Weekly Photo Challenge: Masterpiece

Recently, I signed up for The Daily Post from WordPress.com–and I’m so glad I did!

I usually have a few drafts in my back pocket but the daily inspiration really gets the creative juices flowing.

I decided to partake in this week’s photo challenge just for fun and because it had been a while since I’d done a photography post.

This week’s theme is “masterpiece,” and it can have a wide interpretation. Almost immediately upon thinking about the word masterpiece, and what kind of image might best represent that concept, one of the photos I shot last year rose quickly to the surface.

The Seattle Great Wheel towers over the bay and is, in my mind, an architectural masterpiece. It is also a mode of transportation that allows one to go way up in the sky and see some of the most beautiful sights (or, “masterpieces,”) in the United States–those of the stunning city of Seattle.

It was difficult to choose which photo I wanted to use but I decided on this one for the composition and because the Great Wheel is only mostly visible; the fact that some of it didn’t make it into the frame suggests how grandly colossal it is. Albeit enormous, it is a graceful sight to behold as it gently completes its rounds.

IMG_8115-Edit

Advertisements

Radio Silence

I used to listen to the radio. A lot. Once upon a time I thought I’d be a radio DJ. It seemed like it could be quite a nice gig.

When I moved to NYC in 2005, I stopped listening to the radio by default, as I could never get a signal on my stereo in any of the multitude of apartments I inhabited.

Zoe Radio

A shirt I could only get away with in my twenties. But I did love listening to my tunes, as evidenced by my hip CDs on display.

As someone who likes to keep on the up and up with the newest hit songs, it was depressing to go into a void. I never learned what the radio stations in New York were. In fact, I still only remember the ones from St. Louis, where I grew up. Fortunately, around that time, music was more and more shifting to streaming and/or being available on things like Napster and iTunes.

I could check the iTunes Store to see what I liked and order a CD or download an album, as I became wont to do. The shift from CD to downloaded music was a subtle one but I haven’t purchased a hard disc of music in quite a few years now.

One of my favorite things in life is getting that instant gratification from sampling and downloading songs I love, new or old. Instead of hitting Record on the tape deck, I can type in any artist, song title, or album, and either take a trip through the Forest of Nostalgia or see what the kids are listening to these days and figure out if anything is worthwhile. (Unfortunately, as I get older, I am more and more baffled by the “hits” topping the charts, and I recognize fewer and fewer artist names.)

Living in New York, everything I ever needed was on my iPod, which is an absolute necessity if you are going to live in any major metropolis and commute on public transportation. My commute is pretty short and sweet these days, so if I do listen to anything on the way to work, it’s on a CD or my iPod. Add in to the fact that listening to radio commercials sets my teeth on edge and I have no patience for them anymore (thanks to the advent of the DVR), the radio has slipped into nonexistence, as far as I’m concerned.

It only occurred to me the other day that, essentially, I have not listened to the radio in eight years. What used to be a crucial item in my existence has simply faded away. The only “radio” I listen to now is Pandora on occasion, a totally evolved version of the medium. I still get to hear new music, insofar as it’s new to me, and anything I really like, I can go to my computer and get. C’est magnifique!

Anyone else out there still a hardcore radio aficionado? Or has your music lifestyle changed, as mine has?

***

Side notes: I have never subscribed to Sirius Radio or anything like that, which is the “cable” of radio. My total ignorance on this topic is why I have left it out entirely. Additionally, my dude does listen to talk radio, so it’s still a big part of his life. Plus, when we go on road trips, we play a game where we hit Scan on the radio and see who can guess the name and artist of a song before it scans to the next station. It’s a nice way to pass the time, actually, and the only time the radio retains any lingering significance for me.

Disturbing Revelation

When TV shows go away during the summer, I’m usually forced to go through my movie collection or I have to finally watch all the previously recorded stuff on my DVR that I never got around to watching, e.g. the fourteen episodes of The Best of the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. Seriously, that dude is terrific, right?

Recently, my dude made the decision to cut the cord to cable TV, which means I say goodbye to the DVR, which is My Precious (be sure to read that in Gollum’s voice).

To soothe the crushing anxiety of losing this modern marvel which is seriously life-changing, we reinstated our Netflix account, in addition to trying out Hulu Plus.

Having streaming-only television is still kind of a wacky concept to me, but I’m willing to give it a shot. Currently, I’m a little nonplussed by Hulu Plus (ba dum shh!) but if it is the only way we can enjoy current programming, especially when new shows begin airing in September, we’ll live through this transition. Side note: not exactly understanding why I pay for Hulu Plus when there are ads, but I guess thems the breaks. I’m over a barrel on this one.

One of our favorite shows is New Girl from Fox. If you haven’t given this show a chance and you’re not over 62, you’ll probably HIGHLY enjoy it. It has the same je ne sais quoi that Friends had. The chemistry, humor, and character development are just brilliant. I can’t say enough good things about it–honestly. Watch. This. Show.

So when we came across the first season of it on Netflix, we immediately jumped on watching the entire first twenty-four episodes. We basically had just a handful of binge sessions, streaming one episode after the other, devouring them like candy. It was fantastic.

One of the silliest plot lines has stuck with me post season binge. Well, it’s more like an image than a plot line. Nick not being able to go get a haircut doesn’t exactly move the character over a serious obstacle.

The episode is called “Bad in Bed” and in it, Jess is trying to take her sexual relationship with Paul to the next level. There are some pretty funny moments, of course, but the seemingly infinitesimal plot point about Nick’s resistance to get a haircut and then going to Winston’s barber is burned into my brain.

What am I leading up to, exactly? Okay, so…I know that we’re all supposed to laugh at Nick’s “ridiculous” haircut, right? I mean, he looks like Vanilla Ice.

Nick Miller Haircut

Here was Jess’s/Zooey’s reaction, combined with the fact that she told him she didn’t think he looked like someone who was very good at sex with that haircut. (Zing!)

Zoe Reaction

But there was something about it that honestly made me think Nick looked pretty damn hot like that! And then it hit me that perhaps that means I (still? ever had?) have a thing for Vanilla Ice. I mean, I was ten when Ice Ice Baby came out and I learned allllllllllll the words, baby. Oh yes. But then you go and watch the music video and the guy is wearing a sweatshirt while “dancing.” Not a cool hoodie or anything. A white run-of-the-mill sweatshirt that you could pick up at a gas station. Good God.

Fast forward twenty some-odd years and this imagery somehow grabbed and held onto me. Maybe this is my very, VERY latent crush on a guy who resembles those from New Kids on the Block? I’m asking, because I do not know.

Whatever it is, I’m going to ride it out and just enjoy the Nick Miller/Vanilla Iceness until season three premieres. I’m going to post a few more of The Haircut because it is tight, dope, and super fly.

Word to ya motha.

Nick Miller Haircut 3

Nick Miller Haircut 2

Nick Miller Haircut 5

Nick Miller Haircut 4

Year One of Not Owning a Microwave

retro microwave-1

I am not a “hipster.” I am not “retro.” And I’m not one of those people who can make doing things that aren’t mainstream look cool.

That said, I would like to tell you the story of how we came to get rid of our microwave and the ensuing results.

A year ago, we moved. We downsized from a very nicely sized kitchen to a small apartment kitchen, where it took real creative genius to figure out how to fit everything into the cupboards.

One of the most arduous challenges we had on our hands was prioritizing which appliances would sit out on the very limited real estate of counter top. Anything heavy or bulky wasn’t going to be able to go anywhere, and unfortunately, that pretty much meant all of the appliances needed to stay out by default.

Our microwave was one of them.

No matter where we plugged it in around our little U-shaped kitchen, it was butt ugly and/or forced out other appliances we used much more often. The situation became so dire, that I looked at Kevin and said, “What if….we got rid of the microwave?” Kevin didn’t hesitate for a second. He promptly unplugged it and put it on the dining room table right before he put it up for sale on Craigslist.

In my twenties, this decision would have been unfathomable. College alone is four years of living out of the microwave. Two previous boyfriends I have lived with heavily relied on the microwave for sustenance. I think my brother would actually starve if he didn’t own one.

In spite of my dependence on my microwave lessening as I got older (though I went through a fairly serious Hot Pocket phase between 2008 and 2010), I still liked having one around with which to zap too cold ice cream and the occasional butter or cream cheese when I was baking. (Not a frequent occasion.) Note: some people are avid beverage makers in the microwave. Not I. Microwaved coffee has an abhorrent “flat” taste, and anything else I would make, e.g. hot cocoa, I make from scratch.

Popcorn addicts, I haven’t forgotten about your sputtering objection to getting rid of a microwave. There are probably people who subsist solely on the varieties of microwavable popcorn out there. I, too, love a good bucket of buttery popcorn. Once upon a time, I used to consume the stuff like it was Twinkies being taken off the shelves.

When we traded in our microwave, we bought an air popper that we were able to put away, so we can still make popcorn whenever we want. It’s probably been a good year since we’ve made any, however. The best way I enjoy it is overpriced and “buttery” at the movie theater, with getting freshly made kettle corn at a fair being a close second. I think most people forget that you can still make Jiffy Pop on the stove, too.

So here are the ten pros, as I see them, to ditching the microwave oven:

  • Gaining back primo counter space.
  • Becoming closer with my stove and oven. While softening butter in ten seconds is certainly faster and easier in a microwave, the two times a year I would need to do so don’t merit owning one.
  • I can stop worrying that what I’m reheating is putting cancerous toxins in my body (word to the wise: microwaving anything plastic is BAD).
  • I don’t have to clean up splattered food that has gone everywhere inside the damn thing. Huge pro.
  • I don’t have to be afraid that heating up a cup of soup or anything else mostly liquid is going to explode in my face.

    microwave explosion

    Seriously. Gross.

  • I don’t have to eat rubbery, microwaved food. Anything worth reheating is worth taking an extra ten minutes in the actual oven to warm up.
  • Funky smells will no longer assail my nose in my own home.
  • I don’t have to hear that infernal beeping noise when it’s done heating.
  • I don’t have to walk into the kitchen and obsessively/compulsively click “Stop/Clear” to get it to go back to the clock, since I’ve found that most of the population opens the door before the beep but doesn’t bother to clear the timer.
  • No more wondering whether I’m standing too close to the door and making myself sterile while it’s on.

I’m not on a crusade to get others to join me but I will laud the ditching of the microwave. In a year of not having one, neither of us have said we miss it or even thought about getting another one. It really is a beautiful thing.

**Update:** It’s been 2.5 years since we’ve lived without a microwave; life is still good and we have never wavered with our decision. We do get a kick from weirding people out when they realize there is no microwave to be had in our wee kitchen.

**Update to the update:** We went four years without a microwave, and when we moved into our new house last year, it came with a built-in microwave over the stove. So that ended our sojourn into microwave-less living. But I hope that my tale is proof that one can make it without, if need be.

Exclaimer!

Hello, my name is Zoe and I am an Exclaimer.

I believe there are two types of people in this world: those who use exclamation points and those who don’t.

Probably the most famous Exclaimer is Elaine from Seinfeld.

Though I’m about 85% sure I wouldn’t have lambasted my boyfriend about a handwritten phone message, I might have been more pedantic about a lack of an exclamation point on a text message, were I to get one that said a friend of mine just had her baby. Fact: good news requires exclamation points! Case in point: when my terrible neighbors finally moved out, there weren’t enough exclamation points in the world to express my joy and relief. That’s why I had to find the Handel’s Messiah clip. The entire thing is one giant exclamation point.

Despite my anal-retentiveness about using good grammar, I break the rule about not using more than one exclamation point at a time. “OMG” absolutely needs a few “!!!” if you have big news or you’re really strongly reacting to something. I will go ahead and admit that when I’m perplexed or shocked, I go so far as to use two question marks. “What??” just has a more astonished look and feel to me.

So it probably comes as no surprise that I feel underwhelmed when people write, “Have a good weekend.” or, “Merry Christmas.” It makes me have to start reading into the tone of the sentence too much, and then I begin the downward spiral of speculating what kind of mood they’re in or what kind of person s/he must be if there’s no joy in wishing someone a good weekend or a happy birthday, even.

Dwight from "The Office" is an Underexclaimer.

The Dwight Schrute birthday cake.

Have you ever gotten a Facebook message from someone and all it says is, “Happy birthday.”? It’s like, okay thanks for taking the five seconds to type that out, but is there really any reason not to press Shift+1 to denote the enthusiasm for the ONE day out of the year that’s all about you? C’mon, people.

Obviously there are boundaries to the use of exclamation points. Overuse of exclamation points on every sentence is just about on the same level as USING CAPS FOR NO SPECIAL REASON WHATSOEVER. ALSO, I THINK IT’S LAZY, BECAUSE THEN YOU’RE NOT WORRIED ABOUT HAVING TO PRESS THE SHIFT KEY A FEW TIMES TO CAPITALIZE THE PROPER NOUNS. (Stop it!)

Because I’m an avid Exclaimer, I have had to reign in my !! tendencies. I have a history of writing thank you notes and emails to friends and family that were almost entirely made up of sentences ending with exclamation points. It looked like I was either acting really fake or was perhaps on meth, so I began using them less on the mundane sentences.

Still, if you want to freak someone out, write a note to a person with tons of exclamation points and see what kind of reaction you get. However, I highly recommend avoiding being an Exclaimer at work; your colleagues may suspect you of having a personality disorder, especially if you preface all your forwards with “FYI!” It won’t take long for you to be summoned to your HR department.

On that note, I’ve put a little poll below to see if anyone else out there thinks about this kind of thing as I do.

Zoe out!

 

 

 

An Open Letter To Ellen DeGeneres

I hope this campaign to get Ellen’s attention works!

You've Been Hooked!

Dearest Ellen,

Hello. How are you? That’s great to hear, seriously. Listen, I know you’ve got a full plate in front of you right now (Okay, maybe not literally; you don’t look like you eat that much, to be honest. However, I stand by the statement.), especially considering how many challenges you have to deal with right now.

  • Voicing animated fish is no mean feat. (How do they record your voice underwater anyway?)
  • Arranging for Sofía Vergara to be “accidentally” deported so you can be the reigning CoverGirl has to be a lot of work.
  • Teaching millions of people to dance like no one is watching while hosting a kick-butt talk show must be exhausting. And sweaty, no doubt.

Normally I use this forum to write about my life as a bellman in Niagara Falls, but today I want to write to you from my heart.

I’ve been married to…

View original post 862 more words