Monday, March 31, 2014

No Country for Old Cats

I read half of No Country for Old Men last night--it's a page turner, and the people die off fast. Like,  there were three people dead in the first two pages and the corpses piled up quickly after that. The writing is terse, and flat, no frills, really, so you'll have a sequence that like:

"The desert air was bleak. He pulled open the door to the truck and a body slumped over. The man had a bullet hole between his eyes and a shirt wet with blood. Moss shut the door and pulled out his Colt .45."

Like that. I made that up, but it's close. The plot is somewhat difficult to follow because of this bluntness. For a time, I wasn't sure if one of the scenes was a flashback and then there's this voice that interjects now and again in first person, I think it's the Sheriff (played by Tommy Lee Jones in the Coen brother's version); and some twists and turns now and again, like one of the cops being possibly a turncoat hit man (played by Woody Harrelson in the movie--I looked at IMDb). Maybe I'll ask Dan if he wants to rent it at some point--but I want to get to the end to see if the main character lives (Moss).

It's been a while since I've read a straight book--I mean, one that's not just about some sort of mystery or thriller. I don't know why this is. I know I should be reading Lahiri's newest, for example. I don't count Donna Tartt's Goldfinch, partially because it too has kind of a mystery to it, and also, I am stuck on page 200 something.  But I just don't have the interest right now in fiction that's about families or like a woman's struggle to discover herself. And it's been that way for a while, though I would also argue that all really good writing is a mystery that you're trying to unravel--and it must have a conflict that propels you forward. And so, I'm revising my claim to not having read enough varied books, because I've managed to get in a few Ian McEwan books now and again, and they are not genre-based.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Giancarlo Esposito

We went to Rider last night to see Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad fame give a lecture to the largely student-centered audience. Rider has a very good musical theater program, and so there were many aspiring actors/actress present, and he spoke for about 45 minutes extemporaneously about the importance of being present, knowing what you want, making choices for yourself, knowing your own value, asking for what you want, using your life to create beauty, being present--he covered a whole hosts of topics, but the main thing I took away from it is the idea that you have one life, you have some universe-given talents, and you can either use them to create, or ignore them and suffer. This is essential advice for me as I struggle all the time with wondering if I'm working hard enough on my writing and if I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing with my life. He said that it's never too late to start over; but he meant that to a group whose average age was 19--I'm not sure what a person in her forties is supposed to do. On the way home, it occurred to me that I had about six years of my life so far when I was doing what I really love to do--teaching and writing--and the rest of the time, my working life has been about being able to support myself in a way that allows me to use some of my creative energy, but doesn't really address the things I'm passionate about and good at, like writing fiction and teaching how to write. But what does a person do? I could consider hobbling together a few adjunct teaching jobs; lots of writers do that or I could abandon my life now and try to work wherever I could get a tenure track teaching gig, like maybe in Kutztown or Boise, ID. The latter doesn't seem like the most attractive option. Or I could try to get a teaching job at Rider or I could search out writing retreats and give myself a week or two a year devoted to writing or I could continue the way that I have but work harder at spending time on my stories; that seems the most reasonable and the most exhausting, as it doesn't leave a lot of room to watch reality TV.

I am sure there are many better photos of his visit, but here's one I managed to capture.



The other great thing about the evening is that he didn't talk that much about the show, so I didn't learn how it ends (other than that his character gets killed off, which I already knew). So we can keep watching BB and now, I can't wait for the season where his character is introduced.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Richness of Books

Went to the Princeton Library today where I may have mentioned, they have a plethora of good books for sale, all the time. It's difficult to resist, and I find myself even wanting to buy books I already own, like Love in the Time of Cholera, just because it's so inexpensive and pleasurable to purchase good books.

Here is what I got for $10---all chosen from the mystery thriller section:

No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy. I never saw the movie version, but I have read McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses (never saw that movie either), and the book has a killer first line: "I sent one boy to the gas chamber at Huntsville."

The Small Hand and Dolly, by Susan Hill. A book with two short novellas chosen solely for its cover. First line of The Small Hand: "It was a little before nine o'clock, the sun was setting into a bank of smoky violet cloud and I had lost my way."

The Affair, by Lee Child. A Jack Reacher novel, and I know I've read Child before, I think it was Gone Tomorrow. First line: "The Pentagon is the world's largest office building, six and a half million square feet, thirty-thousand people, more than seventeen miles of corridors, but it was built with just three street doors, each one of them opening into a guarded pedestrian lobby." A bit of snooze, that opening and I'm not always keen on political thrillers.

Faith, by Len Deighton. I also think I have read his work before, but maybe not. These thriller/mystery writers are prolific. First line, "'Don't miss your plane, Bernard.'"

I will start with McCarthy, because I like that line the best.





Thursday, March 27, 2014

TBT: Stuffed Animals

I don't know if it's a product of being an only child, or if it's like some genetic sensitivity thing, but when I was little, I had this affinity to stuffed animals, but also to other inanimate objects, basically believing that even the bathtub had feelings and would feel neglected if you didn't use it or at least pat it reassuringly on occasion. But my stuff animals, because they were, you know, shaped like animals, all got names and I worried about them a lot--you know, like the fairness of who should get to be in the bed each night. I won't go so far as to claim that my toys were on a rotational basis, but I'm sure that it crossed my mind to dole out the affection in an equal way. I didn't necessarily feel the same about dolls, because dolls could be just this side of creepy. One second, they were little girls that you took care of, and the next second, they could be possessed by demons and try to kill you. I must have seen any early film starring Karen Black that taught me that.  Also, my mom once bought me a dried apple-head doll that I've never recovered from seeing. I remember thinking when she gave it to me, what little kid would want to hold a doll that looks like her grandmother.



And in moving some 20+ times over my life, the stuffed animals have usually made the cut, whereas only a few of the dolls survived. Well, including Bernadette, the doll that's from my mom's childhood. I think I have a picture of her somewhere and maybe wrote about it in a previous post. I know that my friend Leigh Ann remembers Bernadette because the dolls were delivered to my work and LA didn't like Bernadette at all.

I feel the same way about animals and people, even today. Give me a choice between seeing a TV show or movie where a child is hurt and one where an animal is hurt, and I'll pick the kid every time.

This is a bear that lives in my office. Would it be weird if I started bringing him to meetings? 




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lost in New Jersey

I figured out why New Jersey drivers are on the whole so jerky and aggressive--it's because it sucks to drive in New Jersey. Everyone is impatient to get to wherever they're going, just to be able to get out of their cars and finished with the never not frustrating experience of  three lanes of traffic with cars going at various speeds from 45 to 75 miles and hour. Even when you're not on Route 1, driving is annoying.  On Scudder's Mill Road, it is pretty much impossible to go for longer than thirty seconds before hitting a red light.  So, the last three miles of my commute home can take ten minutes.  The worst is when you get stopped at any of the nonsense lights like the one at Bristol Meyers Squibb where two cars are waiting or the one at the Marriott Complex where again two cars are waiting.

I did this thing yesterday where I attempted to take a new way home by getting off of at the Meadow Road exit that runs behind Market Fair. However, whatever I was supposed to do, I didn't, because instead of finding the back way, I managed to just get a nice circular tour of the mall, before being given the option to get back on Route 1 N again or to continue circling Market Fair for a second time like a shark. And so there I was, back on Route 1 again, about fifty feet ahead of where I'd exited five minutes before.

It probably doesn't help that my CD player in my car is broken, so I"m at the mercy of the radio stations here with talk show hosts with names like Tingle and the Goose.  My friend at work, who knows how much I hate the drive, suggests that I listen to books on tape. But I don't want to listen to books on tape. I don't want to be in my car alone, listening to 25 minutes of Julia Roberts narrating Eat Pray Love while I weave in and out of traffic.

Being in Philadelphia this weekend reminded me that I want to actually be allowed to walk from one location to the next--I miss the trek through the neighborhood and being on the look out for interesting windows decorated with Virgin Mary's next to ,like, a NRA sticker. I also miss the subway, where you can just watch and where I can take pictures surreptitiously or eavesdrop on conversational bits to steal for my writing or whatever.

Is there something I can do on my drive that's creative and gives me something to work with? I can't take pictures without endangering my life. I could tape record what's happening around me and create some kind of daily blog  update about the assholes in the cars around me. And take note that I'm becoming just like them, cutting people off, going too fast, prioritizing my own desire to just get there already over every other person around me. Yesterday, I honked my horn at a lady for not getting off at her exit fast enough. Like, in that mean way you can honk your horn, where you keep it compressed down to emphasize your rage, not the polite one quick tap honk that says, Hey, you might want to notice that there are people in cars around you. All ideas are welcome.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Breaking Bad, Season 1, Episode 2

I can't commit to promising that I will write about the show every time we watch a new episode, but I am starting to get a glimmer of understanding as to why people were/are obsessed with this show. We watched the second episode last night, and when that show is on, it's impossible for me to do my usual things while watching TV such as eating Frosted Flakes or playing on my phone or braiding my hair. I just have to watch.

In this one, Walter White is faced with a conundrum--he's got one dead guy in the van, and another almost dead guy heaving in Jessie's basement.  I won't recount the whole thing, because that alone is enough--the moral dilemma posed by the man in the basement, and all that he represents. In most of the scenes, you can hear the guy coughing and wheezing from the air ducts, so he's like this monster in the basement, but also a helpless victim secured to a pole with a bicycle lock around his neck. Walter wrestles with the idea of trying to reason with the guy--like maybe they can strike a deal with him where if they let him go, he won't come back with his posse and waste them and their families. It seems like an unlikely possibility. So, instead, he gives the guy some water and a baloney sandwich, and the one moment of humanity is when you see the guy taking off the crusts of his bread, because he doesn't like to eat that part. Meanwhile, Jessie, who has won the coin toss, must dispose of the body, and since he can't decide on what kind of plastic container to use, he puts the corpse in the bathtub and pours hydrocloric acid on him so it will eat through his bones. Here's where you learn a chemistry lesson--the body dissolves, as does the entire bathtub and the floor beneath it spilling the rest of the remains on the first floor when it breaks through the ceiling. Who knew that this acid was only resistant to plastic? Walter White knew, but his job is to kill the monster in the basement. And you can sympathize with him, because what else can he do? He can't set him free and he can't keep him alive indefinitely. What would you do and if you are going to kill a guy, what's the most painless, easiest way to do it? He thinks about using a plastic bag, but loses his nerve because the guy is awake. I'm thinking poison or some other chemical solution--that would make the most sense given what the character knows and is familiar with. We're watching the third episode tonight, so I will know more later.

In other but related news, one of the actors from Breaking Bad, Giancarlo Esposito,  will be appearing at Rider on Saturday night for a discussion. I probably shouldn't go because I haven't been introduced to him yet in the series, and it may ruin the surprises to come. But what else can I do? It's the guy who plays Gus, I believe he's one of the central villains. Don't ruin it for me, let me ruin it for myself.

Uh-oh, see what happens when you even Google Gus from BB--you learn that he dies. The first thing that comes up is "death of Gus" and these images. Oh, well. I'm guessing from his face that he gets burned by acid. Don't tell me!





Monday, March 24, 2014

I Heart Oprah

It's probably uncool to like Oprah, especially now that she's become a corporation mega multimillionaire with her OWN channel, but I don't care. That network plays a lot of 20/20 detective shows that I love and it's also host to one of most interesting and disturbing documentary projects I've ever seen, Lindsay.  Last night, we saw more footage of Lilo not wanting to be filmed, and bawling out her personal assistant for not doing his job, even though the reason he can't do his job is because she won't meet with him. Their conversation about him not having her clothes arranged the way she wanted them to be done went something like this:

Lilo: (folding one of the 5,000 Valentino sweaters she has never worn): And then look at these piles of clothes. Like, you just put them on the floor and they're not even color-coordinated. Like, I should've had a personal closet organizer do this instead of you and now I'm, like,  having to do it myself and it's compromising my sobriety.

PA (with circles under his eyes): If we had been able to talk about it before you moved in like I asked, I could've hired a closet organizer for you. I can actually get one for you right now.

Lilo: That's not the point! Am I paying you? You don't have to have such an attitude about it.

PA: I don't have an attitude about it, but we need to have talk for me to be able to do my job.

Lilo: Oh, so now you're in charge? Now you're going to tell me what to do and pay me to put away my own clothes?

PA: Five minutes. I just need five minutes every morning and every evening and we'll be good.

Lilo: Stop patronizing me or I'm going to smoke crack!

The whole show was like that, with Lindsay blaming everyone and saying she couldn't face all the chaos of making the documentary and how it wasn't the show she signed up for and she doesn't want to talk about her struggle to stay sober, and how this paparazzi person took a picture of her going to an AA  meeting and it's all because of the documentary. In actuality, reporters would be trailing her whether she was filming a documentary or not, and she should actually see it as a plus that they're taking pictures of her trying to stay sober, as it shows she's serious about not drinking. All of this nonsense went on and then they showed Oprah on her way to meet with Lindsay for one of her scheduled check-ins.

The instant she sat down with Lindsay, the whole dynamic changed and Lindsay became this penitent, quiet person as Oprah said something like, The most important thing is you're sobriety, and if you are not ready to do this, that is completely okay with me. And Lindsay said, in a tiny voice, No, I want to do this. And Oprah said basically that Lindsay knows how to behave, knows how to be a professional, knows what's expected of her and if she wants to succeed, she has to keep her commitments and cut the bullshit.

I don't know--there was something about what she said that struck me, because I feel like I do the same thing to a lesser extent; like, make all these excuses about why I'm not writing more, when the truth is, I know what I need to do. It's simple. It's ass in chair. It's getting up every day and writing. It's also writing at night, even when I would rather veg out. There's no magic about it and no mystery. It's just a question of whether I want to just say I'm a writer, or if I actually want to be one. I know what I need to do. And so, yes, I love Oprah for her no nonsense and logical and to the point approach. I also think she was the best thing in The Butler. Whenever she was on screen, I only watched her. I'm a fan, even if it's not hip to say so.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Visit to the City of Brotherly Love

We had Friday off from work because of spring break, a nice perk of the job, and that allowed me to take the early NJ Transit train out to 30th street and meet with my friends from Penn, to visit Sweeten House, to eat lunch with Lisa V. and Jason at Distrito on 40th Street. Then, got back on the Chestnut Street bus, and tried to remind myself of the things I won't miss on from the city, and there are a few. Public transportation, for example, has many things to like (it's cheap, it doesn't eat up valuable resources, it's fast, you don't have to worry about traffic on the train and you're not driving if you're on the bus, and you know exactly where you're going). However, it's also crowded, smelly, and you can never let down your guard. At least I can't--I'm always on the look out for the weirdo who might want to talk to me or the iPhone snatcher scanning the crowd for easy targets. And then there are the things people do on the subway that remain annoying and inescapable, such as loud gum chewing and screaming at someone on their phone, or blasting shitty music, or abusing their children. Okay, so I will try to remember that the next time I'm driving on Route 1--I don't have to turn my head to watch a young mom alone with three kids, beating the oldest with one hand while texting with the other. Here's the photo montage from my weekend. 
Here is a familiar site--one I passed twice a day at least when I worked at Penn. Ann Taylor Loft, having yet another sale. I resisted.
Two of my favorite girls and former co-workers, Lisa V. and Colleen, both pregnant with their second bambinos.

Here is a sign on the Walnut Locust stop I took home from Penn, with an ad for suicide prevention that you can only read if you're on the very edge of the track, thereby setting you up to possibly become another suicide statistic if you slip.

Obnoxious middle school age boys swearing up a storm.
Breakfast with mom at Green Eggs Cafe where they serve you actual sugar cubes and you have to resist putting all of them in your pocket to feed to any horses you might meet later.

Then I forced Mom to go to Green Street with me, and I bought two shirts I didn't need along with a pair of soft jogging pants that I sort of needed because I forgot my p.j.s The day before, I went to the Green Street in West Philly and bought a pair of navy pants that were too short, but they only cost one dollar.

We did some other running around, such as upgrading my mom to an iPhone and going to the pet store to find Ernesto another cushion for the window seat as the old one was getting flat. Just a few more to add, and he will be like the princess in the Princess and the Pea.

We walked to Tasker for dinner and I was able to catch a snoozing cat, propped up against a Virgin Mary. These are the moments I miss most about Philly.

We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant in view of the square that gave my mom free wine. The dinner was average, but the staff was authentic Italiano and very nice.
On the way home, we again admired the windows, which are celebrating bunnies and the return of Jesus.
And Emma Carol waits patiently for our return, another cat in a window. 
This morning, we visited Jenn and Amelie and Amelie seemed to like Mom and I okay. Jenn bought delicious pastries and I did not hesitate to sample them. 
And a calico we saw in the window on the way home from Jenn's. He rubbed against the screen when I tried to touch him. 

Today, I got to see Carrie and Padhriag and Seamus at the park on 9th and Fitzwater. Seamus was all rosy cheeks and smiles.

View from the window as we pull out of the city, headed once again toward Jersey.

And then finally, this woman on the Northeast Corridor to Hamilton, who left her bags with us to search for a bathroom. I imagined she was on her way to New York, where everyone is infinitely more cool and interesting than in most cities. At least that's how I think of New York.

I'll be back in Philadelphia in two weekends, I hope to see everyone again. It sometimes seems like Philadelphia is so far away from me now, but it's only just a drive, train ride, and then SEPTA, and I'm back. Not in a flash, but it's not like trying to get across country. I have to remember that.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Wild Ride

Almost finished reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed and it's very difficult to read, or not very difficult, just that I find myself skimming the text somewhat, partially because it's about her starving or needing water or her feet throbbing and her toenails falling off in her too-small boots or memories of her dead mother or her heroin-shooting days, interspersed with her getting lost on the trail or almost lost on the trial and nearly stepping on rattlesnakes three different times so far.  It's hard to relax when you're reading something where potential danger lurks at every turn in the path.

And then there's the fact that her choice to take this solo trek on the Pacific Coast Trail is so far from anything I would ever consider doing that I find it hard to relate or sympathize with her difficulties. I don't even like to hike for an hour, let alone eight weeks in the wilderness with a pack on your back that weighs as much as you do. I've only been camping a handful of times, and never joyously or because it was my idea. It was always some nature-y boyfriend who wanted to get back to the land and not shave for two days.  I do see the value, but I like to see if from afar, with indoor plumbing within five steps. Perhaps that makes me shallow or lazy, but I don't really believe that. I think the experience is probably good for you, and builds confidence, but I also think it's something only a certain class of people can get into for any length of time. Like, you don't hear of a lot of inner city kids planning to spend $1,000 on gear from the American Eagle Outfitter Camping Store so they can find themselves in the woods.

But the writing is wonderful and it's unsentimental (one of my main qualifications for good writing, especially if you're writing a coming-of-age type story); she's never self-pitying and is often self-hating.
It's also a page turner, because she's faced with her own mortality every day, because she could die in all of these unpleasant ways at pretty much any time. She could get attacked by a bear or a coyote or she could plummet off the side of the mountain or freeze to death in the snow or be struck down by heat stroke or run out of water or lose her pack and starve to death or wander off the trail and get lost forever or be attacked by the ne'er do well townsmen or fall down and cut her head. So far, she hasn't waxed poetic about the overall insaneness of the trip--the fact that she's risking her life every second, and I guess that's kind of the point--she has a self-destructive streak from losing her mom and from never knowing her dad and from failing in her marriage and feeling essentially alone in the world. And we know that it turns out okay because she's writing the book, she obviously didn't die. And it doesn't seem like she will be gang-raped by hippies, though that's another danger because she's a woman alone and very vulnerable.

I would perhaps find the narrative a little less annoying if she had given herself more than twenty dollars to pick up at every out post. I mean, she's constantly running out of money to buy food and drinks. Almost the moment she has her money in hand, she buys two cheeseburgers and a milkshake and is left with sixty-five cents until she gets to the next PO Box which requires her to first hike another 156 miles.

But you should still read the book--she's good and honest and introspective and it's not her fault that Reese Witherspoon is currently filming the movie version of the book.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

TBT: Bad Community Theater

I don't have any photos of my community theater days--I mean, I have a bunch more from when I worked in children's theater (see previous posts)--but none from some of the shows I did at the Royalty Theater Company in downtown Clearwater or with that one group of actors who did these mystery theater events. Maybe I did just one play at the RTC, A Pack of Lies and I played Julie, the naive young daughter. If I recall, I was allowed to use a British accent (I excel at accents). Before each performance, the woman who helped me get the acting and teaching job at Ruth Eckerd Hall (Kay Campbell--she was a veteran actress and looked quite a bit like Carol Burnett) always did these vocal exercises to prepare. Deep breaths and inhalations and trilling of the lips, teeth, tip of the tongue, roof of the mouth.  I found this to be completely embarrassing. I know that you have to do these things to warm up your instrument, as they say (your body, your voice), but then another part of me says, But it's only community theater. In Florida for a bunch of old people, half of whom will be asleep by curtain fall after Act II.

When I lived in Chicago, I didn't do any shows--not one, but I did audition once for Second City, which is one of the best improv troupes in the country; Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi and Gilda Radner and Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert started there. I don't recall much about my audition, except that I wasn't funny. None of us were. It was a dismal audition. I think there were like four of us onstage and we had to pretend we were looking down at a dead body. I think I might have at some point pantomimed using a rope. Horrifying.

I've continued to take theater classes on and off at the various schools I've worked. I was allowed to take an advanced acting class when I worked at Penn State and that was so odd--I was like 35 at the time and everyone else was 21 and it was like this strange time travel thing where I was bad in the classroom, but older and so not so easily impressed and much less self-conscious. I did a scene from Night Mother with one of the other girls. Originally, the teacher cast me as the mom (of course), but then I asked him if Rose and I could switch, because I identified more with the suicidal, epileptic daughter. He said okay and we did the scene and it was really good. I mean, I cried and the teacher had to stop me at the door and tell me to stay with him, so it must have been good, right?

I was always good at acting but not amazing and I knew that the chances of succeeding were so very small and it would require me to be a waitress for the rest of my life while hoping to get a walk-on part in a GEICO commercial. And I was terrible at the sucking up part. And enduring pretentiousness like you've never seen. And lying about how good something was. And going to community theater-run musicals, which was ultimately what made it impossible for me to pursue. But mostly, it was because I didn't love it enough, and didn't have the talent or determination to do it. And yet, a part of me still waits to get discovered some day.

Here's a scene from Waiting for Guffman that accurately illustrates how bad most community musical theater can be.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Has Anyone Heard of this Show Called "Breaking Bad?"

Due to massive amounts of pressure form numerous sources (and the fact that the only other available TV entertainment on last night was CSI and Amityville Horror), Dan and I rented the first episode of Breaking Bad last night. I'm a late bloomer, I'll admit it. Growing up, my family was always about five to seven years behind any current trend. So, like, we didn't get a microwave until 1999 or a VCR until well into the DVD years and I got a cell phone just two week ago.  Okay, these are all examples of how we were behind the times in technology, but generally, I am not a band wagon type and usually get to things late, like boys. I didn't get kissed until the 11th grade (I blame my Tootsie-style Coke bottle eyeglasses as part of the problem), and I still have never been married--I imagine I'll catch up to that in my fifties. So, when BB was all the rage, I missed it. I'm sure I flipped past an episode or two, but I never watched one, even though I was vaguely pleased that  the dad from Malcolm in the Middle had another acting job.
We watched the pilot show last night. I liked it. Dan had no idea what it was about, so he was surprised by the crystal meth lab, but otherwise, we were both into it. Not into it, into it. I mean, we didn't stay up all night watching the entire first season, but we liked it well enough. I am sad that the guy is dying, but also I happen to know that he has five more season to struggle through, so it's not imminent.

Please do not ruin it for me, all of you people who are on the pulse of popular culture and know how it ends. But I am telling you, after all of the hype I've heard about the show, if it doesn't change my life, I will be disappointed.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dreading Junior High

Luke starts sixth grade in the fall, and he seems fairly cool about it; he's worried about bullying, but I think that's because they are now inundated with classroom discussions and speakers and chatter about bullying--it's as if the administration is bullying the kids about bullying.

I remember dreading middle school--knowing somehow that it was this weird transition into semi-adulthood, where there would be actual teenagers (8th graders) and kids who were jaded and did drugs and maybe had sex. Middle school seemed like the ultimate in total corruption, which was a concept that made my stomach hurt--I just wanted to be left alone to read books about girls wearing hoop skirts and to be able to still get lost in games in my imagination--I didn't want to hear from Tracey Middleton how she made out with a twenty year old janitor at the Billy Squier concert during "Stroke Me."

Getting older meant getting less interesting while at the same time moving further away from believing in those things that were amazing--like unicorns and telekinesis and time travel. I knew that once I got to a certain age, I would lose all of the magic stuff and it would be replaced by mundane distractions, like wanting designer jeans (the whole reason I preferred Jordache jeans to any of the other brands was because the label was a horse and part of me still thought that maybe, just maybe, you might be able to communication telepathically with horses, given enough concentration and faith). I was also seriously worried about becoming a drug addict. My vision of junior high was a bunch of red-eyed mulleted guys in wife beaters and their acid-washed jeans wearing girlfriends hanging out in the parking lot pressuring me to smoke dope. As if we any them would be in a parking lot--none of us drove, for God's sake, and as if pot were the worst thing in the world. But I thought that pot was the gateway to heroin and living under a bridge. 

Why am I thinking about any of this? Maybe because, even as an adult, I'm still scared of those kids--or of this idea that you can lose control of your life and yourself and maybe never get it back (see previous post, see Phillip Seymour Hoffman post, see any Amy Winehouse lyric + is that really her last name?).  I couldn't sleep the other night and I kept thinking about this scene from Saturday by Ian McEwan where the main character spots a girl who he can tell is a recent addict. It's something about the way she's twitching or behaving, and he thinks to himself, Hm...I could save her. I could yank her off the street and give her an antidote to this heroin that would give her a shot at not becoming chemically addicted. But he does nothing, which makes him slightly despicable.

Anyway, none of that happened to me in middle school or in high school or in college either. I stayed a good girl and kept day-dreaming and it did happen that I stopped believing in ESP and finding a secret panel in the back of my closet that would take me into a mythological world. And I grew up and started worrying about car insurance. I miss it, and though I can get back to some of it in writing fiction, it's not the same.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Watching Someone Die

I caught an hour of Lindsay on the Oprah Channel. In case you haven't seen it, the show is about fallen child star Lindsay's (Lilo's) struggles to put herself together after five unsuccessful stays in rehab. It's filmed in this documentary style--not like a typical reality TV show--seems less staged somehow, but it's also infinitely more depressing than the Barbie-style, polished for America faux drama shows like The Bachelor.  We watch her as she struggles to get the keys to an apartment in the city, and are asked to sympathize with how difficult it is for her to live for two months in a motel in NYC. We see that every time she leaves the hotel or goes anywhere, she's trailed by paparazzi, but the kicker is that we're watching her being trailed by these piranha like photographers looking for a pay-off, even as we're allowed to see this because another set of people are filming her every move.

And there's trouble brewing with the production crew, because she wants days off and they want to be filming her---that's the essential deal that Oprah's struck---you let us film you and we'll pay for your apartment in Chelsea and try to help you stay sober.  But then you see Lindsay cancelling shooting dates and blaming the producers for not working out a clear schedule.  She denies responsibility in one moment, and then in the next, we see footage of her alone, talking to the same crew, reflecting on how far she's come and how she wants to stay clean and sober and be in charge of her life. Then, in the next scene, we watch as her butler/hotel employee/wrangler comes into her hotel room like four different times throughout the day to get her up and out of the room---starting at 1 p.m. and going on until after 4 p.m. and what 20-something sleeps all day and doesn't get dressed until dinner? One who is hung over, is my guess or who has taken a sleeping pill or whatever. A lot of her excuses for wanting time off to recuperate seem like ways to duck the cameras so she can score some coke with a little bit of privacy.

What's also sad is that the show seems to be like her last resort--like she doesn't have any money and so has to do this Oprah thing to pay the bills and she can't even muster up the energy to show up for it. Then the bring on this personal life coach woman who is full of shit--like, she's got this spiel about being authentic, even as she's waving around her fake nails. She helps Lindsey find her way by asking her to pick and read a tarot card, and Lilo does it, but in this way that's like, This is crap. Get her a real therapist, for God's sake, not some muscular life coach/dance teacher/medium. She also has a sober life coach who wears parachute pants. How much are these people getting paid and how much money will Lohan have left when there's no one interested in any part of her?

And then, when she dies in a drunk driving accident or an overdose, we cannot be surprised. We can be glad we got the footage--it will be worth that much more.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Hurry Up with Dinner Already

I may have previously mentioned in this blog that I have never learned to cook. Like, without adult supervision, I wouldn't know the first thing about how to make a chicken. I think you're supposed to rub butter on it and then put it in the oven or cut it up and put it in a skillet with some olive oil. I've never made a meatloaf or a casserole or even an omelet. Well, maybe an omelet, but not a very good one. My mom is an excellent cook, but I skipped that part where I was supposed to be paying attention to how the meal got on the table. In college, I did what most kids did and ate a lot of spaghetti and Ramen  noodles and bowls of cereal for dinner. But then I never progressed beyond those basic skills of pouring water into a pot or hitting the timer on the microwave for popcorn. It's partially because I was single for a lot of my twenties and thirties--I had boyfriends and I lived with them and everything, but they always cooked while I waited at the table with the napkin around my neck like an extra from Oliver.  But that can't be my whole excuse, because I know plenty of single women who learned to cook for themselves or for their friends or whatever. It could be a lack of interest, or, more likely, a lack of patience. I have lived by the premise that it shouldn't take longer to make a meal than it does to eat it, i.e. I can't quite get with the program of cutting up vegetables and sauteing butter and cleaning lentils or mixing the potatoes with the milk or whatever else might be involved in constructing a four course dinner. And I don't really feel bad about it, except when I'm around other women who can cook and have to instruct me about the proper way to cut a tomato without slicing off my finger. Working from a recipe also involves math--half a cup of this two-thirds of a teaspoon of that; and I don't want to get it wrong, so I just don't do it. I was just going to amend that statement and say that I can bake, but that's not accurate either. I can slice up pre-made cookie dough and put it on a cookie sheet. I can set the timer and remove said cookies with a spatula. In other words, I have the baking and cooking skills of a five year old.

Luckily, I live with a man who likes to cook and does it well. Currently, he is in the kitchen making a recipe I tore out of one of my mom's old Living magazines,"Chicken Tangine with Almonds, Olives and Apricots." He's not inspiring a lot of confidence at the moment, because he just said, "Was I supposed to preheat the oven?"  Dinner should be ready in about an hour.  To my credit, I always clean up and wash the pots and pans and I never complain about it. 
The recipe.

He walks softly and carries a big knife. 
Ingredients.

The chicken. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

One Shitty Thing a Day

In honor of Lent, I've decided to make a commitment to allow myself to do or consume or think or practice one shitty thing per day for the rest of the Lentil season, or for the rest of my life. For example, instead of eating cottage cheese and fruit for lunch (as Dan did), I decided to have a fat French fry dipped in ketchup. Delicious! I did not feel bad about it; instead, I enjoyed how horrible it was and thought not for a second how it might possibly be destroying the four days I put in at the gym this week, dying on the elliptical machine. From here on out, I'll try my best to do one bad thing each and every day, whether that be to eavesdrop on a conversation at another table and make fun of it (as I did yesterday at Starbucks) or try to get Dan to turn around and look at this lady who was seated at nearby who had the biggest chest I'd ever seen spilling out of her tank top (I also did this yesterday---it occurs to me that maybe I should aspire to do this more often--like maybe five times per day instead of just once. Once might actually be way too easy).

I vow to find the time during the day to cut someone off in traffic and then slow down, to sneak 25 jelly beans from my co-workers stash when she's in the bathroom, to lie to Dan when he asks me if I put his socks away mismatched, to mock people who I view as not as smart as me, to roll my eyes when someone is telling me a long and boring story about childhood, to delete emails from people asking me for help, to not put the lid back on the orange juice so that it spoils, to purposefully not like pictures on my friends' babies on Facebook, to turn the pages over on library books when I've finished reading for the day, to do the crossword puzzle in pen in the doctor's office and put in the wrong answers, to change the channel when Dan is watching yet another game of soccer, and to drop the f-bomb in front of other people's children.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Nebraska, or Where We All Go to Die

We are not movie goers. We go to the movies maybe once every three months or more like four to five times a year. I don't know why this is--I guess because I am afraid of being shot at a movie theater now. Very occasionally, we rent movies On Demand; more often than not, we watch whatever happens to be on at the time---and, if I have my pick (which I often do) it's going to be a mystery detective show like Hard Evidence or 20/20.  I'm attracted to these shows because I like how they figure things out and how they make a gesture toward justice.  I mean, sometimes, the bad guy gets away with it, but most of the time, they come to slightly satisfying conclusion.

On Oscar night, instead of watching that awkward parade of celebrities, we rented Nebraska. In case you don't know, I was born in Aurora, Nebraska, and my whole family still lives there. But we left when I was about five, and so I can't say that I know what it's like to grow up there---but I do have some understanding of it, at least better than, say, a man born and raised in New Jersey.

From the beginning, the movie felt like a sophisticated graduate school thesis--perhaps because it was in black and white.  Visually, it was beautiful--lots of tableaus of fields and skies--and it's probably one of those films a person should see many times, because the surface story was just a way to talk about larger things--death, loss, regret, leaving this life, saying goodbye, how we don't really know our parents, how our lives are shaped by where we live or our childhoods--but the actual watching of the film and the acting felt less than enjoyable. The acting seemed stilted and forced--but then I wondered if maybe that was the intention; like it was supposed to have an Everyman feel to it where you're aware that it's not reality, but this kind of hyper reality. After watching it in black and white for about fifteen minutes, Dan asked me if it was going to be like Wizard of Oz where halfway through, they switch to color, like the guy ends up going to LA or something, where it's a magical world filled with amazing plastic surgery and glitz.

I suppose the main thrust of the movie was this old man's goodbye to his life--to the house he grew up in, to his dead family in the cemetery, to his old friends, to his former business, to the landscape and the people and the girl he loved. It was sort of beautiful in that way--one of the last scenes being this man sitting on his front lawn who waves goodbye to them as they leave town for the last time. 


Thursday, March 13, 2014

TBT: FSU Roommates

Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.

When I was in undergrad at Florida State, I lived with three other girls in an adorable house on Tharpe Street. The exact address was 1734 Tharpe Street (I think??). The house had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a big kitchen and living room, a yard, and driveway also large enough to accommodate four cars. I think the rent per person was something crazy like $150 per month. I shared a bedroom with Lauren and we actually had bunk beds--I don't know who gave us those--but she slept on the bottom and I slept on the top and only once did she have to tell me to get rid of the guy I brought home.

I think we lived together for three years; maybe two with Michelle, and then she moved to Chicago (where I later went--see a previous TBT post); but while we were all together, we got along very well and were able to throw an annual Halloween party for our various friends and theater majors. In the photo above, we have dressed as the four seasons. God knows where I got that dress---maybe my mom made it? Lauren B. is next to me (she's summer, wearing a dress that may have been a left-over from one of her Tri Delt events), then Becca B. (as fall--she hot-glue-gunned the leaves herself) and Michelle N. (with whitened face and blue lips and a wreath of pine). I think at this particular party, I kissed three or four different guys--two theater boys and some else's ex boyfriend and maybe one other. Hey, as Spring, I believe my central role was the promise of something better.

Those were some great girls. We didn't keep in touch because I am terrible at that, but I love them dearly still.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Never Trust a Man Dressed All in White

Use Grammarly for proofreading to avoid having your story about nurturing nurse become a story about a neutering one.

I've almost finished reading this totally fascinating nonfiction book called The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber (medical student turned journalist). The book is about a male RN who killed around 300 patients by injecting their IVs with different cocktails of drugs that sent them into cardiac arrest or diabetic comas or whatever.

I don't know why the book hasn't been optioned for a movie; it has all of the trappings of a medical thriller. My favorite aspect is this heroic woman (Amy) who emerges as the one who cracks open the case. She's first a friend of the guy who turns out to be the most prolific known serial killer in history, Nurse Charlie Cullen. Bu then, she's tapped by the detectives on the case to try to help them figure out how he's been getting away with it.

They show her all of this hospital data they don't quite understand and she basically figures out how it is that he's been killing patients when there was no real record of him taking out the drugs that killed them. How it worked was that the hospital had a machine that dispensed certain drugs and you had to press in the name of the drug to get it along with your password, and that would leave a paper trail. So, a few patients died of dioxin overdoses, but when they looked at Charlie's record of the drugs he dispensed, dioxin wasn't on the list. Instead, he would get like six Tylenol from the drawer for no reason that anyone could decipher. This woman, Amy, a friend of his, figured out that when he would order Tylenol, the drawer would open to give him that drug, but right next to it was also dioxin. So, they figured out he had access to the drugs after all. There were a couple of other interesting moments like that, where Amy's able to figure out details of what he was doing. For example, he spent a lot of time on the computer, seemingly typing in his notes, but when she pulled up his record, he was instead browsing other nurses' patients, essentially trolling through their records to see how sick they were. He would also do this thing where he would help by loading up the IVs for other nurses' patients and inject these bags with certain drugs that would harm them. The nurses would then administer the IVs themselves, and Cullen would be nowhere near them. In that way, he was able to have other people unwittingly do the killing for him; while he stayed removed from the situation physically. But he was also on the computer so he could monitor the progress (or decomposition) of various patients status--he could watch them begin to code or their organs fail and while everyone else was flailing around, trying to figure out what happened, he knew that he was the one behind their demises. In any case, this woman Amy is the one who gets him to confess to the murders. Without the confession, he probably would've gotten away with it, because they had no definitive proof that he was orchestrating all of this despite the many, many people who died.
 Like, in this one hospital where he worked, something like 58 people coded  in two months on his unit and lots of them died; after he was fired from that hospital for suspicious treatment, the number of codes went down to one over the next three months.

The other disturbing thing about the story is that the hospitals involved, especially the one where he met Amy (Somerset Memorial Hospital in NJ, of course) lied and covered up the paper trail as much as possible so that they wouldn't be sued or held liable in these deaths. In fact, most of the hospitals where he worked did the same. They suspected him of doing harm, couldn't prove it, so instead, got rid of him and destroyed any evidence linking him to deaths when they could. And then, they would give him a neutral reference so he could move on to the next place and continue killing. The moral of the story: Corporations lie. Also, don't get admitted to the ICU. Also, never trust a male nurse. I'm kidding, about the nurses of course. Most male nurses, I'm sure, are totally great. Anyway, I recommend the book--I don't usually read nonfiction because I never like to feel like I'm learning anything while I'm reading, but this book was well-written and interesting--very Truman Capote-esque. And there is no way this is not going to get made into a movie starring Julia Roberts or Cameron Diaz or someone. It has all of the elements of a good whodunit, including a jail house confession. And I think the guy was supposed to be fairly attractive too, so you could have like this other hunky actor playing the attractive yet creepy nurse. Joaquin Phoenix, perhaps?

Monday, March 10, 2014

He Will Propose to Neither

This is my psychic prediction for the show. The best would be if he picked one of the women and she said, No thanks, but that never happens. Dan's mom is visiting tonight and she's never seen the show, so when Dan said, "I think he hits one of the women in this episode," she said, "Oh, really?" Like it was no big deal.

We meet Juan's family and learn that he's originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. What the hell? The accent has been fake this whole time. Here comes the daughter, who is forced to kiss Clare on the cheek. Clare finds it totally hot that he's not a terrible father. Clare is bragging that she's a baby machine who can't wait to keep reproducing, starting right after the calamari. Juan's mom tucks a pillow under her arm and seems skeptical that Clare could feel love from her son. "Ask me anything that you want to know." And then Clare learns that JP was hyperactive as a kid and very rude; Clare says that it's just honesty. Mom is basically saying that her son is a jerk and she will always make her cry.

JP's dad is hitting on Clare. They are holding hands and he says that he loves her. He then gives her a rose. THE DAD. JP drags her way. Here they are below.


 Nikki has met some of the family on one of her earlier dates, except for the non-hot cousins. Dan's mom says she likes Rudolpho and thinks he should be the next Bachelor.  Dan says to his mom, "Nikki's a high school sophomore."  Dan's mom goes, "What? Really?" Nikki is wearing a halter maxi dress that exposes her bad dove tattoo. She is dressed like she's going to a beach party. Dad says that JP is not an easy guy, he focuses on what he wants and that's it. So, mom and dad both have separately dissed their son. Mom tells Nikki that life with JP and their daughter will be the two of them watching TV, if she's in to that. 

It's really hard to write about this show because nothing is happening and we keep getting interrupted by what the stupid studio audience thinks. I forgot that they have another one on one date with both of them. Clare is first. She runs to him like a dog and Dan says, "It looks like she's about to catch a Frisbee in her mouth."  Then the shocking moment comes where JP leans over and says something revolting to her, that he doesn't know her very well and that he wants to do her doggie style or something like that. 


He's using the honest excuse again. I can't even follow what's happening right now. He is saying that there might be things he doesn't like about her. He says, Go ahead and tell me what you think. And then he doesn't listen. Clare is being very calm even though she realizes that he's a jerk. I think he probably said something to her like that she was great in bed and he's very attracted to her and wants her to have her as a concubine. I almost respected her for like one second, but then she got charmed by him or at least is pretending to be charmed. He play his iPod for her and that's all it takes. Fake. It's all fake. Why can't she just decide she's the third woman who doesn't want to stay? Say no, say no, say no.

I'm sorry that I don't have more to write--I'm a little distracted by the mom visiting and the cat trying to crawl all over her and my own general boredom about the fact that there is nothing happening. He says nothing of substance. Nada, I mean.


 Nikki shows up again, this time in a black bikini top, even though they are going horseback riding. All they do with each other is kiss and talk about nothing. Nikki even tries to get him to open up and he says, "When I have something to open up about, I will open up."  Nikki asks what he will do when he doesn't have a private island of his own, he says, "We will have a bed and watch TV. I like to watch sports. I like to watch baseball too." This is an actual quote.

He likes to kiss shoulders and ask them if they are thinking of anything. They sit in silence as Nikki struggles to think of something to say. He says, "At the end of everything, how's it going to be? It's going to be okay." Dan says that these two might be shallow enough for one another.  I agree. He is now reading the card that Nikki gave him, and struggling to get through it. She signs it, I love you, he says, "Thank you" and kisses her on the forehead.  Dan says that he's tired of hearing him whisper. I think he just wishes he could be back at his hotel room watching CNN and porn if NBC will pay for it. He doesn't even look back or give a wave or a high five. Nikki cries. The audience is silent, as they absorb the tragedy of it all--these two gorgeous women rejected by a dick who would make them unhappy forever.  I don't think the producers are going to be able to turn this around--like, they've dug themselves into a certain narrative and I don't think they can redeem him. I mean, they can try, but they've allowed this particular show to be more "real" or negative than any of the others so far, and it must be intentional.

Despite the fact that both women had a terrible time with him, each pretends that they want to marry him. It's been only ten weeks--I wish I could do math and tell you how long that is. Clare keeps saying that she is hoping that her fairy tale will come true. He doesn't want either of these women. And he never shaves or grows a full beard. Like his heart, his facial hair can't commit.  She says she's nervous and he says that he's nervous too; she gives her rehearsed lines about how getting out of the limo was one of the most amazing moments of her life. Something seems weird about her face. I think she's about to propose to him. 


He says something about how when she got out of the limo, he liked her belly and something else. He is saying that some people is going to go home and he has to say good-bye to her. He goes in for a kiss and she pushes him away. The crowd cheers.  She says, "I thought I knew what kind of man you were. Charlene didn't have the feelings and that other girl didn't have any feelings..." Then she says something to the effect of, You should never have pretended to feel differently about me and imagined a future with me if you didn't see it. You are not the man I thought you were." He says, "Do you want to know what moment it was that I knew I didn't want to be with you?" And she said, "No, because I have no respect for you. I would never want a man like you to be the father of my children."

He says, "Whoo. I'm glad I didn't pick her."

Now it's Nikki's turn. I hope he doesn't pick her either, but he might. She is wearing a dress with a slit so high on the side you can see her underwear. If she were wearing any underwear or a bra. JP holds a ring in his hands and has a handkerchief in his jacket. Nikki thanks him for everything and says that he's such an amazing person and she's never felt this way before.  This is what the scene reminds me of--attributing characteristics and feelings to an inanimate object:


JP says he loves many things about her and how she would be such a great step mom; JP says that he's not 100 percent sure that he wants to propose to her, he likes her a lot. She is devastated, but pretends not to be. He actually just winked at her after sort of breaking up with her.

I can't blog through the final rose ceremony, because I may not make it through. The end, ya'll, until they announce the next bachelorette.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Wherein I Cannot Eat My Lunch

We decided to go for Chinese/Thai/Sushi food for lunch at a local place near our house. I won't mention the name because (1). I don't remember it and (2). I hated the food.  It's usually a bad sign when a restaurant has six pages of entree choices, because it means they don't make anything all that good. I think this place specializes in sushi, so we should have taken them up on that offering, but I wasn't in the mood. Instead, I ordered a Thai chicken lo mien, even though I'm trying to cut back on my overall noodle consumption. The food came out in fourteen seconds; another alarming sign, because it's likely that all they had time to do was reheat the noodles. In any case, that's what it tasted like---noodles that had been sitting in a bowl since yesterday night and popped in the microwave. The other factor that contributed to the ick of the place was that I was seated directly across from a giant aquarium full of giant goldfish. I like goldfish as much as anyone, but I don't like having a front row seat to their activities, specifically, it's difficult to eat a lo mien noodle while also staring at long strings of fish poop dangling at the top of the water. Thirdly, the soundtrack for the restaurant was all maudlin songs from the 70s. Like, every sad love song you can think of--Anne Murray signing "You needed me," and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," and "Seasons in the Sun," etc. By the time I got the fortune cookie, I was ready to lie down on the floor, mostly from fatigue and hunger. My fortune was something like, "Your life will be a series of unending tragedies that end in a lonely death." I asked for the food to go, because I didn't want to disappoint the man who waited on us, this same man who lingered by our table for most of the meal, which is reason four I didn't enjoy it and wished I could put most of my uneaten meal in my sock, as I used to do with my veggies as a child.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Story Dregs

Still working on my capstone project and finally started putting together some additional scenes for the story about the waitress. The daily writing blog I use 750 words actually does help with this task. I write every morning for about 25 minutes, and it's often just a recap of the day or whatever nightmare I had the previous evening, but sometimes, I produce story scenes and today, when I was stringing them all together, I found that I had an additional six pages. Only some of it will be useful, because my focus is scattered the morning and my goal is just to get to 750 words (that's the daily word count), but overall, it does add up, even if I get only a few paragraphs. Here's a chunk of writing from "The Disabled" that I won't be able to use in the story, but I still like it:

They survived on Ramen noodles, and shopped at thrift stores and lived in studio apartments with loud radiators and were usually hung-0ver during the meetings before their shifts, even when those meetings were at 4 p.m. they worked hard--you didn't keep your job if you didn't work hard, if you weren't either running food or drinks or taking away dirty plates or getting refills of water or hurrying to the back to get another ramekin of mayonnaise for the fat lady at table five.

They had trouble sleeping and so they drank too much or they drank too much because everyone else did or they drank too much because they were hungry. They brought the plates of half eaten food back to the dish room and stuffed the French fries into their mouths or the remaining buffalo wing at the risk of getting written up by the floor manager. You were not supposed to eat the left over food, that was unsanitary and a form of stealing, but what no one ever said was that they way they were paid was a form of stealing--without the tips, they had nothing, so they were at the mercy of the customers who were mostly tourists from the Midwest who remained blinded by the lights of the displays, sitting there in flannel shirts with their mouths hanging open and the prices were too high for them, so they often skimped on the tip or else they shared plates of food, just for the experience. A table of five was the absolute worst--you could add a fifteen percent tip a table with six or more people, but five flew under the radar and the parties of five always seemed to be splitters--two people sharing one entrée and asking for extra fries, so that the bill would come to about $40 and then they'd all split it up and skimp on the tip. There were those who seemed to forget that when they were splitting the bill , they also should factor in tip. They did not.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

American Idol Loves Them Teens

I've never really watched American Idol, because I always hated the dynamics between Paula Abdul and that British guy--Simon Le Bon? Also, I don't like watching hopefuls fail on national television. But Dan is into the show, and now that the judges are people I like, we have seen a few episodes (J Lo, Harry Connick Jr., and Keith Urban--who knew that he was from Australia? I have never listened to any of his songs intentionally, and just assumed that he was from somewhere in Oklahoma).

I guess it's better than The Bachelor as far as the reality TV spectrum goes because the participants have to be at least somewhat talented vs. just sexually attractive. And the show does have diversity--I think at least half of the finalists are non-white and one or two possibly non-straight.  A few play an instrument, and all of them come from fairly middle class to poor backgrounds and so there's this very modern American dream twist to it. And yet...

Of course there's an "and yet."  And yet...I don't know enough about singing or staying on key to really be able to tell you if someone is singing with the notes exactly, or just screeching. It does seem that they get most of it right, but it also seems that they think the main goal is to belt out the song as loudly as possible or to build to this crazy crescendo at the end. I mean, I am coming to this so so so so late, right? This has always been the case, probably. Maybe Dan and I can do a parody video some time. I keep saying that, but it just never happens.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Beware the Werewolf

I'm reading a new book now that I picked up at the Princeton Library for $2. It's called, The Last Werewolf, and is about exactly that. The book is written in first-person present tense, I guess to add to the excitement, and the plot centers around exactly what you the title implies. Jake (JAKE! soap opera name) is the last lupine on the planet. There used to be more werewolves running around, but they were systematically annihilated over time. Jake's life is in danger, because he is being hunted down by a government organization while also being protected by a different government organization. In addition, vampires exist, and I just found out last night that the vampires want to keep Jake alive, because they've discovered that the only way to endure sunlight is to have survived a werewolves bite. Of course!

The writing isn't bad--it's a little over the top, but in such a way that you can imagine everyone in the author's writing group going mad over it, because many, many people like hyperbolic, over-described constructions that don't totally suck. So, you can get a lot of mileage out of a sentence like, "The moon rose, a distant cold orb in a dark night sky that smelled of wood chips." I just made that up, but it's not an exaggeration.  Here's some quotes I stole from the LA Times review of the book:

snow-flavoured

a Fall further, into the bliss of devouring it

My shoulders shifted, not without difficulty learned the strange game of osteomorphosis, bore the hurried tectonics, the sensation of turning to ice and the shocking thaw that left a new grammar of movement.… My lupine twin was impatient.

My main complaint so far is that it reads a little bit like the writer is thinking about how this book would make an amazing movie. It's got vampires alongside werewolves, conspiracy theories, extreme violence, loveless sex, death, and a sardonic narrator whose just on the other side of handsome (to be played by whomever is the current younger version of Robert Downey, Jr.). No car chases or explosions so far, but I am only halfway through. 

Hey, the Sunday NY Times reviewed it and that reviewer liked it lots, so you know it's not just a silly little novel. You can read that review here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Our Little Friend

We were innocently watching some bad TV last night, when, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw something moving in the dining room. A little shadow, as it were. "Could that be a mouse?" I inquired. Please don't let it be a mouse, I thought. It was almost 11 p.m., way past my bedtime and I knew that if it was a rodent, I'd have to deal with an adrenaline rush for the next half an hour. We peered under the desk, and a little creature darted to the blinds. It was our mouse friend, the one I'd heard rattling around the week before and the one Dan and I spotted after his yoga class the same night. The worst thing is that it probably wasn't the same mouse, but one of the 500 hundred we have nesting and reproducing in our crawl space. Without giving you a boring blow by blow, Dan somehow managed to trap it underneath the lid of a bin, and then we weren't sure what to do with it. For a short time, I thought that we would just have to kill it. Like, drop a very heavy book on it and smash its little skull. Instead, Dan managed to slide a piece of paper underneath the bin, and then a piece of cardboard, and finally, a painting so that the bottom would be steady and not bow when Dan picked it up. All this time, the little thing was scrambling around, looking for a way to flatten itself down to sneak underneath any gap. Pride and Prejudice and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes assisted us in keeping it under the bin.  After about fifteen minutes, Dan managed to stand up and take the mouse outside, where he released it into the freedom of the dumpster area near our house.

Here is the video evidence. It's boring because I used the Flip to try to edit it and couldn't. So, watch the beginning and then maybe just the last thirty minutes.


Monday, March 3, 2014

The Bachelor Women Tell the Boring Details Fit for Prime Time TV

Like, they're not going to tell the interesting stuff--they're not going to say that he's a terrible kisser or has BO or a flatulence problem  or (as I suspect) all three. They're going to say how they don't understand him and how they don't like each other.  They're will be five tears shed, none of them authentic.  Hold on--why is Juan Pablo talking to Kermit the Frog and what is Tina Fey doing in a Muppet movie?

That one girl brought her ugly dog on the show. I mean, I still like it because it's a dog; but it's not that cute.

This is just the recap show where they show all of these dumb flashbacks. They're all fighting to talk and get air time. They are all saying that he wasn't a good listener and didn't ask them any questions beyond where they see themselves in five to three years. It's funny how they change their stories now; it's like Andi and Sharleen choosing to leave instead of not getting picked has allowed them to be more honest (?) about the experience or at least allowed them to critique him in a different way.

They are also upset that he used Camilla as an excuse for who he did and did not want to kiss. Chris Harrison wants to know if maybe JP was just being honest in the moment. That red head fairy tale princess girl thinks he was being wishy washy and a flip flopper. They don't blame Clare for sneaking out in the middle of the night. They are banding together like never before in Bachelor history.

The word for tonight is "journey."

Sharleen the opera singer has taken a hiatus from singing at the Met to be on the tell-all. I wonder if she's going to be the next Bachelorette? It's either her or Andi. Sharleen is undeniably beautiful and interesting looking. They replay the part where she whispered to him that she had to leave and I recall now how much I hated that part and might actually have whisper phobia. She confesses that there wasn't that cerebral connection and she wishes she were dumber. She says that it means not that she thinks he's dumb (though she does), but that she can't keep her mind from working overtime. The other women say that JP wasn't subtle about who he liked. Sharleen explains that she doesn't regret her decision to leave the show.

Renee is next in the hot seat. She refuses to acknowledge that she found Juan Pablo to be boring and a terrible conversationalist. Here is a montage of scenes to remind us that all they talked about were their dumb kids. Why did he keep her around for so long if he wasn't attracted to her? She has the longest eyelashes of any human person I've ever seen. Renee confesses that she's in a situation right now. I assume that means she's in a relationship, or else knocked up. She won't tell us any more, but I guess that means she's out of the running for being the next Bachelorette. It's definitely going to be Andi, only because I don't think Sharleen could stomach having to be around 30 guys at one time.

Next up is Andi. She looks a little bit like a Grecian goddess though showing no cleavage which is unusual in this show. I wish she would tell his how big it was. Come on, just tell us. We already have some ideas...She's not saying anything different from what she told us before; nothing interesting. She says he's not trying to be jerk; but that he has no filter or ability to say anything nice. She just finished saying that he was not trying to be a jerk, but that he was being mean.

Juan Pablo comes out and says he thinks he will be friends with everyone once the show is over. Chris asks if he would change anything; he says, No, I have been honest since day one with all of you. I hate when they show the reactions of the women in the audience, nodding or smiling or rolling their eyes.

Lauren is speaking and Dan says, "He doesn't even remember who she is."  JP is rationalizing why he did or did not kiss someone; and he's changing his story each time.

Excuse me, but why is Andi defending him? She later says that it didn’t seem like he was looking for a wife, but rather a girlfriend and possibly some fame. He says, It’s your opinion. I feel like I did ask those questions to some people, but I’m not going to ask dumb question (like your dumb question about where you see yourself in five years). The red head brings up the point that JP made a homophobic remark. He says that he loves gay people and he has tons of gay friends. Then this other woman jumped in and said that as a person who came to the country at age fifteen from another country that that he needs to stop hiding behind the English as a second language excuse. JP refuses to talk about his pervert comment and would rather spend an hour explaining it to the red head than trying to articulate an actual answer.


Blooper reel. Too bad they couldn’t find a way to make the show more consistently like the blooper reel where the people seem like humans and not robot models.

Dan goes, “They’re all thinking, I just fell in love with him again...” And, “Next week, Juan Pablo ends up with nada!” What are they going to do for the next 35 minutes? An extended preview of next week? Oh, it's over. I confess I haven't been paying that much attention, as I've been multi-tasking.

My prediction for next week is that he ends up with neither of them.