Monday, 30 January 2012

I don't need to know which dracula I am to be a dracula. Nerd.


The thing I am about to do is a real cheat, but also it's the truth. This week's Collective topic is: What drives you crazy? The answer is obviously political pundits, people who loiter when they step off escalators (You're creating a people pile, morons! This thing is moving!), the way commercials are ten times louder than the show I was just watching before the commercial came on, folks who use Twitter or Facebook to act like passive-aggressive cry babies, Christians who use the Bible as a weapon without ever having read more than 20 random quotes from the Bible, Christians who use the Bible as a weapon without ever having read any other book in their whole entire lives, that on guy on the plane who always talks so loud, Ryan Murphy and his minions, YouTube commenting culture, and when anyone besides me or Amy tells my dogs what to do.

But also the answer "A Discovery of Witches." I finished it ten days ago or something and it is still making me crazy nutso batshit bonkers. I wrote about it on my Tumblr this morning to try to exorcise it from my life, but it just agitated me even more.
This is where I really lost it with “Discovery of Witches.” Page 192. I highlighted all the parts that made me want to explode in a fury supernova. For example: “We were prey and predator once more.” (Guess who is the one doing the attacking and who is the one getting attacked?) And: “With Matthew in bodyguard mode, I didn’t have much choice.” (When a man tells you do to a thing, you do that thing or he gets violent, OK? You don’t have a choice.) And: “I'm letting you go,’ he said, cutting me off. ‘But don’t bolt for the door.’” (He was just being aggressive because it’s what was best for her. He holds her against her will because he cares.)
Should I mention that the dude who's being a twat is a vampire? Does that make it more acceptable? Because if so, THAT MAKES ME CRAZY TOO.

Another thing that makes me crazy is when a person writes a thing on one blog and also posts it on ten thousand other blogs. Like I just did. But: a) I want you to know how much I HATED that book. And b) I want you to know I'm reviewing 100 books and 100 beers this year. (But mostly the hate, hate, hate of that motherfucking vampire.)

Friday, 27 January 2012

Phone It In Friday: help us waste time

So we shared some of our favorite apps and websites and whatnot...please do the same in the comments! Some of us, not saying who, might need some time-killers today.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

It's also how I study for Movie Quote-offs

Jennie   Like, Kat, I was confused as to what this week’s topic was and so was complaining to Joe this morning about having no idea what to write. This happens pretty much every week, FYI. I was all, "This week’s Collective topic is favorite apps, I think? I don’t have any favorite apps." He logically suggested I instead write about my most used apps WHICH IS SO SMART but you guys, those are, like, Facebook and Twitter and Gmail. That’s pretty much it.

Except. EXCEPT. I might use the IMDb app even more than any other. And even if I write about my most used websites, IMDb is RIGHT UP THERE.

You guys. Do you remember when IMDb didn’t exist? NEITHER DO I. Not really. I don’t think I became aware of it until college. Before I even knew it existed, my goal was to become a living, breathing IMDb, so when I stumbled upon it during one magical web journey, it was like I’d discovered The Holy Grail. Or opened The Ark of the Covenant, only instead of melting my face off, it EXPLODED MY BRAIN WITH MOVIE KNOWLEDGE.

Like most college students, I spent an inordinate amount of time watching movies with my friends. And, oftentimes, while watching these movies, someone would say, "Who is that guy?" and I’d be all, "Joshua Jackson," and they’d be like, "What else has he been in?" and I’d be all, "" because back then I spoke in URL only.

Note: these were the days that Joshua Jackson was on Dawson’s Creek, but apparently none of my friends watched that? I don’t know. And, yeah, we were watching Urban Legend DON’T JUDGE ME. All I remember is everyone was super excited to learn that Pacey was also Charlie Conway from The Mighty Ducks, which they would have known if, like me, they’d spent most of their tween years reading BOP magazine.

Anyway, IMDb only made me more obnoxious. If, for some reason, I blanked on an actor’s name or why he looked familiar, I could go straight to IMDb and my curiosity was instantly satisfied. (Hey It’s That Guy helped, too.) What did people do before they could look up any piece of information whenever they wanted? Just NOT KNOW STUFF? THE HORROR.

After I got a smartphone, I immediately downloaded the IMDb app. Now when Joe and I watch movies together, I can look up the movie as we’re watching it (not in the movie theater, though, I’m not a complete asshole...only partial) and astound him with trivia about the movie, which he hates because he likes to look up trivia only after the movie is over. Me? I don’t even care if I get spoilered, I just like to know everything first.

I will use any excuse to post a Community gif.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

When the sun shines, we'll shine together.

I do not own a smart phone; what I own is Lindsay Weir after her summer following the Dead around. I own wasted brain cells and wasted potential. I own a one-season wonder. I own obsolescence.

This week's topic is our favorite phone apps I think? But needless to say my phone does not support apps. It barely supports phone calls. Barely, but it does. Texts as well, and super-grainy pictures of Winston sitting in my lap. Like this one!

november thirty

Oh wait. I have just been informed that this week's topic is, in fact, favorite websites. Well, that's a horse of a different color! (Brown. I've always wanted a brown horse.) So, without further ado, here are my top five favorite websites for your clicking pleasure.

The Facebook

The Facebook is this place where you connect with your creepy former high school classmates who are now all tea baggers inexplicably obsessed with the fact that Casey Anthony lives two doors down. It is also the medium in which my sister chooses to pick fights with me. It is also where I play Farmville.


Did you know that the Internet is home to an almost endless supply of information? Because it is. And Yahoo! is the website I use to search for information on the Internet, especially now that Google is evil. It is also where I manage my fantasy hockey team.


Amazon is where I buy things. ALL THE THINGS.

The Weather Channel

Did you know that some television stations also have websites? No, really, they do! And did you know that some television stations show nothing but weather? And that these television stations also may have websites? I know, WHAT A WORLD. Well, this is one of those websites. It's perfect for finding out when you need an umbrella-ella-ella or a winter coat. Except for when it's wrong.

in kat's kitchen

And for my final "Did you know?", did you know that I have my very own website? Well I do! It's where I share lots of my very own recipes on how to cook food. It's also where I curse a lot. I'm classy like that.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


I told you guys about my favorite iPhone apps a few months ago, so I thought I'd share my favorite websites today.

I hate to be thatgirl but I can't help it. It's fun, it's pretty, it's (p)inspiring. Plus the recipes are amazing.

Internet radio that you tweak until it plays all music you love all the ti And it shows the lyrics so you don't have to get attacked by pop-ups when you try to google them. And it saves a list of all the songs you thumbs-up so you can make a road trip mix really easily.

Young House Love
I've professed my love for Sherry and John before, but it's still burning just as strong as it was when I first saw them. Their site continues to be well-written, beautiful, interesting, and motivating. Plus, they're funny and committed to each other. I'm getting super exciting about their forthcoming book due out later this year!

Monday, 23 January 2012

I was reading an encyclopedia and I tripped (or "fell over") and hit my head (or "brain helmet")

If I had known how much having an Android was going to change my life, I would have bought one AGES ago. Actually, that's probably not true because it only became apparent to me in the last year that if I didn't institute some kind of calendar/list/task situation into my world I was going to destroy myself. I actually went to the Verizon store to buy an iPhone, but the customer service guy was like, "Girl, no. You can't get insurance on an iPhone. You want an Android." Which was correct because sometimes it's like I invent ways to thrax my mobile devices. So the Droid X2 is what I bought and I love it and here are the five apps I use the most:

1) Astrid

Pretty much the greatest thing in my life. I use the app and in equal measure; the sync is seamless. I use it for task lists, books-to-read lists, movies-to-watch lists. It has made me so much better at not running around in an inconsolable frenzy trying to meet a deadline in ten minutes. It reminds me of things, encourages me to do things, and gently shames me when I've spent three hours playing Zynga poker instead of working. Plus I can share lists and tasks with people if I need them to help (like if I need Amy to pick up groceries) or if I need them to hold me accountable (like if I need Amy to come to my office and stand over me while I write recommendation letters or whatever). My favorite feature is the little pink Astrid guy who sometimes pops up to say stuff like, "Remember how you said you were going to write your Collective post this afternoon? Why don't you do that while I fix you a snack!"

2) InstaFetch

InstaFetch is InstaPaper on Android. It autosyncs with my InstaPaper account, so I can save from my Droid or my laptop. It's super easy to use, super easy to read, and super important to me because if I had to try to remember in my brainspace all the things I want to read later, I would be fuuuucked.

3) GoodReads

I pretty much abandoned writing GoodReads reviews because of being lazy, but I still use it every single day to keep up with what you guys are reading and also to evaluate the worthiness of every book I ever hold in my hand, pre-purchase. (I wish one of you had read "A Discovery of Witches" before me so you could have warned me about how I would want to MURDER the vampire guy.)

4) WikiDroid

The Droid-friendliest Wackopedia app. Remember when Wackopedia was blacked out the other day? I kept a running tally of times I tried to look up shit anyway. 31 times. 31 TIMES.

5) Gmail


And now, a moment of silence, for our old friend Google Reader.


Thursday, 19 January 2012

I want to believe (that there was only one X-Files movie)

 Jennie I was 16 when the first X-Files movie came out and I was determined to see it with my friend, Andi. There was one problem. Andi lived in North Carolina, I lived in Ohio, and we had never met. And my parents, being sane, didn't fancy their first-born daughter flying across several states to possibly get axe-murdered by a fifty-year-old pedophile who had been pretending to be a 16-year-old X-Phile.

This was way before the trustworthy dates of the Internet, the days of TequilaCon, the Thanksgiving Miracle, and This was during the dark ages, a strange world filled with AOL chatrooms (a/s/l?), forums, and email fan-lists for every variety of nerdery. The X-Files, for one. Joe also tells me he belonged to a comic book email list SURPRISE SURPRISE.

I'm not sure how exactly Andi and I "met," but we soon spent hours talking to each other on IM. IM! We discussed everything from boys at school to how Chris Carter was going to bring Mulder back from the dead. Again. We shipped Mulder and Scully (4EVA!) and hated Diana Fowley with the fire of a thousand suns. So when the first X-Files movie was set to be released, we came up with the crazy idea that we should see it together. Obviously.

I can't remember how I broached the subject to my parents, but I can't imagine it was well-received. I mean, right? I'm sure my parents were already worried about how much time I was spending online, and now I wanted to go meet some imaginary friend in North Carolina? They said no, I hope I (maybe?) tried reasoning with them before pouting and crying, but who can remember?

Now, because my parents are far better to me than I deserve, they eventually offered to DRIVE ME to North Carolina. We'd make a family trip of it, they could meet Andi and her parents, they'd get to hang out at a hotel pool, and everyone could live happily ever after knowing that their darling children were not going to be horribly murdered by Internet monsters.

I was giddy (giddy!) the entire way there. Andi and her mom met us at our hotel and then we went to dinner. My parents were assured that Andi's family was normal (just like us!) and I was allowed to spend the night at Andi's house, where we stayed up late talking and giggling and watching our favorite moments from our favorite X-Files episodes. We were still giddy, both from finally meeting each other and because The X-Files movie was the next day.

You guys, we saw the movie like four times on opening day. It was ridiculous. Our parents came with us the first time, even though my dad hated the show, hated David Duchovny's bland (his words) delivery and Gillian Anderson's wooden stoicism (SHE WAS A SCIENTIST, DAD). They took my sister to do something vacationy after the show, I think, but Andi and I (and her friend) went to Target to get snacks and then settled back into the best theater seats we could find for the next showing.

You can imagine how excited I was that there was going to be a second X-Files movie, right? I mean, I went to North Carolina to see the first one. Four times. In one day. I promised my sister that we would go see it, but she couldn't go until the weekend after it opened, and since I am super impatient, Joe and I went on opening night. guys. It was so boring. I don't even remember what it was about, only that it wasn't very X-Filey, and I was so, so sad when it was over. Not BECAUSE it was over, but because it wasn't what I wanted. And, you guys, Mulder and Scully LIVE TOGETHER in the second movie! There are no bees to get in the way of their smooches! And I was still miserable! It wasn't even that it was the worst movie ever made, but it was BORING, which was almost WORSE. Maybe my expectations were too high (probably) but even with normal people expectations, it was still the Biggest! Letdown! Ever!

The worst thing was that I'd already promised that I'd take my sister to go see it. So I saw it again the next weekend. I was so sad and bored that I tried to play my favorite X-Files episodes in my head instead, but did you know movie theaters are really loud? Makes it really hard to concentrate.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Looking upwards with wonder.

In 2011 I saw exactly two movies (I'm predictable; I bet you can guess which ones), and for both I walked into the theatre with no expectations. So in 2011 I was never disappointed!

Har har.

So I guess I'll flip this bitch upside-down and present the following list of things which will likely disappoint in 2012:  
  •  The Hunger Games 
  • I'll Be Your Mirror 
  • Tim Tebow 
  • Barcelona 
  • Me 
Things that probably won't:
  • The new season of Game of Thrones 
  • My fantasy hockey team 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

It's a good thing I get free upgrades on my soda size at the concession stand.


My life is full of disappointments. Insignificant ones that I’ve forgotten by the time I trip again on the same wrong-fitting shoes, and bigger ones that make me want to take to my journal, scribble how the world has wronged me, and devise plans to fix it all. Perspective is often something I lack in the moment.

I’ve actively boarded my walls against such free falls. I lower, and lower, and then when I think I can’t care about something anymore, find a way to lower my expectations some more. Instead of journal-scribbling, I strategize and my perspective has become infinity times what it was even three years ago.

There are still many places I could use improvement, but by golly does it take a lot for a movie to rattle me. I now expect all movies to be solid gold shit (maesto). Regardless of the plot, the actors, the adaptation, I still assume it will be terrible, just terrible.

Usually, I’m right. Rarely do I leave the theater and think, “Wow, just wow, what a great piece of entertainment and art. Let’s do it again!” Usually, I think, “Yep, another terrible tale from the silver screen! Let me look this up on Rotten Tomatoes and make sure all the critics agree with me.”

Which is what I did after I saw Drive. Based on the description of the movie and the photos of Ryan Gosling, I thought I was going to see a actiony heist movie with a romantical subplot. I did not think I was seeing something I would haaaaaaaate more than anything in the world.

I hated the characters. They were boring, lifeless individuals who spoke in uncompelling glances and smirks. I hated the story. It was uninteresting (as it revolved around these individual and the mafia) and took itself so, so, so seriously. Ryan Gosling actually said OUT LOUD that this movie was his superhero movie. As though Captain America was Chris Evans just selling out. I saw both movies. I will watch put Captain America on my bookshelf and make my mom watch it and get excited (but not my hopes up) for Avengers.

And I will rue the day Drive was made and I will tell everyone I know that it’s the worst thing, that they’ll hate it, that it’s pointlessly 75% insane violence (and I watch a lot of shoot-em-action movies so I’m not real sensitive about loss of life). And I’ll carry this torch until the day I die because critics wet their pants over their love for the movie. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 93% love. This is the WRONG OPINION.

You can trust me, or you can see the movie for yourself, kill yourself, and then, for the rest of your short life, remember that the most often stated lines in the movie (because there isn’t any dialogue to be found) are “a real human being and a real hero” and it’s describing a character who actually stomps the life out of someone’s face in an elevator.

Monday, 16 January 2012

The library is the worst group of people ever assembled in history. They're mean, conniving, rude, and extremely well-read, which makes them dangerous.


One of my favorite things about The Collective (the four of us guys, plus you guys) is how we're the kind of people who prefer to read the book before watching the movie. Which means: a) We're the greatest kind of people in the world (the informed kind!), but b) We're the most likely people in the world to have our childhoods despoiled (by Jim Carrey, usually). Because we know how the story was REALLY supposed to go, and HOW DARE HOLLYWOOD ruin it with their grubby, money-hungry hands!

This week's topic is: Most Disappointing Movie, and so here is my list of the five most disappointing book-to-movie adaptations.

5) Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events/The Grinch

I'm grouping these together because they both star Jim Carrey as a life ruiner and I don't want to give him any more thought that I absolutely have to. Did you know Dr. Seuss' wife hated The Grinch so much that she walked out of the premiere? Four for you, Mrs. Seuss. You go, Mrs. Seuss.

4) The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Brian Selznick's book is -- and you know I don't say this lightly -- actual magic. It's one of the most gorgeous things I've ever held in my hands or gazed at with my eyeballs. Martin Scorsese's film adaptation absolutely soulless. It's the exact opposite of the book.

3) Eragon

I've got plenty of issues with Christopher Paolini's Inheritance series (née trilogy), but Eragon, his precocious little origin story, was excessively fun. Great world-building, exciting questiness, plenty of pathos. The movie was maybe the worst thing I've ever seen in my life. I don't only mean the adaptation was bad (it was); I mean the entire movie was terrible. Terrible screenplay, terrible directing, terrible acting, terrible effects. Just all around worst, worst, worst.

2) The Golden Compass

You know everything I just said up there about Eragon? Exact same thing down here about The Golden Compass.

1) The Tale of Desperaux

I almost can't even talk about this. My favorite (non-Harry Potter) book in life, and it was butchered in an animated film starring Emma Watson. Betrayed by Hermione? It's almost enough to make a person give up on living.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Phone It In Friday: What's new, Internets?

Happy Friday the 13th, you guys. Hopefully nothing crazy has happened to you. YET. Ooooooooooh, spooooooky.

Anyway. What's going to be different in 2012, Internets, now that you've said good-bye to 2011?

Thursday, 12 January 2012

hopes, not resolutions

 Jennie I turn 30 this year, which isn't really that big of a deal except that I think it satisfies Abigail's love for even numbers. I have to say I prefer 30 to 29. I say that not having yet turned 30 but as a 29-year-old, I often forget how old I really am. For whatever reason, I've not been able to get past saying I'm 28. It's not fear over getting older, not at all, it's just that I have this block in my brain that doesn't allow me to notice that time is passing. Sometimes things slip past this block, things like my friends having babies or becoming an aunt or buying a house, but most of the time I drift through life with no idea how long I've been in the world.

I don't know what will be different this year, not really. I'd be scared to guess, which brings me to my hopes for the year, I suppose. I hope to be braver. I hope good things for me and I hope great things for my friends and family. I hope to write more and travel more and maybe write about traveling more. I hope to meet some of you I've not yet met. I hope to see some of you I HAVE met, but who I haven't seen in far too long. I hope to be more active but save plenty of time for (quality) TV-watching. I hope to make good, informed decisions about everything from my job to what to eat for dinner. I hope to see my family and friends more often, hang out with Joe whenever possible, take Max on lots of walks, and...I guess just leave Phoebe alone, since that's what she likes.

Mostly, though? I hope that I stop this crazy bullshit habit I have of typing all blog posts into a Gmail drafts. Why do I do that? Google Docs is RIGHT THERE. Blogger is RIGHT THERE. Why do I type posts in Gmail drafts and risk losing them to the accidentally-hit-Discard void? Because that's happened before. Oh, yes. It's happened. And like most of my problems, it's due to my own stupidity. So I guess I hope to have less of that this year. FINGERS CROSSED.

One more thing. I hope to celebrate more milestones, both big and small. Milestones like this one: The Collective began four years ago (give or take some days), which is basically a high school amount of time, and not a day goes by that I'm not thankful to have found all of you wonderfully strange people. I love you weirdos. Yay!


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Out of the darkness, and into the fire.

The future is distressingly inscrutable and to my woe I've no knack for prediction. But this year began exactly as did last year, namely inauspiciously. And this year continues as last year, in that I still can't figure out how to write. So what is going to be different about 2012? I'm not buying any more goddamned houses, that's what.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

we two have run about the slopes

AbsI have preferences when it comes to numbers. Please be even. Be symmetrical. Be curvy.

2011 was not a great year, visually.

2012 just looks right.

2012 is even. It's nearly symmetrical. It's curvy. It's ripe. It's full of potential. It's making me nervous.

2012 is going to trample 2011:

New house. New office. New cities. Promises of new boys and new friends.

But mostly because this is the year I get a kitty to call my own.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

the dragon's ire more fierce than fire


I heart beginnings, Hufflepuff through middles, and whimper over endings; so January always tests my loyalty. Do I mourn the old year limping away or cheer the new year with so many fresh start-overs? 2011 was the weirdest year of my whole entire life. It offered up such crushing defeats I can barely stand to glance at it in the rearview mirror. Actually, that's a really good theme for 2011: My inability to look in the mirror. 'Cause dayum, y'all, it doesn't feel so good to see your face after your worst suspicions about yourself have been confirmed. But there was a quiet hope about the thing too. I tripped into storytelling work, pedaled into sunsets, melted into love. I don't begrudge 2011 for the noggin knocks, but I'm not going to miss it either. The treasure I stumbled over is coming with me to 2012, and anyway "The Hobbit" and "The Dark Knight Rises" are on this side of the solstice.

Which sort of brings me to my point. I pulled a dusty copy of "The Hobbit" off my bookshelf just the other day and remembered why I love rereading things so much. It's fun to revisit worlds that enchanted me in my past, for sure. But also, if the book means the same thing to me as when I read it the first time, I haven't really grown. But if it tells me a different story, it means I'm really living. The first couple of times I tackled "The Hobbit" I was aching in my bones to go there and back again. "There" being anywhere, but mostly western Europe. And I did and it was wonderful and it molded me more than I can say. But this time when I read "The Hobbit" I kept clinging to the very first chapter: "This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost his neighbours' respect, but he gained — well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end."

2011 for me was mostly about learning to stand in the Heather Anne-shaped space in the world and halt the perpetual apologies. Part of it is my protestant upbringing, part of it is the circumstances of my childhood, part of it is my southern heritage, and part of it is just an innate inability to purposely offend. But I realized last year that I had to stop saying "I'm sorry" to everyone and everything for simply existing in my natural form. I've pretty much spent my entire life contorting myself into the most apologetic shapes imaginable, trying to be the very thing that everyone needs. Non-threatening, non-confrontational, playing down my desires, my successes, the structure of my soul.

I have a deep faith in the common thread that ties humanity together, a firm belief in our responsibility to one another. I will crave an existence that binds up broken hearted people until the day I die. But also, in 2011, I realized I have a responsibility to myself too. To fully embrace the shape I make in the world.

That's going to be my 2012. Occupying my own personal space without remorse. I may lose my neighbours' respect, but I will gain — well, we'll see whether I gain anything in the end.