Friday, March 31, 2006

Music Play List Meme (Borrowed, Once Again, From Lara)

Yeah, I'm kinda bored, so play along...

Step 1: Get your play list together, put it on random, and play.

Step 2: Write down the first line (or close to it--I'll put a little star next to the ones that I don't use the first line from) from the first 20 songs that play.

Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what song the lines come from. No search engines, please.

Step 4: Cross out the songs when someone guesses correctly

So, if you'd like to play along, feel free to write the answers in a comment.

1. Woke up this morning, feeling fine! ("I'm Into Something Good" by Herman's Hermits--way to go Lesley!)

2. Looking through the winds blowing up the road...

3. Hey, time won't wait, life goes by, every day's a brand new sky

4. Color of the sky as far as I can see is cold gray

5. Did I ever tell you how you live in me?

6. I was lying awake last night, waiting for your call

7. All the waiters in your grand cafe leave their tables when you blink (Brian correctly guessed Billy Joel's "Don't Ask Me Why")

8. Here making each day of the year, changing my life with a wave of her hand... (Annette gets her first hit with "Here, There, And Everywhere" by the Beatles)

9. She said I don't know if I've ever been good enough...

10. I close my eyes, only for a moment and the moment's gone (Brian again with "Dust In the Wind" by Kansas)

11. Oh, why you look so sad? (Lara correctly guessed "I'll Stand By You" by the Pretenders)

12. I waited till I saw the sun... ("Don't Know Why" by Norah Jones--Lesley again!)

13. Open the door and come in, I'm so glad to see you, my friend (Lesley got "You're In Love" by Wilson Phillips!)

14. I've been where you are before, no one understands it more...

15. ...and just when I thought time had set me free, those thoughts of you keep taunting me.*** (Annette again with "Here I Am" by Air Supply)

16. There's a black man with a black cat living in a black neighborhood (Lara again with "Little Pink Houses" by John Mellencamp)

17. May the good Lord be with you down every road you roam (Rod Stewart's "Forever Young", guessed correctly by Brian)

18. I come home in the morning light...

19. Patching the roof and pitching the hay is not my idea of a perfect day (come on, Broadway fans!)

20. ...can't you see the sunshine, can't you just feel the moonshine? *** (Lara with James Taylor's "Carolina In My Mind")

Relay For Life

A while back, I had a friend ask me about joining Relay for Life, a major fundraiser to support the American Cancer Society. The Relay is mainly to raise awareness and funds for cancer survivors and research, and celebrates survivorship, as well as remembrance of those who didn't win their battle with this hideous disease.

I agreed to join the team, and after a long 6 weeks stuck inside, on my butt, doing nothing, I can hardly wait to start walking and getting ready for the Relay.

I don’t know many people whose lives have not been affected by cancer. From your neighbor down the street to a beloved parent, grandparent, cousin, or best friend who has been diagnosed, everyone I’ve talked to has been touched in some way by this awful disease.

I am certainly no exception. So this year, when I walk, I’ll be walking in honor of my family members who haven’t survived cancer (all four of my grandparents, and my great-aunt in particular) and our family friends who have

Now I get to start fundraising too!

While I walk, I’ll be wearing a T-shirt with the names of my loved ones, for whom I am walking.

If you would be willing to make a donation to support my walk, I will add any of your loved ones names to my tee, my jeans, my sneakers, my hat, whatever I have to wear to make enough money for the American Cancer Society to eradicate this despicable disease! And as a special bonus, if our team raises more than $5,000, my sister will shave her head!!!

There are a couple of ways to donate. First, you can send me a check in the mail, made out to the American Cancer Society. Be sure to include your loved one’s name so I may include it on my shirt. You may also visit my ACS RFL website at and donate through their secure website.

So please donate, send me your loved one’s name, and I’ll be on the track on June 10th!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Other Boredom Killers: Readin' and Gamin'

Besides running my Netflix membership into the ground, I've also been spending these few weeks reading and playing some new computer games... I thought I might as well write a few reviews of them as well!


1. I Love Everyone (And Other Atrocious Lies): True Tales of a Loudmouth Girl by Laurie Notaro. Not too long ago, I was book browsing and I picked up a copy of Laurie Notaro's book We Thought You'd Be Prettier. I found it fairly amusing, but my sister fell in love with Notaro. A girl in my book club had The Idiot Girl's Action Adventure Guide, which Judy read, and then Judy picked up this latest offering on one of her trips or something. There were 2 chapters that I found absolutely hysterical, out of a book 240 pages long. They are short essays on every day life, and I think my sister aspires to be Laurie Notaro when she grows up. I don't find her all that amusing--the stories are cute, I guess, in their way, but almost too over the top, in the way my sister can be a bit over the top. So with my own little Laurie Notaro running around, I guess I didn't really feel the need to read the real thing. The 2 chapters worth reading are the chapter about the Sims and the chapter about her trip to San Francisco, when her friend "swims with the fishes".

2. The Way They Were: Dealing With Your Parents' Divorce After a Lifetime of Marriage by Brooke Lea Foster. Anyone who has known me for even a while knows that my parents' divorce in 1999 was the sole event in my life that had the biggest single impact upon me. It was the first major event Michael suffered through with me... It's how I met Lara... It changed how I saw my parents, my family, myself. It affected everyone on both sides of my family, and my relationships and trust with people. Back when it first started, Lara and I were contacted by Brooke and interviewed for the book, as were a zillion other "Adult Kids of Divorce." I had forgotten all about it, until Lara emailed me to say the book had finally been published this year. (Congratulations, Brooke!) I got a copy and decided to read it, and I must say, it is the most informative book on the topic. Every single chapter, I had to put the book down. I was like, "Yup, I did that" or "Yup, I felt that way" or "That's right, I shouldn't have done that." or "That's exactly how it happened!" This book is rather topical, but if you're experiencing your parents' divorce after a lengthy marriage (mine were married 25 years!), this is the book for you. Ignore all those idiots who tell you it shouldn't bother you.

3. American Girls About Town by various American Women Authors. A collection of short stories by 17 American women authors, including Jennifer Weiner, one of my personal favorites. The stories range, and my interest in the stories really varied. I am still working my way through this one, but I've read several of them now and some are really quite good. I was actually not a fan of Weiner's story about some British woman who is duped into falling for an actor and then she dumps him when she finds out his famous... But some of the other stories were quite good. This was lent to me by a friend, and I'm glad I didn't buy it, but I'm glad I get to read it as well!

4. Naked Pictures of Famous People by Jon Stewart. If you buy this for no other reason, buy it for the chapter on the Kennedys. It is uproarious. Some of the other ones fell a bit flat (although I was also fairly impressed by the chapter on Princess Diana), but for the most part, a rather quick and really fun read.

5. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. Again, I haven't finished it yet, as I typically have 3 or 4 books going at a time. HOWEVER! I'm enjoying it a lot. I LOVE mystery novels and this one was included in the computer game of the same name that I bought last week to pass the time. It's quite compelling. The computer game turns out differently in the end, apparently, than does the novel, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out. Nonetheless, what I've read so far matches up quite well with how they designed the game. I like that. The basic plot is that a strange madman has invited 10 strangers to his island home for a weekend. It turns out they are all responsible in some way, shape, or form for someone having died in their past (and in some cases, more than one someone). They are then rubbed out, one by one, according to a nursery rhyme, until there are none left.

6. The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson. This book was OK. It was compelling enough, and kept moving along, but for me, there were too many parts of it that I just didn't like. This was a book club selection, and like any chick lit book with a depressing ending, yes, it made me cry. It didn't help that I read it the week I got hurt (so when Heather came up to sit with me, I had to shamefully hide my tears, lest she read it and think I was a big geek--she later confessed to tearing up herself!)... Anyway, the basic plot is that Olivia Hunt, wannabe film producer, discovers her Martha-Stewart-esque sister has leukemia, and while Olivia is off jet setting with Robin Williams and John Cleese (not sure how they got away with using real people in this book!) and making and breaking up with the love of her life approximately 25 times during the course of the novel, she writes letters about herself and her sister's fight for life and her best friend's battle with infertility. It's practically a Lifetime Made for TV movie.

I've also been faithfully reading Readers Digest, Real Simple, People, and Martha Stewart Living.


1. Civilization IV: I am a longtime Civ fan. My dad bought it back when we were running Windows 3.X and Civilization was a brand new game and we thought it was the most compelling game ever. Not too long ago, I bought Civ 3 and Civ 3 Conquests (maybe 2 or 3 years ago) and I have been playing them ever since. Fantastic new options were introduced in Civ3, including the power of automation, so you didn't have to tell your workers to build roads and irrigation all the time, the ability to have your units automatically explore without you pushing the arrow keys till your fingers fell off, and the ability to delegate to the governor all city management tasks (and you could save it as a default setting so you didn't have to worry about any of the cities you were building, all of them would be run the same). The graphics and animation also kicked butt. The beauty of all this was that you then had time to strategize your world domination, and with 6 or 7 new ways to win, you really needed to get down to business.

Last Christmas, I found out about Civ4, but really wasn't all that interested, since I loved Civ3 so much. The major attraction of Civ4 seems to be that they have added the aspect of religion into the game. You now discover all the world religions, eastern and western, and can establish state religions. You also can establish a whole slew of new governing options. The automation is still there, the graphics and animation have been taken to the next level, but unfortunately they seem to have removed the ability to contact the governor. I also have not successfully figured out how to handle the religion question, so now I tend to have 5 or 6 different religions spread throughout my cities, which doesn't bother me per se, but it does seem to alarm my enemies (who, believe you me, don't need ANOTHER reason to hate my guts).

I have yet to complete an entire game, mainly because I'm trying to learn the ropes. But I did see in Best Buy they are selling Civ 3 complete in one set (I can't re-install my old game due to a crack in the CD), and I am seriously considering downgrading on this one. It's really not doing anything for me.

2. The Age of Mythology: Microsoft's answer to Civilization, the Age of Empires, has a Mythological counterpart, which Joe INSISTED I would love and must try out. So we downloaded the nearly 400 MB trial version (you gotta love high speed internet) and installed it. Joe swore he was going to teach me to play, but his teaching me seemed to involve him playing and not really explaining what he was doing and me sitting there staring at the screen. I tried playing a couple of times, and it does have some things about it that I liked (for instance, making the villagers perform specific tasks on the environment like cutting trees, gathering food, finding gold) and some things that annoyed the snot out of me (how the hell do you take over a settlement and build a new city?!). It was nice to try, but glad not to buy!

3. And Then There Were None: My favorite computer games are the mystery-strategy games. Back when I was running Windows 95, I had the most kick-ass collection of mystery/strategy/adventure games you can imagine (my personal favorites being Loom and Zork Grand Inquisitor. I played the oringinal Myst, but that damned water world with the elevators just about killed me, and so I bought Pyst isntead! I only managed to complete Myst with the help of an adventure guide.). So I am usually perusing shelves to find new things to tease my brain with. Unfortunately, I find that there is a real scarcity of good, meaty games with interesting puzzles and not a lot of blood and guts. Which is why I absolutely LOVED this game. Yes, OK, granted, it only took me 2 days to conclude it. And in the span of that game were 10 murders. But mainly you heard, "Oh, no! SO AND SO IS DEAD!" and that was the extent of it. The puzzles were not all that difficult, to be honest, but they did take a little bit of figuring out. The most annoying aspect of the game was that if you didn't perform one small step, you were genuinely stuck until you retraced all your steps and completed whatever you had to do. While you were in the house, that wasn't too bad, but once you were able to explore the island, it got to be quite time consuming. This game was a lot of fun and very interesting, and of course, as mentioned above, persuaded me to read my first Agatha Christie novel.

3. Restaurant Empire: While I gather the Restaurant Empire Empire is on its 3rd version, Target was selling the first one for 10 dollars, and since it sounded interesting enough, I picked it up. This game is pure strategy. You can either play the pick up version where you are given $500,000 and get to pick the city and build from the ground up or you can play the full blown tutorial version. I have been playing the tutorial, even though after the first round, the tutorial pretty well stops. In it, you are Armand, a young upstart chef out to start your own restauranting empire. Your uncle has recently retired from the business and has given you permission to take over his Parisian restaurant in hopes of seriously competing against evil conglomerate OmniFoods, which is hell bent on peppering Paris with low rent restaurants. You get to enter cooking competitions, decorate your restaurant your own way, and while I have only gotten into the 3rd or 4th round of play, I've gotten to feed the Godfather. The game can get a little bit boring at times. While the restaurant runs on automatic pilot, you're left to sit there and watch. You can intervene or change things at any time, which is handy since you do have customer complaints you need to address. And Uncle Michel is available if you get truly stuck. I'm enjoying, but I feel like I ought to be enjoying it more.

4. The Mystery of the Mummy: This is a Sherlock Holmes mystery game, and as the daughter of a Holmes devotee, I figured I would give this a whirl (plus, it was also on the Target $10 rack). The premise is simple enough: you are Sherlock Holmes, called to investigate the death of a famous Egyptologist whose daughter is either your cousin or is marrying your cousin (the details are escaping me right now). Joe and I played this one together, and while the puzzles are extremely simple, they are also extremely frustrating. I don't know if it was user-itis or if it was the game or the computer or what... (For instance, in the first puzzle, you have to enter the end dates into a wall safe in a specific order. Joe and I did so, but it wouldn't let us in. So we restarted the game and re-entered the dates and it worked fine.) Eventually we gave in and just got the walkthrough on line... We got to a certain point and got tired of it, and shut it down. The next morning, I opened it and played for a while, but eventually screwed up and blew up Sherlock Holmes. Losing never felt so good. There are 5 levels of play, and the main intent of the animators and artists seems to have been that they just wanted to make it as difficult as possible to find the little scraps of things you need to advance. For instance, they hide a dirty gray rag under a wine rack in the shadows and you have to find it... You can hunt and hunt for it, but eventually you wind up just moving your mouse all over until the arrow changes to a hand. Then you know you're onto something... I probably will finish it out of sheer tenacity...

So, there you go... more fun things to do inside on your butt when you have 6 weeks to kill. Enjoy!

Update, Update!

I will be having surgery next Wednesday at 11:30!

Hopefully after that, I'll be able to start walking. I am thrilled and excited and happy and relieved! I can only imagine how great it'll be to actually be on the move!

Doctor in 30 minutes!

We are heading out to see Dr. Kirchmeir to discuss what I hope will be the final stages of this broken leg nightmare!!

I will post an update when we get back, but best case scenario, the screw comes out today and I'm walking... Worst case, I have to wait a couple more weeks!!

Let's hope it's the former and not the latter!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Stolen from Lara: Book Meme

Meme instructions : Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you've read, italicize the ones you might read, cross out the ones you won't, underline the ones on your book shelf, and place parentheses around the ones you've never even heard of.

The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
(His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story - George Orwell
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
The Hobbit - J.R. R. Tolkein
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
1984 - George Orwell
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J.K. Rowling
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
Angels and Demons - Dan Brown
Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
(Neuromancer - William Gibson )
(Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson)
(The Secret History - Donna Tartt )
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis
(Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides )
(Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell)
The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkein
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Good Omens - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
Atonement - Ian McEwan
(The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zagon)
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
(Dune - Frank Herbert)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

NetFlix: I'll be On Their Bad List Soon!

Well, okie dokie, here's my list of NetFlix--this is what I've gone through in basically two weeks of viewing...

The Ones I Highly Recommend:

  • I Heart Huckabees: Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin are "existential detectives" solving life's emotional mysteries for their distraught clients. While they and male lead Jason Schwartzman were good, Mark Wahlberg really stole the show as the petroleum-hating fireman. (R)
  • Wedding Crashers: Alright, honestly, I thought I was going to hate this, and I really wanted to hate it in the worst way. It looked like such a guy movie... But my sister told me she had felt the same way, and she was dragged by a roommate, and had nothing but glowing reviews. So I figured, "what the hell? I've got nothing better to do." Well, I laughed until I cried. This is the only one I've watched twice. Hilarious. (UR)
  • Crash: This year's winner for Best Picture, the DVD did have a little bit of a skip in it, so I gather I missed one of the most emotional scenes. Still, this was a great movie. Amazing ensemble cast, and gripping story line. (R)

If You've Got Nothing Better to Do:

  • National Treasure: I very much enjoyed National Treasure, but it wasn't quite in the same league as the above mentioned. Nicolas Cage plays the last son in a long line of fathers who have been seeking a treasure that has been supposedly hidden by the Founding Fathers. The clue lies on the back of the Declaration of Independence. Suspend belief somewhat when he manages to steal the thing. In the interest of fair reporting, Joe fell asleep during this one, but I think he was just cozy, warm, and drowsy before it even started. (PG)
  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith: The movie that launched Brangelina. Ok, again, I really thought this was pretty good. My mother-in-law hated it. Brad is John and Ange is Jane, a couple who are experiencing troubles in their marriage. What neither of them knows is that they are both hired assassins, and when they discover this little tidbit, they must rub each other out. Suspend disbelief as Brad and Ange manage to take out 50 or 60 hitmen armed with automatic weapons who can't seem to hit the broadside of a barn, while the 2 of them, armed with little more than peashooters manage to save their own asses and their marriage. (PG-13)
  • Cold Comfort Farm: Kate Beckinsale is a recently orphaned society girl in England who decides she will get great material for her novel if she goes to live with her crazy relatives in the country. Not a particularly splendid film, it was nice to look at and it was a decent enough story, but I expected something a bit more. Plus, quite frankly, though I am definitely a dedicated Anglophile, I couldn't understand a freakin' word anyone said and had to put the captioning on for a while. (PG)
  • The Aristocrats: 100 Comedians, One Dirty Joke. A documetary by Penn Jillette (of Penn and Teller fame) regarding the world's dirtiest joke. A lot of big name stars were on this documentary (Robin Williams, Kevin Pollack, Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Stewart) as were some lesser known comics, who I was proud to recognize (Steven Wright, Wendy Liebman, Richard Jeni). The joke was horrifyingly disgusting. But the documentary was quite well done, and the laughter was infectious. Not for the faint of heart, this one is UNRATED (oooooooooooooooo). (UR)

They call this entertainment? (Ones to Skip)

  • Spanglish: I guess Adam Sandler is trying to get more in touch with his dramatic acting side or something, I'm not sure. This was billed as "a hilarious and heartfelt comedy" and all the previews for it looked fantastic. I was really excited when it came in the mail. It was a total snooze festival. Tea Leoni is the overboard soccer mom who's not actually all that crazy about her children or her husband. Her alcoholic mother lives with the family. Sandler is the area's top chef. The family hires a Mexican maid who doesn't speak English. While the whole family is falling apart, Sandler is just trying to keep them together. Zzzzzzzzzzz Even my description of it is boring me. My mother-in-law preferred this one to the Brangelina fest. (PG-13)
  • Election: After Reese Witherspoon won the Oscar this year, there was a slew of "We Love Reese" documetaries and countdowns on E! and VH1, and really, what did I have better to do than to watch them? Before we lost the TV Guide Channel to Digital Cable, I was watching this show where they make over ordinary people to look like the stars, and they did one girl to look like Reese Witherspoon. She said her fave RW film was Election. So I put it on my queue, and finding out Matthew Broderick was in it, I thought that would be pretty great too. WRONG. It has a real tame description on Netflix, but it's rated R for a reason... (R)

So, there you have it... Coming for the weekend are The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Arrested Development Season 1--I figured I already covered all of the first season of Lost, so I could catch up on a few other great shows while I'm at it.

I'm sure if this keeps up, I'll be one of those Netflix people who has to start sending their DVDs back to Omaha, but since I only plan to be out another 2 weeks, I figure they can bear with me that long while my leg heals up. Or so I hope.

See you at the movies! (Or in my case, at the DVD player)

Hopefully Drawing to a Close

Well... I've just officially passed the 5 week mark on Monday, rapidly closing in on the 6 week mark... My leg is doing a whole lot better than it was, although there is still considerable pain and swelling if I'm sitting up or trying to do a lot for longer than about 5 or 10 minutes. I swear, I never knew skin could turn that particular color purple. And I am due for the pedicure of a lifetime when this is all over.

So, what am I doing with all my spare time?

There's a good reason I haven't posted. The last 39 days have blended into one big, seamless stretch of movie watching and internet surfing. And mostly movie watching. It's only been recently that I've really been able to sit up and tolerate having my leg up while I'm sitting.

A girl in my book club suggested I should get set up with NetFlix again, and they are really taking it on the chin with me. There is a 1 day lag in delivery and return, everything is basically shipped overnight. I returned movies yesterday (and our mail isn't picked up until 4:30pm) and I got an email saying it had arrived this morning at 9 and 2 more films were on their way.

I'll post separately about the movies I've watched and my recommendations.

I feel fairly lucky, really. I haven't had THAT MUCH pain and suffering. In fact, I only used 1 bottle of the 2 bottles of pain pills I was prescribed for this whole thing. And that one bottle was used up almost entirely in the first 2 weeks. The week after the surgery was the worst. I felt so completely out of it and the pain was the most intense. It was also quite bad when the cast came off and I had no support. I remember Sunshine telling me that I had to exercise my ankle, and I looked him dead in the eye and said, "Are you serious!?" He was completely taken aback, as were my sister and I, since I never, ever, ever talk to medical professionals like that.

Well, I'm pleased to say that now I'm able to flex and point my foot like a champion. I'm not able to "twist" it from side to side yet, due to the screw that's still in there, but once that's removed, I feel pretty confident that I'll be in great shape.

I'm still not able to drive, and it's killing me to be inside so much. My father-in-law installed a new screen door while he was here and I can at least now open the front door, look out and get a breath of fresh air. I wouldn't mind a 2 month vacation under most circumstances, but not to be able to leave the house, well, it's not as cool as 2 months to do whatever I want.

So I meet with the surgeon again on March 30th to discuss my second surgery, and after that, I should be walking, driving, and back to work.

A big thank you to everyone who has sent cards and letters and postcards, to everyone who has brought supper, cleaned the house, installed improvements, fixed things, come running the minute our number pops up on caller ID, bought supplies, done our grocery shopping, kept me company, left me alone, and also provided my primary caregiver, Judy, with the support she needed.

We are truly blessed, and I am so, so grateful to each of you, I can't express it. Words literally fail. THANK YOU!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The most Evil kind of Evil

You Are 40% Evil
A bit of evil lurks in your heart, but you hide it well.In some ways, you are the most dangerous kind of evil.