Saturday, March 29, 2008

Wives of gamers will understand...

Oh, the joys of being married to a geek.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sleep, AI and LOST

Feels like a random post day.

I'm struggling with going to bed at night. I've had this problem my entire life. It's not that I can't fall asleep, it's that I don't want to stop doing what I'm doing and go to bed. You know how little kids never want to go to bed even if they're really tired because they think they're going to miss something? That's me, I guess I never outgrew that. I was up until 3 last night cleaning, working on my Etsy shop, watching TV and reading. Not good.

In better news, my Cadbury Mini Eggs are finally all gone. No more temptation! Until Christmas, anyway. A very good thing for my waistline.

How awesome was David Cook's rendition of "Billie Jean" on American Idol last night? I wish he had gone first, because it would showcase how truly awful Kristy, Carly, and Ramiele were. Kristy's song choice was smart, because people will vote for the pretty blond patriotic girl, but I'm always completely bored and underwhelmed by her vocals, and to be honest that song makes me throw up a little bit. Carly is a great singer but I wish she would stop YELLING everything - not every song has to be powered through. I've been annoyed with her ever since she butchered "Blackbird". Last night she sounded like a mix between Cher and Celine Dion. And Ramiele - just ugh. I hope she goes bye-bye. Brooke White remains one of my favorites for the simple reason that she doesn't belt out every single song - she has some complexity to her voice, and it's not overly trained and forced. Could anyone else tell she was trying really hard not to mouth off to the judges like she usually does? I thought that was funny. And Simon's comment about David Archuleta not picking his own song was interesting given all the rumors about his dad being a pushy stage parent.

Speaking of am I going to survive the next few weeks without LOST? I might have to rewatch the first 8 episodes of season four. Thoughts about last week's episode - did they really kill off Rousseau?! I saw the bullet go in, but somehow I'm not sure this is the end for her. We've certainly seen characters survive being shot before. There's a lot more to her story (we haven't seen that flashback episode the writers promised not so long ago) and I think she's one of the most interesting characters on the Island, so I hope she's alive. Maybe she'll pull a Locke on us in the next episode. Karl is definitely dead though. Poor Karl. At least he got a cool Star Wars allusion in before he kicked it ("I have a bad feeling about this...")

About Michael; I like the idea that he is trying to redeem himself for betraying his friends. He has always struck me as one of the weakest of the characters when it comes to morals, so it will be interesting to see if he's able to find redemption in his final days. I think he's the one in the coffin (anyone else?)

Why can't Michael kill himself? What does it mean when big gay Tom says "the Island won't let you"? (By the way, I think it's hilarious that Tom used to be the scariest of the Others, and now we find out that he's this jolly gay foodie. Talk about character development.) Here's my out-there theory: it all goes back to destiny. Remember the episode "Flashes Before Your Eyes" where Desmond first time travels? He goes back to his pre-Island life and tries to change things so that he ends up married to Penny instead of on the Island. He finds out that he can't. He meets the mysterious Ms. Hawking, who explains that no matter what he does, he will always end up on the Island because it is his destiny to push the button.

So it must be Michael's destiny to go back to the Island on the freighter and work for Ben, since he's been unsuccessful at three separate suicide attempts. The big question is, how does Tom know that it's his destiny? Here's where it gets even weirder - maybe it's because Tom and Ben can see the future. It's not too much of a stretch - we've already seen this happen with Desmond when he has a vision of Charlie dying. Ben always seems to be three steps ahead of everyone else all the time. I think Ben is able to use the Island's powers to see the future, and I think it has to do with his ability to talk to Jacob. This is why he's so passionate about protecting the Island from being discovered by Widmore or anyone else. Ben knows that it's Michael's destiny to be on the freighter because he's seen it, just like Desmond knew it was Charlie's destiny to die no matter how many times he tried to save his life. It's not that the Island controls destiny, it's that it allows certain people to see what an individual's destiny will be.

Of course I could be completely wrong. But it kind of makes sense, right?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not Gonna Happen

Last night I read in Real Simple magazine (my favorite bathtub reading experience - because I get too hot if I try to stay in long enough to read a book) that National TV Turnoff Week is coming up. I'm a big fan of the idea in principle, but I have a serious problem with the dates this year: April 21 to 27.

Guess what shows are coming back that week - all on the same day, the 24th? The Office, Lost, and Grey's Anatomy. Yeah, turnoff week isn't going to happen in our household at that particular time. It's like opening a chocolate shop in a little French village during Lent. Although I wouldn't have a problem putting a moratorium on Dora for the week (sorry Sawyer).

Edit: I was wrong about The Office; it's actually coming back on April 10. Much sooner than I thought! I'm still not going to manage to keep my TV off on the 24th though.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

LOST Night

Ever since we sprang forward for Daylight Savings, Sawyer has been sleeping in until 9:00 every morning. I've been staying up late at night making soap, reading blogs, practicing yoga, and thoroughly enjoying my late-night alone time, knowing that I can get plenty of sleep by sleeping in late in the morning. Until today, when my little munchkin inexplicably decided to wake up bright-eyed and raring to go at 5:45 a.m. I stayed up until 2 last night. UGH. I lay there for an hour or so while he played with his stuffed animals and read books on the floor. When I couldn't put him off any longer (because he was ready for breakfast) the thought that helped me get out of bed was... "Lost is on tonight!"

I'm trying to remember the last time I was this excited about a TV show, and I can't. There's never been a show like this one that I not only watch every week, but also read about, think about, and talk about in between. It's like one of my favorite books, but in 40 inches of high definition, and I'm only allowed to read a chapter at a time.

Tonight's episode, "Ji Yeon" is a biggie - we're going to find out who the rest of the Oceanic Six are. I've been spoiled on this one, but it will still be exciting to see it confirmed. I have a theory for *why* they are the Six, and I think it's a good one but I'll save it for afterwards so I don't unintentionally give anything away. We're also going to find out who Ben's "man on the boat" is. I haven't read any spoilers on that one (they are out there, but I avoid them like the plague! Which is easier said than done when you read the message boards.) I'm guessing it's Michael. The producers announced last summer that Harold Perrineau is coming back this season, and having him be on the freighter would be a really cool way to bring his character back. I can't think of anyone else who would make sense.

If you're like me and can't get enough Lost, check out some of these sources. They're a great way to pass the time between episodes - and we're about to have a lot of that soon, since after episode 8 next week we won't get another new episode until April 24th.

The Lost Forum. A forum with almost 100,000 members, a great place to talk about theories, reactions, and Easter Eggs. They have a live episode party where you can type as you watch. And they are Nazi-esque when it comes to tagging spoilers, which is great if you're like me and don't want to see them most of the time.

Lost: The Missing Pieces. These are a must-see. If you haven't watched these yet, go do it now! They have key information that wasn't in any of the episodes.

Lost Podcast. Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof (or "Darlton" as they're affectionately known on the Lost Forum) talk about the show and answer questions from viewers. They give some important information about the show during these, as well as debunking some commonly held theories (they really aren't all dead!) You can also subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes. I like to listen to it while I load the dishwasher.

Dark UFO's Screencaps and Easter Eggs If there's an Easter Egg you missed, chances are it will be here, and he posts audio clips sometimes (like when we hear the whispers, or when there is a message hidden in backwards audio). He also links to his site that's all spoilers if that's what you're into.

J. Wood on Powell's Books He's a graduate student at UVA and tackles each episode from a literary and historic perspective. It makes you realize how well read the Lost writers are - allusions galore!

Lostpedia A Lost wiki with just about every informational tidbit about the story, characters, etc. It's great if you can't remember the name of the redheaded anthropologist from the freighter (it's Charlotte Staples Lewis!)

Happy Lost Day!

Monday, March 10, 2008

iShuffle Soundtrack

Tiburon* did this game on her blog and I thought it was so fun that I wanted to do it too. It's like the iPod shuffle game - you set playback to shuffle and then write down the songs in the order they're played, but in this version each song that comes up represents a song in a theoretical soundtrack to the movie of your life. Here's mine.

1. Opening credits: "Not Your Year " The Weepies
Scattered shadows on the wall
You watch the long light fall
Some impressions stay and some will fade

2. Waking up: "9 Crimes" Damien Rice
I love him but waking up to this song would suck. Holy depression, Batman!

3. First Day of School: "Love Is Strange" Everything But the Girl
An often covered song, but this one is amazing. I highly recommend the whole album, Acoustic. It's in the top 10 of my all time favorite albums.

4. Falling in love: "Samson" Regina Spektor
You are my sweetest downfall
I loved you first, I loved you first
Beneath the stars came falling on our heads
But they're just old light, they're just old light

For the record, one of my favorite songs ever.

5. First Kiss song: "Ex-Girlfriend" No Doubt
Kinda always knew I'd end up your ex-girlfriend
I'm another ex-girlfriend on your list
But I should've thought of that before we kissed

HA! I remember my little sis SWORE the lyrics to this song went "Why're you always doing it with your ex-girlfriend." Awesome.

6. Breaking up: "Hideous Towns" The Sundays
Sticks and stones may break my bones
but words will just finish me off

7. Prom: "We're the Same" Matthew Sweet
I don't have to speak and you know what I'm thinking
You don't need to hear what I say

I loved this song in high school (and still do). I went to prom four times, one my sophomore year, two junior year and one senior year. Of course, the best one was with Eric.

8. Life: "Santeria" Sublime
It's true. I don't practice Santeria.

9. Mental breakdown: "All Across the Sands" The Stone Roses
How can a pretty painted shell
Send them all packing off to hell

I love that line.

10. Driving: "Stolen Car" Beth Orton (I swear I didn't plan this!)
You walked into my house last night
I couldn't help but notice
A light that was long gone still burning strong
You were sitting, your fingers like fuses, your eyes were cinnamon.

11. Flashback: "Don't Be Sad" Whiskeytown
Seen a lot of things we didn't wanna see
But I'm glad we did
I know a lot of times we fell out of line
But we fell back in
I think we lost the keys to the kingdom
Before we'd seen them
Don't be sad
Don't be sad

12. Getting back together: "Carry On Wayward Son" Kansas
Now that I think of it, the only boyfriend I ever got back together with was Eric. Interesting. He is also the only boyfriend I ever talked out of breaking up with me, but that's another story. Great song, if not terribly relevant.

13. Wedding: "Whatever" Oasis
I'm free to be whatever I
whatever I choose and I'll sing the blues if I want
I'm free to say whatever I
whatever I like if it's wrong or right it's all right

Probably not a great strategy for a successful marriage, but a fun song. I used to tune my guitar to this one until I bought a tuner.

14. Birth of a child: "Stay Young" Oasis (again. Nice job, shuffle function!)
Hey, stay young and invincible
Cause we know just what we are and
Come what may, we're unstoppable
Cause we know just what we are

15. Final battle: "Pam Pong" Sweet Diss and the Comebacks
The boss is already out,
he’ll Schrute it up, I have no doubt
She’s the kind of girl you’d adore,
that you could make your famous cheese sandwich for
And dance until the music stops;
Look into her eyes, tell her how you feel

Yep, this was written about Pam from The Office. I had no idea I actually had it in my iTunes library. I'm even more of a nerd than I thought.

16. Death scene: "Baby It's Cold Outside" Ella Fitzgerald
Apparently I'm going to die to the sounds of a lighthearted jazz duet.

17. Funeral: "Flame Turns Blue" David Gray
Worlds dismantled and all the books unbound
Conversations though we utter not a sound
I heard a rumour I don't know if its true
That you'd meet me where the flame turns blue

Through the lemon trees the diamonds of light

Break in splinters on the pages where I write
That if I lost you I don't know what I'd do
Burn forever where the flame turns blue

I'll just be happy if it's not "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead." I do love this song though.

18. End credits: "The One I Love" Rosie Thomas
This one goes out to the one I love
This one goes out to the one I left behind
A simple thought to occupy my mind
This one goes out to the one I love

Fire , fire, fire, fire

A great cover of the R.E.M. song. I loved R.E.M. in high school but I had no idea that the chorus said "fire" until listening to Rosie's version. Funny.

*Speaking of Tib's blog, she's doing a super cool giveaway right now - all you have to do is leave a comment. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What is "natural"?

(Christie, this update is for you. No more cupcakes at the top of the page!)

One of my biggest pet peeves is all the "natural" products on the market these days. Particularly in the bath and body world, it seems like everyone has jumped on the natural bandwagon.

As far as I can tell, there are basically two definitions consumers have in mind when they describe a product as "natural".

1) It is found in nature. Obviously, this definition doesn't apply to bath products; soap doesn't grow on trees.

2) It is made from ingredients that are found in nature with minimal processing. Handmade soap could qualify under this definition - although you'd have to make an allowance for the fact that lye used by soapmakers is made in a lab, and that many soapmakers (including me sometimes) use synthetic fragrance oils in their products.

One of the hottest topics on The Soap Dish (online community of over 5,000 soapmakers) is about the search for natural preservatives, natural fragrance and colorants, and natural additives. There is much debate surrounding this issue for the simple reason that in the world of marketing, the world "natural" is unregulated and essentially meaningless. An example - Method hand wash. The second ingredient on the label (after water) is sodium lauryl sulfate, a synthetic detergent that is created in a lab (does not exist in nature.) And they are scented with synthetic fragrance. Yet they claim that all of their products are natural or "naturally derived" (which is also pretty meaningless, since just about every ingredient can be traced in some way back to a natural source.) Another one - Glade Scented Oil candles which are labeled as "made with Essential Oils". The only problem - there is no such thing as Apple essential oil (or Clean Linen, or Mango, Peaches, Berry, Coconut, etc.) They can claim to be natural because there is no legal definition of "natural".

Of course, in my opinion the whole quest to make everything more natural is flawed to begin with, because it relies on the premise that natural=good and unnatural=bad. Let's explore that.

Things that are natural:

-tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes
-E. coli
-the flu
-fleas, mosquitoes, roaches
-poop (there's a thread on The Soap Dish that discusses a great recipe containing "sodium poopinate". That may only be funny if you're a B&B formulator.)

Things that are unnatural:

-birth control

So there you have it: "natural" does not equal "good" and "unnatural" does not equal "bad". End of debate.


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