Friday, October 27, 2006



I'm involved with a tiny tsunami of web popularity! The blog I've been contributing to since its start 7 days ago, Ugly, Ugly, Bollywood Fugly, has been mentioned on one of the main indian culture blogs, and literally DOZENS of people are heading over and reading it and commenting and OMG, this must be what it's like to be Julia Roberts!

I'm worthless for the rest of the afternoon.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Good Thing

I've started to read Scott Adams' blog on occasion (creator of Dilbert) and I'm always surprised by what I find there - I mean, you get a certain perception as to what a person is like based on what they do, and the Dilbert comic strip is so cynical... but he's actually a very determined person who makes things like positive thinking and daily affirmations work for him (along with the actual hard work to make things happen...)

Anyway, I just read an amazing entry on his blog; to the effect that, for 18 months, he has been unable to talk. It's a strange disease where you can sometimes sing or (in his case) do public speaking, but ordinary conversation is somehow disconnected. Anyway, he's been dealing with it as well as can be expected... but he says it better than me - take a look.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Run faster!

A client of mine recently asked what I would recommend she look for in a new computer. This is something that you can discuss endlessly, because there's Pros and Cons all over the place!

I would say that for a laptop, I would recommend 1 GB memory (RAM), and at the least an 80 GB hard drive. I would double that for a desktop, simply because you want to plan a bit for the future and it's cheaper than it is for a laptop. The Ghz (speed) should be 1.75 or higher.

If you want to download TV shows & music, the bigger the hard drive, the better!

I don't tend to recommend that people buy the best top end-computers (unless you work for Dell and they give you a new free one every other year!) because the turnover rate on the technology is so fast that you can spend a small fortune on something that will be obsolete or inadequate within 2 years. For example, I just gave a geek friend of mine an 8 MB RAM chip to put on his keychain, and pointed out that it was probably the most expensive doohicky ever hung on a keychain, since it cost $350 when it was made 10 years ago.

So you see my point - mid-range seems to work best, with the understanding that you'll want to replace it in about 3 years. Computers are still so new that people are only now starting to realize that they're not like major appliances like refrigerators or washers; the technology is continually doubling in speed and capacity, and since they're used in conjunction with all the other computers in the world in terms of shared documents and the internet, you really do need to plan for regular replacements.

Plus, the longer you wait to upgrade, the harder it is to rollover you data from an old system to a new one. I was helping a client get Word files off a Mac Performa 6400 a while back, and brough my external drive to back it up... but the Performa doesn't have USB ports. Nor did it have an ethernet port, so I couldn't get it online to transfer files that way.

We have to learn to think about our computers in terms of preserving data and files for future use, and how we'll shift everything from an old system to a new one. Those floppy disks your senior thesis is stored on won't last forever!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Just Ask Susan... (She'll Mouth off About Anything!)

Ok, so it's totally presumptuous to ‘suggest’ a blog topic, but I am sure you could pontificate the matter at hand much better than myself. So I know you live in an apartment (as do I)… do you not just get sick and tired of people telling you you should buy a house? Regardless of my reason (don’t have the $$ to put down a down payment, don’t want to leave the current neighborhood I live in b/c there’s no way in hell I can afford anything in the 37212 zip code, or maybe I just don’t want the responsibility of it all) I find it rather annoying when people say ‘you’re throwing money away’. Well, no, I’m not because I have a roof over my head, hot water, and a refrigerator that I didn’t have to purchase. But I’m not bitter… :-) can you tell what the topic has been around the office today? I’ve just been on the periphery of the conversation but I’m still annoyed. :( what are your thoughts? -- Allison

You know, maybe it's because I'm old and been renting for what seems forever, but I wish I could own a house and be building equity... but I can't afford to. On the other hand, I can well recognize the myriad advantages of renting, and maybe you just need to be all kick-ass and fling these around like throwing stars when the conversation comes up again:

1) I don't have to do lawn care.
BUT You have to own/rent a lawnmower, or pay for someone else to do it... must buy grass care products, plants, shrubs, gardening tools, etc. You have to WEED.

2) I don't have to do maintenance on ANYTHING related to my home.
BUT You have to fix everything yourself - paint it, repair it, or pay someone else to do it.

3) My carpets are shampooed yearly if I want it.
BUT You have to schedule & pay for it

4) When a major appliance breaks, I make a phone call and they come fix it, and I don't have to be home for it either.
BUT You have to call a repairman, schedule a house call, and take time off work to wait 4-6 hours for them to show up. AND pay for it.

5) I sleep late on Saturday morning and can lie around the house ALL WEEKEND if I want.
BUT You have to do all that crap mentioned above.

6) Ask almost any senior citizen, and they will tell you that they wish they didn't have to take care of their homes any longer... that they wish they could just rent a one-level condo and have someone else take care of those tedious details.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Bad Art

OK, I want to rattle this off before I go to bed, because I'm so annoyed and I want to get this down.

I wasted $8.75 on "One Night With the King" on Friday. Do NOT go see this film. What makes me so mad about this movie is the fact that, unlike other poorly-made, flimsy, weak films that evaporate one hour after you're finished, never to be thought on again, this film lingers in my mind. But not in a good way; no, one after another, its flaws come through my mind and make me angry all over again.

1. I love the story of Esther and King Ahasuerus. I know it by heart, and have read multiple novels about her and the historical events of the time. It is a cracking good tale. So with an adaptation of an existing story, why oh why do filmmakers feel the need to re-write the original story? Embellishment, elaboration on a theme is fine, but why change the essential points, especially if it is to a point that's NOT WORTH MAKING?

This is a tendency that I call "Lack of Faith in the Source Material," which begs the questions, "why even bother using the original story in the first place, then?" And SOOOOOO many filmmakers are guilty of it. They don't trust that the original events are entertaining enough, despite the fact that the book/story/event has been so popular or compelling that there's a pre-existing demand for a film about it! Just look at the first Narnia movie; why did they need to send the children down a frozen river in a scene they invented? And yet they cut other scenes from the book! (I know not EVERYTHING translates well to film, and I can accept those sorts of changes...)

2. Inaccurate intepretation of history really pisses me off. I did an honors thesis in college on films about the French Revolution during the 1930s, as well as a huge paper on Propaganda in Film during WWII. So I know what I'm talking about here; namely, the tendency we have to re-interpret historical events in the light of current events, political hot-button issues, and contemporary ideology.

For example, the film chose to make the Greeks into proponents of Democracy, which the villain denounced as horrible. First off - the Greeks could have cared less if democracy took hold in other nations, and I've never heard that any other nation feared its spread; if anything, they feared the armies of Greece marching in to take over! Democracy of the 5th C. BC wasn't anything like what it is in 2006. Secondly - it was just so BADLY DONE. It made no sense, and even now I'm trying to figure out what on earth they were trying to do. If there was a point or ideology they wanted to make beyond Democracy=Good, then it was so ridiculously and pointlessly convoluted that no-one in that theater would have picked up on it.

3. If you're going to make a propaganda film, then please, make it good! The only decent thing in that film was the costuming (by the inspired Bollywood designer of "Devdas," I might add). The fact that they managed to make one of my favorite Bible stories insipid, boring, and confusing just infuriates me. They can propagandize to me all they want, but by golly, they'd better make it entertaining, like "Mrs. Miniver." Now that's a delicious piece of propaganda (and I adore it and highly recommend everyone watch it. Deeply moving.)

And the love story? Utterly confusing. If you insist on inventing a love story (and there was never any mention in the Bible that Esther and Ahasuerus loved each other at all, really) then, PLEASE, make it truly romantic! Since you're inventing it from scratch anyway, then you must be very, very bad filmmakers if you can't make it compelling. And if you're going to cast 2 unknowns in the leads, then you have absolutely NO EXCUSE in casting 2 actors without an ounce of chemistry between them. There are too many gifted actors out there who can't find work. You'd find better, more charismatic pairings in high-school productions of "Oklahoma."

Oh, and Omar Sharif was really good in a cameo role, as was John Rhys Davies, and Peter O'Toole (in a "blink-and-you'll-miss-him" role). But their quality performances only stood to make the utter lack of ability in the rest of the cast (excepting the charmismatic James Callis as Haman) stand out in sharp, painful relief.

4. *whimper* It was just so BAD. And all these confusing and insulting and stupid and ridiculous aspects of the film keep zipping through my head. And that's my final point - it was Bad Art, and even worse, Bad Christian Art. If you're going to spend money on a film about a story from the Bible, or popular Christian fiction, then please - stop before you start shooting if the script sucks! I'd rather the airwaves be flooded with well-written yet smutty crap than see another bad Christian film. I find myself clinging mentally to "Shadowlands"; it's truly good and well-made. But if Christian filmmakers are going to make only lame religious films? Then I'd rather they make none at all.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Repeat Posting of "Gift vs. Need"

OK, I spent last night updating my WishList, because the list of Stuff I Need But Can't Afford is getting longer every month, and I'm hoping that friends & family who are contemplating presents for me for the month of December (Birthday: Dec 3; Xmas: Dec 25) will take a moment to consider these guidelines:
  1. I am a recovering packrat
  2. I live in a tiny apartment
  3. The apartment is already full of stuff

I honestly can't accommodate anything that isn't essential or highly prized. At the same time, there are always many crucial things I need, yet amazingly no one ever thinks to get them for me. Instead, I always seem to get lots of notecards... very pretty, but folks, I design my own! I have literally hundreds of notecards right now. It will take me the next DECADE to exhaust the supply.

Here's what I really need:

  1. Body work on my car - a utility pole jumped out and gouged the passenger side of my Corolla and snapped off the mirror. Frankly, it hurts to look at it.
  2. 2-4 new tires. I put a LOT of miles on my car with making house calls, and I've been skidding a lot lately on wet roads.
  3. 512 RAM for my pitiful Dell Dimension 2400. It's barely functional at present.
  4. Laptop with wireless. As I am continually on the road around Nashbrentfrank, it would be fantastically useful to be able to work on researching solutions for clients and web design when I have an hour or 2 to kill between jobs.
  5. Gift cards to Jiffy Lube, Mapco Express, Target, Publix, TJ Maxx, Sonic, Taco Bell, and The Stitchin' Post.

For all those women who get hurt when their husbands give them a blender or a new vaccuum cleaner on their anniversary, let me just say that you need to SHUT UP. I can't get a practical gift to save my life!

Thursday, October 12, 2006


So the 2006 Nashville Scene "Best of Nashville" awards came out today...

And St. Bartholemew's (my church) came in 1st for "Best Church Music".

[silent, flabbergasted]

I didn't even KNOW that was a category! I don't think any of us did! I mean, I love what we do and I think our Choir Director Eric Wyse is fantastic... but I'm one of the miked singers once a month, and I'm SO mediocre! Except that I can harmonize with almost anything (but in no consistent way - I bounce back and forth between alto and tenor to the mild consternation of the pianist Tom. I can tell he's thinking "PICK ONE!") And we only run through it together on Sunday morning an hour before the 8:30 service... it makes for a very exciting 4-5 hours, since you really have to stay on your toes. Sort of like SNL.

And we don't have a full standing choir - we only have rehearsals for Easter and Christmas, but throughout the year choir members trot up to the loft at whatever service they're attending... you look up there during a service, and there's 3 miked singers, an (excellent!) bunch of instrumentalists, and anywhere from 2-10 scattered choir members. Plus it's 80% women... we can't seem to get many guys.

I called my mom to tell her, I was so excited, and she mentioned that her church had come in 1st in past years... at which point I looked at the list again, and Christ Church Cathedral? was in 2nd place. This is the gorgeous Gothic downtown Episcopal church with the fanTAStic organ, a full permanent choir that does some SERIOUSLY HARD music... and we beat them?!

We do a rather eclectic mix of music - Eric loves ancient and historic church music, but somehow manages to combine it with contemporary praise & worship stuff in a way that is so organic. He's written a melody for the Lord's Prayer that brought tears to my eyes for the first year I attended there - it's got this unbelievable build that just blows you away. And he'll write melodies for other old hymn lyrics that are such a pleasure to sing.

His way of directing us is untraditional - in charismatic-influenced churches, it's quite common to repeat choruses multiple times, and he'll form the letter "C" with his hand for us to repeat the chorus. He'll "salute" his hand in the middle of his forehead if he wants us to go back to the top of the music, or hold up his pinky if he wants us to sing the tag at the end. (Although I told him that in India, to do so means you need to go pee.) You just learn to read his signals.

Can you tell I really love it? It's something I'd been wanting to do for so many years, but having grown up at Belmont Church and spent my 20s at Christ Community, there was NO WAY I ever got to help lead worship; not that I ever tried! All of the singers were established professionals, and neither church had a choir. And in addition, St. B's will occasionally do classical pieces in Latin, etc., like the stuff I did at Hillsboro High, which I LOVE.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Oh Wikipedia!

How much do I love Wikipedia? It's the World Book of popular history; the dictionary of terms and ideas never touched on in Webster's; it's the future of information in the Information Age. I know there are errors and deliberate vandalizing upon occasion within it, but those who love the subject at hand watch over their chosen entries, and update and improve upon the material.

I was reading a particularly verbose recap of the latest Doctor Who episode on (one of my favorite sites for many a year) and it was littered with references to arcane concepts and historical figures... which I could then look up on Wikipedia! I'd never heard of Steampunk, for example - an entire genre of historical/scifi/alternate universe fiction - and it's absolutely fascinating!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sears Silliness

For about 5+ years now, I have been a member of a small group that gets together every other month or so to watch movies, have dinner, hang out, etc. Well, Friend Paul has announced that he's moving back home (up North) in November, and so our group will be irrevokably changed.

I am very sad about this. Bad Paul! Bad, bad Paul!

So anyway, the smart lady behind had mentioned that Sears had done a really good portrait for her and her husband last year, and so when I spotted a Sears Portrait Studio flyer in my mailbox, I thought it would be massively fun to do a cheesy group photo.

And as you can see, it was!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

la voiture, c'est mal!

I am the unhappy posessor of an accursed car.

I made my initial mistake 3 years back when, as my lovely, darling little Civic hatchback was coughing up blood and on the verge of death, I unloaded it as hastily as can be done - I went to a Carmax and bought a Toyota Corolla. As all online and word-of-mouth advice praised the model highly, I swallowed my disappointment over the fact that it wasn't a Honda, and got it anyway. It was August, and the AC wasn't working in the Civic - what else could I do?

They called the color Burgundy. Yeah, right. It's Dark Red, and my opinion has been confirmed in the 3 years since, as I have gotten more speeding tickets than in all 18 years prior. It is a FACT that red cars are pulled over more than any other car by the police.

And NO, I am NOT driving any faster than I ever did before.

It's gotten so bad that I have gotten 2 tickets while going home from babysitting jobs out on Hwy 96; I have decided not to ever sit for that family again. It's just too expensive!

On top of this, my car is looking pretty battered at present. I have just now replaced 2 missing hubcaps which is a small improvement (I have never lost a hubcap before in my life, and now I lose 2 on the same car!) but the
  1. scraped rear bumper (sorry, Thomas!)
  2. gouged passenger side & broken mirror (stupid telephone pole... why'd you have to be so close to the damn street?!)
  3. gouged driver side & scraped mirror (thanks, Amy!)

are making for a rather ravaged appearance. I'm totally unable to afford to get any of it fixed; fortunately Thomas didn't make me pay for the damage done to HIS car, but the right-side damage is my own fault. I was almost relieved when Amy called me from her van as I babysat my niece:

I just hit your car...


I was backing out of the garage, and I didn't see your car. Didn't you
hear it?

I ran and looked out the window - damn. And I had been wishing for WEEKS that someone would hit me so their insurance could pay for the damage... but it was on the WRONG SIDE.

Yes, this car is accursed.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Precious Moments

NOT THE FIGURINES. No nononononono.

No, I mean those rare, delightful moments when all is well... like right now.
  1. The nasty work project I've been doing for the last week is done
  2. It's Friday
  3. I have lunch with a friend in 10 minutes
  4. I have one job this afternoon that's paying doubletime
  5. The 3rd episode of Doctor Who is on this evening
  6. Did I mention I get to leave in 6 minutes?

Feel that? That's happy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


  1. I had FIVE different jobs yesterday; what's up with that?! Am very tired now and want to go home and take a nap, but cannot as I have three jobs today. Two to go, and they're both difficult.
  2. Watched the season finale of Eureka this morning, and cried throughout. In a good way. Really excellent, excellent story/acting/etc. Very moving.
  3. It is impossible to be melancholy while watching Dancing With the Stars.
  4. Doing work that is automatically inaccurate is depressing. Especially when the person you're doing the work for wants it that way, and doesn't mind the fact that it's incorrect.
  5. I got replacement hubcaps for the 2 that have been missing lo these many months. I feel as though one tiny part of my life is much improved.
  6. I wish I had a new Yaris.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Stitching as a Metaphor

I've always enjoyed doing cross-stitch (and most of the ladies who attend the Crafting Bee are stitchers as well) but ever since I've started these monthly Bees, I keep finding analogies to Life in the work we're doing.  The latest example of this is dealing with mistakes.  Cross-Stitch is basically grid work, akin to paint-by-numbers; you have a pattern on a piece of paper that you are constantly looking at to make sure that you're stitching in the correct squares with the designated color on your linen.  You count and recount the number of threads, and then usually you count them again.
But even the most meticulous stitcher makes mistakes, and when you finally discover them, you have a difficult choice in front of you; should you unpick your stitches all the way back to the original error and re-do it, or is the problem something that won't destroy the integrity of the piece if you leave it as it is?  Cross-stitching builds upon itself - for example, if you have a row of flowers that is 2 stitches off, it can throw off everything else in the piece because you count threads from one completed section to find the starting point for the next section.  Plus, the longer it takes you to discover that you've miscounted, the more difficult and time-consuming it is to fix the problem.
If you choose to re-do your work, it's painful to lose all those completed stitches, and it seems to take forever, but there's the sense of relief that it will eventually be corrected.  The holes in the warp and weft of the linen get stretched out and the fabric looks a bit battered & misshapen, but ultimately everything will line up the way it's supposed to.
If you choose not to re-do your work, but try and adapt the pattern to accommodate the mistake, it's certainly easier, but you have to live with the knowledge that the piece is now flawed.  No-one else may notice it, but you will always know.  It's a humbling experience, and many experienced stitchers who do lovely, elaborate work will tell you at that point that it's good for you; they've done the same thing themselves.  There's an oft-repeated story among stitchers that in Olden Times, women working on quilts or samplers or embroidered pieces would deliberately make a mistake... because "only God is perfect."
As I've made more and more projects over the years, from tiny, 4-inch square birth announcements to a 5 foot historic Tennessee reproduction sampler (which I'm STILL not finished with) I've made more mistakes, and each time I have to decide - start over, or live with it?  Fortunately in this community of creative women, there is encouragement to be had with either decision - empathy, useful advice, even communal mourning over the lost hours of work that will have to be destroyed.  We will commiserate together, vent our frustration over the damage done... and then go back to work.

Monday, October 02, 2006

So Very Sad

OK, I am losing heart over Saturday Night Live - I just watched the season premiere, and the only really funny thing in the entire show was Brian Williams' cameo. He was also the best PERFORMER in the show. And he's a news anchor, not even a cast member!

Sad, sad, sad.


What is the deal with people? I've just had another friend announce he's moving away in early November; that'll be the 5th one in the last few months. I'm beginning to feel abandoned.

Is it Nashville? Speaking for the city: Did we do something wrong? Is it the traffic? Look, I know the roads can be a bit hinky, especially around 40E, and Briley Pkwy... really, we're gonna get that finished up soon, I promise!

Is it the weather? I mean, I know it was a really nasty, humid summer, but no worse that usual... and the fall is turning out to be fantastic; why would you want to leave now? And we cut back on the cicadas this summer...

Is it something we said? Is it the fact that we have a predominently religious population with a church on every corner and we tend to pray in restaurants? That we don't have a Nordstrom's?

This is the story of my life... NOBODY seems to stay here. Every few years there seems to be a mass exodus of friends, and folks, I am TIRED of it! So no more leaving! No more friends are allowed to leave Nashville - I absolutely forbid it! Rachel, if you want to go to New York and work on your acting career, you're gonna have to do it without my knowing because so help me, I will SABOTAGE your efforts to leave the city!

You have been warned!