Monday, 31 March 2008

You'd better stop this fight! You ain't nothin' but a bum!

heather This week's topic: 5 People I Most Want to Punch in the Face

Charlotte Brontë One of many novelists/poets belonging to the family Brontë.

Dear Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre? Well done, you! Really. Great job. That bit where Jane opens her bedroom door after her thwarted wedding and passes out right into Rochester's arms? So romantic! But Charlotte, Charlotte, Charlotte, it seems you said some things. Some wrong and rude things about Jane Austen. Your publisher George Lewes suggested you write less melodramatically, like Miss Austen. You wrote back, said you'd never heard of Pride and Prejudice, but you picked up a copy at your local Barnes and Noble, and were basically bored to tears. Then, Charlotte Brontë, six days later, you sent another letter to your publisher: "You say I must familiarise my mind with the fact that 'Miss Austen is not a poetess, has no 'sentiment' (you scornfully enclose the word in inverted commas), 'has no eloquence, none of the ravishing enthusiasm of poetry'; and then you add, I must 'learn to acknowledge her as one of the greatest artists, of the greatest painters of human character, and one of the writers with the nicest sense of means to an end that ever lived'. The last point only will I ever acknowledge. Miss Austen maybe is sensible, but she cannot be great."

Jane Austen cannot be great, Charlotte Brontë? Cannot. be. great?

You show both pride and prejudice in your judgment, and now I have to sock you in the nose.

Ilene Chaiken
Creator and Executive Producer of Showtime's hit series, The L Word. (That link will only be funny if you actually watch The L Word.)

Dear Ilene Chaiken: you are a bad storyteller. No, seriously, listen to me: you suck. The first season of The L Word was amazing. You were writing something fresh and clever and beautiful; it was awesome. But then, I dunno, you started taking yourself too seriously or you used up all your creativity in the first 14 episodes, or you went tone deaf, because, Ilene, WHAT is that theme song that started in season 2? It's horrible. You killed Dana! You assassinated Tina then Alice then Shane. You took Helena off my screen for 9 entire episodes. Why do you loathe your characters so much? Why do you want them to be miserable? Why do you want your audience to hate your guts? Why are you begging me to punch you in the face? You've been mercifully granted an eight-episode season 6, so before you eff it all up, let me just help you. Alice is funny. Shane is loyal. Helena has the best accent on television. Kit is capable of uttering more than one line. Angie should never hold a gun. And Bette? When Bette is without Tina she cries and cries and has the saddest face in West Hollywood. But when Bette has Tina, she looks like this

When Bette cries it makes me hate you even more, Ilene Chaiken. Whatever souls are made of, Tina's and Bette's are made of the same, and if you tear them apart in season six—if one of them cheats—I am going to more than punch you. Nothing personal. It's just the way I live and loooooooove.

Laura Mallory — Ill-informed religious fanatic.

Dear Laura Mallory: you don't even deserve my words. You've been trying to get Harry Potter books banned from my neighboring county's school system for years because you think they teach kids "demonic activity, murder, evil blood sacrifice... and [magic] spells." And here's the kicker: you haven't even read the books! If Harry Potter promotes witchcraft, then so do all of C.S. Lewis's Narnia books, and C.S. Lewis is one of the greatest Christian apologists to ever live. You are the worst kind of person because you spread your ignorance at the top of your lungs in the name of a religion you don't understand. I've read Harry Potter, and also the Bible. You are God's own marketing nightmare, and I'd cast a Cruciatus Curse on you, but guess what? Harry Potter is make-believe. Of course, you don't always need a magic wand.

Geno Auriemma
— Coach of the University of Connecticut Lady Huskies.

Dear Geno: I am a University of Tennessee Lady Vols fan to the point of distraction, and, as you know, that makes you my mortal enemy. You are hot-headed and arrogant and incapable of shutting your gob for five seconds. You did something to Pat Summitt in the off-season, something bad enough to make her call off your game for the 2007-2008 season, and no one will say what kind of asshole maneuver you pulled. About 5 seconds ago, Tennessee beat Notre Dame to secure a spot in the Elite Eight, so it looks like The Lady Huskies and The Lady Vols are on a crash course to the Final Four, where the media will surely pressure you into telling the story. Pat Summitt is a class act; she'd never punch you. Oh, but I would, Geno. If you'd take your head out of your ass long enough for me to get a swing at you.

— Co-worker of someone I love.

Dear RLG: Pssst, c'mere. KAPOW!

That felt good.


Bonus! One person I would never punch in the face is my baby sister, who turns 28-years-old today. Happy Birthday, Sister!

Friday, 28 March 2008

Phone it in Friday: Movies!

Luckily, you can't put a price tag on education, or you lot would owe us about a bazillion dollars after this week's topic. I hope your Blockbuster/Netflix queues are filled up with the movies we recommended. Or I hope you have TBS/TNT, because these movies come on every weekend. Your turn to educate, to give back, to screw off on YouTube. What are your all-time favorite movie scenes? Tell us in the comments or on your own blog!

Thursday, 27 March 2008

I know everything about film. I’ve seen over 240 of them.

JennieI had a really tough time with this, because I've seen about a million movies in my life and I've loved them all. That's a lie. I've loved a lot of them, though. Here's a truth: when I made my list of possible movie scenes to use, just sitting there at my desk with a pen and paper, I listed a billion. OK, that wasn't the whole truth, but GET OFF MY BACK.

Ahem. Now. Since we were only supposed to pick five movie scenes, I needed to set some parameters. Luckily, my fellow Collectivians (Collectivites?) picked some scenes from my list (see: Field of Dreams, The Wedding Singer . . . um, sorry, Abigail, but none of your movies were on my list, although Simply Irresistible does hold a special place in my heart), so ANYWAY that helped knock out a few contenders. Picking out the rest was easier than Paris Hilton (wow LAME) once I figured out a way to narrow down my list. So, OK. If I happen to catch one of the following movies on television AT ANY TIME, even if I'm headed out the door on my way to meet John Krasinski at a private Shins concert where he will buy me cheesecake and an endless supply of booze, I have to watch these movies until I get to these magical five scenes. I am physically incapable of turning the movie off before then. So now I bring you: The Five Movie Scenes That Outweigh My Desire to Drunkenly Eat Cheesecake While on a Date with John Krasinski (and The Shins):

1. Truth: When I was little, I thought Sloth was a real person.

2. Truth: I have seen this movie approximately 800 billion times.

3. Truth: If there was a Ferris Bueller tour in Chicago, I'd take it.

4. Truth: My friend's little brother used to grab his crotch and yell, "HONK HONK" just like Beetlejuice and, to this day, that is the funniest thing I have ever seen.

5. Truth: This scene is why I learned how to play Heart & Soul on the piano. Also, I still want a trampoline in my living room.

Whenever ET is on, I try to watch the whole movie, really, but I definitely have to watch until when he calls his brother "penis breath," (ha!) and THEN I have to watch him let the frogs go. I couldn't find either of these clips, so instead, watch THIS and cry your fool head off. FYI, ET was my favorite movie when I was little (as in, when I was a toddler, I walked around with my finger stuck out going "ooooouuuuuch" and "ET phone home") and if you think about that even just a little bit, I think it'll completely explain how I turned out this way.

BONUS! BONUS! (shut up):
Fat guy in a little coat. Enough said.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Five best movie scenes.

"[Name redacted, but rest assured she was addressing me], what do you think our theme should be for next week's Collective posts?"

"The theme that requires the least amount of actual writing."

And here you go:

1. The English Patient

If this doesn't make you cry, I do not want to be your friend.

2. Love, Actually

If this doesn't make you cry, I do not want to be your friend.

3. The Life Aquatic

If this doesn't make you cry, I do not want to be your friend.

4. Finding Neverland

If this doesn't make you cry, I do not want to be your friend.

5. The Wedding Singer

If this doesn't make you cry, I . . . oh, wait.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Five Best Scenes from Movies You Refuse to Watch

I get a lot of flack for my film preferences. And I'm not just talking about "Abigail, we both know that you only like wide-release movies" or even the "You like rom-coms? Blech!" flack. I mean that I get flack from my best friends regarding movies that I watch (over and over) and even own. These movies suck, I know they do. And yet I can't not love them. I can't not love Mandy Moore pretending to be the President's daughter. I can't not love Brittany Murphy twirling. It's who I am. So since you'll never see the movies, I thought I'd help. (Descriptions from Wikipedia. In my ideal universe, there would be thought bubbles littering reality with the first sentence explanation according to Wikipedia.)

A Cinderella Story
"A teen romance movie starring Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray. A modern-day take on the classic story of Cinderella, the plot involves a lost cell phone, rather than the traditional glass slipper." Hilary and Chad Michael totally fall in love even though she works at a diner (which is, apparently, the worst thing in the WORLD and "Diner Girl" is what everybody calls her and the kids at her school are so awful that it makes me thankful for my own high school experience) and he is the star of the football team (even though Chad's true calling is basketball, everybody knows that). HOWEVER, he totally get embarrassed of her because of the whole diner thing and she CALLS HIM OUT. Every high school girl (and also lots of women I know) wishes she could lay the smack down like this (minus the draught reference).

"A 2002 movie starring pop superstar Britney Spears in her first major movie role. In the film, Spears plays teenage Lucy, the lead character. It is rated PG-13 for sexual content and brief teen drinking." Long before K-Fed, Brit broke into the film industry with a story of love and growing up. She plays a version of that girl from Say Anything except her dad is less douche-y and more controlling. So she run aways to become a whore in Los Angeles. And Zoe Saldana is in it and she's awesome. (When is she not awesome? Answer me that!) And! Justin Long plays her lab partner slash prom date. After prom:

Chasing Liberty
"Chasing Liberty is a 2004 romantic comedy about the American President's daughter. It starred Mandy Moore and Matthew Goode. Not to be confused with First Daughter, a film starring Katie Holmes, also released in 2004 and with a very similar plot." Matthew Goode has a REALLY hot accent. Truth. Also, Europe. Mandy gets pretty annoying by the end but that has a lot to do with her being a teenager and a sheltered teenager who just wants to be naked. Or something. Anyway, in between all the times when she's taking all her clothes off (quote after goode won't make the sex with her on the clock: "naked virgin safely in bed."), they meet this guy with stickers. He turns out to be a slime bucket, but I love his stickers.

Uptown Girls
"Uptown Girls is a 2003 comedy/drama directed by Boaz Yakin and adapted from the story by Allison Jacobs into screenplay by Julia Dahl, Mo Ogrodnik and Lisa Davidowitz. It stars Brittany Murphy (8 Mile) as a 22-year-old living a charmed life as the daughter of a famous rock and roll musician. Dakota Fanning (I Am Sam) co-stars. Tagline: They're about to teach each other how to act their age." Ha. This movie is sweet in all the right ways and it has good music and it was before I go super tired of the whole Dakota Fanning bit (I'm now officially tired of the whole Abigail Breslin bit too). For reasons unknown, it's impossible to find clips from the movie itself (but if you need a fan vid youtube can hook you up). I love all the parts of this movie when everyone yells at each other because it's about people saying how they feel when they've been pretending not to for so longer. And I know that is all sappy, but that's the great part about this movie. It's sappy! Love it!

Simply Irresistible
"Simply Irresistible (1999) is a 20th Century Fox romantic comedy feature film starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as Amanda Shelton. It was directed by Mark Tarlov and was written by Judith Roberts. If nothing else, this movie is notable as the last one reviewed by film critic Gene Siskel." Oh wow. That's all they could say about it? Well, it really is That Bad. I mean, I just, there are no words for how bad it is. But I own it. I own it because I once saw it (in 1999) and years later I couldn't remember it quite clearly: "I saw this movie once.. and it was about cooking... and it had a magical crab." One day I saw it at Target and it was only $5 and I had to buy it so I could see the magical crab again. I didn't intend for it to be part of my collection, but when people started borrowing it and then stoning me for allowing them to watch such a waste of time I felt like I had to defend it.

Side note: I tried to find the review by late Siskel but it wasn't on the first page of Google results. That was just full of people saying it was the last thing he reviewed. No one even cares what the review said. Awesome.

Anyway, there is one redeeming part of the movie. It's right at the end of this trailer. It's my favorite scene regarding the sexist "men think about sex all the time always it's science okay?" axiom. And enjoy the trailer.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa.

heather You know how when people are faced with a difficult choice they say, "Oh, I could never decide between those things. It would be like choosing between my children!" That is the most ridiculous defense ever. Anyone can choose between children. I do it all the time. I like kids who have good manners, an interest in books, and exceptional athleticism. See how easy that is? A better line of reasoning would go thusly: Someone asks you to choose between two really awesome things, like, say, double fudge brownie ice cream and key lime pie. And instead of saying that bollocks about kids, you say, "Oh, I could never decide between those things. It would be like choosing between my favorite movie scenes." Because that? That is difficult. It is also the assignment on The Collective this week, and as I love movies more than breathing, I had a crazy hard time choosing my favorite scenes, even when I narrowed it down to sports movies. But I did it anyway: no degree of difficulty will keep me from pleasing you people. This is The Five Best Ever Spots Scenes As Told on Three Hours of Sleep.

Field of Dreams Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

Of all the iconic moments in Field of Dreams, my all-time favorite is when James Earl Jones's character, Terence Mann, tells Kevin Costner's character, Ray Kinsella, why he shouldn't sell his farm. Ray's brother-in-law tells it straight: Ray is a terrible farmer; he plowed up his corn to make a baseball field; and tomorrow the bank will foreclose if he doesn't sign the papers. James Earl Jones gets up off the bleachers and monologues a love letter to the game of baseball that sends shivers to my brain every time I hear it. When Kevin Costner refuses to sell his farm, it's like he saves baseball and his family and a little bit of all our souls. (Watch it here.)

Hoosiers — I'll make it.

No one believed Coach Dale would amount to anything at Hickory High School. No one believed Jimmy Chitwood would play basketball again. No one believed they'd team up to take Hickory to the Indiana High School State Basketball Championship, but when--in the final huddle of the final seconds of the championship game--Jimmy delivers the most humbly bad ass line in the history of sports' movies, we all believe. "I'll make it," Jimmy Chitwood says. He's every coaches' dream. (Watch it here.)

The Natural — Pick me out a winner, Bobby.

When Roy Hobbs finally gets it straightened out: when he stops philandering, when he turns down the bribe, when he does the thing he was born to do, when he plays in professional baseball's most important game, his homemade bat, Wonderboy, gets shattered. Hobbs is bleeding, but so unbroken. "Pick me out a winner, Bobby," he says to the bat boy, who has the sweetest case of hero worship ever. And then he hits the best homerun in movie history, circles the bases in the dark. (Watch it here.)

Rudy — I'm here to play football for the Irish.

If you do not cry when Rudy Ruettiger takes the field in the final moments of the corniest, most spectacular football movie ever, I don't think I want to know you. ( Watch it here.)

A League of Their Own — Baseball is what gets inside you. It's what lights you up.

Here are my areas of expertise: World War II, Women's Sports, Movies, British Literature, Harry Potter, Burritos. A League of Their Own hits half my areas of awesome (wow, that sounds dirty at 3:00 a.m.), and as such, must be included on this list. I'm not sure I can pick a favorite scene, because it's not a typical sports on account of everyone wins, just for being part of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Tom Hanks wins and Geena Davis wins and her little sister Kit wins and Rosie O'Donnel and Madonna. And also me and you. It's a win-win-win. (Watch the WHOLE THING on YouTube starting right here.)

Friday, 21 March 2008

Phone it in Friday: Imaginary Friends

So. Imaginary friends. Man, the Collective's touched in the head, huh? Collective HQ has been a little crowded this week, what with us in our offices, and also a dead poet, a nondescript little KiKi, an absolute aisle-full of cereal box characters, and a dinosaur who had his own spaceship (duh) running around and acting a fool. These (imaginary) guys have to go home today so we can clean. But for now--while these freeloaders mooch one last meal off of us--it's your turn to be nuts. Tell us about your childhood (or adulthood) imaginary friend(s) in the comments, or on your own blog. And then we'll all be delusional together.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

It takes more than a fire truck to stop Drop Dead Fred.

JennieWhen I was a kid, I fancied myself a storyteller. At sleepovers, when everyone had gotten in their sleeping bags and finished giggling for the night, I was the one who made up stories until everyone fell asleep. I wrote stories for school, I made my own "books," and inevitably, whenever I was bored in class (which happened a lot), the words, "once upon a time," would pop into my head and I'd be gone.

I'm afraid to say that this storytelling tendency has made me a bit of a liar. Maybe liar is the wrong word. Exaggerator is probably better. Or, you know what? Bullshitter is perfect. Sometimes I exaggerate stories a bit, but only to make them better. And I don't even do it on purpose. I'll tell a story so much (with juicy extra details) that I begin to believe it's the exact truth. So it's not my fault I'm a liar; blame my imagination.

"Where is she going with this?" you're asking yourself. I know, because I'm psychic (lie). The answer is . . . I don't know. TRUTH.

In 2nd grade, Mrs. Weaver made everyone in the class keep a journal. Each day, she'd give us a topic and we'd have Journal Time. Sometimes she'd let us write about whatever we wanted. Those days were my favorite. One day, I wrote about my imaginary friend. He was a purple dinosaur with green spots named Figment. But here's the thing about Figment. I don't think he was ever my imaginary friend. The more I think about it, the more I think I just made him up for class because I thought, "Haha! Figment! As an imaginary friend! The fools will bow down to this magnificence!" Although, I'm not sure I even knew what "figment" meant in 2nd grade and also I think I stole the idea from Disney. I just added green spots.

I wish I could tell you I still have this story somewhere, but my 2nd grade journal has long since disappeared. Even though I'm a bit of a packrat and tend to keep EVERYTHING, I sometimes have this terrible need to purge my life of anything that reminds me of the past. I don't know why. It's not like I magically forget about it just because it's in the dumpster, but I do it anyway.

To the best of my knowledge, the story had something to do with Figment and I going on an adventure and then Figment did something bad and I got blamed for it and I think there was also a rocketship involved. In any case, here's a picture of what I remember Figment looking like:


He sure looks friendly, whether he was my imaginary friend or just plain imaginary. On the other, he sort of proves that I've been a big liar (and a thief!) since 2nd grade, which is something I could live without knowing, I think.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Imagine all the people.

I'm on the road this week so congratulations, here's a bunch of week-old emails:

from: kat
to: abigail!, heather! anne!, jennie!
date: Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 1:24 PM

okay, so this story isn't all that great, but when i was little i always wanted to have an imaginary friend, but i couldn't (a) imagine one up myself, or (b) remember to keep it up. so i used to pretend all the cereal box mascots were my imaginary friends, but i'd only pretend that while i was actually in the cereal aisle.

and that's my story.


from: jennie!
to: abigail!, heather! anne!, kat!
date: Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 1:27 PM

OK, but who was your FAVORITE cereal box mascot friend?


from: kat!
to: abigail!, heather! anne!, jennie!
date: Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 1:31 PM

yeah, i totally didn't have one. i couldn't even come up with fake conversations to have with them, so i just pretended they were walking next to me or sitting on my shoulder or something.

and LITERALLY, as soon as we left the cereal aisle i stopped thinking about them.


from: heather! anne!
to: abigail!, jennie!, kat!
date: Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 1:32 PM

Then maybe they really WERE in the cereal aisle, but couldn't leave it.


from: kat!
to: abigail!, heather! anne!, jennie!
date: Mon, Mar 10, 2008 at 1:33 PM

or maybe i fundamentally lack the druthers to be a real live writer.

also, i have no idea whether i used that word right or not.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

wordless sound poems

So this week's topic is "Imaginary Friends." I was all excited because "oh, oh, oh! I had one!" which, mostly true. Her name was Kiki and we were BFF. Supposedly.

See I can't really remember her so I called my mom and asked her for funny and interesting stories about me and Kiki.

Not only did my mom have zero funny or interesting stories about me and Kiki, she actually had a little Kiki hate. Apparently the name Kiki isn't on my mom's list of favorite names and she can't figure out how I learned it.

And that's all I've got.

Seriously, I Heart Heather is here on my couch (do not click the link, she has not updated, EVER) and she just stopped me to be like, "I wasn't go to say anything but so far that's REALLY BORING." And she's been drinking for several hours now so if she thinks it's boring then, readers, I'M SO SORRY.

I just have no imaginary stories, only imaginary voices in my head.

Wanna hear an unrelated sad story? Monday, the day of St. Patrick, I FORGOT TO WEAR GREEN.

This is Heather, and I am here to save this post, and also let me tell you about St. Patrick's Day 2008 [ed. note: Heather's orginal spelling was Patriicksy]: There is thisBritish Pub! called Ye Olde Ship and we went there because it opened at 11 A.M. THIS MORNING and Schilbot and I had like a zillion drinks and they had fun names like the Irish Stinger and Black Bart. And we had this awesome! Server named Greg, and let me tell you our theory: See, on St. Patrick's day everybody gets drunk, right? So Ye Olde Ship was probably all "Jive Ho! Yar! We be needing more servers!" so they hired all the random people they could, scab-style, to handle all the drunks (me) who come out on St. Patty's Day. So here are some IRL (in real life) convos we had with Greg:

Abigail: Could you tell us about what these drinks are? Like what is in the Nutty Irishman?

Greg: Uhhhh... I need to go check I have no idea.

[ten minutes later]

Greg: We made those drinks up for today. They have whiskey in them. And the Angel is with creme de menthe. I forget what the Irish Stinger is.


Greg: I was wrong that the Irish Angel had the creme de menthe. It's actually the Irish Stinger. So they're remaking your drink.


Abigail: We would like two Irish Angels.

Greg: OK ... so that was two Irish Angels?

Heather: is drunk from the creme de menthe

Basically, after trying all four fake drinks we just stuck with shots of Jameson.

Abigail back again. I have truly sullied the name of The Collective and dragged it through the mud with this half-assed, half-drunk post. Awesome. Watch this video and forget how dumb I am.

Monday, 17 March 2008

I hurry amain to reach the plain, Run the rapid and leap the fall

heather I was stricken with hypochondria at a very early age, and I blame the Civil War. When I was in the first grade some high schoolers came to my class to talk about north Georgia legend Sidney Lanier. They showed us some pictures of him and told us that in addition to fighting for the South in the Civil War, Sidney Lanier had also been a writer. His most famous work was called Song of the Chattahoochee, a lyrical little poem about our leaping, lapping, frolicking river. The Chattahoochee and Sidney Lanier had in common that they were both dammed. Well, no. The Chattahoochee was dammed by the Army Corp of Engineers to become Lake Sidney Lanier, a source of drinking water and flood control for Georgia, Florida, and Alabama; whereas Sidney Lanier was damned (with an "n") because he contracted tuberculosis in a Civil War prison.

Sidney Lanier's words came to life in me during the presentation, but what I couldn't shake—and what the high schoolers themselves seemed preoccupied with—was the tuberculosis. Basically he coughed up his lungs, one of the boys said. Coughed them up outside his body. Lungs. Outside. His body. My mother, my father, my sister, my doctor: no one understood why—after that presentation—I thought I was a goner every time I got a "cold" or the "flu" or a "sinus infection." Didn't they understand that tuberculosis started with coughing!

No, they did not. And I suppose that's how Sidney Lanier became my imaginary friend.

One day I came home from a doctor's appointment and there he was—the poet and war hero himself—sitting on my front porch. My mother couldn't see him, but I sat down beside him anyway. I saw no point in beating around the bush. "I'm dying of tuberculosis," I said to him.

Sidney Lanier said, "I know."

I looked at him real good, all dapper in his gray, wool Confederate uniform. "My best friend is a black boy," I said to Sidney Lanier. "His favorite Kool-Aid is grape, and he can palm a full-size basketball."

"I like grape Kool-Aid, too," Sidney Lanier said, and I knew we had an understanding.

I convinced my dad to buy me a gun. I told him I wanted one just because, but the truth was I wanted to play war, and Sidney Lanier had him a 58 Springfield Rifle Musket. We were in line at K-Mart with a genuine BB gun, when my dad chickened out and made me get a toy gun instead. Sidney Lanier didn't much care that my gun was a fake. Every time we went out to the woods, we had a good talk about why we had to defect over to the North. "Sherman's done burned down Atlanta," I'd say to him. "And I know Scarlett and Mammy are about starved to death. But slavery's wrong, Sidney Lanier. It's wrong and the sooner we get folks to see it, the sooner this god-forsaken war will be over."

Sidney Lanier was the first person I ever swore in front of. Oh, I grew up in a good Christian house. There was no drinking or cussing to speak of; we were Baptist. But we had HBO, so I knew a thing or two. I was chopping down some trees with an axe one afternoon when I missed and hacked right into my shin. "Son of a bitch!" I shouted, hopping around on one leg. "Son of a damn hell shit ass bitch!"

Sidney Lanier just chuckled and kept on building our fort.

Some days we'd fight in the war for hours, but some days we'd just sit in a tree and read Archie comics or make up poems. I was a much better rhymer than Sidney Lanier, even though he had written books. I told him about arguing with my sister and how mad I'd get when my mom and dad shouted at each other. Lucky for me, every time I was about to be a big, dumb girl, and start crying, we'd get attacked and I'd have to go whacking at soldiers disguised as trees. I memorized Song of the Chattahoochee, because that's what you do when your best friend is a famous poet.

I didn't think about the tuberculosis when I was with him, and one day I was just cured. He was pale that day when we met in our fort and I knew what he was going to say: I've decided to fight for the South. "I can't see you no more, then," I told Sidney Lanier. "But I ain't gonna shoot you neither."

"Thank you for the grape Kool-Aid," he said.

I said, "It's alright. But go on now, Sidney Lanier. Get on out of here."

He was as handsome as ever when he left my fort. And as he walked toward the sunset I whispered

The ferns and the fondling grass said Stay,
The dewberry dipped for to work delay,
And the little reeds sighed Abide, abide,
Here in the hills of Habersham,
Here in the valleys of Hall.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Phone it in Friday: The Best Sammich You Ever Ate

So there you have it: at The Collective, we like our sammiches! We like 'em international, we like 'em when they're not up to health code. We like 'em in different shapes, we like ALL sammiches. Now it's your turn. What is the very best sammich you ever had? Tell us in the comments or write on your own blog and link!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

If you can't control your peanut butter, you can't expect to control your life.

Jennie Both of my parents enjoy cooking, and aside from my mother's ill-advised attempt to make bagels, both are very good at it. I am not a good cook, proving that the apple does indeed sometimes fall far, far from the tree and then when you try to make apple pie with that apple, it tastes like evil. My parents shared the cooking duties when I was growing up, and thank goodness for that because NOT ONLY did we get my mom's to-die-for homemade brownies, but on Sunday mornings we got huge breakfasts centered around my dad's omelets, MADE TO ORDER for each person because I was a little bitch who only wanted cheese. No ham, no mushrooms, no peppers, just cheese. I have since expanded my omelet horizons.

My dad isn't afraid to experiment in the kitchen, with varying degrees of success. Expanding on a chili recipe? Good. Trying to make his own Hamburger Helper recipe by mixing tuna and Kraft mac & cheese? Bad. So very bad. And yet, I think he was prouder of the tuna mac & cheese abomination than of any of his other creations.

Where my dad really excelled in the kitchen, at least in my six-year-old eyes, was packing our school lunches. I'd open my pink Barbie lunchbox (shut up) each day to find my sandwich, undoubtedly PB&J, not cut in half or diagonally, oh no, but in a variety of shapes. Dad was never one to simply cut a sandwich in half when he could cut it like this:

zig zag

or this:



j is for jennie

Being a kid is hard, no? School, even elementary school with its monkey bars and kickball and Field Day, is no picnic. Even on Class Picnic Day, on account of all the bees. And if I do ever end up popping out a tiny baby, by the time it reaches kindergarten I hope I still remember how good it felt to open my lunchbox every day and find evidence that my dad loved me. Even though back then, I just thought he had a lot of extra time on his hands.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

my sandwich? MY SANDWICH?!

AbsThe cleverly named Chicken-Cran-Almond is exactly what it sounds like. I'm an expert in chicken sandwiches--I order them every single time I eat out--and the BEST thing you can pair chicken with is fruit. (Actually, fruit is tied with cheese. But not together. Unless it's the pineapple cheese Hawaiian thing from Red Robin. That's delicious.) The cranberry is Thanksgiving cranberry from a can and the almonds are also from a grocery store shelf. The chicken is salad bar chicken; technically not cubed but pretty close. I don't know where to get this kind of chicken, but if I did it might be all I ate.

I get the Chicken-Cran-Almond at least once a month when the stars align and I'm both a) so hungry that I can overcome my laziness and get out of my office and walk across the street to the cafe-slash-coffee-shop-that-is-only- still-in-business-because-it's-next-to-a-college-and-so-they-don't -really-have-to-try and b) wiling to ignore all the drawbacks of said cafe.

For example, tt's nautical themed. I'm talking boats, portholes, oars, helms, starboard, poop deck, etc, etc. AND it has a totally weak sauce logo featuring a banana and a watermelon forming a sailboat. This place claims to be healthy. Instead of serving their sandwiches with french fries you get a side salad. Instead of having milkshakes they have fruit smoothies. Irritating: "healthy" smoothies are ice cream based. Brownies are bigger than my sandwich. Blended coffee drinks are just as fattening at Starbucks. You aren't healthy. Stop billing yourself that way. You don't need to.

It's sooo slooooow. Before I learned my lesson and started calling in my order ahead of time--and then giving them twice as much time as they predict--I would spend my entire sixty minute lunch break WAITING for my sandwich to be made. Maybe they just don't have enough people working. Maybe they don't have their mise en place. Whatever. It should not take so long to make food.

And worst of all, this place is totally not up to health code. A friend of mine once saw behind the scenes and having experience with health code she complained that she had noticed several violations. I thought that perhaps she was exaggerating. She is, after all, a bit of an aesthetic snob and it was nautical themed. (Like I'm one to talk: I refuse to go to Del Taco because of the logo.) But one day I got there (after multiplying their estimated ready time by two) and my sandwich still wasn't ready. The girl apologized, "I'm sorry, your sandwich isn't ready yet. The health inspector showed up!" Desperately, she looked at me for sympathy and I lied and said I didn't mind waiting. I took a seat next to the waiting inspector as the girl scurried around closing doors, covering toppings, and dialing and redialing the owner who needed to be present for the surprise inspection.

So, it's not easy. But since I'm still too lazy to assemble these lightening ingredients myself (seriously, where does that chicken come from?) I'll accept theirs.

Monday, 10 March 2008

oh, life is a glorious cycle of song, a medley of extemporanea

heather I have an almost debilitating fascination with all things non-American, so when this week's Collective topic was assigned, I rushed to Pappas, a Greek restaurant near my office. I told Moe and Marzee Baptiste—the husband and wife team that own and operate Pappas—that I needed to learn to make the perfect sandwich. Moe said if I would trust him, he would teach me. (Trust, I knew, meant onions. When I first ordered from Pappas two years ago, I told Moe several times of my abhorrence of onions, and wondered aloud if Marzee wouldn't mind just setting all the onions in the kitchen outside the back door while she prepared my gyro.) I told Moe I would trust him, and he said, "Welcome to my kitchen."


Show me a girl with her feet
planted firmly on the ground,
and I'll show you a girl who
can't put her pants on.

- Annik Marchand

If you plan to spend the day working in a Greek restaurant, here's the thing you need to know: you will be the ugliest person in the kitchen. The guidebooks on Greece do not tell you about this—the unequivocal beauty of the Greek people. The Greeks, they say, invented tragedy and comedy and democracy. The Greeks, they say, like their parties. What they do not say is that Greek men and women have warm dark skin and rich dark eyes and such perfect, perfect, long, long eyelashes that if all 11 million Greeks blinked at once it would set off an atmospheric phenomenon so intense it might just cause the Mediterranean's first typhoon. The Greeks are gorgeous people.

I am confronted with this reality in a less than ideal way: with a knife in my hand.

When I show up to Pappas Greek Restaurant for a cooking lesson, the oldest Baptiste daughter, who is just about my age, is in the kitchen, ready to teach me to slice vegetables. I am immediately, wholly smitten with her—not in small part because of her accent. (And the eyelashes no one warned me about.) She hands me a knife and invites me to share her workspace. She will chop the onions; I will chop the tomatoes. I tell her I am there because her dad is meant to teach me how to make the world's greatest sandwich. She rewards me with a smile. Feeling a sudden, inexplicable need to impress her, I say I trained as a chef in France. And that by France, of course, I mean Washington D.C., where my dear friend Kat lives. And Cooks. Many French dishes. "Mise en place," I say French-ly, waving my knife around. The explanation of the phrase reverberates in my head in the voice of Kat's boyfriend, with whom I shared a kitchen over Thanksgiving. "Mise en place," Echo-Seth says. "Get your shit in place." I smile stupidly and slice into my finger.

The oldest Baptiste son enters the kitchen a few minutes later as I am working on my second tomato—already I am six vegetables behind—and he, too, smiles at me. Why does the Greek Bureau of Tourism not mention these smiles! Before I can impress him with French cooking terms, I gash open another finger. Moe takes away my knife, assuming—correctly, I suppose—that if all his children stop by the restaurant today, I will leave the kitchen with only a single thumb in tact.

He tells me I can watch him prepare some Greek potatoes, and he will tell me about the gyro.

The gyro isn't a sandwich in the traditional American sense. Firstly, it uses a pita instead of loaf bread. And secondly, it doesn't have any peanut butter inside. At Pappas you can get a Gyro with chicken, steak, or lamb; though Moe says it's not an official gyro unless it contains lamb. (The menu begs to differ, but I don't point this out.) The standard gyro comes with lettuce, tomato, onions, feta cheese, and tzatziki—a sauce made of yogurt, mint, garlic, cucumbers, and other seasonings that vary from recipe to recipe, family to family. In Greece the gyro is called "souvlaki," and can be purchased in restaurants and from street vendors in cities big and small. Moe tells me that the gyro originated in Thessaloniki. I tell him Thessaloniki (Thessalonica) is one of the first places to which the Apostle Paul exported Christianity. He tells me the souvlaki is now widely known in Thessalokiki as the "hamburger of Greece." It's a sad, little evangelical bookend.

Moe is not a tall man; at five feet, eight and three-quarters inches, I can see clear over the top of his head. He prepares potatoes while his family buzzes around the kitchen: slicing, washing, sautéing, chattering away in Greek, being beautiful. When he finishes the potatoes, Moe invites me to sit down in the restaurant with him to take some notes. I want to protest that I haven't gotten to cook anything yet, but I have the feeling he will not let me near another knife. I was Pappas' first customer; I have been eating here for years, but when I sit down across the table from Moe, I notice—really notice—his appearance for the first time: his sun-soaked skin, his affable smile, his unruly, gray-flecked hair, his deeply generous eyes. It unnerves me when he meets my gaze, because I know his look. His gift is seeing past the skin of a person. I have known this for a long time, because it's my gift, too. But I don't want to talk about what's past my skin. I want to talk about how onions ruin sandwiches.

"I hear you are leaving us," he says.

This is true. I resigned my job weeks ago, and at the end of the month, I am leaving them. Them: my favorite Greek restaurant. And them: my co-workers—who apparently eat here and tell our office business. I nod that yes, what he has heard is true.

He asks me where I am going, and I shrug that I don't know. I try to steer the conversation toward meats, and he asks if I am going to travel. I tell him probably a bit, and ask about basmati rice. I get the feeling he knows how nervous I am about leaving my job, about pursuing things far outside the Safe Dream Zone, about disappointing my family, about angering my employer. I have never said any of these things out loud, certainly not to Moe, yet he is pealing away at me in the same fashion as his daughter with the onions. I tell him I really just want to talk about sandwiches.

So Moe tells me exactly what goes into making the perfect sandwich: fresh ingredients, homemade sauces, affection. I take notes. When I have filled up two pages, he stops, saying that he really only promised one good paragraph; he doesn't want to give away all of Marzee's secrets. At just that moment Marzee shows up with two gyros, and Moe asks me to tell him about all the sandwiches I've ever eaten. I tell him of a cheeseburger in an outdoor cafe in Mexico; of a jerk chicken sandwich from a roadside stand in Jamaica; of a truly terrible egg and cheese sandwich at the Christmas festival in Bath; of fish (with chips) just outside St. Martin in the Fields in Trafalgar Square; of my grandfather's smoked pork and homemade sauce on the back porch in spring; of peanut butter on white bread shared with an orphan in Montego Bay; of my very own grilled cheese; of who-knows-what-all meat on bread in Scotland.

When we finish our sandwiches, Moe wipes his mouth with a napkin. "How was it?" he asks.

"The best sandwich I ever had," I tell him. And we both know I mean it.

Moe rests his chin on his hand and looks across the table at me. "That is why you do not have to worry," he says. "About your job, about anything."

"Because this is the best sandwich I ever had?" I ask.

"Today." Moe says. "This is the best sandwich you ever had because you had it today. Tomorrow your favorite sandwich will be the one you have tomorrow. The next day the same. The day after that, the same. The moment is your friend: every sandwich is your favorite. You are always home."

It seems like an insult to agree, yet I know he's right. For the first time in months I don't feel worried. The truth is: I like sandwiches, and seeing to the truth of a person. I will be okay.

Moe pats my hand and says I can do the dishes. I pick up both of our plates and forks and follow him to the kitchen, where another of his sons has arrived. I pile the dishes into the sink. The second son smiles. Everyone in this kitchen is prettier than me. And here, too, I am at home.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Phone it in Friday: Survey Says

Have you learned more than you ever wanted to know about The Collective this week? Guess what? Your turn!

You have two options for Phone it in Friday. You may take one or both, but you can't take neither. If you break the chain, a plague on both your houses! Or just your one house! Or your apartment! Or your flat!

a) Ask us anything you want in the comments and we'll answer. (You can direct your question to one person specifically or all of The Collective in general.)

b) Say: "Gimme some question!" in the comments and we'll post five interview questions for you. You can answer in our comments or post the answers on your own blog.

Ready... set... someone get me some coffee.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

I can't believe I forgot to ask something about Spongebob

Jennie You guys should know that Heather! Anne! is like the Queen of Questions. And so I was very intimidated when it came time to interview her, because what if she thought my questions were stupid and refused to answer them? Then! I realized that she'd never do that, because Heather! Anne! is ALSO the Queen of Being a Good Person. And (girl) you know it's true, because I am the Queen of Being a Terrible Liar.

1. Sometimes when people call me Jennifer Lynn, I think I'm in trouble. Do you ever feel that way when people call you Heather Anne?

When people call me Heather Anne I just feel lucky they’re not calling me regular Heather, because: a) Regular Heather means “shrub.” And b) regular Heather is the name of one out of every three women in the world.

2. If you could change your name, what would you change it to?


3. Say I gave you a time machine with a (clear) titanium bubble around it. Where would you go first?

After checking to make absolutely certain that it was surrounded by said (clear) titanium bubble, I’d go to Bath in December of ’05, and make sure Past Heather got to the Jane Austen House before it closed. Then I’d kick Past Heather in a ditch and take the trip with Past Sister. Because it was two of the best weeks of my life.

4. Would you try to change something in the past so it might affect the future? (please say 2000 election)

No, but I would buy a sports almanac in the future so I could make some bets when I got back to the present. That probably wouldn’t change anything though.

5. Remember when everyone thought Al Gore was just this uptight dude who loved his lock box?

Sarah Vowell’s Partly Cloudy Patriot is a great book of essays on politics and life and America. She has this mad crush on Al Gore and says one of the funniest things about him in the chapter called The Nerd Voice: “Earth in the Balance features countless hints that Gore’s life is an ongoing study hall. ‘Beginning in January 1981, I spent many hours each week for more than thirteen months intensively studying the nuclear arms race,’ he says. January 1981—I bet it was his New Year’s Resolution. Every other member of Congress was vowing to cut back on hookers, but then-Senator Gore probably French kissed Tipper at midnight and made a mental pledge to really get a handle on those ICBMs.”

Vowell thinks Gore didn’t get elected because he’s a nerd. I think he actually did get elected.

6. Kat's like the greatest cook ever, right? What was your favorite thing she made on Thanksgiving?

Remember how Kat planned that menu for weeks and weeks, making sure everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving things were on the list? Turkey and mashed potatoes and two kinds of gravy and stuffing and green bean casserole and rolls and PIE! That was the best meal in the history of meals.

7. You and Abigail went on a midnight (or later) tour of DC during the Thanksgiving miracle. What was your favorite stop on the tour?

We made a video. I have to find it.

8. How awesome is it that Abigail wanted to go on a tour of DC at midnight (or later)? She's so fun.

Abigail wanting to tour D.C. at 2:00 a.m. is so standard Abigail. Here is a true story: when people are around The Schilbot, they become the very best versions of themselves.

9. That wasn't really a question. Sorry.

Sorry. Heh.

10. What would you have changed about the final Harry Potter book?

Lupin and Tonks would have lived. But how badass was Molly Weasley in that book? “NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!” You tell ‘em, Mollwobbles!

11. In the near future, Science will figure out a way to clone dinosaurs (note: it is not from extracting their blood from fossilized mosquitoes) and THAT'S NOT ALL. When they clone the dinosaurs, they can clone them in pet size. My question is, what kind of dinosaur would you get as a pet? Also, what would you name him/her?

I am scared of dinosaurs, which: not surprising. I wouldn’t have one as a pet. Amy recently told me chicken embryos are basically dinosaurs. She saw it on Discovery. Weird, huh?

12. So, you're the nicest person in the whole entire world. What's that like?

Remember on Buffy how Angel was real great because in his old life he ate up a bunch of souls? Same kind of thing.

13. Women seem to really dig this Mr. Darcy character. Why do you think that is?

Something about wet shirts and thunderstorms.

14. Fact: You love Jane Austen. Question: If you guys were neighbors back in jolly old England, would you have snuck into her house every day to read what she was writing?

Fact: Totally. I’d read it and be all, “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?” And then I’d be like, “Wait, is she mocking me?”

Question: That is your favorite Austen quote, is it not, Jennifer Lynn? [editor's note: indeed it is]

15. Jo is really the best out of all the Little Women, right?

Yes. And when I rewrote the ending, she married Laurie. And Beth lived. (Louisa May, no worries. I was happy to fix your mistakes.)

16. How come you're so scared of bears? Panda bears are cute, right? Especially baby ones?

Bears eat beets. Bears beets Battlestar Galactica. Bears will rip you to smithereens and devour your brain. (But yes, please, I would like to order one (1) panda bear cub.)

17. What is the best thing about the Internets?

18. What's the worst thing?

The person who wrote the Gossip Girl book summaries on Wackopedia.

19. Do you think there'll ever be a time when a boy can swim as fast as a shark?

Viktor Krum can swim as fast as a shark, but even so, he is no Ron Weasley.

20. Did you know I stole that question from The Office (British version)?

Sometimes thievery is necessary. (See: Jean Valjean of Les Miserbles and Aladdin of Aladdin.)

21. What's your idea of a perfect day?

Cartoons and a good book and a good movie and a hug. Or two hugs. And double—no, triple pancakes!

22. What do you think really happened to the lost city of Atlantis?

If by Atlantis you mean the universal remote that controls my DVD player, television, and stereo, I have no idea. It may be trapped in the nether regions of my couch.

23. Books or food?

You can’t read food, but books are made out of paper, which comes from trees, which is a plant, as are fruits, such as watermelons. So…books are readable and edible. I choose books.

24. Moe's or Chipotle?


25. Pancakes or cookies?

Pancakes! (In the equation Pancakes vs. Any Other Food, I always choose pancakes.)

26. When was your last good swoon?

When I watched those YouTube clips of Mr. Darcy.

27. Remember when we were in like elementary school? And we were told that one day we'd be able to live on the moon? When is this happening?

I went to elementary school in rural Georgia in the 80s. I learned that the cash crop of my state is peanuts, that peanuts are also called goobers, and that a chicken can flop around for up to ten minutes after you break its neck.

28. Who is your favorite Friend? ALSO, which Friend are you most like? ALSO, do you find Ross annoying or endearing?

Ross is my favorite. I am most like Ross. I find Ross endearing. PIVOT!

29. What inspires you to write? (Besides the fact that you're awesome at it and stuff)

“Why do you write tonight, Heather Anne?” Amy often asks.

“The same reason I write every night,” I always say. “To try and take over the WORLD!”

Also, I can’t not write. I have tried. It’s the weirdest compulsion.

30. What is your favorite basketball related memory?

One night—when I was a senior in high school—I was supposed to score my 1,000th career point against the East Hall Vikings. It was kind of a big deal; only one girl in my high school had done it before me. The game was packed out and there were lots of reporters there and college scouts and the plaque was already prepared and they were going to stop the game when I scored my 1,000th point and give me the ball and I was going to take it up in the stands and give it to my parents. But, well, I choked. Near the end of the fourth quarter it was obvious that I wasn’t going to score enough to reach 1,000. I had never felt so defeated, like such a failure, in my whole life. I was a hamster’s breath away from absolutely falling apart on the court. And then I looked up into the stands. My dad caught my eye. He smiled. Then he did the craziest thing: he stood up and started clapping. I failed, and hard. But he didn’t care. My dad just stood there in that sea of sitting people and clapped and clapped and clapped, like 990 points was the most impressive thing he’d ever heard of, like he loved me no matter what, like a fool.

31. What was your favorite toy when you were a kid? Do you still have it?

Legos were my favorite toys. And oh, yes, I still have them. Like six humongous bathtub-size bins full of them.

32. The Sex & the City Movie: good or bad idea?

As long as Aidan Frikkin Shaw doesn’t show up on my screen, good idea. (Have you seen the trailer? Jennifer Hudson looks so great!)

33. What's your favorite John Mayer song?

Back to You from the Inside Wants Out album. NOT the Room for Squares album.

34. Aren't you glad he's not dating Jessica Simpson anymore?

Seriously, somebody please tell me what that was about. Oh, right: boobies.

35. How much chocolate do you think you could eat before you threw up? Hee.

What a stupid question! What kind of person asks a question like that! (Hee.) Seriously, though, six pounds.

36. Who was the first fictional person you fell in love with?

Doug Dorsey from The Cutting Edge. (“Somewhere in the middle of this I fell in love with you. I’m saying I love you. I’m saying it out loud. Don’t say we’re not right for each other because the way I see it we might not be right for anybody else. I need you. I need you.”)

37. Who was the last?

The little mouse from The Tale of Desperaux, which I just reread for about the dozenth time. (“I honor you. I honor you.”)

38. What's your favorite thing about coaching?

My basketball team is as un-athletic as a gaggle of one-legged geese, but when they’re at practice and at games, they never, ever think about how hard it is to be twelve years old—about boyfriends and bra size and who’s invited to what party and how they don’t have the right clothes, because for 90 solid minutes I tell them how great they are. That is my favorite thing about coaching: loving kids so they can love themselves.

39. What's your favorite movie quote?

“Fuck wank bugger shitting arse head and hole!” – Billy Mack, Love Actually

40. Approximately how many hours a day do you spend with TWoP?

Depends on how close Bette and Tina got to reconciliation on Sunday night’s L Word. And whether or not Jacob is recapping any show ever. So: a lot of hours.

41. Do you think LOL cats will always be funny?

I think the phrase “when pigs fly” should be changed to “when LOL Cats cease to be funny.”

42. I'm ending on question 42 because Douglas Adams told me that 42 is the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. What's your answer?

In the early 80s, I had a DOS-based Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Game. It was so primitive and so awesome and I played it instead of eating food. Huh. I guess my family should have known then that I had a propensity for computer addiction. Anyway, my answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is: Don’t buy drugs, kids. Become a rock star and people will give them to you for free!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Q & A with Abigail

This is a picture of my big o'l schnoz with world famous blogger, Abigail, way back in 2006 when we first met. Neither of our hairs nor the camera that took this picture have survived but thankfully our friendship has, because today I get to ask her some very, very funny questions. And I do realize this will only be funny to, like, four of you, but WHATEVER. I am not a clown sent for your amusement.

What is one thing you struggle to describe?

The depth of my affection for Andy Bernard.

Describe what you think makes a great president.

I hate politics.

List three things you'd buy with your last $20. One practical, one frivolous and one of your choosing.

Practical: Rum
Frivolous: Diet Max Cola
My Choosing: Something from Old Navy. (If you don't think I can find something on sale at Old Navy for 90 cents, YOU DON'T KNOW ME.)

When was the last time you surprised yourself?

I haven't had any caffeine in fourteen days. That I am not dead, that I have not killed my coworkers: both these things are surprising.

When was the last time you surprised someone else?

I blogged this week. I think that was pretty shocking to everyone.

You crash your friend's car because you're driving too fast in bad weather. Everyone's okay, but the car has to go into the shop. Do you pay the deductible?

Yes. But I don't drive too fast in bad weather, so it's a moo point.

Describe a moment when you were let down.

I bought a DVR a couple of months ago and then the writers went on strike and the networks wouldn't negotiate with them and all of my favorite shows just went to reruns. It's like, hey, here's a time machine, but you can only drive it up and down your own road and never go above 88 miles per hour.

Write your Academy Awards acceptance speech.

Wow. This is just so... wow. I didn't... not even my friends thought I was going to win this award tonight. I just... I mean... Keira Knigtley and Helem Mirren and... you are all just so much more... British than me. My agent said I was crazy to take Lauren Graham's place in The Gilmore Girls movie, but I just knew in my heart it was the right choice. I want to thank my mom for always believing in me, my brother for sending me the info about that Friends DVD box set, which I bought for only a hundred bucks, my friends, everyone at The Collective. Um. I love acting. I would do it for free. Oh, God. They're playing the music. Just... thank you to everyone. LUKE DANES, I LOVE YOU!

What's the meanest thing you've ever said to someone?

From the first moment I met you, your arrogance and vain conceit, your cruel disregard for the feelings of others made me realize you were the last man on earth I could EVER be prevailed upon to marry.

Not really. Everyone knows I fall for arrogance.

What inspires you to blog?

Sometimes there is just so much wrongness on the Internet. There are people--honest to God--who think that reality television is a waste of time. Someone needs to set the record straight, and that someone is me. The Real Housewives of Orange County have real feelings. Learn it.

What's the best thing about today?

I am going to buy some Ben and Jerry's Karamel Sutra ice cream on my way home from work and eat it while watching the series premiere of The Real Housewives of New York City. I usually like to eat my ice with Top Model because, hello, irony or something, and that show is truly amazing (last week the girls modeled as homeless women with homeless women because the show is back in New York this season), but it's not til tomorrow night and that ice cream? I cannot wait til tomorrow. It has a CORE of caramel.

How many push-ups can you do?

Like those push-ups from the ice cream truck? I could probably eat like four bites of one before the brain freeze set in.

What aspect of your personality could use a little work?

I should probably take an active interest in national politics, especially considering the fact that a woman and an African-American are making history in the primary elections. But I won't. Because I am jaded and bitter thanks to Political Action Committees and the fact that the electoral college is a fucking joke. Great, now I have the rage again.

What compliment are you most often given?

I get a LOT of free stuff on account of the flirting, which is kind of the best kind of compliment a person can receive, I think. Would you rather someone tell you that you have beautiful eyes or give you some free stickers and a Nalgene flask? Flask, correct.

What's the worst thing that could happen to you today? Bonus question: How would that thing potentially benefit you?

The Greatest Show of Our Time could get canceled.

How could that benefit me? It could not. The world as a whole would unite under a banner of mourning.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Long Question Short...or, uh...Question Story Long.. or, um, Question Question Question?

(See how I played off Jennie's blog name? I'm so clever.)

What is round on the sides and high in the middle?

How do you choose what to share in Google Reader?
Well, first I ask myself, "do I think this is funny/interesting?" and if the answer is "yes," then I ask myself, "do I think others will find this funny/interesting?" and if the answer is "yes," then I share it. Only sometimes I share it even if I don't think anyone else will think it's funny or interesting, but REALLY now, if I think it's funny or interesting, it's CLEARLY funny or interesting. I think I just abused the words funny AND interesting and so now I shall stop talking.

What is your computer, web browser, and operating system?
My computer: a piece of shit that works on a semi-regular basis and is only still with me because I can't afford a new one. If it ever stops working completely I AM SCREWED.

Web browser - Firefox

Operating system - I dunno, Windows XP?

What embarrasses you?
You can't fall down as often as I do and be easily embarrassed. However, my face betrays me all the time because, as a pasty-pale ghost of a woman, I blush very, very easily. Even when I'm not embarrassed. I don't know why. It's sort of like that episode of Grey's Anatomy with the chick who was in that show Phenom (remember that?) and she blushed like crazy all the time. I'm not that bad, though. I'm like 15% of that girl. I have no idea what that means. Anyway, what really embarrasses me is when someone points out that I'm blushing because that makes me blush even harder. But now that I think about it, it doesn't really embarrass me, it just pisses me off.

How annoying is it when people compare The Office and Friends by saying that The Office is better?
Do people do this? Because that is annoying. I don't think of one as being better than the other, because how do you compare them? For one thing, they weren't even on TV at the same time, but can you imagine if they were? Friends/The Office hour would take over TV and it would be so beautiful and amazing that if you looked at it for too long, your retinas would catch on fire. True story. Second of all, it's like these shows exist in two entirely different universes. In one universe, you live in a very nice New York apartment even though you're "just a waitress," and you're only friends with five other people and they all live across the hall. Or wherever the hell Phoebe lived. And in the OTHER universe, you work at a mid-level paper company with a variety of borderline crazy people and oh my god, this is the universe I am stuck in RIGHT NOW. Anyway, yeah, you can't compare them, because if you tried to make me choose between Chandler Bing and Jim Halpert, I'd have to hurt you.

Please show me a photo of something you have stolen and tell me a story about it.
This is the letter L. It was taken from the public library that I worked at in high school, which meant that for a few, beautiful days, I worked for the Pubic Library. You'd think this would be an interesting story. It is not. It was more like, "ooh, I wonder if I can pry this letter L off the building . . . oh look, I can . . . hmm, now what?" And then I kept the letter L forever and ever.

I hear that it is cold and snowy in the winter in Ohio. Since I live in California, I don't understand what this means. Can you please describe the extra Winter steps you have to take from the moment you wake up in the morning until you are sitting in your office?
You know, the only reason I can answer this question without The Rage is because it's 60 degrees outside right now and so I've banished all snow-related Rage to the bottom of The Rage List. Basically the biggest extra Winter step is getting out of bed earlier than usual. But really? Even when I know it's supposed to snow like 80 feet, I don't get out of bed any earlier. Instead, I hit the snooze button at least twice and run around like a crazy person trying to get ready. And then? I look outside and when I see snow/ice covering my car, I CURSE THE HEAVENS and pout and throw a little tantrum, and then I finally go outside, scrape off my car and usually end up getting stuck behind some a-hole who thinks he has to go 10 MPH because there's an inch of snow on the ground. The snow/ice can add anywhere from 5-45 minutes to my getting-to-work-on-time-timetable. Which means that on snow days, I'm 5-45 minutes late to work.

How did you fill your time during the Writer's Strike?
I read a lot more. And I blogged a lot more (I think?) and worked out more (lies). I also think I broke TiVo's hold on me. Considering almost all of my favorite shows were reruns, I didn't have much to watch. I couldn't bring myself to watch A Daily Show, but I did manage to watch the entire second season of Arrested Development. However, now that Lost (This! Show! Makes! My head! Explode! Every! Week!) is back on and The Daily Show is back and also The Office starts again in April, soon TiVo and I will continue our tumultuous love affair.

What do you do with daily junk mail? Does it go straight to the trash? Do you look at grocery store sales? Do you open up the coupon books and keep everything that isn't air conditioning?
Usually, I flip through the mail and if I see that it's junk mail, I leave it stacked in a pile until Heidi looks through it, pulls out the coupons and throws it away. Occasionally, we'll get something awesome like the Jesus Rug and it will go on our refrigerator.

Have you ever seen a movie in the theaters an excessive amount of times?
I don't know, what's an excessive amount? I did see Bridget Jones's Diary in the theater . . . a lot, but it was over the course of a couple of months so it didn't really feel excessive. I also saw Juno twice in the same week, which feels a little excessive, but not really because I heart that movie so hard.

Have you ever gone to a midnight showing at a movie theater?
You know, I don't think I have.

How do you motivate yourself?
Ha! I don't, really. I have this problem where I start projects and I'm really excited about them at first, and then I lose interest and forget all about them. Which is probably why I've started writing four novels and finished maybe three chapters of each and ALSO why there is a blue acoustic guitar sitting in the corner of my room that I have no idea how to play. And this other time I tried to teach myself sign language and all I remember is how to say my name. I suck.

Why is Jim Halpert better than Andrew Bernard?
I wouldn't say he's necessarily better than Andrew Bernard, it's just that I love him more. Or, it's more like, I want to have Jim Halpert's babies and I have brotherly feelings toward Andy Bernard.

But since you asked . . . Jim Halpert is tall. And dreamy. And has adorable floppy hair. And is hilarious and plays pranks. And he was a dork in high school and I don't really trust boys who WEREN'T dorks in high school. Also, Andy's nipples bleed when he runs and, while I can deal with a lot, I have to draw the line at bloody nipples.

In 10 words or less, please describe your relationship with literature.
I'm literature's bitch (and wouldn't have it any other way).

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? As an adult, what do you want to be when you grow up?

As a child, I wanted to be a ballerina, a writer, or Peter Pan. As an adult, I'd like to be a writer. Or, to be honest, Peter Pan. But still a girl. I don't want any floppy man parts, thank you very much. Really, I'd just like to be able to fly.

If you could have one question in the world answered for you, what would it be?

Step by step, how do I build a time machine?

Monday, 3 March 2008

Interview With a Planet Saver

heather This week on The Collective we'll be interviewing each other (and you). I am a person with a million questions and this Thanksgiving, when Jennie!, Kat!, Abiagil! and I were walking around D.C. for hours and hours, I was all, "question, question, question," and by the end of the day, the only person still answering was Kat! So it is no surprise that when Collective interview time rolled around, I wanted Kat. (Jennie and Abigail might have punched me in the nose.) So here it is. I had to use all of my willpower to keep it short.

Let's warm up with some easy questions, okay?

Marry, Do or Die:

a) Ryan Adams, Michael Showalter, Bill O'Reilly

b) James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin

c) Math, Science, Literature

I've only ever told one person I'd marry him, and I've regretted it ever since. So I'm not going to answer this question because I can't; I'm just not the marrying kind.

(Sorry, you know who.)

So, The Collective was your brain child, and you did all the design and set-up and you keep our Big White Idea board organized at Collective HQ. Did this crazy awesome idea come to you in a dream like Jacob in the Bible? Or was it something else?

Well, it's not exactly like it ended up how I had envisioned it, and it's not like you all didn't have 100% input every step of the way. (Wasn't it you, actually, who suggested the final design for the site?) I dunno, I guess one of my favorite things about 2007 was hearing you all talk about all kinds of crazy stuff, stuff you loved and stuff you hated, stuff that made me laugh and cry along with you.

Especially after what we learned during that whole BloMe debacle, I thought it would be a shame not to share you all with the Internets.

What's your favorite thing about writing for The Collective?

I get to laugh every day. Well, except for Wednesdays anyway.

What's the hardest thing about writing for The Collective?

Trying to write funny. I'm not exactly known for my sense of humor.

Would you show us a picture of your cat and tell us about how he came to be a part of your family. Is he named after a specific Winston?

winston and his duckie

Long story short, Winston picked us. Long story a little less short, this was the final straw, and this is the story of how he got his name.

Your favorite book is The Great Gatsby and, as you know, I read it last weekend in preparation for this interview. My most favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird and I kind of feel like if you understand that book, then you'll understand me. Do you feel like that about Gatsby? Or do you love it for other reasons? (Also, remember that part when Myrtle gets hit by the car and it rips off her breast? That is gross!)

Yes! Exactly! And did you know that everyone I've ever dated has refused to read it? Maybe that's why I feel so sad all of the time. Heh.

(And dude, yes! I think it's a metaphor for "love sucks.")

What is your second favorite book?

The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger short stories are my favorite short stories. "Teddy" absolutely blew my socks off, and I think "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" may be my favorite story ever.

You know what's some good reading? Harry Potter. Please rank the Potter books in order from most favorite to least favorite.

3 1 5 6 2 4 7. Though 2, 4, and 7 are kinda all jumbled together. And I might like 5 better than 1. I dunno, it's so hard to choose.

In which Hogwarts house do you belong?

Slytherin, I suspect.

What position would you play in Quidditch? (Don't be modest. I know you were a soccer superstar.)

I'm not sure my soccer skillz translate, plus I have spindly little arms so that really knocks out most of the Quidditch positions. But I'm really good at finding Waldo in those Where's Waldo? books, so I think I'd make a fair Seeker.

You know what I love? How you're always sending me music. You're awesome at music. What albums have you been listening to lately?

Ha! Not everyone loves it when I send music, as a matter of fact. But I have picked up some new albums that I haven't really listened to much (they're all pretty mellow and I'm trying to only listen to upbeat, shake your booty kinda stuff). So there's The National of course, Arctic Monkeys and the New Pornographers. Stuff like that. Plus I'm gearing up for the new Portishead album by listening to a lot of trip-hoppy, electronic stuff like Lamb, Frou Frou, Air, Zero 7 and the like.

How many Words of the Day are saved on your bloglines right this very second?

55 to be used as writing prompts, 43 already used.

Which one is your favorite?

Autonomic. I think it very accurately describes a non-obvious part of myself that probably explains a lot about the way I tend to write.

Some people would say that crossword puzzles are the Devil's Own Pastime. You really like crosswords, though. How come?

Gosh, I dunno. Because I can't do Sudoku on account of my dyslexia?

It's the challenge, I suppose. To prove that there's a reason I have all of this random and useless trivia stored up in my brain maybe. Or just plain old-fashioned masochism. But I've been doing them for years, and now that I have the New York Times crosswords for my DS I've pretty much always got one going.

True or false: Bitches get stuff done.

I think that's a question too complex to answer with either true or false.

True or false: Someone should club Sean Hannity over the head.

Confession: I don't know who Sean Hannity is.

True or false: Firecrackers tied to balloons are seriously dangerous.

Well, I don't think that's inherently true. But I suppose if you add alcohol and a book of matches....

And finally, Kat!, please tell us: what is it, exactly, that you hate about the Kit Kat.

(1) They're gross. They're dry and chalky and gross. (2) They remind me vaguely of Communion wafers, and if there is one person who should stay away from Communion wafers it's me. (3) People know I hate them and insist on sending them to me, you know, because of the name.

I hate people.


Editor's note: Kat hates people. I love Kat. And bitches do get stuff done. (Thank you, Tina Fey.)