Posts Categorized: Just for Fun

D is for … Dancing

February 11, 2017 Just for Fun, Narcissism 2

I’m doing a kind of “A-to-Z Selfie” project for 2017. This involves writing blog posts of a personal nature. If you’re interested in the topic, please feel free to chime in! If not, you’ll be happy to know that more bookish content will be published soon.

Like many young girls, I took ballet lessons. And lessons in other kinds of dance sometimes — tap, swing, jazz — but it was ballet that I loved. I was never the best at it, but I wasn’t too shabby either. And I enjoyed it immensely.

I was SO proud of myself when I was finally allowed to get pointe shoes. (Of course, years later I still deal with the ghosts of foot-abuse past, but I can’t say I regret it all that much.) And I immensely enjoyed getting to do various shows — mostly because of the costumes and the dance itself, rather than the performance aspect.

I finally had to give it up towards the end of high school. I was a very busy kid, and something had to give. By the time you get to that age, you know whether ballet is even a possible career for you… and you know that most professional ballet dancers will experience a short, brutal career anyway. And at that point I felt that I had to concentrate on things that could realistically affect my future education or work opportunities. But, yes, I still miss it!

Well, how about y’all? Did you have any kind of long-term or highly demanding athletic or artistic hobby as a kid that you kind if miss as an adult? And have you ever thought about trying it again all these years later?


C is for … Cello

February 4, 2017 Just for Fun, Narcissism 4

I’m doing a kind of “A-to-Z Selfie” project for 2017. This involves writing blog posts of a personal nature. If you’re interested in the topic, please feel free to chime in! If not, you’ll be happy to know that more bookish content will be published soon.

Well, as the title of this post is intended to suggest, I used to play cello.

My dad’s side of the family is mostly musical and my mom’s side is mostly… well, not. I seem to have inherited a mix of genes when it comes to musicality. I can’t sing worth a damn and am quite probably tone-deaf, but I’ve got a good sense of rhythm and emotive dynamics.

I think this is why the cello was a good choice for me — tuning and note-marking are accomplished before playing rather than during, and the lower registers usually set the beat/tempo, but the cello also tends to get more interesting parts than the double bass.

Well, here’s middle school me and my buddy Brownie the cello.

I miss playing cello. I was never going to be first chair in the varsity orchestra, but it was fun and I was decently good at it when I bothered to practice.

Did you play an instrument in band or orchestra at school? Or do you still play?


Wine Reviews for January ’17

February 3, 2017 Home Sweet Home, In the Kitchen, Just for Fun, Wine 0

Well, I was bound to hit a “dud” sooner or later.

Pretty (& cheap) in pink

A photo posted by Louise (@bibliothekla) on

Let’s just get this out of the way: I picked this up because (a) it is pretty and (b) it is cheap. This is your classic “Two Buck Chuck” from Trader Joe’s. I’ve got some pretty intense love/hate feelings for Trader Joe’s, but the Charles Shaw wines I’ve tried in the past haven’t been bad. Your basic table wines, sure, but worth a bit more than the price point would suggest.

I guess I was expecting this to taste more like a rosé/rosato — light and refreshingly fruity. But this stuff is sweet as all get-out.

It’s a pretty shade of pink, sure. It smelled like some unidentifiable fruit juice or chemically fruit-flavored product — like pink Starbursts, maybe. And it tasted pretty much exactly the way it smelled. I ended up eating it with some extremely salty, savory foods to cut the sweetness (BBQ potato chips and a cheeseburger with onion + jalapeños).

Let me be clear — this is not precisely a “bad” wine. It’s just uninteresting and sugary. You get what you pay for with this particular type of Charles Shaw.


B is for … The Boys

January 28, 2017 Just for Fun, Narcissism 4

I’m doing a kind of “A-to-Z Selfie” project for 2017. This involves writing blog posts of a personal nature. If you’re interested in the topic, please feel free to chime in! If not, you’ll be happy to know that more bookish content will be published soon.

It’s no secret that I’m a cat person. Also, a dog person. Yes, both, both is good.

The spouse and I currently live to serve 2 young cats and 1 middle-aged dog.


Sneakers is a 10ish-year-old, possibly-Chiweenie. We adopted him from the animal shelter in my hometown after one of our previous cats died unexpectedly. We had gone to the shelter to look for another cat, but decided to walk through the dog kennels first just for the heck of it. Sneakers was the in the first cage in the first row, right by the entrance. And, because we’re huge suckers, we fell for his big puppy eyes right away. (There were also some ducks in there for some reason, so … at least we didn’t try to bring those home?)

He’s grown into a loyal, cuddly, kinda silly little dude. He’s been a pretty good “big brother” to the other 4-legged boys. He has sensitive skin and a slightly sensitive tummy and is missing a few teeth, but otherwise has been pretty healthy. And he takes his job as Head of Homeland Security very seriously.


Bentley is our little gray tabby boy. He has long legs that he doesn’t seem to be 100% in control of, but he’s also an accomplished bug hunter and a “singer” when he’s hungry or worried. (I imagine he could be part Siamese or similar because of his short, silky coat and his talkativeness.) He’s also the smartest of our trio, being the one who always figures out how to take apart the toys or knows how to be sneaky when breaking rules.


Oliver might not be quite as clever as his less-floofy brother, but he is a champion cuddler. He’s also very curious and doesn’t seem to have any sense of fear (or worry about being caught breaking rules). He also has a sensitive tummy — which seems to be a bit of a theme in our family, count me in — but is otherwise literally bright-eyed and bushy-tailed pretty much all the time. Oliver likes thieving things (pens, mail, anything a human is trying to use but has put down for a moment), chasing The Dot, and “nursing” on his blankie.

Bentley and Oliver came to us from a local animal shelter that was having a cat clearance sale and had an ongoing BOGO deal for littermates. These poor guys had already been adopted and had to be returned to the shelter because their previous owner couldn’t keep them. So, these little “discount cats” came home with us instead.


You can read a bit more about my nice little family (incl. the spouse) on the Cast of Characters page. Want more pet pictures? Follow me on Instagram.

Do you have any animals? Would you consider yourself more of a cat person, a dog person, or both?


Movie Musicals Challenge –
The King and I

January 21, 2017 Just for Fun, Movies 8

Time for another selection from the Movie Musicals Challenge!

The King and I is another re-watch for me. More than that, though, it was a little trip down memory lane — when I was a kid, I was in a local theater production of this musical (as one of the king’s many children). It was an enriching experience and I’ll forever be able to recite certain scenes word-for-word… but I also experienced my first instance of paralyzing stage fright during one show, so that’s kind of a cringe-inducing memory in particular.

The music, of course, is grand and sweeping and moving. And the scenery and costumes are so gorgeous — I kept pausing the movie just to sort of look around and take in all the rich visuals. BUT it’s also kind of a mid-century American interpretation of a colonial-era Englishwoman’s(*) memories of a very foreign land, so… great as the audio and visual components may be, I wouldn’t exactly rely on them to be historically accurate, you know?

Despite my personal attachment to this musical, I can’t ignore its undercurrent of stereotypical orientalism. However, I also can’t pretend to know enough about this particular cultural issue or the story’s historical context to be able to lead an in-depth discussion on it. So I would simply remind any potential viewers that this is a nearly 70-year-old American theater version of a slightly older novel based on a 19th century memoir written by a white-passing mixed race expatriate.

One of my favorite scenes is the play based on Uncle Tom’s Cabin that Tuptim presents towards the end of the film, which is based on a traditional type of Thai drama-dance called khon. This play-within-a-play is beautifully done and I can’t think of anything else quite like it in musical theater.

Have you watched this movie or seen the musical performed live? What did you think of it?


Where do you get your news?

January 14, 2017 Just for Fun 10

I try not to get bogged down in politics here on my lil’ ol’ blog — although I’m not going to try to hide my opinions, either. Not gonna lie, various political or politics-related subjects have been taking up a lot of my brainspace and emotional energy lately.

And with all the talk about our “post-truth” culture these days, I’ve been thinking a lot about where we get our news from and how it affects a person’s outlook + is affected by a person’s outlook.

So, I’m interested in hearing about your preferred news sources. Where do you get your news — be it political, cultural, professional, etc. — from, and how do you think those sources reflect/affect your own opinions or decisions?


These are my main sources of news right now:

NPR

About this resource:

National Public Radio is an American privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States. NPR produces and distributes news and cultural programming. Its flagships are two drive time news broadcasts, Morning Edition and the afternoon All Things Considered; both are carried by most NPR member stations, and are two of the most popular radio programs in the country.

Comments:
NPR might lean a bit liberal, but it really depends on which show you’re listening to and which topic they’re covering. When I’m not listening to an audiobook, I like to listen to the morning and afternoon news on NPR on my way to/from work — although lately I’ve had to change the channel back and forth from music for the sake of my blood pressure.

The Houston Chronicle

About this resource:

The Houston Chronicle is the largest daily newspaper in Houston, Texas. As of April 2016, it is the third-largest newspaper by Sunday circulation in the United States. It is the largest daily paper owned and operated by the Hearst Corporation, a privately held multinational corporate media conglomerate. The publication serves as the “newspaper of record” of the Houston area.

Comments:
This newspaper has been accused of liberal bias fairly frequently, but you have to keep in mind that this is a newspaper for a big, about-as-liberal-as-you-get-outside-Austin city in a very, very red state. I think it does a pretty fair job of reporting on local and state issues and it and its journalists have won/been nominated for several awards, including Lisa Falkenberg’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary.

The Galveston County Daily News

About this resource:

The Daily News is a newspaper published in Galveston, Texas. It was first published April 11, 1842, making it the oldest newspaper in the state. The newspaper founded The Dallas Morning News in 1885 as a sister publication. It currently serves as the newspaper of record for the City of Galveston as well as Galveston County.

Comments:
This is more of a typical mid-size town newspaper than the behemoth Chronicle and the topics it covers tend to be more hyper-local and the quality of the reporting/writing/editing is proportional to its size. I personally have kind of ambivalent feelings about this newspaper for kolaches-related reasons (don’t get me started on the Great Kolaches War of 2014), but I end up flipping through it 3 or 4 times a week.

JSTOR Daily

About this resource:

JSTOR is a digital library founded in 1995. Originally containing digitized back issues of academic journals, it now also includes books and primary sources, and current issues of journals. In addition to weekly feature articles, JSTOR Daily publishes short daily blog posts that provide the backstory to complex issues of the day in a variety of subject areas, interviews with and profiles of scholars and their work, and more.

Comments:
Fairly neutral on the political spectrum, perhaps because its articles focus on looking at current events through the lenses of history and related academic scholarship rather than spinning out up-to-the-minute stories. This is probably the “nerdiest” news source I regularly read, but I can’t help it, JSTOR is just pretty great.

Texas Monthly

About this resource:

Texas Monthly is a monthly American magazine headquartered in Austin, Texas. It chronicles life in contemporary Texas, writing on politics, the environment, industry, and education. The magazine also covers leisure topics such as music, art, dining, and travel. Texas Monthly takes as its premise that Texas began as a distinctive place and remains so. It is the self-appointed arbiter of all things culturally Texan.

Comments:
Texas Monthly has been accused of liberal bias, but again, this is Texas, so anything other than pro-gun, pro-life, pro-football, and pro-chili-with-no-beans-ever content is going to get flagged as leaning a little too blue. I especially enjoy the Bum Steer Awards and the Ten Best/Worst lists.

Slate

About this resource:

Slate is an English-language online current affairs, politics and culture magazine in the United States. According to editor Julia Turner, the magazine is “not fundamentally a breaking news source,” but rather aimed at helping readers to “analyze and understand and interpret the world” with witty and entertaining writing.

Comments:
Slate has a reputation for being particularly left-leaning and — annoyingly in some cases — contrarian in a pretty click-baity way. Not gonna lie, I usually visit the site for one of my favorite “agony aunt” columns, Dear Prudence (yeah, got a weird addiction to advice columns), but end up browsing the news and culture articles as well. I also really like doing their weekly news quiz just to see how in touch I am with current events (usually about average, nothing to brag about).

Other frequent sources of news (or sometimes “news”) via Twitter, shared links from friends, and so forth:
BuzzFeed
CNN
The Guardian
HuffPo
The Texas Tribune
Wall Street Journal
WaPo
Wired

Note: News resource descriptions are from Wikipedia.


A is for … Allergies + Anxiety

January 13, 2017 Just for Fun, Narcissism 7

I’m doing a kind of “A-to-Z Selfie” project for 2017. This involves writing blog posts of a personal nature. If you’re interested in the topic, please feel free to chime in! If not, you’ll be happy to know that more bookish content will be published soon.

I have allergies. Not to food, that I know of, but what people sometimes call “seasonal” allergies — you know, itchy eyes, being generally unable to breathe due to floods of snot, that kind of thing. Except, for me this problem persists through all 4 seasons. Allergies and related respiratory/skin issues run in the family.

I have also been relatively recently diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (+ underlying persistent depression, possibly, though I remain skeptical of this tentative diagnosis). Affective disorders also run in the family.

 

Why am I talking about these issues? And why am I talking about them together… ?

I’ll answer the 2nd question 1st: Because, surprisingly, there is some evidence that links the two conditions.

People with allergies are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and related issues than the general population, and vice-versa. The specific reason(s) for the correlation are still unclear. It doesn’t look like one condition causes the other, and having one problem doesn’t automatically = having the other. The correlation could have something to do with sleep disruption, general inflammation, or genetics among other things.

The reason I started looking into this has to do with a medication that I was prescribed: hydroxyzine, a first-generation antihistamine. This stuff is used to treat both severe allergy symptoms and panic attacks, and even obsessive behaviors associated with OCD. I regularly take the OTC antihistamine cetirizine, which is the 2nd-gen version of hydroxyzine. I thought it was extremely interesting that a different version of the same medication that I use to keep the snot at bay might also be used to keep anxiety at bay.

As to the first question — why I’m telling the Internet that I have allergies and anxiety — that’s because I don’t think it does either society or individuals any good to pretend that any illness doesn’t exist, especially mental illnesses. Being in the dark does nobody any good, and the only way to combat the darkness is to shine light on the situation, right?

If you also deal with allergies + anxiety or similar issues, or if you just have questions, please feel free to talk to me about it!

Sources:

Goodwin, R. D., Galea, S., Perzanowski, M., & Jacobi, F. (2012). Impact of allergy treatment on the association between allergies and mood and anxiety in a population sample. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 42(12), 1765-1771.

Qin, P., Mortensen, P. B., Waltoft, B. L., & Postolache, T. T. (2011). Allergy is associated with suicide completion with a possible mediating role of mood disorder – a population‐based study. Allergy, 66(5), 658-664.

Rosenblat, J. D., Cha, D. S., Mansur, R. B., & McIntyre, R. S. (2014). Inflamed moods: A review of the interactions between inflammation and mood disorders. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 53, 23-34.

Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2011). Allergic Rhinitis: Relationships with Anxiety and Mood Syndromes. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, 8(7), 12–17.

Wilczynska-Kwiatek, A., Bargiel-Matusiewicz, K., & Lapinski, L. (2009). Asthma, allergy, mood disorders, and nutrition. European Journal of Medical Research, 14(Suppl 4), 248–254.


Wine Reviews for December ’16

January 6, 2017 Home Sweet Home, In the Kitchen, Just for Fun, Wine 2

Of course I had to pick up something bubbly for the holidays. Good Champagne is way out of budget for us right now, so I grabbed a bottle of Prosecco to try!

A little bubbly for a rainy New Year's Eve ✨✨✨

A photo posted by Louise (@bibliothekla) on

Dellatorri Prosecco DOC Brut

Italy, 2015

Very pale in color, and nicely bubbly (but not super bubbly). Not as rich as I like my wines to be, but not too sweet either — the husband liked it well enough, and he’s normally a beer drinker, so I think this wine could be described as non-oenophile-friendly. I got kind of a floral, lightly fruity (pear?) taste but otherwise couldn’t distinguish major flavors. It almost reminds me of one of those perfumes that strives to be popular yet unobtrusive, with a quite mix of undefined yet generally pleasing floral/fruit notes.

We ordered pizza and that totally overwhelmed the wine, so I’d say it’s probably better to drink this alone or with simpler snacks like dark chocolate or not-too-sharp cheese or herby crackers.


Movie Musicals Challenge –
Grease

December 8, 2016 Just for Fun, Movies 4

grease1

I re-watched Grease on Netflix recently for the Movie Musicals Challenge based on the AFI’s 25 Greatest Movie Musicals of All Time list.

I love this movie. It’s quite silly and campy in some ways, but it’s also funny and smart and — obviously — packed with great musical numbers. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but if I absolutely had to narrow it down to ONE… it’d be “Beauty School Dropout” with Frankie Avalon (the scene where Frenchy contemplates her career/educational options after a disastrous dye job).

Of course, like many musicals on this list, Grease is based on a stage play. I vaguely remember seeing one of my cousins in a high school theater production of it ages ago — and I also vaguely remember that they got in a bit of trouble for not cutting out some of the raunchier lines! (This was conservative small town Texas, after all.)

Speaking of raunchier lines… Rizzo is one of my favorite characters, ever. I confess that I kind of hated her as a kid — she seemed too mean and slutty compared to the naive Sandy, almost like a villain. But there isn’t really a villain in this film, is there?

Oh, sure, there’s the guy from the other car-racing gang with the spikes on his wheels and the fancy-dancing girlfriend. But his rivalry with the T-Birds is secondary to the main storyline, just a convenient device to move the plot forward and create a little conflict to frame the more interesting problems the main characters are having: first love, first car, first job… and first failures. Rizzo experiences perhaps the most serious problem of all the characters — her unintended pregnancy — but this is too-neatly wrapped up in a throwaway line in the final number: “It was a false alarm!”

Anyway… I don’t really know where I was going with that line of thought, other than to say that I think Rizzo is an interesting-yet-underrated character.

Do you have a favorite character or song/dance number from this musical?

grease2

Wine Reviews for November ’16

December 3, 2016 Home Sweet Home, In the Kitchen, Just for Fun, Wine 2

I tried a couple of reds from Chile this month. I didn’t bother to take notes on the Cabernet, but the Carménère was a little something different! I’d never heard of this variety before, but apparently it was an accidental transplant to Chile from France — a lucky accident that saved the variety from disaster, as it turns out. (Read more about it at Wine Folly.)

Hellooo holiday weekend 🍫🍷🍫🍷

A photo posted by Louise (@bibliothekla) on

Casillero del Diablo Carménère Reserva

Chile, 2015

The color is a deep bluish red, very opaque and viscous (“sticky”). It smells like herby/spicy yet juicy red berries, followed by a faint whiff of… chocolate? Something kinda bitter-sweet. It looks and smells delicious.

Taste-wise, it starts out with a tart but mild strawberry flavor, followed by a fresh herby sort of quality (though I’m unable to discern which herbs…) and a little bit of acidic “bite” at the end. It seemed simultaneously spicier + sweeter with the dinner I served alongside it — portabella mushroom-stuffed ravioli and sundried tomatoes in a pesto sauce.