Sunday, February 27, 2005

I sincerely hope no one would actually pay for this

Vivienne the virtual girlfriend

Virtual girlfriend Vivienne loves flowers and chocolates just like a real girlfriend, but doesn't cause heartache.

Right, she just encourages you to waste all your money buying flowers for a program on your phone. This has got to be the most bizarre thing I've ever heard of. Are men really that pathetic?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Banned Books

List of the top 110 banned books. Bold the ones you've read. Italicise the ones you've read part of. Underline the ones you specifically want to read (at least some of).
#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
#4 The Koran
#5 Arabian Nights
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Das Capital by Karl Marx
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence (audiobook, but still counts)
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#58 Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Émile Jean by Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Émile Zola
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Clearly, English majors love their banned books. The sad part is, I read a lot of these in high school. I finished The Lovely Bones and promptly started crying. I love Sebold's idea of heaven, but books about death always make me think about my dad, and then I just get sad for a little while. Anyway, I'm about to start A Season in Hell and The Drunken Boat, by Arthur Rimbaud. It's another Christmas present from Chris that I haven't gotten around to reading yet. He got it for me because he knows I want to study the Beat poets in grad school, and apparently Rimbaud was a major influence for them. I'm just excited because the book has the original French en face.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Maybe he's not so bad, after all

I have to admit, having heard some of what then-Presidential-candidate Bush said on those now-infamous tapes makes me respect him just a teensy bit more. I like that he didn't want to talk about his drug use because he was afraid it would encourage kids to do the same. At least he didn't come up with some crap line, like "...but I didn't inhale." And I especially like that he said he didn't want to discriminate against gays, but I would respect him more if he actually held to that.

The tapes are interesting, because they give us an idea of what Bush thinks (or at least, thought) privately, as opposed to what he does publicly - trying to appease the moral majority. Kinda sucks that his "friend" taped him without his knowledge, though. And what a coincidence that he's releasing the tapes just as his book is being published!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Sunday, February 20, 2005

"Amber VonTussle, you have acne of the soul!"

I cannot express how utterly fabulous the musical Hairspray! was. I've never seen the movie version, but after tonight's performance I'm definitely going to rent it. Even the pre-show announcements were funny: "The musical Hairspray! takes place in the 1960's. Since there were no cell phones during that time, we don't expect to hear any during tonight's performance." Hee. I also liked that the protagonist is a chubby little girl who helps to end segregation in Baltimore and shows the world that fat girls can be popular and get the boy. It was definitely one of the best (comedic) musicals that I've ever seen. During the standing ovation, Liz and I started clapping and dancing to the music. Luckily, we were sitting in the back row, so I don't think anyone saw us.

Broadway in America, which is the program we got our season tickets through, has also released the lineup for next year's season, if anyone's interested: Phantom; Tuesdays with Morrie; Little Women; Bye, Bye, Birdie; Wicked; and one more TBA. Four out of the five are based on novels, which I think is pretty cool.

I also finished Diary, by Chuck Palahniuk. I have to say, it was one of the strangest books I've ever read, but I really enjoyed it. The narrator was an artist, so it dealt a lot with the idea of putting yourself into your work and using pain to create great art. Very interesting. I've already started reading my next book, The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold. I think it was an Oprah book a while ago, so I'm a little behind the times, but I found it for $4 at Borders and figured, why not?

Why I Hate Cell Phones: Reason #2,068

Ooo...Cingular made me so mad today. I stopped by the store while taking a break from my bagging-and-boarding duties to get my phone plan changed. Right now, it's in my mom's name and she pays the bills. I wanted to upgrade the plan (since there's not a phone at the house I'm moving to, and I use it for work a lot more now) to get more daytime minutes. I went to a Cingular store near work a week or so ago and the extremely bored young girl behind the desk told me that I was not listed as an authorized user of my phone, so my mom would have to call Customer Service and put the phone in my name. I called mom and asked her to do this, but she apparently forgot. Because she's my mom, and she does that sometimes.

So I went by this other store today and explained the situation to Un-Helpful Guy #1. UHG1 told me that my mom still hadn't called Customer Service, but that I could call her and he would help me out after he had helped this other couple that had just walked in. So I called mom, gave her the number to call, and waited. She called back to tell me that she had listed me as an authorized user, and the woman she talked to had told her that meant I could change the account and put it in my name. So, I went back to UHG1, who told me that it would take a few minutes for the change to show up in the system, so could I please wait while he helped another person who had just walked in? By this time, it was getting close to 6 pm, so I knew they were going to be closing soon. I knew exactly which plan I wanted (I've known for over a week now) so it probably wouldn't have taken that long, but whatever.

There was only one other sales rep (UHG2) working, and when he got done with his other customers, he asked if I needed anything. I started to tell him my situation, and he interrupted me, asking my age. ?! I told him (24), and he informed me that I was not authorized to transfer the phone into my own name. Which was crap, as the woman my mom had just talked to told her that I was, because she had transferred it to me. I told UHG2 this, and he said that mom would have to come into the store and sign a document stating that she was transferring the phone to me. My mom lives 2 hours away, and she doesn't have the time to come driving down here just so I can upgrade my phone plan. I asked UHG2 if I could have a copy of the form, and he told me no. I tried to explain that I just wanted it so I could read over it and fill out my part of the information, but he just kept insisting that mom had to sign it in person. The current popular theory is that he just wanted to get rid of me so he could close up shop and go home. Jerk.

At this point, I got way too frustrated with the whole experience and decided to leave. I had been in the store for almost an hour, and accomplished nothing. Grr! So now, I'm still without my new plan and growing increasingly annoyed with every Cingular store visit. Next time, I'm going to one of the mall kiosks.

Monday, February 14, 2005

It's amazing what you find doing random Google searches...

Ohio gay marriage ban at center of domestic violence challenge.

CLEVELAND - Darnell Forte is accused of slapping a woman he lived with. To try to get a domestic violence charged overturned, his lawyer has raised a wider issue, claiming a conflict between Ohio's new constitutional amendment defining marriage and the state's domestic violence law.

Opponents of the amendment banning gay marriage, among the nation's broadest, feared the measure would be used to try to curtail all sorts of rights for unmarried people, and they say the domestic violence case in Cleveland is one such attempt.

"What's at stake goes beyond the issue of gay marriage, it's whether or not a state constitutional amendment can strip Ohio people of basic protections," said Heather Sawyer, senior counsel in Chicago for Lambda Legal, a national gay rights organization.

The case is being watched nationally because of the precedent that could be set if the domestic violence charges are thrown out. Forte's lawyer argues his client cannot be charged with the felony because domestic violence charges should be reserved for married couples under the state's law defining marriage, which won 62 percent of the vote in November.

The OTHER 3 Amigos

Apparently, Valentine's Day also marks the start of National Condom Awareness Week. I was not aware we needed an awareness week for condoms, but whatever. Check out The Three Amigos website. It's a series of PSAs featuring anthropomorphous condoms. Interesting.

Happy Single Persons Awareness Day!

I don't know about the rest of y'all, but this Valentine's Day wasn't nearly as craptacular as I expected it to be. Work was fun, and there were actually a few very amusing moments throughout the day. We started the day off with a mini-party in the breakroom, with cakes, cookies, candies, and coffee - pretty much any "c" word you can think of that had enough sugar and caffeine to keep us peppy and motivated. I spent the morning running around, handing out Harry Potter V-day cards and trying to ride out my sugar high.

Right after we opened the store, I saw a young guy (probably about 14 or 15) walking around, looking confused.

Me: Do you need any help?
Young Guy: *stares at my breasts* Yeah, those Dooney & Burke purses you have sitting out, are those the only ones you have?
Me: (slightly amused) Yeah, I'm sorry. Was there something else you needed?
Young Guy: *still staring* No, that's ok. Thanks.

I had to resist the urge to either slap him, or to snap my fingers, point toward my face and say, "Hey, my eyes are up here, dude." To be fair, I was wearing my V-day shirt (it's pink, says "FLIRT" on it, and only cost $5 at Target), but it's not like it takes 5 minutes to read one word.

Another amusing thing actually happens pretty regularly (at least since our sliding glass doors broke, and we had to put a sign up saying, "THESE DOORS ARE BROKEN, PLEASE USE SIDE DOORS"). Every once in a while, someone power-walking up to the doors won't notice/read the sign, or they'll be walking too fast to stop in time, and they walk right into them. So that's always fun. One time, we were still in our morning meeting when this woman practically ran up to the sliding glass doors and we all had to try not to laugh at the confused expression on her face. Another thing about the sliding glass doors; people seem to forget that they don't work when they're leaving the store as well. They'll just stand in front of them, waiting for them to open. Eventually, they notice the sign or just give up and use one of the side manual doors. You never realize how lazy people really are (how hard is it to use a manual door?) until you see something like that. And it may seem mean to laugh at something like that, but if you've ever worked retail and had to deal with bitchy people during a major holiday season, then you'd probably find it funny, too.

Also, we made Valentine's Day bags a few days ago. Like you did in elementary school, remember? When everyone decorated a paper bag with hearts and stuff and then you gave out cards and your teacher always made sure that everyone had a list with everyone's name on it so no one would feel left out? Yeah, bag started out pretty generic. There were paper heart cutouts we could use, so I glued one of those on there, then cut out an arrow and pasted it so that it looked like it was piercing the heart. Then I decided to draw some blood dripping down, and ended up with a little puddle of blood on the bottom of the bag. The reactions to this object d'arte ranged from "cute," to "interesting," to "morbid." One ASM just assumed it was a political statement (because I'm a bleeding-heart liberal, I guess), which I thought was funny. I tried telling everyone it was "emo," but since only one other coworker even knew what I was talking about, it wasn't that funny. Oh, well.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Like that scene in Chasing Amy, only not funny

This has got to be one of the most f-ed up stories ever:
One of my roommates, Jennifer, was at the grocery store today when she saw a little boy (about 3 years old) playing in a car by himself. Somehow, he managed to put the car in reverse and it started rolling toward a building. Jen lunged into the car and was dragged across the parking lot, but she was able to stop the car before the kid was hurt. When the father came out of the store, she explained what had happened and told the man that she had called 911 and needed to be taken to the hospital. This asshat pushed her out of the way and drove off. ?! She remembered part of the license plate, and has to file a police report tomorrow. He'll be charged with child endangerment (he didn't even have a carseat for the kid) and leaving the scene of an accident. Jen ended up with a hairline fracture in her wrist, multiple cuts down her back and legs, and possibly a dislocated shoulder. But at least she (and the kid) are ok.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

O, Canada!

I found out today that I've been singing the Canadian national anthem incorrectly. It's, "We stand on guard for thee," not, "We stand on God for thee." I swear I'm not an idiot; it's just that the only time I ever hear it is at hockey games. And it's always sung by chicks with Southern accents, so I can't understand them anyway.


O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.


I still like my version better.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

The State of the Union

I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.


Michelle's friend, Jeremy, came to trivia tonight, and we spent the first half of the game good-naturedly arguing about the State of the Union address from last night. One part that really struck me: "Our second great responsibility to our children and grandchildren is to honor and to pass along the values that sustain a free society. So many of my generation, after a long journey, have come home to family and faith, and are determined to bring up responsible, moral children. Government is not the source of these values, but government should never undermine them. Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be re-defined by activist judges. For the good of families, children, and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage."

In other words, a ban on gay marriages. Stuff like this helps me remember why I support the Libertarians and want less government interaction in my life. I was actually pretty worked up when I was discussing it with Jeremy, but four beers and being up past your bedtime came really take the fight out of a girl. We may not have agreed on the issue, but it was nice having someone to debate with who had actually thought out his side of the issue and wasn't simply using the president or the Bible as irrefutable proof - it certainly made it more interesting for Michelle, the innocent bystander. One thing neither of us was sure of was the "real" definition of marriage, so I decided to do some research. This is what I've come up with so far:

The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
The state of being married; wedlock.
A common-law marriage.
A union between two persons having the customary but usually not the legal force of marriage: a same-sex marriage.
A wedding.
A close union: “the most successful marriage of beauty and blood in mainstream comics” (Lloyd Rose).
Games. The combination of the king and queen of the same suit, as in pinochle.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

A tongue-in-cheek Biblical definition.

The legal definition.

After reading all these, I'm curious as to which one W. is protecting. :) At any rate, I guess I have more stuff for Jeremy and me to argue about next week.

(A bit off-topic, but I also found a really amusing State of the Union drinking game)