Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Hangover

     I think I'm still hungover from Thanksgiving.  I realize it's been a few days, but I am still just wiped out.  My body adapted to consuming approximately 6000 calories a day and a constant stream of coffee, alcohol, and egg nog.  Waking up on Monday was incredibly difficult.  And when I had oatmeal for breakfast I could practically hear my body yelling "Hey!  Where's the sausage?  Where's the bacon?  There's no whip cream on this!"  It growled at me.
     An hour and a half later, it growled again.  There were no exotic cheeses, crackers, chips, and vegetable slices stoking the fire.  The furnace got used to being fed constantly.  Where was its constant stimulation now?
     This went on for the remainder of the work day.  I did what I could to get back to a normal workday feeding schedule.  Finally, I was home.  And that's when my body said "What's all this moving around you're doing?  I don't like it."  And clearly, it didn't like it.  Exhaustion set in early.
     9PM isn't my normal bed time, but the Thanksgiving hangover left me no choice. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Framily You Choose

     My Thanksgiving is spent with my framily, and we call it Drunkfest.  I'm not making typos here- my framily are the friends who are family.  And Drunkfest is just a more accurate representation of the extravaganza we put on for the holiday.  Ours doesn't just last one day, we put on an entire four day weekend.
     The food is always awesome, and it never stops.  Four days of constant food and drink.  To be respectable, we hold off on drinking until at least 10AM.  Unless it's a breakfast cocktail, like a mimosa, or an Irish coffee, or wine.  That gives us a solid three hours to line our stomachs with enough solids to start absorbing the alcohol.  
     We mix things up a little bit every year, food wise.  There are a few staples: Tom's rolls, Dani's pies, jellied cranberry sauce from a can.  We vary our turkey from year to year.  This year it was deep fried, and it was awesome.  The sides from sidesapalooza were a big hit, further proving the P7 rule.  And the dessert!  Oh, the dessert.
     There are always games, and they usually devolve into ridiculousness where teams don't matter and people just yell out the first word that comes to their minds, regardless of the question or game being played.  It's really hard to sum up the fantasticness that is this past weekend.  Luckily, most of it is on video. 
     There are a few stereotypical Thanksgiving things we don't do: watch the parade, watch football (except maybe one college game on Saturday, but none on Thursday), or play a Turkey bowl game of our own.  I like our traditions so much better though: group sing alongs (often at the table), dance party, and the British Hat Game. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Need To Spoil Mary

     I like to solve problems, and I hate to give up.  And then, even after the solution is found, I like to prove it can be done again.  And then often go one further and attempt to improve on the original solution.  This rambling preamble is in reference to helping Mary cover up spoilers in her blog posts.  I have yet to really find a reason I would need to do so, however, I got so enthralled by her quest, I decided I simply must be able to do it myself.


There really isn't a list long enough to do justice to how great Mary is. Often the first thing I tell people about is Mary's laugh. It's the greatest laugh in the world. It's also a secret. She doesn't bust it out for just anyone. For example, we worked together for an entire year, and no one at work had ever heard the laugh. And I mean, THE laugh, not just a pity laugh for silly latte jokes. A few of them thought I was lying. However, it just meant I was special. Her laugh is so special it actually makes those hearing it feel special.
I wanted to be able to say a few nice things about my friend, but without, you know, spoiling it for anyone else. What if you, dear reader, didn't want to know about how right Mary is all the time? Then you should not read what comes next.

She's Probably Right

She's right. And don't even try to argue with her, because you'll lose. And even when she's wrong, she's still right, and she fucking knows it. Deep down, you know it too.
And now, a list of things about Mary. An expandable list, so as not to spoil it for you.

Home Sweet Home
Mary and I are from the same state. We lived in the same general region, and both attended The University of Michigan. Not, however, at the same time. However, her umich unique name is what led me to her during the great roommate search of '07. All I had was a list of names and email addresses, yet somehow I knew, with a .umich.edu email address, we could forge a friendship that could last a lifetime. Or at least get along well enough to share a bathroom.

10:00 PM
Nearly every day we had this conversation:
Nan: I'm going to bed.
Mary: Now?
Nan: It's ten o'clock.
Mary: It's only ten.

There were a few slight variations, mostly ending with me saying "that was actually going to be my point." It became a thing, because I'm old and she's young. I like to go to bed early, and she likes to stay up late. We are a lot like Paula Abdul and DJ Scat Cat.

She calls me Nanners
Truth is, a lot of people call me Nanners. It's one of my more common nicknames. I don't mind nicknames so much. The one I really don't like is Nanny. I hate that one. Mary tried it once. It did not go well. She did christen me Nannerpuss after the IHOP (I think) banana. That was cool. There were also a few vulgar nicknames in there; cunt-tits is one that springs to mind. Mary always wanted a nickname, but I often struggled with it. I would try to rhyme, so usually I came up with things like Mary-Berry and Mares-bears. I tried to just call her bears once, but it didn't make sense. It was kind of like I had a stroke.

Coast to Coast
Living far apart from people you really really like is hard. Enter G-Chat. It's a wonderful thing and it keeps us connected. It's especially fascinating because of our interesting schedules, we get in way more gchat time that adults really should. No shit, I'd estimate about two hours a day. Seriously, an average of two hours a day. It sounds ridiculous, but it's actually awesome. This way I get to keep my friend with out carrying around all the guilt of not living in the same state as her.

Writing Pa'dners
I'm not even sure if we've ever tried to be writing partners. It seems like such a good idea. It's a good idea for about fifteen seconds, and then you start realizing why we don't write together. Basically, there is a very limited market for hilarious suicide stories. If there was a market for them, though, we'd be an unstoppable team.

Stuffed Peppers and Spaghetti with Mary Alongi
Mary makes the best BLTs in the entire world. Stuffed Peppers are her favorite food, and that's indicative of a good person, I think. I miss the awesome simple food that Mary and I enjoyed together. Yes, Friendly's waitress, we would like to split the Fish&Chips platter for an appetizer, and then each both get an entree, and one of those entrees will probably also be Fish&Chips. And yes, of course, we'll be having the ice cream. Those were good times.
What's for dinner today, Mary? Popcorn.
Nancy, what should we have for dinner? Sausage pizza and onion rings.
How many orders of crab rangoon do we need? Three probably.
We should have our own Food Network Show.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm Doing Exactly What They Asked Me Not To Do

     Last month I started a post like this: You Can Never Go Home Again. And when you want to run as far away as possible from home, you can't really do that either. That's just one more problem with home.
     I had decided not to continue with it, because I didn't have nice things to say, and the downward spiral was going pretty damn fast. About a week or so ago a video went viral: the one of Graeme Taylor giving a speech to the Howell Public School board. Graeme decided he should stand up for the teacher who he felt stood up for kids like him. Graeme has a few things to say about what a rotten place Howell is. I grew up there; I agree with Graeme.
     The school board is pretty damn tired of getting harassed by people who feel the school board sucks. Their letter to the "community" is here:  Superintendent's statement regarding recent events.  He correctly identifies the harassment as ironic.  (I used quotes for community because I feel it is more a loosely bound group of rednecks than a real community.)
     It would be nice to know the facts, but because the events unfurled in front of teenagers, we will never know the facts.  (Yes, because teenagers are unreliable.)  The thing is though, even without the facts, I still think Graeme makes a damn good point.  The reason he so easily paints Howell as being "bigoted, racist, and homophobic" is because it has spent its entire history being just that.  It feels (or at least felt) that every time progress was made, some jackass ruined it for everyone by being stupid but claiming it was their right to be so.  Congratulations, you have the right to be stupid, and you'll die in Howell, most likely from a hunting accident. 
     I love rules more than most people do, or probably should.  So the teacher probably did break a policy and should then be properly disciplined.  But really, really, I dont think that's the problem.  I think the problem began much earlier than that, and it is the groundwork for perpetuating the bigotry, racism, and homophobia rampent in Howell.  The smart people get out, and the rest just breed.    

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chart and Graphs

     I have a decent amount of formal training in math and science, and my mind still works that way.  Happiness isn't just happiness, it is a function of some other thing.  For example, my happiness as a function of the day of the week looks a bit like a cosine wave, with a few imperfections of course. 

 My happiness can also be broken down as a function of how far away I am from work.  I live approximately 5 miles from my job.

This week is my favorite holiday of the year.  The excitement is palpable.  This palpable: 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Parks & Recreation: A Review

     I love it.  It's laugh out loud funny.  The pretty consistent critique is that season one was, well, not great, but season two really knocked it out of the park.  The problem here is that with a lackluster season one, people were not willing to give it another chance.  However, season two is nothing short of brilliant.  So much so, that a rewatch of season one will heighten the experience.  Season one was essentially a six episode foundation built for brilliant character development.  You can certainly enjoy season two without having seen season one.  At the same time, I think you'll appreciate season one even more after watching season two.  It may seem like a paradox, but don't think about it too much.  Just watch it.
     I wanted to post a few clips that I feel demonstrate the show's brilliance, however, all that are available are full episodes.  So, go forth, and watch the full episodes.  They're available on nbc.com, and Netflix Watch Instantly, on DVD on Tuesday, and some on Hulu.  Or I could act them out for you, though I don't possess the pitch perfect timing of Amy Poehler and Aubrey Plaza.  Really, the entire cast is pitch perfect. 
     My favorite episode of season two is Episode 10, "Hunting."  There are several layers of brilliance in this one, from a full understanding of the mid-western hunting culture, to the genius list of excuses one might use when covering up an accidental shooting.  I may have already given too much away.  Watch it, thank me later.  Claiming one episode as my favorite may imply a degraded affection for the others.  This is not true.  I love them all, and this review is quickly devolving into a giant love fest.
     I've made my way through season two several times: first when it originally aired on TV, then again on Hulu, twice through so far on Netflix Watch Instantly, and the DVDs will be shipped to me when released on Tuesday.  (The holiday will delay their arrival.  I'm handling it.)  It's a desert island series to me, and by golly, I'll be laughing out loud on that desert island.  
     Season three has been in the proverbial can for a while now, and finally it's coming back on the air in January.  I will not be available for phone calls on Thursday nights.

Friday, November 19, 2010


     Yep, I said it, and I don't care.  And no, it's not a typo.  The week has been long and tedious.  The impending short week and holiday have made this week even more grueling.  At the beginning of the day, Friday doesn't feel much different than the other days this week.  In fact, a co-worker said "at least it's Friday?" (emphasis on the question mark) and all I could say was "It's still the beginning."
     I don't look forward to Fridays for the sake of Friday.  It is simply what Friday represents: two days of freedom.  Well, that's overstating it- it's just the weekend.  But I love those.  This weekend's theme is preparedness.   It doesn't sound like a fun theme, but it will be.  I must be prepared for the holiday weekend, so there will be some mundane chores, like laundry and grocery shopping.  However, I must also be prepared for the massive amounts of food to be consumed, so there will be a decent amount of that too.  Plus, a few good rounds of laughter with an Improv show, the rest of Laverne&Shirley season one, and my thoughts.  I may even catch up on the news to make Thanksgiving conversation more engaging.  (I hear there was an election recently?)
     And in an unrelated, or perhaps very related, sidenote, I offer you this link to a video clip of Cougar Town.  Mmm.  Wine. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Too Soon

     I started listening to Christmas music already.  I was a little embarrased at first.  It sort of happened by accident; my iPod was on shuffle and a Christmas tune got thrown in there.  Usually I'd skip by it, but the iPod was hard to get to, and I actually enjoyed the song.  My enjoyment of that song made me think I should allow myself to enjoy the other holiday themed songs.  So I did.
     This will probably last about a week.  Then I'll rebel against the oversaturation of the holidays and start listening to grunge metal and spoken word albums.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I didn't know it was still on the air

     In lieu of a dining room table, I eat in front of the television, like most good Americans.   Tuesday night isn't my favorite night of TV, especially since Running Wilde is off the schedule and Parenthood is on at 10.  I need to be in bed by 10, or at least be thinking about bed, and not getting emotionally involved.  So that is why I was flipping around the channels at 8, trying to see if there was something I was missing.  There wasn't really.
     I saw that One Tree Hill popped up on my guide and I thought "oh, a rerun?  Do I get the crappy rerun channel?"  No, I don't.  This show is still on the air.  They're still making new ones!  Holy Crap!  I can't believe it.  I watched it for the same reason people watch car accidents and train wrecks.  It's impossible to look away from something so terrible. 
     I (shamefully) admit I watched this show when it first aired back in the 80s or whenever the hell it was. (In reality, it was 2003.  But it feels much longer.)  It was a distraction.  I was young and confused.  Anyway, after they all graduated from high school, the series did a time shift.  That was actually an interesting way to go, and I was intrigued enough to watch that season.  A grad school roommate and I used to sit on our couch watching it, providing the color commentary and writing fake letters to Mark Schwann.  We're pretty sure he phones it in.  There were some ridiculous plot points, such as trampoline basketball and killer nannies.  It was not good.  At the end of the season I think they were all killed and the town was plowed under, so I assumed the series was over.
     A new episode was quite the surprise.  It seems to be later that same year.  There are more people, but it's really hard to tell any of them apart.  Clearly, the casting director has a type.  Again, I haven't been watching, so I'm sure there were some finer points I missed, but I still ended up yelling these things at my television:
You've been through a lot EVERY YEAR.  You say that ALL THE TIME.  What the hell?
Did the writers even go to school to learn how to do this?  They just pull cliches out of a hat and call it a script, don't they?
You've said the name Victoria five times in the last 30 seconds.  You should know she's going to show up.  You're both stupid.  You're all stupid.
None of this is how things actually go.
[In response to Haley asking Erin why Erin doesn't get along with her parents]: That's a man, right?  She fights with her parents because they don't understand why she wants to be a girl.  No?  You're not going to address that?  It's because of her music?  She's a MAN.
 I had to share with the aforementioned roommate.  She received this text message:
Just watched an ep of OTH.  I've had bowel movements that had more subtext than the dialog on this show.
And I stand by that too.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

     Words to live by, they are.  Thanksgiving Drunkfest is the greatest holiday of all time.  The only thing that could make it better would be fireworks, though I'm not really suggesting it.  I just really like fireworks. 
     Every year at Christmas, my family would burn the rolls.  It got to the point where we never actually expected to have rolls, because we knew they would just get left in the oven.  It was the last thing my grandpa would put in the oven and about half-way through dinner some asshole would say "are there any rolls?"  We all knew where they were.  I like rolls, but not enough to scrape off the burnt parts and suck on the doughy parts at the end of the meal. 
     Timing the preparation of food can be tricky.  Add in multiple dishes, and new dishes, to be served for many people, and it almost becomes anyone's guess as to when food will be done.  This is why we do a dry-run for Thanksgiving.  I use the term dry-run pretty loosely though. 
     The idea was to test out all the sides: sidesapalooza.  How long will they take?  Will they taste good?  Do we have all the ingredients?  What can be made in advance?  And then, once all the sides are made, we should probably eat them all.  Similarly to preparing a meal of all appetizers because you always fill up on jalapeƱo poppers and mozzarella sticks.  Except we filled up on mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, and cranberry sauce.  Protein is for the birds.  Actually, there was sausage in the stuffing, so it totally counts. And there were pecans on top of the sweet potatoes, and I'm pretty sure that counts as a vegetable. 
     I also believe this has helped to prepare our bodies for the massive intake of food for the upcoming holiday.  Thanksgiving is a marathon, and we must train for it.  Now, when training for an actual marathon, do you stop running all together for weeks before so that your energy will be all stored up?  No.  That's foolishness.  Similarly, to train for Thanksgiving, you do not stop eating for days (or weeks) prior.  You eat and eat and eat, so your system can handle it.  You plan, prior to the event- to prevent getting sick.  Getting sick at Thanksgiving is considered piss poor performance.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend Themes

     In order to make my life seem more fun, exciting, or purposeful, I've started theming my weekends.  To be honest, the same things are frequently accomplished on the weekend.  But when there's a theme behind it, is has more meaning.  For example, grocery shopping has to be done most every weekend, regardless of its theme, however, the theme often fuels the grocery shopping.  On "be a grown-up weekend" the shopping gets done because it's a grown up thing to do.  On "hermit weekend" the shopping gets done, but early, because having the food around helps facilitate the hermitude of the other 55 hours of the weekend. 
     This weekend's theme was "like it's my job."  The idea behind this theme was a sense of motivation and purpose.  I had to do everything like it was my job.  I arrived home on Friday night and really wanted to enjoy some pizza for dinner.  So I walked right over to the pizza shop and picked up two slices, not wavering, because I did it like it was my job.  To a casual observer, the weekend may have looked like any other.  But to me, it was meaningful, because everything was performed with a sense of purpose, because I did it like it was my job to do it. 
     I haven't decided on next weeks' theme yet.  It'll probably revolve around being awesome, and prepping for the greatest holiday ever.  More on that later. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

I Like the Idea of Things

     Many times it's not the thing I like, It's the idea of thing I think.  The best example is musicals.  I should love musicals.  I'm head-over-heals for music, and I adore films.  Combining the two should be the best thing ever to me.  But it's not.  In fact, it's almost the opposite.  I often give them a chance based on my theory that I should like it, and I am often disappointed.  My disappointment is often coupled with what could be considered low-grade rage over the pomp and circumstance bestowed upon these musicals.
     I continue trying to watch them though, because I am stubborn and refuse to give up on the idea of liking them.  I'm listening to the Annie soundtrack today.  I think it's the one from the movie, not the one ~M recommended, but I'm streaming for free so I couldn't be overly picky.  So far I'm enjoying it, so I'm warming up to the idea of liking this musical.  I have also enjoyed the movie Hairspray- the remake, I haven't seen the original.  Was it considered a remake?  I think it may have actually been considered a film based on a Broadway show that was based on a film.  Just like Mystic Pizza: The Musical
     I also really like Hamlet 2.  I think it's brilliant and hilarious, and I really do enjoy singing along to Rock Me Sexy Jesus.  If all musicals were like this, I think I would like them.  Perhaps Hamlet 2 isn't actually considered a musical.  I'm unclear on the definition of this genre.
     There are many classics that everyone loves, and upon hearing my disdain for them, I am yet again called names and told I have no soul.  I'm not saying I wish the Nazis would've caught Julie Andrews and those annoying kids, I'm just saying maybe if they didn't sing so damn much, the Nazis wouldn't have wanted to catch them.  And seriously, you just have to pay rent, I don't care who you are.  You get no sympathy from me, and all the singing makes me want to charge you more.
     It is possible that some musicals do it right and some don't, in accordance with my sensibilities.  The idea I like, the execution of it, not so much.  I also like the idea of being in a relationship.  The execution of it, well, you guessed it: not so much. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

You Take Your Inspiration Where You Can Get It

     This is a mantra of mine, and I think it is oh so true.  I've discussed it elsewhere, for example, in the post Words You Don't Hear Anymore....  Some days it's more poignant than others.  You don't really get to choose when you'll be inspired; there are different types of inspiration also.  I started writing this post as a reflection of the evening I experienced last Tuesday night.  I was lucky enough to be in the audience for the Kennedy Center presentation of the Mark Twain Award for American Humor to Tina Fey.  It was inspiring.
     All parts of it were inspiring, from the majesty of the event to the presentations given by comedy legends.  It's hard to put into words just how magical and mind-blowing the whole event was.  It'll be on PBS.  Check it out, then maybe you'll start to understand.  It stands to reason that as an aspiring comedy writer, this was practically Mecca, and therefore it would be impossible to not be inspired by this event.  I let is wash over me.  Of course it wasn't my reason for attending, but again, I'll take it where I can get it.  Er, inspiration that is. 
     Other times small moments are my inspiration-  the sun rise on an early fall day, a guy falling up an escalator.  I also keep pictures and memorabilia around my work area for inspiration.  At work I have a sign that reads:
 People must think that this job is inconceivable to me.  Or incredibly, remarkably amazing to me.
 It doesn't have to make sense to others.  It keeps me going every damn day.

At home I also have a few inspirational posters around my work space: one from the Friar's Club, one from UCB, and this photo:

That's one that helps get me back to my roots, in case I ever forget where I came from.  I take my inspiration where I can get it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Forgot Where I Was For A Second

     Remember this post: Words You Don't Hear Anymore... ?  (Just so you know, it's going to briefly come up again tomorrow.)  Anyway, this was a post about not hearing certain words because you are now a professional.
     But you know what?  Sometimes we just don't want to be professionals.  Being professional isn't always fun.  Actually, it's pretty much never fun.  Usually, not having fun is the first indicator that you're at work and therefore need to behave professionally.  The little switch in your brain clicks on and you separate your fun vernacular  from your at-work professional vernacular.  Usually.
     I knew I had said it as soon as it came out of my mouth.  It was still in a bubble next to my head like in cartoons.  But there was nothing I could do except hope that I shot just under the offensive line that it would be allowed to fly right by.  I wasn't screaming, and it wasn't even that offensive of a word- I would argue it's less offensive and more just, well, funny.
     It was simple really- I said douche to a person who, at times, is my boss.  I didn't call him a douche, in fact, if anything, I called myself a douche.  Nothing came to a screeching halt, and in fact there was laughter around it.  But after the moment passed I still thought "Hm, I should not say that here."  I started to justify it by arguing that they say it on TV.  I didn't get very far before I realized just because the standards people let things go by on TV doesn't mean they become appropriate workplace banter.  Oh, but I wish it did mean that. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Difference of Opinion: A List.

As I mentioned yesterday, there are a decent number of things most people like that I do not.  I thought we were all entitled to our opinions, however, these dislikes generally cause others to call me names.  A short list:

Parades.   There's too much ado for not a lot to do.  I don't get it.  I don't like being in them and I don't like watching them. 

Zoos.  I'm not overly enthusiastic about wild animals, and then there's all the families. 

Pesto.  It's apparently the condiment to end all condiments.  I also don't like condiments very much, or basil.

Everything Bagels.  There's just too much going on. 

Honey.  First, it's a condiment, so it's already not making a good impression.  Then it's sticky and I just don't like the flavor.

This list could get pretty food dominated pretty fast, so I'll stop at those three. 

Carnivals.  Too many people and all the rides go in circles.  I vomit.

Strawberry Picking.  Also apple picking.  I don't really like any kind of fruit or vegetable picking, but these two come up frequently as fun quaint activities.  I disagree on both those counts. 

Summer.  It's the worst of the four seasons.  People always want to go to the beach (see below).  And there is a lot of pressure to wear shorts in public, and I don't do that. 

The Beach.  I don't like the sand, the people, the sun, or the water.  I don't care for the saltiness- and even on fresh-water beaches, I can't over-come the initial ickyness of walking in the water before it gets too deep, plus those are usually really cold, and pretty rocky.  I've been to many beaches, because other people like to go there.  I prefer my swimming to take place in a pool, and I prefer my lounging to take place indoors, with a TV in front of me.  This is the one that most people give up on me for.

The list could go on, but I said it would be a short list.  And I can usually find a supporter or two for my other dislikes.  Those are just the things that cause me to spend large chunks of my days alone.  And sad.  But not as sad as I'd be if I were watching a parade in a beach-side zoo while eating an everything bagel with a pesto and honey schmear in the middle of summer just before an afternoon of strawberry picking and carnival rides.   That's the sort of thing that could drive me insane, like Meg Ryan's character at the George V in French Kiss.  Yes, I would carry around a bell and bang on it.  Oddly enough, I don't dislike bells. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

     I actually only saw the lions.  The tigers were sleeping inside, and the bears were in the back area or something.  I'm not usually a proponent of the zoo.  It involves a lot of things I don't like or care about.  But I received a call in the morning from a friend who had been out of town for a few weeks asking me to join her for a morning walk to the zoo.  I was confused and intrigued, so I slunk out of bed, pigtailed up, and went to the zoo on a crisp Saturday morning.
     We were there early enough to avoid the stroller patrol and screaming kids, which was part of the plan.  There were a few there of course, but it wasn't overrun.  We made a quick stroll past some gorillas and the lions, looked for an elephant, and had a quick snack and the "Lion's Den" or some punny cafeteria name.  The zoo cafeteria was appalling.   I understand concessions and the like are a primary way for zoos to make money, and the outlandish cost of some these food-like items is not my primary gripe.  More over I'm concerned with the selection.  It was still morning when we went in there.  I get that most people don't visit in the morning, but it's open so it would be nice if some sort of breakfast food were available.
     Fruit juice was on the menu.
     -Hm.  Fruit juice.  What do you suppose that is?
     -I think it means orange soda.
     The rest of the menu was cheeseburgers, hot dogs, typical stadium fare, and then two fruits and a vegetable.  There was something called a "three cheese sandwich."  Catering to children as the cafeteria is wont to do, I thought this would be a grilled cheese sandwich and would be perfect for satisfying my post- breakfast pre-lunch craving.
     -The three cheese sandwich, is that a grilled cheese sandwich?
     The cashier just shook her head at me, since it was the dumbest question she had heard all day.
     -So it's just three pieces of cheese on bread.
     She nodded with a slight eyebrow raise, as though to tell me this was obvious to everyone else. 
     -A banana, apple slices, carrot dunkers, and and bottle of water.  Thanks.
     It came to just under $10.  I have no idea of that's reasonable or not. 

     I still don't love zoos.  It's an odd thing with me.  There are a decent number of things most people love that I do not.  Zoos and parades top the list.  A parade through a zoo?  Shut up.  But the National Zoo is free, so there was little wasted.  I felt a little sorry for the animals, whom I sure are well taken care of, but who also look a little sad, sitting on top of their fake mountains, king of the immediate 75-yard grass knoll they reside on.  But they didn't seem to know any better, and had pretty much given in to their lazy Saturday morning.  It was a nice walk though, and it wasn't spoiled with something silly like golf. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

There's Got To Be An Easier Way

     A short commercial for Yoplait Smoothie mix came on just a moment ago on my Pandora station.  The over arching selling point for this mix is that it makes making smoothies so much easier than the conventional method of making smoothies.  According to the average-consumer woman, her friend claims she loves smoothies, but they are just so hard to make.  They are hard because first, you have to go out and buy fruit.  With smoothie mix, you just add the mix and milk to your blender and viola, you have a smoothie.  And yes, she did actually say "there's got to be an easier way."  Or maybe she said "there must be an easier way" or some other paraphrased version of that statement.  The point is, apparently this smoothie mix is the easier way.  Umm.  You still have to go out and buy the smoothie mix.  The mix doesn't really make the process easier, it makes it dumber.  If you want a really easy way to make smoothies, go to a restaurant that sells smoothies.  Smoothies are not hard to make.  You pretty much put whatever you want in a blender and hit blend.  Or frappe!  Any setting will work, it doesn't really matter.
     I crack up every time I see these commercials.  Usually they're infomercials, but sometimes they are just a 30 second spot.  The stupidly simple is made to look ridiculously difficult in order to convince you that you can't function as a human without this product.  There are a few products that are decent, but I still resent the implication that without them, we can't enjoy things like pasta, or our plants.
     There are several products aimed at making pasta a simpler task.  The pot with the strainer built into the lid.  The microwavable auto-pasta cooker.  I have never had as much trouble making pasta as the people in the commercials.  They end up with third degree burns all over their bodies from dumping boiling hot water and pasta directly on themselves.  I imagine these are very faint-of-heart people whose children frighten them from behind every time they cook pasta.  How else could that happen?  In one of the advertisements, the announcer states "metal pots can get very hot."  Yes.  I hope so- that's how it cooks my food.  However, this is a cautionary tale.  He's probably trying to convince us all we should be cooking our pasta and sauce in one container in the microwave.  It apparently saves on the dish washing, which these people have apparently never ever done, judging from the piles and piles of pots and pans in their sinks. 
    To quote Mitch Hedberg: "Who the fuck would make their plants hard to reach?"  Again, a few of these products are useful and/or decorative.  However, the commercials make it seem as though you are simply a bad person who wishes to kill rain forests if you're not using this to water your plants.  Or grow them, or whatever other use they have.  There's one for some sort of edge trimmer that can perform miracles.  The before edge trimmer is apparently a secret war machine produced by the Nazis in order to perpetuate back problems, killing the old and discouraging the young from dreaming.  The new edge trimmer makes the world a better place. 
     The Magic Bullet?  It's just a blender.  It might be a nice blender.  It may even be pretty convenient.  And if you don't already have a blender, I wouldn't see why this would be a bad choice.  But since I don't buy ingredients already chopped up and separated into ramekins, it's not as time saving as the commercials would have you believe.  There's a comedian out there who does a bit about this very fact.  If I find his routine, I'll come back and link it.  He makes a good point.  Perhaps it blends in under 10 seconds, but the entirety of food preparation is not completed in under 10 seconds.  Its many claims have little to do with the functionality of the product and more to do with your actual choices.  It doesn't make food healthier.  You can make healthy food with it, but you can also make healthy food without it.  
     All of these commercials prey on how helpless we think we are, or on how lazy we actually are.  The products may or may not be useful; the commercials are pretty damn hilarious.    
     My two favorite "infomericals": The Jar Glove and The Tracy Jordan Meat Machine.  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Awesome: A List

Sometimes when I'm not bursting with inspiration, I ask my friend Mary what I should write about.  Her most recent suggestion: awesome things that are awesome.  Sounds good to me!  So here we go, a list of awesome things.  These are in no particular order.  It is also not an exhaustive list. 

Glittens.  Gloves that are mittens.  The weather is getting colder and I'm getting ready to dig through my storage unit to find these.  They keep all parts of my hand warm and usable.  Awesome.

TV on DVD.  I have a few TV shows on DVD in the storage unit too, so while I'm getting out my winter gear, I think I'll grab Sports Night.  I love watching TV on DVD.  No commercials.  Episode after episode.  There are often special features like Bloopers and Commentaries.  And even though the novelty of it is gone because every show is now released on DVD- and quickly, it is super duper awesome. 

New York City. I love New York City.  We all know why- because it's awesome. 

The Kennedy Center presents The 13th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to Tina Fey.  How awesome is that?  Even more exciting?  I'm freaking going.  So so awesome.

Scotch. Scotchy scotch scotch.  Scotch in my belly. 

Hulu.  Almost anything is available on Hulu now.  You can auto-play next and it simulates that whole play all feature on DVDs.  It's great for catching up on shows you weren't sure about (like Detroit 1-8-7), watching shows on channels you don't get (like Melissa & Joey), or shows that were canceled three years ago only six episodes in (like The Return of Jezebel James).  Yes.  It's awesome.

Netflix Watch Instantly.  Netflix itself it awesome, but then they added this watch instantly feature, and it keeps getting better.  Sometimes I want to watch something RIGHT NOW.  And now I can.  Awesome.

Popcorn for dinner.  Popcorn is pretty good, but when you have it for dinner, it's awesome.  Especially when you leave room for dessert too.

Drunkfest. This will get it's own post soon enough.  Possibly two or three.  It's the greatest holiday in the entire world.  It happens to coincide with Thanksgiving, but really, Thanksgiving is the poor mans Drunkfest.  Drunkfest isn't just awesome.  It's the most awesome awesome thing there is.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What Didn't Make The Cut

     Piggybacking on yesterday's post, and reflecting on September 18th's post, My Favorite Season, I wanted to talk about what just didn't make the cut for my fall viewing schedule.  As I mentioned, I watch all comedy pilots.  This short list is actually just those shows that were new this year that I will not be watching for the remainder of the season.

Mike & Molly.  It's bad.  It's not funny.  The premise is awful.  I actually watched several episodes of this, mostly out of boredom and disbelief.  Fat joke after fat joke.  The one joke that was actually funny didn't have anything to do with being fat.  It would be nice if the show could be about these nice people who happen to be fat, rather than just being about fat, and maybe there are people under the fat.  And I'm not offended as a fat person, I'm offended as a comedian.  More so than that, I'm offended as a person with a brain.  It's drivel, and it got picked up for an entire season.  This means other people are watching it, more than they are watching good shows that deserve whole seasons.  This makes me sad for our country.  The perpetuation of this show, this brand of humor, and Chuck Lorre productions are giant shining examples of what is wrong with our country.  Laugh at the fat kid, because he's fat, and he can laugh at himself, isn't that funny, ha-ha, it was funny when we were seven so it's still funny now because we never learn a god damn thing.
     Melissa McCarthy is awesome.  I don't know her as a person, but in the roles I've seen her play there is a sweetness to her.  She makes good characters.  Her character isn't all that bad in this show.  But the show is bad, so it reflects poorly on her.  Just like putting prime rib inside of a shit-stew would reflect poorly on the prime rib; and the prime rib would still taste like shit.
     To revamp the show, I say we 1. Take it away from Chuck Lorre. 2. Change its title.  Perhaps to just "Molly."  Yes, that is a hint. 3.  Make Mike a background player.  Maybe he's around, maybe she meets him at her OA meetings, but the premise of the show is that two fat people meet and fall in love.  That's already given away in the freaking title and theme jingle.  Where is there left to go?  Nowhere.  Or, apparently, shitsville.  4.  Focus on Molly and her mother, and to a lesser extent her sister.  Swoosie Kutz deserves to always be working, and her talent is wasted as a supporting character.  Well, her talent is wasted on this steaming pile in general.  Anyway: focus on Molly and make it not be about her being fat.  Just let her be that.  It'll be ok.  We don't always have to make jokes about peoples physical appearance all of the time.  5.  Cancel It.

Better With You. I had high hopes for this because it was created by Shana Goldberg-Meehan.  She was a big part of Friends, producing it or something, and she is also Gary David Goldberg's daughter; he created Family Ties.  I suppose this show proves that 1. past success doesn't guarantee future success, and 2. talented parents don't necessarily beget talented children.  It's not very funny and it's boring.  When watching comedy, I prefer it to be funny.  Drifting off to sleep during a 30 minute comedy is a bad sign.  Everything is so predictable and so stereo-typed it becomes painful.  My best bet for a review is to just list synonyms for boring and unfunny.  This too was picked up for a full season.  The National Average IQ has just gone down 20 points.

Outsourced.  A few people called it racist.  It probably is, but that's not why I don't watch it.  I may actually watch it if it were more racist.  In the way where racism can be funny, you know?  Eh, anyway, I don't want to spend too much time thinking about this show.  I watched the pilot episode, and then half of the following weeks'.  Then I turned it off and went to bed.  It's not funny, and again, I was bored.  However, this show ALSO got picked up for a full season.  I can't understand it.

Shit My Dad Says.  What?  This is a show?  On television?  Good day to you, sir.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Settling Into Fall

     Finally, the heat wave seems to have broken, long sleeves and jackets are appropriate, and the sun is setting earlier and earlier.  Fall is here, and I have settled on my television viewing schedule.  I was going to go day-by-day, but I actually use the term schedule pretty loosely, and since I TiVo most everything, I don't usually watch when they actually air.  Therefore a day-by-day account would be an inaccurate representation of how I actually spend my time.

How I Met Your Mother.  It airs on Monday night, and I TiVo it.  I spent so much time catching up on all of the seasons, I now feel obligated to keep watching it.  This season is picking up, and I do find myself laughing at some of the jokes like I did in the earlier seasons.  I particularly enjoyed the "Later tonight, a New York architect gets punched in the throat." Cut to: Robin punching Ted in the throat.  That was a good joke.  I do, however, still find Ted to be the most insufferable character.  I still love Barney, though sometimes the sameness of his jokes gets to me.  It's as though he doesn't even believe in the things he's saying anymore, he's just saying them because he thinks a guy like him would say them.  Marshall and Lily are great; they're the real reason to watch actually.  So I'll keep watching so my massive DVD watching wasn't in vain.  Or until something better comes along.

Raising Hope.  Tuesday nights, a lead in to Running Wilde.  I'll watch this until something better comes along.  Again, it's not not funny, so it's worth the TiVo space, however, I don't save the episode once I've watched it.  It perhaps pokes fun at people who are deemed trashy, but it shows that trashy is more of a perception, or that it is at least relative.  The Halloween episode was pretty good, though not surprising.  Is it funny that Bert pretended to take Hope to the fire station drop off so he could fake retrieve her to get a good hug from his son?  Yes.  Did the audience figure out this is what was going to happen approximately two seconds after someone said "fire-station drop-off?"  Also yes.

Running Wilde.  I TiVo it and watch it live.  This is a show I often pause in the middle of to finish laughing.  And often I rewind it to hear (or see) the joke again.  The news on the wire is that it is in danger of cancellation.  I wrote a letter to Fox pleading to give it a chance.  It just needs to find an audience.  Perhaps it's too subtle for the average Neilson box-having television viewer.  Maybe without laugh tracks and zany stereo-types indicating and indicating, people just don't know what to think.  But this show is brilliant.  I love it. 

Parenthood.  Tuesday nights, TiVo.  I would love to watch it live, but I just can't stay up that late.  I truly love this show.  I love its subtleties, and how right it is, even when maybe the characters are doing the wrong thing.  I like how they talk about everything, except not really.  They start the argument and then end it, sometimes with a resolution and sometimes not, but it's always very real.  Worlds don't end every time there's a disagreement.  They learn and grow just a little bit, like people actually do, but often they resort back to their old behavior, like people actually do.  Peter Krause and Lauren Graham carry the show, but it is ultimately an ensemble.  That is to say that without everyone else, you couldn't just have the Peter and Lauren show.  Or if you did, it would be very different.  Mae Whitman is adorable, in that teenage angsty sort of way.  If you think back on all of Mae Whitman's roles, she has quite the range.  The characters aren't stereotypes, and it would be easy to make some of them be so, since there are so many of them.  And I love the houseboat- I want to live in Crosby's houseboat.

Modern Family.  This is one of the best written comedies on TV.  I'm quoting myself from a few weeks ago, but it's true.  It's sharp and funny.  It's great to see a second season come out swinging and not lose any of the brilliance from the first.  I also like that they didn't inappropriately age anyone [Lily] just to attack the cute kid angle.  Baby Lily is great the way she is.  Plus, it's not really about her.  And I think shows stopped doing that in the 80s.

Cougar Town. The show has been making fun of itself for its awful title.  Eh, I think it's being too hard on itself.  They should just say its ironic now.  This show is full of heart and great characters.  When people ask what it's about, I say the characters.  The sit in this sit-com is that they exist.  Sitcom is kind of a catch all phrase/dirty word now a days anyway.  But that's a discussion for a different time.  The point is I like this show.  It is funny.  It made the cut for fall viewing.

Community.  I don't make plans for Thursday nights because of Community and 30 Rock.  I also TiVo them, and save all of the episodes.  I pop a big bowl of popcorn and settle in for Thursday nights.  Community is great.  It's sharp and funny and has heart.  Also, it gets ruined when you hear others talking about it the next day, so it's best to watch it live.  The same second season props from Modern Family are applicable to Community.  I started to worry about how they would continue the show with the same characters since its a community college and things like that end.  They solved that problem nicely at the end of season one by all taking Anthropology together.  I hope there are enough basic requirement classes left in Greendale's curriculum to keep the show going for a  few more years.  I don't think they're on the semester system since one semester took 9 months.  But who's to say- I never went to community college.  Maybe that's how they roll.

30 Rock.  I have a hard time expressing in words just how much I love this show.  As mentioned above, I clear my Thursday nights.  I watch this live and TiVo it.  I use the special "do not delete this EVER" feature.  At 9, when it's over, I watch it again.  I tend to take it personally if people don't like it.  I think it's smart and funny.  I think this season so far is amazing.  They don't abuse their guest stars too much, and they get some really good ones.  Paul Giamatti?  Brilliant.  Kelsey Grammer as Kelsey Grammer?  Awesome.  Their live episode was a lovely treat for loyal fans; I've been singing the new words to the theme song for weeks.  A few critics had said last season was a little off, and even though I disagree, if it were true, season five is definitely its call for redemption.  Thursday nights are special.  Don't call me, I won't answer.

The Whole Truth. I don't usually watch legal dramas, or procedurals.  So much so that I'm not sure exactly what genre this show is.  I think it's on Wednesdays.  It's one I TiVo and watch later, usually on Saturday mornings with eggs and coffee.  I like Maura Tierney and Rob Morrow.  They're fun to watch.  I read the show was on the chopping blocks.  That's unfortunate, but mostly just because I would like to see Maura Tierney do well, not because it would be a blow to television or American culture.  It's only about 5 episodes in now, and it's already getting into dangerous "how crazy and twisted can this shit be" territory.  It's the thing I don't generally like about dramas.  The audience has to continually be shocked by how horrific things are, and dramas just pile it on.  But I digress.  My point is I watch it.  If it gets canceled, I won't.  I also won't look for a legal procedural to fill the hole.

The Good Guys.  It's on Friday nights, so occasionally, I do watch it live, because I'm cool like that.  Last weeks episode was lack-luster, but I have hope it will regain its shineyness this week.  This is a show that often sits in my TiVo for a while before being watched though.  I like it enough to give it space, but it's not the first thing resting on my mindgrapes.

Detroit 1-8-7.  Initially, this show lost the time slot battle with Parenthood (for me, not according to ratings, or anything official).  I still stand by my actions, and I will continue to record Parenthood.  However, upon urging from a friend, I decided to watch this on Hulu.  I had read the recap and wasn't impressed; it's amazing how much just can't come through in a recap.  I was wrong.  This is a great show.  I watched all five episodes on Hulu.  And even though I won't give up the TiVo space, I now make an appointment with Hulu to watch this show.

That is approximately seven and a half hours worth of television.  Other than Saturday Night Live, I don't watch things that air on the weekend.  I used to be all about Fox's Sunday night line up, but I got bored with it, and lost the patience to squeeze it into my week.  Recently I took a survey that asked how much TV I watch per week.  I thought I watched a lot, but when looking at the choices, I realized maybe it wasn't all that much.  The top option was "over 20 hours" followed by "18 - 20 hours."  Mathematically, I can see how it would work out: 3 hours of prime time per weeknight, plus a football game or tennis match.  But good god, when would we eat?  Oh right, while watching TV.  Hm.  Well, perhaps I'm abnormal then.  Again, a discussion for a whole other day.

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's Saturday Night!

    It's not Saturday night, I know.  But reading the blog titles in (reverse) order, you'd see "Live From New York!" followed by "It's Saturday Night."  I was right about how wonderful New York City is.  I had the tiniest glimmer of hope to be able to see SNL, because I love it.  Luckily we walked by Rockefeller Plaza on our way to the hotel and saw a curious group of people lying on the sidewalk.  The guy at the head of the line had scary make-up on and at first I thought perhaps he was waiting for a secret Halloween party.  Then I realized he probably had no idea it was even Halloween, he may have been waiting for days.  The line was long and I hypothesized it would be unforgiving.  We'd be just as happy watching it in the hotel room with a bottle of wine.
     I don't want to over sell it, but it was the most perfect weekend ever.  As I try to sort through the details in my head, they all get squished together into one big ball of happiness.  There was a lot of walking and a decent amount of coffee.  We had breakfast at the type of diner you'd expect only New Yorkers to know about.  Lunch was a slice near Times Square, and dinner was one of the greatest meals ever at a BBQ place downtown. 
     We were in Mid-town, the Village, SoHo, Downtown, and every place in between.  And a few not between those places.  My sense of direction was wrong every single time, but luckily we'd only go a block before we turned around.  They were shooting a movie in our hotel; I was tempted to ask to PA for it, but I'd rather drink through the weekend than work through it.  Someone asked me for directions to Tiffany's- I pointed them in the wrong direction. 
     I wouldn't do anything differently.  But I am definitely going back.  Surely there are more things to buy, more ways to look at the buildings, more food and drink, and just more.  There is so much, and its muchness makes is great.