Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Wrap Up

     You know what, I'm going to go out on a limb here and declare that I really like James Franco.  The internet is a cruel place, and definitely not a place where he could catch a break.  So what if he was high?  To me, he appeared to be acting like himself- his goofy, time-stopping, overachieving, high-on-life self.  I liked watching him.  Kudos James Franco.  And I didn't mind Anne Hathaway either.  I really liked their intro montage. 
     In general, I didn't think the broadcast was as horrible as I'm gathering most people did.  Maybe I set my expectations too low.  Maybe the rest of the internet community set their's too high.   Melissa Leo's f-bomb was a polarizing moment.  Some were endeared by it or thought it was really funny and honest.  Others thought it entirely distasteful and predict she'll never be invited back to the Oscars.  I was amused, though I love the f-word.  Fuck.  See?  I fucking love the fucking f-word. 
     Apparently people really hated Alice in Wonderland and resented that it won any awards.  Come on, it won for Art Direction and Costume Design.  All the awards can't go to Inception just because you think it was the most original thing ever based on the fact you didn't really understand it and you graduated in the top 10% in your high school.  I'm standing out in the middle of an empty field here claiming that I actually enjoyed Alice in Wonderland and find it deserving of the awards it won, and that I think Inception is overrated.  I liked it when I saw it, but I didn't love it- the motivation seemed off and I didn't give a flying fuck about the dead wife, and I think all the attention was undeserved.  Anyway, back to the actual Oscars.
     The non-awards part of the show were hit and miss.  I really enjoyed the auto-tunes portion; I think James Franco edited that himself.  I thought for sure Celine Dion was severely injured or at least had the decency to never show her face in public again.  The song itself, Smile, is a good song, though I couldn't hear it through all the blood clogging up my ear canals.  Plus, it's not a great choice for the In Memoriam section.  I'm surprised they didn't stick with their theme, and just play music from one of the Best Picture nominees over the entire montage.  Maybe something from Toy Story 3.  That would have been nice.
     Clearly, the Oscars dole out speech time based on the prestige of the award.  I was foolish in thinking an Oscar for Cinematography would be more prestigious.  Apparently all that guy does is point the camera and tell some other guy to push the button, so he only gets 30 seconds worth of thanking.  Whatevs, Academy.  I get it- we give the most time to the actors because the actors are who the public pay to see, therefore sustain the industry.
     Kirk Douglas is old.  He's so old.  I get that he's iconic, but as I texted to several friends last night, I don't think it's appropriate to let stroke victims present awards.  Also, the way he was revered made me think maybe he cured AIDS and Cancer while walking on the moon.  Nope, turns out he's just an actor.  But again, it is a ceremony celebrating actors, so fine.  I'm the asshole.
     I would like to point out that my prediction for The King's Speech was correct, even though it was based on nothing.  Also, it was super cool that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won for score.  I'm actually listening to it right now.  I'm guessing a lot of people are tearing apart Natalie Portman, but I actually liked her speech.  Yes, it was a little long, and the award was not at all surprising, but I bet those AC guys never get thanked for anything.  It was very nice of her to share that moment. 
     The most mind blowing moment of the night for me was the short category.  I hadn't thought about it too much until I saw the nominees flash up on the screen and realized I had seen them before, and that indeed I had seen God of Love not too long ago at a film festival, and had met the director.  It was a very Holy Shit moment for me.  And then he actually won and I couldn't fucking believe it.  God of Love was a thesis film for NYU.  Amazing.  I remember so clearly the screening and him talking afterwards; it was just a few months ago.  And now he was on my TV, at the Oscars.  Man, that's a guy I should have given my number to. 
     It ran long, like it always does.  I don't know why they even give it an ending time slot anymore.  They should assume it's going to take 5 hours, and then when it ends in three and a half, they win, and they can play Full House reruns, and we win (not really, that show sucks).  In general I liked the broadcast, but I wouldn't watch it again.  I would, however, hang out with James Franco any day of the week. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Oscars

     My interest in the Oscars often wanes because my interest in film and other entertainment aligns with comedy, and the Academy rarely does. However, I have to admit, the closer the ceremony gets, the more excited I am.
     Predicting the winners rarely means a lot. I'm not good at it, so maybe that's why. I tend to lose interest in things I'm not good at. Filling out friendly ballots is find, but I'll never put money on it. I like to wait till just before it's announced and yell the name of my favorite at the TV. Sometimes I yell the name of the hosts or comedians who weren't nominated. That happens in categories where I haven't seen any of the nominees. So, the foreign ones.
     I'm looking forward to the show this year. I have a mini Oscar party planned- the party will be mini, the Oscars will be normal size. A lot of parties tend to be really fancy, with cover charges, red carpets, crab puffs, and champagne. For me, however, this is like the Super Bowl. My party involves chili, buffalo wings, and beer. It'll be the best party on the block. I am expecting one attendee.
     I predict James Franco will be adorable and Anne Hathaway will awkwardly walk the line between princess and harlot. I think "The King's Speech" will win most of the awards it's nominated for mainly because it's British. I have no idea who will win anything else. Trent Reznor maybe. That'd be cool.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mad Love. A Review.

     I want to like it, I really do.  But after the premiere, I almost forgot it was even on the air.  I like the casting- I'm excited to see Sarah Chalke back on a sitcom, and I really like Judy Greer.  The male leads are also good.  But the premise feels played out, sweaty even.
     There were a few jokes in the pilot that made me sit up and pay attention- maybe it would be a good comedy.  Maybe the humor would be from the cunning jokes, and the premise was just fodder; a way to get these four funny people in the room.  Nope, that wasn't it.  They just happened to get a little lucky.
     A lot of the other reviews, written by people who actually review a lot of things and are a bit more analytical than I, have compared it to How I Met Your Mother.  Sure.  It has a similar feel, there's the bar they hang out in, there's a voice over.  But this comparison does neither show any good.  If Mad Love clings too much to its lead in, its runs the risk of never being able to elevate above it.  How I Met Your Mother has gotten sweaty and lame of late, and it's unfortunate that's where Mad Love is picking up.
     I had nearly forgotten the show was one, and the holiday didn't help with me actually knowing what day was Monday.  I wanted to give it enough of a chance to get beyond its pilot.  The second episode was the story of their supposedly hijink filled first date.   Ugh, I don't even want to take the time to recap it, but I suppose I will.  Ben has a great first date planned; he's setting the tone for the entire relationship.  (Is this really a thing?)  He's put an extra bit of pressure on the date, but since the premise of the show is that the two fell instantly in love, I guess the pressure makes sense.  And then, oh no, tragic, Kate has tons of apparently boring work to do so she has to cancel.  Everything is ruined.
     Until half a second later when she comes up with a way to fix it and invites Ben over to her place for their first date, so he can watch her do the paperwork.  Insert awkward "I didn't mean to invite you over for sex" moment here.  1.  The solution came about too easily, especially since it wasn't a real problem.  2.  Apparently the work isn't that important since you feel you can have a date and do the work at the same time.  3.  Playing coy doesn't work here.  You're backing down from being strong independent characters and reverted to tropes of naive 1950s couples.
     Ben plans to do the classic sitcom date thing and cook Kate dinner at her place.   This is something that I've always thought to be a wee bit weird, and doubly so if you don't know the person.  I made dinner for someone at their place once, but it was chicken pot pie, and I knew them really really well.  How would you just show up with a bag of groceries and put together a great meal?  The logistics of it just don't make sense to me.  Anyway, he arrives, grocery bag of food in hand, and what do you know, best friend Connie is still there.  She was supposed to be leaving, but of course, her date is late, because it wouldn't be a kerfuffle if things just worked out.  Ben accepts this, because he doesn't want to be mean, but he's not happy.  No matter- the couple heads to the kitchen, Ben to cook, and Kate to do paperwork.  Kind of.  She either really really knows how to do that paperwork so well she can do it with shenanigans going on around her, or she sucks so hard at her job, the quality of it doesn't matter anyway.
     There's a scuffle about the kitchen door and a system Connie and Kate have set up to prevent the types of things that happen with swinging kitchen doors and small kitchens.  Obviously, every time someone goes through the door, it's going to create a big problem.  Then, of course, Ben's BFF Larry stops by for a file.  A file?  Really?  Ok writers, lets lay it on the table.  You were sitting around in the room- the show runner scribbled "get all four characters to Kate's apartment" on the white board as your assignment for the day.  But also, it was 10cent wing night, so you put your heads together and thought "what do lawyers do?  we don't know, but we bet files are involved!"  So you decided they had to exchange a file, in person, and it couldn't possibly wait; it was probably a murder trial file.   Computers?  Email?  Well, sure, that's how most people exchange information these days, but these two guys are classic.  So you wrote the most ridiculous conceit you could think of just to get out of the room and gorge yourselves on cheap wings and beer, didn't you?  It's ok, I understand.  Wings are good, and most people probably wouldn't notice anyway.
     So, now, all four of them are at Kate's, interrupting their supposed-to-be-romantic setting-the-tone first date.  Connie and Larry are arguing, because that's what they do.  They are actually funny; Judy Greer and Tyler Labine are fun to watch and make their verbal sparring matches interesting.  They take their supporting always-the-best-friend roles and bring them to the next level.  Them, I like.
     There's some nonsense about Kate caring about Connie being stood up and Ben acts like the nice guy, and has apparently made the fastest romantic dinner ever.  A guy with an iguana shows up (Martin Starr from Freaks and Greeks and Party Down) for more kerfuffle.  Ben gets so worked up he puts his foot down and declares he's taking Kate out for a real date.  She agrees.  This is ridiculous, and I now think being a property manager (what she says her job is) is a front for something because she clearly doesn't actually have to do the work she said she had to do.  It's only been about 5 hours since she first said she couldn't go out.  Now she's even further behind, but she's so overcome with romance, the half-assed job she's sure to do now is totally worth it.  My eyes almost got stuck in the back of my head from the massive roll they did.  Normally I hate when actors are compared to their previous characters, but the thing is, Sarah Chalke was great as neurotic Dr. Eliot Reed.  Part of the reason I tuned in was because of Sarah Chalke.  Anybody can be sweet, it takes a talent to balance the neurotic and the sweet, and come out awesome.  Cut the sweet shit, Sarah.
     Five seconds after Kate gives up on her work, the door gag comes back and Ben gets knocked out.  Wee woo wee woo, we're at the hospital.  Ha ha, funny first date, we end up at the hospital.  The patient in the other bed makes a comment about the first date setting the tone, and I still don't think it's a thing, just a conceit put in by the writers to explain, well, nothing really.
     I possibly drifted off somewhere during the 22 minute show.  It's not terrible, and I really want it to get better.  Larry and Connie are good characters, and I keep hoping that the show is actually about them and there'll be a switch about episode 5 where the titular mad love is actually between them, and Ben and Kate are forced to endure being friends with a couple who should be divorced.  But if that's not the case by mid-March, I will forget this show exists.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sick and Tired

     I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I'm not actually sick, except that I'm so tired all the time, I feel like I should probably be sick.  There's no other good explanation.  I was attempting to go to bed earlier in hopes of getting more sleep and thereby not feeling so tired; it didn't work.
     It's been almost an entire 36 hours and I'd like to retract everything I said about becoming a different person.  The sentiment of it being hard is still true, but my desire to do it has seriously waned.  I think I'll still try to stop biting my nails.  And maybe I'll moisturize more.  But the rest of it is bullshit. 
     I suppose baby steps are the answer, but right now, I'm not concerned with the answer.  Also, there is a fine line between different and better.  I was careful to not say I was trying to become a better person- that's not really true.  Plus, better is relative.  In this case, different is more objective.  If there is something I was doing before, but I'm not doing it anymore, then it is different. 
     So, with the offer of a few chocolate covered pretzels and an overwhelming desire for burritos and coffee, I'm going back to my old life.  Where I wasn't sick all that often, and I was tired for a damn good reason. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I Put Pickles on My Salad

     Trying to become a different person is hard.  I decided not too long ago that this is precisely what I wanted to do- become a different person.  Or perhaps more accurately, a different version of myself.  I don't want to be unrecognizable with a different name and personality, but I'd like to be different. 
     For example, I don't want to be a nail biter any more.  It's a disgusting habit.  It's a habit that probably started as soon as I got nails, and nothing anyone ever did deterred it.   I had sort of assumed it was a habit one grew out of, so I never tried hard to break it.  And now it is so ingrained in me that I can't stop.  Now I oscillate between not noticing it, and really enjoying it.  It's sick.   But I finally got sick and tired of having hands that looked like they belonged to an adolescent boy, so I've decided to stop.  But it's tricky to stop, because it's a habit.  A very long habit that I've spent years cultivating.  And now I want to change it.  It's hard.
      There are a handful of other things I would like to change.  My intent is to make a slow transition,  first to help the changes stick, and also, so I don't scare people I know.  I think my coworkers would freak out if I showed up on a Monday with bright white teeth, long finger nails, and slutty boots.  Well, I wouldn't wear slutty boots- it was an example used to illustrate a possible change in wardrobe.
      I like the idea of eating better too.  I don't like actually doing it though.  I'm mostly after the end results of being slimmer and feeling better in general, and regularity.  But the process can suck sometimes.  And it's how I ended up getting pickles on my salad.  We made a trek over to Subway, and I decided to be smart and get a salad.  Subway at 11am is incredibly stressful.  It became my turn and all I could say was "all the vegetables except jalapeƱos."   The Sandwich Artist did exactly what I asked for.  And then when I got back to office I thought about it a little more.  Pickles don't belong on a salad.  Both people I mentioned this to countered with the fact they like pickles.  Hell, I like pickles too- but not on a salad.  That's weird.
      Trying to become a different person is hard, and it's a slow process that involved paying closer attention to things.  Like when your hands are in your mouth, and when pickles are an option.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

Self Referential

     They say no man is an island, but we can sure as hell try, can't we?  I spend a lot of my time referring back to things I've said and done, expecting people to remember that I've said or done those things.  Most people don't, because a) that is super ego-maniacal of me, b) it wasn't that memorable, and c) they are purely focused on themselves.
     If you read ~M's blog every day, like I do, you saw her post about the Dead Island trailer.  Interest in this piqued because of twitter and however the twitter universe causes such things to trend.  Admittedly, I saw the words Dead Island over on the trending portion of twitter, but I didn't try to find out what it was because I usually understand so little of what's trending anyway.  Luckily, ~M filled me in.  She gave me a brief review before I watched it, summing it up as "cool, but also sad."
     Hours later, I was talking to Mary again, about a completely different topic.  It was sad, and I agreed; I stated it was "like Dead Island sad."  This amused me.  I want it to be something people say.  I like to qualify things in this manner, to put qualifiers in what should be a quantified scale- on a scale from 1 to Dead Island, how sad was it?  Dead Island sad.  (Regarding hunger: On a scale from 1 to Ravenous, I'm Guy Pearce.)
     Of course, this phrase will never take off.  Neither I or the Dead Island trailer have the type of following to make this a colloquialism.  I'll keep using it, however, and field the weird looks from friends and coworkers as I explain the origin of the whole thing.  Their eyes will surely glass over during the explanation, due to those three earlier mentioned reasons, but perhaps persistence will pay off.
     A few months ago, I wrote about the mysteries of my new climate- mid-way through that post I said "Where the hell do I live? Venus?"  This morning I was listening to the weather, and I heard the high for the day was going to be 73 degrees, followed by a mild weekend, and a wintry-mix on Tuesday.  I said, yet again, "where the hell do I live? Venus?" 
       Experts say that referring to things that happened earlier is somehow pleasing to the brain.  A concept that is known as a call-back, it's where we remember what is said earlier, and even if it wasn't really that funny, the fact that we're bringing it back up can make it funny, and bringing it back up a third time will make it hilarious.  Dead Island hilarious.  I crack myself up.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Crack as a Social Drug

     I realize this will post a few days after the news was relevant, but I feel the need to go after it anyway.  I don't like to pay attention to Charlie Sheen, but sometimes, you can't avoid it.  So that was the situation- I was at the gym with no power to change the channel of the 4 TVs in front of me, and Charlie Sheen's interview came on.
     Another point I'd like to make is that I know virtually nothing about drugs.  I don't really know the effects different drugs have on a person, the different forms of drugs, the delivery methods, et al.  I had to Google search slang terms for crystal meth for a short script I wrote.  I get all my information about drugs from television and movies, and of course from Google.
     So, those things in perspective: I don't pay attention to Charlie Sheen and I don't understand drugs.  He had this to say in his interview:
Stay away from the crack, which I think is pretty good advice ... unless you can manage it socially ... if you can manage it socially, then go for it, but not a lot of people can. 

The interviewer (Dan Patrick) asked Charlie if he thought he could handle it socially, and Charlie admits that yes he did, but it blew up in his face.
     You know what types of things blow up in my face, Charlie?  When I try to cook too many dishes at once and I end up ruining them all.  Or when I try to make plans with multiple people on the same day and the timing doesn't work out and they all find me out and I look like a jerk for having to stand someone up.  Managing crack socially?  That blew up in your face?  Of course it did.  It's fucking crack. 
     According to Wikipedia (the filters at work blocked, crack cocaine is the freebase form of cocaine that can be smoked. It may also be termed rock, hard, iron, cavvy, base, or just crack.  So I'm to believe that some people are able to just hang out with a few friends and smoke a little bit of crack socially?  Like how college kids smoke clove cigarettes when they're drinking with their friends, but are otherwise totally against smoking?  Crack is like that, Charlie?  The strong ones are able to limit  their usage to  purely social gatherings, like Super Bowl parties and bar mitzvahs, but they stay clean when they're at work and near their families.  Your problem is that you weren't able to handle it socially, so when it "blew up in your face" and started affecting your work, you wore some sort of crack patch and went through the three steps in about 2 days and now you're magically ready and see the errors of your ways? 
     According to later on in the Wikipedia article, that's not really how crack works.   I've heard of social drugs before, and I kind of understand the idea.  Usually people talk about things like marijuana, opiates maybe, possibly ecstasy.   Again, I don't know a lot about drugs, but I'm thinking of things I've heard that when you put the word baby after it, doesn't actually mean anything.  Pot-baby?  Not a thing.  Opiate-baby?  Nope.  Ecstasy-baby?  Nada.  Crack-baby?  Oh, that's some shit man. 
     People don't do crack socially.  That's messed up, Charlie Sheen.  If the drugs don't kill you, I hope Chuck Lorre does, in a group murder-suicide type ordeal.  Mostly, I hope your show gets canceled.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

World's Thinnest Argument

     I don't watch the Grammy's because I think it's a ridiculous awards show.  I used to watch, when I was a kid, and I thought the Grammy's meant something like the Oscars did.  I understood that the Oscars were giving awards to films that were a cut above the rest, and I thought that's what the Grammy's were doing too.  And then I started paying attention.  I was broadening my musical tastes, letting more diverse sounds into my repertoire, and really appreciating all that the music industry had to offer.
     As more alt bands started to fill my shelves and iPod, the more disconnected I became from the Grammy's.  I remember watching a Grammy's in the mid-nineties when country was all the rage.  I had a few country albums, and I knew the nominees.  That year's Grammy's were a repeat of that years Country Music Awards and/or American Country Awards or the American Music Awards- they have a lot of awards shows.  Then Eminem got really popular and the Grammy's were a showcase for thugs and a few left over country acts.  I remember the last Grammy awards I watched- I made a vow after it was over to never watch it again.
     It was clear the award was just about that very moment.  It was the equivalent of calling my mom's meatloaf the best meat-based loaf of that evenings dinner.  It was nice to hear, but it didn't mean anything in the long run.  I resented the Grammy's for not recognizing the artists I listened to.  And even though Lucinda Williams did win a few Grammy's, it wasn't on the televised portion, because apparently nobody wants to see that.  I used to think she should get all the Grammy's, maybe share a few with Ryan Adams, and give a couple to Death Cab for Cutie.  Then I realized they were too good for the Grammy's.  Best meat-based loaf of the evening was not good enough for these awesome musicians.
     The one bit that made me regret not tuning in this year was the Bob Dylan/Mumford&Sons/Avett Brothers performance.  I would have loved to see that- I really enjoy all three of those.  I attempted to watch a highlight reel from one of those vapid Hollywood shows, but they didn't even mention it.  They spent several minutes talking about Justin Beiber, but had no time for Bob fucking Dylan.  Which brings me to the title of the post.
     Just because you've never heard of something doesn't mean it's not a valid thing.  It is, in fact, the world's thinnest argument.  "Are they any good?"  "Well, I've never heard of them."  Ah yes, well then.  This argument used to happen a lot in my TV Comedy class also, where I had at least 5 - 7 years on every student, and any reference made to the 80's garnered a "Well, I've never heard of them, so they must not be culturally significant."
     I first fell in love with Arcade Fire the summer of 2007.  I thought I was behind because I had to catch up with their second album.  It was fantastic- mind blowing actually.  They are the band that I go too when I'm not quite thinking clearly, and my creative juices aren't flowing properly.  I put on a little Neon Bible or Funeral really loud, and slam my feet on the ground to the beat, and somehow I am enlightened.  The release of The Suburbs was a great day for me.  I had it on my calendar- I listened over and over and went to see them live two weekends later.  I couldn't tell enough people about it.  In my world, they were huge, and everyone knew who these guys were.
     My disdain for the Grammy's started to soften when I heard 1. about that Dylan/Mumford&Sons/Avett Brothers thing, and 2. when Arcade Fire won for Album of the Year.  It seemed as thought they finally got something right.  And then the backlash.
     I shouldn't care about the backlash because I'm a grown-ass woman and others opinions don't mean that much to me.  And it's true, they don't, but I care in a completely different way.  I care because it makes me weep a bit for society.  The general sentiment was that most people hadn't heard of Arcade Fire and that other artists, like Eminem and Lady Gaga had been robbed.  The outrage very much stated "how could these guys win?  I've never heard of them."  It's the one thing I think he Grammy's have gotten right in the past 15 years, and it's the bit so many people are outraged by.
     I barely have a point here.  I wonder if winning the Grammy will actually hurt Arcade Fire, because they were awesome to people like me who generally turn a blind eye to anything the Grammy's award.  The idiots who drool over the Lady Gagas and Rhiannas at the Grammy's are not the same people who validate Arcade Fire as quality music.  If anything, it speaks to Arcade Fire's integrity and just-damn-goodness that you haven't heard of them.  So please, tell me what else you haven't heard of it so I can put it at the top of my list.
     You're vapid, and I hate you.  Arcade Fire rules.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Holidays and Me

     A few people said "Happy Valentine's Day" to me yesterday, and it was kind of them to do so, but mostly unnecessary.  My mom sent a short email to us kids; a lovely thought that spawned a hilarious email battle of the wits amongst us.  I read somewhere that a lot of folks were celebrating over the weekend, and I was glad for that, because it meant fewer people inquiring about my V-day plans.  Usually, when the question comes up, I just shrug and ensure I've even the impression of nonchalance.   I also say that holidays don't really mean that much to me.
     I actually believe that for a moment when I say it- holidays aren't important to me.  Valentine's Day, Christmas, Easter.  Pfft.  I snub my nose in their general direction.  But then I start to think about all those other holidays, maybe the ones others aren't as impressed by, and how much I love those, and I realize how far off base I am with my own assessment of myself.
     Presidents' Day is coming up, and I am fully looking forward to it.  It's a federal holiday, so I get the day off of work.  And the banks are closed, and other federal agencies.  There might not be a lot of traditional celebrating, but it's great to have a day to slow down in the middle of February.  Plus, this year, I'm taking a weekend get away to Boston- a Presidents' Day Weekend Vacation!  I even made a play list for it, it's that important.
     In March, of course, there's St. Patrick's Day.  It's not a federal holiday, however, March 17th was a local holiday in Boston.  Schools were closed, there was no mail, and there were parades.  I don't actually like parades myself, but I can recognize their significance in commemorating an event- if there's a parade, it was important.  I like St. Patrick's Day for a lot of the same reasons some people hate it- the drunken debauchery.  We dress up in green and pretend to be Irish and perpetuate negative stereotypes.  Wooo!
     Memorial Day and Labor Day are great as the unofficial start and finish summer.  Most importantly, these are also federal holidays, which means three day weekends, weekend get-a-ways, and more play lists.  And of course there's the mother of all summer holidays- the Fourth of July.
     Man I love the Fourth of July.  I love celebrating my country.  There's usually bar-be-cue, and then there's the fireworks.  I love fireworks.  The one thing I'll fight crowds for is fireworks.  Fireworks!   
     Halloween is pretty cool.  I haven't done anything for Halloween the past few years, but I like it as a holiday.  I like the idea of it, and again, as much as I don't like parades, I'm glad there is a parade in NYC for Halloween.  It's a holiday that revolves mostly around candy and that's a cause I can really get behind.
     Thanksgiving is the best holiday ever.  Hands down, it's my favorite.  The food and the booze and more food, and friends, and booze.  It's the best.  For me, Thanksgiving lasts for four days.  I'm being lulled into a turkey coma just thinking about it.
     I also really like New Year's Eve, mostly for the fireworks and the champagne.  I don't get behind the idea of a fresh start so much,  but I do like to say "this is our year!" right after the ball drops.  And yes, I like to watch the ball drop.
     I suppose, to sum up, I'll take the holidays involving an inordinate amount of food (or candy), booze,  and fireworks.  To the rest, I say Good Day to You, Sir.

Monday, February 14, 2011

What Dreams May Come Part II

     Sometimes I dream that I have woken up, gotten out of bed, and gotten ready for work.  I take a shower, I get dressed, and I make coffee.  I have a wonderful morning.  The idea sinks pretty far into my brain.  And then the alarm goes off,  I'm startled awake, my eyes pop open, and I reale I am still in bed, having probably slept in, and there is no coffee.  That is depressing. 
     It also seems to be a sneaky, pointless dream.  When I start to think about how powerful our subconsciouses are and what mysteries can exist within dreams, I start to believe mine is making fun of me.  It's taunting me.  It's not even taking bits from the past and weaving them into my morning experience.  It's not giving me a different life, with maybe a husband and kids and a large ranch somewhere in the middle of the country.  Or a studio apartment in NYC where I'm a bit poor but living my dream.  It's my exact house.  I'm in my exact pajamas.  I'm doing things as they are normally done.  Hell, even the dishes in the sink are the same ones that were there the night before.  It's just being mean.  My subconscious wants to show me how much better mornings would be if I woke up, but not enough to just wake me the hell up.
     This is also a bit of a recurring dream, except that it's not exactly the same each time.  The idea is the same though- I've gotten up and started my day.  But the details are different, because they seem to actually reflect the state of things at the time.  The season is correct, the city I'm in is correct; all of the details are in their place.  It's like I've been incepted with the idea of being a morning person.  But then the dream never comes true, because I don't wake up in time.  Dun-dun-dun. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Playlists Are Important

     For some reason there is a negative connotation associated with that guy who makes a playlist for everything.  A mixed tape, a mixed CD, a playlist- each generation has their thing and there is always that person who thinks it's cool to make it.  I am that guy.
     I'm lucky enough to have friends who support this habit, and when I give them a CD or a playlist, they accept it with genuine enthusiasm.  Five years ago when I lived in South Carolina, I made a two disc set titled "Low Country Mix" for a friend.  She still listens to it.  I'm that good at making mixes.
     There is an art to it.  I generally subscribe to the High Fidelity rules of mix tape/CD/playlist making.  (There is also a Wiki-how page with similar rules.)  I don't just throw ten songs I like on a mix and hit go.  I think about it, I mull it over, I listen and relisten.  I'm making the mix for a reason- maybe for a person's birthday, a long car trip, or a holiday/vacation event.  I think about themes and rhythms.  And most importantly, I think about the order of the songs.
     The order is important.  The order is what takes you on the journey.  If it's correct, you hardly notice it.  The songs flow seamlessly from one to another, carrying you along from your dirt road out of town to the lights of the big city.  When it's wrong, it's jarring.  When one song fades out and then BOOM, the slamming drums of another begin, you're out of the moment.  You're thinking about the order, and probably about how stupid the person is who made the mix. 
     All of this is to bring up the worst thing that happened yesterday.  I was attempting to make a mix for my impending Presidents Day Weekend Extravaganza.  The girls are getting back together for a three day weekend of drinks, comedy, opera, chili, and more drinks.  Those are also essentially the themes for the weekend.  So I went to GrooveShark, typically a wonderful music streaming site that allows the creation and sharing of playlists.  I went after all the songs with the aforementioned themes and went to work.  It was shaping up nicely- it was about as long as the plane ride to Boston would be, so perfect.  Then, a combination of user errors, outdated web browsers, and bad luck caused the most terrible thing to happen to playlists.  I could not rearrange the order of the songs.  I almost cried.  I considered smashing the computer.  I was defeated. 
     So the next step is to just make the playlist on yee old iTunes and enjoy it whilst we sit around the fireplace eating chili and talking about Great Books. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mr. Sunshine: A Review.

     I liked it.  I went in with high expectations and slight predisposition to liking it, so maybe I'm not looking at it with enough of a critical eye.  But frankly my soul is growing weary from constant criticism of everything.  (Broad generalization?  Yes.  Accurate?  Also yes.)
     The review over on Pajiba tried to make the point that the characters were so underdeveloped the reviewer couldn't remember Andrea Ander's characters name with a gun to his head.  It's Alice, she's the marketing director, and she's been seeing Ben for 5 months.  And I watched it late at night, tired and drinking wine while eating Oreos.  I don't think it was the shows fault you don't remember the character's lives, reviewer.  I think they were developed just fine.  It is a pilot after all, and you have to leave room for development throughout the series. 
     Of course the title is ironic, but also, it's apropos.  I feel like everyone who brings up the title being ironic is missing the fact that his character is the Director of Operations for the Sunshine Center.  He runs the g-d Sunshine Center (maybe it's the Sunshine Arena); he's in charge of it.  If something happens at the Sunshine Center, he's running it- that makes him Mr. Sunshine.
     I really liked the juxtaposition of Ben's surely/sardonic attitude with the overly optimistic or drug-addled attitude of the other characters.  Just looking at Nate Torrence's face cracks me up.  And Allison Janney basically shits gold.  She's right about why clowns are scary- "Are they happy?  Are they sad?  And their pockets are too large," and the musical number was great.  I'm glad they paid off all the set up about the song with the actual song.
      In short, it was a comedy, and it made me laugh, so I think it's a winner.  I will watch it.   

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Things You Can't Talk About

     I was thinking about this idea all day yesterday, and then again this morning.  I considered just putting the title of the post up and leaving the post blank.  Ha!  The idea runs parallel to the words you don't hear anymore and the I forgot where I was for a second posts from a while back.   Because along with words you shouldn't say whilst at work, because it's work, there are just topics that you shouldn't talk about.  Most of them are obvious- the three taboos: politics, religion, and sex.  But then there are also things that are just off limits pretty much all of the time.  They're just too personal, too embarrassing, or too gross.  Or often all three.
     It could be something simple- maybe you finally blew your nose hard enough to get every last bit of bloody snot out of there.  You're clear and breathing better than ever.  It feels great.  But it's not really something you can talk about.  Maybe you can tell your partner, sig other, or very BFF.  A co-worker would be out of the question, and that type if info would probably kill a fledging relationship, romantic or otherwise.  So you feel great, but you can't really tell people why; that's sad.
     Also, on the flip side, sometimes you don't feel great, and people are concerned, but the thing that has brought about the not-greatness falls into that personal, gross, and/or embarrassing category.  Maybe you did something weird while shaving, your dinner consisted of Oreos and red wine, or you ran out of something you should never run out of and embarrassing hysterical hijinks ensued.  I'm mentioned a few tamer things to set the mood, but when you start ramping these things up, they quickly devolve into things you just cannot talk about.  I've often told close friends of my dinners of Oreos and red wine- that one isn't terrible, but the other two are just not great topics of conversation.  You can't be honest with concerned co-workers when they ask about your particularly haggard appearance.  You have to tell them "oh, I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed" rather than the truth- you woke up on the foot of your bed wrapped up like a mummy in blankets surrounded by empty wine bottles and covered in what you really hope is chocolate, but the details are hazy.  
     Sometimes I think about how liberating it would be to just be frank with people all of the time. 
Wow, you're in a good mood.
Yeah, I just had a BM the size of my arm.  I feel great. 
Then I consider how liberating it would be to lose my job and all of my friends over such frankness.  That's not the good kind of liberating.  There are just some things that, no matter how close you think you are to someone, you probably shouldn't talk about.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Not Listening

     This listening assignment is harder than I thought it would be.  The first tough part is remembering to do it.  As I was hurrying around the house this morning trying to get ready for work, I heard the news report about the metro and something wonky going on.  And then I heard the word sex-calators.  The sex-calators were broken all throughout the Metro system.  This gave me pause and made me realize I was not actually listening to the news report.  Sex-calators aren't real things; if they were,  I have to believe that people would have serious issues with them. 
      First, I imagine a certain group of people protesting them when they were being installed.  There would be demonstrations about decency and family and other garbage like that.  Secondly, once they were installed, 1. of course they would break all the time, and 2. people would get really pissed when they broke.  And not just write a letter to Mr. Sarles pissed, but burn the whole system down kind of pissed.  Of course the destruction of the system would only further delay the repair of the sex-calators, angering them even more when they realized what they've done. 
     I spent a little bit of time imagining what a sex-calator would look like.  It's not pretty- mostly functional, because it still has to get you off out of the metro system.  Or in, I suppose- this description has nowhere to go but down.  (A potential slogan for the sex-calator!  Ride the sex-calator, when you have nowhere to go but down.
     So yeah, listening is important.  But sometimes, thinking about what you thought you heard is good too. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

Listening: An Exercise

     My assignment for this week is to listen.  It seems simple enough, but with most things that are doled out as assignments, there's more to it than meets the eye (or ear).  First, it means removing my ear buds- not something I enjoy doing while on public transportation.  It turns out I don't like listening to other people, but listening to other people is a great way to learn about them.
      I admit I had briefly forgotten about this assignment and didn't spend time listening at the grocery store.  That may have been self preservation.  It struck me this morning though, when I overheard a conversation that thrust me into the moment and I remembered I was supposed to be listening, because I was supposed to hear moments like this.
      I was waiting for the elevator to go to my 8th floor office.  The door opened, and there were already two men inside.  I stepped inside, along with another gentleman who was waiting.  I pressed 8.  The door started to close and I saw a woman approach.  I stuck my arm out to stop the door so she could get on.  She gave me the mildly appreciative nod and pressed 7.  4 and 6 were already lit up.  I had taken my ear buds out at this point and was wrapping them around my iPod.  Apparently someone to the right of me recognized the woman.  I ascertained from the ID card hanging from his pocket his name was Greg.  I don't remember her name now; I'll call her Julia.
Greg: Good Morning Julia.
Julia is slightly confused, and looks around the now crowded elevator.
Julia: Oh, hello.  Good morning.
She waits just a second, and then-
Julia: Congratulations.
And then Greg puts on his best Eeyore impression.
Greg: Yeah.

What?  Yeah?  She says Congratulations and you say Yeah?  And not only do you say yeah, but you say it in the most depressing manner possible.  Was she congratulating you on your failed suicide?  I say, even if you're not happy about whatever someone is congratulating you for, notice the fact that you're in an elevator with three strangers, and they now think you're a complete dick.
     By now we were at the 4th floor and someone got off the elevator.
     Greg: What are you here for?
     Julia: A meeting, what else?
     Greg: For us?
     Julia: I'll get off with you and talk to you for a moment.

Yep, weird.  The elevator stops at the 6th floor and they both get off.  Then I hear Julia say "actually, no."  The fact that I overheard her means either she wasn't concerned about me knowing this information- (so why wait to say it?), or she thought there was some sort of invisible barrier on the elevator that allows only those inside to hear what's happening inside, regardless of the position of the door. The door closed and I got to make a superfluous stop at the 7th floor- apparently where Julia's meeting was. 
      I have a few theories about this conversation, and their relationship.  I think Julia and Greg and might be the stars of my next sketch, "Congratulations on your failed suicide attempt." 

Friday, February 4, 2011

One Hundred

     Initially my post was going to be about how today is Friday, and how I hadn't looked this forward to the weekend since last Friday.  Then as I was about to enter the posting portion of this whole thing, I noticed the post counter was at 99.  Wow.  That means this would be the 100th, and I couldn't just let that pass without noting it.
     Except now that I've brought it up, it feels like it's just hanging out there, and I'm about to let it down.  This should be some sort of seminal moment for Oliver, yet I don't actually have anything reflective to say.  It feels like I should give a toast at Oliver's anniversary, and I'm the joker left standing with the microphone who makes one bad joke, says "uh, congrats man, you're the best," and then drunkenly walks away leaving the audience stunned in silence. 
     Oliver hasn't had a lot of focus, but that was part of the idea.  I never wanted to have to explain why t the day's post was off topic.  If I felt so compelled to get my panties a little wound up and talk about collective morality, or I wanted to put down my hometown, I could.  At the same time, I could fill Oliver up with movie and TV reviews, anecdotes about work, and fun stories about my mother.
     At one point in the post I originally had planned, I think I would have mentioned how I have an irrational hatred of the sound of heels across tile.  It comes to mind as people clickity-clack across the small linoleum portion of the floor between the main office and my desk.  On one hand it does give me a heads-up that someone is on the way, so I am less likely to be frightened by them.  On the other hand, I just don't like the sound.  It's on of those things that shouldn't bother me as much as it does.  Similarly to broken escalators.  I know the argument- broken escalators are just stairs.  Fine.  Except they're not.
      Anyway, Happy Anniversary Oliver.  It's been a pleasure having you around.  It may be a cliche anniversary thing to say, but "here's to a great 100 posts, and I hope to see at least 100 more!"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Short Month with a lot of Events

     Ah February.  Apparently because it has so few days, we feel obligated to honor it with observations and extra holidays.  There's Valentine's Day, which some say is real and celebrates the day Saint Valentine did something with snakes or whatnot, but I think it's fake.
     There's Groundhog Day.  He didn't see his shadow this year so that means Spring comes early, I think.  Also, it's a fine film.
     There is also Presidents Day, which is a national holiday, so I get a three day weekend.  Yay presidents!
     Also, the Super Bowl is in February.  It wasn't always in February, but it is now.  People more into sports than I am probably know why.  I probably won't be watching the game, but if I can find a place with cheap wings and beer, I may glance over at it and cheer for whoever is winning at the time. 
     According to Dunkin Donuts, February is National Chocolate Month.  This feels wrong, mostly because, according to the Library of Congress, it's National Black History Month.  I now think Dunkin Donuts is racist. 
     February is also $5 footlong month at Subway.  Mmmm.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ice is Nice

     As news of the looming winter storms came in, and OPM warnings started trickling in my inbox, my hopes were reaching fever pitch.   Snow, ice, and sleet were all in the forecast, and it was made clear it was coming at a rate so fierce, we were not going to be able to handle it.  It would be safest for everyone to stay inside.   Chances were most people would be losing power, and subsequently their minds.
     I couldn't be more excited.  I had smartly gone grocery shopping the day before- early enough the panic hadn't set in, and I was sure to get foods in jars, and some booze.  Also rice.  Rice and wine can get you through any snow storm. 
     I was ready with a lot of movies to watch so that if I didn't lose my power, I'd have the day set. (The last three instances of district wide power outages, I was not affected.  Maybe my landlord has a generator.)  I also had a few books ready to read, and of course, my best pajama and blanket set.  Nothing like a good ice storm to catch up on zzz with a 10 hour nap.
     This went on for two days.  Two days worth of news warning of eminent doom- shards of ice falling from the sky, snow piling up as high as buildings, temperatures so low large bodies of water would freeze.  Stay inside!  Die peacefully in your home under blankets!  Don't risk the elements!
     I woke up to find none if it was true.  I peered out my window with the hopes of seeing everything covered in ice and snow, kind of like The Day After Tomorrow or the Fortress of Solitude.  I was so disappointed, kind of like when watching The Day After Tomorrow.  And what's worse, the high today is fifty-five degrees.  Come on weather, when you promise an ice storm, don't deliver a balmy spring day.  Get it straight.  You've taken away my dream of another snow day. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A 30 Second Emotional Roller Coaster Ride

     A few days ago I ordered some DVDs (Spring Breakdown among them) from Amazon and they were scheduled to arrive today.  While at work, I kind of forgot, but then as I walked closer and closer to my house, I remembered, and I nearly ran home.  I didn't run, because of the snow and ice and because I don't like running if I'm not being chased.  But I was excited to get my movies.  As I approached my front door I experienced the wildest emotional roller coaster to be had in 30 seconds.
     I walked up to the door and I saw the yellow UPS sticker indicating they had been there.  I was sad as I wished they could just leave the packages.  I got really sad.
     Then I approached the door and read the sticker.  It read "In your absence your package was left under the mailbox."  I got really happy.
    Then I looked under the mailbox and nothing was there.  I got really sad.
    Then I peered through the door I was opening towards the lobby and saw the package.  A neighbor and brought it inside and left it on the steps.  I was really really happy.

     If I were graph my emotions as a function of time, it would look like this:

That is basically a roller coaster.  An emotional roller coaster. 

Last Night's Dinner: A Review.

     It started off as a pretty simple conceit- grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup.  Instead of regular old tomato soup (which I do not like), I had Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper soup.  That stuff is good.  Some Arnold's 100% wheat bread and two thick slices of sharp cheddar cheese to make a gooey perfectly grilled cheese sandwich.  Man, that was a good dinner; I give it an A.