Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Random Wednesday...


I had a lot of thoughts and observations swirling around in my head today. And without the need for explanation, without the desire to try and string them together in an interesting, yet organized way; I will list them, and hopefully allow the crazy nature of my brain to shine through and entertain you in some proximity.

[in no particular order]
I need to learn the rules of Rugby.

I want to be smarter about saving money.

80's fashion should NOT be the current fashion; it was bad then, and it's worse now.

Matt Damon has a mean South African accent.

The Ducks need to win!

I hate being disappointed in people I love.

I need to do my laundry.

I have such wonderful, amazing people in my life!

I am humbled by the kindness of strangers.

Why are there no young adult fiction heroes who are girls?

I should write a young adult fiction series with a girl hero.

How would I even do that?

I need a good name.

Maybe I *should* apply to graduate school this year.

My room is a mess.

I wish I were better at sending out Christmas Cards.

Men should not be allowed to comment on the menstrual cycle. EVER.

I wonder which bags I should take with me?

I can't wait to fly to Calgary!

I LOVE my girlfriend!

Sarah Palin needs to suffer the pangs of obscurity.

I am way too addicted to Farmville.

I ordered two bean burritos, not one.

I want to snuggle.

For a little white creature in a green backyard, the bunny is really good at hiding.

I miss Lady.

I want snow!


What does it even mean to be a "hipster" anymore?

Why can't sports take over for warfare?

Me love cookies!

LED lights suck and they hurt my eyes and should not replace normal twinkle lights!

I kind of miss World of Warcraft.

I love Paula Deen more and more every time I see her.

I really am an Aries.

I think this Christmas is going to be one of the best Christmases ever!
This blog post is brought to you by:

Sony Vaio
Invictus (in theatres now!)
The Market Broiler
My Amazing Girlfriend
Bob & Doug

Monday, December 14, 2009

My cup runneth over...



I have the best best friend in the entire world. She wrote this. For me.

And I am dumbstruck. In the best sense.

My week last week was you all know. As Shakespeare would say: "When sorrows come, they come not in single spies, but in battalions." It seemed to me, from my limited world view, that my battalions of sorrows kept growing and expanding - much like the Nothing from The Neverending Story. Or the giant ball in Katamari Damacy, eating up everything it runs over.

(Katamari Damacy is a really fun video game, btw...check it out. Yeah. I'm a Nerd.)

This week, however, is the exact opposite. I have been showered with love in an out-pouring that I haven't quite experienced, until now. I am so entirely full of gratitude and humility and love. I recognize that I am so completely blessed by the people in my life, by the kindness and generosity, by the grace and brilliance that I am showered with on a daily basis - even from miles and miles away.

And for you, my beautiful best friend, I have this to say:

Let not my love be call'd idolatry,
Nor my beloved as an idol show,
Since all alike my songs and praises be
To one, of one, still such, and ever so.
Kind is my love to-day, to-morrow kind,
Still constant in a wondrous excellence;
Therefore my verse to constancy confined,
One thing expressing, leaves out difference.
'Fair, kind and true' is all my argument,
'Fair, kind, and true' varying to other words;
And in this change is my invention spent,
Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords.
'Fair, kind, and true,' have often lived alone,
Which three till now never kept seat in one.

(I didn't write it, but some guy named Will did...)

A picture of Tracy and I, from a few years ago:

Tracy makes my world make sense. That's really all anyone needs to know. I love you, Beeker.

A very special thank you to Drollgirl and Amanda. I'm giving Tracy some mixed CD's that I made for you. It's not much, but my gratitude and humility abounds.
This blog post is brought to you by:

Bacon Cheese Burgers
Eleanor Rigby
Balboa Island Christmas Lights
Cold Stone's Ice Cream
Tori Amos concerts
Road Trips
Chocolate chip cookies
Mixed CD's
The best friend a girl could ever ask for

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I am a cliche, new-age country song.


[Authors Warning: This post is a total downer. I apologize profusely; I'm not having the best week.]

So remember when I told you about Lady's awful visit to the veterinarian? My parents decided to put her down. Tonight. Lady is no longer here with us. She took a turn for the worst, stopped eating, stopped her nightly/morning routines, and her breathing was greatly labored. It was definitely the right decision; this does not, however, make it any easier.

I do find great comfort in the fact that we had the option to put her down; that the end of her life was not dictated by pain, medication, or a poor quality of life. In fact, she had a pretty damn good life. It makes me never-endingly grateful that Lady was, indeed, a dog. If she had been a human, we wouldn't have been able to do a thing to ease her pain, which is unfathomable to me. But again I say, I am very grateful.

You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

I love you, Lady. I hope that Shadow, Skippy, Megan, Molly, and Murphy are there to greet you, so you won't be alone. I hope I see you again, one day, too.

It's been a very sad week in the Bradac household.

In much less mournful, yet annoying news, my laptop is broken. Apparently there's a defect in the AMD Turion/NVIDIA chipset in Hewlett-Packard/Compaq computers. I have no sound, no operating CD drive. This laptop, by the way, is less than 18 months old. If you're in the market for a new laptop, I do not recommend mine.

(This constitutes the "new-age" part of my country song.)

Finally, I found out yesterday that a person I used to date (very briefly) after college is getting married. Normally, I would issue my congratulations, except that this individual is in possession, and has been in possession of a book of mine for 5 years. And has not given it back.

The book in question is by Anna Deavere Smith, entitled, "Talk to Me." Anna talks beautifully about her history, the events/political issues that inspired her toward documentary theatre, and the process she's developed to create the phenomenal pieces she performs. For those unfamiliar with Anna Deavere Smith, she is best-known for creating one-woman shows in which she portrays anywhere from 20-40 people. The plays are from the true stories/experiences of communities affected directly by racial tension and violence. "Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn," "Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992."

The truth is that the person in question actually has more than just this book of mine. In fact, I think she has three or four. The others I've already replaced. So why am I upset about this book? Because this book was not only signed by Anna Deavere Smith, but was given to me, by her - personally. I met her, and she gave me this book. I don't have many "heroes," but Anna Deavere Smith is one of them. I based my Senior Thesis around her and her work. The night that Anna gave me this book, she spoke at my university. Afterward, two of my best friends and I had, I maintain, the best night of our collegiate career.

And that book is somewhere in the bowels of Maryland, kept by a person that has such little regard for me and my feelings, that not only has she not sent it back to me in 5 years, she hasn't even had the decency to answer my calls or e-mails. I am not an inauthentic person, I am not an ungenerous person, I am not impatient, pushy, vindictive, or spiteful.

But 5 years of this ... only to find out that this thief is getting married. A thief, by the way, who has nothing to do with theatre AT ALL (of what interest is my book?!). To this person, I cannot even find happiness in my heart to give.

I hope your wedding sucks.

The Cliche, New-Age Country Song Tally:
1. My dog is dead.
2. My computer is crashing.
3. My book is being held hostage by an ex, and I'll probably never see it again.

[I would attempt to put my song to lyrics, but I feel that such an act would be glib, distasteful, and self-pitying....and I can't think of anything that rhymes with "paramecium" or "entrails"]

Hank Williams, you ain't got nothin' on me.

And for Tracy: The current total of my "Christmas in Canada Fund" is $50.00.
This blog post is brought to you by:

Hank Williams, Hank Williams, Jr., Hank Williams III
Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Star Cookies
Dogs everywhere

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

TV Observations from an idle Polar Bear...


So in case you didn't know, or at least didn't realize, it's December.

It's true.

As such, I find myself with a lot of free and idle time; not of my choosing, but due to circumstance and timing. Due to this, and my own holiday-riddled brain, I've been paying a lot of attention to random things. On Television.

And I will list them. Because lists are fun.

1) I've been watching the Food Network quite often since I've been home, and I've noticed that on many of the shows (namely those I watch), that Chefs call each other "Chef" at the same annoying rate that Doctors do on TV medical dramas and/or soap operas. Observe (in a competition/judge scenario):

"Chef John had a lovely appetizer, but Chef Keith's entree was simply divine with those roasted marshmallows."

"I agree, Chef Steven, but Chef John's dessert was heavy-handed, and quite misinterpreted."

"Chef Roger, what do you think?"

"I agree with my esteemed Chefs."

"But which one?"



"No, not you, the other Chef."


"Chef McChef Chef Cheferton."

"You are ridiculous."


Then, there's the "cooking with the masters" variety of programming, which resembles something from a bad boot camp movie:

[in a badly written French accent] "Ewe cull zis toomatoo soose?"

"Yes, Chef!"

"Ewe er ah deesgraice to zee cooking prufeshiun! Pleece leave meh kichion!"

"Chef, yes, chef! I do apologize for my crappy tomato sauce, Chef!"

"Git oot of meh seete!"

"Chef, yes, chef! Would you like to kick my ass, chef?"

"Shoot oop, ewe stoopid men!"

"Chef, yes, chef!"
Yeah. I went there.

2. Bravo has become the channel of Fashion and Food-based reality shows. Not only do they have Project Runway, they now have a show called "Launch my Line," where hopeful contestants compete in challenges to create a fashion line. The twist is that none of the designers are technically fashion "designers." One of the contestants is an architect. Another is a marketing executive who specializes in re-branding. Another is a DJ. The show is hosted by a pair of twin brother designers, Dean and Dan Caten, who could very well be lovers.


Then, there's my new favorite, "Tabatha's Salon Takeover." Here's why:

She's this fabulously extreme Australian. Who wears black. Lots of black. Essentially, Tabatha is called in to floundering salons, and whips them into shape in a week. Oh ... and as an added bonus, she was a contestant on the first season of ANOTHER Bravo! Reality Fashion-based show, "Shear Genius."

Then there's "Chef Academy" where contestants learn how to cook from ace Michelin Chef Jean Christophe Novelli. Three "fails" and you're expelled from school. Or something.

Also, Bravo! is of course known for the ever-popular and often replicated "Top Chef."

Now, to my point.

Here is the run-down of current and recent Bravo! programs.

There is not ONE program. NOT ONE! That is not a reality TV show. I find myself incredibly disappointed, because I remember when Bravo! actually had some of the most interesting Arts & Entertainment programming in all of cable television - not just basic cable. They used to have a program on Sunday mornings highlighting three musicians every week - I discovered Lucinda Williams on this show. They used to showcase dance groups and museums. They have, I argue, taken the arts & entertainment out of arts & entertainment programming.

Speaking of Arts & Entertainment programming, A&E has also fallen the way of the heretic. View.

3. Alton Brown makes me ridiculously happy. Why?

Science + History/ Food x a sense of humor = Geektastically BRILLIANT.

Unfamiliar with Alton Brown? Watch "Good Eats" or "Iron Chef: America" on the Food Network. He also has a brand-new Welch's Grape Juice Commercial, where he intelligently informs you of the nutritional properties of the Concord Grape. I actually kind of want some grape juice, and I haven't had grape juice since I was about 12. This is the awesome power of Alton Brown.

Or, you can just visit his website.

4. My Monkey told me that there's an "Iron Chef: America" episode where Iron Chef Cat Cora is teamed with Paula Deen. I have not seen this episode, but good *golly* I want to! I've been stalking the Food Network for this episode all week long. So far, this episode is my very own White Whale.


5. Lastly, I just finished watching the first season of "Rome." It's quite good...except it leaves me wondering why Brits ALWAYS play Romans?

Romans and the soldiers of the Republic in Star Wars.
This blog post is brought to you by:

The Food Network
Free Time
World Market Dark Hot Chocolate Mix

Saturday, December 5, 2009



Today, I found out that our family dog, Lady, has lymph node cancer.

She's 15 years old.

I took her to the vet this morning by myself, which felt odd for some reason. Perhaps because she's our family dog, and any decisions made on her behalf, I think, should be communal; tribal council style, if you will. At any rate, I felt ill-equipped and unprepared to handle any decision-making the vet threw my way. Thankfully, there really is no decision that needs to be made - at least not yet. Dr. Choo gave me a rough estimate on her life - about 6 months. He discouraged chemo treatments because of her age. He said we could expect her to have trouble breathing, eating, and going to the bathroom in the time to come. This was said to me in such a way to where he could have been telling me that I needed to brush my teeth every day, twice a day, and that cavities are unfortunate, but to be expected. On one hand, I appreciated his factual manner - it prevented me from bursting into tears in his office. On the other, I felt offended on my family member's behalf. Why? I have no good reason. Except that this family member deserves a lot of care and compassion. I think Dr. Choo felt uncomfortable. He called in one of the vet techs to be there when he told me, in case I did fall apart. The vet tech was probably more capable to deal with human reactions than the animal doctor. The only thing that I was able to focus on, in lieu of the emotions sitting like elephants on my chest, was a chart on his wall, detailing the different breeds of dogs by continent. I learned that one of my favorite breeds of dog, the Bernese Mountain Dog, is Swiss. I didn't know that.

Dogs get so little credit for what they do. The constant, unconditional love and care they give us, unfailingly, all the time. Dogs never disappoint. They never flake out. They accept us and love us for exactly who we are, and when the world seems to be falling apart, when stress and pain and worry and fear start to consume us - there's the world's best friend, sitting there, wagging her tail, putting her head on your knee, licking your hand. Lady isn't the world's best dog. She's done a lot of bad things in her life, and is hopelessly addicted to food of any variety. One Christmas, my sister gave me a box of Ghiradelli dark chocolate. We went to the movies (as we do every Christmas), and Lady ate the entire box, including packaging. Chocolate is poison for almost all dogs ... except Lady. My aunt freaked out, and insisted that we take her to the animal emergency room, who fed her charcoal, as a way to pump her stomach. I think that did more harm than the chocolate would have. To look at her, you wouldn't think she was the sneaky bottomless pit she is. At 85 lbs, she's the epitome of a black lab. She crosses her front paws when she sits down (hence her name), she sleeps about 18 hours out of every day. She has a fear of water from falling into the pool when she was a puppy. She loves going into the car. She looks ferocious and menacing, but will (and has) let burglars in, and welcome them with a panting smile, and a hopeful eye (humans = Gods of Food). She lets our alpha cat, Timon, lick her and cuddle with her, even though she doesn't like him very much. But for all of her faults, all of her many transgressions, I conjecture that there is no dog alive with half as much sweetness and patience as she.

I think it's really easy for us, as human beings, to slip into surrender when we hear something like, "Cancer" or "six months to live." At least I know it was easy for me. I had a good cry in the car on the way home. Until I heard a voice say, "She's not dead yet." I caught myself thinking about the future without Lady ... without her sleeping on her pillow, or laying in the doorway of my room. It's easy to take for granted that which has always been there, and even easier to assume that it always will be. But so long as her quality of life is okay, so long as she's comfortable and happy, she has every right to expect from me a joyful, loving friend. And as I think about everything she's given me in her 15 years on this planet, I am determined to change those thoughts to ones of service for her, and will continually strive to ask, and attempt to answer: "How can I be a better human to my dog?"

This blog is brought to you by:

Unconditional Love

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Putting my money where my mouth is...


I was thinking about Christmas music today, as one of my facebook friends posted a video of Elvis singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." And I thought, "well that's silly. Springsteen owns the market on that cover!"

And then I thought, "Bradac, you should probably put your money where your mouth is." Which is as much to say that I've offered up my CD making abilities for Christmas ... and it would make sense to assure you that I *am* actually proficient at this talent I claim to possess. I mean, it's only fair, right?

So what makes a good Christmas CD? I maintain that it requires a classic feel, with a fresh twist. And I think the songs below do that quite nicely.

Please bear in mind that the following are not chosen for the video quality, but for the song itself.

Warning: Johnny Cash gets a little over-zealous about Jesus. Just throwing that out there.

The 15 best Christmas songs/covers, to date:

Covers that should be on here but that I couldn't find videos of:

Good King Wenceslas as sung by The Crash Test Dummies
I Saw Three Ships as sung by The Bare Naked Ladies
Silent Night as sung by Josh Groban (I know, right? How is this NOT on YouTube?!)
The Friendly Beasts as sung by Garth Brooks & Company (including Willie Nelson)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

All I want for Christmas...


Fact: Good things always happen when I talk to Tracy.

So I was talking to Tracy on Friday night. And I was mentioning to her that this year, I'm going to Calgary for Christmas and New Year's, and that I'm broke as a joke. And the only thing ... the only thing that I want for Christmas is to spend it with Liz (Strangely, educational Shakespeare doesn't pay in gold bouillon...).

And off the top of my head, I said, "Maybe I should just send out a memo for people to give me money for Christmas, rather than buying me things that I don't need."

And she said, "That's a great idea. Set up a PayPal account!"

I said, "A PayPal Account?"

And she said, "Yeah!" And then went on to explain how that would work. Because she's awesome. And brilliant. And awesomely brilliant. And brilliantly awesome. (okay, I'm done)

So here I am. A PayPal Account set up for anyone who wants to donate to the "Poor Starving Artist's Christmas Fund," or, "Alyssa's Canada for Christmas Fund." Whichever you prefer. The only thing I can give you in return is gratitude, mixed CD's, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. (I make wicked chocolate chip cookies).

By the way, this only applies to anyone who was thinking of getting me a Christmas present. Many of you don't know me. In fact, you probably have no idea who I am. And why would you get me a Christmas present?? You wouldn't. And even some of you who DO know me, wouldn't get me a Christmas present. And that's okay too. But there are some out there who might, because you're incredibly generous, loving human beings who, for what ever reason, deem me important enough to buy a gift for. And to you, my dear friend/family member/ghost of Christmas past, I say, don't buy me anything. I don't need things. I just need traveling cash.

Did I mention that I make an awesome mixed CD?

If you're interested, this is the link:

What I want for Christmas:

This blog is brought to you by:

Starbucks Hot Chocolate
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation