Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Napoleon Dynamite

This passed weekend Joe & I were joined at the beach by our friends Robert & Liz. Robert was one of my roommates. We lived together in 1987. Robert took the room that had been vacated by my previous roommate Randy. Randy had moved out because he got married to Liz. Fast-forward to 2003, Randy & Liz are getting divorced, Robert is already divorced, and Robert & Liz get together and are married in 2004. Small world, huh?

Although Joe & I had already seen Napoleon Dynamite (see my post of Jan 24), Robert & Liz had not, and I knew it would be a movie they would get a kick out of, so we rented it and watched it at the beach. It was WAY more funny than I had remembered the first time, and as I expected, Robert & Liz loved it.

For the rest of the weekend, we would repeat many of Napoleon's lines from the movie, complete with our best imitation of his peculiar voice inflections.

Napoleon: "Pedro, that's a killer bike."
Pedro: "Thanks."
Napoleon: "Have you taken it off any sweet jumps?"

Grandma: "Napoleon, how was your first day at school?"
Napoleon: "It was the worst day of my entire life; what do you think???"

When feeding the pet Llama, Napoleon: "Come here Tina. Eat some ham!"

Napoleon says to Pedro and Deb at the dance: "So, are you guys having a killer time?"

Then, on the DVD's alternate ending, is the wedding of Napoleon's brother Kip to LaFawnduh where Kip sings: "I love technology.... but not as much as you... but I still love technology... always and forever..."

It was a fun weekend. The Appletinis may have contributed a little too.

Valentine's Day gets a bad rap

Okay, I realize Valentine's day was over a week ago. I've been busy. But I have to comment about some of the negative and untrue things I've heard and read recently about Valentine's day.

"Valentine's day is just another way for card stores, florists, and candy companies to make money." Really? So, nobody's sending birthday cards anymore? Nobody's getting flowers for their anniversary anymore? Nobody in the hospital is getting a box of chocolates anymore? I think not, my green-with-envy friend. And even if it WERE true - is it so bad that we take one day out of the year to celebrate romantic love and allow Hallmark, the florists, and Godiva to make a buck? Not in my opinion.

"Valentine's day is just another way couples make single people feel badly about themselves." Oh really? If someone feels like that, then it's no wonder they're single and no wonder they feel badly about themselves. Get a grip! Just because you are single does not mean that couples want you to feel badly about yourself. If you are single, Valentine's day is simply not for you! It's for couples. Just like Hanukkah is for Jewish people. It is not just another way Jewish people make Christians feel badly about themselves. Just like mother's day is for mothers. It is not just another way mothers make childless women feel badly about themselves. You know I could continue... If you are single, just go about your business on Valentine's day and leave the couples alone.

Yes, I believe Valentine's day has gotten a bad rap, and unduly so. For those who aren't bitter, Valentine's day is a time for reminding your special loved one how much he or she means to you. And Valentine's day doesn't have to be inaugurated with a card, flowers, or chocolates, although those are the most common icons of the holiday. It can also be simply tucking a note that reads "I love you" into the pocket of the pants he'll be wearing that day, or attaching it to her car keys. A foot massage. A back rub. A knowing smile. Really, Valentine's day is only limited by one's imagination. (But it should NEVER include microwave TV dinners. That may take a long time to forgive.)

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A Busy Week

Wow, it has been a really busy week.

Things at work have really picked up. Not that I wasn't busy enough before things picked up. But this passed week has been unusual. Of course there's all the regular stuff for which I am responsible, but then there were some very UNusual things too. One of my clients scheduled a series of 10 webcasts with me about a month ago, but I found out that their office was being closed and that everyone except for one manager had been "released" (read: laid off) on Tuesday. In the 2 1/2 years I've been working here, I think this is the first time a client was laid off DURING a project.

Outside of work, things have been busy too. On Tuesday I had to make an unplanned trip to the shore, related to our old place that's for sale. I decided not to wait until after work, since it would be a 5 hour round trip at a minimum, getting me home very late at night. So, I left the office at 2:30, drove up there, took care of my business, had a bite to eat, and drove back home. Joe would have gone with me, but he had a board meeting to attend that night.

I've also been coordinating some maintenance and repairs for the old place at the beach, so that has captured my time and thoughts more than usual. Plus, I needed to find a new florist to deliver Joe's Valentines flowers on Monday. I used to use a wonderful florist in the town where he worked. The flowers were always nice and fresh, and the arrangements were always stunning. I'd ask them to create something "different", and would often request certain flowers or certain colors. I don't care for multi-color floral arrangements because they remind me of funerals. So often I'd tell them I wanted an 'unusual-looking arrangement just in shades of purple, lavender, lilac, and white", or something like that. But since Joe changed jobs a few months ago and doesn't work in that town, I needed to find a new florist.

Joe loves flowers, and I love to send them to him at his office. So I send him flowers on Valentines Day (Feb), our anniversary (May), his birthday (July), and then on some random 'surprise' date in the fall. It seems unfair to get flowers in winter, spring, and summer, leaving fall out completely. So I pick a random date in fall to surprise him.

Then Thursday night was our regular dinner with Evelyn. Friday night my aunt Mary took Joe & me out for my belated birthday dinner.

It has become a tradition with my aunt Mary for us to take her out for a nice (fancy) dinner on her birthday, and she does the same for us. Since my birthday is in December and we were so busy in December, we didn't get a chance to have our dinner until just this past week. It's always fun, so it is definitely not to be missed. I try to pick new or different places for my birthday, but Joe always picks the same place for his birthday: McCormick & Schmick's. They have very good food and service, but at a price. This time I decided I wanted to go to an Italian restaurant called Esposito's. I knew it wasn't all that fancy, but good Italian food can be so enjoyable that it was worth the try. My aunt, however, who had been there before, thought the food was good but that it wasn't fancy enough to 'qualify' for my birthday dinner, so we decided on another restaurant none of us had tried before. Being a Friday night, I suggested we try to make a reservation, or put our name on the call ahead list. (So many places it seems are getting away from reservations, but will put you on a call ahead list. Isn't that basically the same thing?)

The girl who answered the phone told my aunt they usually had a "wait list", but since it was 5:00 and no one was waiting to be seated, there was no "wait list". My aunt was unsuccessful in explaining that we were going to be arriving at 7:30 when there would definitely be a wait. The girl suggested she call back later when people were waiting. I'm sure my aunt was rolling her eyes and shaking her head in disbelief, but she did as the girl suggested. At 6:30 she called back to put our name on the "wait list" and was informed the wait would be "120 minutes". This baffles me. Why would you put your name on a "wait list" if the wait would be the same amount of time as if you just showed up?

So, we decided to go to my original restaurant choice, Esp0sito's. When we arrived at 7:30 there was no wait, and the food and desserts were fabulous. It was a good birthday dinner!

Saturday we prepared to have guests for dinner. (See my previous post entitled "Keeping my New Year's Resolution".) When we returned from the grocery store, we stuck with our strengths: I cleaned the house and set the table and Joe cooked. He made a pork tenderloin, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, biscuits, and corn casserole. Our friends Doug and Jim were to bring dessert when they arrived at 7. The dinner (in the kitchen) was delicious and we had a wonderful time visiting with our friends. They are very sweet guys, and are also dog lovers, so they didn't seem to mind our over-affectionate beagle, Jordan.

Sunday morning we met Kerry, Hugh, and George for brunch at the Capitol City Brewing Company. In the summer we meet there and eat outside because they have large patio. But since it is February we ate indoors. It was fun to see them and to check up on George's post-surgery progress. George had knee surgery a little over a week ago and is doing great. It really helped his mobility. After brunch the three of them headed down the street to the theatre to see "Sideways". We would have liked to have joined them, but the movie would have ended a bit too late for us, as we needed to make another trip to the grocery store (forgot to get dog food) before getting ready for our Sunday dinner guests.

Clark and Mike arrived promptly at 5, bearing the gift of purple tulips. I love tulips! We had a cocktail and talked a bit while 'The Ethel Merman Disco album' played in the background. Yes, its true, Ethel Merman made a disco album. Joe and Mike are fans of The Merm, but I am not. However, this CD does have its entertainment value. Then we had a traditional Italian family Sunday dinner: rigatoni with meatballs and sausage, garlic bread, and salad. It's one of Joe's specialties that Mike & Clark have had before but crave from time to time. We ate in the kitchen and had a great time visiting with them, although we talked a lot about the sad state of politics and how gay people are being "used" by Republicans. They are great friends.

I've had more thoughts this week to share, but haven't had the time to sit down and properly organize my thoughts this week. Hopefully this coming week will be a little less hectic, at least away from work.

Monday, February 07, 2005


The weather forecast for today, Feb 7, was for temperatures in the mid 50s. Being the convertible enthusiast that I am, I decided it was going to be a convertible day.

I have always loved convertibles, as far back as I can remember. My earliest memory having a convertible was a Matchbox convertible that was my favorite. It was blue initially, but after months and months, I used my sisters' fingernail polish to make it hot pink! My earliest memory of riding in a convertible was when I was probably about 10 years old. My uncle John had an early 70s Plymouth Road Runner convertible; metallic dark green with white seats and a white top. The exhaust growled from a ridiculously large and powerful engine, not uncommon in cars from the 70s, before the energy crisis. What a thrill!

Fast-forward about 10 years. After having my license for a few years and driving around in a Chevrolet Chevette, I longed for a cool convertible whenever I saw one on the road. I used to say "I should be driving that." I even got my friends in on the game, and if they saw a convertible before I did, they would say "You should be driving that."

Fast-forward about to 1990 when I finally got a convertible: a reconditioned 1978 Volkswagen Super Beetle; Signal Red with white seats and a white top. Man, was that car a head-turner! I couldn't go anywhere without people stopping me and asking about the car. Unfortunately I only had it for 3 months. I was hit by a pick-up truck whose driver had run a red light, and my beautiful convertible was totaled. I woke up in the ambulance. "Where am I?" I asked. "You've been in a car accident" the paramedic told me. "How's my car?" I then asked. "We'll talk about that later," I was told. Apparently they were more concerned by the large, bleeding gash in my head than my convertible. A few days later I almost got sick when I saw my car. The passenger side where the impact occurred was smashed so far in that the passenger seat had been ripped from the floor. One could now sit in the driver's seat and put one's arm out the driver's window and passenger window at the same time.

Fast-forward to 1993 and I discover the redesigned BMW 325i convertible, and it was love at first sight. This car was completely out of my price range, but I was in love with it. I got one of those 3-part centerfold brochures from a BMW dealer and had it tacked up on my cubicle wall at work. For years I pined for that car, but it would continue to be out of my budget for years to come.

Fast-forward to 2001. I have changed jobs and been promoted a few times. Things are going much better for me financially, and I decide its time. I scour the local used car dealerships, but never find quite the right car. Too expensive, too many miles, too many funny sounds, too much wear and tear. Finally my online search turns up what looks like the right match. The right price, the right mileage, the right condition, even my first choice in color. And, the owner lived only a mile and a half away. It was meant to be! So that is how I came to acquire my 1994 BMW 325i convertible; Boston Green with tan interior and black top. My dream car!

Fast-forward to 2005, today. I excitedly walked out of my office for lunch in anticipation of my 1st top-down ride of the year. It truly was a gorgeous day: bright, sunny, and warm. I pushed the button that simultaneously lowers all the windows, then turned the handle that unlocks the roof. Then I pushed the button that folds the roof back and stores it neatly under the hard roof cover, and in flooded the sunshine. "YES! This is what its all about" I thought to myself as I smiled.

I enjoyed a short ride to pick up a sandwich and then headed back to the office. Optimistic that the evening commute home would be as warm as the lunchtime ride, I left the top down when I went back into the office.

The sun was going down when I came out of the office at 5:30 and I could immediately tell that it was NOT as warm as it had been a few hours ago. But being the convertible enthusiast that I am, I decided to 'go for it' anyway. I put the windows up and turned the heater on, and turned on the seat warmer too. As I entered the highway and picked up speed I thought to myself 'Its brisk, but tolerable'. Though a bit chilly, I was in heaven.

Productive, Relaxing, and Fun!

...that's how I'll describe this passed weekend.

Friday night we headed up to the shore. Saturday morning we went over to the old place to remove the last few items and do our final cleaning. We got the ol' place looking pretty good, and then the perspective buyer arrived. She was very nice, and we got along very well right away. In addition to looking at and talking about the LRG, we talked about families, jobs, politics - you name it! We were there with her for 2 hours. She's quite interested and said that if she didn't call us within 2 days with a definite answer, we were to call her. Then she gave us both hugs before she left. So, we're hoping she calls us today or tomorrow. She really seems like the right kind of person to appreciate the unique charm of the LRG. That was the productive part.

Kerry & Hugh met us and we went for a late lunch, then headed back to the new place the four of us own together. This was their first time seeing the place since Joe & I moved all our stuff over from the LRG. After the 'tour', we just hung out for a while, talking and laughing. Then we watched a DVD Kerry had brought called "Clerks". It was pretty good. Then we decided to skip dinner (due to the late lunch) and have dessert at a fancy/trendy New York bistro-ish restaurant nearby. Kerry & Joe had molten chocolate parfaits and Hugh & I had warm bread pudding with caramel sauce. All four of us had coffee. Then, back to the house to watch a little TV, talk, and laugh some more. That was the relaxing part.

Sunday morning Hugh made breakfast: omelets, bacon and sausage, and blueberry muffins. YUM! After lingering over a couple cups of coffee, we got ourselves together. Kerry & Hugh met up with Hugh's cousin for a quick errand, and Joe & I ran a few errands of our own. Then we met up with each other for the Polar Bear Plunge at the beach!

Kerry & Hugh made a $50. donation each to the Polar Bear Plunge, which benefits the Special Olympics. Polar Bears must wear nothing but a bathing suit and run into the ocean, get wet up to the neck, and run back out! Mind you, it was Feb 6, and it was unusually balmy at 48 degrees. The water was only 36 degrees. We'd gotten snow only 3 days prior.

Joe was in charge of their clothes/bags/etc, and I was in charge of the DVD camera. When the announcer said "GO!" I was filming the shrieks and screams as everyone tossed aside their thick terry robes and flip flops and charged into the water. Then came the mad dash back to the implements of warmth. Kerry & Hugh said it was really exciting and fun, so that was the fun part.

After a shower and clean clothes, we had a late lunch of cream of crab soup, crab stuffed cod, crab imperial melts, and fried oysters, and then prepared to head home. Since the Super Bowl was in progress by that time, there was very little traffic on the roads and we made it home without in record time.

It was a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

More Movies?

Okay, I am sure I have surpassed a personal record. As you know from my previous posts, we rented 7 movies a week and a half ago and watched them all in 2 days. Then on Monday of this week, Kerry & Hugh invited us to the Cinema & Draft House. It is an old theatre, probably built in the 40s or 50s that shows movies and has waitresses who will bring you food and drinks. It's a fun concept, but they allow smoking, so you come out of the place smelling like an ashtray.

Joe had an appointment, but I decided to meet Kerry & Hugh at the Cinema & Draft House because I wanted to see 'Ray'. You can imagine my delight upon finding out that Mondays are $1.00 night!! That's right - I only paid $1.00 to see 'Ray'. It was great. Jamie Foxx did an amazing job portraying Ray Charles. The music was great and the story was compelling. I had no idea Ray Charles was a bad heroine addict for several years. I would definitely recommend it. (The movie, that is... not heroine.)

Then Tuesday night we realized we hadn't seen the movie we had rented over the weekend, and since it was due back on Wednesday, we watched it on Tuesday night. 'Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle'. It was much better and funnier than I had expected. I remember the trailer looked interesting but I thought it was going to be just marginally entertaining. But it was much more than marginally entertaining. In fact, I'd recommend it.

So, within a 2 week span, I have seen 9 movies - definitely a record for me.

We'd talked about joining Netflix, that service where you will be mailed 3 movies at a time, you watch them, return them in postage-paid envelopes, and they send you 3 more movies. You can keep doing this as many times as you want, for $17.95 per month. But then we figured we'd better not jump the gun... after all, this '9 movies in 2 weeks' thing was definitely a fluke. On average, we probably only rent 1 or 2 movies a month, so $17.95 a month would be way more than we'd pay at the video store. Plus, there are some months (especially in the summer) where we don't rent any movies at all.

I must say, now that I've viewed all of these movies, I am anxious to go to a party so I can talk with others who have seen them. So often when I'm at a party and people talk about current movies I have little idea what they're talking about because I'm lucky if I've seen the trailer on TV, much less seen the actual movie. Maybe I'll host a party so I can talk with people about the movies I've seen. :-)

Last November I went to the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival and saw several movies in a short period of time. I saw 4 films one day and 3 the next. I loved it. I really enjoy indy films and look forward to this film festival every year. (I'm not able to go every year, but I still look forward to it.) Joe is not as big a movie fan as me so he didn't go to the film festival. He did join me at the beach that Friday night after work though, and we spent the rest of the weekend there. We love being near the beach.