Wednesday, December 23, 2009

PARTRIDGE!

Here's my a cappella group's version of the mixed up 12 Days of Christmas, fashioned after Straight No Chaser's performance.


Please note:
1) We sing this slower than Straight No Chaser does for a few reasons, but primarily so that we can remember what we're supposed to be singing after we've had a cocktail or two. Also because we want to be sure the audience can follow along after THEY have had a cocktail or two.
2) This is a live performance at a bar. The acoustics are pretty good considering, but keep in mind that no one has a mic, so the "balance" of our vocals and harmonies is only as good as where you (or a video camera) happens to be standing.
3) While we would love to transition into "Africa," doing so loses its effect when you don't have an amazing black guy who can bring it home with a tremendous falsetto. Thus, we went in another direction.

I'm the fuzzy one in the right corner wearing a giant red boa.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best Letter of 2009

Eve meets her big cousin, Peyton

Quite out of the blue, Eve received a letter in the mail shortly after she was born from her cousin, Peyton.

It is one of the sweetest things I've ever seen or read in my life.




Ish, Eve and I leave for the East Coast tomorrow morning. Don't know when, if, or how much blogging will ensue once we're there (uh, probably not much more than has happened here lately), so I thought this would be a nice placeholder for the holidays. Don't know about you, but it makes me feel very warm and fuzzy, like I've just had a great big cup of cocoa.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Blind (And A Little Bit Drunk) Leading The Blind (And However Much Drunk You Are)

This post gets a little sideways, but I will tell you how I made my iPhone into a modem if you have patience and/or just scroll down.

It is a Christmas miracle.

We leave for Massachusetts bright and early on Wednesday morning, and so in lieu of packing tonight, Ish and I exchanged our gifts to each other and drank some very, very good wine and I made like, three lists. Which is nearly as good as actually packing. KIND OF it's like packing three times even.

Oh, wine.

BUT! The reason I'm blogging is because on one of those lists was a line item that said, if I'm reading my handwriting correctly, which is really 50-50 at best but I'm pretty sure I remember making the list so I'm probably right: figure out iPhone-as-modem.

(At least, I'm pretty sure it said that. It may have said "flyer at plum & modern.")

So remember when I was telling you about how my sister is currently separated, and how she's renting a house that doesn't have ANY internet connectivity at all? And how we're going to be staying there for a week? And how you were all, "Is your sister renting a yurt?" and I was all "I don't know, my sister and I inherited different internet genes"? And then I didn't even tell you about how she ventured to go on an internet date (I guess she accessed it at work? WHO KNOWS) without doing any internet due diligence and then, when I asked what his contact info was so that bossy-big-sister could do a basic Google search, she texted me back not to Google him because she just did and he comes up in the local police blotter?

Anyway.

I thought it would be easy to find a way to get on the internet from my sister's by using a wifi card. I didn't realize they would cost hundreds of dollars for just a week's worth. So stupid.

So then I couldn't find ANY solution, other than "jailbreaking" my iPhone, which totally sounded like something I would never do. But desperate times and fabulous pinot and all that call for pseudo-desperate measures. So I gave it a whirl, and after a few problems, I DID jailbreak my phone and the whole thing ended up working and it's kind of awesome.

Here's what I did:

Step 1: Pour yourself a glass of your favorite wine.

Step 2: Check out this website: junefabrics.com.
What June or fabric has to do with this whole thing is beyond me. I don't understand any of what I did, though, so I just go with it. There are instructions for all kinds of new phones, too, including the Droid. For what it's worth, I have an iPhone (3G running 3.2.1) and a Mac running OSX.6.1.

Step 3: Go, "Oh, shit. I need to jailbreak my iPhone. I don't even know what that MEANS."
It's my understanding that "jailbreaking" your iPhone simply unlocks its requirement that it can only get apps approved from Apple/iTunes. If your phone is jailbroken, you can download and use apps from ANYwhere. It's not illegal, and while it voids your software warranty, it does not void your hardware warranty. Plus, if something goes wrong, you can restore your phone to its original state through iTunes and everything goes back to the way it was.

Unlocking your phone, by the way, is something else entirely and we don't need to go there.

Step 4: Google "how to jailbreak your iPhone" and spend an hour sifting through the madness before figuring out that it IS easy and IS free, so don't use the first thing you click on.

The instructions that worked for me were these: Jailbreak iPhone 3.1.2 Firmware with blackra1n. You'll click through a bunch of links for instructions, but they all basically say the same thing. Macs follow the same thing as Windows.

Step 5: Basically? Go here: http://www.blackra1n.com/
Scroll to the bottom of the page. Click on the Windows or Mac icon, and download and install the app onto your computer.

My phone was connected to my computer and iTunes was on when I did this.

Then I got two messages on my computer. One said I could reinstall original settings on my iPhones (this is what iTunes was saying), but the blackra1n app was saying it would reboot my phone, so I clicked on that one and did NOT reset my iPhone.

My iPhone then booted itself up (which took a little longer than usual) and when it did, the blackra1n application was there.

Step 6: Follow the prompts on your phone to install Cydia.
I don't know, just do it. Refill your wine glass. It makes it all so much less scary.

Step 7: Open Cydia on your phone as you would any other app, and search for "PDANet" the way you would at the iTunes app store. Install the one that looks like it's in English. (I don't know what that other option is.)

Step 8: Realize you're missing the finale of "The Sing Off" and start playing it from the beginning on your DVR.

Step 9: Follow the instructions at PDAnet. For me, I followed the ones for the iPhone: http://junefabrics.com/iphone/index.php

I wasn't having luck with the wifi instructions, so then I installed the USB option. And then I installed it again. And again. And on the third try, it worked. By then, I'd rebooted my computer, rebooted my phone, and had my phone plugged into my computer with iTunes on and running (which may not have had ANY impact whatsoever). Also, be sure to have your other internet connections turned OFF. (I was disconnected from my home's wifi.)

Step 10: It works! I have the PDAnet app running on my phone (with the USB option selected in Settings), and on my computer, I have clicked "Connect" from my toolbar where the PDA option has been installed.

It's like magic. I clicked on my web browser (is that what we call these things these days? I don't know, I'm using Chrome), and nothing happened. I waited a few more seconds, saw that my phone said it was connected to my computer, and tried to refresh the page. And next thing you know, I'm using gmail and gchat just through my iPhone. OH GLORY DAY.

I will be able to access the internet from my sister's. But also? FROM THE CAR. And like, who KNOWS where else!

This calls for more wine!

So...um...good luck. I'd like to say I could help you if you run into any issues, but I really can't. If you have more specific questions about what I did, please ask and I'll answer, though.

Like, Papapietro Perry's 2007 Pinot.

Also, Why, yes! My a cappella group DOES sing the very arrangement of "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" that the groups in The Sing Off opened with. Thanks for asking!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Except No One In The Bible Wears A Top Hat

You know what I just remembered?

When I was a little girl, I used to think God was the Scotch Tape logo.

I don't know what year we're talking...1979? 1980? Something like that. And at Christmastime, there were commercials featuring "invisible tape" by 3M (what we all know as Scotch tape), and the main character was an invisible man. He had a top hat and a cane, both adorned with the familiar Scotch-tape tartan patterns. And the invisible man wore white gloves and used the tape to wrap Christmas presents.

And really, I think it's totally reasonable that I'd get my wires crossed. I -- quite obviously -- did not grow up in a religious household, and was rather fuzzy on the whole God-Jesus-Santa-Christmas thing. Meanwhile, my mom had explained to me (as best she could) that God was invisible.

So...you put it all together and the invisible man in the commercial wrapping gifts? Must be God.

Just a little insight into my young, confused mind.

For what it's worth, I also thought the man on the Quaker Oats canister was Benjamin Franklin.

Friday, December 11, 2009

And Then I Wrote About Commercials

In case you hadn't picked up on it, I have the television on in the background a lot these days. Mostly I'm playing peek-a-boo or going wee wee wee wee all the way home with my child's toes, but day-long sittings of that can make one totally insane. So IN THEORY, the television is helping me stay sane.

In reality, the tv is making me nuttier than ever because for whatever reasons, I keep watching the same channels and horrible Christmas movies and Golden Girls re-runs and DVR'd episodes of Supernanny and Clean House and then Hoarders OH MY GOD HAVE YOU SEEN THAT SHOW? Which means I've been subjected to the same sets of commercials.

SIDEBAR: In case you're wondering, I will not be blogging about the conclusion of Top Chef because AGAIN the biggest dickhead of the bunch won, and I am sorely, bitterly disappointed. I love the show, love it, but I disagree with their awarding the person who cooks the best final meal, rather than take the entire season into consideration. I hated Hosea, too. And Ilan. (Harold and Stephanie were allowed to win, and Hung was clearly the better cook though also a dick.)

Anyway, in my same-commercial-watching life, I noticed something and was like, "Thank God I have a blog because who else in the world could I tell this to?" "I mean, other than my husband, who is fabulous for feigning interest."

Remember that old Folgers' commercial called (apparently) "Peter Comes Home"? Where the son's been away (college?) and has hitched a ride home to be with his family on Christmas, and it's a surprise. So he arrives at dawn and makes Folgers and the parents wake up from the smell of the coffee and know he's home? I think a little sister is involved, but my memory's a little fuzzy on the details.

Anyway. Have you seen the remake/update? In this one, the son comes home at dawn and the little sister opens the door, because clearly she was waiting all night for him to arrive. (Apparently the parents gave up waiting and went to sleep.) She says something about how happy she is that he's made it home, and he says something about how it's a long way from West Africa.

Then they make Folgers' coffee, and while it's brewing the son takes a deep inhale of the aroma and says, "Ahhh, REAL coffee."

Invisible Internet Friends, I know there are bigger problems in the world than this, but I sat blinking at my television.

Did the folks at Folgers' ad agency just not know? I mean, that's not possible, right? So we must conclude that in Folgers Land, a globe-trotting young man not only prefers the taste of instant, crystallized coffee to less processed coffee, BUT believes that the instant, crystallized coffee is somehow more authentic than the coffee they serve in the place where coffee comes from?

I liken this to a man who's spent a summer farming potatoes in Idaho, only to return to his hometown where he promptly orders fries at McDonald's and says, "Ahhhh, REAL potatoes."

I was incensed. And I told Ish about it. And then the next time the commercial came on and Ish was with me, I was all, "LOOK! LOOK!" and then -- shall we assume his name is still Peter? Maybe Folgers-Peter? -- just said, "Ahh, coffee."

FOLGERS TOOK OUT THE "REAL."

This makes me feel like I am not the only totally insane mom-to-an-infant sitting at home paying attention to things like where Folgers-Peter's goddamned priorities are.

I don't know who, exactly, took issue with the notion that "real" coffee comes in a canister and coffee from West Africa sucks, but I'm glad that someone did. I sleep better now. (Also, I'm still drinking decaf.)

If you want to see what I'm talking about, the clip is on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOQk_pWmisA

(But be warned. Half the commenters think Folgers took the word "real" out to be "PC" which doesn't make any sense; the other half think the brother and sister are in an incestuous relationship; and then a few just make horribly racist remarks. YouTube comments scare the crap out of me.)

Posts about things NOT on my television are due next. I swear. Also, I'm anxiously awaiting footage of my a cappella concert because we were quite good (all things considered) and I want to post our 12 Days of Christmas!


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Let It Snow!





I should be so lucky.

I miss the East Coast winters. I never lived far north enough to despise the winter months the way some folks do -- folks who suffer from seven months frozen earth and the kind of ice storms that render entire counties powerless for days, and whose spring is known only as "mud season." In southern Connecticut, it would snow several times every winter, but snow storms were often few and far between. I can count on one hand the times the snow fell hard enough to be waist-deep. We had fewer white Christmases than rainy ones. And snow days were rare enough that they remained special, the eternal hope of homework procrastinators.

There's foliage in Napa that I didn't expect. The vines turn brilliant colors, and the vineyard expanses are...well, they're gorgeous. Winding through Napa's highways is not as traditional as driving up the Merritt Parkway and through New England's autumnal glory, but it's pretty spectacular. If West Coast travel and winemaking had been part of the American landscape 100 years ago, Currier & Ives would have had much to capture. But I guess that's the point. This Napa wasn't here 100 years ago.

Regardless, it doesn't snow and won't snow and winters -- while chilly -- won't ever quite be the same as they were in Connecticut. But that doesn't mean I won't make them as homey as possible.

These photos are of Eve and Ish, just before we left to get our first "family" Christmas tree.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

'TIS THE SEASON

Just one more thing...

UPDATE: Right after I finished this post, ANOTHER Christmas movie starring Peter Falk came on. This one involves Katy Segal and she and not-Columbo are both some sort of Angel-God-Santa characters, but it's tough to figure out on mute while paying mostly no attention. But I am mentioning this because, for some reason, Peter Falk's character decided to pretend to be a shopgirl and DRESS IN DRAG and what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't take a picture of my television to show you this Christmas marvel?




I feel like I've blogged this before, but when my sister and her boyfriend were in high school, they developed a certain way of saying this phrase. Basically, say it as loud and snottily as possible: 'TIS THE SEASON. Emphasis on 'TIS. This comes in handy when someone is especially rude to you while you're doing (or trying to do) something festive. Say you're somewhere Christmas shopping, and someone cuts you off in line, or blows past you as you reach for the door. 'TIS the season!

I'm not NOT in a festive mood, it's just that I haven't decorated the house or gotten a tree or any of those things. And while it's only December 2, I feel behind. Because one day behind soon becomes one week. You know.

So I'm debating how this blog entry will go. I could tell you about how I cried at lunch with Ish yesterday because of a perfectly happy friendly email I received. Or I could tell you instead about the amazing array of holiday movies on the Hallmark channel. As I write t his very sentence, Peter Falk is singing and dancing a jazzy Christmas tune with a toothy pre-teen girl in some horrible movie where Valerie Bertinelli plays her mom and works at a hospital and believes in a ghost. How these things are connected eludes me, and I'm going back to DVR'd episodes of Supernanny now.

But in case you weren't paying attention to my Tweets, I've also landed on a Christmas movie starring Steve Guttenberg AS THE LOVE INTEREST, who is marrying Crystal Bernard (who I always thought was totally hot, but man, she's had some work done) and somehow they're becoming Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Then there was the one that made me laugh right out loud for its horrible-osity, the one starring Candace Cameron and Tom Arnold, I'm not even kidding, and I LOVE movies that take place in office buildings written by someone who's NEVER had a corporate job. I'm always reminded of Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion where they pretend to be businesswomen but get thrown for a loop when the waitress asks them what kind of business they're in.

In this movie where Candace is supposed to be a high-powered corporate woman, written in 2007 no less, she is showing a "client" a slide show but the projector she's using is one of those old-fashioned ones with actual slides and a carousel. Also, she is supposed to say "Celtic" like with a hard C, except she pronounces it like the basketball team and no one working on this movie seemed to know the difference. ALSO also, she uses the word "arithmetic" instead of math, which makes me think the person who wrote the script is not so much under the age of 65.

It also makes me think I should be writing these movies.

BUT THE BEST MOVIE ever is one starring -- I don't even know how to prepare you for this -- Jane Kaczmerek and John Denver. I KNOW!

Damn it. I lied. I didn't go back to Supernanny in time, and now Peter Falk is wearing a bushy mustache (he was facial hair-free last we saw him) hugging some guy. Maybe he's Santa? Or God? Or an angel? I'm just guessing here, based on how these movies go, but I'm keeping the computer mute. Poor Columbo.

* * * * * * * *

Yesterday I got the friendliest email ever from a woman helping manage Crazy Aunt Purl's virtual book tour. Seems our dear Laurie has written a second book and it's coming out soon and this woman wanted to know if I would like to review the book and interview Laurie (or have her guest blog). And of course, OF COURSE I would, happily, yes.

But ouch, too.

Purl and I started blogging at about the same time, had similar audiences and (I presume) traffic. We wrote about similar things: living single post-divorce, with cats and yarn. And wine. We even sort of look alike.

And here we are, nearly five years later. We are both in verrrrrrrry different places. It's amazing. I am happy with what I've accomplished and I'm thrilled with where I am in life. It's exactly where I wanted to be.

But -- and you know what I'm going to say, of course -- I can't pretend it doesn't make me envious that she's written two books while I can't manage to complete NaBloPoMo.

Yes. We have had different priorities, different paths, different goals, different experiences. And my goodness, I would never, ever say one single negative thing about Laurie, who is still my favorite blogger.

Some of the comedians who started their stand-up career at the same time Ish did are now headlining at The Punchline and getting gigs on Comedy Central. He's performed with dozens of folks who've managed to get on television (Letterman, Ferguson, Last Comic Standing, etc). Assuming he's every bit as talented as these folks (and I do believe he is), there are many reasons he hasn't advanced as they have. Different priorities, different paths, different goals, different experiences.

But I know how he feels when he's been asked to open for one of these guys. Or worse, when he's been asked to help promote one of their shows. He doesn't begrudge them their comedic success. He gives them a good show, and is thankful for the opportunity -- glad he was on the radar screen at all. But sometimes it's a hard pill to swallow.

And that's how it felt yesterday when I received the email. I am proud to be on the radar screen (thank you to whoever recommended me, by the way!), and am happy to help Purl/Laurie in any way I can. I absolutely want her book to do well and would buy a copy if I weren't being sent a copy for review (just as I bought her first one -- in fact, I'd pre-ordered it).

I think you get what I'm saying, though. It's hard for this NOT to be a reminder of what I haven't done. And what I'm not doing and what I could have done already and -- scariest of all -- I'm not sure I will ever be able to do.

Which I will totally get over. Look for more info about the book and tour in Jan & Feb.

In the meantime, I have to get back to ignoring this Hallmark movie while playing peek-a-boo with a fauxhawked baby.

(And by the way? Who was letting Valerie feather her hair in 2003!?!? 'TIS THE SEASON!)