Thursday, January 29, 2009

In which I offer proof that Laura Brown is a better cook than I am

The cake is less than she hoped it would be. She tries not to mind. It is only a cake, she tells herself. It is only a cake. ...

According to the clock on the wall, it is barely ten-thirty. She has plenty of time to make another cake. This time, she will prevent crumbs from getting caught in the icing. This time, she will trace the letters with a toothpick, so they'll be centered, and she'll leave the roses for last.

- Michael Cunningham, The Hours

Exhibit A:
On the left, you'll see the dregs of cake #1, which was an attempt at a double-laayered chocolate cake, aborted when both cakes stuck to the bottom of the pans they baked in, despite my having "lightly greased" each pan per the directions. Cake #2 had the opposite problem. While this time I greased and floured the pan, it was a bundt pan and the cake came out fairly quickly ... too quickly, in fact, as it practically fell apart as I turned it onto the plate. I ran out of time to make a third cake, before I went to pick up the person who said, "There will be cake on my birthday."

Unlike Laura Brown, however, I love my spouse immensely. So I resisted the urge to read Mrs. Dalloway (again) and go for a long drive.

Ah yes, and happy birthday, belovéd. I love you, clearly more than the cake loves me.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Coming up on America's Next Top Scullery Maid

Inaugural Ball guru Roxanne Roberts (along with many others) says that one should only ever think of wearing flats to one of these events.

Yes, well, tell that to my wife who bought the near-platform high heels yesterday. "But they're OK!" she says. "There are no seats," I say. "I'm going to wear them," she says. They really do kick ass.

To prove that they are comfortable she might not be crippled for life, she decides to do housework in the shoes.

After an hour and a half, her feet are still fine -- and, better yet, the floor is clean!

Let's see Tyra rock stilletos and a dustpan like that!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stepping out!

Inaugural fever has hit DC like a ton of port-a-potties. Years ago, I envisioned there one day being someone I was excited to go see at an Inauguration Parade; that day has arrived -- but now I have a three-year-old and, wouldn't you know, presidents are inaugurated in this country in the cold. As such, we have generally been avoiding Inaugural mania while the warning keeps popping up that the city will quadruple in population for this event and that all forms of transportation, including passenger pigeon, will be overloaded on the day of the event. A quiet day at home, we thought, watching it on TV.

Then, a few days ago, a colleague sent us an invitation to the local Takoma Park Inaugural Ball. This seemed super-fun: our crunchy liberal hometown with a potluck affair, complete with dancing and childcare. What's not to love? This sounded pretty neat. He mentioned this at a meeting and wondered what we were doing in the morning. I said we were probably just watching the event on TV -- but that maybe we should all watch it together? Brunch! An Inaugural brunch for those of us with kids too chicken to brave everything! Sold. My menu developed easily:
  • vegetarian breafast tacOs
  • cherry-whole wheat scOnes
  • cheeriOs (or the equivalent from trader jOe's)
  • bacOn
  • dOnuts
  • cOffee
  • Orange jOOce (with champagne to make mimOsas)
  • bagels (this, requested by Xan when we told him what the theme was)
Fabulous. Then all we needed to do was get the tickets for the Takoma Park ball! Angela had been hounding me to get them, if we had indeed decided to go. She, the antisocial one, had left this decision up to me; I, in my inimitable manner, had procrastinated.

At Xan's gymnastics class, our friend KC told me that she was trying to procure Inaugural Ball tickets. "Really?" I said. "Yeah," she said. "Would you want to go?" "Well, I think we're going to the local Takoma Park one," I said, realizing I still hadn't gotten tickets yet. I came home and hopped online to get the tickets.

Sold out.


Our one chance to get decked out and hang out with the neighbors. Ah well. A quiet evening at home, then. No big deal.

And then -- KC calls Angela, wonders if I've told her about the Inaugural tickets. Tells her that she's secured four. Wants to know if we'd like to accompany them.



Within the span of about an hour, Angela in particular goes from being totally blasé about Inaugural Day brouhaha to joining the madness, pulling a U-turn the likes of which I haven't seen since we got engaged (at which point she-who-had-never-thought-she-would-get-married all of a sudden bought a trunkload of wedding-oriented magazines). She happens to be at the second-hand store when she gets the call and lands a beaded evening gown for $35. I use Facebook to procure childcare. We spend hours at the mall today looking for sundry items (control-top pantyhose, platform stilletos, a nice dark shade of lipstick -- and then Angela needed some things as well). We come home, Angela finds that the beaded dress is too long, but then she comes out in a black, slinky thing that she had in the back of the closet and I say, damn! and insist she only think of wearing that. Xan, getting into the spirit, puts on an elephant costume; we worry that this is the first sign he might turn into a Republican and contemplate therapy. Angela does a dry-run of fab makeup for the evening, comes out in full get-up, I say damn!! and hurry Xan to bed.

We don't even know what time the shindig begins.

We're a little excited.

More to come...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What I get for not updating this blog more frequently

Yesterday was my second day of class in the new semester. I teach my upper-level class in the early afternoon, half of which have taken one of my classes before; in other words, they know me and my idiosyncrasies fairly well. My introductory film class, however, meets at 8:30AM. I hate teaching at this time; they hate taking classes at this time; we all nonetheless try to make it all work.

I had my computer open and up on the big screen in the room, showing some clips and the trailer for Singin' in the Rain. In discussing trailers, one person mentioned Don LaFontaine, the voice-over artist for trailers who recently passed away; reminded by the mention of his name, I asked if anyone had seen the trailer for Comedian, the Jerry Seinfeld documentary. No one had, so I said, "Give me a moment to open my browser. It's definitely worth it." I pulled up the browser and continued with whatever I was saying while I was waiting for Firefox to open.

In the middle of a sentence, however, the entire class started laughing. I stopped, turned around.

Naturally, my browser opens on my blog. If you scroll down to see the posting immediately before this one, you'll see what was displayed on a very large screen behind my head. Photo included.

I turned back, very red in the face, and said, "I can explain that..."

Let's see if that shows up on evaluations.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Do ya think I'm sexy?

This is my official photograph for the university. It's a couple years old, but it gets the point across. I'm not going to sell any magazines, it's true, but I do OK.

Oh, except, wait. I forget that the above photograph demonstrates that I'm sexy as all get-out.

Granted, perhaps you could just learn that from my wife after a couple shots of vodka. But according to a new poll, apparently it's not just me, but my profession that makes me sexy. I received this from another professor in my department, and responded that now I really need to hit the gym this semester; another person replied, "Why bother? Just wear your glasses!" (To wit, Angela has actually rejected my tentative flirting with contact lenses, since she indeed thinks glasses are better.)

So how do I translate this to higher student evaluations? Hmmm....

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Best Supporting Actress, Class of 2008: Diane Wiest

Gosh, I wasn't going to do this this year. I have been embarrassingly lax in going to the movies this year. I said this last year but I did an even worse job this year. Stinkylulu has been reminding me for weeks about this, and I've been pained about it because I thought, "You know what? I have nothing."

And yet...

It's the list that's currently up that inspired me. Granted, it's a very strong list, which is typical of this particular effort, since people really defend their choices well. In particular, I noted the various nods toward Synecdoche, New York, which had a slew of wonderful acting going on, mostly by women and mostly in supporting roles. (The casting of this film is so uncanny that I had to get to the end of the flick to realize that Samantha Morton was not doing double duty, that my crush-object Emily Watson looks so much like Morton made digital editing unnecessary. Michelle Williams also proves once again that her previous nomination was no fluke.)

But I realized that my own favorite from that film was missing from the list.

I'm discovering over the course of these blogathons that I'm drawn to the performance that for me yields the crux of the entire story. For me this year, and particularly for this film, that performance was masterfully maneuvered by the queen of contemporary supporting actressing, Diane Wiest. Really, has she done lead work that equals the strength of her supporting performances? It seems redundant to mention it here, and her again -- and yet, it is so deserved here. The character of Ellen becomes the one that Caden melts into (or is it the other way around); Wiest proves to be the one person able to be dismissive at first blush as she enters the world of Synecdoche, only to take it over completely (and literally) by the end. We believe her in this position. Part of it, I realize, is from the power that her supporting-actressing yields here -- but it's power well-used by Kauffman, to the extent that she only needs to appear in the last quarter of a rather long film to make it work.

For these reasons and more, I submit my candidate for Best Supporting Actress 2008: Diant Wiest.

This entry is part of the 3rd Annual Supporting Actress Blogathon -- please feel free to visit the other sites on the list, since I know for sure they have probably seen more films than I have and the list is always fun and varied