Category Archives: By Maggie

Hello, Again

And we’re back.
As an acting major, Catherine was lucky to have a lot of very thoughtful, incisive professors (all of whom I imagine as variations on that great choreographer-slash-tough love truth-teller, dance contest judge Mia Michaels) who elevated everyday classroom moments to Dead Poet Society levels. Like when she and her roommate were late for class and tried to explain that it was because the roads were so slick with ice and snow. A normal teacher would have just told you to sit down. (Or would not have noticed because your “classroom” was actually a large auditorium and they took attendance via remote control.) But a theatre professor gives you a life lesson: “Is that an apology or is that an excuse?” And with that convenient way of ignoring my blog delinquency,  I’ll skip the excuses and simply say I’m sorry. And I’ve missed you. Anyways, a lot has happened since we last spoke (besides Catherine getting braces). To get you up to speed, here’s a brief timeline of the major events that have happened in my life in the last three months. (Please note that I did not make them TV-centric for the sake of this blog. Television just makes up this much of my day-to-day life.)

March 25th: Mad Men premieres, Catherine and I do our taxes.

We wanted to have a Mad Men-themed premiere party, but since Catherine didn’t think Mad Men ate anything other than bourbon, we had breakfast for dinner instead. We also did our taxes (we’ll call this a tribute to Lane). I was supposed to be the brains behind that operation, until I miscalculated and thought I owed, like, $1,500 in taxes, and then Catherine suddenly stopped needing my help.

Paperwork. Ugh.

Pancakes and Chardonnay. Yum!

As for Mad Men, are people having a lot of strong feelings about Season 5? I continue to love the show, but frequently find myself one or two weeks behind schedule. Catherine, who shares my enthusiasm for Roger Sterling but does not forgive January Jones’ wooden acting just because she is beautiful and her wardrobe is perfection (as I do), has had only this to say about it:


April 7th: I finish Season 1 of Shameless.

My parents have been raving about this Showtime show starring William H. Macy as a despicable drunk with a menagerie of children. I couldn’t get into it. Part of the problem may be that a drunk man headbutting his son is not really in the flavor profile of what I find funny. But the bigger problem is definitely Emmy Rossum, who stars as oldest daughter Fiona Gallagher. This is a character who, as written, is a hard partying “hood rat” (their term, not mine!) from the South Side of Chicago. If you know Rossum from anything, it’s her inexplicable presence on all red carpets (given that her star-making vehicle, The Phantom of the Opera, came out 8 years ago), and/or when she weirdly dated the guy with the dreadlocks from Counting Crows. Which I suppose is the exact resume you would expect from a very pretty actress doing a very bad job of pretending to be a chick from the hood. Also, when listening to her attempt a Chicago accent, it seems the only note anyone gave her was “Sound more like Julianne Moore doing a Boston accent on 30 Rock.”

I mean, really. What is that? Where are you from, girl?

April 15th: Girls premieres, Catherine and I buy cowboy boots.

If you have not yet heard of HBO’s new show Girls, you likely are a person who has not spoken to me in the past two months, because it’s all I talk about anymore. I have been looking forward to this show since I first heard a synopsis of the premise: four young women, living in New York, trying to figure out their lives, jobs, romances, etc. What? That’s just like me! And I want to watch television that speaks exclusively to my millennial self-interest.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first. Catherine and I have a family wedding in Austin this fall where cowboy boots will be required (as in, we decided we wanted to wear them, and then required ourselves to buy them). So we planned a lovely Sunday, which began with cowboy boot buying and culminated with Girls premiere watching. (It was supposed to start with breakfast having at Elly’s, but Catherine was hit with a case of bottle flu so severe not even pancakes could lure her out of the house before 2.) We headed to Alcala’s Western Wear, which is probably the most badass place I’ve ever been (I’m not a badass, so that bar is low). But seriously, if you are in the market for some authentic cowboy boots (or perhaps a saddle or 10 gallon hat), look no further. They have a huge selection, all of which is on display, so you just find the section with your size and start trying on the ones you like. It’s like being at Lori’s, except not full of unhelpful salespeople who always make you leave your Big Gulp behind the counter while you’re shopping.

Don’t worry-these were not the boots we bought. At least not the ones on the right. We’re going to Austin. Not Dallas cheerleader camp.

This is Lorenzo. I hate him.

But all of this was to keep us busy while we waited for the main event, which was eating Chinese food and watching Girls with our HBO-having friend Lara who had generously offered to host us. Because this is not the Tribune (although I’d love to hear Michael Phillip’s thoughts on the subject), I can admit that I am totally and utterly biased when it comes to Girls. Not only am I their target demographic (white, twenty something, frequently suffering from self-involved and self-created crises of the career and romance varieties), but I am unabashedly in love with writer-director-creator-star Lena Dunham. She is a creative genius who speaks the language of my soul. The characters aren’t perfect. They can be self-involved, and seemingly unaware of the scale of their problems in the grand scheme of things. But the show is so real, about its characters and the world they’re in, that it all feels honest and refreshing and true. It’s also hilarious.

There is no better example than this monologue that Lena’s character Hannah delivers to the douche weasel she’s been sleeping with, and is something every girl I know has wanted to say to a guy at some point, because it’s a perfect combination of being honest, while still lying about what you really want (which I’m sure does involve him meeting your friends):

I just want someone who wants to hang out all the time, and thinks I’m the best person in the world, and wants to have sex with only me. And it makes me feel very stupid to tell you this because it makes me sound like a girl who wants to, like, go to brunch, and I really don’t want to go to brunch. And I don’t want you to, like, sit on the couch while I shop. Or, like, even meet my friends. I don’t even want that, ok? But I also don’t want to share a sex partner with a girl who seems to have asked for a picture of your dick. And also, I don’t want a picture of your dick because I live very near you, so if you wanted me to look at your dick, I could just come over and look at your dick. And, I don’t really see you hearing me, and I don’t really see you changing, so…I just summed it up.

Lena, you are perfection.

April 16th: Taxes are due.

April 22nd: I finish doing my taxes. 

I have a biological imperative to procrastinate.

April 27th-29th: I return to my alma mater, the University of Illinois.

Ostensibly to run a 10K, but with the real goal of drinking like a 20-year-old for as little money as possible. This is how much drinks cost. Are you for real?


May 3rd: Catherine tries to convince me to attend a play that is 4-and-a-half hours long, with three intermissions.

Despite the fact that it stars Nathan Lane and the dad from Tommy Boy, I decline. Catherine goes, and collapses from exhaustion during the third intermission.

May 11th-13th: Veep continues to kill it, Catherine and I celebrate Mother’s Day (and our brosef’s college graduation).

Our baby bro graduated from college a few weeks ago, so we headed down to Bloomington-Normal for the Friday night ceremony. The highlight (after Sean graduating, I suppose) was the bruschetta at Biaggi’s. The lowlight was when Catherine and I managed to stop three times during a three hour drive home: once for coffee and water, then again for coffee because I wanted Dunkin’ Donuts instead, and a third time for gas. You will note, as we did, that all of these things could have been accomplished in a single trip.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, which we celebrated with one of Marth’s favorite dinners (flank steak!) and one of her new favorite shows-Veep. The HBO comedy, which stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as an extremely foul-mouthed Vice President, airs on Sunday nights after Girls. Fortunately my parents like me a lot, because I have been coming home almost every Sunday just to watch these two shows. You guys, they are so good. Get on that.

May 14th: Season 8 of The Bachelorette premieres.

I have only caught bits and pieces thus far, but from what I can gather, the whole season will be spent showing Emily coming up with genuine and varied ways for her to thank the men when they tell her how beautiful she is.

May 18th: I finish Season 1 of The Big C.

Another Showtime disappointment that my parents love, and I start to question whether I’m adopted. Also, despite the fact that everyone told me there would be a big pay off at the end and I will bawl my eyes out, I cry as much at the last episode as I did at this year’s season finale of Parks and Recreation (and much less than I cried during the Season 2 finale of The Office).

May 20th: My roommate and I host a deck cooling party, to bid farewell to the porch we will be leaving at the end of the month when we move.

I make everyone drink out of the mason jars I have collected stolen over the years. It is 80 degrees and we are eating guac. Everyone is loving life.

So there you have it! The past three months of my life. What’s new with you guys?

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Saturdays With Maggie: St. Patrick’s Day Edition

As most of you are aware, this past Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day. As long as you’re not a teetotaler who gets upset when you see crowds of youths gathering to start binge drinking at 7 am, there is no reason to not love this holiday. And to make things even more exciting, Chicago (along with the whole country, I think?) is having a “The end of the world must be nigh” style heat wave, which meant that Saturday was 80 degrees and sunny. Last week, when I saw this was the forecast, I was afraid the unseasonable weather would turn people into wild animals, like how murder rates allegedly go up during heat waves. But instead I think it just made everyone cheerful and happy, which is as good a testament to the Irish as any. (For real, they are such a cheerful people.)

For the past few years I’ve had a St. Patrick’s Day brunch at my apartment, which is perfect because it combines two of my favorite things: day drinking and being in charge. I love hosting parties, mainly because I’m a particular sort of person who likes things to be a certain way, and when you’re the host you get to control everything! (This makes you want to come to my parties, no?) But they require a lot of prep work!

First things first (and unrelated to my hosting duties), I had to get something green and festive to wear. I had been jonsing for a pair of colored jeans, but every pair I tried on made me feel like a Crayola sausage. Not a good look! Adding insult to injury, they were all designer brands, and, as Catherine and I can agree, I’m not trying to pay $150 to look ugly. That is the opposite of how these things are supposed to work. But finally at Bloomingdales, in the midst of a strange and terrifying runway show/cocktail party whose purpose I could not discern, I found these Free People gems. They fit, the price was right, so I snagged ‘em.

Don't worry, I didn't wear gross basket weave wedges with them, like this model.

On Friday night I hit the grocery store to pick up supplies. You know who goes grocery shopping on Friday nights? Couples. Which…I know something a lot of people worry about is falling into a rut when they’ve been dating someone for a long time. And I might suggest that one way to spice things up would be to leave Dominick’s out of the equation on the weekend evenings. But that’s just me. For you, picking up the week’s essentials with your main squeeze might be total sexy times. In which case, awesome!

And then on Saturday morning it was time to cook. I kept the menu pretty simple, with all of your standard lady brunch foods: an egg based dish, turkey sausage, fruit salad, etc.

The spread

Also included on the menu were these parmesan hash brown cups which, unless everyone was lying to protect my delicate hostess ego, were the breakout hit of the party. I’m not a food blogger, so I didn’t take any step-by-step shots, but here’s the finished product:

And seriously, they are so, so easy to make. There are 6 ingredients, and two are salt and pepper, which shouldn’t even count. And you just mix it all up in a bowl, and then put the mixture in a cupcake tin. Although do note that they take an hour and 15 minutes to cook, because I had not read the recipe ahead of time, and popped them in the oven about 20 minutes before the party started.

And then friends came, drinking began, and what was supposed to be a brunch turned into a day long affair. We were out on my deck and didn’t leave until almost 6, and only then because we were finally forced out in search of more booze. (I think the last drink someone made was a gin and water, which to me is the cocktail equivalent of two cartoon hobos splitting a bean for dinner.)

Would you leave?

We headed to Declan’s, an Irish bar in Old Town, and continued to drink outside, which was all I cared about. Bagpipers came. So did some fireman in their dress uniforms (bing!). I choked down half a car bomb before cursing and vowing never again. It was a magical day. How was your holiday weekend?

Tagged , , ,

My Good Deed For the Day: Online Shopping

As Catherine mentioned, our “State of the Blog” meeting earlier this week devolved into a tutorial on how she should be using Pinterest (I have a pin that’s been repinned over 400 times. Not to toot toot, but I’m pretty good at this.)

I have no idea why this pin was so popular. I mean, it's a cute outfit, but still...

One of the good things that came out of this meeting (other than the Valentine’s Day Starbursts she gave me) was her showing me these shoes she bought:

Which are so fecking adorable, I just ordered the exact same pair for myself. We have a pretty lenient policy in my family towards copycat dressing. After an incident when I was in 5th grade and Catherine bought the same black fleece vest from Express that I had, and I pouted for a week, we’ve been pretty forgiving when one person buys something the other has. Because imitation is the highest form of flattery! So she and I have, among other things, the exact same winter coat. And Sperry Top-Siders. And sunglasses. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. We probably get this from our mother. First of all, she liked to dress us alike when we were little.

Just kidding. She was not responsible for dressing us in matching crushed velvet leotards. This was for a dance recital. Here is us actually dressed alike, probably from Christmas:

Also, she is also the worst offender on the copycat front. My mom is the only person I like to go shopping with, because she has great taste and, as mentioned before, I am a terror to shop with and she is the only person who doesn’t make me feel guilty for taking an eternity to decide what I want to buy. However, our shared tastes and shopping trips have resulted in her copying many of my purchases. Off the top of my head, I know we own the same pair of white jeans, a pair of capris and a skirt from Anthropologie, as well as numerous blouses and dresses from Ann Taylor. Which presented a problem mainly because, up until recently, we worked in the same building. And would go get Diet Cokes together most afternoons. And after the first few times we met in the lobby wearing the exact same outfit, we realized we had to start planning this a little better.

The best part was, most of the time she wouldn’t tell me she was buying the same thing as me, and would instead go back to the store and pick it up surreptitiously, and then try to hide it from me for as long as possible. For example, we were once shopping in Talbots (yes, Talbots! They pulled an Ann Taylor and are having a resurgence. Trust.), and while she was in the dressing room, apropos of absolutely nothing, she says, “Maggie, I have to tell you something.” Which naturally I assumed was going to be either that she was dying or divorcing my father, because I am a maniac and that is immediately where my head goes. Instead it was to tell me this: Remember the raincoat I had bought at the after-Christmas sales in December? Well, a few months later, she accidentally on purpose bought the same one, and had been hiding it from me. Literally. She once saw me outside of our office building in my coat when she was wearing it and HID FROM ME so I wouldn’t know she had bought the same coat as me. Needless to say I did not care, although it did add another level of complication to our Diet Coke dates from then on.

Anyways, the TOMS shoes are backordered until at least April 10th, which means when they finally arrive I will have totally forgotten about them, and it will be like getting a special gift from a secret admirer. And it will be spring and I will wear them everywhere and be so, so happy.

Tagged , , ,

My Date With a Jehovah’s Witness: A Valentine’s Day Story

So, it’s Valentine’s Day. This is not a holiday that incites any strong feelings on my part, in one way or the other. I save my excitement for real holidays, like Christmas and the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. And my resentment towards festivities that are only fun for couples is aimed at weddings (Just kidding! I love weddings! Didn’t you see my Pinterest board?)

But, I’ve been looking for an excuse to share the story of my greatest date with you guys, and I figured this heart-shaped holiday was as good a time as any. A few years ago, while out celebrating a friend’s birthday, I was approached by a gentleman at a bar. He cut to the chase, asked me out, and because I was flattered and have a hard time saying no to people, I said yes. Also, he was cute! Why wouldn’t I say yes!?

What happened over the course of the few hours we spent together was so awesomely weird, I had to share it with everyone I knew. So the next day I summed up the entire thing in a NYMag-style +/- index and sent it to my friends. Here is that email:

  • He suggests going to the Reagle Beagle. -1 for the CTA ads like this that make it look like a hole-in-the wall grease pit. But +3 for it being a legitimately nice establishment.
  • The place is empty: -1
  • But they have half-price bottles of wine! +2
  • He is not wearing the fedora he had on the night I met him +5. Instead, he is calmly attired in jeans and a t-shirt +1. But he is wearing that awful cologne that guys have that makes them smell like an Abercrombie store -1.
  • Conversation is flowing smoothly. This isn’t so bad. +3
  • Conversation hits a bumpy patch when he basically asks me to detail my entire dating history (how often I date, how many relationships I’ve had, how long they have lasted). Minus only 1 for the question, but -3 for him repeatedly insisting that I answer, after I politely, and then less politely, demurred.
  • He has an interesting and respectable sounding job managing a computer system at a hospital. +2 And is starting a business/IT master’s program in the fall + 2. He also mentions, in a non-braggy way, that he got a job with a bank and they basically paid for him to go to college. So he must be smart +5.
  • He explains a “business plan” to me that involves creating a social network that people pay to belong to. Huh? If people won’t pay to join Facebook, they won’t pay to join your sad start-up site. I was an English major, and even I know that. -3.
  • At this point we are sitting at a high-top, alone at the front of the bar. Then two guys come in and sit down at the table right next to us. We are clearly on a first date, and therefore I am mortified. No points awarded or deducted. Just awful.
  • While turning my head to get something out of my purse (Chapstick?), I see him lean over and put something down in front of me. What are these? Business cards? (-1, because no one likes a braggy show.) Playing cards? Is he going to do a magic trick? (-1, because no one likes David Copperfield.) Oh no, it is so much worse. He has handed me a stack of about ten cards that are the size of business cards. They are laminated. Each card says something different. He asks me to pick the card that best describes how I am feeling about the date at this point. Some of my options are:
    • You seem interesting
    • Lame
    • The chance that I will go on a second date with you is 80%…and rising
    • I’m not listening to anything you’re saying because all I can think about is covering you in chocolate M&Ms
    • The chance I will go on a second date with you is 50%…and dropping
    • You have the looks and personality of the Greek god Zeus
  • WHAT!?!?! -20.
  • I pick the Zeus card. I don’t know what else to do. He seems genuinely flattered, which is kind of cute. +3
  • He causally mentions that he used to be a Jehovah’s Witness (-8), but he left that awhile ago (+4).
  • Because he was forced to go door-to-door selling religion as a child, he has developed a very friendly personality that draws people to him +4. This allows him to go out by himself, and still be able to meet people. + 2, because that’s a good character trait, but -1 because it’s also weird. And -3 for my realization that he was probably by himself when I met him. At a bar. On a Saturday night.
  • Oh my god, the cards are back. -20
  • This time I pick the one that says “This is fun, but don’t order another drink because I’m going to leave soon.” He takes it pretty well. +1
  • The bill comes. He laughs off my attempt to pay. +3
  • I hail a cab and he gives the cab driver money. Swoon. Also, +5

I realize the fact that I compiled this pro-con list may make me sound like a judgmental wench, but I think I gave him a pretty fair grade. He was very sweet, and a gentleman, but even this couldn’t save him from from the awfulness of the date rate cards (which, to be clear, he made himself).

Can you top this? Because there is nothing I love more than bad date stories. Leave yours in the comments section-this will be so fun!

Tagged , ,

Pinterest: A Love/Hate Story

Did you guys hear the big news this week? Pinterest hit 10 million U.S. monthly unique visitors in nine months. Which makes it the fastest growing standalone website. Ever.

For the unfamiliar, Pinterest is an image sharing website where you can save images from anywhere all in once place, and can organize your pictures (or “pins”) on different boards. When I first signed up for the site last March (or rather, when they deigned to accept my request to join), Pinterest had a decidedly design-heavy slant. For instance, I used it to keep track of images of different types of wallpaper that I would one day like to use in my powder room. (Reality, and the fact that I am 5 to 10 years from living in a place with a powder room that I am allowed to wallpaper, is not really an issue at play here.) However, as the site’s popularity soared and more and more people joined, the flavor shifted from design and style to, well, pretty pictures. Pretty pictures of babies. Pretty pictures of cupcakes. Pretty pictures of braided hair. Pinterest has turned into such a lady cliche, I can hardly stand it. Going to the site feels like going to a scrapbooking convention-you get the sense that you are surrounded by a lot of crafty DIY types who would happily spend four hours making a chandelier out of old Christmas ornaments. I still enjoy the site, and continue to use it to pin countless variations on the all-white bedding that I want. (And that I will never be allowed to have, because I am the clumsiest person alive, and as soon as I had all white bedding I would probably manage to spill coffee, Diet Coke and red wine on it all at once.) But it is impossible to not acknowledge how ridiculous Pinterest has become. One woman I follow has an entire board dedicated to pictures of petit fours.

Herewith, I present what I have deduced as the top five category trends on Pinterest.

1. Wedding Inspirations

Pinterest’s bread and butter seems, inarguably, to be as a site where women can organize their wedding inspiration photos. For those who are actually engaged, this is an understandable and acceptable way to keep track of your ideas. Those of us who are not engaged have to get a little more creative, so that it is not immediately clear to all of our followers that we are very much putting the cart before the horse and planning a wedding even though no one has  expressed any interest in actually marrying us. My board for this creepy behavior is called Tablescapes. Because technically, I could throw a party with beautiful place settings and lush floral arrangements at any time. Like, I just pinned this picture because I like the candles. No big deal.

Pretty subtle, no?

2. Animals and Babies

Pinterest users also love pictures of babies and animals doing seasonally appropriate, adorable things. In the fall it would not be unlikely to find a picture of kittens inside of a pumpkin resting on a bucket of apples, which was itself on an autumnal pile of leaves. Or this one, for the winter holiday season:

Why would you put your baby in a jar!? Come on, people.

 3. Closets

Pinterest is, on the whole, a site for wishful thinking. People pin pictures of sprawling plantation-style homes with giant wrap around porches and label them things like “A porch I would like to have someday.” (Me. I did this). And, well, good f’ing luck with that. But nowhere is this “Dream Big” mentality more evident than in the pictures people post of closets. I don’t know anyone who is so wealthy that they have the extra space and money to convert an entire room into a glamourous closet/sitting room/beauty parlor/speakeasy (seriously, the way they decorate these rooms you would think ladies are having cocktail parties in there). But these kinds of pictures are all over Pinterest. In fact this is one of the top ten most popular pins from the site:

A girl can dream.

4. Desserts already wrote an article addressing this issue, but there seems to be some sort of unspoken rule among Pinterest users that you cannot post a picture of a dessert unless it is actually three separate desserts that have been forced to mate and create one brave new dessert. For example, here someone has taken popsicles, brownies and cupcakes, all delicious treats that can stand on their own two feet, and made this:

It’s hard to spend any time on Pinterest and not wonder “Who has time for this?”

5. Words of Inspiration

Lastly, people take Pinterest’s function as way to organize inspiration pretty literally; there are always tons of pictures of motivational words, phrases and sayings. You know how at least half of the girls you knew in college had “Live. Laugh. Love” in the bottom of their AIM profile? And then AIM went away? Well, this is where women come to get that same instinct for cheesiness and cliche out of their system.

That’s right, girl! Just because he stopped calling doesn’t mean he wasn’t loving you with all he had.

Finally, lest you think I’m a total crankpot, please enjoy this hilarious picture of two hamsters. I’m embarrassed to tell you how long I laughed over this:

Tagged , ,

Things I Do When I’m Not watching the Super Bowl

Anyone with basic reading comprehension skills would probably quickly gather from this blog that my sister and I do not have a great interest in sports and their workings. My concern with most professional sporting endeavors extends only to what kind of food and drink I can acceptably consume during game time. Therefore, if forced to choose a favorite sport (and I can’t pick something fun, like ice skating) I would go with baseball, because what kind of prickly agoraphobe does not enjoy sitting outside in the summer with a hot dog and a beer? Likewise, you would think the Super Bowl would be high on my list since, as far as I can tell, it is just a thinly veiled excuse to have a junk food party. However, due to the fact that I am suffering from an epic case of bottle flu today, I opted to stay home. Also, up until this week I thought the game was between the New England Patriots and the San Francisco Giants. Which, nope, that’s not it.

Last night I attended a concert at the House of Blues, which unexpectedly turned out to be a performance by a Sublime cover band. Something I didn’t know until last night is that I am a huge fan of Sublime. In my excited state I ended up taking a number of over priced cocktails to the face, and when I woke up this morning my teeth felt like they had been marinating in gin. This set the stage for a spectacularly unproductive day, in which I managed to leave my apartment complex only once and never quite reached the “change out of my pajamas” milestone. But man, did I get a lot of television watching done. I present, without exaggeration, a summary of everything I watched today.

  • 30 Rock (3 episodes)
  • Jersey Shore (2 episodes)
  • Friday Night Lights (4 episodes)
  • Sex and the City (3.5 episodes? Maybe? Not really sure, as this was mainly background noise while my friends and I enjoyed some Taco Bell.)
  • Glee (1 episode. Side rant: I would like to abolish the “high schoolers proposing to each other” as an acceptable dramatic plot development. These kids live in suburban Ohio, not backwoods Kentucky or some weird Amish community. They have nice, normal families. This shit would not fly.)
  • Downton Abbey (1 episode)

That is so much TV. I’ve seriously been horizontal for 90% of the day. I hope you all enjoyed your respective Sundays. How was the Super Bowl? What awesome commercials did I miss? And how terrifying did Madonna’s arms look during half time?

Tagged , ,

Girl Crush: Zooey Deschanel(‘s Hair)

If you are like me, and every other girl that I know, you are obsessed with Zooey Deschanel’s hair on New Girl:

First of all, she rocks blunt cut bangs, which are like the harem jumpsuits of hair trends: They only look good on about five people in the entire world, but since they look so good on those people, everyone else decides they want them. Because I am super fashion-forward, I attempted to rock the blunt cut bang at a young age. This did not end well:


And this picture does not even do justice to the ferocious cowlick that is the real reason behind why I am not allowed to have bangs. Which is a tragedy, because the vast expanse that is my forehead would be well-served by some fashion bangs.

So not only does Zooey have super cool bangs, but she also has lush, voluminous, perfect curls.  Seriously, I would die for those curls. Zooey once tweeted, in response to questions about how to replicate her hairstyle, that people should follow her hair stylist and he would provide all the answers. This clearly proved too challenging a task for me (I don’t even know how to make my profile picture not an egg), and also seemed like kind of a frustrating response, because how am I supposed to know what your hair dresser’s Twitter handle is, Zooey? And then I kind of forgot about the whole thing.

But today, when I was bopping around on the xojane website, I found this article about the author’s hair crush on Zooey Deschanel, and it included a tutorial on how to mimic her New Girl hair. And my first thought was that I had to share my good fortune with you guys!

The key, apparently? To use a straightening iron instead of a curling iron. Counterintuitive! Hannah does not seem to think there are any hair extensions at play here. I’m torn. On the one hand, Zooey is perfect, and so naturally she would be blessed with a head of hair like that. On the other hand, try explaining this transformation to me, without using hair extensions as the reason:














Kind of difficult, no?

While doing research for this important thought piece I also stumbled across an article from Hello Giggles, Deschanel’s lady friendly entertainment site, where the hair dresser from the show gives a five step guide on how to copy her hair. Guess he wasn’t so hard to track down. Please excuse the earlier rant.

Since no celebrity’s hair has ever been done in only five steps (with the exception, perhaps, of Felicity Jones), I think I’m going to stick with real girl Hannah’s advice.

Not discussed in any article anywhere in the world is how to replicate Zooey’s hairstyle at the Golden Globes, where she sported a bewildering pair of mutton chops:

Good God, girl!

I’m going to test this out this weekend (the curls, not the sideburns). I’ll let you guys know how it goes.

Tagged , , , ,

Help me, guys. I have 15 minutes. Teach me how to be good at sex.

I mentioned in my first post that I chose not to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. I’ve been pretty happy about that choice, since I’m not really into the whole “setting myself up for failure” thing, and I also like patting myself on the back for a job well done. But this blog has made me start to rethink that decision. Namely, I think I need to start watching more television. (And isn’t it convenient that that’s a fun, easy resolution as opposed to, like, “Try being vegan for one month, just to see if I can do it.”) I mean, it’s not that I don’t watch a lot of TV, but if I screen captured my DVR for you right now, it would look like this:

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Jersey Shore
Bad Girls Club
Top Chef
Pretty Little Liars
The Lying Game

The last three I don’t even watch, except for when my roommate bribes me by reminding me that David Wallace plays the dad on The Lying Game, and I will watch that CFO hottie in anything:

So there’s a good amount of TV watching going on, but the diet has become a little reality heavy. Which is just because I’ve been feeling lazy. By the time I get home from work, and do all the other things I have to do, I don’t want to exert any extra effort to think about anything (including making dinner, which is why 90% of my evening meals are now microwaved based. Gross.) But two shows that I have managed to keep up with, even though they don’t feature drunk women flashing their vaginas, are Downton Abbey and New Girl. I can’t get enough of these two. Here’s why:

Downtown Abbey
If you read, like, two sentences of our Golden Globes recap, you are probably familiar with how much I love this magical show. Downton Abbey, for the unfamiliar, is a British miniseries about an aristocratic family residing in a sprawling manor, and the servants who work in said manor (in this regard it bears more than a passing resemblance to the ‘70s British series Upstairs, Downstairs). People were blowing up about this show when it premiered in the US last year. I have a pretty good internal compass when it comes to knowing what I will like in spite of the hype. A man who has 24 hours to save the world, and somehow all 24 of those hours are spent in dark, poorly lit rooms? No thank you, Jack Bauer. Likewise, I know I dislike magic, fantasy and books targeted at people I can babysit, and therefore Harry Potter was never going to be my jam. But when I heard there was  a show set in England (+1), during a time period that would qualify it as a “costume drama” (+5), featuring romances that result in engagement before the couple has even kissed (+10), I knew I was going to be a very happy camper. Season 2 premiered on January 8th, and it was as good as ever. Matthew is engaged! To an outsider! Mary, who had her prospects for marriage severely hampered by sleeping with a Turkish prince, is romancing a new money millionaire. Even homely Edith, the middle daughter, is stirring up trouble by slumming it with a local farmer. I have very high expectations for this season, and so far I have not been disappointed.

Wouldn't you risk your marriage prospects for this?

But while the plot and dialogue and scenery are all deserving of high praise, the most important thing about Downton Abbey is the clothes. The only reason I did not start dressing exclusively in floor length skirts, long sleeved blouses and pearls this season is because I do understand that that would be really weird. But still, how beautiful are their outfits!?

Also, the show serves as an important reminder that I need to start wearing nightgowns:

I may not be able to wear riding habits or opera gloves, but it’s something.

Favorite Line:
Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith): You don’t mind my taking over the flowers, do you? Cora’s flowers always look more suited to a first communion…in Southern Italy.

I don’t even know what that means, but I know it’s a burn.

New Girl
Two weeks ago New Girl returned from winter hiatus. Perhaps surprisingly, this sweet, odd little show was the one I was most excited to start watching again. (I know it’s not “little;” it’s the breakout hit of the season. But something about it feels small and unwatched. I frequently wonder how so many people have such a strange sense of humor.)

I loved the pilot episode of New Girl. Zooey Deschanel was hilarious in her weirdness, and even if the “fish out of water” roommate plot wasn’t particularly original, the show itself still felt fresh. But in the second episode the charm started to wear off, and things continued to go downhill from there. The setting felt generic; they allegedly lived in LA, but there was no supporting evidence of that. (Although, as discussed, I do watch too much reality TV, and maybe just don’t know I’m in LA unless there’s a night shot of the Hollywood sign and Hillary Duff is singing in the background.) The male roommates felt like stereotypes, particularly brotastic Schmidt, and didn’t have the chemistry to make you believe they even liked each other, let alone had all been friends since college. And, most disappointingly, the scene from the pilot when all the boys rushed into a restaurant where Jess had been stood up and started singing a wacky rendition of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” to show their support, went from being a charming finale to being the show’s go-to plot device. Jess goes to her ex-boyfriend’s house to get her stuff, and when she starts falling for him again, all the guys get out of the car and put on her wacky hats to show their support. Jess goes to a wedding and starts doing a wacky chicken dance, and all the guys start doing the dance too, to show their support.

But things started turning around just before the winter break. The first episode that pulled me back in was “Bad in Bed.” Jess has a new beau (Justin Long as Paul), and wants to impress him in the sack. But because she’s only been with one guy for the past six years she’s worried her moves won’t be exciting enough. So she takes Schmidt’s computer and invades his porn folder to get ideas. When he finds her she’s tells him she’s been watching for five hours. He then calmly takes the computer away and brings her to the fellow roommates to get advice from real live human men. In many sitcoms, the whole episode would have centered around this event. Jess accidentally stumbling onto Schmidt’s “red folder,” then trying to lie about what she’s been doing. Schmidt blowing up at her, but then making her promise not to tell anyone what she saw. (Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if this has already been a storyline on Whitney this year.) Instead no one is embarrassed, and the guys genuinely want to help Jess. It felt like a very adult moment for a show that is actually aimed at 20 and 30 somethings, instead of talking down to any children who might be watching. I mean, it’s not something I’ve conducted a survey on, but if I had to guess, I wouldn’t think most guys would be embarrassed if their roommates knew they had porn on their computer. I feel like that’s a pretty normal dude thing to do, and I love that the show acknowledges it as such.

Jess's seduction outfit

But anyways, armed with whatever ideas she picked up, Jess attempts to seduce Paul by talking dirty to him. However, she pulls out an old timey newscaster voice to do so. Paul comes back at her with a Jimmy Stewart impression. And it was like watching a hilarious car wreck (you know those kinds?). I was on the edge of my couch, watching the scene unfold, totally dumfounded. It was so weird, but somehow so hilarious. “Who comes up with this stuff?” is something I often wonder while watching New Girl. It feels like no other show on television. It mixes smart, adult humor with the utterly bizarre, and then adds a dash of whimsy (sorry, had to get one adorable word in there). And the result is one of the comedies I most look forward to watching every week.

Favorite Line:

Best line from the last episode, when Schmidt’s birthday was nearly cancelled because the party bus company gave his reservation (amazingly) to Frankie Muniz:

Jess: You should torch them on Yelp. Actually, I can do it for you. I have an account under the name Fantastique Jacques. He’s a French diplomat with very little patience.

Tagged , , , , ,

Saturdays With Maggie

Hello friends. My apologies for going AWOL after my first week at Thanks for Asking. I had some major life events that took up a large and unexpected amount of time over the past two weeks. (No, not menopause!) This resulted in a particularly busy Saturday. Let’s talk about it.

On this morning, like any weekend, all I wanted to do was have my coffee, read the paper, and enjoy the tulips I bought earlier in the week. Did you guys know it is peak tulip season? Seriously, hie thee to your nearest flower distributer and get some! They’re such a cheap, easy pick-me-up during the winter doldrums.

(Side note: When I first put these in a vase they were kind of sad and droopy. I felt ashamed at my lack of floral design prowess, and once again contemplated taking a flower arranging class. But after I put them in a vase with water, they were standing straight up by the next morning! So if that’s the kind of thing you fret about, like I do, fear not.)

Sadly, I did not have time to enjoy this cozy tableau, because I was on a tight schedule and had to get to the supermarket. Which brought me to my first major challenge of the day:

I had brought the car back from my parents’ house last week, and not wanting to deal with stuff like this is one of the main reasons why I do not have a car in the city. (Another reason is because I do not own a car.) Between the fact that it is a tiny Jetta, and the tiny street I live on had not been plowed, it was a hilariously terrible idea for me to drive it to the store.

And really, I should have known better. The Jetta has a long history of underperforming during Chicago winters. My sister once parked it on an icy snow bank, only to return and find it utterly immovable. It was only thanks to her friend Lara observing that the city of Chicago did not want this car stuck on its streets one second longer, and pushing it off of the snow bank herself, that the car wasn’t stuck there until the ice melted. I once found myself in a similar situation with someone who got their car stuck on a snow bank, and I will just say that not everyone appreciates that kind of can-do attitude.

So after several attempts, and sliding into more than one parked car in the process, I was able to get out of my parking spot and on the road. I had to go to Dominick’s to pick up a bunch of goodies, since my roommate and I were having people over for cocktails that night before our friend’s engagement party.

In case you didn’t believe me, here’s proof that it is indeed peak tulip season. And how pretty are they!?

Also, here’s a marketing trend I’m ready to do away with:

Cheese is not a diet food. I love it dearly. I have cheese and crackers for dinner on more nights than I will publicly admit to. But just because you put a silhouette of a thin woman with a perky ponytail on your package, and stick the word “Skinny” in the product name, does not change the fact that you’re eating something with the same fat content as ice cream.

I picked up what I needed, as well as an impulse purchase of Cottage Style magazine, which I realized after the fact cost TEN DOLLARS! I have got to stop doing stuff like that. But I am such a sucker for the Shabby Chic look, and will buy any magazine that has a distressed wood product on the cover.

I need that couch!!

Back at home I cleaned my apartment and did laundry, two tasks that, despite being my absolute least favorite chores, always give me an outsized sense of accomplishment. Then I had to haul ass to the other side of Lincoln Park for a meeting, after which I stopped at Trader Joe’s for a few things I hadn’t been able to get at Dominick’s. Rather, I could have gotten them at Dominick’s, but they wouldn’t have been exactly what I was looking for. And my motto when it comes to shopping is why make one trip when you can make three. Seriously, no one will ever go shopping for anything with me, because I take forever and am such a pain in the arse about getting exactly the right thing. For example, I once spent forty minutes picking out a bath mat at Target.

After that I grabbed a Big Gulp from 7-11 and went to get a manicure. Of all the cheap and simple pleasures in the world, these are my favorite two.

The color is OPI’s “O’Hare and Nails Look Great,” which, what? That pun rolls of the tongue with as much ease as “Rainbow in the S-Kylie” from the Kardashian’s new Nicole by OPI polish line. But I must say, it is a perfect red. At least for anyone with Casper white skin. The rest of you can find your own nail polish colors.

Then I had to scamper home and get ready for a big night of engagement celebrating. Highlights of the evening included lots of singing, dancing and a baked brie. Lowlights included a Jaeger bomb. Hope you all had lovely weekends as well!

Tagged , , ,

Jersey Shore Recap: Ciao Seaside!

Blargh. That is the only way I can describe Thursday’s premiere of Jersey Shore. After four seasons, the cast seems to be running on fumes. The episode opens with the whole crew packing up and getting ready to leave Italy. Which they’re ready for, since Vinny tells us they’ve done pretty much everything there is to do in Florence. This indicates that Vinny thinks the only tourist sights in Florence are their house and the weird cafe that turns into a club at night, which they always seem to be going to. Um, I think you may have missed a few, Vin.

The Situation et al are shipped directly from Italy to Seaside Manor, where everyone unpacks, humps their twin bed, and Snooki attempts to brine her esophagus by chugging the juice out of an economy sized jar of pickles. Later that evening they visit their boss Danny at the T-Shirt shop where they receive their fake work schedule, and then spend the rest of night walking around the boardwalk, followed around by crowds of people. Snoozeville! The next day the boys go out for their tans, haircuts and prison yard workouts in preparation for the first night out in Seaside. Soon it’s time for everyone to go to Captain Hook’s, which they surmise will be super lame as they approach the empty parking lot. (The assumed correlation between parking lot fullness and bar craziness made me a bit concerned about drunk driving habits on the Shore.) However, when they get inside they realize it’s a huge welcome home surprise party. This was actually a totally sweet moment, and the highlight of the episode. Because really, what could be better than having all the friends and family and pervy uncles you love and haven’t seen in months be gathered together, waiting to greet you? Overwhelmed with emotion, Vinny sits in the corner with his mom and what looks like a juicebox, recovering from the weepies. But then everything quickly devolves into forced, mirthless bickering between Snooki, Mike and and Mike’s pal The Unit, and we spend most of the rest of the episode listening to a fight which, as far as I’m concerned, started and ended when Snooki (rightly) told The Unit, “Your hair’s curly, you look like an idiot.” Speaking of The Unit, is this the first time we’re seeing him on camera? It must be, because I’ll be honest, I always thought The Unit was black. (This has happened before. For most of my childhood I thought Elton John was a black man.) The gang returns to the house for some drunk burger eating, Snooki wisely removes herself from the situation (har) to smoosh Jionni, and Pauly D goes full Romeo on a willing Ryder:

Drunk Pauly D, to an equally drunk Ryder: What’s up, my ninja
Ronnie: Are you guys gonna make out, because that’d be awesome
Pauly D: Nope
Ryder: [Giggle, hiccup] Well, [giggle] you’re drunk
Pauky D: Ehhh, you?
Cue Makeout

The next morning the boys have a fantastically hypocritical conversation about what a slut Ryder is (but really, what were her parents shooting for with that name?), and Snooki temporarily resolves her Mike-The Unit drama with a half-assed apology. There was also a drawn out montage where Vinny put on his sadness glasses and went up to the moonlit rooftop to emote about being  homesick, but at this point he had been crying for pretty much the entire episode, and I was tired of it. Then we get the scenes from the upcoming season, none of which look as interesting as the new MTV show I Just Want My Pants Back, which seems hilarious mainly because of an awesome James Van Der Beek reference.

Obviously Season 5 is locked and loaded, so there’s not much we can do at this point. But, if this show has any hope of staying entertaining (which is different than staying watched—we’ll all keep watching it), it needs a good ol’ fashioned reboot. Herewith, the cast changes I would like to see for Season 6:

Keep Snooki, but replace BFF Jenni with BFF Ryder: JwOWWw (or however you spell it) has never lived up to the potential she exhibited in the pilot, when she got drunk, ate some ham, and saw Pauly D’s dick pierce. She’s had one boyfriend or another for most of the past four seasons, and nothing is more boring than a reality TV star with an off-camera relationship. It’s like the girl in college who had a boyfriend at a different school. Not only was she a bummer to be around because she missed her BF, she made you feel guilty about all the slutty things you did at frat parties. Snore. Ryder, on the other hand, is a delight. I have loved her ever since Season 2 when she came to Miami, and you realized that all the gurgling and meowing and screeching that Snooki does is not her attempting to speak to cats. It is the language she and Ryder speak to each other in.

Meow meow meow meow

Also, the potential drama (and threesomes) associated with a Ryder-Pauly D-Deena love triangle would bring some much needed juice back to this show.

Keep Pauly D: Obviously. He and his hair crown are the crown jewels of this show (did I just mix my metaphors there?) Also, he is the key ingredient in the Ryder-Pauly D-Deena love triangle (see above).

Keep Deena: Right now Deena is the only thing keeping this show interesting. Having her come in two seasons after everyone has been such a blessing. Constantly being surrounded by people who are more famous than she is has kept her surprisingly real, where the others often feel like they are just playing the characters they established in Season 1. And her unrequited love for Pauly resulted in the single best scene from the premiere. After Pauly D takes Ryder to bed, Deena comes into his room, sits at the foot of the bed, and performs this amazing monologue:

Deena: Ciao!
Silence. Deena pats her stuffed animal on the nose.
Deena: Bye. Whatever, I’m happy. Awesome.

Oh, honey. That’s what you tell yourself in the bathroom mirror later. When you’re alone. Deena is a treasure, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything.

Cut Sammi, keep Ron: Sam is dead weight. We know this. Ron, though, has been given a hard time lately for stealing Pauly D.’s swag and being abusive. However, he is a truth teller. And a hilarious one. On Vinny’s homesickness: “‘I’m hungry,’ his mom cooks him dinner. ‘I’m dirty,’ his mom wipes his ass.” Without Sam around to hold him back, we can expect great things. Plus, he’s the best dancer.
Keep Vinny, but with his mom: This way he won’t be boring and homesick, and the house would always be clean!

Lastly, I would like to see a show with just the barbers. These guys seem like wisecracking, affable, authentic guidos. And since those are the only kind of people TLC makes shows about anymore, I cannot believe Shore Shears is not a program that is already on the air.

Tagged , , , ,