Friday, January 16, 2009

What I watched: "Wonderfalls" The Complete Series

"Wonderfalls" is a quirky little gem that only lasted four episodes on Fox back in 2004. I missed it then. I only found out about it because "Pushing Daisies" is getting canceled, and Bryan Fuller, one of the writers for "Pushing Daisies" and "Dead Like Me" was a writer/producer/creator of "Wonderfalls." Three excellent series, all gone before their times.

Thanks to the magic of Blockbuster (or Netflix or Amazon if you'd like to buy it), the entire 13-run series of "Wonderfalls" is available on DVD. And I'm glad it is. It's fun and funny and romantic, and if the episodes seem to be tied up in too-neat-little packages, well, that's sometimes how it should be. It's exciting to wonder what the hell is going to happen next on a show like "Lost," but sometimes it's nice to just have everything tied up. It reminds of sitcoms when I was a kids.

Like "Pushing Daisies," "Wonderfalls" is visually vibrant, with interesting sets and a cute female protagonist, her cute male love interest. There's also an array of supporting characters -- from odd to outlandish-- that includes Lee Pace, Ned of "Pushing Daisies." At the end of the final episode, while I wished for more, I was left feeling satisfied with the outcome and happy to have discovered this show.

"Wonderfalls" may be a bit too quirky for some people, but those who like either "Pushing Daisies" or "Dead Like Me" (or both) should enjoy it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Meet Lucy and Opal

I've mentioned before that my mom was pretty crafty. She was talented at sewing, crocheting and baking and decorating cakes, as well as a wide variety of other crafts.

A few years ago she started making dolls (like the ones to the left here). I think she must have really enjoyed making them -- even though she called them ugly -- because she had a whole roomful of them. People would ask her to make them with various themes: sports teams, NASCAR racers, John Deere. I have one featuring the logo of my alma mater and another with (crazy cat lady?) cat theme.

I know I'm probably old enough that I shouldn't be naming my dolls and stuffed animals, but I still do. (Don't you judge me.) The one on the left is Opal, and her companion is Lucy. They grace the shelves in my office.

Their spindly legs, hand-sewn faces, crazy hair and floppy slippers make me smile. They also serve as a reminder of the importance of creativity and trying new things.

But mostly they make me smile.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What I drove: Hyundai Sonata

Last week I test drove the 2009 Hyundai Sonata. It's a nice sedan -- and not just in a nice-for-a-Hyundai sort of way. It really is nice, with lots of extras, like heated leather seats, an Infinity sound system with six speakers, XM Satellite radio with free three-month subscription, a USB jack and an auxiliary MP3 input jack inside center console storage. Equipped with a 3.3-liter V-6, the Sonata pumps out 240 horsepower and 229 foot-pounds of torque. Not shabby.

As I wrote in my test drive story:
With Hyundai’s line up of good-looking, reliable cars, it is no wonder customers have such loyalty. When I mentioned I was test driving a Sonata, several people told me how much they love their Hyundais. In the past, Hyundai may have been considered a low-end economy car, but no longer. I guess I’m going to have to stop being surprised by how much I like nice a Hyundai is when I drive one.
My test drive of the 2009 Hyundai Sonata published Jan. 9 in The Gazette.

It just goes to show you

I was all set this morning to do my kettlebell DVD, write a quick blog post about the car I test drove last week, then head off to another test drive. (I still plan to post about the Hyundai Sonata later today.)

Instead, when I went to get my pets their breakfast, I was greeted by standing water in my basement. Thankfully, it wasn't deep and it wasn't waste water. The feed from the water softener became disconnected somehow -- we're trying to blame the cat for that one -- and leaked. It may not be poo water but it was already starting to smell mildewy and it seeped under the carpet at the bottom of the stairs. So, instead of a kettlebell workout, the S.O. and I got a workout by carrying boxes, running the carpet cleaner and the wet/dry vac and moving the washing machine and dryer out of the way (O.K., yes, he did most of the heavy lifting).

And the whole time all I could think of were the immortal words of Roseanne Roseannadanna: "It just goes to show you, it's always something."

If you're not familiar with Roseanne Roseannadanna, you should be. Gilda Radner was one of the funniest ladies of all time. Check out this video from a live performance. Classic.

Update: I realized later that most of you don't know that I had to have my windshield replaced yesterday and were probably thinking, "What's she on about with this 'It's always something' crap. Well, between the crapped-out laptop, the cracked windshield and the flooded basement, I was feeling like karma was out to get me a little. Nothing major. Just like "it's always something."

Monday, January 12, 2009

The pros and cons of working from home

As a freelance writer, I do most of my work from home. (There's the occasional journey into the real world for test drives and interviews.) Although there are some great benefits to being self-employed and working from home, there are some major downsides, as well. Funny thing is, some of the pros can just as easily also be seen as cons.

Pro: I can wear whatever I want.
Con: Because I can wear whatever I want, I often spend entire days in my jammies, sweat pants or baggy jeans.

Pro: I get to spend time with my pets and the Significant Other (who also works from home, but has a "real" job).
Con: The pets and S.O. can be mighty distracting some days, what with their constant demands for food and attention.

Pro: I can take a break and play solitaire or do a crossword puzzle whenever I feel like it.
Con: Crossword puzzles, friends' blogs, solitaire, books and the warm, inviting glow of television (including reruns on Hulu) are constantly calling to me, like sirens luring my ship of motivation to death on the rocky shores of slackerdom.

Pro: My work hours don't have to be limited to 9-5, Monday through Friday.
Con: Short turn around times are not limited by the traditional work week.

Pro: I have a fridge and cupboard stocked with healthy snacks, rather than a vending machine filled with processed fat and high-fructose corn syrup.
Con: My kitchen is just a few steps away, making it easy to munch all day long.

Pro: I don't have to deal with the gossip and drama from co-workers.
Con: It can be isolating, and when I do talk to someone face to face, I can yammer on and on.

Pro: My office can double as a guest room.
Con: My office doubles as a guest room.

Pro: I can start work later in the morning, which allows me time to work out before I start my day.
Con: I have no excuse for skipping the gym.

Pro: I set my own hours and decide what work I want to take.
Con: As I've noted above, I'm a lazy slacker and would rather follow my friends' blogs and read books 14 hours a day.

Pro: There's less stress.
Con: I never know when I'll have an actual assignment that pays, you know, actual money. It's a different kind of stress. Thank goodness the S.O. loves me enough to support me being a 40-something slacker with aspirations as a writer.