There was an error in this gadget

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Go West to a New Nest

Big shakes for me this weekend, and most probably sub-standard blog efforts as a result - my parents are in town! The empty nesters have come home to roost. In my nest! And so far so good, though they both have winter coats and hats, as well as flannel pajamas, to keep them extra warm amid a west coast heat wave. Also, my dad, ever the minimalist, has a suitcase with him for this weekend excursion that I believe is one size shy of a steamer trunk. Very good to be prepared. And amazingly, neither my brothers nor I were in scouts organizations as children. Is that sentence right? Sounds funky! Anyway.

It's kind of nice to get a new perspective, even if familiar, on the daily surroundings. My parents left snow on the ground and 30 degree temperatures this morning and deplaned to 80 degrees and sunny this afternoon. It's nice to be reminded of the incredible fortune that is typical California weather. Even as I spent the day sweating through my shirt on a repeated basis. I also am reminded that yes, traffic is a bit wilder in the wild west, mostly by the "I can't believe he did that!" comments made by my parents about the behaviors and actions of other drivers. My mom's most used phrase "I'm trying not to watch." My dad, by comparison, is so elated to see sp much sun at once that he's pretty darned easy going.
It's as though he gets a vitamin-D infusion that is of an amount that renders an effect akin to that of using illegal drugs. Suddenly, stressors just don't seem like a big deal. It's so sunny. I'm sure whatever the problem is, eh, it'll go away.

And, speaking of illegal/legal drugs, our first trip to the beach netted a shiny new business card that I tried to let my parents decode, but to no avail. It was for a marijuana dispensary. Our first foray out of the car since I'd picked them up and not 5 minutes later, they were being offered an easy, convenient way to buy drugs at a beach storefront.

Welcome to California, mom and dad.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Look that Says it All

This evening the sunset was a sight to behold - pink and blue and bright, especially so after leaving a Walgreen's victorious, temporarily, in my personal battle (seemingly ongoing, perhaps due in no small part to my place of business and the college kids running rampant therein) against oblivious entitled 20-somethings who seem to lack all self-awareness, or are aware of themselves, but just don't care if they're COMPLETELY ANNOYING AND ABSURD and well, obviously more important than you. Obviously.

Do I sound old and bitter? It's generational, I'm sure.

But why was there a silent war? And how was I a silent victor? A silent alliance with a sympathetic "Are you effing kidding me???" look from the woman working the pharmacy counter at Walgreen's (bless her!) made it so. Because she made them wait. And checked me outta there and back into the sunset. And even did so professionally.

So, most times a pharmacy counter might be a bit crowded in an after work buzz time, like the grocery store, or Taco Bell's drive-thru line at 2 a.m. Part of making a trip easy involves avoiding a busy time. I thought I might be remotely safe at 7:30. There was still a line, but not too bad. There was a man who seemed intoxicated picking up something for his wife. There was an annoyed woman chewing her gum like a cow chews cud while not looking up from her iPhone. And then there was the oblivious couple canoodling in the pharmacy line, talking about how it's awesome to not have claaasss on Friday and like, how it's so crazy how even in such a tough semester, not having class on Friday like, totally just happened. Midterms are going to be crazy. But at least it's almost the weekend.

The girl was wearing short shorts and flip flops and her college sweatshirt (sigh, yes, that same one) and her beau was wearing a surf-brand endorsed aquamarine professionally distressed t-shirt and shorts. They were discussing how many things were like, totally hard. And how many things were like, totally awesome.
And somehow, when the red sea of their love and sympathies for each other's daily struggles conversationally broke and they physically parted, they revealed warfare - a cart. A cart full of stuff. At the pharmacy counter.

Now, did I buy two items at the same time as my prescription? Yes. Yes I did. But do I believe there's an unwritten "express-ish lane" law governing acceptable behavior in the pharmacy register area? Yes. Yes I do.

Sure. If it's 10:30 a.m. on a Wednesday, and you are checking your blood pressure like you do every week and maybe you have 2 boxes of epsom salts in your cart because there is a sale and suddenly the tin of danish butter cookies in there is holding up the tube socks you are buying because they were on the display, sure. Go ahead. Because there is probably not a line behind you. And the pharmacy isn't closing at about the same rate that the sun is setting. And you are probably 85 years old and retired and enjoying some shopping, and EVERYONE ELSE THERE IS TOO. That's the custom at that time of day! And you've earned the right to bring your cart to the pharmacy - you're 85.

This did not qualify to the two able-bodied-yet-highly-annoyed-while-oblivious-to-the fact-that-they-were-highly-annoying young people in front of me. When I say able-bodied, I do not exaggerate. Like, I wondered if this girl was on the diving team. She had the muscle definition to qualify. But not, apparently to wait in the line at the front of the store to avoid pissing off the 4 people behind her.

Cart contents:
Giant jug of water
Giant box of tampons
Lean Cuisines thrown randomly about the cart
Toilet paper
Miscellany*

*There was enough miscellany to necessitate use of the front and the seat portion of this cart. A lot of miscellany.

So this girl starts unloading her items, puts about 4 of them on the pharmacy counter like it is in fact the grocery store but the checkout girl just happens to be wearing a white coat, and casually asks for her prescription.
Which was like, called in like 10 minutes agoooo.

Amazingly, the prescription was not ready, as it had to be prepared in the real world, where gratification is not, in fact, instant at all times (even I have to suffer this hard lesson in my impatient moments).

Response to this news?
"Ohhhhhhhh. Ok."

Totally un-stymied, she left the 4 items she'd unloaded on the counter, and just lingered there with her cart and her boyfriend and her car keys and her hair twirl, oblivious to the fact that the woman working the counter intended to help other people in the space she was occupying.

"Next," said the pharmacy tech. I loved her. She was not about to put up with this b.s.

The drunk man's wife's prescription was also not ready yet.

"Next," she said, and eyed me like she knew I had murderous rage on my mind.

She even went so far as to re-orient the credit card machine to me and away from the girl's 4-item road block in a passive aggressive attempt to get this girl to get an effing clue and move herself, her stuff, her cart.

It was her boyfriend that picked up on it, but said nothing. He just went and sat down in the chairs (usually occupied by the elderly at 10:30 as they wait for their prescriptions to be filled) set apart from the counter, and she soon followed.

"These are like, massage chairs or something..." She said, acting as though she was in Brookstone at the mall and not a Walgreen's.

I don't think I rolled my eyes, but something must have come out on my face to show my disdain because that was when the pharmacy tech and I had the most loaded "Here you go" and "Thank you" exchange I've had in a long, long while.
In just saying that and moving our faces, here's what was really said.

Me: I cannot effing believe she just left her lean cuisine spaghetti and meatballs and a pack of mini kleenexes on the counter in everyone's way and just has no clue it's totally annoying.

Her: Not as annoying as what's coming out of her mouth.

Me: Tell me about it. When's the last time I felt sorry for a college kid who had to suffer the slings and arrows of a 4 day week?

Her: Never. Which is about when I want to fill that prescription.

Me: Yeah, but they'd probably never get the hint and would stay here until their cell phone batteries ran out.

Her: L.O.L. I'd say if I were her, instead of laughing.

Me: Totallyyyyyyyyy.

Her: Anyway,

Me: Thanks again. Keep fighting the good fight.

Her: You too. Into the sunset you go.

And so I did.
The best medicine perhaps? Being understood!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Train Has Left the Station

Well, I just wrote two rather lengthy emails that could have just as easily been non-responders by me, and I realized both were very elaborate distracted avoidance attempts by me. Apparently, nothing gets my creative juices flowing quite as fast as the actual need to get my critical thinking/logic juices flowing. Except I don't even think those are juices. Probably some sort of infusion. Or micro-powder. Whatever it is, I skew toward juice, when pressed, to think.

Now I'm imagining myself with a rind. It's kind of fun!

See, even here I'm coming off as a little bit drunk when folks, unless the granola bar I ate has fermented oats n' honey, is not the case, not even a lick.
Juicy Fruit - it's gonna move ya!
It might not, but trains will.

I love trains. I like the idea, I like the noises, I like the motion, I like the connectivity, and I like when "The Soup" on E! makes fun of the show "I love toy trains" even though I love that the show is so earnestly named and that everyone on it truly does love toy trains. One college I visited while trying to decide where to apply had an ice cream shop with a train on the ceiling. I think I remembered that more than any other part of the trip.
I did not attend that institution, but I did admire the train.

Anyway, another great part about trains? Songs about trains!
Most of the time, if you write a song about a train, I tend to like it a little more, just because of the train advantage you get.
I even loved the old Amtrak commercial jingle.
"All abooooaaaaard, America! All aboard, Amtrak."
Yes. Indeed! Choo choo!

As such, I offer the following list of beloved or noteworthy train songs, in no particular order. Are there exceptions to every rule about train association being absolutely positive? Yes. Is the band Train one of them? Yes. Though I refuse to say I don't sing along to "Drops of Jupiter" while laughing at myself for doing so. I refuse as it would not be true.

Anyway - all aboard, America.

1. Midnight Train to Georgia - Gladys Night and the Pips
When the Pips sing "Woo Woo!" to make a train whistle that's usually so cheery cut into the sadness of Gladys telling the story of her failed man's departure home (to the life he left behind), and her decision to go too, it's a sad reminder that the lonesome whistle does blow, often in more than one way.
Speaking of - how about I heard that Lonesome Whistle Blow? Hank Williams.

2. Crazy Train - (ay ay ay!) = Ozzy Osbourne
Crazy, but that's how it goes. YES, Ozzy. A nod to the sensation of whoops, I'm nuts, huh? that we all run into now and again. But still completely upbeat. It's a happy "I've lost it!" anthem rather than one of despair. An achievement in and of itself.
Honorable mention - Long Train Running - Doobies. (seems they forced the song into the context of a train, but ok, it's not terrible)

3. Peace Train - Cat Stevens
This song does officially belong in the category of "that's my jam." It is so great! It sounds like Cat Stevens is the pied piper of peace and that he had an entire party with him in the recording studio to clap and sing along, and share the message of hope for the train that's coming to take the country by storm. A train of peace, wreaking PEACE HAVOC on the nation and its people. I mean, strong imagery, but it's so dynamic and good natured all at once - I love it and believe it. Every time I hear it, I am ready to get on board. Come on come on the peace traiiiiiiiiiiiiN! Seriously. Can we get one of those? Like, build a high speed peace train rail system?

4. Love Train - O'Jays
While unfortunately co-opted by the folks at Coors to sell beer, the Love Train is not surprisingly up there with the peace train in being super duper fun and exciting. Who does not want to get on this train? It's full of LOVE! Really. Let it riiiiiide. Let it riiiiiide. Again, a driving, positive, upbeat message. On a train.

5. Groove Line - Heatwave
You know the song "Always and Forever"? It's a slow jam. It's by Heatwave. It's on a lot of soft rock and R&B stations and features prominently in the nightly request and dedication section. It is about 180 degrees from the tone, tempo, and feel of the other awesome Heatwave song, "Groove Line," which suggests that we all should get riding on the Groove Line, tonight. It is a train to jump on, because it's a party train. Which brings me to....

6. Party Train - The Gap Band
I don't know if it's an L.A. radio station's play of the Gap Band, or maybe the general maturing and refinement of my tastes, but dear lord, discovering the work of the Gap Band was like discovering part of my personal soundtrack that had been missing for decades. You know? Like, if everyone had to make a playlist that reflected who they are as a person and the events/moods/etc. of their lives, they'd have a soundtrack when they were done. The Gap Band explains a lot about me, I swear. The Party Train, an 8-ish minute song of theirs, explains the need to get aboard, and cautions listeners "don't miss that train, don't miss the party train!" All of this, while incorporating real train whistle sound effects. Yes. Yes. and Yes. Also, like a train, the song does not stop. If you were stopped at a railroad crossing and the party train went by, you'd be annoyed, because it's a long train. Which, to me, makes it all the more realistic as being a train. Real trains have a lot of cars. And real party trains have a lot of reminders about the need to be sure you are on the train. Be sure to get your ticket. So you don't miss it.
You got it, Gap Band. And thank YOU for the reminders. I love risk management.

7. The Gambler - Kenny Rogers
The entire story of the song, which is a great one, begins with the premise that the narrator is "on a train bound for nowhere" with the Gambler himself. It is by way of train travel that this guy learns everything about life from a stranger who knew when to hold 'em. (I'd imagine he held his ticket to the party train fairly tightly, for example).

8. The Loco-motion
WELL, when you don't know that it was Little Eva before Kylie Minogue, or that Grand Funk Railroad (yeah, I kinda like their name better than most of their music) did a version of the song and you have to go to wikipedia to see what's what, THAT is where you learn Carole King co-wrote this song. Wow, that lady is everywhere. Anyway, this song, while catchy, is less one of my favorite train songs and more on the list for another special reason - providing one of my earliest A-ha moments (Take on me!) with wordplay. I distinctly remember realizing that it could be locomotion, like a train, as well as loco-motion, like craaaazy motion and dance! It seemed so smart! It worked 2 ways! And the song is stuck in my brain as a great example of why words are very awesome and added to my lifelong love of those who use them to clever effect.

9. Train Song - Phish
This is just a good story song about a train ride and what's out the window. The sense of travel gained is a good one, and there's a quiet, peaceful feel to the song. Not a peaceful, easy feeling. Don't get me wrong. (I just really don't like the Eagles man....GET OUT OF MY CAB...)

10. Runaway Train - Soul Asylum
I mean, come on. Really. Look it up on the internet. Listen to it. And see if you're not both transported to the year it came out in your head, and also a little sad because of the song. You areeeee. It got ya. Wrong way on a one-way track.

11. Bluegrass train songs - general
You can make a fiddle sound like a train whistle, and like a chugging train, and do it all together all at once until you honestly hear a train coming in a song. I really have yet to meet one of these songs I don't love. I think it's the orange blossom express? Yep. That's an example. It sounds like a train! Listen!

12. Train Song - Chet Atkins
I know these were in no particular order, but this would probably be my number 1 train song, if pressed (like an orange that fell off the orange blossom express, of course). This song makes me really ridiculously happy. It's instrumental as a song, and instrumental to improving my mood, day or night.

Speaking of, gotta put this train in the station for bed.
Choo Choo!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Under the Tuscan Sun...You're Family

Hi gang,
Thanks for bearing with yesterday! Sunday is over. Woo!

SO
today I saw an advertisement for the Olive Garden that was supposedly showing the training grounds for Olive Garden chefs. That training ground was Tuscany, Italy. Everyone in tall tall tall chef hats, gathered around artisan tables, making faces of concentration as they watched a more Italian-looking (older and tanner) chef cut a chunk of cheese the size of a slice of cake from an even larger hunk of cheese. They looked impressed. They had just learned to cut the cheese. Which most people learn to laugh at in 2nd or 3rd grade. But, don't let me be degrating to cheese cutters.
Uh oh...slid that one in. Had to.

Now sure, the premise of the commerical was in fact that these chefs are going to Italy to learn how to make the Olive Garden's new signature dish. For those of you unfamiliar with Olive Garden's signature dishes, many times they end up being stuffed with stuff on top of a bed of stuff that's got a delicious stuff sauce. Served with salad and breadsticks. (Duh!) I sort of think the appeal of simple Italian cooking probably gets lost after the second round of stuff, but the idea is there are like 40 authentic Italian flavors in one dish.

Like the Olive Garden's new lobsteruccini alfredo with butter parmesan sauce, on top of angel hair with spicy tomato cream sauce. Served with salad and breadsticks duh.

I feel like there is a formula in the Olive Garden test market kitchen that could generate meal ideas through algorithm rather than kitchen innovation.

MEAT/PROTEIN + ITALIANISH GOGNATE + PASTA TYPE + VEGETABLE/SPICE/SEASON OF THE YEAR + SAUCE + SALAD AND BREADSTICKS DUH.

Someone could build this and make it a facebook quiz "What Olive Garden meal are you?" And a new "seasonal selections" menu insert for the restaurant itself.

Also, I kinda feel like that could even be a part of the final exam that all the Tuscan training chefs have to take to become certified Olive Garden "family" members. That and the game, how far can you stretch a stick of butter?

I guess my question is, who, anywhere on earth, who is over the age of 9, actually believes there is a training center in Italy where Italian chefs, nay, MASTERS of chefery, in the Italian tradition, are teaching America's best...franchise owners? Menu planners? the most careful ways to authentically make Italian dishes. I really have to believe that they just decided enough of their market overlapped with the market for the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" and picked Tuscany as a fictional location.

Like, the Domino's ad campaign where they're fessing up to sucking? And then showing us what they're doing to try to not suck? Far more believable.

But convincing me there's a plane full of chefs somewhere, all dressed up in their chef whites, boarding Alitalia flight 4382 to Tuscany from Milwaukee, harder. The specialty dish the chefs were learning? They did look delicious. But they were essentially puff pastry shells. Like apple turnovers full of cheese instead of apples. And the best was, they were thrown on top of other stuff. You could eat these traditional delicacies in like, a meat and veggie broth, or like, as a side/topper to the rest of your meal. Not at all like, acknowledged as a deliciously cheesy pastry thing that has no relation to Italian food and more in common with the original pastry baron from the old country, Don Entenmann.

Why can't we just say we all sometimes get hungry when we're leaving the mall?
And we say we'll only have one breadstick, but oops, we need more.
Is breadsticks the first lesson of Tuscany?
How to keep them bottomless?

I suppose I'll never know. Never, that is, until Olive Garden, Lifetime Original Movies, and Diane Lane team up to make the thrilling television romance, "Under the Tuscan Sun II: All for the Gnocchi."

The tagline?
When you're here, you're family, but how far will you go to get there?

with salad and breadsticks.
Duh!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thunder Only Happens when it's Raining

I heard this song on the radio this evening and realized for the first time that thunder happens when it's not raining. It sometimes foretells the approach of rain. Or sometimes tells of a storm passing you by but raining on others. And sometimes it's the sign that nature is churning, working up to a storm to be announced at a later time. Storm in the works. But thunder happens.

Apologies to crockpot readers. I've got a case of the Sundays something fierce. The Sundays occur pretty regularly on Sundays - the inevitable end of free time to be replaced by the work week brings on a bout of the blues at the prospect. I also feel like this Lent's crockpot is suffering from an interminable case of the Sundays, in spirit at least. My heart doesn't seem to be in it this year. Or at least it doesn't seem to be pouring out on the page. More like flopping around like a dying fish. Not good reading folks.

A recurring life theme for me seems to be the interplay and confusion of intention, obligation, happy coincidence, effort, guilt, want, fear, and self loathing/self adulation. I guess kind of like thunder, the blogosphere does not always guarantee a satisfactory resolution to these sometimes competing and sometimes complementary factors.

But it is true that players only love you when they're playing.
That we can all agree on, right?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saturday Night Fever

In the middle of washing dishes, completely randomly, I remembered I had a dream last night that I was talking to my niece about disco. One of my nieces is four. The other, not yet 1. I was talking to the one who can talk. And we were sharing the joy of disco. I don't even think we were listening to it! Just out of the blue she said "I like disco." And so it began.

I was insisting it was as wonderful - probably even more wonderful - than she thought it was. And I was talking about all these fabulous disco songs she needed to hear, and landed upon the Disco Mickey Mouse record that I unearthed in my parents' record collection a few years back. A goldmine of disco grooves that feature Disney characters almost spoofing/more homaging popular disco songs (which I love every time I hear one of them on the radio and think fondly of Donald Duck's similar version), I immediately absconded with the record, as my roommate at the time had a record player in California. Now I still have the record, but not a record player. And so, in the dream, the realization that I could NOT share my love of a great record with my niece was a crushing blow. I was failing to educate her as well, having no faith in my brother's respect for disco, apparently.

As I washed a pot with some spinach stuck to the edges, I realized that my subconscious had been using Disco Mickey Mouse as a symbol of my anxiety and sadness about being far from my nieces and losing opportunities to share important passions with them - like disco. Somehow that in itself was surprising, yet not, yet hilarious. What symbolized exactly what they needed to know and understand and appreciate that no one could teach them but me? Disco. And Disney disco at that.

Ah the mind works in mysterious, funky ways.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

When Duke Loses, America Wins

Below is the post I originally devoted my time to today. It is about my dislike of sinus discomfort. That's before coming home, getting into 3 types of sweatpants material based clothing items, sidling up to my t.v. remote with a piping hot bowl of soup and stumbling my way into the second half of the Arizona vs. Duke game. What follows below is me whining and complaining about my face. What I have now instead? Total elation. Oppressive regime ---> OVERTHROWN. And what is that regime? Duke basketball and Coach K. Tossed from the tourney by an unlikely, ON-FIRE, deep-benched Arizona team. Amen and hallelujah! Enjoy the flight home, blue devils. The Cats got WILD tonight.

I came home eagerly anticipating checking the scores of today's games, not being all that surprised or interested in watching them play out as expected, then diving into NBC's Thursday night lineup.

Butler was beating Wisconsin, as I thought they might. SDSU had fallen to UConn, as I hoped they wouldn't. Florida beat BYU, and I wasn't really interested.
What I was not expecting and could not take my eyes off of was a 10 point Arizona lead in the 2nd half of a sweet 16 game. A lead on Duke, tormentor of so many close college losses I've watched. The never say die blue devils who I SWEAR can overcome a 10 point deficit with 30 seconds left on the clock. Coach K, while evil (moral judgments found in fishcrockpot not confirmed by higher power or moral governing body), surely knows how to win games. He especially knows how to not choke in the tournament. When everyone else gets the big dance jitters, Coach K tells his team to waltz. And they do. 1-2-3, all the way to the final four. Lest I compliment him too much, might I say some of his coaching does involve swearing, berating officials about calls to get the fouls he wants called and those he doesn't avoided, and well, I'm pretty sure black magic somewhere in there.

So to find Arizona, a Pac-10 team that lost many regular season games to far lesser opponents, ahead on Duke. Well, I assumed Arizona was in the middle of a run that Coach K would correct through angry timeouts, tearing into his players, bitching to officials, and then having his automatons turn on their 3-point shooting ability like wildfire while one of the assistant coaches added goat's blood to the gatorade. That's just how it works. Duke might get on the ropes, but then they bounce right back off of them. Boomerang in your face. And suddenly everyone on your team has 4 fouls. And everyone on his has 2. And it's 1 and 1! And they don't miss. And if they do, your players foul his trying to get a rebound. Arggggggghhhhhhhh I've seen this scenario so many times. So. Many. Times. Been excited so many times at what looked like an impending Duke defeat only to find it was whoops- a surprise win. So. Many. Times.

I was nervous. I didn't know if Arizona knew that's how it worked.
Maybe their players didn't need to know? Maybe not knowing helped? Or maybe, just maybe, they did know, but they didn't care!

They were on fire. In the zone.
Unstoppable.
Limitless.
Insidious.
Oh, I'm sorry, those are just movie titles. No idea why you'd name a movie Insidious unless you took the SAT less than 2 years ago (maybe that's the target audience), but yeah. Those are all movies.

I kept waiting for Arizona to falter. Kept waiting for Duke to be Duke. And they did a little bit.
Coach K bawled out the refs after his players were called for fouls (that they had committed).
For the next several minutes, Arizona players had to make incredible shots while being impeded by fouls from Duke that were not called.
They also were called for fouls that were not fouls when committed by Duke players.

I nervously ate pretzels. I'd seen this so many times! I knew what happened next! I would watch the double-digit lead be whittled away by some pure shooting white kid who drained 3 3-pointers in a row. Then a foul that would both put U of A in foul trouble and give Duke a chance for 3. Then whoops, suddenly it's a 2 point game. I've seen it SO MANY TIMES. So. Many. Times. I can't even tell you.

But.

THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN!!!!
I couldn't believe it! They stayed hot. Duke stayed cold. Foul schemes didn't work. The announcers pronouncing victory in a way that surely would be the kiss of death when Duke was involved did not work! The jinx was OFF! Arizona was ON! It was incredible.

And, of course in my excitement, I had to be proud of the Arizona coach, Pittsburgh's own Sean Miller. Really, as stated before in the crockpot, any time any one related to Pittsburgh does something great, expect EVERY Pittsburgher you know to tell you how that person is from Pittsburgh and to claim them as his/her own. So yeah, that. Congrats, Sean Miller. A coach who really worked his way up through the ranks assisting, head coaching, and now bigger conference head coaching.

While texting my glee (that's right, it was a word before it was a show) about the Duke loss to my brother and excitement about the win, what did he mention? The high school which the Arizona coach attended. We then discussed seeing his picture in the trophy case of his grade school. At the time he played for Pitt, so it was like seeing a celebrity photo without having the equivalent of Access Hollywood in Pittsburgh.
It was exciting. He was good. And now, YAY! Go Sean Miller. Go Arizona. And thanks again for a tournament that makes such unexpected awesomeness possible on a rainy Thursday.
As for Duke, the apropos movie title? Sucker Punch.
And sorry as I should be to delight in their loss, I've been handed one by them one too many times to not enjoy this shock to their systems.
Besides. They'll be back. They always are.

If you'd like to read my original whining about my face, carry on!




(original bitch n' moan post for today)
What Really Killed the Dinosaurs

I think it could have been the cold virus. A total change from theories they were killed by a fireball, I know, it was something cold, not hot. Actually, I put forth this theory only as I myself am a Whineosaurus Rex as I am enjoying the third straight day of having active feeling in my sinuses and eyeballs, and using kleenexes like college kids (and Rachel Zoe) misuse the word "literally," literally liberally. Yet I stubbornly and moronically am not just taking a tylenol and sucking it up like the rest of the world does when they have a cold or allergies. I think it might be because I don't know if it's a cold or allergies? I'm somehow still trying to test the symptoms for self-diagnosis by monitoring my symptoms over many days. Not that I would then take allergy meds, but maybe. This morning in fact, awakening for the second day in a row with the crusty snot that adorns the faces of toddlers who have colds but lack the capacity to use kleenexes on my own face, I decided I would use my allergy meds (having yesterday decided it has to be allergy, right?) Well, that Zyrtec I was banking on expired 2 years ago. Whoops.
Apparently I don't rotate the stock in my personal pharmacy that often, but at least I know to be horrified. It is a practice I come by naturally.

My parents' medicine cabinet might actually contain DNA from the dinosaurs, based on some of the liquid concoctions in there that have now separated and solidified in ways I cannot understand, their labels long worn away by time. Who knows what's preserved in there? And who knows why the good people of Vick's VapoRub changed the font from the 1970s model of the product. That looked so inviting and medicinal! It's the label I know from childhood. And yes, adulthood. I'm quite sure it's still in there, the vapo-long since rubbed.

I think my issues are as follows:
-Sinus pressure and congestion makes me CRAZY
-I wish I could suck it up and not care about it, as everyone on planet Earth has colds and allergies from time to time
-The fact that I become crazy when experiencing sinus pressure means I have to SHARE this craziness and my frustration with nearly everyone I meet, should they not already notice something is wrong from the kleenex wads falling from my face like snow flurries.
-The fact that I have to share makes me hate myself! Come on man, it's a runny nose!
But nope. Every time – if there's a chance I can push somewhere on my face and liquids emerge, I'm going to tell you about it. Then hate myself for it. Then drink a carton of juice a day until it's gone!
Ha.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Powers of De-Ducktion

In the wake of Gilbert Gottfried's ill-conceived return to relevance by way of insensitive tsunami tweets (does anyone else find it funny that making birdly-named noises stripped Gottfried of his job as a professional bird noise maker?), a few things remain to be seen.

1. Will Gilbert Gottfried be relevant again?
2. Who will become the voice of the Aflac duck now that Gilbert's duck duck goose is cooked?

Number 1 will take some time to answer, and possible media coaching from Chris Brown's team of image revamp wizards. I say that to support my point that while completely not cool, I don't think Gottfried's twitter behavior is surprising, and he joins a long list of celebrities whose ability to instantly share their thoughts (irony of blogging about this noted!) without first vetting them through their PR rep has done some bad things for them or their images or careers or all of the above. It's a risk to give a comedian primarily known for brash annoyance - vocal and otherwise - a means to reach the masses and expect sensitivity. I used a Chris Brown reference here to show I am not immune from temptation of talking about what's hot now, and nearly every single person I know who uses facebook to try to be even remotely funny had a Chris Brown comment or joke about his violence yesterday, one way or another, but nonetheless condemning him, all. Sure, while Chris Brown is a personal train wreck who is in no way on par with a devastating natural disaster affecting an entire nation (though I will say the fact that he's even still on television says something bad about our society's tolerance for violence against women), he is still what's being tweeted about or status updated, etc., because he is the disaster de jour. So, while not awesome, and totally not great for his relationship with a company that does a lot of business in Japan, I don't think Gottfried making tsunami jokes was all that shocking. Please know that yes- I do think he should have been fired, and yes - I do think tsunami jokes are tasteless, but I'm just noting the fact that he did what he does - make jokes from headlines. And whoops, doing so in this scenario turned him into one.

That turned into more of an aside than I had planned! And with a lot of circuitous logic, to boot.
What I really was hoping to do was make a list of top replacement duck voices for Aflac to consider.

QUACKPOT SCHEMES - My Brainstormed List of Top Ten Eligible Duck Voices

10. The guy who is the voice of Smuckers jams and jellies
A complete role reversal for the duck, suddenly that smooth country sound you hear that reminds you of jam is a frazzled bird, trying to let you know you're covered - even smothered, in insurance. Especially good if something unforeseen happens and you end up in a jam (get it!) Actually, now that I think of it, having known, famous spokespeople have a go at being the duck would be a pretty funny rebuttal and ad campaign that would make lemonade out of the lousy story that was the Gottfried jokes. Auditioning new ducks, with no one being neurotic enough - a premise that quacks me up. Aflac, call me! And the Geico cavemen. We're going to need them...

9. Fran Drescher
The female equivalent of Gottfried in voice annoyance used for "comedic" effect. A fun spin on the duck's nasally frustrated outbursts, perhaps.

8. Morgan Freeman
I mean, again, this guy makes anything sound good. But I'd made this whole list before I cam up with the new "the ad campaign is using well known voices to fail at being a highly frustrated duck" idea. I'd save Morgan for that.

7. Andy Rooney
He kind of sounds like the Aflac duck sometimes, depending on how fired up he is about whatever he's talking about. They definitely share a ruffled feathers approach, and appearance, with his still-lustrous white feathers on top.

6. Joan Rivers
The joke here would be that they'd be casting someone who notoriously pisses people off with her jokes. And has a distinct voice.

5. Carlos Alazraqui
Though the voice of many things, perhaps hilarious to have the Taco Bell dog's voice come out of a duck's mouth. Again, think this would also fall under the #10 ad campaign...

4. Voices from the show "Ducktales" (Ooo-OOO-Ooo!)
Best duck voices I can think of in modern day cartoon work. And one heck of a theme song.

3. Mindy Kaling or Aziz Ansari
I know this seems like I'm racially profiling two very funny Indian-American comedians, but I'm profilng them for character work, not ethnicity. Really. You would not be able to tell a voice's ethnicity from a duck, right? Both Kaling and Ansari are expert at being self-assured and highly annoyed as their characters on The Office and Parks and Recreation, respectively, which the Aflac duck is as his attempts to save people money are repeatedly stymied by physical obstacles and misfortunes that befall him. Either of these actors could bring some sly wit to the part and have the duck be annoyed at the customers' inability to see the savings they'd get, not just at the bad luck that befalls them as they try to spread the gospel of Aflac.

2. A Japanese voice - now just as I spent a good bit of time in #3 describing how I was not making this a race issue, allow me to make this a race issue. Seriously though, maybe one-up Gottfried and show support for the resilience of Japan by having the duck be bad-ass. I think this would be awesome. Though obviously might take some time and test-audience work to be sure it walks the fine line of tasteful and respectful not crappy and reductionist, or unduly cheery in the face of devastation.

1. Again, with a nod to acknowledging that racism is bad and that I'm merely suggesting turning the tables on an insensitive situation by using that insensitivity as a weapon in return, have a commercial in which, in a very obvious model city from horror movies of old, Godzilla eats/eliminates the Aflac duck out of revenge. Show a duckling or the new adult duck in another part of the city commenting on something like "guess we're done with him," which both introduces the new voice of the duck/personality of the replacement duck, and gives good riddance to the Gottfried-legacy Aflac duck. A clean slate, a controversial comeback, and a new brand identity built on the old, all in one!

Ok, I still might like the one where they audition folks...we'll see!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Sticky Topped Trail of Underachieving

My purse.
My desk.
My fridge.
My gym bag.
My car.
Wadded at the bottom of my purse under the other one.

All of the above are suitable locations for me to find remnants (or active paths) of the sticky note trail I seem to create for myself, weaving a path of partially sticky loose lists of to-do items from home to work and back home again. Maybe it is the fact that they're only partially sticky themselves that makes me seemingly unable to stick to completing the tasks and to-dos I list upon their post-it faces? Or maybe it's my temptation to include too many areas of life tasks on one sticky note? Do months' long goals belong on the same note as a random errands list? "Taxes" which hm, I'll say has made it's way to – conservative estimate – 10 to 12 lists, is not on the same level of ease of completion as "take out recycling," so why are they on the same note? There is such satisfaction, SUCH satisfaction in throwing off a completely item crossed-off list, and yet I almost never succeed, instead transferring big ticket items to the next, newer list that takes over once the original post-it loses its stickum.

I suppose this would not really be sending me spiraling toward existential crisis in regular circumstances, but I guess I feel like it's a nice representation of a larger, me-specific problem. I don't seem to finish things. Which is maddening considering I hate it when people don't follow up, follow through, follow along with the bouncing dot on the screen so they can sing too. Recently, the writers' group I am in made it clear that a piece I wrote was remarkable, not for its content, but specifically for having a beginning, middle, and end, all in one go. And, the long-suffering Den, a loyal crockpot reader, only recently allowed a blog post to qualify for a story I'd promised him YEARS ago! Years! What is wrong with this picture? Something. Open to interpretations if you've got them...

If only I could apply this inability to finish what I've started to nacho chili cheese fries, Girl Scout cookies, beers, and episodes of the Real Housewives of ______. Then we'd be getting somewhere.

Hold on, lemme put that on a list.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Human Condition - Stubborn with a Chance of Swear Words

Yesterday I totally forgot a post title and realize now that there are a lot of funky spacing issues going on with that post. Apologies. Of all things, my internet was not working so I copied and pasted from word processing, and some formatting went haywire as a result. But it is nice that "my internet not working" now qualifies as a through line! Though not one of my favorite things (anyone notice that's not really been upheld as a theme? anyone notice I take one day off a week? I do!)
Anyway.

Today I've been looking out my work window a lot. Even more than I regularly do, which I regularly do a lot. Despite just stating that I stare outside from time to time rather than working, I staunchly maintain the position that having a window view is a boost for work time productivity. I don't know if it's the promise of the outside world after work is done? Or an opportunity to observe the world and feel mildly engaged in it just by way of observation? Or, well, natural light and a view of the sky (yes, it's gotta be that)? Could be a combination. But whatever it is, I cherish my window. Today's rain had me checking the puddles for action, the sky itself, and the umbrella-usage levels of passerby before heading outside. It also made me feel even worse than I usual do for those poor bastards whose shopping carts magically stop working, because they were getting wet.

My window overlooks the exit of a grocery store in a shopping center that was probably designed and built in 1981 or '82. The grocery store is unintentionally ironically named "Superior." Really, there is nothing superior about the store. Sometimes the checkout lines are superiorly long, but there's nothing that makes you say "Yeah, let's not have mediocre grocery shopping ruin our day. Let's go to Superior." What usually sends me to Superior? Hunger. Trolling for snacks mid-workday. But I am in a minority among Superior shoppers. Most are families who are buying a week's worth (or more) of groceries in one go. Most carts exit the store loaded for bear. And that's where my birds-eye view makes my sympathy muscle strain time and time again.

There is a magnetic stripe underground a few feet from the exit of the grocery store that activates when carts roll on top of it, stopping the wheels full-tilt. There is no signage indicating that a cart full of your week's-worth of groceries will magically stop rolling, just about the time you're in sight of your car and thinking about the next part of your day. And the magnets are embedded far enough away from the door that you would not think it's a manmade defense mechanism to keep the carts from being stolen, you would think your cart magically stopped working.

Sure, every now and then you pick a shopping cart with a bum wheel. The one that makes hellacious noise all over the store as you roll it. Or sure, you might have one that stops a bit and proves to have a kink. But these carts come to an immediate surprise halt, jilting patrons pushing with some force time and time again.

I have seen little old ladies with canes do battle. I have seen mothers make their children get out of the carts and walk while they try to force the cart forward. I have seen old men reposition themselves at the rear of the cart, pulling on the basket portion rather than pushing from the handles. Human beings are stubborn in the face of completely baffling grocery cart malfunction. No one, really, no one thinks, "Wow, that was sudden and inexplicable. Must be beyond my power to fix." Everyone tries. And tries. And tries. And looks exasperated. And tries some more from a new angle. Even the little old ladies. Probably mostly the little old ladies, now that I think of it.

Watching this same cart/human tragedy over and over again would be hilarious if I were the producer of Jackass, or looking to make a gag reel for America's Funniest Home Videos, but lacking both of those vocations, I end up having to look away from being unable to prevent or fix the struggle that I totally understand the cause of. I want to yell "GIVE UP! TURN BACK! IT'S MAGNETS! The damned magnets always win. They always win."

The window does not open. And people always work it out. Necessity is the mother of invention. Or an improvised plan B. Often times that involves precariously juggling 17 grocery bags in a Herculean dash toward one's car. But never are food bags abandoned. And, as of yet, never have I seen anyone beat the cart and overcome the magnets. Or beat the cart by way of destruction. Things can get dicey though, so maybe one of these times humans will in fact prove to be Superior.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It has been raining since I woke up this afternoon, and yes, I say afternoon in the most literal of ways as I made a concerted effort to sleep in. Let’s just say my effort did not fail. The rain moved in and made just enough noise to be a perfect rhythmic accompaniment for sleeping. A little bit of cold in the air made blankets all the more comfortable and warm. Raindrops plunked against the giant leaf of the plant that grows outside my window like some prehistoric super brontosaurus snack. The light was fuzzy. My hibernation impulse took over, as strong as if I were half-bear.

I might be, actually. I’ll eat almost anything, can be quite grouchy, and enjoy naps. It’s possible.

I felt very bad for those who ran the L.A. marathon today, as at no time has the rain dwindled to qualify as “sprinkling.” These are showers for sure and have been all day. And running 26.2 miles in them does not sound like the best plan to me. But then again, neither does running 26.2 miles. (Bears don’t do that, do they?)

I did venture out into the rain a bit – not for any activities involving endurance, mind you – to indulge in the warmth of a latte and, of all things, to buy a bra using a discount coupon for Victoria’s Secret that was sent to me by my mom with a note explaining the lack of likelihood that she would use it. Not just before it expired, ever. Sure, she will collect the free panties when they send a coupon by mail (though she will never use the word “panties” to refer to them, bless her, as we have never used that word to describe underpants ever in life. The word grosses me out. That’s definitely another essay for another time). But she’s not ponying up that much cash for a bra anytime soon (she would use the words “in this lifetime” to describe the time period involved).

Hilariously empty due to the rain (I guess you don’t think to acquire sexy, frilly, lingerie when it’s solid sweatpants weather), it was like being in Victoria’s Secret if the store were actually a secret. Typically, Victoria’s Secret is a store that makes me nervous to be inside it. Not just because I’m usually wearing a t-shirt that is not a t-shirt requiring a special t-shirt bra they sell, but more likely one that is a men’s large and was acquired in 1999, but because part of the sales approach of the Vicky’s team is STRONG AND CONTINUOUS APPROACH. You might just want to discreetly zig-zag past what’s hot and sexy now (that you have no use for and certainly not the discretionary funds for and you wouldn’t spend it on that if you did) and scurry to a bra drawer and pick out a plain bra in your size and complete your transaction with the cashier as fast as possible, without opening a Victoria Secret credit card account, thanks anyway, but chances are you’ll be dive-bombed by sales associates as you bob and weave your way through circular table displays that have underwear fanned in the most aesthetically pleasant way possible, like paint chips on a designer’s color wheel.


“Can I help you with anything?”


“Need help finding anything?”


“Finding everything ok?”


No. No. Yes, thanks.


“Well, let me know if you need anything.”


Thanks. Yes. I get it. You’re here to help.


“Did you know are lotions are buy one get one half off?”


No.


“Did you want to look at those?”


No.

Today, while I was shown directly to the drawer I was already zig-zagging toward when asked if I was looking for anything, the “I’ll be back to check on you in a minute” promise made to me by the woman in black was definitely broken.

Bra in hand, ready to check out, it was like I was behind the scenes and wearing a cloak of invisibility. I could see arms hanging and folding things, hear conversations shouted from one side of the store to the next. This was definitely a backstage pass. I was seeing Victoria’s Secret in her underwear. After a few moments of milling about the register area, I actually had to roam the store to get someone’s attention.

“Did you need help?”

Yes.


“Yes, I wanted to buy this.”

You know, like folks do in retail stores selling products.


“Ok, let me get someone to help you. Rita, can you ring her up?”


Hilariously I was passed along to another customer service associate. She was kind enough to let me know I’d been given a free secret discount card that I could use in April for anywhere from $10 to $500 of value.


I took a moment to imagine myself with $500 of Victoria’s Secret store credit. Mentally, the neon green underwear was in my hand, yes.

“Great. April.”


“Yep.”

Leaving the store, I noticed a possible cause of the Vicky’s ladies’ absentmindedness in the face of customer presence: a leak. Two workers were positioning a garbage can under a hole in the roof right near the front window of the store. As I left, a piece of plastic from the exit sign hit me in the head. Both an employee and I looked up at the sky, puzzled. It was funny. The weather was on the attack now.

I recommended they hold things up with bras.

Then I really enjoyed the elaborate image my imagination created of bras strung together and tied to the ceiling, bra cups overflowing with water like some modern sculpture with a message about support. It cracked me up to imagine the Vicky’s team going Macgyver with their own bras, forsaking the entire image they’d probably spent countless hours being trained to uphold. The glamour the fabulousness the hint of allure – gone! It was raining. D cups runnething over.

Oh well. It’s almost time to get back in bed and listen to the rain!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Overtime!

Right now, San Diego State and Temple are in their second overtime, grinding forward to one or the other being eliminated from the tournament. It's just a wonderful time of the year for anyone who is remotely interested in sports. Or humanity. But, as I've said before, I do have a biased opinion that everyone should enjoy sports at least a bit. But it's probably because I enjoy them a lot.

Earlier this afternoon, I went to a swim workout and was sharing a lane with a gentleman whose comment at the wall to his lanemates was, "I always end up in a lane with all girls." Which was followed nearly immediately by "Don't take it that way, though." Though I did not bother to ask "Which way?," I assumed he intended it as it sounded, as a nine-year-old boy might, to indicate he was grossed out by girls and disappointed to be stuck performing an activity with them. I didn't say that a lot of men might consider his predicament a lucky position to repeatedly find themselves in. And I didn't suggest that he should build a treehouse at one end of the pool allowing him the benefit of a "no girls allowed" sign. I actually moved up a lane, so inspiring was his comment at the time to my own performance ambitions. Thanks, that guy. You had me workin' overtime.

San Diego State won, by the way.

In another moment of "Wow, I never knew that could be so pleasant! Maybe I shouldn't be such a raging cynic and pessimist," this week, I had an incredibly delightful experience receiving assistance from an IT guy by phone. My internet access was missing, and I actually wanted to stay on the phone with the gentleman who was helping me. He was so nice. And it made me think of the anonymity of the whole process. So, I decided I would like to write a fictional scene based on the help desk. And you, my beloved guinea pigs, are my audience.

The Help Desk
It was as pleasant and sunny a day as any Thursday could be when my internet connectivity went away on my laptop. My coffee was delicious, traffic had been light, and now the email checking and world updating that would complete my ease into my work day, and eventual march toward productivity, stalled. The little thingy at the top of my computer screen that looked both like a signal being sent to the world and the seating chart for the Hollywood Bowl would make its best attempts to turn all bands to darkness. But the stripes flashed futilely before they rested in grey and were interrupted in their center by an exclamation point, notifying me no internet connection was available. Exclaiming it, as a matter of fact.

It was too early for exclamations and this kind of excitement. I was trying to have a Thursday be as easy as Sunday morning, Lionel Richie-style. Hello? I've just got to let you know, I wonder where you are...internet.

Was there a nuclear meltdown in Japan? Was Libya still a country? Who had picked whom in the NCAA tournament pool? No way to know with the exclamation point spanning from orchestra seating to row ZZ.
And my boss called. I actually needed to be able to do work that involved my email inbox.

I restarted my computer.
I changed a few settings.
I had no idea what I was doing. It was time to call the help desk.
I navigated the phone tree until a real live person answered.

"Hello, may I have your user i.d.?"
"Bartholomew."
"Can you spell that please?"
"B-a-r-t-h-o-l-o-m-e-w."
"Ok, thank you, please let me repeat that back to you, B as in boy, a as in apple, r as in railroad, t as in toy truck, h as in hat, o as in octopus, l as in love, o as in octopus, m as in mammal, e as in exoskeleton, w as in windshield wiper. Is that correct?"
"Yes."
"Thank you."
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Yes, please do."
"It might be several, actually."
"It is the primary job duty of my position to answer questions. Please proceed with comfort in your inquisitive nature."
"Ok, thanks. Is that a standard list of letter distinction words? Or do you get to make them up as you go? And do you ever change things up? And would you have said toy car for t?"
"No no, car starts with c."
"Yes."
"That would be confusing for the person in need of help."
"I guess."
"But no, the example words I used were not the words issued to us in our training manual. Well, some were."
"A as in apple?"
"Yes, and b as in boy."
"Pretty standard,"
"Yes. A while ago I realized my job afforded me the opportunity for creativity, which I missed. So many days I'm following process flowcharts in our manuals. If-then scenarios. It does not leave much room for new ideas. So the letters seemed like one place I could make my job less tedious. "
"Do you ever not repeat?"
"What do you mean?"
"O as in octopus. There were octopi for my name."
"Hm. I hadn't thought about it. But I don't think I do."
"Repeat?"
"Yes. You would always get more than one octopus. Never an octopus and an otter."
"Well I guess that's nice. Octopi need friends. Someone to swim with. But I guess an otter could swim too."
"Hmm. That's true. But maybe not in the same water as octopi? I don't know."
"Me either."
"How long has L been like that?"
"Love?"
"Yeah."
"I don't remember. It's been a while."
"Is L always love?"
"Yeah."
"That one made me smile."
"Love will do that."
"Yup."
"It just seems nice to share. Most times people call me feeling very unloved by their computers. So it's like a verbal hug. But still professional."
"I felt it."
"I think this is the first time anyone has confirmed something works without me."
"What do you mean?"
"You did my job. I usually have to give people information before they tell me something is working again. But you've told me L as in love works."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
"No, please don't be. I've already helped you before even trying to understand your technical problem. And I never talk about love this much at work."
"Oh, are you in love?"
"Yes, yes I am. But she doesn't know it. It's a woman who lives in my building. She gives her mail such careful consideration every time she takes it from her mailbox. Even junk mail. It is such concentration, such care. I love to watch her get her mail."
"Mmm."
"I'm sorry, that must sound creepy."
"No, it sounds like you really like her."
"I do."
"Maybe you should talk to her."
"I can't! I can't."
"Why?"
"I just can't. I am so nervous in person. I can't talk."
"But you're great on the phone. You sound very nice. Very polite."
"Thank you. But it's different in person. I can't. I can't do it."
"Could you practice? Maybe start with 'Hi' and then build up to conversations?"
"No, I really can't talk in person. I sweat. I stutter. I look like a crazy person."
"That's not good."
"No, it's B as in bad."
"Hm. Well, have you thought about sending her a letter?"
"A letter?"
"If she loves her mail, maybe you could just mail her something. Introduce yourself. See if she responds."
"That's not creepy?"
"Well, it probably is a little bit."
"Yeah."
"I dunno. Maybe try it. If it doesn't work, follow the other line on the troubleshooting chart. And talk to her."
"I can't."
"Well..."
"I'll write. But what do I say?"
"Just introduce yourself. See if she writes back. Say you enjoy correspondence. And mail. I don't know."
"Ok."
"But don't tell her you watch her."
"No."
"No. Not that. Oh, my internet is back."
"Oh! Your problem has fixed itself."
"And maybe yours?"
"M as in maybe."
"M as in maybe. Hey, not to be creepy, but can I call you again for help?"
"Please do."
"I will. I want to know how the letter goes."
"Alright, give me a week."
"Ok. Well, have a good day."
"You too. Thank you for calling the help desk."
"Thank you."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day is Fun!

That title seems simple, but it is true. St. Patrick's Day is kind of a nice excuse to be in a good mood. It's a day when it is easy being green, and encouraged, too.

I just deleted a few run-on sentences (read: blog entry) that followed the sentence "I had some pleasant experiences today." I did. But listing them would be boring to read. Trust me, that's why they were deleted.
It involved a banana, socks, the help desk, a burrito, and several drinking straws.
Not that newsworthy a read. I will try again.

In the past two days, more than one person has asked, Seinfeld style, "What is the deal with St. Patrick? Who was that guy?"

My answer has been that he was the guy who drove snakes out of Ireland and used a shamrock as an evangelical teaching tool.

Tonight, when someone asked, "What's a shamrock?" a friend brilliantly responded, "Didn't you eat Lucky Charms growing up?"

A fair and valid question. But a question that brings us to the dicey intersection of pop culture, holiday celebration, and religious iconography. (Is this a three-way street? Maybe it's a shamrock shaped exit ramp). When/why/how was there a plague of snakes in Ireland? And how did he drive them out? And does Ireland have snakes now? And was this literal snakes, or snakes like "the serpent" in Eden or the kind that would plague Israelites? I mean, those guys had it all. From athletes foot to angels intervening to save them from sacrificing their own children, Old Testament plaguery was its own opera. Big. Dramatic. Too long. (note: Biblical accuracy not assured).

But somehow I think of St. Patrick as more recent than all that, which makes me 1. want to run to wikipedia but I'm resisting the urge, and 2. think of St. Patrick's version of Snakes on a Plane and really want it to be made. Perhaps as a cartoon? And perhaps the "Plane" in question would be a plain, like those on the other side of some rolling hills in the lush emerald isle? And yes, of course Samuel L. Jackson lends his vocal talent. Of course. Maybe as the exact same character he was in the movie.

I also somehow, in this vision, cross St. Patrick with the pied piper, and see him playing bagpipes to draw the snakes forth, shimmying their way toward a cliff maybe? From which they hurl themselves? Or all of them crawling at once into a burlap bag used to hold potatoes? That also happens. Other characters who are definitely in this cartoon:
- The chick from The Cranberries, who actually at first tricks the snakes into thinking she is one with the song "Zombie" as it looks like she could unhinge her jaw on the refrain "zooombey-ey-ey-ey-ey0h-oh ay yay yayyyy" before pleasantly asking them if they have to linger, at which point
- The Edge plays some moody and repetitive guitar riff and they take to moving toward
- St. Patrick, who's beautifully moving in time and tempo with the guitar part and bumps into
- Jake the Snake from WWF, and they have a good laugh as he says, "Naw, I'm not jumping off a cliff"
- Then of course Samuel L. Jackson says "There are too many snakes in this m'f'in' country!" with a terrible fake accent before saying (direct to camera) "Hey, if it ain't brogue, don't fix it."
Then someone appears with a Guiness book of world records, but it's about the beer and random anecdotal folklore, and the math is done indicating St. Patrick could break a record if he drives out 3 more snakes than St. Seamus, who was still not officially beatified, had done 11 years earlier, and, in the time since, "Saint Shamey's Day" celebrations really failed to allow people the personal freedom to become very publicly intoxicated.
-So, then Jake the Snake shows up and says, "I heard you needed more snakes!" and rather than sacrificing himself, delivers Bernie Madoff, Spencer Pratt, and that PR guy who is supposedly Kim Kardashian's friend and had his own show for a minute on E!
-Then, cartoon deus-ex-machina style from Monty Python interjects and there's a "We heard you needed more snakes too," but then God interjects and says, "Hey, that's my gag. And besides, I'm afraid you guys might work blue, and this day is green."
-Then the guys from Green Day show up and say "Hey, we heard you needed a hand!"
-Then a giant explosion removes Green Day from the scene, and from the dust cloud, Colin Farrell emerges and says, "I borrowed some explosives from Michael Bay. I heard we had a snake problem."
-Then St. Patrick says, "Well, it was a good thought, but a little too much on the special effects," at which point Colin Farrell says, "F'in' tell me about it," and Samuel L. Jackson says, "There are too many m'fin' snakes in this m'fin' country!"
Then St. Patrick plays a bagpipe song that transitions into a delightful Irish Reel, and the snakes do throw themselves off a cliff.

That's just in my head, though.

The Deadline for Bracketology

For many of the more important things in life, I wait until I'm up against a deadline to get around to doing them, and filling out my NCAA bracket this year was certainly no exception. In fact, in the time it took me to do so online, my computer's battery indication went from black, to red, to little sliver of red making this post a time-sensitive situation as I am not about to sit at a table right now when the couch is already an inferior substitute for the bed I crave. This year's picks seem more in the dark than ever, probably because the very lousy performance of my alma mater's basketball team was SO BAD that it did not warrant a trip to the big dance. There was less reason to follow college basketball as there was less joy to be had in watching it, for me personally. As a result, I'm far more out of step with the realistic odds of my gut feelings being right than I usual am. My southwest and southeast brackets were re-worked several times, and now I'm not exactly positive how or where they happen, but I do know I threw some upsets in there. And I suppose that is what makes the tournament truly great - the potential for upsets from any team, any time, anywhere, any size school, any person, any shot - to change the fates of the expected, the oddsmakers, the statisticians, the broadcasters, everyone. Writing that sentence I realize I've written about my love of the tournament and its endless opportunities in crockpots of years past. This sounds familiar!

And in good news - it's never too late for an upset. Two of mine today -
1. The neighbors who drive me nuts on occasion know my name and specifically said that if they were too loud I should just let them know because sometimes it's hard for them to know what I can hear or what is too loud.

WHAT?!? This was shocking - SHOCKING - to me as it came from the neighbor I consistently believed hated me as there was not a whole lot of neighborly friendliness going on between us. Like, not even hellos were exchanged to the point that I stopped trying. I'd come to the live and let live place of peace with this situation (while sure, my selfish desire for neighborly pleasantries and mutually respected noise boundaries might have made me sometimes skew a bit live and let die, I'm not perfect), and out of nowhere, I not only got a hello, I got a confirmation of my name, and an offer to respect mutually agreed upon noise boundaries! I even got some friendly neighbor banter! I could not believe it. I have no idea what turned the tide on this. But it was like if suddenly the standoffish girl in the cool clique at school singled me out to tell me she loved my shoes and wanted a pair just like them. What? Me? Amazing.

Yes, of course I spent some time mired in paranoid thoughts that maybe I'd yelled at the walls or spoken really loudly while unlocking my door about how I wished they'd shut up but also say hello, or something that was actually awful that had given them a clue about my desires. But it all seemed so sincere, I'm not going to overthink it and will wait for the flaming bag of poo on my doorstep to float new theories about passive-aggressive neighborly love.

2. I publicly and intentionally watched a tournament game with others who were also interested in basketball and the outcome of a game with more than passing fancy!
Yes, when the initial alma mater fails, why not try grad school? Delightfully and surprisingly, an entire group of friends planned to watch tonight's play-in round together and hope that we would in fact have a dog in this fight (our dog has been taken on a drive to a farm where he'll be able to run around and play a lot more....). Much like I'd written off a friendly neighbor relationship, I'd kind of written off the experience of a group game watch for the NCAA tourney, at least until really late rounds when maybe it'd be an inescapable activity, given the lack of participation from a team I know some people care to watch. This surprise game spirit was a totally unexpected fun binge in the middle of the week, as well as extremely pleasing to those of us who enjoy sports.

And battery warning given, LET'S POST THIS ONE AT THE BUZZER!!!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

As it turns out....

Random thoughts ARE some of my favorite things!!! Yay! Sometimes, some days, they can still qualify as a blog entry about my favorite things! Today is one such day. I've spent the second half of today convinced it's Wednesday. I overshot the springing forward mechanism of daylight savings, apparently, as I was also convinced, until I looked at the clock moments ago, that it was 12:30 in the morning. It's not (yet)! Yay.

"I'm relatively sane for a girl." - Quinn, from "Glee" discussing reasons we might be surprised she's interested in being prom queen. Also reason number 347 "Glee" jumped the shark for me and am waiting for the finale so that it is the actually finale for my viewership. Sure, it jumped it, did a few dance moves, and there were a couple of runs by the soloist while back up singers harmonized, but have no doubt, there was a jump at the top of this number, and a shark somewhere below. Was it a Shark from West Side Story? If you want it to be, sure.
My note: Girl's aren't inherently insaneeeeee, writers from Gleeeeee, and your character wasn't saying it in a jokey I'm in high school waayyyyyyyyyyy.
But really. No reason to nitpick this one line. But I just did.

"Fill it up let's pump the jams and ride." - Part of opening, pre-chorus lyrics to the song "Stomp" by the Brothers Johnson. Also, a contender for what I might like my tombstone to say. Wait, serious question - just wrote "engraved on my tombstone" and thought wait, engrave like in a grave, ha! Wait is that where that word comes from? Does everyone know this but me? No. Maybe not. A trip on an aside of the interwebs indicate that relates to carving...
Anway-not really kidding there about the tombstone. It's such a great party directive. The notion that it's all about to get started is clear. And it is fabulous.

While one image is of gassing up a car before a night on the town, adding that to a gravestone would imply to all funeral goers that they should throw in a corpse then go play some party music - which sounds awesome. Like, hey, I'm dead! You guys get outta here and go live life!
I know this sounds especially morbid, but it's a great message, in life and beyond. Yes, I'd also like that to be my screensaver at work. And the meaningful quote automatically attached to the signature portion of my emails. And the info sections of my online profiles on any given web site. Yes. It's just a good set of directives with a good indication that fun is about to happen and should. The momentum boost you could always use.

There is a not so small part of me that wishes I'd been around for the disco/funk heyday. I don't know where I think I would have gone then that I don't go now, but somehow I feel like I at least should have. Like I might have just gone dancing a bit. And that maybe I could get a perm and have it be cool.

Do you ever think astronauts miss space meals once they get back to earth? Like the sometimes nostalgia you get for the best school lunch your cafeteria made or the best, actually-not-that-great meal from your childhood. Something low-brow but specific? That. Like, do astronauts ever get that twinge of flavor memory from something that was dehydrated and rehydrated?

I want Nate Dogg to be the voiceover for most things for me personally. My voicemail message. My book on tape. My computer-aided voice production device when my vocal chords are crushed in a freak disco food re-hydration accident. It would just be so good.

Do you think Eminem ever goes to 7-11 and buys m&ms just to see if the cashiers show any sign of recognition that it's funny? Or that they know him? Or that it is ok to try coconut m&ms? If I were Eminem, I would. Often.

If you were forced at gunpoint to be at tattoo gunpoint and you had to get a tattoo to save your life, would you get a tiny dot the size of a freckle to appease your captor but not actually get a tattoo, or would you get something either large, specific, or ridiculous, just because you'd have the story "But I had to" to back it up, allowing you total creative freedom? If you wanted to really get risky, you might ask for "BANG!" and then when your gunman asked if you thought you were funny, just tell him you're a hairdresser and it was more of a styling suggestion people would see and subconsciously process, then accept as a desired haircut. Say it's the only cut you're good at. Then if he still didn't believe you, ask for tweety bird too.

"Everybody take it to the top we're going to stomp! All night! Going to party.
Til the morning light."
Yep, even the Brothers Johnson sound better when Nate Dogg is involved. As he is in my imagination. As he will be tomorrow when my Nate Dogg alarm clock goes off.
"Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. It's time to wake up." So smooth yet intimidating yet sexy, Nate Dogg.

Oh well, a girl can dream.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Big in Japan.

I definitely rely on the internet for all manner of both news and distraction from what could be perceived as more worthwhile endeavors, tasks, or ahem - job duties. The devastation in Japan following the earthquake, tsunami, earthquake, and nuclear site explosions with threat of meltdown pending are omni-present on the internet, often in mind-blowing visual form as people captured water destroying a city on camera. What I cannot seem to wrap my head around is the seeming lack of distinction made between horrific news in the wake of a natural disaster and the same old same old celebrity b.s. and mindless internet filler that is usually on the top of major homepages. I guess I'm also finding myself having trouble confronting the reality that people are finding corpses wash ashore in Japan. Others are living in school gyms with no access to heat and running water. Others have been wiped off the face of the earth like they were never there. I know that's terrible, and this is not a "favorite things" entry, thematically, but it is hard to reckon with the seeming inability to reckon with something just happening like that. Like, that is reality. That is fact. There is now a pre/post 2011 earthquake distinction for Japan. And I am still thinking about the Real Housewives of Orange County and the Sister Wives of Utah and Bethanny in New York City and how they all might fare in feminist critique - but still watching! Yes, still watching. This is after thinking about whether or not I should buy pretzels and whether or not I should take netflix up on their free trial and whether or not I should consider a shirt I've worn 4 times sufficiently dirty to qualify for washing yet.

And it's not just me, which should be comforting, but is not. I think it's the opposite. The fact that there isn't a "HOLY SHIT" section of every media outlet prior to the "Usual Piffle" section, with distinctions of a similar grade, makes a curious study in our ability to process terrible news and, because it's not directly impacting us in the next 10 minutes, move right along to the next thing. As an example, i give you real Yahoo!.com headlines:
1. Japan Faces Potential Nuclear Catastrophe
2. Ways to Stop Static Cling
3. The Unhealthiest Energy Drinks
4. Japanese Village Vanishes

These stories do not have the same weight. They are not of the same importance. Static cling is probably not going to contain nuclear fallout for a generation of citizens, except fashion fallout- am'i right ladies? But they have the same billing! Maybe it's because considering the powerlessness of others in the face of natural disaster - really giving it some thought and brain space - is too terrifying because it highlights our own helplessness and vulnerability? Or maybe it's the feeling we can't help or change things? But it somehow seems amazing to me that the Kardashian news cycle continues, along with Bieber, Lohan, Gaga, as if really not that much new happened. Maybe this calmed Charlie Sheen's spotlight for 3 minutes, but I think I would feel better if - ok, not if there were public panic, but maybe some sort of pop culturally accepted O.M.G. moment. Ok no, that would be terrible too, and invariably lead to pandering.

I dunno. Obviously this is not a situation with a feel good ending and an easy fix. It's just tricky to evaluate how media examines and reacts to Japan, and, in turn, how I do the same. And while I'm mad at media avoidance, I actually also avoid.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I might have ambitions for fun like the Irish, but my liver's a teetotaler

I learned yesterday that if you go to a beach town's St. Patrick's Day observed day of drinking, even if you are a bit late and just catch the tale end of the bagpipers, turns out you still have plenty of time to get drunk - drunker than you thought you were getting. Even after years of experience, I still might forget the eventual potency of large volumes of green beer. So much so, that today was really spent as a shame Sunday, where I was just kinda convinced I was not fit for consumption by the world at large as I probably hadn't been the night before, and that I should primarily stay on couch arrest and think about being a terrible person.

Somehow I find that a new incidence of drunken shame or the perceived need for shame based on a sense you did something wrong but don't quite remember (Emily Kite's genius phrase "douche chills" is called out here) often results in recall of past moments of shame - drunken or otherwise. Like, hey, it's 4 p.m. and you're still in your pajama pants and you've eaten a half a block of cheese and watched approximately 6.5 episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress" because it's a marathon and you just let yourself get hooked by the teaser for the "Sister Wives" marathon that starts in 5 minutes and they ARE about to show a whole season. Maybe we should talk about the shame you should be feeling now, when you realize your boob is itchy because there are chip crumbs down your shirt not just from a random itch, rather than the shame you felt in 8th grade when you think you alienated the new girl without even trying or the time you licked a dog on a dare in a bar.

But yeah. I did end up watching a lot of "Sister Wives." It's completely fascinating and very curious, especially from a woman's perspective (though I say that as a woman without any other perspective to call upon). These women spent a lot of time discussing the ways in which they felt jealous or angry, but then felt they were selfish when they were feeling that way because they had all these other great perks, like other wives to help mother their children. Very very interesting. Also, season two (I think) opened with them "outing" themselves on national t.v. by going on the Today Show. Or maybe it was GMA? Or both? I don't know. But I really wanted them to address the obvious question of "how are you not already out by being on a national t.v. show?" Like, if I happened to see those ladies at the grocery store, I'd definitely be like, hey Christine, did you get over your feelings of inadequacy and adjust to the fourth wife? And are you still afraid of toasters (really)? And how DO you make homemade hamburger buns? They look delicious. And you're so good with a curling iron! (She is!)
I just spent a hungover afternoon with them and feel like I know them, so are we to presume no one in their town has cable television?
And somehow I did want to see who went to the grocery store. And who paid bills. And what the teenage kids do when their parents aren't around. Oops! Fascinating television.
Also, they specifically said they did not want their children reading blogs about them and here I am blogging about them. Janelle, wife #2, said she'd rather these no-account bloggers tell her things to her face. Well, Janelle, I want to know where you work. You seem very busy and to have a demanding job, and I wanted to know what that job was. Thanks!

And as far as accountability, well, I guess I would just like you to know I'm acknowledging my time as a jackass yesterday. This little puppet grew donkey ears, and when today I turned back into a real boy, it hurt!

But now shame Sunday's close draws near. An hour earlier at that. Thank you to today's new reality friends for keeping me distracted from my own.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday: disaster control law order toilets

Today began with some text messages from friends and family on the east coast who were letting me know that there were tsunami warnings for the California coast as a result of Japan's gigantor and devastating earthquake and tsunami. The tsunami evacuation route signs are posted about 5-7 blocks inland from where my bed is situated, which was where I was when checking my phone to receive such notice. Once the internet I take for granted as existing and accessible from my home computer gave me sufficient knowledge to know that I was not in imminent danger, I proceeded to the next important order of business of the day, hiding clothing that needed to be put away under my comforter rather than putting it away, all so that the company tasked with replacing my impressively highly functional toilet with a low-flow, green toilet could tromp through my apartment to do so without knowing what a mess I truly was.

Which potentially disastrous event do you think caused me more repeated and intense stress throughout the day - confronting the realization that something similar to the devastation in Japan could happen to me at any day or any time and, despite assuring my father to the contrary, I didn't really know what I would do nor did I have backup batteries for my flashlight (where is my flashlight again?), OR pessimistically having no faith that my apartment's plumbing would be functional upon my return home this evening and believing with certainty that strangers would be knocking on my door to turn off my water (if it wasn't off already) and rip out an old toilet at 7 a.m. tomorrow to replace it with an eco-friendly toilet I was certain would not get the job done?

Yes. Door number two.
(I'm not going to even go with the obvious joke there...this entire post could get very scatological very fast).

Why am I full of indignant rage and outrage because of the tiniest of life's transgressions, yet actively avoidant about eh...what really matters?

To simplify, if only a touch - not having plumbing of any kind due to natural disaster or not having plumbing due to perceived incompetence of building management's inability to make demands of contract workers, my energies go off the charts to the latter.

I really actively spent time throughout the day trying to think positively about the plumbing and NOT assume that my apartment would be a mess (not by my own hand), without running water, and toiletless to boot. It was out of my control. I shouldn't worry about it. Every time I opened a web browser NEW photos of planes and cars heaped together haphazardly like children's toys were being shown. NEW shots of fires, crying people, and bodies in the street. NEW footage of waves overtaking buildings and everything else that we couldn't see below the water in Japan. Threat of a Nuclear Meltdown. I use caps there because, really. Nuclear. Meltdown.
Yet I was still working through my inability to control the likely (to my pessimist's mind) scenario in which the toilet left me, well...shit outta luck. I think I included my fears in 3 emails to friends? And a phone call. Yep. The one where I admitted I was avoiding going home because I was afraid of what I'd find. The same phone call where I assured my father I did indeed have a plan.

If I was freaking out this much over the potential of an inconvenience that would not be a disaster, what would I possibly do if it were truly a disaster? Happy thoughts...no idea. Best move on to the immediate and then try my best to exert control.

A relevant aside: hilariously, I did not realize I was a control freak until fairly recently in life, and still probably would try to answer dishonestly on an internet "Are you a control freak?" quiz if I thought the answers would peg me as one. (Thereby controlling the outcome, OF COURSE).

Today is a rare day when such an incredible, unbelievable, staggering event beyond control happens that it forces reflection, whether you want to or not, because you can't help feeling like everything you're doing throughout your day is ridiculous, insignificant, and really not that big a deal when compared to people who are suddenly stripped back to survival as the only goal for the day. For me, what was thrown into sharpest relief was my seeming inability not to be either fired up or outraged at the little things. Why?

Well, hm, too much time on my hands, perhaps? Too nosy about other people's lives/comments/driving habits/misuse of the word "literally"? I am not sure.

Rage point 2 of the day.
So, just after convincing myself this new low flow toilet mandate was a good thing because it actually got me to do the dishes and clean up some papers (and hide clothing) before going to work, I left and made my way to a McDonald's for a cup of coffee (oh goodness, I'm realizing now my email complaint to McDonald's about what amounted to giving drivers trick cups [lids that didn't fit the cup sizes] falls into this larger effort's theme). I was in a drive-thru line behind an individual with a disabled designation on the California license plate. The driver tried to throw some trash in the trash can that appears a few feet before the drive-thru ordering box. Deciding he could not reach, he proceeded forward a few feet, stopped short of the ordering area, and threw his pile of trash on the ground.

Now, this was not McDonald's trash or something that related to McDonald's, not that that would make it excusable. This was "hey I've slowed to a speed that is juuust a bit more than stopped, so why not clear my car of hindrances like a cardboard cracker box full of other crap hanging out the top before pulling ahead to ask a man behind a speakerbox for a mcmuffin?"

I wanted to beep. I wanted to shout. I wanted to tattle to the man behind the speakerbox. I wanted to pick up the trash and return it to her (oh yeah, surprise! by the 1st window I realized that the guy was actually a woman) and say "You dropped this," with faux sweetness. I wanted to tattle to the guy at the 1st window! I tried to find a way that the disabled person's license plate would make this ok, but no - my outrage won out, just like the California did on the license plate - a person in the state of me, worried about the state of me. I had my coffee, but I still wanted to confront this woman. I wanted to roll down my window in traffic and say "Hey, you're not allowed to litter! It's really pointless and lazy and unfair to everyone else who doesn't throw trash out the window but might like to." She turned a corner. She seemed disoriented. And elderly. And inoffensive.

Yet her offense haunted me. And even writing about it makes me pissed again. The need for justice in the face of the most minor societal infractions would seem to suggest I'd be the world's most unexciting super hero.

A small reward for taking the time to articulate rage - acknowledgment.
Much like sharing that I've taken the time to complain to McDonald's (WHO DOES THAT?) after having let my annoyance and frustration at a system that could be better had built to a point that was no longer sustainable, I found myself doing the same with the dirty towel return policy and procedures at the gym. Suffice to say, my long-standing, well documented frustration with the current system and its absolute lack of ease and efficiency have been the fodder for more than a few laughs and opportunities to make fun of my mania by friends. Rightfully so. So when I finally sent (in response to a related email the gym staff initiated to all members, by the way) a long response to their request that towels are returned properly that outlined in no uncertain terms the ways in which the system is currently inconvenient or could be improved, I felt great. I felt relieved of a burden. I felt certain that at least 3 offices' worth of employees were making fun of my email and labeling me crazy. I would have.

But receiving a polite, generic response that acknowledged my opinion WITHOUT acknowledging I'd probably been placed on an at-risk list in some database somewhere really made me feel better. Someone had pretended to hear even if they hadn't heard. Thank you.

Rage point 3 - Jerks.
This was valid rather than ridiculous. I watched some folks take the opportunity to repeatedly make someone new, young, and intimidated feel dumb and incompetent and unwanted in group activity. I wanted to yell. I wanted to pounce like Wolverine. I wanted there to be a societal gimme for 1 sucker-punch per person per day to spend with impunity on anyone who needed it so that I could use it. I wanted to lay on the horn the same way I did with the little old manly lady at McDonald's. I wanted to ask these people why they thought they could treat other people like shit? I was furious. And remained that way wee wee wee all the way home.

Speaking of shit...

The moment of truth was upon me.
A bit bedraggled, and eager to be done with the day and take my shoes off and open a beer, I came around the corner from where I'd parked to be confronted by the sight of two even lines of toilets and toilet-related paraphernalia waiting curbside.

At first I feared they were toilets waiting to be installed, standing together like it was ladies night at some toilet country line dance bar. But upon closer inspection I saw they were the toppled thrones of the inhabitants of my apartment building, all left to be taken to a dump of their own for once. The variety was striking. Some were clean. Some looked as though they'd been in the backrooms of mechanic's shops that had run out of Lava soap for the past 40 years. Some had 70s kitsch flowery toilet seat covers. One, a fake wooden seat. I did not stop try to find my own, but really did feel the obligation of wanting to thank a reliable piece of equipment for not quitting on me just because it would have been easier.

Inside, my new toilet sits surrounded by the crud of workboots and the remembrances of toilets past. My toilet paper roll was empty. It was also in the sink, where the roll holder had likewise been deposited for safe rusting.
This machine has 2 settings and I've yet to really test its mettle. I'm also still kind of scared of it. But at least it's there and running. And maybe even saving water.

Disaster averted, I settled into a few episodes of Law & Order - original (and best). My God, I love that show. I cheer at the television when especially cutting justice is delivered (often by the aptly named, Mike Cutter, if not the real Jack McCoy). It was only in having some self-satisfied smiles while looking for shoes I could wear into my dusty, dirty bathroom that I realized I like the show so much because it presents what does not exist in real life. Order. Justice. People being forced to be accountable for their actions (even if their actions are murder, not general jerkiness). And let's not forget, Jerry Orbach.

And now, a day out of my control over, I am thankful to be able to hit the reset button, and climb into bed with all of my partially dirty clothing. Littered everywhere. Like towels that weren't returned properly. I am my own jerk! And after all, the order is restored.


As so many have said, thoughts, prayers, love to Japan.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Oprah, Catholicism, Austria, Canned Tuna, Expiration Dates and Pee-Wee Herman

Oprah, Catholicism, Austria, Canned Tuna, Expiration Dates and Pee-Wee Herman.
Day 2 of Lent 2011! Woohoo!
These elements and how they fit together, at least in my mind.

Part of my resistance to Lent is that well, it's a total downer. Really. In addition to not wanting to be pushed to do something I should be doing like writing, I also kind of don't like the overall oeuvre of Lent. Yes, it signals the return of the filet o' fish and its like-reconstituted seafood fast food brethren, which in turn means there's a shamrock shake somewhere in there too, just by way of fast food calendar, but other than marking the passage of such "for a limited time" times, Lent is also when church gets real moany-like musically. You lose all the upbeat joy to the world of the Christmas season, and you've just settled into the good vibrations tunes of ordinary time when BANG!, the pre-dirges, the dirges, the reminders of just how sinful you are come out in every minor key known to man (and, if sung reverently, one presumes higher powers).

Lent. It's when you decide to give up cookies and the Girl Scouts are friggin' EVERYWHERE reminding you you've made the dumbest decision ever in self-denial. It's when every time you congratulate yourself for being able to abstain from a box of Thin Mints and instead eat an entire tub of ice cream as a reward for your asceticism you end up hanging out with someone who has given up swearing or caffeine or alcohol or dairy products or television or naps or all of the above. Something that just seems really above and beyond the call of duty. I mean, several of my family members gave up cheese one year. CHEESE. Come on. I do not believe God wants that. I just don't. Not the God I'm familiar with, a God who had the omnipotence to make a moldy cheese like bleu superior to so many other cheeses! I mean, that's a no-nonsense, no waste kind of God if even the funky stuff is good eatin'!

There are people in the world who think climbing K2 would be a really great challenge and SO worth the experience just to say they'd done it. Then there are those of us who think that just sounds like a terrible idea and about one of the least exciting ways to end up short of breath. The extreme self-denial inspired by Lent in some cases puts me in mind of the mountain climbers. And don't even get me started on people who use Lent as a diet plan.

So, speaking of climb every mountain, that's where Austria and Oprah come in. The Sound of Music made "My Favorite Things" a household tune, universally known for sharing a message of can-do optimism and comfort that puts everyone in mind of the Austrian pajama party we all wanted to be a part of. And if you actually think of the words, they are lovely images and favorite things. Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudel. Yes! Those are nice thoughts! Pleasing for the mind to conjure. And lyrically pleasant as all hell! Poetry. All that "C" and "P" and then ending with "llll" on "apple" and "strudel." Yes. I like it. And when Julie Andrews sings it, YES. I love it.

Oprah took "favorite things" and consistently produced episodes of television with crowd shots of Americans losing their minds over material goods in a manner akin to evangelical healing. Yes, I too would be excited if Oprah gave me an iPad. But more so if Julie Andrews told me how to look as great in a signature haircut all my own. Though I'm no Oprah, I do think that maybe co-opting my favorite things for use during Lent might be a good idea for the moments when the dog bites, but inspiration does not. Also, in thinking about my favorite things and reflecting on the things that make me very happy (see yesterday: FRIENDS), maybe I'll be less inclined to ramble on about my own life and the imperfections and neuroses that dance across my mind like a traditional Austrian folkdance. (Please be aware that is not a promise. Just a mild goal. The hills are alive. The mountains are still pretty steep).

SO! The Sound of Music is one of my favorite things. Fact. Hard.
And while Lent is not, and well, it's not really designed to be a happy time as I understand it, but more one for super reflection and maybe some self-sacrifice, I think I can make it a bit more useful if I embrace it as a time of contemplative appreciation. Like that which I experience while eating cheese.

Let's see, is that everything? No.
Canned Tuna and Expiration Dates - the Lenten forced meat denial brings out the carnivore in me like Lymon brings out the Sprite in me. It was day ONE yesterday of being a day you're not supposed to go to Shorty's Rib Shack, and suddenly nothing was of culinary interest to me that did not involve meat. Never mind the canned tuna just sitting patiently on the shelf, ready for duty. And the expiration date on the eggs in the fridge seemed to be a bit too close to Groundhog Day for my comfort, so I felt myself hating on Lent and all its restrictions approximately 8.75 hours into Lent. So yeah, I still have some room for personal growth with the self-discipline/self-denial thing.

And finally, Pee Wee Herman was on Conan O'Brien's show last night, which was a strange pairing of someone I loved watching when i was 10 with someone I love watching now. The two together somehow merged my childhood t.v. with my adult t.v. in a way that was both amazing and vaguely off-putting. A show combo fit for the enterprising mind of Uncle Max.
Next year's folk festival? Maybe.
Or at least an appearance on Oprah.

So here's to climbing every mountain! Well, maybe not every mountain...