Posts Tagged funny

Picture Perfect: Seeing Around the Blind Spots

So, apparently I’ve gone on a 2-month hiatus from WordPress; who knew. I’ve been so busy doing absolutely nothing of importance that I never realized how much you all had been anxiously awaiting my return.

Why have I inexplicably disappeared? Truthfully (insert uncomfortable squirming here) in the time that I haven’t been wisely spending teaching, prepping lessons, grading papers, revising my dissertation, drafting articles, or sipping coffee and looking important while I pretend to do any or all of the above, I’ve been extremely busy and important, catching up on innumerable episodes of Season one of CBS’s “Elementary”. (Don’t judge me. Watching Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch have a fierce arm-wrestling match in my mind over which of them will take me to dinner is an endless source of free entertainment). But when being battled over by two British hotties in my brain gets too dull, I’ve been amusing myself with the notion that, thanks to my iPhone and a nifty little app called Tap Tap See, I can abandon my lofty dream of a career in academia and pursue my newfound passion for photography. Basically, the principle of the app is this: a blind person can take a photo of what’s in front of him or her, and voiceover (the iPhone’s onboard screenreader) describes the image. I’m told by the creators of the app that they rely on a combination of computer vision and crowd-sourcing to process and describe the images, but I still suspect that aliens are somehow involved. So, when I feel like I’ve spent too much time flopping on my sofa snuggling with Jonny Lee Miller and fancy a bit of exercise, I promptly grab my phone and proceed to chase my dog around the apartment, endeavoring to capture him on camera.

Aside from the realization that candid shots of moving targets are particularly difficult to obtain, I’ve made a number of enlightening discoveries about my surroundings:

1: The wood-engraving of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy hanging on my bedroom wall is apparently crooked. I can only assume that Colin has been sneaking sips of my sangria when my back is turned; this would certainly account for his lopsided appearance combined with the mysteriously empty wine bottles appearing in my kitchen. My inability to see straight, or the idea that home-decorating projects go well with alcohol are not to blame.

2: My parents have apparently been lying to me about my gender for nearly 30 years; after sharing my discovery of the tap Tap see app with my mother, she requested several pictures, and to satisfy her, I attempted to photograph myself and the dog. This should have been relatively uncomplicated given that I knew the relative positions of the intended subjects of the picture. So, imagine my horror when, upon checking that I’d taken a decent photo, I heard the description, “picture is of man holding yellow dog.” Man? Did you say ‘man’? The resulting gender identity crisis has been rather trying. I might need therapy.

3: In addition to navigating me safely across busy streets and helping me to avoid crashing into trees, my dog has the hitherto unnoticed ability to change color. He is alternately tan, white, or yellow. Whether this is a trick of the light or dependent on the phases of the moon, or only occurs on days that end in ‘y’, I’m still uncertain; more extensive observation is required.

In any case, textual descriptions notwithstanding, the pictures I’ve taken might not be worth a thousand words, but they’re definitely worth a few good laughs.

Note: all kidding aside, I’ve actually found the accuracy of the Tap Tap See app to be highly impressive, and it does take decent pictures. I’ve had a lot of fun with it, sharing pictures I’ve taken with my family and friends, and I’ve even found practical uses for it sorting canned goods in my kitchen. It’s especially useful for identifying colors and distinguishing between items in one’s refrigerator, closet, or pantry without sighted assistance. Visit http://www.taptapseeapp.com to check it out!

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Give It Up: One Wayward Catholic’s Journey Across the Desert of Lent

“Attention all hard-core Catholics: note the juxtaposition of Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day and reconsider giving up chocolate for Lent.” such ran one of my pre-Lenten Facebook observations after realizing just how many Christians—most of them female—would be bemoaning the beginning of the sacrificial season of Lent the day before the biggest Hallmark/Hershey holiday of the year.

“What are you giving up for Lent?” is the hot question on the playground of piety at the moment—and one that, I confess, I’ve looked forward to with increasing trepidation each year. I have very few recollections of the many treks across the desert of denial I’ve taken in my nearly 30 years as a Catholic; the ones I do recall involved some, shall we say, wayward wandering. First, there was the lent that I decided to give up peanut butter, which started out fairly well—well in the sense that I was completely miserable and probably half way to protein-deficient since I’d basically cut my major source of it out of my diet. Then I discovered Nutella. Hmm: maybe this whole giving up business wasn’t such a drag after all, though with every sinfully sweet spoonful, my conscience nagged: Wait just a moment. Nowhere in the catechism is there written anything to the effect that it’s acceptable during Lent to substitute the sacrificed item of choice with one of equal or greater value. IT remains open to question whether or not the five pounds I gained between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday can be attributed to the weight of guilt.

Then there was the time I decided to give up alcohol…during my first year of graduate school. There are about ten different reasons why this was a bad idea, all of which can be compounded in the fact that, well, it was my first year of graduate school. I know what you’re thinking: Wimp. Please. Wimp, shmimp, potato, vodka…call it whatever you like. The only Lenten sacrifice I’ve made in recent memory that was even remotely successful was the year I decided to cut off my hair for Locks of Love. For once in my life, I can honestly say I traded vanity for valor…at least until I stepped outside and a male friend of mine charmingly observed: “Your head. It looks so…small.” Goodbye gesture of self-sacrifice: Hello Louisa May Alcott, Little Women parallel universe.

I recognize the significance of “giving up” during lent—a reminder of the sacrifice that Christ made for us, but if Lent is about sacrifice and repentance, it’s also about reminding ourselves that, for Christians, every step we take on this journey of life should bring us closer to Him. With the possible exception of trading my tresses for 6 months of freaky frizz—because I truly did offer that from the heart—I can’t honestly say that any of my Lenten sacrifices have had the intended spiritual effect. So what, I ask myself as each Ash Wednesday approaches, can I possibly sacrifice that will strengthen my relationship with Jesus? Coffee? Only if I’m guaranteed a fast-pass into the glorious kingdom that cuts through the line in Purgatory, because I’ll probably die somewhere into week one. Chocolate? Well, as my brother likes to put it, “Jesus suffered so we wouldn’t have to.” Amen, bro. Sex? Well, I could, but technically according to the catechism, I’m not even supposed to be engaging in that particular pastime at the moment given my current marital status. Working on the theory that we can’t sacrifice what we don’t have (and we’ll just assume, for the sake of my soul, that I don’t in fact “have” the thing under discussion), I think we can cross this one off the list.

During this past advent season, I decided to start praying the Rosary daily—not just for the four weeks leading up to Christmas, but in the hope of strengthening my prayerful communication with Jesus. During those four weeks, and in the months since, I’ve experienced prayer in the way I think it was meant—not as my way of “talking to God,” but rather as a quiet conversation with Him in my heart. Of late, however, I realized that I haven’t been the best at keeping up my end of the bargain; I’m saying the prayers every day, but something is missing. Then, the other day, while praying about something that was troubling me, I recalled what Jesus tells us in scripture: to pray as if we’ve already received what we’re asking for—not with the assumption that we will “get what we want”; Jesus isn’t Santaclause. Rather, to pray as if we’ve already received what we’ve asked is to pray with the understanding that we will be given an answer. I am slowly coming to find, as I take the time to meditate on this idea, that I have actually received answers; not booming voice, clap-of-thunder, sky-splitting-open answers, but my heart has become a space for a quiet conversation with God—a place I can retreat to at any point in the day when I feel the need, because that door is always open. It always has been, actually, but I don’t think I ever bothered to pass through it until now. I’ve stuck my head in, sure; said Hi at the end of the day, but I don’t think I’ve ever really lingered long enough to have a decent chat. Now that I’ve actually taken that step and walked all the way in, I might find the time to stay.

Question: Where is your Lenten journey taking you this year?

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Step aside, Coffee. This is a job for alcohol: saying goodbye to 2012

The presents have been unwrapped, “Miracle on 34th Street” has been watched, “Happy Birthday Jesus” has been sung, the man in the red suit has done his annual drive-by (or is it fly-by?) under cover of darkness and childhood fantasies, and the last cookie crumb has been carried off by a hopeful house-mouse. That means only one thing: 2012 is officially breathing its last, so grab a hip flask and your favorite alcoholic beverage and settle in for a year-end review. If yours looks anything like mine, you’re going to need a drink or five. So, here goes:

Weight:………Ha! Made ya look. I don’t think so.

Jobs: 1 (hurrah. Am career woman extraordinaire…or impoverished graduate student with delusions of grandeur. It all depends on your point of view).

Status of Dissertation: almost complete (unless you count the fact that all chapters are in draft form and at least 5 pages short of the minimum required length. Re: point of view, positive attitude, glass half-full ETC.)

Boyfriends: 1 (V.G. Definite improvement in life situation).

Number of obsessive thoughts about Mark Darcy/Colin Firth: 16000000 (conservative estimate).

Number of times watched unveiling of Colin Firth’s wax figure on The Ellen Show: 3 (minimal due to irrational waxyfirthophobia).

Number of times watched “Hobbit” trailer to hear Martin Freeman exclaim, “I’m going on an adventure!”: 3054830 (approx. Is natural and just, though, considering adorable factor of Martin Freeman).

Number of books read: 44 (disgusting, illiterate slob. Must improve).

Number of books read from the BBC’s list of 100 books everyone should read: 1 (positively Philistine).

Number of films scene: 4 (serious lack of dedication to supporting the arts. Must really try harder in 2013).

Number of films seen in theater: one (Bad. Clearly have become victim of technology and convenience of Netflix, online streaming, ETC.)

Number of Colin Firth films seen: two (pathetic beyond what words can express. Have resolved to redouble efforts and complete Firth filmography project by end of 2013).

High points of year: My trip to Boston (though not, perhaps, the incident involving a very muddy guidedog and a disgruntled bellhop); discovering that I can, contrary to previous belief, attract decent heterosexual males (*crosses fingers*); Sherlock series 2 (except psychological trauma re: fake suicide and suspense over pending return of supposedly-dead detective)

Low points of year: Discovering that, according to this article in the Daily Mail, Colin Firth actually claims to hate Christmas. Something inside of me has died. All hope and joy have gone from the world. This must be how Dorothy felt when she pulled back the curtain and saw a shriveled old prune of a man instead of a god-like sorcerer type figure in manner of Gandalf or Albus Dumbledore…or how Bridget Jones felt upon discovering that Mark Darcy votes Tory. I’m completely overlooking the fact that the above Article appeared in The Daily Mail and consequently contains about as much truth as a politician’s promise. There’s just no cure for that kind of paradigm-shattering trauma. If you were planning to tell me that the Easter Bunny isn’t real, now might not be the best time; I’m just a bit too fragile at the moment.

2013 Resolutions: Finish dissertation (because, well, this isn’t negotiable), eat healthier, drink less alcohol (except for medicinal purposes…like stress…or watching any movie in which Colin Firth dies), put DVDs back in cases after watching, keep up with laundry, washing up, and other house chores, work out at the gym at least three times a week, work on inner poise.

Question: How has your 2012 been? What are you looking forward to in 2013?

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The Fondness of a Father: a Tribute to Jane Austen and Mr. Bennet

I stood in my closet, hands on hips, tapping my foot as I surveyed my wardrobe. The floor around me was a tangle of jeans, sweaters, and black leggings.
“Woman of substance. Inner poise,” I repeated. “You can do this. It’s just a work holiday party.”
“No, it’s not,” said the small voice of insecurity that generally likes to make its opinions heard when I’m least interested in hearing them. “It’s a holiday party with your new sweetie. The first holiday party you’ve ever attended with a date in your nearly 30 years on this planet.”
“Shut up!” I hissed. “That’s classified information.”
“It’s blog fodder,” said the voice.
“That too,” I conceded. “Now, if you’ve finished lowering my self-esteem, I’ve got a party to go to.”

After much deliberation (and quite possibly the first game of eeny-meeny-miny-moe I’ve played since grade school) I’d selected what I hoped would be the perfect outfit and was debating the merits of comfortable and sensible versus sexy and stylish in the footwear department, when my phone rang.
“So, what are you wearing to the party tonight?” (It was my dad.).
“I don’t know,” I answered, contemplating the potential danger of blind woman and high-heeled shoe versus hard wood floor.
“What? What do you mean you don’t know? You’re going to a holiday party with your new beau. This is an essential detail.”
“Thanks, Dad,” I said, endeavoring to calm my breathing that had quickened through a combination of nerves, frustration, and tight pants.
“So what are you wearing?” he continued. “You want to look nice. Something that straddles the line between ‘professional’ and ‘slut.'”
“I-what?” Christopher Columbus! I wasn’t having this conversation with my father. I have a very short list of things that I never want to hear in my lifetime; it includes cats caught in a garbage disposal and Colin Firth’s American accent. Now we’ll just add to that any conversation with my father that includes or in any way references the topic of sex or sexuality.
“I, um, Dad, I don’t…want to have this conversation.”
“Well, whatever you wear, just don’t look too sexy, and behave yourself.”
No, not the “Remember-your-catholic-morals” conversation. Please. I mean, if the fact that I’m not dating a catholic already means I’m shopping for a condo in Hell, we might as well just move in together and have done with it.
“Dad, I’m going to be late,” I hissed into the phone.
“OK, but just one more thing.”
I sighed. “Yes?”
“Have a good time. I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

With what relatively little experience I’ve had playing the dating game, my father’s involvement can probably be best described as something between Steve Martin (think Father of the Bride here) and the Godfather. The thing is, my dad understands my taste in men about as much as he understands my taste in pineapple pizza. That being said, I have a long-cherished fantasy about the moment when I will some day announce my engagement to my father—a fantasy that is scripted along the lines of this conversation between Lizzie Bennet and her father about Mr. Darcy.

“Lizzie,” said her father, “I have given him my consent…I now give it to you, if you are resolved on having him. But let me advise you to think better of it. I know your disposition, Lizzie. I know that you could be neither happy nor respectable unless you truly esteemed your husband…Your lively talents would place you in the greatest danger in an unequal marriage…My child, let me not have the grief of seeing you unable to respect your partner in life.”

Elizabeth, Still more affected, was earnest and solemn in her reply; and at length, by repeated assurances that Mr. Darcy was really the object of her choice…and enumerating with energy all his good qualities, she did conquer her father’s incredulity and reconcile him to the match.

“Well, my dear,” said he when she had ceased speaking, “I have no more to say. If this be the case, he deserves you. I could not have parted with you, my Lizzie, to anyone less worthy.”

This passage echoed in my mind as, with one deep breath, I checked my purse for emergency cosmetics and headed out the door, and—literary geek that I am—I can’t help noting that I’m typing this on Jane Austen’s birthday; perhaps I’ve somehow managed to channel her spirit. I should try writing a historical novel set during Regency England, though I’ll leave out the zombies and seamonsters, thanks.
I might blame Jane Austen for enabling my romantic notions, but amidst the Darcy dreams, she taught me a valuable lesson: boyfriends come and go, but the fondness of a father is forever.

Happy 237th Birthday, Miss Austen.

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It is a Truth Universally Acknowledged that Diaries Are Full of Crap: 10 Signs You Might be Obsessed with Bridget Jones

Driving home from a party several weeks ago, a friend and I got onto the topic of relationships and marriage, as single girls often do.
“You know,” she said suddenly, “I kind of have this picture of you with a Mark Darcy-looking husband, reindeer jumper and everything, holding a baby.”
“Hmm, that doesn’t sound half bad,” I admitted. “But don’t get my hopes up, because it is a truth universally acknowledged that attractive English gentlemen in reindeer jumpers don’t casually stroll into my life on a regular basis. If they did, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in right now.”

As I reflected on her words, I wondered just what they said about me. The truth forces me to admit that Bridget Jones’ Diary is probably my personal scripture—one that’s proven alternately bolstering and baffling, depending on my mood. ON the one hand, every other page, I find myself identifying with Bridget as I would with any of my “real” girlfriends, and Bridget’s endless stream of self-deprecation about her weight, lack of a boyfriend, and culinary ineptitude makes me feel better about myself. ON the other, if Bridget is such a realistic portrait of the late-twenties/early-thirties single female experience, then it should logically follow that we will all find our Mark Darcy, but I digress.

As I found myself running late for the same event after which the above conversation had occurred, cursing to myself over my inability to locate a clean pair of nickers, I had a frightening realization: “Oh my god, you’re turning into Bridget Jones. It’s finally happened.” I’m now convinced that “Bridget Jones Syndrome” is going to become the modern-day form of female hysteria. Compilers of the DSM, get on this, stat! I’ll even do some of the work for you: ten signs you might have Bridget Jones Syndrome:

1. You find yourself running late for a party, searching in a panic through your closet and hamper for a pair of nickers muttering, “Shit. Shit. Arghargharghargh. Cannot find nickers. Maybe will check behind sofa.” (You subsequently discover said nickers behind the sofa with no recollection of how they might have gotten there).
2. You think that a man whose wardrobe includes a reindeer or diamond-patterned sweater or bumblebee socks has a superior fashion sense.
3. When the guy you’ve secretly fancied for ages asks you on a date and you immediately send an email to three of your closest friends with the subject line: “State of emergency! Meet at Café Rouge! Now!”
4. When you find yourself preparing for a date by making a checklist that includes the following items: hide diary, grannie panties, and incriminating photos; clean flat; wax legs; exercise stomach muscles; develop inner poise.
5. When you refer to your commitment-phobic ex-boyfriend as “Daniel” and fantasize about him being beaten to a pulp (quite rightly) By Colin Firth as Mark Darcy…or Colin Firth as self, because essentially in the collective female imagination, the two have become irreversibly conflated.
6. When the phrase “Turkey Curry Buffet” is code for dinner party at your parents’ oldest friends’ home, where people who’ve known you since you were running round the lawn with no clothes on will make suggestive comments about your singleton status and biological clock and men you’ve called “Uncle” since you were 3 years-old who aren’t really your uncle will pinch your bottom and inquire obnoxiously about your love life.
7. When your ex rings or texts you and you find yourself pausing before reaching for the phone to whisper the mantra “cool, unavailable ice-queen.”
8. When not hearing from your current boyfriend for several days leads you to concoct increasingly elaborate theories about his silence, ranging from the simple “He’s just extremely busy” to the slightly far-fetched (or paranoid) “Oh God, he’s been kidnapped, or eaten by an Alsatian, or fled the country to avoid having sex with me.”
9. When you find yourself studying an atlas before dates with your extremely intelligent boyfriend in the event he quizzes you about the geographic location of obscure foreign countries (or, you know, not-so-obscure foreign countries, like Germany).
10. When you consider your boyfriend’s tendency to diffuse awkward situations by going into the bathroom as good relationship diplomacy.
So: there you have it. If you recognize any or all of the above signs in your behavior, you might have Bridget Jones Syndrome. Extensive research has shown that the best remedy is eating chocolate and drinking a Bloody Mary (tomatoes =vegetable serving to counteract low nutrition value of chocolate) while watching the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Now, I’m going to send this off with a suggestion for inclusion in the DSM, but—oh, goody! Telephone! Maybe is Mark Darcy! Byeeee!

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You are Cordially Invited: the Big Blogaversary Bash!

For the girl who has Jane Austen’s birthday listed as an important event in her iCal and is counting down the days to the bicentennial of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, you’d think I’d have marked my own blogaversary this past week with a bit more fuss and fanfare. Alas, the surprise blogaversary party you were all planning for my stats page was obviously canceled on account of the closing Olympic ceremonies…or having more interesting blog material to peruse. I prefer to think the former.

This year has witnessed me taking a bite out of the cultural capital that is vampirism with my adventures in teaching media through vampire adaptations. My readers watched as I struggled to overcome my fear of waxworks, contemplated the inevitability of aging and threw a highly successful, Bridget Jones-style birthday party complete with blue cake. I have been fortunate enough to have received two prestigious blogger awards during this last year, neither of which are in any way responsible for the expansion of my ego. I single-handedly coined a new term for analyzing nudity in BBC dramas, participated, with great success, in Blogging Against Disablism Day 2012, and pined over the pain of having to endure my boyfriend being shamelessly stolen by Katie Couric.

OF course, none of this would have been possible without the support of the five people who actually care to read my ramblings…and the random individual who apparently discovered my blog with the search query “Colin Firth is racist”. (He isn’t, of course, unless you happen to take Ricky Gervais seriously).

IN any case, I know you are all itching to paint the town pink in celebration of the birth of my blog, so I will not detain you any longer. Just do please remember that as you are toasting my health and longevity with a watermelon margarita, to finish your drink. There are sober children in China, after all.

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Help! Katie Couric Stole my Boyfriend!

Recently a friend of mine, thinking it would amuse me, shared this video with me.
Look at the way she’s stroking that photograph! It’s indecent, I tell you! That said, I must hand it to Katie Couric: she’s got excellent taste in men, albeit my man, who, for the record, she never asked permission to have.

Jealousy notwithstanding, I find the fact that Katie Couric keeps a picture of Colin Firth right beside a picture of her children oddly comforting. Suddenly listing his Birthday as an all-day event in my iCal seems like the act of a perfectly rational and sane individual. (Not, you know, that I’ve done this. I was merely offering a hypothetical illustration).

That said, I consider it my duty to inform Katie that her claim to be dating Mr. Darcy is entirely false—a fact that has absolutely nothing to do with his current marital status. Katie, honey, let me explain something to you. One of the joys of constructing your own fangirl universe is that you control all of the variables in that universe. Thus, if, in your fantasy world, Colin Firth is your boyfriend, he would naturally (and conveniently) not be married to a gorgeous Italian eco-fashionista who can rock an Armani gown made from recycled plastic bottles like nobody’s business.

All joking aside, really, I think Colin and Livia are the most adorable couple ever, and from one Italian to another, I really must congratulate her on her taste in a life partner. She does us credit.

But I digress, for now we come to the real grievance: what every respectable woman knows is number one in the crush code of conduct, the rule of first-come, first-serve. According to Katie, her relationship with Colin Firth has lasted approximately four years. According to my rough mental calculation (and note that my abysmal arithmetic does not apply here), Colin and I have been together since 1994. I loved him well before he made a splash on the BBC, and no man has ever come between us. (Fine, there was that brief recent flirtation with Benedict Cumberbatch, but given the long distance separating us at the moment, Colin and I have agreed that an open relationship is just more sensible). All this to say: kindly step aside, Katie.

Question: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for a celebrity crush?

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