THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #236

LOVE:

Target Employees:

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Last week, I wrote all about Target and how obsessed I was with literally everything in the store. Well, last weekend when I stopped in, it was absolutely insane. Yes, I was looking nice, but it wasn’t anything over the top. My shirt came from Goodwill for god’s sake, but I’ll admit that it was a good shirt. It’s this silky white thing that has no collar and gorgeous embroidered details. Cost me like a nickel. And I had just had a really good haircut. So I was feeling my look, but I wasn’t feeling myself any more than usual. But for whatever reason, the employees would not stop complimenting me, and I’m not saying this to humble brag or regular brag or anything, I was just stunned by the customer service. What kind of training did they go through? One offered to make me a free drink before I even bought a disgusting matcha latte. One complimented my hair and told me I deserved better products. One went on endlessly about how I look like a movie star. I’ve never had a more inflated ego. And it was that last experience that really stuck with me. I was riffling through the clearance clothes, and they were really in a tragic state, but the worker stocking the rack seemed unable to stop herself. She said I looked like one of Gwenyth Paltrow’s exes. And then she studied my forehead and determined she was thinking of Ashton Kutcher. It was really rather awkward, but I was so flattered that I couldn’t pull myself away. She wondered if I was married, but then quickly said that she already was and wasn’t fishing, and I just stared. It was intoxicating to be smothered with compliments. I finally extracted myself, after she commented on the smoothness of my skin, and while I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was deeply strange, I was immensely flattered. If I’m ever feeling low, well, I suppose I’ll just browse around Target until I feel better. It’s cheaper than therapy.

WOOT:

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When I was in high school, I was obsessed with a website called WOOT. It sold a different shirt every day and I was delighted with some of them. I still have probably half a dozen of them in a drawer somewhere that I’ll surely never wear again. One is a tree, but instead of leaves it’s covered in cupcakes. Another one has something with a dinosaur and it’s absolutely hilarious. I’ve been on their mailing list for like over a decade now, but I haven’t really looked at it. It gets almost immediately deleted. I’m glad that I have stopped doing that because I have found some absolutely astonishing deals. Last year I bought a new MacBook for $500 less than it cost in the store. It was a refurbished model, but it was good as new. I’ve been thriving with it, reader. I have barely looked at my old laptop since then. I literally only use it to print papers with. I love that laptop so much. Ever since finding that deal, I’ve had my eyes peeled — what a horrifying expression, I need to look that up. Bear with…bear with…well that was a wild ride. According to linguists, the expression first appeared in American English around 1850 and was derived from a latin word that meant “to pillage.” Over the years, the original spelling became bastardized to “peel” and it meant to remove, which it still kind of does. So, the expression means to remove any covering from the eye, not to literally peel your eye away, which would seem to defeat the purpose. Anyway, back to the main point. I’ve been scrolling through the daily newsletter and I was struck by something I saw yesterday afternoon. I put it in my cart immediately. It’s a fat freezer, reader. Can you believe? I have been absolutely obsessed with CoolSculpting since I heard about it. The process freezes your fat cells and makes them DIE and then the body naturally expunges them. I’ve never had it done, but it’s on my cosmetic to do list. I had no clue that there were at home devices! It only cost about $60 with shipping, and for $60 it is worth a try. And for $60 it’s worth the story. And if it works, well, that’s just the cherry on top. Hopefully it’ll freeze me into shape. 

Ankeny ALDI:

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I talk about ALDI all the damn time, I know that it probably gets annoying, but I’m not going to stop. I have something to say. ALDI is absolutely everything to me. It’s a haven, a mecca, a retreat, it’s heaven itself. For a long time, I could not stop gushing about the newest ALDI in Ames. When their doors first opened, it was absolutely divine, but the last time I went, reader, I was left an emotional wreck. It had nothing. NOTHING. Everything was sold out, and I looked like a damn fool when I took my friend there to see the earthly delights of a new ALDI. I was mortified that they weren’t perfection like they used to be. So, when I learned that a new location was opening up in Ankeny, I was wary but excited. Would it live up to all my dreams, or would it let me down? There was no way to know without visiting. Coincidentally, I was in Ankeny on the day ALDI was opening, so after finishing my errands for the day, I went in about an hour before closing. I thought it would be ransacked, but I had to go. I barely made it. The parking lot was packed. The store was full of slow walkers. The lines were lengthy but quickly being taken care of. And, reader, it put every other ALDI to shame. It was a triumph. The building is huge and the ceilings rise to the heavens. There are fabulous signs everywhere. And they had EVERYTHING in stock. I found the frozen French onion soup that I haven’t been able to find in months. I found every flavor of boxed risotto they ever created. And reader, oh my god, oh my dearest reader, the wine area was out of control. It had an island that was full of Winking Owl wines, which are better than they have any right to be for three dollars each. There were gorgeously lit displays that showcased the more expensive wines. And those more expensive wines trick me every time. I always think they’ll be fantastic, but inevitably the cheaper bottles are better. I bought so much wine. I nearly slid to my car under the weight of all those bottles! And the checkout lines were a delight, too. They were fast and friendly. EVERYTHING WAS AMAZING. I’m going out of my way to shop at Ankeny’s ALDI in the future. I’m so happy. 

The Interview:

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I don’t watch a lot of movies. They take up so much time, and I don’t really enjoy sitting in one spot for two or three hours. Not my style. I need to move occasionally, and I can hardly focus on one thing at a time. It’s a modern plague. This is a weird week because I don’t have a lot of class work to steal all of my time away, and then it got even weirder because I actually crossed everything off of my to-do list, something that never happens. So, I was in search of something to occupy my time and scrolled through DirecTV Now. I saw The Interview was able to be streamed on demand, and since it’s one of the films I’ve meant to watch for ages, I turned it on. I really don’t know what I was expecting, but that movie was absolutely brilliant. James Franco is a national treasure. He’s a brilliant actor and he’s lovely to look at. The movie was about Franco’s character, a newscaster, who has been invited to North Korea to interview Kim Jong Un. Weirdly it makes a lot of sense in the context of the film. While in North Korea, the American newscasters are taken through Pyongyang and shown the best of everything. Of course this is fake, a show for visitors, but Franco’s character is, well, rather dim. He was delighted by his experiences and was basically seduced by the North Korean dictator. That was not what needed to happen, because in reality, they were there to assassinate the nation’s leader. When Franco shakes the dictator’s hand, he is supposed to have a ricin strip attached to his palm. This will lead to inevitable death, and it’s a really gruesome death. Hijinks take place, there’s romance, a Siberian tiger, a styrofoam grapefruit, and an oddly poignant ending. The movie was absolutely brilliant. Highly recommended. An unexpected treat.

Egypt Live:

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One of the great joys of my life that I recall with any kind of vividness was watching National Geographic documentaries about ancient Egypt. I was riveted to the screen as teams built robots to explore secret passages in the Giza pyramids or Zahi Hawass carted mummies into an RV in Tahrir Square to give the royal mummies cat-scans. It was pivotal in my development, I wanted to be there helping, talking, studying on a documentary. They were the most ludicrous things with too much publicity. Egyptologists would argue, ludicrously abstract theirs were presented as fact, possibly connected tombs and mummies would be examined — always in the pitch black of an Egyptian night — and though there was rarely anything conclusive discovered, they were television gold. After the terrorist attacks of 2011, though, anything from the Middle East was purged from the media. The glorious blockbuster live documentary shows of my youth were no longer a thing. The Egyptian Revolution did not help the return of high stakes television or allow me any opportunity to listen to Zahi’s frequent ramblings about Egypt tourism. To my great joy and delight, it seems that there is an opportunity for these types of shows to return. Last weekend, there was something called Expedition Unknown: Egypt Live on Travel Channel. Of course I recorded it so that I could watch it back if anything happened. Settling down with my popcorn and red wine, I looked forward to cackling at Josh Gates making a fool of himself. This is exactly what happened. Josh looked amazed at every grain of sand that fluttered past his stupid hat. He shrieked with delight at sarcophagi and gasped inappropriately at the sight of mummies. He was over-the-top. I know that might not be his real personality, and if that’s the case, I feel bad for him. When I was almost cast on America’s Next Top Model, I was told that I needed to present more personality — something that I still don’t understand. It seems that anybody who does this is just acting like they’ve snorted cocaine. I didn’t get the part on Top Model but Josh bit the bullet and he was flailing around the dig site gibbering about everything. The dig site, I must say, was the HEIGHT of comedy. It was literally midnight and there were torches everywhere and there were random donkeys and camels meandering through. The sands were covered with gorgeous rugs. Vibrant tents were placed shelter skelter at the site Bedouins swarmed Josh with cups of tea that he sipped and gave back and awkwardly mumbled his thanks in crap Arabic. I didn’t think I was going to be able to make it through, but then Josh introduced him to the leader of the dig. Who could it be, I wondered. Do I know them? Have we met at lectures, book signings, or perhaps the Royal Bar at the Winter Palace in Luxor? It turns out it was none of them, it was good old Zahi Hawass! I was delighted of course, because he would not be having any of Josh’s nonsense. To my unexpected delight, Zahi has mellowed. He was cracking jokes. He yelled a couple times at Josh for interrupting him. There was one glorious moment when Zahi said in exasperation, “NO! Do not talk! Just look at it!” I was shrieking with glee. The things they showed on film were actually really cool and I so wish that we could have had a tamer broadcast. Zahi showed us a very unique artifact, a wax bust that was used as a model, which is something that has not been seen since ancient times. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. There was an unopened sarcophagus that had a fully intact mummy in it, and reader that was cool. But the best part of the whole show was when Zahi was wriggling to the burial chamber. It was a tight squeeze and Zahi is getting up there in years. He was in front of Josh, pulling himself forward inch by inch, huffing and puffing and Josh clearly wondered if Zahi Hawass was going to die in a tomb with him. When Zahi remembered the camera was on, he smirked at the viewer and laughed and told us how challenging archaeology was. I fell in love with him then.

[Start at 49:46 if this video is still up!]

My feelings for Zahi have gone through such a remarkable transformation over the years. He can’t help being charismatic. And he can’t help lecturing documentary hosts. I get it now. Do you know how hard it is not to lecture while you’re trying to enjoy a museum display surrounded by ignorant tourists? It’s impossible. The show was great. I hope they do it again. I’m never going to delete it!

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