Wednesday, February 27, 2008
TiVo Abuse: It's a Crime
Okay, I suppose I should clarify that I don't have a real TiVo. I have the DVR that came with my Verizon FiOS service. Works fine, and as I spend most evenings at home, curled up with the beloved Trinitron, it's been a lifesaver. Keeps me from going out and spending money and keeps me company when things get a little lonely.
Sounds a little pathetic, no?
Well, just wait - it gets worse and much more pathetic.
Now, first, I have to say that despite looking like the world's dumpiest middle-aged woman, I am a pretty pop culture-aware chickadee. I have solid taste in tuneage, know my movies, can offer running commentary on any number of current TV shows, and (I'm slightly ashamed to say) I check TMZ.com before CNN.com most mornings. Lord knows, in an age of depressing news, it's a little uplifting to see that most of us are handling life better than Britney and her millions (and her knocked-up sister and wannabe-author-of-parenting-books mom...)
Yet... deep inside? Apparently, I am a crypt keeper. A slow driver of Buicks. A diner in the early bird special club. An abuser of the DVR.
Here it comes.
I record episodes of "JAG".
Friggin' "JAG"... One of the CBS attempts to corner the market on Shows Old People Enjoy.
I've made it through seven seasons of "JAG", I think, since getting the pseudo-TiVo installed. And dear god, I'm still watching.
Now, reading this, you're probably amazed that those old farts were so rude to me at Dunkin Donuts recently. After all, I think getting hooked on reruns of "JAG" qualifies you instantly for an AARP membership card. Yet I'm a good number of years off that list, thank you very much.
To make this worse, I've reached a point in the ten (yes, TEN) years of this show when it had clearly not only jumped the shark, but had dated the shark, spanked the shark, put it in a evening gown and slapped lipstick on it. When was this point, you may ask? (If you've stopped laughing at me for watching reruns of "JAG", that is.) Well, I'll tell ya...
It was the moment when Marine JAG lawyer, recovering alcoholic, and big-boobied, Farsi-speaking chick Sarah MacKenzie (played by big-boobied, Farsi-speaking Catherine Bell) became... wait for it... psychic.
Yep. Psychic. Out of the blue, she suddenly has visions that help her find missing children, aviators adrift on the ocean, and, apparently in episodes I haven't seen yet, help her win courtroom cases. Screw the rule of law! I see dead people!
And yet, I'm still watching, like a heavily medicated retirement home resident.
Now, there are mitigating circumstances. Honest.
First, David James Elliott is kinda hot. And the fact that he's playing an naval aviator-cum-lawyer makes him even more hot. Well, at least to me it does. Usually, someone with three first names is only seen on the FBI Most Wanted List, but every once in a while, it's just a tall Canadian actor.
Second, I like courtroom stuff, when it's done well. I think that comes from watching a lot of "Perry Mason" with my mom when I was a kid. And courtroom drama in uniforms is good.
Third - did I already mention uniforms? I love a good uniform. I used to dig it when the Marines put on their dress duds at the embassy in Moscow. Of course, there was that one time when a Marine got totally wasted and dropped by my apartment to say hello while my mother and a friend were visiting. When sober, this guy was such a delight. He'd bring me Turkish coffee when we were both working midnight shifts. He was smart, well-traveled, and so much fun to talk to. It didn't hurt that he was also super hot - 6'2" and a mix of Billy Dee Williams, Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn. (Well, Errol Flynn without the Nazi sympathies, that is.) This time, though, he'd had a snootful and was so out of it, he started hitting on our 70+ -year-old family friend and somehow lost one of his medals in my sofa. But I must say, he was the most dashing drunk in dress blues I ever had over at my place.
But I digress...
So, yeah. It's entirely possible that I'm really an old person hiding in the body of a middle-aged woman. But there's hope for me yet! After all, I haven't started recording old episodes of "Murder, She Wrote" or "Matlock". Then again, maybe "Murder, She Wrote" wouldn't be so bad. At least the producers and writers never turned Jessica Fletcher into a psychic crime-solver.
They didn't, did they?
Pray for me.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
I just watched him announce his candidacy for president on "Meet the Press." Tim Russert pretty much told him he'll be reviled by Democrats from coast to coast, and then showed the Florida vote numbers from the Bush/Gore fiasco, where Nader's foolishness cost Gore the election.
Friday, February 22, 2008
This just in...
Back in the Dark Ages, I had a blog on another service. To be honest, I'm not even sure if that particular purveyor of blogging space is still active. It was cheesy and limited, and I paid for the pleasure of their cheesy, limited service. (Of course, I have to admit, I wrote a lot of cheesy, limited posts back then. Ahem.) I haven't had that account for years, now. Regardless, since nothing ever dies on "teh Internets", I was able to drudge up this entry for you, which I wrote precisely four years ago today. As in, almost to the hour, precisely four years ago today. I was a bit sharper-tongued back then, as you'll see. Come with me, then, if you will, on a trip courtesy of the Wayback Machine.
Sherman? Mr. Peabody? Let's go!
"2004-02-22 - 4:52 p.m.
What if Eleanor Roosevelt could have flown like a B-25?Or, what if Spartacus had a Piper Cub?
Bonus points to you, if you remember that sketch.
Back in 2000, something almost happened to me, just as the curtain was coming down on a most contentious presidential election. While driving through the Dupont Circle area, a pedestrian bolted out into the street in front of my car. He was jaywalking and clearly not watching what he was doing. I had just achieved "urban cruising speed" - plenty high enough to be lethal, especially if the pedestrian is a skinny, aging fart.
I had to slam on my brakes, and I left a nice line of rubber down the block - I could smell my tires and see a nice bit of smoke. I was really shaken up, and I remember rolling down the window and yelling, "What the hell is wrong with you?!?! I almost killed you!!!" The pedestrian barely turned back to look me, the driver who almost smeared him across 18th Street. But it was then that I saw it was Ralph Nader.
Yep. I was within seconds of squishing Ralph Nader just as the election was finishing up. In the weeks that followed, in the middle of the whole Florida hanging frigging chad crap, and throughout the mess we're mired in today, I have stopped to wonder, every once in a while, where would we be today had I actually creamed Nader?
And now, this stupid putz is running again.
Thanks, f*cker. Split the vote again, a-hole.
If we end up with four more years of Monkey Boy in power because you snarfed up valuable Democratic votes, I will hold you responsible.
Loser. And to think - I'd just had those brakes replaced a week before the near miss. America came this close to a Gore presidency...
Ralph Nader, you suck."Guess what? Four years later, he still sucks. People, if Nader decides to run again this time, DON'T WASTE YOUR VOTE ON HIM!!
Thus endeth the rant.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Yes, old people hate me, too
As I walked in, I noticed there was a motley group of eight or nine people - mostly men - in their 70s and 80s at one table and a pair of oldsters at another table. As I hobbled up to the register, the motley guys started to discuss me:
"Who'd wanna date that fatass?"
"Is she yer girlfriend, Bob?"
"Oh hell, not a chance!"
"Heh, she's my girlfriend, hahahah - just imagine screwing that!"
"Oh god, I'd get lost in the fat, haw haw haw!"
Ooh, y'all just stepped on the toes of the wrong fat chick.
While my coffee was being poured, I turned around to the table and stared at them. They went silent, like children who had just been caught with their hand so deep in the cookie jar it would take a hammer to break 'em out.
At full conversational level I addressed them:
"You know, just because I'm fat doesn't mean I'm deaf, and just because you're old doesn't mean you get a pass for being rude."
Several heads were bowed. Again, like children, caught.
The one woman in the group shrilly yelled, "I'm sorry, but we're old!"
I shook my head at them and said, "Oh, come on!"
One man quietly muttered, "I'm sorry." But no one said anything else.
I got my coffee and started to leave, but then, I stopped. I went over to their table and angrily spoke to them again. "You know, my mother was a veteran of the Second World War - she would be your age if she was still alive. And you know what? In her later years - to her dying day - she never believed that age gave you a right to be rude. And she never used her age as an excuse to say crap to anyone on the basis of their appearance. You should be ashamed of yourselves."
The other table of oldsters had been staring at them coldly throughout their mocking bullshit, and they continued to stare at them as I left.
When the clerk handed me my coffee, she told me they'd called her "white trash" earlier and she thanked me for having said something to them.
Look, I know there are cultures that respect older people simply for being old. I've worked in some of those cultures in Central Asia. And, when I'm there, I play by the local rules.
I'm not there now.
Here's my deal: whenever possible, I grant courtesy to the elderly. My heart aches when I see people dealing with the difficulties of age. I used to cry in Moscow when I saw grandmothers the age of my own mother, trying to survive by selling anything they could out on the street. Absolutely broke my heart.
But, respect? Now, respect is something I grant when warranted. There are plenty of lovely old people in this world. There are plenty of lovely young people in this world. There are plenty of lovely old and young people living good lives, doing good things, being good people. However, there are also a lot of arrested-development asshole-ish old and young people in this world. And frankly, I don't really care if you're twenty or fifty or eighty, you don't get my respect if you mock me (or call the clerk at the donut shop "white trash" for that matter.)
On the other hand, I'll show you what self-respect is about, buster. If you fought in World War II, you sure as hell know what standing up for decency is about. And being indecent to a stranger makes you look a complete fool.
And my mom will be waiting on the other side to kick yer ass.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I wonder if he's met Mr. Tata?
Go, look. Read the text. You'll know when to stop reading. Trust me.
Yeah sure, the poster is great, but I want to know why he says the poster has the "Best Nipples"???
I mean, I speak Russian, and I can't figure out what the hell this was supposed to mean in the original. Did Stalin have a screaming set of nips? Were Red Army officers all smugglin' humungous raisins? Did service in Siberia mean that you could look at a soldier and just know it was, uh, reaaaally cold outside?
Perhaps there was an Order of Lenin for Best Nipples.
I'm sorely tempted to send the seller a Russian-language WTF message, but who wants to ruin the fun for everyone else.
I'm gonna go look at my vintage Soviet poster and check it for nipples. If I find anything, I'll be sure to let you know.
After the TV divorce of Rhoda and Joe happened, Groh was divorced from the show. The guy had talent, and he became one of those actors who pops up everywhere on TV. One of his performances I remember well was as a foul, vile abusive doctor in an early episode of "Law & Order." (Back in the dark ages, when there was only ONE "Law & Order"...) That particular episode featured one of their first "ripped from the headlines" plots, inspired by the horrible real-life case of the vicious murder of six-year-old Lisa Steinberg by her pseudo-guardian, attorney Joel Steinberg, while Joel's massively abused partner, Hedda Nussbaum was too messed up to do anything about it. I'll never forget the police photos of Hedda Nussbaum's permanently altered face after one episode of battery by crazy Joel. Terrifying images for a kid to see.
Well, at least for a kid in the 1980s, that is.
I imagine most American kids are immune to images like that now. Exposed to so much pixelated death and mayhem, a real-life pounding doesn't mean squat to many of them, I fear. They'd shrug it off. And that saddens me.
Another thing that saddens me? That a talented character actor's last role, while he was battling the cancer that killed him, it would appear, would be in one of the most grotesque TV commercials I've ever seen.
You see, Groh was the old dude in the creepy Skittles commercial, hooked up to a milking machine. Yep, Groh was the man flashing the man-boobies, giving up milk, apparently tainted by him eating Sour Skittles. (Are you shuddering yet?)
If you haven't tasted this particularly freakish rainbow, here it is:
And, again... yeesh.
I hope that ad paid really, really well.
And I hope Heaven isn't full of Sour Skittles.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
When Hell Freezes Over
Tonight, I'm watching the local primary news and starting to get organized for a personal project I'm about to undertake. (More on that later.) The polls had indicated Barack Obama would sweep the region, and it sure looks like the polls were right this time. By the way, Obama made a stop at my favorite coffee joint, Mayorga, last night. I would have loved to grab a cuppa joe with the Big B.O.
Wait. That just didn't sound right. So not a good candidate nickname...
Speaking of the candidates...
As a child of the North, it was somewhat unsettling for me when I realized that my move to Maryland put me south of the Mason-Dixon Line. I know some of my southern friends will roll their eyes or hiss at me for that bit of of leftover snobbery. We're a few generations removed from the Civil War, yet it echoes for us still. Maryland was a state torn between the Union and the Confederacy, but if you have any doubts about lingering feelings after combat ended, just sneak a peek at the lyrics to the charming lied that is *still* our state song. Here's one of my favorite lines: "Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!" Ahhh, heartwarming!! Speaking as Northern Scum myself, I'd like to thank the Union Army for winning the war.
Nota bene: my mother's Civil War-era peeps were from the South, and they fought and died for the Confederacy. Some are even buried in the Union Army's prison camp cemetery at the Rock Island Arsenal, which adjoins the National Cemetery where my parents are. Imagine my amazement one morning when I saw an African-American children's choir from Georgia on the Fox Morning News, with an African-American choir director whose surname matched the unusual, distinctly Hessian-deserter family name of my mother's kin. I had a brief, horrific moment of realization that some of my ancestors were slaveholdin' suthuhn gentlemuhn. Lovely.
So, here I am today, in my home, south of that bloody line, marveling at the fact that my choices today for the Democratic Party's candidate for president of the United States are a black man and a white woman. Sure, black men and white women have run for president before, but it's never before really been a serious possibility that one of them could - and probably will - occupy the Oval Office. That's amazing to me. And maybe it shouldn't feel so amazing to me, considering the diversity of this nation. Yet, it is still a marvel.
Hillary has never been my candidate of choice. A loooong time ago - well before anyone had declared their plans to run - I actually wrote a blog entry as an open letter to Hillary, asking her to not run. I catalogued all my reasons why I felt she wasn't the right candidate, why she was beatable by a solid Republican... but I never posted it. I think she lacks the charisma required of the leader of the free world. (If there is such a thing as the "free world" after the Bush regime. Stupid bastard.) I think she lacks the personality and power to inspire people, inspire confidence, inspire our allies... And, though god knows I liked Bill Clinton as our president, I think I would have more respect for Hillary if she'd dumped his cheatin' ass.
So, my vote goes to Barack Obama. He's got the charisma. He's smart. He's polished. He doesn't bring the baggage along that Hillary does. (Yes, Hillary, Bill is a double-edged sword.) And there's something intangible that gives him the edge.
I wonder what the Marylander who wrote that charming state song would think of a black man as the frontrunner for president of the United States. I have a feeling he who railed at the "Northern scum" back in 1861 might have suggested that Hell would freeze over before that would happen.
Well, kids, I'm looking out my window at an ice-covered hill and a skating rink of a street. Bethesda may not be the very center of Hades, but we're close enough to the White House to count, I reckon. If what I see tonight is any indication, seems like the Devil needs to wrap up in a few layers. I think we're gonna have a black president.
Bring. It. On.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Scratching my head over Google AdSense
But I'm still observing this phenomenon from a very curious academic standpoint. Last night I posted an entry titled "Hoot." This discussed weather, high winds, a kid getting slammed into my car by said high winds, an owl on my balcony, and, briefly, the Grammy Awards. Yet, the ads that Google AdSense choice to feature with that entry were about supplies for a recently celebrated holiday that embraces just about every vice known to man. You'll notice I did not name the holiday. I think if I use said holiday's name (which rhymes with "tardy bra") it may cause a whole new wave of outdated ads to pop up. But, all in all, I'm a little baffled here. Did Google AdSense see the word "hoot" and the big computer brain do a little twisted math magic like this:
hoot = hooters = boobies = tits = show us yer tits = that holiday associated with a level of debauchery usually only seen on "Girls Gone Wild" videos?
I just don't know.
When I signed up, I checked the box for "no adult content" (although that would surely bring in more moolah) and the ads have been very clean. Squeaky, even. I'm not sure what this entry will generate in ads. I can only imagine what the adult ads would have been. Eeeek!
Rightfully so, the Sasquatch did point out to me that my blog isn't exactly family friendly. While I'm not aiming to be lewd, crude, and rude, sometimes, it just happens. It is, apparently, just who I am: one part drunken sailor to two parts wanna-be artiste. But I try to do it all with a measure of humor and keep things work safe. I'll hold onto my $0.67/day ad income. Eventually, the "tardy bra" ads have to fade out, right?
Sunday, February 10, 2008
After running a couple of quick errands this afternoon, I stopped to drink a cup of coffee and read the newspaper in my car outside a strip mall. In the middle of one mighty blast of arctic air, I felt this incredible impact with my bumper. Oh crap, I thought, someone hit me again?!? I turned to see a wide-eyed kid more or less spreadeagled across the trunk of my car. Two of his friends stood a few feet away, marveling at the situation. More than a little freaked out, I jumped out and asked the kid, who had to be around 12 or 13, if he was okay. He pulled his skinny self up off my car and patted down his body. "Yeah, I think so! Man, that was wild!" His friends were in appropriate awe of the power of Mutha Nature. "Duuuude, you were flying!" Laughing, they headed off down the Pike. I pretty much decided that was a sign from the heavens that I should just head home.
I intended to spend the afternoon down shooting photographs of the Chinese New Year celebrations in the District, but having just recovered from a lingering lung ailment, I figured I'd rather not roll the respiratory health dice again quite so soon. So, instead, here I am, in the failing light, watching "Helvetica", the documentary tribute to that most ubiquitous of fonts.
And I am not alone.
The wind has thrown someone else temporarily into my household. Well, if you count the balcony.
There is a large, unhappy owl tucked into the far corner of my balcony, hooting like crazy, raging away at the sky. He's taken refuge under a small table I use when I'm potting my portulacas in the springtime. If I could get a good angle before the sun vanishes, I would snap a photo of him, but I really can't get the angle unless I open the balcony door, and, oh brother, that would be a mistake. I know my luck and tendency to be drawn into bizarre mishaps. Imagine me chasing an angry owl through my apartment! Thank ya very much - I'll pass.
Sure, I could go outside and snap a photo, but that would require the rebundling of the currently warm and unshod body. I'm in for the night. And my feathery alarm system will surely keep me updated on the wind situation. He's better than that National Weather Service.
If I still have power in a couple of hours, maybe I'll watch the Grammy Awards. Curious to see if Amy Winehouse will be sober on her satellite feed from London. And, if Kanye doesn't sweep every category, will he have one of his now-traditional award show tantrums?
Eh, who gives a hoot?
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Dick Cheney's Dog
But today, there was a mess up on Wisconsin in Tenleytown, right by WAMU. Motorcade mess. A cross street used by many commuters was blocked off by cops and Secret Service, and traffic got jumbled and backed up. I had no idea what was going on, especially since it's not exactly a common spot for motorcade gridlock. I just cursed it all under my breath and eventually got past and made it to my appointment a bit late.
I just found out what the hubbub was about. Dick Cheney's dog had an appointment with a vet up there. Dick Cheney's dog gets a friggin' motorcade. Dick Cheney's dog, people.
The Sasquatch often talks about "first world problems." First world problems are problems that no one in the developing world would ever even think about. In the developing world, people tend to be concerned about the basics - food, housing, education, making progress in a meaningful way. In our Western world, though, people with too much time and money on their hands have ridiculous problems to solve. I saw a local TV ad tonight where a woman whines and whines about how ugly her kitchen counters are. In her friend's house, the counters are unthinkably beautiful, and thus, this woman is humiliated by her lack of kitchen prowess and pulchritude. She simply cannot live with herself until she calls some "granite transitions" firm to install stunning counters where she can display a basket of lemons and put her Lexus keys.
That is a First World Problem.
Feeling you must repeatedly have plastic surgery to tighten up your face and expand your boobs until you look like a Joker balloon in the Macy's parade?
First World Problem.
You stress about having to pay nanny taxes?
First World Problem.
Have a desperate need to own a personalized water bottle to show the world who you *really* are?
First World Problem. Massively lame First World Problem.
There are so many examples. So very many. Feel free to leave your favorite in the comments.
Today, though, DC gets its very own category of First World Problem. Apparently, when you're the VP (or Satan, you make the call) and you need to get your dog to the vet, that's a very, very, very special First World Problem. And your very, very, very special First World Solution is to use a motorcade requiring several motorcycle escorts, Secret Service, roads closed by the DC police, and, oh, not to be forgotten, a shitload of taxpayer money.
Well, maybe it was an emergency. You never know - maybe Dick took the dog out quail hunting and accidentally shot him in the face.
Stranger things have happened.
Time for bed here in the land of the surreal. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Another little housekeeping change here at the Church of the Big Sky
In other news, I'm working hard on my campaign for healthy eating, and, while kinda sorta watching the last quarter of the Super Bowl, I made a big pile of trail mix to take to work tomorrow. I have a bad habit of getting focused on work and missing the lunch hour - this way, I'll have something halfway decent to nosh at my desk without resorting to the crappy candy machine in the basement. It unfortunate that it's right next to the water and ice dispenser. Angel on one shoulder, devil on the other.
I've had to be very careful about walking too much as the back heals, but I'm still trying to hobble my carcass down the street to St. Matthew's Cathedral at least three times a week. I had decided a long time ago that I needed to incorporate a little mediation into my daily routine. There's been so much stress around me for so long, I felt it was important to carve out some time to just be quiet and breathe and focus. Sure, I'm not even a cafeteria Catholic at this point, but the rituals of childhood - lighting candles, finding time in a solemn place to reflect on things - help to calm and direct the mind. St. Matthew's is the church where President Kennedy's funeral took place - the base of the steps to the cathedral is where the famous photo of John-John saluting his father's casket was taken. There is something about the sense of our history that makes the cathedral an even more appropriate place for me to go and ponder life.
I'm looking to return to biking, as the back improves. My old 1980s Schwinn 10-speed is a road bike and was not designed to haul my current heft, so I have to save pennies to get enough together to buy a good, tough bike, but it'll be great to get back to pedaling around. It'll be quite a while before I can afford the bike, but that gives me time to get advice on what I need. Nothing fancy. I'm not the Sta-Puff Marshmallow Man version of Lance Armstrong; I just need something with wheels, upright handlebars, and a strong frame. (Ah likes mah men like I ah likes mah bicycles: upright with a strong frame - and preferably with a nice set of wheels. Heh.)
I bought a 2008 datebook on clearance at Barnes & Noble last week. It has the somewhat pretentious title of "A Writer's Journal." All that means is that it's a datebook illustrated with arty black & white photos of great American writers, with quotes about the craft of writing. It was either that or the pink, rhinestone-encrusted, checkbook-sized calendario with "solo para chicas!" written on it in frilly script. (No, gracias!) I have a planner at work, but I wanted one of my own, to track my efforts to be a healthier human being and my efforts to be a more creative human being.
My goals: get published and get a date. Yes, a date. With a man. A single man. A single straight man. A single straight man who isn't insane, disturbed or an utter fabulist.
Or channeling sailors from the Spanish Armada.
The Perils of Falling Asleep on the Sofa
But then, I had a big blink. The sofa was comfy, the room was warm, and I blinked. For four hours. Yeesh. I've been blinking a lot since I got sick over the holidays. I know conventional wisdom says it takes three weeks to solidify a habit. I think I was illin' long enough to have this habit solidified like a hospital cup of Jell-o. As habits go, it's a bad one, and I have to stop it. I think tonight will help me get over this, though.
It's a little sad when a single, breathing, hotblooded woman falls asleep on Torchwood, despite the dual hotness of the show's lead John Barrowman and guest star James "Spike" Marsters. But that's what I did. (Fun fact: John Barrowman, who is openly gay, was up for the role of Will in "Will and Grace", but producers felt he was "too straight." Go figure.)
I woke up at 4:20 this morning, with BBC America still chugging away on the Trinitron. Problem? It was a rerun of "The Graham Norton Show" and, dear god, an audience member was getting a "back, sack, and crack" waxing. Aiiiiieeee, my eyes!
Let me tell you, there's nothing quite like the wake up call of seeing a stranger having his scrotum stretched and slathered in wax. Ash Wednesday? Lent? The power of religious obligation and unshakeable faith? Fugetaboutit! It's the middle-of-the-night look of anguish on the face of someone having his nether regions depilated on a brightly lit 27-inch screen that's guaranteed to make you change your life.
No more sofa surfing. No more snoozing on the La-Z-Boy. No more waking up at the, uh, crack of doom still dressed for the day.
There's my Lenten sacrifice. No more late night TV leaving me a slug in the living room!
I'm pretty sure Jesus would be pleased.
Unless he's a Graham Norton fan.