My mom’s birthday is coming up, and when I asked her what she wanted to do, she of course decided on a day at the casino. So I met everyone here in Washington for brunch and gambling at the Meadows.

In the meantime, I’ve discovered what a nightmare it is to get Paul out the door on time. I’m not saying I’m the most punctual person, but it’s like he sabotages punctuality. I say, “Hey, they’re getting close, put some pants on and leave,” he says, “Come watch this music video!” My theory is that because his family is late for everything all the time, he doesn’t know how to be on time and just kind of dicks around.

But it was a good trip to the casino. I’m a fan of their brunch buffet, and Kelly ended up winning about $1,000 and I came up and more than doubled my money, some of which I spent on a family trip to the outlets afterwards. And on groceries. Including some Girl Scout cookies. ‘Tis the season.

I also gave my mom her present, which was a fleece Snoopy infinity scarf and more charms for her Snoopy bracelet. She tried dubbing the bracelet “lucky” but alas, she lost.

Otherwise, it’s been a lazy weekend, and I like that. The one bad thing is that when I do go out on weekends now, it’s so rare that it feels kind of weird and like I should be at home doing other things. But this is also partly my fault for taking on freelancing projects and making myself feel like that’s where my focus should be, even if I don’t have any pressing deadlines looming.

Saturday 9: The Times of Your Life

Saturday 9: The Times of Your Life (1976)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is all about memories. How far back can you remember? What’s your earliest memory? I think my earliest memory is when my brother was born, when I was almost but not quite 2 1/2.

2) The first line is “Good morning, yesterday.” What do you remember about yesterday morning? Hitting snooze, as usual, and being tired and glad that it was Friday but feeling like it had been a long week.

3) This song was originally a 60-second jingle, featured in a commercial for Kodak film. Do you ever use film? Or are all your pictures digital? They’re all digital now, but I used film in high school when disposable cameras hadn’t quite been nudged out by digital. I also took a photography class in high school, in which we used film and learned how to develop it.

4) Who took the most recent photo of you? I think it was a selfie. I took a series of them at Mardi Gras, when I wore just about every prop on our table.

5) This week’s featured artist, Paul Anka, was born in Canada and enjoyed appearing in a made-for-TV Perry Mason movie with fellow Canadian, Raymond Burr. Do you enjoy courtroom dramas? I do, but because my job involves watching a lot of TV, which means seeing a lot of the same genres over and over, they’ve gotten pretty old. Same with medical dramas. Too formulaic and predictable.

6) At 15, Anka won a supermarket contest by collecting the most Campbell soup can wrappers. The prize was a trip to New York. Do you enter contests and sweepstakes? Play the lottery? Just writing contests, and the occasional drawing for neat prizes like money or vacations when they come my way. I don’t play the lottery, but my mom does usually gift us with scratch-offs. And I come from a long line of gamblers, I just prefer doing my gambling at, like, the slots.

7) This year Paul Anka performed throughout Florida (Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Clearwater and Fort Myers). The Sunshine State is a popular vacation destination. Do you have a favorite spot in Florida? I’ve only ever been to Disney down there, so let’s go with that.

8) In 1976, the year this song was on the charts, an earthquake hit China. Have you ever experienced an earthquake? Technically, yes! A few years ago, there was one down I think in the D.C. area, and it was strong enough that it could be felt up here in southwestern Pennsylvania. I was still living at home at the time, so I was sitting on the love seat in the living room and felt a little rumble. Honestly, it was so minuscule that I thought someone had come in the garage and just slammed a door really hard down there, and when it was obvious that wasn’t the case, I started wondering if a nearby gas well might’ve exploded or something. Of course, I had Facebook up at the time, and as soon as I saw people in towns 45 minutes away posting about feeling a tremor, I realized it had been something else. Within a few minutes, probably, it was confirmed that it had been an earthquake. I’m the only one in my family who felt it.

9) Random question: Do you know CPR? I was once taught CPR, but I don’t know that I could confidently give it.

Friday Five: Belly Up to the Bar

  1. What’s the Good News? I finally scheduled a tour for the Pittsburgh Botanic Gardens, my current wedding-venue frontrunner.
  2. When did you last Take 5, and how did you spend it? Well, not counting just lounging on this Friday night, I step away from my computer at work every so often just to stand up and move and even just get my mind off my work for a few minutes. Typically, if I’m not going to the bathroom or, say, washing my mug, I go for a quick walk around the building while I check my phone.
  3. Who’s a Big Hunk? I don’t necessarily know that I’d use the word “hunk” to describe him, but my new celebrity crush is Eddie Redmayne.
  4. In what way has this week been a Rocky Road? It’s been long and packed with mandatory overtime, as usual, and on top of that, I’ve been frustrated by wedding venues canceling their tours on me day of and potential new employers failing to call when they said they would. But like I said, I’ve found and scheduled with a new venue option, plus the weekend is here. Things are looking up.
  5. What’s something you’re keeping Skor on? My bank account and when bills are due. In a rare turn of events, I recently got paid and am ready to pay some bills, but I’m waiting to actually get my credit-card statements lest any payments I make now not count as my minimum for next month.

And I forget to mention it all the damn time, but thanks to Friday 5 for these!

It’s Blow Off Janelle Week!

One of the things that really annoys me about job hunting is that as a candidate, you have to be perfect and completely honest. And I get that. But it seems employers can break the rules. The first time I felt less than thrilled with a potential new employer, the ad listed one work schedule and the actual interviewer told me a completely different one. I’ll grant that this can be blamed on discrepancies and miscommunication between HR and the actual department in need, but it still looks bad. Plus I’m skeptical that HR puts what they feel they need to in an ad to attract a candidate. We’re all selling ourselves here. I mean, yeah, candidates are trying to prove they’re right for the job, but in some ways, the employer needs to show they’re the right job for a candidate.

But it’s another thing to just be unreliable.

I saw an ad from a local magazine a few weeks ago looking for freelancers. I applied and never heard I thing, so I assumed, like ya do, they weren’t interested. In an uplifting turn of events, I was wrong–it just took a long time to go through all the resumes and writing samples. Fair enough. The editor asked what my schedule looked like so we could do a phone interview, I told him, and then more silence. So I followed up, and he seemed glad that I did and asked if he could call me later that day. I was literally walking into the theater to see Deadpool, but I shot off a quick e-mail telling him I had an open span of a few hours in the evening. I had to head off at 7 for an online reuniting of the writers group.

So I’m carting my phone around my apartment to make sure I know when it rings, and the timespan I gave him comes and goes. I even tell my writing group that in case he calls, I’ll have to duck out, but he never does. Which is kind of okay because writing group is much more pleasant, opportunities aside.

The editor e-mailed me overnight apologizing and asking if he could call the next day, and I said sure. But I was skeptical. I mean, you can kind of tell when something’s just not going to happen, you know? I honestly don’t think it was a matter of changing his mind about wanting to hire me, I just think he was kind of careless and unprofessional. I’d even give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was just really busy.

But I was right–the following evening came and went and no call. As of this writing, I haven’t heard from him at all, not even an e-mail, but I’m kind of okay with that. Because I’m not really interested in working for someone who’s that unreliable.

In the meantime, I’ve been very, very slowly planning a wedding. And I’ve learned that one of the reasons I hate planning a wedding is because so much depends on other people, and I don’t even mean in the bridezilla sense that everything must be perfect–I mean even just touring venues hinges on people getting back to me and actually taking me on a tour.

Shortly after Paul and I got engaged, my mom forwarded me a venue a coworker recommended and initially, I wasn’t too crazy about it, but I saved it anyway because, you know, options. And when we did start planning, we started with venues. Paul initially ruled out Pittsburgh ones, which is a separate post and has since changed, and I really wanted something with some sort of overnight accommodations, which I’ll probably end up compromising on, but we’ll probably come to that next week. I sent some e-mails and got some pricing information, and we headed out one night to check out a resort that I personally really liked but Paul wasn’t sold on, in part because of the price. So since the other venue is in the mountains and I want something sort of out in nature, we decided to give them a shot. And they were a pain in my ass from then until this past Tuesday, when I scrapped them from the running.

Honestly, our scheduling is hard. We both work, of course, and then Paul has tai chi classes Monday and Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings, plus he goes out and plays Magic the Gathering on Tuesday nights, plus he sees a therapist once a week–not to mention whatever else we might have going on in a given week, which sometimes includes my own therapy appointments. Our one guaranteed free night is Thursday, especially if we’re driving over an hour away to tour a potential wedding venue. Because that kills your whole evening. The one advantage to the switch to Pittsburgh possibilities is it’s much easier for us to get there and back without spending a whole evening doing it, but like I said, story for another day. Given work and travel time, the earliest we could get to said venue was 5. I understand this is starting to fall into the realm of after-hours, but the resort we looked at accommodated that just fine. Another hotel we’d considered was pretty upfront that because of their mountain location, they’re closed for the season and don’t even have power, so evening tours straight up don’t work. And I get that. If we could figure out a way to easily take off from work to go or even if I was willing to wait until they reopen–and I’m not, which we’ll get to–we’d go look at it, but it’s just not easy to work with right now.

Earlier this month, I narrowed down the first free evening we had, which was the 18, and scheduled a tour with this other venue. Like I said, I understand if a tour at 5 isn’t feasible, but they said it was fine. So I’m eating a catered lunch on the 18 when my phone buzzes with an e-mail from the venue asking if we could be there at 4 instead, and man, I just knew how this was gonna end. I sent a quick reply explaining that with our work and travel time 5 was the best I could do. Seriously. I mean, at most, I could’ve pushed up the appointment by a whopping 15 minutes, and that would hinge on Paul getting home from work on time and us leaving immediately. We were actually late for our resort showing because that didn’t happen.

A couple hours later, they said what I was expecting to hear–they had to cancel. They said they’d had a last-minute reservation. I was skeptical but chose to believe them, and we rescheduled. They asked again if we could do 4. Nope. By now, I was getting annoyed. I’d already explained why I couldn’t, not to mention I didn’t really understand why it was such a hassle for them to wait the extra hour.

I had to reschedule for two days later because Paul and I both forgot he had a counseling appointment, but no big deal–we figured it out within a few hours of the initial reschedule and made the change. But the venue must’ve forgot, because the day of the original reschedule, this past Tuesday, I get another e-mail canceling and saying to let them know if we could make it at 4 because they just couldn’t do 5.

And now I’m pissed.

First of all, I’m questioning that initial “last-minute reservation” at all, because frankly, it looks a hell of a lot more like someone just doesn’t want to stay at work past 5. And really, if someone would’ve said from the start, “Sorry, we can’t take you that late,” I would’ve understood. Hell, maybe Paul and I could’ve each taken a day off from work and tackled two hard-to-tour venues in one day. But instead, they canceled on me twice, day-of, after I’d scheduled my overtime hours around these appointments. Twice.

And as a result, I’ve lost probably a month of wedding-planning time, by the time all is said and done.

See, we got engaged New Year’s Day. After all the announcements were made, I wanted to have a week or so to just, you know, enjoy the engagement before we started wedding planning, but I didn’t want to wait too long. I knew I wanted a summer wedding for the warm weather, and I didn’t want to rush it into this summer, which already has two, maybe three weddings in it anyway (a cousin, my brother, and possibly Paul’s brother). So I’m aiming for summer 2017, and I figured if we got started by January of February of this year, we would have plenty of time to get things booked, save more money, and get everything taken care of. So the plan was that after our original scheduled appointment on the 18, a Thursday, we’d decide which venue we wanted over the weekend so one of us could call and officially book it the following Monday and get shit moving.

When that got pushed back a week, I got a little antsy. There’s very little planning I can do until I get a venue. So I thought I might as well check out other venues since I had to wait anyway, plus Paul wasn’t sure about the resort and I had a feeling we were gonna get canceled on again. Shit, I even said, “If they cancel a second time, we’re moving on.”

The good news is I did find another place that’s the current frontrunner, we just have to go see it next weekend. Damn that pesky scheduling thing. But I could’ve found this place, called, and probably even toured it and shit, maybe even booked it by now had someone just told me from my first e-mail that 5 p.m. didn’t work for them. I mean, by the time I go see this other place, it’ll have been almost a month since I scheduled the first tour. I have lost a month of planning time because someone couldn’t just be honest about their scheduling abilities.

What a pain in my ass.

Movie Review: Deadpool

Apparently, Deadpool broke some box-office records and shattered studio expectations. Personally, I take this as proof the studios aren’t as in touch with their audiences as they think they are.

In some ways, Deadpool is a pretty typical superhero story, what with a human being turned sort of superhuman and all. Wade Wilson works as a mercenary–not-so-typical–lives with his longtime girlfriend, and he’s diagnosed with late-stage cancer. He gets a mysterious offer from a man representing a group claiming they can cure him, with a few other bonuses, and he takes them up on it. But that’s where things divert a bit and the “typical superhero story” ends. The group puts its subjects under intense stress and pain in order to trigger mutant genes that’ll then kick in and do things like take care of Wade’s cancer and various other perks. In Wade’s case, he can also heal, and he’s also unfortunately disfigured. The head of the group, who is named Francis but calls himself Ajax, tells Wilson, who later takes the name Deadpool, that he’s able to fix this, but he ultimately leaves Wilson for dead in a fire engulfing their building. Oh, and the group actually takes its mutants and sells them to people to do with them as they please.

And so rather than being about superheroes trying to save the world, Deadpool is about a man who essentially was misled into a shit arrangement, ends up disfigured, and wants revenge–especially when Francis kidnaps his girlfriend. Yet it has much of what’s become typical and beloved about superhero movies, from tons of ass-kicking and action scenes to a healthy but not overdone dose of romance. Aside from some more atypical storylines, Deadpool also differs in its tone. It’s packed with dark, raunchy humor and a self-awareness that pokes at its genre just enough to make it funny for said genre’s fans without coming off as though those fans are the butt of the joke.

Honestly, I was pretty sold just in the opening sequence–we open with Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning,” and because I recognized the song, I laughed immediately. It plays over a beautifully constructed freeze-frame of Deadpool mid-fight with some of Francis’ henchman, while mock credits roll saying things like “some douche’s movie” starring “a hot chick” (Morena Baccarin, who Firefly fans will recognize as Inara and probably love here). Leading up to us going to see it, my fiancé would say things like, “I hope they didn’t just put all the funniest jokes in the trailers,” and although strangely, those jokes got the biggest laughs in our theater, they weren’t the best parts of the movie. In retrospect, the trailers do just what a good trailer should, and that is give you a really good idea of what you’re in for without telling you everything.

My only real complaint is the use of the flashback structure, just because I’m not a fan of it and the film could’ve easily been just as well-paced and good had it been told in a more traditional chronological narrative. But in the end, that’s just a minor complaint and a matter of taste more than anything.

So if you like dark, irreverent humor and superhero movies, you’re gonna like Deadpool. It’s a good time.

Saturday 9: Sixteen Tons

Saturday 9: Sixteen Tons (1955)

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here
 

1) 16 tons = 32,000 pounds, because there are 2,000 lbs. to a ton. Without looking it up, do you know how many ounces are in a pound? Nope!

2) The singer describes himself as having “a mind that’s weak and a back that’s strong.” Think about yourself. Which feels more powerful today, your body or your brain? My brain, which usually feels stronger. I’m not athletic or particularly fit, and when I do make an effort to be, my body is literally painfully aware of the fact that it’s not used to it. But I’m glad that after a two-mile walk yesterday, I feel fine as opposed to sore and tired.

3) The poor chap in this song has money troubles. Are you good at sticking to your budget? I don’t have a set budget, but I’m pretty good at not buying myself a bunch of shit and saving money or paying bills instead.

4) Tennessee Ernie Ford snapped his fingers as he recorded this song. It’s been said that while it’s possible to snap your fingers of both hands, the noise is louder with your “dominant hand.” (So if you’re a rightie, the finger snap will be louder with your right hand.) Try it yourself. Did you find this to be true? Yes, but it’s only slightly louder.

5) Mr. Ford appeared as “Cousin Ernie” in three episodes of I Love Lucy. What’s your all-time favorite sitcom? I don’t know! I tend not to like them much. Does Bob’s Burgers count, though?

6) Tennessee Ernie took the money he made from his performing career and invested in a California cattle ranch. Think back to the last beef your ate. How was it prepared? I’m a vegetarian, so it’s been I think 12 years–this month, actually–since I last ate beef. But probably a burger.

7) Mr. Ford passed away at age 72 in 1991. That year, Dr. Seuss also died. What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book? I don’t have one! I never really liked his books as a kid.

8) Gene Roddenberry also died that year. Mr. Roddenberry is best known as the creator of Star Trek. Who is your favorite Star Trek character? Jean-Luc Picard, but mostly only because I love Patrick Stewart and I used to watch Next Generation as a kid with my dad. Although now that I think about it, I also remember really liking Data.

9) Random question: We’re having smoothies. What’s your favorite? Anything fruity, really. I tend to go toward strawberry the most, I think.

Friday Five: Beat It

  1. What’s the last powder you dissolved in liquid? Probably sugar in iced tea.
  2. What did you last sprinkle over a plate of food? Salt and pepper.
  3. What were the last ingredients you blended? In an actual blender, some sort of smoothie. I was trying out breakfast smoothies for a bit, but I gave up when I got too hungry before lunch.
  4. When did you last let something simmer? I think the other day.
  5. When did you last experience a stirring rendition of something? Hmm. I think when I listened to Amanda Palmer’s Bowie tribute EP–“Heroes” especially is so, so pretty.