Friday, March 30, 2012

Doomed to Repeat It

     Remember this post about sweet computer death? It happened again. It didn't take on the exact same form, but death became it nonetheless. I suppose I should applaud the computer for taking on a new and interesting way for it to kill itself. It was most likely a virus, contracted from irresponsible downloading. A blue screen I had never seen before popped up and basically gave me the middle finger. I attempted a few restarts. I was confident that most of my files had been backed up, so I attempted a respawn. Another middle finger. I think the virus the computer contracted gave the computer pneumonia, and it has infected every part of its hard drive.
      Another cruel joke of the respawn failure was the message that came up to inform me of the failure. It instructed me to visit a website to investigate further. Thanks, ass. It reminds me of when my neighbors would come over to call the phone company to report their phone problems. The company always asked if they were calling from their own phone. My neighbor would respond with "no, if I could use my phone, I wouldn't be calling to report it broken." I feel the same way about offering web help for a computer problem. Of course, clearly, I'm on a computer right now, so I could have maybe checked out that page they referred me to. But that's not the point. If my car broke down and I called a mechanic and he told me to drive down there, I'd have the same reaction. Sure, maybe I could drive someone else's car to get to the mechanic, but it doesn't help the problem.
     With this newest sweet computer death, I've starting thinking about a complete computer overhaul. I actually own three computers. That sounds like a lot. It is, but all of them were built before 2008 and have different uses. One of them only has one program on it and doesn't connect to the internet. It's basically a word processor. Another one is basically just a digital storage box and it can't be used for long stretches at a time. It still has a 3.5" floppy drive. The newest one is the one that just died. If it can be resurrected at a reasonable cost, I'd be happy to have it back, but I will not turn it into a lemon where I pour more into repairs than a) it's worth and b) the cost of a new/used computer.
     A friend of mine recently told me Mercury was in retrograde. She said it like I knew what the fuck she was talking about and would understand all of its implications. I didn't. But then I looked it up and it means that the universe has broken its mirror while walking under a ladder with a black cat crossing its path and we should just all stay inside and not touch anything because everything will go wrong. Touche universe. Touche Mercury. You win this round.
     As with the previous sweet computer death post (which I do think happened last time Mercury was in retrograde), I'm choosing to not completely lose my shit. It's just files; it's just plastic, metal, and glass; it's digital spring cleaning. Oh, but the one thing I will lose my shit about is if I tell anyone my computer died and they tilt their head at me and say "you should have gotten a mac." You know, maybe I should have.  But that kind of unsolicited time-travel-requiring advice is worthless and makes me hate you. So don't say it.

Monday, March 26, 2012


     Spring is here! Spring is great. I like it a lot. It's one of my favorite four seasons. Spring came in perfectly this year--March 20th was a picture perfect day for a vernal equinox. Ahh.  Equinoxes.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Being Tired

     When I get overly tired, I develop a sort of ADD. There is no hyperactivity involved, but my thoughts just drift from one thing to another without ever coming to a conclusion. Now is an example of that, and my thoughts are drudging along like this:

Cookies. I would love some cookies. Those were good cookies I had the other day.
Look at the cups on my desk.
You know, Friends is still a good show.
I wish I had more wine.
It's hard to believe it's been off the air as long as it has.
Maybe there are crumbs in this package.
I should wash these.
Ugh. Brian Greene.
My feet hurt.
Ooooh. Head scratch.
I've seen the finale so many times.
There's that one spot I can't scratch.
I already ate the crumbs.
I'm sad.
That's a lot of cups.

And you know, it just goes like that for a while. And guess what? I'm not going to wash those cups while I'm tired.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Happy Friday!

     It's Friday! How great. Now we can spend the day talking about Community's triumphant return! And 30 Rock, and Up All Night. Go.
     Also, I hope everyone made it safely through the ides of March. Woosh. It can be a tough one.
     And just because I love it, a great song by The Decemberists:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sometimes Science Is Hard

    I tried to make the argument that reading was hard, but Mary called me stupid. I suppose it's not the reading that's hard, it's the science. I've been trying to read The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene for about 4 weeks now. It's about 322 pages, so it really shouldn't take me that long. But I can only read about 6 pages at a time before my brain wants to explode.
     It's supposed to be about parallel universes. In fact, I was drawn in by the first few paragraphs and Brian Greene's description of potential multiple electron locations within their clouds equating to potential multiple everythings. If it was possible for an electron to be in one of two places, then it was actually possible for them to be in each place, just in different universes. So if it was possible for me to either make the train or miss the train, it was possible for both to happen, but in different universes. Basically, Sliding Doors could happen, but in parallel universes. Ooooh, intrigue.
     But then Brian Greene goes on and on about string theory. I've read (parts) of his other books, The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos, and it's all just string theory propaganda. The fervent defense of it makes me skeptical of it, where I wasn't at all before. I'm sure there is a bit more nuance to it, but it seems like there are three full books just touting that string theory is the true wave of the future. They can't all say the exact same things, but they're not saying all that much that's different.
     The problem I've been having with The Hidden Reality and Brian Greene is that he claims he's explaining super complicated scientific ideas in everyman ways. He's on a bit of a high horse about his ability to break down the cosmos so the laymen can understand it. I call bullshit. He is not good at analogies. Now, I'm not great at science, but I know some things. Brian Greene attempts to use Archie (from the comics) as an analogy for something in science. If I were to do this, I would say something along the lines of "Archie eats an infinite number of hamburgers. You wonder how he does it, right? He just eats and eats and never gets full. Because it's an infinite amount, he'll never run out of hamburgers. If you tell him to cut down on hamburgers by, say, half, he's still eating an infinite number of hamburgers because half of infinity is still infinity. And in the end both will eventually kill Archie." Or, alternatively "Archie has a really hard time deciding between Betty and Veronica because they're both really hot. Parallel universes allows for him to never have to decide. He can have both, though he won't know he has both because he can't know about the other realities. Also, there is probably another universe where he's with neither of them and instead alone and miserable." Those aren't great, I know. But still, it gave you something to imagine, right? Brian Greene's "layman analogies" go like this: "Imagine Archie had a homework problem where he had to count to 10^155. And then imagine he had a radio telescope and was measuring the temperature of the universe to determine the value of the universal cosmological constant." Brian--that's just what you do. That's NOT an analogy. Saying Archie is going to do it instead of you doesn't help me understand it.
     He does this repeatedly, and I find it frustrating. I don't understand the science any better, and I just get irritated when he drags my favorite pop-culture characters through the cosmological background radiation mud. He's not fun to read, but he thinks he is. He's an arrogant physicist, and I find that insufferable.
     True, I have not finished reading the book. It does seem extra harsh to criticize the book before I finish it. But at this rate I'm not inclined to finish it because I get so distracted by his imperfect analogies. And his overzealous defense of string theory.I've probably missed a huge section of it, but I don't yet see how string theory or not string theory helps explain parallel universes. It seems to me like explaining how farmers deprive chickens of light to get better eggs while teaching someone how to make hollandaise sauce and perfectly poached eggs. (ANALOGY!) I suppose one leads to the other in about 125 steps, but I just want a goddamned eggs benedict. So sure, string theory might explain--or rather, mathematically justify--the forces of the universe and 125 steps later I might get to thinking "oh, so there could be parallel universes?" but I just want a goddamned eggs benedict.
     I know science well enough to have picked up this book and find its content interesting. But without a PhD in asshattery and physics, so much of it was lost on me. I prefer the astrophysics stylings of Neil deGrasse Tyson. He knows how to make analogies and he has a lovely sense of humor.
     Brian Greene can eat my hat. My infinitely large multiverse hat.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thoughts on Smash

     I like about half of Smash. The other half is overwrought and makes me yell at my TV.
     I don't much care for Ivy, her breathless voice, and her premature divalation. As much as I understand how she exudes sex and practically already is Marilyn, I still want her to fall and break her ankle. And for that to somehow cause her vocal chords to sift into puberty or whatever it is that allow the sounds to come out as words and not the faint whispers of a breeze through a sexy haunted house. Even her tantrums aren't very tantrum-y. Her "we're not football players" speech was just plain childish. You might not be football players, but you are adults, so suck it up and do your job. Your singing job, by the way. You sing for a living. You didn't lose a big case and endure the judge raking you across the coals for an improper defense on CourtTV. You fell on a couch and were laughing when the director said "don't do that." He's right.
     I would guess I'm not supposed to like the director, but as far as I can tell, he's the closest to being a human being. Yes, he is a jerk. But so are most people, so it works. Again, he's trying to put on a Broadway musical so yes, he just cares about your voice. And that you can stand and dance. He doesn't care that you have to cry yourself to sleep or that you require the care of two grown men to sing you to sleep because you're too goddamned frail. You're not handling your downward spiral well. Take his terseness to mean that. As far as I can tell, he's the only one on the production staff who really cares about making the show good and not about everyone's feelings.
     Oh Julia. For fuck sake, Julia, what the hell are you doing? And where did you get those pants? And why did you just put pants on over your pajama top and then go outside in Manhattan. Even at 10pm, people will see you. I really hate this affair story line. I get that audiences might find it intriguing, but I think it's pretty gross. The only good that could come out of it is that maybe Michael knocked something loose and Julia can get over her writer's block. Of course, the affair is most likely the cause of the block. Oh, messiness. I get it from a dramatic point of view, it just doesn't do much for me. Also, while we're talking about Julia, what is the deal with her family? They all seem to land somewhere on the autistic spectrum. They're lifeless. It's like the producers built an extra set and needed to fill it with people and said "we'll just call this her family." And again, the director is right to tell the writer he doesn't care about her family problems because Julia needs to do her job--write the damn show.
     And speaking of writing the show, the original numbers written for this mythical Marilyn musical are quite nice. They're a really fun part of the show. Bringing them from the rehearsal space to the pretend theater will fill stage numbers is fun and exciting to watch. Watching Katharine McPhee sing a Florence + The Machine song at a bar mitsvah? That's time to use the bathroom and maybe do some household chores. I love the song. Florence + The Machine are great. But it has nothing to do with the show and Katharine McPhee beings nothing new to it. Also, those kids who were "into it" were clearly not. I would guess it was the end of the day and the director was yelling at them "pretend you really like this song. Put your hands in the air and sway like people used to do for hip hop songs. COME ON! Fine, fine, just wave around listless for 10 minutes, that's fine too. I want to go."
     Angelica Huston is great, but I'm losing interest in her character. She's becoming too cartoonish for me. And hanging out with Tom's assistant irks me. Tom's assistant needs to fall down a sewer drain or slip and fall on the A train tracks. He's a little bitch and I can't believe adults aren't putting a stop to it. Parents don't let toddlers get away with that level of tattling.
     Also, when Karen drops all of her crap behind the piano and then overhears the entire conversation between Tom, Derick, Julia, et al, how long did she have to stay hidden before she could leave? She's already been hiding. She can't get up! She has to stay there until every person has left the building. And then still wait 30 minutes after that to make sure nobody comes back to sex their boss. It must have ruined her afternoon. That's why she was late to the bar mitzvah. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Quick Trips

     I think it's nice to leave a place wanting more. It usually means the visit was just right. I think it's easier to make a quick trip and leave it thinking "that was so nice, I want to do it again" than to do a long trip and think "I need a vacation from this vacation!"  did a quick weekend trip to DC, and it was nice. I'd like to do it again.
     My quick trip was full of meeting up with friends and just hanging out. Visiting a place you used to live is weird. Well, for me, visiting a place I used to live (just 5 month ago) is weird. It's all so very familiar, but pieces of it started to fade away. Someone stopped to ask me where Massachusetts Ave was. I said "Oh yeah, it's ... uh, huh. This isn't it. New Hampshire Ave is that way. It's not north. I guess I don't really know anymore." I was not helpful, and the guy thought I was a little nutso.
     The nice part about visiting a place you used to live is that you can just meet people at places because you know where things are and how to get there (as long as they're not on Massachusetts Ave, apparently). There's no pressure to take in the sights, visit monuments, or experience the local culture. Just going to Chipotle is a very real, viable option. You really just get to visit with your friends in their apartment with their kegerator, and that's very nice.
     Clearly, I'm just trying to say I had a nice weekend. It was very short, but full of laughs and beer. Nice!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friends With Kids. A Review.

     I really liked the movie Friends with Kids. Its strength was its writing—it had a clear voice and a clear point of view. It wasn't trying to be an Everyman movie and I applaud that. It had its piece to say and it said it so well. It was great.
     Of course the cast was also wonderful. Basically I think you could put Maya Rudolf, Chris O'Dowd, Kristin Wiig, Jon Hamm, Adam Scott, and Jennifer Westfeldt in a blank room for 2 hours, and it would be great. Their performances were pitch perfect. You'd want to be friends with these people and go on ski weekends with them and even be in the room during their most awkward moments.
     There was a moment I thought it seemed long. But I get like that because really, there was nothing you could cut out. In fact, there were things I wanted to see more of. In the end I retract it and say it wasn't too long. I think the feeling just happened because there was no clear, obvious place for the movie to go. There was no hit us over the head conclusion and that's a good thing.
     (This is cause for debate among other viewers. Some say that because it's a RomCom the ending is obvious. Or because it's a movie its ending is obvious. Well, sure, the nature of the story leads us to expect something in the realm of happiness. We know we're watching a film of the romantic and comedic variety so I suppose we expect the leads to get together. But based on the story itself, we really couldn't be sure of it. I stand by my statement.)
     The story spanned six years but we had no idea that was the case going in. The film played with its time jumps in nice seamless ways, only using the text-on-screen device once. We jumped from conception to birth and then hit birthdays and holidays. Time was passing, as it does, and we were ok with that. The ride felt natural. It's also what led me to that unsettling "when will it end" feeling. And I don't mean that in a mean oh-my-god-it's-taking-forever way. I mean really, at what point in their story does the film end?
     That makes it sound like I'm complaining about the structure or the end in some way. I'm not. Or I don't mean to. I think they ended it perfectly. I was surprised the end was THE END, but in a good way. I'm glad I didn't know that was the end.
     I would love to get into Jennifer Westfeldt's head. That was good writing. I barely have the words to say how good it was, which is unfortunate since I'm trying to write about it. She did what we all want to do. She had a point of view. Her characters were all grounded. They weren't caricatures of people. Maybe Megan Fox was (because she's Megan Fox and I don't care about her), and there was a moment later in the movie when I wanted Jason to stop being obsessed with tits. But then I realized he just took longer to get there. That's all that was happening. He just didn't realize it until late an that actually turned out great.
     This was that rare blend of comedy and heart. We laughed and we cried. Genuinely. And sometimes the laugh would come when we thought it'd be a tear. It was just so goddamn well done. That's a script that should be studied in school, I think. Jennifer Westfeldt should be nominated for an Oscar. Perhaps I'm gushing too mush. (This is very possibly overstated based on the high of just seeing the film and meeting the star. I swooned. So what.) Maybe it's too fresh in my mind. I already want to see it again. The ensemble cast was so very good. Gush gush.
     It's definitely an adult comedy. It deals with adult themes and things that really affect peoples lives. It's kinda big but also nice and small. It's about the families we make. And when we're grown ups we choose our families except we still kinda don't because we can realize after 20 years our family isn't the perfect guy we've been searching for but instead a giant ball of mess that's been with us all along. 
     My friends are having kids and talking about having kids and our conversations sometimes echo the ones in the film. Except my friends aren't as forthright, honest, or amusing as the folks in the movie. Friends With Kids is a movie that would make my one friend who gets uncomfortable watching movies that hit too close to home feel uncomfortable. And I love it!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's Thursday

     I love Thursdays. I bet I've mentioned it before because it is true. Usually, cool things happen on Thursdays. Or, nothing happens on Thursdays and it's a relaxing day and that's great too. It's just a nice day.
     It's my favorite TV night, and it has been as long as I can remember. I used to watch Cheers and The Cosby Show on Thursday nights when I was a kid. And then Seinfeld, and then Friends and Will&Grace and ER. And now it's home to 30 Rock, Parks&Rec,and Up All Night. And Community again, starting next week. Thursdays are great for staying in!
     They're also good for going out. It's the eve to the weekend, so like Christmas eve, you take the time to reflect on the day that is before you and get completely plastered. It's also a fun day for special events because a large percentage of the population will say "it's a Thursday? I'm staying in," like I usually do.
     Also, here's a fun way to remember Thursday, from a Thursday classic:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Sick Day

     I took a sick day yesterday. And I'm taking another one today. I tried to sleep this illness out of me, but it didn't quite work. It's embarrassing how many hours of the day I did actually sleep. But here's hoping that a little NyQuil, a roasted chicken, and some white wine will beat this virus right out of me.
     One thing I didn't take a sick day from was Parks and Rec. Their Paleyfest panel was last night, and even though I'm on the wrong coast, livestream saved the day. So, this:

Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Paul Rudd, Rashida Jones
in the 2003 pilot for Philly Justice.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Viewing Parties

     I went to my first viewing party this weekend. It was a great reminder as to what a communal experience TV can be. I rarely watch TV with other people in the room. Usually that's for good reason because other people like to talk over the TV or not pay attention and then spend time saying "what'd he say? who is that? what? I like her outfit" and then my head explodes. But when watching with a group of people who are just an invested as I am, it can be a nice experience.
     Paleyfest is happening right now in LA. There is also a Paley Center in NYC so the geniuses over there decided they could do a combined event between the two. So over here on the east coast, there was a Community viewing party in conjunction with the Community Paleyfest Panel. We watched a screen of a screen of a panel in LA. How exciting.
     That sounded sarcastic, but it was pretty cool. The Paleyfest in general is a really cool thing. People from our favorite shows come to sit down with some guy and just talk about their show. It's always a good time. I don't know who the guy asking the questions was, I wasn't paying attention to that part. I would guess he's from the Paley Center. That's fine. We're not really looking at him anyway.
     Since those of us in NYC are watching a screen of a screen, Paley Center tried to sweeten the deal a bit with cookies, fruit, and soda. That was nice. Also, there was a blanket fort. A few people were playing in it. I refrained because I'm either too cool or not cool enough. And they were strangers and if I learned anything when I was a kid it was do not get into a fort made of blankets with strangers. But still, it was fun. There was also a costume contest and a poster contest. (These things may have also existed in LA. I'm not sure.) The costume contest was a fun idea, but not wonderfully executed. There were only about 4 really inspired costumes--Professor Professorson, Pierce Hawthorne in his wizard robes, The Dean, and the dean's companion dalmatian--everyone else worse regular clothes and tried to be Jeff or Annie. But it was a nice idea.
     I assume because I am a nonmember, I was sent to the upstairs viewing room. This is where the screen of a screen thing comes in. There was a main auditorium downstairs where a host in NY had a podium and a screen was set up to livestream the event. Then in the small auditorium I was in, with about 50 of my new best friends, we were watching that other auditorium. There was discussion about whether or not we would be watching the screen of the screen, which was pretty small at that point. And for about 5 minutes we were, and the livestream buffered a lot. We grumbled. A lot. But then someone fixed it and we were able to settle in and enjoy it.
     We viewed the episode that will air on the 15th. It was great and everyone should watch it. People in groups really do laugh more! That was a nice communal experience, except of course for the few lines I missed because people were laughing too hard. But it seems silly to complain about people laughing too hard. The livestream of the panel was fun to watch too, even though some people yelled out during that too. It's probably available online now.
     Community is great so it was a worthwhile experience. (I will not be attending the Castle viewing party this coming Friday.) Of course actually being at Paleyfest would have been even better, but this was a close second. March 15th! Woo! Watch!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Maxwell House Commercial

     I hate that Maxwell House commercial. A lot. So much that I'm hitting the keyboard to tell others how much I hate it.
     It begins with a couple at a nice restaurant and a waiter about to plunge a french press. Then douchehat walks in carrying a Mr. Coffee coffee pot and a mug. He says "is this what we're doing now?" and then berates the french press and makes a potty reference with the word plunger. Then he talks about Maxwell House French Roast coffee, makes a comment about gravity, and eats a bowl of shit.
     This guy doesn't know what he's talking about. I realize it's not that guy's fault--it's a team of advertisers and marketers and probably some monkeys. But all of their idiot ideas and misconceptions are being transmitted through this douche-puppet, so I'm blaming him. The burden of perpetuating white-trash bad-coffee-drinking mentality is all on him.
     No, this isn't what we're doing now. It's how we've been making coffee for years. YEARS! Since the 30s, at least. It's also how we make coffee that doesn't take like shit. Pressing the coffee extracts more of the flavor out of the bean. It creates a three-dimensional cup of java. It's so damn good.
     French Roast has nothing to god-damn do with it. The roast is the roast is the roast. French roast just means it's a dark roast. It's not even a universal term across all coffee roasters. For some roasters, French is the darkest. For other roasters, it's not quite. It's a term we use that means it's probably a dark roast. With dark roasts, the flavor comes out of the roast and not as much from the bean. But it has nothing to do with how the coffee is brewed. You won't get the same brilliant flavor from a drip pot as you will from a french press, even if you use the same beans.
     Gravity? You ass. A drip coffee-pot uses more than just gravity to make coffee. A lot more. There are pressure valves and heating elements and all kinds of shit involved. You know what uses gravity to make coffee? A FRENCH PRESS! Also, the pour over method, but I doubt that guy knows what that is since it took him 80 years to stumble across a french press.
     The snide plunger comment is just uncalled for. It doesn't make sense. It's potty humor. The only people you're convincing to try your product are the slack-jawed two-tooth-mouthed morons who spend most of their day in the shitter anyway. You're pandering, and it's gross.
      They're telling lies to sell a shitty product; that's what irks me about it. If douchehat just entered the frame and said "Maxwell House has a new French Roast. Try it please." I wouldn't be nearly as riled up. I might snicker a bit because I still think they make terrible coffee, but I understand they have to try to sell their product, so fine. But damn it, they're telling lies. You know, you could make Maxwell House in a french press. It would still taste like shit and you'd get ground in the cup because it's not ground course enough, but you could do it.  They're a coffee company who don't know things about coffee. Or at least that's the impression their putting out there to pander. They're either idiots or their lying idiots.
     Drink good coffee! Make it in a french press! Use gravity!