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A Midsummer Night’s Love/Shun List!

What better way to kick off the new era of LLVS than with a good ol’ list of unsolicited opinions?

Things to Love

“Cool for the Summer” by Demi Lovato.  My nomination for Song of Summer 2015.  For your consideration.

Netflix revisits.  I’ve been systematically working my way back through 30 Rock and interspersing individual episodes of Doctor Who.

Rompers – but only as pajamas.  To clarify: rompers as clothes are cool for other people, but I only personally advocate them for romping.  They’re ideal for engaging in the above.

Grown-up loft beds.  Take that, NYC square footage!  A friend recently discovered mine had a sort of gate going all the way around the perimeter and likened it to an adult crib.  It is precisely like that, and the most cozy.  Get on board.

The following exchange between me and my friend Bryce as we left a shore bar:  “We should go to Taco Bell!”  “Is it even going to be open?”  “Taco Bell is open til 3 you ignorant slut.”  Fun game to play along at home: guess which quote is whose!

Joe Manganiello’s 7-11 scene in Magic Mike XXL.  Worth the price of admission right there.

Air conditioning.  Worship.

Things to Shun

Humid subway commuting.  What fresh hell.  Showers before work are rendered ineffectual and misery is brought to new lows.

Adult humans who plug their ears with their fingers when the train goes by in the subway.  CALM DOWN.

Moving apartments.  Don’t do it!  Just don’t.  Live a life of austerity or sedentarism.  They are the only ways.

Taylor Swift’s Instagram life.  It’s just too great!  Will give so many #squadgoals and #swangoals you may die of FOMO.  Do yourself a favor and abstain!

Working.  Stay in school forever!

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What a Difference a Year Makes

It has definitely been a minute since I last did this.

Something today compelled me to peek back at my beloved old blog, and read the last post I wrote.  It was over a year ago in March of 2014, a hopeful and optimistic announcement about my impending return to academia.  Looking back, I’m a little surprised that was the last time I posted, but I suppose my dedication had been waning for a while.  The blog was always an outlet for my frustration, and when things started looking up, I no longer needed it as much.

Between the two school years of my MBA, I’m in the working world again (in a far different capacity) for the summer, and I guess some part of me needs the outlet again.  Hell, maybe it’s just that with school out, I’m not getting enough attention.  LOVE ME!

That is not to in any way insinuate that my current internship (in brand strategy) is in league with Banana.  My soul is remarkably intact, I am intellectually challenged and appreciated for my contributions, and overall far happier.

Which is more or less the upshot of any attempt to summarize the past year: Far Happier.

I can’t recap in one post what a whirlwind year I have had.  I moved to New York for the first time.  I threw myself headlong into a terrifying, grueling, intimidating world (How do you remember 400 new people’s names?  Why did I think I could take Stats when I hadn’t been in a math class since 2006?  What the hell is arbitrage?)  I learned things I never thought I’d need to know (One word: EBITDARGL.)  I started recruiting for summer internships (themselves basically a recruitment exercise for full-time jobs) during the first week!

…And I had the absolute best time.  Without gushing too much, coming to Stern was one of my all-time best decisions.

I’m practically a real businesswoman now (I don’t think that’s a word.)  The adventure continues.  And maybe too the blog…

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We Need to Talk About Theon

It’s time I explained myself.  For as long as I have been a diehard Game of Thrones fan (basically since the moment I set eyes on it), I have been defending my steadfast fondness for the often-reviled Theon Greyjoy.  Up against widespread and vehement opposition, I have been reduced to referencing such gems as “You just don’t get it!” and “You’ll see in a few seasons…”  This isn’t enough.  I am here to state my case (neutered for HBO-current continuity; no spoilers from books 3-5!)

First, a little backstory.  HBO does a superb job of describing the astoundingly rich world, history, and characters of Game of Thrones, but it’s impossible to convey everything.  The war currently being waged in Westeros is called The War of the Five Kings.  It was preceded, roughly 17 years ago, by another war called Robert’s Rebellion, which you can guess from the name is the conflict that set the late Robert Baratheon on the Iron Throne (before that was a three-hundred year Targaryen dynasty.) 

About 8 years after that revolution, another high lord got it in his head to become a king himself: Balon Greyjoy of the Iron Islands led his own ill-fated rebellion, which King Robert and his old friend Ned Stark put down with embarrassing ease.  They allowed Greyjoy to remain lord of his Iron Islands, but at a price.  The two oldest Greyjoy heirs died in the battle; his youngest and only remaining son was taken back to Winterfell to be raised as Stark’s ward, which is a polite way of saying “captive to his father’s good behavior.”  And that boy was Theon Greyjoy. 

So it was that Theon spent more of his life with the Starks than the Greyjoys.  If you watch closely, the show gives brief glimpses of such a life’s nuances.  Throughout season 1, various visitors comment negatively on Theon in passing; it’s clear his father’s reputation hangs over him like a cloud.  Of course, you may say, Theon seems to have had a good life in Winterfell, raised alongside the Stark boys.  The key word here would be alongside: like the bastard Jon Snow, Theon grew up with the Starks, but not as one of them.  Separate but (not) equal.  In the books there’s some more detail about how the Stark children regard him; most are indifferent, with Sansa positively disdainful; only Robb treats him kindly, like a true brother.  For his part, Ned Stark was ever a fair man, but never a kindly one; he treated Theon well, but never forgot what he was.

Sadly, even Robb’s favor is conditional.  The two are best of chums when they’re getting shaved for the big feast in episode 1, but by season 2 Robb is King in the North, and Theon is never more glaringly the outsider.  Robb keeps him close and listens to his friend’s counsel, but developments have only highlighted their stations, and tensions begin to strain.  When Robb makes the foolish mistake of sending Theon to treat with his kin, a lifetime’s daddy issues come to a head.

“You can’t go home again” is the thesis of Theon’s plotline in the first half of season 2, and now we’re starting to get at my compassion for him.  As the ship bearing him approaches Pyke, Theon shows a brief glimpse of anxiety over his homecoming.  He covers it up with characteristic bravado, for that’s just who he is; but the cockier he acts, the more I’m sure he’s trying to compensate for.  Uncertain what will meet him, he insists to the captain’s daughter (and more so to himself) that everyone who’s anyone will be there, elated to receive their long-lost prince.  It’s a hard pill to swallow when no one picks him up at the docks, because it threatens to confirm his fear that nobody cares.

After his sister humiliates and likely traumatizes him, Theon finally comes face-to-face with his father, after so many years.  It is not the reunion anyone would hope for.  Balon disparages Theon’s Northern affects and acts, at best, coldly towards his only son.  He acts the therapist, asking Theon how he feels about Ned Stark’s death.  Theon answers like a good Ironborn boy, saying “What’s done is done,” but a little emotion creeps in, and Balon disdains it.  He senses his son is changed, and he isn’t wrong; Theon is no proper Iron Islander, devoid of the intrinsic cultural identity that comes from growing up in a place.  Not content that he’s fully alienated his son yet, Balon goes on to denigrate Theon’s place in Robb’s army; where he sees himself a trusted counselor, Balon sees a lowly errand-boy.  The final nail in the coffin of Theon’s alienation is to see his sister raised above him in their father’s esteem and affection, embodying all the glory Theon might have held in another life.

Through the crushing reunion with his father, Theon’s worst fears are illuminated and, to him, proven true.  He already knows he doesn’t belong in the North, but has comforted himself all these years that it isn’t his true home; now he returns to Pyke to find himself outcast there as well.  Ned Stark regarded the boy coolly all his life, and he finally returns – thinking himself the prodigal son – to a father who neither wants nor needs him.  His own brothers were killed when Theon was a boy, and now doubt is cast on his relationship with surrogate brother Robb.  In every possible way, he is a young man without roots.  He lacks home, family, and all the foundational support we take for granted in well-adjusted individuals.

It is in this state that Theon strays from the moral high ground.  In Abraham Maslow’s pyramid of needs, after food and safety the most basic human requirement is a sense of belonging, love, and affection.  Only once this is achieved can an individual move on to pursue esteem and self-actualization.  Without feeling a part of anything or cared for by anyone (and really, does anybody love Theon?) this character is incapable of growth.  And so he acts not to do the honorable thing (like Ned Stark) or to advance his empire (like his father), but to try to make his father respect and maybe even love him.  Theon abandons his ties to the Starks, for he cannot be both, and devotes himself foolhardily to the Greyjoy cause. 

He then goes on to make a series of ill-thought-out decisions geared more toward his own cause than the Iron Islanders’ in general (see: seizing Winterfell).  The arc we see here is someone backing himself into a corner.  Theon has burnt his bridges with the Starks and requires a way to impress his father and their constituents; he acts boldly (as many have), but has middling success.  With the taking of Winterfell, he irreversibly cements his betrayal of the Starks, and is met with widespread hatred (and this from people he grew up with, remember!)  Yes, Theon did an ignoble thing, but capturing castles is fairly de rigeur in this world.  What’s notable isn’t the deed but the collateral damage on the soul of the captor, as Theon learns to his dismay. 

Now Theon’s bed is made, and by the time he pretends to kill the youngest Starks, there could be no turning back anyway.  It is the act of a desperate and hopeless man, and one that will haunt him in legacy and memory alike.  I understand the instinct here to despise the newly minted Theon Turncloak, but I disagree with it.  In a world where we forgive (perhaps not formally, but we certainly don’t revile) a character who killed the king he swore to defend and once pushed a little boy out a window, sympathize with one who wrongfully imprisoned and nearly executed an innocent man, and positively adore one who stabbed another child in cold blood, it seems naïve to hate Theon so absolutely.

Theon is a cautionary tale.  Game of Thrones reminds us that “the truth” is what the winners say it is: Cersei says just as much to Joffrey.  Already, the narrative of Robert’s Rebellion has long since been rewritten as the overthrow of a bad (and mad) king for the good of the kingdom, when it was really a vengeance quest by a spurned suitor.  The saddest “truth” is the tale of Ned Stark, the traitor who lost his head for betraying his king.  My point with these examples is that had Theon been successful, the Iron Islanders would have wound up calling themselves Kings in the North, Theon would have (unironically) been the Prince of Winterfell (a name he is later called pejoratively), the raid of Winterfell would have been hailed as a great military victory, and we would love him as we do the Starks.  (Don’t act like Robb isn’t killing far more people than Theon!) 

We only forgive Robb for it because he’s killing “the right people”, because we perceive him to be “the good guy.”  A great strength of the Song of Ice and Fire books is the shifting character point-of-views, which reveal that there are no good guys and bad guys; the show does this too, but it will take a bit more time to flesh everyone out. 

The matter of Theon is one of perspective.  He may be a cocky S.O.B. and he may annoy you; but he is still one of the most devastatingly human characters in this series.  There is a reason his name at the top of a chapter always elicited my glee.  His story will only get better (worse?) and eventually melt even the cold hearts who claimed to hate him.  Hopefully now you’ll have seen some good in him before it comes to that.

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Duh, Dummy

Since being scolded as a group for greeting customers from too far a distance to be noticed or located, I’d say most of the BR staff have been attempting to cozy up to, or at least make eye contact with customers before saying hello.  Basically, we just aren’t supposed to shout from across the room.  I didn’t think it was so bad tonight when I said, “Hi, how are you?” to the only two guys in the store from about ten feet away.

A beat passed, then they said, “Hi, good… thanks.”  Nonplussed, I kept on hanging the pants I was holding.  They then explained themselves: “It took a minute to figure out where your voice was coming from.”

Because I have no filter, no tact, and no sense of how to converse with a normal human being, I replied, “Then my ventriloquy training is working.”

At least they laughed, because I’d have a hard time pretending that customer comment was about anyone else.

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Living La Vida… Urban.

It’s a sad truth of our generation or our time that it is so much harder to talk about the good than the bad.  When life is miserable, your hope is gone, and cynicism rules, the jokes flow freely and people commiserate and it is patently easy.  Conversely, when someone we know enjoys some success or joy, we roll our eyes at their Facebook statuses.  And fair enough, those statuses sting when we aren’t there ourselves; but we need to be able and brave enough to speak sincerely and with vulnerability about what we work hard for and what makes us happy.

I started a long and confusing journey a little over a year ago.  Deeply unfulfilled and with no plan, and largely without conscious thought or decision, I answered a New Year’s resolution conversation with the declaration that I was going back to school to get my MBA.  I sort of surprised even myself by saying it, but saying it called it into life and made me accountable to that silly notion.  I spent the early months of 2013 studying, and that spring I took the GMATs and prepared my application to the Rutgers part-time program.  After getting my scores back and again surprising myself with my own capabilities, I tabled the plan as I knew it and postponed to apply first round the following year to bigger, tougher schools.

Last November I got invited to interview at NYU for the full-time MBA class of 2016.  Last month I went and sat in a room full of fifty other young, talented, qualified women desirous of the same thing.  Yet again I faked it till I made it, feigning confidence and eventually coming to believe that I truly did belong in that room with engineers and marketing execs and Goldman Sachs employees, this suburban retail manager with the art history degree.  I tried to manage my expectations, but without cause: a week later I was accepted, and finally got to post my own seemingly-smug, genuinely elated Facebook status (to a tearjerking groundswell of support and encouragement.)

I’ve accepted my spot; I’m going.  I have an official NYU email address, and am currently figuring out housing, fussing over loans, and re-learning calculus.  There is terror, believe you me.  There is a more than healthy dose of disbelief.  There is also unadulterated optimism, hope, and excitement about a new chapter.  College was like a four-year journey of growth and discovery, followed by four dark-mirror years of depression and apathy and inertia.  It is scary to start over again.  Definitely I’m nervous about going back to school, the simple act of mentally challenging myself after the day-to-day monotony of a job I know all too well.  But the same things that scare us are generally the most worthwhile, and I truly can’t wait.

There’s a lot to figure out still, and plenty of hard work ahead.  I’m ready for the challenge, and all the troubles and delights along the way.  So far I’ve only been rewarded for each leap of faith, and I vow to keep pushing myself.  Living La Vida Suburbia is about to go very, very urban.

…Coming Fall 2014.

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Shoe-Rental Activities

Leaving the house is such a chore.  I know you feel me, especially in these winter months (7 degrees tomorrow?  Really, Juanuary?!)  If not contractually compelled to be at work, I will remain seated either in my desk chair or the downstairs armchair, watching TV and likely doing a puzzle.  That’s called inertia, kids, and in my “Science for English Majors” course, I learned that means that objects at rest stay at rest.  Add in the hangover factor, which seems to intensify exponentially with age, and going out is just so much work!  I try to force myself to socialize by committing to plans with people ahead of time, but the problem with this is the ease with which plans can be broken, particularly when you have no shame and your friends are preternaturally forgiving.

SO, I’ve been a drip lately on the “partying” front, much to my drinking buddies’ chagrin.  BUT, I have been persuaded and delighted to engage in a number of activities!  Activities are way better than drinking, because they usually are done by 9 pm and you can still go home and watch at least two DVDs before bed.  My favorite activities, and the ones I’ve engaged in this week, just happen to be united by the practice of wearing rented shoes.  Do with that what you will.

Ice skating was the first outing, and I was sooooo close to flaking on that one.  The rink was in the charming hamlet of Howell, NJ and contained a Subway sandwich shop, because that’s a place they can do a thriving business apparently.  I got to wear cute winter accessories, including a pair of giraffe mittens from Delia’s circa 2003 that, shockingly, I don’t have many opportunities to wear.  There were youths cavorting, and I feel like a cliche just reporting that they were taking selfies.  Power to them, and props for doing something besides trolling around the mall.  There were also cute families doing activities with their kids instead of dragging said kids around the mall!  (I have an obvious hangup about the mall; it shows me the worst in people, and Howell Ice World showed me the best.)  I didn’t fall a single time, and I even got to do my Nancy Kerrigan impression.  The night was a success.

Today, it was rock climbing.  I hadn’t been in aaaaaages, and had to dubiously prove my belay skills for certification, which I swear I have to do literally every time I go to Garden State Rocks, but this time I genuinely needed someone to verify that I was doing correctly the things that would keep my friends from plummeting down a thirty foot wall.  A nonsequitur I’d like to share about people who rock climb is that I think they’re the chillest around.  I would fully not judge anyone for snorting derisively as my friends and I repeatedly fell attempting to climb level ZERO (legitimately below level one) bouldering routes, but no one did.  Everyone is just casual, and cool, and I creepily overheard the guy belaying next to me talking about an article I just read, so that was something.  We may have made fools of ourselves traversing the childrens’ wall (is it a problem that the hold I just grabbed is shaped like a dinosaur?), but personal victories were won, and a good time was had by all.

In summation, activities are the new going-out.  We didn’t spend a lot of money, I’m not going to be hungover tomorrow (though soreness will undoubtedly be an issue), and we actually, like, exercised.  If anyone wants to hang out with me going forward, it’s all activities until the weather warms up.  Oh, and because thematic uniformity pleases me, I’m especially amicable to the ones where you wear other people’s shoes: Bowling.  Roller blading.  Any others imaginable.

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Happy Juanuary

The new titular bachelor on ABC’s seminal The Bachelor is named Juan Pablo.  The ads have been touting the premiere “This Juanuary.”  This, to me, is genius.  Advance entrant into the “Best of 2014” list.  Hell, it’s already the winner.

Armed with that knowledge, enjoy the following text Brigitte just sent me:

“Hey sweetie come down around 11:30 n we can watch “juanuary” ok?”

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New Year, No Shunning: Best of 2013

Happy New Year, suburbanites and enviable non-suburbanites!  As is the custom, I’m kicking this year off by listing out some of last year’s best (I avoided the temptation to list worsts, because positivity!)  You can find these lists anywhere, but this one is mine.  So:

Best Using Your Brain TV: BBC America’s Orphan Black

One actress plays, at last count, ten unique and utterly distinct clones.  Feats of special effects go unnoticed due to the caliber of acting and writing on display.  There are nefarious organizations on the religious, political, and scientific fronts, all with their own agendas about the clones.  Action and suspense couple with rich issues of identity and self-determination.  Don’t blink or you’ll miss something.  Oh, and there is a guy with a tail. 

Best Using Your Tear Ducts TV: Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black

A popular choice, but for good reason.  It’s so much more than a fish out of water story.  Lost’s character flashback structure gets put to fantastic use here, and you’ll laugh just as much as you cry.

Best Ridiculous TV: Fox’s Sleepy Hollow

I know, this show seems so dumb.  Ichabod Crane in the modern day, and it’s a cop show to boot?!  If you only knew that Ichabod and his cop partner are also battling the Biblical Apocalypse!  (I’m guessing there’s a reason they keep that part out of the commercials.)  This is partially a so-gonzo-it’s-good case, but mostly the whole enterprise is saved by the superb chemistry between the main characters.  They totally get each other, and are hilarious, and even if they never get together are still one of TV’s best duos.  Come for the monster of the week, stay for Ichabod’s spiritual journey.

Best Millennials TV: Fox’s The Mindy Project

Some people hate this show, fair enough, just like some people hate Girls and Happy Endings and any show about our own generation.  Is there something about self-loathing there?  Let’s not delve too deep.  For my money, though, Mindy Project is another show with great chemistry; Mindy and her coworkers’ friendships ring true and specific and damn funny.  The fact that Mindy is an accomplished, intelligent doctor who also likes girly things like “cupcakes and pillows” is also a refreshing mixture of archetypes.

Best Bandwagon TV: AMC’s Breaking Bad

Have you guys heard of this show?!?!  It’s great! 

Best Reinvigorated TV: CBS’s Survivor – Season 26

Survivor has been on for over TEN years!  It’s hard to keep that fresh.  But the show has hit a new stride lately with producers realizing the value of returning players.  Knowing the backstories and history – and for Chrissakes, simply the names! – makes viewing easier and more interesting; there’s a reason people still watch MTV’s The Challenge (which, omg, underrated)!  Season 26 pitted easily distinguishable fans against a spectacular batch of returning “favorites”, and things only got better and better.  The LOW point was when one contestant went on a rampage and dumped the tribe’s food in the sand.  The high was when the dominant alliance came to Tribal comfortable in their plan to oust one of the three remaining outsiders… only to be met with THREE immunity idols and have to turn on each other THEN AND THERE.  Best season ever.

Best Geek TV: Doctor Who 50th Anniversary and Christmas specials

The Anniversary Special was all about winks and nods, tied up some loose ends (The “Virgin” Queen) and basically made everyone geek out enormously.  We got to see Ten and Eleven together, plus the War Doctor and Rose!  While the premise of eradicating the Doctor’s actions in the Time War seemed like a massive error, the kind that undoes 7 seasons’ worth of emotional journey, it worked out well in the end to maintain the integrity of what went before while charting a new and exciting path for the future.  For its part, the Christmas Special hearkened back to a trove of Eleven/Moffat lore, tying things together you felt resigned never to fully understand.  And, inevitably, there were tears.  A lesson in how high expectations can be met.

Capital “B” Best TV/Books: Game of Thrones

Simply the best.  The Red Wedding was the apotheosis of season 3, but it was all a whirlwind.  Every aspect of this show remains top shelf, and it’s not even close to over.  2014 public service announcement: Read the books!

Best Movie Of the Maybe 3 I Saw: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I don’t always see movies in the theater, but when I do, I see them twice.  Catching Fire is even better than the solid first installment.  Moody, emotional, and dark, it gets to the heart of this very grotesque YA series while providing all the clock arena grandeur you’d hoped for.  Points for hewing quite close to the books; everything a devoted fan went in wishing to see was there, and done better.  How often do you get to say that?  (I’m lookin’ at you, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.)

Best (But Most Maligned) Single: “22” by Taylor Swift

DON’T EVEN PRETEND YOU HATE IT.  For extra credit: “32”

Best Downbeat Album: Bad Blood by Bastille

The Bastille album is everything I want my music to be.  The lyrics are narrative and weirdly specific.  There’s one song about the doomed city of Pompeii, and I swear “Daniel in the Den” is about the Lannisters sung from the point of view of one of the Stark kids.  It’s also moody and brooding; what could be better?!

Best Upbeat Album: More Than Just a Dream by Fitz and the Tantrums

For those times that depressing music just won’t do (i.e., driving a car in summer with windows down and possibly other people present), there is the bouncy, lively Fitz and the Tantrums collection.  Not every song is pure gold, but “Fools Gold” is.

Best Pump-Up Jam: “Come and Get It” by Selena Gomez

If you are going out to da club, play this song while you pregame/on the way.  YOU’RE WELCOME.

Best Trailer, Genuine: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Sometimes the trailers are even better than the movies, aren’t they?  I haven’t seen Walter Mitty yet, though the most recent TV spots have made me nervous it’s a goofy Ben Stiller comedic vehicle.  The original theatrical trailer, though, with Of Mountains and Men blasting over the sweeping and fantastical scenes, just soared.  It was big and dreamy and full of wonder.

Best Trailer, Ironic: Vampire Academy

I’m not even sorry, this is my new favorite horrible movie EVER.  The trailer is ridiculously awful to the point that I can’t even tell if they were serious about it when they were making it.  Standout line: “You do NOT wanna have to get a nose-job in Montana.”  ????!?!?!  2014 will be the year of seeing this movie in the theater.  Drunk.

Best YouTube Channel: CinemaSins

I hate YouTube, mainly because I watch TV while I’m on my computer, so muting a program for a pithy 3-minute video is a lot of commitment for some half-baked joke played out two minutes too long.  HOWEVER, CinemaSins counts the “sins” (errors, WTFs) of movies both great and terrible, and the results are snort-laughing good.  If you’re just starting out, watch “Everything Wrong with Twilight in 6 Minutes or Less.”

Best Fashion Trend on the Rise: Hair Necklaces

Fancy chains that clip into your hair.  Literally exactly what they sound like.  You heard it here first.

Best Fashion Trend, Honorable Mention: Collar Clips

Also exactly what they sound like.  The past few years for me have been big for wearing collared shirts buttoned all the way up, and a great way to accessorize such things is with kitschy collar clips – mine are shaped like pizza.

Best Fashion Find: Old Navy opaque tights

They were big in the winter, so inventory’s tough to find now, but these were hands-down the best tights I’ve found.  If you’re on the tall-ish side, you know the eternal dismay of droopy tights crotch.  The Old Navy solid styles stretch like crazy, are totally opaque, and stay where you put them.  They are a miracle.

Best Fashion Idea in Recent Memory: Bedazzled sweatshirts

GENIUS.  Who thought of this, why aren’t we celebrating them more, and why didn’t they think of it sooner?  I, my friends, and even legitimately fashionable people have gotten away with murder in 2013 walking around in literally sweatshirts – at work, at semi-fancy occasions, on holidays – for the simple reason that some prodigy thought to bedazzle the damn things.  You have never been so simultaneously sparkly and comfy in your life.  Unfortunately, I have a scary feeling this one won’t have a very long shelf-life, so take advantage while you can!

Best Celebrity Shenanigans: Miley Cyrus

Be real, Miley reminded us what celebrities are for this year.  She’s shrewd as a fox, because whether you loved or hated or were disgusted by her VMAs performance, we’ve been talking about it for 6 months.  Mission accomplished.  Her album is, shockingly, actually good.  “We Can’t Stop” is brill.  I also give the girl points for cultivating her own out-there style and basically “just being Miley” (that’s a lyrical reference to one of her PRE-Bangerz hits, n00bs!)  From my POV, she’s not really doing anything harmful or terribly subversive, yet she’s continuously surprising, outrageous, and fun.  THAT is what I want out of my celebs.

Best Celebrity, Obvious: Jennifer Lawrence

I mean, duh.  I want to be her best friend just like everyone else.

Best Celebrities, British: Tom Hiddleston/Benedict Cumberbatch

The year of the hunky/geeky British heartthrobs has come to a sad close.  If you’re on Pinterest or Tumblr, you know allllllll too well how ubiquitous, comical, and adorable these two are. 

Best Blog: My Friends Are Married

Exactly what it sounds like.  Funny now that we’re at an age where this is actually becoming a creeping phenomenon amongst people we know. 

Best Booze, Summer: Leinenkugel Summer Shandy

Don’t order summer beers on tap; more often than not they taste like a foot.  In a can or proper housing device, though, Summer Shandy is the perfect summer treat.

Best Booze, Winter: Angry Orchard and Fireball

I sound like the weakest drinker in the world with these beer-alternatives, but hard cider is delicious and quenches my thirst for autumnal flavors.  Add in Fireball Whiskey and you’ve got a heavenly (and more potent) cinnamon concoction.

Best Eats: Wawa mac and cheese

Eat all the mac and cheese always.

Best Time-Suck: Sporcle

Trivia quizzes.  Infinite trivia quizzes.  Devote entire weeks of your life to memorizing all the world’s capitals, like I did in 2013, or keep it a bit lighter.  They have a quiz for everything, and you can feel a little better about a whole night wasted here than on Candy Crush.

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The List: October 2013 Edition

Things to Love

Good Will Hunting.  Guys, do you even remember how good this movie was?  Not only is it totally fahkin’ Bahston-y and hilarious, but it will make you cry real tears when Matt Damon and Robin Williams finally hug it out.  So real!  I recommend everyone re-watch immediately and ruminate on academia, friendship, the past, class relations, love, the meaning of life… I would be amicable to joining a book-club-esque discussion on this actually.  It’s so great.  Oh, also?  Watch Ben Affleck and Matt Damon get all jazzed up accepting their Academy Award for it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8RIS5GJqAg  Why don’t you ever see these two together anymore?!

Oh, and one final tidbit for you about GWH: When this movie originally came out I thought it was Good will.  Hunting.  Instead of Good.  Will Hunting.  I consequently did not understand the title, like, AT all.

Bastille.  Yes, the French prison.  Also, the British band.  I rarely seek out new music, and when I do it’s generally because I heard a band play a song on Conan, then forgot their name, Googled the lyrics (Shazam is too newfangled for me!) and downloaded the whole album on a whim.  This one paid off, and this music is way up my alley.  It’s a little morose, but somewhat indie-peppy at the same time?  And the lyrics tend to be about such things as the fate of Pompeii, Twin Peaks, and one song about lions that I swear might be about Game of Thrones (“Daniel in the Den” – tell me the lions aren’t actually the Lannisters!)  Best songs to check out are: “Flaws”, “Pompeii”, and “Laura Palmer”, even if that last one does play in Banana Republic, ugh.

Reign on the CW.  This show doesn’t roll off the tongue without also saying the network, and believe me, you can’t NOT realize this show is on the CW.  I’d characterize it as The Tudors meets Gossip Girl, and it’s so far been delightful.  Mary, Queen of Scots (who has an English accent) goes to live at French court pending her marriage to Prince Francis (also, English accent) and remain safe from the villainous English (who, natch, have English accents).  But Francis is playing hard to get!  And he has a dreamy bastard brother that’s always making eyes at Mary!  And Francis’s mother is plotting against Mary because of a prophecy told to her by – no shit – Nostradamus!  And the King already hooked up with one of Mary’s gal pals!  AND, possibly the best part: there is a creepy little girl who skulks about the castle and wears a burlap sack on her head!  (What’s her story?!?!?!?!)  If you need more convincing, BuzzFeed has 21 reasons you should be watching.  Spoiler Alert?  They’re all headbands.

At a recent biergarden outing, a friend of my sister’s revealed what was, to me, a genuinely new take on the ending of the Harry Potter series.  Now, dear reader, I don’t want to brag, but I’ve spent some time talking about Harry Potter.  I’ve spent some time thinking about Harry Potter.  I’ve spent more than a few nights poring over message boards reading theories, gripes, musings, and analyses on Harry Potter.  Wanna be real?  I once attended a fan convention in Toronto.  So when I say this theory was fresh to my ears, it means something.  The theory was this: Harry Potter should not have died, but he should have lost his magic.  Bear with me!  The reasoning is that such a heroic journey requires a sacrifice, and what a sacrifice it would be if Harry had to give up or lose magic, which he has learned and come to love and (sort of?) master over these seven years.  He would then be the most famous figure in the magical world, yet an outsider within it.  This would raise all sorts of rich identity issues for Harry, as well as making personal the issues about Muggleborns, Muggles, magic blood, and wizard world relations that the books seemed to feel so passionately about.  I can’t even completely wrap my mind around this yet, but I feel slightly blown away by it.  To my mind, it feels more complex and real-world messy/unfair, more in the tradition of George R. R. Martin, which resonates more as I mature than the youth-accompanying Potter books may have done in their time.

In a similar vein, but a bit less heady (haha!): fall beers.  While I suspect winter seasonals may be my favorites, they’re rarer, and fall brews run a close second.  I’ve already had a number of Oktoberfest styles and am holding out for some good pumpkin beer.  For these I like to look to Sam Adams and Leinenkugel for local availability, but my goal is to try ever more new ones.

CinemaSins on YouTube.  I kind of hate YouTube.  I like to have the TV on while I waste time on my computer, and YouTube requires too much undivided attention for such little, pithy payoff.  But this channel is gold.  The format is basically “Everything wrong with Movie X in Y minutes” and they slaughter your favorite films with a good dose of logic.  A great one to start with is Twilight because barely anyone (who’s reading this anyway) will be offended by it and it’s hilarious.  Progress to the movies you love, and relish the mingling of offense and humor.  You’re welcome.

Things to Shun

The following exchange with my boss on the day we got our new November merchandise in: I come back from lunch and say, “Okay, so what do you want me to work on now?”  He launches into a minutes long laundry list of everything he’s done so far, followed by a breakdown of every thing still left to be done, all of which I’m aware of and which I am asking him to prioritize to me.  His rambling ends with, “So what are you going to work on?”  People wonder I talk so little at work…

Anyone who works with me who has a flawless manicure.  It must be nice being that dainty, but I had to transport 60 boxes across a store today, and last Friday a cabinet collapsed on me.  I’m lucky at work if my hands are (passably) clean.

Arriving at the train station one minute late.  The train is there, I see it, and it’s even stopped.  I, however, have no ticket yet, no cash to buy it on the train, and am on the wrong side of the tracks.  The next train isn’t for a whole other hour, and my house is literally a half hour from the station, which makes going home pointless.  Life is so hard.  Double demerits for when this happens on both the outgoing and return journey.  Arrive at Penn Station at 1:08, see that all North Jersey Coast Line trains are departing on the 7s?  Come on.

People who try to skive off on paying the bill.  It is a truth universally acknowledged that if a group gets a joint bill, someone will do this.  As inevitable as death and taxes.  This person will rely on the good manners of others not to hunt them down for their share.  Because you have the grace not to demand it of them, they will remain otherwise occupied during all discussion of payment and collection of funds.  If confronted after, they will either claim they paid their share (applicable when the bill is passed around and money inserted) or allege they didn’t realize what was happening, which is ridiculous, because then did they assume the whole group was just leaving without paying their tab?  What a life of witless crime they must lead.  These people are the worst.  They are why decent people will spend their lives paying $5 or $10 extra on a regular basis, and there is always one of them.  I have no imperative for dealing with them, but simply want to reiterate that they are the WORST.  Shun them, I guess is the imperative, if you can.

American Horror Story: Coven.  Controversial, I know.  I love the premise and I understand it’s SUPPOSED to be a horror story (By definition!) but the premiere episode went a bit too far for me.  At what point does entertainment become gratuituous and uncalled for?  For more of my feelings on this topic, read “Careful What You Watch.”

Halloween on a weekday.  The ultimate bummer.  I have to work.  We can’t dress up.  I might not get to go out, and I almost definitely will miss handing out candy to adorable trick or treaters.  Which means that if a teeny tiny Walter White comes to my house, I AM GOING TO MISS IT.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Life is not fair.