Friday, December 28, 2012

Polyvore Pins

If you've ever looked at the "women's fashion" Pins on Pinterest, you've seen images from Polyvore, even though you might not have realized it.

I was wondering where everyone was getting those awesome images of complete outfits on white backgrounds, so I started checking the links they were coming from: Polyvore. So I went a-Googling and now I'm hooked.

There's a lot more to Polyvore than this, but I'm using it to have fun building outfits. (It's like dressing up a Barbie, without the Barbie. It's awesome.)

Here's the link to my collection of sets:

I can't copy/paste the images of my sets, but they can be Pinned, which is pretty great. Looks like I have an additional way to waste my precious free time...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Here I Come A-Wassailing

For your holiday entertainment, I've collected my favorite Christmas/winter/Hanukkah songs. They range from "carols pre-dating America" to "horribly inappropriate," so I'm providing commentary below each video for your benefit.

"12 Days of Christmas" Straight No Chaser
I have hated "12 Days of Christmas" my entire life. I think I hated it before I mastered speech. I hate the original, I hate the parodies, I hate trying to remember which lines go with which numbers when you get up past six or so. I really hated having to sit through elementary school concerts where the chorus teacher thought that song was a great way to eat up time without having to teach any extra songs. But this... this song is glorious. It's funny, it incorporates a surprise (hint: the easiest way to find it on YouTube is searching "straight no chaser Christmas in Africa") and these gentlemen are fantastic singers. I love it.

"Christmas Time in Hell" from South Park
I shouldn't have to tell you that this isn't really work/family appropriate, but now I've warned you. It's upbeat and catchy and funny (even if some of the pop culture references are dated now) and it makes me feel good. I can't find a video with all the animation included, which would make it better, but it's still pretty great.

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / We Three Kings" Barenaked Ladies ft. Sarah McLachlan
This is from "Barenaked for the Holidays," simultaneously my favorite BNL album and favorite holiday album all in one. I was never a huge fan of either song, but this medley is awesome, and I love to sing along to it. (In the car. By myself. Because I don't sing that well.)

"Do They Know It's Christmas" Barenaked Ladies
I know, a duplicate on the artist, but... this song. Oh my peppermint-flavored gosh, this song. You know this one. It's the one Band Aid did to help Ethiopia in the '80s. It's so... well, let the lyrics speak for themselves. "The Christmas bells that ring there / are the clanging chimes of doom"? Doom, guys? My favorite part is how intensely BNL sings this song. I've never been 100% sure whether they're being serious or mocking the song's existence. I like to imagine it's half and half: they care about the plight of the hungry, but they think the song is a bit ridiculous. It's amazingly fun to sing along to, though. One thing that bugs me every time I hear it: I don't think "there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time" is a great way to make the point we're going for here. First of all, it will snow on Mount Kilimanjaro; Kibo - the summit that counts - is over 19,000 feet high. Secondly, do they want snow? If it did snow in Africa (in the parts you're thinking of, like the deserts and such) it would probably be pretty devastating. They aren't really prepared for snow. Sure, they could probably drink it, but it would be unbelievably cold... You know, I feel like I'm starting to be as insulting as the song feels, so I'll just go make a donation to a charity and move on to the next song.

"Baby It's Cold Outside" She & Him
Yes, this song is notoriously, historically creepy. (If you aren't familiar with it, it's essentially about a woman who is seemingly trapped at a pushy man's house because it's cold out and he's unwilling to help her get home because he would rather she stay with him.) But this is Zooey Deschanel's band, She & Him. So instead, it's quirky and cute and funny. She's like the King Midas of quirk, instead of gold. The male and female parts are switched (and I recognize the double standard while still finding it amusing) which gives it a cutesy Misery-ish vibe, and the animation makes the whole thing extra adorable.

"Hanukkah Blessings" Barenaked Ladies
Last one from BNL, I promise. But I had to put my favorite Hanukkah song on the list. I learned the Hanukkah blessing from this song! Not that we actually say it when we have Hanukkah dinner, but it makes me feel good to know it. (I can't remember it if I don't sing it to the tune of this song, but it should count for something anyway.)

"My Christmas List" Simple Plan
(Forgive the video; its quality is not its fault... it was made in 2006.)
This was a bonus track hidden on "Grow Up" on the 2002 album "No Pads, No Helmets, Just Balls." That song had a chorus containing the lines "I don't wanna be told to grow up / and I don't wanna change, I just wanna have fun." Another song on that album was "I'm Just A Kid" which held the timeless wisdom, "I'm just a kid, and life is a nightmare / I'm just a kid, I know that it's not fair / Nobody cares that I'm alone and the world is / having more fun than meeee / tonight." (No, I didn't have to look those lyrics up. Don't judge me; you had a terrible-music-loving phase in high school, too. Yes you did.) I like imagining all the things they would list if this song were written today. (For context, this album came out four months after the first iPods were sold.)

"Feliz Navidad" (Jose Feliciano)
If this song doesn't just make you smile like a damned fool and sing along, then you and the Grinch have too much in common. This is such a happy song!

"All I Really Want For Christmas" (from Family Guy)
Also, a very happy song. And funny, and incredibly catchy. This is one of those mildly inappropriate ones, depending on who you're with. I mean, it was aired on Fox, but you know what I mean. The unfortunate thing is that it's fairly hard to sing correctly (for me, anyway) so when it's stuck in my head, I can't hum/sing it aloud unless I'm by myself, or I'll get severely judged on my inability to hit higher notes.

"Auld Lang Syne" Barenaked Ladies
Okay, I said "Hanukkah Blessings" was the last BNL one, but then I remembered that this is my favorite song of all time, and couldn't leave it off the list. I like the song "Auld Lang Syne" to begin with. It has a good message (friends=good) and it's a heck of a lot easier for the non-musically-inclined to sing than "Happy Birthday." It's a tradition that a huge percentage of our country's population participates in (it's the first song Rockin' New Year's Eve plays after midnight every year) and it just sounds nice. That said, this is my favorite version, because... well, it just is. It's my own tradition and it's comfortable because I've been listening to it since high school. I'll bust it out in the middle of the summer if I need a musical pick-me-up. If you don't think it's moving enough, consider this: in World War II, a Japanese ship (the Montevideo Maru) was sinking with over 1000 Australians on board (mostly POWs) and the  Australian men in the water sang this song for the trapped ones.

With that depressing fact, I will wrap up my Christmas Songlist and wish you all a Merry Christmas (or a really belated Hanukkah) and a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Last You'll Hear of NaNoWriMo (This Year)

I have my NaNoWriMo winner's t-shirt... and my five free print copies of my novel, courtesy of CreateSpace!

Actually, I have four copies of my novel and one copy of someone else's. I'll work on letting them know that tomorrow. In the meantime, I just wanted everyone to know that I wrote something that has an ISBN!!! That's a pretty thrilling feeling.

I'm going to - experimentally - try writing something else between now and the next NaNoWriMo (that's November 1, 2013, for those of you who don't pay very close attention) and see if it turns out any better than Epilogue (which is the title of my NaNoWriMo 2012 novel). This one should be called Epiphenomena and will be more of a collection of interconnected short stories than a regular novel.

The idea is that I'll have longer to spend on it so I won't have to rely on shoddy, hastily-done research for my facts, and I'll take the time to plan out the pieces and develop the characters and discover - and more importantly, remedy - the gaping plot holes and raging inconsistencies.

Wish me luck...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook Elementary

I checked around and it looks like this is legit, so I thought I'd share it, so you can participate if you want.

You can make snowflakes (in any color, style, size, etc.) and send them to the Connecticut PTSA for Sandy Hook Elementary, so they can create a winter wonderland for the kids. They ask that you send your snowflakes by January 12, 2013 to the following address:

Connecticut PTSA
60 Connolly Pkwy
Bldg 12, Suite 104
Hamden CT 06514

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

It was awesome.

I could really just leave it at that, but to expound a little...

I don't like 3D, as a general rule. I don't think I've actually watched a 3D movie since I went to that Muppets thing as a kid (which, for the record, terrified me, but I was eight, so give me a break). But this was exactly what I expected from Peter Jackson and his crew. For as many swords as there are in this movie, not once do I recall any of them being waved at my face in a hokey, cheesy way. Mostly, the 3D was used to visually say, "Hey, look at this beautiful setting; doesn't it feel like you're really sitting here with us?" And also a fair bit of "run away, scary things are after us!"

It's more light-hearted than the other three movies (which it's supposed to be) but I like the serious, intense investment I feel with the others. So, no, I don't like it more than the original trilogy.

The music was not as moving as I expected it to be (if it can't make me cry on command the way the J. J. Abrams Star Trek opening sequence music can, it isn't moving enough) but it was very nice. And "Misty Mountains" will be stuck in my head for approximately the next year.

Weird fact that I just stumbled upon while looking for a photo: The guy who plays Kili is three years younger than me.

Side note, because I was thinking about the Bechdel test yesterday anyway: It's laughable to even put The Hobbit and the Bechdel test in the same sentence, considering there's one female character with a name or lines in the entire film (and none in the book). But that has no bearing whatsoever on its quality. (Seriously, that's not what the Bechdel test is about. It's just to get people thinking about gender portrayal in media.)

As close as you get to passing the Bechdel test in The Hobbit:
Galadriel talking to the man with long hair in the long robe.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sore Muscles, A Birthday, and an Arrival

Moving furniture to a third-floor apartment is a lot of work. And I haven't even done most of the work. Birk has. And my dad helped a lot last night. And Birk's dad is going to be helping. But I've still done a fair chunk of it, and I am sore.

Pictured: The main content of all my
upcoming nightmares
But most of the big stuff is moved in (hooray!) minus the bed and my desk, so the bulk of the remaining work will be carrying up boxes* and unpacking, which I rather enjoy. (Finding new places for all your things can be fun if you let it be.)

On an entirely different note, it's my grandfather's birthday! Yay! We're going to Bonefish Grill for dinner tonight, which is awesome, because they make an incredible chicken marsala. Doesn't just saying the phrase "chicken marsala" make your mouth water? Mmm.

Chicken marsala: demonstrating that, with enough wine,
anything can be delicious (even mushrooms)
Also, my aunt is flying in at 4:30! She lives in Texas, so we pretty much only see her for the holidays. (My uncle is too busy to come this early, but he'll be coming later, in time for Christmas.)

*Including tons of those big plastic bins, which have little to nothing in the way of handles you can use without your fingers going entirely numb. Seriously, they're easier to carry by putting your hands UNDER them, which defeats the purpose of having "handles" in the first place. Also, don't ever fill one of those things with books and expect to be able to do anything other than slide it across the room. Books are heavy, y'all.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Spam, Spam, Spam

Some manner of spammer has decided that I must be dumb enough to click on any email that says it's from one of my friends. I get these emails, about once a week, where, in the "from" column, where Gmail lists a name instead of an email address, it says it's from my friend Amy.

But here's the best part. See, for this particular email address, I listed my name as Alex. (As opposed to Alexandra or something made up.) So it populates the subject line with "alex." Amy is one of the very few people I know who calls me something OTHER than Alex. She always has and always will. So if they had chosen to imitate anyone else, they'd have a better chance of me accidentally opening the email without thinking too hard about it.

This amused me, and I thought I would share.

(In other news, this weekend and next week are about to get epic and hectic and crazy so expect some less-than-sensical posts about all sorts of things like going to Fairfax and moving and how Gimli adapts to apartment living.)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Powerpoints? In MY blog?

So I saw somewhere else that you can embed your Powerpoint presentations into Blogger posts. So of course I had to try it. I picked one of my shorter MLA demonstrations (I don't think I've ever really used this one in a class, I just made it for fun/practice).


I've been a legal adult for a while now, and one thing I don't think I'll ever be able to confidently do as an adult is taxes.

I use TurboTax every year, and it has served me well. I don't have anything particularly unique or remarkable about my income, so it isn't terribly confusing. Or, it shouldn't be.

When I fill out my TurboTax forms online, I feel like I'm taking a final exam in a class I didn't know I was enrolled in, and I'm not going to get the test back with helpful, constructive remarks in the margins. If I do get the test back graded, it means I'm in enormous trouble because I got so much of it wrong, or I filled out the wrong pages, or I skipped a page I was supposed to do.

So I think what I'm saying is, no matter how many years I'm around to fill out my taxes, I will always feel nineteen again when I'm doing them.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Genius Cat

Birk called me yesterday, out of the blue, while I was at work. He was nearly speechless. See, his sister had called him and asked him to go look for something in her room. He did, and didn't know that Gimli (our cat) had followed him. Before he left the room, he heard something in the bathroom that sounded like a leak, so he investigated. It was Gimli, using the toilet for its intended purpose.

I would like to emphasize that we have never made any attempt whatsoever to teach Gimli or any of the other animals in the house to use the toilet. (I have seen the other two cats and the dog drink out of them, though.)

I knew Gimli was smarter than he let on. All that batting around leaves and balls of foil is just an act.

Monday, December 3, 2012


I was just going through my Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) contents and cleaning some things up. I haven't used Drive in a while and wanted to make it neat and tidy so I could go back to using it.

I found a document titled "50 in 2012" which was supposed to be fifty things I wanted to do this year. I only got around to writing 26 of them, apparently, and I haven't viewed it in many months. As it turns out, I managed to do eight of them. (Some weren't really fair, like "vote" because I was going to do that anyway.)

I won't tell you what all of them are, but some of my favorites were "go to a midnight movie release" and "get new glasses" and "complete a Craftster swap." That last one seems surreal because I've been doing tons of them this year. I was disappointed to find that I left off "complete NaNoWriMo" because I could have marked that one off!

So I'm going to write another list and look at it for a little while, but eventually forget about it, and in December 2013, I'll find it again and see how I did!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pizza Pro

I learned last night that I am apparently a pizza tossing champ. Elaine made homemade pizza dough (YUM!) and we each made our own pizzas. I have mad pizza tossing skills, check it:

And on top of that, it was delicious. Hooray for homemade pizza!