29 November 2009

A New Day

Having completed the final tedious (and relatively pointless) set of epic grammar exercises for my online class, I'm feeling relieved, motivated, and reflective. As I quickly catch up on recent Facebook activity and ponder the events of the past week, I sit content, sipping green tea and anticipating the rest of the year.

How much will happen in the upcoming weeks? How much do I want to relish (or grieve) from the past? How much to I want to alter in the immediate future?

I've come to realize that self-reflection is only worthwhile if it is done for the purpose of modifying future behavior. So, in the interest of constructive reflection (as opposed to holiday-themed pity-partying), my goal for the rest of the year is not only to reflect on 2009, but to begin creating my goals for 2010.

Yes, folks, this means you can expect several Pollyanna-ish blogs...for at least as long as I stay caffeinated.

Enjoy the beginning of the last week of classes! This is the only November 29th 2009 we will ever have.

26 November 2009

A Sappy (and Snarky) Thanksgiving Blog for Charles

I’m sitting at the kitchen table at my folks’ house. It is around 8:00 in the morning. It is quiet.

That quiet will soon and suddenly disappear as my parents and brothers stumble into the kitchen to have coffee, cheerios, and loud, cacophonous disagreements about nothing that really means anything.

Thanksgiving to me is the most pernicious of holidays, full of loud, unavoidable annoyances and academy award worthy performances.

I don’t know when it was exactly that my mother stopped speaking at a normal volume. It must have been an awfully long time ago, because it seems she has always been shouting from a different room to communicate with us. It’s a sad sort of ritual; it reeks of stale, rote behavior easier to maintain than change….It’s annoying as hell.

I don’t know when my dad got so jaded, and began waxing sarcastic about all the stupid people in the world, how dumb they are, and all the idiotic things they do (which he’s an expert on, due to hours of educational programming in the form of such gems as COPS and Smoking Gun Presents: World’s Stupidest). It’s always funny at first, but after a while it grates like cheap government cheese.

I don’t know when my brothers started throwing me under the bus at holidays. Every time my grandmother and mother end up in the same room, these fools up and disappear. If my grandmother happens to take a breath in the middle of a tirade about her cats’ shitting habits, I excuse myself and find mine comrades hiding in another room, grinning like fucking Cheshire cats. It pisses me off.

I don’t know when I started drinking too much on holidays so that the dysfunction and discord become funny instead of frightening. It makes me feel like a cliché…and an asshole, but I continue to do it. After all, traditions are important in my family.

I don’t know why my family (and probably yours) is such a hot mess at the holidays. We all function pretty normally at least 360 days of the year….

But today is supposed to be about giving thanks, right? It shouldn’t be about frantic upsets about the dreadful pumpkin shortage, or whether or not the dining room centerpiece adequately encompasses our holiday spirit, or about gluttonously performing a tried-and-true ritual which more resembles an MLE challenge than a family gathering…

And I AM thankful…

I’m thankful for my mother, who is annoying, loud, beautiful, kind, and giving…

I’m thankful for my father, who is cynical, hardworking, talented, and sensitive…

I’m thankful for my brothers, who are frustrating bastards, but also my best friends…

I’m thankful for my grandmother, who loves us even more than her cats, however difficult it is to decipher that from her conversation…

I’m thankful for my husband, who will arrive later today and patiently participate in our somewhat frenzied tradition because he loves me more than quiet, peaceful holidays…

I’m thankful for my friends, who will listen to me recreate my holiday adventures, good and bad, even though they surely have more interesting things to do….

And I’m thankful for butchered traditions….

I’m thankful for every stupid argument, every moment of stressful cooking, every dirty dish, every glass of cheap wine, and every fleeting glimpse of genuine holiday bliss in someone’s eye…

I hope you are having an amazing holiday. Be safe and remember that, even the most dysfunctional, unmusical, irritating moments you share with your loved ones are, most importantly, moments you share with your loved ones.

We all have a lot to be thankful for….go celebrate!

23 November 2009

Open memo to the dripdicks who stole my mailbox:


Are you so lacking in bathroom reading material that my medical bills and the Lafa Shopper were just irresistible?

My credit card statements will do you no good, as they are all maxed out...that is, unless you desperately needed them to use as ironic Christmas wrapping....P.S. - that was MY idea!

Maybe it was the mailbox itself...hmmmm....

It IS, after all, the perfect size and shape for collecting mail....However, you left the mangled post, sadly festooned with wilted strips of duct tape from the last time, when you preferred to simply maul the mailbox instead of actually removing it. Would you like the post as well? Because it is doing me absolutely no good at this time...The sanitation workers simply eyed it warily as it lay there among the trash cans; it was obviously too pathetic to remain, but still did not actually fit their definition of trash...and so, it remains on the curb - a sad, twisted little invalid of white aluminum in need of euthanasia.

Of course, a mailbox may be used for a number of purposes, which I'm certain you're exploring. I'm sure you can store your skunk weed, cheap porn mags, and Miley Cyrus cds in it. You could probably fit at least a dozen cans of Axe body spray, all your Hot Topic shoelaces, and your old, crumpled up class notes in there.

Before you start experimenting with the creative potential of MY mailbox, let me give you some advice based upon practical experience: The mailbox in question will NEVER be as useful to you as it was to me. It will, in fact, probably act out in response to it's capture and be incredibly snobbish to your mail, which does not belong there.

Perhaps you have noticed that we have replaced said mailbox....Please allow this one to remain as, clearly, you already have one and surely have no need for another.

Thank you so very much.

Inspiring Quotes of the Day: BOOKS

Doesn't the weather today just make you want to curl up on the couch with some cocoa (or bourbon), a cozy blanket, and a good book?

My day is all about grading, cleaning, and getting my life in order for the upcoming weeks of finals drama, but, as always happens when I have more important things to do, I've been wandering around the house aimlessly, calling people for absolutely no reason, and, in general, procrastinating....

My eyes wandered to a bookshelf....specifically to the "to read" shelf wedged between the "hot-as-hell pumps" and "tall, dressy boots in brown or black" shelves.

My first thought was: one day I will live in a house where my shoes and my books don't have to vie for space...More importantly, my second thought was that it has been over a month since I read even a page of literature - fiction, nonfiction, poetry, prose, elegant, trashy, or otherwise - that wasn't completely necessary to do my job or pursue my studies!

I have a lot of work to do, but thought I'd take a break to find some quotes that sum up how I feel about reading. They make me remember why, as a ten year old "library nerd," I thought books were possibly the greatest invention ever.

Find yourself some inspiration, a warm nook, and an old favorite, and let your imagination wander away from this dreary day! Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in some quality paperback time before sunset!

"Wouldn't it be fun if all the castles in the air which we make could come true and we could live in them?"
Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

A room without books is like a body without a soul.
Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC), (Attributed)

The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.
Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
Edgar Allan Poe

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.
Author Unknown

...And, a general life lesson:

If you go home with someone and they don't have any books...don't fuck them.
John Waters

22 November 2009

Pollyanna Moments, The First

One of the things that prompted me to start this blog (besides a clear need to waste more time) was a moment last week when I read a little article hypothesizing what would happen if, every time we catch ourselves saying "I have to do _____" we catch ourselves and say "I get to do ___________" instead. It's a change of only one word, but what a dramatic change in meaning....yes, I am aware what a dork I am, thanks.

I started thinking about days in my past that just make me grin from ear to ear thinking about them. Memories that brighten my whole day, even though they have long since passed. Recollections of events that could never be planned or recreated, but manifest themselves in completely organic and unexpected ways...I decided I would periodically write a little blog in memory of those moments as a shout out to those who shared them with me.

Pollyanna Memory 1:


It was a friend's birthday. One of my best girls, S.W. was hosting an intimate little party with all the usual ladies. I wasn't feeling so hot, but convinced myself to go do a little well-wishing and have one, only one, drink with the birthday girl.

As the evening progressed, I began to feel better...to even believe that I had never been sick in the first place, go figure.

One by one, the guests trickled away, until S.W. and I were left alone...with entirely too many bottles of booze...

Happy banter, mindless dancing, and abundant laughter led to sunrise, when we toasted the day's light with shots of tequila...several of them...

Around 7am, we decided we needed some coffee. So we bundled up, careful to arm ourselves with cash and a sippy-cup full of coconut rum (do not ask, I don't know).
We got coffee. We trampled through the cemetary and all around the Square, photographing anything that took our interest.

Finally, around noon, S.W. and I scrambled through the large patch of brambles behind my house, mucking ourselves up pretty damned well in the process. We collapsed in my living room with the biggest stupidest grins all over our faces.

What made this the first Pollyanna moment I will try to recall on truly shitty mornings is the fact that, through over 12 hours of drinking, dancing, hiking, and chatting at a fevered pitch, I don't think we ever stopped laughing once the entire time.

Thanks, S.W.! I miss you!

Reminiscing: My Blog: The Developmental Years

Sadly, my swan dive into the world of blogging has turned into more of a belly flop, given my tragic lack of internet for the last several days. So, as I sit in the coffee shop, trying to imagine some profound topic to blog about, I realize that I need a little inspiration from the past. What did I do in those long-ago Myspace days that made blogging so much fun?

I decided to check. I even remembered my Myspace password on the third try! I started reading old blogs and reminiscing....

Most of my blogging was conducted in 2007 and 2008. Most of my blogs consisted of movie reviews and travel updates. Who knew I went to so many movies during that time? I don't know where all that movie money was coming from, but it appears to have been wasted, since 95% of the movie reviews I wrote on Myspace were scathing. Here's a couple of fun oldie-but-goodies:

03 Apr 08 Thursday

Sweeney Todd...I’m not sure...This may be a little harsh...
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

Perhaps it was because of all the hype, or the fact that several of my friends told me I would absolutely love this film. Perhaps it was because of the Oscar buzz, or the fact that Tim Burton directed it, and Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Alan Rickman starred...

I’m not sure if any or all of these factors influenced the way I approached watching "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," but apparently I was much too excited to see this movie....

...and was disappointed. The movie exhibited some of Tim Burton’s characteristic dark beauty in the backdrops and costumes, but it was far from his most amazing visual achievement. I, quite honestly, thought Batman, and certainly Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, etc, were much more visually profound.

...as far as the performances went, I was also disappointed. Johnny Depp gave an admirable performance, but far from Oscar calibur. In fact, I think the only reason he was nominated was his attempt at singing, which was bordering on comical. Helena Bonham Carter proved, once again, that she is desperately in need of some conditioner and hair pomade and that if she twitches and shreeks a lot people will think that she is acting and not just crazy. Alan Rickman was his usual stuffy, yet somehow sexy, self...until he started singing, that is. The supporting roles were flimsy and disjointed. Sasha Baron Cohen made an interesting cameo as a greasy swindler, and he was decent...and he had the best death scene. Weaselly Tim Spall (most famous in the States for playing Peter Petigrew in the Harry Potter films) basically played upon his natural creepiness and the role wasn’t much of a stretch for him. Besides these celebrity friends of Burton’s, the remainder of the cast seemed to be experienced singers and musical performers, making the attempts at singing on the parts of the famous stars seem even more mediocre.

...as for the costumes and makeup (one of my favorite scrutinies)...the makeup was cheesy and fake. I’m not certain if they intentionally made the actors look like they were on stage, or if the stylists just got slap-happy with cheap white-face, but the effect was truly more comical than creepy. The costumes were probably "okay" in my book (especially when compared to the other Oscar contenders), but they got lost in the shadowy cinematography and didn’t really serve any sort of aesthetic purpose as far as I could tell.

...Now for the gore. I didn’t expect much, I had been told the gore was over the top and cheesy, so I was therefore pleasantly surprised in a few scenes. Pirelli’s murder in particular was actually almost gruesome...though Burton was cheap to resort to bludgeoning, one of the easiest ways to get at a squeamish audience. After that, there are only so many times you can watch people’s throats being slit before getting bored.

...The music...what can I say about the music. Not much. Besides a few (unintentionally) comical lyrics, such as "all the horrors of the world are as wondrous as Peru," the musical numbers were terribly formulaic.

I would recommend this film to fans of musicals if they don’t mind a little gore (I do realize that not all of your stomachs are teflon coated, as mine is). Tim Burton fans beware, this one ranks up there with "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and (cringe) "Planet of the Apes".

My apologies to all of you who adored this film. Nothing personal, I was just highly disappointed at this mediocre attempt at mixed-genre film-making. If you want a modern musical, Moulin Rouge was far superior, and if you want horror, suck it up and go rent one of the many decent gore-fests available on DVD.

30 Jul 08 Wednesday

X - Files: I Want To Believe (that they could have made a better movie than this)...
Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

I'm going to warn you that this review blog is going to have some spoilers in it...but since the things I'm spoiling are more predictable than geeks at a sci-fi convention, I don't feel too bad about it...

I guess you could say that in the late 90's I was a fan of the X-Files. I wasn't religious about it, but there were some pretty fantastic episodes, like The Peacock Family and the 2-part killer bees episode. There were fabulous pseudo-celebrity cameos like Jesse Ventura, John O'Hurley, Kathy Griffin (pre-nose job and gay entourage), and countless others. There was the endless sexual tension between Mulder and Scully, the at-times-very-clever banter and some of my favorite all-time quotes, including:

"I didn't play Dungeons and Dragons all those years and not learn at thing or two about courage!"

All that being said, I knew that the new X-Files movie was not going to be a stellar return to the tv show I once loved...however, I did expect it to be far better than it was!

The Premise:
It's been 9 years: The FBI is hunting down Mulder, Scully is a surgeon at a Catholic hospital, and, oh, first spoiler!!!!!:

They are living together.

Note: You may think that you want to see them in love (the studio clearly thought so) but you don't. Not really. The power of tv duos who want to be together but are conflicted about it IS THAT THEY ARE CONFLICTED ABOUT IT! This movie jumped the shark by putting them together, first big mistake.

Next the FBI shows up, in the form of two way-too-young, way-too-pretty, and way-too-annoying agents (one of whom is Amanda Peet, who I really cannot stand) who want Mulder's help finding a missing agent. Their only lead is the testimony of a Catholic priest/psychic with a dubious past.

Then there is a whole bunch of predictable and boring parts where Mulder and Scully fight about whether or not to believe in psychics and whether or not they've ruined their careers by making this movie....oh wait, that was just my ESP kicking in to show me what was going on in their dressing room...

Where was I? Oh yes. More boring parts....some predictable parts....some really cheesy dialogue....oh, and they solve the case, which (SPOILER 2) is not really science-fiction-y at all. Oh, and they cry and kiss alot.

The performances: Negligible...I didn't like the way they changed Scully's character into a frigid and controlling girlfriend, and David Duchovney looked mildly drunk throughout the film.

The script: Abysmal. There was so little actual science-fiction in this movie! I expected something grander, with inside jokes, celebrity cameos, or at least aliens or monsters...and instead I got a worn-out story with washed-up characters and miserable dialogue.

Overall conclusions:
I felt that "X-Files: I want to Believe" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls" should have traded scripts and both might have been much better films.

I recommend this movie to: anyone who needs a nap, people who like wasting money on mediocre movies...if you are a true fan of the X-Files and feel you need to see this, I highly recommend waiting for DVD, there is nothing in this movie that necessitates big-screen viewing.

Hopefully there will be a good movie coming out soon, until then,

19 November 2009

Just Jess delves into the world-o-blog

Having abandoned Myspace in favor of Facebook, as many of my illustrious peers did ages ago, I have increasingly found something lacking in my social networking life. While I still have my daily fill of voyeuristic fun, trivial pursuits, and frenzied rounds of Bejeweled Blitz between classes, I am seriously missing the fun of pointless blogging!

My good pal and fellow gossip/tangent/adjective enthusiast, Sweet Pickles, has been urging me to start a blog for years, but, like a Twitard contemplating a new, unexplored, well-written piece of actual literature, I was afraid of change.

But, since Facebook has failed to supply me with a forum for my tangential ranting, here I am!

You may ask yourself, what will Just Jess' blog give me that no other blog can?

Well, I have no fracking idea. But I will tell you what it will NOT give you:

Epic, detailed transcriptions of every time a baby cries, shits, makes a noise, or acts like a baby in any other normal way

Carefully edited, unbiased political statements

Slanderous gossip (with the possible exception of shared posts from my fave blog, dlisted.com)

Painfully long surveys in which I reveal to you the all-important answers to "What is your favorite ice cream? Who was the first person to text you today? Are you in love? Etc."

Y'all, I just really like writing! Especially in non-standardized ways and with many, many adjectives! If you don't like it, don't read it.