Be My Valentine – or Not. Whatevs.

Haters gonna’ hate. As the date February 14th – otherwise known as Valentine’s Day – approaches, you start hearing comments like these:

“Single and proud of it. No ball and chain here, suckas!”

“Valentine’s Day is a commercial machination to get you to spend money on empty, meaningless crap.”

“Feeling sorry for all the guys [or gals] that have to impress their girlfriends [or boyfriends] today.”

And you’ll see Internet memes like these:

Brace Yourselves, Valentine's Day is Coming

Condescending Wonka Valentine's Day

These are the Scrooges of Valentine’s Day for whatever reason. Maybe they had a bad romantic experience (or multiple experiences). Perhaps liking Valentine’s Day is too mainstream. Or they’re just taking out their anger about being romantically unattached on a day dedicated to lovey-dovey-ness.

Well, to you curmudgeons, I say “Okay.”

I know, that was really sticking it to ’em. In actuality, I don’t mind that people hate on Valentine’s Day. To me, it really is just another day – not because I’ve been romantically spurned or I hate popular ideas. I don’t like it, I don’t not like it. It simply has no meaning to me. Christmas and New Year’s Day don’t even do it for me and those are the A-list holidays, ones where you actually get several days or weeks off and/or are required to gather with your extended family. Christmas hasn’t meant much to me ever since the child wonderment left. New Year’s lost its panache when I realized resolutions made on that day are destined to fail. I’m too old for Easter egg hunts. I’ve seen too many 4th of July fireworks, but am still mildly amused by poppers (the firecracker, not the drug). I like turkey feasts well enough, but honestly, I’m already thankful year-round. V-Day is just another day that’s lost some of its meaning along the way.

In summation, liking Valentine’s Day doesn’t hurt anyone. If you’re going to go out and do something special with your significant other, good for you. I hope you have fun (Trust me, that had no irony in it. I truly do wish you the best.) And if you’re not doing anything “special,” good for you, too. Let the haters hate and the lovers love.

What am I going to do for Valentine’s Day on February 14? Go to class, drink a chai, maybe grab a bite with a pal, go home, read a bit, and watch House of Cards. Ya know, just a typical Thursday.

Ah, what the hell. Happy Valentine’s Day, folks.

Read more about Valentine’s Day shenanigans with these links:

Thoughts? Got any special plans for V-Day? Any good V-Day stories?

Midterm Stress Relief Week: Some Like It Lazy

To cap off Midterm Stress Relief Week, I felt it appropriate to end it with a bang.

I’m kidding. I’m phoning it in. Before going to bed, I watched my favorite movie Some Like It Hot, directed by Billy wilder and starring the sweetly sexy Marilyn Monroe, tall dark and handsome Tony Curtis, and golly gee funnyman Jack Lemmon. Two musicians, Joe (Curtis) and Jerry (Lemmon) witness a murder by a mob during Prohibition. Desperately fleeing for their lives, they pose as two female musicians, Josephine and Geraldine Daphne, and hit the road with an all-female band, including the alcoholic, ever-so-“innocent” Sugar (Monroe). Cross-dressing, innuendos, silly chase sequences – 1950s flavor humor ensues in this comedy classic and wraps up with the quirky, lovable, famous line “Well, nobody’s perfect.” The good old days of comedy gold. The cross-dressing was a bit of a risky move at the time, but boy did it pay off.

As of February 8, 2013, the full movie is still up on YouTube, so watch it now!

How have you been getting away from midterms? What do you like to do to relax? Are you a Marilyn fan?

Midterm Stress Relief: Girly Magazines Are Girly (and Evil)

This is what it’s come down to.  Four days into my pathetic little Midterm Stress Relief Week and I have stooped down to the level of my squealy adolescent counterparts. Desperate for reading material for the long bus ride home, I swiped – permanently borrowed – an abandoned girly teen magazine from a table top on campus, making sure to ninja the brightly covered collection of glossy paper into my bag before being seen by my respectable higher ed peers. (And that’s right. I just used “ninja” as a verb. Booyah.)

But I just needed some reading mat- oh, what the hell. There’s no use making excuses. I could have left this publication abomination well alone, but I “just had to” grab it. Damn you, magazine design team and your eye for catchy colors and ridiculous, yet attractive cover catch lines. Hook, line, and sinker. You’re just too good.

To redeem my disgraced self, I shall dissect and destroy this sorry little excuse of lifestyle entertainment, starting with its gaudy cover.

Girl's Life Magazine Cover

Must. Suppress. Grammar. Nazi. (And Good Taste Nazi).

Look at that – all that faux happiness. In real life, she’s probably 36 years old. The Photoshop team has obviously bleached and tightened her skin, scrubbing out the creases and crow’s feet. That’s likely not even her real hair color. Who knows what she looked like when this picture was actually taken? She could have had a leaf of parsley stuck in between the front of her two sparkly white chompers there before the Photoshop squad took care of it digitally. Maybe she’s a man.

And read the catch lines. It’s like they have the key to the meaning of life in its pages. Magazines make such high-falutin promises with their superlatives language: “best night ever,” “worst guy mistakes,” “cutest, easiest DIY prezzies ever…” (So many things wrong with that last phrase. You’re talking to teenagers, not puppies or babies. You don’t need to shorten and make every word cutesy.) They promise secrets! Special reports! “Trust us, it’s worth it!” Well, we’ll see about that.

Since this is the December/January edition, it’s chock full of cheesy Christmas and New Year’s articles – if this drivel can be called a proper article. For example, “Do You Dare?” gives new year’s resolutions “you really can rock,” such as “showing off your smarts” and “embracing your uniqueness.” Oh, and my favorite: “Find a great guy (without even looking!).”  Again with the false hope and promises. Step outside your comfort zone and BAM- hot new boyfriend! (And beneath the title of that resolution: “You wish Santa would deliver a cutie tied up in a bow under the tree…” No, I do not wish Santa to indulge in sick serial killer fantasies).

Teen girl magazine advice is amazing. Amazingly bad. Just plain bad, actually. In this issue, there is a two-page spread of an article with the aneurysm-inducing title “Gifts for everyone on your list for like… free!” They claim to have great gift ideas that won’t make your wallet (or purse?) weep never-ending tears of emptiness. These are some of the gifts they suggest (or my interpretation of them):

To Gramps: Ask to listen to one of his “back in the day” stories that you’ve heard a million times. And pretend to care. “Hey, you might actually enjoy yourself.” Right. Next.

To Mom: Make your mom feel hip, cool, and like one of the gals by giving her the 411 on who you’re having sex dreams about. “It’s better than another scented candle set.” I’ll bet. That’ll be one fun Christmas dinner conversation.

To Big Sis: Be a dear and stop rifling through her precious makeup collection. “It’s a toughie, but a little self-control will brighten her holiday season.” Accusing your readership of being sticky-finger kleptomaniacs? How nice.

To Your Crush: Throw rationality out the window and tell that guy you’ve been drooling over that you kinda’ sorta’ might like him. “Channel the spirit of the season and open your heart.” To ridicule and rejection.

– To the BFF: Write her an ego-stroking letter thanking her for putting up with you. “Be ready with some tissues – she’ll definitely shed a few tears.” That’s a bit presumptuous, don’t you think? A letter and a box of tissues. Such a good friend.

Ha ha! Your pathetic attempts at connecting with the teen girl crowd are futile and helplessly transparent. I have demolished you, trite girly magazine. Take that, and that, and- and I just wasted 725 words and a whole hour on a teen girl magazine.

Well, damn.

They are good.

Is reading teen girl magazines a guilty pleasure of yours? (I ain’t judging). Leave your thoughts in the comments section, I beg you (not really, but yeah, I’d like to hear your thoughts).

Midterm Stress Relief Week: House of Cards

After a long day of running around campus, it’s time to slip into a granny sweater, make some scorching hot tea, and watch some good ol’ House of Cards for Day 3 of Midterm Stress Relief Week.

The show, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright and directed by David Fincher, premiered on February 1. I started watching it the day after and am only four episodes into the show. So far, it’s pretty damn good. Spacey’s character Frank Underwood is passed over for the position of Secretary of State by the candidates, including President, he helped get elected. He slowly and very surely enacts a plot to dismantle the new Secretary candidate and get his overall revenge. He’s so bad, he’s good. Aside from his lovely wife Claire, we the audience are Frank’s confidante as Spacey breaks the fourth wall to reveal is true nature. Spacey and Wright make a cruelly ambitious and deliciously perfect couple.  As the House Majority Whip and head of an environmental company respectively, both of them are in fine form and I may have a womanly crush on Ms. Wright. (Oh I most definitely have).

House of Cards - Kevin Space, Robin Wright

Move over Obamas. The new power couple of Washington DC.

Equally notable is the fact that Netflix outbid HBO, Showtime, AMC, and other television networks for House of Cards. And all episodes are released on the day of the premiere. Perhaps Netflix – and the world of online streaming – really is the future of video entertainment. Remember when Netflix split their service between DVD rental from instant watch? Remember when people waved their torches and pitch forks as a result of this supposedly unfair and inconvenient separation? While I was a bit bummed that I’d have to choose among one, the other, or paying double the price, I trusted the movie rental king. It was sad seeing rental stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video go out of business – I have some good memories of browsing the local video store. But we live in the age of information and we want our information now.

Netflix made a very forward move in transitioning from DVD rentals to online streaming of movies and TV shows. Was buying “House of Cards,” along with promoting it (rather scantily, though) worth it? According to CNBC’s report, the premiere of “House of Cards” did not produce a “spike in views.” I’m no business aficionado and I’m not good at crunching numbers, so I’ll admit that I don’t see the financial payoff for Netflix yet. The way they get more money is by having more people subscribe. In addition to regular subscribers, how many people would have to sign up to Netflix for the company to see a profit from this? Netflix is not some small revolutionary company trying to buck a trend and stick it to the man. Netflix is the man. What I see them doing is spearheading a form of entertainment of the future. And the not-too-distant future, apparently. Maybe this really will pay off for them in the long run.

House of Cards - Kevin Spacey

Cheers to the future, Internet

Watch House of Cards if you like backstabbing political dramas and great acting (Spacey rocks my world). I’ll write a post solely about the show (sans Netflix drama) when I finish the season.

Read more about Netflix’s revolution:

Midterm Stress Relief Week: 1000 Cranes, Give or Take A Few

After guiding you through the junior processes of forging old documents, we’ll be working with more paper for Day 2 of Midterm Stress Relief Week.

It is very likely you have heard of the Japanese legend of the thousand paper cranes (senbazuru). It is believed that a person who makes a thousand origami cranes will have one wish granted by the gods. I remember first learning about this when my third grade teacher Ms. Bennet read to the class Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. It is a very moving story, all the more so because it was true (for the most part). Sadako was directly exposed to nuclear radiation during the bombing of Hiroshima and developed leukemia as a result. Determined to fight it, she set to working creating the thousand paper cranes. According to the story by Coerr, Sadako folded 644 cranes before passing. However, according to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, she folded more than a thousand, even surpassing 1300 cranes before being taken by the illness.

[To learn more and get your history/culture lesson for the day, visit the links at the bottom of this post.]

So let us begin to construct a wish today by folding a paper crane. (I apologize for the cruddy photo quality).

1) Get a square piece of paper.

If you don’t have a piece of paper that is conveniently already square, you can fold and cut one out of any rectangular sheet of paper. Take one corner of the paper and fold it diagonally downward, bringing the edge (on top) evenly against the opposite edge (on the bottom).

Cut or tear off the excess paper below.

Paper Cranes Square with Extra

Sloppy tearing job.

2) Fold the paper in half diagonally to create two diagonal fold lines that intersect at the middle.

Paper crane, diagonal lines

3) Keep the paper folded in half. It is now a triangle. Fold this triangle in half, bringing one far corner to the other far corner.

Paper Cranes Triangle

Paper crane, half triangle

4) Now, what I call a “spread open” fold. (This might be a little tricky). Open half of the triangle.

Paper cranes erect triangle

Hold down the flat half of the triangle and press down on the tip of the erect triangle half (giggity giggity?). Bring this corner down to the corner below. When you do this, it should create a diamond shape. Flatten out this diamond.

Paper crane, pin the diamond

Paper crane, diamond

Do the same thing to the other side.

Paper crane, both sides diamond

5) With the open side facing you, fold the right side in half so that the lower right edge lines up with the middle fold line.

Paper crane, first right fold

Do the same thing to the left side. And repeat on the flip side.

Paper crane, all sides folded

6) Fold the top corner down along the edges created by your previous folds.

Paper crane, fold down

Repeat on the other side.

7) Unfold the two “wings” so that the paper looks like a diamond again.

Paper crane, reopen diamond

8) Take the bottom corner (only the top layer) and lift up. It now looks like a mouth (of sorts).

Paper crane, mouth

This may take some coordination. Using the fold that you created by folding the top corner down, flatten the “mouth” upwards. The “wings” on the left and right will fold inward. Use the folding lines as your guides. It should now look like a vertically long diamond.

Paper crane, mouth 2

Paper crane, flat mouth

Repeat for the other side.

9) Fold the bottom right side inward so that the edge is against the middle line.

Paper crane, right to middle

And then what do we do? Yep, that’s right! Do the same thing to the left side.

Paper crane, left to middle

And… You got it- the other side now!

10) Almost finished. Another warning, this may be tricky. If you look at what you have now, it looks like you now have two “legs” on your paper. Open the right leg.

Paper crane, right leg flat

Paper crane, right leg flat 2

There should be a fold on the now flattened inside portion of the right “leg” from a previous step. Place your finger on this fold and tuck your thumb behind this “leg.” Your thumb should be nestled between the two legs (giggity giggity number 2?). Now fold this right “leg” up.

Paper crane, fold line

This horizontal line here.

Paper crane, fold up

Push up with your thumb. Use your index finger to keep the fold on that line.

Paper crane, fold up 2

Paper crane, fold up 3

Squeeze it/secure it in place. It’s comin’ together. This is now your tail or head. Do the same with the other “leg.” Your “legs” may get crumpled a bit in the process, especially with thicker paper.

Paper crane, head and tail

Can make neither head nor tails of it! *guffaw*

 11) Fold down the wings.

Paper crane, wing

Pull up the wings, lightly pressing the outer edges up and inward, pinching the underside of the middle fold. The middle fold down the center of the wing should go downward.

Paper crane, pinch wing

12) Finishing touch: the choosing of the head. I generally go with the more crumpled looking tip to be the head and leave the neater tip to the be pristine little tail. Fold the tip down into the “neck” and then pull it back out.

Paper crane, choose head

Paper crane, head finished

Voila! A paper crane! Now, only 999 more to go and you’re well on your way to that glorious wish.

Paper cranes multiply like rabbits

They multiply like rabbits.

If you want to learn more about the 1000 cranes tradition and the organizations it has inspired, follow these links:

  • 1000 Cranes of Hope – A unity mission by the Takeda Oncology Company. Make a wish with a digital paper crane.
  • One Thousand Cranes for Japan – Beautiful crane designs. Donate to fund artists’ work.
  • Sadako Sasaki – Wikipedia page. Several good links and resources to look into at the bottom and throughout the article.
  • Topeka Teen, Friends Seek to Help Newtown, Conn. – An eighth grader folded 1000 paper cranes in honor of the victims and families of the tragedy in Newtown.

Thoughts? Suggestions? What are you passionate about? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!