Thursday, November 29, 2012

Meeting Pumba, Visitors, and Chicago!

So, it's been a while since my last blog post. I'll start with the most important story of the past week. When I was in Connecticut with Andrew and Jessie, we went to a brunch place about twenty minutes away to meet up with a friend of Jessie's. When we got there, there was a significant wait, so we put our names in and hung out by the door. As we were waiting, an older gentleman with really hip glasses walked in to the restaurant. I immediately thought, "Hey, that guy looks like the guy who is the voice of The Lion King's Pubma." Now, this raises a good question. How did I know what the guy who voiced Pumba look like? I really have no idea, but I must have seen a video on the making of The Lion King or  something. So, as I was thinking, I turned to Jessie and said something like, "Doesn't that look like the guy...", and before I finished my sentence, she stated emphatically, "It is!"

However, I was not easily swayed. What would the very voice of Pumba himself (not to mention the owner of the beach resort, Leon Carosi in those summer special episodes of Saved by the Bell) be doing at this out-of-the-way brunch place in Nowhere, Connecticut? So, we're debating while we're being seated, and Jessie finally has it confirmed by one of the long-time waiters that it was in fact Ernie Sabella, the voice of Pumba.

So, we're obviously googling and IMDBing, seeing what else he has been featured in (who knew there was that many Timon and Pumba spin offs?) and trying to figure out how we could talk to him. So, when he was passing, Jessie called out, "I love you, sir!" He put his hands on her shoulders and said in his Pumba voice, "Hakuna Matata!" shuffled a few more steps, and turned again, exclaiming, "It means no worries!"Obviously, we were enraptured by this turn of events. Since it was a brunch place, I thought breaking into this song would be especially appropriate:

 So, that may have been the highlight of my post-Thanksgiving weekend.

After a great weekend in Connecticut, Andrew and Jessie came up to Boston and spent some time up here sightseeing (by sightseeing, I mean they saw the sights while I was in class and then we ate our way through different parts of Boston). I didn't realize how starved I was for people that have known me longer than three months. Whenever I felt that way before (what some call "loneliness"), I decided it meant I needed to read some more books or write a paper. So, I decided to go down to Connecticut Thursday-Saturday again. I feel like this is my reward for getting the lion's share (no Pumba-related pun intended) of my work done before the end of the semester.

Speaking of papers, I am consistent in one part of my paperwriting: when I am finished, I've at least made one consistent mistake in every citation throughout my footnotes. This time, it was putting the last name first (like you should do in the bibliography) throughout the footnotes - rookie mistake. So, I'll get to spend some fun time reformatting my paper. I guess it's lucky that I'm so details-oriented (sarcasm intended). Hopefully, this won't one day be the source of my academic undoing.

Anyway, 18 days until I am in Chicago! I'm already scheduling who to see at which restaurant, so it's going to be a great way to gain 20 pounds amongst friends. Well, class is about to start, so I should get going. Happy (soon to be) Advent! (not that I'm excited about that!)

Friday, November 23, 2012


I am currently sitting in bed at Bob and Bev Freeman's in West Hartford, Connecticut waiting for Andrew and his sister to wake up after their late night Black Friday spree yesterday (I stayed at home and judged from a distance). I'm also putting off getting up and going for a run, which after the gorging that took place yesterday might better be entitled, "roll." In my opinion, the Black Friday run is both the most needed and most dreaded run of the year.

Yesterday was a great time of eating, drinking, and being merry with the Freeman family. It was fun to have a bunch of kids running around (until one decided to throw herself down the stairs; I think it was a performance art protest against the consumerism of Black Friday, in which we throw ourselves down the stairs of consumerism and greed. (She was fine, which is why I can write this)) and served as a vision of future Thanksgivings in the Bjorlin family.

Things I am thankful for (lately):
1. Faith, family, friends, blah blah blah.
2. The community at Trinity Covenant Church for welcoming me into their church!
3. Internet shopping - the preferred method of shopping for recluses everywhere.
4. The Freeman family and their hospitality in inviting this Midwestern exile to their home.
5. Paying off my credit cards and feeling financially stable. I'm not even sure what to do sometimes when I don't have to do some creative accounting to pay all the bills (and pay for my lavish lifestyle obvs).
6. Ends of semesters that arrive, come hell or high water.
7. A plane ticket to Chicago on Dec. 18th and a ride to Minnesota thereafter.
8. Not putting my latest iPod in the washing machine for over a year. Apple's been wondering why its stock has been tanking...
9. Advent...duh.
10. Being able to listen to Christmas music without judgers judging.

Also, this is pretty funny.

Well, I'm going to go play some Super Smash Brothers Brawl. So, with that, may your days be merry and bright. Later. If you're going to shop this weekend, make good choices. May I suggest small business Saturday?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Turabian Niiiiiggghhhts

(The title is obviously to the tune of "Arabian Nights." I hope you passed that test.)

So, in getting ready for Thanksgiving, my goal has been to get as much work done as I possibly could, which has meant many days and nights curled up at my desk with my computer, a pile of books, and Kate Turabian. For those of you who have social lives, Kate Turabian was the woman at University of Chicago who put together A Manual for Writers, which is the citation guide for many different academic fields. I always assumed she was a recluse (because how could you care so much about citations and not be?), but here's a quote about her from one of her colleagues:

...a legend on the University of Chicago quadrangles. … A devout Episcopalian, an accomplished cook, an enthusiastic and adventurous traveler, and a voracious reader whose erudition earned the respect of scholars of all ranks despite her lack of the customary academic credentials. After her years of devoted service to the University, trudging in her sturdy oxfords from her apartment on the south side of the Midway to her office on the third floor of the Administration building, she acceded to her husband Stephen’s longing for a warmer clime, and retired to California.

Anyway, I could not help but think of her name in association with the Aladdin song, "Arabian Nights." I didn't think I could be the first to make this connection, so I googled it. Here's one of the things I found:

Not great production quality, but you get the idea.

Anyway, the good news is over the past few weeks, I have been productive with the help of acute anxiety and Kate Turabian. I think over the past three weeks I've written about 70 pages (some of better quality than others) on four different papers, which will allow me to enjoy Thanksgiving without a constant sense of impending doom (now it will just be intermittent).

Right now I decided to be an adult and bring in my car to get the windshield fixed. I only waited a week or two, so I think that's pretty good.

Tonight I'm headed to Connecticut to the Freeman house for Thanksgiving! I have to say my anticipation was only heightened when Andrew called and told me that his mom was ordering a bunch of Swedish food for Wednesday night dinner. Elastic-waist pants, here I come (or return to, elastic-waist stone-washed jeans were my clothing of choice in elementary which then switched to nothing but sweatpants until right around freshman year. I've been classy for so many years.)! I'm also looking forward to what always proves to be an interesting ride on a Greyhound bus.

Remember when I was bemoaning the lack of good Christmas albums coming out this year? This all changed with another monstrous release from Sufjan Stevens: Silver and Gold. It has a little more electronic weirdness on it than his previous holiday release, but it's still wonderful to listen to and has some deep cuts from Christian hymnody. For some reason, this is the song that always gets stuck in my head:

Anyway, I'm about to start class. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Chicago, Not Impressed, and City of God

So, I'm in the midst of reading a novel, and last night the characters were driving into Chicago. This is how it is described: "Chicago happened slowly, like a migraine. First they were driving through countryside, then, imperceptibly, the occasional town became a low suburban sprawl, and the sprawl became the city." First, such a great description of that drive. Second, it probably shouldn't, but it makes me very nostalgic for Chicago. In that same vein, I will be back in Chicago a month from today. WOOO! And then MINNESOTA to meet the newest member of the family!!

Okay, I know it's poor form to brag on your blog, but I have to tell someone that I finally finished St. Augustine's City of God! Coming in at almost 1100 pages, I've been working at it piecemeal for over a year now. Turns out (spoiler alert!), Augustine was dead the whole time! I did not see that Shyamalanian twist coming. Also, for some reason, I always sing the title to the tune "The Wizard and I," who nows why. "Held in such high esteem,/ when people see me they will scream/for half of Oz's favorite TEEaam, "the City of GOD!" Bum  bum bum bum        bum       bum

And if you don't think this is kind of funny, check your pulse:

Also, I finished my second paper, which will make my Thanksgiving infinitely more relaxed and enjoyable. I'm pretty happy about it, but I am know having a difficult time motivating myself to do anything but blog.

And here's some inside footage of Karl Rove after the election:

I think that was me in 1996 or after any of my sports teams lost (personal or state-wide) between 1989-1998. It ended in 1998 in the NFC championship game when Gary Anderson missed the field goal, the Vikings lost, and my soul was crushed to such an extent that I could no longer feel sorrow or pain.

When will I be at an institution that no longer engages in the archaic practice of library fines? I'm a graduate student not Scrooge McDuck! (Don't give me that personal responsibility talk either; this is my uncontrollable vice, and I think it's a fairly tame one).

Okay, I'm now at my new favorite coffee shop and need to actually get some work done today (reading day!), so I bid you adieu, adieu, to you and you and you. Later.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

German Tests and Christmas Music

Well, I know you're dying to hear about my German mid-term so I'll tell you: it was rough! The only consolation was that it was rough for everyone. On a positive note, I was one of the few to finish the translation; on the other hand, many of my sentences were missing key know, like a subject or verb or an intelligible idea running throughout. Seriously, some of my translated sentences sounded like Yoda suffering from some type of dissociative disorder. So, hopefully my breadth will make up for a general lack of depth (or sense).

I've been postponing listening to Christmas music this year, mostly because I'm anxious about how much I have to do between now and Christmas break, and I'm pretending if I don't acknowledge the season, it will delay in coming (reasonable, I know). However, after charting out some work time this weekend and finding out that I have one less paper than I thought (albeit a small one, but every little bit helps), I felt prepared to face the music. Oh, how I have missed it! On the way home from choir I was driving home misty-eyed listening to some of my favorites (or Mariah Carey's "O Holy Night" on of the two).

Well, I'm glad to see people are handling their disappointment in the election in a healthy way: starting petitions to secede from the Union. That seems reasonable. You could split all the seceding areas into different districts and then send 2 children from each district to a tournament where they all battle against one another...

Pat Robertson spreading some wisdom on the General Petraeus affair: "The man's off in a foreign land and he's lonely and here's a good-looking lady throwing herself at him (shrug). He's a man." Way to hold him accountable, Pat!

One of our songs we're singing in the choir at Church sounds a lot like, "If Just One Person," and all I can think of is this clip from Jim Henson's memorial service:

How am I supposed to make it through the song when I'm thinking of muppets singing a tribute to Jim Henson? Answer: you don't.

I am extremely excited for my trip down to Connecticut for Thanksgiving at the Freeman household! My only concern is whether I will be able to re-adjust to social situations where I have friends and people I know talking to me. Will I need to sit silently in a corner for a few hours to slowly transition back into human society? Will I be able to distinguish between internal and external dialogue? Will I attempt to footnote my dinner table comments with citations to back up my assertions?

Finally, I just finished a rough draft of one of my final papers. BOOM!

And in celebration, I'm going to take a nap. Later.

Monday, November 12, 2012

This Week in Pretentious Things

So, on my re-occurring segment, Why Are You Being Pretentious? (okay, maybe this is the first edition of this re-occurring segment, but I stand by it), I'm going to tell you a few things that have been bothering me. Among other things, I'm going to go after two news sources I really enjoy, but who occasionally toe the pretentious line (or trample it underfoot):
1. NPR (Boston) - Love love love NPR. Anyone who broadcasts Garrison Keillor every Saturday will forever hold a special place in my heart (and speaking of this, I'm going to stream the show from this Saturday as I type!), not to mention the reporting without all the crazy rhetoric and finger-pointing. Anyway, this week they were sponsored by the upcoming motion picture Les Miserables (obvious excitement for this opening - that goes without saying), but instead of pronouncing it like most people - "Lei miserab" - we have to hear some lady who took a few French classes in college say, "And this week's shows are sponsored by the upcoming motion picture Lei MiserUAH," which included this nasal, throat-clearing French accent more akin to the crazy French chef in The Little Mermaid than anyone wanting to be taken seriously on Public Radio. We get it, Pierre; you speak French; CongratulatiUH!" (You have to read that with a similar French accent if it's going to be funny. I think this joke would work better in person, but I'm holed up reading books somewhere, so you'll have to make do with what you get).
2. Also, every once in a while I enjoy reading The New Yorker, but one think that I simply cannot abide   by is their use of the pretentious umlaut over the second of a repeated vowel in a word. So, they "coöperate" and "reëlect" instead of "cooperate" and "reelect" like the rest of us. I guess we wouldn't be able to decipher these words that we use everyday without the umlaut. Apparently, the mark is actually called "diaeresis," which just makes it even that much more pretentious. You can visit The New Yorker's website and read their explanation for this pretention yourself. I'm not buying it; kind of like I'm not buying that all your cartoons are funny and mean something. You know what clip I have to play:

3. Anytime you start arguing which Radiohead album is the best, you're right on that line.
4. Same goes for talking about certain chefs at highfalutin restaurants, unless its one of the cook at Diner Grill and you're ordering a slinger (which is hashbrowns, two cheeseburger patties, grilled onions, and two sunny-side eggs all with a few servings of chilli generously ladled over it).

Note how one side of the sign says, "Dinner Grill" while the other edits it to "Diner Grill," just to give you the option. This was less than a block away from my old apartment in Chicago.
5. Any discussion of craft beer that lasts over 5 minutes. I'm sorry; it's true...even when I am guilty of it.

The Vikings remembered that they are a football team this weekend (and Ponder recalled his history as a quarterback) and took it to the Lions again! You heard it here first: I think that Adrian Peterson guy is going to be quite the halfback in the National Football League!

Last night I went to Trader Joe's to pick up some food and the song "Groovin' (On a Sunday Afternoon)" came on, and I think just about every person in the store was whistling or singing along. It was kind of like this:

Maybe it was a little less choreographed, but not much.

Well, I have a German mid-term in and hour and a half, so I should probably sign off now. I can't believe Thanksgiving is next week. I have so much that needs to get done. My only consolation is knowing that Thanksgiving is extremely early this year, so I do have an extra week after to finish work before the semester ends. Okay, don't know why I added that part. Later!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election Wrap-Up

So, here we are on the other side of the election and the world still spins on its axis and orbits around the sun. I know you've all been waiting with bated breath for my post-election coverage, so without further ado, here are some of my thoughts on the election:
1. Nate Silver wins, pundits lose. Silver is the man. He predicted all 50 states right and declared he would vote for ebola or a third party before he voted for pundits. I'm sure his inbox is full of apologies from those pundits apologizing for their scoffing (sarcasm).
2. Twenty women Senators! It's probably a bad sign when you're celebrating half the population having a fifth of the power, but it is a step in the right direction.
3. Demographic shifts. Latino/a voters and young voters can no longer be overlooked. I remember hearing in my civics class many years ago that the Latino vote was the "sleeping giant" of electoral politics. It looks like the giant has awoke, and it turns out they don't like the negative ways they are portrayed by those on the far right, nor the overall immigration policy of the Republican party (who would have thought self-deportation wouldn't be a hit?). This will be a huge challenge for Republicans if they want to contend in national elections in the future.
4.  I DVRed some political commercials on Monday so I can slowly wean of them. I do not want to go through those 2008 withdrawals with the terrible side effects of peaked interest, lucidity, and sudden onsets of joy (This would be true if I had a TV, let alone a DVR).
5. Minnesota had the highest voter turnout in the country again (past 8 elections in a row)! I think it is because it combines the mixture of the three greatest motivators of Minnesotans: guilt, duty, and peer pressure. Also, we still won't call the Democratic Party in Minnesota "Democrats." We prefer to keep it DFL - Democratic-Farmer-Labor, just to keep things interesting.
6. The big question in the twittersphere: Was Diane Sawyer drinking during the coverage? Exhibit A:

Frankly, I think all pundits were just way too tired to be speaking coherently, but you be the judge.
7. Karl Rove, who spent millions of other people's money to beat Obama, did not want to hear Ohio called for Obama:

8. We need to overturn Citizens United so that all the crazy amounts of money being spent on political races should at least not be anonymous with no accountability attached.
9. I confess I'm going to miss the debates.
10. Now that the election is over, I think Christmas music is in order (or at least Advent music!).

In the 2012 salute to my fine motor skills, every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday I come to campus and have to feed a meter with a copious amount of quarters; I don't think I've done this once this year without dropping at least one quarter on the ground. Each time feels like my own little occupational therapy session.

Okay, folks. I'm going into a weekend of heavy writing. Let's all hope and pray I get soooo much done so I can enjoy Thanksgiving without feeling like a blade is swinging slowly over my head (a la "Pit and the Pendulum"). Later!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Saints', Advent Music, and Big Spender

Happy All Saints' Day everybody!

I remember esteemed Professor John Weborg once saying that as he got older, All Saints' Day grew in its personal significance as more and more of his friends and family entered into the Church triumphant and the communion of saints. While I'm a bit younger than Dr. Weborg, All Saints' Day does seem to obtain additional significance each year not just because of the reason Dr. Weborg cites, but also because I have realized more and more the ways in which each of our worship services joins in the greater worldwide praise of the Triune God that connects us with all Christians throughout time and space. Plus, who doesn't love singing, "For All the Saints?"

So, since I can't listen to Christmas music until a bit into November, today I decided to listen to Advent music instead. I ended up listening to "Canticle of the Turning" on repeat as I drove, which made me feel very mainline (Lutherans/Methodists/Episcopalians can't get enough of this song...and during Easter it's "Now the Green Blade Rises"). Now, this isn't a very good version, but it will give you a taste of the song:

My favorite verse:
"From the halls of power to the fortress tower
not a stone will be left on stone.
Let the king beware for your justice tears
every tyrant from his throne.
The hungry poor shall weep no more
for the food they can never earn.
There are tables spread, every mouth be fed,
For the world is about to turn."

Speaking of mainliners, somewhere between the classrooms of North Park and Boston University I transformed from a liberal to a conservative. I guess many labels are relative to your company and context! It's a very interesting experience to feel like your always sticking up for the evangelicals at BU that you thought should be stretched at NPTS. C'est la vie.

My theme song yesterday was this:

I bought tickets to a Neil Young/Patti Smith concert in November, a plane ticket home for Christmas, an alb for Sunday, and will shortly be paying off the rest of my credit card debt on Friday when a check that I deposited officially goes through. I don't know if I've ever spent this much money in such a short period of time. For the next week, ramen's on the menu!