Completed: 28 Things Minibook

At last! The minibook documenting the 28 Things To Do While I’m 28 list is finally done. Last year, I felt a very, very strong need to finish the book and post the completed photos on my actual birthday. This year, I was still completing list items in the last days of being 28 so that just didn’t happen. Maybe it took me two years of doing these lists and books, but I finally found my sweet set-up, namely a card table in the living room that can stay as messy as I want for as long as I want, meaning that the creation process is much more fluid. Either way, creating these books is at least half of why writing these lists are so much fun… some of it is arbitrary, but after living with these 28 things in the back of my mind for a year, it’s cool to give them the documentation they deserve.

Here are some of my favorite pages. And trust me, these little scrapbooks are totally the way to go. And not just because I love the excuse to buy lots of paper, permanent markers, and labels. (I still need to get some of that Japanese masking tape though!)

August 24, 2010

28 minibook: finished!

the list, and #1: take pictures in a photobooth

#2: visit local breweries and #3: complete the couch to 5k program for real this time

#4: learn how to knit

#15: go to as many baseball games as possible

#16: make my new apartment feel like home without spending too much money

#23: love the people who matter to me and #24: go on interesting photo-taking excursions

#24: go on interesting photo-taking excursions

#27: lie in the grass, look at the sky, and feel the wind and #28: no really, age is just a number. grow up. stay young. be silly. talk a lot. take pictures. hug more. be happy.

28 minibook: finished!

The Countdown

When I was a kid, I used to have what might be called annual birthday freakouts. If you were being nice. I think that somehow my streak of sentimentality combined with my love of order and numbers and things being just so and my incredible talent for thinking entirely too much created this monster. This little girl monster who would get a little thrill each month on the 21st and count months on her fingers, and who would turn the weeks leading up to her birthday into a veritable countdown of extremely significant events.

“This is the last time I’ll ever ride my bike to town while I’m 11!”
“I won’t ever eat ice cream as a non-teenager again!”

While I have largely grown out of this annual birthday freaking out, milestone birthdays give me a little shiver all the same. I avoided it entirely on my 25th birthday, because two of my great friends got married the day after, so my birthday was spent running errands and eating meals and celebrating at a rehearsal dinner at which they actually sang to me which was so crazy sweet. I don’t really remember 20, but 21 was a big one, a big one that contained the distractions of everyone other than me being drunk and thus needing care.

But my birthday is coming around again, in a little more than a month and a half, and it has me thinking about the remaining items on my 28 To Do List. (Still achievable: baking cupcakes, spending time outside (and lying in the grass), working toward a rainbow of shoes, and finishing the list of 365 things that make me happy.) So I’m feeling pretty awesome about that, and starting to gather materials to work on the book to document the list.

I’m not sure, though, what to do about a list of things to do while I’m 29. Will that bring on a “holy crap I’m turning 30 and what have I done with my life” birthday freakout? Will it give me 29 reasons to FIGHT the birthday freakout that is so damn cliched that it annoys me to even think about it? Am I totally jumping the gun seeing as how I’m not even 29 yet? Does the fact that my boyfriend’s birthday is a few days before mine, and he’s enough years older than me to be hitting his own milestone age mean that my birthday freakouts are even more totally ridiculous?

I don’t know. But I have a few ideas for next year’s list brewing, so maybe I’ll keep at it. Not having a list after two years of having one might give me hives anyway.

Baseball Movie Classics: A Pseudo Marathon, The End!

(Part One) (Part Two) (Part Three) (Part Four)

For Love of the Game rounds out the Kevin Costner trilogy of baseball movies, and was another one I had very high hopes for (even after not totally loving Field of Dreams). The movie came out much more recently than I realized (1999) and is actually based on a novel by Michael Shaara (who also wrote The Killer Angels, which is a Pulitzer Prize winning Civil War novel). Costner plays Billy Chapel, 40 year old veteran pitcher (who’s been pitching for the Tigers for 19 years), who learns before the last game of the season that the team has been sold, and he can either be traded or retire. The same morning, his girlfriend informs him that she’s leaving for London. Forever. So it’s not a good day. The movie chronicles Chapel’s journey through this single game, and flashbacks to his relationship and love of baseball are mixed in between the innings. I love stories that are told backwards in this way, and although some would probably argue that the story is too much about his love of Jane, rather than his love of baseball, but I thought it was just right. It was a great story, and Costner is really compelling, and I am definitely adding this one to my list. If you love baseball, you really should see this.

So! That finishes the movies that I’m going to watch for this project, largely because baseball season is in full swing and I want to watch BASEBALL, not movies about baseball. The two movies I had tentatively put on the list that we didn’t get to were A League of Their Own (which I’ve seen a bunch of times, and can acknowledge as probably worthy of being included in the better of the baseball movies, but which I can’t seem to get the motivation to watch) and Bad News Bears (which I included just because I’ve never seen it). So I’m considering this project a resounding success because it was a lot of fun, and I finally did watch a bunch of those movies everyone thinks I should have seen, but I haven’t (if you recall, that’s #11 on my 28 To Do List).

All told, we watched 9 movies. Two I really didn’t care for (Field of Dreams and Mr. Baseball). The rest were really good movies. Here’s my final ranking:

  1. Bull Durham
  2. The Natural
  3. Major League
  4. For Love of the Game
  5. Mr. 3000
  6. Little Big League
  7. Major League 2
  8. Field of Dreams
  9. Mr. Baseball

And I’d happily add Bull Durham, The Natural, Major League, For Love of the Game, and maybe Mr. 3000 to my annual Baseball Season Is Almost Here Let’s Watch Some Baseball Movies To Get Even More Psyched About It movie viewing list. The first four are solid, amazing movies with great stories about likable characters, and more importantly, about loving the game of baseball.

I Hope the Next Thing I Cook Is Prettier

As I mentioned last week, I realized recently that time is running out when it comes to my 28 Things. So I’m trying to hurry up and learn how to cook some new things. I think that my original intent when I wrote the list was to learn how to cook new things that become staples, which is kind of unfortunate, as after yesterday I’ve learned how to cook two new things (or maybe a better description is that I tried two new recipes) and neither are the kind of things I am really going to need to cook again with any urgency. (And actually, it’s just occurring to me now that maybe what I really meant was to learn new cooking techniques? Who knows.)

Anyway, this is all the lead up to say that last night I made this Three-Bean Super Stew from the Vegetarian Times. It’s a stew with black beans, chickpeas, lentils, a tomato, a bell pepper, and some spices. And it was good! The coriander and cumin combined with the beans made for a really wonderful flavor. My main issue with this was that apparently I can’t read, and I was surprised when this turned out to be soupish/stew-y in texture, and very, very mushy. (But the mushiness, I think, was due to the fact that I overcooked the lentils, which seems to happen every time I cook something with lentils. I am beginning to think that I only like lentils in canned lentil soup.) Also, it’s brownish, mushy texture and color made it completely unphotogenic.

But still! I cooked something new! And I have food for the week!

Any thoughts on what I should try next? People keep telling me to learn how to make tomato sauce from scratch, which I am not feeling a burning need to do, or pizza. Maybe I’ll make homemade pizza. Do you think pizza dough is above my current cooking-knowledge scale? I’m kind of afraid the answer to that will be yes.

Learning to Cook Is Probably Mostly Mental

#21 on my 28 Things to Do While I’m 28 list is to learn to cook three new things. I am still pretty damn psyched about feeling confident with making chili and sausage risotto, and I wanted to force myself to expand my repertoire a bit. Of course, now my birthday is three months away and I haven’t learned to cook anything new at all, so I’m starting to panic a bit. Because this list is clearly supposed to make me worry about stuff, rather than gently inspiring me to do more and be happier.

April 28, 2010

So today I decided to try what I think is a Mark Bittman recipe from the New York Times for Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Black Beans and Chili Dressing because if there are two things I love, they are sweet potatoes and black beans. The end result was not very photogenic at all, and I suppose it would have been a little less jarring if I’d expected it to be more like a potato salad. Don’t get me wrong, it was very, very tasty (black beans, sweet potatoes, onion, red peppers, with a sauce made of jalapenos, lime juice, and garlic) and maybe it’ll be better as leftovers when the flavors have had time to meld. But it was a lot of flavor. Still, I’m glad I’m back to tentatively trying new things. Sort of.

Baseball Movie Classics: A Pseudo Marathon, Part Four

(Part One) (Part Two) (Part Three)

Mr. Baseball was a added to my Baseball Movie Classics list based on three things: it’s about baseball, Netflix suggested it when I was adding these movies to my queue, and it stars Tom Selleck. I think I may have inherited my fondness directly from my mom, who has a non-secret Thing for him. (Looking at my dad, maybe it’s the mustache?) Personally, I’m a sucker for a dude with a deep, good-sounding voice, and Tom Selleck fits the bill. Or maybe I just love Three Men and a Baby/Little Lady and transfer that love to Tom Selleck in general. Okay fine, I like Tom Selleck! So sue me!

Ahem. Anyway, in Mr. Baseball, Tom plays aging first baseman Jack Elliot. He’s old, there’s a new first baseman in town, and the only team interested in Elliot is the Chunichi Dragons in Japan. So Elliot goes to Japan, where he is instantly a big star. To be perfectly honest, this movie was kind of boring and I may have… slept through a good chunk of the middle and part of the end as well. It’s not so much about the game of baseball, but about the brash American Jack Elliot having no respect or understanding for Japanese culture or its impact on baseball. (For example, there’s a big to-do about how Japanese players consider the field to be sacred, meaning no spitting. So Elliot shows how annoyed he is about the rules and strictness by chewing a big wad of tobacco and spitting on the field.) It was made in 1992 and comes off as dated, but not in the charming way, in the this-is-verging-on-offensive way. And as much as I love you, Tom Selleck, I couldn’t even stay awake for the meat of the movie. So perhaps I was a bit brash in adding this to my list. But that’s part of why this project is a ton of fun.

Baseball Movie Classics: A Pseudo Marathon, Part Three

(Part One) (Part Two)

The latest picks in my baseball movie marathon were strictly comedies, which is always a good thing when it comes to baseball. We started with Major League, an obvious classic that I had only seen once before. This is one of those movies that amazes me now to see how many future stars appear. Before we go any further, I LOVED it. It’s hilarious, and the comedy holds up to the test of time. Although some of the characters and parts of the plot show up in other baseball movies (injured veteran catcher leads the team, young hotshot pitcher who has no control, asshole team owner wants them to fail…), Major League puts it all together perfectly. Incidentally, Wikipedia tells me that Charlie Sheen was a pitcher in high school, and managed to get his fastball up to 85 mph during filming. How cool is that? Perhaps this movie rings true to me as a Mets fan, watching my team SUCK the past few years despite their talent (not to mention a super-speedy Wesley Snipes (aka Jose Reyes) and a bald, goateed superstitious slugger (aka Carlos Delgado)). It’s just a good story about a team that pulls together. It’s funny, it’s got good montages (made better by the addition of newspaper headlines as the season nears the end), Bob Uecker is perfect as the Indians’ announcer, and I love the cuts to the fans’ reactions at first when they suck and then as they get better. Maybe it doesn’t say important things about the spirit of baseball, but it’s one of the best comedies I’ve seen in a long time, and it’s going on my annual baseball-is-almost-here movie watching list, without a doubt.

We then watched Major League 2 which is also really funny, but doesn’t hold up to the original at all. The cast of characters is largely the same, swapping Wesley Snipes for Omar Epps, who is good but clearly doing an imitation of Snipes’ version of Willie Mays Hayes. Tom Berenger’s character is too old to be competitive, so he joins the coaching staff. There are a few new misfits added to the bunch; this movie chronicles the season just following the success in Major League. It definitely feels like they were trying to recapture the magic of the original movie, but they don’t quite get there. It’s not without hilarious moments, though. There’s a young catcher who can’t throw to the mound. Charlie Sheen’s character has tidied up his image and lost his ability to blow pitches by the batters. It’s another classic baseball comedy, but I didn’t love it nearly as much as the original. Dan assured me that the third one (Back to the Minors!) is not worth a viewing. Maybe one day. Still, it’s hard to turn down a baseball comedy, so don’t rule this one out completely.

The third baseball movie we watched this week was Mr. 3000, starring Bernie Mac. This is the only remotely recent movie on my list (it came out in 2004), and was recommended by my brother. I was a little skeptical, because Bernie Mac plays an asshole first-baseman who alienated all of his teammates and fans in his pursuit of 3000 hits, topping it off by retiring the same night he achieves the goal. The bulk of the movie takes place nine years later, where a 46-year-old Stan Ross is frustrated because he keeps missing the Hall of Fame. It turns out that a statistical error was made, and he only has 2,997 hits, so he decides to make a comeback in order to get those last 3 hits. This is one of those movies where you’re not loving the main character, but grow to root for him as the movie goes on. He clashes with his new teammates, who are obviously much younger, in better shape, and don’t think they need him at all. His struggles are hilarious, but the movie has a lot of heart. I wasn’t expecting to laugh so hard. This movie was really great, and I love how it ended (but I won’t ruin it for you). I’m glad we included this one, and Bernie Mac is fantastic.