Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy Holidays

So. Christmas? It was spectacularly uneventful, for the most part. Most of my family (save a mostly estranged Uncle) live either 4 hours North in the wastelands of Oklahoma or four hours south in the terribleness of Houston, so I don't go out of town typically. Add to that the fact that I had to work the day before Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas, and it really didn't logically make sense. So. I stayed home, ordered pizza, and was mostly a lazy layabout. I started getting somewhat sick on Christmas itself, but by the weekend it had mostly cleared up.

That was fortuitous timing because a friend that recently moved (back) to LA was in town visiting and we had our friend group Christmas exchange party the Saturday after Christmas. It was a lot of fun! We did a White Elephant/Yankee Swap exchange instead of buying individual gifts, with the stipulation that we spend around $50 and buy gifts that people would actually use and want. This year was a good haul! I bought about 10 classic 80's movies and some boxes of various types of popcorn and the recipient seemed pleased. I ended up with a beautiful box I'm seriously keeping from Darcy, with a $40 gift card to Steam, a box of chocolates, and a twee little candle.

There was lots of food, alcohol, music, lively discussion, and picture taking. I made gift bags for everyone with candy, chocolate bars, snack bags, and candy canes that were fun to put together and seemed to be well received. Cost about $10 each (eep!) but was worth it.

Now, tonight is New Years Eve! BFF Liz is having a party at her place and is expecting 20-25 people, so it should be a hoot. I'll be arriving early to help set up and to get my ridiculous costume of sequins and glitter put together, so that should be fun!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

December movies: (mostly) Christmas Edition

Gosh. Okay. Here's one final blast of movies for the end of the year. Why do I watch so many???

Seen these, not much to say:

A Christmas Story - watched this a good 6 times on Xmas Even and Xmas. Yeah, that's right. I was painting and stuff! This never gets old.
Scrooged - As good as I remember
Bad Santa - Not as good as I remember.

Rapid Fire! Quick!

Don Jon - This was good but the ending felt a little shoe horned, neat, and undeserved. I would have preferred it to not have that ending, otherwise very enjoyable!
Catching Fire - Much better than the first one. Can't wait until the next two, not a lot bad to say about this!
Europa Report - A very low budget film that would have had even more stressful parts if not for Gravity stealing some of the space thunder. If you like sort of slow burning space horror this is worth watching.
Final Destination 5 - Second viewing of this. Not my favorite of the bunch but it amuses me that someone I'm one step removed from was in this.
Parker - Not the best Jason Statham movie, but certainly not his worst. JLo was by far the worst part of the movie and I feel like her entire part should have been reworked or written out entirely.
Brick - This has been on my list for a very long time. The last time I tried to watch it I was tired and a bit sick, so I ended up falling asleep. It was okay, if a bit hokey. Watching what are supposed to be (and some nearly were, I'd imagine) teenagers speak as if in a noir pulp detective story was jarring, and at times distracting. Like watching a high school play or something.
Asexual - It was a bit depressing because one of the people featured seemed very dissatisfied with their life and that's always a little sad. Otherwise, very informative and easy to watch.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Things I watched in December: Documentary Edition

So. Back to movies! I've been watching a lot of documentaries lately because it's easy to watch them while I'm surfing the internet or painting. Good background noise, basically. Here are a few of them that I've seen this month

I won't say much about this to prevent spoiling anything, but I can tell you what we learn in the first minute or so. A man in his mid 40s befriends an 18 year old girl over the internet. Another man ends up dead. This is the true (as far as we know) story of how this happened, and it's fascinating to watch this unfold. I don't think it surprises anyone here that people aren't always who they say they are over the internet, but it's still troubling to know stuff like this happens. Worth a watch!

Best Worst Movie
This has been on my radar for a very long time! This is a documentary based on the infamously bad (Best Worst Movie, you might say!) movie Troll 2. I've long heard amazing things about this doc and I'd say it mostly delivers. If you're a film fan, even if you haven't seen this particular movie or don't especially like it, this is worth seeing. It's always interesting to see what goes on in the minds of people that make unintentionally bad movies, and this provides a lot of that.

I watched this on Christmas day because apparently I'm a masochist. This is about methadone and follows a group of about 8 people using it for various reasons. Depressing, eye opening, and interesting. Probably don't watch alone on Christmas!

American Addicts
I only watched about half of this because while it was interesting and factual, it was also extremely dry. I like my documentaries to be a bit more than just live action news articles and that's pretty much what this was. A lot of interesting facts about prescription addiction and the problem we have with over prescribing but I just wasn't in the right head space to focus on hard hitting pure facts based stuff.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

AFI 100 Movies: Shane Edition

I finally watched another AFI movie! Shane. A 1953 Western based on a 1949 novel of the same name. It, apparently won an Academy award for Cinematography.  Personally, I found it so dull and slow that I had to watch the 2 hour long film in several chunks spread out over a few days. Here's the basic plot.

Shane, a lonesome cowboy, wanders into Wyoming sometime in the mid the late 1800s. He befriends and starts working for the Starrett family. Apparently, there's some drama with a cattle baron that wants to force the Starrett's and everyone else in the area off of the land. I guess... to... give himself... more... land? I... don't really know.

Conflict arises, people die, there's a showdown, good guys win, bad guys lose. The end. I guess all things considered it's a good movie. Obviously it was good enough to end up on this list, but I just do not like most Westerns. Obvious exceptions for a handful. Western Lovers will probably like this, I guess? That's up to you, man.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dinner with people not named Andre

This is another one of those slice of life posts, so if those annoy you feel free to move on. :) Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending a dinner party hosted by some friends of mine; Lyn & Brad*.  I've been to their place several times before and it's always fun and informative. We've cooked, hand made pasta, played rock band, and drank the night away. This time I attended kind of last minute as I had previous plans that ended up falling though and therefore had already eaten a light dinner (small cup of soup and a quarter sandwich.)

L made roast beef with a couple different sides, and we had cupcakes and chocolate for dessert. Oh! And Yorkshire pudding. Everything was delicious as always. Both Lyn & Brad are very talented cooks and even better company. Afterwards we played a variety of card type games while listening to records and drinking wine. Yes, records! I also got to play with their adorable kitty who is a total ham and sweetheart.

Dinner parties are something that always make me feel very Grown Up. Probably because my dinner is usually a hot pocket in front of the computer. I don't even have a table! Unless you count tv trays. My dining room has 4 bookshelves and a desk crammed into it. In retrospect I could easily move my desk into my bedroom... but I don't really do much entertaining. Hmm. I don't know. Anyway!

It was a delightful evening and I'm always glad to spend time with them. They are always a hoot and we are usually in a large group when we see each other so being able to actually have conversations is definitely nice!

*Not real names

Friday, December 13, 2013

30x30 Update #4

Another month, another not a whole lot to report.

I watched two AFI movies (one should have been in the last report, but whatever.) Midnight Cowboy (review is up) and Shane (review should be up at a future date)

I read several books, I'm also including one I hadn't previously, I don't think. I feel like I'm leaving something else off though!

Amateur Night at the Bubblegum Kittykatt - a blogger I've been reading for years self published this book, an account of her ennui filled early/mid 20s about when she worked as a hostess at a strip club. I enjoyed it because I've been following her blog for years, I'm not sure I would recommend it otherwise. There's not a whole lot there to grab you, though she does have a decent enough writing style.

Mennonite in a little black dress - Another memoir (big month for those, apparently!) this time about a reformed/former Mennonite that gets a divorce after 15 years of being married. Her husband leaves her for another man and we later find out that they had a terrible marriage, and she knew that he was bi and had been with other men in the past so this wasn't all together surprising. A bit misleading because at first it sounds like it's totally from left field and unexpected. Worth reading if it's either free or cheap, as you do find out interesting things about Mennonites.

I only did one new thing, that I can think of. Ate at a fabulous place called Whiskey Cake, as a friend was visiting and a group of us decided to go. Had a very good cocktail that I can't remember the name of, and some amazing pork loin with grits, and a gigantic piece of whiskey cake. It was pricey, but worth it!

Oh! Remembered another thing. Addison Taste of Chicago - FINALLY ACTUAL CHICAGO STYLE PIZZA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This was so, so good y'all. SO good. Not quite the real thing, and the crust could stand some flavoring, but pretty close to authentic and insanely delicious. I'll probably order from this place way too often.

I think that's it?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sushi, some beer, and ice storm 2013

I know that this is mainly an outlet to share my attempts to become or be or do more/better/best before I'm 30, but it gets really old talking about just that I'm probably going to run out of content sooner rather than later if that's all I talk about! So, from time to time I'll be posting about things of a more personal nature than just books I've read and movies I've watched.

So, that being said last week had a few particularly note worthy events happen! First of all, a little bit of a back-story is required. (Names have been smudged for privacy reasons) I've known Mr. S for over 5 years now. We met through friends of friends, as you do, and since then I've been to countless parties he's hosted, drank countless beers together, and celebrated his marriage to Ms. F.

Unfortunately, (for us here!) The two of them have decided, due to a variety of factors, to move to a state Far Away. This will be a fantastic opportunity for them and they are both thrilled. We will miss them dearly but are equally happy for them. They have been discussing this for a rather long time and all of it has really come to a head this month. The house is on the market, Ms. F is currently safely settled in their new home, and their going away parties were last week.

On Wednesday Mr. S had a combination going away/plate party at a local bar. If you have 200 different beers (at a max of 3 a day) you are awarded a plate and given a party. This was, I believe, his 4th plate and he finished right on time! They ordered a wide variety of beers for us to all sample and we ended up staying until after midnight. It was a very fun farewell with a lot of laughter and tears. The next night we had a smaller, quieter final sushi dinner at our favorite sushi place that has been our go to spot for years for birthday dinners, celebrations, or just random dinners. This finished up much earlier than the previous night and overnight we got hit with a pretty heavy ice storm!

Friday Morning I wake up and the city was covered in a thick sheet of ice. The entire nearly half an hour long walk to work it continued to sleet and when I did finally make it to work I found it nearly deserted. Luckily I had already planned on the following Monday and Tuesday being off! By the time I left (slightly early) there was practically no one on the road and every available surface was covered in nearly an inch of ice. I get home and the electricity was out. Oh joy!

Luckily, I had already planned on being out as a friend was having a party that evening, so thankfully a friend of mine arrived not long after in his trusty 4 wheel drive truck to pick me up. That night we had a small party that surprisingly had more guests than expected considering it was still terrible outside, and we partied hard late into the next morning. Saturday was spent mostly taking it easy until the evening when we went to a nearby friends house for a Christmas bash where good times were had by all.

After we finished there we went for a short (but extremely memorable!) joyride in a nearby field and danced the night away to various Whitney Houston songs and other 90s hits. Sunday I get home and electricity has been restored! Temperatures remain cold so I don't even leave my apartment until I have to on Wednesday (which is technically tomorrow according to this post...), at which point most of the ice had melted. Hoorah!

So there we have it.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

December Watch List: An Incomplete List

Grouping these by genre instead of in order of when I watched, for easier reviewing! Here are the standup specials that I watched.

Bo Burnham: What
This is a brand new special that was put out for Netflix just this month. It was an interesting (and expected) mix of singing, playing piano, some skit type stuff and one liners. His stuff isn't stand up so much as it's performance art, but it's very funny regardless. Now that he's older it's interesting to see how his work is evolving, and you can see some typical "No one understands me" angst going on. Which is understandable considering the fact that he's been in the spotlight since before he even graduated high school.

Comedy Central Presents: Donald Glover
This was moderately new, I think from 2012? I had never really seen much of his stand up before so this was totally new for me. It was incredibly hilarious! Riffing on things like race, gender, dating, growing up, politics, etc. He's a very intelligent and perceptive person but isn't afraid to dip into the juvenile humor well from time to time. There was a particular story he told about a teacher farting once that had me laughing for a good minute straight.

Comedy Central Presents: John Mulaney
I had heard most of this special before via Pandora but it was still fun to watch and see the actual physical part of the show. Mulaney is a very dry and sharp comedian that does a lot of storytelling type of stuff and this one has a really funny bit about "What's New, Pussycat?" that is worth listening to. I really like this guy a lot and hope he continues to make stuff!

Comedy Central Presents: Mike Birbiglia
Much like Mulaney I had already heard most of this act before (It was from 2006, I think, well before he became famous) but again, it was nice to see it actually acted out because Birbiglia does some pretty amusing physical comedy stuff that benefits from being able to actually see him. If you like his later stuff, you'd like this. Though I did notice that he's been using some of the same material for awhile now, which I'm not used to after following so much of Louis CK's stuff!

Comedy Central Presents: Marc Maron
Hulu has a lot of Comedy stuff, okay?? This is the second bit of actual stand up type stuff that I've seen from Maron. This was also pretty old, probably 2007? So it was before he divorced his second wife, which was interesting. It reminded a bit of Louis CK's stand up from before he got a divorce, where you could tell they are in an unhappy (or at least not working) marriage and it's not at all surprising that they ended up divorced. I think I liked this better than his newer stuff, because he seemed to be in a more grounded head space.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Getting paid to judge people

I don’t know if I mentioned my intentions to cut down posting to twice a week (likely Tues/Thurs) but that’s the plan from here on out! And now, for something completely different, my experience with jury duty!

Okay, first of all the process itself was relatively smooth and efficient. I was told by my paperwork to arrive by 8:30am and I did (well, a bit earlier!) and I was sitting in the actual courtroom awaiting whether I'd be chosen or not by about 10:15. I'd estimate at LEAST an hour of that was waiting for lame ass jabroni late people to show up (A WHOLE BUNCH) or for people that didn't either mail in their paperwork OR fill it out online ahead of time to do that. LAME. 

I get my assigned court and wait about 15-20, maybe, to go into the courtroom with the other 23 people. Introductions were made and the Defense had Grumpy SMU Big Cheese, Nervous Noob, and the Defendant. It was announced upfront that Nervous Noob was not yet an Actual Lawyer and this was his very first trial experience!!! Prosecution had ADA and Slightly Flustered Firstimer. We did not find out until later that this was her first trial (after verdict had been reached and we were out of the courtroom) but I guessed as much. She was confident and less flustered than Nervous Noob but she still made quite a few "mistakes" that made it pretty clear that she didn't have a lot of experience. 


Defense side I'd say about 60% was handled by Nervous Noob. His mentor spent a lot of time loudly whispering in his ear what to say or do, even when it seemed clear that he already did. From my position I could clearly hear Big Boss loudly whispering, despite the fact that I was closer to the Prosecutor. Which is to say he wasn't given a chance to speak first in a lot of cases. On the Prosecution side it was more like 90% Flustered Firstimer. When the ADA did have input he would quietly give her an aside and despite being as close as possible to both of them, I couldn't hear a word. All 4 participated in closing arguments. 

Now, as for the case itself I won't get too specific more out of respect than for any legal reasons. I will say that nearly two years ago a man (I'll call Dennis) was pulled over for speeding and ultimately arrested and subsequently charged with a DWI and that's what we were there for. After a couple of hours of back and forth, the police officer on the stand, a defense expert called up, and watching the entire 45 minute dash cam we were sent to the jury room where we found him guilty.

Random Thoughts
* I exited the area with him RIGHT BEHIND ME and held the door open for him without noticing at first and then was like OH CRAP but he did not say anything to me or appear angry. 

*We had 6 people. 5 women and 1 man. One of the ladies originally jokingly suggested the guy be the foreman (because foreMAN har har har) and he demurred so I said bitch I'll do it. (Did not say bitch)

To start with we all wrote down our verdict and placed them in the middle. 4 guilty, 2 not guilty. 1 of the not guilty people honestly I don't think, um, well. She agreed with our assessment that he should be found guilty but was quoted as saying "he deserves a second chance" which is totally irrelevant. The other person was Not Guilty but leaning towards undecided. The 4 of us (mostly myself and another lady) laid out our justifications based on evidence presented.

Leaning Lady made some counterpoints, we discussed those, sort of batted the ball back and forth on this and that. Very civil and logical. After maybe half an hour Leaning Lady decided that she agreed with the Guilty verdict and Second Chance lady (apparently) realized that oh wait this is a court of law and we were deciding Innocence vs Guilt not la la la this person deserves a "second chance" for whatever bizarro reasons she was thinking. She did some thinking out loud, basically, and determined that there was sufficient evidence to declare him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We then all verbally confirmed that our verdict was guilty, multiple times. I signed the paperwork stating as such and pressed a button to summon the bailiff. 

* Turns out, in the county of Dallas (and possibly state of Texas) you do not need to prove a BAC of 0.08 or higher in order to arrest/prosecute someone for a DWI. In fact, at the time of the arrest (nearly two years ago) they were moving away from performing breathalyzers in general in favor of doing actual blood tests. Additionally, at the time of arrest you could refuse a blood sample (the defendant did) and the officer could CHOOSE whether to request a warrant for said blood. Now, it is standard that the officer will request a warrant if you refuse a blood draw, but at the time it wasn’t.

So yes. You can be convicted of a DWI even without having BAC evidence. He was, based on the 45 minute arrest video we watched, incredibly intoxicated and he admitted on tape repeatedly that he had been drinking. Out of a possible “drunk scale” (my words!) of 0-18 (based on the field sobriety tests) (I think it’s 18, I could be off on this) he received a 16. It’s either a 6 or an 8 that is considered intoxicated. Dude was super wasted.

*We did discuss that the Defendant admitted to drinking 80 ounces of beer (He was a shorter man of average build, for the record and that's just what he had admitted to!) in no more than 45 minutes. (Based on the time he was pulled over and the time he says left work.) We also had an extensive discussion on whether or not his incredibly slow and yet very slurred speech in addition to his inability to properly perform any of the 3 field sobriety tests could entirely be due to nerves. It was very interesting and a lot more difficult than I expected!

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