Friday, September 30, 2011

Drive Part II. A Review.

     There isn't a sequel.  But I did see it again, so I think I should review it again.  I tried to pay closer attention to details that could have gone unnoticed the first time around.  There weren't many, though; I'm pretty perceptive. 
     It is just as intense the second time as it is the first time.  The pacing leads you in.  The sound design builds the tension.  This time around, I saw it with my friend Katie.  She spend a good portion of the latter half of the film in the fetal position with her hands over her eyes.  Still, she enjoyed it. 
     Driver was the lucky one (he had the rabbit's foot key chain); his scorpion jacket was like his superhero cape.  He came from nowhere, he protected those he loved, and then he left.
     It's a good movie to have a discussion about afterwards too.  This also helps calm the nerves and bring your pulse back to its resting rate.  The second viewing helped me notice more of the arc of film, not just in the story, but in the way the actual film was constructed, and the "hero shots" that are mirrored in the beginning and the end, showcasing Driver as the hero; as larger than life.  I think I mentioned it before, but this is clearly a carefully crafted film.   
     Also, Ryan Gosling deserves from props for his ability to never blink.  He does it a few times throughout, and it is intense.  I found myself trying not to blink along with him to see how long he wasn't blinking for, but my eyes started drying out and my contacts almost popped off my eyeballs.
     I actually do love this movie.  I'm not a huge drama fan.  I prefer the comedy; that may be obvious by now.  But I really loved this movie.  And to the asshats who were sitting behind me in the theater, you're wrong.  And clearly you didn't "get what they were trying to do."  Because if you got it, you would see they did it perfectly.  It was not about Driver being psychotic.  He was the damn hero.  Weren't you paying attention?
     I also recommended it to my mother.  And then I followed it up with "actually, you would probably hate it."  But then I went through and described it all to her, scene by scene.  My mother wouldn't get it.  But that's fine.  It's not for her.  Most other people should see it though. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rides to the Airport

     One of the things I do as a friend is give rides to airports.  That has become more difficult since selling my car last year.  I often offer to ride the Metro with friends on their way to the airport, but they think it's weird and unnecessary.  When someone is coming in to visit, I do meet them at the airport and then Metro to our destination together.  But that's just good manners.  It's not as logistically odd.
     Today, however, I get to fulfill my friendship role.  A friend of mine needs a ride to the airport.  She owns a car, and doesn't want to leave it there.  Huzzah!  I shall drive her car to the airport, drop her off, and then put her car safely in a parking place until her return.  Upon her return, I shall retrieve her car and pick her up from the airport.  Friendship exchange complete!
     It feels good to be a friend.   

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Drive. The Music.

     And the music!  Oh, the music in Drive.  Mary has talked about it a few times, here, and here.  She also talked about the sound design in her review, here.  That may legitimately be the first time I've read read a review where someone talks about the sound design.  And in a positive way where the review wasn't fishing for just one good thing to say.
     The thing about sound design is that usually when it's done well, it's not noticed.  But then sometimes, it's done so well, you notice it because you think "man, I was really drawn in, completely.  The sound must have a direct link to my soul."  That was the case here.  The sounds builds and releases the tension beautifully.  Hear that train?  It's a metaphor for longing and fast getaways, and a throwback to old western bank robbers.  If you were in downtown LA, would you ever actually hear a train?  Probably not (my source says no).  But Driver hears it.  Because he knows.  And we hear it, because it's foreshadowing.  Dun-dun-dun-dun. 
     On its own, the music of Drive doesn't fall into the genre I would typically listen to.  But integrated into the film, it's amazing, beautiful, perfect music, and now I want to listen to it all the time.  It grows on you.  Mary has linked to a few of the songs already, so I won't double link, since I assume you've already read those posts I linked to up there.  The soundtrack is great.  It can be your new driving soundtrack.  You too can be a real human, and a real hero.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Drive. A Review.

     Mind Blowing.
     I spent about 30 minutes after the movie ended just trying to catch my breath and slowing down my pulse.  Drive is an amazing movie; most people should see it.  It is artfully done.  There was a certain care and patience taken with the film that resonates throughout.  Every moment mattered; it was all important.  And it was beautiful.
     Right after it ended I didn't think I'd want to see it again.  It had something to do with that heart racing and short breathing from before.  But then it all started seeping in.
     The tone is immediately set.  And then the film grabs on and does not let go.  It's intense in a similar way that Black Swan was intense, but in an actual watchable way.  It has that lean factor, where you're so drawn in you lean forward on the edge of your seat.  You stop eating your popcorn and sno-caps mixture and just watch.
     Oh yeah, there was some violence.  And it was the good and gory kind too.  But it wasn't out of place, and it wasn't overdone.  Or at least, it wasn't cartoonish.  Maybe it was overdone, but that stemmed from the intensity and fervor and moments of passion from the characters.  Driver was a very composed character.  He was stoic.  He didn't get really bothered.  He didn't say much; he was comfortable living in the silences.  But maybe when... something nice happens...
you're stomping someone's head in, you lose some of your composure you go a little overboard.  And then you watch the girl you really really really like disappear behind those closing elevator doors. And oh those elevator doors. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Whitney: A Review.

     Mediocre.  NBC promoted the hell out of it, so maybe we all went in with too-high expectations, but nonetheless, it was just disappointing.
     Taped in front of a live studio audience, huh?  I didn't think NBC sitcoms still did that.  And this was proof as to why.  It was so damn distracting to hear every line get a laugh and then waiting for the laugh to slow down the pacing so much.  When the audience laughs at a line that I'm not laughing at it, I'm left thinking about how not funny the line was.  I think why would they laugh at that? and then the dialogue just becomes a series of punchlines, when actually, it was supposed to be dialogue.
     There were a few bits like this in Whitney where I could have believed it as a real, funny conversation, but the laugh track made me think it was trite.  So then I stopped caring.  And it happened so soon, that I had stopped caring before the title sequence ran.   
     The pilot revolved around Whitney's fear, nay, hatred of marriage.  A giant pile of exposition was dumped in when her boyfriend just tells us "I know you hate marriage because both of your parents were married three times..."  Oh, ok.  Well, that's her deal.  We can move on now.  Nope.  We actually have to have it out where she gets all mixed up and thinks maybe marriage is the right answer.  And Jane Kaczmarek is seriously misused here as Whitney's mother.  The character was very one note; Ms. Kaczmarek is anything but.
     Overall, the episode was pretty cliched, about single ladies versus marrieds, but there were a few jokes that hit.  The show seemed to really rely on Whitney herself just being able to win people over by being on the screen.  That did not happen.  I did like the blond friend, whose name I don't remember.  She was the newly sarcastic sardonic drink friend, and I think we should all have one of those.  She seemed to be the point where the most organic comedy came from.
     Even though I've said a lot of terrible things about it, it's not actually a terrible show.  It's just not great, and I wanted it to be great.  Because I want everything to be great.  I had heard a few reviews before I actually saw it that were just awful.  Some people couldn't find any redeeming quality to it.  That's not really the case- it's shiny, it has (some) pretty people on it, and there are a few laughs.  It's not unwatchable.  I'll watch it because it's on Thursday night.  But when it gets canceled, I won't think about it anymore.  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why I'm Amazing

     I can drive a stick-shift through DC rush-hour traffic while eating a Chipotle burrito. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Premiere Week

      It's my favorite week of the year: premiere week!  The new fall schedule is on the air.  Old favorites return and new shows try to work their way into my heart.  The television and I get really serious for a few weeks in September.

    The Returning
     Parenthood.  The only show that can consistently make me feel something.  It kicked off a week early, actually, and my rusty-heart-door was ready to let the Bravermans in.  Swoon.
     Parks and Recreation.  There are almost no words to express how excited I am about the season premiere of this show.  It's the best show on television.  I have it written on my calendar, and circled with stars and arrows.  I'm so happy to be let into Pawnee, Indiana again.  You know, without having to travel to the mid-west.
     Community. I really enjoy this show.  It's smart and funny.  And John Goodman joins the cast this season, and he's always good.  I'm looking forward to reinvigorating my crush on Donald Glover.  And Danny Pudi.  And Alison Brie.
     Modern Family.  It's really good.
     Happy Endings.  It came in as a kind of mid-season or summer replacement show.  But I liked it enough to stick with it.  I want to see where it goes.  It seemed to start off a little weak, but picked up by the end of its run, so hopefully its full season will work.  

     The New
     Up All Night.  It premiered a week before official premiere week, and I already love it.  I've been a Will Arnett fan for years, and I really enjoy him in this role.  Well, the entire cast is wonderful.  Christina Applegate.  Maya Rudolph.  You could just put the three of them in a blank room and it would be worth watching.
      The New Girl.  Zooey Deschanel is pretty damn awesome.  I'm not a fan of the word "adorkable."  It think it's trying too hard.  The show, however, I enjoyed.  It's only one episode in, but I plan to stick with it.
     2 Broke Girls.  Yes.  This was smart and funny and real.
     Whitney.  Whitney Cummings gets two new shows this fall.  Unreal.  She also created the aforementioned 2 Broke GirlsWhitney premieres tonight.  Curiosity piqued.  I watch all the comedy pilots, so I'm tuning in, and trying really hard to not pre-judge.  I do already like that she wears hoodies though.
     Free Agents.  This also premiered last week, right after Up All Night.  It made me laugh, which is something I look for in a comedy.  Critics were not as convinced.
     Prime Suspect.  The only new drama on my list.  I like Maria Bello a whole lot, and I've been looking for a good replacement for ER in the Thursday night schedule.
     Last Man Standing.  New Tim Allen.  That's really all I have to say about that.
     Man Up.  I know less about this show than I do about Last Man Standing.
     How To Be A Gentleman.  It's on opposite of Parks&Rec.  It's already dead-in-the-water.  I've already forgotten it exists. 

     I didn't mention 30 Rock because it doesn't return until November, so it doesn't fit into premiere week.  I didn't forget about it though.  I'd never forget about it.  Also, Cougar Town has a late return, and rumor has it, a new title.  I'm also looking forward to that.   
     I noticed that there are actually two comedies that I didn't put in my list: Suburgatory and I Hate My Teenage Daughter.  Perhaps I'll catch these on Hulu, just to make sure I judge them fairly, but they're up against Free Agents and Happy Endings respectively, and both about life in the suburbs, and I just can't relate to that.  Unlike all of the other shows that I can totally relate too.  Plus, I Hate My Teenage Daughter is a title that just sounds like an amalgamation of Everybody Hates Chris (already a rip on Everybody Loves Raymond) and 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.  If the title is an amalgamation, I can't help but be suspicious that the show will also be a tossed-salad of sitcom teenager tropes.  But again, I'm trying to not pre-judge.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Isn't It Always About Me?

     If you're kinda a bitch, and you wear hoodies all the time, and an ex-boyfriend is in an improv troupe called "Bitches in Hoodies," could that be about you? 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

DC and Cabbies

My frustration with the streets of DC and cabbies combined once again last night.  It was ungodly early in the morning, and they were doing that thing where they look for as many fares as possible.  I told the cabbie I was going to Dupont and he said that was close to where this other girl was going, and we got in the cab.
     She was going to 6th and L.  That's not close to where I was going, but it was kind of on the way.  Except that it wasn't at all on the way because she wanted to go to 6th & L North East, and we were going to North West.  Of course, we didn't realize this until we were at 6th & L NW.
     The lovely girl asked the cabbie if he took debit or credit cards.  No.  Cash Only.  This is common (and shitty) for DC cabs.  The woman only had $4 on her, so she asked him to pull over and let her out.  We happened to be at 6th & L NW so he was all "just give me the $4, this is your stop" and she was all "no, this isn't, what way should I start walking?"
     Then they started arguing over whether or not she said North East when she first told him where she needed to go.  That was a fun argument to sit and watch.  Also, at that point, it kind of didn't matter if she said it or he didn't hear it, because it was 3:45am and we were 12 blocks from where she wanted to go.  I started to open the door to let her out, but apparently the cab driver had enough sense to not let a beautiful young woman walk 1.2 miles alone in the middle of the night, through NE nonetheless.
     He told her to stay in the cab while he took me home and then he would take her to her stop.  Bitter sweet, really, because that was not going to be fast or comfortable.  When we got to my stop, I seriously over tipped, again, because I thought maybe it would help her not get murdered later.
     I blame the whole thing on Jeac-Pierre L'Enfant, (I have no idea what his first name was.)  The asshole who designed this city.  There is the potential for 4 intersections by the same name with this system.  There's is almost a 6th&L SE, but 6th SE runs into the highway before it reaches Lst.  There is a 5th&L SE (and 5th&L NE and NW), and an 8th&L SE, as well as a 6th & M SW.  It's bananas.  BANANAS!  At 3:45 in the morning, it's understandable how one might forget to say North East or North West, and how a cab would just drive all over, going as fast as it can, because that's what cabs do, and then just drop you off miles and miles away from your home, but insist it's where you wanted to be.  L'Enfant, you owe every one of us at least $30 in cab fare.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Emmy Wrap Up

     The Modern Family awards.  Sheesh.  I like Modern Family, a lot.  But ALL the awards?  Give someone else a chance.  Well, it didn't get  all the awards, but all the ones it was nominated for, I think.  I was accepting of it winning last year because it was a good show.  This year, though, I think it was overkill.
     It should have been Parks & Rec's year.  It should have been Amy Poehler's year.  And speaking of Amy Poehler, my favorite moment was the hilariously orchestrated Lead Female in a Comedy category.  Rob Lowe called Amy Poehler's name, and she went right up to the stage.  Then, each nominee followed her.  The winner was announced; they all hugged and Melissa McCarthy received a crown and roses.  Amy Poehler put the whole thing together.  She's a comedic genius. 
     I have a few thoughts on Melissa McCarthy's win.  I like her as a person, and as an actor, and maybe she's great on that shit-shit shitty show.  I think she was given the Emmy for her performance in Bridesmaids, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. 
     I thought Jane Lynch did a great job as host.  I've always liked Jane Lynch as a performer.  Again, I just really hate that damn show she's on.  I used to watch it just for her, but it was too much medicine to choke down for a small dose of sugar.  I'm glad she was still just so damn funny, the way she is. 
     I have virtually no opinion on any of the drama categories, but apparently Downton Abby was something to be seen.  From the reactions on Twitter, people were pleased with the winners for all the shows I don't watch.  Except that maybe Martin Scorsese doesn't really need an Emmy, but I don't think they pass them out based on need.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Oliver

     Today, Oliver is one year old.  Wow.  He's grown up so fast.  Yet, at the same time, he's still as unfocused as ever. 
     Oliver is having a bit of a mid-life crisis this week, so his posts have been lacking.  But the new fall season is kicking up, and, as I mentioned way back on Oliver's third post, it is My Favorite Season.  This will give us plenty of material in the next few weeks.  Once again, Parenthood will be working its way into my heart.  And I have many comedy pilots to watch and mull over.  A few kicked off early, and I am already pulling for Up All Night to do great things.   
     It is his birthday, so I don't want him to have to work too hard.  It's why he took yesterday off.  And Monday, well, that was a prep day.  Oliver is a little older now, and perhaps a little wiser.  (No, he's not any wiser.)  I hope this day gives him a change to reflect on the good times of the past and also look to the promise of the future.  This will be his year!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

People in LA Can't Drive

     I hate unsolicited advice.  I'm sure I've mentioned this before.  The worst kind of unsolicited advice, however, is that which requires time travel. 
I'm unsure of what to do next in my career.
Oh, you should have moved to LA 3 years ago when you had the chance.
Thanks.  Super helpful.  But you know what, I don't want to move to LA.  And I don't want to travel back in time to do so.  Because people in LA can't drive.
     When I owned a car, I drove a stick shift.  It was fun and sporty and got great gas mileage.  City driving is a little more difficult with a stick, because of all the stop-and-go.  You end up with a massive left calf muscle.  If you don't already know how to drive a stick, you should not start on the streets of LA.  They're large, congested streets with a lot of stop lights and opportunities to really piss people off.  You could roll backwards and hit someone.  You could stall in the middle of the street.  You could drop your transmission in the middle of an intersection.  You could risk looking cool.  All of the competent drivers around you will hate you.
     Another thing about LA driving that's terrible are the buses.  You just can't get around them.  They crap out black smoke into your windshield.  You're blinded and it stinks.  You can't see around them, so there's no way to know when it would objectively be safe to pass them.  Also, it's never really objectively safe to pass a bus.  But they go so slow, and people have places to be.  Plus, they're really big, so you're never going to try to play a game of chicken with them.  You can't cut them off; you will lose.
     Speaking of getting cut off, people do this constantly.  Especially jerks in pick-up trucks.  Why even drive a pick-up truck in LA?  There's no real good reason to haul anything in LA.  You're just driving it because you're a douche, and to perpetuate the douchey stereotype, you cut people off- nice people who drive purple 1987 Buick Skylarks. 
     The traffic in LA is a nightmare, made all the worse by the concentration of people without the ability to drive attempting to do it there. So, traveling back in time to go to LA is terrible advice for two reasons: 1.) impossible, and 2.) the terrible drivers. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Like the category on Jeopardy, this is just a post of random things.

Track Maintenance.  Oh, Metro.  Whereas I can appreciate that track maintenance must be done, it doesn't stop the frustration I feel when I see the blinking "TRACK MAINTENANCE ADVISORY" sign as I enter the station.  It seems like there is always track maintenance happening.  This past weekend, every line was undergoing track maintenance.  Need to get somewhere in a reasonable amount of time?  Too bad!  The extra crotch-kick of the whole thing is that the schedules aren't updated to reflect the track maintenance, so there isn't a good way to plan for it.  By now, I've come to expect track maintenance on the weekends, so if I need to get someplace, I take the amount of time it normally takes, and multiply it by 60.
     Then the Metro threw me a little surprise yesterday: track maintenance in the middle of the day!  This was unexpected.  I don't know if it was unprecedented or not, I don't often take the metro at noon, but I do think it was ridiculous.  I had to be somewhere in an hour, and hadn't allowed the extra 60x factor to get there.  I do hate running for things, and the metro caused me to run against my will.  The metro is like my middle school gym teacher, replete with unidentifiable musky odor and disapproving glances.

Sketchy Cab Drivers.  Sometimes I wonder if cab drivers really have a passion for the work they do.
     I was ready to head home on Saturday night and considered taking a cab.  I was at a bus stop where a line of cabbies were waiting.  It was pretty late at night, and there are a few things I've learned about trying to take cabs in DC.  First, they don't like to go relatively short distances.  I can understand why, but it gets irritating and I would think bordering on illegal when they just refuse to take you home because you don't live far enough away.  Second, they don't like to only take one person, so they will often try to get a few people to get in their cab who are all going to the same area.  Then they charge each person a separate fare.  I think this happens more often late at night.  I also think this borders on illegal.  Except by borders on, I mean I think it's illegal, but I also want to go home, so I put up with it.
     Saturday night was such a situation.  I told the cab driver where I was going, and he pointed to some other kid who was going to the same area.  I'm not an expert at DC, but the intersection the kid gave the cabbie was not that close to where I was going.  The cabbie pointed vaguely in the direction of his cab and told us both to go with him.  I couldn't see his cab at first, and then he walked up to a large black Lincoln Navigator and opened the doors.  Uhhh.  Lincoln Navigators are not cabs.  I looked in and didn't see a meter.  I asked "Is there even a meter in here?"  He didn't hear me, or chose to ignore me as he walked to the other side and got in the driver side.  I told the kid he could go ahead but I wasn't taking an unmetered cab.  The kid climbed in.  The driver yelled at me "are you coming?"  "No" and I shut the door.  Then the cabbie was pissed, got out, and started trolling the crowd for someone else who was going close to where this kid lived.  I then walked to the Metro station.
     Last night I had a similar situation, and I was on the lookout for the sketch Navigator driving cabbie.  It was much later, and the Metro wasn't an option.  A cabbie who drove a normal yellow cab offered to take me.  I got in his cab, and then he closed the door and went to find more people.  Ugh.  I just wanted to go home, but I knew the game.  After a couple of minutes, he came back.  He said there was someone who couldn't find her car and needed help, but he didn't want to leave me in the car.  Gee, thanks.  So we start to pull away and he starts honking at the girl and telling her to get in so we could find her car.  Of course she doesn't pay attention to him, because from her perspective some crazy cab driver is honking at her and yelling things she can't understand out the window.  So he gives up and drives as fast he can to my house.
     It was about 4 in the morning, and the speed was unnecessary.  There was a lot of honking at the two other cars on the road at the time.  He cut off a semi truck and got severely honked at.  He yelled quasi-obscenities at the truck driver.  Sure, I'd like to get home, but I can wait for this truck to go through the traffic circle.  No need to cut him off.  Really.  Finally we make it to my front door.  I left him an abnormally large tip.  He didn't really deserve it, but I was hoping maybe he would calm the fuck down and the streets of DC would be safer.  Also, sometimes I'm too damn nice.

Really, I'm Alone.  I love burritos.  By now, this is well established.  I was in Chipotle yesterday, and there was a pretty steady line.  I was at the register ready to pay, and then this happened:
Chipotle Employee: What kind of meat is this?
Me: Steak, with Guacamole.
CE: Would you like a drink?
Me:  Yes, please. 
CE: Is this together?
Me: Huh?
::I look to my right to see woman standing next to me::
Me: No.
Woman:  No.
CE: Is this for here, or to go?
Me: For here.
CE: Can I put this on the same tray?
Me:  What?
::CE places my burrito and the woman's burrito bowl on the same tray::
Me: No.  We're not together.
::CE looks very sad::
Woman:  No, we don't-
Me:  We don't know each other.  Really.  I don't know who this is. 
::I turn to woman::
Me: I'm sure you're very lovely.
Woman: And I'm sure you're lovely too.  This same thing happened to me at the movies earlier today.
Me:  Huh.  Weird.
::CE walks away::
Me: Oh, he left.  Uhhh.
::CE returns with the lid of a burrito bowl and hands it to me.::
::I am *confused*::
CE:  Oh, what am I doing?
Me:  I, uh, don't know.
::CE sees the person who actually asked for the lid; she's standing behind me.  He hands it to her.::
::CE tells me the total and rings me up.::
CE:  Thanks.
::CE hands me my receipt and my burrito.::
Me:  Thank you.
::I did not get a drink::

I went to the window seating area in a daze, not quite sure what had happened.  The burrito was good though.

Friday, September 9, 2011


     Somewhere in the process of making our way in the world today, people have learned that complimenting someone and playing dumb will get them to do the work for you.  I will not fall for your traps.
     "You're good at Word.  How do I...?"  How many times have I heard this?  The answer they want is "just send it to me."  They don't think I'll actually teach them how to use Word.  But I will, because Word isn't hard.  I know they're just being asshats, so I stop what I'm doing, and I learn them some Microsoft Office Suite.
     Also, telling me I'm good at Word is not a compliment.  It's not something to be good at.  I don't get a bonus because I've learned how to use the commands that Microsoft put in their program.  I haven't manipulated code or written an add-on macro to specifically serve our purposes.  Really, I just know how to read.  When I need to insert a section break, I think Hmm, I wonder if Insert, followed by Section Break will get that job done.  It does.
     Stop trying to goad me into doing your work with fake compliments, playing dumb, and plain old taunts.  "I don't think you can get Word to do that."  Or "but when I do it, it doesn't work."  Well then, tough crap.  But I'm not doing it for you.  Also, there's a users manual, a help menu, and an entire Dummies series on this stuff.  And you probably passed 6th grade, so you should be able to figure it out anyway.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Nothing is Free

     On Tuesday I went to the gym.  I'm not a very good gym goer.  I make it in about once every 4 - 7 days.  I went in after the Labor Day holiday with decent intentions to do a 15 minute kettle-bell workout and then a walk/run and some stretching.
     I started on the kettle-bell portion of it and one of the gym's trainers approached me, clearly marveling at my perfect form and athletic prowess.  That's usually the case when someone starts with "are you ok?"  Anyway, I was fine; he introduced himself (Paul) and offered me a free 25-minute personal training session.  There didn't seem to be a catch, so I agreed.
     Paul is a giant.  You'd see him coming if he were walking through a redwood forest.  He makes all the exercises look very easy.  He was throwing kettle-bells around like nannies throw around babies dogs throw around dead bunnies they were rags.  He'd demonstrate the really simple exercise, hand me the kettle-bell, and be all smug as I tried to replicate what he had done. 
      He became very aware of my athletic prowess towards the end of the session when I was leaning on the side of a bench and tried to say his name but it just came out "pao."  I remembered the point of personal trainers.  You really aren't ever going to push yourself that hard, but when a giant is standing over you, you kick it into high gear.  He was nice enough, and at the end of the session, I thanked him and then tried to not vomit in the gym.
     The next day: pain.  Everywhere.  Two days later:  still pain.  I don't walk right anymore.  I'm an 80-year-old man trying to walk down stairs.  My gait has been transformed to that of an elderly person with a hot load in their pants.  It was a free workout session, but I'll be paying for it for days.  Nothing is ever free.   

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Against My Better Judgement: A List

     A list of things I'm doing today, against my better judgement:
  • Walking through the rain to get lunch
  • Having a burrito for lunch
  • Not wearing rain boots
  • Stealing umbrellas from work
  • Writing long freaked out emails to friends
  • Eating left over birthday cake for dinner
  • Skipping the gym
  • Being outside, in the rain

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


     Labor Day is a great time for a catharsis.  It's also a great time to get pants-shitting drunk.  Getting pants-shitting drunk leads to a catharsis.  This may or may not be based on a real experience. 
     I had attempted a physical purge this weekend, and it didn't go great.  It's nearly impossible to just throw things away nowadays.  This has been an ongoing process, starting back in June: Easier Said Than Done.  I've reached the phase of separating things where I think "I'm not using this now, but I will need it later, and it's dumb to replace it just because it takes up space."  Things like fans, heaters, blankets, and blenders.  So these things stay in my storage unit.
     Then comes the really hard part- actually throwing things away.  It's not legal.  The storage unit doesn't have dumpsters.  At first this seems odd, but I've dealt with many storage units before, and it's a thing with them.  People take advantage and dump really large things in the dumpsters and it becomes a huge mess.  So storage unit facilities just stopped having dumpsters.
      You know what the chances are that you'll caught trying to throw away your entire childhood into a stranger's dumpster?  One-hundred percent.  As incognito as you think you're being, someone is always watching their dumpster and they will make you take your trash out after they watch you dump it in.  Especially if you've dumped boxes in, because the boxes are technically recyclable.  Digging things out of a dumpster is the opposite of purging.
       Covered in garbage and frustration, I made it back to my apartment and took a non-well-deserved nap.  The process is clearly getting to me, because I dreamt about the storage unit.  In the dream, the storage unit had flooded and someone had gone in to try to save my things.  Their process of doing this was to take everything out of the boxes and set it up in a make-shift living room. The storage unit in my dream had more things in it than I have in my real one.  Things that I've gotten rid of years ago appeared in this dream storage unit, with no end in sight.  I'm now worried that when I go back , things that were thrown away will rematerialize.
      I put a pin in the physical purging for the rest of the weekend, and moved on to the emotional purging.  That wasn't really my intent, but red wine and birthday cake have magical powers.  I catharsised all over my (belated) birthday feast.  I got to give a few speeches and quote Hope Floats, though I was told later it was actually from the Bible.  Peshaw.  Hope Floats is a better reference.  "My cup runneth over."  I have wonderful friends and family and I don't have any reason to be bitter anymore.  Ah, catharsis.
     The post-catharsis headache was something else entirely.  Luckily I had left over birthday cake to get me through it.  Also, in case you're concerned, pants-shitting drunk is just an expression.  This time. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Me + Soapbox

     As my mini-bio states, I consider myself to be many things.  I have a background in engineering, and I also want to be a writer.  I suppose I am a writer.  I write, so I'm a writer.  I love this unique perspective I have on being in both worlds.  At the same time, I think it's kind of bullshit that it is a unique perspective.
     A friend of mine asked for my opinion regarding a certain "technical guy" she was working with and his lack of English skills.  The specific issue was how he misused a/an every time.  In essence, she was asking how I feel about engineers' supposed lack of composition skills.  My response was as follows:
Well, I hope you're ready for a novella- I have a lot of opinions on this.  Actually, I have one very strong opinion on this.

I think it's complete bullshit for engineers to not have a firm grasp on the English language.  There is no excuse for it, no matter what any of them say.  Understanding math, physics, and engineering does not preclude someone from understanding basic sentence structure.  People use being smart in one thing as a crutch for not being functional in another.

At U-M, all (well, most) engineering classes were coupled with a technical communication component.   As we entered the College of Engineering, we were put in a course colorfully referred to as "English for Engineers."  This was a class that taught composition of technical reports.  Writing technical reports is different from writing rhetoric or proving Hamlet was crazy all along.  The point is, we were all taught about the importance of communication.  Good engineering principles don't have resonance if they can't be explained clearly and concisely.

The idea that an engineer is excused from knowing how to write, especially very basic things, is antiquated and lazy.  It offends me.  The a/an principle is a basic piece of grammar from elementary school.  We're not talking about finer point of style, turning phrases, or nuanced definitions of words people rarely use.  The difference between a/an is simple.  And clearly, that was not a typo.  It's a gap in knowledge, and frankly it's a gap I have no patience for.

When I hear someone defend their gaps in knowledge with "well, I'm an engineer" I immediately call bullshit.  People don't wake up just knowing how to engineer things.  They read about them, in books.  These books are not just full of equations and drawings.  They are presented in the same way any book would be, with complete sentences, articles, nouns, verbs, and prepositions.  (I did that on purpose to end my sentence in a "preposition!")  But apparently when genius engineers are reading, they're not taking any of it in.  Somehow it doesn't translate.

The most offensive bit of the entire argument is that knowing how to write well is perceived as a weakness.  The engineers I have come across in my short career have the idea that the engineers will do the heavy lifting, and then someone else will shiny it up with words.  They don't think writing is hard.  They may be willing to admit they can't do it, but they'll say it's because it's a waste of their time.  They don't have time to be bothered with trivial things like sentence construction.    

Since I've started here, people have come to recognize me as a writer of sorts; they give me the speeches and awards, and coworkers will ask me to look over drafts of things.  And then they find out I have a background in engineering and their brains melt out their ears.  If I'm good at one, how could I be good at the other?  Or, even worse, why would I bother with the other?  If I know how to run a nuclear power plant, why do I bother keeping The Elements of Style at my desk?  Clearly, the two are unrelated, and one of them is not important.  (Sorry, slight divergence.)

Engineers who cannot write sink back into the old archetype as a safety net.  They use it to hide their insecurities.  Engineers should know how to write.  At a minimum, they should be trying.  People's egos get in the way when it comes to grammar.  Common usage is a shit excuse.  If an engineer says "well, you know what I was talking about, so it doesn't matter that I used the wrong effect/affect," a part of me dies inside.  I made it a bit of a personal crusade to be good at both things; I wanted to build a rocket and be able to tell people how I did it.  There should be more shame in not doing that. 

So to sum up, I think your Technical guy on the contract is an asshat.  For his sake, I hope he's civilized enough to accept constructive criticism, learn the lesson, and keep it in his wheelhouse.  Again, being an engineer, or a "technical person" does not preclude someone from knowing how to write a simple sentence.  It's arrogance, and it's lazy.  It's lazy arrogance. 

I'll be here on my high horse all day if you have any further questions.
She responded with "you + soapbox = MY FAVORITE."  I assume she will read my response to him at their next meeting.  

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wake Me Up

     It's September.  I was going to begin by saying I don't usually comment on the passage of time.  And then I thought I had said that before.  I was right.  On December 1st, of last year, I said exactly that: Holy Crap, It's December.  I didn't want to comment on the passage of time.  But then I woke up this morning and stared at the calendar.  And I went searching for that post I knew I wrote.  I thought it was from June perhaps.  But December?  Where did the time go?
     So now I'm commenting on the passage of time.  Of course I can believe in September.  I've been fully conscious this entire time.  I watched as the days went by.  I get how September came to be.  But still, holy crap, can you believe it's already September?
   The kids are going back to school.  I don't have any kids, so this doesn't affect me in any way, but still.  Also, a lot of the schools around here are still closed because of power outages.  Also, not the point.  It's September, the kids are going back to school, football might be starting, and things that taste like pumpkins are everywhere.
     I'm actually very glad it's September.  I like September a lot, even with its 10-pounds of sadness weighing it down.  Because frankly, September does seem a little more serious than the other months.  I think it's because of all the syllables.  And also, this awesome Green Day song:

On the other hand- it's only Thursday.  And that's the rub with time passing, isn't it?  How do days and weeks go by so slowly, but then BAM!, all of a sudden it's September and we think we've let it all pass us by.  Wakka-wakka-wakka.