I don't do this very often, so please allow me one moment to tell you how much I rock. See the above screen shot? See that number? The one circled and surrounded by arrows?

Oh yeah. 50k.

I am officially a winner of the 2007 NaNoWriMo.

Can I repeat that?


HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! This is me, laughing like I'm in Arkham Asylum, because I TOTALLY DID IT. So HA to all of the naysayers who said I'd never finish! SUCK IT! Ha ha ha!!!

Oh, wait? What's that? Everyone I know was totally supportive of me? All of my friends? My coworkers? Even my family?

You mean, EVERYONE thought I could do it?


Wow. So, I guess instead of saying "suck it, sucking suckers," I should be saying "thank you very much."

So thank you to my wonderful husband, Jarrod, who cooked dinner every evening and did way more than his fair share of dishes this month. Who crawled inside a cold, lonely bed every night and literally pushed me up the stairs to my laptop when I was doing everything within my power to stay downstairs. Who is the best. Period.

Thank you to my sister who made me get off the phone with her the other night - because she wanted me to get back to work - who said to me, "I want you to be a winner."

Thank you to all of my friends, especially the ones who asked me how my novel was going every time they saw me. That meant so much to me.

And a final thank you to my newest friends. NaNoWriMo has the most supportive writing community that I've ever been a part of. You guys are amazing. Congratulations to all of you!

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you.

Oh, and if you are wondering why my novel is all scrambly-pambly behind that word counter in the picture, it's for the NaNo robot word counter. I'd rather not show anyone what this draft actually looks like. It may be finished, but it's scary.

Speaking of, I'm off to go work on the next draft! See you all, um, let's say another year from now. 'Cause this baby's going to take a LOT of editing.

In the meantime, please enjoy the following writing/writer-related links:

Neil Gaiman (oh, how I love thee) helps a guy propose to his girlfriend.

Vote for the prettiest, bestest book cover of the year.

Check out the winners (Yay for winners!) to the 2007 Wergle Flomp Contest. My favorite: "The Castration of Sam McGee."

And I'm still laughing about this two-month old Meg Cabot post about foreign book covers.


Knitting Basket Explosion

As you may or may not have noticed from the icon in my sidebar, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo. Naturally, I'm doing everything I can to avoid actually working on said novel. So today, the first day of a golden opportunity - A THREE DAY WEEKEND, I am washing laundry, cleaning the litter box, emailing people I haven't spoken to in years, and making new to-do lists.

Why not post on my blog, too?

Last night, I heard Mr. Tumnus trying to get into his box. His box is this pathetic, dented piece of cardboard that holds his various accessories and accoutrement -- food, litter, toys -- and every time I hear him digging, I know he's looking for one thing.


Too bad he keeps pushing his toy mice underneath our china cabinet. Every few days, Jarrod and I have to crawl on our knees and use a random poking device (my favorite = the yardstick) to pull out his stupid toys from underneath it. And slowly we dole them back out, one by one, until they are all under the cabinet again. Repeat. Repeat again.

So when all of the mice are gone (like last night) and I don't feel like scrounging for lost toys (like last night), I bring out the next best thing. The ball of yarn. You know, something to distract him while the rest of us sleep.

Well. This is what I woke up to this morning.

It started in the kitchen (even Pip looks nervous, poor thing):

Then it snaked into the dining room and wound itself around the chairs:

Made a mad dash out of the dining room:

And rolled around the corner & into the bathroom:

SOMEONE had fun last night. Hmph.


Three New-ish Fairy Tale Picture Books

Ahh, fairy tales. Grimm, Lang, Andersen, d'Aulnoy, Perrault. The first stories we are ever told. For me, nothing can beat a beautiful retelling of a classic fairy tale.

(Ah-hem. Nothing save Pride & Prejudice. And Harry Potter. These two items are non-negotiable in my universe.)

In the last two years, there have been a few new fairy tale picture books that I've fallen in love with. Here they are, in order from "Wow, that's great" to "Holy crap, I worship you."

Number Three: Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Caralyn & Mark Buehner

A few years ago, the Buehners made one of my favorite winter picture books, Snowmen at Night. The illustrations were funny and charming and popped right off the page. Their latest is the best version of this tale I've ever seen. This was never one of my favorite stories - Goldilocks is such a freaking brat - but the Buehners have managed to turn her into . . . okay, she's still a freaking brat. But at least this shows honesty.

Their Goldilocks is a ridiculous, over-sugared, bug-eyed, jump-roping nincompoop. Awesome. The illustrations are hilarious (the picture of her disappearing into Mama Bear's overstuffed chair is great) and the pace and language of the text is, in the infamous words of Baby Bear, "just right."

Number Two: Beauty and the Beast written by Max Eilenberg, illustrated by Angela Barrett

This is a longer, slightly sinister picture book made for older readers. Set in the nineteenth century, the illustrations are gorgeous and minutely detailed in their depiction of luxury, nature, fear, joy, and despair. Beast is a beautiful, terrifying, curious, wolfish creature and the spread of Beauty weeping over his body in the snow is breathtaking. I loved this book. The text is sly and witty and heartbreaking. (And more adjectives. I seem to be using a lot of them.) I cannot rave enough about it.

Number One: Cinderella by Barbara McClintock

This book made me check out every single thing Barbara McClintock had ever illustrated. I'm not kidding. Holy cupcakes! This one is set in the era of Versailles and Louis XIV. Like Barrett's illustrations in Beauty and the Beast, McClintock is a master of detail. I spent DAYS pouring over the massive dresses and towering wigs and tiny shoes and golden rooms.

I would have killed for this book as a child.

The tone of this retelling is gentle (no feet-hacking here) and appropriate for all ages. Especially adults who like to play dress up.


Now get thee to a library!


Saturday Woo Hoo + Boo Hoo

Woo Hoo:
Saw The Jane Austen Book Club last night. It was sweet. Loved the bit with Grigg's house.

Boo Hoo: "Jane Austin" read the marquee. "Jane Austin" read the box office. And just outside the theater door? Simply: "Austin."



YOU'VE BEEN WARNED (no, really, you have)

James Patterson's You've Been Warned is the current best-seller on The New York Times hardcover fiction list. Number One.

Can I tell you how scary this is?

My coworker, Lauren, and I were flipping through it this morning, and we were in hysterics as we read various passages aloud. We could turn to any page and find at least a dozen ridiculous one-liners. It's the kind of book that makes one yearn for the witty, polished prose of a Danielle Steel or a V.C. Andrews.

Then we began reading just the last sentence of every chapter. They were all very--cue scary music--DUN DUN DUNNN!! And the more we read, the funnier they got.

Naturally, we decided that they needed to be collected.

So I typed up a list of the last line of every chapter in the book. And the amazing thing was that the story actually made sense this way. Lauren pointed out that it's like that speed reading technique they teach you in high school, where you only read the first and last sentence of each paragraph and, supposedly, that gives you the gist of it. So this is like speed reading on speed.

Now, I am not claiming to have the World's Best Taste in literature. In fact, I'm pretty easy to please. I can usually find something redeeming about whatever it is I'm reading. I like Faulkner just as much as I like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. In fact, I probably like the Sisterhood more, because I've actually read them all.

I'd also like to point out that I actually HAVE read a full James Patterson novel. A few of them, in fact. I found the first two Alex Cross books, Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls, entertaining (I liked the movies, too). But then he started kidnapping every member of the Cross family. Bringing back serial killers from the dead. Chasing his hero with tigers AND vampires--in the same novel. And not cute teen boy vampires like Edward Cullen either. I mean, what the heck?

Then he began publishing every novel with another author, like he can't even be bothered to write his own books anymore. He has a new release nearly every month, and I have trouble trusting a writer who must spend like two weeks, max, working on a book.

I'm sorry for being snarky here, but I'd like to point out that on Amazon, as of this minute, Warned has 93 customer reviews, and a whopping 62 of them gave it one star. Some choice quotes:

"All the paragraphs.
Are written.
Like THIS!

Karen Honeycutt: "I am very pissed off that I wasted money on this."

Robert Stovall: "Weird and boring"

Nuff Said: "Holy Moly ! This is so not a good book!"

Cricket: "This is by far the most disappointing book I've read in years."

"James Patterson should be ashamed of himself."

deeper waters: "A waste of time and an insult to one's intelligence. There is nothing redeeming about it....not the plot, writing or the characters."

Ronald E. Pagels: "This is probably the worst book I have ever read."

goldencz: "It was HORRIBLE!!!!"

N.R. Cronce:
"James Patterson Schlock Doctor"

J. Crace: "James, buddy, you're getting too far out there--even your devoted fans hate it!!"

H. Gore: " YUK!! I can't believe I read the whole thing!!! "

Anyway, here it is. The last line of every chapter in James Patterson & Howard Roughan's You've Been Warned (Little, Brown and Company, 2007). All italics and punctuation are theirs.

I'd like to think there are a lot of good creative writing exercises here. Rearranging the sentences so that they form paragraphs and a new story. Turning it into a poem. I think the coolest thing would be You've Been Warned, Last Sentences: The Graphic Novel. I'd totally do it if I could draw. And I loved Lauren's idea of a page-a-day calendar. (Hmm, what's my inspiration for today? Flip. Oh, "And I think that burning smell is back too." Excellent!)

Note: If you were planning on reading this book, please go no further. Need I say there are spoilers?

You've Been Warned - The Last Sentences
James Patterson & Howard Roughan

I raise my camera again, and—
The music is inside my head.
“Lord knows you don’t want to piss off that boss of yours.”
I scream at the top of my lungs.
And that’s when someone does.
And he loves it even more when I join him there.
So innocent.
See? I’m back in control.
It’s time to hit the darkroom.
And I think that burning smell is back too.
And I know just where to go.
It’s the maître d’ again.
But when he finishes, everyone reaches for a pen.
This is no dream.
“Don’t wear it to work.”
“Good answer,” I say.
The camera slips from my grasp, falling to the pavement.
“Detective, remember? Homicide.”
Gee, I can’t wait.
“Want to join the Maytag club?”
“I’m coming!”
“Don’t look now,” says Beth with an elbow to my ribs, “but I think that guy is checking you out.”
“Let’s dance,” I say to the girls. “It’s my night.”
“I’m not kidding around. You’ve been warned.”
I guess Kristin Burns doesn’t want to talk to me after all.
But what I’m looking at sure is.
He wasn’t letting me win now, though. Obviously not now.
My father’s been dead for twelve years.
This is no time to be alone.
Actually, this should have been my first call.
“I still want to know what happened to you at the Falcon Hotel. Kristin? Kristin?”
What’s up with that?
I’ve got somewhere to go after all.
Pictures lie.
That just isn’t possible, but there he is.
He’s opening the door!
“Can you keep a secret?” he whispers.
We’ll be fine.
He puts his shades back on, nods, and then turns away.
Utter. Freakin’. Amazement.
And then I’m screaming at the top of my lungs.
“Do you think I can borrow some clothes?”
“Speak of the devil,” she says.
“Because you do now.”
“No,” he says, leaning in close. “That’d be your soul.”
“No one’s ever forced to dance, are they?”
If only Penley weren’t in the picture.
It’s called breaking and entering.
To Michael and Penley’s room.
Shoot Michael.
Leaving me and Penley.
Oh, the irony.
It only reads 1.
And he looks dead.
“On how well you know your way around Brooklyn.”
He’s barely had a chance to look at the first one when I realize…we’re not alone.
“She thinks you’re a devil.”
All it takes is the ponytail.
“Allow me,” he says.
“How many times do you have to be warned?”
There are four people… Don’t hurt them.
Everything goes black.
That’s easy. “Dying.”
Before he was murdered in my hometown of Concord, Massachusetts.
The wretched look on his face says it all.
“Help, Michael, you have to save me!”
And unfortunately, that’s not exactly good news.
Right into my darkroom.
“And I know what you did at the Falcon Hotel. Both times you were there.”
And I mean everything else.
“You’re right,” I say. “Only that’s not her husband.”
And I remember who used to say that—my dead father.
At least I think I am.
With a zoom lens.
Otherwise known as Falcon Hotel.
All because of what I hear.
Praise the pencil!
“I could kill the bitch” is his answer.
“You’ll see.”
As I head home to my apartment, I get this awful, gnawing feeling that somehow I already have.
The note’s dated today.
No, just very, very desperate.
And then—what can I say?—I faint.
There was even a photo of his body being carried out in a long black bag.
Just then, I feel a pair of eyes on me and I nearly jump out of my skin.
“It’s okay, Dad. I understand.”
There’s one left.
So—why am I crying uncontrollably?
Is that why Michael isn’t at work?
“Where else would he be?”
What’s with the camera?
Who’s Michael talking to?
Then he absolutely blows my mind.
God is in the details.
Then, something does.
The pathetic truth is—anything is possible right now.
Michael has a gun pressed to his forehead.
“You and I have a lot of acting to do, Kristin.”
Make that one dead.
Don’t think, just shoot.
And instantly I realize—that makes three bodies.
Let go of the gun.
“Exactly,” comes a voice I recognize.
“I’m doing all the talking here—and this is your day, Kristin.”
But then—don’t think, just shoot—she takes my picture.
And I’m screaming, screaming, screaming, screaming…
“She’s alive! This woman is alive! She just winked at me.”


A Long Post About the Dark & Humorous

I love dark humor. Edward Gorey, Tim Burton, Charles Addams -- these are my people. And the last few weeks have been particularly kind.

Jarrod and I recently did back-to-back black comedies: Shoot 'Em Up and Death at a Funeral. Both rocked.

Shoot 'Em Up has no character development and very little plot, but, well, that's the point. And I loved it for that. In fact, it probably has the most literal title of any movie I've ever seen. Don't like the title? Won't like the film. But I never stopped laughing. (Best use of a vegetable onscreen.) My local film critic extraordinaire, Ken Hanke, sums it up best: "Perhaps the most refreshingly creative explosion of pure bad taste to come our way in far too long."

Gracias to Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti for making this, because without them, it would have sucked. Hard.

(Speaking of Clive Owen, my friend Deb got a glimpse of him at the Toronto International Film Festival last weekend, and I am still burning with jealousy.)

So the best way of describing Death at a Funeral is that it's British. And if you like British humor, chances are pretty good that you'll like this film. Again, I loved it.

I won't spoil any of the best bits here, but it was wonderful to see so many great character actors in one ensemble -- Ewen Bremner (Spud in Trainspotting - my favorite film of all time), Kris Marshall (Colin - "And he's got a big knob!" - Frissell from Love Actually), and Alan Tudyk (best described to my husband as "you know, that guy from A Knight's Tale with the sticky-upy red hair").

And, of course, it was nice to see Mr. Darcy again. Who reminded me a bit of a British John Cusack, but that's not the point. What was my point? Oh yeah, the movie rocked!

Oddly enough, I've just realized that both of these films currently have a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I'm a little surprised that the scores are so low, but then again, I often forget not everyone has same sense of humor as me. Which must account for the Wayans brothers still being allowed to make movies. 'Cause seriously -- it's creepy to shrink a grown man and dress him like a baby. And not creepy-good like a ghost story but creepy-bad like a child molester.

In other news of the dark and weird, John Waters visited UNCA this week. Huzzah!

Jarrod and I went to hear him speak, and we weren't disappointed. The man's sense of humor is as sharp as his mustache. I can die a happy woman now that I've heard someone use the phrase, "I trade deer meat for crack."

And finally, in future news of the dark and weird, I'm really looking forward to Sweeney Todd.

Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, AND Alan Rickman? Not to mention Sacha Baron Cohen and the lovely gothic princess, Helena Bonham-Carter. December will be fabulous.


Summer Sauté

It's amazing how, more often than not, the simple solution is the best solution (is the hardest solution to see).

Case in point: Our kitchen earlier this week. The little counter top space we have was spilling over with striped zucchini and yellow squash and tiny okra and golden potatoes, all piled into these crazy toppling, wobbly pyramids. Most of these vegetables were from our own garden and a few were gifts from our neighbors. All were in the way.

We were exhausted. We were hungry. We were clueless. Debating back and forth between dinner ideas (Indian lentils and rice or that easy lasagna recipe? Black bean enchiladas or pizza?), we were so close to the logical solution that it actually took us ten minutes to get there. I mean, how were we supposed to make dinner with all of these stupid vegetables in the way? Heeeey, wait a second . . .


So we chopped up several space hogs, plucked an orange pepper from the garden, minced some fresh garlic and thyme, sprinkled on the kosher salt (using my new favorite toy), and plopped it all into a skillet with some olive oil and . . . poof. The best meal we've eaten in months. And clean countertops.



Rufus @ the Tabernacle

I am having a passionate love affair. With a gay man. With a gay man's voice.

Last Monday, I finally had the honor of seeing Rufus Wainwright live. And even better, it was at one of my favorite venues (if not my absolute favorite), the Tabernacle. For anyone who has never been, the Tabernacle is this gorgeous old building in downtown Atlanta, the kind of place that should be inhabited by the shimmering ghost of an opera singer or vaudeville magician. Every inch of every wall is painted with roses and stars and vines and diamonds, extending all the way up the multiple staircases and the three balconies and across the ceiling, where the whole thing is topped with a magnificent crystal chandelier.

And the sound! The Tabernacle proves that you don't need to deafen your audience to give them a rich experience. In my favorite moment of the evening, Rufus went sans microphone and sang a haunting Irish folk song, "Macushla." I can't imagine there are many venues where this would even be possible. His voice carried beautifully in the building, crawling up underneath the skin of my arms and vibrating. I cried. And, yes, I confess to being overly emotional, but this experience marked the first time that I've shed tears to live music.

But how could I not? Have you heard this man? There are only two musicians who I've ever fallen in love with on my first listen. The first musician is a story for another day (because it's a good story). Rufus was the second. The song was "Oh What A World" from Want One, and my love was immediate and profound.

Rufus is a showman. The concert was over two hours long, not including the intermission nor the two amazing opening acts, A Fine Frenzy and Neko Case. Multiple costume changes were involved featuring lots of sparkly brooches and, my personal favorite, custom-made lederhosen. Only Rufus could make lederhosen sexy.

And the set was filled with surprises: Two Judy Garland numbers (Who knew I'd like Judy? But if it's Rufus singing, I'd probably even like that Suncom jingle), a duet (in a bathrobe) with his sister Lucy, and then, well, what was UNDERNEATH the bathrobe.

Happy sigh. Go see Rufus, if you can. And buy me a ticket so that I can come along too.

One last thing -- A Fine Frenzy.

Wow. Really, really good stuff. I had never heard of Alison Sudol before, but as soon as her set ended, Jarrod and I ran to the merch booth and picked up her first album, One Cell In the Sea (where she also signed it for us -- she was very friendly and smiley and we both fell in love with her a bit). It's been playing on my stereo all week. If you have a moment, visit her MySpace and listen to "You Picked Me." So beautiful.

(Not that I would ever cheat on Rufus or anything.)


Becoming Jane

I just got back from seeing Becoming Jane. Oh, happy sigh. As a lover of all things Austen, I am pleased. Quite pleased. I know the Jane community is divided over this film, but I thought it was romantic and wonderful and hope to watch it at least one hundred and two more times. It doesn't bother me in the least that the story Takes Liberties with what is actually known about Austen's relationship with Tom Lefroy. I just love a good love story.

And I confess that I'd been worried about the inevitable sad ending (no Austen-esque double wedding here), but somehow the writers even found a way to ease that particular pain. Bless them.

Besides all that, the film also contains both the star of one of my favorite guilty pleasures and--how appropriately--Mr. Tumnus. (Oh, okay. James McAvoy. Whatever.) The chemistry between them is very zing! and left me swooning.

And in case anyone out there is wondering, the kitty is doing great, and Stardust was incredible. (Captain Shakespeare = redeemed Robert De Niro, Ricky Gervais = best line, re: bag of frogs)


All About Neil

Several months ago, I scrawled this across an index card and hung it above my pink writing desk: "You can take for granted that people know more or less what a street, a shop, a beach, a sky, an oak tree look like. Tell them what makes this one different." -- Neil Gaiman

In honor of Stardust opening today, here are a few of my favorite things online related to its very talented, very creative, very kind creator:

Neil reads "Crazy Hair," a clever little poem, in this video.

Neil's daughter, Maddy, interviews him in this excellent audio snippet.

Neil's friendly, entertaining journal hangs out here.

And finally . . . ask Neil's oracle anything & receive the answer "guaranteed to be perfectly applicable to your situation" (and yes, for the record, mine was).

Neil is one of my favorite writers. If you've never had the pleasure of reading his work, I highly recommend it. He has one of the most original, unique voices in modern literature. You can't go wrong. His adult novels are as good as his children's novels are as good as his graphic novels are as good as his short stories are as good as his poetry are as good as his picture books. But Coraline is a nice place to start.


Mr. Tumnus

Meet Mr. Tumnus, the newest member of our household. Details & bragging forthcoming.


No Spoilers (just a quick gush of love)

I cried. And then I cried again. And then again.

It was wonderful. Thank you, Jo, from the bottom of my heart. Best books ever.


Meet the Pups

What was I thinking? I've been blogging on and off for two years now (okay, more "off" than "on"), and somehow I haven't posted a picture of my pets. How can that be? Usually dogs and cats and hamsters are rolled out within the first week.

So here they are. The furry reasons why I vacuum twice a week. That's Sable on the left and Pip on the right. They're both around ten years old, although Sable acts it much more so than her brother. She has her eyes closed in sleep about 95% of the time, only daring to squint them open for food, bathroom breaks, and nighttime walks.

We've had Sable for almost four years and Pip for one and a half. Both were adopted — Sable from the Tennessee Valley Golden Retriever Rescue and Pip from the Labrador Retriever Rescue of East Tennessee. Weirdly enough, we've never lived in Tennessee. Just our dogs.

We brought Sable home to appease my desire for a dog, but she actually had the nerve to fall in love with my husband instead. Sure, she thinks I'm OKAY, but when Sable looks at Jarrod, she has hearts and stars and the moon in her eyes.

Naturally, this wouldn't do.

So we peeked around online again and found Pip. I fully confess to asking his foster mom if he preferred men or women, and I was thrilled when she answered, "Well, he tends to hang around me more than my husband." Good enough for me! We quickly tucked him into the backseat of our car and brought him home. And, thankfully, it seems she was right.

Now we both have a dog and all is good in the world, because there's nothing better than a sleeping dog at your feet. Or two.

Like right now.



My poor vegetable garden. It was attacked last Friday by a freak shower of gravel-sized hail and torn to shreds. All of it — tomatoes, squash, lettuce, etc etc etc — POOF! Gone in ten minutes.

And this just after I'd received a new zucchini salad recipe in the mail from my sister and learned about zucchini chocolate chip cookies from this wonderful, perfect, much-needed and highly-recommended book. I mean, one can never have too many squash recipes this time of year.

I am so heartbroken.

I only had time to get off a few shots before my camera died, so this is just a bit of the damage. Here are my future zucchini chocolate chip cookies with their stems savagely snapped off. I took a few pictures of my tomato plants, but they just looked like sticks in the ground and weren't recognizable at all.

I'm going out there today to trim up the wreckage — hopefully, I can salvage some of it — and plant new seeds. I'm not sure if any of it will have time to ripen, or if my town will be pelted with another hail storm next week, but I must keep trying.

At least I can be thankful that my livelihood does not depend upon my harvest. I can't help but think about the farms tucked away in these mountains: What happens to the farmers when the hail hits?


Three Highlights of the Last 74 Days

Hmm. I knew I didn't post anything here last month, but I hadn't realized that I didn't post in February either. How embarrassing! I've been busy with . . . Other Projects. It's time to breathe a bit of life into these pages. Would you mind a highlight reel?

Early February. The first flowers of spring appear in my front yard. Delicate and beautiful, but a bit early (and, therefore, a bit scary):

Mid-February. I get the world's greatest bouquet for Valentine's Day:

March. Forsythia blooms in my backyard. Yow-za, right?:

Hopefully, I'll be back soon! If not, sit tight and enjoy your April showers.

Rain is the perfect weather for reading. I'm thinking Katie Fforde for spring. Sweet and cozy meets silly and sexy. My favorites are Highland Fling, Stately Pursuits, Wild Designs, and Second Thyme Around. If you enjoy English novels about charming cottages and true love, Katie is your girl!


Vote for Lewis?

Lewis, the band my husband — seen here in adorable, chunky glasses — drums for, is doing a battle-of-the-bands radio thingie right now. So this is just a quickie to say that if you happen to be in a generous and giving mood, you might consider giving them a listen and a vote.

Matt (singer/guitarist) has a neat vocal part towards the end that gives me goosebumps!


Woo Hoo + Boo Hoo


• Piano lessons. Thanks to my super-rad, super-sweet, super-super new teacher (Hi, Sara!) I am re-embracing music in a way that I have missed very much.

• America Ferrara winning a Golden Globe for Ugly Betty. I love her. America can make me go from laughter-in-the-belly to choking-back-tears like THAT. She's been one of my favorites since she made me bawl in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (good movie, even better books). Also exciting at the Golden Globes . . . Babel winning best drama! Mexico rocks my cinema world. If only Adrianna Barraza had won best supporting actress!

• Winter is here. For now. Lots of Ash-villains have been praising the unseasonably warm weather (60s, 70s), but to me it means one thing — DOOOOOM! GLOBAL WARMING! I'm totally picturing Greenland falling into the sea à la An Inconvenient Truth. So when the weather dropped into the 30s today and snow flurries began to fall, my heart heaved a humungoid sigh of relief.

• The only sports team I follow is on a ten-game winning streak. Huzzah!

• Cornmeal mush for breakfast. It's delightfully warm and bland in my tum-meh (as the atheist sea ot-tahs from South Park would pronounce it).

This clip of a formerly abused circus lion hugging his rescuer. Animals never cease to surprise and amaze me.


• Now that it actually feels like winter, the heater in my house has broken (it makes these click click click click noises), and the temperature inside is 50 degrees and dropping. Hellooo, long underwear. If I owned any.

• Only having fifteen minutes to get ready for work this morning, because my bed was so beautiful and cozy, and I couldn't possibly have given it up any sooner.