Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Letter to Oliver

Dear Oliver,
     I've missed you.  It's only been a few days, but it feels like so much longer.  They say time flies when you're having fun, and apparently the exact opposite is also true. 
     There have been a few ideas I've been meaning to share, but then my mind gets filled with loud circus music, and the ideas are gone.  A few list ideas came up, like the difference between actual time and my mother's time.  To give you an idea, apparently anything after 7pm is pretty much midnight, and after 10 am is lunch time.  Apparently slow starts to the morning are an egregious offense, even though this is technically a vacation.  I've learned that it doesn't count as a vacation when it's in your house.  That is to say, I am certainly not on vacation.
    Anyway, Oliver, we have some catching up to do, but I need to tend to why email programs don't recognize all the words mom wants to use.  Hope to talk to you soon.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Walking Distance

     Of all the things we can't agree on, the term walking distance seems to be of the most consequence. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Planes, Trains, & Comfortable Boots

     I've started this post several times, and I'm just not sure where to go with it.  My mother is coming in today to spend the holiday with me.  Most people think this is wonderful.  I, however, do not.  I've already accepted the fact that I am a rotten kid.  I get it, she's my mother, she gave me life, blah blah blah.  She's also bat-shit nuts, and the impending anxiety resulting from her visit has already started burrowing an ulcer.   She's nice, and she probably means well, but she's my mother, so to me, these seemingly nice things have a whole other layer of passive aggressive subterfuge to them. 
     I went grocery shopping, specifically to make sure I had food for her visit.  I asked her if there was anything she liked that I could pick up.  She said she would pack her own oatmeal.  (Whaa??!)  She claimed it wouldn't take up any room in her suitcase.  However, there is no part of the scenario I find reasonable.  Why would you pack oatmeal in a suitcase?  It can't possibly take up no room.  It's an object with mass- it has to take up some space.  I understand she believes this space to be negligible, but why not just pack an extra pair of underwear or some warm socks instead of oat-fucking-meal.  The point has been made that she's probably just trying to be nice, not wanting to put me out or inconvenience me.  Sure, I suppose that would be nice.  But it's oatmeal.  It cost at most $3.  And I was at the grocery store.   To pack oatmeal in a suitcase and bring it a thousand miles is just crazy.
     She also asked me if there were any movie theaters around.  And, if there were, would they be showing new releases?   I think the concept of a major city is lost on her.  Of course, this could be my misunderstanding.  Perhaps by "around" she means in my backyard.  In which case, no, there aren't any movie theaters in my backyard.  However, if by around, she simply means within a five mile radius and easily accessible by public transportation, then yes.  The other part about her question is that I have told her many times that I go to the movie theater often.  Nearly every weekend, I go at least once to see a movie.  Where does she think this happens?  Does she think I bus it to New York City to see the "new releases?"  Which, by the way, I think she counts anything released in the last 4 months as a new release.  There are movies I've watched on Netflix she still counts as new releases.  However, if she asks to see Yogi Bear, I will tell her no.  For some reason, the district isn't getting that movie.  It was too controversial, its limited release didn't extend to DC, I'm scared of bears.  Anything to not see that movie.  I won't even see it ironically.
     The title of the post is both an homage to one of my favorite movies, and also a solid description of my mom's modes of transportation.  I don't think she's overly pleased about any of them.  Mostly the boots.  She accepts the plane as the fastest way to get her from Michigan to DC.  She's willing to warm up to the idea of a train- both the Amtrak from Baltimore and the Metro within the city.  Though I do anticipate a certain amount of, well, lets call it consternation, over the whole public transportation system.  And then there's the walking.  I imagine we will be on opposite ends of the argument when being faced with the same piece of information.  The it's only a mile v. it's a whole mile argument.  She's not used to walking and I can imagine the pained look on her face every time walking is required.  Not hiking, just walking.  I think I live really close to the Metro stop- it's just four blocks.  However, she often drives to her mailbox- approximately 50 yards from her front door.  My best piece of advice was "wear comfortable shoes."  I probably said it like this: "wear comfortable shoes?"
     So Merry Christmas Eve Eve.  This is the time of year we get torn down by our families so we can spend the rest of the year building ourselves back up.  This is also why I drink.  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Gift of Giving

     Pardon me, I just threw up a little.  I mean, sure, giving is great.  It makes a person feel good.  But isn't part of that good feeling wrapped up in wondering if you're going to get something just as awesome as what you gave?  No, it's not?  It's just in the giving?  Ok then.  Never mind.  I really enjoy giving. 
     For serious, I really do think giving is cool.  Howevs, I decided to opt out of Christmas giving this year.  It takes the joy away when you have to give to someone.  One year, many years ago, college roommates decided we should have a gift exchange.  It was excruciating.   I think one of them might have been named Jen.  I think the one named Jen got me and the other female roommate baskets with lotions and soaps.  Ah yes, truly from the heart.  Not enough time to vomit in a paper bag and wrap it with a bow?  Come on!  I didn't enjoy receiving it, so there's pretty much no way she enjoyed giving it.
     I have a few family members whose birthdays fall near the Christmas holiday.  All the more reason to focus on the birthday, I say.  Of course, I realize that just because I have opted out of Christmas giving, doesn't mean everyone I know has opted out.  I do my best to make it known so there are no obligatory presents.  As stated above, I'd rather just have a bag of vomit than a poorly thought out dime-store gift.  However, there are a few folks who just love giving so much, they get me awesome things and wrap them in a bow and present them to me while saying "happy whatever-the-hell you believe!"  And I rip that package open like a homeless man opening a new crack pipe, and it's perfect. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our Moral Compass

     I resent the fact that there is a collective moral compass.  Mostly because those who feel we have one are typically curmudgeonly old men who fear things that might be different.  I overheard someone yell today "we've lost our moral compass."  What he means is that he wants to fight tooth and nail to stay in the dark ages, where things didn't make him feel icky. 
     As proof, he came up with the world's weakest argument.  It was equivalent to a five year old screaming "I don't wanna."  Well, that's not good enough. 
     I think individuals have a moral compass.  I don't think there is a collective one.  The idea of the collective experience has been fading for quite some time now, especially within pop-culture. Perhaps it's a pretty fine line to connect pop-culture to more substantial things like a collective moral compass, but I actually don't think so.  I see it as being more cyclical, where real life influences pop-culture and then pop-culture influences real-life.  It's the whole art-imitates-life v life-imitates-art argument.  I take a firm stance in the middle of that debate.
     That's beside the point.  Truth is, I'm not really sure what the point is.  I just think there is an odd correlation between folks who squawk about our moral compass and how old they are.  I felt as though I was in a bit of an odd position, overhearing someone yell about a moral compass that is so completely different from mine.  I'm actually so mad about it, I could spit.  And that should explain the incomprehensibility of this post. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Epitome of Laziness

     I like to use a planner.  It keeps me organized and on point.  It also, however, gives me permission to be the laziest bag of ass ever.  Ten pounds of lazy-ass in a five pound bag.  When there is nothing written in my planner, nothing at all gets done. 
     I had written in the fun times that were scheduled for Friday night, and those went off without a hitch.  I had scribbled in basic nonsense for Saturday and Sunday.  "Clean" was Saturday's task, and "make tarts for work" was Sunday's.  With a full forty-eight hours at my disposal, these two tiny tasks were inconsequential.
     Turns out, my couch is pretty comfortable, and snacking on a giant bowl of popcorn and M&Ms throughout the day will first satisfy hunger pains, and then make me ill, thereby rendering more food preparation unnecessary.   The very vague "clean" tasker meant I could just pick something up, and maybe wash it, and check that off my list.  Being vague clears the path to laziness.  My mother is coming to visit on Thursday, so in my planner for Wednesday I wrote "make the apartment sparkle."  Clearly, this requires more effort.
     I was able to finish watching and rewatching a lot of my favorite things.  I finished up the first season of Laverne & Shirley.  It was good to see it again, and I'm mildly interested in seeing how the rest of it panned out- it seems to hit a better stride the more it pulled away from its spin-off roots.  But I'm not willing to fill up my queue with the next seven seasons of it.  I'm aware they eventually move to L.A. and that Shirley leaves to be a hooker or something.  I get the gist and the tone of the show, so I'll move on.  I also watched all of the episodes of Parks&Rec and 30 Rock with commentaries on them.   My new favorite saying is now "he can put butter on my butt and bite it."  Thanks, Tina Fey. 
     As it turns out, a full day of doing nothing can be pretty exhausting, so I ended up turning in pretty early.  I think I fell asleep listening to Christmas songs while I was trying to read a book.  I perhaps reread one sentence five times and drifted off. 
     Sunday required a bit more activity, but I managed to stretch it out over several hours.  Coffee and Saturday Night Live for breakfast- a great way to start the day.  Eventually I had to head to the worst place in the world: the grocery store.  I picked up the appropriate ingredients and then I took several hours to make treats that should have taken about an hour to make.  Patience is the key, though.  Oh, and a box of Macaroni and Cheese with peas mixed in makes a fantastic lunch.  I followed it up with pot stickers, Zombieland, and the Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Christmas episode. 
     I didn't plan for this weekend's theme to be laziness, but I certainly welcomed it with open arms.  And then I wrapped it around me like a blanket and took a nap in it. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Snow Day

     We had half a snow day yesterday.  The snow had started a bit earlier than forecasted, and maybe there was a little bit more than predicted.  Maybe.  It was not a lot of snow, but people were concerned about the roads, because they were not properly treated.  It's always about the roads.
     Since I take public transportation, and I'm not afraid of snow,  I didn't really need to take advantage of the snow day.  However, since they don't pass out medals for being the only one sitting in the office, I took it.
     I figured today would be just like any other, but I did hold on to a glimmer of hope that perhaps the city just couldn't handle the snow.  I lay in bed and listened to the radio, foolishly hoping it got much much worse outside over night.  It didn't.
     It feels as though this snow day was simply to commemorate the first snow of the season.   I have no real problem with that.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Weekends In The Theater

     This past weekend, I went to see a few films in the theater.  I've been wanting to talk about them with almost everyone (interesting) I talk to, but I do hate to spoil things for people.  If you look into my eyes during these moments, you can see how badly I just want to burst out with "and then they looked right at the sun and all died."
     I've been holding onto these for a few days now- it's only Wednesday, or it's already Wednesday, depending on your point of view.  The point is, I want to talk about them now!  I imagine this would be a great opportunity to utilize that new spoiler tag code ~M and I talked about here and here.

I Love You Phillip Morris

     Finally, this movie was released in theaters. There was quite the tale behind its release, as described in this New York Times article: Jim Carrey Stars in 'I Love You Phillip Morris.' It finally got a release date in the U.S., though it was limited. I was initially disappointed, but luckily it came to a theater near me just a week later.
     I love Jim Carrey movies. I may be willing to concede a few aren't great, but I enjoy his work a little more than I really should admit. This was a great film, and a great role for him. Also, he's been getting a lot of the attention, being the leading role, but Ewan McGregor also turned in a fantastic performance.
The film is the true story of Steven Russel, a great con-man. I was going to say the greatest con-man ever, but I don't know nearly enough about con-men to make that call. He's also gay, and he's awesome. He's a little bit smarter than those around him, but actually, just a little bit. Not a hyperbolic little bit. He doesn't get away with all of his schemes. He does get away with some good ones, and for a decent amount of time, but he does always get caught. And it's hilarious.
    I imagine there was the potential to take the source material and turn it into a drama- a melodrama even. There could have been emotional realizations and tense court room scenes. But where's the fun in that?
He faked his own death, and brilliantly. He didn't pull out his teeth and push a car over a cliff. He actually faked dying from AIDS. It doesn't seem like it should be funny, but it is.
     I wouldn't recommend this movie to my mother, but I would recommend it to someone who actually likes good, funny, interesting movies. It's unfortunate that it took so long to get released. I overheard another movie patron say on the way out of the theater that "Jim Carrey was really brave for taking the role." I suppose I hadn't thought about that. I suppose he was. Though I didn't think about it because he played it so well, I didn't really see Jim Carrey up there, I saw Steven Russel. I don't know the rules for award nominations, but I think this one is out of the running for anything based on its unlucky timing. Again, it's unfortunate, because it was a good story, well told, and told hilariously.

Black Swan

     All of the hype is pretty much right. My first comment was "Holy Shit." As the end credits started rolling, a lovely woman in front of me stated "I think Nina was the one who was crazy." No shit lady.
     It was quite a ride. I had never seen a Darren Aronofsky film before. I don't have a good reason for it, and it's actually a source of shame for me, since I was a film major. I should see his work. I was, however, able to understand what he was doing with the camera, and why he was doing it. Black Swan was reminiscent of classic Polish film, and even more so of Polanski's Repulsion. Not for its subject matter, but for its style. (Aronofsky is not a Polish filmmaker, nor did he attend the famed Lodz. However, he did go to Harvard, and I would bet at least a quarter he studied a few Polish films. Also, my comparison of Black Swan to classic Polish film is mostly pompous film student gibberish.)
     I don't like the hand held camera style, but I understand it. And here, Aronofsky clearly had a purpose for it. The camera stayed close to her, often just over her shoulder, and often on close ups. This forces us to stay with her the entire time, and be inside her breakdown as it happens. We don't get a picture of the story from other points of view. We don't really see how others see her; not from their point of view anyway, only from their reactions to her. A small distinction, but a distinction nonetheless. As the camera stays close to her, the audience gets this feeling that at any moment, someone could be standing just around the corner, or right behind her. If she turns around- oh, god, no, don't turn around! What could be there? What could be there? Her paranoia becomes ours.
     As Nina attempts to transform into the Black Swan for her role of a lifetime, she pretty much literally transforms into the Black Swan. I may be alone on this (I haven't asked others how they feel), but in her final performance, I really wanted to see her dance the shit out of that Swan. Yes, I realize it made her crazy. That's why I wanted to see it. I wanted the crazy to be for a reason. If she went crazy and then fell off the stage and never got to dance, well, then, pooh. Boring. However, being bat-shit nuts and being awesome, that's the proverbial middle-finger to all those nay-sayers. Ha! Ha! I'm crazy, and I'm awesome, and I'm dead! Wait, maybe that last part wasn't so awesome. Except that it was.
     There was one review I read that stated "Aronofsky is a master at making beautiful movies you never want to see again." Again, this is the first one I've seen, but I totally get that statement. I really liked this movie. I would recommend people see it. I would not, however, go with them to see it again. My blood-pressure can't take it.

The Social Network

     This was my second viewing of The Social Network. A friend of mind hadn't seen it yet, and it's a movie good enough to see more than once in the theater, so I went along.
     At first glance it's hard to see how a movie about Facebook can be interesting, or good. I admit, when I first heard the rumors about it, I wanted to pack it in for the human race. We must be out of ideas! But then good things started to happen- Aaron Sorkin was writing it, and David Fincher was directing. Then, THEN, I saw the trailer. Well, this was going to be great.
     I think it lives up to the hype. It actually is a very interesting story, and it is well told. My complaint about it doesn't actually have anything to do with the 120 minutes worth of film- it's the discussion it sparks afterwards. Usually, I'd say a movie that makes people talk is a good thing. But usually, it's because it will get people talking about the themes and society and change, blah blah blah. However, both times I left the theater, the conversations I overheard were all about what was true and what wasn't true within the movie.     Five seconds into the credits rolling and people wanted to discredit the entire thing because "the part about the girl isn't true." Who cares if the part about the girl isn't true? The part about the girl made it an interesting story, and humanized this character who otherwise is a calculating genius monster. (Monster genius? Both a monster and a genius.) It creates a beautiful bookend to the story, and the story wasn't really over. Some jackass in the theater this time around yelled "nooo" at the screen when Zuckerberg friend requested the girl. Unfortunately, people laughed at this, giving the jackass a false sense of confidence, and he repeated it when Zuckerberg hit refresh.
     I get the part about the girl was made up, but I don't care. I also get that Mark Zuckerberg didn't fucking call Aaron Sorkin and say "so, here's what happened." Aaron Sorkin had the interesting task of writing a story about a person who is still very much alive, in the public eye, all without using life rights. He was constrained by laws; he wrote his movie about the law suits because those are within the public domain and he could get the rights to those. And then there's a whole mess of other legal stuff about whose story you can tell, whose you can't, and what stuff you can make up. I don't really know a lot about that part, but I bet Aaron Sorkin does. Aaron Sorkin is no fool- he's not just going to make shit up about Mark Zuckerberg. At least not shit he can't get away with, like making up a girlfriend who dumps Mark Zuckerberg as an inciting incident. Boom.
     It's a good movie. I don't know if everyone who has seen it is picking it apart; I think it's just a knee jerk reaction to want to find a hole in something awesome, or to prove you know something about the truth. I'm not sure. But put all of that aside. Good story, well told.
     As far as how my mother would feel about it, because I think that's been a theme of this post so far: she would say she wouldn't get it because she's not on Facebook. That's sort of like saying you wouldn't understand Apollo 13 because you've never been to the moon. The Social Network isn't really about Facebook. You don't have to understand one damn thing about it. I suppose it helps to understand that computers are a way for people to communicate now. Other than that, your lack of social networking will not hinder your enjoyment of this film.

What I Watched at Home

I mentioned some of this earlier this week, and I don't think talking about Home Alone can be considered a spoiler anymore, but I wanted to stick with the format. So here we go!

Home Alone: A holiday classic. You'll never guess what happens: An eight year old boy gets left home alone by his parents at Christmas. Luckily, none of the awful things that could potentially actually happen to kid left at home for several days happened, and he just had to beat up a few nasty robbers to defend his house. Would it happen in reality? Probably not. Does that actually help make it better? Yes. This is also a well structured film, and we studied this in screenwriting. I was the awesome person who knew all the answers when the professor would ask "and then what did Kevin do?"

Parks and Recreation: In season 2, the holiday episode is the one titled "Christmas Scandal." It's hilarious. It's only a little bit about Christmas, it mostly just happens during Christmas time. But in the end, the gang waits for Leslie to light the town Christmas tree, and it's just so very sweet.

30 Rock: The second season of 30 Rock introduces us to "Ludachristmas." It's wonderful. Andy Richter guest stars as Liz's brother Mitch. Elaine Stritch guests as Jack's mother. When I'm an old lady, I want to be like Elaine Stritch. They all go ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza, and Jack's mom tears a giant hole in the perfect fabric that was once the Lemon Party. Yes, the Lemon party. I said it. "It wouldn't be a Lemon party without old Dick." Thank you, 30 Rock, for giving us lines like that on TV.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Am My Own Worst Enemy

     I'm overselling it just a bit, but in all honestly, I probably am, based simply on the fact that I'm not of enough consequence of anyone else to be considered their enemy.  The alternate theme of this post is "damn you auto correct."  In my case, spell check has gotten to me again.  Moreover, the fact that every single person in the world feels compelled to remind you: spell check doesn't find the errors that are actually words.
     I hate when I make these errors, though I think I may beat myself up about it more than others do.  The one that nearly made me spit-take my coffee this morning was when I noticed my error within a reply.  I had written "...the Mater Planning Schedule."  Spell check didn't correct it, because apparently mater is a word. 


–noun, plural -ters, -tres

1.British Informal . mother1 .
2.the backing holding the movable parts of an astrolabe.
 And for further edification on that:


an astronomical instrument for taking the altitude of the sun or stars and for the solution of other problems in astronomy and navigation: used by Greek astronomers from about 200 b.c. and by Arab astronomers from the Middle Ages until superseded by the sextant.
I was sending a "Master Planning Schedule," not whatever the hell a mater planning schedule would be.  (Also, I admit, I was a bit convinced the dictionary was just going to tell me "short for tomato.")  I felt foolish when I read the reply to my email and saw my error.  I think it was over looked by the recipient, however, and the response was simply a Thank You.  In the grand scheme of things, this one typo didn't really matter; I was just really embarrassed.
     Not as embarrassed as I am when I mistype below as blow, however.  Often, when summarizing something, I begin an email with "Sir, Below is the ..." and then write what the thing is.  But about 9 out of 10 times, I type blow.  It's probably only funny to me, because I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy.  But I think, wouldn't it be funny if I wrote back "Sir, Blow me."  It would funny for about the amount of time it took space to transmit that email from my computer to sir's computer.  And then it would immediately stop being funny.  I imagine there would be yelling, and probably a law suit.  So I stay extra vigilant for that typo.
     Another odd typo I make often is misspelling the word initiative.  When I misspell it in a certain way (often initative- missing the third i), spell check warns me with its red underline.  However, this particular misspelling is not recognized by spell check to resemble initiative; instead it offers me imitative.  I understand why it offers that- it is just one letter off.  But I've almost ruined other peoples ideas by calling them imitative instead of initiatives. 
     There are those, and I tend to be one of them, who find these blatant errors unforgivable.  It's a matter of rereading and proofreading.  As much as most will concede these mistakes can happen, they should happen between you and your computer, lest you be admonished by your readers.  It's not even that people won't understand you, it's that they will see you as simple-minded and careless.  This is the whole basis for my self- loathing and the declaration of being my own worst enemy.  I want to hold myself to that higher standard, but sometimes I've been looking at the same sentence for so long, I see what I think it says reads instead of what it actually does.  It happens on here quite a bit, too.  I get overcome with excitement for the idea, and I don't notice I've left out a word, or added a word for no reason.  It's generally not written so poorly it can't be deciphered, but that's hardly the point.  I would prefer to not have to be deciphered.  So I beat myself up over these mistakes, look up the new word I've discovered via spell check over look, and smugly correct others when I find their mistakes.
      Ooh, I think I just figured out who may consider me their enemy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Trimming the Tree Sounds Dangerous

     To piggy back on yesterday's post, I shall continue talking about the Christmas spirit.  Along with watching various Christmas themed movies and television shows, I also decided to get a tree this year.   This isn't the first tree I've ever had, but I also don't consistently have trees.  I didn't get one last year, but the year before my roommates and I chipped in for one.  We put some pretty random ornaments and a whole mess of lights.
     I had no particularly strong feelings either way about getting a tree this year.  My mother is coming to me for the holidays this year, so after that decision was made, I did think I should do something to make the apartment appear to be more of place where people actually live, rather than the labyrinth-like dungeon it currently resembles.  A few lights and candy dish could probably suffice.  Then Community reminded us that "music and cookies and liquor and trees" is what Christmas is for, and I all of a sudden had strong feelings about getting a tree: yes.
     I got a small tree from an elementary school playground that had been temporarily (I assume) transformed into a Christmas tree lot.  The proceeds from the tree somehow produced playground equipment or books or something to help children learn better.  Plus, they delivered.  And even though I only live five blocks from this particular lot, if I don't have to carry a tree five blocks, I'm not going to.
     I used the time between purchase and delivery to get the necessary tree accessories.  Let me fast forward to many hours later, after the tree is set up and lit and beautiful in my living room.  I'm on the phone with my mother, telling her about the tree, making sure she's not allergic to real trees- we always had artificial when I was growing up, and I assumed it was due to allergies, be it to pine or happiness.  She confirmed she had no allergies, and did actually enjoy real trees.  Then she stopped short and said "Did you have a tree stand?!"
     She used the same tone you would use when accusing someone of drowning your puppy.  Now, admittedly, prior to purchasing the tree, I did not already own a tree stand.  However, it is one of those necessary tree accessories I just mentioned.   So, basically, my mother either thinks that a.) I'm an idiot and have just leaned the tree against the wall and/or 2.) there were a limited supply of tree stands made in the early 80s and if you didn't get one then, you are out of luck.  I still think it's a bit of both a and 2, because she seemed surprised when I simply said "I bought one."  I thought we had moved passed the tree and were on to another topic when she shouted "you have to water it!"  She must really wonder how I don't just wander into traffic every day.
     I have very little affinity for ornaments, and even less so for storing ornaments, so i only have two on the tree.  They were gifts from a good friend many years ago.  It doesn't bother me at all.  I like it.  This does, however, bring us to another tree decorating conversation I had with a dear friend of mine.  I'll call her Blauri, to protect the innocent.
Blauri: Do you want to make sugar cookies and put them on your tree?
Me: Is that real?
Blauri: Yes.  Then you just throw them away.  And it's cheap. You can do cranberries too.
Me: That sounds good.
Blauri: I could come over and help.
Me:  Yeah, we can make cranberries and popcorn.
Blauri: I didn't say popcorn.
Me: I know, I did.  I want popcorn.
Blauri: To go with the cookies?
Me: What cookies?
So, now I shall have a fully trimmed tree with mostly food on it.  The conversation also devolved into a made up tradition of putting various cuts of meat on trees, and my true age was revealed when Blauri suggested Thursday night, and I responded with a bit of hesitation and "well, I think my shows will all be reruns, so that should be ok."  I am apparently an 80-year-old woman.  The good news was that 20 minute fit of uncontrollable laughter shaved time off the ab workout we were going to do.  
     Yay Christmas spirit, and music, and cookies, and liquor, and trees.       

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Christmas Spirit

     After Community's spectacularly awesome stop-motion animated Christmas special, I started thinking about all Christmas episodes, specials, and movies.  I briefly considered ranking them, but my ranking system is skewed to a degree that would not provide a fair assessment.  Community's episode is the best, followed by all the 30 Rock Christmas episodes, then the X-files Christmas episode with Lilly Tomlin and Ed Asner, and the Ellen episode for her short lived second sit-com, with Mary Tyler Moore and again, Ed Asner.  So, not really a full representation of Christmas episodes.  I'm sure folks more widely versed than me will provide a better, more complete, Christmas viewing ranking system.
     However, thinking about it did make me want to watch those episodes as a way to inject myself with some of the Christmas spirit.  The four Christmas movies I own are Home Alone, Elf, Love Actually, and Bad Santa.  Every year I forget that I don't own Christmas Vacation.  It's a classic, and I somehow end up watching it every year.  Which I guess is how I forget that I don't own it.  I should.  I also have Home Alone 2: Lost in New York because it's part of a multi-pack.  It was implied.
     I love Bad Santa, though admittedly it is both polarizing, and not a family friendly film.  I wouldn't sit down and watch it with my mother.  Of course, I don't watch most things with my mother, but that's another story.  I think if you find the opening soliloquy funny, you can get behind the movie.  If you find it distasteful, you should probably just go make some gingerbread cookies in the other room and skip this one all together.
     Love Actually is more of a modern day Christmas movie.  It happens around Christmas, so it ends up being about Christmas, but it's not purely about Christmas.  Well, it is I suppose.  A few of the stories seem to happen too quickly, but all in all, at the end of it, you're left feeling good about Christmas.
     Home Alone is a classic.  It replaced whatever crappy kid Christmas movie there was before it.  I don't even know what it was called, nor do I care.  I love this movie.  I watched it this weekend while putting up my own tree.  It has some great lines in it, like when Kevin was upset because he can't pack his own suitcase and the cousins are talking about it in front of him.  "What was I supposed to do, shake his hand and say 'Congratulations, you're an idiot.'?"  Brilliant.
     Just thinking about Elf puts a smile on my face.  I love every bit about it.  Often, I get turned off by the idea that Santa is real.  More so when TV shows plant some sort of supposed miracle and then we hear off camera the sound of bells and maybe a ho-ho-ho and we're all supposed to believe in the magic of Santa.  That's drivel, and I hate it.  However, creating a world where Santa just exists and sticking to it, and making it awesome, that I can get behind.  "I know him, I know him!"  And of course, making Ed Asner be Santa also helps.  I think this is the one with the most all out Christmas Spirit.
     I appreciate when TV shows do Christmas episodes, and sometimes it can be difficult because they are frequently on hiatus close to the holiday.  The first and second weeks of December are typically the time for Christmas themed episodes.  Then, the Christmas specials come rolling in.  One of my favorites is the inevitable SNL Christmas special.  It's usually the same holiday sketches from the past years, with a new host and one or two new things thrown in.  And I love it.  I'm quite over Rudolf and a Charlie Brown Christmas, though I understand why they're important to the shared conscious of the viewing public, and therefore I support their airing.  Various musical genres often put on holiday spectaculars, which I think are shadows of what they must be live.  And they're probably only mediocre live.  Every city has a tree lighting, and if your city is large enough (DC, or NYC) it'll be televised, and also supported by musical acts. I guess it's nice, in theory, but still, watching a tree light up on TV just can't be as good as watching it live.
     There's one Christmas episode I left out of that initial list: The Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip Christmas episode.  That was great.  It just slipped my mind for a second, but I think Hulu plays it over the holidays.  It belongs in my list of top Christmas things to watch. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ask and ye shall receive

     Earlier this month, I mentioned watching the Sneak Peak of season three of Parks & Rec.  Then in a covered up spoiler, I mentioned I wanted a poster. 
     And now I have it: The Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness.  

Things that get lost in a move

     I can't find my Elf CD.  The last place I remember seeing it was in my car, when I lived in Boston.  I have to start dealing with the fact that it's probably gone forever.  Oddly enough, I have the case.
     I also can't find my big plastic cups.  I had a small collection from baseball stadiums and restaurants, and I used them as my water cups.  I stayed plenty hydrated and didn't have to get up to refill as often. They were great.  Now I can't find them.  They're not really worth looking for, and there is a good chance they just didn't make it.  I was making snap decisions while packing and trying to pare down as much as possible.  It would make sense I would leave these things behind. 
     But man, missing the Elf CD really stings. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Tome Wrapped in Plastic

     It's the literary event of the year, and I just had to be a part of it.  Of course, before I knew it was such a big deal, and I didn't think it was, well, a big deal.  The Autobiography of Mark Twain was released a few weeks ago, apparently to a much higher demand than was anticipated.  The story was that book stores couldn't keep it on the shelves, was sold out, and the printers couldn't keep up.  Well, this must be good, and I wanted to be a part of it. 
     In a seemingly unrelated series of events, I decided to turn left instead of right out the Metro station on my way home.  My brain was getting mushy from all the *not-reading* I had been doing, so I wanted to make a trip to Kramerbooks.  I wasn't really looking for a book, but being around them often helps feed my soul.  I stumbled across the Portable Jack London reader, Eating the Dinosaur, and also decided to pick up a magazine for my morning commute.  I had spent at least an hour getting bumped and pardoned, so it was time to leave.  There was a moment when I thought "I wonder if they have the Mark Twain Autobiography," but then considered the fact that huge booksellers were out, and I didn't want to appear to be uninformed. 
     I trudged by way to the line and just before handing the cashier my credit card I looked up and saw it: a tome wrapped in plastic.  Something came over me, and for a brief moment I was that person who casually reads thousand page autobiographies.  "Oh, you do have the Mark Twain Autobiography!  Great."  There was another gentleman behind the counter who was also unaware of their existence.   The lovely cashier (bookseller?) informed him they just came in, and indeed, there was a stack of them "over there" on the floor.  He was probably tripping over them.  The gentleman pulled a copy off the shelf and set it on the counter. 
     "So, this too?" the cashier asked.
     I certainly couldn't say no now, after I made such a to-do about it.  Clearly, it was the one thing I had been looking for all of my life.  "Yes, please, that one too."  I closed my eyes and handed over my credit card, knowing that tomes wrapped in plastic are generally not cheap.  It's a good thing I like cheap food. or in this case, perhaps no food at all.  At least my soul will be full. 

     Also, I'd like to note, this autobiography is only Volume One.  There are two more volumes in the works.  From the grave.  The anticipation is palpable. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Public Transportation

     When the Metro stops, the automated lady voice says "Stand back, to allow customers to exit.  When boarding, please move to the center of the car."  However, from the way people behave, you'd think she yelled "GO! GO! GO!  MOVE IT! MOVE IT! THERE'S NO TIME!"
     Riding the Metro is exhausting and exasperating.  So much so, I don't really have much more to say about it.  I would like to listen to sweet Christmas music, and maybe some Temper Trap.   

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Songs: A List

One of the things I like about Christmas is the music.  But not all of the music.  Some of the music is awful, and then combine it with hearing it over and over, it's bloody-ear inducingly horrible.  Wikipedia provided a list of traditional Christmas songs, and popular Christmas songs.  I provide that list with my opinion of each song.

  • Angels We Have Heard on High - I like the middle part.  "Gloooooooooria." 
  • Away in a Manger - Too little substance.  I hate the line "I love you Lord Jesus."  You just met the kid, how can you love him already?
  • Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella - Uuuuuuh.  I don't think this is real.
  • Coventry Carol - Or this one.
  • Deck the Halls - Fun and merriment, with two syllables!
  • Ding Dong Merrily on High - Nope.
  • The First Noël - The meter is off, so that's irritating, and it's pretty repetitive.   I will allow for one to two listens.
  • Gabriel's Message - Fake.
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain - Jewel does a fun rendition of this song.  I like it.
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Fun to sing along to.  The Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan have an awesome version of this.  I'll listen to it at any time of the year.
  • Good King Wenceslas - Only good in Love Actually when Hugh Grant's character sings it to the little girl at the door and his butler/attendant person comes in with the bass.
  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - I do like it.  I like saying "Hark!" 
  • Here We Come A-Wassailing - American's shouldn't say things like A-Wassailing.  This is probably a Canadian song.  I don't like it. 
  • The Holly and the Ivy - Made up.
  • I Saw Three Ships - The Barenaked Ladies version is great.  Otherwise, I miss the point of it.  I don't read the Bible, but I don't think there were ships.  I think there were shepherds, and they walked.  Perhaps this is an alternate telling, about a different Jesus.  I don't really follow any of it.  Perhaps I should listen to the words more closely. 
  • I Wonder as I Wander - Blech.  Me thinks you should pay attention while you wander, so you don't get lost. 
  • In Dulci Jubilo - They're making this up, right?
  • In the Bleak Midwinter - Probably depressing, but I've never heard it.
  • It Came upon the Midnight Clear - Not awful.
  • Joy to the World - This one is fun to sing with lots of people.  I approve.
  • Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming - No.
  • O Come All Ye Faithful - Yes, I like this one.  I think we sang it when I was a kid.  I have fond memories of it. 
  • O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - I probably get this one mixed up with the other O Come song.  You just need one.  Stay where you are, Emmanuel. 
  • O Holy Night - It's a nice melody, a pretty decent tune.  A little slow though.  It's not going on a holiday mix for parties, that's for sure. 
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem - Too slow.  But I can remember the words, and they're not awful words, so it's ok. 
  • Once in Royal David's City - Canadian.  It must be. 
  • Silent Night - I used to love it, and now I think it's only ok.  It is nice when sung by a choir with the "peace, peace" chorus under it.
  • Sussex Carol - Huh?
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas - I love it when I don't have to listen to all twelve verses.  The John Denver and the Muppets version is the B-Est version of this song. 
  • We Three Kings of Orient Are - Don't end a sentence in a preposition, son, at.
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas - Whereas it is incredibly repetitive, it's also easy to remember when you've had too much nog, and short enough to get over.
  • Wexford Carol - It this related to Sussex Carol?
  • What Child Is This - I think you know what child that is.  Sheesh.
  • While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks - Nope.  Probably not really about Christmas.

  • The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) – I like the song, but I think by now, we can stop using the parentheticals in the title.  If you don't know it's called "The Christmas Song" then you don't get to sing it. 
  • Santa Claus Is Coming to Town – and he's a stalker.  It's creepy. 
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Yes.  It's sweet.  I like it.
  • Winter Wonderland– As a kid who grew up with wintery Christmases, I like this song.
  • White Christmas – For the same reason I like Winter Wonderland.  Maybe I think they're the same song.  
  • Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – I concur, please let it snow. 
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – I'm over this song.  But do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?  Yes, of course! Because he's the most famous.  It's the other eight shit-for-brains reindeer we don't remember. 
  • Jingle Bell Rock – It's fun and jaunty, and I love to sing along.  Woo!
  • I'll Be Home for Christmas – It starts off sweet, but then it turns out he probably won't be home.  If only in his dreams.  Well, eff you buddy, keep that part to yourself!
  • The Little Drummer Boy – I used to love this one, but the more it's on, the more I'm bothered by the drums. 
  • Sleigh Ride – Yep.  I would go on a Sleigh Ride with these people. 
  • It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Jingle-belling? Mistle-Toeing?  No.
  • Silver Bells – Too slow for me. 
  • Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree – I love this one if for no other reason that the awesome scene in Home Alone. 
  • Feliz Navidad – In spanish, or not in spanish, but not both.  It's insulting.   
  • Blue Christmas – De-Press-Ing.  
  • Frosty the Snowman – The Frost story just doesn't work for me.
  • A Holly Jolly Christmas – I think a cup of cheer is probably rum or brandy, and I can support that.   
  • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – So first the kid thinks his mommy is a whore, then he finds out it's just that his underdeveloped mind was too dumb to realize Santa was fake.  A Merry Christmas indeed. 
  • Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane) – I don't think there is a Santa Claus Lane.  And I really really hate how they mix God and Santa in this one.  Gifts for all God's Children?  No.  Wrong.  Santa was not present at the birth of Jesus.  It's like saying Captain Spok was on the Death Star. 
  • It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas – Maybe in 1932.
  • (There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays – Because home is awful, and at the holidays, the awful is magnified?  Sure.  But otherwise, I'd rather be anywhere else than home for the holidays. 
  • Carol of the Bells – Yes, my favorite Christmas song of all time.  Sung by a choir, it is awesome.  Home Alone did a great version of this song.
  • Santa Baby – Seriously?  I could really do without this song. 
  • Wonderful Christmastime – I get that Paul McCartney is a genius, but I don't care for this song.  Christmastime?  As one word?  I don't get it. 
A few were left out from Wikipedia, presumably because they weren't popular enough.  I love "Baby, It's Cold Outside" even though it's not strictly Christmas.  Of course the one performed by Zooey Deschanel in Elf is great, but also, the band Over The Rhine knocks it out of the park.  Also, I want to mention "All I Want for Christmas Is You" by Vince Vance and the Valiants.  It is not the song by Mariah Carey.  Check it out.  A much better version of that Mariah Carey song is performed by Olivia Olson, from the Love Actually soundtrack.  And I love the Home Alone soundtrack as a whole.  That is a great collection of holiday music.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Simple Tasks Made Difficult

     In an effort to control the wild temperature variations in my apartment, I decided to look into some good old fashioned window insulation.  You know- the plastic film that you use a blow dryer on to create some sort of hermetic seal.   I did a little research and figured it would be a good, easy, cheap solution.
     Six hours later I had wrinkled plastic covering half my windows.  The package made it look so simple, but the universe made it so difficult.
     Error #1:  My math skills.  I measured my windows and they are each 6 feet high.  A few of them are 3 feet wide, a few of them are narrower.  There are 5 windows total.  According to the box, each plastic sheet was 62" by 34".  Apparently I didn't know the difference between 62" and 72".  Yes, as you can see, a 62" plastic sheet is not long enough to cover a 6' window.  Luckily, I had gotten the box for 9 windows, so I would have extra.  This is possibly to only thing I did right.
     In order to fix this problem, I "pieced" the plastic together, using half on the top, putting more tape down, and then doing the bottom half.  It worked better in theory than in execution.
     Error #2:  Bookcases in front of the windows.  The windows in the living room are shaped like those in a bay window, but with no bay-window seat.  In front of the two narrower windows are book cases approximately 3 feet tall packed full of books.  Very heavy books.  I've tried to move these book cases before and it can't really be done.  You have to take all of the books off and then move the book cases.  It takes a long time.  I decided instead to work around the bookcases.  This was painful.
     Error #3:  The sun goes down at 3pm.  Well, it's actually around 5, and starts getting dark around 4:30.  I really wanted to have all of this done before sun set so I didn't have to deal with finding plugs for lamps and hair dryers.  I failed.
     Error #4:  Cords on hairdryers are not 7 feet long.  It had not occurred to me until the moment I was standing at the window, hair dryer in hand, not even close to the top of the window.  Of course hair dryers don't have cords that are 7 feet long!  Why would they?  Well, for this.  Clearly I needed an extension cord, but that was easier said than done.  I'm pretty sure all my true extension cords were in storage.  I had surge protectors in my room that would have to suffice.  This involved unplugging my clocks and lamps, and disheveling my bed to get to it.
     Error #5: Tape is sticky, and I'm impatient.  The instructions state to wait 15 minutes after you apply the tape to put up the plastic.  Well, that's fine the first time around, but eventually, the sun starts going down and muscles start to hurt, so you just put tape up and apply plastic. And then, of course, the  tape doesn't stick.  Except that it sticks to you, and to the plastic, but not the wall, where it needs to be.  You end up with a ball of tape and plastic at the corner of the window and you hope you just melt the plastic to the window to create a seal.  (This does not work.)
     Error #6:  Two hands are better than one, four hands are better than two.  There's a decent amount of trial and error involved when figuring out just how to stick the plastic to the tape and then smooth it out and stick it to the other sides of the tape.  I imagine that if I were doing this with someone else, we would have attached, pulled down, and reattached the first one using a healthy amount of respectful debate.  Instead, if it stuck, it stayed.  Hence all the wrinkles.
     Error #7:  I have no step stool, nor am I 7 feet tall.  There was a lot of standing on chairs, tables, and windowsills.  It's actually amazing I didn't break anything.

     Error #8:  Trimming the plastic did not happen.  It was late, I was tired, I was in pain.  So I just put the blinds back up and left the excess plastic on the windows.  I started to trim it on one window, and it because obvious that it was going to take a level of precision, determination, and caring that I did not have.  It looks a little trashy, but it was a risk I already knew I was taking with the whole premise of the endeavor.  

I really hope that the plastic on my windows helps, and at the very least, doesn't hurt.  It wasn't a huge financial investment- the whole kit was $20, but it was an emotionally trying time for me.

Friday, December 3, 2010

I Like My Hat

    I have an awesome winter hat that I purchased a few years ago.  It's brown knit with fleece on the inside and ear flaps with braided *things* hanging down.  It is both cute and functional.  It was a little chilly this morning when I left the house, so I decided to wear my hat.  The risk of hat hair doesn't bother me.
     As I arrived to work, I was removing my hat and a coworker was standing outside the door, just about to go in.  The conversation went like this:
    Co Worker: You're wearing your swiss little girl hat?
    Me: I guess.  I like the ear flaps, they keep my ears warm.
    Co Worker: It's not even winter.

Since this was a walk and talk I kept going towards my desk as he peeled off to his.  I should mention he was actively laughing at the hat.   I reviewed the conversation in my head.  At what point did it being officially winter become a prerequisite for keeping ears warm?  Maybe I have a medical condition.  Also, I wasn't emphatic about my ears being cold.  However, I would rather just wear the hat and ensure they're warm than pretend to be a hero by not wearing a hat because it's not winter yet.   It's not a badge of honor to deal with unusually cold mornings by simply not accepting them. This speaks to Wednesday's post about my consternation over the weather.  It's all a guessing game, but I choose to guess on the side of just taking my hat places.  I'd rather look foolish for wearing a hat when it's not quite cold enough than looking like a fool for getting frostbite on my ears. 
   My hat is awesome.  I'm going to continue to wear it, whether or not it is in fact winter. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Blank Page Is Intimidating

     Even in blogger, the blinking cursor and blank white space taunt me.  Often what works for me is to just get started, regardless of what it is.  Just get a few lines typed out, and when the page isn't blank, it isn't so scary anymore.  This is why I don't let people read my outlines, or worse yet, the journal entries that lead up to the idea for the outlines.  They are riddled with ridiculous non sequiturs, sentence fragments, and lists of foods I want to eat.
     And now that that's out of the way, I can talk about what I really wanted to talk about!  It's a little personal, and writing it out makes me feel a little vulnerable, but I'm going for it anyway.  I finished writing the first draft of my pilot.  I acknowledge it's only the first draft, and there is work still to be done, but writing "END OF SHOW" at the end felt good.  And then I drift off the place of fantasy and dreams and I think someday, and someday soon, this'll get picked up.  Why wouldn't it?  This script is meant to be realized on television, and I am meant to be its show runner.   There may be a few obstacles, but they are insignificant.   Most of them can be solved my moving.  I let myself steep in that fantasy land for a while because if I believe in it, it has a greater chance of coming true.
     Yesterday, my package from Amazon arrived- Parks and Recreation Season 2, Modern Family Season 1, 30 Rock Season 4, and the 30 Rock Soundtrack (Collector's Edition).  Happy Chanukah to me!   I tore open that box with the fervor of a five year old.  I read the 30 Rock Soundtrack liner notes book from cover to cover and immediately put it in my computer.  I watched the special features for both Modern Family and Parks&Rec, including the Season Three sneak peek.
I'm so excited for season three. I want a copy of the Ron Swanson Pyramid. I'll post it on my wall, and use to to become a perfect human.
      This actually took a little longer than I expected, but it was totally worth it. Laundry can always be put off another day.  I put on an episode of Arrested Development while getting ready for bed, and then to safely take me to dream land, I listened to, yes, the 30 Rock Soundtrack.
     I'm not necessarily a hard core dreamologist (I made that up, because I don't know what it would be called), but I do understand that dreams are formed from what is in one's subconscious.  Sometimes, the subconscious isn't as far down there as one might have thought.  I had the most wonderful dream where I met Tina Fey, somehow at her house, where she seemed to be expecting me to be there, yet I was not expecting her.  There was a multi-layered surprise that my friends (or apparently mutual friends?) had set up, and I ended up under dressed for attending the Oscars with Tina Fey, but we had become fast friends when I made her a cake.  I also tripped over her, but she was very gracious about it, assuming partial blame for being in the way, and asked to read my script.  About the time my head was going to explode in the dream, something woke me up.  I wanted so very badly to stay in that dream.  And again, I don't usually put a lot of credence in my dreams, but this one I want  to hold onto forever.  Maybe this time, this one means something.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holy Crap, It's December

     I'm not a person who normally comments on the passing of time.  I abhor conversations about Daylight Savings Time and those that being with "Where has the time gone?"  I know where the time went- it went to the past.  My surprise at the coming of December is less about acknowledging the passing of time, and more about acclimating to my current climate.
     I'm not sure if this weather is typical, but I feel as though any sort of normality as far as weather patterns are concerned have been tossed out the window ever since we started recognizing global warming.  I've lived in various parts of the United States, and usually have a pretty easy time acclimating to the region.  Yet this time around, it's thrown me for a loop.  I've even lived in this climate before, yet somehow it was easier to adjust to before.  Also, to be clear, I do understand the difference between weather and climate.  A decent part of my consternation comes from the unpredictability of the weather juxtaposed to the climate. 
     It's December, so it should probably be cold.  Except I live in that pesky subtropical-humid region, so perhaps it won't be cold.  However, it could be, because it just might; there's almost no way to tell.  There probably won't be snow, except there was tons of it last year.  So there could be a lot this year.  Maybe giant snow storms take a year off.  I have no idea. 
     I miss the predictability of the pre-global warming subarctic climate of my youth.  It was December, it was Michigan, it was cold.  To further prove my point, I just received an e-note from my mother stating that it was snowing and there were several traffic accidents.  She blamed it on being December 1st.
     I'm not sure what it is this time around that has got me all in a tizzy about the weather.  It was monsoon season this morning; something I am not used to.  The wind was haling and the rain was pouring down.  In my head I thought "wind, rain, December.  I better put on a hat."  That hat was not needed.  It was still about 65 degrees outside and I was quite overdressed.  A boring weather conversation with a coworker revealed the fact that it was predicted to be 28 degrees tonight.  Where the hell do I live?  Venus?
     And another thing about December- there should be more Christmas spirit.  Full disclosure: I don't actually celebrate Christmas, but I like that others do.  Other than the brief Christmas Music listening stint, I have very little spirit.  I think if it were colder, I would have more.  Even though I am fully aware of the calendar, it still feels too soon.  Maybe by December 6th I can catch some.