Wednesday, December 24, 2008

NPR's eggnog public service

So, I SCHEDULED this to post during Christmas. But of course that didn't work. A little bit of final holiday rambling in early January...

Did you know that homemade eggnog is made with raw eggs?

Me neither.

I haven't consumed eggnog since the time when I was very small that my dad spiked my holiday beverage with pink liquid amoxicillin. You know the stuff I'm talking about... Not sure how everyone else was, but it didn't matter to me what flavor they tried to make it - bubblegum, cherry - it always was retch-inducingly disgusting. Anyway, nog did nothing to mask the flavor and the two in combination were a taste I will never forget.

I think that any attempt to work myself back around to getting back on the eggnog bicycle should be done with the best of the best. Homemade stuff.

NPR agrees, and takes it a step further - researching the potential dangers of drinking eggnog with raw eggs and determining (with the help of a microbiologist, no less) that nog is safter with alcohol, and plenty of it. This development encourages me to get back on the eggnog bandwagon...

Listen to the story here

And check out the experiment, which you can try at home!

Personally, spiking eggnog with lots of booze sounds WAY better than spiking it with pink medicine.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pre-Christmas family extravaganza

So, today at lunch I'll be shopping for the first ever Pre-Christmas family extravaganza at our house.

We're thinking that Christmas Eve and Day will be a flurry of family related activites, so we're going to add one more to the mix tomorrow. A Christmas pre-party, if you will. Christmas' cool younger sibling celebration, perhaps. Um, yeah sorry. I'll stop there.

Anyway, I'm excited - J will be handling the big part - carnitas (yummmmy) braised in orange juice and various and sundry mexican spices.

I'm helping out with the additions, mainly, a salsa bar. And guacamole and queso and other dippy awesomeness. It's all going to be fresh and I'm looking forward to the adventure. Even though our only blending device is a hand blender (not a Cuisinart or an actual, live blender) I think that should cover my salsa making needs... right? Right?! Here's hoping.

So, fresh tomato salsa, salsa verde and a corn and black bean number will be available for garnishing the carnita awesomeness. Also whipping up a guacamole and a Velveeta queso (sweeet!).

Best of all will be the pomegranate margaritas and the (tentative) dulce de leche with ice cream! Sounds like a lot of boiling but I'm interested to see how it will
work out.

That's the menu for our festive pre-Christmas extravaganza... A lot of it's kind of experimental so there's no telling how it will all turn out, but we're (and by we I mean J) pretty talented in the kitchen and if all else fails, the pomegranate margaritas will take the fams' minds off of the food. :)

I shall report back.

Friday, December 19, 2008

How I Met Your Mother does 08

So, Entertainment Weekly has the How I Met Your Mother cast restaging the memorable moments of 2008.

Two highly entertaining things that I need to visit/watch more often: and HIMYM (Katie is on to something.)

Here are their top five:

The boys as the 2008 Men's Olympic swimming relay... Nice bod, Jason Segel. You look just like that hot blond guy.

The new Indiana Jones installment. Robin Sparkles actually cuts quite the intimidating Cate Blanchett.

The SATC movie. Take that, Mr. Big! I haven't seen this show in so long... are Robin and Ted together again yet?!

HIMYM boys as the Jonas Brothers and girls as the groupies. I may have questionable taste in entertainment sometimes (cough, Twilight... cough cough, Gossip Girl...) but at least I don't really know who these guys even are.

Aaaand finally - no 2008 retrospective would be complete without Sarah Palin.

Well, I think that was a fabulous way to end the week. Thank you for that, Barney and gang.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Revisiting favorite places

There's not really much reason for this post other than to show off one of my favorite places in DC - Sidney Harman Hall, home of DC's Shakespeare Theatre Company.

It's gorgeous. And I'm going to attempt to make a stop there during my upcoming visit to see The Twelfth Night.

In a semi-related thought... I have so many favorite places in big cities for various reasons - great entertainment, amazing architecture or interiors, good memories. I get nostalgic and make plans to revisit, but as far as some of the beautiful places go, I'm pretty amazingly lucky with my own place of employment - it's an inspiration in its own right. And my house, while modest, is adorable now as well with my lit up tree and increasingly fun decor.

Life here is pretty nice, too... Trying to learn to cool my heels and enjoy where I am while casually planning for the future.

The past was fun. The present is fun. The future will be amazing. All in all, I can't complain.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


So, I did find a news piece during my Hotdogger writing last week that announces the introduction of the Simpson's-coined phrase, "meh" into the Collins English Dictionary 30th anniversary edition.

The greatest part about this news piece is that it actually explains "meh" purely by its existence.

Let me clarify. If any dictionary I've ever heard of added meh to its lexicon, I would be impressed. If meh were recognized as a word by, say, the OED, or even Merriam-Webster, that might warrant more than just an expression of indifference or boredom.

I s'pose these are all media stunts by dictionary PR people... (dictionary PR people... interesting... meh.) but at least Merriam-Webster has some national clout. They are the ones responsible for determining the word of the year, after all - which was w00t last year.

Merriam-Webster creates a list of the 10 most popular words of the year... new words enter the lexicon when MW editors "read and mark" news sources to find new words, define them, and track their usage. If a word looks like its starting to catch on in popular vocabulary, then editors consider adding the word into the MW lexicon.

The top 10 are voted upon by web visitors and aren't necessarily included into the official dictionary - (like w00t or facebook) but others are already part of the english language... like terrorist, or insurgent.

Sure, it's gimmicky, but I really like their top 10s - they're like a barometer for the national mood of each year.

The lists for the past few years really are interesting. For example, in addition to w00t, 2007 featured conundrum, hypocrite and charlatan. Hmmm, time for another election, perhaps?

2006 highlighted more war words - insurgent, terrorist, vendetta, sectarian, quagmire and war were all chosen by voters. On a lighter note, voters selected the Colbert-coined truthiness and google as a verb. (Gah, these voters are late adopters...)

2005 was the year of the natural disaster - top words included refugee, contempt, pandemic, tsunami, levee and inept (cough, FEMA, cough). The top word of '05 was integrity. Interesting.

I like how these top 10 lists are a a retrospective of their years...

Wonder what 2008 will bring - I'll bet on a few:
  • recession
  • depression
  • downturn
  • economy
  • hope
  • change
  • joe six pack
  • main street
I wonder when we'll ever get a nice, happy year again. There hasn't been one for a while... but I like hope and change. They would have sounded so lame and Pollyanna a few years ago, but by now we're all so sick of this we're ready for some optimism. Anyone else? Guesses for 2008?

I love words, but sometimes the best descriptor is not disgusted or fatigued or even desperate. Sometimes a simple meh best describes how over the state of everything we are. And a word like w00t describes how ready we are for something new.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener...

Sent to me from J, with the oh-so-enthusiastic (enthusiasm being wayyy out of character for him) message:
I think I just found you the perfect Job! it involves traveling meeting interesting people. and it is looking for someone with a BA in PR!!!! I would totally come with you!
Oh dear. My boyfriend wants me to be a Hotdogger. As in, a brand ambassador for Oscar Meyer, roving the lower 48 in the Wienermobile, spreading good hot dog cheer to Americans young and old. And yes ladies and gentlemen, the Hotdoggers have a blog. Sweet. And kind of hilarious.

In store visits, radio and T.V. spots, promotional and charity events... the whole nine.

One of the main requirements (beyond having a degree in a communications related field - check) is being insanely perky and being quick with the hot dog and bologna puns. Puns I could probably handle. My sense of humor verges on the embarrassing most times. I really don't think I could be perky all the time though. Pleasant and polite? Yes. Goofy? Yes. Perky? Meh. (I'll be back to meh in another post. Best. Word. Ever.)

Perky makes me think of Camp War Eagle counselors, or Mousketeers. And both of those groups are kinda terrifying. I like to think of myself as happy because I just am, not happy in the weird Disney-on-uppers those camp counselors. And that's probably precisely what the hot dog juggernaut is looking for.

ANYway - for those who are interested... bachelors in some PR type field, perky, willing to travel for a year. What do you get? A "competitive" salary, keys to the Wienermobile for a whole year, and all bills and expenses paid.

Maybe I work harder on my perky and brush up on my reverse- and parallel parking-skills for large vehicles. This could be pretty fun after all.

Friday, December 5, 2008

One of those days

It's been a rough week, and now that it's coming to an end, I am relieved. And exhausted.

Exhausted enough that this morning when I was brushing my teeth and dribbled a glob of Aquafresh smack on the front of my shirt, I was unable to face the idea of trying to figure out what else to wear. So instead, I gave the spot my best with the Tide to go pen, which J so kindly noted might actually bleach my dark shirt. No dice. I proceeded to walk out the door this morning with the offending (now off white) blob still front and center on my shirt.

I'm wearing my scarf all day today. But if I do get too hot and am forced to take it off, and someone points out the stain, the official response will be, "Oh crap! I didn't even notice! Don't you hate it when that happens?"

It's one of THOSE days. Don't say you haven't done it before.

Two more thoughts on the holidays and I'm done for today -

(1) This one came upon me as I was drifting off to sleep last night and I think it's genius. Even considering starting a
campaign to make the idea take off.

Thanksgiving once a quarter. Genius, right?! Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday because you get the huge meal, but you don't have to express your gratitude or appreciation with additional presents. Just the food.

I think that people should (not necessarily feel obligated, per se, but if it has to come to that, so be it) feel inclined to spend time with their close friends and loved ones more than once a year to reflect on things for which they are thankful.

November Turkey Day could still be *main* Thanksgiving, complete with Macy's (they shouldn't have to blow up the inflatables every quarter) and long distance visits. But I think mini get-togethers with local friends and closer family should happen more often.

Additionally, I would totally be up for multiple Thanksgiving feasts per year. It's almost unfair that you only officially get that food once yearly, isn't it?

(2) I think I am finally old enough to decorate my own house for Christmas. I'm not fully ready to commit to the
ginormous tree and outside lighting extravaganza (if ever) until I am actually a homeowner.

However, now that I'm a bit older I think I could manage a small tree and some lights.

I'm thinking lime green, aqua and silver, mercury glass type stuff for my theme. Who knows where I can locate some acid green ornaments?!

One parting shot for Christmas music inspiration - Jack Johnson and co. has come out with a Christmas album! I just downloaded This Warm December, which features Jack, G.Love, ALO and other surf-y sounding regulars. Additionally, 25 percent of this collection's sales are going to support music education for youth. Nice. I will report back.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

wish list

We found this print in the Portland airport about a year after my dad died, and I brought it home. It has wonky looking people on a bike riding over some mountains with these words:

I wish you could have been there for the sun & the rain & the long, hard hills
For the sound of a thousand conversations scattered along the road
For the people laughing & crying & remembering at the end
But, mainly, I wish you could have been there.
I have the best family ever, even though we are tiny now, numbering only three.
Regardless of our size, we have been through some heavy stuff together and have emerged stronger and more tightly knit than before... which was a hard feat to accomplish.

It sucked. But I think I learned the most crucial life lesson of all from loving someone so much then losing them way to soon - life is hard. People leave and die. People get sick and bad things happen to everyone eventually. What counts is how you are there to help other people through their hard times. Because, as I've said - they will happen to everyone eventually.

As these terribly bad, saddening things happen to my friends as the years progress, I can at least appreciate that my pain and slow healing will help someone else process pain, and begin to heal, slowly.

At this time of year I think of my dad, both his birthday this week and his death closer to Christmas. Now, I think of Christina's mom whom we lost last year. And Katie's dad who passed last night. And Alex's mom. And Jenn's stepdad, who is in the hospital now.

Sometimes there's too much sadness, but I am reminded daily that this pain has miraculously strengthened the relationships of those left behind.

So, Dad, Bea, Edith, Jim - we all wish you could have been there for the sun & the rain & the long, hard hills. Jimbo, keep up your strength, and get better soon, because it will be our voices scattering your names across the road as we continue on our ways. Love you all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Capital punishment - turkey style

Cookthink, a favorite of mine, (type in ANY ingredient, dish, cuisine or mood and it will pull recipes for you!) provided the content for this Thanksgiving themed post, by way of another favorite, Washington City Paper.

Did you know that Ben Franklin advised that killing turkeys by electrocution is the only way to go? And here I was debating the ways of preparation post-mortem.
Spirits, at the same time, are to be fired by a spark sent from side to side through the river, without any other conductor than the water; an experiment which we some time since performed, to the amazement of many. A turkey is to be killed for our dinners by the electrical shock; and roasted by the electrical jack, before a fire kindled by the electrified bottle: when the healths of all the famous electricians in England, France and Germany are to be drank in electrified bumpers [tumblers], under the discharge of guns from the electrical battery.

Good old Benjy. What an innovator. You know, I think he was kicking around during a similar time frame as when Alabama became a state (1776...1819... just work with me). Wonder if they'd be interested in trying out Mr. Franklin's technique in the kitchen over at Alabama's Constitution Village after they take all of the Santa stuff down and things get calmer.

I think I shall pitch the idea. Living history at it's most exciting. Who needs wool spinning and (wool) dying when you have turkey electrocutions! Maybe they can have guinea fowl guillotines as a side attraction!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

When improv troops attack!

I have been staring at an InDesign project. All. Week. Long. I am tired of moving images over three pixels because someone has decided that it looks a little "off". But that's not the point.

The point is that I needed something hilarious (or even just something, ANYTHING else) to look at for a minute. Today, my trusty Fodor's newsletter, always good for a little escapist relief on Thursday, provided humor as well.

In a piece about NYC travel, they mentioned this Improv troop's random greeting of strangers returning home from international flights at JFK International Airport...

Welcome Back from ImprovEverywhere on Vimeo.

How nice would it be to return home from a long flight (and probably an even longer trip) to a whole crowd of people with flowers, balloons and a huge banner welcoming lil' old you back?! At first, they targeted only people who had drivers picking them up, which made me a little sad. I mean, when have I ever been picked up at an airport by a driver... um, never.

But then, the in-laws of a newlywed couple returning from Europe got in on the act. As the troop prepared to pack it up for the day, they came up and asked if they would do one last welcome party for the young lovers. Freaking hilarious.

Gah, I love Fodor's. And now I love ImprovEverywhere, too. Happy Thursday! One more to go, if you have a normal week. Or, if you're me, you'll be working on Saturday night, too. :( I need to find more funny vids to help soften that blow...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

There will ONLY be one.

Twilight post, that is. Unless something else comes up that compels me to write.

I'm still kinda in the closet about my fascination with the teenybopper series, so I will make this short and sweet. Besides, Southern Soap Opera has this covered for all of us...

I read the first three books of the series after hearing a piece on Meyer on NPR talking about Twilight and her adult sci-fi book, The Host, that was released over the summer. See?! Hearing about Meyer on NPR makes it better. Orrr not. But regardless of how I got started, I did - and I am not the only fanatic over the age of 15. Twilight has become a phenomenon of pop culture, and it's worthy of the notice.

I picked up Twilight on my way to the West Coast for a two week vacation this summer and finished New Moon and Eclipse at airport gates, on lake shores and in rental houses before the trip was over.

I loved the dark, rainy Forks atmosphere (and that I could actually picture the scene as we've taken many a ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, BC), I loved the whole normal girl being more incredible and talented than she gave herself credit for and I loved the message that (Mormon) Meyer sent to her actual demographic that you don't have to um, hurry, love. And the boys were cute. Hot vampires and werewolves...... (NERD ALERT! gah, I amaze myself sometimes.)

Not only does NPR agree, but Vanity Fair does too! Hooray -
"...the undisputed golden calf of the vampire cotillion is Stephenie Meyer’s “The Twilight Saga,” a blockbuster bloodsucker series that has helped fill the yearning void left by the boarding up of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter wizard shop. Commercially, “The Twilight Saga” has given book publishing a blood transfusion, with sales topping seven million copies worldwide; it’s also a global sensation, translated into 20 languages. The physical properties of the books themselves may explain their popularity. They’re thick, chunky, promising a fat read—you don’t so much curl up with them as gulp them down."
Still not getting the draw? Here's more of the article. And photos of the beautiful people acting in the movie. That
last part should help the few remaining detractors...
So, it's not just me, then. It's Vanity Fair. And NPR. And all of the morning news shows by now, I'm sure. And Katie. :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

My first press conference.

So, this morning was the big press conference for my involuntary (kidding... sort of) volunteer PR gig at Santaland.

Now, this is not my first crack at media relations. My first crack at media relations was a failed media day attempt at my job that actually pays. So, naturally, when I was approached to wrangle local media to meet with Santa and find out more about the exciting new additions to the event in 2008, I was a bit hesitant. I mean, really - convince the people that won't come tour a brand spanking new, hi-tech genomic research facility that has the potential to employ hundreds of local residents that they need to chat it up with Santa and write about it?!

But, as I am tied to the museum who puts on Santafest both emotionally and relationally - and because I realize that I am not quite a seasoned PR pro yet, and that any experience could benefit my PR repertoire, I said yes.

And so ensued the emailing and emailing and emailing... and calling and calling. And the dropping off of battery-operated christmas light-lit wreaths with "Santa's Magic 3-D Glasses" so that reporters could get a taste of what the big event would be like, pre-conference.

And the brushing off. And the vague answers of "we might send someone by... when was that again" and "I don't usually cover that sort of thing". And I prepared for another no-show event like the one I have already repressed.

Happily, people did come! This was the most attended press conference they have had to date, apparently.

So it was a win-win for everyone involved. I made some additional media contacts, healed some old media-related wounds and gained a lot of experience in press conference organizing. And Santa-rama got radio, t.v. and print news attendance - and (yay!) a confirmed story in tomorrow's paper.

My takeaways from the event:

  • For "fun-filled community events for the whole family" like this one, overload on the cute. Message the events as an opportunity to meet (insert VIP here - Santa, the Easter Bunny, Ben Franklin?!) and ask questions.
  • Local media in a small- to medium-sized town will cover a kid hugging a life sized gingerbread cookie character with local community leaders looking on, smiling, before they will cover actual news.
  • People love their local radio personalities. If you can get your sponsoring radio station to send their jocks out, people will come.
  • Always. Have. Food. I'm not sure if this actually attracted people, but I did slide in my (multiple) invitations that there would be food. I'm betting it did. That would help sell it for me...
  • Press kits might actually still have some benefit. I hand delivered those Christmas-ey wreaths and information and people really seemed to like them.
  • I have a very low tolerance for cute.
  • I am so happy the weekend is here.
So, that was that! Mission accomplished! My volunteer gig has readied me to get back on that media event bicycle in my own place of employment. I just need to make sure I can get my new friend Santa to come to work next time we have the next one. A person in a penguin suit wouldn't hurt, either...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wanna work for Obama?

Better not have a blog, have ever written in a diary, have any questionable material on your Facebook account, have a spouse or significant other who lobbies or works for Fannie, Freddie, AIG or any company involved in the recent bailout...

While the first bit is common practice throughout the entire work world now, something makes me think President-Elect Obama's vetting process might be a tad more scrutinous.

Check out this NYT article outlining the changes Obama has made to the Presidential hiring process. (login required).

My personal favorite?
Under “Domestic Help,” the questionnaire asks the immigration status of applicants’ housekeepers, nannies, chauffeurs and yard-workers, and whether applicants have paid the required taxes for household employees.
Welcome to the new age of politics. I'm so glad that my help is all documented and accounted for.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yes we can?

Ladies and gentlemen... aren't we elated that now Obama has been elected, all of our problems are solved?! Friend Cass directed my attention to this at another favorite blog of mine, Eavesdrop DC, where you KNOW there's going to be a ton of hilarious political musings overheard on various public buses and trains and government agency cafeterias and cubicles.
Overheard while transferring from ridiculously crowded Red Line train to ridiculously crowded Yellow Line train at China Town -

Woman One: Dammmnnn girl! This Metro so damn c-rowded

Woman Two: Shit yeah. Too many people here.

Woman One: Don’t worry, Obama gonna take care of that.
So, good thing we don't have to worry about those crowded metro stops anymore, right?

In other, slightly related news (and in case you were wondering...)-

A friend on Twitter recently asked "Whenever I speak to a black person, I feel the urge to congratulate them. Is that wrong?"

Survey says - ummyeah. It is on the list of things white people shouldn't do now that Obama's been elected. In the spirit of fairness and equality, however, there is also a list of things black people shouldn't do.

No we can't, white folks
Now that Obama has won, here are three things white people shouldn't do

My personal favorite here is
"Don't personally congratulate all your black friends. Black people are not a sports team, and Obama did not win the Super Bowl."
No we can't, black folks
Our man is going to the White House. Now here are five things black people shouldn't do.

"Do not promise to name your first child after Barack Obama. We've come far, but Barack Obama Jackson does not have as much of a ring to it as you think."
And finally, to end this post on a conciliatory note - check out From 52 to 48 with Love - a collection of photos and notes sent in by readers with the message that whomever you voted for, we are all Americans, and the only way this nation is going to get back on the right path is if we all work together.

Cheesy? Yes. But call me cheesy, because I believe this stuff and a lot of those notes and pictures really spoke to me.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Unfinished business...

What an election. Now that it's over It's nice to give my overworked brain a rest and return to some less pressing subjects that I left on the back burner during the home stretch.

I really want to write some kind of astute wrap up of the election. But everyone knows how impossible it is to be insightful when you're trying. So I'll let that be until it comes to me, and share the things I dropped for now...

Simon. I saw this cat at one of those Petsmart weekend adoption events a couple of weeks ago and haven't been able to get him out of my head since. I even went so far as to look him up and "casually" email his caregiver to inquire as to whether he found a home. He hadn't. So, I was to talk to J about a fixed, grown up, litter-trained, up-to-date-on-shots, sweet and delightful (as Melissa, his foster mother said in the email) cat. Luckily for J, Simon was adopted. I hope he found as nice a home as mine would have been. Please remind me never to go to Petsmart on the weekend.

Couch. Our current one is a slipcovered hand me down with smushed padding and all around rather uncomfortable. I found this ridiculous one at a thrift store for $100 bucks. Velour with green and mustard stripes - it must have been someone's granny's because it looks ancient, but mysteriously in immaculate shape. Pretty retro fabulous in the right room. Just not sure if my living room is the right room... any interior decorators out there, amateur or otherwise?

Lady rappers. They no longer exist. What happened to them? Minus M.I.A. who's more trippy than rap-py in my opinion, where did they all go? I'm not huge on lady rappers, but I am disturbed by their disappearance. Without them, all hip hop/R&B has in the way of female representation is Mary J. Blige, Beyonce and those unnamed girls that sing the hooks in all of the male rappers' tracks. (Ha, I just said "tracks".)

I miss Missy. Come back Missy - we need another "Work It". Like, yesterday.

Twilight. The movie is coming out soon. Loved the books. Again, Katie is the better one to discuss this in depth, partially because i'm semi-ashamed of my fixation. But STILL. Three weeks until the movie of the book that consumed my West Coast trip this summer. Yay Forks!

I'm so glad I finally have a chance to hash out the other pertinent details in my life now that the election is over... Oh, who the h am i kidding?! I need some more big news. Anyone... Bueller.... Bueller?

Monday, November 3, 2008


Poor, poor Sarah. Might I also mention that this NYT Politics Blog post had one of the funnier headlines I've read all year -
Comment On Dit, "Prank Call"?

OCALA, Fla. – Gov. Sarah Palin has been punk’d.

A pair of Canadian comedians, notorious for pranking politicians and heads of state, reached Ms. Palin on Saturday and pretended to be French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

According to an audio recording, a press aide handed the phone to Ms. Palin, who enthusiastically greeted the fake Sarkozy, “It’s so good to hear you, thank you for calling us.” She added, “We have such great respect for you, John McCain and I. We love you!”

Speaking in an exaggerated French accent, the fake Sarkozy asked Ms. Palin about the state of the race, dropped names of nonexistent Canadian officials, frequently interrupted her mid-sentence and told her he saw her as president one day.

“Maybe in eight years,” Ms. Palin said.

The duo, Sebastien Trudel and Marc-Antoine Audette, have pulled similar pranks on Mick Jagger, Bill Gates and French president Jacques Chirac.

At one point, he said that he shared her interest in hunting.

“Oh, very good, we should go hunting together,” Ms. Palin said.

He replied: “I just love killing those animals. Taking away life, that is so fun!”

She laughed politely.

He added: “As long as we don’t bring Vice President Cheney.”

More laughter from Ms. Palin. “No, I’ll be a careful shot,” she promised.

The call ended after about six minutes, when the host informed Ms. Palin that she had been pranked.

“Oh, have we been pranked?” Ms. Palin said. “What radio station is this?”

Tracey Schmitt, Ms. Palin’s spokeswoman, said in a statement: “Governor Palin received a phone call on Saturday from a French Canadian talk show host claiming to be French President Nicholas Sarkozy. Governor Palin was mildly amused to learn that she had joined the ranks of heads of state, including President Sarkozy, and other celebrities in being targeted by these pranksters. C’est la vie.”

At least it wasn't just her - they pranked Sarkozy, too. And points for the "mildly amused" and "C'est la vie" comments. Someone in her camp must be pretty witty...

Listen to the full audio here

Friday, October 31, 2008

America's student poll the best election bellwether?

Sooo... I may not have even used the term "bellwether" in its proper context. The only time I ever hear that word is around election time and don't think about it enough to remember how exactly to get it right in a sentence.

It does have interesting associations, though. During the election "bellwethers" are the political equivalent to palm readings and tea leaf divination... In the past two or three weeks I have heard Ohio be called the nation's most reliable indicator for the entire nation's voting patterns on NPR during my drive to work. Once I get to work and take my news break, Slate has determined that not all of Ohio, but one solitary bakery in Cincinnati can determine the winner based on whose likeness sells more cookies.

But this has to be the most interesting article I've come across so far - Weekly Reader asserts that it's neither one state nor one bakery that will determine this term's winner, but rather America's schoolchildren.

And the children have spoken.

According to the 2008 Weekly Reader Presidential Election Poll, Obama is the man by 57.4 percent of students' (aged kindergarten through 12th grade) votes. More than 125,000 kids voted, and according to Weekly Reader:

For the past 52 years, the results of the Weekly Reader poll have been consistently on target, with the student vote correctly predicting the next president in 12 out of 13 elections. (The only time the kids were wrong was 1992, when they chose George H.W. Bush over Bill Clinton.) This year, as in 2000 and 2004, the student election was conducted in conjunction with noted polling organization Zogby International.
I remember Weekly Reader... Those were the days. And possibly part of what has exacerbated my current news fixation.

Cute election site (possibly for adults too, if *some* need to start slowly to catch up on their politics) - nice chance for kids to participate in what will someday be their civic duty. A little early awareness never hurt anybody.

Parting observations from the schoolkids polled -

  • "This is history being made!"
  • "I will always remember this. It's nice to have my vote counted!"
  • "Even though I am not 18, my voice is being heard."
  • "I like McCain because he loves pets like I do."
  • "I want to be president. I am going to be president. If Obama can run for president, so can I." (Comment from a Hispanic second-grade boy.)
Read the rest of the release (including some of the more thought provoking trends) here.

Building credibility for a brand new research institute

So, I joined the group called Ask Phil on PROpenMic - Robert's latest brainchild and was exceedingly pleased to receive this insightful response from Phil Gomes, Senior Vice President at Edelman Digital (!).

I credit Robert indirectly (and sometimes directly) with much of my post-college success - particularly with respect to web technologies: social media, web design and its components. His crash course in these disciplines alone wasn't enough to make me an expert at all things web. What it did do was give me the confidence to dabble in web design (using OSWD and InDesign) enough to create some pretty impressive results.

I'm not sure it was his intended goal, but the most important thing I learned in Robert's class was not one specific skill (though the crash course in a broad variety of things did really help me later on), but instead was to be confident enough to try these technologies on for size and see what they could do for me.

Anyway - here's the PROpenMic video:

How exciting to have a communication with a seasoned pro like Gomes so casually! That's another thing I love about Robert's philosophy - another confidence thing, I think - he's always putting the big dogs of PR in contact with the students and fledgling professionals. Amazing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'Musical' switched for 'Sex' in Megaplex mix-up

Well that's just awkward:

From the Deseret News (in Utah of all places...):

SOUTH JORDAN — Some Utahns attending the weekend opening of Disney's biggest movie of the year were exposed to a little more than they were expecting.

Friday night, managers at the Megaplex Theatre at the District, 11400 South Bangerter Highway, switched one of the showings of "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" to a larger auditorium to accommodate more people. They forgot, however, to switch the movie that had previously been scheduled for the room.

So rather than the family-friendly, G-rated "High School Musical 3," the beginning of the very nonfamily-friendly R-rated "Sex Drive" came on the screen. The opening minutes of the movie include nudity.

"I could not carry my little children out before they were exposed to extremely vulgar and sexually explicit material," one parent complained in an e-mail to the Deseret News.

The film was stopped as soon as the mistake was realized. It was not known Tuesday how long the movie ran until it was turned off.

Megaplex spokesman Jeff Whipple said "Sex Drive" was only on the screen briefly.

Theater managers apologized to the audience and gave everyone free movie passes and concession vouchers. For future movies. Whipple said a policy of secondary confirmation and personal supervision by a theater manager will be required before a movie is shown.

Sooo, not only was this gaffe made in a local newspaper which lists the LDS News and Mormon Times as handy left hand navigation links, but here's the kicker:
The District Theatre was the 10th busiest in the nation for "High School Musical 3" ticket sales, Whipple said.

I bet Katie over at Southern Soap Opera will get a kick out of this one...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Things I miss about urban living, part one.

The High Heel Drag Race. Now there's something you don't see everywhere.

Dupont was one of my favorite neighborhoods in DC for a number of reasons: tons of galleries, gorgeous tree lined streets with the majority of the palatial embassy residences, people watching in the circle, Kramerbooks (and Zorba's) and other amazing food...

but what
made Dupont was the once yearly, Tuesday-before-Halloween, High Heel Drag Race. In what I can only compare to a Rocky Horror-style cult following, thousands of DC residents flock to the restaurants on 17th Street in Dupont to watch the festivities.
When I attended last year, newly elected Mayor Adrian Fenty kicked off the proceedings and even walked in the pre-race parade.

I love how festive the costumes are (Gwen Stefani and her Harajuku Girls? Condi Rice? Princess Di?!), I love how athletic these ladies (?) are - sprinting... seriously. sprinting... in six- to eight-inch lucite platform stilettos and I love the mood of the crowd.

But most of all, I love that the city - all the way up to the mayor - supports diversity and eccentricity. Like I said, that's not something you see everywhere.

Monday, October 27, 2008

'Eternal Sunshine' - but really. In mice.

I have been all over the Southeast this weekend touring with family, so I haven't yet had a chance to post this. I've been thinking about it ever since I heard the report on NPR last Wednesday.

From the BBC: (which, while this study took place in the US, is who NPR cited in their story...)

Scientists in the US say they have developed the ability to selectively wipe out uncomfortable memories.

In experiments with mice, researchers from the Medical College of Georgia were able to eliminate memories without any damage to the rodents' brains.

They suggested that the technique which works on a particular protein in the brain could, one day, be used to help humans overcome traumatic events.

However, the chief scientist said this was "years or even decades away".

Memories, even painful ones, are an important part of the learning process but for some people recalling traumatic events can be extremely damaging to their lives.

Scientists at the Medical College of Georgia say they have found a molecular mechanism that can rapidly remove specific memories.

The rest of the article goes into the scientific process of erasing the memories, at which point I switched off and started thinking about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and how erasing memories couldn't possibly be as neat and tidy as swallowing a little pill and forgetting everything.

With the POSSIBLE extreme exception of, oh, I don't know, witnessing a violent crime or being at war - I can't imagine what good could come out of erasing painful memories.

Isn't that how we learn?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Join the Huntsville Haitian Relief Project

Last week, three Huntsville biotechnology businessmen visited Haiti on a relief trip. Their trip was life changing as they experienced an island that lives on the edge of social collapse. Additionally, in this season alone four hurricanes have caused widespread flooding resulting in the loss of hundreds of lives, destruction of the minimal transportation infrastructure and severely limited access to food supplies.

We have launched a Haiti food drive project here in Huntsville inspired by a similar effort in Birmingham that collected more than 50,000 pounds of food for these refugees. From now until Monday, October 27, donations of white rice, dry beans and powdered milk will be accepted in the HudsonAlpha atrium.

Visit the blog - for background information, status reports and photos. Feel free to call us at 256.327.4000 for more information.

Please bring food donations to HudsonAlpha by October 27 and forward this information to your friends and colleagues so we too can provide much needed food to these Haitian refugees! We are accepting donations from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. daily - weekends too!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Back to Athens...

This year, Halloween weekend is also the 2nd annual Athens Storytelling Festival! While I will definitely be otherwise engaged partying it up somewhere on Friday evening, I am looking forward this on that Saturday.

I love fall events and I LOVE Kathryn Tucker Windham. Does anyone else remember her from the "13 Ghosts and Jeffrey" book series? I devoured those stories when I was a kid. They featured most Southern states and discussed the hauntings of historical homes all over. I actually need to pull them back out for a look sometime soon... They weren't too kiddish and historical aspect was really interesting.

Athens is pretty cool... I just went there for the Fiddlers' Convention a couple of weeks ago and thought it was a really charming little place.

Hear stories that tell of a time that used to be. Glimpse into the past and live the imaginary. Learn more about your parents, your children, yourself. Discover all this and more at the second annual Athens Storytelling Festival.

Stories will be told on the courthouse square in Athens, Alabama within close proximity of an eclectic mix of shops offering a wide variety of antiques, gifts, gourmet foods, clothing and hardware. The courthouse square boasts several warm and inviting restaurants, and food vendors will be present for good old-fashioned festival fare.

I took a Stories and Storytelling course at Auburn that also inspired my appreciation for the art that Mary Helen Brown taught... What a great class. Wonder if she's coming?

So, Saturday, November 1, you will find me in downtown Athens, listening to Kathryn and soaking up the fall atmosphere. Sounds good, no? Come join me!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Once: the musical?! My life is complete

Happy Friday to me! Just saw this LAT Culture Monster blog post announcing that Once is going to be made into a Broadway musical.

In case you didn't know Once is the 2007 Oscar winner for best original song, "Falling Slowly" (listen here). Jon Stewart brought Marketa Irglova back on stage so she could give her acceptance speech because she was music-ed off? One of my favorite Oscar moments for one of my favorite movies...

Anyway - the play is announced for the 2010-11 Broadway season and I am THERE. Some of the musicals adapted from films have seemed pret-ty cheesy, in my opinion. Not to be a party pooper... and I'm sure it was adorable, since most Broadway plays are highly entertaining, no matter what the subject matter... but the idea of Legally Blonde on stage makes me gag a little.

But this! This is the perfect, romantic, originally musical movie to make into a Broadway musical. Dublin streets, vacuum repairman/street performer meets Czech immigrant cleaning lady with small child - how much more classic does it get? Ha.

But seriously, the beauty of the movie to me was that somehow, even with the quirky premise, this movie - these characters - have a universal appeal.

I just hope that they don't lose that appeal in musical translation. Fingers crossed. But as soon as a date is announced I will be marking my Google calendar and saving money for a special NYC trip. And now I even have a Calvin Klein-designing friend to crash with in Manhattan!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The fate of the nation vs. pop culture

I find it really unnecessary to air the final Presidential debate and the Project Runway finale at the same time...

Talk about drawing a line in the sand. You are either an upright citizen who cares about the outcome of the most historically compelling Presidential race EVER or you are an un-American, ignorant pop culture junkie who cares more about voting via txt for the ProjRun fan favorite than casting your ballot for the nation. Or you have TiVo or DVR.

I don't have TiVo or DVR. (hey - I'm only Jane six pack here, I don't have extra cash floating around for fancy cable).

So... I ended up satisfying both aspects of my personality by sprinting between two rooms at J's parents house last night.

Summary judgements:

The debates... gah, I really did sit down for the end of this - the Roe v. Wade/supreme court appointee question and education stuff. Way to get me all bent out of shape right before bedtime. Some of these topics are sooo sticky - and even though I feel (strongly) a certain way, I can clearly see how someone could feel equally as strong about the flip side of the coin. Yeesh. Democracy is great, but it certainly should make a person think about how he or she feel about some very sensitive subjects.

Both candidates held their own and, suspending preexisting prejudices, I really did hear what the man who is not my candidate had to say, and appreciated it more than some of my guy's views at certain points. I do think that Obama was the clear winner as far as proving himself as calm, rational and cool under pressure, however. That split screen sure did show a whole lot of *blink, blink, blinking* on the right side of the screen. While McCain smiled and shook his head at Obama's answers, maniacally scribbling down responses, Obama sat listening to McCain.

I do not care to announce a winner for content because of the subjectivity of that - people hear what they want. But delivery wise, Obama for the win. Now, for the fun part.

Project Runway...
Actually, the debate was more fun than projrun for me this time. Typically I get super excited about the finales and I feel that there are one or two very strong finalists. Maybe it was just the mood I was in last night, but all three collections were kind of underwhelming. Some of the dresses were gorgeous, the collections were a tad bizarre. And I did love Leanne's shapes, but SERIOUSLY, does one collection need that many pleats/petals whatever those things were?! Ahh well. Still good t.v.

So. In case of "the fate of the nation vs. pop culture" I deem the debate, and more specifically, Barack Obama, the winner of the evening. But I am glad I had some gorgeous dresses to distract myself from time to time and to keep me from talking politics with any of the debate watchers. Yin and yang.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Satan's Village

Oops. Santa. Santa's Village. Sorry. Must have been channeling the church lady (how annoying that I couldn't find the link - NBC, if you are going to hoard all of your videos, could you please at least make sure that they are LINKING?!).

I was volunteered by my loving, living-history-museum-employee mother to do the PR for Santa's Village - the 2006 “Event of the Year” by the State of Alabama Bureau of Tourism, that is going to wow visitors yet again in 2008 with a new twist on the attraction. Santa’s Magic Glasses will showcase the hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights in bursts of rainbow colors. Santa’s Village 2008 will also feature an enchanted ice maze for children to explore.

Can you tell I've been working on the release already?

While I'm sure I will post again about this soon enough, this particular post is not about the PR.

I was scouring Google images for happy holiday images for my nauseatingly perky flier when I came across another Santa's Village from my very distant past. Check out that photo - yesssss. Anyway, some guy was posting on this Americana site about his remembrances of the place in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., right near San Bernardino, where we used to live when I was a little kid.

"I had the privilege of visiting the park only twice, once as a child and once just before it went out of business in 1998. What impressed me the most as a kid, besides the shocking pink shake roof and bumble bee monorail, were the giant cement mushrooms. As an adult, it was how many employees had missing teeth."

HILARIOUS! We, too, visited this park and you can ask my brother - we, too, were awed by the Santa awesomeness. I'm happy to report that we never returned back there as adults to be thoroughly disappointed by the place.

It's funny how differently you remember things as a child than the way they actually are. Wish I still perceived things the way I did back then, actually.

Santa's Village 2.0, Huntsville version, is much cleaner and classier. It's actually Alabama Constitution Village - where Alabama's founding father introduced us into statehood in 1819 - all dressed up in lights and fake snow for Christmas. No giant cement mushrooms. And all of our happy, shiny volunteers and staff have their teeth... at least the front ones.

Holy flashback, Batman. Anyone else have a place like my Santa's Village?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Is it 1929 again?

If Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson tells me right now that we're going to come out of the current financial crisis O.K. I am going to go ahead and believe him. Because that's what I need to hear

Samuelson wrote an encouraging opinion piece in the in the Post yesterday morning and I was more than happy to hear some positive (at least, in the current context) news.

Even though six in 10 Americans believe that another depression is likely, Both CNN money and Samuelson disagree - with proof:

In 1929 -
  • the federal government was not a huge part of our economy like it is today. (Gov't. accounts for 20 percent of spending today, compared to three percent in 1929)
  • we have had 10 recessions since the 1940s, but no depressions
  • the two worst recessions in 1973-75 and 1981-82 had peak unemployment rates of nine and 10.1 percent respectively. Unemployment was 25 percent during the great depression and 6.1 percent this September.
  • we have the FDIC insuring our bank accounts up to $250,000
The economy will get worse. The housing glut endures. Cautious consumers have curbed spending. Banks and other financial institutions will suffer more losses. But these are all normal symptoms of recession. Our real vulnerability is a highly complex and global financial system that might resist rescue and revival. The Great Depression resulted from the mix of a weak economy and perverse government policies. If we can avoid a comparable blunder, the great drama of these recent weeks may prove blessedly misleading.
Read the CNN poll and Samuelson's op-ed to feel better about your life. And your 401(k).

You're welcome. :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Nick and Norah...

...aka - most favorite movie of the fall so far. One of a few movies lately that are slowly restoring my faith in teenagers.

I've never been a huge Michael Cera fan, but his standard character - shy, conflicted, earnest - is perfect for this role. His co-star Kat Dennings nails it as well.

This movie is the perfect combination of (sometimes painfully) relatable characters with a fantasy, escapist setting. Made me want to run around NYC all night looking for an amazing band, that's for sure.

Sweet, but not too saccharine. A cross between When Harry Met Sally, Almost Famous and Mean Girls.

With an amazing soundtrack.

I really need to get that soundtrack... It's on the list.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pickin' and grinnin'. And freeing the hops. And planting.

If I was worried that I hadn't done enough to enjoy the fall weather so far this season, I made up for any lost time this weekend. J and I hit the Tennessee Valley Old Time Filddlers' Convention on Saturday in Athens. Athens State is a gorgeous campus (no Auburn, but nice) and the weather was amazing. As were the fiddlers.

The convention was broken down into competitions for lots of different categories of musicians - fiddlers of all ages, mandolin and banjo players, old time singers, and... buck dancers. Yeah, not sure either. Didn't see them

We didn't hang out all day, but we did see a big part of the group competition - with competitors from all over the southeast. Very cool - some of it verged on hokey, but lots of it was very reminiscent of Nickel Creek (a favorite of mine) and the more melancholy stuff reminded me of Jack White's Cold Mountain music.

Saturday night was the Free the Hops event at the Lowe Mill (my friend Alice designed this site, btw, if you're looking for a graphic artist/web designer...) back in Huntsville.

Today I just got back from more old time country music - accidentally. Went to Bennett Nursery to pick up some plants for my deck and to ogle their mums-on-steroids. They always have complimentary sodas in those fun old glass bottles and water and stuff, but they also randomly have chicken, as it turns out. So we ate chicken and listened to an old couple play more music.

So, Huntsville might not be a bustling metropolis, but I do seem to be finding enough to keep myself entertained. It's been almost a year here, and it truly has flown by.

I like it when time flies... that means I'm having fun.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Because there aren't enough of these already

So, I read and inordinate amount of web content every day. It must be directly related to the amount of time that I spend in front of a computer and the inability to focus on one thing without a mental break for more than an hour at a time.

Some people complain that the web - social media, unending news, celebrity gossip and the like - is the cause the collective public's
short attention span and that this information overload will be our downfall.

Whether I was born to crave an excess of information to sift through, analyze and comment on, or whether this need I have is a result of the era in which I was born, my condition remains the same.

I'm looking forward to having a place to sort and display the best of what goes on in my head. A trophy case for my most coherent or entertaining thoughts - or a junk heap. We'll see. Bring on the information overload, baby.