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Monthly Archives: June 2010

Where in the World Wednesday: Epcot!

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A poorly kept secret about me is that I love Disney to teeny little pieces. As you can also tell from looking at this set of photos on Flickr, I like to wear ridiculous hats and pose for pictures (this may or may not have to do with the “drinking around the world” game that some people play in Epcot’s World Showcase). Here’s a favorite:


My mom, who apparently knows me all too well, asked me this question upon seeing the above picture: “Exactly how many margaritas did you have before this picture?” I promise, the answer is only one! I was just swept away by the magic of the Mexico pavilion. Additional joys of this particular area include the popular game, Ball in a Cup, which GP made his bitch. See?


Of course, during the six or so days that we spent around the Walt Disney World complex, we too approximately eleventy billion pictures of The Ball. Behold…

Shop it to Me Tuesday: Sparkle and Shine Edition

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Remember the challenge on season two of Project Runway, where they have to make pieces out of materials from a florist? And how Uncle Nick made the very, very shiny dress of leaves covered in lacquer? And how Heidi liked it, and Michael Kors said that she just liked it because it was shiny, and she’s German? Today is sort of like that. Except, in this version, I’m Heidi Klum and the leaves/lacquer dress is actually a handful of items that caught my eye in my Shop it to Me email this morning. You following me?

Here is the least shiny item, a pair of Nine West shoes called Spumanti (adorable), from Piperlime. They still count as “sparkle and shine,” on account of the little chain accent, see?

Next up, I’m not even kidding around with The Shiny. This Tory Burch top is not even joking.

Again with the Tory Burch, here are some of the oh-so-famous Reva flats. If you’re feeling charitable, I’m a size 8 (oh, and rose gold, please).Oh, and because I love Kate Spade to teeny little pieces and just can’t resist a Big Ol’ Ring

And now, finally, a purse. A big, shiny purse. I am truly in love with the Genevieve bag, but this work tote from Cole Haan is pretty sweet, too.


All right, internets. What fabulously shiny finds am I missing out on? (Sorry for the horrific prepositions. It’s Tuesday.)

Veux-tu m’épouser?

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I know, I know…I don’t even speak French. But come on, two years ago today, GP reached the final phase of his Secret Ninja Plan to propose to me. We had planned a trip to Paris with his parents, and, unbeknownst to me, he had planned to surprise me with a ring while we were there. For months, whenever I told anyone that I was going to Paris with my boyfriend, they would squeal, “Oooh, you’re going to get engaged!” Not wanting to set up ridiculous hopes that could, if not met, could taint an otherwise awesome trip, I was quick to deny this. I worked myself into such a state of denial that, when it happened, I was shocked. Seriously, a complete mess. I expected a few tears, but you guys…I bawled. Right there in the Bois du Boulogne. This is why I am so hideous in the pictures that GP’s parents snapped of us back in our rented apartment later that evening (not that that will stop me from sharing).


And so, on this day (that is a made-up-ass holiday if ever there was one, but shut up about it), I say thanks to GP. Thanks for dealing with All the Crazy, for allowing me to leave shocking amounts of shoes in the living room, for killing the spiders, for knowing so much about thermodynamics, for your boundless Friends knowledge, and for your sense of adventure. Thank you for asking me to share the rest of my life with you.

Question (LP Version) by Old 97’s. [A contender – but not the final choice – for our first dance.]

Non-confrontational (or, how I learned to stop worrying and bitch at customer service people)

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I’m awful at confrontation– I got it from my dad, who  avoided seeing a doctor about a skin-cancerous growth for well over two years before having to have massive medical intervention. (Clearly, this story is only infuriating at this point in time, rather than infuriating and terrifying, when it was actually happening. He’s fine now, and crazy as ever.) While I am less negligent in matters of personal health, I’m pretty terrible at speaking up at times in which I know that I’m in the right, such as most customer service interactions. I am petrified of sending dishes back, will drink the wrong soda, and rarely take a principled stand over a missed discount. The exception to this rule? Cost Plus World Market.

Apparently, they’ve realized that including the phrase “Cost Plus” in a name implies that their wares actually do cost more than they would at other stores, when in reality they are considerably cheaper (why those two words were in the original store name, I cannot fathom), and have smartly taken steps to rebrand their image. I’ve liked their stuff since I was a kid, attracted to the strange international toys, and currently own a sleeper loveseat that is the perfect size for our study/guest room and was an absolute steal. They have a fun selection of cheap-but-interesting home decor, food (hello, Vegemite), and seasonal stuff, and regularly have amazing sales. My problem, though? Getting my mitts on much of this sale merchandise.

The first instance of this was an email that I got, telling me of a big wine sale that they were having (like 20-30% per-bottle discounts); not one to turn up my nose at cheap international wines, I headed on down and loaded up my cart with the required (by the sale! Not my drinking habits.) dozen bottles. At the register, I was informed that only certain bottles were on sale, and that they were somehow marked as such. To make an actually-pretty-boring-and-long story short, I will tell you that roughly 45 minutes were spent searching for acceptable bottles and that this time included multiple instances of the employee who was helping me admitting that they should have made the conditions of this MASSIVE! SALE! more clear. Sigh. But, for my trouble, I got a dozen bottles of wine for under $100.

More recently, we were in the market for a little outdoor furniture set. I got another sale email from World Market, telling me that they had a set on sale ($100 off!), so I hustled over to the nearest store…where I was informed that, since I had dared to wait four days since receipt of the email, they had sold out of the eight sets that had been in their inventory. I would assume that if a store was planning on deeply discounting an item, they might be able to foresee some amount of increased demand, but then again I’m not an economist. Disappointed, I was heartened when a manager told me that the same set would be on sale in a few weeks, but in another color. Color? Who cares? Bring on the cheapie furniture!

Lo and behold, the email came. Not wanting to get too excited in advance, I called the store, was initially told they were sold out (a-freaking-gain), but finally found that they had a set leftover from a previous sale (had been held for someone else, but a different set was given to them, blah blah confusioncakes). I told them that I would be there in about an hour, asked if they could hold it for me, was told that they could, and then (and then!) was told that they didn’t need to be told my name, “Just come in and say we have a set on hold for you.”

I should have known that this was iffy at best. Of course, when I arrived at the store, I had to retell the whole phone conversation that I had had earlier, and finally had the set in my sight…almost. Eyeing the floor model, I asked what size the boxes were (yes, assembly required– cheap stuff usually comes at that cost), and the teenage cashier said that the two boxes were “about the size of [her].” Well sure, I can fit you in my car, easy, I thought, but she seemed dubious. “Do you have a friend with a truck? It doesn’t even have to be a truck, just a large van or SUV.” Look, lady, all my friends have small Asian or European cars, and I’m not about to hire a U-Haul. Let’s make this work. “Uh, can we just see if they’ll fit? I’ve put big stuff in there before.” With a sigh, she informed the strongman in the back that I wanted the set brought out. The result?


Suck it, World Market girl. And, a couple hours later?


Ah yes, a backyard oasis. I could get used to demanding perfectly reasonable things from customer service people!

Note: I have held multiple customer service positions, and have been tortured by customers a fair amount of times. In overcoming my nonconfrontational nature, I’m aiming more for “what has been promised to me by the store” than for “some crazy thing that I believe they owe me.” Don’t want to overcorrect, do we?

Where in the World Wednesday: Paris!

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This is my first WitWW, and a timely one, too, as it was nearly two years ago that we took this trip. GP’s sister had just gotten married, and his parents generously offered to take us on a “honeymoon” of our own in Paris.


Here we are at our last dinner in a restaurant down the street from the apartment we rented in the 16th arrondissement — truly a sad night! Our waitress apparently moonlighted as a photographer, as we have four nearly-identical versions of this one image.


Our first full day (yes, traveling backward in time, shut up about it) consisted of the Grand Tour of the city, starting early from the Champs de Mars, working from the Pantheon (the location of this picture) through the Tuileries, and finally up the Champs Elysees and all. the. way. up the stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. MaGP, tricky lady that she is, finagled a ride on an elevator.


Yes, GP is making a weird face in this picture, which was taken on a side trip to Versailles, but there’s a great story here! We thought we were being all romantic…but, lo and behold, the sky opened right the eff up above us, and we were drenched. He couldn’t paddle the boat back to the little dock area fast enough. Romantic, indeed.

It’s a good thing he proposed to me the next day, in a dry picnic outing to the Bois du Boulogne… (Yes, I was that jackass who gets engaged in Paris.)

Window shopping

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“Why are you looking at shoes?” asks GP, casting a wary eye in my $12-an-hour-earning direction.

“Relax, it’s for the blog.” [Have I mentioned that I would love to have a real, full-time librarian job, like, yesterday?] Here’s the latest edition of Shop It To Me Tuesday, friends!


I am up to two pairs of white pants, but one more couldn’t hurt, right? These are $152 at Piperlime, but only if you’re a size 24. Relatedly, if you are a size 24, I am incredibly jealous of you.


Something that is wonderful about summer in the Bay is that, when the sun goes down, it cools right off. Not so wonderful? You are stuck in that adorable tank top, shivering. Enter this scarf, with a nice pop of color that will add a little punch to your standard jeans and t-shirt and keep you a little warmer to boot. For $25 from Piperlime, I’ll take it.


Oh, what’s that, adorable tank top? You have a cute-but-not-too-fussy bow? Ok, you can come, too…unfortunately, your $119 price tag makes me a little hesitant. Maybe when I’m a grownup.


This DVF coverup would likely serve as a top (over a nude tank, of course) with jeans, but would you blame me? I love these colors too much to wear it only to the pool. $135 at Bluefly…sigh.


Our tickets to London in October are booked. Don’t you think I should be taking a classic trench? I like this Michael Kors number from Bluefly, but it might elicit a side-eye or two from the mister. Good thing I have a few months to save up…

A world of pure imagination

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Ok, don’t laugh. I’m going to see Toy Story 3 on Friday night. In fact, we purchased tickets more than a week in advance to make sure that we’d be guaranteed a seat– and of course we plan to arrive early enough to ensure that we get the best seats in the house. We’re not above elbowing a child or two out of the way in the process. Given that the original Toy Story came out when I was eleven or twelve years old, it is a little crazy that now, fifteen years later, the third film is being released. Looking back on things, too, it seems that I love just about everything that Pixar puts out; they have a way of telling stories that appeals to a wide audience, in a way that is touching but manages to avoid sappiness. (Seriously, too, one of my Top Five Library Dream Jobs would be at Pixar. John Lasseter, call me!) Since I am clearly such a Pixar nerd, I thought it would be fun to do a little top-ten style rundown of all the Pixar films (yes, handily enough, there are ten). Ok, here we go!

10. Cars

It’s not that I didn’t like Cars. It’s just that I’m not that interested in cars in general, and I feel like this is the highest degree to which Pixar has attempted to anthropomorphize non-human characters, and it felt like it ran a little too close to cliche at times. I’ve only watched this one all the way through a couple times, and feel like the runtime is a little long, especially when compared to their other films (this is borne out by the fact that it is the longest of all the Pixar stuff, even if it’s only by a minute). I also appreciate that, in general, Pixar can stand on the strength of non-celebrity voices, and– with the exception of Toy Story– this cast is a pretty star-studded one. (Also, Larry the Cable Guy? Not a fan.) Now, it’s not that I hated, or even disliked, Cars, and I’m fully prepared to love Cars Land when they open it at California Adventure, where a lot of Pixar-themed attractions have been really successfully established.

9. Finding Nemo


I can already see how this list is problematic: I freaking love Finding Nemo. It had me crying within the first five minutes (not unique to this movie, especially among the Pixars), I thought that it was beautifully done, and it was the reason that Disneyland brought back the subs! But, given the strength of the field, I have to give Nemo the number nine spot, even though it made me at least eight times more excited to visit the Great Barrier Reef when we were on our honeymoon.

8. The Incredibles

Ah, the first Brad Bird entry to this list! While I also really liked The Incredibles (actually, from here on out, assume that I love all these movies, because you’re going to get tired of reading it and I’m going to get tired of writing it), and thought that it told a fun story in a really visually appealing way– hello, awesome mid-century modern touches!– it just wasn’t the imaginative fantasy that some others presented. Honorable mention, though, for bringing up the idea of “If everyone’s special, then no one is,” which I fully support because, dude, does anyone else feel like there’s a surplus of self-esteem in the world? Or is it just in reality television? Don’t answer that.

7. A Bug’s Life

Originally, I thought that this one would fall lower in the list, simply because it’s not one that I warmed up to instantly. Really, this is one that reveals new things to me upon repeat viewings: look, it’s The Ant and the Grasshopper! Look, it’s The Three Amigos! Is that a Kurosawa reference? A Bug’s Life, to me, really encapsulates what I think Pixar, and most other amazing storytellers, do best: bring together themes, plot lines, and character archetypes to tell a story that feels both familiar and new at the same time.

6. Monsters Inc.

A really fun movie that I have only grown to love more as I rewatch it and ride (and re-ride) the Monsters Inc. ride at California Adventure, Monsters is such a simple premise that I’m sure there were more than a few animators slapping their foreheads and going, “Of course!” And it’s so well-executed! I love the details of Monstropolis, I love Mike Wazowski, and I love that I am nerdy enough to get the joke of Harryhausen’s. Monsters hits all the right notes for me, but not as hard as the top 5 do.

5. Up

“Adventure is out there!” I knew I was in trouble the second this movie started, with the Carl and Ellie love story that would eventually make my 3D glasses fill up with tears (shut up, yours did, too). From the sappiest moments to the most hilarious (“Kevin is a GIRL?!”), I loved, loved, loved the message here: live your life with the people you love, right fricking now.

4. Toy Story 2

Yes, both of the previous Toy Story outings made the top five, and here’s why this one rocked my face right off: whereas the original Toy Story led us back to our childhoods in which we had that favorite plaything that was the world to us, the sequel brings out some of the darker aspects and consequences of growing up. The addition of Stinky Pete, Jessie, and Bullseye to the cast allow us to see the more vulnerable side of the toys, and introduces the idea that favorite toys don’t always stay that way forever.

3. WALL-E

Who knew that a movie about robots could have so much heart? My devotion to WALL-E is such that I may have purchased a little Christmas-light-holding WALL-E for our Christmas tree (or totally did, whatever) and paid a visit to the little WALL-E robo-toy in the gift shop of our Disney World hotel when we visited in 2009. I love that WALL-E collects Earth junk, that he likes Hello, Dolly, and that he has a little cockroach friend.  I love that, in the dystopic future presented, humans are ridiculously fat and live on what is essentially a space cruise ship (because, for real…not that far off). I love the nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I love the way WALL-E says, “Eeeeevaaaa!” in his little robot voice. Good god. I think I’ll go watch it right now.

2. Ratatouille

This should not come as a surprise to anyone: I love Paris, I love cooking, and…I love that the “overcoming adversity” in this film is played out by a rat voiced by Patton Oswalt. Some of Pixar’s most gorgeous visuals show up here, but I think Paris gives them a pretty good start. This is a movie and a story that will, I think, stand up pretty well over time, as it presents classic ideas in an inventive way. Oh, and semi-tangentially, I think that one of my favorite episodes of Fresh Air is with Brad Bird and Patton Oswalt. Well worth your twenty minutes, I promise.

1. Toy Story

Surprise, surprise! From the very beginnings of the story that the animators saw in Tin Toy, Toy Story is what brought us to this place. It’s not just reverence for this film as The Very First One that makes me put it in the number one spot, either– Toy Story hits all the right notes (even if some of them are from Randy Newman), and presents toys that are both self-aware and in their own world. The thing that, in my mind, makes Pixar superior to its contemporaries, is that it lets its characters be what they are, then tells a story around that; you’re not going to see these toys arguing about a neighbor’s tree growing over a lot line, you’re not going to hear a joke from any of them about airplane food…because they’re toys! I truly appreciate the imagination that’s at work when these writers, directors, and animators give themselves over to the worlds that they’ve created.

All right, I’m sure there are some disagreements over the order (heaven knows there have been here in the living room as I’ve written this!), so let’s hear ’em. What are your favorite Pixar films?