Monday, December 11, 2017

My Harry Potter Confession

I have never read the Harry Potter book series.  My daughter has read the series seven times – and most of that when she was like 12 yrs old.  She said each time she re-read any of the books, she discovered more and more detail that she hadn’t picked up before.  Like most of her pre-teen friends back then, she could cite Harry Potter backwards and forwards and simply couldn’t get enough of the books.  She even enjoys them today.

I have never seen the Harry Potter movie series. Okay, I saw half of the first movie – up until the part with the three-headed dog.  That was when my daughter was much younger and that scene scared the heck out of her.  Scared her so much she did not resume watching (or even think about reading the books) for several years.

Of course I figured these stories would be great. Why else would they cause such a world-wide craze?  But I was busy, and I never got around to checking them out. 

Now, there is a new play coming out.  It is called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  We bought tickets to see the show in the spring.  I figured now is as good a time as any to binge watch the eight movies – otherwise I am going to be really confused when I sit down to watch the play.  So that is what I did.  I watched all eight movies over the course of 2 1/2 weeks.  I have to say JK Rowling created a formidable body of work!  That was a lot of screen time.  Watching all of the films within a short period of time has the benefit of keeping the story lines fresh in one’s mind.  It is also fun to observe the characters (and actors) growing up right before one’s eyes.  But perhaps the thing that kept blowing my mind was the countless unique worlds that she created.  Every room of Hogwarts, every town, a maze, a graveyard, caves, olde England, the ministry, a bank, a vault etc. etc. etc.  Sooo many different and distinct little universes.  I kept wondering aloud to my daughter – did JK Rowling really put this much detail into the books? Or were the movie guys just really good.  My daughter confirmed that the books read just like the movie views.

Not to be remiss, I should tell you that I really enjoyed the movies!  I am glad I waited until I could sit and give them the attention they deserve.  The characters, story lines, and the scenery were all fun, interesting and engaging.  I find myself wondering if I should read the books. (Don’t tell my daughter or she won’t let up until I do!)  Stay tuned…

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Holiday Meals

I’m baaaaaaaack. I know, I know, you’re all so excited that “Holly” is posting two days in a row this weekend. I do it because I love you all.

That’s a lie. I do it because I have a freakin’ BUSY week, so I’m writing on the weekends so that I can do my actual homework during the week. Fun, right? But you can go with my first answer if it makes you feel better.

Anyway, because my whole house smells like latkes and applesauce for our Hanukkah party next weekend, I decided to write about what my family eats on each holiday. So, here it goes:

Easter: Easter’s our first big family gathering/meal in the year. On Easter, we usually have some kind of ham, be it fresh or smoked. I don’t know why it’s our tradition, or how it came to be, but it’s delicious and consistent. At every family gathering, we also have corn casserole, which is this awesome corn dish with like 6 ingredients. It’s my favorite dish, so you’ll see it’s a staple.

Birthdays: Next up are birthdays. Yes, I know that birthdays are not technically holidays, but they’re family get-togethers where we eat lots of food and celebrate, and that’s close enough to a holiday for me. Since my and my brother’s birthdays are in the summer, we often have big barbeques with sesame skirt steak, balsamic-mustard-garlic chicken, some kind of summery salad, and yes, corn casserole. My family and I have also recently become obsessed with getting an ice cream cake from Häagen Dazs that has a layer of cookie dough, a layer of dulce de leche, the chocolate crumbly things in the middle, and a chocolate shell over the outside. It’s AMAZING. 1000000/10, would recommend.

Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s mostly about food. Yeah, it’s “significance” is all about friendship and rainbows between the Native Americans and the pilgrims (before the pilgrims killed the NAs and stole their land, but whatever), but in modern life, it’s become about what kind of stuffing everybody makes, and how each person seasons their turkey. At our house, we do a classic turkey, stuffing (YUM), mashed potatoes (sometimes even homemade!), canned cranberry sauce (I know, we’re uncultured swines, but it’s SO GOOD), and you guessed it, corn casserole. Hearty, carb-tastic goodness. Calories don’t count on holidays, guys!

Hanukkah: For many years now, we’ve hosted a Hanukkah party (because, if you’ve read our blog since the beginning, you’ll know we’re a mixed-faith family). It’s a fun time to see all my Jewish cousins, as well as my “1% Jewish-but-born-and-raised-Catholic” grandma, who loves that joke a lot. Since it’s Hanukkah, we do latkes, and we pair those with homemade applesauce (which is what my house smells like right now). We also do the previously mentioned fan-favorite “balsamic-mustard-garlic” chicken, and the sesame skirt steak as well. They’re good for most occasions, and we obviously couldn’t do ham or pork for Hanukkah because JEWS. But it’s awesome. Good stuff.

Christmas: For our last family gathering, we do something kind of unique. Every year for a while now, we’ve made Sauerbraten, which is this super vinegar-y beef that’s cooked for a whole day. We also make kartuffel gloesse, which are German potato dumplings (forgive me if I misspelled them – even if they’re spelled right, spell check will say they’re wrong). And because it would be wrong not to end my post with this, on Christmas we also eat corn casserole. Shocker.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

What I Did Today

I didn't know what to write about, but I had a very busy day shopping with my dad, so I guess I'll write about the 7 things that happened today.

1. First, my dad and I went to my trainer to work out. I usually go to my trainer by myself about 3 times a week (he's awesome), and every once in a while my dad tags along so he can get new workout ideas. It started snowing while we were in there, and I got really excited so I ran in circles outside in between my cardio circuits. It was awesome.

2. We went to the mall and bought presents (I cannot say what I bought because my mom will read this blog, but I promise it is cool).

3. We went to another store (I'm being vague on purpose), but after the mall we were exhausted, so we napped for 20 minutes in the car in the parking lot. Again, awesome.

4. My dad and I had a mini snowball fight over the top of our car in the parking lot. I won (despite what he may tell you).

5. I went shopping for a dress for my friend's Sweet 16 on Friday. I bought a really cute black dress that matches my heels perfectly. I'm quite excited about it.

6. We went to dinner at Barnes & Noble and I got their bomb chicken with mashed potatoes (as per usual).

7. I wrote this post on the drive home. The End.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Best President Ever

GUIDE: Attention, Ladies and Gentlemen!  If you are holding blue tickets, you are part of the 4:00pm tour.  Please gather your belongings and follow me into the exhibit hall.

MAN 1:  Excuse me, what if my tickets are red?

GUIDE:  Then YOU are not my problem.  Have a great day.

Our Guide walks into an exhibit hall with his group of about a dozen visitors.

GUIDE:  OK, let’s stop here.  Welcome to the Presidents Hall Of Fame.

LITTLE BOY: Isn’t that in Disney World?

GUIDE:  That’s the Hall Of Presidents, kid.  It’s in the pamphlet.  Just read the pamphlet.

LITTLE BOY:  I can’t read.

GUIDE:  Then you’re probably too young to even be on this tour.  Guard?

A GUARD steps in from the shadows and escorts the little boy and his family from the exhibit hall.

GUIDE:  Now where was I?  Right.  Hall Of Fame.  So this place is dedicated to the greatest presidents our country has ever seen. 

WOMAN 1:  As decided by who?

GUIDE:  Our rankings are a combination of opinion polls and rankings by nearly 100 of our nation’s foremost presidential historians from all sides of the political spectrum.  (TO WOMAN 1)  And it’s “whom” – “as decided by whom?”  Guard?

A different GUARD appears from nowhere and takes WOMAN 1 and her HUSBAND from the exhibit hall under protest.

GUIDE:  Now we all know that some presidents just had the benefit of good timing.  Maybe they took office during a time of peace and relative prosperity and all they had to do was not screw it up to look good.

MOTHER 1:  Please sir, language!  There are children present.

GUIDE:  My deepest apologies, madam.

With a side nod of his head, he summons a new GUARD who quietly separates MOTHER 1 and her children from the tour group.

GUIDE:  The historians focused on ten qualities to measure the success of presidential leadership.  These were Public Persuasion, Crisis Leadership, Economic Management, Moral Authority, International Relations, Administrative Skills, Relations With Congress, Vision/Setting An Agenda, Pursued Equal Justice For All and Performance Within the Context of his Times.  Exhibits within the hall go into more detail on what each of these attributes entails.

A YOUNG COUPLE starts to move away to the group toward the exhibits.

GUIDE:  Did I say I was done?

Another nod and a GUARD removes the YOUNG COUPLE.

GUIDE:  (TO THE REMAINS OF HIS DWINDLING GROUP) Good things come to those who wait.  Now based on the understanding of how the presidents were rated, who wants to wager a guess as to which presidents made the Top 3?

The group is a bit reluctant to guess given the fate of some of their fellow tourists.

GUIDE:  Come now, I don’t bite.

WISEACRE:  I’m guessing it’s not Millard Fillmore? 

The crowd laughs nervously.

GUIDE:  Good guess.  Our 13th president actually tends to rank in the lowest 10 among all of our presidents.  But I asked who WAS in the Top 3, not who WASN’T.

Another nod and another GUARD.  WISEACRE is toast.

GUIDE:  Any other guesses?

The remaining few stay silent.

GUIDE:  Without fail, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and George Washington are most often the three highest rated presidents among historians.

Just as GUIDE was finishing, an OLD MAN in the group SNEEZED.

GUIDE:  Gesundheit!

A GUARD moves in for the kill.

OLD MAN:  Oh come on!  It was a sneeze.

He leaves reluctantly

GUIDE:  Generally, regardless of the whether a given historian leans liberal or conservative, the remainder of the Top 10 is often rounded out by Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Harry S. Truman, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Andrew Jackson and John F. Kennedy. 

GUIDE studies his tiny audience carefully for a reaction.

GUIDE:  Questions?

BOLD GUY:  Where do our more modern presidents rank?

GUIDE:  While the presidential historians don’t tend to rate modern presidents as highly, a few, like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, tend to top opinion polls of the general electorate.

A GUARD steps in.  BOLD GUY protests.

BOLD GUY:  You asked for questions?

Our GUIDE shrugs. 

GUIDE:  My ball, my rules.

There are only two people left in the tour group.

GUIDE:  Here’s an interesting fact -- William Henry Harrison and James Garfield generally get left off of the rankings.  Does anyone know why?

YOUNG WOMAN:  Because they died in office?

GUIDE:  Mostly correct.  Harrison died after only 30 days in office and Garfield after only 200 days.  Zachary Taylor died after only serving 16 months but he is usually included in most rankings.

A GUARD appears behind the YOUNG WOMAN and her FRIEND.  YOUNG WOMAN is resigned to her fate but looks to GUIDE questioningly.

GUIDE:  You were only mostly correct.  It wasn’t the dying in office that mattered so much as how short their tenure was.  After all, besides for Garfield, each of Lincoln, McKinley and Kennedy were assassinated while in office but they always make the rankings.

YOUNG WOMAN buys this and starts to go.

GUIDE:  Wait!  What's your name?

YOUNG WOMAN:  Stacey.  Why?

GUIDE:  Your the last one left!  That means you win!

STACEY:  I win?!?

GUIDE:  You're the last person standing.  You win this entire museum!  You can live here for the rest of your life!

STACEY:  Really?!?!

GUIDE:  Don't be stupid.  Of course not.  Buh-bye, now!

STACEY and her FRIEND are escorted out.

GUIDE smiles at the empty room.  A job well done.  He saunters back to the waiting area.

GUIDE:  Attention, Ladies and Gentlemen!  If you are holding red tickets, you are part of the 4:30pm tour.  Please gather your belongings....

NOTE:  While the Hall Of Fame (at least as I’ve described it) doesn’t exist, the ranking by historians is real and can be found at,