A prayer to the movie gods

A humble request to the lords who control those who enter the same movie theater as me when I am dying to see a movie like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II:

I beg of you to grant my wish that my movie karma kicks in this time around and I get to watch this movie in peace.

Please allow only those into the theater who are interested in WATCHING the movie and are not there to analyze the movie for film class, narrate along to tell the rest of us what’s going on, or worse yet, have every single reaction to the film out loud. Those who can not be separated from their cell phones for 2.5 hours need not come at all. What’s the point?

I ask that those who can not sit still without fidgeting constantly (i.e., kicking the back of my seat) sit in the front row or wait for the movie to come out on Blu-Ray.

If everyone could be in their seats waiting for the movie to begin on time, that would also immensely help. I’d love to not have to stand up to let someone through because they don’t know how to show up even twenty minutes prior to the start of a blockbuster movie on opening weekend.

Lastly, if you could put all those with weak bladders in one theater or maybe dissuade them from coming on opening weekend, that would also help me enjoy my movie-going experience.

Remember Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I?  Yeah. That was not cool when four people decided to walk in for the last ten minutes and begin talking loudly and telling everyone else to shutup when they were shushed. Pretty much the last scene with Lord Voldemort went unheard and my boyfriend was cursed out for having the cojones to tell these guys how rude their behavior was.

Usually I stay away from the theaters until I am sure the coast is clear from the chatty Cathys, people who insist on bringing their infants and toddlers to adult movies, and other inconsiderate freaks (see above). Please, please, please, let me enjoy tonight’s movie.

Your faithful, considerate, quiet, timely movie watcher,
Zoe

Dear Wendy’s, I love ya but you’re not a bistro.

On a recent excursion to the sole Wendy’s in my fair town, I had the opportunity to try their new line of French fries. These new fries are supposed to call forth healthier images of a fried treat (more like a staple) that is consumed daily around the world as if the next potato famine will start any second now.

Made from Russet potatoes, left with some critical minimal amount of skin on for a more natural effect, and seasoned only with sea salt, Wendy’s portends that this is the new standard of fry that is going to beat out McDonald’s’. <~~~~I swear that that is the correct way to properly put McDonald’s in the plural possessive. Those two apostrophes are annoying, however.

Before I cite some other articles on this topic, I’m just going to give my totally subjective, casual opinion on them. Which is….they’re really not all that good. Honestly, what peeves me more than anything else is that these new fries completely took over the old ones, and I happened to like their classic yellow, thicker cut fries. We had no choice whatsoever in this matter. The old ones tasted great with ranch (quelle surprise) and Kevin liked to dip them into Frosties. I’m a big fan of Frosties. Big time. Chocolate, not vanilla. Their coffee chocolate dessert thingy is good, too, where they mix in candy and stuff with it. But in a pinch, you can’t go wrong with a bit of Frosty. Mmm.

Okay, back to the fries. We were mourning the old ones. Quite frankly, if we just had the option of choosing between classic and these new “bistro” fries, I’d be okay with that! I’d just never order the bistro fries. I mean, even Arby’s and Jack in the Box have multiple fry options. Curly vs. classic. Why can’t they get on board with this? Yeah, it’s one more thing to fry up but it’s just potatoes and chicken nuggets in the fryers over there. BFD, ya know?

These new fries are skinnier, the ends burn more easily, and I don’t know if it’s the 1% skin on them or what, but the flavor just isn’t….”Hurry up and eat me!” like I do with other places’ fries.

I love me some sea salt. But there’s no way that these fast food fries are potatoes + salt and that’s it. And I surmised correctly! Check out this article on all the crap that the fries are processed with – I’m telling you, it’s nasty. And if you have some extra time and wanna see what an actual food blog wrote up about the fries, check out what Serious Eats had to say about them.

I disagree that the old ones had no merit but I do agree that they were inconsistently cooked.

In summation, I’m sorry to say it, Wendy’s. The new fries are more a fail than a success. Please stick to what you do best, which is make above average fast food. And your new salads are bomb, too. But your thinly veiled marketing campaign to disguise your fries as anything but regular, same-old processed ones is lame. Bring back the old fries that never pretended to be anything than what they were – mediocre and bad for you!

May: the month of a gazillion birthdays

Compleanno
Well, we’re officially in one of my two favorite months of the year and so far, the first three days have been a doozy. Am I right or am I right or am I right?

I am getting close to knowing someone with a birthday on each and every day of this wonderful month. I don’t have children but if I ever get to that phase of my life, I’m going to wonder what is so special about the 9 months prior to May because it is baby and birthday explosion come May 1. I got my Facebook notification on Sunday night that told me I know six people on Facebook alone with birthdays in the first week.

My special day is 5-5, a very symmetrical birthday. I’m all about symmetry. Heck, this blog began on 8-8-08, incidentally. I have a cousin with my same birthday and I have met probably ten others who also share the May 5 birthday. Today is my dear friend Meg’s birthday and I know at least twelve more people with birthdays this month. I even know people with birthdays on the 6th, 7th, and 8th. It’s crazy!

Have I said the word  birthday enough?

May is the month of Taurus and Gemini. That’s right, I went there. I also am completely discounting the “new” astrology system because the 13th sign sounds ridiculous. I know it doesn’t change my sign because of the year but I still find it lame (as at least half the population does about astrology in general). I have a soft spot for astrology. I like figuring out which signs are supposed to be compatible with which and I have this book called The Secret Language of Birthdays which is a really cool personality profile based on everyone’s actual birth-day. Just saying, if you’re into this, this is a must-have book.

Aside from May being Birthday Month Extravaganza, it is also the month with Memorial Day and kicks off travel season. I am visiting a dear friend in Seattle for over five days at the end of the month and I am completely through and through stoked about it. I’ve only been to the Pacific Northwest once for vacation when I was a teenager and I was in Vancouver ten years ago but I have never explored the fine metropolis of Seattle. So Original Starbucks here I come!

I may not have mentioned my passion for coffee mugs, though I know I’ve talked about my being a coffee snob. I have an array of Starbucks mugs from various cities I’ve visited and I’m actually kind of excited to add to the collection. I had a fabulous mug from Paris from 2004 when I was there and it survived the trip back, and even many moves within New York City, but it was no match for Kevin, who accidentally broke it in my last New York apartment. I went to find a replacement and they were selling on eBay for like, $90 or something. C’est ridicule, ca! So yeah, that’s long gone. I’ll have to stick with Stateside mugs.* C’est la vie.

Any travel plans (or anything particularly exciting) this month? How many people do you know celebrating a May b-day?

*Edit: I received a replacement Paris mug that was, in fact, purchased for an obscene amount of money, and it happily sits in my kitchen cabinet with all of the other mugs I have amassed.

Sorry I’m A Safe Driver, and: I Hate Minivans

I have a bone to pick with minivan drivers. What is the deal? You either drive way too fast or way too slow. Can’t you just drive normally? I can’t help but feel like some of the rude driving I’ve seen happen with these vehicles is because there is pent up rage from owning one of these ugly things. I’m in the minority in that I am a woman who has no desire whatsoever to have one. My male counterpart couldn’t want one more, inexplicably.

I can’t even count how many times I’ve been on road trips and the cars that are going 85 and being obnoxious are minivans (usually male drivers). I smiled the other day when I was coming to an intersection and saw that a minivan had been pulled over, presumably for speeding or having just run the light. I couldn’t help but feel vindicated for what had transpired earlier that same day. Shall I relay the story?

So that same morning, as I was sitting in the left turn lane at a busy intersection – and I was the first car in the turn lane, mind you – there was no chance for me to turn left against the regular green light, so I knew I was going to have to sit through another cycle before I got the arrow. Right as the light was about to turn, a minivan drives around me from being in the turn lane and proceeded to go out into the middle of the intersection, turning left against the red light. Thank God s/he had the turn signal on or it would have been REALLY obnoxious.

You can bet your sweet bippy I honked at this foul offender, whilst also spewing some choice epithets after him/her. (I’m assuming it was a man but who’s really to say.) Pretty much, this was my face:

When I told my boyfriend the same story in a really appalled tone, he took the opportunity (after agreeing that it had been a dick move) to say, “But you know, if you’d been pulled out into the intersection, he wouldn’t have done that.”

What ensued after this statement was a huge debate about whether or not it’s illegal and/or courteous to pull out mid-intersection to turn left. This must be a “Champaign thing.” Where I grew up in St. Louis, there are very few lights which do not have green arrows, so we know exactly when we can turn. Having to sit at a busy intersection with no green arrow is not only infuriating, but basically encourages this crappy driver etiquette. And this was a light where we had a green arrow! It only lights every other cycle for some odd reason, though. Being rush hour traffic, I really had no opportunity to turn.

Anyway, although we are both good drivers, the boyfriend and I disagree on several driving habits, this being the main one. Apparently I’m the jerk for not pulling all the way out and waiting for the light to turn, even if it’s when the light has turned red and I just have to get out of the way; whereas I can’t help but feel like an a-hole if I pull that stunt. It happens so often here and yet, I still hate doing it. I feel like I’m basically running a red light when I do this. Kevin insists it is perfectly legal. I have not been swayed. Our debate escalated to the point where, in a very frustrated moment I blurted out, “Sorry I’m a safe driver!”

You just never know who is going to do what when crossing an intersection and I don’t like sitting in the middle of the action when I can sit behind my safe little white line that was designated for this purpose. Am I right or am I right or am I right?

Okay, back to my original diatribe about minivans. I find them ugly, bulbous, and too similar looking. They’re everywhere. Plus, I don’t want to turn into Shitty Minivan Driver. I understand that if one has lots of children, these are probably Dream Modes of Transportation. Since I have zero children, this definitely accounts for the strong bias. I just don’t understand what a minivan has that say, a nice-looking SUV or crossover doesn’t have. I’d really like to know. Being the aesthetic person that I am, it’s more of a looks thing than it is a stereotype thing, but the stereotype does play into my dislike. I also know that there are folks out there who SWEAR by minivans and would never drive anything else. I’d like to hear from you!

For whatever reasons that Kevin adores minivans – all of them practical, I assure you – we have actually gotten into a heated debate about why we may or may not purchase one in our future solidified life together. I am adamantly opposed (has that been made clear?) and he is insistent on changing my mind. He finds them to be the pinnacle purchase in adulthood, I think. Strangely enough, Kevin’s best friend is also the one in his relationship who prefers to have a minivan and his wife is the one that has the same knee-jerk reaction I do: Yick! So they have that to bond over, which is cute and funny.

If anyone out there can shed some light on the intersection debate or tell me all the merits of owning a minivan, I’d love the feedback! I can’t fathom changing my mind about ever wanting to own a minivan but never say never, right? I think Justin Bieber never says never. Or he just says, “Never Say Never.” One of those.

In the meantime, I will bask in the glory of sedan ownership.

**Edit March 2017** — a couple of weeks ago, I was at an extremely busy intersection during the 5 o’clock rush home. I needed to turn left across two oncoming lanes of traffic, and the intersection is quite wide. It’s easy to underestimate how much time it takes to cross those lanes with two lanes of traffic barreling down on you. Because of the heavy traffic, I stayed behind my little white line at the light. A woman raced up behind me and, when she realized I wasn’t going to move out into traffic, shook her head at me. She was older, perhaps in her 50s or 60s. I saw her grimace and shake her head in my rearview mirror. I decided to fight her crankiness with silliness and I happily waved at her. She saw me waving and lightened up (slightly) and half-heartedly waved back at me. (I like to think that she felt a little embarrassed, perhaps thinking I knew her, and she is only comfortable doing that to strangers instead of people she knows.) The light went red and we sat through another cycle until I was able to safely cross with a green arrow. My husband still asserts that he sided with the lady behind me but I like to think that being cautious saved myself and possibly the woman behind me from making a poor driving decision and getting into an accident. The “Sliding Doors” theory, if you will.

Please Reheat Responsibly.

The following may or may not have had to do with my experiences in several offices in my lifetime. This is long overdue.

While bringing in leftover tuna casserole seems like an incredible idea, because you know, it tasted oh so delicious when it was fresh out of the oven last night, you have no idea what this is going to smell like when you microwave it in an enclosed space. Indeed, an entire small office or whole section of a large one will definitely reek of day-old baked fish and cheese for hours if you make this decision. Kindly don’t.

Who doesn’t love the smell of buttery popcorn? On the other hand, burnt popcorn smells like one of two things: a) Satan’s indigestion or b) burning hair. Ergo, please know how to make popcorn in the microwave (i.e., listen for the slowing down of the popping kernels and check that a burn hole isn’t being made on the bag).

Mmm, leftover spaghetti with meatballs. What’s that? You underestimated how quickly the tomato sauce would heat up and now there’s an explosion of red sauce clinging to every available surface on the inside of the microwave? Please grab some wet paper towels and wipe it down. The question, “Do you do this at home?” shouldn’t be asked because it’s clear that it is what you do at home. So the real issue is that you’re NOT at home and you SHOULD be courteous to anyone else who wants to use the microwave after you. It takes way less time to clean up freshly exploded sauce than dried on sauce.

Use your best judgment. If it is made with lots of salty chemicals and preservatives, most likely it’s going to make the entire kitchen and surrounding area smell like reheated cat food. Unless you’re this lady, none of us are interested. In fact, some of us may become severely nauseated.

Other no-nos:

Cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, have I mentioned fish?, sauerkraut, etc. These are NOT to be microwaved in a communal setting.


And for the love of God, please don’t use the microwave as a drying agent. A friend of mine actually had a coworker attempt to dry his wet shoes in the office microwave. Needless to say, it created a foulness that no human should ever have to witness through his or her nose.


This has been a public service announcement. Please pass along as appropriate.

Original ending to ‘Pretty in Pink’ uncovered. WHAT!

Original ending to ‘Pretty in Pink’ uncovered along with other John Hughes scripts | ’80s music, John Hughes movies, big hair: Stuck in the ’80s | tampabay.com & St. Petersburg Times.

I love Pretty in Pink. Like, LURVE it. I have probably seen this movie no less than 67 times. Every nuance, every facial expression, every line…I’ve devoured them all. (The montage where Andie makes her prom dress? Swoon!)

So when I went to Amazon to see if it had been converted into a high-def DVD yet, I was shocked – SHOCKED! – to see that the original ending was supposed to be Duckie and Andie ending up together.

Why didn’t I know this? I feel betrayed by Hollywood! John Hughes probably did, too.

It makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. I mean, when I first started watching this movie back when I was a kid, the part where Andie says to Duckie, “Should we dance?” and he replies, “It wouldn’t be unheard of,” and then they cut to the close-up of their hands linking together….it leads you to believe they really have gone beyond the Friend Zone and a deep, tender kiss is just moments away!

Then Blane shows up and ruins everything with his awkward speech, crossed eyes, and “I love you.” And poor Duckie has to suck it up and take it and shake the dude’s hand. And THEN we have to watch Andie end the movie by going, “Blane?” and they make out in the parking lot. FIN.

WTF?

I am sitting here stunned right now. I feel like shouting that I want my childhood back. Of course Andie and Duckie should have ended up together! Duckie cleaned up very well by that prom, just sayin’.

Ugh. Heartache.

What do you think? Original ending or Hollywood ending? (If you haven’t seen this film, I couldn’t recommend anything more highly. See it. Do it. Now.)

Edit! I finally purchased this movie on DVD with all the extra goodies in it and Molly Ringwald said that she and Jon Cryer didn’t have more than a brother/sister chemistry on set. When they went to shoot the original ending, it just didn’t work. Furthermore, when they did a test screening, the viewers HATED it! So six months after they had finished shooting, they had to call the actors back to do the reshoot and make Andie and Blane end up together. This also explains why Blane’s hair looks like crap in the prom scene, because it’s actually a wig. He had shaved his head for another production and the wig was the best they could do. All of the actors were making fun of it. I feel better about the ending now, especially because John Hughes was the one who came up with the ending and understood why it was happening the way it was. I can sleep at night now.

Spritz Cookies, Otherwise Known As “Backbreakers”

Happy post Christmas coma!

I don’t know about you but I feel like Buddy the Elf who has been consuming nothing but the four elf food groups for the past week. In essence, all meals begin and end with cookies or chocolate.

The bf and myself made homemade (alcoholic) egg nog, spritz cookies, and sourdough bread as contributions to the big family Christmas potluck yesterday. I’m happy to report that all three went over well.

I was nervous because I had never made spritz cookies by myself before. I mean, they take a cookie press to make, the dough can be rather finicky to work with, and I didn’t have my mom around to coach me!

Nevertheless, we rolled up our sleeves and for over four hours, we mixed up two batches of my mom’s classic spritz cookie recipe (one white, one green) and tried my hand at my heretofore unused cookie press that I had impulsively purchased from Williams Sonoma last year.

At first, the dough wasn’t cooperating whatsoever. It was too cold, even though I had properly left all three sticks of butter out to soften. The dough being warm and sticky is pretty much the key to getting them to stick to one’s cookie sheets. Also, we had no parchment paper or wax paper, two things I will never again be without. I think something extra sticky to grab onto the dough would have made a difference. But when one is baking cookies at 9pm on Christmas night and no stores are open (and who wants to go out and try to find parchment paper and overpay for it on Christmas?), we just did the best we could.

Normally I’d take a photo of the cookie press and some of the pictures I have of the cookies going into the oven but I am attempting to keep this relatively short and I’m running out of space before this just becomes one long tangent, as I am wont to do.

I arranged the photos yesterday on a platter provided by a relative (and it is her tablecloth, as well) and between those things and the natural light, I managed to snap some very worthy shots of these cookies that made my back ache like crazy.

Below are the efforts of our blood, sweat and tears. And they taste even better than they look! Maybe I’ll actually post the recipe sometime. (Side tangent: I can’t stand when pretty cookies or pastries taste like cardboard, or even worse, like crap. It’s such the disappointment. So I was relieved when my cookies lived up to the memories I have of my mother’s Christmas cookies.)

One necessity that should not be overlooked during the Christmas feasting is the possession of antacids. I don’t know about y’all but I have been following every meal with a Tums chaser. I hope your holidays have been festive and merry! (And perhaps with less indigestion than we’ve been experiencing.)

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The Warning Signs it is Time to Clean Out the Car

I may or may not be speaking from current experience. But I’m pretty sure The Big Badass Universe is telling me (or yelling at me?) to clean out my car already. Note: I share my car with my other half so even though some of the fault lays at my feet, some of it does not. That is all.

And so, you know you need to clean out your car when:

Cans clink together every time you turn left or right.

You use your backseat as a personal ‘filing’ system for all those important papers.

You can find everything BUT the windshield scraper that normally finds a way to annoy you the other 9 months of the year you don’t need it.

You have to apologize for “that smell” before anybody rides in your car with you.

The dog blanket in the back, covered in fur, makes it look like the Abominable Snowman is homeless and sleeping in your car.

You have $23.74 in change in your would-be ashtray.

The inside door handles are all filled with candy wrappers (or old keys…).

There are ranch dressing packets on the floor, one of which has broken open and spilled onto the floor mat, and you can’t be bothered to clean it up right away.

Receipts, separate from “important papers,” fill every available empty space outside the change, wrappers, and used tissues.

Birds could make a four-family condominium from the refuse you keep in your Moving Dump.

This isn't my car but it FEELS this messy.