Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thoughts On: No Country for Old Men

I have this odd habit where I try not to read reviews of books, films, or music until I've experienced it firsthand. Then I go and find all the reviews I can and read them obsessively, curious to see what other people thought about it.

I gleaned enough about No Country for Old Men beforehand (adapted from a Cormac McCarthy book, written & directed by the Coen Brothers) that I knew it would definitely be worth seeing.

Watching the film in the theater was a completely nervewracking experience. It was one of the most suspenseful and unsettling films I've seen in a long time. I don't like scary movies and I hate gore and even though this film featured more than enough awful stuff, it somehow transcended its baser elements. It wasn't the blood and murder and fear that affected me. It was Tommy Lee Jones's craggy, heartbroken face at the end. His character was like our collective father, tired and disappointed with every choice we've made that led us to where we are now. I don't want to give anything away, but his face told the whole story and captured the title of the film so succinctly.

Most of the reviewers came to the same conclusion - the filmmaking was near perfect, the performances were spot-on...everything was exactly as it should be. It's thrilling to watch a film where every element is brought together in such an expert manner. The screen faded to black and we just sat there for a minute....taking it all in. I appreciate that the Coen Brothers sort of stepped back and let the film tell the story and the pace set itself. I know that doesn't really make sense, but they have a tendency to put their own humor into the film, particularly in making fun of characters they see as stupid. But here they stayed out of their own way and let the sparseness of the setting and storytelling be filled with our own unspoken fears.

I'm not sure I'm equipped to write film reviews.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Leftovers As Far As the Eye Can See

It's been a very full week, with more working, resting, eating, socializing, cooking, cleaning, activity, and sloth than I had anticipated.

I am grateful for a lot this Thanksgiving. No matter how tired and grumpy and bloated and overcaffeinated and hungover and stressed out I've been, I've never forgotten how truly blessed my life is right now.

Stella helped me make four pies - pumpkin, coconut cream, chocolate cream and perhaps the best pecan pie I've ever tasted....more like a praline, with lots of pecans.

Tonight my sweetie and I are going to see No Country For Old Men. I love that it's still only Saturday.

Only in Arkansas:
Last night I had to run to Wal-Mart. I know, I know. I hate it too. But what else am I supposed to do when I need dog food, toothpaste, tampons, firewood, snacks, and cheese all at once? I hate how convenient it can be. And of course it's not really all that convenient, even. So I'm pushing the cart down an aisle when I hear the Muzak stop and a voice comes over the store intercom announcing that the Hogs have beaten LSU in a third overtime score of 50-48. People cheered. Then went back to shopping. I got a kick out of it and later relayed this story to an old friend. "Oh that's nothing," She said, "One time we were having a very nice Italian dinner in Tontitown when dinner was interrupted for the same sort of reason. Only the entire restaurant then proceeded to call the hogs."

Hey, it's exciting - beating the #1 team!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Raindrops on Roses...

Today I watched this year's Oprah's Favorite Things episode.

Sigh.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're lucky. It's her annual "stamp of approval" gift idea show and she gives one of everything to her studio audience.

It was completely obnoxious...not least of all because Oprah rushed through everything and brayed in her dramatic way and was talking in an affected, weird, southern accent. The show was annoying mostly because that stuff is outrageously impossible for the average non-Oprah. Who's going to buy a $3,000 refrigerator as a gift? Or nine cupcakes for $60 (plus shipping!)? It's stupid. And unrealistic. And not even that unique or cool. A KitchenAid mixer, Oprah? Really? Uggs? You can't be serious.

So I thought I might do an Alannah's Favorite Things post. These are just things I've run across that have caught my eye, made me pause and think, "That is SO CUTE." Do not feel obligated to buy me the following items, but please...if the urge strikes you, do not repress it. After all, nearly all of them are under $100! Buy them for your loved ones and wait for the gushing and "whereEVER did you find this?" to begin. So here we go:

THINGS FOR YOUR BODY
Fused glass belt buckles by Kiku Handmade. I love this grass one for $50.

I love everything I've tried from Lush. However, these handmade bath and body products are not for the scent-sensitive types! Everything is powerfully (but naturally!) perfumed with essential oils, and deliciously so. My all-time favorite product of theirs is the Butterball bath bomb, pictured above. They leave your skin so soft and yummy you'll be petting and sniffing yourself all night. Like a spoiled lapdog. Maybe I shouldn't try to write copy for this sort of thing. Moving on!


Handmade wooden circle earrings by Natalie Tischler. I love this combination of wood, gold, vintage, and handmade. Only $38!


My gorgeous and stylish colleague, Miranda, was wearing the cutest striped cotton tights last week, similar to these. Of course she got them when she lived in Europe, where they know how to decorate a leg. Thus began my journey of searching online for colorful, comfortable, well-made cotton tights. Sock Dreams call themselves the best sock store in the universe and they're not lying! The ones pictured above are half the price of the Italian tights, and every bit as cute.


Until I can find a suitable replacement for the now-defunct Lush ginger perfume, I'll have to stick with Kiehl's Coriander oil mixed with Kiehl's Grapefruit. The Coriander is spicy and sweet while the Grapefruit scent is fresh and light. Together they're neither too sweet, too spicy, or too fruity. I guess I like to smell like food. Surprise, surprise.


Back me up here, girls. Doesn't it seem to be getting harder and harder to find cute boots? I work on a college campus and the students all wear those godawful Uggs, moon boots or these huge faux-furred atrocities that look like they should be crossing the tundra instead of going to class. But these lovelies above are quite the exception. AND they're on sale! I really need these red boots. NEED.


This bracelet is one of the most expensive items on my list, but also one of the coolest and most unique. It's made from recycled vintage typewriter keys cast in sterling silver. This would be perfect for a design or font-obsessed girl in your life. The rings and earrings are also cute, but I like the look of several keys strung together.


FOR YOUR HOME


I am crazy about the organic shapes of these baskets. Burl wood is so beautiful. I imagine these filled with dinner rolls, fresh fruit, or even just the weird, random, totem items we collect throughout our lives. Or is it only me?



These cowgirl coasters would make a great stocking stuffer or White Elephant gift. Giddy up!



I've given Gorilla Glue as a stocking stuffer before. I love utilitarian stocking stuffers (batteries, memory sticks, nail files) mixed with more frivolous, fun things. This is an incredibly handy thing to have around. You never know when you'll need to fix a chair leg, or replace a dislodged rhinestone.


It would be nice to have all the Lingolook sets. I have no immediate travel plans, but I want to be prepared in case that last minute trip to Paris or Tokyo materializes.


All-purpose cleaner, Alannah? For a GIFT? Wasn't the Gorilla Glue bad enough? I can't help myself. This is a list of my favorite things and I love every single one of Meyer's geranium-scented products. And they're such expensive cleaning products that I'd be thrilled to receive any of them as a gift. Even the toilet-bowl cleaner. Well, maybe not "thrilled."


I love these oilcloth bags. They're colorful, sturdy, and cheap. I hope they get the rest of the colors in stock soon.



Did you know there was a luxury market for incense? Oh yes - it's not just for hippies and Catholics. Shoyeido Japanese incense is very clean-burning and subtle. If it's not already blatantly obvious, I really like for my surroundings to smell good.


This is the coolest lamp! It recharges in sunlight and comes on automatically when it gets dark. I want them for the patio, for camping trips, for the deck. I'm curious to see it work in person, too. I'm imagining and hoping it puts out a warm, cozy light.


FOR YOUR LIQUOR CABINET OR YOUR HOST


Prosecco is a different and tasty alternative to champagne (or "sparkling wine"). This Santa Margherita Prosecco is light and not too sweet. Perfect with appetizers.


Ang turned us on to this Cruz de Piedra rosé over the summer. It's one of our favorites. It's a tart and lush Spanish wine made from grenache grapes (please correct me, Ang, if I've got it all wrong). This would be great with poultry or lighter dinners. I'll drink it well into the winter.


I love this malbec. It's velvety and rich, very affordable and has an eye-catching drawing of thistles on the label. I'm a sucker for artsy wine labels.


First of all, how awesome is THIS bottle? Mee-yow! Put on some soft bow chicka bow bow music and bust this out after dinner and you're sure to get lucky. Mmmm.....a snifter of Meukow vanilla cognac next to a roaring fire? Oh yeah....Or better yet, include it with the item below:

Is this too much? I don't care. I am in love with this heart-shaped flask.


FOR YOUR KITCHEN

Who says utilitarian items can't also be pretty? This Culin knife with hibiscus flowers etched into the blade is calling my name. And again, it's very affordable.


This is kind of an odd little platter. That crest is bizarre, but I like it. And the crowns. I see it used for serving stout cheeses. Or little sausages. Something brutish.


These would also make a fun stocking stuffer. I didn't think cupcakes could get any more perfect until I saw these foil cups.


You really have to get these glasses together as a pair. One says "C'est la Vie" and the other "L'amour." Sickeningly adorable.



This lovely apron is not only a limited-edition handmade item, it's also 50% off! So hurry!


Okay, whew. I guess that's all. If I come across anything else I can't live without, I'll be sure to share it. I hope this list gave you some good gift ideas or at least got you looking for unique items. And you don't even have to go to the ma(u)ll!

Monday, November 19, 2007

How I Process The News

Yikes. So now Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are all buddy-buddy.

I get the feeling we're getting ready to experience Revenge of the Nerds on a global scale. G.W.B is the consummate a-hole frat boy, right? Except it's not average Americans who are tiring of his bullying and ganging up to take him down with the popular guys, but instead powerful men who aren't just looking to hijack a kissing booth...and I think they want more than just their own legitimate fraternity.

Here Goes Nothing

I've been tagged by Step Right Up!

A-Z more than you would ever want to know about me.

A - Austin, Texas. The city I live in, in an alternate reality. It's where I should be living...if everything had taken a different course.

B - Bacon. There's really nothing like meat cooked in its own sizzling fat.

C - Clawfoot bathtubs. I need one again. Real bad. I love the way they look, love the way they contour just perfectly for long baths.

D - Drawl. I wish mine were thicker. I love it when my extended family (from the "real" south....as opposed to the Ozarks) gets together and it takes them four times longer to say things because the vowels are so stretched out.

E - Eureka Springs. The craziest, weirdest, wacked-out artsy, gay, retiree, and Christian-filled little town in the South. I love that it raised and nurtured me during my formative years and continues to be a haven of sorts for me. I always say that if you "get" Eureka, then you get me. I love that I met D. there. I love that I don't have to explain what makes that place so special to him.

F - Feminism. It's about fairness. Simple as that.

G - Goddamnit. My favorite curse word. A little ironic, seeing as how I'm most likely agnostic.

H - HOT TAMALES! This is my absolute favorite candy. Mmmm....spicy, sweet wax!

I - Itching. The worst form of torture, in my opinion. Luckily I don't think I'm allergic to poison ivy. I used to get hives, however, when I was a kid. And mosquitoes are my arch-enemies.

J - Journey! Has there ever been a mulleted man more earnest or pleading than Steve Perry? Best songs to listen to loudly, driving around with the windows down: "Lovin', Touchin' Squeezin'" and "Girl Can't Help It."

K - KCRW - best radio station to listen to on iTunes while I'm working.

L - Left eye. Mine has nerve damage so it won't turn left. It makes me go cross-eyed. Kids stare at me. My pictures turn out funny. I have a "good side," photographically speaking. Just like Barbra Streisand!

M - Mint chocolate chip. My favorite ice cream flavor.

N - Nostalgic. I am getting better but I used to be nostalgic about everything, from curled-and-hairsprayed bangs (I called them hair flowers) to VHS tapes to rotary phones.

O - One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - all-time favorite book. I try to read it every few years. I'm due for a re-reading.

P - Photography - If I could live a life of leisure and pursue any art just for the hell of it, photography would be my medium. I like the idea of other people seeing things the way I saw them.

Q - Quixotic. Who....me????

R - Rivers. My favorite body of water. I like things that move on a path, not just sit around getting dirty and gross like pools, ponds, and lakes. Or are salty and scary like oceans.

S - "Sweet Jane" by the Velvet Underground. My go-to answer for "What's your favorite song?" I don't really know why. I selected it years ago and I'm sticking with it.

T - Tart. As in the five tastes, not as in pies or flirts. Otherwise known as "sour." I am addicted to sweet, but I can't help that...I actually prefer tart. Lemons, pickles, those hard Japanese plum candies - yes, please!

U - Underdogs. I'm rooting for them.

V - V-neck shirts. I would be lost without them. And topless, most likely.

W - Wine. The more I learn, the better it becomes.

X - eXhausted. What I will typically answer if you ask me how I am feeling. It'll save us all some time if you just know that now.

Y - Y'all. It's not our fault that there was a void in English grammar, but southerners can take credit for creating a second person plural. Y'all better reckanize!

Z - Zambia, ziggurats, Zurich....all places I dream of visiting before I'm old and cranky(er).

Now y'all come back in the next few days because I'm working on a really great, and very helpful Christmas Wish List post!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Get Smarter and Feed the Hungry



What's not to like?

Marty sent me this and I've been a little obsessed with it ever since.

Just click on the picture and get started!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's That Time Again

Some favorite keyword searches that have led people to this here little site:
  • "ugly and fat photos of hillary clinton"
  • "year 12 - is all the stress worth it?"
  • "hunks work shop chit"
  • "i hate arkansas"
  • "bulbous mole"
  • "the semicolon is the bastard"
  • "macrobiotic sourkraut"
  • "velveeta pineapple"
I'd say that list sums up what goes on here at Sufferin' Succotash pretty well. What a bunch of crazy garbage.

The End Of An Era?

Last night was probably the last night (for a long while, at least) of our wonderful and delicious dinners with Angela. She's starting a new and exciting chapter out West and I will miss her (and her knowledge and suggestions!) soooo much.

Last night I made a yummy standard - sausage (chicken sausage w/ basil & pine nuts), fennel, tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic all stewed together served over polenta. Ang brought some tasty wine. Then we watched trash tv! The Girls Next Door and Nip/Tuck. Holy crap...was Nip/Tuck's dialogue always so awful? We kept cracking up and trying to guess the next clunker of a line. It was a great night. We used to have those kinds of great nights all the time when we lived together. Angela was an angel for us in many ways. She got me out of my mother's house, for one (and that's a biggie), she's been a loyal and wonderful friend since Chemistry class in high school, a great aunt to Stella, a great sister to me....she deserves this happiness and a new adventure but I'm selfishly going to miss her very much.
Sometimes she wears clothes that lie....

and sometimes not.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

'08 Election Update

If any of y'all are at all curious about what Mike Huckabee was like as a governor of Arkansas, look no further than this concise and well-written article about his legacy in our state.

I know he's getting this weird treatment by the press, like he's some sort of aw-shucks, likable, "everyman" kinda politician. And frankly, I think that's a little irresponsible on the part of the press.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Recommendation of Sorts

I spent the majority of yesterday curled up in bed, sobbing my guts out.

You see, I finally got around to reading The Kite Runner and it completely destroyed me. I'm not sure I will even be able to see the film, as images affect me more deeply than words. I ran to the store to get ingredients for chicken soup. As I was leaving the Salvation Army bell ringer (already?) said "God bless you" to me and I nearly lost it. I do feel blessed (whether or not that blessing comes from a higher source remains to be seen). Blessed because of my place of birth, because of my race, health, education, and socioeconomic status....how privileged I am just because of where I was born and who my parents were. How strange and random it all is.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Blahg Post

I'm feeling under the weather so I can't be my usual entertaining self. Sorry, internet.

Here's some things I've been up to:
  • Listening to the same song over and over and over. This summer it was "Heart it Races" by Dr. Dog. Now it's "Silver Lining" by Rilo Kiley. It's a good thing I'm usually listening to it in my car, alone...or I'd drive other people completely insane.
  • Reading to this month's Vanity Fair. There's a great article about Serge Gainsburg, his life, his legacy, and his apartment in Paris. Also an article about that supercreep, Lou Perleman. I'm about to read the one about the fall out between the Gores and the Clintons.
  • Wondering how on earth anyone could NOT THINK waterboarding is torture. SIMULATED DROWNING. WATER IN YOUR LUNGS. I get very upset thinking about this. There was a thing on PBS the other night about U.S. "detention facilities" in other countries and I couldn't watch it. I just can't take it sometimes.
  • Wishing weekends lasted about 200% longer.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Driving to Barnes & Noble - A Play in One Act

SETTING
A devastatingly attractive and intelligent couple, D. and Alannah, are in a car. D. is driving.
TIME
November, 2007. A sunny, late afternoon Sunday.


ALANNAH
I can't wait to drink a big coffee and look at trashy magazines

D.
I want that same drink you got last time.

ALANNAH
A vanilla latté? Okay....but it's kind of a pussy drink.

(beat)

ALANNAH
But you're man enough to drink a pussy drink, aren't you?

D.
Um....yeah?

ALANNAH
Say it. Say you're man enough to drink a pussy drink.

D.
(conversational tone)I'm man enough to drink a (whispers) pu(inaudible mumbling) drink.

ALANNAH
No! Say it! Say it louder! You're man enough to drink a pussy drink!

D.
(louder)I'm man enough to drink a (lowers voice considerably) pussy drink!

ALANNAH
Come on! There's no one else here listening! Say it!

D.
(laughing, louder, and this time in a Southern accent)I'm man enough to drink a pussy drink!

ALANNAH
I always knew it.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

WARNING! Extreme Mushiness Featured Below!

It's hard not to feel like the luckiest girl on the planet when I check my email during the day and read stuff like this:

"Good morning sweetie
I hope you don't mind but I'm stacking your papers and stuff in the
bedroom. The upstairs has gotten out of control and I'd like to clean
it up today before it gets to be any worse. I'm going to do some
general cleaning but I'll try at some point over the next week to
clean out some drawers in the furniture up there to give you one for
mail / bills if you want. I did the kitchen area and have moved on to
dining area.

I've been thinking a lot about you and how much I love you
I LOVE YOU!!!!"

Can you believe this guy? He's completely for real and also happens to be incredibly talented, hilarious, conscientious, intelligent, and cute.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Doin' The Robot

Stellabot 3000This picture makes me laugh every time I look at it. THIS is what Halloween is all about - getting an idea at the last minute and making your costume in two days and spending less than $20 on materials.