Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Saturday Story: Help Wanted

Trish hadn't wanted to fill out the online dating profile.  But her friend Jackie had insisted, saying that she couldn't spend every Saturday night holed up in her apartment eating microwave pizza and watching reruns with her cat.  So, Trish had dutifully and painstakingly answered the questions set against Soulmate Search's bright aqua screen.  Trish supposed that the Web designers meant for it to be calming, but it only made Trish more irritable as she struggled to answer questions about her favorite foods and hobbies.  Was it pathetic to admit that she enjoyed bacon and a night of knitting?  Maybe.  She started to type "salad" and "aerobics" instead and then stopped.   No, if she was going to do this crazy-ass thing, then she might as well do it right.  Bacon and knitting it was.  She'd have to upload a photo, too (just the thought of that made her cringe), so at least her prospective suitors would know that she was thinner and younger than her interests suggested.  Not that she was exactly Gisele.  But her thin build and shoulder-length blond hair were a cut above average, even if her penchant for cat sweatshirts set her appearance back a few pegs.  Speaking of cats, Trish's profile wouldn't be complete without more than a few words about her beloved tabby, Tabitha.  Trish put on the breaks just as she was getting to the part about her and Tabitha's marathon sessions of hide-and-seek.  It was important, after all, to maintain an air of mystery.  With a few clicks, the questionnaire was finished.  Trish logged off her computer in relief, then channel surfed until she hit pay dirt with Legally Blonde.

Over the next few weeks, Trish logged into her Soulmate Search account with a mix of excitement and trepidation.  At first, she didn't receive any responses.  Then a few questionable ones trickled in, the most disturbing of which was from a magician looking for a lovely assistant to saw in half.  Trish hastily deleted that one, then steered clear of the computer for the next few days as if merely touching it threw her in harm's way.   When she finally got up the gumption to try again she was surprised to find a message from an attractive and normal-sounding insurance salesman named Bob.  He was quietly handsome - more Tom Hanks than Tom Cruise - and he enjoyed reading, camping, and live music.  She could do without the camping, but then no one was perfect.  Anyway, he had a cat, a calico named Cumin - because - and Trish could hardly read this without laughing - he firmly believed that variety was the spice of life.  Hokey stuff, to be sure.  And yet, there was something down-to-earth and warm in such honesty, in Bob's willingness to - as the kids said -let his freak flag fly.  Trish decided to message him. As she typed, Tabitha meowed from her perch on the couch. Trish couldn't help but take it as a sign of approval.

During the next few weeks, Trish and Bob emailed regularly.  Bob seemed sensitive and insightful and said all the right things when she emailed him pictures of Tabitha, even going so far as to say that she would have been the perfect mate for Cumin had he not been neutered.  He commiserated when she complained about her job working reception at a car dealership.  For some reason her boss thought it was her job to make a donut run when the bakery box was whittled down to a few stale specimens.  Privately, she thought they'd last longer if he didn't eat so many, but that wasn't the kind of thing she felt comfortable telling anyone except Jackie, so it was nice to have a fresh pair of ears.  Trish found herself staring at Bob's picture more often than was probably healthy, mesmerized by his kind dark eyes and shy smile and the way his blue checked shirt complemented his tan.  There was a red canoe in the background, and Trish imagined she and Bob taking romantic trips down a sun-dappled river arbored by flowering trees.  Never mind that she hated the outdoors and couldn't swim.  She was sure that even the most rustic of activities would be made magical by Bob's presence.

A month passed before Bob suggested a face-to-face date.  Trish was thrilled; in her opinion, four weeks of unvoiced chitchat was four weeks too many.  She wanted to know what Bob sounded like, but he always demurred when she suggested moving their conversations to the phone.  Deep down she knew that there was something weird about his reluctance.   But then, what did she know about online dating protocol?  Maybe this was the way things were done.  Anyway, she was so head-over-heels ecstatic to be enmeshed in her own romance that not even a Mack truck of warning signs could have deterred her.

Bob wanted to meet at a restaurant called Del's Diner, which Trish had never heard of but should have.  It was a few blocks from the car dealership where she worked, and he wanted to meet her there the following Tuesday at seven.  Trish's heart sank slightly at this; she had been hoping for a Saturday date somewhere special.  But maybe this was better, more unpretentious, more cozy, more Bob.  At least that was how she pitched it to Jackie when she told her on the phone that night.  But Jackie was having none of it, uncharitably calling Bob a cheapskate.  Nevertheless, she cautioned Trish not to wear any of her cat sweatshirts, insisting that it was far better to go with something fitted and black.  Trish gave in but secretly plotted to clip a cat barrette in her hair.

Trish thought that Tuesday night would never come.  She daydreamed the hours away at work, inadvertently snubbing customers and flaking out on not one but three donut runs, much to her boss's annoyance.  She hadn't told anyone but Jackie about her date, not even her mother.  That way she could guard her secret like a precious jewel without anyone telling her that it was flashy or fantastic, or worse of all, fake.

Ten minutes before seven on the appointed Tuesday, Trish peered into her compact.  She'd stayed at work past her usual five o' clock quitting time for the convenience factor, a trial that would pay off when she could leave two hours early come Friday.  She pried mascara clumps from her eyelashes, blotted her nose and chin with pressed powder, and applied a fresh coat of her signature Revlon Silver City pink lipstick.  Then she adjusted her cat barrette, flecked an invisible speck of lint from her black sweater, and set out on her way.  Her heart was humming.  As she walked down the sidewalk, she wondered if this was how the beginnings of a heart attack felt.  The air was too hot for the sweater, causing rivulets of sweat to roll down her back.  But before she could dwell on this, Del's Diner emerged from the street, its dingy chrome exterior slicing the sky.   Trish took a deep breath and went in.

It was tiny inside and only half full.  Trish stood at the door, surreptitiously scanning the tables for a man who matched Bob's description.  At first glance there were none.  But when she looked again she noticed a man at the back corner table.  He had Bob's eyes but was blond instead of dark.  Also, he had a sheaf of papers in front of him and was crossing things out with a pen.  Uncertainly, she made her way toward him.

"Excuse me, but are you Bob? From Soulmate Search?"

The man put down his pen and looked at her appraisingly.  "Yes. You must be Trish."

His voice was flat.  Not anything so awful as high-pitched or girly or even menacing, but nonetheless empty, as if it knew nothing of the confidences they'd traded over the past month.  Unable to do anything else, Trish nodded and slid into the booth opposite him.

"I'm so glad you could make it," he said, giving his papers one last glance before pushing them ever so slightly to the side.  "I have someone else coming at 7:30, but we should be done by then."

"Someone else?"  Trish's stomach churned.  She must have misheard him.

"Yes.  I like to do all my interviews on Tuesdays.  That way I have plenty of time to plan my weekend."

"Your weekend?"  The walls were closing in on her, their dreadful plaid wallpaper hurting her head.  Was it her imagination, or was Bob beginning to look annoyed?

"Certainly.  I like to meet the women I've been messaging face to face.  You know, get a feel for them, see if we click.  Then I pick the most compatible one and plan a date for the following Saturday.  Years of online dating have taught me that this is the most efficient way."

The women he'd been messaging?  Years of online dating?  The words mocked Trish, joining forces with the wallpaper.  Yet curiosity kept her seated.

"Right," she said, as if Bob's little ritual made all the sense in the world.  "Say, why is your hair blond?  You were brunette in your profile picture."

Bob patted his pale pate.  "Studies have shown that women feel safer with dark-haired men.  So I post a picture of myself with dyed hair.  Plus, I like to gauge women's reactions when they see that I'm blond.  Helps me to judge their adaptability to new situations."  He eyed her critically for a moment, then checked something off on one of his papers.

Trish withered, sure that he'd just issued her some kind of demerit.  Then, unable to go on with the charade any longer, she said, "I feel like I'm applying for a job."

Bob didn't look surprised.  But then, he'd probably heard it before.  "An online dating profile isn't so different from a help wanted sign," he pointed out.

"Maybe so," Trish allowed, getting up from her seat, "but I think you're the one who needs help."  Her voice sounded so sure, so steely, so woman-scorned perfect.  He would have never guessed that she was trembling inside, the tears so painfully close to the surface that they threatened to choke her.

He was wordless as she left Del's Diner.  Humiliation clung to Trish like a second sweater.  Yet as stung as she was, there was a part of her that had always known that Bob wasn't real.  Confirming that suspicion was painful.  But it also gave her a strange sense of closure.  Trish put one foot in front of the other, secure in the knowledge that she would soon be back with Tabitha and her reruns, a frozen brick of pizza thawing in the microwave.

Friday, June 29, 2012

At the Movies - Wanderlust

I was excited about Wanderlust.  Mostly because it starred Paul Rudd.  But also because it was a comedy about a yuppie couple (the other half of which is played by Jennifer Aniston) escaping the New York City rat race to start fresh on a Georgia commune.  I mean, what wouldn't be hilarious about that?

As it turned out, plenty.

Now, I realize it's a little early in the review for the snark snake to be rearing its ugly head.  And I hate to be that girl.  But I also hate to be dishonest.  So, that girl it is.

George (Paul Rudd) works in an office doing something boring.  Linda (Jennifer Aniston) bounces from jewelry making to ice cream making to making a documentary about penguins with testicular cancer.  Linda wants them to buy an apartment (er, micro-loft), so they do.  But then George gets laid off and they're forced to sell and move in with George's obnoxious brother and his family in Atlanta.  During the drive down, car trouble delivers them to the doorstep of Elysium, a utopian oasis in a gadget-crazy, dog-eat-dog world.  They spend an enchanted night there, an experience that renders life at George's brother's mansion the next day as even more abrasive.  George picks a fight and breaks a dish and before they know it, he and Linda are speeding back toward the serenity of the commune.

Only, Linda's not feeling it.  Weirded out by Elysium's doorless rooms, touchy-feely psychobabble, and unrelieved togetherness, she balks when George suggests they stay for two weeks.  Yet almost immediately the two do a switcheroo, with Linda embracing the alternative lifestyle and George longing for the square society they left behind (which makes perfect comedic sense, as Paul Rudd always plays the lone straight man swirling in a sea of chaos).  Nowhere is their disconnect as apparent as when George strums the Spin Doctors' "Two Princes" on a guitar only to be one-upped by his wife's soon-to-be paramour (Justin Theroux).  Weirdly, this is the movie's high point for me.  Not the part about Paul Rudd being dissed; I didn't like that at all.  But my favorite actor singing my favorite song?  That was downright, dare I say it, princely.

As for the rest of the movie, I couldn't help but feel that it needed to be either funnier in an over-the-top, can-you-believe-this? sort of way or more serious in a poignant, indie film, damn-that-really-made-me-think kind of way.  I think that's about as bitchy as I'm going to get.  Now that that's over with, I'll return to my happy place where Paul Rudd is still singing.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Book Report: Threadbared by Kimberly Wrenn and Mary Watkins

As a crafter, you'd think that I'd be put off by people who make fun of dabbling in felt and feathers. But instead I find them hilarious (a treasonous confession, I know). Kimberly Wrenn and Mary Watkins, the authors of Threadbared, had me in stitches as sarcastic seamstresses-that-never-were. So, in the grand Tote Trove tradition of feting the handiwork of witty wise guys, I had no choice but to blog about them.

As daughters of the South, Kimberly and Mary were raised not to swear, make fun of people, or wear open-toed shoes in December, three rules they are proud to report repeatedly breaking. Another of their inappropriate pass times is collecting vintage clothing patterns. Uninterested in learning how to knit or sew any of the items, they instead channel their creative juices into spinning sensational stories about what the pattern models may doing or thinking. Their yarns are as colorfully kitschy as the creations themselves, and indeed, are in many cases off-color. Here's one of my favorites:

"Despite his happy marriage to Barbara and successful career as a CPA, Rodger feels unfulfilled. Oh, sure, sure . . . he knows he's not the best-looking guy. But Rodger feels he has a certain something, a raw sexual magnetism that could have been properly exploited if he had only had the opportunity to pursue his dream career. For Rodger knows, deep down inside, that he should have been a model for the J. C. Penney catalog. He also knows that this dream can never be realized - the twins have just started orthodontic treatment and the house needs to be recarpeted. Barbara would never understand. But sometimes, at night when she's gone to her weekly mah-jongg game, Rodger locks the door to the bedroom and indulges in a little fantasy modeling session. Awww yeah." (93)

If that doesn't make you want to whip up (or, more appropriately, buy) your guy a cardie, then I don't know what will.

Getting Through Thursday with Another Shoe Montage - A Walk Down Memory Lane

Every now and then I like to look at pictures from past outfit posts.  Seeing the crazy mix of colors and patterns always gives me a happy jolt, so for this week's shoe post I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"Somebody told me how frightening it was how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

At the Movies - Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages is about rock and roll and the people who love it.  Set in 1987 in an LA bar called the Bourbon Room, its inked and studded players laugh, cry, and dream to the likes of Journey, Styx, Guns N' Roses, Poison, Motley Crue, REO Speedwagon, and so many big-haired others.  Although the movie highlights the seamier side of the era of excess, it is, at its heart, a universal yarn about falling in love and following your dreams.

Sherri (Julianne Hough) is the proverbial good girl who longs to make it big.  To be sure, when the movie opens she is literally "just a small-town girl living in a lonely world on a midnight train going anywhere."  Once on the Sunset Strip, her sundress and sunny disposition set her apart, and her prized suitcase full of albums is stolen almost as soon as she steps off the train.  That's when Drew (Diego Boneta) comes to the rescue.  A barback at the Bourbon, he gets her a job there waiting tables, much to the annoyance of crusty owner Dennis (Alec Baldwin).  She's a singer, he's a singer, and it isn't long before they're making goo-goo eyes in between serving drinks.  Meanwhile, Dennis and his right-hand man and very special friend Lonny (Russell Brand) book larger-than-life and out-of-control rock god Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) to rescue the Bourbon from bankruptcy.  But Stacee comes with baggage in the form of his conniving manager Paul (Paul Giamatti), idealistic Rolling Stone reporter Constance (Malin Akerman), and the mayor's wife Patty (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who will stop at nothing to expunge him and his ilk from her fair city.  Inevitably, Sherri and Drew are mixed up in the maelstrom and eventually forced to find out what achieving fame really means.

Rock of Ages balances the badass with the sentimental and even the silly, often laughing at its own overblown homage to 1980s extravagance.  The fashion is fabulous, from Patty's prissy pastels to Stacee's most libidinous leather, and the pop culture references keep the camp coming.  But it is, of course, the nonstop rock of power ballads and arena anthems that make you feel as if you're at the concert of the decade.

TV Tuesday: Two Media Icons

After having heard about Alex Trebek's heart attack this past weekend, the bf surfed the Web for details, which was only fitting given his love of "Jeopardy."  So, I shouldn't have been surprised to see this old picture of Trebek and Betty White on our computer desktop.  (The bf changes the picture every few days or so.  I never know if I'm going to find a forest fire or a funky shoe.)  "Huh," I said, "it's each of our favorite TV icons."  "Well, let's just say it's two media icons," he replied.  He's a wily one, that bf, never wanting to be pinned down as favoring one small-screen star over another.  Favorite or not, I'm glad to report that Trebek is doing fine.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Something New and Sparkly - Quirky Quips (er, Clips) and Talking Heads

Tee: Kohl's
Skirt: Macy's
Shoes: Chaps, Kohl's
Bag: DSW
Scarf: Marshalls

Tee: Kohl's
Skirt: Kohl's
Shoes: Betseyville, Macy's
Bag: Loop, Toilet Water, Ocean City

Tank: Target
Skirt: Buyer, Boscov's
Shoes: Chinese Laundry, Marshalls
Bag: Bisou Bisou, J. C. Penney's

Tank: Boscov's
Skirt: Material Girl, Macy's
Shoes: Nine West, DSW
Bag: Gifted

Dress: Macy's
Shoes: AMI Clubwear
Bag: Delia's

I like to think that without even opening their mouths these Styrofoam stands would silence even the most loquacious of political pundits. I don't really know what that means and can only imagine it sprang from my "talking heads" title, a misguided need to be clever, and my increasing punchiness on account of the advancing hour. Nevertheless, there's no better way to (finally!) introduce my quirky clips than with a quartet of luscious locks. Tired of mangling my manes by transferring them on and off a single stand, I bit the bullet and purchased three others from Sally Beauty Supply. If the barrette designs look familiar, then it's because they echo some of their necklace predecessors. (I'm talking about you, steak dinner, peacock, and artist palette). I think I like the miniature reincarnations even better then the originals. Probably because they're small enough to be arranged in an attractively collectible fivesome like the one pictured above. And I do so love to collect things. Don't you?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Saturday Story: Too Many Dresses

Vanessa's closet was tiny.  That was the thought foremost in her mind every time she crammed another bunch of freshly washed dresses into the already-bursting vestibule.  She knew that she should donate some of the garments.  Several were out of style, a few no longer fit (or never had, especially if they were the spoils of some not-to-be-passed-up bargain blow-out), and a good deal many more were too splashy to wear to work or to the staid gatherings that made up her social life.  Even when she wore the (at least to her mind) only marginally outlandish numbers, people said things like, "Quite a dress, Vanessa.  What's the occasion?"  Vanessa wanted to retort, "Life!" but instead usually muttered, "I don't know.  I got it on sale," before creeping back to the safety of her desk or table.  She sighed as she shoved aside a sherbet-colored shift to make room for a heart-printed halter.  Where, exactly, had she gotten the madras meringue of a dress in her hand? Honestly, madras was hideous.  But the full skirt was just the sort she liked; wearing one always made her feel as if she were the heroine (okay, cute friend at best) in an old movie.  That must have been why she'd bought it.  Gritting her teeth, she jammed it in between the shift and halter.  A wayward plastic hanger scraped her arm on the way out, leaving a mark but not drawing blood.

Disgusted with the whole rigmarole, Vanessa abandoned her closet and walked out to the mailbox.  The usual deluge of bills, catalogs, and junk mail spilled into her hands.  She had just flipped past the electric bill when she caught sight of a thick, creamy envelope.  She tore it open and found that it was an invitation to her cousin Fran's wedding.  Vanessa didn't particularly like Fran.  She was the kind of woman who derived great pleasure from telling people that her boyfriend (now fiancé) Ned was a corporate lawyer, and she had a habit of fixing Vanessa with faux sympathetic eyes upon hearing that she herself had not yet found "someone special."  But Vanessa did like the Princess's Palace, which was the venue of Fran's reception.  Although Vanessa had heard many people rave about the Palace's pink marble walls, rainbow fountains, and shrimp and soufflé-laden buffets, she'd never had the chance to experience its opulence firsthand.  Vanessa didn't have a date.  But she could more than make up for her lack of escort with a to-die-for dress from the back of her closet.

                                                           * * * *

Vanessa stood uncertainly in front of the full-length mirror in the ladies' room of the Princess's Palace.  Lush green ferns unfurled behind her, and the heady scent of Chanel No. 5 filled the air.  She was wearing her black strapless cocktail dress, the bodice of which glittered with a galaxy of colorful moon- and star-shaped rhinestones.  She'd set it off with a silver clutch and edgy silver stilettos, and a large rhinestone star-shaped clip winked in her hair.  She loved the dress, which she'd found in an obscure boutique, and had been waiting for a chance to wear it for more than a year.  Looking at it now gave her just the jolt of confidence she needed to face the singles table.  With a pat of her hair and a last backward glance, Vanessa turned on her (admittedly painful) heel and sailed back into the sea of revelers.

She scanned the tables for her number, which, as luck would have it, was 13.  She found it wedged into a corner and occupied by a half moon of fellow unfortunates.  Then a familiar face pulled up a chair.  It was Paul, her mother's accountant.  Vanessa didn't quite have a crush on Paul. Women Vanessa's age didn't get crushes, and anyway, Paul didn't give her butterflies or inspire her to drop by his office unannounced.  He was merely one of those seemingly kind guys just this side of boring who may or may not have been hiding a wicked sense of humor behind his glasses.  Now was Vanessa's chance to find out.

"Fancy meeting you here," she said.  "Friend of the bride's or groom's?"

Paul's face registered faint surprise.  "Groom's. Ned's a family friend."

"Oh."  Vanessa smiled.  "Fran is my cousin."

"Small world!"

Vanessa cringed inwardly at the trajectory of the conversation.  But she willed herself to see the thing through.  After all, she'd been the one to kick things off with "Fancy meeting you here."  If that opener didn't tip the cheese-o-meter, then she didn't know what did.

"Nice dress," Paul said, looking a little too pointedly at her cleavage.  Let it slide, cautioned Vanessa's inner censor, after all, isn't that sort of the point?

"Thanks.  I got it awhile back but never had the chance to wear it.  Tonight seemed perfect."

"Well, you've always got something nice on."  Paul paused to take a swig of his Guinness.  "Do you have lots of dresses that you've never worn?"

"Oh, not that many," Vanessa hedged.

"Because you've got to be careful," said Paul, emboldened by his drink.   "In my line of work I've seen it all.  Women who can't make their car payments because they splurged on a pair of Manolos, skimping on their 401Ks to squeeze a shopping spree out of every paycheck.  It's hard to believe that some people don't want to invest in their future. "

"Indeed," she muttered, choosing to focus on the tablecloth, which featured a lovely pattern of tiaras and scepters, instead of on her lack of rainy day funds.

Paul seemed to take her terse reply as encouragement.  "You should've seen the way my ex-wife blew through money!  But I showed her.  Now that she's on her own, she buys clothes only when her old ones fall apart.  Too many dresses, Maria!, I'd tell her.  If you hadn't bought too many dresses, then maybe you wouldn't have had to sell that kidney."  By now his mild eyes were bulging, and his face was the hue of a radish.

"Sounds like a riot," Vanessa murmured, rising from her seat.  "Will you excuse me for a moment?  I need to visit the ladies' room."

Without waiting for an answer, she walked past the scrumptious and still unsampled buffet tables.  She was halfway to the coat check when she was stopped by a stranger.

"Great dress," he said, smiling.  His eyes were hypnotic and laughing and seemed to drain her head of its doubts.

"It cost $500.00," Vanessa blurted out, "and I haven't even paid it off yet!"

The stranger laughed.  "Yeah? Well, it was worth every penny."  Then he held out his hand as "Moon River" swelled in the background.

Now, Vanessa was no ingénue.  She knew that this guy was probably a player.  But compared to preachy, penny-pinching Paul, this player had panache.  And in Vanessa's (check)book, that made him a prince.

"Thanks, big spender," she winked, and allowed herself to be led back into the ballroom.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Getting Through Thursday with Another Shoe Montage - Rainbow Remix

From left to right: Hot pink butterfly: So, Kohl's; Mauve bow: So, Kohl's; Orange sequins: So, Kohl's; Yellow bow: Tommy Hilfiger, Marshalls; Lime glitter: So, Kohl's; Turquoise glitter: So, Kohl's; Purple flowers: Steve Madden, Macy's

No, you're not experiencing shoe deja vu.  These are indeed the flip flops I featured two weeks ago.  Well, with the addition of the long sought-after orange pair (in traffic cone wattage no less).  I found them at Kohl's, which has all but eclipsed J. C. Penney's as my new go-to department store.  I'm ridiculously happy to have found the piece de resistance for my ROYGBIV arrangement.  Hmm.  I wonder how many times that fancy French phrase has been used to describe day-glo rubber.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Jack Handey Quote of the Week

"When you go ice-skating, try not to swing your arms too much, because that really annoys me."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Something New and Sparkly - Tie One On

Dress: Kohl's
Flip flops: Tommy Hilfiger, Marshalls
Bag: Target
Scarf: J. C. Penney's
Barrettes/brooches: The Tote Trove

A bow, that is.  (Although if you're inclined to have a nightcap, far be it from me to stop you.)  Something tells me that I've used this post title before.  But then, writing a blog is fraught with such pitfalls.  I live in fear of regurgitating one-liners like some doddering but well-meaning great-uncle who fancies himself the last word in cleverness while his captive audience inwardly groans.  

I loved making these bow barrettes.  They gave me the chance to experiment with color combinations and use my printed felt (houndstooth and polka dots and leopard, oh my!).  In case you're wondering, these aren't the "quirky" clips I alluded to some posts ago.  Those are still scattered across my coffee table, as I've been hit with a bit of a barrette back-up.

TV Tuesday: Catching Conan's Comic Caramel Wave

I wish I could take credit for the "caramel wave" line, but Conan coined it in one of his recent monologues when making fun of his hair. I was so amused that I scribbled it down for future featuring (good thing, as it comes in handy today.)

It's been almost two years since Conan O'Brien landed on the more forgiving if less glamorous TBS after being unceremoniously booted from NBC's "The Tonight Show." Bolstered by his Basic Cable Band, right-hand man Andy Richter, hip guest list, and unfailingly self-deprecating wit, the ginger jokester is more entertaining than ever.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so. The Team Coco Web site showcases all manner of fan-generated gems, my favorite of which is CocoMoca (The Museum of Conan Art), which features original artwork fashioned from paint, clay, Perler beads, humus, and other madcap media. The bf says I should join in by making a felt necklace in Conan's redheaded likeness, but I passed. Not so much due to copyright issues (I wouldn't sell it anyway - that masterpiece would be mine!) but to a fear of being unable to do Coco's coif justice.

At the Movies: This Means War

When I saw the trailer for This Means War last February, I knew that it was more of a rent than a see-in-the-theater.  So when rental time rolled around last weekend (and I had seen pretty much everything else), I knew that it was time to give it a try.

More romantic suspense than romantic comedy, This Means War is about uptight, type A product tester Lauren (Reese Witherspoon), a woman who is shanghaied into the wild world of online dating by her married, saltier best bud, Trish (Chelsea Handler).  Like most women faced with this predicament, Lauren is less then thrilled, worrying that she'll get chopped up in a million pieces by one of her would-be suitors.  Naturally, she ends up attracting not one but two CIA assassins (who are, of course, perfectly nice guys despite their violent profession).

She meets Tuck, (Tom Hardy - not to be confused with that guy who wrote Tess of the d'Urbervilles), a divorced father whose British reserve is seasoned by his badass tattoos, through the online dating site and FDR (a name with a trunk-load of baggage if every there was one [Chris Pine]) in a video store (because a guy like him is too cool for online dating, but not, apparently, for the world's last Blockbuster).  FDR is the cocky playboy to Tuck's self-deprecating gentleman.  Which, of course, meant that I disliked him from "go," a prejudice that was hard to shake even after he inevitably revealed his sensitive side.

It isn't long before Tuck and FDR discover that they've fallen for the same girl.  FDR offers to back down, not wanting to give Tuck unfair competition.  Tuck, put off by his pal's patronizing ways, takes offense, an argument crops up, and before you can say, "Fire!" the boys are battling it out for the babe.  Which would be an offensively old-school scenario if said babe wasn't smarter than both blokes put together.  Not that Lauren doesn't have her doubts about dating two guys at once.  She's a nice girl, after all, despite being a professional hardass with a candy-colored office that would make Barbie drool.  But Trish dismisses Lauren's doubts, insisting that Gloria Steinem didn't sit in prison just so Lauren could "be a little bitch."   Lauren soldiers on just as Tuck and FDR plot a war of their own, taking full advantage of all the surveillance amenities in their government-appointed arsenal.  At one point both slink in and out of Lauren's house to plant bugs and suss out her likes and dislikes, completely undetected by the object of their affection as she busts out music video-worthy dance moves to Montell Jordan's "This is How We Do It."  It's one of those scenes that's so bad it's funny and probably the only place the movie ever encroaches on true rom com territory.

The rest of the plot is pretty predictable - the bf called it in about five minutes - and not truly satisfying, as I was hoping the end would swing in another direction.  Also, the plot was a little too explosion heavy for my admittedly girly tastes.  I think the cloak-and-dagger-slash-bromance stuff was mixed in with the love story to make it more guy-friendly, especially for Valentine's Day weekend, which was when the movie debuted.  But everyone was neatly paired up just in time for the credits, which was enough to keep me happy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pudding for Pops

Holiday time means dessert time, so for Father's Day I went bananas.  With Banana Layered Pie, a recipe from one of my many Jello cookbooks, Jell-O: Fun and Fabulous Recipes (just $2.99 from the Book Cellar!).  As I always say, you can't beat a cool, no-bake treat for speed, ease, and taste.  And this time the end product actually ended up looking a little like the picture.  (Unlike the Memorial Day melba disaster.  But then, the root of that ruckus was the always-a-cause-for-chaos, do-it-yourself crust.  This time I stuck with Keebler's.)  We haven't dug in yet (as the day's festivities haven't started), but I remain optimistic.  Here are the how-to's:


2 1/4 cups milk
1 6-serving size pkg vanilla pudding
1 9" prepared graham cracker crust
2 bananas
1/2 cup Cool Whip
Lemon juice (In the name of laziness, I used that processed stuff in the plastic lemon.)


Pour milk into bowl.  Add pudding mix.  With an electric mixer at low speed, beat until blended, about 1 minute.  Pour 1/2 cup of the pudding into pie shell.

Slice 1 banana and arrange the slices on top of the pudding.  Top with 3/4 cup of the pudding.

Blend Cool Whip into the remaining pudding.  Spread over the pudding in the pie shell.  Chill about 3 hours. Slice the remaining banana and brush the slices with lemon juice (to prevent them from turning brown).  Garnish the pie with the extra Cool Whip and arrange the bananas in the center.