Thursday, January 31, 2008

Celebrity Horoscopes

I was sure Brad Pitt was born under the Sun Sign of Cancer, that was until I realized I was thinking of the character he played (Austrian adventurer, Heinrich Harrer) in Seven Years in Tibet. Enter Libra Rising and their page on Celebrity Horoscopes. I was happy to find out that my suspicions about being astrologically compatible with Leonardo DiCaprio were accurate, as well as my fears that Courtney Love and I have a little too much in common.

Remember that the catalog is alphabetized by your famous person's first name. And also remember that (as the warning says) it is a common practice for many celebrities to change or modify not only their names, but their birth data as well, so view all the charts with a tinge of suspicion. As an extra bonus, can you name all the celebrities in my pop silhouettes?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Spot the Fake Smile

In keeping with the State of the Union address general coverage, play this game at the BBC, "Spot the Fake Smile". By the way, I got 16 out of 20. Never know it to look at me would you? How did you do?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Criminals in the Bush Administration

I'm sitting here listening to the State of the Union Address on WETA and every radio station that can carry NPR in our house. I was debating not even watching the thing, because (as my mother says) it will just make me angry. Leave it to alcohol to save the day. Peter and I are currently playing a drinking game that helps one stay focused. I drink every time Dubya says "Economy" and he drinks every time he says "Empower".

To keep you focused on the future, I direct you to Suzie Q's Blog Post on "Criminals in the Bush Administration". She has conveniently divided the list into section by degree of damnation including:

  • "Indicted / Convicted/ Pled Guilty"
  • "Resigned Due to Investigation, Pending Investigation or Allegations of Impropriety"
  • "Nomination Failed Due to Scandal" and
  • "Under Investigation But Still in Office"
Enjoy. (ugh, "economy" again?)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Break the Argument Cycle

"It's not you, it's me. And what I mean by that is, it really is you, but it's me that can't stand you.

Too many times I have started an argument with my significant other by thinking these very thoughts. And too often I have continued an argument I was tired of by simply not walking away. Enter DumbLittleMan and his tips on how to "Break the Argument Cycle". His tips on life are sweet, quick and insightful enough to give anyone something to think twice about.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Vegetarian with Benefits

Plenty magazine has a wonderful article, "Vegetarian with Benefits" about one of the "Most Useful Words of 2003" as voted by the American Dialect Society. The word is "Flexitarian" and the meaning is a person who eats a mostly vegetarian diet, but who is also willing to eat meat or fish occasionally (Sound like anyone we know?). The word has been slow to catch on and not only because it is more than a mouthful, but because it resists easy classification.

Vegetarianism has come a long way since the 50's and 60's, when it was viewed as an odd, overzealous, unhealthy fad, to enter into American vernacular. Our culture now recognizes a vegetarian as someone who has restricted their diet based on moral and ethical objections (described by most vegetarian societies as motivated by either Health, Compassion, or the Environment or some combination thereof) and not because of a food preference.

But what if you are not a strict vegetarian, but you still have moral objections against eating certain foods? Words like "Flexitarian", "Pescetarian", and "Pollotarian" tend to confuse hosts and food servers even more than the eventual dissertation that must follow their use. Because of its familiarity and its strong connotation of moral obligation, the word "Vegetarian" has also become unduly associated with other forms of moral and ethical dietary needs giving birth to the use of "Vegetarian" as a metonym. In other words, the word "vegetarian" is used to describe other diets that are ethically motivated since vegetarianism is ethically motivated, even though those diets are not vegetarian.

This modified use is either your bane as a strict vegetarian or vegan (because the food industry is constantly believing that you will eat fish or chicken stock if prodded) or your blessing (as a "semi-vegetarian you do not need to include a three hour dissertation to your food server using flow-chart). Either way, read the plenty magazine article and discuss the ways the American vocabulary for ethical eating can be expanded.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bad Ass Bible Verses

Well you know how much CandyBuffet loves contemplating the apocalypse. Well, she also spent a good amount of her childhood in Seminary (read "Bible Study"). With that in mind I can't help a good giggle at Cracked's "Bad Ass Bible Verses" detailing the the most violent passages that would do well as the next summer block buster movie or xbox new rated "m" for Mature. Smooches!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Stick It To Them

This pair of sister sites couldn't make your life easier. "Bug Me Not" keeps listings of free passwords and usernames allowing you to quickly bypass annoying, compulsory registries and login s for many popular websites including the NYtimes, YouTube, and (the real winner) IMDB. Bypassing all those tricky "can we keep you up-to-date" questions (and resulting spam) is priceless.

Speaking of priceless, "Retail Me Not" keeps an extensive listening of user submitted electronic coupons. What make this site different than all the other foul, ad-laden coupon sites? Well first, "Retail Me Not" doesn't have flashing banner screaming at you that you have won two free new iPods. Also, each coupon is submitter by a user and is tracked by other users according to how successful it is (the success percentage is right next to the codes) and is commented on how to use them successfully by real people (not web crawlers). The interface is slick, quick and painless. This candy girl never goes shopping online without checking in and routinely uses coupons for PeaPod, Urban Outfitters and Dehlia's. Go now and take advantage to all the free shipping the internet has to offer.

Monday, January 14, 2008

How to Detect Terrorists

I don't know why I think this poster is funny, but I do. I really do. Besides the obvious 40s-esque homemaker who looks like she may go all militant on your arse, it looks like a poster I might have encountered in Sunday school (Get behind me Satan!). What's even funnier is that it comes from the website of the Dulles chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women) the self proclaimed "dissident" chapter of NOW. I really want to put it up in my cubical at work. However, being as I work for the sarcastic object of this poster, I may need to reconsider.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Manage Your New Year's Resolutions

Here's another post to help you enter the New Year. Not less than three links from Lifehacker's excellent article "Free Tools to Manage New Year's Resolutions" have made it to a place of honor in my bookmark's folder. New Year's resolutions won't keep themselves, and these nifty gadgets help you manage and keep track of your favorite goals' progress. Some of them, like "Daily Plate", and "Mint" I have blogged about before, but other's like, "Joe's Goals", "Don't Break the Chain" mentality and "Benjamin Franklin's Progress Chart" are pure gold. While you are resolution making, read the article on Benjamin's way of reflecting on his personal virtues every week (Between you and me, I'm pretty sure that "chastity" tab wasn't often ticked off).

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Year's Worth of Books

Yesterday we talked about music, so it only makes sense that today we look at the notable books of 2007.

A friend commented yesterday on how she was slowly and inexorably replacing all the books in her life with reality television. It was not that she wanted to, but rather there had been an unlikely dearth of book openings in her life that was cause. And she didn't mean new books premiering. She meant the demise of the physical act of lifting a book's cover.

One of my own New Year's resolutions is to finish reading all the books on the reading shelf beside my bed (it’s a long shelf, believe me). So, in the spirit of getting us all reading again, the NY Times has a delightful article of picks from 2007 including "10 Favorites from 2007" from all of their book critics, a "2007's Ten Best Books" list and "100 Notable Book of 2007" list.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Best Albums of 2007

My opinion of Yahoo music is usually summed up by the word "meh". However, much like how monkey typists eventually turn out poetry, this article on the "Best Albums of 2007" rings so very true. Spend some time at work at Project Playlist listening to tunes from these albums and downloading tracks from itunes. Never heard of Project Playlist says you? It the quickest way of listening to other people's music on the internet, and everyone knows the quickest way out of a musical slump is to listen to other people's music.

Monday, January 7, 2008

5 things I learned from Marjorie Hills

In the spirit of New Year's, I've devoted a week of posts to reinvention, end-of-year examination, and methods of achieving goals. And I can't think of a better way to start than with one of my favorite books. "Live Alone and Like It", by Marjorie Hillis can't come with a high enough recommend. It is a stern, yet witty treatise on the human existence (especially from a female perspective) and though the content is dated, the wisdom is eternal. It should be essential reading for every female teen through tween on the planet.

Marjorie Hills has the uncanny knack of finding the trick of how to suffer through yourself from day to day by using a grain of salt and a touch of humor. Her grandest lesson being, we can be our own best friends if, when you are alone, you treat yourself like a guest. Here are five other life changing pieces of advice from her:
  1. On Loneliness and Ennui:
    If you are bored and lonely, blame it on your own lack of initiative. If you are interesting, you'll have plenty of friends and if you're not, you won't, unless you're very, very rich. Anyone who pities herself for more than a month on end is a "weak sister" and likely to become a public nuisance besides. The role of a martyr may be appealing to the player, but a terrible bore to everyone else.

  2. On Being Interesting and Making Friends:
    Being interesting does not depend on income, but on cultivation. Being well read and well informed, learning to listen and how to draw people out, taking the trouble to refine one's taste and develop one's ideas about painting, plays or politics and is the duty of any sensible, intelligent human being who wishes to have a social life.

  3. On Loving Yourself:
    Don't economize on flowers and beware of the dispiriting effects of snacks on one morale. It takes a genius to make an impression in run-down heels and an unbecoming hat. You need good clothes and grooming. Our vote is for a little pampering--as much, in fact, as can be squeezed out of your schedule and your budget. Really smart clothes can cost as little a dowdy ones and it is not the ladies with the uncrowded schedules and large budgets who look the best. Go in for cosmetics in a serious way. A few good strokes with a hair brush, a bit of cuticle oil and a lotion on the hands, cleansing cream and whatever other cream does the most for your face, are just as important as brushing your teeth. A glass of sherry and an extremely special dinner can be served on a night when you are tired and alone. Bath slats, toilet water and a trim little cotton frock that flatters you can be worn on the morning when you are feeling violently domestic.

  4. On Self Sufficiency:
    Never, never, never let yourself feel that anybody ought to do anything for you. Once you become a duty, you also become a nuisance. Be surprised and pleased at gifts, invitations and other attentions.

  5. On Loving Your Surroundings:
    It is a good idea to give some extra-special attention to your surroundings. The place you live should reflect your personality-- and it will, whether you want it to or not. It will give you away to everyone who comes in, and it will influence your moods and your morale. But after all, it should be comfortable according to you needs and peculiarities. This is your house and it is the one place in the world where you can have things exactly.
A while ago, upon reading my Amazon wish-list my sister wanted to know why I wanted to read a book with such a title about "living alone". "Is there trouble in you marriage?" she inquired.

"Everyone dies alone," Captain Malcolm Reynolds of FireFly once said and the sentiment of that statement is true in the converse. Everyone one lives alone, because at the end of the day (until we evolve into telepathic beings) we think for ourselves, we hope to please ourselves and we try to make something of ourselves. No matter how hard we try to live for others, our lives are seen most acutely through our own lens and weighed most delicately by our own scales. Whatever you do, don’t let yourself become a burden to yourself and try to inject a little gaiety into our weary world.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Bionic Fashion

Well, sugar lovers, it's the New Year. Time for long, thoughtful thoughts on your way to work. Time for long, thoughtful walks at lunchtime and that long, thoughtful talk with yourself, where you ask, what the Hell am I doing?

Thinking about makeovers, I have a dear, dear friend who needed a fashion
intervention. I currently have a team of specialists rebuilding him to make him faster, stronger and better dressed than he was before. Part of the experience, I think, has to do with examining yourself, Proust style, to make sure that your clothes and surroundings reflect your creative vision of the world.

To that end, I have enclosed the worksheets I created to help one appraise themselves and their clothing. (Warning: Reinventing your fashion personality is hard work that should not be undertaken alone. Follow these steps with a brutally, honest friend (or two or five) to insure you don't buckle under the pressure).

  1. Step one: Go into your closet and remove everything that you haven't worn in the past year. Now, remove everything that doesn't fit you properly. This is going to take some time and I recommend reserving a weekend for this task. You will want to try things on, deliberate, then, much like summer camp, you will get depressed when you have to say goodbye. You may cry. Let the tears fall on the trash bag you will place the clothes directly into. Do not pass go. Do not let yourself see the clothes again. Do not save more than 8 pieces for a rainy day, or for when you loose/gain weight.

  2. Step two: Go into your bathroom. Remove everything in to that has mold on it. That includes old shampoo bottles and hair clay. Now, remove everything that makes you uncomfortable including fragrances you can't stand, scratchy towels, and uncomfortable toilet seats. You will be replacing them with things items that make you comfortable and happy in step four.

  3. Step three: Download and fill out the enclosed worksheet "About Me". This is designed to help you rediscover what images and styles of clothing and personal care make you happy. This process should also take two days. Fill it out. Then sleep on it and revisit the form.

  4. Step four: Buy some fashion magazines. Be creative! Try going to the bookstore and finding some fashion magazines from other countries. Rip out every image and/or product and/or fashion item that appeals to you, (after you buy the magazines, of course) even if you would never wear it, have no place to wear it, and will never look like that. Figure out why you like the images. Are they colorful? Are they sexy? Do they remind you of a certain period of time? A country? A movie star? A fictional character? A comic book world? A fashion icon? Use this information to help you fill more in the "About Me" worksheet.

  5. Step five, the finish! Now, its time to spend some time and money on yourself! If you chose your feet as one of the body parts you like in the "About Me" worksheet, you get to spend serious money on your feet. Shoes, pedicures (even if you are a guy), nail polish, foot scrubs, socks, whatever. Why? Because the truth about beauty is that it is all about confidence. That's why the fat chick has a skinny boyfriend and that's why the short guy gets the beauty queen. Anyone who thinks otherwise has low self-esteem and is a public nuisance. If you put on an outfit that fits you and take care of your personal hygiene you can be gorgeous. If you were honest about your prominent body parts in the "About Me" worksheet, you get to spend time and money on them, too! Why? Because some thing you can't hide. Or more aptly, flaunting them hides them just as effectively. If you said you like rocket ships in "About Me", you get to buy things with rocket ships on them, just because you like them. If you admire George Washington, you get to own things that make you feel a little bit like George Washington. Just. Because.
What is inside your body means much more than the outside, of course, but this can be an excuse to pity oneself. It takes a genius to make an impression like Will Smith did in the "Pursuit of Happyness". Smart clothes can cost as little as expensive ones and no one's confidence can overcome an outfit that is all wrong. And there are a million ways to make yourself feel pampered and polished. And this is the type of pampering that really pays off. Your body IS a temple and it is just as important as your mind. I'm not talking about working out. I'm talking about using things on your outside that reflect the things you want to put inside. You want the best education for your mind, right? You want to read the deep books and listen to the music that affects your emotions, right? You want to be treated with kind words, patience and caring because that affects the state of your mind, right? Well, fragrance, cleansers, facials, cosmetics, and clothes can affect your body (not to mention your moral and state of mind) just as keenly. And to quote Marjorie Hillis, so does a glass of sherry and an extra special dinner on a night when you are terribly tired and alone. Good luck my heroes!