has to do what a girl has to do.

And isn't it better to enjoy a toy than to go out and fool around with some guy who isn't going to bother to call you the next day just so you can scratch an itch? (And in many cases, not getting a call-back is quite possibly the BEST case scenario, because I've seen what some of these guys look and act like in the light of day, and it isn't pretty!) Oh, and don't forget about STDs. Of course HIV is the big one, but genital herpes sticks with you for life even though it's treatable, and even a case of the crabs is pretty horrid (not speaking from personal experience, I assure you!). It's just not worth it. Especially when you consider that most sex during one-night stands is pretty forgettable.

I heard recently that teenage girls are having less sex with fewer partners now than they did 15 years ago. Is it possible that they are smarter than those of us in our 20s and 30s? Did they discover the marvels of modern engineering at an earlier age than we did? If so, good for them.

Next time you go out with your friends, bring up the topic of dildos and watch how your friends react. (You may want to wait until everyone has had a few glasses of wine before you approach the subject though!) You will probably have a friend who acts utterly horrified, one whose cheeks turn bright red, and one who tries to quickly change the subject. But if you can break the ice, I think it's something that most of us are dying to talk about with our friends.

Your Screenplay Sucks . . .

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have recently been participating in a film production "company" with a group of some of the coolest folks I know. I say "company" (in quotes) because I'm not sure if it technically meets the criteria for a company . . . mainly because I don't know what those criteria are.

Anyway, I was on one of my favorite blog sites ( and saw an add for this company that sells t-shirts that say "Your Screenplay Sucks." How cool would it be to get one of those for our next meeting, just to be hateful?! (Granted, most of the other people in our group have far more experience at writing screenplays than I do, and their ideas aren't as banal as mine have seemed!) I'm torn though . . . because they have another one that says "Bad Grammar Makes Me [Sic]" and I almost peed my pants when I saw it.

They have a bunch of other really funny ones, so if you want, you can check them out at

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Friend Indeed . . .

I was off of work on Friday (thus the four blog entries!) and got a message half way through the day from my friend who had been having a pretty crappy week. So I suggested that we get together and have a few beers just one-on-one for some quality girl talk.

I'm not sure about everyone else, but I find that my friends usually go out in a big group. (Or "a gaggle of gigglers" as my brother used to call my friends and me when we were in high school!) Don't get me wrong, those nights are usually some of the best times. But every once in a while, you just need the intimacy of a real conversation to remind you of the difference between a real friend and just a person that you go out drinking with.

So Friday, as I sat there talking with my friend, and I saw tears well up in her eyes for the third or fourth time in the evening, it occurred to me that I don't think I've ever had that kind of conversation with her before. Sure, we've talked about a lot of things over the past few years, but I've never seen her allow herself to be so vulnerable before. It was so open and honest, and it showed me that she must trust me more than I had ever realized for her to have shared her thoughts and fears with me the way she did.

She told me today how much she appreciated me being there for her. But it also made me realize how grateful I was that she LET me be there. Does that make sense?

If you've got just one friend who you can share your thoughts with, or who trusts you enough to share hers with you, you are the luckiest person in the world.

C-Reg Ran!

So yesterday was C-Reg's big race, and she did a great job, especially considering it was her first competitive run in 5 years.

The day got off to a rocky start though . . . Ship and I overslept because we failed to plan ahead for the change to Daylight Savings Time, and woke up about an hour late and so C-Reg was a little freaked out that she was going to be late to the race. But we made it in plenty of time, thank goodness!! C-Reg came in second place in her class (women under 29) and was the second woman to finish overall as well. (I'm not sure about the exact numbers, but there weren't that many guys ahead of her either!)

She will be participating in three more races over the next month as part of the Backyard Burn series, so wish her luck!! Congrats C-Reg!

Friday, March 09, 2007

I'm just curious . . .

I was tooling around on Craig's List and saw the following ad under "Would You Like a Fun Roommate":

"Hi! I was in the midst of the horrible task of searching for an apartment when I was stuck with a deviant idea. I am curious if anyone would enjoy a scandalous living situation... perhaps you would enjoy the fact that I love cleaning in the nude from time to time or give wonderful massages. Quick info about me - I'm slender, cute, and a redhead. I am currently in a graduate program and I also work plus I have a boyfriend so I would only be around a couple nights a week. I need you to be over 40, friendly, and extremely discreet. Plus, financially secure enough to have an extra bedroom with a private bath you would be willing to part with rent-free!"

Interesting. Does anyone else find it disturbing that an intelligent (assuming since she's in grad school) 26 year old woman would be willing to whore herself out for free rent? I know the cost of living is ludicrous around here, but seriously? And what does she think her boyfriend is going to say when he finds out? Because believe me . . . he will definitely find out.

Creative Juices

So, last fall my friend PL (who is also a co-worker) invited me to participate in the National Film Competition with her, her boyfriend, Capt. Logisitica, and a bunch of other folks. Most of the people in this group had experience with screenwriting and film-making prior to this event, but not me! But I went and helped bat around some ideas for the film, and then helped the next day with the actual shooting of the movie. And man, was that fun!

Anyway, long story short, the movie turned out to be pretty good. I would say excellent, but I think we all realize that we could have done so much more with it had we had more than 72 hours to write, shoot, edit, score, etc. the entire movie.

But now we are looking to do other projects, and I cannot wait. It's been so long since my creative juices have flowed. I guess it's about time that I started using my english degree for something!! My mother would be so proud.

Run, C-Reg, RUN!!

So Ship's mate (it's a play on words, get it?!), C-Reg, is running in a race on Sunday morning, and I just wanted to give her a shout out and wish her good luck. Ship and I are going down to cheer her on. The bad news? The race starts at 9 AM. The worse news? We are all riding together, and will have to leave our house by 6:45 AM. And the worst news? Daylight savings time starts that day, so we'll already be losing an hour of sleep! Ugh. But that's okay, it will be something different to do (can't really remember the last time I went to support a friend in a sporting event), and I know C-Reg will appreciate the support from her amigos.

Good luck my little gigglebox!!

I know it's been a while . . .

I know it's been quite a while since I have posted a blog. Sometimes life gets in the way of talking about it online. I guess that's a good thing though!

So, here's an update on some of my previous blogs:

  • Tall Glass of Crazy is getting married. Yup. At first that news hit me like a sharp kick to the stomach. Not because I was jealous that he was going to marry someone else, but because I was jealous that he (the poster child for immaturity) was going to do one of the most grown up things in the world before me. But then I realized that just because he was getting married didn't mean that all of the marriage/children stuff isn't still waiting out there for me. And as much as he made my life a living hell after our breakup, I still wish him the best. Deep down he's a good guy . . . it's all the pscyhological stuff that made him into a raving lunatic.
  • Britney & K-Fed: Well, I certainly didn't see this one coming. Maybe I should have. Someone should have, right? K-Fed as father (and husband) of the year? I'm still skeptical though. Is he just playing his cards right to get back in Brit's good graces so he'll have access to the money (and his kids), or is he really a genuinely nice guy? I'm going to reserve judgement on this one, because I just think it's too early to tell how this whole scene is going to play itself out.
  • Work: Yup, still no raise, and the hours just keep getting longer. I was supposed to be off yesterday and today, and was hoping for a nice, long, 4-day weekend, but it didn't happen. I worked all day yesterday, and today (Friday) I'm at home but still checking e-mail. To make matters worse, I'm going to have to go into the office on Sunday. Blah.
  • Pita turned out not to be such a P.I.T.A after all. Around Christmas, I got a text message from her, and since then, our friendship has been getting back on track. I am forced to eat my words where she is concerned, because I said she would never apologize, and she did. And it wasn't one of those "oh, yeah, i'm sorry" kind of apologies either. It was truly heartfelt, and made all the difference in the world in our friendship. And I must confess that I really did miss having her around. I mean REALLY missed having her around.
  • My New Lease on Life isn't so new anymore, but things are going pretty well. It's definitely nice living with a guy. Especially one as utterly metrosexual as Ship. And Smelly (my giant beast-dog) has learned some new tricks thanks to him, and seems happy in the townhouse. And that's a good thing, because if Smelly isn't happy, no one's happy.

And that's about it on the old posts. New updates and posts will hopefully be coming soon!