Friday, July 29, 2011

Pesky Ambitions

     I am quite pleased that today is Friday.  I was planning out the weekend and it turns out, I don't have much on the agenda.  I was going to clean out my storage unit, but it's supposed to be oppressive again, so I'll skip sitting in a hot metal box going through boxes of the past. 
      "Hm, wow.  What should I do?  A movie marathon?  Watch tons of TV?  Read a book?  Gosh.  The world is my oyster, I guess.  Maybe I'll take a nap."  And then I remembered- I have ambitions!  I have goals!  I have a list of things I want to be when I grow up.  Maybe, just maybe I should work on that.  I should write a few jokes, revisit an old script that needs some work, and write a few sketches.  At a minimum.  Man oh man, these ambitions really get in the way of lazy weekends. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

When I say Rafiki, I mean Crazy

     Since when does "yes, I can help you put books in boxes" translate to "I am willing to adopt your political views and fight a losing fight?"  I was going to write about this yesterday, but I wanted to be sensitive to the issue.  I was concerned that my rant would be misinterpreted, and in the case where someone who didn't know who the hell I was might be Googling my name to find out, I didn't want this to be the first thing they saw.  Now, I don't care.  I'm done being sensitive.  I was trying to be nice.  Think back to the scene in When Harry Met Sally when Bruno says he thought Harry liked the wagon wheel coffee table.  "I was being NICE!"  That's all.  I was just trying to be nice. 
     The back story: I'm not sure if I've mentioned that my improv classes take place in a schoolhouse - The Children's Studio School.  It's a charter school; it's a terrible charter school where young children are taught about life through art.  My first impression upon entering the school was "my mother would've never let me go here."  Well, the school lost its charter.  I don't know how long ago, but as far as I can tell, at least since before I've been taking classes ( least 6 months).
     Also, it looked like they lost their charter  in the middle of making some of these art projects.  Glue still pouring from the spout and the Mayor walked in to shut it down style.  I've been bothered for months by the horribly inaccurate solar system model they have on the wall.  The planets aren't in the right order, they're not even close to being to scale; it's awful. 
      So, about a week or so ago, the Managing Director of WIT sent out an email with a bunch of information on it.  One of those pieces of info was about the school closing down and how they needed volunteers to help them pack up the school.
      I know I've taken advantage of the school space, using it for extra practices when we weren't really supposed to be, etc.  And I'm not doing much, and I've been given the sage piece of advice in the past that if an organization you're a part of needs help moving boxes, just do it.  It can't hurt.  So I replied to the email saying I had some time; what kind of help did they need? 
     I finally heard back Tuesday night, from the crazy-pants woman in charge.  She was hoping I'd be available all day.  She asked for my phone number and if I was good at organizing papers.  I replied with my phone number and told her I was available in the evenings, after 4:30, and on the weekends if that was still helpful.
     She called me the next morning.  Normally I would have let it go to voicemail, but I forgot to turn my ringer off and I wasn't doing anything else anyway, so I answered.  Then the crazy floodgates opened.  They have done zero prep work for moving their shit out of the school because they were holding out on not losing the charter.  Now it looks like the fire marshal is coming down sometime that afternoon to really really shut them down.  She said she would still really appreciate my help; nobody else has offered and any help is appreciated.  I told her I could come down after work.  Then she asked if I was a writer, because she wanted to write a letter to the Mayor telling him that up until now, she hadn't gone to the press, but if the fire marshal comes to kick them out, she would.  She asked if I could write it.  She needed help making the letter respectful yet forceful.  To be honest, it is something I could do if I knew one damn thing about what she was talking about.  Again, this is the first time I've ever spoken to this woman.  She has no idea who I am, I don't know her.  As far as I can tell, she just wants to teach kids about feelings and colors. 
     I very diplomatically got out of it saying I wouldn't have time to get my work done and do such a quick turn around for such an important letter.  She was understanding, but still crazy.  I don't actually think she's homicidal crazy, but maybe crazy in that fun way where she doesn't see why people would be so upset when their kids can't identify plants and numbers. 
     I went to the schoolhouse after work.  She let me in and started in immediately about the letter again.  I described her later to Mary as "Rafiki-from-the-Lion King crazy."  I stand by this description.  Rafiki with dreadlocks.  She described what the letter would say and asked again "is this something you could do?"  Technically, yes, it is something I could do.  Will I do it?  No.  Not at all.  I told her "that's not what I signed up for."  She was taken aback and said I was very blunt and straight-forward.  Good, I'm glad.  I was hoping that was the end of it, but it wasn't.  She accused me of being mean, and I just and I reiterated "I'm just here to help pack boxes.  I have no vested interest in the school."
      Then I packed up boxes of books from the art library.  Sex books.  There were a lot of sex books in this school library.  I'm not a prude, but I would have a hard time sending my kid to a school where Sexercise, The Kama Sutra, and Men in Heat* were in its library.  Another fun fact about packing up the library: they gave me 3 boxes.  Eventually they found more, but clearly their spacial reasoning had been shot to hell by all that damn impressionism.  They still didn't have enough boxes.  I was able to find a few of those file boxes that you assemble.  They actually worked pretty well.  Apparently someone else had also tried this approach but didn't know how to assemble the boxes.  I didn't pick up those boxes; the books *will* fall out of the bottom.
     I left when I had used up all the boxes.  I stuck my head in Rafiki's office to tell her I was leaving.  "Thanks so much.  Can you come back tomorrow?"  "Yeah, sure."  See?  I'm too goddamn nice. 
     If she asks me to write the letter again, I might, but it'll say this:
Dear Mayor,  You're not closing this place down fast enough!  What are you doing for your lunch hour?  Go! Go! Go!
Exhibit A- This book.
Exhibit B- These planets.
Exhibit C- The shitty mixed media projects all over the damn walls.
Burn this to the effing ground.
Kisses!  Nancy
*The book wasn't actually titled Men in Heat.  I don't remember the title, but its contents were black and white photos of naked men doing all kinds of things that I shouldn't describe because this might be considered a family friendly blog.  No?  It's not.  Even so.  The contents would make the title Men in Heat very apropos.
That's what I get for being nice.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Winnie the Pooh and Childhood

     I have a childhood emotional attachment to Winnie the Pooh. This is why I want to see the new Winnie the Pooh film. Winnie the Pooh is very sweet; I think that's why I like it so much. Sometimes when everything gets so damned cynical, myself included, I can remember Winnie the Pooh and be reminded of sweetness.
     On the other hand, there is also this:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Mountain Goats: My New Boyfriends.

     I'm late to this party, but at least I can still get in on it.  A co-worker of mine had actually given me Tallahassee a while ago- could be about two years ago by now.  I think I listened once and I forgot about it.  That might have been the biggest music mistake I've ever made.
     I remembered their name; I claimed I knew who they were if it ever came up.  I was exploring Spotify the other day and came across The Mountain Goats again.  I added them to a playlist.  Then I just kept listening to their three songs over and over.  I then expanded and created a Mountain Goats playlist, with all of their albums on it.  I'm in love with this.  How did I let it go by me?  I feel a fool.
     The song that first hooked me was No Children:

Then, This Year:

(There's also a video for that song you can find on YouTube. It's cool. Check it out.)

And then, the rest of their catalog. For bringing all of The Mountain Goats into my life, I am thankful to Spotify, and I suppose begrudgingly, I'm thankful to Drew, who apparently knew me better than I knew myself.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Louie: A Review.

     It's fucking brilliant.  I love it. 
     I'm one of those bitches who doesn't have cable.  It's not out of principle, but simply an affordability versus uncompromising roommate situation.  Anyway, the fact that I don't have cable means I have to pay extra attention to Hulu to see the most recent episode of Louie.  When the Season 2 premier finally became available, I cleared my day.  (I cleared a half hour.  The show is only a half hour long.)
     The first season was really good.  I would recommend it to everyone.  I was familiar with Louis C.K.'s comedy so I was going in with open arms, and I fully embraced it.  It's a very real yet still hilarious style of comedy.  He says shit like it is, unapologetically.  The style of the show is half his act, and half sitcom style.  I use the term half pretty loosely.  Some of it is his act, performed at the Comedy Cellar, and some of it is in the style of a sitcom.  I've read reviews that compare it to early Seinfeld episodes, but to them I say "fuck you, Seinfeld was never this awesome." 
     Louis C.K. edits his own show.  I think that's fucking awesome.
     If you haven't seen the season 2 premier yet, I don't want to spoil it for you, so the rest of the review will be under here:
Episode Review
The episode opens with Louie brushing his 5-year-old's teeth. It's a bit adorable. She starts talking in her cute 5-year-old voice. And what she says is adorably hurtful, the best being "I love Mommy more than you, so I like it at her place better. I like it here too though. I just like it there better." Louie just keeps brushing. He tells her to spit and rinse and on her way out of the bathroom, he flips her off. That's about right. Kids are assholes. Fuck you little girl.

His nine-year-old is good at stuff, but his five-year-old is shitty at things. This kind of pisses him off. He makes an awesome dinner for his kids; he gives his older kid a mango pop. The younger one gets upset and he tries to explain how life just isn't fair sometimes. It's a valiant effort, but the message isn't getting through. He ends it perfectly by giving the younger daughter candy and telling her to share with her sister.

Enter Louie's sister Gretchen (I think). She's about 7 months pregnant. She hates his ex-wife and they spend some time ex-wife bashing. "No, stop." "But really keep going, right?"

In the middle of the night, Gretchen starts screaming a horrible scream. Louie is paralyzed by fear; he doesn't know what to do. There's knocking at the door. His neighbors are concerned and try to help. He's resistant, but eventually has no choice but to give in. There's a lot of screaming, a lot of chaos, and it turns out it's just gas. "Dude." he says to his sister after they've make a big to-do and gotten every doctor in the ER to help them.

He's made a new friend and he's grateful for his neighbors. "You shouldn't let your sister and her baby die because you are weird with strangers." Ah, so true.

     Sounds awesome, right?  It is.  Watch this show.  And then give it a bunch of awards. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Reenacting Heat Stroke

     This weekend is the anniversary of the Battle of Manassas, more commonly known (by the winners) as The First Battle of Bull Run.  Every year, people reenact the battle.  They go the full nine, on the actual battle grounds, with the muskets and drummer boys and the uniforms.    
     The news this week has been all about the heat wave.  It's been brutal.  It makes me want to vomit.  The heat takes my breath away. 
     I watch the local news for entertainment and the weather, because I'm turning into an old man.  I hear the anchor say "You think being out in the heat is rough, what if you had to do it in a wool uniform?"  My curiosity was piqued for about a nanosecond until I saw they were talking about Civil War Reenactors.  Then I yelled at the TV "You don't HAVE to do that!"
     It is completely ridiculous.  There is no reason to get dressed up in authentic wool uniforms and reenact a bloody battle from a war that they ended up losing anyway.  They want me to feel sorry for them because they're doing this in the heat?  No.  Fuck that.  Go inside, assholes.  You're making fools of yourselves.  The organizers are trying to promote it saying they have cooling tents and water stations at various spots throughout the battle site.  Presumably just like they had during the Civil War.  That the south lost.  Ugh.  Ridiculous.
     They actually want people to watch.  Why would I do this?  If I really wanted to learn about the Battle of Bull Run, I'll pull out The People's History of the United States and read it inside my house, where I have my own cooling tents and unlimited supply of water.   
     "How are you dealing with this heat?" a reporter asks some jackass dressed like General Beauregard.  "I'm drinking plenty of h-two-o.  Lots of water."  Sage advice.  Or, you could just not do it.  You could sit in a room in the library and reenact it with pieces from Risk.
     The government has declared the last few days to be "Black Flag" days.  The weather reports come in red flashes with words like Extreme Heat Warning.  They caution about going outside at all.  It's dangerous for "all people" according to the local news.
      You're Civil War reenactors!  This is not a crucial element; we don't need this to happen.  Why are you doing it?  Some guy claimed it was the least he could do to honor those who also suffered through the heat but who also suffered through the battle.  No, that is not the least you could do.  The least you could do is sit inside and not die of heat stroke.  Someone else claimed it was nice to see history come alive.  The reporter interviewed a woman with a Bluetooth headpiece in her ear.  "I'm a 4th grade teacher, and I teach the Civil War as part of my ciric-lum."  Ah, yes.  That's nice.  Either you're coming to the reenactment because you don't know enough about the Civil War to teach it without seeing it happen in front of you, or you also brought along 25 - 30 4th graders to stand in the heat with you.  Either way, fantastic teaching. 
     I suppose if you want to stand out in heat stroke inducing heat and pretend to shoot at people, that's your business.  But don't you dare try to make me feel sorry for you.  It's your own damn dumb fault you're out there. 
     Clearly, this heat is making me crazy. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Proceed with Caution

     I've been a little careless with my homonyms today.  I was staring out the window while typing so I wasn't really thinking about it.  It was awful though, because I was attempting to complain about something someone had written.  I wrote a note to my friend: "these assholes who right awards are terrible at it."  I hit send too fast.  It was out there.  My friend correctly responded with "hahaha.  Oh, the irony."  I pretty much wanted to die.
     I don't even think that's an incredibly common mistake.  That's one for really dumb people to make- people who actually don't know there are two different words.  That was a head planted firmly in my butt mistake.  I was very embarrassed.  Then, shortly after that, I used the wrong there/they're/their.  I tried to defend it saying I had changed what I was going to say, but it's not a good excuse.  I wanted to give up for the day.  There was nothing more I could do here, so I should just go.
     That was about 9 this morning, and ever since then, I have been writing ever so gingerly.  I don't trust myself anymore.  I can't even send out casual emails.  I'm crippled with fear that Thursday, July 21st, 2011, is the day I forgot how to use homonyms.  Or words at all.

     Also, as a side note, I was thinking about the phrase "head up your ass."  It's something my sister used to say a lot.  She was the first person I had ever heard use it.  It amused me when I first heard it.  I attempted to use contextual clues to figure out what it could possibly mean.  Then I realized it was her go-to insult.  She would accuse her husband of having his head up his ass pretty much all the time.  And maybe that was the case, but there would be things that didn't seem to be indicative of having one's head up one's ass.  For example, when they ran out of paint while painting their house, she blamed it on him having his head up his ass.  It seems like a bit of a leap.  Plus, the paint store isn't far away- just go buy another gallon.  He just didn't get enough.  It's not like he went to the store to buy paint and came back with a kitten.  That might be a case of head-in-assery.  Not buying enough paint?  Eh, small math error.
     She also used to accuse her daughter of having her head up her butt, even when her daughter was quite young.  I think she was probably just 6 and curious and maybe a little weak, and that's why she spilled the bag of dog food all over the kitchen and then proceeded to add water.
     In general, people don't have their headss up their asses as much as my sister thought they did.  I try to look out for this, and make sure I only claim peoples' heads are up their butts when they really seem like they are.  Including my own.  Using right instead of write?  Not paying attention; head in my butt.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Oppresive Weather

     The weather man is using the O word again.  It's gross.  I'm not really cut out for this.  It's so fucking hot, I started saying it was hote.  And then the news radio anchor man was telling us about how we shouldn't use our air conditioning because if we all use it, we'll use up all the power.  He was actually pretty reasonable about it, but initially I was upset about it.  He was going on about how we should conserve power as I was lying in my air conditioned bedroom.  I had the lights off though, so I think I made up for it.
     With the heat index, it's supposed to feel like 115 by Friday.  Why did I move to Venus?  I will be doing many indoor activities from now on.  Probably until about September.  Then I'll go outside for about a week, and then I'll stay in because it'll be too cold.  Ah. 
     It's so fucking hot.  It's hote. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

She May Never Be Consoled, But I'll Try

     We all knew it was inevitable, but we're still torn up about it.  Borders Books and Music is officially closing.  The whole thing; it's locking up its doors and burning all the books.  (It's not burning any books.)  The news reported it would liquidate (I do not know what this means) and, uh, fire all the people who work there.  I was still half asleep while listening to the news.  I heard these words: Borders, liquidation, 11,000, area stores, 500 people out of work.  But, I do know it's true, Borders is closing. 
      I know Mary is pretty upset about it; I'm hoping I can talk her through the pain. 
      The number one store was in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  It was a fine store.  It was on the corner of E. Liberty and State Street.  For the few years I was there, it was icon.  I worked there my senior year of college.  It was the best job I had in college.
     Years before my mother and I had gone into a Borders and I wandered over to the cafe section.  I had asked if they could make me something that was half hot chocolate and half coffee.  I was probably 16 or 17 at the time.  The wonderful barista said she could make me something even better.  I was skeptical, but she guaranteed it.  That was my first mocha and I was hooked.  I had thought it was weird to have a cafe in a bookstore, but now I was a full convert.  A cafe in a bookstore was genuis.
     So it seemed fitting that my last year in college was spent there, at the cafe in Borders.  I don't know if this is still a thing, but at the time, they had fountain beverages.  I used to put shots of espresso in my Coke.  I don't actually recommend it, but it kept me from having to sleep. 
     A fun part of working the cafe is that the floor manager would often rotate booksellers through the cafe to cover breaks and whatnot.  The booksellers didn't make the coffee, but they were there to help out; to ring people up and keep me company.  For me, it was fun to just meet my coworkers by having them come to me.  Also, my coworkers were usually my first and last customers of the day.
     There were only about 4 of us cafe folks- people who only worked in the cafe.  We were highly specialized!  I still remember Skylar telling me I was like "10 pounds of happiness in a 5 pound bag."  Yes, he was being sarcastic.  They really were a great group of people.  
     I even liked the break room they had.  Borders gave hour long lunches to their employees who worked 8 hour shifts (I think that was the rule, it's been a few years).  This was the first job I had where hour-long lunches were a thing.  It was such a luxury.  Some days I would walk down to the Cottage Inn and get a small meal.  Other days, I would take a nap on the couch in the break room.
     They offered a pretty nice employee discount, and I remember some sort of holiday deal where for three days you could get double your discount or something. I don't remember the details, but I do know everyone got books for Christmas that year.  And their birthdays.  And for every holiday for months after that.  I actually did buy a lot of books while I worked there.  
     My friends used to come by and study there.  The book store was a lot like a library to us.  (Perhaps that's why they're going out of business- we just rented the books instead of buying them.)  We'd read a little, do a few equations, have a cup of coffee, listen to new releases at the listening station, tell a few jokes, make a journal, wear their T-shirts, use their restroom, put the books back, and stumble to a bar.  It was a good place; it was a second home.
     It's sad to see it go.  I haven't actually been back to the E. Liberty Borders in a few years.  But all Borders still had a Borders quality to them.  I'll miss it as a fixture.  But I'll miss it based on sentimentality and nostalgia, not because I think it could still be useful.  It hasn't been a huge mystery as to why it wasn't working out for them.  But still, the Borders brothers had something special for a while.  And I'm glad I got to be a part of it. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Lion King: A Review.

     It's not as good as I remembered it. 
     Perhaps my film palette has become more sophisticated since the first time I saw it back in 1972.  I had fond memories of it and I vouched for it when convincing my three-year-old nephew* to watch it.  "It's full of bright colors and fun songs!  It's so happy!  You'll love it."   Wrong-o!
     I feel like a pretty shitty aunt now, having shown this to such an impressionable child.  Although since every time something happened he asked what happened and why it was happening, I don't think the plot points stuck in his brain-wrinkles too much.  Plus, he did not understand that grown up Simba was not Mufasa.  That's not really the movie's fault, and three-year-olds don't take well to "you're just not paying attention" criticism.
     Something that had not occurred to me back in 1972 that really struck me this time is in implausibility of Simba's survival in that other part of Africa with Timon and Pumba.  Lions can't live off of bugs.  Lions are huge.  Warthogs are also pretty large, but I could suspend my disbelief for a bit that a warthog would eat bugs because 1. I don't really know a lot about warthogs and 2. he seemed like a scrounging trashy warthog who would eat whatever he needed for survival.  Whatever it is that Timon was I think probably actually lived off of bugs.  But there are not enough bugs in all of Africa to provide a lion with the protein it needs to survive, let alone thrive in such a way that it could fight for its rightful place on the throne.  Although presumably he was fighting an equally malnourished and much older lion, so perhaps in the case of two incredibly weakened and brittle lions, the younger Simba could win.  But he would be very winded when it was all over.
     Also, I don't really get why Simba, when younger, hung out with Scar.  At all.  Ever.  Clearly, he's a bad guy.  Mufasa does not approve of his brother's ways.  Why would he then tell his son to go hang out with him?  To cheer him up?  "Son, your uncle resents you being born, but why not go hang out with him in his cave and show off how cute you are!"  I'm not great at family, but I think if your brother looks like an evil genius, you don't send your kid over to hang out with him with no adult supervision.  Also, I wonder what Scar's real name was.  I doubt he was born with a scar over his eye.  That would be a tough delivery, even for a lion.  And in a family where the first son is given a name like Mufasa, are you really just naming your second son (probably born 20 seconds later, because that's how real lions are born) Scar?  And then slashing his face to make it make sense?  It just doesn't hold up.
     I still think the biggest problem with The Lion King  is how much Simba trusts Scar.  The logic of it breaks down too early for me to really enjoy the rest of it.  Also, at the end, I still find the fight ridiculous.  There's too much back and forth.  Specifically, when Scar and Simba are facing off and Scar goads Simba into admitting he was responsible for Mufasa's death.  All the lionesses are taken aback.  "Oh gosh Simba, how could you?  Is this true?"  But really, do any of the lionesses, especially his mother, really think he killed Mufasa. It's clearly a line of bullshit.  So then Scar starts fighting him or something and has him over the cliff.  Scar makes the classic villain mistake and tells Simba the truth of what happened.  This fuels Simba's malnourished body with enough rage that he jumps up and yells "murderer!" at Scar as he tackles him.  Now the lionesses are pissed at Scar.  What?  I suppose they're just lions, but do they really just believe every thing they hear, no matter who says it?  Then I think Scar confesses and the lionesses rip him the shreds and make a pinata out his carcass. 
     I just hope the overtly dark and frightening Lion King didn't give the kid nightmares. 

*He's not really my nephew; he's the child of my BFFs.  He calls me Auntie Pants, so I call him my nephew to simplify the relationship.  He might not be blood related, but I'm a better aunt than Scar is an uncle.  No, like waaaaaaayyyyy better.   

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and The Terrible Cocaine Habbit

     I'm not qualified to write about Harry Potter at all.  I've seen the covers of the books and I've only seen one of the movies.  Rather than reviewing Harry Potter, I'm reviewing the reviews of Harry Potter.
     They're everywhere!  I get that this is most important thing to happen ever in the history of time, but really, there is not one place you can go and not hear about it.  The news radio station I listen to had interviews with people who had seen last nights midnight premiere.  It was 5:30 in the morning, and this was the biggest news story of the morning.
     My favorite astrophysicist, Neil de Grasse Tyson, tweeted about it.  Perhaps he was at last week's New York City premiere, or perhaps he likes midnight showings since it's when he'd be working anyway.  I'm not sure.
     Roger Ebert had a very poignant review of it yesterday.  According to Mary, his spoilers were abound, just kind of hidden between the lines. 
     Ultimately, I don't really care.  But I have been struck by two things when thinking about this.  1.  I feel like I already know what happens.  I'm one of the last people who would go searching for Harry Potter information, and yet, I bet I could piece together the film.  2.  There's a sense of premiere elitism.  And it becomes a vicious cycle.  People who are huge fans really want to see it on its first night.  People who are just casual fans are forced to see it on its first night, or at least first weekend, so they won't be shunned or spoiled.  There's an air of superiority surrounding the idea of seeing it right away.  By the third weekend, if you haven't seen it yet, someone will all out spoil it for you, probably out of spite.
     I would like to make it clear that I have nothing against Harry Potter.  I don't really get it, but that's ok.  It was never meant for me.  From what I understand the stories are all wonderful and they are well told and the movies were all pretty well done.  Well, kudos to the franchise.  It's nice a generation has a kitchy nerd thing to hang on to, and that there are so many choices for Harry Potter themed parties.  I would just be lost if I ever got invited to one.
      My only point is that I just think it's a little unfair that we are being so over-saturated with it.  If you were a really big fan and had read all of the books and seen all of the movies, but maybe your sister was getting married this weekend, so you couldn't possibly get to the theater to see it, you might some how be considered less of a fan.  And then on Monday, while your sister is seriously regretting her life decision, you'd be casually flipping through channels and accidentally stop on the local news.  They'd have a story about "the end of an era" and the lead in would be "By now, everyone knows what happens.  Good triumphs over evil and Harry Potter becomes the King of the Universe."  You'd be stunned and hurt.  And possibly really confused as to why that wasn't in the book.   (I don't know what was in the book.)  Artistic license your ass.
      I've gotten carried away, but the point is, the event of the movie has become bigger than the movie itself.  And I just hope that people who really want to enjoy the film organically are able to do so.   

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Boring Begets Boring

     I know a few boring facts.  I'm aware they're boring, so I just sprinkle them in every once in a while.  Usually the response is something along the lines of "sure, whatever" and then we move on.  Sometimes though, I make the mistake of sharing this boring fact with someone who actually finds it fascinating and knows even more boring facts about the subject.
     A few weeks ago I mentioned to Mary there were cement trucks outside my window.  I said something about Archimedes' principle.  She responded appropriately with "uh huh.  So the new Harry Potter comes out soon."  But then I made the mistake of telling someone else about the cement trucks.  The fact that I knew this one thing about cement trucks meant to him that I must be thirsting for knowledge about cement.  Ugh.
     All of a sudden I heard "blah blah blah continuous pour, which means blah blah sssrrreeeeeeeeettttcccccchhhhh Donald Trump's book."  What?  Luckily I knew better than to actually ask that audibly, because he would have repeated himself, which is not what I mean by what.  I think you know what I mean.
     It has taught me a valuable lesson to keep my boring facts to myself.  Or at least to only unleash them on people I know; people who will not pile on even more boring facts on top.  Also, there are a bunch of cement trucks outside my window again.  I really hope that guy was done with his cement knowledge.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Decisions Are Hard

     I'm at a time in my life where I'm being forced to make some pretty important decisions.  I'm trying to weigh the pros and cons and look at all the options.  I have to make a choice, and soon.  I could also technically "do nothing" but that is also a choice.  I need to know what I'm going to do before September 1st and every time I think about how close that deadline is I start to breath a little harder.  I just don't know, oh god, what Netflix option I should take. 
     I first heard about the price change slash plan structure change from Mary, several hours before I received the actual email.  It made me curious as to why I wasn't getting the email.  Perhaps I was special.  I've been a Netflix customer since 1986they started.  A very small part of me thought maybe I would catch a break.  No, apparently they were just sending out the emails alphabetically.  I received mine last night and I kind of sunk back on my bed, distraught.
     An extra $6 a month?  Highway robbery!  This is terrible.  They're practically taking food out of my children's mouths.  I've had The Departed sitting on my desk for about 3 weeks now.  In a month and half, that'll cost me $4.50 more than it's costing me right now.  That just doesn't seem worth it.*
     It wasn't that long ago when they upped the prices for the whole package.  It was a little upsetting, but I think my package only went up a dollar, so I took my lumps.  And really, I felt like I was still getting a good deal.  Now it's not as clear because now I really have to think about how much streaming versus DVD watching I do.  Plus, as Mary pointed out (to me personally) one of the great things about their DVD selection is that you could find the smaller independent films that were unavailable in RedBox or even for streaming. 
     I don't intend to get rid of it altogether, though I know this is what a lot of people are planning, or threatening, to do.  I have been using Netflix as a primary source of entertainment for years.  I don't even know how people watch movies if they don't have it.  I am, however, seriously considering cutting down.  Perhaps only getting DVDs or only streaming.  I did recently purchase a BluRay player, so it would be a shame to see that go to waste.  And also, I was able to stream the first 6 episodes of SportsNight because my DVD was severely scratched and wouldn't play.  So I enjoy the streaming too.
     What I've been reading across the infoweb is people are mostly upset that there isn't an increase on content and also the announcement went out on Facebook before it went out via email.  This also explains my email consternation from earlier.  I think I do agree with those general sentiments.  At the same time, I'm not all that angry with the idea of the price hike.  It does seem shocking that it's going up so much at once.  I wonder how we would feel if they raised it $1 a month for 6 months though.  We'd probably still be pissed off.  I think we just want things for free.  Of course, why not?  Who wouldn't want that?  Back in 1986 when Netflix came out, it was amazingly cheap.  We couldn't believe it; that's how they got us.
     I'll probably end up doing nothing, which is also a choice, and I'll keep my DVD and streaming selection.  This makes sense for me because I don't subscribe to cable and I like to watch old things and the commentaries on the DVDs.  However, this has made me think about how tough life is in general.  I've been thinking about this for a while.  This is the thing that has been on my mind since Mary brought it up.  It has bothered me enough that I just wrong this decently lengthy post about it.  What is going to happen to me when I have to make a real decision?  Something that actually matters?  Am I going to "do nothing" and hope things work out?  Oh man, decisions are hard. 

*I was making light of $6 because right now, I have the luxury to do so.  However, I realize this $6 is actually significant.  If my herpes medication went up $6, I'd be really pissed off, and I really need that.**  
**I don't have herpes, nor do I use medication.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Perfect Pairings

     Food and drink just go together.  They do.  It's wonderful to find a beverage that goes so well with your meal.  Julia Childs was a master of insisting wine was just part of the meal.  Most beverages that are crafted can pair perfectly with food.  Wine, beer, and coffee for example.  An earthy coffee with something savory is an amazing oft neglected treat.
     I like to pair beverages with candy.  Some pairings work better than others.  Last night, I enjoyed Reese's Pieces with a Pinot Noir.  Let me tell you, the candy shell and peanut butter really brought out the bouquet and clean palette of the Pinot Noir.  And I wasn't convinced at first it was actually a good idea.  I only mixed them because I wanted those two things at that time.  It worked out just fine and I think all my dreams were perfectly normal.
     I'm quite certain that a lot of chocolate goes really well with dry red wines.  That's just common sense.  Dark chocolate M&Ms and a Shiraz would be a perfectly normal pairing.  For white wines, I would guess you'd want to go with fruitier candy- a Starburst or a Skittle, perhaps.  I would go so far as to say a Twizzler or a Red Vine.  And it may be unconventional, but some Black Licorice and Chardonnay just might knock it out of the park.  Or it could be terrible.
     I do not recommend pairing any peppermint candy with any wine.  I haven't actually tried it myself, but just imagining swirling tannins around after a bite of York Peppermint Patty initiates my gag reflex.  It's probably not good and not salvageable.
     I could really for a peppermint patty right now.   

Monday, July 11, 2011

Priorities and Desperation

     Perhaps it doesn't seem like those things are intertwined, but I think they are.  It occurs to me a lot when I have this pit-in-the-stomach feeling of desperation over something that more rational people around me find to be an over reaction.  I've been trying to watch the video that compiles every food quotation uttered by Ron Swanson on Parks & Rec.  The first link I found required flash and I do not have it.  I thought "Ahhh, I have to go home right now so I can watch this."  It seems hasty, yes.  But frankly, that's where my priorities are. 
     I'm not a completely irresponsible dolt so I didn't just walk out of my office and go home to watch the video.  I did, however, daydream about it.  In the initial 5 seconds after the "install flash player" bip bip bip happened, I felt loss and confusion.  How could this be made better?  Oh god.  What's happening?  Nobody could understand- I had to see this.  It was a 7 minute video of Ron Swanson Food Quotes.  Yes, of course I had seen all the episodes.  So what?  What's your goddamn point, nobody?  I need to see it, right now.  Ahhh.  Life is unfair.
     That's the desperation part.  Slowly, I start to work through that desperation.  I do some Lamaze breathing and my vision returns.  This will still be on the internet in a few hours.  I shouldn't do anything rash.  Bookmark the link and email to myself, maybe.  It'll be OK.  My feelings are perfectly normal.  This is important, and that's fine, but I can't let it take over.  OK.  I get it.  Breathe, click on something else, and move on.  

The Smell of Blacktop: A Review

     Eeewwwwww.  Ick.  It stinks. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ugly Charts

Usually I like to leave my work out of Oliver, but today, something so awful happened I had to share it.  I made the ugliest histogram I've ever seen.  I've taken out the words so you can't piece it together, but here is that ugly ugly chart:
There are 16 different colors on it.  They are associated with 31 different bars.  There are trend lines.  There are labels as well, but I have spared you those.  Trust me, they're awful.  The information intended to be represented here is lost amongst the explosion of color and sadness.  Those pastel colors in the middle were a necessary evil because the other colors available in Excel 03 are bright neon colors that make it look like a histogram on the surface of the sun. 
     The worst part is that this is part of a series.  There are at least 8 other graphs that look very similar to this.  It looks like I murdered clowns and spread them all over my computer.  Remember the good old days when we just made histograms out of construction paper and marker representing how many times we flipped heads and how many times we flipped tails?  I long for that histogram.  If my high school statistics teacher saw this, surely he would unwind his handlebar mustache, walk straight to DC, and slap me across the face.  This is an ugly chart; it is a miscarriage of statistical representation.

Now, this is the ugliest histogram I've ever had to make:
 18 colors over 42 bars.  I had to use gray on the last three.  It's terrible.  Just fucking awful.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Brighton Rock: A Review.

     Huh.  I guess I just didn't get it.  I was searching for an image of the cover to put up along with this review and I stumbled upon the Wikepedia page and an IMdB page, and a bunch of other pages dedicated to this book and the subsequent films.  It seems people love this book, the story, just about everything about it.  And I'm not trying to say they're all wrong, but I'm not quite in the same camp.
     Brighton Rock by Graham Greene is a character profile.  It was published in 1938 and I think it was probably a much more effective tale back then.  I was drawn in my Graham Greene's style, by his prose.  He indeed knows how to turn a phrase and I would find myself getting lovingly lost in the language.  I just wasn't overly interested in the story.
     It took me too long to read.  It's not a long book, but I kept putting it down and walking away.  I was determined to finish it, but I never carved out the time to do so and often I would drift off while reading.  This isn't entirely the book's fault, but it's also not *not* the book's fault, you know?  I was also oddly distracted by the use of the single quotation mark.  It shouldn't bother me, but it did. 
     My general opinion was that it had unsympathetic characters but it picked up at the end.  According to people a lot smarter than I, I'm wrong.  Except I'm not wrong, that's what it's like. 
     It's a good book.  It is.  But I didn't think it was great and I really wanted it to be great.  I am intrigued enough to watch the films, however, if only to see what the adaptations pulled out of it.  Graham Green himself co-wrote the screenplay for the first film adaptation.  Perhaps he highlighted the salient points.  Also, perhaps a large part of the subtext was too religion heavy for me to really get, or care about.  Oh, you're worried about burning in hell forever because you married a murderer or something?  Huh.  Sure.  It's just a little lost on me. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bad Ideas

     Sometimes coming up with bad ideas is really fun.  It's part of the brainstorming process and when you want to be a comedy writer, fleshing out those bad ideas can be a laugh riot.  Sometimes you've wasted a full day being essentially counter-productive, but you've laughed a lot and maybe shaken some of those ideas out. 
     Sometimes you don't know an idea is bad until you've fleshed it out.  Also, sometimes that bad idea just makes for a great example to keep coming back to.  I keep using the example of a girl traveling to Mars as an idea for a story. It's a terrible idea, but I keep using it to explain different aspects of story over all.  I'm working on that project I mentioned a few days ago, and my writing partner and I were discussing the inciting incident.  "You know, inciting incident.  Like the thing that makes the girl go to Mars."  When trying to figure out what kind of story we wanted to tell, I threw out "well, if we were telling the story of a Martian on Venus, it'd be classic fish out of water."  My writing partner thinks I really want to tell a story about Mars. 
     And maybe I do.  This is the bad idea that keeps on giving.  This is where I can go to flesh out character traits that probably won't work and esoteric science puns that only I think are hilarious.  I wanted to name our character Tess so I could use the "as in 'of the d'Ubervilles'" joke.  I got the same reaction from the room that I would get if I told it on Mars.  Silence and confusion.  I might still use it though. 
     A bad idea is better than no idea at all.  Of course sometimes bad ideas are allowed to go too far, but that's not the point, or what I'm talking about.  My mother used to say that a bad *whatever* was better than no *whatever*.  It usually panned out.  Bad breath is better than no breath at all.  Bad brakes are better than no brakes at all.  A bad storm is better than no storm at all.  Hm, that one doesn't really follow.  But many others do. 
     Anyway, the point was that many times, these bad ideas just crack me up.  For example, a wee bit ago I was struggling to think of a topic to write about.  I was joking with Mary about several topics, such as listing things I don't like about work.  (I've already said too much.)  Obviously, this is a bad idea.  But it makes me chuckle.  And eventually I can work through that bad idea and hopefully move on to a much better one, like bad ideas!
     So, managers and agents, look for the first draft of "Tess Goes to Mars," coming to your mailboxes soon! 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Zebras Make Noise

     Zoos are weird to me. I've ended up at zoos way more than I ever would if it were solely up to me. My first thought is usually "eww, animals in cages." Of course no zoo actually keeps their animals in cages. They build habitats for each of them that supposedly keep them very comfortable. But still, sometimes it seems odd. We're in the mid-Atlantic and short of building a bio-dome, there's only so much you can do to make the animals feel at home. So when it's 90million degrees outside with 10,000% humidity, the animals don't like to do much. Oh look, three cheetahs lying in the grass! Not moving! Fantastic!
     Next to the cheetahs are the zebras.   Sure, why not.  At first, there were just three zebras standing around, looking like striped horses, chewing on some grass.  And then a kerfuffle, and then they made some noises and ran around a bit.  I've never thought about the noise a zebra would make.  Had I been forced to guess, I would not have guessed correctly. 
     My zebra video:
Also, that was the most movement from any animal at all that day. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Food, Fireworks, and Fun

     Happy Birthday America!  4th of July is one of my favorite holidays.  It has fireworks.  I love fireworks.  Also, as far as I can tell, it has always had fireworks.  Because mail was slow back in 1776, it took a few days for the news to get around or something.  Actually, apparently there was some revising on the Declaration of Independence.  (As a side note, I would kind of like to see those in track changes.)  The point is, John Adams was pretty excited about it, and he wrote a letter to his wife.  He wrote:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
 And as far as anyone can tell, we've celebrated with fireworks ever since.  That's 235 years of fireworks.  Take that, Jesus.