Saturday, July 28, 2012

On Her Majesty's Olympics Service

How awesome was this clip of James Bond (aka Agent 007 aka actor Daniel Craig) escorting Queen Elizabeth II -- via parachute -- to the opening of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London?!



Brilliant! And loved the corgis. (More about that video clip of 007 and the Queen here.)

They should use it as the title sequence in the next James Bond film, Skyfall (come to theaters in the United States November 9!) 

Friday, July 27, 2012

"Your mom is calling" relaxation ringtone

OMG, where has this ringtone been all my life  -- or even an hour ago when my mother called me on my cell phone in a panic (after calling the home phone and not getting an answer) to ask which kind of Bass Ale she should get for a party she is having tomorrow?!

Unfortunately, I was unable to embed the Your Mom Is Calling Relaxation Ringtone here (click on the link above to check it out), but here is what the soothing voice says:

"Your mom is calling...
but she can wait.
First, let's relax our shoulders and take a deep breath in...
and out.
In...
and out.
Now, you may answer your phone."

I could listen to that ringtone all morning.

[H/T to FOB Larissa. Thank you thank you thank you.]

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Man Aisle

Attention all male supermarket shoppers: Introducing one-stop shopping for all your manly needs.

Because apparently having separate "beer" and "snack" aisles was too labor intensive:

“If you’re going to have some guys over to watch a game, you can pretty much stand here — not move two feet — and get your beer, barbecue sauce, chips, whatever*. It’s all right here!” Ian Joskowitz, 43, chief operating officer of Westside Market NYC, told the New York Post.

(I rest my case.)

While the idea of a Man Aisle is amusing, do guys really need more distractions when supermarket shopping? Also, how old is the target audience, nine? Frosted Flakes, Cap'n Crunch, and Doritos? And what's with the lame beer selection? Bud Light and Coors Light? At least include some real beer, guys.

*whatever being code for condoms

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Back-to-school ads? In July?

While the teenager is already pining to go back to school (strange girl), I am still enjoying summer. And I was totally unprepared to see back-to-school ads in the middle of July. School just ended June 22! But I have to admit these back-to-school ads from Target, which all feature parodies of some of my favorite 1980s songs, are pretty awesome.

First up Target's "Science Teacher" ad featuring Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science":



Next, Target's "English Teacher" ad featuring The Go-Go's "We Got Beat":



And finally Target's back-to-school ad titled "Music Teacher," which does a riff on Cameo's "Word Up!":



Makes me wish we had a Target close by (though I am so not ready to go back-to-school shopping).

UPDATED: And this just in from Staples, a commercial titled "It's back to school time!" featuring  Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough":



Seriously, what is with all the 1980s new wave music in these back-to-school ads? (Not that I'm complaining.)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Which model would you rather test drive?

One (or both) of these two hard bodies (courtesy of Hollister), like this woman here*...

















Or this sexy little number (courtesy of Lamborghini)?

















Or, better yet, being chauffeured by one of those fine young men in this fine Lamborghini Gallardo.

Ah, the joys of sightseeing in New York City.

*I tried to get my friend, A., to pose with the lifeguards, but she refused. In retrospect, I should have done it. Next time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

10 Things I Love About Summer

How do I love summertime? Let me count the ways....

1. Sunny, warm weather (though I don't like it when it stays above 90 degrees for more than a day or two)

2. Setting the alarm to go off after 7 a.m. (even though I'm usually up by 6:45 a.m. anyway)

3. Longer, lighter days

4. Everything is so green and leafy

5. People are nicer (especially me)

6. Summer vacation

7. Long bike rides and walks on the beach (that is when I can get to a beach)

8. No complaining about homework

9. Grilling (and chilling with a beer, on the deck)

10. Driving with the sun roof and windows open and the radio blasting (though I probably haven't done this with any regularity since the summer of 1991)

So what do you all love about summer? Let me know via a Comment.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bastille Day + Caturday = French cat videos

In honor of Bastille Day falling on a Caturday, I give to you ze most famous of French cats (at least in the last few months), Henri.

For those of you unfamiliar with Henri, he is a (pseudo) French cat suffering from ennui.

The first Henri le chat (cat, for those of you who do not speak French, the language of love -- and hep cats) video is titled "Henri 2, Paw de Deux."



Next up, "Henri 3, Le Vet":



Nous vous souhaitons un bon week-end -- sans imb├ęciles.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Let's go goat surfing now...

Every goat is learning how,
Come and go goat surfing with me!



At San Onofre State Beach
They're shooting the pier.
At Rincon they're walking the nose.
We're going goat surfing to the islands this year,
So if you're coming get ready to go.

Let's go goat surfing now,
Every goat is learning how,
Come and go goat surfing with me!

[More about Goatee and Pismo, the surfing goats, here.]

Thursday, July 12, 2012

C is for Cookie Monster cover version

Apparently C is not only for Cookie but also for Cover, as in Cover song.

Adding to the already impressive (or annoying, depending on your POV) collection of cover versions* of Carly Rae Jepsen's song "Call Me Maybe" (perhaps the most covered song ever, followed closely by Gotye's "Somebody I Used to Know"**) comes Cookie Monster's "(You got cookie) Share It Maybe."



Forget topping the Billboard Top 100 chart for five weeks in a row, all you singers and musicians. You know you've really arrived when Sesame Street covers your song.

Give that blue monster a cookie.

*This is still my favorite "Call Me Maybe" cover, though, which the teenager and I do whenever we hear it in the car -- until she tells me to put my hands back on the steering wheel.

**Love the Peyton Manning/Tim Tebow and Star Wars covers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer 2012 reading

Haven't been reading as much as I normally do. Starting up a new ecommerce business will do that to a person. I've also not had much patience for longer, oh-so-serious reads (not that I did before). Hence the number of books filed under "Chick Lit." Sorry guys.

As per usual, if you click on the title of the book, you will be taken to its Amazon page, where you can find out more about it and purchase it, if you so choose. (Me, I'm all about supporting my local library, even though I fully support an author's right to earn royalties. Okay, so I'm cheap. Sue me. Actually, please don't.)

Herewith, a sampling of the books I've read (so far) this summer. (To see previous book recommendations, click here -- or on the Book Nook label at the end of the post.)

Chick Lit

A Little Night Magic by Lucy March. If you enjoy magical realism, the books of Sarah Addison Allen (loved Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen), and/or books that involve food, you will likely enjoy A Little Night Magic. A story of "friendship, love, magic, and waffles," the book tells the story of a restless young woman working at a waffle house in upstate New York who finds out she has magical powers -- and that bad people are after her. A bit cliche, I know, but the writing isn't (too) bad. An easy, quick read, which those of you from upstate New York (hi EMM!) will relate to.

The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst. How could I not like a book written by a woman named Jennifer who writes about a woman who loves books and is a big-time Mets fan? A fun, romantic read (i.e., completely unrealistic), The Marriage Bargain tells the story of Alexa McKenzie, a devoted daughter, dog lover, Mets fan, and bookstore owner, who begrudgingly marries Nick Ryan, her best friend's big brother, who happens to be a billionaire architect, drop-dead gorgeous, and (of course) afraid of commitment -- purely for business reasons (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). But, of course, they wind up falling madly in love with each other. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, my eyes rolled when I read that -- and the book -- too, but it's not as bad as it sounds, or as painful as watching The Bachelorette. And the sex scenes weren't too shabby.)

The Next Always (Book One of the Inn Boonsboro Trilogy) by Nora Roberts. Believe it or not, I had never read any Nora Roberts before The Next Always -- and probably will not read another one after I finish her Inn Boonsboro Trilogy. (I am a sucker for trilogies, but I have my limits.) Also, in a case of pure coincidence, this book also features a bookstore owner who falls in love with an architect. I know! But instead of the Hudson Valley, The Next Always takes place in Maryland. The bookstore owner is hometown honey Clare, who got married to her high school boyfriend, a soldier, and returns home after he is killed in action overseas while she was pregnant with son number three. And our hero, while seemingly well off, is no billionaire playboy type but a hard-working architect/contractor, who is lovingly restoring a local landmark, turning it into a boutique inn with his two equally hard-working and hunky brothers. There is also a ghost, a sociopath, the restaurant owner with the heart of gold, and the three adorable urchins. Despite that description, I enjoyed the book, though a finalist for the Booker Award or a Pulitzer it is not.

Historical Fiction

Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd. Early psychotherapy, the 1910s in Vienna, and what it meant to be an undercover operative during World War I, via the perspective of a young British actor who starts out his journey as a patient hoping to be cured of a problem of a sexual nature -- and winds up becoming an undercover agent for the British government. Full of mystery and intrigue, the novel is dark but not depressing -- and the prose and pacing will gather you in. (Note: I found the ending unsatisfactory, and frustrating, leaving too many unanswered questions and loose ends, but I still recommend the book.)

Mystery

Grandad, There’s a Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill. The follow up to his previous Jimm Juree Mystery, Killed at the Whim of a Hat, which I greatly enjoyed, Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach follows former crime reporter Jimm Juree as she, and I quote, "grapple[s] with her quirky family, a mysterious mother and daughter on the lam and the small matter of a head on the beach." If you enjoy a fun, quirky mystery with misheard song lyrics, I highly recommend Cotterill's latest.

Non-Fiction

Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too! by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon. You don't have to be an aspiring (or perspiring) screenwriter to enjoy this book. Though it helps if you enjoy watching movies, or ever sat in a theater wondering "How the heck did that awful story ever get greenlighted?!" Full of great insights, tips, and humor, Writing Movies for Fun and Profit is my new favorite book about screenwriting (and I read a few back in the day). Heck, I have no desire to write a script and I still found this book fascinating -- two insiders' look at how movies get made and how screenwriters get paid. Also, the spouse and I were huge fans of Thomas Lennon and Viva Variety back in the day.

The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece by Jonathan Harr. More proof that truth is often stranger than fiction. The Lost Painting tells the amazing story of how a lost Caravaggio masterpiece, "The Taking of Christ," was found after being thought lost. Full of mystery, intrigue, and Italy, The Lost Painting is a great detective story. And did I mention it's mainly set in Italy? Art history, Italy, and mystery buffs will enjoy this well-crafted book.

And sitting on my nightstand or on my "To Read" list: Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore, Mad Women by Jane Maas, That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsow by Anne Sebba, The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani, and Paris My Sweet by Amy Thomas.

Anything else I should add to my list (that isn't depressing as Hell)? Let me know via the Comment section. I also encourage you to leave a comment about books you think other readers of this blog would like (i.e., people who love books about dysfunctional families/people), even if you think I won't like them.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A man's home is his castle...

Or, in this case, chateau.

Just got back from a lovely week in the Loire Valley, where the spouse, teenager, and I biked (or vanned) from chateau to chateau.

Following is a sampling of some of the lovely homes fit for a king (and his mistress) -- or a queen -- that we visited.

First up, Chambord, all 426 (or is it 440?) rooms of it -- and not a toilette to be found. Over the course of 32 years, Francois I only spent 72 days here -- and had his servants lug all of his furniture with them when they stayed there as the place was unfurnished.

It's good to be king.
















Looking for something a little more cozy? Try Chaumont, which has beautiful views of the Loire river.

















Or perhaps you'd prefer something with a moat? (I know I would.) Well then, I highly recommend Chenonceau.

















 Is gardening your passion? If so, Villandry is the chateau for you!

















Or if you prefer something a little smaller (that doesn't start with the letters ch) with a moat and a nice lawn, I highly recommend Azay-le-Rideau.
















And if an entire chateau is too much to handle, you can still be treated like a king (or at least a prince or a count) at the lovely Chateau de Brou, located not far from Chinon, the site of another chateau. (The spouse and I shared the Balzac room while the kid, lucky girl, stayed in Ronsard. Also, the food is superb.)

















Sigh. Definitely not your average front-to-back mid-century split level, though their heating and lawn maintenance bills are probably more than ours.