Monday, May 30, 2011

J & K Do Portland (& Seattle!) Food Carts: Month 5.

Pizza, tacos, & ice cream edition! There is no better combo! Yayy!

Okay look. So we WENT BACK TO A LA CARTS. YEAH THE SAME FOOD CART POD I'VE ALREADY HIGHLIGHTED TWICE IN HERE. I know we have to branch out more. Leave us alone.

But really...there are so many carts in each pod (and often rotating carts--for instance, Big Top Waffles which I talked about in February, is no longer at the Foster & 52nd pod, but at Mississippi I believe. As a side comment, the Foster & 52nd area is kind of a fledgling, sad little space. Come on, Foster-Powell! We can do it!) that I could probably spend a year just profiling each cart in one single pod! So there! Not that I would really call my ramblings about stuff "profiling"! That sounds like something real journalists do!

Anyway, so we went to Southwestern Pizza Company and it was awesome. The couple who was working there/are perhaps the owners were adorable and friendly, their logo includes a cute howling wolf, their prices are really pretty reasonable for a decently sized pizza (I recently paid almost the same amount at the Kennedy School for a single slice), they have a frequent buyer card thing (!!! love these, and it's the first cart we've been to that has one), and they have a ton of great sounding pizzas.

Kathy's choice: Yeah, we obviously got two pizzas. If you thought we would've gotten one to share, you clearly don't know us at all. I'm mentioning hers first (pictured above) because it was the clear winner. She chose the Texan, an amazing combo of BBQ sauce (already a winner), fajita chicken, APPLES, onions, and cheese. I think the apples were really what gave this an interesting, delicious twist.

My choice: I got the Sagebrush, which was a much simpler pizza: basically a white pizza with alfredo and sausage. While having a slightly heavier, less unique taste combo than the Texan, I still liked it a whole bunch. I mean, you can't really go wrong with alfredo and sausage. There were also a few pluses to it: since it was slightly richer I wasn't able to eat as much and could save some for lunch the next day (always exciting!), whereas we gobbled all of Kathy's right up, in true disgusting form. Also, since there were simpler ingredients, it cost $1.50 less than Kathy's! This was a really solid meal(s) for $5.50.

Next: I feel a lot better about ourselves now that we've finally visited a taco cart. On the night we were downtown to see Bridesmaids, we wanted to grab a quick bite to eat first, and cheaply. Enter the heavenly chorus of food carts being relatively nearby. We ended up at Francisco Taqueria, because 1) tacos are always a good idea, and 2) it was one of the only carts open. This is definitely one of the plights of the food carts downtown (along with a bunch of restaurants/cultural life in general downtown)--most of them close up shop as soon as the 9-5 business crowd leaves. It's annoying. There are people who want to be downtown--and have choices of food other than the Macaroni Grill and Chipotle--past 5pm, people! It's like the Pearl is the only spot that has any night life in it, but, well, sometimes you're not in the Pearl. 

Anyway, rant aside, I love the simplicity of this name--Francisco Taqueria. A taqueria run by a dude named Francisco! Who was really, really stinking nice! He also has a choice of homemade red sauce or green sauce to go on your tacos--I splashed one on each of the two tacos I got and they were both delicious, and he also provided an abundance of limes, which I looooved. Give me a lot of limes with my tacos, and I'll love you forever. I got a chicken and a chorizo, and loved the chorizo about ten times more, because YOU CAN NEVER GO WRONG WITH CHORIZO. I THINK I AM IN LOVE WITH CHORIZO. WHICH IS PROBABLY (DEFINITELY) BAD FOR MY HEART (LIKE A LOT). Kathy got carnitas, which she also gave good ratings to. Overall, I wouldn't say they were the bestest bestest tacos ever in the world, but still really really good and really hit the spot of what we were looking for. And Francisco. Seriously. So nice. I would go back just to see his smile!

Oh hey, AND NOW WE'RE IN SEATTLE. BAM. I am actually really pumped to do my first other-city-than-Portland food cart write-up. Hopefully I will make this a trend! And hopefully I will think of a better phrase/name for this trend than "other-city-than-Portland food cart write-up."

The beautiful, gorgeous, lovely, wondrous Ashley took us to Street Treats during our brief visit up to our fair city in the north last week. She had really hyped this Street Treats business, and her hype was so. right.

While the lady who runs this cart bakes and makes a variety of amazing goodies, the best thing about it is the MAKE YOUR OWN ICE CREAM SANDWICH PORTION. I'll repeat in case you just missed it: MAKE YOUR OWN ICE CREAM SANDWICH. As in, you choose your cookie. Be crazy and choose two different cookies if you want! Then choose your ice cream! It's awesome! I went with the classic, chocolate chip, for my cookie selection, and peanut butter for my ice cream. Because there is no better combination than chocolate and peanut butter. This thing...was so good. So good I had to pause for dramatic effect. (Actually I just paused because I thought I could think of something better than "was so good," but turns out, I couldn't.) The cookies were soft and rich and slightly warm and the peanut butter ice cream was the best peanut butter ice cream I've ever had. 

The other neat thing about Street Treats, and I'm assuming other food carts in Seattle and elsewhere, is that they live up to the whole mobile nature of the food cart, moving around the city throughout the course of the week. We visited it at the parking lot of Starbucks Headquarters (I know...I felt weird), where I'm pretty sure it sits every Wednesday. Most carts in Portland seem to hunker down in one spot or pod and stay there, for the most part. Or, as I just discussed with Big Top Waffles, they hunker down in one place, and then hunker down in another place for awhile, but they still hunker down. I think there are positives and negatives to both. With the hunkering down, you may be like, "Oh man, I would love some more of Nong's Khao Man Gai. But it is SO FAR AWAY. And I am SO LAZY." But if it was mobile, you could just wait for it to come closer to you. At the same time, if it was mobile, you might be all, "I want some Nong's Khao Man Gai, but I have NO IDEA WHERE IT IS RIGHT NOW! ARGH!" What do you think?

But, back to the treats. The only downside to my heavenly ice cream sandwich experience was that it was the only thing I had consumed in at least 12 hours other than a bagel, a chai, and a whoooooole lot of beer. And after stuffing the ice cream sandwich down my gullet, and then getting back in a car and driving around city streets for approximately five seconds, I felt immediately very, very, very bad. Weirdly, it was like my body was overloaded on processing sugar or something. So, don't do that, boys and girls.

But on the plus side, my friends felt really bad for me after I moaned and groaned about how bad I felt, and then that beautiful, gorgeous, amazing Ashley took us to a great place where I got some good mac and cheese, which of course made me feel right better. So, maybe you SHOULD do that. Just sayin'.

(No, get the mac and cheese first.)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Best of the 90s: 1990.

Kathy and I roadtripped to Seattle on Tuesday night for a brief-but-amaaazing visit. Seattle and the coolest, bestest friends ever who we saw there would rank VERY high on my list of favorite things, which I could discuss more but my thoughts would probably devolve into this:


That's how I felt about our trip.

Anyway, during a moment of blaring N'Sync on the trip up there (obviously), I had the thought that I really wanted to devote more time to writing about the 90s on here since I like them SO MUCH. I also like lists. So I was thinking I could do a few lists of great 90s songs intermittently, and then I said NO. NOT ENOUGH! I should profile the greatest of the 90s YEAR BY YEAR! Yes! And at first I thought I would choose five songs from each year but after perusing some Billboard lists, five songs is just NOT ENOUGH EITHER! So I'm going with 10. We'll see how it goes. And then Kathy said, "You should talk about movies and TV and stuff too!" And I said, "YEAH!!!"

So essentially. We acted like VH1's "I love the 80s/90s/whatever" had never existed. And we were pretty proud of ourselves. But Mo Rocca's got nothing on me! Uh, maybe! And anyway, who doesn't like watching those re-runs on VH1? Even if you've seen them ten times before? If they even still show re-runs of these shows? Is VH1 exclusively reality TV now? When was the last time I watched VH1? (A long time ago.)

So, without further adieu, let's begin Jill Does the 90s. I thought the earlier years would be harder since they're further away in my memories, but I was totally wrong.

(NOTE: Most of these songs actually came out in 1989, but according to Billboard, were some of the most popular songs of 1990, so that's what I'm going with.)

Jill's Top Ten Songs of 1990

Nothing Compares 2 U, Sinead O'Connor

Have you EVER heard a more epic love song or watched a more intensely-serious-on-the-verge-of-tears video performance? You think so? Well, I think you're full of shit. Because nothing compares to Nothing Compares 2 U, Sinead style. (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!) If you think the "2 U" spelling of the title is annoying/surprising/less classy than the actual song, you'd be correct, BUT, it's because the original is actually by Prince. And Prince gets a pass, since he did all his annoying spelling stuff before the Internets, so it's less thirteen year old girl on MySpace, more weirdish Prince genius, so, at least I personally feel better about it. Remember that time she ripped up a picture of the Pope on live television? That was good times. 1990'S, I MISS YOU! 

Poison, Bell Biv Devoe

You have to watch an ad to get to this video, but it's worth it. (Plus, the ad I watched was for Jack in the Box and was actually pretty funny, even if that Jack head is super creepy.) There are so many good things happening in this video: so much green screen dancing, so much sweet booty, and so much great early 90s fashion. Those black and white vertical striped pants in the shockingly steamy alley are particularly hideous.

The inclusion of this song, also, is dedicated to our very special friends Ellie & Matt. Last Christmas, Matt discovered that Ellie was unaware of the genius that is Poison by Bell Biv Devoe, which resulted in a Poison-infused Christmas type of time. When we met them for breakfast on Christmas Eve in Raleigh, they were wearing Christmas sweatshirts they'd made with Matt's family the night before. Matt's looked like this:

Do YOU have friends with Bell Biv Devoe inspired Christmas sweatshirts? I didn't think so. I am a lucky person.

Opposites Attract, Paula Abdul

Oh, Paula of the 90s, I miss you. (But who doesn't?) 1990: a time when it was cool to dance with a rapping , tap-dancing animated fox in your video! What a special time. This video really sticks in my memory--I feel like I remember every part of it so well, from dancing on the trash cans to plopping on the car seats in the alley to dancing up the animated stairs to the roof. Also, Paula's half-high-ponytail and oversized shirt (black and white vertical stripes, AGAIN!) on the rooftop are really something else.

I also dedicate this song to Sam and Steve, two of our best friends (who are getting married!), who are an Oppposites Attract type of couple. When they first got together Kathy and I thought it would be AMAZING to perform this song at karaoke and dedicate it to them. Even though we had PLANNED THIS IN ADVANCE, we didn't think it'd be a good idea to give the song a listen beforehand, apparently. And it was one of those epic karaoke failures when you get on stage and realize: 'OH MAN I HAVEN'T LISTENED TO THIS SONG IN AGES. I THOUGHT I KNEW HOW IT WENT BUT NOW I HAVE NO IDEA! OH GOD! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME! AH! OH GOD WHY ARE THOSE WORDS ON THE SCREEN GOINGSOFAST!' Clearly we were not the seasoned karaoke performers we are now. But, Sam and Steve pretended to be excited about it. (Like I said, they're good friends.)

We Didn't Start the Fire, Billy Joel

When Kathy and I saw Billy Joel live, he sang this, but prefaced it with: "Who knows all the words to this song? I don't know all the words to this song. Why did I put so many words in this song?" It was funny, although I think he was drunk. In fact, I think he's drunk most of the time. I couldn't find a decent embeddable official video, so this is one someone made--there are apparently several of these on the internets--of all the things mentioned in the song. This is pretty cool, but I almost didn't want to include it because of the way the user describes it on YouTube: "A Spectacular video I made." Spectacular! Well, someone thinks pretty highly of themselves!

There are so many wonderful things about this song, but the best part is how everyone sings it the same exact way. This same exact way usually sounds like this: "MUMBLEMUMBLEMUMBLE JFK BLOWN AWAY, WHAT ELSE DO I HAVE TO SAY!!!" You are always so proud of those random words and phrases you know! It is such a triumph to hit them right on cue!

This song is dedicated (yes, another dedication) to Wes, our valedictorian and one of the best people I have ever known, who re-wrote this song our senior year of high school with all current events which had happened since 1989. I remember not knowing what half of the stuff he mentioned even was, but knowing that it was AMAZING. What a guy/smartypants.

Roam, B-52s

Oh man, I had no idea this song came out in 1990, but I'm SO glad it did so I can include it here. To be honest I don't remember listening to this song in the 90s much, but I discovered it when I was in college and LOVED IT, I guess ten years too late. For, 1) You can't deny the need to jump around and clap your hands and kick your feet in an adorable, fun-loving manner when listening to this song. Fun-loving! 2) Anything discussing the option of being able to "roam around the world if you want to," as if this is a feasible option, at all, for anyone other than millionaires, satisfies the wanderlust-fueled-idealist inside of me who really wants to believe this is a feasible option, just maybe. Seriously, I love this song.

Rhythm Nation, Janet Jackson

Uh, yeah, badass.

Janie's Got a Gun, Aerosmith

Kathy frequently talks about an interview she saw once with Steven Tyler where he talked about the creation of this song. From what she (frequently) recounts, it went something like this: he read a story in the newspaper about a girl, and then woke up in the middle of the night, jolting from his bed and spontaneously singing: "CHICK-OHM-BO-BUM-DU-DUM, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!" It is incredibly hard to transcribe, by the way, exactly what he says at the beginning of this song. In any case, imitating the CHICK-OHM-BO-BUM-WHATEVER part is one of Kathy's favorite things in life, but sadly I think the interview is lost to time. Or, I am just too lazy of a Googler at this point after already wasting so much of my life trying to find embeddable videos for all of this junk, to really try to find it.

The moral of the story is, this is one of the best Aerosmith songs of all time. I think it's my favorite, actually, aside from Dream On, which I believe shouldn't count because Dream On was from such a weird drug-fueled time that it doesn't even sound like Aerosmith to me, and so I count it differently. Anyway. What a delight to be able to include it in my first Best of the 90s post! Also, there are some really lovely Steven Tyler mouth shots in this video. Also, no one can dress up a mic stand like he can. His mic stands and Stevie Nicks could have beautiful, bohemian babies.

Epic, Faith No More

Everything about this song and video really is epic. From the dude's outfit, to his dance moves, to the downpour that obviously happens on set, to the way he opens his eyes real wide in a scary way while he's singing, to the constant lightning, to the hair length of every member of the band, to the guitar solo at 2:25. Really, though, did you get a good look at the outfit? In seriousness, the piano that ends this song is genius. AND, spoiler alert, in case you were lulled into complacence by that pretty melody, the piano immediately BLOWS UP IN YOUR FACE AFTERWARDS!

PS. Do you think the green stuff being thrown through the window at the beginning of the video is actually gak?

Downtown Train, Rod Stewart

Okay, I admit it. Rod's raspy old voice gets me sometimes! I know! Leave me alone! Also, did you know that the original version of this song is by Tom Waits? Now you do. If I had to dedicate this one to somebody--which might be getting annoying at this point, so let's pretend I'm not doing it--but IF I were to dedicate it, I'd probably think about Lou and that one time I visited him in New York in college when he sang the Tom Waits version over and over, for some reason, the entire time. Lou, by the way, has a wonderful ability to passionately latch on to things and convince you they are the best things in the world, at least for ten minutes. That weekend, it was Tom Waits and Downtown Train.

Anyway, there are two notable things about this video. (Which, again, is not Tom Waits, and so not in any way badass.) 1) The passionate violin playing by the set where Rod is apparently pretending to be homeless? Violins by fires in trash cans. Yes. 2) The girl on the downtown train that Rod/Tom is pining over is sporting a long french braid which is completed by a huge scrunchie. Yes times two!

Something Happened on the Way to Heaven, Phil Collins

(I also couldn't find a decent embeddable official video for this song, so you're stuck with a live version, which doesn't even really start until :50 in, wherein Phil Collins is real old, and has apparently hired a guitarist from ZZ Top, which is pretty awesome.)

The choice for the last spot was a tough one. It was between Phil and the Humpty Dance, and I chose Phil. I CHOSE PHIL OVER EARLY 90S HIP HOP, AFTER I'D ALREADY EXPOSED MY UTTER UNCOOLNESS BY CHOOSING ROD! Does this make me the ultimate loser? Yes, yes, I think so. Regardless, we listened to a lot of Genesis and Phil Collins in my house in the early 90s, and I still hold a little soft spot for him in my heart. I mean, a little one, but it's there. And when we're discussing Phil Collins, I think the spectrum goes something like this:
Oh man. Unfortunate:
His cover of Can't Hurry Love. Honestly--why.
       Kinda weird, but vaguely enjoyable:
               The best it's gonna get, and you know you like it:                            
               Something Happened on the Way to Heaven.
But I mean really--how many times can he say he's sorry?

1990 on film
I'll briefly mention what was happening in movies & TV for each year, but won't go into great detail because 1) I'm not as good at it; 2) if anyone is still reading at this point I'm impressed.

The top grossing film of 1990 was Home Alone. Here is my favorite story about Home Alone that I've probably told you before if you know me in person: I was one of those Home Alone haters growing up, until I studied abroad in Europe in the fall of 2007. We flew back to the US in mid-December, at which point we were starting to really miss our families and such. Like, oh, ANOTHER amazing gothic cathedral? ANOTHER adorably quaint European town full of charm and history? YEAH WHATEVER, I MISS MY MOM AND SUBURBAN SPRAWL. One of the last weekends before we left, to help appease us silly Americans during the holiday season, the people in charge at the place we were staying showed us Home Alone. And inwardly, I groaned. And then we watched it, and nothing could have been a better choice. Home Alone suddenly made me miss America SO BAD I wanted to bawl. So, essentially what I'm saying is, Home Alone = America! Also, then I met Kathy, who knows the entire film, literally, by heart. And it's hard to be a hater on something loved so deeply by the person you love.

There were some other great films in 1990: Ghost! Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg and, well, ghosts! Dances With Wolves! Kevin Kostner and stereotyped Native Americans! PRETTY WOMAN! Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, you made my mom happy forever!

And let's not even talk about TV! Golden Girls! Roseanne! A Different World & the Cosby Show! Murphy Brown! Who's the Boss? Doogie Howser! THE WONDER YEARS!!!!

Jill in 1990
So, I turned 7 in 1990, and started first grade. I hardly remember things from five years ago, so I do not remember 1990 real well. (I will probably not start to remember anything well until maybe 1997.) The only thing I really remember is how I spent my Friday nights. I think this was around the period of my parents' divorce, so it was a transition period of Friday nights: I used to always spend Friday nights getting pizza at Two Guys in Honesdale and then spending the night at my grandparents', watching endless hours of Golden Girls and Empty Nest while my grandma scratched my back. After that, I usually spent Friday nights with my dad, watching endless hours of TGIF, often at my other grandparents' house. He let us eat Pop Tarts on Saturday mornings! It was exciting. I think I spent most of my down time collecting trolls, and then writing stories about said trolls. My Aunt Anita always told me they were good. She is a kind person. I still shared a red-and-yellow-themed bedroom with my sister, who was listening to a lot of New Kids on the Block at the time.

I also think my first grade teacher's name was Mrs. Brown. She had a sweet rocking chair that she'd sit in to read us Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Runaway Ralph. Runaway Ralph was the shit.

And that, my friends, was 1990. It took me ten years to write this, so we'll see when I get up the energy for 1991.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A messy fridge full of magnets.

One of my favorite people in the world, Manda, recently blogged about what's in her fridge. I found this post to be so simple-yet-enjoyable that I immediately wanted to do it myself. Because 1) it gives me a chance to talk about something I like a LOT, which is MAGNETS! I KNOW, I KNOW, HOLD YOUR EXCITEMENT. 2) I am currently kind of stressed out about stuff, such as: finishing this massive Work Sample I have to do for student teaching, and finishing up my Master's degree and teaching licensing paperwork, and a bunch of stuff that's happening in June like going to Philly and my mom visiting (which are both fun things, but still a reminder of how fast time is going by), and starting to plan a wedding which we have no money for, and mainly trying to figure out what the hell I'm doing with my life after I'm done student teaching in like, three weeks. SO, talking about something mindless like MY FRIDGE AND MAGNETS! instead of accomplishing any of the meaningful things I have to do sounds like a great idea!

What was so remarkable to me about Manda's fridge was how sparkly clean it was, from the high tech and shiny outside to the inside. So, for a fun study in comparisons, let's take a look at our fridge.

Some people like to collect things when they travel such as mugs, shot glasses, stickers, kitschy t-shirts or comfy hoodies, or, inexplicably, little spoons. I am all about the magnets. Magnets are fun at all times, but especially when you're traveling. Because then, every time you open the fridge, you can feel better about whatever dreary day you're about to start or, alternately, how you're about to stuff your face with food you don't really need just because you're tired and you want to, because your fridge reminds you that you are a WORLDLY, INTERESTING PERSON. And you also know WORLDLY, INTERESTING PEOPLE that send you other magnets! So grab that hunk of cheese and eat half of it! You deserve it!

My favorite part of the fridge is the incomplete map of the United States, which is slightly hidden here by the Save the Date for Kathy's cousin's wedding (which is why we're going to Philly in two weeks). Our goal is to collect a magnet for each state we've been to together, eventually completing the whole thing. (My dream!) There's a few states we're missing at the moment, because it can be hard to find these buggers. There's also a few different companies that make these state magnets, resulting in the incongruity of some things--just look at that mess in the Northeast. And I mean, Rhode Island could dwarf California in magnet-stature! That is good stuff.

Some of my other favorite magnets include our set of First Ladies, which we purchased at a gift shop at the Library of Congress when we were in DC last year. This is an example of how Kathy and I are meant to be. When we saw it--A SET OF MAGNETS OF ALL OF THE FIRST LADIES--we knew that it was hilarious and awesome and that we had to get it, even though it was ridiculously overpriced like anything in any gift shop anywhere. When we showed it/told people about it afterwards, saying, "Aren't they AWESOME?," pretty much everyone responded with a more subdued, "Oh. Uh, sure." Whatever. We know where it's at. Well. When it comes to magnets, anyway. Oh, and the map of the T--also essential.

Included on the bottom half of the fridge: a postcard from Ellie from Japan (Yeah! We know people who go to JAPAN!), a postcard from the 2008 election wherein the Obama family looks like THE MOST ADORABLE GENUINE FAMILY OF ALL TIME I CAN'T EVEN HANDLE IT AND WILL PROBABLY NEVER TAKE IT DOWN, some photos of family and friends, some First Ladies, and an amazingly cute note Kathy's parents sent us with a package once, because they are amazingly cute people.

The messiness continues on the other side! Joy! Included on this side: wedding invite, baby announcement, a list of things to do in the Northwest before we leave (I am trying to come to terms with the fact that we won't accomplish most of these things), some faded newspaper clippings, a great picture of my family and I when we were in Hawaii, and a picture of Kathy and I in Tahoe. See? WORLDLY AND INTERESTING! I also like looking at the Hawaii picture because I weigh way less and look much healthier in general than I do now. And in the Tahoe picture, my hair looks good. FRIDGE = VANITY. Also, the "I rescued my best friend" magnet was a gift from Kathy's parents. Like I said, amazingly cute people.

It's harder to expand my messiness onto the other side of the fridge since it's so close to the wall, but I do my darndest anyway! This side currently has Kathy's winning March Madness bracket (very important, obviously), another postcard, a Queer the Census magnet from last year, an adorable photo of Lou and his girlfriend that HIS MOM adorably mailed me at Christmastime, and a very useful magnet from the City of Portland explaining what's recyclable and what isn't and where to put it all. This, in fact, is the most useful thing on the whole fridge. So logically, it should be crookedly placed near the bottom on the side near the wall.

Other favorite things: my set of vintage map magents. I LOVE MAPS! Just wait until the blog post about MAPS! I especially like all vintage-y map type things, even though I know they're mass produced and not actually vintage really. The "Christ died for our Dunkin' Donuts" is an amazing postcard I found in a neat little bookstore in Madison, Wisconsin when we were there visiting Mandy on our way across the country. (Worldly and interesting!)

Other favorites: I read banned books! And I <3 public transportation, I really do! (I haven't been to Mammoth Cave, but Sam C. has and mailed that to me!)

Uh, yeah, the inside is really not exciting, especially right now, but Manda posted hers so I wanted to be consistent. The Widmer Brothers beer is probably the highlight. Kathy and I have moved on from  just buying 6 packs of microbrews to 12 packs. Is this bad? Maybe. Other highlights include: a ridiculous half-inch left of sun tea Kathy made the other day; some leftovers I probably have to throw out; some old Greek yogurt I have to throw out too; just a few strawberries from the farmer's market left in the top right, and a whole bunch of film (35mm & Polaroid) hiding behind the cream cheese on the top.

Condiments are oh so important. I am still new at the natural-peanut butter thing and don't understand how one is supposed to efficiently stir it at the beginning. Without slopping oily peanut buttery stuff all over oneself. Seriously. The Annie's honey mustard dressing is light, which I didn't realize. It's gross. I'll probably keep it in there for a year and then toss it when we move because that's how I do. And we apparently have two large bottles of lemon juice, because, one can never have too much lemon juice? If this was taken last week you'd also see that we're now buying nifty glass bottles of local milk from New Seasons, but we ran out so I had to grab this one at Target this week. And now I look like a crappy milk consumerist. Dammit.

So, my freezer is apparently pretty un-interesting. The Ben & Jerry's is a new Tiramasu  flavor I found at Target. I actually wasn't a huge fan, but I think I always forget that I'm not actually a huge fan of tiramasu. I always expect that top layer to be chocolate, and then it's just dusty stuff that makes you cough and/or sneeze. Disappointing.

To be honest, sometimes if I just stand and look at our fridge, I am reminded of all the fun places we've been, and all the great people we know, and the good life we have, and it feels nice. Really, really nice. The fact that there's normally at least two cartons of ice cream inside of it? Makes it even better.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Starbucks' Rap & Hip Hop Mix, Spring 2011.

As an employee at Starbucks for many a year, I can tell you that the music someone in Seattle picks out and sends us to play--I often daydream about being this person, who I imagine gets paid a lot of money--can sometimes be a highlight of my existence. Or at least a highlight of my workplace. Sometimes. They always have a rotating playlist of current folk-y pop-y type things called Contemporary Grind which is either filled with great stuff or awful stuff, along of course with a variety of Soft Jazz Delights. Normally Contemporary Grind is the highlight. But last month, they shocked all of us baristas by busting out a playlist of awesomeness the likes of which had never seen corporate coffee before, a bizarre rap & hip hop classics playlist. This playlist was extensive, sometimes inappropriate, and glorious. Glorious! What joy it gave us, especially during a special type of hell entitled Frappy Hour. I know, just the name makes me want to puke! But the hip hop got us through, yo.

Sadly, upon returning to work this week, we discovered that this playlist--along with another amazing one which included almost-as-bizarre rock tunes, including some great Nirvana and my favorite Radiohead song of all time (which I will devote another entire post to)--were gone, dissipated into the Starbucks Hear Music playlist graveyard. We are now once again getting by on A Bunch of Soft Jazz Which May or May Not Make One Fall Asleep While Making Lattes. With an occasional Decent Alt-Rock / Enjoyable-Folk Tune mixed in. Le sigh. To help me grieve, here's a list of my top 5 songs that were included on this Rap & Hip Hop Mix, that particularly made me smile each and every single time I heard them, even if I was hearing them while someone was telling me the drink I just made them tasted like crap.

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Summertime

People love saying the name DJ Jazzy Jeff. It's the truth. If you hear this song and say, "Aw man, the Fresh Prince!," you are on the lowest rungs of being somewhat cool in your nostalgia. But if you hear this song and say, "Aw man, DJ Jazzy Jeff!" you feel infinitely cooler and more in the know. You will want to smack the arm of the person next to you in line at Starbucks and say, "Aw man, DJ Jazzy Jeff!," perhaps multiple times.

Blackstreet, No Diggity

This was first thing I heard one morning at 7:30AM as I turned on the stereo. And it made me very, very happy. The full-length version with the rap and all! No radio edits here! Is it inappropriate to be blasting lyrics which reference "igasms" while serving children hot chocolates? Maybe. Maybe. But it's worth it.

Heavy D & the Boys, Now That We Found Love

Man. Starbucks be goin' real deep with this one. Had you heard this song since 1991? I don't think I had! What a delight! Also, since once again VEVO prevents me from embedding any official videos of anything, I present you with a gymnasium full of Korean boys dancing to this song instead. You're welcome.

Beastie Boys, Fight For Your Right

So there were like, multiple Beastie Boys songs up in this piece. Still, hearing the phrase "your best porno mag" blasting out of our speakers while serving customers made me the happiest.

The Fugees, Killing Me Softly

Another classic, but, it was reaffirmed to me how impossible it is to NOT sing along with this track. Know how many customers I saw singing along to this every time it was on? Lots. You cannot deny the infectiousness of Ms. Lauryn Hill, children.

R.I.P. Rap & Hip Hop Playlist, April-May-ish, 2011.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bridesmaids v. The Hangover.

I know the interwebs is all atwitter with talking about Bridesmaids, so I'm just adding my voice to a very large fray. But that IS the world of blogging, anyway, isn't it? Lots of people talking about the same stuff with various shades of petty competitiveness about who says it better? Yay internet! And I want to talk about it! So let's go!

I loved this movie so much it would probably be hard for me to be eloquent about it, especially since I just saw it. I find it's hard for me to say intelligent stuff about things I really, really love especially when I am really, really loving them RIGHT NOW. While with things I just like a lot, and things I have a slight separation from, I'm usually able to take a step back to connect feelings and thoughts in my brain/heart into coherent and (relatively) logical words and sentences about those things. With things I really love, or with things I'm too in-the-moment about, my heart wins out over my brain and all I'm able to really communicate is: "OH MAN I LOVE [THIS THING]! A LOT! SO MUCH! GAH!"

However, in returning to the world of the interwebs upon my return home from seeing the movie, I feel a little irked because all I'm seeing are comparisons to The Hangover. And after thinking about it for a little while, I think I CAN talk about that.

There are a few reasons why hearing: "Bridesmaids was just as funny as The Hangover!" is slightly annoying to me.
  1. They're completely different movies, in my opinion. More on this below.
  2. Something about this implies that it's shocking that a female driven comedy was just as funny as a male driven comedy. Why do you even have to compare it? (Even though that's what this whole post is about? Deal with it, okay.)
  3. Bridesmaids is better.
I should start off by saying that I haven't seen The Hangover in awhile, and my view of it IS slightly tainted by some of the homophobic humor in it. As the article I just linked points out, the homophobic humor isn't rampant throughout the whole movie, but the few lines that were for some reason stick in my memory more than anything else about it. I think I've just gotten too used to really good comedy existing without any homophobia in the last few years that a good ol' "That's GAY!" and/or "What a faggot!" type of joke sticks out like a sore thumb to me when I hear it. Like, really? I hear this enough from my 13 year old students everyday. You're supposed to be professional comedians. Work harder and be better, dudes.

That said, I'm not denying that The Hangover was (mostly) hilarious. The scene where they wake up in the hotel is one of the funniest things ever. Ridiculousness taken to a ridiculous level, and I'm a big fan of the ridiculous.

(Also said, though: Hangover 2? Really? I hardly crack a smile during the trailers for it.)

But here's the difference between The Hangover and Bridesmaids: character development. Meaning, Bridesmaids had it, The Hangover didn't. I think at the end of The Hangover Ed Helms realized his girlfriend was a bitch? And the really boring dude who we never really cared about the whole time got married, and we still didn't care about him? I mean, you don't necessarily need great character development to be hilarious.

But when you have character development, and great writing, AND are hilarious? I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! GAH!

Bridesmaids was smart and funny and one of those movies that makes you laugh hysterically most of the time but cry a little bit too. You almost feel weird about the crying because you're all, "Wait, I was laughing so much I was actually smacking my knee like five seconds ago! Is it weird that I'm crying right now?!" It is! Weird and beautiful and the result of really good art! At the end of this movie (and throughout the whole thing), you really care about these characters. You really like all of these characters. And not just because they all pooped their pants.

Yet the trailer does make it all seem to be about pooping your pants, and cat fights/bitches bein' crazy:

I do feel reassured at the comments on this video on YouTube, though, almost all of which say, "This trailer sucks! The movie is so much funnier! OMG!" Normally comments on the internet--and I mean, like, comments on anything (except for the comments on my blog of course!)--make me really intensely doubt my belief in humanity, so, the fact that most people are on the same page with this is a good sign. But the trailer clearly sets it up to be The Hangover: Female Style, almost completely revolving around a craaaazy trip to Vegas! (Which was a pretty small part of the movie.) It's just annoying. And the YouTube caption calls it "Judd Apatow's film." I know he and Paul Feig produced it/helped make it happen and all, and I'm not saying I dislike Judd Apatow or Paul Feig, by any means, but it is just very clearly Kristen Wiig's movie. (Also, I thought it interesting to note during the credits--which Kathy and I religiously always watch until the very end--that Apatow had FOUR assistants. Is four necessary? Wiig had one.)

In addition, while cat fights have always been one of the hallmark ways females can be funny to a male audience--haha, look at these hot girls rip each other apart, HAHAHAHA--this movie wasn't really about cat fights at all. It was in fact a big love letter to/commentary on the importance of female friendships. Wiig's character, Annie, went so crazy over Helen because she was taking her best friend away when she needed her most--and it was heartbreaking. While I have to admit that the love plot of Annie's storyline swept up my heart (God, I loved him!), the main and most important relationship was obviously between Annie and Lillian. A good friendship story slays me every time. Friendship stories are so overlooked and overshadowed by the love storylines--like, every single day of the world, always--but they are so important.

Annie's storyline could also be about trying to find yourself when you think you've lost everything. You know, inconsequential things like that. And did I mention there's a ton of great socioeconomic commentary in it? And that the music in it is fantastic?

Also, I can't wait to one day own this movie and watch the plane scene over and over again. Among many, many others.

So, go see it. As this Salon article says, tell Hollywood via the box office that we like funny ladies. We shouldn't have to shout this loud to prove it, but still, we have to. So tell them: We like them a lot.

    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Mom, the seamstress.

    My mom's sewing table, taken by me sometime 2005ish

    My mom has always been a woman of many talents. She's Sue the baker, Sue the gardener, Sue the voracious reader, Sue the hip hop dancer. I have already come to terms with the fact that in moments of contemplating being a grown up, I always strive to be a grown up she would be proud of. This shows its head most particularly when I am gardening, and also recently in my latest attempts to be a decent cook: the reason I enjoy doing these things are partly due to her genes. One of her particularly talented hats, however, will never fit on my head: that of Sue the seamstress.

    My mom, when she is not working overtime at her job, attending Zumba classes, gardening, painting and redesigning a room in the house on her own, walking or biking with friends, singing in the church choir, or one of the other numerous remarkable things which make up her weeks, can probably be seen sitting at her sewing machine. If she's not at the sewing machine, she's on the couch with some type of yarn or fabric and a sewing needle in hand, extra pins pinched between her lips. She made too many outfits for me, my brother, my sister and I as kids to count, in addition to all the blankets, comforters, and hats and scarves and everything else. I just looked through some old photographs to find some good outfit examples to scan, but picking just a few proved too difficult: she literally made everything.

    (This one stood out though:

    Often, when we were all too small to object, she crafted matching looks. My sister would call this one our Unfortunate Lumberjack Photoshoot.)

    Hours and hours of our childhoods were spent in the fabric store. We always complained about it like the whiny kids we were--because geez, she took FOREVER in there, and it was BORING--without comprehending the magnitude of awesomeness occurring right in front of our faces. She would buy all this pretty fabric and then MAKE IT INTO STUFF. Often for us. The idea of doing this myself blows my mind now. Feebly sewing up holes in my clothes is pretty much all I can muster (and I have to say, makes me feel pretty proud of myself). I do remember keeping myself semi-entertained as a kid by staring at all the fun buttons in the button-and-zippers section, by running my hands over the silky fabrics, and loving the way the employees flipped the rectangular stacks of fabric to lay them out on the cutting table--flip, flip, flip--three yards, please--and the satisfying rip of the efficient snip of the scissors. It took some serious fabric cutting skills to work those tables.

    Even though we're big enough to buy our own clothes now, her nimble fingers have never stopped making magic. She currently spends her Saturdays voluntarily babysitting a pair of twins for a busy co-worker; she is constantly making them what we call Sue Originals, too. If she grew up in the current culture of 20-and-30-somethings-making-DIY-into-a-living, she would have an incredibly popular Etsy store and the cutest stand in the Saturday Market. Those mommy bloggers would eat her stuff up. We've tried to tell her this a few times, and she always gives us a look which I believe says, "Yeah, uh, I have a real job." She could BE a contestant on Project Runway--she probably just wouldn't want to. She just makes beautiful things for the people she loves, just like her mother did before her. You know, no big deal.

    Do not be misled, however--her talents extend beyond just baby clothes and scarves. She also makes beautiful outfits for herself all the time, of course, such as the dress she made herself for my brother's wedding last fall:

    And the two times I went to prom in high school, she made my dresses both times, too. The one she created my senior year, black with sassy, interesting straps and two sheer layers of fabric dotted with gold revealed on a slant on one side, is perhaps one of my favorite dresses I've ever worn, shown here as I twirled on the back deck.

    She did my funky hair, too. Did I mention she's also an amateur hairstylist, who cut my hair for so long that when I entered the "real world" of college and made my way to a Super Cuts for the first time, I felt like I was on an alien planet? But, back to the clothes. It's easy to get distracted when writing about a woman of so many talents.

    Kathy and I are finally getting around to starting to make some plans for our wedding which will tentatively be held next year, after a very long engagement. I got an email from my mom last week and when I read it I had a sudden urge of wanting to cry. It said, "So you can say no, but, I could make your dress." When I told her on the phone today that I would, of course, love it if she made my wedding dress, that in fact nothing else would even make sense, she at first sounded surprised. "Really? Well, okay." And then, naturally, without skipping a beat: "Well, I already have some ideas."

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Multnomah Falls / Amazing people in our lives.

    Multnomah Falls is the most visited attraction in the state of Oregon, for a few good reasons.
    1. It's less than an hour away from Portland.
    2. It's freaking awesome.
    It's the second highest year-round waterfall in the country, and the sight of its two tiers are broken up by a little stone bridge that somehow makes its way across the terrifying rushing water. Every time I see this bridge, I think to myself, "I have no idea how the hell that was made." To be honest, I think this to myself EVERY time I see a bridge, any bridge. But especially this one. The human race amazes me.

    Multnomah Falls lies in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which is probably my favorite place in a state full of really amazing places. The whole region is rife with waterfalls, and if you're a local you probably try to avoid this behemoth, especially in the summer and on weekends, since the parking lots are always positively jam packed with people. But even with all the other super cool and lesser known waterfalls there are to visit, my jaw still drops a little every time I get a glance of this one. It is just so TALL!

    The first time Kathy and I went there was when we were driving on the very last leg of our cross country journey back in the late summer of 2007. We had been driving in our old, very packed car for over a week and had had a particularly long day of slogging through Idaho and Eastern Oregon. Idaho and Eastern Oregon, by the way, can be extremely beautiful, but also extremely weird, and very arid and deserted, and after a full day of this we were feeling a little bug eyed and exhausted, like we were a little unsure of what reality was anymore. Add on top of this the fact that Kathy had put up with over a week of my over-exuberant touristy-ness (yes, this is very far from being a word), my very stubborn and passionate need to visit every Point of Interest on our wrinkled atlas. Add on top of this that we were ALMOST THERE, almost at our final destination after leaving over a week ago from BOSTON a gajillion miles away, AND in range of actual civilization for the first time in a long time! Did I mention we were exhausted? When I told Kathy we had to turn off the road 30 miles from Portland to look at some waterfalls, I thought she might actually kill me.

    Anyway. Every visit since then has been freaking awesome. And we have visited a LOT. Kathy's friend Reiko was visiting us this week, and as we were once more climbing the trail to Benson Bridge, I started thinking about just how many visits we HAD taken, and how many photos of people we love I'd taken in front of that falling water. So, for fun, and since I never object to wasting loads of time rifling through old photos, I thought I'd find out.

     October 2007. My dad peers over Benson Bridge.

    November 2007. A very chilly and rainy Steve and I.
    Sam M. and Zoe were also here.

    May 2008. My brother, sister and I are standing on the bridge.
    Mom is below, taking our picture.

    August 2008. Kathy's parents. Adorable!
    The quintessential Multnomah Falls photo.

    February 2009. Kathy, Erin, Grey.

     June 2009. Kathy & Steph.

    June 2009. Luis & Sam C.

    May 2011. Kathy, Reiko, Erin.
    An amazing golden sunset time.

    I feel like there have been even more trips with even more people which I can't find pictures of. But the point is: I feel not only lucky to live close to such beautiful things, but to live a life full of so many wonderful people who travel from all around the country to come visit us, and to be dragged around in our less packed, but still very old, car, to see these beautiful things. It makes me feel very humble and fortunate. I like it, a lot. Indeed, I like it the most.