Tuesday, June 30

HYSTERICAL: Twilight Parody

What a cynic wishes Bella WOULD'VE said...

I LOVE this and think it is too funny... lots of talent here...

Saturday, June 27

I'll take that with an extra celery stick, please!

For whatever reason, I can't make this ad any larger. But here's what it says.

Blondie: (to the bartender) A Bloody Mary please... (to her friend) It's the ony way I like my veggies.

Her friend: What about all the vodka?

Blondie: You mean the potatoes?

Every time I read this, I crack up. It's an add for Flat Earth Baked Veggie Crisps with 1/2 serving of veggies baked into every ounce! I haven't tried these, but maybe I should... definitely healthier than drinking bloody marys for all your veggies... but likely not as much fun.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 25

Twilight - Fantasy Cast by Swestie

I promise I'm not going to keep posting about the Twilight Saga. However, I couldn't resist just one more... Let me give you a little background...

I hadn't really heard anything at all about Twilight - books or movie. Then my husband told me that his mom had read them... hm... I thought. She doesn't do a lot of reading. This is very interesting.

Then a girl in my book group suggested that we read Twilight. Collectively eye roll... it appeared none of us wanted to read a book for young adults. When I went to my local used bookstore, just four days before my club meeting, I was surprised that they didn't have Twilight. The squirrely lady behind the ancient, cracked counter told me that she couldn't keep them in stock. Hm. I wonder what all the fuss is about!

So I watched the movie the night before my book club meeting. I figured it would give me enough information at least not to feel left out of the discussion with my friends. And it did! I really enjoyed the movie. Furthermore, I was intrigued with the passion that the girls who had read the book spoke of each individual characters... like they were real people... even the peripheral characters... hm... and these were the girls who didn't even want to read the book in the first place!

So I borrowed Twilight and New Moon from my mother-in-law and plunged in, subsequently neglecting hearth and home for the better part of ten days, as I zipped through those two, and then greedily purchased Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, wolfing them voraciously as well. It's a good thing my kids were out of town at the time and that my husband can fend for himself, cause if it didn't HAVE to get done, it DIDN'T. I plowed through the entire 2200 odd pages of the four books in record time, enjoying every suspenseful second and feeling bereft when there were no more pages to read.

Then I watched the movie again. I was shocked by how little I thought of it while reading the books. Then I was, of course, dismayed that it wasn't as faithfully rendered as a fan could've hoped. Then I was bewildered by the choices of actors to play the roles. So here's how I would've cast the movie version of Twilight.

Bella: Kristen Stewart - no change; I thought she played a perfect awkward but thoughtful teenager girl.

Edward: Rob Lowe as he was in his 1980s Brat Pack perfection. To me, he is eternally beautiful and seems to have more of the build that Stephanie Meyer writes about in the books... Bella was always talking about his beautiful face and his perfect chest... Robert Pattinson doesn't have much chest at all...

Esme Cullen: Elizabeth Reaser - no change. She fit the bill of doting (vampire) mother perfectly.

Carlisle Cullen: Simon Baker; I must admit that Peter Facinelli, the actor who played this role in the movie, IS quite beautiful and had the right presence to play Carlisle. However, in order to stick to the book's descriptions, they bleached his hair blonde which made him look strange to me... Simon Baker is just as pretty, with an even more suave manner, and also already has the requisite blonde hair.

Alice Cullen: Ashley Greene - no change. Spritely, beautiful, graceful. A better than perfect Alice. I especially loved her speaking voice.

Jasper Hale: Jason Lewis (of Sex and the City fame); I really think that Jackson Rathbone fit the bill perfectly, except for the hair. He has dark hair, and Jasper is supposed to have light hair. The color change looked strange to me... although I do love this guy in the baseball scene. Anyway, Jason Lewis is vampire hot and already has blonde hair... but like Rob Lowe, we'd have to reverse-age him a little for him to fit the bill.

Emmett Cullen: Ashton Kutcher - let me 'splain. In all of the books, I feel like Emmett has this wacky sense of humor - like Ashton Kutcher... and the wicked good looks - like Ashton Kutcher... and also the suave factor - like Ashton Kutcher. Kellan Lutz, the guy in the movie, had the same light dark hair problem that makes our vampires even deader than they really should look, and he really didn't do much for me looks wise. He wasn't vampire beautiful. I do love it though when he runs up the tree, sticks the landing and lobs the baseball back to the infield... "monkey man" that he is...

Rosalie Hale: Portia de Rossi/Nikki Reed. Again, lemme splain. Reed, who played Rosalie in the movie, is drop-dead, knock-out GORGEOUS. But not as a blonde. I felt like there was no point in the movie that she could've been considered the prettiest girl in the room...not even next to "plain" Bella... maybe the craziest dressed (and I like some daring clothing!), but NOT the most beautiful. Hair and makeup people, sorry, but you did her WRONG. So I would either choose her with a more flattering hair color, or Portia de Rossi, again a natural blonde and certainly often the most beautiful woman in a room...

I liked all of the other characters as they were played, especially the goofy school teacher. What a riot he is! However, HOW they are going to beef up Taylor Lautner to 6'5" and still growing stature for the future movies is beyond me!

*Note: my second choice for Edward is below: Gilles Marinia (below). Hot! Hot! and Hot! Maybe even too hot for vampires... but probably so brown he'd be too hard to pale down to vampire-level pallor.

**Second note: when I started to actually consider who I would choose, I realized that casting these roles must've been a real bear. Most of he characters had to both beautiful AND young. For my part, I don't know many young actors and actresses. So that's why I called the cast I assembled above a Fantasty, oops, I mean Fantasy Cast. =) Happy movie watching!

Wednesday, June 24


Okay, I know that technically this is not a "divan..." But I DO lust after it! I could/would decorate a whole house around this sofa.

From Anthropologie: Jayne Sofa; upholstered in a rich mahogany print by Josef Frank, this curvy hardwood couch teems with Pacific island wildlife; supported on lathe-turned, mahogany-stained legs; tufted with buttons; mahogany finish; eight way hand-tied seat construction; kiln-dried hardwood frame; 38"H, 77.5"W, 35.5"D; Seat: 18"H; Handcrafted in USA

For the sale price of only $2600 - down from $3500...

A girl can drool - I mean dream, can't she?

Tuesday, June 23

Is it worth it?

You know, I'm an optomistic sort of gal, and I don't like to dwell on the negative.

But really.

Is any of it, any of it - the money, the fame, the tummy tucks, the giant house - worth it if you have to have angry-looking photographs of yourself, like the ones above, plastered on every gossip site, news stand and television show across the whole of our United States? Greed will only get you so far... sending out good vibes though for the kids on Jon and Kate Plus Eight. We can only hope that their parents figure out things for themselves soon.

Reality television really is the spawn of, well, the scummy, murky monsters that lurk at the bottoms of stagnant green ponds. Personally, I think reality is hard enough without having to to live it out on television in front of foaming-at-the-mouth cable audiences, the internet surfers, hair-brained paparazzi and everyone else in the whole wide world!

Monday, June 15

Book Review or Ten Things I loved About "Twilight" by Stephanie Meyer

10) Twilight is the first in a series of four amazingly popular books about a vampire with a conscience and his youthful, blushing (HUMAN) lady love. Written by sensation Stephanie Meyer, from the point of view of a girl of seventeen year-old-girl (Bella Swan), the simple prose is clear, and lacking in the horror and gore that is usually off-putting or even frightening in a "usual" vampire story. Because of the intended audience for her book (young adult), Meyer writes a story that is suspenseful yet not scary, innocent despite the heat, straight forward yet thought-provoking, and (thankfully) lacking in the histrionics one might expect of a "young adult book about vampires in love."

9) Despite her intended audience, Meyer has created characters with as many layers as a southern belle's prom dress in the 1950s. You love them. You hate them. You yell at them. You cry with them. And because of the depth of these characters (not your cookie-cutter vampires and teenagers), mothers (who sneak to read Twilight after their giggly, brace-toothed daughters have moved on the next new thing) are just as engrossed and enamored of each character and their personal stories as their daughters were with Rob Pattinson (the actor who plays the main vampire character in the movie version of Twilight).

8) These vampires are pretty dog gone cool. Now based on nearly every vampire account we've ever seen in our lives ("I VANT to DVINK jour BLOOD!"), don't we all have the idea that vampires must always have a severe widow's peak, long and pointy canine teeth, a terribly guttural eastern-European accent and be dressed in all black clothes that haven't been changed since well, 1842? Well welcome to the 21st century vampire, boys and girls... to be so cold, these vampires are smokin' hot! They have a never-ending flow of money; they are smart because of their decades of education; they all have a penchant for driving insanely fast and beautiful cars; and they are all gorgeous... nice... friendly (even if for their own "selfish" reasons)... I'd probably have let myself be seduced if I were Bella Swan too! (I must admit that you don’t really get a clear picture of how friendly they are in Twiligh… that comes out in later books…) Below are my personal choices for the cars I would drive if I were a vampire...

7) I love the study of a creature's nature that is brought about when comparing humans to vampires. The vampire family is so obviously different from the humans in their world. By Bella's struggle to hang with the vampire Cullens family, it is an interesting study on what makes us all human. To me, these vampires are entirely more “human” than many people I come across in the world everyday.

6) I love the innocence of these characters. The main vampires in Twilight were mostly "young" for vampires - about a century old. Aside from their (literally) humane "vegetarianism" (they only drink animal blood) they maintain surprisingly Victorian morals despite their 21st century facade of cool clothes and cars (merely distractions). So even though Edward loves Bella with a passion that could easily be quantified as obsession, and every time he kisses her, it's a struggle not to kill her for her delicious-smelling blood, his true struggle is with feeling selfish for putting her in danger and ruining her human life. Even though she begs him to change her into a vampire so they can be together forever, pain- and danger-free, he doesn't want to damn her soul the way he feels his is. Chivalry lives, my friends! Even Bella seems to have escaped the self-obsessed preoccupation of the stereotypical teenager, which is probably why Edward likes her to begin with.

5) You actually get to enjoy the characters being happy together. Now, you can call me a cheeseball if you want to because I love reading about the happy ending of the couple... Usually the “happily ever after part” is a toss-away at the end of a book. As a kid, I can't tell you how many epilogues I wrote to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory because I just wanted to imagine Charlie's life after he got the good things that were coming to him. Meyer pens the couple together way before the end of the book so at least you can appreciate their love. I guess what I'm saying is that "he loves me, he loves me not" is not the point of this story. It's just a factor that causes much more drama to swirl up and around fair Bella and thirsty Edward, and the story is the main focus.

4) The way I came to read Twilight is this: it was requested by my friend as a book group suggestion. I had neither the time nor inclination to read the book before we met, but I did watch the movie version. I was surprised at the fervor the other readers spoke with about the book when we got together in the twilight to meet (coincidence)... The movie had been enjoyable, so I decided to take a chance on the book... well luckily, my kids were out of town because for the next ten days or so, Bella and the Cullens family (and don't forget Jacob) were all I could think about as I sped-read through all four books in the series (now referred to as The Twilight Saga) in about a week. Anyway, I don't want to make this a movie review because once the book was read and I watched the movie again (just for proper comparison's sake) it paled in comparison... but the soundtrack to the movie, however has hooked me in a BIG way... you're listening to three of my favorite songs right now... it is all that has played in my car for the last week!

3) On Stephanie Meyer's web site, she tells about writing Twilight in the middle of the desert heat of Phoenix one summer, and how she remembers that summer as being cool and green and wet. I loved the way I felt like I was cold and damp, right in the middle of Washington myself. The movie does provide stunning visuals of the nature of the Olympic peninsula, and it does not disappoint... Forks, actually a real town, might actually be the rainiest town in the United States, but it is situated in a location almost as impossibly beautiful as our vampire hero himself.

2) You can say what you want to, but Myer creates a story that is intricate and suspenseful. If you can get over yourself and actually enjoy reading "a book written about vampires for a preteen audience," you will see that Twilight is a well-crafted story with layers upon layers of dimension, that only serve to thicken the plot for the subsequent books and provide a backdrop that is as close to believable as science fiction gets.

1) I read somewhere that Twilight has become a "pop culture phenomenon." Wow. I usually don't like being a part of those. While I did see Titanic, I only saw it once, and if it had a book that went along with it, I certainly didn't read it. I'm not in touch with pop music except when I have to be (teaching classes at the gym has a strange way of hooking you in to the newest, happenin' hit...), and I don't watch vampire TV shows. But I will freekt admit, in front of the internet and everybody, that the characters and the story of Twilight have swept me away into the glorious cloud of fiction in a way that I haven't been swept up in maybe ten years. Plowing through the entire 2000 pages of the series, I kept feeling like I should put the breaks on and slow down. But the pleasure of the suspense, the sympathy for the characters, and my hunger (thirst!) for more just couldn't hold me back. I was thankful for every one of the seeming never-ending pages. Upon waking, Bella and Edward were the first thing I though about (like I said, my kids were out of town). If I woke up in the night to go to the bathroom, I at least considered staying awake to read... once I even did it.

So there you go. Ten Things I loved about Twilight. On to the New Moon...

Friday, June 5

Book Review: Chi Running

"So what IS Chi Running, afterall?" you ask.

Well, let's start with the easy part...

Running is a common form of exercise for people looking to get/stay fit. Technically, it differes from walking by the fact that both feet are off the ground at the same time. (When walking, one foot remains in contact with the ground at all times.) When done properly, and with good technique, a runner can run for a lifetime, pain- and injury-free.

Some good reasons to run are:

  1. Running is easy because the only equipment required is a good pair of shoes and an open road.
  2. It is inexpensive because it doesn't require monthly membership dues or joining fees.
  3. It "travels" well, and is actually a super way to discover the lay of the when visiting new places.
  4. When you get fitter and want more challenge, just run faster...
  5. These days, there are running groups galore to join when you're looking to make new friends.
"But that's not my experience!" you say. I HEAR you loud and clear, because I've been there... limping on cranky knees, hobbling on be-bunioned feet and wondering how in the world something so "easy" and "healthy" could land me on the sidelines of my first marathon. Well let's talk this through.

When did you learn how to run? Well, when you were just little tyke, careening toward your mother's outstretched, cookie-laden hands. As a kid, you most likely ran well and often on the playground. Then as you aged, if you picked up running as a form of exercise, you probably just laced up your sneakers and plunged head-first in... until the pain.* Some people run through the pain, eventually ending up with surgeries... and some people just quit.

But here's another question for you: if you were going to take up the sport of golf, wouldn't you enlist in a few lessons to get you started off on the right foot? Or if you were going to take up watercolor painting, wouldn't you take a class? If you were new to the gym, wouldn't you enlist the expertise and guidance of a personal trainer to show you proper form and technique? Why on Earth then would we think that we could take up a sport like running with no instruction, class or guidance, and expect to succeed?

In his book Chi Running, author Danny Dreyer teaches us about the beautiful, wonderful machine that is the human body. With lots of photographs and exercises for illustration, this book describes how, when properly aligned and using its chi, your body is naturally equipped with all of the shock absorption it needs to avoid injury due to overuse. Of course, this isn't quite as simple as it sounds and involves such details as: perefecting your posture; using a forefront footstrike; keeping your cadence withing a certain range, and lots more. I read through the book easily, and its conversational tone left me wishing I could meet Danny Dreyer himself.

I can just hear you now, "What is chi, and where and where can I get me some?" Well, you can't go out and buy it, that's for sure! Chi is an Eastern concept, and it is essentially your life force... your personal energy. It exists in all living things, even in plants, and space. When you are properly aligned, using your chi, running is easy, and will feel natural like a lope across the plains, as opposed to an obstacle course through treacherous woods. Harnessing your chi is a "less is more" concept and one that is learned over time and should be practiced regularly (just like almost anything worth doing!).

For me personally (I'm a hands-on learner), the book wasn't enough for me to really feel the concepts of Chi Running. I tried it a few times and did not quite get the pain-free results I desired. So I turned to Chi Living, the parent company of Chi Running. Their web site has all sorts of helpful tools on your journey toward perfect running form . I highly recommend the site as a resource for you if you are interested in learning Chi Running, (There is also Chi Walking, if you're so inclined...) enrolling in a Chi Running workshop, purchasing products, or even reading Danny Dreyer's inspiring and informative blog (often with video clips!). I ended up enrolling in a Chi Running workshop, and it did not fail to satisfy! Six months later, I'm still running, and not a complaint from any joint in my body! More about that next time...
*Note: if you know of someone who has run for years without a complaint, they probably are running with beautiful, natural chi running form... it does come naturally to some people!

Tuesday, June 2

"Chi Running" or "How I Became a Runner in Recovery"

So, last week, I shared a little with you about my journey toward becoming fit for the first time, way back when I was in college in the early 1990s... "learning" to run through the lush green and undulating hills of the Black Forest inspired me so much that I decided to continue the journey when I got back to my college in the States. As soon as I arrived back on campus, I purposefully joined the Women's Cross Country Team at my small college. That's me on the right end of the front row. Weren't we cute? And YOUNG??? I was an "athlete" for the first time, and my newfound strength and endurance imbued me with a sense of personal power that carried me up through what was a very dark time of my life... my magic elixer then, and it continues to be as well today... you're only ever one workout away from a better mood.

Anyway, there I was - a senior in college and a member of my very first sports team in my whole life, and I felt ecstatic just to be on a team... nevermind that I was ranked last place on the team when I started. I worked hard and ended up in fourth place. Not only was I in the best shape I'd ever been in, my placement in the top five earned me a coveted Varsity letter and Lettermans jacket. Oooh! Aahh! Actually, I never wore it very much because the style wasn't exactly flattering... but I was happy to get it all the same...

In the years after my short but sweet "NCAA athletic career," I continued to run for fitness and fun. When I'm in a running phase of my life, I feel like I can do anything. So in 2004, having just moved to a new town, the next running accomplishment I wanted to check off of my list was completing at least one Marathon. So I joined a training group, and things were fine... except that my back always hurt... my knee ached when I ran... and I was starting to have constant foot pain. This was not the fun I had imagined.

So I quit running for a while, thinking "old age" had finally won. I became a "runner in recovery from running. I trained to be an indoor cycling instructor (spinning), and tried (in vain) to find satisfying ways to reach that same cardio peak of running... but nothing geled for me the way running had for all of those years. After a few half-hearted (read: painful) attempts at picking up running again, I heard about a book called Chi Running. This book recommends a running technique that enables runners to do what they love pain and injury free. I bought it immediately.

Turns out, it involves adjusting your stride so that when your foot hits the ground, the part that strikes the ground is the front half of the foot, instead of the heel. Now, if you look at the photo above this paragraph, you can see me in the back with a most prominent heel-strike, vertical posture and leg reaching forward, therefore causing shock waves to run up my legs eventually landing me with foot, knee and back pain over a culmination running for ten years. The runner in front if me, with her beautiful forward lean and forefoot strike, had been trailing me for the last mile,of this race and as we pulled into the last tenth of a mile, she had plenty of gas to give which left me breathing her dust. Her form was efficient, easy and effortless. If I had only known then what I know now.

Now actually, even if my competitor did leave me awhirl like Wile E. Coyote just buzzed by Road Runner, it was my fastest 5K that I ever ran, and for that I am still very proud. For years, I held a grudge against my mom for snapping that photo of me in a moment of "defeat." However, today, I don't mind so much... it's nice know that was ever so fast... and it inspires me to keep going today.

Later... more on my successful journey toward becoming a Chi Runner.

Monday, June 1

Funny Blog: I Can Has Cheezburger

Do you know what the doldrums are?

doldrums |ˈdōldrəmz; ˈdäl-; ˈdôl-|plural noun ( the doldrums)low spirits; a feeling of boredom or depression color catalogs will rid you of February doldrums.
• a period of inactivity or a state of stagnation the mortgage market has been in the doldrums for three years.
• an equatorial region of the Atlantic Ocean with calms, sudden storms, and light unpredictable winds.ORIGIN late 18th cent.(as doldrum [dull, sluggish person] ): perhaps fromdull , on the pattern of tantrums. (from my Apple computer dictionary)

Well, where they're a place to be or a state of mind, I've been there this week. But the silly folks with their lolcats over at www.icanhascheezburger.com crack me up every single time.

And the best part is that they update frequently - as in multiple times a day. So you can keep taking them... like regular doses of medicine they are...

Happy Monday!
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