Posts Tagged ‘rant’

23rd November
2011
written by Steph

Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner for those of us living in the United States, I feel that talking about a book that takes a trip through the madness industry is apt. Oh come now! I can’t be the only one who finds that large family gatherings are something akin to a trip to the loony bin! If, like me, you tend to find that congregations featuring your nearest and dearest tend to be a bit, well, colorful, OR if you just find yourself interested in mental health issues, I’m sure you’ll find this book enjoyable and educational… Whether it also leads you to mentally evaluate how many of the criteria on Robert Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist every person you meet exhibits, well, that’s just another perk, now isn’t it? Like so much non-fiction, I think that The Psychopath Test is a fun read for those who have a pet interest in a certain subject but aren’t actually experts in that field. Those who have, say, majored in Psychology (as I did at university) will find that there are a lot of tidbits that are already familiar (though certainly I learned some things I didn’t already know), but that there is also a lot of glossing over of material as well as oversimplifications made for the sake of engaging storytelling or enhanced accessibility for the layman. That is why, although I found this book fun and interesting, I also found it exceedingly frustrating. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Jonson states anything that is deliberately false in this book, but there were moments where I felt like many nuances were lost (or counterpoints were omitted), so as someone who is more than passingly familiar with clinical psychology (though I will say straight up that although I am working on my Psychology doctorate, my area of expertise is cognition and perception NOT clinical populations) I found myself arguing with this book quite a lot. Just as a fair warning, after finishing this book, I jotted down some notes in my book spreadsheet, and when I imported those notes into Word, they filled an entire page. So yeah, I have feelings when it comes to this book (and yes, a lot of them are crabby and could likely be written in all-caps, but worry not, I've saved you from Caps Lock Steph... this time...). (more…)
7th December
2009
written by Steph
Last Friday I took the afternoon off from work, as Tony and I had a friend coming over on Saturday night and I had big plans.  I was making boeuf bourguignon, you see… And I realize that it’s not in good practice to test out new recipes on guests, but despite being quite labor intensive, I had all the confidence in the world I could pull the dish off.  Now, because BB takes so long to cook (the prep is really pretty easy, but the thing needs to be in the oven for a few hours), I decided I would make it on Friday night and then simply reheat on Saturday evening (as there were no guarantees we would be around for several hours Sat afternoon to start the cooking), and voila: effortless and delicious dinner the evening of!  However, Tony told me he was probably going to have to work late on Friday night, and if that meant him not getting home until 7, well, I didn’t want to have to wait until then to run out and gather the groceries and then start cooking, so we met up for lunch (always fun), and then I drove him back to work and then kept the car to do my errands. And so began my afternoon as a make-believe housewife.  I have to say that shopping in the middle of the day during the week is actually DELIGHTFUL.  I got a prime spot in the parking lot and the store was far less congested.  Pretty much it was just me, a few elderly people, and lots of housewives.  I was able to zip through the aisles with speed and ease, and all was going smoothly… until I approached the checkout.  Seeing as it was the middle of the day, there were only two cashiers open, and I had to choose between standing behind an older bachelor or an old lady.  I opted for the old lady, because I figured she was probably more well-versed with efficient supermarket checkout.  This was a HUGE MISTAKE. While it didn’t look like she had a ton of items, her final bill wound up being $118… and this was after she had spent about 2 – 3 minutes scrounging about in her change purse in order to find her coupons (many of them for a measly 25¢…) that saved her a grand total of $3.50.  SERIOUSLY.  I am all for bargain shopping (Tony was greatly amused the first time we went to the grocery store and I would swap out products for those just a few cents cheaper…), but I do that when there isn’t a huge line of people behind me!  Plus, it’s not like she didn’t have plenty of time to have these coupons in hand before her final bill came up!  She certainly had enough time to have an awkward conversation (loudly, natch) on her cellphone while her items were being rung up. And then, the icing on the cake of rage: SHE PAID WITH A CHECK.  People, I cannot tell you how enraged I get when people pay for things at the grocery store with a check.  Why do this? Clearly you have a debit card, and if for some reason you don’t have the funds in your account at that exact moment in time, you can still choose the credit option!  Seriously, WTF?!?  If you use a check, it takes aaaaages, because you have to fill the whole thing out, and then they have to see your i.d. (despite carrying a purse, hers was stowed away in her fanny pack), and what should have been a 30-second process has now taken 5 minutes.  Haaaaaaaate. Just in case I wasn’t clear enough, I will repeat myself for clarity’s sake: When grocery shopping, DO NOT USE A CHECK TO PAY FOR YOUR PURCHASES.  It is unforgivably horrible of you, and all the joking and bashful smiles at the snaking line of people behind you doesn’t make it better.  In fact, it makes it worse because all that time you spend “gee whizzing” over how expensive groceries are today and simpering about how you’re sorry for holding up the line just means you are wasting more of my time.  Here’s an idea: rather than feeling bad about holding up the line, how about you just don’t do it?  Gah! Needless to say, after that experience, my trip to the nearby wine store was a necessity… and I don’t regret walking out with three bottles when I only needed one! And because I know you were all wondering, yes, the boeuf bourguignon was a success, which did much to soothe my fiery rage (but clearly not enough that I felt the check/coupon incident was no longer a bloggable offense!).
23rd October
2009
written by Steph
Today Tony turns... another year older! (I will leave it to him to share the not at all old number that he is turning, should he care to!)  To celebrate, we have orchestrated a weekend of extravagant proportions.  We started celebrating early last night by heading out to see a double header of Toy Story 1 & 2 in 3D at the Theater that Time Forgot (seriously, we were the ONLY people there... I get that it was a Thursday, but come on!).  We'd both seen the two movies before, but never in 3D, and having the theater all to ourselves meant we could do running commentary, which was actually a lot of fun.  We also got to see the trailer for Toy Story 3, and, well... I hope it is better than what was shown!  In my mind, Toy Story 2 is a lovely way to cap off the franchise and completes the full story arc that the movies aim to tell, but I will try to have faith in Pixar and assume they know what they're doing.  But here's the thing: remember in Toy Story 2 when Jessie is sharing her story (via the montage accompanied by Sarah McLaughlan warbling When Somebody Loved Me) about her time with her previous owner Emily and it was SO SAD? (As in, every time I see that scene, I possibly tear up!)  And the whole point there is that kids grow up and leave for college and their old toys get left behind and given away and that is sad?  But then Jessie gets saved because Andy always can do with new toys, and then we are happy!  But now in Toy Story 3, Andy is leaving for college and so the toys are given away to a day care!  Is this the story we really want to see?  OK, and even if that premise isn't somehow sad (I guess the upside is the toys are now making other children happy...), the jokes in the trailer are just not very funny, and that is a shame because generally speaking the Toy Story flicks are both heartwarming AND amusing.  See for yourself: (more…)
11th September
2009
written by Steph
Three things I feel compelled to post on a Friday: 1) First, a question to all of you diners out there (by which I mean restaurant patrons, rather than greasy-spoon dining establishments.  The difference is subtle, but important, I think.).  Two nights ago, Tony and I went to a newish Mexican restaurant, since our old standby switched management and we can no longer go there because the food is no longer any good (RIP El Palenque).  So we go to this new place and it's fairly busy for a Wednesday night, but keep in mind it is your run-of -the-mill Mexican place so none of the entrees require much finesse or time (read: most of it is probably pre-cooked anyway).  We wound up waiting for OVER AN HOUR for our food, and it became clear that either our waiter had neglected to turn in our order, OR the kitchen had overlooked it.  People who had been seated after us had eaten and left before we saw anything more than chips and salsa at our table.  After many apologies (and about 75 minutes after sitting down) we finally got our food.  In such a case would you expect your meal to be comped, or at the very least, for a free dessert to be sent out?  Is this not pretty much the universal way that it is understood any sit-down restaurant deals with snafus that are clearly their fault?  I wound up asking if I could speak to the manager, but he never showed... and we wound up paying for everything.  Needless to say, we won't be going back!  Sorry, Nacho's!  Your guac may be good, but your service was muy abysmal.

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10th September
2009
written by Tony

This is going to be a hot one. I’m not sure if there is any way to talk about this movie without starting some kind of fight with someone, so I won’t pretend that I can write some sort of neutral review and be done with it, or that this will be a review only. Despite the fact that this movie is over two years old, I think now was the perfect time for us to watch it, considering how hotly contested Obama’s healthcare reform is currently. I won’t lie, this is a depressing movie, for a lot of reasons. I’ll be the first to say that there are definitely times in his other movies when Michael Moore crosses the line from telling a story to flagrantly airing a personal bias. There have certainly been times in his previous movies where I agreed with his premise but disagreed with his tactics. However, this movie is largely free from those moments, though I will discuss some of them later. (more…)
13th February
2009
written by Steph
More like "Year of the Crazy Lady"

More like "Year of the Crazy Lady"

It should come as no surprise that Tony & I are huge dog people (in that we love dogs, not that we are part dog.  See this Demetri Martin clip for clarification.).  Because of this love, we tend to watch a lot of movies that feature dogs, and coo along adoringly when those adorable little canine scamps turn up onscreen.  Through this movie-watching exercise, I’ve come to believe that movie makers exploit our love of dogs, namely by making some truly horrendous films that ostensibly revolve around dogs or the love of same.  I mean, for every My Dog Skip, you have a Must Love Dogs, or a Beverley Hills Chihuahua, or even a, you guessed it, Year of the Dog.  [For the record, Tony & I have not seen Beverley Hills Chihuahua, nor do we have any plans to do so]  These are some bad movies, people, so be forewarned and avoid them if you either: a) love dogs; b) love movies; or c) love yourself. (more…)
29th January
2009
written by Steph

Finally we’re getting somewhere.  This was my third book read for the 2009 Tournament of Books, and it was by far the one I have enjoyed most to date.  If each subsequent book continues on this upward trend, I can totally deal with the few false starts I dealt with at the beginning. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (henceforth known as TDHoFLB), spans a period of about 6 months in the life of one Frankie Landau-Banks.  The story starts off just before she’s about to begin her sophomore year at the prestigious boarding school, Alabaster Academy.  Over the summer, she has emerged from her ugly duckling cocoon (way to mix metaphors!), and is now quite the attractive young lady (read: she has breasts!).  Due to this metamorphosis, she now catches the eye of fetching upperclassmen, namely a guy named Matthew, whom she’s been crushing on for quite some time.  And now he reciprocates those jelly-knee feelings!!!  So they start to date.  And then Frankie finds out he’s in a super secret society that her father was also a member of, only it’s so top secret that Matthew won’t even tell her about it (or acknowledge its existence).  She can also forget about joining it, because it’s a top secret society that is for BOYS ONLY.  This is unacceptable to Frankie, so she spends the rest of the novel trying to figure out a way to be a part of this illustrious Secret Order of the Basset Hounds. (more…)
20th January
2009
written by Tony
I made this. Why does that matter? I'll tell you later.

I made this. Why does that matter? I'll tell you later (yes, I did the illustration myself).

This is a post for anyone who is going to or has worked with a designer. However, this is mostly a post dedicated to new and (to use a fine arts term) "naive" designers out there. And also to you experienced designers who haven't stopped to think about some of the things we do every day and why we do (or don't) do them. This is also a post that will touch on how I see the design world changing (briefly - I'm planing another post on where I see design going in the next 10 years) and what I think a good designer needs to know in order to stay relevant. This is going to be a long post. I have been designing for a little while now (going on 4 years as a "professional") and it recently hit me that I may finally know some of what I am talking about when it comes to design. I guess I had one of those moments, moments I assume all brilliant  designers have :), when I realized that my eye for good type and aesthetics has finally matured. The moment occurred when I was looking over some old work a former intern did and I started reading my comments for revisions. He was doing things with the type and layout that I know I did when I was a student and as I looked over my suggested changes I realized that I understood why I suggested them, and it wasn't just rote recitation or arbitrary preference. This lead me to think about design vernacular and realize just how much time and work goes into having a good design vocabulary. It's one thing to know what you should and shouldn't do, but entirely another to understand why. I believe that basic understanding of why is what really informs good design. (more…)
8th December
2008
written by Tony
1966

1966

I will preface, for those of you who don't want to read a rant, that I liked this book (look to the last paragraph for more on Lot 49 itself). However. I still don’t like Thomas Pynchon, and as a result, most of this review will be about the bloated disgrace that some modern literature has become. You see, Lot 49 is unlike any of Pynchon’s other works in nearly every way (it’s only 150 pages, for one). So there isn’t a lot to say about it in context of itself. So instead, I’ll focus on the reasons behind why I was so surprised when I ended up liking it, reasons that deal with how much I hate Pynchon's other work. I wanted to read Pynchon before, so I picked up some of his stuff while at a bookstore. Apparently Gravity’s Rainbow is about a man whose erections signify V2 rocket attacks. That just sounds tiresome. So, in my quest to read some Pynchon, I instead tried Against The Day and, honestly, it just didn’t work out. I’ve heard all the talk about what a literary genius Pynchon is and how his works are pithy and wonderful and all of that. Everyone seems to think so, though I haven’t spoken to someone who has read one of his books to completion who feels this way. In fact, I haven’t ever spoken to someone who has finished one of his books at all. Interesting. (more…)
6th December
2008
written by Steph
We went out for dinner last night with a good friend of ours who this past week both successfully defended his PhD thesis and turned 30.  To celebrate him being both older and wiser, Tony & I asked if we could take him out for dinner and drinks yesterday.  His choice of restaurant was not a place either of us would have suggested had it been up to us, but seeing as it was his night, we went along with it.  I had mentioned in passing a few days earlier when speaking to this friend’s girlfriend that I didn’t know why anyone would ever go to this restaurant by choice as I didn’t like it very much, only to find out that apparently it was one of our friend’s favorites. In the end, although there wasn’t much on the menu to tempt me, both Tony & I found options that we were satisfied with and that ended up being quite delicious.  Unfortunately, this morning I received an email from my friend (who, being a grad student (although no more!), suffers from intense-guilt complex) saying his significant other had told him I didn’t like the restaurant, but thanking me for going anyway.  I was really upset that he had been told this, because even if we had agreed to go to the restaurant out of respect for him, I certainly didn’t want to feel as though we hadn’t enjoyed the evening or that we had sacrificed ourselves on the altar of his celebrations.  I shot him back a quick email saying that in the past I hadn’t necessarily been a big fan, but we both had a great time last night (food included), so he shouldn’t fret about it at all. Mostly, I’m peeved that his girlfriend shared this information with him, as I don’t really see the point in doing so.  We had already had dinner, so it’s not like we could go back and select a different restaurant.  I feel like sharing that type of information with him, even if it is true, only served to be hurtful as well as unhelpful.  I dislike this idea that seems to be embraced more and more often that so long as you’re telling the truth, then that is the only accountability you need for what you say.  I do not think that truth need always trump tact.  Sometimes it is more important to be kind than it is to be honest.  Of course, I don’t mean that one should avoid telling others things that may be painful for the other party to hear simply to avoid an uncomfortable situation, but I really wish more people would consider the ends they hope to achieve when speaking. As an aside, one of our dining party last night (the birthday boy had invited another friend to the festivities) is forever in my bad books for showing up an hour and forty minutes late without an explanation or even a genuine apology.  I understand not everyone is as adamant about punctuality as I am, and am willing to forgive unexplained lateness up to about 20 minutes.  If you’re going to be much later than that, I think you are obligated to get in touch with the other party if you can and inform them of this.  We showed up at the restaurant at 7, were told we had about a 40-minute wait for a table, and were seated at 7:45.  We phoned our dining companion, who was at this point 45 minutes late.  She said she would be there in about 20 – 25 minutes.  She showed up at 8:45.  I think this is especially egregious given that we were at a restaurant for dinner (a busy one at that), so no one felt comfortable ordering anything other than drinks until she had shown up.  Given how late she was, a courtesy phone call telling us it would be ok to go ahead and order without her would have been nice.  I know some girls like to be late to make an entrance, but maybe they ought to strive to do so before other people have made an exit!