You Can Now Find Me Here

Movies, books, TV scenes, stories from real life, stories you made up, stories I made up… Stories, stories, stories.

I need to stay inspired, stay rooted in the thing that makes up such a massive part of who I am. If this were a CD, it’d be Christina Aguilera’s “Back to Basics.” If it were a movie, it’d be…um…Backdraft? I don’t know. Something COOL starring Kurt Russell. Yeah, definitely. Definitely Kurt Russell.

The Site: Tasty is British For

The URL: competentincombat.tumblr.com

See how that works? I’m so clever. No wonder I do this for a living…

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*Gasp*

I know what I want to do!

Coming soon…

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Happy New Year

Let’s break this down into the bare bones, shall we? It’s the end of the decade, you’ve already seen Lists and LISTS up and down the wazoo. Everyone has an opinion, tra la la la. A new decade is dangling over our heads, just there,  and the Internet will not let you forget it. Not today.

I’m not a fan of New Year’s Eve. It makes me a little sad to begin with (especially this year, so far away from my nearest and dearest, who are together from various places. Without me. Who is currently at work. And that’s the very last time I will complain about it) and I dislike any occasion where there’s so much expectation tied to having A Great Time (Thanks to Copious Amounts of Alcohol). Great times, as we all know, are rarely planned affairs (so is a really good drunk. It’s best when it comes on you, a happy by-product of a good time and not the other way around). Holidays like Halloween, New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day just seem to be begging for disappointment. And a killer headache in the morning.

I do like resolutions though. I’m a fan of R-E-S-O-L-V-E in general, the challenge of it, the inherent hopefulness of it. You might hear me complaining about all the obnoxious tartlets out and about tonight but I’ll never shake my head in disgust over Resolutions. I heart declarative statements.

Courtesy of Notebook Doodles

[And, just for the record, I kept one of mine from last year! No soda (with the exception of ginger ale, strictly for medicinal purposes, and for Jack and Ginger’s- because they’re DELICIOUS and soothe your stomach as you drown it with whiskey. Pure genius. I have a policy of embracing things that are pure genius) has passed my lips between January 1, 2009 and right this very second. One year since I’ve had a Diet Coke (technically, it was a Jack and Coke). If you’ve ever had a Diet Coke, you just wiped a tear of pride from your eye.]

So, lift a glass, cross your eyes and say a little prayer for me. The 2010 Resolutions:

I. To make myself more financially secure. Which means I’ll most likely move to a cheaper apartment and get a weekend job. I’d like to thank all of my friends who are getting married next year, every single one of them a destination wedding (“Recession? Not on MY wedding day!”), which has pushed me to do this- something I probably should’ve done years ago anyway.

II. To not complain about something more than once. Making the statement “never complain again” seems impossible. But if I could pare it down to just ONE complaint and then let it go? I think we’re on to something. (See Resolution I. You will not see me complaining about how much money I have to spend next year, not again.)

III. Go to the doctor. There are various things that I should be screening, testing, watching etc. and I just have not done any of them. This is not the way for a 28 year old to behave. And I might as well do it this year, before health care is absconded altogether and we have to start getting flu shots in back alleys, trading loaves of bread for bottles of cough syrup.

IV. To email each and every one of the bloggers I read faithfully every day and thank them for all their hard work and how much it means to me. I’m not big on leaving comments, preferring to keep my thoughts to myself and stay out of the bog, and the by-product of that is being a silent admirer. And if you’re going to admire, dammit, do it loudly. We all need to hear it, more often than we’d like to admit.

To 2010! Have a wonderful time tonight, even if it’s just you and that bottle of cough syrup. (And pray for Cones, who is crammed on a sleeper train in India tonight, ringing in the New Year with, likely, someone else’s elbow in her ear).

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What Do You Want?

Part of my new(ish) job is explaining to people in the “business” world why or how social media, and blogging, can be useful to them. And why it could be a total waste of time. When I go down the “total waste of time” route, it most revolves around those industry blogs that people throw up as a part of their company website. They talk about industry news and their take on the industry and, basically, they lose steam around Month 3 and stop posting altogether. It’s a waste of time and few people will read it. “If you’re going to blog,” I warn the suits, “make sure it’s with an achievable goal in mind.”

Lately, I’ve been stopping by Creme and staring it down, wondering the same thing, if it’s all just a wasteful exercise. In the beginning, when Cones launched the site, it had a purpose (albeit, perhaps an overreaching one) and now she’s abroad and (which I knew would happen since she has the attention-span of a gerbil. I mean that in a loving way, of course) has been MIA from here for quite some time, immersed in her studies and her jewelry enterprise and her singular effort to save the global food crisis. While I sit here, wallowing over far more selfish pursuits- mostly how I’m currently stuck in the bog of being dead-center in my second novel, and lost in how to sell the first one. And wondering if I should join Curves, hmmm… and how long I’ve been sitting on a crushed Dorito…

The truth is, every time I think about diving into turning this into a Food Blog, I think, “It’s already being done. And way better than I could ever do.” My perspective on food and cooking is already captured by Smitten Kitchen and The Kitchen Sink and Lotti + Doof and Sprouted Kitchen. Same with fashion, books, movies etc. Why add one more screaming voice to the fold? I don’t have kids so the Mommy route is out. And I’m pretty sure The Bloggess and Dooce are already using up most of the world’s anti-psychotic medications. So going wackadoo? Taken.

What do you want? You’re sitting there, trying to ignore work for five minutes and your Reader is full. What do you want to see that’s not already here? Is there even anything missing? This original notion, of Creme being a place to review really good blogs- is that what you want? Would you appreciate the work it takes every day to do that? Would you be happy to see us pop up in your list of Things to Read? Or do you want comedy? Or more of the same?

Rest-assured, I’ll be mulling over the Big Questions for the rest of the week. I love the space we created here and I also love my TV site. I just want to be sure I’m not missing something…

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It’s Not Holiday Related But…

I cannot stop listening to this song. Seriously, it’s a problem.

Also, ALSO- did I ever tell you, world at large, that at some point in the last few years, I’ve been put on some kind of mailing list for the- well, let’s just say very-advanced-aged? Because I have. Not a day goes by where I don’t get literature in my mail about those scooter-wheelchair things, AARP, Medicare, nursing homes, financial planning seminars for people who have already blown their retirement etc.  I usually don’t care, it’s USUALLY funny that I’m tricked into opening something that reads, “Ms. Cutrone, turning 85 is an important milestone…” In fact, I was more than ready to snag that free meal at Maggiano’s, promised if I sat through yet another “So You’ve Spent Your Retirement Fund Already” seminar. I mean, why not?

But THIS is the last straw. Imagine coming home, opening up a nice little embossed card- expecting a Thank you note perhaps, a little invitation. And instead- “Ms. Cutrone, have you ever [respectfully, thoughtfully, oh-so-carefully-worded] considered cremation?”

The mail apparently thinks my age has advanced to the point where I need to start considering where to put my remains. While I’m not there yet, I’m certainly reconsidering what to do with my mail.

I miss the days where I could just imagine myself flying around on one of those scooters.

[NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that I MAYBE took advantage of this situation a few weeks ago and subscribed to Time, who offered me a $5 subscription for the whole year considering my status as a senior citizen- and the fact that apparently they believed I wouldn’t live to see the end of the year anyway. Come on- $5 for a weekly magazine! That’s gold, Jerry. GOLD!]

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So I’m “Re-Gifting”. Sue me.

Full disclosure: This post is appearing on my work blog for The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Chicago this afternoon but it’s a good post and I thought you’d benefit from my wisdom. Also, it leaves me more time to actually do my Christmas shopping (on Etsy) during my precious lunch hour. Everybody wins!

There will be no “Bah-humbug-ing” around here when it comes to this time of year. No whining about “commercialism” and “materialism” and all that jazz-ism. I, for one, see absolutely nothing wrong with the gift-giving aspect of the holiday season.

When done right, that is. A lazy gift, purchased purely for the sake of giving a gift (a gift card, a cheap bottle of wine, a knick-knack you pull off your own shelf) is purely wasteful- a waste of your time, your money and, ultimately, any goodwill you might’ve fostered with a more thoughtful, considerate present. The holidays is a wonderful opportunity to present something meaningful to the special people in your life- to really think about who they are, what they would enjoy and what will truly touch them.

I suppose we could’ve gone the usual blog route and presented our own Gift Guide for the 2009 holiday season but, really, why bother when there are so many gorgeous ones already out there. Personally, I’d rather be shopping. Here are three Gift Guides that are getting it right this holiday season.

Financial Times- How To Spend It

Gift Guide: “How To Spend It”

Source: The Financial Times

Why We Love It: Most gift guides stick to the tried-and-true “For Him/Her” layout and while “How to Spend It” allows you to browse that option, you could also check out their luxury offerings through categories such as “Art & Collecting”, “Health & Grooming” etc. Plus, the gifts themselves are high-end, elegant and timeless. As long as you don’t mind mentally converting pounds to dollars.

Etsy- Gift Guide

Gift Guide: “Etsy’s Holiday Guides”

Source: Etsy.com

Why We Love It: Because there are people out there who are making truly gorgeous things. Because you can finally, finally be rest-assured that the gift you’re giving is truly “one-of-a-kind.” And because the online bazaar community is sure to handle your holiday requests (special gift-wrapping, handwritten notes, careful packaging) with delicacy and attention. Can you really say that about Overstock.com? Plus, Etsy’s in-depth Gift Guide page is detailed enough to make browsing a snap.

New York Magazine- Holiday Gift Guide 2009

Gift Guide: “The Gift List ’09”

SourceNew York Magazine

Why We Love It: New York Magazine‘s guide features some truly clever ideas, including a nifty “100 Under $100” section that’s ideal for stocking stuffers, an area specifically dedicated to charitable giving ideas, and a brilliant “You Ask, We Find” section where polled readers tell New York Magazine what they would like this year and are rewarded with a thoughtful suggestion from the editors. How thoughtful.

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The Great Blogging Casting Call

What if the lives of our favorite bloggers were brought to the Big Screen? (Go with it. It’s already been a long day and I’m determined to do something goddamn whimsical.)

Who: Deb from Smitten Kitchen, deliciously played by Ricki Lake.

Why: Similiar infectious smiles, plus we know Ricki appreciates food

(I mean that in the best possible way- nothing but love for you, Ricki. You’ll always be the only Tracy Turnblad for me)

Who: Heather Armstrong of Dooce, played by hot-model-twin Amber Valetta.

Why: Oh, gee. Maybe for all the times I’ve muttered to myself, “Why is Dooce dancing with Kevin James in this movie?”

Which just goes to show you how much time I spend on the Internet. Oiy.

Who: Jenny of The Bloggess, played oh-so-winningly by former Full House star Jodie Sweetin

Why: Both blond, both sweet-as-pie looking.

And, oh yes, because Jodie was a major meth-head. Clearly necessary for someone who’ll need to speak “Jenny”.

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A Letter to India

*Cones is currently in India for the month and I’ve been meaning to write to her and, yet, only have time during my lunch break to do either a letter or a blog post. Two birds, you have met your doom.

Flickr Photo Credit: Emerald2810

Dear Cones,

Greetings from America! After your years in Okinawa (Sweet Jesus on a Battleship, has it been years since I’ve seen that red hoodie of yours?) and now your time wandering through India as a one-person blonde circus (for the sole reason that you are blonde), I think you’re in for some serious culture shock. Like that time the guy friend of mine from college came back from a week in the bush in Australia and started commenting on how ludicrously bright our TV was (we are no longer friends). But, you know, legitimately.

I could go into the big news (Obama’s sending 30,000 troops into Afghanistan, it’s World AIDs Day and it looks like Google is bleeding) or a diatribe about the weather (it’s supposed to snow on Thursday, our first of the Chicago winter season) and the fact that the heat in my apartment is blowing COLD AIR. But, instead, let’s hit on some points that are important to ME.

1. Alec Baldwin says he’s going to quit 30 Rock in 2012. Judi reports back that she plans to be devastated in 2012.

2. They have made yet ANOTHER movie where a girl goes on a road trip to find her intended and ends up falling in love instead with some random stranger she meets on the way. I will probably still see it in the movie theater.

3. I don’t know if heard this but a few months ago Kanye West made an ass of himself at the MTV Video Awards, all over Beyonce’s Single Ladies video which, I’ll remind you, was inspired by my YouTube sensation. This is not a time-sensitive matter but I thought I should bring it up as it’s been a while since I reminded the Internet that I’m a pop culture genius and not to be trifled with (Alec Baldwin. Sob.)

4. This site is amazing. Dads in Shorts.

Anyway, we miss you around here. I hope you’re doing well and learning all sorts of interesting things about the global food/environment crisis, the kinds of earth-shattering facts that will no doubt horrify me during the McClellan/Texas Reunion in Spokane, Summer 2010 but somehow still not deter me from eating my way through the Pacific Northwest.

Love,

Judi

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Spokane, WA

This afternoon I was struck with the strangest urge. An urge to traverse Flickr for photos of Spokane, WA.

Photo Credit: RDEshadow

So bizarre, these random urges.

Photo Credit: Taminsea

Let’s see, what could be the reason.

Photo Credit: kla4067

The weather?

Photo Credit: Heather Stokes Photography

The mountains?

Photo Credit: Chrisnyc

Water so clear you could see your own happy, “we’re in Spokane!” smile?

Photo Credit: sagebrush_photography

The soon-to-be-residency of two people you happen to adore?

Nah. That can’t be it. Dammit, this is going to bug me all day…

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The Numbers in Novel Writing

Last night, I sat down in front of my computer and stared at the page number of my new book (I love saying “my new book”. I would say that’s my favorite aspect of having finished the first book, this ability to talk like this is “just something I do now.” That and say more things “in quotations.”)

I sat and stared for about five minutes. I’ve hit 170 pages. I’m in the dread middle now, yes sir. I’m Michael Corleone in Italy and I’ve got to figure out a way back to New York. I wish it was as exciting as that. What it’s really about is procrastination. The end is nowhere in sight, not for a while. With no deadline, with no one waiting to read it, typing The End is sometimes all I have to go on. And it’s just too damned far away to be an incentive.

Finally, I grabbed a post-it and a pen and wrote down a bunch of numbers, a few rough calculations. If I write three pages a day, three nights a week (which is what I’ve been doing), I will finish the book in six months. S.I.X. Months. Now faced with that number, I immediately turn to my calendar. I look for days, for time. If I do eighteen pages a week instead of a paltry, pathetic, INEXCUSABLE nine, I can finish The Witches Sib in three months. February. The light will show up in the middle of winter. I can do that, I think. I have to do that.

I stuck the post-it up on the screen, a jumble of numbers and 6 mos in the corner. The number is too big, far too big. But it just might be the right size, the one I need to get me home.

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