Thursday, September 25, 2008

free netflix trial, anyone?

This is my bulletin board.  A quick glance at it will tell you many things about me: my schedule (the blue rectangle on the bottom left), my finances (credit card statement is the white paper at the top), my political leaning (button bottom right), and what I do with Greg's old shirts (the pockets).  

If you look a little closer, you will also discover something of a paradox: I have pretensions to scholarly work, but I am one hardcore couch potato.  The white index card on the right has the name of a conference I'd like to submit a paper for; the white index card on the left has the dates my favorite TV shows premiere.  There are 12 on the list.  4 premiere tonight, and I'm so excited and embarrassed about my excitement I can hardly contain myself.  The Office!  Ugly Betty!  Survivor!  Grey's Anatomy!   Those first three shows I totally stand by; Grey's Anatomy is probably the guiltiest of my guilty pleasures.  

I love Survivor so much.  Don't even try to tell me that reality TV is trash, because I'm not buying.*  In fact, I am currently grading 20 freshman papers about reality TV, and I didn't even come up with that assignment, so there's got to be something to it.  Even more than watching Survivor, I love reading recaps of it here and here.  And this season is even more exciting because I know someone who knows someone who's on the show.  Paloma is the daughter of a CMF missionary who works with my dad.  Will she be cool?  Will she go far?  I can only hope.  And watch.  And read the recaps.

Also on my bulletin board: four free monthlong Netflix trials.  Most people I know already have Netflix, but if you don't and you'd like to try it, leave your address in the comments (or email me if you don't like making that info public: and I'll send one to you.  

*Disclaimer: just like any other genre, there are good and bad reality shows.  While I love shows like Survivor, Amazing Race, and Top Chef, you couldn't pay me to watch most of the shows on MTV and VH1.  But if you enjoy those shows, more power to you!  I don't judge!  I can't!  Have you seen my bulletin board?

It's kind of chilly here in Philly...

...which can only mean one thing: pumpkins, scarecrows, and fake leaf garlands.  After a pretty low-key showing for 4th of July windows, I'm super-excited for the upcoming parade of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day decorations.  One of Greg's coworkers who is originally from South Philly told him the best store for finding such items, so if I decide to join in the fun, I'll make sure to let y'all see.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Many years ago, someone decided that what Philadelphia really needed, what would take the city from blah to BLING, was a casino.  And then, through a variety of questionable political machinations, the plan progressed and two groups got permission to build casinos on the Delaware Waterfront.  

Many people were not happy about this.  I was one of them.  I have been to Atlantic City, and folks, it is a miserable place.  Yes, you can get a rush if you like the feeling that you are adjacent to glamorous high-rollers, but unless you are a high-roller yourself, that's all you're going to be. Adjacent.  And yes, Atlantic City has shows and restaurants and even an outlet mall (hallelujah!) but walk one block from any of these fancy entertainments and you will find yourself in the middle of grinding poverty.  

I do not want Philadelphia to turn into Atlantic City.  I don't think Ben Franklin or George Washington would want that either.

Many protests later, the casinos finally agreed to consider alternate locations in the city, where at least they would not be next door to people's homes and schools and places of worship.  One idea was to put the casinos near the airport, which is a bit removed from the city itself.

Instead, our new mayor (for whom everyone had high hopes) and the casino people decided to place the casinos in the very heart of the city itself, sandwiched in between City Hall and Independence Hall, on top of the Gallery (a shopping mall) and one block south of Chinatown (my favorite part of the city).  

Right now, that area is a bit run-down.  There are no fancy restaurants or outdoor cafes, just dollar stores and an old Burlington Coat Factory.  Apparently, once we put a casino in, everyone on the street will be wearing gold stilettos and fur.  Or something.

Here's the thing, though.  No one is going to come to the Gallery (or as we used to call it in college, hell) for a fantastic fancy night of high stakes and higher wins.  For one thing, there are only going to be slots in the casino, no tables.  (I have a hard time writing about this because it makes me so angry, so please forgive the rambling and the clarity issues.)  I firmly believe that the people who are going to come play the slots in Center City are those who can't afford the trip to Atlantic City.  It will be people who do not have a lot of money who will lose it in this giant box full of slots.  The rich and fabulous will continue to head for Atlantic City, where there is already an infrastructure in place that makes them feel even more rich and more fabulous.

I don't want to sound like a crusader against vice here.  I know people who enjoy a night in a casino, and I don't want to sound like I am condemning them in any way.  I'm just mad at the politicoes and Donald Trump wannabes who are so eager to place this monstrosity just a few doors down from the birthplace of our nation.  That's all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008


Finally, finally, finally, my summer of dental misery is over.  I thought it would be over three weeks ago when I went in to get my permanent crown, but apparently "the lab" had messed up on the crown, so they gave me another temporary and sent me away.  This morning at 8 sharp, I was in the chair.  For those of you who have been keeping track, that's 1 root canal, 1 tooth lengthening, 3 fillings, 7 temporary crowns, 9 visits, and 1 billion painful numbing injections.  And 6 months until I have to go back!

In other good news, the superhero that is Peyton Manning descended into Viking territory yesterday, spewing lightning and thunderclaps and bringing the Colts back from a 15 point deficit in 17 minutes.

The Phillies are putting things together as well, sweeping the Brewers and bringing themselves right to the front of the Wild Card chase.

Tonight, Donovan and Co. take on Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson--I mean T.O.--in what will hopefully end with a win and a 2-0 record.  Three cheers for football and its ability to completely erase my interest in schoolwork!  Hurrah!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Christmas with the Cranks

Product Red iPod Mock

Greg has a nickname for me.  Cranky.  I like to think of it as a term of endearment, but I'm afraid the truth is that it's just a description of the mood I am in 90% of the time.  This week has been worse than ever.  Perhaps it's being back at school, getting less sleep, feeling the pressure of expectations and performance anxiety.  Whatever the case, my general crankiness has escalated into quasi-violent rage.

The primary object of my irritation is the ubiquity of Ipods on college campuses.  I know, I know, I sound like that awful guy from 60 Minutes who concludes each episode with a tone-deaf rant against some subject that generally falls under the category of "kids today."  Well guess what.  I don't care.

My school, Temple University, has 34,000 students.  That's larger than most small towns.  While I appreciate the benefits of being part of such a large school, the simple fact is that there is nowhere you can go for a quiet moment.  There is always a line, everywhere: the bathrooms, the printers, the coffee carts, the elevators.  Getting anywhere or doing anything takes 15-20 minutes longer than it should because of the mass of bodies you have to fight through.  And when every single person on campus has "ear buds" (terrible phrase) in his or her ears, and can't hear you saying "excuse me," it's even worse.

I could go into a philosophical meditation here on community and individualism and the danger of total disconnect from the world that develops when people have their own private soundtrack pumping all day and no incentive to chat with those around them, but I won't.  Because, again, I don't care.  I just want to get to class, and you are in my way.

Monday, September 8, 2008

weekend review

After months of dentist appointments, free time and ghost tours, I finally had a real week in Mercy Street.  Like, a week in which I had a schedule that will be my schedule for the next several months.  I'm happy to return to routine, because as great as summer is, I kind of need to be told where to go and what to do.  One of the perks of a week of routine is the weekend that follows.  So, in list form for easy reading, here was my first real weekend at Mercy Street:

grading papers
Trader Joe's
ghost tour

Not bad, although the Colts game was miserable.  Also, I blasted my Rent CD for the first time in many years in honor of the last performance on Broadway.  I'm sure the neighbors were thrilled, but come on, people!  This is a moment.  No day but today, and all that.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


In my post about our trip to Chicago, I mentioned briefly that we went on a river tour of Chicago's architectural landmarks.  Today, when I visited one of my favorite design blogs, they mentioned going on the exact same tour last weekend!  Here's the link.

Above is Donald Trump's new building, still under construction.  Much like the man himself, it's not too well put together on top.  I watched one of those cranes lower a container from the top floor to the ground.

And this building, which I completely forget the name of, is simply enormous.  There was no way I could get the whole thing in my viewfinder.  I recommend the tour to anyone visiting the Chicago area, even though there are no ghosts on it!

Monday, September 1, 2008


This is what a block party on Mercy Street looks like, at least when you're surreptitiously taking a picture from your bedroom window.  I snuck out early since I was exhausted and fighting a head cold after our trip to Chicago, but Greg hung around and learned the fine art of half-ball.  He tells me he had two home runs, but I'm not sure what that looks like in this space.  

Chicago, Chicago

Every time we take a trip to Indianapolis, Greg asks if we can fit in a visit to Chicago.  I've promised to do so many times, but it has never happened.  Thus, we realized that we would have to plan a trip to Chicago without trying to sandwich it into another excursion.  Then, the perfect alignment of the stars produced this: Labor Day weekend, our friends Jamie and Jimmy who live in Chicago, Greg and I both being off of work, and the Phillies playing the Cubs at Wrigley Field.  Tickets were purchased, plans were made, bada bing bada boom, a weekend of destiny.

I wrote a post from the Pittsburgh airport during a layover, griping about the hassle of air travel these days, but then I decided to skip it and focus on the positive.  I will say this, though. In addition to charging for checked baggage ($15 for the first, $25 for the second, and a staggering $125 if the bag is over 50 pounds) and charging for drinks--even water--during the flight, USAir has covered their tray tables with advertisements--on our flight, one for Verizon. The rub, of course, is that since they don't give you any food or water, no one actually opens his or her tray table.  /Nelson voice/  Ha ha!  /Nelson voice/

We fit an astonishing amount into 3 days and 3 nights: the baseball game, a boat tour of the city's architecture, Millenium park, the Art Institute, downtown Evanston, Guitar Hero, live band karaoke, the beach, Miracle Mile, the Newberry Library, the Dark Knight, World Market, Cajun food, deep dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, homemade lasagna, bi bim bop and bulgogi, Jamba Juice, Red Mango frozen yogurt, and some Old Style (or Old Bile, as our waiter said.)

The highlight of the trip for Greg was the game at Wrigley Field, in spite of the fact that the Phillies lost.  We sat in the rowdy and coveted bleacher seats, and had the honor of seeing a grand slam hit land right next to our seats.  (Wrong team, but what can you do?)

I especially enjoyed the architecture tour and swimming in Lake Michigan, especially when I discovered a previously unknown talent for walking on my hands underwater.  According to Greg, I have great form.  

But of course, the best part of the trip was catching up with friends, talking and joking as we walked around the city and relaxed in between events.  Andrea came up Saturday afternoon, almost got discovered during karaoke, and drove us to the airport Sunday morning.  Now it's back to school for both of us!

Jimmy, Jamie, Andrea and Greg enjoy Red Mango in Evanston.