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.

Baseball Movie Classics: A Pseudo Marathon, Part Two

(Part One)

The storm this weekend meant that we got in one day of baseball movie watching. First up was Little Big League. This is one of the many children’s baseball movies that came out in the 90s, movies that I remember awfully fondly. (See also: The Sandlot, Rookie of the Year, Angels in the Outfield) Dan campaigned for this one to be included in our study because it holds up to the test of time despite a very weak actor playing the main character. And he was right. It’s a great, if unlikely, story, about a kid whose grandfather dies and leaves him the Minnesota Twins. After arguing with the Twins’ manager, twelve-year-old Billy names himself the manager. It’s fairly straightforward from there: single mom is romanced by the first baseman. Old grizzled reliever resents having a kid as a manager. But what this movie has going for it are a bunch of really fun team members, clever trick plays, former MLB players playing the baseball players in the movies (including former Met Kevin Elster!), the Twins’ actual radio announcer, Chris Berman doing Baseball Tonight, and cameos from big-name 90s baseball greats like Ken Griffey, Jr, Pudge Rodriguez, Paul O’Neill, Randy Johnson, Lou Piniella and Rafael Palmeiro. You don’t see that kind of thing any more, and it’s just flat-out cool. Oh! And don’t let me forget that this movie contains a sweet baseball montage to “Centerfield” by John Fogerty. Which is kind of essential. It’s a good story and it’s funnier than you think. Good stuff.

Bull Durham was next, and this one carries a lot of weight. I’ve only seen it once, but both Dan and my brother list it among their very favorite movies. This was part of Kevin Costner’s late 80s baseball movie trifecta, and it’s GOOD. I mean, this is an amazing movie. Because this movie focuses on a really terrible minor league team, it’s unique. It’s about baseball and love and loving baseball, and about wanting to make it in the majors. And about sometimes not making it. Tim Robbins is hilarious as a clueless hotshot rookie who has no control on the mound, while Susan Sarandon is the woman who adopts one player each year and makes him great. But it’s even more about Kevin Costner’s character, and old catcher whose last hurrah will be grooming Tim Robbins to make it big. Maybe this movie’s strength comes from the fact that it was written by a guy who played in the minors for five years and really understands what that means. Another “Centerfield” montage, a fast-talking manager, and a really great cast of characters only add to Bull Durham’s charm. It’s funny, it’s sexy, and it’s a great story. So, so, so good. Don’t watch it with kids. But I love it.

Things I Want To Tell You About

  • Gold Bond Hand Sanitizing Moisturizer. I work with the public. I wash my hands a lot. I use a lot of that alcohol-based hand sanitizer. My hands are always, always, always crazy dry. I wash my hands, I put on lotion. The non hand sanitizer style Gold Bond lotion has really saved my hands from true horrors this winter. So I finally tried this new stuff, and I know this is super geeky, but it just makes me so happy. It gets the job done (while preventing me from thinking too much about how germy my workplace is), smells good, and it feels like I just put lotion on afterwards. Awesome.
  • Every few months, my lips get monstrously chapped. Sometimes I blame it on my allergy medicine, but that’s just a guess. It’s horrible; not your standard-issue chapped lips. They feel tight and then they crack and peel and flake and when it gets really bad, it’s like it spreads around the perimeter of my lips. And I have tried Every. Damn. Lip Balm. There Is. Burts Bees, straight up Vaseline, the new Neosporin super healing one, everything. And nothing really works, and I’m left just waiting it out. Well! I finally found the answer. And I am sharing it not because I think you care about my chapped lips, but this has been such a magic solution that you might want to know, too. It’s Aquaphor Healing Ointment, and I bought it in a pack of two 0.35 ounce tubes that are more chapstick-sized. My lips got really bad on Monday, and by Thursday they were back to normal. This is unprecedented. And amazing. And not even expensive! Also, it’s not medicated so it doesn’t sting, and it doesn’t smell or taste like anything. Hooray!
  • I finally joined listography, after long coveting the books and just loving that they even have a website. I added a link to the sidebar with what lists I have going now. Since writing lists features heavily on my 28 Things To Do While I’m 28 List, I thought it would be fun to have them over there. I may actually transition my books read/to read/movies seen lists over there exclusively, but I’m not sure yet.
  • And finally! I added the most current links from my delicious page in the sidebar, as well. I used to just star items in Google Reader, but I am not fond of the methods Reader offers for getting back to the items. Plus, I like that delicious allows me to just tag any site on the web. I’ve been using this for links I want to refer back to – recipes, craft ideas, wishlisty things, but mostly things I actually want to do or make or try, rather than just things I think are pretty. So in case you’re interested, that’s over there too.

Baseball Movie Classics: a Pseudo Marathon, Part One

When I wrote my 28 To Do List last summer, #11 was to watch some of those movies everyone thinks I should have seen, but I haven’t. There are a lot of important cinematic classics that I’m embarrassed never to have seen. Like The Godfather. Or Terminator 2. Or most of the classic baseball movies. But it’s not like I have a list of movies that fit this criteria, it’s more that I hate that feeling when someone can’t believe I haven’t seen something so ubiquitous. So this list item has been knocking around in my head, without a good solution. But my friends, baseball season is drawing near, and what better time than now to start an extended marathon of the classic baseball movies? (Prior to this project I had seen Major League once, Bull Durham once, A League of Their Own a bunch of times, and Rookie of the Year a million, billion times. Also frequently watched: The Sandlot. And Angels in the Outfield.)

So I consulted my brother and my boyfriend to make sure the list of movies was complete. We left out most of the children’s movies (see above: I’ve seen them a million times). The ones we included were ones John or Dan loved, or ones that were important to the baseball movie genre. Or simply ones I really need to have seen, just for the sake of completeness. We aren’t planning to watch these in a standard marathon, but over the course of the weekends in March, leading up to opening day. Maybe this will be a new tradition!

We started off with The Natural. I loved it. And I think I have a crush on Robert Redford now. This one had all of the best things non-comedy baseball movies should: solid montages, a spitfire manager, someone trying to take down the team, and best of all, old timey uniforms. Dan and I really like old timey baseball. It has a certain something modern baseball just can’t get at. I think, though, that this one I’m definitely going to need to watch again. The problem with watching a movie that you know is classic and well-regarded is that you’re on pins and needles waiting for something bad to happen. This happened when I finally saw the Shawshank Redemption three years ago, too. I was waiting for something horrible and sad and heartbreaking to happen at the end; to end up sobbing. It’s hard to relax and enjoy a movie with that in the back of your mind. But nothing as catastrophic as I feared happened in The Natural, and the scenes on the field at the end are pure baseball magic. Classic through and through.

Next up was Field of Dreams. I’m no stranger to the creepy whisper-shouted If you build it, he will come. I didn’t expect that the building of the baseball diamond in the cornfield would be finished so early in the movie, and that a larger spirit-quest would ensue, with further mysteriously whispered and unintelligible instructions. Before I say anything else, I do want to point out that I’m obviously approaching all of these movies with the open mind of a true baseball fan. But Field of Dreams? It was a little MUCH, wasn’t it? It was all Important Swell of Music and Long Pauses Before Meaningful Moments. It felt like they were bashing me over the head with these Meaningful Baseball Moments, rather than just letting the moments develop in a meaningful way just because it’s a good story that pulls your heartstrings. (See: The Natural). Maybe it was because the story is about life and nostalgia and this one man’s journey, rather than about the game of baseball… But I could do without this one. I’m glad I saw it, but I don’t know if this needs to be added to my personal rotation or anything. Of course, Dan’s brother Dave yelled at me for saying all of this. “This is one of the few guy movies with non-cheesy emotion! How can you mock it?!” Ooops.

This is going to be such a fun project.