in which no one is an island, except maybe Iceland

Jason has sent me the country quiz. The first time I took it I was the UN. "Most people think you're ineffective, but you are trying to completely save the world from itself, so there's always going to be a long way to go. You're always the one trying to get friends to talk to each other, enemies to talk to each other, anyone who can to just talk instead of beating each other about the head and torso. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and you get very schizophrenic as a result. But your heart is in the right place, and sometimes also in New York."

It's true that I like to try to get people to get along, and that I can be privately smug about meaning well, but I also have other things to do. So I took the quiz again. This time I said that indeed I do often fight over little things (replace "fight" with "fret" and it's totally me), and that made me France. "Most people think you're snobby, but it's really just that you're better than everyone else. At least you're more loyal to the real language, the fine arts, and the fine wines than anyone else. You aren't worth beans in a fight, unless you're really short, but you're so good at other things that it usually doesn't matter. Some of your finest works were intended to be short-term projects."

That's not me at all. Zut alors, ce n'est pas vrai!

But then I wondered if Canada was an option, so I took the quiz with the intention of being Canada. The only thing I had to fudge was whether I like to ski. I don't like to ski (although the only time I tried was in Dubuque, Iowa, so you can see how it might have been a less than ideal experience). "People make fun of you a lot, but they're stupid because you've got a much better life than they do. In fact, they're probably just jealous. You believe in crazy things like human rights and health care and not dying in the streets, and you end up securing these rights for yourself and others. If it weren't for your weird affection for ice hockey, you'd be the perfect person."

Regardless of what country the quiz says I am, the most telling thing is that I want to be Canada.

PS: However, if I were an aging British rocker, I'd want to be David Bowie. I'm not saying I would be David Bowie - but if I got to pick, he's my choice. I couldn't find a "What aging British rocker are you?" quiz but I imagine I'd end up as the guy from Herman's Hermits or, at the best, Paul McCartney. I'm not really edgy enough to be David Bowie.

in which a British period piece is revealed to be truly bad

Let me tell you about a bad movie. The Lady and the Highwayman stars, among others, Hugh Grant and tells the story of a noble hiding out as a bandit during the Commonwealth and early Restoration who then falls in love with his... well, she's some relation, a cousin, I think, after saving her from an evil puppy-kicking way-too-old-for-her husband. She then helps him try to reach the king, with whom he is friends, to restore his title and lands. The only thing that is not truly awful about this movie is, suprisingly, the plot. Sort of bodice-ripper-y/Robin Hood-y/period piece, which I do not particularly enjoy but which is not genearlly expected to lead to greatness anyway. The acting is bad. The dialogue is bad. The lighting is bad. The equestrianship is bad. The conversion to DVD is really bad.

I'd like to use different, more evocative, more precise adjectives, but, in this case, "bad" is the most whole and true.

The most puzzling feature of the whole production is Hugh Grant's pinched, nasal, wavering, helium-y voice. (Think Clayton from Benson.) He didn't sound like this in Maurice, did he? Is that his real voice? Surely not. Pip pip for the voice coach who fixed this problem for good. Alternately, off with the head of the voice coach who told him to talk like that in this film.

But really, what more can you expect from a DVD from the grocery store $5 bin?

you said it

Words of wisdom from the only online diary I regularly read (except for those listed here). Amen, brother.

file this under "people you wish you still knew"

Admittedly I am one of those people who alwalys thinks she sees people she knows everywhere she goes. So the odds are quite poor that I actually did just see my old classmate/Massey-mate Chris Jones on E!'s "Tipped to Success" talking about Colin Farrel.

The odds are even worse given that I have already had a random run-in with Chris: while on a vacation Toronto in 2001, almost three years since I had last been there, sitting in a restaurant on College Street in Little Italy, I saw another Massey friend walk by. After a hurried round of "Beth? What in the world are you doing here?" and "What are you up to?", he said "You'll never guess where I'm headed: a book launch for Chris Jones!", after which I scarfed my meal, ran to the site of the book launch, pushed my way through a group of publishing in-crowdies, and surprised the crap out of Chris.

But I did just see him! I swear! And with a little help from Google, it makes sense. Last I had heard, Chris was writing about sports for the National Post in Canada, so why was he slumming it on E!? Now it seems he writes for Esquire, and he has in fact interviewed Colin Farrel. Last time I read that magazine, Chris is too smart for it. But hey, in addition to writing what I'm sure was a genius thesis about baseball stadiums, this is the person who dressed up for Halloween as chewing gum stuck under a chair (wearing pink long johns, a pink towel wrapped around his head, and a chair balanced on top), could be counted on to end up on the floor after parties, and licked a friend at our Christmas ball. But he's also the person who turned me on to historic preservation, a subject that has honestly changed my life, and lent me his copy of what became my favorite book, James Marston Fitch's Curatorial Management of the Built World, until I could afford one at Toronto's fancy architecture bookstore. For talking with me about ideas that burned in me as brightly as our desklamps across the quadrangle, for encouraging me, for understanding why I thought this was important, I will always remember him with respect and real fondness.

Well, that and the licking. Who can forget that?

in which I turn off the radio

I'm not sure how much more of NPR and PBS spring pledge week I can take. I would pay seriously big bucks if they could invent a microchip or something that, when activated by a certain level of donation, would replace appeals for pledges with pretty music or "This American Life." A travel mug and tote bag have nothin' on my aural sanity.

in which I am disappointed by the DIY and lifestyle industry

Love the crafty/DIY and lifestyle magazines and websites. V tired of the east cost/west coast-ness of all of them. I don't live in New York or San Francisco and don't want to, ever, and while the web makes ordering things easy, and Target carries many a fine item, there seem to be a lot of places and resources that those of us in other locales simply cannot enjoy. And I have nothing against patronizing the unique local shops and services in any given place - I love those kind of things too because they're part of what makes each city its own self - but I get so tired of feeling excluded from most of the things in the glossy pages. I don't know whether the authors are actively excluding those of us in the middle 30 or so states, or whether I am inferring it, but I know that when I finish reading I don't feel like I can wholly participate, or that somehow most of what I've read doesn't apply to me. Is it the Amelie bangs everywhere? the faux-poor clothes? the hipper-than-thou-despite-my-pittance-as-a-slave-as-a-magzine-intern attitude? the addiction to gilt-by-association and bling-dropping (Oooh! This $50 Cartier key chain is a steal!)?

I want someone to start a magazine based out of Madison or Columbus or Austin or Lincoln or something. I'd settle for Chicago, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Denver. Anything to show that there's life elsewhere, because I know there is - we've all seen it. Maybe people in these other places just don't feel the need to publish. Hmmm. Which is why, despite their grandma-name baggage, I like Better Homes and Gardens Quick and Easy Decorating - it's headquartered in Des Moines and it shows. They shop at Target, use a lot of color, and emphasize changeable, adaptable, not-overly-resourced projects. You don't have to live in SoHo to buy paint.

By the way, I just looked to see if they have a website, and no trace of this magazine appears on the BHG website. If it is no longer published, I swear I am going to cry. For real. First they stopped Living Room, and now this.

This goes for novels too. Love the trying-to-be-witty novels written by people my age but am losing interest because they all seem take place in the world of writing/publishing (NY) or web design/dot com (SF). Can you only write what you know? Navel-gazing, without humor, on a grand scale. Ugh.

My motto in life may be "I can totally make that!", but I know my limitations. I can't make a zine or a read-worthy website. I'm not a novelist and have no desire to be, but I am a fiction reader and have a desire to keep on being a fiction reader, so I need someone to write something. I am grateful to the people who can and do - I just wish more of them came from my world

they won't know what hit them

Jason has a blog now!

Abby's coming! Abby's coming!

In full: Abby will be starting the UIUC vet med school in August and I couldn't be more thrilled. Not only will she begin a big-deal program in a subject she's loved (and lived) her whole life, her truly fantastic self will be with us all the time.

And my master plan to get everyone I like to move to Chambana is one step closer to completion.

factors in a satisfying IKEA trip recently demonstrated by Suzanne, Melina, and Beth:
- trustworthy, good-natured companions who will allow you time to dither between colors of lamp shades but who will also gently suggest that you jettison your fifth package of paper napkins before hitting the check-out
- no rain: because those oversized clear, logo-emblazoned bags can only cover up so much of your purchases. Although Suzanne and I have seen an enterprising gal turn them into a rain poncho and hat
- planning ahead with shopping lists, measurements, and knowledge of how much of your resources you're willing to expend on any one item and the excursion in general
- agreed-upon time of departure
- avoiding unnecessary areas of the store, such as the "design your dream kitchen" and "install wood laminate flooring" staions. The children's area does not fall under this category becuase looking fondly at the ball crawl is strangely rewarding even if you can't go in.
- midway break of apple cake with the little plastic thingy of vanilla goo and a airline-style cup of coffee. I am always delighted to find good coffee in weird places, although the store is Euro, so it really should just be expected to pony up
- $25 duvet cover WITH TWO SHAMS!

These read a bit like factors in a successful military campaign, don't they? Except for the last two.

I rambled about other stuff too. Wanna see?

April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 May 2006 June 2006 August 2006 October 2006 December 2006 February 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 September 2007 July 2008

projects, friends, etc.

  • I love Bollywood so much that I made a separate blog for it.
  • remember when I went to Australia?
  • when you take grad school too much to heart re: literature
  • when you take grad school too much to heart re: travels
  • The Trophy Wife
  • rock and roll lifestyle
  • Why God Why
  • Technically not a friend, as not a human, but still a place I love very much, so it counts: Massey College
  • credits

  • Blog design is based largely on Not That Ugly with some ideas from Firdamatic with some additional tweaking
  • Flickr rocks! Really.
  • Hurrah for Blogger
  • And for folks trying to library-ize blogs: Blogwise and Blogarama
  • Sorry this looks like poo in Firefox. I've no idea why.