A New Home

Dear friends,

If any of you are still subscribed or occasionally glance at this blog, I invite you to visit my new blogging home: austinfey.com

Ben helped me buy my own domain, set up WordPress, and answer questions (and solve a few problems) with tweaking the theme.

It’s up and running now, with a whopping 1 post! More to follow soon. Stop by any time.

Happy Life Changes

On September 22 I agreed to change my life. Yes, that sounds dramatic, and actually I haven’t even gotten to the most dramatic part where my life really changes (that part where we take vows).

Ring - side view

Apparently I did all my angsting beforehand, because at the moment Ben asked me to marry him I felt very sure and peaceful, though it was still surreal, as I’ve heard from others who have experienced proposals before.

Ben + Austin

Look how fun the banner is! We have sweet friends. Photo cred. to Dorothy

Now comes the mad planning and trying to prepare for the future, at least, as much as one can prepare for marriage without actually being married yet. I think 2013 is going to be a great year (you know, as long as we make it past this Mayan end-of-the-world thing).

Fall Friendship Swap, 2012

Oh hello again, world! I think it’s time for an update. Actually, several updates, but here’s the first:

I discovered the blog of a lovely girl I knew a long while ago, through some connection of the internet — I couldn’t actually tell you how — but she instigated a Fall Friendship Swap at her site, and I signed up.

The deal is, you get paired with another blogger, and swap boxes of fall goodness. Awesome. I love fall, and fall-related things, and finding new fun blogs: triple win! Wednesday I received this:

Fall Friendship Box -- upon first opening

Thanks, Elise! I love it! …and I apologize because I think when I sent my box, I forgot to include a note. Alas.
Here’s a look at my loot:

Contents of Fall Friendship Swap Box

Fall is pretty great. I now have a cool new scarf, my house will smell like pumpkin, I can hang things on the fridge with fall magnets, I can take notes or draw sketches, and I can paint my nails fun colors!
Plus, I got a package delivered to my house. Mail and packages are exciting.

So glad to meet you, Elise. I’ll keep checking out your blog. :)

Things I Found on the Interwebs

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***EDIT: You might need this to assist you with your 2012 London Olympics coverage: wasanolympicrecordsettoday.com.***

1. Barbie & Ken get married…see their day captured on film by a French photographer.

2. The Chap Olympiad: British guys compete in British pasttimes. Here’s the description:

The Olympiad is an annual contest of gentlemanly prowess and features competitive events like butler racing and umbrella jousting. An elegant dress code is enforced and absolutely no denim is permitted.

3. Survival Guide: when to buy things in bulk. Good for those who like to buy in bulk, people who want to be prepared, and conspiracy theorists. Attention, Ben, Dave, and other oatmeal enthusiasts: apparently January is National Oatmeal Month.

4. I need to have two reading lists: a “Books to Read” list, and a “Books I’m Thinking About Reading” list. Idea borrowed from a woman who writes about de-cluttering life.

5. A good description of why it’s ok to re-read books from The Curator. Sometimes I feel guilty for wanting to re-read books when there are so many other books I haven’t gotten to yet! Why waste my time when I could be learning something new?! But the truth is that I learn new things from closer inspection of great books. And sometimes I just love the comfort and familiarity of inhabiting a world created by an author, and I want to go visit my old friends again.

6. Speaking of visiting, I want to visit this “adult-friendly” park. I agree with the author’s point: most playgrounds these days are overly-sanitized. I recently visited a playground near my grandparents’ house that I loved as a child, and was saddened to see that all the old equipment had been replaced with primary-colored plastic that was too small for a child older than 4 to enjoy….. It isn’t replacing old rusty swings that saddens me, it is the paranoia of even a hint of danger. As a child, the great thing about the Tall Slide was that it didn’t seem completely safe; there was a small chance (yes, the chance was pretty small, but still…) that I could get hurt if I fell, so I was determined to conquer the slide. And it was such a long slide too. Slides these days are so short you have to start climbing the steps to go again before you’re finished sliding down.

Ok. That’s enough of my playground rant. :)
More next time; enjoy the interwebs!

Things I Found on the Interwebs

1. The Guardian on “Why Gatsby is So Great.” I think the author hits the nail on the head here. Personally, I love this book. And it’s not the story, though usually in fiction it is the story I love. It’s the writing. Fitzgerald’s descriptions and his narrator’s voice are what make this book a classic (a readable classic).

I can’t describe it well. Descriptions are elusive. Read C.S. Lewis’s letter, the first paragraph where he talks about describing “the thing” itself (thanks for the link to the letter, Maggie!). He isn’t talking about Fitzgerald’s work, but I think it applies to great literature.

Ok, maybe I’ll write more about The Great Gatsby if I re-read it soon, and maybe I can articulate my love for it better.

2. A twist on the Hokey-Pokey (read this immediately; it’s short. And thanks, Andrea!).

3. Illustrated quote prints. A good illustration can indeed enhance text.

4. Ben showed me these beautiful metal raindrops. You must watch the video. Watch it now. Let’s fly to Singapore and see them for real!

Kinetic Rain - Singapore airport

5. The last weather report you’ll ever need. I wish they did things like this with actual weather reports. At least on April Fools’ Day or something.

Dinner and a Movie

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Ben and I have joked several times about our atypical dating relationship. We’ve been dating for a little over 9 months and have never done the dinner-and-a-movie date. We’ve had dinner, and we’ve watched movies, but we never did the going out to the movies thing.

Finally, we decided to break down and go out to a movie. We drove to Waynesboro, a smaller town than the small-ish one we live in, because they have the nearest movie theater that doesn’t make you feel like you need to immediately launder your clothing upon exiting. Stadium seating and a decent sound system are also pluses.

We stopped by Chick-fil-a for the “dinner” portion, and headed to the 7pm showing of Avengers.

Ben bought tickets beforehand because he likes to be prepared. We walked up, they printed tickets, and pointed us to theater 4. The girl ripping tickets also pointed us to theater 4. Onward.

We sat down, whipped out our illicit sour jelly beans and waited. At 7.15-7.20, the previews started. We were slightly confused — the tickets said 7 — but whatever. It’s a privately owned theater, so they do things…differently?

Avengers 2012 Poster

A few trailers (The Dark Knight Rises! James Bond!), and then maybe a long windup for a comedy? A girl in sketchy black leather visited a maximum security prison bearing a cake. They let her in, and she stalked down the hallway through a ridiculous number of doors. Ben and I looked at each other. This was a long windup….We began to wonder, Are we in the wrong theater?

The scene continued, and Ben went to check on the status. If this was a long preview for a comedy, it wasn’t that funny. Just as he was walking back to tell me what was up, the title appeared in front of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones: Men In Black III. Yes, friends, we were sitting in the wrong place!

Neither of us was keen to watch MIB III instead of Avengers, so we walked out and talked to the 18-year-old manager who was shaking like a delicate leaf (we were nice, but he was still afraid of upsetting customers). He explained they’d moved the showing to theater 5 at the last minute and forgot to tell us when the tickets were printed. He apologized profusely, gave us tickets to the 9.55 showing and included a gift card.

We went out to the parking lot and discussed the situation. And that’s why we never have a normal dinner-and-movie date. We needed to spice it up by sitting in the wrong place. So…what to do for the next 2 hours?

In the end, we wandered around Waynesboro’s park system until it got dark, and then we hit up a Starbucks for late-evening movie-watching fuel. We’re getting old, people, and require caffeine to stay awake through a 2-hour movie that starts at 10pm (at least, I do, I can’t speak for Ben), especially if we have to drive back afterwards.

Finally, we made it back, went to theater 5 after checking to be sure we were in the right place, and settled down to more sour jelly beans and a superhero movie. It was actually pretty fun. And I liked the movie (if Joss Whedon is involved, I will see it. And probably like it. A lot.). Ok, I see the appeal of the dinner-and-a-movie thing.

9 Great Things About a Charlottesville Summer

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Here are 9 things I’m looking forward to about summertime in Charlottesville:

9. The Corner is Accessible Again. “The Corner” is the area in the middle of UVA grounds (not campus, grounds) with fun restaurants and shops. During the school year, I try to avoid it, as parking is nearly impossible and I am white-knuckled, gripping my steering wheel as I try to avoid pedestrians. It’s hard work driving through there in October.

8. Committees and Most Organized Events Take a Break. Free evenings…what a delightful prospect.

7. Fridays After Five Downtown. The Pavilion at the end of C’ville’s downtown pedestrian mall hosts free concerts every Friday evening after–you guessed it–5pm. The Downtown Mall on a Friday night is the modern equivalent of Regency England’s Promenade in Bath, or Hyde Park in London: (http://archive.suite101.com/article.cfm/regency_romance/58465) everyone goes to see and be seen.

6. Going to the Beach. Wait…that’s not Charlottesville. Charlottesville’s would be Going to the Mountains. But I am planning to go to the beach this summer with my family, and I am very much looking forward to it. I’m putting it on my list anyway. So there.

5. Generally Being Outside/ Going to the Mountains. Charlottesville is infinitely better in warmer weather. This town is at its best when you can be outside. There are many wineries around the outskirts, Monticello and the Monticello trail, and oh yeah, the mountains. So hiking and camping are pluses.

4. Summer Clothes. It’s time to give sweaters and heavy scarves and coats a rest. I’ll be happy to pull them out again when the weather gets chilly, but I’m so glad to be putting tank tops and breezy skirts toward the front of the closet again.

3. Summer Movies. Again, not limited to Charlottesville, but this one is inclusive of C’ville. This summer the movie I’m looking forward to the most is The Dark Knight Rises (with the rest of America, I know).

2. There are a couple of Drive-In theaters around C’ville. I’ve always meant to go, but never gone. It’s on my summer list this year! Does that help make the list more “local”? Please say yes.

1. Outdoor Grilling. While I do not personally own a grill, I am excited at the thought of attending other people’s grilling parties. If you have a grill and would like company, I will be your friend. I’ll even marinade chicken and bring it with me if that will tempt you. Or a side; I have a killer potato recipe I might share.

While “grilling” is the official top thing I’m excited about, I’m also excited about summer food in general. Tomato pie, watermelon, corn on the cob, and basically anything else that’s in season. Mmmm…summer tastes so good.

1 thing to not be excited about: sitting in my office wrapped up in a blanket because the air conditioning is extreme in here. Seriously. I made hot tea this afternoon because my fingers were cold. This cannot be good for anyone’s health.

19th Century Classic: Middlemarch

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I finished another classic! Whew.

This is an article my roommate shared with me from The Atlantic: “A Slow Books Manifesto.” Middlemarch is certainly a slow book, and the first George Eliot novel I’ve read (fun fact: her real name was Mary Anne or Marian Evans).

At a length of 848 pages (in the edition I read, and this count might include the introduction), Eliot certainly took her time in this complex weaving of stories about the inhabitants of a small town in the middle of England in the 19th century.

Middlemarch, by George Eliot

I’ll admit, it took me a while to get into this story, though I enjoyed Eliot’s characterizations and focused observations. Again and again I was impressed with her knowledge of human nature. She is great when narrating inward feeling and human motivation.

That really is why I would definitely agree that this book is a classic, and worth reading. You should read it. You should also tell lots of people that you are reading it and ask people who have already read the book to encourage you to continue to the conclusion, which is satisfying.

Once the book gets going (a couple hundred pages in), the story is compelling, and there are a few twists and turns as well as some storylines playing out the way you think they will.

Eliot even, in consideration for her readers, includes a “Finale” in which she outlines the continuing lives of the main cast of characters. I appreciated this, because I always want to know how stories turn out once we get to the end of the particular story being told.

I’m always up for a good book discussion, so let me know if you want to talk about this book. I hear I’m not the only person to read it this year.

Among the Millions Who Saw ‘The Hunger Games’…

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Yes, I did go see this movie. And it was actually better than I expected it to be. I thought they probably wouldn’t work too hard to make a good movie because the books were so wildly popular they could just make money off their success. While this was partially true, it wasn’t close to completely true, thankfully.

Maybe I’ll write my thoughts on the movie itself later (or maybe not…it depends on if I have good coherent thoughts about it), but in the meantime….

I can’t believe I’m about to do this, but I couldn’t help but note the similarities to another popular teen series:

Gale vs. Peeta

Gale vs. Peeta and Jacob vs. Edward. That’s right.

Jacob vs. Edward

Yes, I just made a comparison to Twilight. Please don’t hate me. I hate myself a little bit for even dragging them into this blog post.

Think about it: one girl, two guys. One is the tan, outdoorsy type who’s been friends with her since they were kids. The other is a slightly pasty (no pun intended!) guy who’s clever and different and new. Who will Bella/Katniss choose?

Ok, the similarities aren’t absolute (whew): Peeta is far more interesting and less creepy to me than Edward, and far less possessive. I actually liked Peeta’s character, instead of being disturbed. So that’s a plus.

Did anyone else notice similarities/ differences in these stories?

Things I Found on the Interwebs…and MadMen

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Some bloggers do a weekly Internet Roundup, but I do a random, periodic, no-promises-about-future-editions version of this.

  • Sufjan Stevens + Rosie Thomas. Yes please! (from Pitchfork) –this makes me wonder how long Sufjan will be in his autotune phase…
  • New ways to organize Pinterest! (Pinerly –thanks, Maggie!) Sadly, there’s a waiting list for this, but it looks interesting and I wouldn’t mind trying it out.

Ok, I wrote the above about two weeks ago…but I still like the links so I’m leaving them.

Next up, Season 5 of Mad Men started on Sunday! Hooray! More 1960’s antics and angst. Without further ado, I present the following gifs:

Pete Campbell - drunken nosebleed

And a series of the office guys re-enacting Megan Draper’s “Zou Bisou Bisou” dance:

Roger Sterling dances

Roger Sterling dances, part 2

Roger Sterling dances, part 3

Lane Pryce dances

Lane Pryce dances, part 2

The Lane Pryce dance for Joan was one of my favorite moments. Ah, MadMen…welcome back.

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