c o l u m b i n a

"by her keen and active wit, she [ is ] able to hold her own in every situation and emerge with ease and dignity from the most involved intrigues." ~ Duchartre

Monday, January 31, 2005

a little matter of bookcases

With my offer letter in hand, I am well on my way with the lease paperwork for the new apartment, discovered this Saturday in a tired haze. (My feet still hurt. Ow.) And thus begins the cataloguing of my assets, what has come from previous apartments, what needs to be purchased, what has disappeared into the caverns of my parents' garage never to be seen again....

Not surprisingly, I have a desperate need for bookcases. (IKEA, you are forewarned. Stock up.) I've been making do, but the piles in front and next to the units I have are becoming precarious, to say the least. But as I'm assuming that people would like to sit on something in my new living room, I've also done a small tour of furniture stores. One of these stops was quite notable, because I had this nice elderly gentleman who reminded me terribly of my grandfather, pointing things out and being generally helpful in that stifling, I-need-the-commission kind of way. When I told him that in addition to a couch I was looking for bookcases, I'm afraid I rather stumped him.

"Bookcases? What's a nice girl like you need bookcases for?"

Right. How silly of me. Bookcases! What was I thinking?! I had meant to ask for a vanity table to hold all my lipsticks. Durr. I explain as politely as possible that I have a lot of books that need proper homes on shelves.

"You can leave things like that at your parents' house. (We'd gotten quite chummy, obviously, by this point.) I left my books at my parents' house until I married my wife."

Not only is this an unacceptable suggestion because of the lack of room at said house, but more importantly... live without my books? Surely you must be joking.

"Bookcases, huh? Well, I never... You don't hear that from kids these days."

Guess not. (Eventually, he did show me their bookcase section, which consisted of two units, that came in three different sizes: three shelves, four shelves and five shelves. He has no idea.)

Friday, January 28, 2005


A personal update: I will most likely not be updating for awhile for the best and most wonderful of reasons: I got my first job. Finally. I suppose it's an example of good things coming to those who wait... and wait and wait. It took me completely by surprise, as my new employers created a position just for me, as a full-time designer. It's as exciting as it is nerve-wracking-- suddenly I'll have to prove all those skills listed on my resume in a workplace, which feels more daunting than it really is. The apartment search begins in full force, and I can't yet tell if it's simply a universally stressful activity or if I'm making it into one with all of my lists and naivete of leases. "Stress. It's a killer."

But yay! Employed!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

50 books for 05 | #3

Ha. Hahahaha. I finished it. The Time Traveler's Wife is officially done. (Ha.)

And I thought I disliked it before. Let me just say, wow, does it get *wretched* by the end. Just awful (and not in that good angsty way either). I haven't felt this triumphant at putting a book down since Great Expectations in freshman English. (Pip and Estella are not likeable characters, either. I don't care if it is Dickens. Give me my Sydney Carton anyday.)

I'm so disgusted that this book that has been so widely read and acclaimed has turned out to be so vile, but I guess that's the way it goes. I was so ready to like it too.

Anyway, a happier me will go on to better reading pastures; I'm thinking maybe I'll start with Greene before I bother with Scales again. ::fingers crossed::

oscars 2005

The nominations are out... and they're mostly more of the same. I have my own favorites, of course, but few of them have solid justification behind them considering I haven't seen any of the films nominated for Best Picture. I will say, however, that I was pleasantly pleased at the lesser award noms, especially the three heads up for my loverly A Series of Unfortunate Events, in the dramatic score, makeup and costume categories.

My greatest joy and biggest pet peeve of the nominations is in the score category. Bless you Academy Voters who did not ignore James Newton Howard's The Village (see my earlier rant here, and damn all those who thought that John Williams needs his 45th nomination for Harry Potter 3. I say this as a huge Harry Potter fan, not to mention a Williams cheerleader since I was little (the first CD I ever owned was the score to Hook). BUT Harry Potter scores have been repetitive since the first movie came out, and the only thing added in its third incarnation was that neat little "Double Trouble" number, which lasted under 2 minutes. THEY SHOULD HAVE NOMINATED Michael Giacchino, for his work on The Incredibles. I don't know how its CD is selling, but it's cleaning up in iTunes downloads. Not to mention that the jazzy, upbeat score is worthy of Mancini himself. Harumph.

And by the by, the Razzie nominations came out as well. The best with the worst, I suppose (though the former is more skewed than the latter...)

Monday, January 24, 2005

the time traveler's wife

I just can't get into it. I keep putting it down and picking it back up, as if it will have changed significantly in tone during some time on its own. I've spent the better part of the recent snow storm trying to make some progress in it, and I've come to a few realizations:

1. Snowstorms and books fit really well together. Nothing like watching the snow drift outside while knowing that you don't have to move from the nice warm couch and your open book, because you really can't bother with much of anything else until the plows come by.

2. Certain women believe that Henry (in their minds, in future movie-adaptations) is Johnny Depp (she mentions with all literary seriousness). A delicious idea, but one that staunchly refused to stick in my head. Henry is simply too cruel to be a Johnny Depp character. A Depp Incarnation may be bizarre on the outside, but he always has a nice gooey, "Love Little Outcast Me, Please, Because I Love You" center. (Depp Incarnations are always polite-- note the "please.") Henry doesn't have a gooey center, far as I can tell.

2b. I do believe that John Cusack would be a perfect fit for Henry, incidentally. Maybe it was all that "little punk" talk (because for whatever the reason, I always connect John Cusack with 80s punk and the Violent Femmes) but he fits better, I think. The coloring fits, and the librarian/punk thing... hm.

3. Neither Henry nor Clare is in the least likeable. Really. (And I am notorious for liking the most unlikeable characters... ::cough:: Snape ::cough:: and making them into demigods.) (This remains a serious literary post. I swear.) I spend most of my time really pissy with both characters and their behavior.

4. I really want to like this book and as painful as it is to leave it half-finished, it's becoming more and more painful to slog through. Augh. I'm having a similar problem with Scales of Gold, but then again, I've known from Book 1 that Nicholas was never going to be as cool as Lymond. (But then, who is? Save certain unmentionable pirates and wizards...) Still, here I am, trying to get through Book 4 while dipping into the irksome saga of Henry and Clare.

Both books do not suffer from lack of plot or writing skills. Why are my books colluding against me??

5. I'm definitely not recommending it to my mother (as previously intended). NOT her kind of book in the slightest. I'd be better off with Lymond, and she can't stand most historical fiction outside of our beloved Amelia books.


Of all things ridiculous and outdated.... (hangs her fangirl head in shame) Alan Rickman beats Johnny Depp. 72 to 67. Meanwhile, my mind is blown that such a poll exists. (Evil, evil! How is a girl to decide between a pirate and a wizard? G*d-DAMN.)

The Management apologizes for the silliness of the above post. They will attempt to remedy things with seriousness... later. Right now, the Management is suffering from a slight dizzy spell.

how many months until halloween?

Too many. Definitely too many now that I've seen the trailer to one of Tim Burton's upcoming films, "The Corpse Bride." Johnny Depp as a puppet. Yum.

how old do you act?

You Are 27 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.
13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.
20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.
30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!
40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

What Age Do You Act?

I knew it. I *knew* it would make me older... This is why I still can't get over that time in high school when the Remedial Spanish class thought I was a substitute teacher. The predicament of a younger 20-something who acts like she's thirty and looks like she's fifteen. Augh. Via Frogs and Ravens.

Friday, January 21, 2005

"what. are. you. look-in'. at?"

Today, I've been rediscovering what a geek I was in my extreme youth while mid-winter cleaning and coming across the old casette tape collection.

A disclaimer: I am quite aware that my taste in music is... askew, to say the least. I spent the majority of my formative years without cable, and most likely even if it had been available, I wouldn't have watched MTV. (I have cable now and the channel makes me ill. I cannot watch it. Not that they show much music anymore, but still. Ugh.) Music simply isn't my passion, it's not something I know a lot about or something I follow with any consistency (unless you count movie scores, which I exclude from this discussion), and most of my favorites are a) dead or b) tragically lame in comparison to the listening habits of other people my age. My brother has valiantly tried to make me musically cooler, but alas, has made no headway.

Anyway, a few of my finds:

1. The Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Such a child of the eighties.

2. An extremely worn out tape of "Walking on Sunshine," my ab-fab song of... kindergarten, I'm guessing. It might have been earlier. All I remember is dancing around like a fool in the living room of my old house, and the horror stories my mother tells people about that song ("and she played it over and over and over...).

3. Madonna's Breathless album, which doubled as the soundtrack to Dick Tracy, which coincided with the childhood dream to be a femme fatale. I still can remember watching the fifth graders teach each other the steps to "Vogue" in one of the gym alcoves after school and wishing I was that cool. (If you don't understand the title of this post, then you didn't listen to that song I much I did. Bravo for you.)

4. I refuse to admit how many Gloria Estefan tapes I found. (Suddenly I feel very guilty for sneering at the Ricky Martin-lovin' tweenyboppers a few years ago. Hm.)

Anybody with similar skeletons in their closet? ;)

Thursday, January 20, 2005

happy inauguration day

for all those fellow blue-staters who are feeling a little down today, here's a few links to cheer you up:

via freakgirl, 120 for 1/20, a chance to donate to your favorite cause which may or may not be eradicated in the next four years, not to mention the latest Jib Jab movie.

Boycott the inauguration by spending not one damn dime, via a wonderful list of hope from snarkcake.

Les Moonves is considering Jon Stewart to replace Dan Rather. No, I didn't make this up. As much as I lurve Jon, I can't see it happening. Though, Daily Show coverage of the Inauguration should kick ass if last night was any indication. (Any Reagan/Lincoln/LBJ reference is going to set me off, I know it.) Catch the re-run at 7 if you missed it-- funny.

The official site, I kid you not, of the 2005 Inaugural. I guess the online store wasn't making that much cash so that's the reason DC had to fit the security bill.

There are at least two senators willing to stand up for you. Thank them. Not to mention that Barack Obama is so cool that I can almost forgive him for confirming that crazy Condolezza.

Join a protest. My favorite is A Jazz Funeral for Democracy. At least it's going out in style.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

a no brainer meme

Your best match is Snape!

Which Harry Potter Guy are you Most Compatible with?
brought to you by Quizilla

"Luke, I am your... side-dish?"

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Darth Tater. Angry eyes were just the prelude, my friends. Now Mr. Potato can kick some serious Zurg butt.


This summer after I saw The Village, I was torn in deciding if it was awful or spectacular. I recently purchased it on DVD, and maybe I'm rationalizing my blown $30, but I've been leaning more towards the latter in the past couple days. I think I've finally gotten it figured out: M. Night Shyamalan is a hopeless romantic. Thrillers, comic book influences, my EYE. If ever there was a tribute to the Bronte sisters, this film is it. He's created in Ivy Walker a pure Gothic heroine with Lucius Hunt as her uncommunicative, brooding hero. Might as well of named them Jane and Heathcliff.

I think the backlash set in when people weren't scared enough, that the story wasn't flipped on its ears. Though to be fair, since when is The Sixth Sense some super-scary film? All of Shyamalan's films have been ridiculously tame-- his ability to unnerve us is what puts us on the edge, not that we're blatantly terrified. I blame the marketing department and all-too-soon branding of Shyamalan as Twist-Ending-Director. Because the film is solid, it's beautiful and though you can see the twist coming from a mile and a half, there's a story that's being told (which is more than most films these days can admit).

Also, if James Newtown Howard isn't considered for best dramatic score in this years Oscars, it will be a major crime. Or maybe they could just give Hilary Hahn a special award for the Most Absolutely Heart-Wrenching Violin Solo in a Motion Picture. I'll take him over the increasingly repetitive Thomas Newman any day of the week (though Newman's ASoUE score is one of his better efforts-- almost up there with his work on Oscar & Lucinda and American Beauty. And I mention American Beauty grudgingly, (never mind what the Academy said) since it is practically a carbon copy of his score for Unstrung Heroes, where it anchored the story more effectively.)

Speaking of underappreciated movies, decent Thomas Newman scores, and movies recently released onto DVD, go and see Oscar and Lucinda. Some helpful links to put you on your way:

A review from Salon.com, Pixie Dust: Ralph Fiennes plays a misfit Australian gambler in the shimmering, fragmented romance 'Oscar and Lucinda'

A fan site devoted to the original novel, with pictures and links.

A thorough page with box office returns and links to several reviews.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

the job front

A break from linking for a personal update: Two weeks ago, I received 99% of a job offer. Last week, I got that remaining one percent and ::deep breath:: I turned it down. My first job offer, now gone. It was a tough decision to make, and hopefully one that I will not regret. I have the support of my friends and family, who all seem to be in agreement that it would not have been worth the trouble for a job I wasn't wild about in the first place. While it is somewhat comforting to know that I am hireable, I am still unemployed, a vexing and unacceptable situation.

I did have an interview today and not only that, but a headhunter contacted me. I didn't even know they had them for designers, though apparently they're into everything now. La di da. Maybe this is a sign of things to come, maybe now things are finally looking up. I don't know, but I hope so.

Monday, January 17, 2005

50 Books for 05 | #2

I haven't given up on The Time Traveler's Wife, I promise. But book #2 of the year is a classic that I've been meaning to read for a few years now: Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. I thought my aunt's eyes would bulge out of her head when I picked up a copy in B&N yesterday-- that look that says, I read that ages and ages ago and can't imagine why anyone would pick it up on a pleasure reading jaunt. (Especially since I chose the newer paperback without the red velvet cover. ::shudder::)

But that's the thing: for all of its "classic" status, if one can even say that, it is a melodrama, pure and simple, and a curious psychological study which at this moment I can't tell is brilliant or brainless. I spent the entire time, of course, imagining Maxim as Olivier, which is a delicious image with which to curl up under the covers. I felt such empathy for the second Mrs. de Winter for so long, and then by the end, I wanted to slap her. For some reason, probably because of clips from Hitchcock over the years, I was certain that Danvers had done her mistress in, that even after the confession there was a tiny hope that maybe Maxim wasn't a murderer. And yet, he was (which was a nice touch) but instead of going down that dark storyline, Maurier comes up with the whole cancer/she-hated-all-men/slut subplot which was so utterly contrived that it spoiled it all. It was nice to see Wife #2 grow a spine, but really, what does it say about women when all they can think after their husband confesses the MURDER of his FIRST wife is "oh he loves me and he never loved her"? I can't say we've come that far since the thirties-- I think there's a CSI episode in this somewhere...

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed myself through 4/5 of the book. That has to count for something, right?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

a little break

... for something completely different. I know I said I was going to be AFK until Decision Day, but some links are too good to pass up.

Kevin Cornell's Bear Skin Rug Sketchbook, via Ms. Bookish, formerly Tinka, which is a gorgeous flash interface to show off his great illustrative talent. The navigation could be simpler, but all in all, it is marvelous to look at.

For all of us wannabes out there, a behind-the-scenes look at the movie critic profession. On the same subject, via WoT, Roger Ebert's critic slang decoder.

Via bookslut, Beatrix Potter gets translated into Middle Egyptian. As someone who has translated Middle Egyptian, and only got to read ancient texts, I must say I'm put out. However, just because something is translated into 35 other languages does not make it ripe for glyphs-- I mean, Harry Potter has been translated that many times probably (well, they make versions in Latin and ancient Greek, at any rate), and if you're going to put something in glyphs, it might as well be magical or have some relationship to Egyptian culture or thinking. Peter Rabbit is not that story. Hell, the Egyptians were even one of the first cultures to have a Cinderella story in their mythology. Why not translate the Brothers' Grimm, if people are so mad to have their favorite English stories in Egyptian?

On the design front, Jessa Crispin provides a hilarious tutorial on judging a book by its cover and then links to a site of some of the worst cover art ever. I was especially repulsed at this one. Ick.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

swoon-worthy stuff

God help me. I spent yesterday finishing up the Snape-filled OotP, and now from WoT, this gorgeous video of Brit pop group Texas with Alan Rickman in it... looking divine...and dancing.

The good folks over at Rickmanista link to this as well, with a MEDICAL WARNING:
Rickman fans should not attempt to cook, drive, or operate heavy machinery, tools or utensils while watching this video. Persons prone to hormonal surges, fainting, swooning, high blood pressure, or tachycardia should consult their physician prior to watching this video.

Speaking as someone with already high-blood pressure, I can state that the medical warning definitely should be attached to the footage. Or maybe just the tango sequence...

In other news, I got my first real job offer today, and of course in my usual neurotic fashion, can't decide for the life of me if I should accept it or not. I have until the end of the week to give the nice man my answer. If you don't hear from me until then, I wouldn't be surprised. I have a feeling I will be carrying on many conversations with myself, as well as making numerous phone calls interspersed with tearing-out-hair sessions. (Meaning, most likely, that by the time I make my decision I'll be committed to an asylum and bald.)

Monday, January 10, 2005

50 Books for 05 | #1

And wouldn't you know I start this thing off with a re-read?? ::sigh::

Book #1: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

I decided to read it again what with Book 6's publishing date out and my new found interest in a bizarre sub-genre of fanfics (anybody a Snape/Sinistra shipper? No? Didn't even know it existed? Neither did I.). So it really was a bit of a fact-finding mission, coupled with a Snape character study. What did I learn upon re-through?

1. J.K. Rowling is too sneaky for her own good. Dumbledore's speech at the end is so tempting to accept wholeheartedly as the whole truth, what with the crying and all. But I highly doubt it. (Not to mention, the proof for latent vampirism is bolstered by all that talk of blood and bloodlines.) Harry lives because of the protection of his mother's blood-- not to mention the fact that Dumbledore said specifically in Book One that his mother was NOT supposed to be killed by Voldie, and of course, wouldn't say why this was so. (My bet: Snape asked his master that she be spared.)

I also bet Dumbledore knows why Voldemort survived. Why couldn't he have spilled that tidbit in his mini-breakdown??

2. Sirius shouldn't have died. He was too cool for such a quick death. (A re-affirmation.)

3. The Occlumency lessons-- Harry says something in the end to the effect that he thought that Snape might be breaking down his defences (his scar hurt more after their sessions-- he was becoming MORE vulnerable to Voldie's mind etc.) but I'm not entirely certain that's true. What I do think is more likely is that Snape specifically tried to prolong Harry's grasp of Occlumency so that they could find out more about Voldie's plans. The scene where he explains the procedure to him is very interesting-- Snape is quiet and you can tell he's weighing options very carefully about whether it is a good idea or not that lessons begin or whether they should use the information for the Order's benefit.

4. Dolores Umbridge was probably the best villain next to Voldie, just because she made all the teachers hilarious. (Almost as hilarious as golden boy Gilderoy himself.) I swear, that Minerva McGonagall can be snarky when she puts her mind to it.

5. I still hate house elves and the SPEW plot. Just... irritating.

6. I ::heart:: Phineas Nigellus. I can't believe I glossed him over before. Oh, I hope he's in Book 6, bless his snobby snarky self...

national order of witches?

via freakgirl, a little tidbit to help get the blood boiling. You'd think that if Jerry Falwell actually believed feminists to be witches that he would have been turned into a toad, oh, a dozen or so times by now.

Just for reference, Nomad's wonderfully comprehensive HP Continuity Guide. (Recently re-read OotP, got Potter on the brain. Sorry.)

Sunday, January 09, 2005


Idle web-searching revealed the best early birthday present ever: Remington Steele Season 1 DVDs are scheduled to be out by May 24th.

I. Am. SUCH. A Geek. ;)

Friday, January 07, 2005

for typography geeks

via Book Ninja, Aimee Bender shares five mini-shorts that take an anthropomorphic look at some well-known fonts. I'm not really sure why she invisioned Helvetica as a siren with a whip-- though when one remembers that Helvetica is the font of the Broccolis (every James Bond opening credit uses it), one isn't so surprised anymore.

a reminder and some tips

still planning on the 50 books for 2005? Good for you. Bookslut refers you to David Harris'guidelines. Rule #6: Ignore the rules.

I'm currently plugging away at The Time Traveler's Wife, sometimes alternating with Scales of Gold on days when I feel strong enough to handle Nicholas's character.

Tania over at I Love a Good Mystery highly recommends A Girl Can Become a Comma Like That (whose cover I love but whose quality I'm dubious about) and Monkeewrench.

The really ambitious part of me says this is the year I re-read the entire Holmes canon. (Lusting after that Annotated Edition.) But we'll see. Any other recommendations for 2005?

a book list meme

via the little professor. Copy the list of 10 and check your bookshelves. Any authors on the list that aren't on the bookshelves get replaced (replacements in bold).

1. Dorothy Dunnett
2. Elizabeth Peters
3. J.R.R. Tolkien
4. Elizabeth George
5. Jane Austen
6. J.K. Rowling
7. P.G. Wodehouse
8. Dorothy L. Sayers
9. Virginia Woolf
10. William Shakespeare

A comment on my bookshelves: just noticed that I read more female authors than male ones. Odd. I can remember a time when it was completely the opposite-- somewhere in my late high school years/early college years the scales must have tipped in the other direction. Probably better off in some respects: I get lumps in my throat when forced to admit that once upon a time I was a Crichton fan. (State of Fear can bite me.)

Thursday, January 06, 2005

kinda sorta excited

Everybody goes through the experience of winning that first real job. It's a right of passage, one that I have been struggling to achieve for... longer than I care to admit, at this juncture. But today, the grey misty weather outside pretty well defining my career progress at this point, something happened that could be construed as pretty good.

Well, 99% pretty good and 1% severe anxiety-inducing madness. Let's just say I'll be very busy this weekend, a nervous wreck all next week, and possibly joyous by next weekend.

Monday, January 03, 2005


a new year, a clean set of bookmarks.

1) Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, the official movie site. If you haven't seen it yet, GO. NOW. The site is designed extremely well, does a huge amount of justice to the movie and the books, and is simply very entertaining. The movie's pretty spectacular too: gorgeous to look at, funny, and with an outstanding soundtrack from the normally predictable Thomas Newman.

2) In Lemony related links, check out an unfortunate new holiday story by Mr. Snicket himself. For happy endings and warm fuzzies, look elsewhere:
The holiday season is a time for storytelling, and whether you hear the story of a candelabra staying lit for more than a week, or one about a baby born in a barn without proper medical supervision, these stories often feature miracles. Miracles are like pimples, because once you start looking for them, you find more than you ever dreamed you'd see, and this holiday story features any number of miracles, depending on your point of view.

3) Chromasia was named the best photo blog of the year, and let me tell you, it deserves the award. Very beautiful stuff.

4) Angry Alien and its Bunny Productions made the holiday season just that much brighter with their 30-sec version of It's A Wonderful Life. Not to mention, if anybody's seen the new Fox series House, Jen Shiman (your friendly neighborhood bunnies animator) did the animated end credit for Bad Hat Harry Productions, Brian Singer's production company.

Speaking of House, it is my newest favorite show. Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard can diagnose me anyday.

5) Purple is the new pink. Just FYI. Also note: websites can have highly refined color schemes. [via colleen's open notebook]

6) John Campea's Top 10 Worst Films of 2004. I heartily agree, with the exception of #10 being The Village. I don't think it ranks with the awfulness that was Troy, but that's just me.

7) Everybody's doing top ten lists for 2004. And here's one the best, from Gapersblock.com. [via bookslut]

8) Help the tsunami victims.

9) I'm signing up for the 50 Book Challenge this year [via bookslut]. The challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to read 50 books over the course of 2005 and blog about them on your website. I don't know if I broke 50 this past year (and it counts the books you re-read, aren't they sweet?) but I'd like to think I came close. So I'm gonna give it a go and see what happens.

I got lots of nice reads for the holidays to get me started: To Lie With Lions, The Time Traveler's Wife, Foucault's Pendulum, The Orient Express, America: the Book, and Quicksilver. Ooh, warm fuzzies just thinking about my quality reading time...

10) Karen Salmansohn is waay too cool to be a self-help writer. And her site is well designed and funny to boot.

happy new year

my early winter hiatus is over and I hope that everyone's holidays were lovely. The historically painful Christmas Eve Dinner With the Cousins was more excruciating than usual this year, which has prompted my mother to finally break down and admit that it's the last one we'll attend. I'm ridiculously happy, considering I lobbied extensively to get out of it, though my cynical self feels put-out that I had to endure the three hours of Drunkard Cousin-By-Marriage telling me that if my design job never happens, he could get me "a sweet gig as a go-go dancer". Multiple times. In front of my parents, my grandfather, and my godmother. Because Christmas isn't Christmas without some absolute mortification.

Eh well. It's rather like my Cousin the Ringleader of Painful Events said: "You have to laugh at it." The implication being if you don't, you become a)homicidal or b)as crazy as some of my other relatives at the annual shin-dig who suffer from, as my great-aunt politely puts it, "dementia."

Only one relative made it into the hospital this year, which is an improvement that nevertheless messed with our New Years' plans (as is inevitably the case). But the Mummers' Parade was astounding, and Fralinger won the string band division for the third year in a row!! And yes, I am proud to say, the dancing bear in the orange caravan was my godfather. Congrats, guys! You rocked!