Not-So-Friday Links


I’m mid-viewing of There Will Be Blood and mid-studying after a kind of abortive trip to Paris.  Never trust when it predicts no precipitation. Always bring your umbrella.  Because if you don’t it will rain in the morning and snow in the afternoon.

  • The top Welsh names in Wales.  There’s something intriguing about Welsh names- from the enigmatic (to me) spelling and pronunciation to the Lord of the Rings- vibes.  Not to mention names like Angharad and Gwilym- characters from one of my favorite films, How Green Was My Valley.
  • Speaking of movies- an enjoyably extra idea for creating memorable movie nights for the family- themed invitations and menus.
  • Remembering Hubert de Givenchy, a brilliant couturier and the designer most associated with Audrey Hepburn‘s rise as a sartorial star.
  • This movie looks insane-in-a-good-way. Also excited to see Lakeith Stanfield in another role post-Get Out.
  • I would watch a Jared Kushner musical.
  • A visually beautiful article about the production of roses for Chanel No. 5. Via my Mom. (Also, I’ve been to Pegomas just this year!)
  • Am I the only person who’s thought about what I want done with my body when I eventually and inevitably kick the bucket? This natural burial ground in Tennessee is actually closest to what I’ve imagined.  Except god forbid my final resting place be Tennessee.
  • Surprise surprise: A huge MIT study finds that fake news stories are much more likely to spread and go ‘viral’ than real news stories on Twitter. Kind of expected but no less scary for that.
  • Having never been married and having no children of my own, I can’t realistically vouch for any of this advice- but I do like it.
  • The mysteriously adorable allure of maternity overalls.
  • Are intimately subtle, barely there perfumes having a renaissance?
  • Taking down the single versus spoken for binary. “Does the idea that people have to “love” — or simply feel any specific way about being single — give the concept of romantic attachment too much power?”
  • This French food waste law is changing how grocery stores approach excess food.

Icebreaker Questions and Answers

Icebreakers and I have a tempestuous relationship.
Despite being something of a hot seat devotee and a major fan of random and revealing questions, my first memory of icebreakers is on the traumatic side.

It was the first day of 3rd or 4th grade.  Our teacher (Probably Ms. Ellis in fourth grade, this seems like just her brand of sadism) told us we would be going on an impromptu camping trip, passed around a roll of toilet paper, and told us to take what we thought we would need for an overnight stay.
I was pretty sure something was up. I may have been eight years old but I was no fool.  They needed my parents’ signatures to bus me to the Science Museum for a few hours. But still part of me was completely appalled at the threat of being spirited away for a night. And having to reveal my toilet paper needs? It was the height of humiliation.
You may have played this game before- you have to share a fact about yourself for every sheet that you take. I don’t remember what I did- probably something middle of the road like 5.  Someone took one sheet and another boy (I think it was Pedro) took about half the roll.

So while I have no problem with sharing some level of personal information and even less of a problem listening to other people’s stories (when it doesn’t border on the TMI) I hate the enforced ‘getting-to-know-you’ of icebreakers, which are really only good for uniting a group against the irritating and condescending authority demanding how many bones you’ve broken.

Which is a long way of saying I found 25 fun icebreaker questions and I’m going tonsure some of them.
Please do not be inspired to use these for their purported purpose of ‘team building at work’.

  • What was your first job?
    My first paid job was as a barista at a Barnes & Noble Starbucks.
  • Have you ever met anyone famous?
    The most starstruck I have ever been was when I met one of the horses who played Shadowfax in Lord of the Rings.
  • If you could pick up a new skill in an instant what would it be?
    So many I can’t choose: a language, hunting with falcons, parkour, an instrument…
  • Seen any good movies lately you’d recommend?
    Good Time wasn’t my kind of movie but it is being criminally overlooked. It came out in 2017.
  • Been pleasantly surprised by anything lately?
    The only things coming directly to mind are both today: Clinique’s eyeliner is in fact easy and liquid, and it sounds like Black Panther is super intersectional and has strong female characters.
  • Favorite band ten years ago?
    I was twelve, which was about the time I got my iPod and started listening to music for the first time. Honestly it was probably Aly and AJ or Avril Lavigne. Embarrassing.
  • What’s your earliest memory?
    I remember sitting on the rug at preschool and thinking to myself, “I’m three”.
  • Been anywhere recently for the first time?
    Grasse and Nice!
  • What was the first thing you bought with your own money?
    The first big ticket item I bought with my own money was one of those felted cardboard cat condos. It was two floors. We still have it. It was $80 and I had saved for forever. I think I was in Elementary school. I was a high roller.
  • Any phobias you’d like to break?
    Nope, spiders and I are good with where our animosity is, thanks very much.
  • What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?
    I’m such an old person, I like raisin bran. But I remember being young and loving the Cap’n Crunch I had at my cousins’ beach house. When I came home and asked my parents if we could buy it they told me it wasn’t sold in our state. Ah, the lies our parents tell us.

A Very Blasphemous Christmas Film List

Featuring movies I both have and haven’t seen.

Let’s say you’re the kind of person who prefers their Christmas light on the Christ. And also light on the mas(s).  Thankfully some parts of the world have accepted Christmas as part of the non-denominational holiday season- a time when we celebrate not the mis-dated birth of our Lord Jesus, but rather our love for one another. Our family, our friends, cozy nights, festive lights, and a rapacious culture of consumerism.

One of my favorite traditions for holiday togetherness is the Christmas movie, whether it’s on in the evening while I’m curled up on the couch or its just on in the background while I decorate the tree (just kidding, you have to play the Nutcracker Suite while you decorate the tree. It is written).

While I’m usually all ready for a trite and sentimental holiday story, sometimes you just need something a little more subversive. If that’s you, here’s your list.

Films I’ve Seen:

  • In Bruges: I honestly love In Bruges, a black comedy-crime featuring Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson (my real Santa Claus) spewing a never-ending stream of swears and spirit.
  • Edward Scissorhands: This just treads the line with being actually Christmas-y, with the heartfelt themes of family, community, belonging, and the harm of isolation. But Johnny Depp has scissors for hands and Winona’s awesome.
  • The Life of Brian: Biggus Dickus. ‘Nuff said.
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy: There are a lot of families for which LOTR is a real Christmas tradition, given that the films were released around the holidays. For me it’s because I found the box set under the tree as a child after Dad and I read the series together.  An Ent is the only real Christmas tree I need.
  • The Harry Potter Series: Actually tender and fuzzy feelings with delightful magic and Christmas scenes. But because evangelicals like to burn the books, the series gets a spot on this list. *Christmassiness declines as the series progresses.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Multiple songs with references to murdering Santa.

Films I’ve Yet To See:

  • Eyes Wide Shut: Tom Cruise on a harrowing and dangerous night-long odyssey of sexual and moral discovery. Kay.
  • Gremlins: My plan is to get this one watched this year.
  • Die Hard: I didn’t finish this movie. I just don’t find it very interesting, mostly because of Bruce Willis. But if you can hang in there for Alan Rickman, do it.
  • The French Connection: There are a few more Christmas-adjacent gang/crime films (Blast of Silence is another), but I’ll put this one on as the representative. But watch In Bruges first. I vouch for it.

Who’s Your Daddy?


Happy Father’s Day to all of the dad, dads-to-be, grandfathers, role models, and other guardian-types of the masculine persuasion!
And a very much more specific bucket o’ love to my own cher papa.

There was a change of plans and we went to VO2, a vegan cafe attached to a yoga studio in Cambridge. I know, right?
But it was delicious (I got the North End (minus the olive tapenade)). Continue reading “Who’s Your Daddy?”

Never Too Old For High Fantasy

High fantasy: fantasy set in an alternative, fictionalized world

I haven’t stopped loving high fantasy as I’ve gotten older, even if I read it less than I used to.  Reading a story that wakes up your imagination is at once comforting and thrilling- comforting because that’s a part of mind that I associate with being younger and the security of being little and taken care of. Thrilling because I can be transported to another world.
It’s this world building that’s always been my favorite thing about fantasy- the maps in the front pages of the book (that sometimes fold out!), exotic names for places and people, fabricated family trees, and the existence of a whole new sequence of history and code of rules waiting to be discovered.
I even dreamed of writing the next great fantasy novel (I can remember so many that I started and never got very far with- “Under the Eye of the Dragon” being a title that springs to mind 😛 ), but characteristically got bogged down in the planning of the details, which was honestly the most exciting part for me.  Drawing maps of my own kingdoms, diagramming my own (very convoluted- I read too many books about Tudor England) ancestries, cataloguing the horses in my imaginary stable (with names, breeds, and ages, of course), drawing a floor plan of said imaginary stable on graph paper, and drawing up adoption booklets filled with fictional beasts (and then making my parents adopt them so I could send them postcards from the adoptees).

So I never got around to writing the next great fantasy novel.  But that hasn’t stopped me from reading them and appreciating other people’s world-building, character choices, and well, patience, which was the thing that I really lacked.
(Guess what? I have it now and sometimes write short stories! But not so much for people to read, because I know I overuse adjectives and adverbs and comparisons. It’s very self-indulgent writing 😛 )
So if you feel like curling up with fantastical happenings, heroic adventures, and sometimes romance, here are some suggestions that i think do a good job of appealing to the child in all of us while still being well-written and innovative enough to not offend our adult sides. Continue reading “Never Too Old For High Fantasy”

Intimidating and Read

Spring boarding off my post of yesterday, I decided to write a post about the longest books that I have read.  At least the longest books that I’ve read and would recommend. It’s a list that makes me feel accomplished (I read so many words!) and kind of nervous, because maybe I’ve already finished all of the best long books… It’s hard to know whether you’re going to die before you finish reading everything you want to, or whether you’re eventually going to find a place where you’ve found and read all of the things that appeal to you most. Both strike terror into my heart.

I once again cut off the list at 800 pages, with the lengths given according to  Some books I real (Moby Dick, The Woman in White, etc.) felt like they should be in here but are apparently not so long as I imagined. Or perhaps Amazon is selling them as large-paged books with tiny fonts? Anyway, they must be omitted, no matter how exquisite and verbose they seemed. Continue reading “Intimidating and Read”

Christmas Specials


It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Well, depending on how you feel about it, maybe, maybe not.  For me, it will be once I’m done with this semester and headed home.  And then I can double down on the advent calendar, gift wrapping, holiday preparation whole nine yards.

Because college has seriously cramped my festive style.  (I miss the 25 days of Christmas on ABC (Is it ABC?)).  All they do here at university is get drunk at holiday parties. And the guys next door (not the ones we share a bathroom with, the other ones) blast Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You while I try to do my thesis. Bah Humbug.
Finals aren’t even over until the 21st.

I’ve done a bit better this year.  I cornered a children’s choir and made them sing Go Tell it on the Mountain, which is one of my favorite carols. Okay, actually I ran into them and they were going to sing anyway. But it was such an unexpected coup and I feel so deviously satisfied.
I also got to watch a single Christmas movie one of the days after Thanksgiving.  Still far behind my young self, but doing better than some recent years.
And a horse-drawn carriage giving free rides stopped in front of me today so I hopped on and they took me around the block, which was lovely.  The horses were named Ben and Luke, a Clydesdale and Percheron x Thoroughbred. And I’m very satisfied because I guessed their breeds correctly.  My horse knowledge hasn’t all wasted away.
And I think the performance of the Messiah will be happening soon at the chapel.  That’s always excellent. Last year I went and worked on my fifty page lab report. Woo!

So here’s a list of the cheesy Christmas specials that I’m missing (for now).  They’re kind of in the order of what I love most, which mostly reflects what I liked as a child rather than what is ‘good’. And I’m omitting movies I haven’t seen (and movies I couldn’t make it through- like Arthur Christmas). Continue reading “Christmas Specials”