Kal Penn Being Political

You know when your stoner friend from high school grows up and gets a real job and wears a suit and you giggle every time you see him because he looks like an adult? Yeah, that’s how I feel about this photo.


That’s Kal Penn in the middle. You know….Kumar. He’s now working for the Obama administration as Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement serving as a liason between the White House and Asian-American & Pacific-Islander communities. I love it when people do things that are (pleasantly) unexpected. I was impressed and intrigued last April when I read about Penn’s career shift (although I’d JUST started getting into ‘House’ and was bummed that he was leaving the show).

To be fair, Penn (or Kalpen Modi, his birth name that he’s now using as a non-actor) has played a few notable stoner ROLES. I know nothing about his personal life. However, I’ve spent enough Saturday afternoons watching ‘Harold & Kumar go to White Castle’ to find the irony in the fact that he’s now working for ‘The Man’.

*I’ve never done drugs and I generally don’t find drug humor all that funny…but for some reason, ‘Harold & Kumar go to White Castle’ is one of my favorite movies. I credit Neil Patrick Harris. It probably also helps that John Cho & Kal Penn remind me of half the guys I went to college with. I dunno…it’s weird.*

And, yes, I do feel like he’s an old friend. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it’s because he’s my age and I’ve spent so many years watching him act. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t strike me as a “Hollywood” guy. Maybe it’s that whole “wait, didn’t I go to college with him?” thing. Either way, I enjoy seeing him do big things.


Thanks For the Memories Div

During the summer of 1997, between my Sophomore and Junior years of college, I had what I like to call my “Vermont Student Summer”. During the day I’d scoop Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, sometimes AT the Vermont Teddy Bear factory. And at the end of the day, I’d drive straight up Shelburne Road to my internship in the Sports Department at WCAX. I’d arrive during the 6p newscast (usually smelling of cream and chocolate) and be settled by the time the show was ending and the anchors were filing out of the studio.

Compared to the newsroom I see every day now, WCAX was small and and pretty plain. But at the time, it was the most exciting place I could imagine. Nobody outside of Vermont will understand this, but I saw Marselis Parsons, Sharon Meyer and JJ Cioffi every day. EVERY DAY. Sure, it seems silly now. But, like any kid in any city, I’d grown up watching the local news team every night at 6:00. It didn’t matter that they were just up I-89 in Burlington…these people were on TV.

One of my favorite stories from that summer was when I was working at Ben & Jerrys one Saturday and Marselis Parsons, 6pm anchor and known to friends & colleagues as “Div”, walked into scoop shop. I was still rather new to the station and, being a sports intern, I hadn’t had that much contact with the newsroom team. Still, I saw somebody I recognized and my reflex was to smile and say Hi. For a second, I panicked and worried that he’d think I was an over-familiar fan or worse…a complete dork. Instead, he smiled warmly and said “Hi Jessica!” and introduced me to his entire group as “the newest intern on the sports crew”. Then he said “I wondered if I’d ever bump into you here.” After I scooped their ice cream, he left a good tip and told me he’d see me Monday. It should be said that this entire time there was not one other sound in the ice cream shop. Everyone was staring (some which their mouths open) and as soon as the door shut, they (co-workers, customers) were asking me how I knew Marselis Parsons. My manager later remarked that “Robert Redford came into the shop a few years ago and didn’t get even close to that reaction.”


It’s been 10 years since I left Vermont for the glitz & glamour of 24 hours news, but I still love watching the WCAX 6pm news when I’m home. It just sounds comforting….the opening music, the news about agriculture, the softness (or complete lack) of the letter ‘T’. Marselis’ voice is the background while I’m helping my mom set the table or sitting on the couch with my dad. Unfortunately, next time I go home, the 6 o’clock news will be a little less familiar.

Tonight, Div will say good-bye to his WCAX viewers and the people who have spent a life-time watching him. He’ll wake up tomorrow retired and not having to be somewhere at 6:00 every night. After 42 years, he’ll have absolutely no professional obligation to know what’s happening in Vermont (although something tells me he’ll never quite turn away).

Unlike the long-time anchors in bigger markets, Parsons isn’t slick or flashy. He has no need to be. He’s not some Ron Burgundy-esque blow-hard, full of ego. He doesn’t have molded hair or strangely white veneers. He’s just a guy…the guy you get your news from.

But, you know, he’s still sort of a superstar to me.

Happy Retirement Div.


Music Makes Me Happy

The other day I was feeling really, really down.  It doesn’t matter why, I was just feeling upset and pissed off and angry at the world.  By the time I had to leave for work, I was feeling like the day had no hope.  I’d dropped Z off with the babysitter crying and screaming because he has molars erupting through his gums, I couldn’t find my phone which I had JUST used & my keys were nowhere to be found.  I was running around my house, slamming doors and screaming profanity and acting like a crazy person.  When I found my keys, on the floor of my unlocked car, I was running 30 minutes late.  If it wasn’t a huge news week (or couple weeks) because the King of Pop had died, I probably would have just called in sick….or mental.

So, I drove to work, feeling a little bit crazy, listening to XM Radio.  I’d left it on The Coffee House, which is strange because I usually stick to more up-tempo music when I’m driving home from work in the middle of the night, and I was about the change the station to something a little angrier when a new song started and it was called “The Cape”.  I’d never heard the song before, probably because it was originally written and performed by Guy Clark, who I get the impression is more old-school country and I know little about old-school country.  If he’s not old-school country, or my classification offends you, I apologize.  I just keep finding articles about him on CMT.com. 

You know when a song just grabs you?  Yeah, that’s what happened.  It was simple and brilliant and it made me want to jump off the roof of my garage and fight crime.

The Cape
(Guy Clark/Susanna Clark/Jim Janosky)
Eight years old with a floursack cape
Tied all around his neck
He climbed up on the garage
He’s figurin’ what the heck
Well, he screwed up his courage up so tight
That the whole thing come unwound
He got a runnin’ start and bless his heart
He’s headed for the ground

Well (yes) he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

Now he’s all grown up with a floursack cape
Tied all around his dreams
And he’s full of spit and vinegar
And he’s bustin’ at the seams
Well, he licked his finger and he checked the wind
It’s gonna be do or die
He wasn’t scared of nothin’ boys
He was pretty sure he could fly

Well (yes) he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

Now he’s old and gray with a floursack cape
Tied all around his head
He’s still jumpin’ off the garage
And will be till he’s dead
All these years the people said
He was actin’ like a kid
He did not know he could not fly
So he did

Well (yes) he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape
Well (yes) he’s one of those who knows that life
Is just a leap of faith
Spread your arms and hold your breath
And always trust your cape

 If, for some bizarre reason, reading the lyrics didn’t make you giddy, this video surely will…

The version that I heard on XM actually wasn’t Guy Clark, although his version is very good and reminds me of visiting with someone’s grandpa, it was Eric Bibb.   If you haven’t heard Eric Bibb before, go check him out…he’s a great bluesman with some cool European influences.  I got to work and looked him up, wondering why I hadn’t known about him before.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that this mystery musician is actually the guy who sings one of my favorite songs on one of Amelia’s favorite CDs.  

I bought Putumayo’s World Playground when Amelia was 1 and in the last three years it has had a 99% success rate in getting her to stop crying.  It also has the benefit of not being full of freakishly annoying “Kids Music”.  The album features traditional and contemporary songs from around the world…various genres, various languages.  I originally bought it because I noticed that it had a version of Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds” performed by Cedella Marley (Bob’s daughter).  It’s a great album.  The kids love it.  Eric Bibb’s ‘Just Keep Going On’ is the “United States” song.   It’s funny, I always pictured a weathered old man singing.  Not so much.

(I couldn’t find video of ‘Just Keep Going On’, but this seemed pretty similar)


I wonder what I’ll find tomorrow……





I LOVE that Julia Roberts looks like a real mom in this picture.  I love that her belly is a little deflated instead of being taut & tucked.  It shows that she’s carried babies. 


I also love that, for the most part, I haven’t seen a lot of snarkiness online about the fact that she doesn’t look flawless.  I’ve actually seen many comments about how great she looks.  Of course, she’s Julia Roberts and completely magical.


The lower back tattoo….meh.  Of course, I’ve got my own potential tattoo location of questionable taste.

The Order of Disorder

I’ve been weirdly productive lately. I guess I shouldn’t complain. Somehow I’m accomplishing a lot and feel like everything else in organized in a way that indicates that it WILL be done soon. In the last 3 days, I cleaned out the refrigerator, cleaned the kitchen & dining room, picked up every room upstairs (still need to vacuum), went through all of Z’s clothes and brought out the next size up, organized the hand-me-downs to give to 3 different friends, bought supplies for & planted a potted herb garden, bought a carseat for our nephew, renewed a magazine subscription & mailed a birthday card to a friend (on time!). I also took the kids to the library, bought 5 really cool books at the book sale, found a book on CD and loaded it onto my Itunes (which I’ve been listening to for the last day). In the next few days, I plan to grocery shop (to restock the fridge), vacuum the upstairs, clean the garage a bit & go to the aquarium with a friend. I’d also like to go to Kohl’s to use a giftcard and buy some makeup and perhaps a flashy outfit for a dinner out this weekend. How did I suddenly become so efficient?

Ironically, I think it’s all because I’ve been reading this book about how a bit of mess & disorganization can be good. A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder, how can you not love that??? It seems counterintuitive, but the book’s main point is that keeping things in a perfect order, keeping things organized and having a plan, wastes time and energy, thereby making it difficult (or for me, impossible) to ever get anything done. You could say that I’ve found my bible.

When I found the book on the Clearance table at a Barnes & Noble in Burlington, I thought it would be a funny book to have on my bookshelf. You know, among the mess. I loved the cover with its slightly askew lampshade. It was marked down to $5.95, so I figured I didn’t have much to lose.

Let me be very clear about this……I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK.

It’s smart and logical and cites numerous sociological studies. It refers back to brilliant people through history and illustrates the “habits of highly effective people” (literally). It’s a book that I find myself exclaiming “Yes!” while reading. As I read it, I think about how much the theories really do relate to me….not in an ignorant “I need an excuse” way, in a calm “I’ve finally found my bee people” way. Basically, if you stop trying to “order” everything, and just let things go a bit, an organic order will develop….and it will fit better with YOUR system and nature….thereby making your work more efficient. This has to do with tasks, objects, schedules…even thoughts.

When people see the book or hear me talking about it, they roll their eyes and say something cute like “Oh, does this give you an excuse?” Well, luckily, they don’t need to read it. All I know is that instead of spending the weekend constantly cleaning the living room, which immediately gets messed anyway, as I usually do, I accomplished everything else.  I accomplished things that I didn’t even know that I had to do.

How can you argue with that?

Nothing But Flowers….

A colleague of mine posted this link via Twitter…. http://tinyurl.com/7j43ey

Basically, because the economy has dipped and people are buying less, many stores are expected to close in 2009. Even chains with solid performance are expected to cut/downsize/adjust. Big box stores are closing (and, after this slow holiday season, will continue to close) and without the large anchor stores, strip malls are getting less traffic. In turn, smaller store in these centers are being forced to close.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want the economy to go to hell. I don’t want people to lose their jobs. However, I must admit, the idea of a few strip malls closing down completely isn’t completely bad.

I live in the middle of chair-store, strip-mall hell. It’s disgusting. In certain places you can’t distinguish Douglasville from any other suburb of Atlanta, or any other suburb in the rest of the country. There’s a part of me that would show up cheering if they decided to bulldoze a couple strips down. Of course, they’d be more likely to let the structures stand abandoned and rot while there was another shopping center constructed down the street. (A girl can dream though, right?)

The whole thing makes me think of the Talking Heads song ‘(Nothing but) Flowers’.


While the rest of the world laments the downturn of the economy, I’ll be dreaming of wildflowers…….

“This was a Pizza Hut, now it’s all covered with daisies……”