Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNoWriMo gods forgive me...

I'm just now getting over a rotten cold and NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow. I feel completely unprepared. To top it off, we had to reschedule our trip to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival because of my illness, so now we have to go during NaNo; and I have to make a trip to NC to get my mother mid-month. All that and at least 50,000 words--when I haven't really gotten back into the writing program yet!

Jiminy.

I need more cough syrup.

I was supposed to have been gearing up for NaNo with regular writing, but more than a week ago this enormous tiredness fell over me. I had hoped that would be the extent of the sickness, but unfortunately last week it turned into a full-blown cold with hacking, dry cough and fever. It will be a challenge to get my butt in the chair and write over the next few days, but I'm sure I can do it.

Last year, NaNo had over 200,000 participants--and that's only counting the ones who logged on to the website. Who knows how many do it on their own (though why anyone would do that is beyong me).

All those novels! You have to wonder how many make it through completion, editing, and even publication.

This year, I had this grand idea to do 100,000 words. I'm not trying to show off or anything--I just have a hard time making decisions.

The idea of NaNo is to write 50,000 words on a new novel in one month. You are forced to write so quickly, that your inner editor must be banished from your writing space and your imagination will fly. Because of this idea, NaNo doesn't want you to get bogged down with anything like an already begun manuscript.

So, I came up with an idea. I had something of an outline that I didn't really like--too serious. And I was trying to figure out how I could tell the story from a humorous angle.

But I really didn't want to start a new project when I have so many in the works that need attention. I didn't want to spend a full month writing what could likely end up being 50,000 words of pure crap when I had some great stuff in my 'to do' box.

So, I thought I'd be a NaNoRebel and wrie 50,000 words on the novel I've been working on lately. It could use the attention.

And then, just yesterday, I thought, hmmm, maybe I could just do both. Now, I'm thinking I'm just crazy. After all, I have a second novel that needs work. I might not be able to get 50,000 more words on it, but why start something new--something I'm not even happy with yet--before finishing what I've got.

I think I'm just going to do 50,000 on my main novel and spend the rest of the time on the other WIP (that's work in progress to us novelists--ahem).

The newer idea just needs percolating...not a 50,000 word frenzy of forcing crap out of my head--pure imagination be damned. (And now I feel guilty for rebelling against the NaNo gods).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Best and worst in television advertising

Here are some of the best commercials on television:
Edith and Ellen and the Walgreens flu shot. Those ladies are adorable.
Guy gets unlimited messaging from AT&T, wife not happy. The writing on this one is fabulous. And the acting--spot on.
The little Darth Vader who starts up the Volkswagon with his Vader powers. Too cute.
Truvia pig, where the girl manages to eat the dessert before hubby can get to the table to share it. The singing and the song are awful, but the imagery is hilarious. Well, okay, the part in the song about sugar making my butt fat is funny.
Spanish makes everything sound more intriguing--the Khalua ad. Love, love, love. I was glad to see it again last night after a long while.
And one of the best baby ads is "short and bald" where the woman always thought she'd go for tall, dark and handsome. But having a baby changes everything. From Johnson and Johnson.
Time out is fabulous, of course, but so are ALL of those eTrade ads.

It's ads like these that make television watching enjoyable.

Then, of course, we have the awful ads that make us cringe and look away.
Any Old Navy ad these days is torture. The singing is stupid; the song is stupid; the entire look of the commerical is stupid. Please make them stop.
Any Old Spice commercial is just too stupid to bear. The latest, with the sea captain punching the octopus on his shoulder. Please.
And even worse is the dudes with big hats for Dish Network's Blockbuster Movie Pass. OMG. I can't even watch it anymore.
As for kids, the Snickers commercial with the kids in costume loading bags of Snickers into a weirded-out woman's cart. Awful. Freaky. Please don't show it again next Halloween.

Ugh. Now I feel awful. I should have ended with the good commercials to start my day off right.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I can't believe it's not butter...

The reality television shows that I watch regularly are: Project Runway--my all-time favorite; Top Chef; Top Chef Just Desserts--not as good as Top Chef; The Biggest Loser--has gotten too long, too weepy, and too commerical, may stop watching; Work of Art--hilarious if you like to make fun of what they call art these days; and Sister Wives--I really like those people. I'm loving Chris March's new Mad Fashion, and have been drawn in to the show that comes on just after that, Fashion Hunters.

That means I'm watching television on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights at some time during the year. It's pretty awful when all the shows come on at once and I'm watching tv four nights a week. But there are certain things we do for pleasure...

Shows I watch when I can catch them are: Hoarders and Hoarding, Buried Alive; The First 48; Cold Case Files; Hell's Kitchen; or Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. Or cooking challenge shows, like the latest Halloween Wars, or Cupcake Wars.

And there are those that I catch a bit of only while dressing or folding laundry: The Rachel Zoe Project--appealing on some weird fashion level in me...very, very deep; Millionaire Matchmaker--which I really don't like much; various Real Housewives; America's Next Top Model; Tabitha's Salon Takeover or What Not to Wear. Some good ones are 19 Kids and Counting or Say Yes to the Dress..

And then there are those that I only watch if I'm desperate and there's just nothing else on. Like, if I'm sick with a cold, for instance, and I can't read or write or sit at the computer or anything at all productive. Those would be The Real Housewives of New Jersey or Atlanta (Such awful women); Cake Boss (I can't stand that man's voice); or any hick-type person chasing after bugs or pests of some kind.

So, you see that I prefer reality television shows that are based on some kind of talent or skill and only watch a few, specific, shows about just normal people. And even those people aren't completely normal--they're super rich. If you make me, I'll watch awful people being awful to each other.

I have typically held to the belief that these shows are not scripted, though many people claim they are. I call these people pessimists who just can't lighten up and enjoy. These shows aren't scripted--they're sometimes set up, directed, and guided. But they aren't scripted because acting is just not that easy for most people.

Sure, some scenes on some shows are either scripted or very close; and those moments are embarrassing to watch. When they make the trainers and contestants on Biggest Loser advertise oatmeal or granola bars for example, and try to make it look like it just happened that way--we're not fooled.

And then there are times when the people on otherwise reality-based shows are directed to find themselves in certain situations, like when the Duggars "decided" to renew their vows and had to travel all the way to New York to find a wedding gown on Say Yes to the Dress. Somehow, I don't see the Duggars doing this on their own.

I remember watching a bit of Bridezillas a long time ago (a show you won't find on my list today) in which a bridezilla went into a cake shop to check on her cake and threw an obviously suggested tantrum. She even kept glancing toward the camera and fighting to keep from smiling. So stupid.

But for the most part, I still say that reality shows are not scripted--even the stupid ones on MTV that I don't watch. Stupid, drunk, illiterate people like those would never be able to learn that much script and act it out week after week. No, those people really are stupid, and drunk, and illiterate, and sleazy, and crazy. I think, for that sort of person, the camera just brings it out all the more. Exhibitionists. That's what they are.

But last night, feeling a bit off, I was forced to watch a show called DC Cupcakes. On this episode, somebody brought his sister in to start working at the bakery and some other guy was flirting with her. Brother guy kept catching them, and threatening other worker guy. It was so obviously set up and scripted that I changed the channel. I decided I'd rather watch religious television than nonsense.

But I get it. The show has so little going for it the producers felt it needed some nudging. But setting up stupid relationships and scenarios doesn't help. It's like a sit-com without the com.

All this really explains why my favorite--and the best--reality shows are Project Runway, Top Chef, The First 48, and Cold Case Files. These shows are not scripted, and the producers don't have to force situations on their stars.

The skill-based shows have too much going on already--there's no need for added scenarios. And the crime shows have plenty to deal with in crime solving (although, The First 48 does typically end with a weepy meeting with the victims families to make the cops look like they care).

They don't have to ask the cop to scoot his chair closer and hold the suspect's hand. Cops actually do embarrassing and deceitful things like that. That's what you call reality.

And for the record, I still don't know who Snookie or any Kardashian is. Don't care.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why ask for trouble?

So, in the news today we hear that a 34-year old, Taiwanese woman found out that she had testicles. This is no big surprise. It happens, right? The big "huh?" moment comes when her doctors ask her why she never came to see them when she failed to have a period all these years. And they say she was "lost for an answer."

Excuse me? Why would any woman in her right mind go to see the doctors and ask for her period? Better just leave well enough alone and thank her lucky stars.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Birkin: Even the name is stupid*

I guess it's fashion week on The Sunshine State.

The other night I stayed up to catch Fashion Hunters after watching Mad Fashion. I just love Chris March. Anyway, the Fashion Hunters preview intrigued me because they showed a clip that led me to believe someone was trying to consign some stolen goods. Unfortunately, it would seem, that will be on next week's show.

In last night's episode, however, we were treated to display of disgusting excess involving something known as a Birkin. This was my first experience with Birkins, because I don't watch celebrities, or care about "fashion," or watch television shows about rich people, I guess.

For someone like me, watching snobby women pay five to ten thousand dollars for a used purse is like watching Dumb and Dumber. It's funny in parts, but mostly stupid and gross.

New Birkins cost at least $9,000 and Hermes "justifies" that expense by pointing to the fact that the bags are handmade...from really cool skins of various dead animals. And they're really, really hard to find.

I hate to break it to Hermes, but dead animal skin and hand stitches still do not warrant a selling price of over $16,000. (And they even dare to sell a canvas tote for more than $300.)

This is not justified. It can't be justified. It's just about status and demand and human stupidity.

On the show, the consignment shop owner held a Birkin party where ladies brought their Birkin bags to trade or sell. One lady showed up carrying a Birkin bag over her shoulder with a dog inside it! Luckily, that Birkin turned out to be a fake. Whew. Of course, even if she knew it was a fake when she bought it, she's carrying her dog around in a bag she paid thousands of dollars for.

But when she later purchased an old, worn, tacky, "heirloom" Birkin for $9,500, they all laughed and made her put her dog in it to see if it fit. You almost feel sorry for them.

*No insult to Jane Birkin intended, of course. What works for a person doesn't necessarily translate onto a product.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Trailer park favorite things: Pajama Jeans

I'm going to talk about my Pajama Jeans in a minute, but first, I have tell all the people who aren't reading this blog about a rejection letter I just got in the mail.

I was surprised to get it. I didn't even know I still had any manuscripts out. This one was for a YA novel I wrote about zombies and vampires. It's a silly book, I admit. But it's supposed to be silly and I had a lot of fun writing it.

So, I get this rejection letter, in which the editor says:
I read your manuscript with interest, and while I'm sorry to say that this particular piece isn't right for our list here at ****, I did enjoy your writing and would be glad to look at other work from you in the future. It is with regret that I am passing on this project.
And there was a second paragraph saying pretty much the same thing, which I have decided to interpret as the editor just really, really meaning it.

I am beaming. And what's more, I'm so happy she said "in the future." It's almost like she's saying, look, I understand if you aren't the most disciplined writer in the world and you don't have a dozen other projects to send me right now. But I'll wait for you to finish something.

This couldn't have come at a better time. I think I made all the right decisions recently to get me to this place. But now I have so much work to do and so little discipline.

You really want to know about the Pajama Jeans, don't you? Well, if I were the trailer park Oprah, Pajama Jeans would be on my list of favorite things.

The television ad does not do them justice at all. In the ad, they look too short, and a bit stiff...and the pockets look a bit low on the buttock-ulus. But in real life, they are soft, supple, and drape beautifully.

If you want them really snug and form-fitting, get the closest to your size. The waist band, though it does have a little pink flat rope to tighten it up, is not that stretchy. You'll have to gently work them over your thighs and hips, if you're a shapely girl like me.

I bought a size up for a looser look that more befits a fifty-year-old woman (soon, my dears, very soon). Hemming them was not so awful in retrospect.

Speaking of hemming, I wish I was a man sometimes. Guys have two or three pairs of shoes and miraculously they're all the same heel height. My husband has a work pair for mowing, a daily pair of sneaker types, and some dress shoes for those rare occasions. I, on the other hand, being a woman who does not like to shop and doesn't like to accumulate too much, have thirty-one pairs of shoes (with three new pairs on the way making it 34)*, if I counted correctly**. And you can bet they run the gamut from flats to high heels.

So, I hemmed my Pajama Jeans for my flats and purchased another pair to hem for a slightly higher heel. What a total pain. Even if I declared that I was going to wear only flats, the chances that all my flats would work perfectly with one hem length is slight.

Women's shoes are almost as frustrating as women's clothing sizes. How can I go to the store in a pair of 8-10's and have to purchase 14's of some other brand, a ten in another, and a twelve somewhere else. Can't I just get a waist measurement?

(And of course, as I type that and cringe, I understand perfectly well why clothing manufacturers don't size women's clothing that way. I mean, imagine shopping in one of those discount stores, like Ross, where they put all their clothes on long racks sorted by size and you have to stand over there at the 36" rack, thinking, yes, yes, I know the song says that's supposed to be my bust size, but try to think of it as a benefit...cause the boobs are all that much more humongous!)

*Now that I've hurt my foot and found out I have flexible flat feet, I'm buying some new shoes with arch support. It's not easy finding cute orthopedic shoes. And they don't come cheap. Well, if you are used to paying $200 a pair, these might be cheap to you.

And look what I got to wear with my Pajama Jeans around the trailer park.

**It turns our I did not count correctly; I found another rack of shoes in the closet, adding ten more pairs. Unfortunately, some of the shoes are going to have to go, now that I'm pampering my feet with arch support soles.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The wonderful people at Walmart

A fight broke out at a Mayland Walmart between two women involving bleach and other chemicals. A Walmart spokesman told NBC News, "This is obviously not the type of behavior we would expect from people at our stores."

Really?

Friday, October 7, 2011

J Lo thinks she's all that

I'm no fashion expert, but I do watch Project Runway (each episode at least twice) so I think that makes me qualified to criticize J Lo's new clothing line. It's called: Jennifer Lopez. Very creative.

My first impression wasn't good.

Compare J Lo's television ad with Sofia Vergara's for Kmart. You can tell right away that J Lo takes herself way too seriously...and she's not good at it.

First, you really shouldn't design clothes based on where you came from. Where you came from is yesterday. And that's pretty much what I thought about the sequined top. So '70's--only not as good, frankly.

And second, J Lo should stop trying to look serious when she talks. She has a happy, girly voice. Someone please tell her to stop pouting like a supermodel if she intends to speak. It doesn't work.

So, imagine my surprise when I found myself at Kohl's yesterday pulling a top?tunic?dress? off the rack and discovered, to my amusement, that I was in the Jennifer Lopez section. I wandered around a bit and actually got to see the godawful sequined top. I did not try it on.

I chose a lot of cothing and when I went to the registers, I was third in line. Those Kohl's people were on the ball, and an announcement was made that more cashiers were  needed. I was ushered over to the jewelry counter.

I noticed that the jewelry lady took some of my purchases off their hangers, wadded them up, and laid them aside. Others, she left on the hangers. After I paid, she tossed my wads in a bag, turned to me and said, "I'm so sorry, but I have to take you over to the other registers now. You bought some things in the Jennifer Lopez collection and they have to be bagged on the hangers."

"That J Lo," I said. "She thinks she's all that."

Jewelry Lady also had to ask one of the other cashiers if the top?tunic?dress? I bought had a security device in it. A security device? For that thing?

As she hung my special, fancy, lah-ti-dah Jennifer Lopez clothes on a high bar and pulled a bag over the top of them, she turned to me again, rolled her eyes and said, "You have no idea how much trouble this collection was. Everything came in full of wrinkles. I was here all last night steaming."

"Lucky me," I said. "I bought wrinkly clothes."

When I got home, it turned out that the top?tunic?dress? was the only Jennifer Lopez piece I'd purchased. Jewelry Lady had also hung two Vera Wang: Simply Vera pieces: a simple top with some seriously funky sleeves, and the most beautiful, flattering slubbed open front cardigan* I've ever seen.

That I get. Vera Wang is what you call a designer. It's what she does for a living. Her clothes are worth carrying out of the store on their hangers.

*Uh, yeah, I took that description from the website. Like I knew what the heck slubbed meant before this morning. And the top?tunic?dress? is a "chevron shirred tunic." The sequined horror is merely "embellished." Seriously, the Kohl's buyers looked from the ghastly top, to J Lo, back and forth a few more times, and said...we'll say it's "embellished."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

All the evils of humanity...in a bracelet

What is it with this Pandora jewelry?

You've heard of wacky performance art, right? Like, an empty room with the lights on, and occasionally somebody runs through it. Maybe they're naked. That's art.

It's a joke. It's some pseudo-intellectual snob, who thinks he's a great artist, pulling a fast one on what he deems a stupid and gullible audience.

That's Pandora.

The image of Pandora is a bracelet of garish baubles. It's on billboards and television commercials--praised as if it's the most beautiful piece of jewelry one could imagine. But what it is, is ugly as all get out. And expensive like crazy. I looked up one charm for this bracelet. Even though it had a cat on it, it was still ugly. And they wanted $50 for it. One charm!

They named it right, though. Pandora, as the story goes, opened a jar and released into the world all the evils we're stuck with today. Certainly an ugly, overpriced bracelet embodies that vision. It's like a sick joke. It's like a trick.

Their website tab says: Genuine jewelry--Pandora.

What does it take for jewelry to be genuine? Nothing. Put a string around your wrist and you've got genuine jewelry. I'm telling you, this is somebody's idea of a joke.

It's like that study someone did on 60 Minutes or some show like that (I think it was John Stossel) where they put some really cheap olive oil on display in the grocery store and tried to sell it for a ridiculously high price. They had ringers stand there and talk about what a great deal it was and people bought it!

Enter Pandora with its commercials about how much you really want that ugly bracelet and how much your husband loves you and knows your good taste when he buys it for you. And women fall for it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Time to cut the cheese

Now that I think about it, I haven't heard the "cut the cheese" reference in ages.

The American Cheese Society has declared October to be American Cheese Month.

Naturally when I first read that I was thinking, wha? You want us to eat American cheese all month? And I started considering its uses. I like a good slice on a hamburger. And I like it in grilled cheese sandwiches. Maybe on a ham and cheese sandwich (though I prefer this new super spicy pepper jack). That's about it, other than folding it and breaking it into squares and eating it on saltines, which is really very good. And it has to be saltines, not only because they're the perfect size and shape, but because Ritz Crackers just don't go with American cheese. Too buttery, I think.

But apparently, there are lots of different kinds of American cheeses and the ACS doesn't exactly mean "American cheese" so much as they mean cheeses that are made right here, by Americans. So, for instance, a locally or homemade mozzarella counts.

Seems a little like a cheat, if you ask me, but I see where they're coming from.

Robin Shreeves, whose tag line, "stay-at-home mom blogs about finding eco-friendly food options," sounds like the pitch for a movie on Disney Channel, offers us ten things we van do to celebrate American Cheese Month.

Besides the already mentioned making of mozzarella, because it's the easiest to make and let's face it, who wants to make his own cheese?, she lists options such as eating a lot of cheese, especially locally-made cheeses; visiting a local cheesemaker--like there's one around the corner here on the Space Coast; ordering cheese for dessert--yeah...right; trying goat milk or sheep milk cheeses; and best of all, visiting cheese blogs.

Apparently Culinary Arts College has a list of the 50 best cheese blogs. Are you kidding me? How many cheese blogs could there be? Just the fact that there's an American Cheese Society is crazy enough.

Lastly Shreeves suggests we "build a better grilled cheese sandwich" and links to a site where they have butchered and adulterated the venerable staple of American childhood beyond recognition.

What is wrong with the world these days?