Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Friday Night In

During our orientation stroll around the historical area last week, our orientation leader pointed out the hospital and said a few things about historical surgery, prompting me to note that back then a good doctor could have someone's arm off in under thirty seconds. (I know this because I learned it at the National Maritime Museum, and did I ever mention I saw the tourniquet that may have been used when they amputated Nelson's arm? Yes? Well, not recently, anyway.)

Anyway, the very opposite of that speed and skill would be when an incompetent doctor--say, a doctor who's been out carousing and suddenly needs to perform emergency surgery only the only tool he has to hand is a rusty knife--a rusty butter knife, with the crumbs still on it from that morning's toast. Yes, this incompetent, drunken doctor, rooting around in there, attempting to have your arm off, possibly pausing at times to take another swig, or point out to an observer the intricacies of the human body or (more likely) to stand back and wipe his brow, exclaiming "My God, didn't expect THAT!" as the patient lays there, dazed and praying for death.

The only reason I paint this lovely little picture is because that's what I felt like last night, and if it hadn't been for sweet, sweet Midol I might just have thrown myself in front of the cannon.

Luckily, I'm feeling much better.

But I brought my magic pills with me. Just in case.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Things to get excited about

Okay, so I broke my machine yesterday. It was all me, too. I went in there with a tiny pliers, trying to unstick the bobbin, and suddenly I had a handful of parts. Oops. Naturally, being me, I was super-upset, but everyone said "eh, it happens" and proceeded to tell me about times past when they had broken machines. Which is about as helpful as formerly pregnant ladies telling currently pregnant ladies horror stories about being in labor. Thanks for letting me know you've been there, but still 100% embarassed about my machine being broken.

Whew, that metaphor kinda fell apart at the end there, didn't it? Just like my machine! Har har!

So I'm working on an ancient Singer right now--we get along fairly well, except occasionally it will seize up and vomit, especially when I'm attempting something tricky, like sewing in a straight line.

Eh. At least my buttonholes are coming out straight. *finally*

Meanwhile, I'm excited because I talked to the director at the Methodist church and choir practise is tonight. I'm looking forward to singing again. She said she needed sopranos too, so I was practising in the shower last night. Sure, I don't know the words to the Queen of the Night's aria, but thanks to "Amadeus" I can hit all those funny little notes.

Also, I was thinking about impending aunt-hood and getting excited all over again. One of the women at work today was stitching on a baby blanket at work during her break (seriously?! Who SEWS on their break?!) and I was thinking about making a blanket for Babys Lem & Gaboda, except that since I'm in Williamsburg I was thinking less blanket and more miniature tricorns. Because seriously. The only thing cuter than small children is small children in wee tricorns. Wee widdle tricorns. Awwwww...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Political Rant (

Firstly, let me just say if anyone is wondering where Bell Hollee has got to, he's in Philadelphia. I've been working on that story, and as soon as I figure out how to get my computer onto the internet, I'll be updating, and you'll have several more chapters to read. Yay.

I have been very good about not talking politics down here. I wanted to wait and get the lay of the land first, plus, not alienate everyone during my first week. But Laura sent me a letter today from Michael Moore about the current response to the Iraq War and it made me depressed. This afternoon I was reading an old TIME magazine, from 2005, before the election, and the language they used about the war was the same as it is now--only there was a glimmer of hope that the Democrats we put into power might change things.

Unfortunately, we know better.

I'm depressed about this war because it's exactly like what Mr. Moore says--what can I do? Aside from chaining myself to the gates of Congress. We put the Democrats into power to stop this foolish, foolish war, and they have not done it. Dad tells the story of Ronald Regan threatening to "come and get" the Iran hostages during the presidential election--and immediately after he was elected, they were released. Do our presidential candidates have that kind of power today? To say "I will stop this war!" and have it cease immediately upon taking office? Or--more importantly--do they have the pair to pull everyone out of Iraq immediately? To not take no for an answer, full speed ahead and damme the torpedoes, good bye, over and out?

Somehow I doubt it. And besides, it's not the president's job to start and end wars, it's Congress and Congress has been SITTING ON THEIR BLOODY HANDS. And we've become--well, I've become, I can't speak for everyone--I've become apathetic. I don't really care about this war. Sure, people are dying and bad stuff is happening and there is no end in sight, but I'm not mad enough to ride up to DC and demand answers. I've gotten used to it. I'm apathetic. Eh. It's appalling, but I've been exposed to the worst for so long now that what's another five years? Eh. Things are bad all over.

This, of course, is an unacceptable position, an untenable way of life. Sustaining anger is the most difficult thing of all for anyone who wants to change the world: sustaining, nurturing and turning that anger to good. I must get upset again, wanting to grab passersby in the streets and shake them and shout from the corners, "Do you know what your elected officials are up to! Do you know that the Supreme Court condones torture! That habeus corpus has been suspended--and you didn't even notice?!"

But for now, I'm apathetic. If Congress won't care enough to stop this war, then why should I? I'm only one American. I can throw up my hands and say "Enough!" or I can throw them up and say "I quit." Right now I'm discouraged. Down, but not out.

Michael Moore's Letter:

Monday, March 24th, 2008
> Friends,
> It would have to happen on Easter Sunday, wouldn't it, that the
4,000th American soldier would die in Iraq. Play me that crazy preacher
again, will you, about how maybe God, in all his infinite wisdom, may not
exactly be blessing America these days. Is anyone surprised?
> 4,000 dead. Unofficial estimates are that there may be up to 100,000
wounded, injured, or mentally ruined by this war. And there could be up
to a million Iraqi dead. We will pay the consequences of this for a
long, long time. God will keep blessing America.
> And where is Darth Vader in all this? A reporter from ABC News this
week told Dick Cheney, in regards to Iraq, "two-thirds of Americans say
it's not worth fighting." Cheney cut her off with a one word answer:
> "So?" As in, "So what?" As in, "F*** you. I could care less."
> I would like every American to see Cheney flip the virtual bird at
the them, the American people. Click here and pass it around. Then ask
yourself why we haven't risen up and thrown him and his puppet out of the
White House.
> The Democrats have had the power to literally pull the plug on this
war for the past 15 months -- and they have refused to do so. What are
we to do about that? Continue to sink into our despair? Or get creative?
Real creative. I know there are many of you reading this who have the
chutzpah and ingenuity to confront your local congressperson. Will you?
For me?
> Cheney spent Wednesday, the 5th anniversary of the war, not mourning
the dead he killed, but fishing off the Sultan of Oman's royal yacht.
So? Ask your favorite Republican what they think of that.
> The Founding Fathers would never have uttered the presumptuous words,
"God Bless America." That, to them, sounded like a command instead of
a request, and one doesn't command God, even if they are America. In
fact, they were worried God would punish America. During the
Revolutionary War, George Washington feared that God would react unfavorably
against his soldiers for the way they were behaving. John Adams wondered if
God might punish America and cause it to lose the war, just to prove His
point that America was not worthy. They and the others believed it
would be arrogant on their part to assume that God would single out
America for a blessing. What a long road we have traveled since then.
> I see that Frontline on PBS this week has a documentary called
"Bush's War." That's what I've been calling it for a long time. It's not the
"Iraq War." Iraq did nothing. Iraq didn't plan 9/11. It didn't have
weapons of mass destruction. It DID have movie theaters and bars and women
wearing what they wanted and a significant Christian population and
one of the few Arab capitals with an open synagogue.
> But that's all gone now. Show a movie and you'll be shot in the head.
Over a hundred women have been randomly executed for not wearing a
scarf. I'm happy, as a blessed American, that I had a hand in all this. I
just paid my taxes, so that means I helped to pay for this freedom
we've brought to Baghdad. So? Will God bless me?
> God bless all of you in this Easter Week as we begin the 6th year of
Bush's War.
> God help America. Please.
> Michael Moore

Monday, March 24, 2008

Patching things up

I am currently chatting with a woman from TurboTax, who has been unable to explain why when I click on "print and save" on the TurboTax website I get "buy your state tax returns from us" instead of my 1040s. I'm pretty hot about it--what if I wanted to actually save a copy of my taxes instead of using the federal forms to fill out my state taxes so I could get my $79 back from the state of Illinois? Because, damme it, after crawling over unshoveled mountains of snow all winter, Illinois owes me something for my pains.


Happy Easter everyone! I went to two services yesterday--an Episcopalian service at St. Bruton's (dating from 1715) and a Methodist service at the UMC (dating from 1785). I liked the Episcopalian sermon better (and the REAL communion wine was unexpected!) but the Methodist church has a CHOIR. Also, we got to sing "The Hallelujah Chorus" which was fun. My favourite part of that song is the bit where it goes "KING OF KIIIIIINGS..." a bunch of times until you're feeling faint and then you swing out of it with "And LoooOORD of Loords--andheshallreign!!" which is always difficult because you're out of breath and that phrase is on a page turn. I am going to see about joining the Methodist church, to sing again and try joining one of their adult Sunday school classes. They have ten classes. It's a huge church.

After church I went to a restaurant called The Blue Talon which is a French restaurant. I had lamb (well...Easter) and eggs (I know, I know...I'm a bad vegetarian) and coffee, served by a bartender who looked weirdly like Crispin Glover, but less creepy. Then I strolled around the grounds, enjoying the sunshine. All in all, a very nice Easter.

I was thinking Friday about anniversaries...we have national anniversaries, of course, but there are also personal anniversaries that are important only to the one person involved. Like March 21st, the day I flew home from London. It's hard to believe it's been a year. I never thought I would be in Virginia a year ago, but here I am. Friday night I went out and had a pint of cask-style IPA called "St. George"--the man sitting next to me warned me it was "warm" and I almost laughed at him. Oddly, I didn't really mind it until today when I was sitting, patching up a pair of breeches, and listening to "Blood Brothers." A truly terrible musical, but it's full of lovely British accents, and references to chip shops and a Thatcherite way of life that provoked a wave of nostalgia for the chippy in Brockley and the train to London Bridge. Ah, well. I won't get too maudlin. If I'm going back to London, I'm going back to stay.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

More sharp.

Brunhilde and I have finally managed to make peace, so in order to remind myself to PAY ATTENTION, I was forced to stab myself in the finger with a seam ripper hard enough to draw blood. Which I promptly dripped on the haversack I was attempting to machine darn: the ripping was necessary because I had darned the bag closed. The good news is that canvas (actual cotton, honest to period canvas) is blood resistant, so it came out with a minimum of scrubbing and some not-period ZAP! or BAM! or whatever the hell the latest shouty product is. I didn't actually bleed that much, but I think I'm going to keep a Band-aid on my finger from now on, JUST IN CASE THIS TURNS OUT TO BE A RECURRING THEME.

I am very glad that my first week is over. In some ways it has been harder than I thought, in some ways, easier. No one expects me to work overtime. They expect me to work hard, but if I'm not out the door by four-thirty, people ask me if I noticed the clock. The walk back to my little house is like stepping through a decompression chamber, so by the time I'm home I'm relaxed and ready for some dinner. Because of the non-kitchen situation, I've been eating a lot of salads and veggies, so my body is super-happy with the sun and the exercise and the salads. And no one thinks it's weird that I like history. Yesterday I mentioned how I needed to meet people, and all my coworkers promptly told me that I should go to the period dances at the courthouse--dances put on for the "guests" but which the interpreters attend to learn the minuet. "And," one authoritive voice said, "if you meet any of the apprentices you think you'd like to date, tell us his name and we'll tell you if you should stay away or not."

I am a little discouraged--although no one has made me feel like I'm not doing well, I feel like I should be doing better. I guess I'm my own worst critic. But I like my job, I like living here, and I want to do well so I can stay here.

Yesterday, walking home from work I saw a man on a horse riding down the street and I thought, "hey, that looks just like the twelve-inch, fully articulated figure of George Washington I bought off of eBay, except he doesn't have his blue Commander-in-Chief's sash on." Then I realised he WAS supposed to be George Washington. So I took my earbuds out of my ears, just in time to hear some punk red-haired twelve year old squeak out something idiotic about "What's so bad about being an English colony anyway?!" To which Washington replied "Well, the child's an Anglophile, there's nothing you can do about that," to the agog parents. I think the kids have a better time here than the parents do: you can rent clothes, so you'll see kids running around in skirts and breeches, clutching toy rifles with orange tips, tricorn hats and occasionally chasing after hoops. It's like Disneyworld where you sort of dimly "know" that Mickey is a man in a mouse costume--you realise that the people here are interpreters, but once they start talking to you, you're totally willing to enter into the belief that the 21st century stops at the door. (Even if the boys track team from William and Mary occasionally runs down the street, neatly dodging piles of road apples left by the horses) I stopped to watch the Fife & Drum Corps march yesterday, after they fired off the cannon, and saw an Indian family walking down the street, stopping to consult a map they let their fourteen month old son wander around, and his grin was enough to infect all the tired guests sitting to rest their feet. Something you surely didn't see on the El.

Today's plan includes finally tackling the bus system and doing laundry. The Junior Fife & Drum Corps are marching at one...I might have to stop by and watch.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Don't put your finger there, it's sharp.

Today I managed to stab myself in the finger with the sewing machine needle as I simultaneously turned the fly wheel and reached for the thread. Yeah. Didn't require stitches (or an accident report) but I felt like a right idiot.

Yesterday I had my new employee orientation. I really like working for Colonial Williamsburg, when they talk about teamwork and taking pride in your work, I really believe that the family of people who work here are guided by that and it's not just some Succestories poster like other places I've worked that I could mention here but won't. CW employs about 3,800 people, and they are all very friendly--lots of people have husbands or wives who work here, or kids in the fife and drum corps. And everyone was excited about starting work. Most of my fellow orienteers were interpreters, some of whom freely admitted the only reason they wanted to work here was so they could wear the pretty costumes.

Today I was back in the shop. I have my own dedicated work station, which is nice, but I'm having a little trouble with my sewing machine. It's a Bernina (which I have christened "Brunhilde") and it's rather like driving a Ferrari when you've been tooling around in a Honda. I'm finally getting the hang of it, but it took me about an hour to darn my first shirt. Forty-five minutes of that was getting it all set up, pulling thread out of the bobbin when it got screwed up, etc. The second, third, fourth, fifth times went a lot more smoothly. But it's hard not to feel outclassed when the woman sitting next to you, who's pretty much your own age and has your name, is tossing off a gown like it ain't no thang. Luckily I'm on Team Mending so I won't have to get in over my head until I'm ready, but let's face it, we all want to make the pretty costumes.

These past couple days have been pretty tiring, not a lot of routine going on. I'm going to have to work hard if I don't want to end up going home every night and spacing out in front of the shiny, shiny TV. I'm also concerned about the price of living out here: it's higher than I thought, plus I am seriously considering buying a vehicle of some kind. I'd love a snazzy little moped, but maybe I should just break down and invest in a car.

I love living in the historical area though...last night they fired off the cannon about three hundred yards from my front door. :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hello from Virginia...

Hello everyone. I'll spare you the goriest details of my trip down--to paraphrase Albus Dumbledore, it is a thrilling tale and I want to do it justice--and I only have a few minutes left on the library computer--but I am HERE and I am SAFE and SOUND.

The train ride down was brilliant--yes, I still love trains. Waking up to a windowful of the Appalachian Mountains was wonderful and being able to walk around and enjoy the ride was so much better than flying. There was a little confusion Saturday night about what building I was supposed to be in, but I got it all sorted out. The Lightfoot House is a big, two-story house and it happens to be in my front yard. I'm actually living in one of the reconstructed outbuildings, the Laundry, so I have a little house all to myself. A TINY little house, but I can listen to my music, sing, practise my chanter all without annoying my roommates. Also--my little room has a TV with cable, so I can even keep up with "CSI: Miami" and "The Daily Show!"

Williamsburg is not what I pictured and more than I hoped for. The historical area is HUGE...and my commute takes me right through the center of it. Instead of an hourlong train ride, I have a fifteen minute walk over cobblestones and gravel. Everyone here has been incredibly friendly and helpful, and CW is definitely a "family" business, in that people start working here and stay for years. The man who finally explained where my house was has been here for as long as I've been alive! And spring is in the air, huzzah, the daffodils are out, the camellias are blooming and there's no snow on the ground. I can't get enough of the sunshine--what a treat.

Then today was my first day on the job. More paperwork, more running around, but even this stress of getting everything sorted out is less stressful than what I felt in Chicago. Basically, what I'll be doing is notes on costumes that were dropped off for laundry or mending. It will be challenging--today I replaced a collar on a shirt and it took me two hours--but I think most of my fears of being unable to perform the job are unfounded. So that's a huge relief. And no one seems to think it's weird that I am dying to get into a costume of my own, so I'm going to apply for a part-time evening position as an interpreter. Next week though. I think this week has been exciting enough.

I'm lonely, naturally, many's the time I've been walking down the street wishing someone was here to witness the witless grin spreading across my face as I catch sight of a Man in Breeches (MIB), but, oddly enough, I'm not nearly as stressed out or as frantic as I was when I moved to London or Chicago. I know what to expect now with moving to a new place, and I'm hoping to meet some new people soon. I like Williamsburg 100% more than Chicago--not that I'm hating on Chicago, but I'm happy to be here. If everything continues as well as it has been, I think I could learn to love it here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Flurry of last minute packing, check.
Toothbrush securely fastened, check.
Printout of Amtrak reservation, check.
Phone CW to let them know I'm on my way, check.
Printout Illinois tax forms so I can get $79 back out of my $345 dollars of state income tax, check.
Take photo of dress I labored over for three days and now have to leave behind...


See you in Virginia!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

once upon a time...

Mom and Dad gave me the greatest gift known to mankind for Christmas. A huge suitcase, capable of holding incredible amounts of stuff, up to and including a Vietnamese family of eight. And a second, smaller suitcase, for when I need to go jaunting on weekend visits around the globe. These two bags, red Samsonite, have accompanied me all over the world.

I thought, however, that our time together had come to an end, as most of the world's major airlines have put positively Puritanical baggage restrictions in place. Happily though, Amtrak still allows you to bring obscene amounts of stuff with you, so I trundled out my boxcar-sized suitcase and began packing...only to discover it won't all fit. That's right kids, Nicki's wardrobe has finally expanded to the point where she won't be able to throw it all into a suitcase and escape.

So I have to figure out what to take and what to leave. Take the tank tops, leave the cannolli. I can't believe I managed a move to a foreign country with these suitcases, but a trip across the country leaves me puzzled. Of course, I wasn't packing an electric kettle, small figurines of Nelson & Napoleon, or an iPod dock then--

--and speaking of the iPod, I finally got around to putting the last two Queen CDs on my computer, only to have Grane promptly erase all the music on Napoleon that I had taken off her earlier. I try to give her more room on the hard drive, and this is how she repays me. ARG. I haven't lost any music, but it's all on my external hard-drive and CDs...and I'm running out of time (and inclination) to put it back on my computer. Train leaves in less than twenty-four hours, and I have to figure out how to shoehorn another pair of shoes into my suitcase.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

History geek's equivalent to waiting for "Star Wars..."

Oh MAN. Apparently HBO is having a seven-part (drool) mini-series about John Adams (drool) based on David McCullough's book (drool) starting on Sunday. I tell ya, it's enough to make someone go out, buy a big screen TV and subscribe to HBO. DROOL. And they filmed it in Williamsburg!

I won't get to watch it, but you can bet the DVDs will be in my collection as soon as they're available!

Bonus special added feature: Rufus Sewell stars as ALEXANDER HAMILTON!!!

And I'm not the only one who thinks Hamilton was hot!

We are not alone!

Still more proof he was striking!

Monday, March 10, 2008

because packing days in advance is for sissies

I just got confirmation that my housing is all set up in CW...I'm going to be living in one of the historical buildins, actually in the historical part of town, and I'm WELL EXCITED. As you might imagine. I'm leaving on Thursday, mah train tickkies have been safely bought. And so, the countdown begins. In the meantime, I decided to watch TV all morning rather than do anything productive. It is so...shiny...

I also went to visit Grandma today. Grandma who, more than anyone, inspires me to be an independent, outspoken, self-reliant female and who is one of the few people I know who is as excited about current politcal events as I am. Which is why I am SADDENED and SCARED that Grandma told me that she is voting for John McCain. AAAARGH. I haven't talked about McCain much on this blog, but my personal feelings is that he is scary. He is like Bush 2.0--or rather, like that scary computer in the Terminator that got all self-aware and went nuclear on people. John McCain-inator becomes aware that he is President and BOOM, nuclear holocaust. Also, he is old. And, I suspect, slightly out of touch with the needs of my generation. He has said that he is against torture, but also that he would continue with the course set by President GW in Iraq and Afghanistan. Which, even IF the surge is working, would mean committing more troops and more war in this area which economists have estimated will cost us $12 BILLION DOLLARS A MONTH next year.

Let me just highlight that again for you: TWELVE BILLION DOLLARS A MONTH.

That's, like, an impossible number. That's like, four times as much for the entire budget of WWII. It's completely incomprehensible that ANY government in it's right mind would spend TWELVE BILLION DOLLARS A MONTH on bombs, guns, grenades, tanks, bullets, and other items of deadly intent rather than investing in things like, oh, schools and bridges. What does that say about the priority of our country?!

And McCain likes this war, even with that price tag. SOOOOO. I'd be open to voting for a Republican, but not one who's willing to spend my taxes, my children's taxes and all their future offspring's taxes to committing war.

The opposite of war isn't peace. It's CREATION.

But there is no money for creation, apparently.

So yeah. I'm sorry to get all political here. Y'all know I like Obama* but honestly--I have no problem with people voting for other people. Whatever. Democracy. Yeah. It's cool. I just want to make sure that everyone who votes is politically AWARE of what they are voting for and go into it eyes open.

Which is why I'm sending some NY Times articles to Grandma. :)

*sometimes...a little too much...

I need more single friends

I begin to understand how the stereotype of the crazy, pushing thirty, ring-hunting, desperate-for-baby singleton came about. After catching up with several attached friends, some of whom are packing baby, and viewing "Becoming Jane" all in the space of four days, I'm feeling a little out of touch. Not desperate for a man OR baby, but just wondering at the fact that somehow, without my noticing, I'm becoming the odd man out in my group of accquaintances instead of the norm. Funny, that.

I also watched "Brokeback Mountain" tonight on my parent's shiny, shiny huge-screen TV, and it left me feeling achy.

I think I need to get to work.

Oh God, now I'm becoming a self-fulfilling stereotype. The only thing that's missing is boxed wine and Alsatians, and thank GOD I have more class than that.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Second post today

Okay, now I'm tired.

Has anyone else had to do this? After posting earlier I went downstairs with the idea of cleaning out some of my old toys, breaking open a few more boxes of "mementos" that I packed away when I was younger. It's hard. Part of being a part of a consumer culture is the fact I have so much more to go through when the time comes to say good bye. Part of it is, what do I need to remember my childhood by? I'll save the only photo of me in kindergarten--waterstained as it is--but do I need all ten years of softball photos. No. Which then? The year we won the league. God, was I skinny then. I can't believe I thought I was fat. The rest will get burned. Not thrown away, not recycled: burned. Cleansing, purging. Another box for Goodwill, another box for garbage. And the smallest: things I want to save.

Then the toys. I break open my Barbie case and smooth tiny dresses, pink explosions, fashions from fifteen years ago in neon colors and odd shoes. I tell myself you can keep ONE DOLL. I have twenty. None of them are going to be worth anything except to me, no "mint in box" here. I'm surprised at how well-preserved they are, tiny blonde faces grinning up at me, each neatly dressed. This is old-school Barbie, back when the proportions are at their most ridiculous, the eyes wide and always blue. The Barbies are in a separate box from my Skipper, Cortney, Ariel and Arista. Ariel who took countless baths with me. And Skipper--my favourite--who lost her left hand in a tragic accident involving a huge slobbering dog. This is harder than I thought. I try to be skeptical: if I was a thrift store, I could probably resell the Barbies, who are preserved, coiffed. But Skipper won't sell, not with a hand missing. In the end, the Barbies are packed away again and put by the bottom of the stair, to be taken to the thrift store, and the teens stay. For now.

Laura called me about halfway through my purge and helpfully mentioned how it felt like Toy Story 2, where the toys are donated and it's heartbreaking. I decide to leave the kid's books for later. Of course I had always hoped that someday I would have kids of my own to play with my toys, but by that point there will be better Barbies, or hipster dolls who are designed to look like my kids, or internet dolls that require no tiny clothes whatsoever. And maybe I would hang on to these toys forever and never be able give them to my kids while in the meantime there are kids today who could play with them. It hurts--it's like unhooking myself from tethers of the past, but it feels good too. Freeing. And, in the end, I still have my memories.

I'm so tiiiiired

Not that I've gotten much done the past few days. I cleaned the house yesterday, because we're expecting company today and I thought I could potentially be useful after sitting around doing nothing all week. Then I went to the movie store and picked out a couple films: "Elizabeth: the Golden Age," "Becoming Jane" and "Brokeback Mountain" cheerfully explaining to the woman behind the counter that "Jake Gyllenhal is hot! The only thing that makes him hotter is Heath Ledger--attached to his FACE!"

Speaking of Heath Ledger, I was dreaming about making a movie of George Washington and thinking (in my dream) "huh, Heath Ledger would make a GREAT Washington." And when I woke up, I realised that was no longer possible. Sad panda.

Speaking of hot guys, whilst cleaning yesterday I came across a stack of old Seventeen magazines and a red notebook my thirteen year-old-self had clearly labeled "BABES" and inside were pictures cut out of magazines of all my youthful crushes, with helpful arrows pointing to them and captions like "SO JEALOUS OF NICOLE!" This for Tom Cruise. Ironically, still jealous of Nicole Kidman, only now it has more to do with "Moulin Rouge" and that perfectly flawless skin. Anyway. It was mortifying, to say the least. Apparently I had a real thing for Keanu Reeves (and this was pre-Matrix, remember!). Oooh, so embarassing. Luckily I'm all grown up now and can dispassionately say I only like actors because they're good actors and not because they're "babes":

Cillian Murphy

Javier Bardem took his MOM to the Oscars! And then thanked her IN SPANISH!

James McAvoy in breeches. Oh, trust me. If anyone would know, it would be me.

Laurence Olivier is dead. But he can still act circles around most actors today.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Down beside your red firelight...

A million years ago I was a huge Queen fan. Before Nelson, before London, before Harry Potter, I loved Queen with all the passion a sixteen year-old heart could muster. As time passed that got diffused somewhat, but I still own all their albums, and I can still sing along to “A Kind of Magic” without missing a beat. But when I saw an ad in the paper for “One Night of Queen” by a tribute band called The Works, I was a little skeptical. That’s the bad thing about being a Queen fan—there’s no possibility of ever hearing them live. Granted, Brian and Roger tour occasionally with other people, but let’s face it, without Freddie Mercury, something is missing. I took a poll, however, and my 26 year old self was outvoted by my 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 20 year old self, so off I went to the Meyer Theatre.

I’m so glad I went. The concert was A-MAY-ZING. The band was fronted by a man named Gary Mullen who—I swear to God—sounded exactly like Freddie Mercury. And even better—because Gary wasn’t tired or overworked he could hit all those glorious high notes. Mika, eat your heart out. I had caught a brief interview on the telly earlier in the day, and the man there looked thirty-five-ish, balding, quiet, odd northern London accent, but the man onstage was clearly channeling his hero. How odd that a freak chance gave this man the same vocal cords as Freddie Mercury, and the gumption to use them—and use them he did. Every note, every flourish, if you shut your eyes, you’d be hard pressed to hear the difference. Backing him up was a solid band, incredibly talented musicians who ROCKED OUT on Queen songs. Songs that were never meant to be confined to cassettes and CDs.

The audience was largely middle-aged people, politely wearing slacks, turtlenecks and sweaters (occasionally all at once), although some people brought their children. And random groups of teenagers. Cognitive dissonance occurred once when Gary stole someone’s cellphone and snapped a picture of the audience, prompting me to lean over to the woman next to me and say “I never thought I’d see Freddie Mercury holding a camera phone!” A few seconds later the guy next to me, who had been sipping on Bud Light all night, leaned over and said “So is that guy a fairy?” I had to take a second and think “wait, does he mean the singer? Or Freddie? Wait—“ so I said “Well, Freddie Mercury was gay, but I don’t know about that guy.” And the man said “What do you mean?” And I said “That’s an impersonator. Freddie Mercury died in 1991.” And the man said “So that’s a different guy singing with Queen?” At which point I had to restrain myself from hitting the guy in the manner of a V-8 commercial.

Oddly, the experience made me a little nostalgic. Most of the audience was very appreciative, but they didn’t understand some of the really Queen-y stuff, like singing along with “Freddie” or clapping in time to “Radio GaGa.” And several teenagers were wearing homemade Gary Mullen & The Works t-shirts, which made me sad that they were fans of the tribute band, instead of the original. But then again—the original is gone, and the tribute band is here, and they are amazing. They have an incredible respect for the music and they play it well, and they left me with an adrenaline rush and an urge to go out and make a yellow coat with buckles on it.

And they played “Fat Bottomed Girls” which is my anthem and I didn’t think they would.

Most people have favourite songs. I have an ANTHEM.

Queen lives! And if you ever get the chance to go see Gary & THE WORKS, do it. You won’t regret it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

This counts for news in GB

So Brett Favre is retiring. This news delivered to me by dad as he hands me the phone (it's Grandma, telling me our trip to Appleton for lunch with the great-aunts is off due to snow), his tone of voice as matter of fact as if he was observing the weather. All of the local channels have suspended programming so they can bring you Brett Favre's Life and Career. It's a very weird feeling, watching Favre retire--I don't really care about football, but since it's Green Bay, the Packers are bred into you. And Favre has been around for sixteen years, more than half my life. When he started for the Packers, I was nine, I had a dog, my teacher was the evil Mr. Banana-man and I was big into New Kids on the Block. Now I have two degrees (and still no grammar skills, take THAT evil Banana-man!), no dog, and a pretentious love of that greatest of American art forms, but for the first time fall will see no Brett Favre take the field. Weird. Dad is being stoic, noting that he has seen several quarterbacks come and go ("when Bart Starr retired, the flags flew at half-mast!"), and I'm sure deep down inside he is relishing the prospect of arm-chair administrating next year as the team tries to hire a "replacement."

Godspeed, Brett Favre, and good luck.

Did anyone else watch the special on the Royal Family last night? Okay, just me then. Part of me was really interested in the day-to-day life of the Royal Fam, and part of me was being really cynical thinking "oh yeah. This is obviously catering to the Americans who love to see all the pomp and ceremony of a monarchy we don't have." Then of course realise I was chastigating myself. Because, seriously, this show was like porn for royalists. Loving snaps of the silver plate being polished. Interviews with HRH's horse guards who gushed about being in the processions. Lingering shots of the crown jewels being readied for the royal head. And the money shot--Queen Elizabeth II in all her finery opening Parliament. Drool. Even though there were a few annoying interviews with President Bush about the Queen's visit (which I didn't hear, owing to an odd hissing sound emanating from my mouth), the show was brilliant and made me long for the days when pomp and circumstance was only one timed-entrance ticket away.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

those sexy founding fathers

I had hoped that Patriot Hearts would have more bodice ripping and less diplomatic tea-drinking, but since it's a book about the wives of the Founding Fathers, it's mostly tea drinking. Although there is one rather good passage describing Thomas Jefferson ascending a staircase with his hair "unqueued." Rrraow.

Which got me thinking that this painting of Thos. Jefferson should play the Man With the Thistle Down Hair, should they ever get around to making Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: The Movie:

Also, I found out yesterday that apparently February 29th is the only day when women are allowed to propose to men--one day too late. Which means I have to wait another four years before I can propose to Barack Obama, by which point he'll be president and no doubt will have a better offer. Possibly to play Stephen in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: The Movie:

You have to imagine the silver crown. Easy, innit?

(for the record, I found the above photo by googling "barak obama hot." Not something I'm proud of.)

Now that I look at it, I like the symmetry of Jefferson and Obama in one blog post. USA! USA! USA!

Anyway, so Mom and I watched "Extreme Home Makeover" tonight, and they were remodeling a house in Virginia. So the show started with Ty Pennington wandering around Monticello (why? Who knows?) before bringing a soldier home from Iraq so he could go to Disneyworld with his family while their house was demolished. Which prompted me to say "Just who does Ty Pennington KNOW that he can call up and get some dude home from Iraq?!" I mean--damn, we've been trying to get the troops home now for YEARS, but with one phone call, Ty Pennington achieves the impossible.

I also spent all afternoon cutting fabric for a new dress. Ironically, I'm not taking my sewing machine with me, so I wanted to get this finished before I left. A new summer dress, circa 1810. Too late for CW, but oh well. I also wanted to sew because, errrr...well, because I'm worried I might need the practise. I would really, REALLY hate to show up and have to come right back to Wisconsin again because I don't know how to do stuff. I can shank a button with the best of them, but gathering sleeves? Could use some practise. So we sew...