Hopefully So

If she says it, it must be true

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Some Songs I Liked in 2015

Posted by hope on December 16, 2015

  1. Beck – Dreams
  2. Big Data – Dangerous 
  3. Billy Gibbons – Treat Her Right
  4. Blitzen Trapper – All Across This Land
  5. Bob Moses – Tearing Me Up
  6. Boots – I Run Roulette
  7. Calexico – Cumbia De Donde
  8. Charles Bradley & LaRose Jackson – Luv Jones
  9. Daley – Look Up
  10. Django Django – Shake and Tremble
  11. Grupo Fantasma – Roto Corazon
  12. Here We Go Magic – Falling
  13. Lianne La Havas – What You Don’t Do
  14. Mikal Cronin – Say 
  15. My Morning Jacket – Compound Fracture
  16. Nneka – Pray For You
  17. Prince – Like a Mack
  18. Quiet Company – Mother Of A Deal 
  19. Robert De Long – Long Way Down
  20. Saintseneca – Sleeper Hold
  21. Sweet Spirit – Baby When I Close My Eyes
  22. Tameca Jones – Hot And Bothered
  23. T Bird & The Breaks – Livin’ With Love
  24. Tuxedo – Do It
  25. Walker Lukens – Every Night

Posted in Music | Leave a Comment »

Some Songs I Liked in 2014

Posted by hope on December 16, 2015

  1. Kat Edmonson – Rainy Day Woman
  2. Lee Fields & The Expressions – Eye To Eye
  3. Dan Mangan & Blacksmith – Vessel
  4. Sturgill Simpson – Life of Sin
  5. King Tuff – Eyes of the Muse
  6. The New Basement Tapes – Nothing To It
  7. Benjamin Booker – Violent Shiver
  8. Spoon – They Want My Soul
  9. Caroline Rose – Blood On Your Bootheels
  10. Elbow – New York Morning
  11. Nickel Creek – Rest Of My Life
  12. The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger – Midnight Sun
  13. Mike Doughty – Light Will Keep Your Heat Beating In The Future
  14. Spanish Gold – Don’t Leave Me Dry
  15. Shakey Graves – Dearly Departed
  16. Courtney Barnett – History Eraser
  17. The Strypes – What A Shame
  18. Glenn Tilbrook – Everybody Sometimes
  19. tUnE-yArDs – Water Fountain
  20. The Wind & The Wave – With Your Two Hands
  21. Jungle – Busy Earnin’
  22. Old 97s – Let’s Get Drunk & Get It On

Posted in Music | Leave a Comment »

Some Songs I Liked in 2013

Posted by hope on December 16, 2015

  1. Weight – Mikal Cronin
  2. Am I Wrong – Mikal Cronin
  3. Antiphon – Midlake
  4. When I’m Alone – Sam Phillips
  5. Broken Heart – Dr. Dog
  6. Gone And Done It Now – What Made Milwaukee Famous
  7. Bracing For Sunday – Neko Case
  8. California – Mazzy Star
  9. Born Too Late – Dent May
  10. Her Favorite Song – Mayer Hawthorne
  11. Mono – My Jerusalem
  12. Do I Wanna Know – Arctic Monkeys
  13. Refuse To Be Saved – Elvis Costello and The Roots
  14. Tangled – Caro Emerald
  15. Doo Bop – Iva Lamkum
  16. Swimming In The Sea – Bob Schneider
  17. What Doesn’t Kill You – Jake Bugg
  18. At Night In Dreams – White Denim
  19. Over The Edge – Sarah Jarosz
  20. From The Right Angle – Dawes

Posted in Music | Leave a Comment »

Shop To Support Kids With Disabilities, Fair Trade

Posted by hope on April 29, 2009

Shopping Night at Ten Thousand Villages to benefit Texas Parent to Parent

Tuesday, May 5th, 5:00 – 9:00pm

Ten Thousand Villages presents an evening of shopping, refreshments and entertainment to benefit Texas Parent to Parent. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will go to programs that support and educate families of children with disabilities, chronic illnesses, and other special health care needs across the state of Texas.

Ten Thousand Villages is a fair-trade retailer of artisan-crafted home, decor, personal accessories and gift items from across the globe. This volunteer-run, non-profit store provides income to artisans from more than 30 countries.

Ten Thousand Villages is located at 1317 South Congress Avenue – less than a mile south of the river on South Congress, next door to the Continental Club and across the street from the hotel San Jose.

If you can’t join us, please consider making a donation. Click here to donate using Network for Good.

For more information about Texas Parent to Parent, visit the organization’s website.

Posted in Austin, Disability | Leave a Comment »

Friday Random Ten

Posted by hope on April 24, 2009

Facebook and Twitter make blogging seem like so much work.

  1. Season Cycle – XTC
  2. What A Drag – Sugarbomb
  3. Love Is The Answer – England Dan and John Ford Coley
  4. We’ve Got It Made – The Major Labels
  5. Release The Stars – Rufus Wainwright
  6. Golzar – Niyaz
  7. Slipping Away – Dave Edmunds
  8. Charlotte – Air Traffic
  9. Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien – Edith Piaf
  10. History Never Repeats – Split Enz

Posted in Music | 1 Comment »

Friday Random Ten

Posted by hope on March 27, 2009

I haven’t done one of these in awhile…

  1. Tough – Kurtis Blow
  2. History Never Repeats – Split Enz
  3. No Reply At All – Genesis
  4. Call Me No. 5 – Paul Weller
  5. Oblivious – Aztec Camera
  6. Shake It Up – The Cars
  7. We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again – England Dan & John Ford Coley
  8. Sure Hope You Mean It – Raphael Saadiq
  9. Stoned, Part 2 – Lewis Taylor
  10. Hasta Manana – ABBA

Very 80s heavy. And how did the iPod gods know England Dan died yesterday?

Posted in Music | 2 Comments »

Music For A Rainy Day

Posted by hope on March 26, 2009

It is rainy and a bit chilly here today. I’ve gotten very little accomplished, and decided just to enjoy my tea and listen to some music before I pick the kids up from school.

Above The Clouds – Paul Weller

Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart) – Lewis Taylor

Go Down – Sam Phillips

Sinner – Neil Finn

Posted in Music | Leave a Comment »


Posted by hope on March 26, 2009

I started using Twitter not too long ago. I’ve added my Twitter updates to the left sidebar here, in case anyone is interested but doesn’t do Twitter.

Posted in Blogging | Leave a Comment »

Go Away, Pedophiles

Posted by hope on March 4, 2009

I noticed this site was getting hits from such charming searches as ‘6 y.o. girl having sex’, ‘girls panties’, ‘girls sleepover’, and ‘kindergarten girls’. So I removed the photos those searches were turning up.

As you might imagine, I have some very strong feelings about what should happen to those people.

Posted in Misc | 2 Comments »

Dell Inspiron Mini 12: Don’t Waste Your Money

Posted by hope on February 25, 2009

I bought a Dell Inspiron Mini 12 a couple of months ago. I’ve got a regular laptop, but I wanted something lighter for afternoons when I am running the kids around (and working or websurfing while I wait for them) or when I go on trips (it gets REALLY heavy after you’ve hauled it through the airport for awhile). I also thought another computer would come in handy for times when I am working on the desktop and both kids want to get online and do WebKinz and such.

The price was not bad ($600-700 range), although a little more than I wanted to spend. But I thought the convenience would be worth it.

I was so wrong.

Now, it is light. So much easier to carry than my regular laptop. Nice compact size, but the screen is still big enough that I can see it. I definitely did not think a nine inch screen would cut it for me. My laptop screen now seems huge in comparison to the twelve inch screen on the Mini, but the key here was portability and convenience. It didn’t take too long to get used to the compact keyboard – although I still sometimes hit the wrong key (especially on the lower right part of the keyboard). But again, this was about portability and convenience, so no biggie. Plus, I got to choose a fun color (mine is red).

But that is where the positives end.

It takes forever – FOREVER – to boot up and start using it for anything. I keep meaning to time it but haven’t, I would guess it takes at least twice as long as my desktop. Really, though, who cares how many actual minutes or seconds…if I am sitting here thinking “Good gravy, this thing is taking forever”, then it is taking too long.

It has a word processing program that is not Word and a spreadsheet program that is not Excel. Who cares what they ARE, because they are NOT what most people use for those activities. So I lose certain functions when I open a document on the Mini, plus it saves it into RTF – not that big a deal, just means I have to remember to re-save it as a Word file when I transfer it back to my desktop or laptop. And – AND!!!! – when I am using the word processor, it is almost impossible to locate the cursor, even when I am circling my finger around and around the mouse pad thingy. Can I load Word and Excel on it? I don’t know, maybe. But why was I not at least offered these programs as an add-on when I bought the damned thing?

OK, so that’s a software issue, not, strictly speaking, a Mini issue. Well, here’s the kicker. The Mini keeps crashing. I don’t know why. The only stuff I’ve put on it is Firefox and Skype. Surely those widely-used programs are not to blame? But it only seems to crash when Firefox is open, and only started doing it after I downloaded Skype. Tonight it crashed again – I did that hard restart thing (ctrl-alt-del apparently does not work at all on the Mini, even to bring up a list of programs running) and literally within a minute of opening Firefox it crashed again. So I restarted again and you know what? It crashed AGAIN before it even booted up completely.

I’ve got to figure out if I can return it and get my money back.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention, it makes alot of noise. The fan is irritating – at first I couldn’t figure out what the weird, soft whistling was. And I swear you can hear the insides creak while it is thinking.

Posted in Misc | 5 Comments »

Be Still, My Beating Heart

Posted by hope on February 13, 2009

My husband watches Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles. I watch sometimes as well, but tonight I was working while he watched.

At one point he paused it (he DVRs it) and tells me “you are doing to want to come see this”. So I come in and sit down, he pushes play, and…

My boyfriend is doing a guest role!

I can only hope they will make it a recurring role.

UPDATE: NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I can’t believe they killed his character. Does this happen on EVERY show Connor is on??

Posted in Entertainment, Misc | 1 Comment »

Making The Grocery List

Posted by hope on January 25, 2009

My husband decided he is going to swing by the grocery store after his run this afternoon because he wants to get stuff to make burgers for dinner. Being the thoughtful husband that he is (AKA the guy who is tired of his wife getting irritated when he goes to the store with his own list without asking what else the family needs), he asked if I needed anything.

I got to the third item and he decided he would never remember everything. So he gets his Blackberry, which has a voice recorder, and starts making an audio grocery list. The part I really like is at the very end – I won’t spoil it, but will merely explain that he briefly turned off the recorder while we had a discussion about what type of fish I wanted him to purchase.

Posted in Family | 3 Comments »

Friday Random Ten

Posted by hope on January 9, 2009

I am happily sitting here with a glass of wine, waiting on the pizza to be delivered and listening to the kids play. They each have a friend for a sleepover tonight. Life is good.

  1. Last One Standing – Neil Finn
  2. Whoever – Lewis Taylor
  3. Throw Me A Line – Lewis Taylor
  4. One Day – Alana Davis
  5. Dying – XTC
  6. Rapper’s Delight – Sugar Hill Gang
  7. Before My Heart Attacks – Jason Falkner
  8. Sahra Saidi – Gamal Gommaa
  9. Look Out Sunshine! – The Fratellis
  10. Nothing – The Vestals

And three non-random songs about Friday and weekends:

DJ Don’t – Gerald LeVert

Weekend Girl – Eric Benet

Just Got Paid – Johnny Kemp

Posted in Music | Leave a Comment »

Now Playing

Posted by hope on January 3, 2009

Here are some things I have been listening to recently.

Radio Friction, Shane Barry and The Distractions. First album from this Irish band with a great take on power pop. The whole album is pretty strong, but the songs I like best are “The Strangest Hours”, “Kites”, “Let It Be Known” (named one of the best power pop songs of 2008 at Absolute Powerpop), “The Finest Line”, and “Stop”, roughly in that order.

Under The Radar, The Goldbergs. Another power pop album that is pretty strong overall. The song “Water Line” is also one of Absolute Powerpop’s best songs of 2008, and while I like it alot, I think “I’ve Had Enough” gives it a run for its money as the best song on the album.

“I’m Outta Time”, Oasis. (I promise, my list is not all power pop.) I have not yet listened to all of Dig Out Your Soul, but I really like this song – it is standard Oasis, but standard Oasis is pretty solid power pop, IMO. I also like “The Shock Of The Lightning”.

As I said, my list is not all power pop. I have also been listening to alot of neo-soul/R&B recently:

“Work That” and “Til The Morning”, Mary J. Blige. I predict Work That will be a radio and club hit. It has a good beat, you can dance to it — and it has a positive message, what’s not to like? Til The Morning has a 70s feel to it.

“Bust Your Windows”, Jazmine Sullivan. I suppose she will be categorized as another Winehouse wanna-be. But this a catchy song. And I love that the video shows her tossing out his 45s. I also like her song “My Foolish Heart“.

“Weekend Girl” and “Iminluvwichoo“, Eric Benet. Benet is the artist formerly known as Halle Berry’s boyfriend. Both songs sound like they might have been recorded in the very early 80s. Weekend Girl has an Earth Wind & Fire vibe, while Iminluvwichoo apparently borrowed the Wikki-Wikki guys from Jam On It. I plan to listen to the rest of Benet’s album Love & Life at some point, there’s at least one other song on it (“Love Patience and Time”) that I like.

“Hate On Me”, Jill Scott. This woman’s voice is a freaking force of nature. And this song has joined David Naughton’s “Makin It” on my list of Songs For Kicking Ass And Taking Names. So shall it be.

“Rocksteady”, Remy Shand. You hear this song and think “white boy who likes Al Green”. His voice doesn’t bring much to the song, but the song itself is pretty good.

“Got 2 Be Down”, Robin Thicke feat. Faith Evans. I have listened to Thicke’s newer album, Something Else, and don’t like any of the songs on it as much as I like this song from his previous album, The Evolution of Robin Thicke. The song is really and surprisingly good. Of course, his voice is just eh. But Evans is good and the song is good, so eh works well enough here. Off his newer album, I quite like “Magic” and “Ms Harmony”, but as I said before, I would like his songs better if Justin Timberlake sang them. Something about Ms Harmony makes me think of Paul Weller.

“Words”, Anthony David feat. India.Arie. David’s voice has that nasal quality that sometimes annoys me, but it also has a roughness and strength to it that balances the nasal-ness (is that a word??). He and Arie sound good together. This is a nice slow jam.

Posted in Music | Leave a Comment »

Question Of The Year

Posted by hope on January 2, 2009

One of my favorite things about a new year is that we get a new question from Edge.com and lots of answers from staggeringly smart, accomplished people. I don’t read all the answers (and some I read, I don’t have the background to really understand), but just reading a random selection is interesting, with widely varying responses.

The question for 2009: What will change everything?

Posted in Culture | Leave a Comment »

Happy 2009

Posted by hope on January 1, 2009

Welcome to the first year of the rest of your life!

While often difficult to maintain, New Year’s resolutions are, I think, a good thing. They are an expression of the belief that we can effect change, make things better. And I don’t think the fact that many resolutions fizzle long before the goal is accomplished diminishes the significance of making resolutions. Making a resolution is an act of hope and optimism – even more so if the person doing the resolving has no great track record of success to buoy them.

My resolutions this year are mostly garden variety – I plan to take off ten pounds or so, and cook more so that we spend less money on convenience foods and eating out. Nothing out of the ordinary. But my fun resolution is to belly dance regularly. I’ve taken classes on and off for years, and have done a number of performances that required a period of regular practice for several weeks or months beforehand. However, I go through long periods during which I don’t dance at all. To ensure I carry through on this resolution, I signed up to perform in the Austin Bellydance Association’s Another Year and A Day of Bellydance show in September. It will take me awhile to choreograph something for it. I’m also planning to take some classes from Najla, who dances with Mirage (Austin’s longest-running belly dance troupe/show). Most of my classes have been with Z-Helene, whom I adore, but her schedule doesn’t usually work well for me.

Here’s to determination and fortitude – and belly rolls!

Posted in Belly Dance, Misc | Leave a Comment »

Season Pass

Posted by hope on December 14, 2008

This is a great idea.

Michael Rapino says that the average Live Nation customer goes to a show fewer than two times a year. Live music is not a regular habit, but a special event.  Hard to make your numbers on a once a year transaction.  The key is to get people to come more.  And spend more, on merch, peanuts, popcorn, beer…

I’m not talking about those special sales.  Discount tickets close to show date, four packs…  Those devalue the music.  But how about a pass to the club, where the developing acts play, sold in advance, for $150. Or maybe $200.  Suddenly, it truly is a club.  It’s not about where the act you want to see plays, but a venue you’ve got an investment in, that you own.  It’s YOUR PLACE!

That’s social networking in the physical world.  You own a little piece of the rock.  And you’ll go on a Tuesday night to hear an act you’ve only read about.  Or the one with one single you like, but you wouldn’t pay full price to see.

People buy season tickets to the opera or the symphony, why not to a club? Someone in Austin should do this.

Posted in Austin, Music | Leave a Comment »

Christmas (W)rapping

Posted by hope on December 14, 2008

I have a bunch of gifts I need to wrap. So, naturally, my thoughts turned to –

Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses

Christmas Wrapping – The Spice Girls

Christmas Wrapping – The Donnas

Christmas Rapping – Kurtis Blow

And two sure to become classics:

Christmas Rap – Boom Chicago

Christmas Rap 2007 – Ce-Real

Posted in Music | Leave a Comment »

John Legend

Posted by hope on December 12, 2008

John Legend is apparently some music biz hotshot whose career has taken off in recent years via collaborations with stars like Kanye and Jay-Z. Well, I had never heard of him until earlier this year when I started listening to Estelle‘s album Shine, on which Legend is featured.  I read a few things about his work on that album then promptly forgot about him.

Then recently, Legend appeared on Stephen Colbert’s A Colbert Christmas. He sang a goofy song about nutmeg which was actually pretty good.

About two days later, John Aielli played the song Quickly from Legend’s new album, Evolver.  I liked it quite a bit, even though Brandy mostly oversings. Then it occurred to me that, after running across Legend three times this year, I was clearly being directed by the universe to check out his album.

The first single, Green Light (with Outkast’s Andre 3000) is OK. The song he sang at the Democratic National Convention, If You’re Out There, is really nice, and my daughter Amelia (a huge Obama supporter) loves it. There are a few other songs I like, a few I am not that into.

But I really dig It’s Over, featuring Kanye West. I have listened to this one over and over. It has a very Earth Wind & Fire vibe. The song’s only flaw is the part Kanye sings. Musically its all right, but the lyrics about Bobby and Whitney and Pamela Anderson just don’t fit. And frankly, I can do without the whole “shorty” thing in any song. But otherwise, It’s Over is a fantastic song, and definitely worth the time I spent looking more closely at Legend.

Posted in Music | Leave a Comment »

Friday Random Ten

Posted by hope on December 12, 2008

Happy happy hour, everyone!

  1. I Would Die 4 U – Prince
  2. Don’t Fight It – Kenny Loggins
  3. Hello – The Cat Empire
  4. Midnight Rendezvous – The Babys
  5. World Party – The Waterboys
  6. Kiss On My List – Hall & Oates
  7. Suddenly – Olivia Newton John
  8. Hello – JUNIOR SENIOR
  9. Big Log – Robert Plant
  10. Broadway – Alison Krauss

Posted in Music | 1 Comment »

Friday Random Ten

Posted by hope on December 5, 2008

Oh, hello blog. I forgot you were here.

  1. Nothin’ – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
  2. If I Ever See The Girl Again – Happy Rhodes
  3. Jukebox Hero – Foreigner
  4. Don’t Go – Nouvelle Vague
  5. Say That You Want Me – Ice Cream Hands
  6. Monochrome – The Sundays
  7. Nha Cancera Ka Tem Medida – Cesaria Evora
  8. Sanssouci – Rufus Wainwright
  9. Mars Needs Guitars! – Hoodoo Gurus
  10. L’Accordeoniste – Edith Piaf

Posted in Music | 2 Comments »

Cover 3

Posted by hope on November 23, 2008

Tonight we had dinner at Cover 3, a new restaurant on Anderson Lane owned by a couple of people who were previously involved with Z’Tejas.

The interior was much nicer than I expected – upscale sports bar ambiance with big screen TVs everywhere, dim lighting, comfortable seating (both tables and booths). It was very pleasant. And it wasn’t too loud.

The actual bar area is pretty small. They’ve also got an outdoor patio area, although I don’t know that I would want to sit out there since it is basically surrounded by parking lot. Later this year they will open the upstairs loft as another bar space. It has a few bar tables and some red leather sofas and club chairs. When they do, that will be the best place in our neighborhood to get a drink. In addition, they have a private room that holds about 60 plus will have two banquet rooms upstairs.

The food was quite good and, while not cheap, was moderately priced. I started with an iceberg wedge salad, smallish with scallions, grape tomatoes and a buttermilk-bleu cheese dressing which was pretty good. That was the one item we got that I felt was priced too high ($7) for what it was. For an entree, I ordered the roast beef sliders from the appetizer menu. The beef tenderloin was fantastic – cooked medium, very tender, not fatty at all and great flavor. The meat was served on really good rolls, toasted just a bit on the split sides for a slight crunch, but nice and soft and chewy. It came with a small ramekin of horseradish cream (I don’t like horseradish, but it was actually pretty good) and another of onion jus (very tasty). The parmesan fries were cut thin and cooked to the perfect crispiness. The wine menu has several choices for each of several varieties. I had a glass of Root 1, a Chilean cabernet which was not quite as full-bodied as I prefer but had a nice spiciness that made up for it.

Mike had the Allandale salad, a standard spinach salad with candied walnuts and dates that was very yummy. We ordered a side of mac and cheese to try. It had breadcrumbs baked onto the top and was a nice creamy texture, but we had to salt and pepper it a bit. He thought it was really good, I would have liked a sharper flavor but it was still pretty good. The girls each got a cheeseburger from the kids menu (which was standard kids menu – burger, chicken tenders, etc) and really liked them.

The service was great. The staff was friendly without being intrusive. Our wait person had eaten from the menu and was able to describe and recommend things. She also seemed familiar with the wine menu. People cleared our plates and refilled our glasses in a timely way. After we ate, I asked our wait person about the upstairs lounge and even though it isn’t open yet she took us up, told us what they have planned with that area and the banquet rooms and showed us the downstairs party room.

Cover 3 has only been open for about a week and they haven’t started marketing, relying thus far on word of mouth. Our wait person said they will begin some advertising in the next week or two. I hope the word gets out about this place, though. We would definitely eat there again, and I am looking forward to having a drink in their loft space.

Posted in Austin, Food | 1 Comment »

Its A Dark Day

Posted by hope on November 21, 2008

Days Of Our Lives, the soap that I have followed on and off my entire life (my mom has watched since I was a baby) is firing two actors who are practically the lifeblood of the show.

Days of Our Lives‘ much-beloved romantic duo and longtime stars Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn have been cut from NBC’s only soap as it deals with budget cuts, the show announced in a statement Wednesday.

The shocking layoffs of the highly-paid veteran soap actors who play Dr. Marlena Evans and John Black come after the show’s producers cut spending earlier this month to keep the Days on the air for at least another 18 months.

The good news, if any, for fans, is that after a yearlong separation on the show, Marlena and Black will be reunited as a couple before leaving the show next year.

Hall has been on the 43-year-old soap on and off since 1976, while Hogestyn was joined in 1984 as mystery man John Black, who initially turned out to be Marlena’s presumed dead husband, Roman, who was played by Wayne Northrop. It gets much more complicated from there, but to say the least, their romance was legendary in daytime television.

Apparently the show is on its last legs but is making big budget cuts to stay on the air for another 18 months.

I haven’t actually watched the show for many years, although for a short time a few years ago Soap Net played the previous week’s episodes on Sunday evening. I would watch Wednesday-Friday’s episodes after the girls went to bed while my husband and I flipped between them and other shows he preferred (but he even admitted to becoming a little absorbed in them after awhile). For the most part, though, I’ve followed the story via Dustin’s Days Of Our Lives page. I don’t know who Dustin is, but he seems to have a major obsession with this and a few other soaps. The site is a wealth of information about the show and its history and cast.

I always thought Hogestyn’s acting was hilarious – every word he utters, every look he gives seethes with intensity. And it cracks me up that Marlena has been kidnapped and kept from her family and children multiple times, been kidnapped and/or stranded in a remote location along with family members, had her husband apparently be killed (only to learn later he was just kidnapped) multiple times, survived a crazy twin sister’s multiple attempts to take over her life, been brainwashed to kill people, survived at least one plane crash, was the victim of a stalker, had a daughter on death row, has even been possessed by the devil… but is somehow still together enough to be a shrink.

Man, I’m going to miss them.

Posted in Entertainment | 1 Comment »

Jamie Oliver – Fingers In Many Pies

Posted by hope on November 20, 2008

Jamie Oliver has a pretty full plate. He cooks, he does TV, he runs a charitable restaurant, he tries to improve the healthiness of UK school lunches – and he sings!

Check out his lamb curry music video.

Could he possibly be more adorable?

Posted in Food, Music | 1 Comment »

Thanks, Folks, I’ll Be Here All Term

Posted by hope on November 20, 2008

I am glad to see that, at least for now, the government is not planning to throw $25 billion at the American auto industry to bail them out. Oh, the weirdness of being on the same side of an issue as Mitt Romney and the Bush Administration.

But what I really wanted to say after reading about the auto execs taking their tin cups to Washington is that I wish elected officials would refrain from the irrelevant chatter during committee hearings.

…[M]embers of the committee wanted to turn the session into a special edition of “Car Talk.” Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) spoke of his ’99 Jeep: “It probably has about 150,000 miles on it, and it’s still running doggone well.” Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) invoked his ’98 Jeep Cherokee: “Small problem with the back hatch staying open; we can talk about that afterwards.” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) praised her Chrysler minivan. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) had good words for her Jeep but complained that it didn’t come in a hybrid version.

“I drive the same ’66 Plymouth Valiant that I’ve always had,” Ackerman proffered. He went on to discuss a problem with the GPS system in his Cadillac. “I wanted a loaded car in blue; I had to reach out to five states to find one in blue,” he complained.

It seemed everybody had a car story to tell. Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) let it be known that he was a car dealer for 25 years. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) disclosed that he had worked at the GM plant in Framingham. Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.) wanted to see more ads for the car made in his district, while Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) said the Edsel was once made in his home town. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) read from Cicero and held up photos of cars. And Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) had no car stories to tell but delivered the surprising news that the problem with the Titanic was not its collision with an iceberg.

Seriously, y’all. Nobody cares about your vehicles, or their problems, or how hard it was to find what you wanted, or how you have a personal connection to the history of the automobile. That isn’t why those guys came to town, and it doesn’t inspire much confidence in your focus on the pressing public policy issue before you. I’ve witnessed this same tendency to shoot the shit and waste time with pointless comments at the Texas Legislature. They do it in committee, they do it on the floor, and every time I just want to smack them.

Its like they think they got voted in to do stand-up routines and monologues.

Posted in Government | 2 Comments »


Posted by hope on November 20, 2008

This article makes me want to go fry up some bacon.

The fear of fat, fat loathing, and fat obsession are relatively new things in human existence, spawned in the era of flat-chested flappers and the belt-tightening Depression. Good timing, that. Up until then, except for times of famine, a robust physique was indeed a thing of beauty, a paragon of luxury. Fat, before it was made sinister, was desirable. The once-positive aspects of fat linger in our language with phrases such as a fat check, fat cat, fat city, chewing the fat, killing the fatted calf, and the fat of the land.

Then we were told that fat was out of fashion and that eating fat made you fat. The food industry backed this claim with new products: reduced-fat, no-fat, fat-free. Everything fat-free came with a license to eat more and we did. And got fatter. By now we have been so long bombarded with fat-phobic fear mongering that much of it is considered accepted wisdom. But what do we really know about fat?

We know it is delicious.

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Posted by hope on November 20, 2008

Yay!! It appears that at some (indefinite) point, I will get to watch Connor Trinneer in action again.

Trinneer played Trip Tucker on Star Trek: Enterprise. He is totally my boyfriend.

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Hey Cupcake!

Posted by hope on November 19, 2008

Many Austinites know Hey Cupcake! as the Airstream trailer parked on S. Congress. On Saturday, HC opened a location on Burnet Road (just south of Phil’s Ice House), complete with a giant frosted cupcake on the roof. The girls and I checked them out.

It looks like they cut an Airstream in half and surrounded the counter area with it. A flatscreen TV on the wall behind the counter, with curtains on either side, plays a video of passing roadway to further the we’re-in-a-trailer theme. Very cute.

The menu is limited – seven cupcake choices and a few non-alcoholic drinks. The girls each got “The Standard” (yellow cake with chocolate frosting) and took the Whippersnapper option (a squirt of whipped cream in the middle). I also got one of each kind to test with the friends who were coming over for dinner later. I cut them into fourths so everyone could try a few different ones.

Here’s how the seven cupcake choices break out:

  • Two come with chocolate frosting (chocolate or yellow cake)
  • Two come with buttercream frosting (chocolate or yellow cake)
  • Three come with cream cheese frosting (chocolate, red velvet or carrot cake)

The cupcakes are a good size, but reach huge with the added mound of frosting. Optimal cake:frosting ratio is a highly personal matter, but I happen to prefer a fairly high ratio of cake relative to frosting. Hey Cupcake! loads on the frosting. Too much for me, although it does make them pretty. Of the three types of frosting, I thought the chocolate was too sweet and not creamy enough, the buttercream was nothing special (and was also denser than I like) and the cream cheese was pretty good but just slightly gummy.

All the cake types were OK. I would say they are on par with the few cupcakes I’ve tried from local bakeries (like Russell’s and Upper Crust), but then, I haven’t had a really great cupcake from any of them. The yellow cake texture and flavor was homemade-ish. The chocolate was a little denser and drier than I like but the flavor was pretty good. The carrot cake was standard flavor and texture. I would have liked the red velvet better if it had been more moist and had more of a cocoa flavor.

The girls each got their cupcakes with the Whippersnapper option. I thought the whipped cream helped to balance the over-sweetness of the chocolate frosting. But they sort of shot it into the frosting layer rather than into the middle of the cake, which I would have preferred.

Overall, the cupcakes are fine but, as much as I was hoping otherwise, nothing special. The decor is fun, though, and they’ve got an outside area where they will feature live music. It appears there is room for kids to run around but I’m not sure. They do have the back of an Airstream set up so that kids can run up onto a little deck and look out the back window, which is cute but would not keep my kids entertained for too long. I hope they will eventually serve beer and wine – I would buy my kids cupcakes and let them run around while I have drinks and listen to music. But I’m not sure I would stick around for music with just the cupcakes. Maybe Phil’s can come set up a stand to sell beer, chips and salsa whenever they have music.

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Some Pro-Lifers Actually Want To Reduce Abortion

Posted by hope on November 18, 2008

Some pro-lifers have decided to address the reasons why many women choose abortion rather than continue to focus on throwing legal roadblocks in their path.

If one strategy has failed and failed over decades, and you have empirical information that tells how you can honor life and encourage women to make that choice by meeting real needs that are existing and tangible, why not do that?” said Douglas W. Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University who served in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

Others eschew the practical.

“It’s a sellout, as far as we are concerned,” said Joe Scheidler, founder of the Pro-Life Action League. “We don’t think it’s really genuine. You don’t have to have a lot of social programs to cut down on abortions.”

Strategies that appear effective in reducing abortion are sell-outs?? What exactly does he think they are selling out, if the net result is fewer abortions? He sure reinforces the view that pro-lifers don’t care about women or even about kids after they are born.

Posted in Feminism, Government, Health Care | Leave a Comment »

Me Myself I

Posted by hope on November 15, 2008

Did you ever realize how popular this song title is? Here are a few.

Me Myself and I – De La Soul

Me Myself I – Joan Armatrading

Me, Myself and I – Billie Holiday

Me, Myself and I – Beyonce

Me Myself & I – Jive Jones

Me, Myself & I – L7

Me, Myself and I – Derailers

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Friday Random Ten

Posted by hope on November 14, 2008

Fridays are not as much fun when you know you will be working all weekend.

  1. Moi Et Toi – Abdel Ali Slimani
  2. I’m Free – Kenny Loggins (don’t fight it – you know you like him too)
  3. Make Me – L.E.O.
  4. Two Less Lonely People – Air Supply (now, that is just embarrassing)
  5. Oops I Did It Again  – Britney Spears
  6. Vegetables – The Beach Boys
  7. I’m Bad – LL Cool J
  8. Gone – Sugarbomb
  9. Feet Don’t Fail Me Now – Utopia
  10. I Can’t Understand – Air Traffic

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Songs I Heard This Week

Posted by hope on November 14, 2008

Three songs I heard for the first time this week:

Go – Daisy. Daisy is a band from Finland that I’d never heard of. This song is featured on International Pop Overthrow Vol. 11. The verses make me think Ramones, the choruses make me think The Outfield. Very 80s sound. Listen a couple of times and you will have a hard time getting it out of your head.

You Don’t Know Me – Ben Folds feat. Regina Spektor. I grew tired of Ben Folds awhile back, and since I am not nuts about Spektor I would not have listened to this on my own. But I heard it on Eklektikos (great radio show) and really liked it.

Wissions (Of Vu) –  Stanton Moore. I heard this one on Eklektikos as well. You can check out several songs here.

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Who Is Dan Black?

Posted by hope on November 13, 2008

The very little I can find online about Dan Black indicates that he lives in France and recently remade Notorius B.I.G.’s song “Hypnotize”.

Otherwise, all I know about him is that his song “Yours” is pretty good, and that the video makes me like it even more. Bungee bouncing! Party people! Guy with a gun for a head! Hippity hops in fun colors! Whee!!!

I guess that’s all I need to know.

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Las Vegas

Posted by hope on November 13, 2008

We just got back from four days in Las Vegas, celebrating our ten year anniversary. We spent way too much money, but what a great time!

We stayed at the Palazzo, which is the new tower at the Venetian. But it really is its own hotel, with a separate casino and shops. We arrived on Wednesday afternoon before check-in, so we wandered around the place for a bit then ate lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe. The food was ok, nothing special, although the sandwich I ordered turned out to be the equivalent of 4 normal sandwiches. After lunch we got our room, which was really nice. The Venetian and Palazzo both are all-suite hotels, the rooms all include a nice big living area on a slightly lower level than the sleeping area. After hanging out in the room and unpacking, we headed out for more exploring. We took a cab down to Mandalay Bay for dinner at Red Square. The decor was fun – I liked the the headless Lenin – but the food was a big disappointment. After dinner we checked out several of the casinos on the south end of the Strip – Luxor, Excalibur, MGM Grand. At New York New York we rode the rollercoaster. The view was great at the top but anymore I am too old for rollercoasters that flip you over. My neck gets sore trying to keep my head from bouncing against the sides of the guard thing that comes down over your shoulders.

On Thursday we had a great breakfast at the Canyon Ranch Spa cafe in our hotel. Probably the healthiest meal we had the whole time we were there. Then we walked around the pool areas of our hotel and the Venetian (which connect to one another). It was a lovely morning – sunny and cool. We headed to the Liberace Museum, smaller than I expected but the information about his life was interesting. And of course, there were flashy cars, ornate pianos and over-the-top outfits to see.

Thursday was our 10 year anniversary, so we got dolled up in some Vegas-worthy duds, hopped in a pink Cadillac and renewed our vows at A Little White Chapel. Elvis walked me down the aisle and sang during the ceremony. [You can see the ceremony at the chapel’s website until December 5, click here and enter “michael crowe” (all lowercase) for groom’s name.] Afterward, the limo took us downtown, where we played craps and blackjack in our wedding outfits. We also ate dinner at the Main Street Station buffet, but the food was terrible!

On Friday morning we had breakfast at the Wynn buffet, which was fantastic. My favorite: small cinnamon rolls, served warm, that were a little crunchy on the outside and soft inside. After our heavy meal we walked the Strip and ended up at Caeser’s Palace. Passing the Seahorse Lounge, we noticed Obama was giving his first post-election press conference, which was a clear sign that we needed to sit down and have a drink. Later we went to the Gun Store, where I shot a gun (three, in fact) for the first time in my life and then to the Pinball Hall of Fame, where we played vintage pinball machines. That evening we had an amazing (and amazingly expensive) dinner at Picasso at the Bellagio. Mike had the tasting menu, I had the prix fixe and we both got the wine pairings. I had a warm quail salad, a sea bass appetizer that we both agreed was probably the best thing on either menu, and a veal entree (and I don’t ever eat veal). We sat right next to the windowed door onto their terrace, where we had an unobstructed view of the faux-lake, fountains and lights of the Strip. The only thing missing from the experience was a guide to the Picassos on the walls of the restaurant. It would have been neat to know a little about them, as I didn’t recognize any, and you really couldn’t walk up for a better view without intruding on someone’s table.

Saturday morning we had breakfast at the Mirage buffet. It was pretty good but the Wynn was better. We walked around for awhile, went back to the hotel for a mid-morning nap (what a luxury!) then out again. We headed to the Eiffel Tower restaurant around 2:00 thinking we would just have a drink and enjoy the view. But once they took us to our table and brought us a menu, we decided lunch was in order. And so it was that I ate the best creme brulee I have ever had (and I’ve had alot of them over the past year or so, I’m on a roll with it for some reason). We got another fabulous view later than evening, when we had drinks at the lounge on top of the Stratosphere. We played blackjack in their casino for quite awhile but after losing $150 thought it was time to move on. We walked down to the Sahara and Circus Circus, then headed to Treasure Island for the Cirque Du Soleil show “Mystere”. It was my first Cirque show – I thought it was very entertaining.

On Sunday we had breakfast at Tintoretto in the Palazzo shops area. It was fine, nothing special. We had a little time in the casino before we had to hop the airport shuttle, so Mike finally got to play the Star Trek slot machine. Around 10:00 we headed to the airport, which was a total zoo. Due to construction on the runways, lots of flights were delayed. There was hardly an empty seat anywhere. Our flight was supposed to leave just after noon but didn’t get out until a couple hours later.

We had a very memorable anniversary. We didn’t gamble (or drink!) as much as I thought we might, so we managed to give away only about $350 to the casinos. It was really fun just checking out the hotels and casinos, and hanging out in our 700 square foot room. I wouldn’t be one of those who go several times a year, but Las Vegas is definitely a fun place.

Posted in Entertainment, Misc | 4 Comments »

Obama’s Win

Posted by hope on November 4, 2008

People much more eloquent than I am are already making pronouncements about what Obama’s victory means – both historically and to them personally.

But I just have to say, I am so proud to be an American right now. I’m not the jingoistic type, and I find that our flaws and bad decisions often cloud the ideals we say we stand for. Being an American these past few years has not felt very good. But this election truly does give me hope that Americans are not the cynics (or dumbasses) politicians usually play them for. It gives me hope that hatred and racism are not so widespread. It gives me hope that we still believe in those lofty ideals.

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment »

Rabbit Amnesty

Posted by hope on October 25, 2008

Wanna save the planet? Recycle your old vibrator.

Did you know that throwing away your old vibrator might damage the environment? All waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), whether it’s TVs, toasters, computers or vibrators, can release toxins and pollute the environment when thrown into landfill.

As a result, the EU has introduced a directive aimed at reducing the environmental impact of WEEE by encouraging the reuse of electrical components and increasing recovery of raw materials from waste electrical products.

The legislation – known as Directive 2002/06/EC to its friends – has now passed into law into all EC member states. As of July 2007 in the UK, it is illegal to dispose of waste electrical and electronic equipment into landfill. Now, everything from your broken vibrator to your old Breville sandwich maker must now be disposed of properly.

More than 1,000 electrical waste centres have been set up at recycling sites around the UK. But who wants the hassle and embarrassment of taking a dog-eared defunct sex toy down to the council tip? Not many people, we hazard, which is why we set up the Rabbit Amnesty sex toy recycling scheme.

Instead of chucking your old vibrator in the bin, you can send them to Rabbit Amnesty and we’ll recycle them for you with the help of SWEEEP, a specialist waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) processor.

Bonus: The sex toy company that established the recycling program will give you half off a new Rabbit vibe when you send them your old one to recycle. They will also make a donation to the World Land Trust.

You can watch a video of vibrator recycling here.

Posted in Environment, Sex | 2 Comments »

Friday Random Ten

Posted by hope on October 24, 2008

Its my favorite day of the week.

  1. Shotgun Down The Avalanche – Shawn Colvin
  2. I’m Alright – Kenny Loggins
  3. Into Tomorrow – Paul Weller
  4. Over My Shoulder – MIKA
  5. Time For Me To Fly – REO Speedwagon
  6. Astro – Neil Finn
  7. Habibi Min Zaman – Balkan Beat Box
  8. Whistle In – Beach Boys
  9. Jerusalem Ridge – Kenny Baker & Bill Monroe
  10. Vertige – Camille

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Posted by hope on October 23, 2008

This review of several books about English contains some fascinating information about our mutt of a language. For example:

…there are more speakers of English as a second language than there are native speakers.

And this:

While no language without loan words exists, fewer than one-quarter of English words today […] come from the founding Germanic tongue.

Here’s something that may never have occurred to you before:

The layering of loans into English means it now often has three terms for the one thing. Hitchings explains that the Anglo-Saxon term is often neutral or vernacular, the French term is considered sophisticated, and the Latin or Greek term may connote a more clinical or scientific view. Compare fire, flame, conflagration; go, depart, exit; dead, deceased, defunct.

Did I ever mention that I used to read the dictionary when I was a kid? In elementary school, someone nicknamed me The Walking Dictionary. And in high school, I used to sit on the phone with a friend who had the same dictionary I had, and we would look up words at each other. Hey, look on page 1262, left column about halfway down…

Yes, I am a dork. But I can rock the verbal section of a standardized test.

Posted in Language | 3 Comments »

A Catholic For Obama

Posted by hope on October 20, 2008

A Catholic law professor who worked for both Reagan and Bush I is supporting Obama – and gives pro-lifers something to think about: Obama might actually do more to reduce abortion than McCain would.

So can Catholics vote for a pro-choice candidate? The answer is yes, but as I found when I publicly endorsed Obama, you’ve then got ‘some `splain’n’ to do.” It’s a matter of conscience, but had Obama proclaimed himself to be pro-choice and said nothing more, it would have been problematic. But there are those additional words about appropriate education as well as adoption and assistance for mothers who choose to keep their baby.

This is not just debate posturing. It is consistent with Obama’s successful effort to add language to the Democratic platform affirming the choice of a mother to keep her child by pledging pre- and post-natal care, funded maternity leave and income support for poor women who, studies show, are four times more likely to pursue an abortion absent some tangible assistance.

Some people might ask, isn’t John McCain, the self-proclaimed ”pro-lifer,” still a morally superior choice for Catholics? Not necessarily. McCain’s commitment, as he stressed in the debate, is to try to reverse Roe v. Wade. But Republicans have been after this for decades, and the effort has not saved a single child. Even if Roe were reversed — unlikely, in my judgment — it merely transfers the question to the states, most of which are not expected to ban abortion. A Catholic serious about preserving life could reasonably find Obama’s educational and material assistance to mothers the practical, stronger alternative.

Of course, this alternative is less than the absolute legal protection for unborn life sought by the Catholic faith, but it is more than the GOP delivers, or can deliver, with its speculations about judicial vacancies and reconsidered precedents.

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments »

In Recent Rotation

Posted by hope on October 17, 2008

I’ve been busy over the last few weeks and haven’t had as much time as I would like to listen to music. But this week I have been interspersing periods of frantic work with musical interludes. Here are a few songs I am wearing out.

Ja Vidi (Christophe Goze). While most of my listening has been power pop (as you will notice below), one song on heavy rotation this week is this Middle Eastern-flavored electronica/drum piece. I first heard it from my belly dance teacher a few years ago and did a group choreography to it. She wasn’t sure of the title or artist, and had copied what she thought was the track listing onto a CD for me. However, it turns out she had both title and artist wrong. This week I fell over it while I was browsing for new belly dance music, and now know who the actual artist is. Unfortunately, this is the only song of his so far that I like.

I Let Her Get Away (Candy Butchers). After discovering Mike Viola and the Candy Butchers several months ago, I have slowly but surely been going through the back catalog. I adore Mike Viola. He gets compared to Elvis Costello, which is somewhat apt. This one, from the 2002 album Play With Your Head, is a bit slowed down and regretful. Very nice.

So Much Better (Mike Viola). This is off of his most recent album, Lurch. I think I’ve blogged about it before. If it were just 52 seconds longer, it would be the perfect pop song.

Insanity (The Nines). I’ve just discovered the pop brilliance that is Steve Eggers. There’s a YouTube video of him with just his keyboard, sounding very like Paul McCartney. His stuff makes me think of XTC.

Mary Jane (The Nines). This one is more melancholoy. If XTC and Chicago had written a song together, this is what it would sound like.

When Are We Gonna Do It? (Linus of Hollywood). Another band I have just become aware of, and wow is he good. Even if the lyrics were nonsense, I would love this song. It is just yummy. But the lyrics are funny. The whole album, Triangle, is total sugary goodness. Try (It Might Be) Too Late For Us, for instance. I haven’t listened to the band’s entire catalog (yet). But I’ve checked out his album Reheat and Serve, which I like so far. My favorite on that album is “Let’s Take A Holiday Together.”

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