Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lovely Lily

I haven't posted much lately, and for that I apologize.  Work has been really hectic and then we had to leave town to go get Lily.  Despite the tropical storm, things went off without a hitch.  We lost power for a short while and work/school was cancelled on Monday.  Today was rough- I am fighting one of the worst migraines I've had in awhile, but I did want to post pictures of my second fur-baby.  I will write more about her personality and our story of the first couple of days with our little Lily in the near future.

Ruby in July

Adorable and Tired

Beautiful Blue Eyes- those won't stay like that.  Lily is very cute, very soft, and very affectionate.

All my girls in one picture.  (Ruby in the background, moping, Tashi, Lily, and Trini)

It is taking Ruby a little while, but gradually she is warming up to Lily.  Lily follows her big sister's lead.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

5 Things: Places I Want to Live In

Portland/Seattle

I have been to Portland and I have been dying to go back.  J and I have wanted to do a roadtrip through the Pacific Northwest for our honeymoon.  I have no idea when we will get to that.  All I know is that this region is beautiful.  These cities are big enough to be cultured, but the surrounding areas are beautiful enough to escape to.  (The closest thing I have to that here is the Everglades, and trust me, you don't want to "escape" to that.)  The dining and music scenes are also phenomenal.

San Fransico

J's brother is currently living here.  Boy, I am jealous!  Actually, I'm really happy for him.  San Fransico is iconic and has a rich history.  It's more laid back than other big cities and unlike L.A., appearances aren't everything.  I've been told that UW-Madison was based off of the Berkley campus, and I've always wanted to go and take a peek (and maybe a class or two).  I hear that there are lot of excellent restaurants there, too!

Denver

Another great city that is surrounded by nature.  As a kid and a teenager I enjoyed being outdoors.  I would love to go white water rafting, canoeing, and hiking.  I feel like I am out of touch with nature living in Miami.  I do like living next to a large body of water (I grew up with Lake Michigan in Milwaukee and Lake Mendota and Menona in Madison), so being landlocked is the one thing I wouldn't be crazy about here.  But I'm sure there are plenty of things that would make up for that if I was living in Denver.

Abroad

I have dreamed of living abroad.  One regret I have about college is that I didn't take the chance to do so.  I didn't really have the funding for it, but it is one of the few times in your life when it is exceptable to pick up and move without being too tied down for a couple of months or a year.  Living in Miami is sometimes like living in a different country and I've made life work for me here, whose to say I couldn't do it elsewhere.  J and I sometimes discuss the post-doc oppurtunities abroad.  I don't know if we'll ever have the chance to live in Europe or Asia, but if the oppurtunity ever came, I'd be hard pressed to turn it down.

Madison

I don't know if I'll ever live in Wisconsin again.  I'm okay with that.  In some ways I really miss the state and in others I don't.  Madison is the place I think of when I think of home.  It was my first time out on my own.  I had to establish myself and figure out a lot about life.  Madison was a great city to test out my wings.  I didn't always fly beautifully, but there were times like I felt I was soaring there.  I have not been able to recreate that feeling here.  In Madison, during my college years, I had a mix of friends, school, work, community, art, music, food, comfort, and new experiences that I don't think I'd ever be able to recreate.  If J's career brought us back to Madison, we'd be pretty happy campers.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Classic Movie Challenge: The Gay Divorcee

I went a bit academic in my review for The Seven Year Itch.  I couldn't help it.  That movie had me itching in disgust (bad pun intended).  I actually watched that movie and The Gay Divorcee on the same Saturday.  I had a rough week at work and I wanted to curl up with movies and unwind.  I am having another crummy week, but I don't know if I'll have the luxury to catch up on movies this weekend.  Then, next weekend, Lily comes home!  And J and I will be catching up on sleep (due to new puppy parenting) and not classic films.  So, I apologize for two reviews back-to-back, but a blogger has to do what a blogger has to do, and I scheduled them to post a couple of days apart, so it's not that bad.  ;)

Instead of critiquing the story and its execution behind The Gay Divorcee in the way that I did with The Seven Year Itch, I am going to instead, focus on the lighter things.  However, I would like to mention that I thought this movie was interesting in Mimi's approach to getting a divorce: get caught cheating and your loser husband will HAVE to acquiesce to the split.  Here is the synopsis from Wikipedia:

Mimi Glossop (Ginger Rogers) arrives in England to seek a divorce from her geologist husband Cyril (William Austin), whom she hasn't seen for several years. Under the guidance of her domineering and much-married aunt Hortense (Alice Brady), she consults a bumbling and less-than-competent lawyer Egbert Fitzgerald (Edward Everett Horton), who happens to be one of Hortense's previous fianc├ęs. He arranges for her to spend a night at a seaside hotel and to be caught in an adulterous relationship, for which purpose he hires a professional co-respondent, Rodolfo Tonetti (Erik Rhodes). But Egbert forgets to arrange for private detectives to "catch" the couple.

By coincidence, Guy Holden (Fred Astaire) an American dancer and friend of Egbert's, who briefly met Mimi on her arrival in England, and is now besotted with her, also arrives at the hotel, only to be mistaken by Mimi for the co-respondent. While they are in Mimi's bedroom, Tonetti arrives and holds them "prisoner". They contrive to escape and dance the night away.

I've seen Astaire's dancing skills in Funny Face and I was excited to see him dance again.  Although I adore Audrey Hepburn (she has a background in ballet), she doesn't compare to Ginger Rogers.  I know that people have often commented on the dancing duo of Astaire and Rogers, so I'll keep it brief: they are amazing.  I smiled while watching them dance.  This was the first musical where I was willing to be swept away in the silliness while not worrying about the plot.  I didn't know a thing about Rogers before watching this movie and I was really captivated by her beauty and gumption.  She brought Mimi to life in a complex way: she's guarded, but sweet, beautiful, but strong.  The dances were awesome.  Astaire was awesome.  Rogers was awesome.  But the thing that I loved most about the movie was the CLOTHES!  Oh. My. God.  I'd die for that wardrobe!

Rogers in an early scene of the movie.  I love the beret.





If they sold this outfit at Anthropologie, I'd buy it in a heart-beat.  She's sad, but she's so chic!

This dress was poetry in motion.  What is is about black and white movies that make diamonds sparkle more?  I wish there was a better picture of it.  I was mesmerized during this number (Night and Day).

Everything that Mimi wears in this movie (even what her older aunt Hortense wears) is simply stunning.  Her day-to-day fashion was adorable.  Oddly enough, some of the fasions in this film could be applicable today.  Just look at this jumpsuit from the number Knock Knees (sorry that the picture is so small):

Eggbert's socks and sandals are an affront to fashion- but I forgive him since he's the lovable goof in the film.  (You're not off the hook, Dad!)  This jumpsuit, while I wouldn't wear it, is similar to what pop stars are rocking today.  (This is not Rogers, by the way.)


The women in this film were glamorous, the men were dapper, and the interiors were beautiful.  I wanted to take the hotel room Mimi was staying in and make it my living room.  It was fabulous and graphic- I guess it had to be when film was black and white.  The writing and performances were pretty good too.  Unlike The Seven Year Itch, there was only one character I didn't like (Mimi's husband).  In The Seven Year Itch I only liked one character: Monroe's.  But one thing that both of these movies have in common is that they were both adapted from plays.  It sort of goes to show you that there hasn't been an original idea in Hollywood for a loooong time. 

I would highly recommend this movie for someone who is looking for something pleasant and light to watch with a glass of wine after a long day at work, for a musical lover, or for someone who wants to enjoy some serious fashion. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Classic Movie Challenge: The Seven Year Itch

Do you know how hard it is to find an image from the movie The Seven Year Itch without it being a still from the subway scene?  It took me five minutes to find a photo of Marilyn alone that I considered to be halfway decent.  

Marilyn's character (The Girl) considers how dreadful it would be to spend another night in her apartment that doesn't have A/C as she enjoys her Richard's cool apartment.

Since we've all seen the iconic imagery that is Marilyn with her skirt blown up over her knees, I will spare you the redundancy.  :)

The reason I got into watching classic movies was because of the film My Week With Marilyn.  Michelle Williams did an amazing job portraying an actress on the edge and I wanted to know more about Marilyn Monroe.  (As well as other iconic actors and actresses from Hollywood's golden years.)  This movie was the first Mayriln Monroe movie I had ever seen.  I must say, I was taken back by the context of the film.  The story was adapted from a Broadway play in which the men of Manhattan send their wives and children to the countryside during the heat of the summer for an opportunity to misbehave.  I found this to be shocking for a time that is known for the Leave it to Beaver vision of the perfect nuclear family.  Of course people have been behaving badly since the dawn of time, but I didn't know that a movie like this could be made int he 1950s.

It turns out, it was toned down from the Broadway play considerably by the Haze Office that censored Hollywood.  Films like this one would eventually make the Haze Office a thing of the past.  Maybe you haven't seen the movie and you are wondering, "How scandalous could it be?"  Well, I was pretty shocked from start to finish.

Upon dropping off his wife and bratty son at the train station our "protagonist," Richard, immediately begins oogling pretty women.  He vows to be good, unlike some other men who drink, smoke, and get tattooed.  He takes himself to a vegetarian restaurant for dinner where everything is made out of soy and the waitress forgoes a tip and instead asks him to donate to the nudist cause.  She, of course, is not pretty.  Richard goes home and during his narration he makes sure to mention that he likes his neighbors, even the two male interior decorators who live together above him.  He monologues about how he would describe his day to his absent wife, "Oh you know, I shot my boss through the head and then made violent love to my secretary..."  What the hell?!  This guy is a creep.  Ten minutes in and I hated the protagonist.  Not only is he a creep, he is also paranoid to the point of schizophrenia and he is struggling to keep his vices in check.  Clearly, this man has no self discipline.

He is a repressed middle age man, according the the work of a psychologist from the film.  Richard goes on to fake a conversation with his wife about all of the women who have thrown themselves at him.  He tells her that they cannot help it, he arouses something within them.  Sure, I sneered to myself, you arouse disdain.  Pig.  The women he fantasizes about are portrayed as hysteric nymphomaniacs.  He slaps a nurse in one scene and in the next, he pushes his wife's best friend off of him and she welcomes it and tells him that he knows she'd come crawling back for more if he would let her.  Clearly, a man wrote the play.  Where the comedy is in this, I'm not sure.  Richard criticizes the looks of his perfectly beautiful 31 year old wife and within the next few minutes, after a phone call from her, flies into a jealous rage because a male friend has stopped by where she is staying in the country.  I know, I know, Richard is imagining things.  He has an active imagination.  My favorite character with an active imagination is Walter Mitty, at least his daydreams are fun.  And not degrading.  (You should really read the short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty- it is my favorite.)

I was beginning to sincerely regret renting this film and I wondered how it could ever have been as popular as it was.  Then Marilyn Monroe came on screen as the sub-letter of his gay neighbors and I understood why it was popular: you cannot take your eyes off of her.  She was a far more compelling character than her male counterpart.  She's not the most amazing actress, but there was an undeniable magic to her.   She is earnest and fun.  She is a girl who eats potato chips while drinking champagne.  Richard immediately falls head over heels for her and invites her into his apartment to be neighborly.  She agrees and is immediately pleased at her choice because he has costly A/C and the apartment she is sub-letting does not.  He lies about his wife and son and even tries to put the moves on her at the end of the night.  When she refuses, he feels guilty and kicks her out.

The next day at work Richard fears that his wife will catch wind of the indiscretion and he says aloud that he would kill Monroe's character (known only as The Girl) with his bare hands if she blabs.  This is what I mean about schizophrenic.  Add misogynistic to the list.  He disintegrates into ticks and paranoid visions while he fights his amorous desires.  When he finally makes the decision to act on them he gets thwarted.  (This grinds my gears- he doesn't have the chance to fight his urges, fate decides for him, he won't cheat.)  Meanwhile, bless her heart, Monroe remains as likeable as ever.  Sure, she is a bit of a ditz, but she's got heart.  She figures out that Richard has the hots for her and she kisses him on the cheek (and once on the lips- yuck) because she appreciate his kindnesses.  When he laments that he is a wallflower, a nobody, and that his wife would never feel jealous of other women putting the moves on him, she assures him that he is someone special and that girls don't prefer handsome men all of the time.  Most women are looking for men with good hearts.  (Let me just say that she has not seen him at his craziest, but if she had, I think she would have avoided him like the plague.  Then again, she wanted to enjoy his A/C.)  Eventually, thankfully, the movie ends and Richard makes the decision to be with his wife and son on holiday.

Honestly, I didn't like this movie.  I know you are thinking, Gee, I couldn't tell.  But I am glad I watched it anyway.  It gave me a deeper appreciation for Monroe.  I never understood why so many young women idolize her.  I think some do for the wrong reasons, but she was talented behind all of that tragic beauty.  Monroe was falling to pieces behind the set of this film.  The images of her on the subway grate drew a wedge between her and her then husband, Joe DiMaggio.  He was embarrassed and wanted a wife that would stay at home while she wanted to build her career.  Less than ten years later, Monroe, the icon, would meet her untimely death.  I have a couple more of Monroe's films on my Netflix queue: Some Like It Hot, Monkey Business, and Gentleman Prefer Blondes.  I hope I like those more than The Seven Year Itch.  But if this film was any indication, I am sure I will enjoy Monroe's raw star power despite the quality of the stories.

(Coming up soon: Classic Movie Challenge: The Gay Divorcee)


Monday, August 6, 2012

I Remember...

In my writing class our teacher suggests different free-writing prompts.  We are supposed to pause our lesson, do the prompt, post it to the discussion board if we want, and resume the lesson.  Considering I'm usually jamming lessons in at work or between household chores and volunteering, I usually stick to the assignments and not the suggested activities.  I know, bad pupil. 

I try to practice my writing on this blog and though I may write in a conversational tone, I reread each post out loud at least once and try to polish it up a bit before hitting the "publish" button.  Practice makes perfect, but practice doesn't have to be perfect... so I am going to publicly attempt a writing prompt on my blog.  I figure people who know me would appreciate some of these things more than my numerous classmates (over 100) who remain faceless and I only know them by discussion board names like ABC or Trapper

* I am not editing this portion of the post.  I will correct my grammar, even though I'm not supposed to... but I'm not going to change my overall thoughts... here goes nothing. *

I remember when I was in fourth grade and I decided that I would let people other than my family call me Becca.

I remember when my brother wrote me a note telling me he was running away because he was mad at me but that he still loved me.  He slid it under my bedroom door.

I remember when we both convinced our youngest brother that he was invisible.  It took us a long time to convince him that he actually wasn't after that.

I remember when I was convinced that aliens were behind acid rain.

I remember the tree house in my backyard.  I remember how sad I was when that tree had to be taken down.

I remember going to my first concert.  It was John Mayer, but I liked the opening band, Guster more.  I am listening to them right now.

I remember my first dance in 6th grade.  I didn't go to another until 8th grade because I was slightly anti-social even back then.

I remember the first time someone used the nickname Bee for me.  I called that friend Mango.  That was a simpler time.

I remember when my science teacher used to toss us candy for getting questions right. 

I remember having a daily quota that I couldn't go over when answering questions in high school history classes. 

I remember hearing my grandfather sing my name from various corners of the house.  I sang his name from the Empire State Building.  I asked him later if he heard me.

I remember my grandfather dancing in front of the television to get my attention. 

I remember zero-depth entry kiddie pools and frilly swimsuits.

I remember when my dad bought me a Winnie-the-Pooh t-shirt in 5th grade for getting an A+ on my Revolutionary War History Test.  I still have that shirt packed away at my parent's house.  I'll never get rid of it.

I remember that I hated the smell of popcorn for six months after starting to work at the movie theatre.


***

This was harder than I thought- especially since it is supposed to be no more than a five minute exercise.  I didn't write all the "I remembers..." that walked through my head.  I paused to think quite a bit.  Some of these brought tears to my eyes.  I probably should do this more often if I expect to continue creative non-fiction.  It reminds me of my idea of writing an essay about my paternal grandparents and calling it The Adventures of the Cowboy, Geeze Louise, and Lady Jane.  The title is a bit long, but it paints a funny picture. 

For my writing class I decided to work on a fiction fantasy story that I've had in mind.  J has had the pleasure of having the first three chapters read aloud twice now.  I accidentally spoiled the plot twist for him tonight and he was disappointed.  I have other stories in mind and this current one isn't my favorite, but it is the farthest along.  I'm also scared to share what I consider my best idea.  My classmates seem very supportive,  but most are much older than me and I don't think they would understand the point I'm trying to make with that story.

Right now, my biggest hurdle for writing is just making the time to write

Work today was brutal, I am turning in after I finish this post.  My jaw and throat hurt from talking so much.  I told J that I felt like a doll with a string in it's back, "Becca the Secretary! She comes with 20 distinct phrases!"  Unlike other days, I helped the most patient and understanding folks in the world.  Their positive attitude and graciousness make all the difference in a long day.  Instead of feeling weary, I feel like I made a difference- even the tiniest one- in someone's day.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

5 Things: Simple Things that Make Me Smile

I liked doing the 5 Things: Miami post, so I figured I would do some more.  Instead of flooding my blog with 5 Things everyday I decided to make it a bi-weekly post.  I also used to think that if a post didn't have to do with Miami Life specifically (new experience, funny story, good restaurant) then I shouldn't post about it.  Well, I am living in Miami, so I figure writing about my life in general is worthy of blog posting, too!

I also added labels to all of my blog posts.  For example, if you are looking for a particular post where I wrote about food then you can look through the Food Love label.  The other labels I have included are: 5 Things, Books, Crafting, Etsy, Miami Life, Puppy Love, Quelle Horreur (for those funny-because-it-wasn't-happening-to-you stories), Wisconsin, and Work.  It was a interesting to read what I had to say about life in Miami these past two years.  I also noticed my readership went way down after I stopped posting links on my Facebook page.  I've been boycotting Facebook for awhile (I hate the Keeping Up with The Joneses feeling it gives me...) but I have to gone back recently to keep in touch with friends and to be able to share my blog with those who care.  That being said, I really appreciate those of you who do take the time to sort through my jumbled thoughts.  One of the main reasons I write is to try and entertain you.  I hope that you enjoy the silly things I have to share.

***

5 Simple Things that Make Me Smile

My Turtle Collection

I don't know why, but I like turtles.  Maybe it is because they appeal to the minimalist in me?  They can compact themselves and take their homes with them.  Maybe it is because I had a turtle growing up?  His name was Freddy and he lived in my brother's room.  I think some turtles are decidedly cute and others are not.  I've been acquiring cute turtles from friends and family over the years.



The wooden turtle was from a high school friend.  It was probably the single most thoughtful thing he ever gave to me.  The red and green turtle is from my littlest brother.  He brought it back for me when I couldn't go on a family vacation.  The sea turtle is a gift from a friend when she went to Hawaii.  The rubber turtle is a bit banged up, but I love him.  I found him outside of a grocery store the day that I picked up my family from the airport when they came to visit.  I named him Terrance.  The green stone turtle is from J.  He bought it for me when he went to Milan and I stayed in Lyon with the friend who gave me the wooden turtle.  Oddly enough, he went to Milan with the friend who gave me the sea turtle.  The last turtle is a Littlest Pet Shop toy.  I am a sucker for anything cute and I spent a summer searching for this toy in every Target and Wal-Mart in Milwaukee and Madison.  J finally bought it for me online.  :)


My Maneki Neko Collection

It is a small collection, but I love Maneki Neko nontheless.  They represent good luck and prosperity in the Japanese culture.  Shop keepers will often have them in their windows.  I went to a seamstress in Madison on State Street mainly because she had these little guys inviting me in.  She was a good seamstress.  I hope one day to travel to Japan.  I have been dreaming of that for a long time.



I got my first Maneki Neko from The Icing (teeny bopper store) at Brookfield Square.  It was originally a key chain, which I was collecting at the time.  I was drawn to the colors and I thought he would bring me more money so I could buy Gelly Roll pens (another collection).  The second is the gold one from the Morikami Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach.  I love Japanese gardens and I wanted to take my parents there.  They have a really well curated gift shop.  I saw this pudgy guy and fell in love.  The third one is light green and it is from St. Pete's.  J and I were on our way to get Ruby and we stopped in a shop that had all sorts of neat stuff.  I like this one because it reminds me of a fun trip with J and when we got to meet our baby.


Foot Prints on the Fridge

I made this project while I was in the School of Education during the Art/Math semester.  In our class we had to teach lesson plans to our classmates and a couple of girls did a lesson plan about how unique individuals can be.  We were to trace our shoes on paper and then make a collage on one footprint represent to ourselves and another for an important person in our lives.  I did mine about J.  These have been hanging on my fridge since the day that I made them.  They remind me of how different we are, the things I admire about him, and how we are walking through life together.

 You can probably figure out which footprint is for me and which is for J.  Mine has the laughing Buddha, the stuff about cleanliness and simplicity, and my birth month.  J's has food on it (because he does most of the cooking), radar and clouds and sky (to represent his career), IQ (because I think he is smart), a lemur (because he thinks they're funny), and a little piggy (representing me having to crane my neck to look at him).


My Goat Print

My mom has this print, too.  It is called Nap Time.  I don't think of the little goat yawning so much as I think of him bleating.  It made me laugh the first time I saw it.  It was the first picture J and I hung up.  It is odd.  It is funny.  It fits us perfectly.


Like I mentioned, this print is named "Nap Time."  I can't really make out the artist's name... artists should print their names so you can read it and buy more stuff from them, but I digress.  I think it is A. Connor?

My Uglydoll Calendar

My family will tell you that I like the ugly, the kitschy, and the weird.  It's true.  I have often purchased things thinking, "Oh, this funny little stuffed animal needs a home.  Don't worry, I'll take care of you."  I've gotten better at making more thoughtful purchases over the years, but now friends and family have taken to fulfilling my need of the odd things in life.  My dad and I share a love for the Hobby Shop that is in Greenfield, WI.  Aside from hobby supplies it also sells newspapers, magazines, and calendars.  He saw this one and thought of me and the two-sided Uglydoll I proudly brought home from my freshman year of college.  He shares my sense of humor (or I share his) so he immediately understood why I would want such a stuffed animal.  This calendar helps me keep track of the days, but it also reminds me not to take things so seriously.  (And that when all else fails, call Dad because he'll make you laugh.)



***

There you have it!  5 simple things in my life that bring a smile to my face.