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<<December 2017>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Avenging, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 51
1. Librarian Rave Mix

Librarians: You know how it goes.

You are out partying with your librarian friends. Suddenly you realize that your gathering requires a suitable soundtrack. A library-themed soundtrack. Indeed, without the proper music, the event will be a disaster!

It could happen. The worst case scenario is sobering: everyone ends up hopping around to the They Might be Giants’ album “Flood” until the police show up and ticket you with a noise violation.*

Using a combination of technology and powerful query-typing skills, I have SOLVED THIS PROBLEM. Introducing Dancing on the Reference Desk, a free playlist dedicated to libraries, librarians, and their interests.

Including such timeless classics as Ch-Check it Out by the Beastie Boys, and Lady Writer by Dire Straits make sure your next librarian rave is a success with this excellent compilation.

Note: I’m not associated with Spotify, but I do think they are pretty awesome. If you end up using this soundtrack let me know. I would love to attend some rocking librarian parties vicariously.
Credits: I dictated this entire blog post to my iPhone via Dragon Dictate while spooning nutrient-rich goop into the baby’s mouth. Special thanks to Jenny Klumpp who provided numerous excellent suggestions.
* This actually happened. I was in grad school hopping around with my fellow nerds, watching the Muppet Show and listening to TMBG. We chipped in to pay the ticket. This was in my experience hands-down the Dorkiest. Police Intervention. Ever.

Related posts:

  1. Hot Librarian Necklace
  2. Virgin/Whore = Librarian/Librarian
  3. Rock Rock Rock n’ Roll Librarian

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2. The Librarian Avengers Film Rating System

Dear Film industry: Your metadata is not granular enough. The MPIAA ratings G, PG, PG-13, and R do not fulfill my needs.

I need information relevant to my particular disinterests. I need to know ahead of time if a movie contains elements that I consider unacceptable. I’m not talking about sex, drugs, or violence. I need to know if a movie contains cannibalism, synthesizers, or Jim Carrey.

Here is the film rating system we really need:

a.png Rated A for An Animal is Harmed

As far as I’m concerned, decapitated human heads can roll across the screen but if a Golden Retriever gets a hurty paw you had better warn me up front.

b.png Rated B for British Accent Faked by American

I’m looking at you, Andie MacDowell.

c.png Rated C for Creepy Child Singing

You know things are going to get bad when a little girl starts pushing flowers around and singing quietly to herself.

d.pngRated D for Dialog by Committee

“Oh aspiring teen heart-throb, I am attracted to your emergent yet non-threatening sexuality!”

e.png Rated E for Escape in front of Fireball

You know that scene in every action movie ever where the actors run very fast from some sort of physics phenomenon which approaches at exactly running speed? Rated E.

f1.png Rated F for Fun Filled Frolic

If a review or worse the movie poster itself describes a “fun filled frolic for the whole family”, Flee.

g.png Rated G for Grab My Hand

Oh no, that character is falling off a building! Grab my hand! DON’T LET GO!

h1.png Rated H for Hearts Pulled Out

A little warning before the monkey brains is all I ask.

i.png Rated I for Italian Stallion

Does this film contain excessive amounts of Sylvester Stallone or Jim Carrey? Librarian Avengers have determined that it will be Rated I or J.

j.png Rated J for Jim Carrey

I need advanced notice so I can start running.

Rated K for Keyboard Hacks Network in 2 Clicks

Did you know space aliens use Mac peripheral drivers?

l.png Rated L for Lead Actors in Real-Life Romance

Real-life chemistry rarely translates well to the big screen.

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3. How FreeFile Almost Cost Me Plenty

Let’s talk for a moment about why I misfiled my tax extension. Melty Jello brain aside, bad software design almost cost my little family $2,500.


When I’m not wrestling a one-year-old into tiny shoes, I’m a User Experience Designer. This means I work with software companies to create easy-to-understand interfaces.

It also means that when I screw up my tax extension, I look very carefully at the software path that got me there.

Dramatic Reenactment:

It was April. I needed to file an extension. Like most Bay Area tech nerds, I hate mail. I consider it a personal affront if I have to print out a form, write an address, locate stamps, and put a letter in the whatsit…mailbox…thing. Naturally, my first step was to search irs.gov for “file extension online“.

Problem one: Too many results

The IRS site is too damned helpful. There were 948 results for my search. Many results were press release or blog type articles hinting at the existence of online extension filing, but containing no direct links. I wanted to find one or two good matches. Instead, I found a sea of irrelevance.

Problem two: Too many names

I hopped down a bunny trail for about ten minutes, searching for a feature alternately referred to as “E-file an extension”, “Free file”, “Freefile”, “Free Fillable Forms”, “Free File Fillable Forms”, “Free Federal Extension”, “Form 4868″, “Traditional Free File”, and “IRS e-file”.

Problem three: Inconsistent design

I eventually landed on a modern-looking site that seemed likely. I clicked “Get Started” and wandered through four increasingly less-well-designed pages which jumped from site to site, forcing me to read and parse options despite having already told the system what I wanted.

Problem three: Asshole account requirement

The eventual winner was a page called “Free File Fillable Forms” which required me to create an account and update my Flash plugin. I was already logged in to irs.gov, but that didn’t count. I created “a password that is different than my User ID, between 8 and 32 characters, and contains at least 1 number and 1 symbol”. All the eye-rolling gave me a headache.

Problem four: Misleading email

I received a spammy looking ALL CAPS email telling me my account had been created. I filled out the IRS extension form, which was the easiest part of the process. I submitted, and received another spammy ALL CAPS email saying “Your federal return was successfully transmitted”.

At this point, I fell on the bed and whined to my husband for several minutes about information architecture. Then I fell asleep, secure in the certainty that I had filed an automatic extension. Taxes wouldn’t be bothering us for a few more months, by which time we would certainly be getting more sleep.


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4. Me, bouncing around onstage at an O’Reilly Conference

Erica undergoing a brief moment of Muppetface

Erica undergoing a brief moment of Muppetface

Last week I spoke at OSCON Ignite, the evening entertainment bit of the O’Reilly Open Source Conference and the Google Awards.

Talks took the traditional Ignite format of five minutes, 20 slides. Slides auto-advance after 15 seconds, ready or not.

Speakers were encouraged to address their personal brand of geekery. I chose to talk about the Librarian Avengers Film Rating System, which addresses some movie metadata I’d like to see. Things like “This film contains a Creepy child Singing” and “Warning! Sylvester Stallone!”

OSCON Ignite is online at blip.tv here

My bit starts around (44:45), but stick around for the whole thing. Make sure to check out Kirrily’s talk on Geeky Things you can Do with Textiles, and Liz Henry talking about the barriers to wheelchair hacking.

The format kept everyone pithy, and although I had to speak before the amazing Damian Conway, I didn’t throw up from stage fright once!

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5. Librarian Avengers Stomp of Approval – Shelf Discovery

Bad books aren’t worth talking about. Good books, however, should stand up and be recognized.

Shelf DiscoveryTo that end, I invented a new thing that I’m going to act like I’ve been doing for ages: The Librarian Avengers Stomp of Approval.

As you know, Librarian Avengers stomp around quite a bit, railing against things and waving our arms around.

In this case, we’re stomping in approval of Lizzie Skurnick’s new book Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading.

Shelf Discovery is a compilation of Ms. Skurnick’s excellent Fine Lines posts on Jezebel, in which she lovingly scrutinizes Young Adult books read by bookish girls of the X/y/whatever generation.

I’m always surprised to find such quality writing just floating around on the web for anyone to read, and I’m glad there is finally a dead tree version available as well.

greenbooks.pngIf I suffered from Pageant-Mom syndrome and wanted to create an exact replica of myself from the raw material of some random pre-teen girl, I would begin my narcissistic experiment in literary manipulation by having her read all of the books celebrated in Shelf Discovery.

Which is all to say that I love this book and you should too. So, yay.

Stomp stomp stomp stomp.

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6. Top Five Things I Have Learned About Babies

My daughter, Elizabeth West Firment, was born in early November. The last…ever since…has been a nonstop, nonsleep blur of boobs, love, fuss, and delirium. In the process, I have learned these five things:

  1. Ceiling fans are TV for babies.
  2. At week six, nursing goes from being a special woodchipper for your nipples to something fairly ok. Eventually, it will become rather pleasant, and you will be able to play World of Warcraft while feeding your child, like my friend Kelly’s wife does. I’m pretty sure she levels up faster by simultaneously breastfeeding and p0wning n00bz.
  3. The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play, so we sat in the house all that cold cold wet day.
  4. There is a 4am. It comes before 5am, which is that time  you read about once that precedes 6am. You do not have the right to a full night’s sleep. You have given that right to your baby, who may use it as she sees fit.
  5. Your baby’s smile generates a burst of hormones that if necessary will enable you to lift a car or cut out your own spleen.

    Photos are up on flickr. Thanks for all the casseroles!

    Related posts:

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    3. 14 Weird things I’ve learned this week Queen Bees are expensive It’s damned difficult to find a...

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    7. A Parent’s Life as a Video Game

    My job is in the video game industry, so I tend to think of life in these terms. For example, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I realized that pregnancy is essentially a really immersive resource-conservation RPG. I was always asking myself questions like: “Do I pick up this stuff on the floor, or do I save my Bending Over points for later?”

    Recently several of my coworkers became parents, so in celebration of my fecund and nerdy cohort, here’s a description of my last week written entirely in video game terms:

    Select character

    • Warrior (Battle baroque parental leave laws)
    • Wizard (Create nutritious meals for baby using own body)
    • Rogue (Sneak around to accomplish things while the baby sleeps)
    • Paladin (The power of the Coffee God will protect your party)

    New player tutorial

    Read Kidwrangling by Kaz Cooke, Superbaby by Jenn Berman, and The Cat in the Hat over and over and over and over


    Find outfits for upcoming family photo. Avoid decade-indicating fashion or hairstyles.

    Parental achievement unlocked!

    Raffi song stuck in head for more than four days.


    How long can you deflect drool from your work clothes? GO!

    Level up!

    Child can now turn pages of a book. Good work!

    Save game

    Improve your long-term memory by adding minutes of sleep during train commute


    Enter “Up up down down left right start” in the deductions section of your tax form

    Related posts:

    1. Yahoo! Games picks up video game based on Macauly Library sounds NYC game developers Large Animal Games have created a downloadable...
    2. A nerdygirl review of the Game Developers Conference Greetings from an ethnic librarian working in the games industry!...
    3. SXSW Interactive 2009 – Funologists live and in person: Guerilla Game Research Happy news! I was invited to be a panelist at...

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    8. Data munging

    Recently I’ve been importing the ancient Librarian Avengers archives to live within WordPress. Because the site goes back to…hrm… 1997, there’s some data munging to do.

    Right now I’m concerning myself with the period after Graduate School, when I moved to Ithaca, NY for an ostensibly-cool digital library fellowship. I couldn’t talk about how much I hated it at the time so the entries are mostly tangential to the work I was doing, but there’s still some fun stuff.

    Importing ancient blog posts involves a bunch of tagging, titling, category-setting, and general modernization. I’ve been progressively making my way through the old posts, adding images, fixing spelling mistakes, and generally adding a bit of polish.

    Part of the reason I’m taking on data scrubbing as my One Designated Personal Thing to Do this evening, is that today has been a study in helplessness. My daughter has a (small) fever. It’s the first time she’s been sick, and I’m trying to direct my need to control something (anything!) in a positive direction.

    Also, cleaning data is pretty therapeutic after some of the body fluids I’ve encountered recently.

    Related posts:

    1. Shh. “The Library” is the subject of the Freebase Data Mob I’m a librarian by ethnicity, if not profession these days,...
    2. Another Data Mob at Freebase – Ethnicity Wanna enrich some data? Got OCD? Tired of trying to...
    3. Freebase Hack Day II: The Return of Hack Day Librarian? Data junkie? Obsessive compulsive? Come to the Freebase hack...

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    9. The IRS was kind to us

    Yes, that was my letter from the IRS.

    I misfiled our tax extension. My husband, who is hilarious, wrote a letter to the IRS asking for clemency due to new-baby-induced Jello Brain. The IRS, who are apparently also hilarious, quoted him in their response.

    I scanned the letter and he put it on Facebook. It went viral.

    That afternoon during a lull in the daily baby-management, I hopped on Reddit to post the letter and discovered that someone had put it up hours earlier. Our funny IRS letter was now at the top of Reddit’s front page.

    Over 1,800 people left comments and opinions. Everyone was pretty nice and we enjoyed the discussion. Some IRS employees even chimed in, talking about their jobs and lives.

    This is the nature of the Internet. Something strikes a chord in our collective subconscious, and we share it with ourselves at the speed of thought.

    I think we are all a little afraid of the IRS.

    They seem to speak a slightly different language. They use phrases like: “A nonbusiness bad debt must be treated as a short-term capital loss” and look at us expectantly.

    Every year they make us do math. They know our financial secrets, and they remind us that our money will be spent by people we probably didn’t elect, on things we might not like.

    They could put us in jail. They took down Al Capone.

    As a result, people yearn for a bit of humor from the IRS. I think any reminder that the government is made of people who are themselves parents and taxpayers is welcome news.

    Anything to break the tension.

    Related posts:

    1. How FreeFile Almost Cost Me Plenty Let’s talk for a moment about why I misfiled my...
    2. Parenthood by Percentages In case anyone is interested in the relative effects of...
    3. A Parent’s Life as a Video Game My job is in the video game industry, so I...

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    10. Domestic Violence: Legal Resources

    A friend is going through this. She needs legal advice and low-income resources.

    Here’s the best of what I’ve found:

    I’ve been finding a lot of links-to-lists-of-links. If you know of any *easy to use* resources that would help a mother with no money avoid a murderous creep, please comment, and thank you.

    1 Comments on Domestic Violence: Legal Resources, last added: 9/16/2008
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    11. West Coast Phrases To Know

    My mother, the real librarian (not a digital muckety muck thingamajig like me), will be visiting me here in San Francisco next week. Since she will be hanging around with non-Midwesterners, I thought it would be good to provide her with an introduction to west coast language. I know, right?

    • I know, right?

      Rumored origin: L.A.
      Literal meaning: “Can you believe this thing we are talking about? It goes without saying, and yet we are saying it.”
      Connotation: “We are all in agreement here. Also, I have never read Beowulf.”

    • Hella

      Rumored origin: NoCal.
      Literal meaning: Intensifier. “Their pie is hella good.”
      Connotation: “I am twelve.”

    • Yeah yeah yeah

      Rumored origin: Coffee-fueled Berkeley undergraduates
      Literal meaning: “I agree so strongly that it can be quickly dismissed with a rapid exclamation.”
      Connotation: “We are getting things DONE in this conversation.”

    • Chill

      Rumored origin: The 1960s.
      Literal meaning: “Good. Calm. Without trouble. Easy.”
      Connotation:”I have had lots of therapy and/or drugs.”

    Got more? Send ‘em in!

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    12. So proud

    I am so proud of my President, Barak Obama. Today, for the first time since 9/11, I feel unified with my country. No matter who or what you voted for, we are all in this together. Yes we can.

    1 Comments on So proud, last added: 11/5/2008
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    13. Hot Librarian Necklace

    From the department of products-inadvertently-marketed-to-librarians:

    Hot Librarian Necklace

    $40 USD - Handmade in Toronto and sold on etsy.com

    Oh yes. Hot indeed. I believe some of us here can confirm that boys and girls DO make passes at folks who wear glasses. Especially if they are well-versed in database design, collections management, or bibliographic instruction.

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    14. Oh yes.

    In less than a week, 118 of our friends and relatives will stop by to dance at our wedding. I’m up late picking the music. Any suggestions?

    I’m battling the forces of Chicken Dance here, people. I could use a hand. What is on your Do Not Play list?

    1 Comments on Oh yes., last added: 12/22/2008
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    15. Librarian Avengers Shop

    I’ve upgraded the Librarian Avengers shop, and cleaned up the products and metadata.

    Check it out.

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    16. SXSW Interactive 2009 - Funologists live and in person: Guerilla Game Research

    Happy news! I was invited to be a panelist at the South by Southwest Interactive conference next month, as part of their ScreenBurn track. I’m on a panel called “Funologists live and in person: Guerilla Game Research.”

    I’ll share my experience starting some low-budget user research cycles for Second Life, and my work translating those frustrating observations into shippable engineering requirements.

    There will be pretty pictures, and possibly cake.

    The cake is a lie, but you should stop by anyway. There could be cake.

    There certainly won’t be cake and not cake. Not at the same time, I can assure you.

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    17. Discussing geek speak with The Austin Chronicle

    A lovely fellow from The Austin Chronicle wrote to my fellow South by Southwest panelists asking for a definition of our enigmatically titled presentation. He wanted to know what a “Funologist” was, and rather than sadden him with the news that our moderator made it up, we all took a shot at defining it for him.

    The full article is available here: How to Speak Geek - SXSW Interactive has landed. Can you talk the talk?

    I’m quoted about halfway down. Fame!

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    18. My friend Gus wants to give you a job

    Dear Librarian Avengers:

    Gus Andrews, nerd savant and mastermind behind The Media Show’s MySpace-whoring puppet twins, writes the following:

    Hey, if your readers are looking for unusual work at a really neat and forward-thinking library, they should watch the Teachers College Library jobs listings over the next few months.

    Most of what’s listed right now is in video production, graphics design, museum curation, and technology development. I’m pretty sure we will also be looking for event managers over the next few months. We just had some big university functions folded into our operations (distance learning and conferences), and I’m guessing there will be more hiring in those areas soon.

    As I’ve probably mentioned, this is a fabulous place to work — the higher-ups have somehow managed to make a really supportive space for creative work and being a self-starter.

    The museum/graphics department in particular has recently been doing a lot of fascinating work with our archives — for a recent show we unearthed a bunch of lantern slides and are still trying to figure out what to do with them :)

    We’re also starting an heirloom seeds garden.

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    1 Comments on My friend Gus wants to give you a job, last added: 4/11/2009
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    19. Stupid girls, stupid pepper spray, stupid racist cab driver

    A listing of grievances:

    • Two stupid girls have a hair-tearing fight on the bus
    • Liquid and curly fries fly everywhere
    • The guy in front of me puts up his arm, so I do too
    • The fighting high school girls roll out the door as it stops
    • I continue listening to my podcast, because, meh, stupid girls
    • People start coughing and opening windows
    • PEPPER SPRAY! Hooray!


    • The guy in front of me has pepper spray in his eye
    • I have some on my face
    • The fighting girls are long long gone
    • We all have to get off the bus
    • We are coughing
    • We are annoyed
    • The 24 bus comes roughly every three years
    • Why can’t they fight on a busier route?


    • My cheek hurts and I want to go home
    • I get a cab
    • I tell the driver what happened
    • He immediately asks “What race were they?”
    • I ask him what that has to do with anything
    • He tells me he is interested in “Sociology”
    • I say anyone who knows a damn thing about sociology knows better than to draw from a single data point
    • I tell him that we aren’t going to talk any more
    • He tells me he isn’t racist because he campaigned for Obama


    • I stiff him on the tip and go inside to take a shower
    • Stupid girls
    • Stupid pepper spray
    • Stupid racist cab driver
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    20. Freebase Hack Day II: The Return of Hack Day


    Data junkie? Obsessive compulsive? Come to the Freebase hack day on July 11, 2009 here in SF. There’s food, drinks, an excellent network, plenty of powercords, and a nice room full of geeks to chat with.

    It’s a fun way to dive a bit deeper into making cool data mashups, relationally documenting your brain contents, and getting your questions answered by actually standing in front of Metaweb developers and staring at them until they make go.

    Drop me a note if you are going. :)


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    21. How to stop using paper towels

    Chuck works on motorcycles, and I’m a kitchen clean freak. We used to go through a shameful amount of paper towels. Like, buy in bulk, hate-the-earth, bulldoze-Costa-Rica amounts.

    librarian canvas bagThen my friend Skud gave me a great idea. I cut up a cheap jersey sheet I had kicking around (those things pill up in about 5 washes, FYI) and I sliced up a couple conference t-shirts. We now have a canvas bag full of washcloth-sized fabric squares hanging in the kitchen.

    This provides an endless amount of cleaning rags for just about any job.
    They are washable, bleachable, and nearly indestructible. You can run them through the wash and re-use them, or if they are gross, just toss them into the compost.

    It’s a great way to re-use otherwise disposable fabrics, and they are cheaper and more sturdy than paper towels.

    Take that, Brawny!

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    1 Comments on How to stop using paper towels, last added: 7/13/2009
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    22. Choked on his own vomit…

    I love Freebase. Here’s a list of people who died via vomit inhalation. Don’t say I never gave you anything.

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    23. Zombie Dating Site: Zombie Harmony

    BrainsThere’s a great new dating site online…for zombies!
    Hurry and join zombieharmony.com!

    I wonder if eHarmony will be as cool as Linden Lab was about parodies?

    Linden sent the maker of a Second Life parody the opposite of a Cease and Desist letter. Since, like most sane people, they realized that parody = fair use, and fair use = the foundation of cultural exchange.

    Now we’re BFF with the EFF, and there’s one less dumbass lawsuit in the world.

    I love this line…
    “Moreover, Linden Lab objects to any implication that it would employ lawyers incapable of distinguishing such obvious parody.”

    4 Comments on Zombie Dating Site: Zombie Harmony, last added: 8/12/2008
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    24. Great Opening Sentences in Science Fiction

    “I lived long enough to see the cure for death; to see the rise of the
    Bitchun Society, to learn ten languages; to compose three symphonies;
    to realize my boyhood dream of taking up residence in Disney World; to
    see the death of the workplace and of work.” — Cory Doctorow, Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom.

    There’s a nice list of Sci Fi opening sentences up at io9.com. I haven’t read many of them, and I think there’s a few I’ll pick up because of this page.

    via boing boing

    0 Comments on Great Opening Sentences in Science Fiction as of 7/27/2008 5:33:00 PM
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    25. I DOOOOO! RAWR!

    bridezilla rawrCurrent TV has a segment called “Target Women” that I absolutely love.

    In this episode, Sarah Haskins, who is frikking hilarious, introduces us to the helpful and empowering phenomenon known as Wedding Television.

    She gently mocks shows like Bridezilla, Rich bride Poor bride, Platinum brides, and other affronts to sanity.

    As you know, marriage is only for skinny rich people. At one point, Sarah appears in bike shorts and a sports bra, comparing her normal body to the “horrible fat future” picture used to scare a woman into bridal fitness on a show called “Bulging Brides”.

    This video made me feel so much better about my lazais faire approach to wedding planning. See ya in Detroit in December, friends.

    I’ll be the one wearing some sort of dress.

    2 Comments on I DOOOOO! RAWR!, last added: 10/1/2008
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