Friday, December 30, 2011

The Penultimate Day

     It's the penultimate day!  It's the penultimate day!  The day before the last day sounds more exciting when I say it that way.  Otherwise, today has no great significance.  Especially in Samoa where they actually skipped today.  They were sick of their precarious position on the International Date Line and decided to just switch over.  I applaud their boldness.  The prime minister just said "hey, we're going to sound an alarm at midnight.  You should all adjust your calendars."  Cool.  
     A lot of people (news organizations, folks in charge of "year in review lists") have claimed 2011 has been a pretty shit year.  Perhaps it's because there were no Olympics this year.  I know for me, a year without Olympics is a year without joy.  2012 is bound to be better--we have the Olympics, and the world is supposed to end!  Either it will end so we won't have much to worry about anymore, or it won't end and we'll think we've been given a new lease on life!  That's hopeful any way you slice it.  
     Happy Penultimate Day of the Year.   Also, Happy New Year!  Here's to 2012--it'll be our year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Things Robert Burns Gave Us

     Robert Burns gave us two of my favorite things--the song Auld Lang Syne and the Bobby Burns cocktail.  The first thing we was more directly responsible for, since he actually wrote it.  The cocktail was just named after him.  But still.
    You know Auld Lang Syne, right?  We sing it every year on New Year's Eve.  It's a song of remembrance; that's why we sing it on New Year's Eve.  It's also commonly sung at funerals.  Not any funeral I've ever been to, but apparently it's done.  So please, if you can remember, sing Auld Lang Syne at my funeral.
    Also, remember to pour one out for me.  If you have a choice, you should pour out a Bobby Burns.  It's a scotch based cocktail and it's my favorite.  I don't drink it all that often actually.  Many times when I go into a bar and ask for one they look at me crooked.  But it's real and real bars know how to make it.  And it's delicious.
     Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?  NO!  We should remember them all the time!  We'll take a cup-o-kindness yet, for auld lang syne.  And in that cup-o-kindness, we should have scotch based cocktails.  Huzzah!

     And just so you're prepared:
Bobby Burns 
2 ounces blended Scotch whisky
1 ounce Italian vermouth
2 dashes Benedictine
1 dash Angostura or Peychaud’s bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel. 
And, a great version of Auld Lang Syne by BNL:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Trick Questions

     This conversation happened:

Mom:  Do you have your birth certificate?
Me:  No, and actually, I need it.
Mom:  I came across it the other day.
Me:  Then you already knew I didn't have it?!  Was it a trick question?
Mom:  I guess it was.  

There is no reason for this type of trick question.  This wasn't one of those situations where you let someone borrow something under the condition that they protect it dearly, but then they lose it but you find it so you hide it from them and then ask them where it is in order to catch them in a lie.  It wasn't even a little bit like that situation.  I never borrowed my birth certificate.  And I wasn't lying.
     I used italics on that borrowed up there because since it's my birth certificate, it seems like something I should have.  But I suppose it's hard to figure out where the line of demarcation is on stuff like that.  When you turn 18?  Happy Birthday--here's the certificate that proves it!  It was fine by me that my parents held on to it, safely in their safe.  It was always in the safe, and eventually it became a family joke.
     My father thought we needed our birth certificates way too often.  Every time he had to get our birth certificates out of the safe there was a commotion and a variation of the speech "you damn kids and your damn birth certificates," and something about heading down there himself and proving we're legit.  It really drove him crazy when we needed our birth certificates and our driver's licenses.  "You used your birth certificate to get your driver's license," he'd bellow.  He felt the transitive property should apply to legal documents.
     Being virtually transient as I was, it was fine by me that my parents held on to my birth certificate.  It was safe in the safe, and I rarely needed it.  Then one day I needed it and my mother couldn't figure out how to open the safe.  Backups needed to be called in.  The backup was my brother, whom my father had taught to open the safe; clearly it was a very complicated safe.  My mother was so frenzied by the situation, she decided to make a bunch of copies of it.  For future reference, most (all) places that require birth certificates do not accept photocopies.  That's actually part of the point of requiring a birth certificate.
     I need my birth certificate again, so Mom will have to crack the safe open and trust the good ole' USPS to get it to me.  This will cause her a lot of stress.  Except, clearly, she has recently opened the safe since she came across my birth certificate the other day.  But then thought she dreamed it, or that it wasn't the original, or just wanted to prove that if I thought I had it, I was wrong.  Trickery and subterfuge.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Time Between

     The week between Christmas and New Years is a bit like a black hole in the calendar.  It's hard to say exactly what to do with the time.  I find it difficult to plan for.  I woke up this morning not quite sure what to do or where to go.  Today is Tuesday--it's two days after Christmas and four days before New Year's Eve.  Nothing at all could happen today and nobody would notice.  We're winding down and gearing up at the same time.
     I had considered using this week to instill some better habits in myself.  I don't resolve things when the New Year hits, but still, there are a few things I could be doing differently.  What a better time to do them than this pesky time between?  At the same time--why now? This would also be a great week to not do any of those things.
     I'll try to split the difference.  I have a short list of things I would like to start doing.  Running again is one of them.  This is a tough one, for a lot of reasons, but I used to be a runner.  It was years ago; I hated it at first but then really got into it.  I wasn't fast and I couldn't run very far distances, but I would run for about 30-45 minutes every other day, and it felt good.  Well, it hurt usually, but in a good way.   I think about that a lot and I would like to be that mediocre at running again.  Maybe this week I'll start by becoming a walker--a mediocre walker.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Post Grad. A Review.

     This was an awful film.  It should tip you off that it's awful because it stars Alexis Bledel--it's an Alexis Bledel vehicle.  That's a tough thing to wrap your mind around, I know, but it's true.  And then Carol Burnett, Jane Lynch, and Michael Keaton lost a huge bet of some sort and got wrangled into the movie as well.  This is a terrible, terrible movie.
     Nothing happens.  The main character's name is Ryden.  That is a stupid name.  No, it's not even a name. The movie opens with graphics.  Ryden has a plan for her life and it has four steps in it.  This is stupid.  She has accomplished the first three things on her list and is going after the fourth. Oh gee, I wonder what will happen.  Obviously, she doesn't get the dream job she was interviewing for and then her life completely unravels.
     In this world, however, a life completely unraveling means spending a month living with your loving, caring family while your best friend professes his love for you and you hook up with an age-inappropriate hot Brazilian man.  The only thing that went wrong was that she didn't get the one job she really wanted.  The film attempted to make her look down-and-out and desperate and show her going on other interviews.  They did that quick cut truck to make it look like a lot of interviews, but I think it was three.  So there were four interviews total and she didn't get those jobs.  She kept whining about all the hard work she was doing, but I didn't see it. She sat at her computer once and printed out resumes.  And Michael Keaton was right--she was setting her sights too high.
     She finally lowered herself to working at her father's luggage store and lasted about 20 minutes.  Her "rival"-at the start of the film, Ryden calls this girl her Darth Vader, which makes no sense, but I digress--came in looking for a briefcase or suitcase and Ryden lost it and stormed out.  Sure.  Clearly, Ryden has hit rock bottom.
     This movie was all over the place, much like this review.  The best moments were the ones without Alexis Bledel in them.  Jane Lynch and Carol Burnett are delightful.  Even the kid who played the younger brother was pretty entertaining.  Actually, the family minus Alexis Bledel might have made a nice story.  I did actually laugh a few times, at Lynch and Burnett.  There was practically a different movie about the family, but it didn't get explored.  
     Early on in the film, a timeline is set up.  The younger brother, Hunter, runs up to the father yelling about a boxcar derby race that happens in a month.  Being a young boy, he wants to participate.  To prove to the audience that the daughter is more important and that this will come back later, the father says he doesn't have time and pushes him away.  The boxcar derby race happens at the end of the movie.  That means this whole life unraveling bit happens over the course of four weeks.  That's ridiculous.  It takes longer than four weeks for an entire life to unravel, and even longer to get anyone to care that your life has unraveled.
     In four weeks' time, this bitch went on four interviews, whined, went to a party, worked at a luggage store, whined, went shopping, made out with a hot Brazilian guy, worked as a PA, whined, had a day-of-fun at the beach, argued with her father about a buckle business, got her dream job, "worked her ass off," had pool sex with the hot Brazilian guy, and stole an ice cream truck.  Then she watched the derby race where her brother probably almost died but because it was a comedy he just landed in a lake, she realized everything she wanted, she quit her job, and moved to New York to find that best friend who was in love her and with whom she now realizes she's in love.  They even tried to top it off with a dramatic girl-in-the-room-after-love-professing confusion, but it was short and stupid.
     There are so many problems with this movie, it's hard to nail down.  The idea of not being able to find a job 2009 is not surprising, so hanging an entire film around it is pretty boring to watch.  Descriptions of the movie state the family as being eccentric, but it wasn't really that eccentric.  Also, it was never obvious that Ryden was a member of that family.  And there was no struggle and no real pain.  She was a whiner who didn't get her way immediately.  I agree with every bad review it received on Rotten Tomatoes.  It's awful.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas, Dammit.

     Merry Christmas Eve Eve.  This year is my first Christmas in New York, so I'm spending it in Philadelphia.  I have up on traditions a long time ago; now my tradition is doing something different every year.  I'm looking forward to Philadelphia.  I assume it will be a winter wonderland, even though New York isn't yet a winter wonderland and we're north of Philly.  I still believe some magical will happen, just because it's Christmas.
     I walk a find line between Christmas curmudgeon and  the opposite of that.  It's like being bipolar for Christmas.  I like the candy, I think the trees are pretty, and I enjoy Christmas episodes and movies.  I'll even tolerate the gift giving.  I even went into Macy's just to see the damned decorations and I suffered through the hell that was the tree lighting, just to try to capture the magic.  Oh, I enjoy Christmas music too.  Most of it, anyway.  So I guess I'm not really that curmudgeonly when it comes to Christmas.  I guess I really do like it.  But I don't love it.  That's where I put my foot down.
     This year, I'm looking forward to getting wine drunk with my friend Jen and her dog Dora, and the rest of the family I don't know but who are being kind enough to let me spend Christmas with them.  And then some Chinese food.  Merry Christmas, indeed.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hot In Cleveland / American Horror Story: My Mash Up Review.

SPOILER ALERT!  I talk about what happens on Hot In Cleveland and American Horror Story. You have been warned.  Also, this post is ridiculously long.    

     American Horror Story is a new, popular drama.  I've never seen it.  Hot In Cleveland is a TVLand original sitcom in its third season, starring Betty White, Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick, and Jane Leeves.  I enjoy this show.  When it was first advertised I made fun of it.  I watched the pilot; I wasn't too impressed really.  Then I didn't get the channel it aired on and I assumed it would go away.  It did not.  Luckily, it was available on Hulu, so I caught up.  It's amazing that the show is still on the air and that it is being nominated for awards.
     My very dear friend Mary enjoys the show American Horror Story.  She and I spend a lot of time talking about various television shows and movies.  We get along pretty well, but really, we don't watch a lot of the same shows, so sometimes these conversations get pretty one sided.  I go on and on about Up All Night and Hot In Cleveland while she does the chat equivalent of smiling and nodding.  The same is true when she discusses shows about vampires and American Horror Story.  Today, she extended an amusing challenge to me, and I really wanted to accept it.  Her challenge--to watch just the season finale of American Horror Story and review it.  The problem--American Horror Story is on at the same time as Hot In Cleveland.  The compromise--watch Hot In Cleveland, then then last 40 minutes of the extended season finale of American Horror Story.  The overlap was uncanny.
     The ladies in Cleveland were up to their same old (pun!) shenanigans.  Elka (Betty White) is currently dating the guy who played the dad on Frasier.  The other three ladies are being hot whilst living in Cleveland.  This is something that should irritate the hell out of me, but I'm amused.  Joy runs in the house, hiding from someone.  She's running from a woman with pruning sheers who is tired of Joy bending over and picking up the mail, because Joy is hot and the woman's husband stares.  The woman unleashes a little bit and points out the ladies' attributes.  And that's where I kind of liked what was happening.  The hot older women were proud of being older and hot.  Wendie Malick has the most amazing arms of any woman over the age of 43 (she's 61), and she fucking show them off.  It's actually pretty damn endearing.
     Elka's story line in this episode is that the old man she's dating is still about 10-15 years younger than she is, so she lies about her age (and weight on some forms about sky diving).  She takes the advice of the girls, who dole out all the life lessons they learned in LA.  Of course, all these life lessons are wrong.  That's a big part of the point.  They seem to learn this a lot.  For their story, they give "LA makeovers" to several housewives in the neighborhood.  At the end of the episode, the husbands come after their wives and say they prefer their wives the way they were, not all LA'd up.  The ladies then have a moment about embracing Cleveland.  It lasts about one minute.  Then they go back to feeling special because they're the hottest things on the block.
     It would be obvious to compare Hot In Cleveland to Golden Girls; I've done it.  I recently made the joke that it would be funny if the HiC cast just read a GG script.  Sure, it has its parallels--any show about 4 older women when one of them is Betty White will--but it's actually not the same.  Hot In Cleveland is no Community, but I still like it.  I laugh out loud at it.  Betty White it still hilarious; she has impeccable comedic timing.  The other ladies are also funny.  The writing is pretty strong.  There are so many shows that are on the air that are so much worse.  I realize that doesn't sound like a glowing recommendation, but it is.  It's a nice little show.  I'm glad it worked out its problems from the pilot.
     Then I switched the channel over to FX.  Jessica Lange was there, and then Kate Mara was holding a baby, and then a corpse was on the ground with spiders crawling from its mouth, and then a guy slits Kate Mara's throat and took the baby she was holding, and Jessica Lange was talking to police-like people.
     I watched the rest of the episode trying to figure out what the show was about.   I still have quite a few questions, but I didn't want to look it up on the internet and ruin the intrigue.  I did ask Mary how many time lines were happening and she said one.  Ok.  So, here's what I think happened:  There's this house, called the death house.  Some people call it the murder house.  Everyone who lives there is a ghost.  There is a servant / maid ghost who is generally kind.  Or at least not malicious.  Also, I think Jessica Lange lives in the house but is not a ghost.  There is a blond boy named Tate.  Tate is a psychopath.  He has killed so many people.  He raped the lady ghost who lives in the house, probably when she was alive.  She had a baby and probably died while giving birth to it.  The ghost family did not all die at the same time. In fact, the ghost lady's husband was originally going to raise the rape-baby on his own, but then he got hanged by the ghosts.  (I learned this when FX replayed the finale immediately following the finale and I watched the beginning.)  At some point a new family moved into the death house.  The new family makes an incredibly rash decision to make a baby on the butcher block table in the kitchen because their 17-year-old kid will be graduating next year and they worry the house will be too empty.  While they're making it in the kitchen, the ghosts are watching and decide that they need to teach these sex fiends a lesson about bringing a baby into the death house, the hard way.
     The best way for ghosts to teach a lesson is to attack people and confuse them in their dreams and fake kill each other.  The scene where man ghost and woman ghost kill each other for the benefit of creeping out the living people reminded me of the X-Files episode with Ed Asner and Lilly Tomlin.  They do a similar stunt to scare Mulder and Scully.  But I digress.  While the adult ghosts are scaring the adults, the ghost kids are scaring the real kid.  Apparently, Tate is hopelessly in love with Violet, the ghost girl.  I assumed she was a ghost because she was in alive kid's room and he didn't know how she got there.  That's how you know the person who you are talking to is a ghost--they never explain how they inexplicably got into your room.
     This Tate kid always has tears in his eyes.  He's a psychopath, but apparently he's also really emotional about it.  He's in love with Violet and I think maybe this affects him a lot.  He was going to kill Gabe so he could be a ghost and be with Violet to make her happy.  Then Tate got all wimpy and couldn't do it and Violet was all "I didn't say good-bye" and they made out.  I don't know the purpose of ghosts making out. They're ghosts.  They're dead.  How do they feel the magic?
     At one point Tate started to confess what he's done to the ghost dad.  (Ghost Dad!  Remember that Bill Cosby movie?  Good times.)  It was a lot of pretty bad shit.  It made me laugh; I realize this is an inappropriate response. It wasn't what he did that elicited the laughter, but he fact that he just started confessing it all as though that would redeem him some how; the way the words just poured from his mouth caused me to guffaw.  
     Have I mentioned the baby?  I wasn't sure at first if the baby was a ghost baby or not.  It's not; I also decided that a television show would have a really hard time getting a ghost baby on the air.  Stuff happens with the baby.  Over the course of the 40 minutes the ghost family decides it should raise this baby.  It is ghost lady's baby after all.  And then they decorate a Christmas tree, because now ghost families raising psycho babies celebrate Christmas--the day the savior was born.  Sure.  There probably wasn't actually that subtext to that at all, actually.  But then Tate and Kate Mara are watching the ghost family decorate the Christmas tree and Kate Mara says something menacing to Tate.  Dun-dun-dun.  CUT TO:  Three years later.
     I imagine this is a bit that fans of the show are excited about.  Jessica Lange is in a hair dresser and goes on about how she's a mother now.  By now I'm pretty sure that Jessica Lange is Tate's mother, so she's obviously rape-baby's grandmother. She's raising the ghost family's baby.  She goes home, there's blood, and this little blond three-year-old has murdered his nanny.  She says "what will I do with you?" and smiles at him.  Now, I don't know what this means, but I bet it's a huge set up for the next season.

Also, a few extra side notes--thoughts I said to the TV as I was watching:

-No, that doesn't answer the question.
-It's Joe! From Ellen!
-Is there a "shit" quotient you're trying to reach?
-You just told him you raped his wife, so I don't think he wants to hang.
-I have to pee.
-Someone's dead.  Are they all dead?  Well, at least someone is newly dead now.
-Bwawawa <<maniacal laughter>>.

Now Mary can tell me what was really happening.  And I'll tell her all about Hot In Cleveland.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Almost Really Winter

     The Winter Solstice is nearly upon us!  It happens at 12:30 am tomorrow morning, Eastern Standard Time.  I don't have any plans for a celebration; there aren't a lot of Winter Solstice episodes of my favorite TV shows or classic Winter Solstice films.  Chances are there is some sort of pagan ritual, but I don't know what it is.  Maybe it's about sacrificing a pig at the precise moment the earth reaches its farthest distance from, and its axis reaches its maximum of 23.5degrees in relation to, the sun.  That seems bloody and gross though.
     According to a simple interwebs search, there is quite the dancing celebration at sunrise in Stonehenge.  That sounds fun.  I wonder if folks do the same thing at Carhenge. Also, the Chinese celebrate by making "glutinous balls of rice" with their families and the Japanese and Irish run crazy through the streets--in their respective countries, not just where ever they are.
    Of course, as we all know, Winter Solstice is the official first day of winter and the days start getting longer. This is nice for those of us living in the north since the sun will stay up later and later, just a bit each more each day.  Currently I think it goes down around 3 in the afternoon.  For Santa, his elves, polar bears, and narwhals, tomorrow is the day that it is dark for a full 24hours.  They'll really appreciate when the sun actually starts rising, even if only for a moment.    
     Next year's Winter Solstice is supposed to be a big one--the pesky end of the world.  It seems like we should be celebrating this year much like we did back in 1999, when we thought 2000 was the end of the world.  It'd be great if Prince could get to writing that song, 'cause this one is not good:

     Happy Winter Solstice!  I think it's a day we can all enjoy.  I suppose it's considered  pagan holiday, but it's also just a real thing that happens regardless of any particular belief system.  You can't not believe in the solstice.  That would be like not believing in the sun and that would make you crazypants.
     Yay Winter!  The days are getting longer!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Unaccompanied Minors. A Review.

     I've only seen about 20 minutes of it so far, but it seems pretty terrible.  Also, I'm not listening to it--I put my headphones on to block out the sound of the construction in the apartments all around me--but the soundless pictures pretty much tell me what's going on.  A group of child actors who were popular about 5 years ago got left in an airport and are acting their faces off.  And that's how they act too--with their faces.  
     Rob Corddry is in this too.  He filled up a container labeled "bio fuel," laughed maniacally, pulled a Santa suit from a shelf in his garage, and drove away in an old Mercedes.  Clearly, he's the bad guy.  So far, that's all I know about this movie.  Still, I think it's probably going to be terrible.  Rob Corddry's character is probably a bio-terrorist and the kids will probably thwart his plans.  It's probably a classic tale of a group of misfits overcoming their differences and adversity and defeating the terrible man trying to defeat Christmas.  
      There will be prat falls, but no one will be really hurt.  Adults will be viliianized even when they're just trying to do their jobs and the children will be heroized even when they're breaking the damn rules.  I don't know why these kids are stuck in an airport, but I would guess they did something stupid and didn't do what an airport employee told them to do.  They'll spend most of the movie being bratty scamps, right up to the end when they apologize to their parents with big doe eyes and their parents forgive them, just being thankful they're alive and dismiss all the collateral damage with "kids will be kids."
     I just turned around to catch a scene where the misfit kids are sledding down a hill in a canoe.  Oh, what scamps.  Why are they outside?  I don't know, but I bet it's a stupid reason.  It may seem like I'm not giving this movie a fair shake.  But really, I've already spent more time thinking about it than I ever really wanted to.  This is a film that was made with the intent of it falling into the modern Christmas canon, and it failed miserably.  
      Oh, Lewis Black is in it.  Maybe he's the bad guy.  Maybe I have no idea what's happening in this film at all.  Still, it's probably terrible.  Grade F.  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ice Cream for Breakfast

     One of the best parts of being an adult is that really, you can have whatever you want for breakfast.  When we're adults, our pallets have usually become some sort of sophisticated and we want things like eggs benedict, egg white omelets with rosemary, and bacon casseroles.  And sure, I like those things too.  But sometimes, I actually want ice cream for breakfast.  Ice cream is traditionally a dessert, so it seems prudent to at least have a bowl of corn flakes first.
     A shameful secret from my childhood is that I used to have ice cream for breakfast a lot.  There was nobody around in the morning to tell me not to have it, and really what was the main difference between pop-tarts and fudgecicles anyway?  If anything, the fudgecicle was better because it came on a stick.  So rather than having a real breakfast I would grab a fudgecicle from the freezer and lick it down to its stick on my walk to the bus stop.  I didn't just do this once or twice either.  I would usually have a fudgecicle for breakfast about once or twice a week, for years.
     Often, by about 2nd or 3rd period, I would feel pretty ill.  It seemed obvious to everyone else--having ice cream for breakfast will make you ill.  I didn't get it though.  I had ice cream for breakfast all the time.  Ice cream was mostly good for you, like Pop Tarts or Lucky Charms.  Or Chocolate Cake.  That brings me to my next point:


Having grown up on the comedy stylings of Bill Cosby, it seemed perfectly logical to me to have Chocolate Cake for breakfast.  My parents also went along with Bill Cosby's logic.  "Mom, can I have cake and ice cream for breakfast?"  "Well, Bill Cosby gives it to his kids, and he's a national treasure, so yes."
     So even though I might end up feeling a little ill before lunch time, sometimes I still have ice cream for breakfast.  After all, it's mostly milk, and milk does a body good.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Perfume Commercials

     While I was living in DC, I didn't have cable.  I watched most of my television on the internet.  And for the 6 years prior to that, I was a devotee of TiVo or other generic DVR.  Therefore, I haven't actually had to watch commercials in quite some time.  But now, I'm stuck watching them a lot, and among all of them, I find perfume and cologne commercials to be the most outlandish.
     What the hell is ever going on in these commercials?  The first few I saw I was truly confused.  There was water and weird music and hot people and chasing and then someone would whisper the name of the perfume. Fade out.  I spent a moment thinking "what does that have to do with perfume?" or just a plain "whhhaaaaa?"  It's only taken a few weeks of conditioning though; now I can spot them within a nanosecond of coming on. Weird music and a hot person?  This doesn't make sense?  Must be for perfume!
     I suppose I can understand why the folks who are marketing perfume have to go so abstract high concept with it--how can you showcase a smell on TV?  It's a visual medium.  Smell-o-vision failed.  But still, the commercials are ridiculous.  And they're always on.  And mostly, they make me feel weird about watching TV because frankly, they're just a bit like 30-second bits of porn.
      Seriously, what else could this be a commercial for?  Swimming?  Sex?  Penises?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Shouting Out Words

    Reading is fundamental.  Often, after the fundamental part wears off, it's hard to keep at it.  I like the idea of reading.  In fact, I like most bits about reading, except for when I'm actually reading and I drift off to sleep after only reading 4 pages.  Then I start feeling bad about myself.  I want to be a reader.  I want to read everything I can get my hands on and actually remember it all.  I want to know things.  And sure, I know some things, but there are just so many things out there to know; I want to know more of them.
     A typical way to get an improv show started is to ask someone to shout out a word.  From that word, themes are cultivated and scenes unfold.  I was at a show the other night and the word that was shouted out was irrigation.  Ah, what a great word.  Irrigation.
     Irrigation is one of those things we learn about when we're in school at some point--5th grade maybe.  But then we don't irrigate much, save for a wound or two, and we tend to forget the specifics of it.  We know it's how farmers water crops.  We can picture sprinkler heads and long lengths of pipe.  Irrigating up a hill is probably a thing.  It's probably difficult, but the irrigation engineers figured out how to overcome it.  Other than that we don't think much about it, so we tuck it away in our brains.
     Of the 8 people on the improv team, I would guess about 5 of them were irrigation experts.  How the hell did they remember all of that about irrigation?  A reservoir?  Catching overflow?  What the hell?  There is a chance they were completely bullshitting, but I actually don't think so.  Not everyone on the team offered new irrigation information and the information seemed specific enough to be completely accurate.  It was unreal.  It made me want to read a book about irrigation so I wouldn't be caught off guard for when it comes up again.
     I don't really want to read a book about irrigation.  I can't imagine how long it would take me to get through since I'd be reading it a page at a time between 8 hour naps.  This is because I think a book about irrigation would be very very boring.  However, I would like for all the information I do read to stick in my head.  That way if I'm ever in an improv show and someone shouts out "ornithology," I'll have a think or two to say about puffins and ostriches and the study thereof.    

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When I Know It's Christmas

     The two weeks prior to actual Christmas, television shows put on their Christmas episodes.  That's how I get into the holiday spirit--through song and comedy, like in this rap from Community:

 Also, last year's Community Christmas episode gave us this awesome Christmas jingle, reminding us what Christmas is for:

 When the shows on TV tell me it's Christmas, that's when I know it's Christmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Decorations

    Last year, I had a little tree with a string of blue lights, popcorn, and cranberries on it.  It was lovely.  I probably had a picture of if somewhere, but the sweet computer death took care of that.  So far this year, my only decorations are the wrappers from the candy in my candy dish.
     The problem with Christmas decorations is that when it's not Christmas, I don't have any where to store the decorations.  I'm sure cool people hand their twinkle lights up all year long, but I am not that cool.  I would guess that the lights from last year's tree are somewhere in DC, hidden in a cabinet in the apartment.
     I've been debating on getting a tree this year.  There is a tree selling place on the corner; they have very small tree tops for sale.  I doubt it would be very intrusive to the humble living arrangement we have worked out here.  I've even imagined hanging up little stockings next to it and putting candy in those stockings.  It would almost be like a real Christmas.  Not that I'm looking for a real Christmas--I prefer my Christmas like the good little pagan I am: fake, with alcohol. And some sort of ice cream log.
     The problem of apartment decorating is still the issue here.  There is just no place to store the decorations.  I have two adorable Winnie the Pooh tree ornaments, and I end up looking at them all year long.  I threw the tree stand from last year away.  It might seem rather Ebenezer of me to prioritize storage space over holiday joy, but bah humbug, I need room for my damn DVDs.
     Clearly, Ted on How I Met Your Mother has tons of damn space for his Christmas decorations.  And as much as I'm over giving a shit about who the mother is, I really really liked this scene from their Christmas episode.  Except I would be annoyed if I had to sit on lights.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Community Sized Hole

     It takes a  lot of hard work and dedication to watch seasons of TV is just a few days, but it's hard work and dedication I'm willing to put in.  After Thursday's pitch perfect episode of Community, I immediately started missing it.  It's on hiatus and its return date is still unknown.  It left a Community sized hole in my heart and soul.
     Hulu to the rescue.  Hulu Plus, to be exact.  Unlike Google +, Hulu Plus is actually useful and awesome.  (I'm just kidding, Google +.  Please don't take Oliver away.)  Hulu Plus has all 59 episodes available.  I was able to spend my weekend with Community and start healing that fresh wound.
     Upon rewatching the pilot, I actually remember the moment when watching it the first time that I decided I loved the show.  It was toward the end of the episode--Jeff walks by the school and Pierce is standing outside.  Pierce says to Jeff "You remind me of myself at your age."  Jeff retorts with "I deserve that."  With that, the weird little show worked its way into my heart and soul and just about every other part of me it could fit.
     Full disclosure:  I only made it through the first season this past weekend.  If I put my mind to it, I should be able to get through season two and the first half of season three this week.  And then when their return date is announced, I'll have to do it all again.
    It's good to revisit the older episodes.  I had forgotten how and when Troy got his monkey.  SPOILER ALERT--it's the episode where they run the chicken finger ring.  Also, it's a great show to watch over and over just because of how damn good it is.  I realize this word gets thrown around a lot, but this time I mean it--Dan Harmon is a genius.  The show is intricate; there are details and layers that are oft best appreciated upon subsequent viewings.  The jokes are coming at ya fast a furiously!
     Also, I love Troy.  NBC has put together this video to help showcase why he's so damn lovable:

Friday, December 9, 2011

I Stayed Up Too Late

     A few weeks ago I discussed cycles and how vicious they are.  They are also really hard to break.  Since then, I've been trying to break this horrible cycle of staying up too late and then sleeping in the next morning.  I made a list of ways I wanted to be better; among them was getting up a reasonable, adult time.  So far, I have been failing.
     This morning, or yesterday morning, depending on how time is actually classified, I slept in to an unreasonable hour.  I justified it neatly because 1. I was up late recovering my hard drive from the sweet computer death and 2. I could feel illness upon me, so I was sleeping it off.  Of course, as we know from how cycles go, sleeping in means that when normal bedtime comes around, we won't be tired.
     Something odd has happened this evening.  It started off like a normal Thursday night--I watched Community and Parks&Rec, cried for about 2 minutes, then had popcorn and chocolate ice cream for dinner.  Then I watched the second disc of season 5 of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  And then I couldn't stop doing things.  I kept watching things on TV.  I was looking things up on the internet.  I was creating playlists.  I was writing sketch ideas.  All of a sudden it was 1am.  I had things in my Amazon shopping cart that shouldn't be there.  I made a firm conclusion about the Fleet Foxes.  Clearly, it was time to go to bed.  But there was just one more thing.
     A trip down memory lane, through tweets.  I don't know why I did it, but I couldn't stop.  I had gone to my own profile and started scrolling down.  I had assumed it would stop after 25 or so.  It didn't.  So I didn't.  I read all 675 tweets and pieced together the last 2 years and some change of my life.  There were a few that I couldn't place--for example, I do not know what prompted "I apologize in advance to everyone I'm going to piss off today. Mama's on a roll and she ain't slowin' down."  I don't know that I often refer to myself as "Mama."  But there it was, and it made me chuckle.  And clearly I wasn't amused when I wrote it, but the blurry filter of nostalgia made me think it must have been a good time.  
    Then it was 2:30am, and somehow I still wasn't tired.  So I kept going with things.  Now it's almost 3.  This feels like the time of day when you debate staying up or getting just a few hours of sleep while in college.  When the alarm is going to go off in less than 2 hours so you decide to just power through.  Reading through those tweets reminded me of my early mornings when I was a trusty barista; 5am was a normal wake-up time.  I don't have to get up at 5am tomorrow, or today, and I should take a moment to be thankful for that.  
     I stayed up too late, and it's going to hurt me tomorrow, and the next day and the next, until I can break this cycle.  It's possible that one way to break it would be to stay up.  I would then be exhausted by about, oh 7am., so it wouldn't actually work.  But in theory, if I pushed through the day, I would then go to bed early and then get up early, and the cycle would magically be broken, just like that.  It'd be like sleep rapid detox.      

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Cloisters.

    I didn't know what The Cloisters was when I agreed to go.  My friend Emily was visiting and said "I want to see The Cloisters.  Want to come?"  Of course!  Sounds great!  Turns out, The Cloisters is a pretty amazing museum that's about as far north in Manhattan as you can go and still be in Manhattan.  It takes a little while to get there--the A train, while express, still has to follow the law of physics!  But it feels like you're in the middle of the woods, even though you're still in the city.
     The Cloisters is a museum of Medieval Art.  This also means that a whole bunch of it is religious art--a lot of Pietas and virgins and immaculate conceptions and other pieces of medieval devotions.  It's amazing how well preserved the art stayed after all these years.  I would assume in 500 years, my dogs playing poker print will not be as well preserved.  Even without the religious devotion behind it, it's quite interesting to see the art and to imagine how the knights and medievaliets lived and loved and arted.
     The most fascinating part of it for me was how the Cloisters building itself was part of the museum.  Doorways from castles and important medieval structures were in the museum as actual doorways.  The rooms of the museum were reconstructed in the various medieval time they were meant to represent.  It was like visiting a whole bunch of castles at once, but with heat!
     There were a few school group tours there during our visit, and I hate to say they dampened the experience, but they did a bit.  Kids and medieval art?  Come on!  Also, I don't know a lot about curriculum, but I'm guessing it was a private catholic school, or someone's gonna get fired.  Or the descriptions of the art were very vague:  "This is of a lady named Mary, and some people who knew her.  Notice the lines.  Next!"
     The Cloisters were a good time.  If you do plan to make the trek, make sure you have a serious few hours carved out of your schedule, mainly for transport.  The walk through the garden leading up to it is also lovely, even if it's raining.  Also, I like saying the word cloister.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oh Sweet Computer Death

     As I get older, I'm learning to be more patient and to not lose my shit so often.  More and so often are important qualifiers in that statement.  Just moments ago, I watched my computer practically melt, at least in a digital sense.  Every program that was open flashed on the screen and then closed.  Then approximately 50 warning signs popped up.  The desktop went black. 
     I restarted the computer, foolishly hoping it was just a fun game it was playing with me.  The computer restarted, but the desktop was still black, there were no programs available, and the error messages started all over.  Hard drive this and hard drive that.  Critical error this and critical error that. Clearly there was something wrong with the hard drive. 
     The computer is not completely broken.  I'm writing this post on it right now!  And I'm on email!  It does, however, keep telling me about hard drive clusters and more critical errors.  And again, there are no actual programs on it.  I don't  actually know how I got the internet to show up. 
     What I'm not doing right now is freaking the fuck out or losing my shit.  Oh what progress into being a grown-up I've made!  Ten years ago if my computer had shat itself and then melted before my eyes, I may not have taken it as well.  About two to three years ago, my external hard drive hit the ground and started clicking.  It was a pretty awful moment--my nearly completed thesis film was on that hard drive.  All I could do was crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head and hope it was a dream.  I don't recall really losing my shit over that one, except when people asked the inevitable "did you back it up?" question.  Because of course I didn't.  If I had, there wouldn't really be a story.  But anyway, I digress. 
     That moment actually taught me a whole hell of a lot about how to store things and how to feel about the things I'm storing.  First of all, MozyHome backs up every damn thing on all my computers on their super servers.  It's not free, but it's worth the peace of mind.  Secondly, I'm just storing files; I'm not storing people or memories.  There's really nothing that can't be recreated.  Or, if there is something that can't be recreated then print it and hide it in a lock box or something.  These things are just machines and if the movies have taught us anything, it's that machines cannot be trusted. 
     I'm going to save and post this right now, because I'm not sure how much longer it will be until the grim computer reaper comes to fully take this computer away.  And I'm just going to sit here wand watch it fade into the good night.  And then replace its hard drive. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


     People in soup commercials are so happy to be eating soup.  When I watch the soup commercials I think "I want to be as happy as those folks" and it leads me to craving soup.  Well done, soup marketing people.  You've convinced me that eating soup with make me happy and healthy.  Clearly soup is the gateway to a better world.
      On the other hand, I'm rarely ever as happy as those people when I'm eating soup.  I went through a soup phase in college--my freshman year, it was about all I could afford and I ate it all the time.  It has taken me a long time to get over that.  I'm rarely ever in the mood for soup now.  It leaves an empty feeling in my soul; there is a soup-shaped empty hole in my soul. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly. A Review.

     This film is about 4 years old; I think it's been in my queue for about 3 1/2.  It's a movie I always meant to watch, but then it would get pushed down the list in favor of a comedy or something not in French.  Oh, what a mistake.
     The Diving Bell and The Butterfly is the story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, based on the book of the same title.  Jean-Do wrote the book whilst in the hospital after suffering a massive stroke.  In France, his story was very well known; he was famous as the editor of Elle so people really cared about his story.  
     The filmmakers brought us into Jean-Do's world immediately.  Eventually it became uncomfortable.  And just when the uncomfortableness was about to reach fever pitch, they pulled us out and started showing us the rest of his world--his memories and his imagination.  
     The word most commonly associated with this film is beautiful.  I agree.  It was really very beautiful.  Janusz Kaminski is a cinematographic genius.  Everything was done in-camera, as is the term, and it's pretty darn remarkable.  All of this information is included on the special features of the DVD; I recommend watching those as well.
     It's definitely not a comedy, but there were a few moments of humor in the film.  It's about the indomitable human spirit, and often the human spirit is funny.  The film is in French, because Jean-Dominique Bauby was French.  The book was in French and everything happens in France, so the director, Julian Schnabel, wanted to maintain that realness and that frenchiness.  He succeeded.  It's very French.
     The Diving Bell and The Butterfly is a very fine film.  If you haven't seen it yet, check it out.   

Friday, December 2, 2011

10 Years Too Late

     The X-Files was awesome. I really enjoyed the show.  It actually reached an unhealthy level of obsession somewhere around 1998.  I would set my VCR to record it every week; one week it appeared as though my roommate had taped over it with Yellow Submarine, the Beattles movie.  I may have freaked the fuck out.  Turns out, it only taped over the very beginning and the rest of the episode was available, so nobody had to die.
     I loved The X-Files a great deal, and this led to a lot of assumptions about me that were not true.  I liked the show because of the characters.  I loved watching Mulder and Scully.  I did not care about the aliens or the creatures.  The government conspiracy was only mildly interesting, really.  If it weren't for Mulder and Scully, there would have been no show.  This was proven in season 9, when Mulder went away and everyone stopped watching.
     I held on for Scully, but it still wasn't the same.  Chris Carter, the creator, tried to prove that The X-Files could continue based on the strength of the files themselves.  He figured people were interested in the supernatural and unexplained enough to push forward without the main characters.  He was wrong.  Mulder and Scully were the only reason to watch the show.
     Agent Doggett wasn't terrible.  Nor was Anabeth Gish, even though I don't remember her character's name.  But the files themselves weren't interesting enough to make up for the loss of the great characters.  To prove my point, here are a few clips of great scenes from the show.  They're great because they're about the characters, not about the aliens.
    I wanted to include the last scene of the episode "Post Modern Prometheus," but it was unavailable. This (I assume) fan made video of the episode was though, and it actually gives a pretty good feel for what the show was about. So, against my better judgement about fan-art:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Muppets. A Review.

     Adorable.  Fantastic.  Play it again, projectionist!  It was the perfect blend of hope for the future and nostalgia.
     Of course they live in their own world.  And if you're not familiar with the world going in, they do a pretty good job of setting it up for you in the first minute.  Walter (for intents and purposes--a muppet) and Jason Segal (as Gary) are brothers.  They live in the happiest (and smallest) town you could imagine and everyone is ok with that.
     It's in the trailer so I'm not spoiling anything by saying this--Walter, Gary, and Mary (Amy Adams) take a vacation to LA to meet the Muppets.  Hijinks ensue.  They continue to be irreverent and irresistible, and they work their way into our hearts.  I laughed and I cried.  I laughed that hearty belly laugh that eventually brings tears to me eyes.  Man, it was a good time.
     At times they were a little meta, but it wasn't overdone.  Mary references the length of the movie.  They point out plot points.  But it's the Muppets so it works.
     Also, The Muppets was basically celebrity cameo central.  Technically, a few sightings were cameos and a few were actually credited.  But still, it was jam packed full of stars in little parts all around the film.  Keep an eye peeled for Dave Grohl!  I won't ruin it by listing the others, because the true stars are the Muppets themselves, of course.
     The Muppets is also a great story.  Sure, it's about the Muppets putting on a telethon to raise money to buy back their theater so evil oil tycoon Chris Cooper doesn't destroy it.  But really that's just the mask on the real story of learning who you really are, finding your people, and then being really happy with your people whilst being your self.
     There are also a lot of fun songs in The Muppets.  That's not a surprise, I know.  I'm not usually a musical fan, but I love the music in The Muppets.  Save for that one Chris Cooper number.  I just pretend that didn't happen.  I also think Jason Segal deserves a huge kudos for this film.  I think he made it happen, and he was a delight to watch.  He could be a muppet.
     For all my accolades, I must bring up one area for improvement--more Muppets!  
     To quote Kermit, "...being a Muppet meant you're one of a kind...being a Muppet means you will follow your dreams where ever they take you, and have a high tolerance for explosions." I would also like to be a Muppet. 


Rockefeller Plaza Christmas Tree Lighting. A Review.

     Hell.  It was complete Hell.  I had a few very real panic moments where I was sure I would be crushed or suffocated to death.  People attempted to defy laws of physics by occupying the same space other people were already standing. There was a constant pushing force that was holding people up so very few of use were actually standing on our own legs.  We were being held up by the force of those around us.  My feet were an interesting shade of numb between the coldness and the trampling.
     It was really hard to figure out where to go.  I tried to get there plenty early, though I knew I didn't get there early enough.  The roads were blocked off and there were corrals made of fencing on the sidewalks.  Police officers wit bullhorns kept yelling for everyone to keep moving.  But where were we supposed to move to?  I passed the tree about three times, catching a glimpse each time, until eventually I just ended up in a giant mass of people.  There was nowhere to go.  It was 6 o'clock and I was intimately sandwiched among 10,000 strangers. 
     And people are bitches.  The bitch behind me completely ruined the entire experience for me because she wouldn't shut the hell up.  We couldn't see much at all, and hearing was tough.  What made the situation worse was her constant commentary about how we couldn't see much and hearing was tough.  You know what would make it easier to hear?  If you'd shut up!  I would have really liked to hear Carole King sing, but this twat didn't know who it was so instead talked over the performance.  She talked over every performance, even those she claimed to like.  I ended up learning way too much about her life.  She even ruined a potentially really sweet moment we had--someone started singing "Santa Clause is coming to town" and nearly the entire section joined in.  Then Bitchy McBitcherson commented "Elf, anyone?"  We all know it was an Elf moment.  But it was also a really nice moment where a bunch of strangers in one of the most uncomfortable positions joined together in a moment of song.  Way to ruin it by being yourself.
     I maintain the standing there experience was pure and utter Hell.  But the tree is really pretty.  I'll go back soon to see it lit up from an angle I couldn't see it before.  And by that I mean any angle where I can see more than the left side branch through a window.