Posts Tagged ‘oprah’

Two Blondes Go Shopping: Ikea

December 13, 2008

Two Blondes review a store and ramble about themselves.

Alison says:

Ikea is one of my favorite stores, except for going on a Sunday afternoon.  Then it becomes hell on earth.  But other than that, it’s a delight. You can wander for hours wondering what kind of person you would be if you had a new living room, or how you would definitely become organized with a new Expedit desk.  And no matter how hard our economy’s downfall is hitting you, you can still find something you can afford, be it a $200 couch or a $3.49 pot lid holder or a $7 stuffed blue giraffe (it’s awesome).  But the most affordable thing is the food.  And by affordable I mean financially, not calorie wise.  It is not the kind of food to trim the waist line, but hopefully you spent enough time walking in circles through mock living rooms, kitchens, etc. that you’ll burn off any calories you ingest.

I decided to go try the cinnamon bun.  It seemed like a good way to go to try and recover from an open bar holiday party the night before.  The cinnamon bun was yummy, but a little on the dry side.  It doesn’t have that doughy mushiness that one has come to expect after the spread of the chain Cinnabon. But luckily a soda doesn’t cost much more than a stamp, so that helped wash it down.  After our shopping adventures (i.e. aimless wandering interrupted only by “Oh, I could really use….), I went for a $1 yogurt and it was creamily delicious and a perfect way to end our time at Ikea.

Another reason I love Ikea (aside from their many, many products and funny names) is that I’ve heard the owner of Ikea still drives a beat up Volvo to work.  This is a guy who has surpassed Bill Gates in terms of wealth, but still has the good sense and character to drive an old Volvo.  You gotta respect that.

Jessica says:

Oprah has this section in her magazine where she asks interesting people, “What do you know for sure?” (http://www.oprah.com/slideshow/omagazine/200811_omag_for_sure).  I like to come up with different answers so I’m prepared for the day when Oprah and I bump into each other, become instant friends, and she asks me–of course after we have talked for hours about our favorite books, philosophy, politics, etc.  Here is what I know for sure today, Oprah, the English make really crappy hot dogs.

I know this because you get weird cravings for the foods of home when you live abroad; things you would never really be that excited about, if they were readily available to you.  Occasionally I would get hot dog cravings when I lived in the UK (as well as macaroni and cheese made from the orange powder mix and that pink strawberry cake from the box).  My first year living in England, I decided to throw a Fourth of July party and set about gathering all the necessary equipment:  fireworks – check (after a brief trip to a store filled with bongs, roach clips, and various tie-dyed things where the proprietor told us about a rave we should totally come to that night), Budweiser – check, hamburgers – check, hot dogs – uh oh.  I had concerns about what passes as ‘hot dogs’ in England from an earlier experience I’ll explain in a second, but H assured me Sainsbury’s would have them.  I searched the refrigerated sausage section and saw none.  When I told my
friend, H, they didn’t have any she said, “Oh no, hot dogs wouldn’t be in this isle, they’re over here…”  She led me to the canned food isle and I knew this could not be good.  H pointed at a tall tin can with a generic-looking label ‘HOT DOGS.’  I tried to explain to her that there was no possible way those were hot dogs, but I think she just thought I was being a food snob (or as much of a food snob as you can be over meat scraps encased in synthetic animal intestine).  I refused to buy whatever was in that can.

My first experience with English hot dogs happened months earlier during what was also my first Ikea experience.  About a week after moving in with my flatmates in Bristol, we trekked out to Ikea.  By the time we made it through the maze of the store, I was starving.  When my flatmate suggested we get some hot dogs from the snack bar I was confused why a furniture store would have a snack bar, but that was quickly replaced with delight when I noticed the price.  If memory serves, they were about 25p (about $.50).  I’m in!  Then I ate one, or rather took two bites of one.  It tasted like sawdust encased in plastic.  V. v. disappointing.  At the time I assumed that all Ikea hot dogs tasted as such.  Not true.  That’s just all English hot dogs.

To get back to what I’m supposed to be talking about here, my review of Ikea:

Alison and I, in a slightly hungover state (we are suckers for free alcohol), decided it was a swell idea to get in a little Ikea Christmas shopping Sunday morning.  I have a studio apartment and need space-saving kitchen and office furniture.  However, because we might have been a smidgen hungover, we required sustenance before we could muster the energy for any shopping.  As it turns out, the Ikea hot dogs in the US are good (and still cheap).  The cinnamon rolls were not so good.  I think they had been sitting out too long because when I tried to tear off a piece, it would crumble in my hand.  Cinnamon rolls are supposed to be soft and gooey.  Of course, in the state I was in, that didn’t stop me from finishing mine.

My Ikea tip #1 is if you are going on the weekend, go before noon, otherwise there are so many people there even the fun of trying to pronounce words with umlauts is not enough to make it worth the trouble.

Tip #2 – beware the super-cheap siren that is the Ikea kitchen accessories section.  You might think, “Oh yay!  Funny shaped ice trays!  And they’re only $.25,” but remember–you have an ice maker and don’t need ice cube trays.

I love that Ikea has maps posted throughout the store directing you to follow the one pathway in and out.  It feels like you’re on a treasure hunt.  I walked in and out of every show room declaring I wanted everything in it (even the children’s rooms).

On the Ikea furniture I would say the best qualities are the simple Swedish design and reasonable prices; the worst bit is that every piece ‘requires some assembly.’

I recommend Ikea if you need cheap, simply designed furnishings or enjoy umlauts, but only before noon.

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Two Blondes Watch TV: 30 Rock

November 14, 2008

Two Blondes watch their TiVo and ramble about themselves:

JESSICA SAYS:

Alison and I discussed writing a review of the season three premiere of 30 Rock, but then, to quote Alison, “Who are we kidding? It will really just be us worshiping Tina Fey.” It’s true, even the worst episode of 30 Rock is funnier than nearly everything else on TV (The Office can give it a run for its money). Anyway, life got a bit hectic for the two of us, so the review got put off. So here is my review of the first two episodes: “Do-Over,” and “Believe in the Stars.”

It’s true; I worship Tina Fey. She is at the top of my list of celebrities I’m positive I would be friends with, if only we had the chance to meet. Others on this list include: Rebecca Romijn, Lauren Graham, Christina Applegate, Gwyneth Paltrow (yes, I know she annoys many, but I find something about her to be charming), and of course, Oprah. It seems Oprah is one Tina and I had in common. That’s how Oprah ended up as the special guest in “Believe in the Stars.” In that episode, Tina acted much the way I would imagine myself acting, if ever seated next to Oprah on a plane (freaking out like an over-excited fanboy), which means maybe I won’t ever be besties with Ms. Winfrey.

Let’s back up to, “Do-Over,” the first episode of the season. I started laughing out loud in the opening scene. Liz (Fey) sees her old boss, Jack (Alec Baldwin), on the street. He left the company at the end of season two to work for the Bush Administration. Liz tells him how happy she is to have him back because his replacement, Devon (Will Arnet), “is the worst. It’s like he doesn’t even care when we should have cake for people whose birthday is on the weekend.” “The Friday before. At lunch,” Jack answers without giving it a second thought. Everyone in this show is hilarious, but especially Alec Baldwin. All that comedic prowess he showed in his numerous appearances on Saturday Night Live is finally being put to good use on a regular basis.

To be completely honest, “Do-Over,” wouldn’t be in my top five episodes of 30 Rock. It has some great jokes, but the plot of this episode was a bit too far fetched for me. Liz is trying to adopt a child, which seemed to come out of left field at the end of last season. In this episode, a woman (Megan Mullally) tries to evaluate whether Liz is a good candidate to adopt. As someone who works in TV production, I got a nice little kick out of Liz’s response to how many hours a week she works, “60-80.” Ah, if only that was a joke.

“Believe in the Stars,” was a lot better. This is the genius of Tina Fey—she is consistently able to make jokes that are so smart and insightful, yet they feel like something that could have easily been said by you or one of your friends last night at the pub. For instance, this is how 30 Rock talked about sexism today–Liz and Jenna (Jane Krakowski) are talking about a lawsuit between Jenna and her costar, Tracey Jordan (Tracey Morgan) over royalty payments:
Liz: Well of course Tracey takes care of his boys and not you. He thinks he can take advantage of you because you’re a woman.
Jenna: Men think they can get away with anything. It’s like when Adrien Brody kissed Halle Berry at the Oscars.
Liz: No one has it harder in this country today than women. It turns out we can’t be president, we can’t be network news anchors, Madonna’s arms look crazy.
Jenna: Mmm hmm.
Seriously people, I don’t understand why more of you aren’t watching this show.

ALISON SAYS:

Dear People Who Don’t Watch 30 Rock,

What the BLEEP is wrong with you? What is it? Did someone sketchy touch you in your bathing suit area and cause some permanent damage to keep you from enjoying what is arguably one of the best shows on television? Really, I want to know. What are you even doing with your time? I can’t imagine a better use of one’s days on this earth. Maybe you’re a little scared of change and something being that funny and that smart at the same time. But it’s okay. Just try it. Try one episode. See what happens. See if your concept of television comedy doesn’t change. See if you don’t wake up the next day and hear the birds singing just a little bit louder. See if it doesn’t erase all those shudders from accidentally stumbling onto Two and a Half Men on television. It may hurt a little at first to love a show that much, but you will be a better person for it.

Thanks,
Alison

Dear Tina Fey,

Hi. (insert nervous laugh) I love your show! And your glasses!

Alison

Two Blondes Go To A Movie: The Secret Life of Bees

October 20, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves:

ALISON SAYS:

This might be one of the first movies I’ve reviewed that both my mom and I would enjoy together. Most movies I like she would refer to as “different,” which means she didn’t get it or enjoy it. But I think she would love this film.

I had read the book The Secret Life of Bees a few years back and really enjoyed it, thus I had my misgivings about seeing the movie, as I’ve found movie adaptations usually don’t live up to the book (see all Harry Potter movies for examples). But I am here to say Gina Prince-Bythewood did a masterful and moving job with this film. She should be applauded for the performances she brought forth from her cast.

Dakota Fanning was amazing. Most of us already knew she has acting chops from her many performances as a kid. And this film proves she’s still got it and then some. Not to mention she’s absolutely stunning. Maybe I missed a few of her films and thus some of her awkward phases, but to me it seems like she went straight from cute to beautiful.

The rest of the cast was equally as compelling. What a powerhouse of talent. Actually, to be completely honest, Queen Latifah seemed to be phoning in the wise, warm-hearted maternal figure a little bit, but I feel bad saying that because I think she’s great. I was very impressed with Alicia Keys. I hadn’t seen her act before, but after seeing some singers turned actresses (see any Jessica Simpson movie) I wasn’t sure if I would be able to believe in her role. But I did. I completely forgot I was watching Alicia Keys and only saw June Boatwright.

I watched Gina Prince-Bythewood speak after an AFI special screening of the film. I found her and her film really inspiring. I also think it’s awesome that she wrote on A Different World way back when.

Dear Gina,
Can we be friends?
Alison

LA Viewers: Worth paying full price at the Grove or Arclight.

Translation for non-LA movie viewers: Go see it!

JESSICA SAYS:

Having grown up a white girl on a honeybee farm run by three black woman in 1964, I really identified with this movie. OK, that’s not true.

I have not read this book, which I realize is surprising, considering I’m someone who TiVos Oprah. It probably isn’t a movie I would have necessarily been lining up to see, but Alison lobbied for it. I think I was a bit apprehensive that it was going to be heavy-handed with the lessons it wanted to teach us and too schmaltzy.

The most pleasant surprise was Dakota Fanning. Holy crap was she good! She acted everyone else in this movie under the table. There is a scene where her character has a breakdown about why don’t her parents love her that made me cry copious tears. I probably cried as much as I do during the, “Give my daughter the drugs!!” scene in Terms of Endearment.   She was fantastic.

The movie was a bit schmaltzy, not that I’m totally opposed to that. I did enjoy the movie, but it won’t be on my favorite of the year list. The rest of the cast was good. Dakota was great.

I recommend seeing this as a Sunday matinee.