Friday, November 25, 2005

Black Friday

Party Progressive
Originally uploaded by Wal-Mart Movie.
Warning: The following is a Statler and Waldorf style balcony rant

Today is the day known as Black Friday, so called because it traditionally marks the season when retailers make their biggest profits. The term comes from the time when ledgers were kept by hand with red indicating loss and black indicating profit. Being the biggest shopping day of the year, retailers are eager to entice would be shoppers with advertisements of great discounts and the implicit promise that their lives will be ever so much better and they will be loved ever so much more if they shower their loves ones with gifts.

While I'm all for gifts (no one loves opening presents like I do!), I have to think that the whole circus surrounding the day after Thanksgiving is pretty antithetical to anything that Christmas is supposed to be. There were actualy brawls in some stores today. BRAWLS. I woke up this morning to images of shoppers scuffling Walmart and people being trampled as they rushed into a department store. What a nice way to kick of the the beginning of Advent.

I don't know what's wrong with some people. Call me crazy, but I can't help but think God is probably not so in favor of us beating each other for first crack at $40 off a laptop. I know I'm not Pat Robertson and therefore am not qualified to speak to God's will, but I can't help thinking this is not it. It seems like there has to be more to life (or holidays) than smackdowns and the acquisition of stuff.

The older I get, the more little things like just enjoying the holidays with friends and family come to mean to me. To prove this, I unwittingly (albeit successfully) participated in Buy Nothing Day today. True, this was mostly because Buy Nothing Day coincided with Why Bother to Get Dressed When I Could Lounge Around on the Couch Reading and Eating Pizza Day, but I like to feel smugly superior for it nonetheless.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Life of Leisure

This week promises to be a fun week in the Powellhurst household. This potential centers heavily around the fact that I do not have to go to work and am free to take pleasure in leisure and maybe even (dare I hope?) believe in joy. It's not that I hate my job. It is not in a sweat shop or a coal mine, and I can happily report that I do not have the black lung. Nonetheless, it is just a job. Now if I were Martonia, Superspy or HRH Martonia, Queen of the Universe, it might be different. As it turns out, though, I am just Martina, Humble, but Glorified Administrative Coordinator, which sometimes causes me to be Martina, Embittered Glorified Administrative Coordinator Who Wonders What She Spent All That Time In Grad School For If All She Was Going To Do Was This. Thankfully, now that I have embarked on NaNo WriMo, I can tell myself that it is all just my day job. After all, didn't Kafka spend his life working as a law clerk? Of course, I am no Kafka, but no one needs to know that.

Anyway, it's nice to have a little break. So, what have I been doing? Well, Friday I...Frankly, I can't remember what I did Friday, so I can only assume that heavy drinking was involved. It is also possible that whatever I did was so uncompelling that I have since blocked it out, which is probably more likely. I'd say it involved television, except for that I haven't really watched much t.v. in the past few days though that is no huge shock, since it's pretty rarely that I watch a lot of t.v. Apparently, I have suffered a black out, and not even a very good one considering I didn't wake up in Las Vegas or wondering what happened to my underwear. I know what happened to my underwear.

Now Saturday, I remember. Saturday was filled with errands. The morning involved taking Ruby the Wonder Dog, to the vet. Ruby, like most of our pets, was adopted from the Oregon Humane Society. She was in a kennel with about 7 other dogs, all of whom came eagerly up to the gate when they saw us. Ruby, on the other hand, hung back, shyly thumping her tail. You could tell she wanted to come up to the fence, but was too timid to do so. Little did we know back then that it was all part a highly successful campaign to win us over. Somehow she just made a person want to take care of her. It's a good thing, because she is the sweetest dog ever (if you don't you count Toby, who is so mellow I sometimes think he must spend his afternoons smoking pot in the back yard).

Unfortunately, Ruby is also epileptic, which means regular vet visits for blood testing to check her phenobarbital levels. Although Ruby loves the car, she does not like these outings. Somehow she always manages to forgive us, though, because that's just what dogs do. I think that even she would agree that occasional blood tests are better than seizures. It is no fun at all when she has them. Thankfully, since the last time they upped her dosage, she hasn't had any.

After the vet, I got to go do one of my favorite things ever - have my hair done. I don't know why it is that new haircuts feel so good, but they do, and they're even better when you've found the keeper of the golden shears. I LOVE the person I go to right now. She is my hair crush. Not only does she have cool tattoos and take in strays like nobody I've ever met, but she is great at her job. Seriously. You should see me. I am adorable now!

Oh, but my weekend has not been all puppies and awesome hairdos. Oh, no. I have also organized a Amnesty International Global-Write-a-Thon event and attended a screening of Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price, because even on vacation, I am committed to my "Walmart is evil" philosphy. I highly recommend the movie to anyone who is interested. A lot of the information (i.e. the Walmart: Where Satan Shops vibe) was not new to me, however it was nice to have some figures to back it all up and great to see how many people turned out for the screening. If I have time, I'd like to come back and talk more about Amnesty and Walmart, but for now I'll just leave this as a marker for things to discuss at a later date.

In more personal news, we have also painted half the living room and all of the dining room. The thing about painting is that it's only as fun as it sounds for the first 15 minutes or so. After that, it just becomes work, though good painting music (which presently means Clifton Chenier as well as my Happy Fitzmas mix) and lots of beverage breaks do help. Knowing that it will look really nice when it's all done is also a boost, even though it's strange to come in from outside and see Caraway instead of ugly 70's wood paneling. As outdated as it was, it was somehow part of the house, so it's still a shock to see something else where I expect to see dark knotholes and wood. The color does look great with the rug and furniture, though.

So, this will have to be it for now. Today promises to be another full day of painting and tile laying as well as recipe choosing. I am still torn about which dessert to go with for Thanksgiving. The current front-runners are Pumpkin Cheesecake, Orange Cardamom Cake and Stollen, but that could all change. I also have yet to choose a potato dish, but that is down to two potential recipes, which I may just frankenstein together into one Superspud dish, so there's less holiday dining pressure there. Ok, if I am going to be honest, there is NO holiday dining pressure, since most of my role in this year's Thanksgiving will be to eat. Jen and her family invited us over, which means they get to do most of the work, while we reap the delicious rewards. Potatoes and dessert are the only things for which I am responsible. Still, even if I am not the Thanksgiving star, I still like the spotlight enough to want my cameo role to steal just a moment of the show.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Time's A-Wastin' (more accurately, A-Wastin' Time)

Having just completed another thousand words on my Nano project, I am now enaging in the time honoured writing tradition of procrastination. In order to affect this, I have watched a whole movie (White Chicks - no depth is too low for me!), called a friend, and am now "cleaning" my web browser favorites. I highly recommend this activity as a time waster. The lovely thing about it is that for every link I actually delete, there are at least two that I can visit and reread. In an effort to double the procrastinatory bang for my buck, I am posting some of my favorites here as a gift for my fellow procrastinators to enjoy.

Some time ago a friend in Britain sent me a link to Andy Kershaw on BBC Radio, which I saved, then promptly forgot. As it turns out, Andy Kershaw's "unique mix of world rock, country, blues and the unexpected" is pretty cool. Admittedly, I could probably find some similar programming locally on KBOO, but it makes me feel so much more sophisticated and international when I listen to the same thing via streaming audio from England. I probably shouldn't have said that out loud. Now KBOO is probably going to get all upset. Radio stations. They're so touchy sometimes. What's more, KINK will probably be offended, because I didn't mention it too. Don't be sad, KINK. Your Live 8 CD and support of local bands is still awesome. I'm not withdrawing the love, just sharing it.

Anyway, my point is that like music itself, music sites are always fun. If you don't believe me, check out The Decemberists, a band that is fun even when you almost pass out at one of their sold out concerts and spend half the evening alone, crouched in a bathroom stall, because it is the only available place to sit while you wait for the black spots to stop swimming before your eyes. If a show can withstand that and still be dubbed great, you know the band is good.

Coincidentally, I first saw one of the Decemberists perform live at a LiveWire taping last spring. While said Decemberist was a pleasant surprise, my real reason for going was to hear the John Wesley Harding aka Wesley Stace portion of the evening. I mention Stace, because I am very well disposed toward him at the moment, having recently learned that The Love Hall Tryst (a quartet inspired by his novel Misfortune) features none other than my new up and coming favorite, Kelly Hogan. While I am just getting to know her work, I am pretty confident that we have a long musical friendship ahead of us.

Speaking of work, now that I've wasted even more time reconstructing this post after Blogger ate it (alas SNZ segment, you will never be restored, may you rest in peace) it's about time for me to turn on some music and get back to it. Nano waits for no one. Only 6819 words to go and I will be caught up!