Not stress baking

In the fall when I was under a lot of stress, I would find myself in the kitchen lots of evenings looking for some sort of distraction. Mostly, I would end up baking something – breads, cookies, cakes and/or muffins – as a way to calm my frazzled nerves. Some of the stuff I would eat, but the vast majority I would end up giving away to friends, co-workers, the IT guys over at City Hall, and/or the woman who owns the local yarn shop. It gave me something to do, and gave me a way to show how much I appreciated the people I worked with or those who were putting up with my stress. 1

The last two weeks, I’ve been feeling off my game. Mostly, I’m tired and unfocused and I just can’t seem to accomplish anything useful at all. It’s taken what feels like a massive effort to haul myself out of bed and get to work, where I get nothing accomplished. And then I have dance class or go to the gym or work and don’t make it home until after 7, at which point I’m too tired to make good food choices 2. Finally, on Sunday I’d had enough and started thinking about how to snap myself out of it. While sitting at the kitchen table drinking my coffee and trying to make a list, I saw a bunch of very ripe bananas, and a light bulb went off. Baking!

Baking has many elements that I could use to yank myself out of the slump. There is a very precise list of materials that need to be assembled; there are specific pieces of equipment that must be used; there is a list of instructions that need to be followed; there is a time limit in which the task must be accomplished; and there is a reward upon completion of the task. A delicious, delicious reward (that I mostly give away).

Sunday afternoon, I whipped up a batch of classic scones and some banana bread (with the ripe bananas). Tonight I made dairy-free zucchini bread (because a co-worker is very allergic to dairy)3 It’s still a little too soon to tell if it’s working, but I have started to make a mental list of some small jobs that I can do tomorrow. Best to start small.

And have a slice of zucchini bread.

Let’s go to the movies

Here I sit, staring at a blank post, trying to think of something to say. Preferably something witty and intelligent, something like “Oy with the poodles already!”1 but not that.

Dave’s much anticipated Movie Marathon was a few weeks back, and it was a highly enjoyable 24 hours (as usual). I can’t add much to what Dave and Jorge already said, except that I TOTALLY called who patient zero was in [REC] before anyone else, and I was only one of three people to make it all the way through Human Centipede.2 For the record, I’m not proud of that accomplishment – it’s an hour and a half of my life I want scrubbed from my memory banks.

This intense glut of movie watching has lead to a flurry of my own movie watching lately. This weekend alone, I watched Iron Man 2 (meh), John Carpenter’s The Thing (love!), The Spirit (hate!), Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (love! – with some reservations3 ). I also started watching Six Reasons Why and Primer through Netflix, and intend to go back and finish them sometime soon.

(Here’s the thing: I’m quite enjoying my Netflix subscription. Sure, there’s not a lot of current programs on, and you have to be willing to explore what’s there. I’ve discovered a few programs that were new to me and have loved, a few I knew about – and hadn’t watched – and hated them, and others I knew about but hadn’t been able to watch when they were on and am now all caught up. The function I would like to see available in Netflix Canada, and from what I hear it’s available elsewhere, is a wishlist queue, or somewhere I can tag movies or shows I want to watch later in case I can’t find them later. Right now, the closest thing to that is watching five or ten minutes of it so that it’s in my recently watched queue. The major drawback of that is that the queue gets cleared at the end of the month, so I have to log into my account online the see what I started watching.4 )

But I’m still reading. Real books, and maybe a few ebooks occasionally. Maybe that will be next month’s post.

Tropes that kill

The other evening I was having a discussion with a friend about things in movies and on television that distract us from the story. I’m willing to overlook a lot if I’m enjoying the plot or the characters are compelling, but there are a few things that annoy me more than anything. Like, clunky, earnest lines delivered with a great deal of earnestness1 or when an actor can’t commit to an accent2

However, the greatest sin as far as I’m concerned is this: female characters who fight, either with weapons or in hand-to-hand combat in full makeup with their hair down, in short skirts or otherwise impractical outfits and high, pointy heels. Men, I don’t know if you realize this, but that’s bullshit. It’s nearly impossible to run for any distance or length of time in any sort of heel, let alone ones with spike heels3 The outfits are implausible for several reasons, including limited flexibility, equipment failure4 and the fact that no one ever seems to sweat or get grubby. Hell, whenever I fetch something out of the stacks at work I come back with dust or something on some part of my being.

And the hair thing? Mine isn’t all that long, and I’m a librarian, meaning the scariest thing I fight on any given day is the urge to roll my eyes at some of the excuses people give for not wanting to pay their fines. But there are times when I’m trying to hook up a VCR/DVD player/projector/computer or searching for cases or paper or barcodes and it’s all in my face and I just want to cut it off. Why do the powers that be insist on making them fight with it all in their faces?

I stopped watching Alias because of this, and pretty much any movie with Angelina Jolie. It’s also what I love about Olivia on Fringe – that she wears practical clothing and footwear and her hair pulled back when she’s working and still manages to be extremely capable at her job5

So, we came up with a list of female characters on film who seemed to buck this trend:

Ripley, from the Alien movies
EVE, from WALL-E (yeah, she counts!)
Tank Girl
Sorsha from Willow
Princess Leia
The Bride from the Kill Bill movies (with the same reservations as Olivia and Zoe)

Who else?