Even though I’ve been watching the Today show since Barbara Walters was relevant and Tom Brokaw a mere child of 36, I finally gave it up about a year ago for CBS This Morning because not only do they report actual news, their promo line is “the news is back in the morning,” which is a nicer way of saying that Today and Good Morning America are for mouth-breathers.
I should have stopped watching Today years ago, but I am a creature of habit, not to mention afraid of new things, lazy, near-sighted, I have no upper-body strength, can never remember to water my plants, have a pitchy singing voice, and I forgot where I was going with this. Really, I was just holding onto hope that at some point Today would return to the format it followed when I first started watching it which was:
7:00 AM – 8:00 AM: Hard News
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM: Science/Medical news, human interest, the occasional celebrity interview
instead of what it’s become in the last ten or fifteen years which is:
7:00 AM – 7:12 AM: Headlines, mispronunciation of names of countries/world leaders
7:12 AM – 8:00 AM: Matt, Katie/Savannah/Natalie, Al sit on the couch and make fun of Ann
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM: Celebrity gossip, White Girl in Danger stories, Martha Stewart builds a birdhouse
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Let’s check in with Kate Gosselin, she’s so interesting.
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM: Hoda chair-dances, Kathy Lee acts vaguely racist about the music that Hoda’s dancing to.
Even as we speak, NBC has a fifth hour in the works that’s just Ryan Seacrest sitting in front of a mirror and flat-ironing his hair.
The other morning when I switched on the TV, out of habit I turned it to Today, only to find that Carson Daly was doing an entire story on what the Today show hosts names would be if they were Travoltified. And it was 7:51! 7:51 and this is what they think is important!
Tangentially, I would also say that even though everyone making fun of John Travolta is starting to make me uncomfortable, that still didn’t stop me from Travoltifying my own name. I put in my real name and in return it gave me back my real name with one letter added. So, good coding, Slate! But then I put in my blog name, which was slightly more interesting.
Okay, well, I did say, “slightly.” Also, please do not call me Frederick. I have enough problems.
Since I’ve switched to CBS, I’ve been in a much better mood in the morning. For one thing, no Matt Lauer. I know people hate Matt Lauer based on his personality, although he never bothered me in that respect. However, I’ve found it increasingly hard to look at him. Where he used to be something of a cut-rate Joey Tribbiani:
he’s now turned into … I don’t even know:
Initially I would have described this look as “professor at a third-tier college, attends student parties” but now I’ve decided he looks more like the kind of doctor who graduated in the bottom 5% of his medical school class, practices either at a jail or a nursing home, and smells like cigarettes.
By contrast, Charlie Rose looks like he probably smells like a pine forest and Barbasol. Piney and soapy is really what you want in a morning anchor. A guy who shaves and smells like the Ponderosa. (Sorry for all the recent Bonanza references. I’ve been watching reruns of the early episodes that I’ve never seen before. In related news, I would like an explanation as to why no one had the decency to tell me that Adam Cartwright is filthy hot. I mean, I realize there’s a toupee and he only has one shirt and that in real years, he’d be like 184-years-old, but still. Keep me informed, people!)
One small problem, though. After CBS This Morning ends at the journalistically acceptable morning news show ending time of 9:00 AM, the Rachael Ray show comes on. If I’m actually paying attention to working, which I do sometimes do albeit in a lackluster fashion (see above re: laziness), then I forget to mute her big mouth until it’s too late and the next thing I know, I’ve become fascinated by whatever disgusting combination of food she slaps onto a plate and calls dinner. Recently, she told this story about how she was I am so sure hanging out with Kevin Bacon and he told her that his favorite sandwich was something called a BLAST, which is a BLT but with avocado and smoked salmon. Now, I think that sounds terrible. Avocado on a BLT? Good. Smoked salmon and you’ve gone too far.
Unless you are Rachael Ray, in which case, you say, “instead of smoked salmon, I’m going to use ground salmon and make it a burger, yummo delish EVOO Mr. Bear!” and when the audience doesn’t applaud you get all pissy and say, “what, no love for salmon burgers?” and then they applaud because otherwise you’re going to stand there and glare, so then you say, “I KNOW!” You burn up a salmon burger and pile on the lettuce, tomato, bacon, and avocado, and also a slice of onion because you are a monster.
Furthermore, pardon me, but once you add onion to a BLAST, that technically makes it a BLOATS. To make matters even worse, which hardly seems possible, she then decided to put sriracha on it.
So. Avocado, Salmon, Sriracha, Bacon, Lettuce, Onion, Tomato. Ladies and Gentlemen, the ASSBLOT.
Just kidding about the (s). I know there’s only one of you out there. HI MOM!
This morning on my back porch, there was a bill for heating oil indicating that oil had been delivered at 9:00 AM. This was suspicious for three reasons: first, I was home at 9:00 AM and didn’t hear the oil truck; second, I got an oil delivery at the beginning of December and while getting another delivery ten weeks later isn’t that unusual, this one was because third, the delivery was for 220 gallons, which is about 50 gallons more than I usually get and more pertinently is going to cost me $1020 dollars, less the $8 dollar discount I get for paying within ten days because the oil company is a real sport. Oh, and fourth, I usually keep the thermostat at 66 degrees, although I will sometimes turn it up to 68 degrees, if I’m feeling particularly reckless. And frankly, I don’t think I should ever have a heating bill that’s more than $1000 if I’m keeping my winter body temperature at 66 degrees. Possibly I don’t understand how body temperature works. But never mind that part.
I stared at the bill for a full fifteen minutes, coming up with several displeasing possibilities, all of them dependent on the the oil delivery man being an idiot. I went outside, opened up the oil tank, determined that it was indeed completely full, said hello to my neighbor, Nearly Naked Man, who was in his backyard being less naked than usual but still more naked than I would prefer, and then went back into my house to stare at the bill some more. After that, I considered that perhaps this has been a colder than normal winter, and I tried to find out whether that was in fact the case, but the internet was unhelpful in that regard, so now I feel like I’m paying too much for internet as well. Since the oil company bases its delivery schedule on a complex algorithm involving average daily temperature, the customer’s typical oil usage, and whether they feel like coming out to your house that day, I briefly considered calling them up and asking what the deal was, but then realized the only outcome that I would find satisfactory would have been if the person on the other end of the phone said, “oh, we’ve obviously made a terrible mistake, and I will immediately credit $1020 to your account.” Weighing the likelihood that it would happen that way, I instead just paid the bill and then watched YouTube videos of birds taking baths until I felt better about things.
In a related vein, we’re getting further away from the Kindle Fire Giveaway. Sorry, mom! I’ll bring you some magazines from the office!
I would ask if everyone is enjoying the Olympics but NBC’s terrible coverage has made that impossible. This guy sums it up pretty well:
Olympics coverage: Enjoying this sport? Fuck you, here's a different one!—
Alex Baze (@bazecraze) February 11, 2014
I’ve watched very little this year, mainly because I’m only interested in short track speed skating, which NBC has decided to show once a week in ten-minute segments once every hour over four hours, but only the races that they feel like showing, and they don’t feel like showing any of the heats, many of the semifinals, or any of the B-finals. Nonetheless, you might get to see one of those races, if Bob Costas’s pinkeye is flaring up hard that day and they have time to fill, but you shouldn’t count on it.
I watched a little of the figure skating, which used to be one of favorite winter Olympic sports, but all of the emphasis on doing quad jumps has really ruined it for me even though, historically, I have enjoyed watching people fall down. Additionally, the dramatic faces seem extra dramatic this year, to the point where I can’t even look at some of these people. It’s like being at a Clay Aiken concert. Fortunately, N linked to this today, which made the few minutes I did watch worthwhile.
I also watched the opening ceremonies. If you missed it, allow me to recap: mostly functioning light show, the complete history of Russia minus the atrocities (estimated running time: 8 minutes), dancing jellyfish, Parade of Nations accompanied by the Oprah Winfrey Dance Troupe, and finally the lighting of the torch, the controversy over which notwithstanding, was still boring to me because I was really hoping that the torch would be lit by a shirtless Putin being shot out of a cannon directly into the Olympic cauldron. Sadly, that didn’t happen, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll take his shirt off and wrestle a moose at the closing ceremonies.
My furnace just came on, so I’m going to go sit in front of the heat register now and weep bitter tears.
The Seahawks Won the Super Bowl, So I Guess It Won’t Be Long Before Dogs and Cats Are Living Together
Even as I type this, the Seahawks Parade is going on in downtown Seattle. As I understand it, the players are riding in duck boats so they’ll be high enough up off the ground that fans can’t touch them. Despite the fact that the Seahawks are constantly telling the press that their fans are the best fans in the league, you know they kind of hate them. Fans have somehow convinced themselves that they’re part of the team and as responsible for the team’s success as the actual guys out on the field. That fans call themselves “the 12th man” was already embarrassing, but today some sports reporter said, “the first touchdown came TWELVE seconds into the game. There was also a touchdown FORTY-THREE minutes into the game, and FOUR times THREE is TWELVE.” Oh well, I’m convinced then. We don’t even need players. As long as the fans cheer hard enough, we’ll win every game!
For some reason, Seattleites love giving themselves and things in the city nicknames, whether anyone else wants goes along with it or not. Our football stadium is CenturyLink Field, which news people and fans insist on calling The Clink, even though everyone else refuses. The baseball stadium (and don’t even get me started on why we have two separate stadiums right next to each other and basketball fans clamoring for a new arena a few blocks away when we don’t even have an NBA team) is Safeco Field and just as The Clink isn’t happening, neither is The Safe. Not that that stops people from trying to make them happen. In this way, we’re a lot like George Costanza, trying to convince his coworkers to call him T-Bone.
Although there are probably earlier examples, the first self-established nickname I can recall is when we decided to call ourselves “The Emerald City.” So stupid. This happened in 1982, when the Tourism Bureau decided that the reason New York city had more tourists than Seattle is because it was known as The Big Apple. Yes, Tourism Bureau, that was the reason. It had nothing to with the fact that there are a lot of interesting things to see and do in Manhattan and that the only things for tourists to do in Seattle are to go see the first Starbucks or look towards the south while a local says, “and when it’s not cloudy you can see Mount Rainier right over there!” At any rate, there was a contest, and Emerald City won, ostensibly on the basis that it captures how green we are (in the sense of having a lot of trees, not in the eco-friendly sense), but even that’s not accurate. We’re far more gray than green, although I could see where the local tourist industry might not really love being called the The Dingy Lead Colored City.
My personal least favorite nickname is SoDo, for the neighborhood south of where the Kingdome used to be located (South of the Dome, hence SoDo). Again this was an attempt to deliberately echo New York city’s SoHo, because, as a municipality, we are nothing without our massive inferiority complex. New York’s SoHo contains a lot of art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants; Seattle’s SoDo has a Sears, a Big O Tires, and a KFC and Taco Bell in the same building. So, you know, totally just as good. What makes it extra stupid is that the SoDo nickname didn’t catch on (by which I mean, people didn’t capitulate to the constant repetition of the name and finally agree to use it just to make the Chamber of Commerce shut up) until the 2000s, after the Kingdome had been demolished to make room for CenturyLink and Safeco Fields and their attendant possibilities for being called T-Bone, making “SoDo” inapt and meaningless. Some claim that it now stands for South of Downtown, except it’s not south of downtown, it’s southwest of downtown. South of downtown is Chinatown, which is called the International District by people who never go there.
Once upon a time, there were three little pigs.
They were brothers, I think, with the same dad but different moms. Like the Cartwrights on Bonanza. So let’s call them Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe.
One day Adam said, “Hey Hoss and Little Joe, let’s build a house.”
Hoss said, “okay” but you could tell he didn’t want to. Little Joe just sat there.
Adam said, “I’ll draw up the blueprints. Hoss, you go get the bricks. Little Joe, you go get the permit.”
Hoss and Little Joe said, “YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF US! WE’LL BUILD OUR OWN HOUSES!”
Little Joe built a house out of straw. Hoss built a house out of wood. Adam built a house out of brick.
Wait, why are pigs building houses? Don’t pigs live in the yard, next to the slop? This story makes no sense.
Okay, well anyway, then here comes a wolf. First he goes to Little Joe’s house and knocks on the door. No answer. Probably because the house is made out of straw and if you knock on straw it doesn’t make a very loud noise.
“Hey little pig,” said the wolf, “let me in.”
“Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin,” said Little Joe. Man, that’s kind of rude. What if the wolf just needs to use the phone to call AAA or something?
“Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down,” threatened the wolf. Well, I would just go to the next house, but I guess wolves are sensitive about rejection.
“Go ahead,” said Little Joe because Little Joe was the dumbest.
The wolf blew Little Joe’s house down.
Little Joe ran next door to Hoss’s house, which was made out of wood. The wolf followed and did the whole “knock, let me in, blow your house down” thing. So Little Joe and Hoss run to Adam’s brick house. I bet Adam was super sarcastic about it too, all, “oh sure, NOW you want to live with me.”
You know, it also makes no sense that the wolf couldn’t catch the pigs when they were running from house to house. Aren’t wolves pretty fast? Maybe the wolf had a sore leg.
“Knock knock,” said the wolf.
“Who’s there?” asked Adam.
“Candygram,” said the wolf.
Oh god, I’m so tired and I can’t remember this story at all.
“I’ll huff and I’ll puff yadda yadda yadda,” said the wolf.
The wolf huffed and puffed, but the house was made out of brick so you know the rest. Then the wolf decided to go down the chimney. He really wanted to come in.
“Quick,” said Adam to his two half-brothers, “let’s build a fire and start this big pot of water boiling and when the wolf climbs down the chimney, he’ll fall in the water and die and this is a children’s story!”
But Hoss and Little Joe were lazy and slow and Adam wasn’t all that bright either because a wolf can climb down a chimney a LOT faster than you can get a pot of water boiling, so really all that happened was that the wolf took a lovely warm bath and then once he was all clean, he got out of the pot of water and ate the pigs.
In an effort to post more, I am going to post more. (The preceding sentence will later prove to be patently untrue.) Today’s topic comes to you courtesy of The Daily Post, which supplies writing prompts to those of us who have no ideas whatsoever.
Today’s topic is Do You Believe in Magic? which is at least better than that What Kind of Tomatoes Are Your Favorite Kind of Tomatoes? prompt. The assignment is, “you have been transformed into a mystical being who has the ability to do magic. Describe your new abilities in detail. How will you use your new skills?”
In detail: magical powers, I have them.
My immediate first thought was that there would be no more homeless cats and dogs. And because I’ve watched Twilight Zone episodes and Alfred Hitchcock movies and read O. Henry and seen those Toyota Rav4 commercials, I know that you have to specify that this means that all homeless cats and dogs would now get homes, that they would be good homes, that they would be happy and warm and fed, that no one else suffers as a result of all formerly homeless animals getting homes, and also you have to say, “and not just cats and dogs but also all hamsters and tame rabbits and all other animals that don’t do well outside and, oh yeah, humans.” Because if you just thoughtlessly say, “no more homeless anything,” then probably what results is some kind of horrific interspecies plague that decimates the planet.
Use magic responsibly, kids.
Second, the elimination of poverty, hunger, war, hatred, etc. Because why would you not do that if you can do that? I’m not saying anything original here, that’s the Problem of Evil, in convenient nutshell form. I like to bring it up whenever someone invites me to accept Jesus Christ as my savior (not that this happens a lot, but when it does, it’s generally when I’m in the middle seat on a full plane during the first hour of a nine-hour flight). It never registers at all though; the other person generally smiles in a confused way and then starts talking about heaven. I had a colleague a while back who would invite people to lunch and bring out the church recruitment paperwork as soon as the food arrived; she said that if we didn’t accept Christ immediately, we would spend eternity in a state of perpetual regret. She asked me, “can you imagine what an eternity of regret would feel like?” but I refrained from saying that I had agreed to have lunch with her, so, yes, I had a pretty good handle on how that would feel.
Oh, right, topic.
Third, my house would be clean all the time — again with the stipulation that it would be naturally clean, not that, for example, indentured servants would appear and start scrubbing the floors. Also, my house would be in a better neighborhood, meaning that my next-door neighbor would wear pants all of the time instead of only some of the time.
Fourth, any time anyone tries to post more than four selfies per year on the internet, all selfies after the fourth selfie would be replaced by this:
And finally, or first actually, I would make my magical powers permanent and I would advise you to do the same, should you ever get magical powers. In a similar vein, should you ever be granted three wishes, make your first wish that you want an infinite amount of wishes and also that there be some sort of safety mechanism, like, “are you sure you wish you were dead? Please reenter your wish to confirm” because otherwise there could be trouble.
Today is the day to air grievances, but I don’t have any. This is a lie. I have a lot of grievances. A LOT. But who cares, really? No one, that’s who. I’ve got my problems; you’ve got your problems. Let’s all shut the hell up about them.
Other things people should shut up about:
1. The Sound of Music.
2. The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood.
3. How The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood is a desecration.
4. Also, Love Actually.
I am serious about #4. Love Actually was released ten years ago and for the last nine years, no one has had anything new to say about it. You don’t hear me still talking about the Rocky movies, do you? Well, all right, yes, I still talk about the Rocky movies. But the Rocky movies contain all of life’s lessons, so it makes sense to bring them up once in a while. See also, The Karate Kid movies, except for the one with Hilary Swank, which was a desecration.
Now I’m going to talk about a story that’s been in the news recently, but I’m not going to do any research on it so I might get a few of the minor details wrong. However, if you leave me a comment saying, “ACTUALLY WHAT HAPPENED WAS … ” I will ban you from ever commenting again. Don’t test me on this, people. It is Festivus and I am not kidding around.
Recently, the vice-principal (maybe) at a local Catholic high school married his partner, and shortly thereafter he was either fired or forced to resign his position (unclear) for violating his employment contract wherein he agreed to follow Catholic doctrine, and current Catholic doctrine considers gay marriage and says, “uh, PASS.” The somewhat odd part of the story is that it was no secret that he was gay, which apparently also violates his employment contract, but it was only when he married that the Archbishop got his cassock all in a bunch. The good part of the story is that a lot of the students both at his school and at other local Catholic high schools gathered at the Archdiocese to protest his firing and to skip class.
So, a couple of things. First, I’m not identifying the vice-principal by name because despite the fact that the story has been in the news for the past week, he’s made no public statements or appearances. He seems to want his privacy, at least for the time being, and I respect that, unlike, for example, every news outlet everywhere. Also, I don’t remember his name. Second, I love that the students are protesting because it’s one small sign that the world is heading in the right direction. I couldn’t help but think what would have happened if, when I were in high school, one of our teachers had been fired for being gay. I’m positive there would have been no protests, and I assume the primary reaction would have been, “yes, he should have been fired,” followed closely by “eh.” Then again, “eh” might have been first seeing as how I went to public school and apathy was our best thing.
And thinking about what my high school class’s reaction would have been reminds me of my senior year Social Studies class, where teams of two would debate various topics. I only remember two debates, the first being the one regarding whether the legal drinking age should be lowered to 18, in which Carrie and Rose argued in favor (i.e., they read to the class the “Pro” side of the article posing the same question straight out of U.S. News and World Report) and I and Min Jae argued against (by reading the “Con” side of the same article). And the other debate I remember was whether or not gay people should have the same civil rights as straight people. Arguing in favor of equality were Oscar and Martin, and their argument was as follows: “they’re human beings.” Not only was that their whole argument, it was also the only thing they said during the entire debate, although they said it, like, 25 times, so you know they were serious about winning. And for some reason, they pronounced “human beings” as “human be-uns,” though I have no idea if that was significant to their position. Arguing against equality were Will and Keith, and their main point was, “I don’t want some dude kissing on me.” I will now provide you with the official transcript of the debate.
The Gay Rights Debate
Mr. Robertson’s Social Studies Class, Seattle, Washington, 1981
Will: Okay, okay. So they shouldn’t have rights because if they have rights they can get a job where you have a job and what if you’re at work and some dude comes up and starts kissing on you!
Oscar: But they should have rights because they are human be-uns.
Will: You want some dude kissing on you?
Oscar: They’re human be-uns.
Will: So you don’t care if some dude is kissing on you.
Oscar: No, I didn’t say that, but they’re human be-uns.
Mr. Robertson: Let’s hear the Pro side.
Martin: Gay people should have rights because they are human be-uns.
Keith: What kind of rights?
Mr. Robertson [mentally updating resume]: Freedom from discrimination in housing, the workplace, in general.
Keith: So they could live next door to me?
Mr. Robertson [wondering why he didn't become a CPA instead of a teacher]: Yes.
Mr. Robertson [considering a life of crime]: Can you elaborate?
Will: What if you’re at your house, right? And someone’s knocking on the door. And you open the door and there’s your gay neighbor. And he starts kissing on you!
Martin: But they’re human be-uns!
Deanna [whispering to me]: Not green be-uns!
Will: Kissing on you!
Martin: But … human be-uns!
Deanna [whispering to me]: Not Lima be-uns!
Mr. Robertson [talking to me instead of Deanna because all half-Asian teenage girls are the same person, evidently]: Would you like to share your insights with the class?
Deanna [whispering to me]: HUMAN be-uns.
Me: HA HA HA HA HA HA!
Mr. Robertson [talking to me sternly]: Are you finding this amusing?
Me: YES! Aren’t you?
And that’s how I got sent to the Vice-Principal’s office.
That seems like enough typing. It’s Festivus, everyone. Go eat some beef.
That’s everything I’ve eaten today. I don’t normally eat this much garbage at once, but I had a doctor’s appointment this morning, and I need to get all my crap eating in now before my blood test results come back and my doctor drives over to my house, holds me down, and force feeds me Lipitor. For the past year, I’ve been telling her that I’m perfectly capable of getting my genetically high cholesterol down without medication, but every time she checks it, it’s still horrific. Then we have a conversation about whether I’m exercising (yes) enough to get my heart rate up (mmmmaybe) and doing resistance training (ha ha ha what?). I think she’s decided that I’m a complete simpleton because she keeps dumbing down this conversation. Today she spent a good three minutes explaining that if I go for a walk, I can make it a better workout by walking faster. Ordinarily I would object to having to sit there and nod my head as if these were fascinating and novel concepts, but seeing as how six months ago I swore up and down to her that I was going to completely revamp my eating and exercise habits and today I am ten pounds heavier than I was then, I can see why she’s started to slow-talk me. If we have to have this conversation one more time, I expect her to pull out the diagrams.
Why can’t I just have heart disease like everyone else? I ask for so little. Let me have this.
(Just kidding, Universe. Please don’t give me heart disease.)
Man, I’m hungry.
As long as we’re on the topic of foods I’m not giving up: Barilla pasta. This was a couple of weeks back, but evidently, the president of Barilla said in an interview that he would not be using gay couples in their commercials because — and this is where things get a little fuzzy, but it was something like, pasta = family, family = welcoming, by the principle of transitivity, pasta = welcoming; therefore, the gays should just get the hell out of here. He wasn’t that harsh, but what he said did have a certain Michael Scott quality to it. His basic point was that he felt that he would lose more customers than he’d gain, and therefore he wasn’t going to do it. He didn’t say he personally had any animosity towards gay people or that he himself was opposed to gay marriage; he was just saying, “hey, here’s a business decision I’m making. It’s kind of backwards, but whatever.” And possibly he does hate gay people; I have no idea.
(Eating other half of Ding Dong now. It is time.)
(I think they’re making these smaller now. What the hell, Hostess?)
Here’s the thing. If President Barilla (I don’t think that’s his name, but I don’t have the energy to look it up because did you see the part above where all I’ve eaten today is a bunch of sugar?) were donating profits from his company or his own personal money earned from his company to anti-gay groups (or any other group that I fundamentally disagree with on a philosophical, political, or ethical level), then absolutely I wouldn’t buy Barilla pasta. But if I start basing my purchasing decisions solely on whether or not the CEO thinks bigoted thoughts, then I’m not going to be able to buy much of anything ever. I mean really, when was the last time you heard someone say, “I wish everyone could be as progressive and broad-minded as the executives of large corporations!” Moreover, if I’m going to take a stand on Barilla pasta, then in order not to be a huge hypocrite, I would need to find out how all the other pasta company CEOs feel about things. Maybe President Ronzoni is anti-choice. Perhaps the Duke of De Cecco favors a return to anti-miscegenation laws. Possibly Sir Golden Grain voted for Romney. I don’t want to conduct a congressional confirmation hearing; I just want to eat spaghetti and meatballs. The fatty beef kind of meatballs, not that ground turkey nonsense.
In Which I Tell You Everything That Happened But Not What It Means Because I Do Not Know Or, In Other Words, SPOILER ALERT
I finally went to Grocery Outlet last week, and it was just as depressing as I had hoped. I don’t like to leave a sad store without buying anything because that only makes them more sad, but I also didn’t want to buy any of their heirloom vegetables because by “heirloom,” they clearly meant that the lettuce had been purchased by the original produce manager who passed it down through several successive generations. Instead of leaving in tears, I walked around for a bit and looked at everything, especially the hand sanitizer.
What I purchased:
- 1 box of Morton’s iodized salt, 69¢
- 3-pack of Palmolive bar soap, 99¢
- 1 Lindt dark chocolate bar, $1.99
What I wish I hadn’t purchased:
- The Lindt chocolate bar because do they not put sugar in those?
- There is no second thing.
What I didn’t purchase:
- Mrs Smith’s Frozen Apple Pie with a Sell By Date of May 2013. 99¢
- Spam, manufactured in Minnesota, but with a label in Japanese that translated as, “delicious meat can.” $2.19
- Fake Spaghetti-Os, called Spaghetti Rings, pictured on the label as being served in a disturbing brown sauce. $1.49. $1.49! That’s 49¢ more than real Spaghetti Os!
- The American on DVD. $4.99
$4.99 is a good price for a DVD, but I saw The American on April 7, 2011 and I know this because I started to write a post about it the following day, never finished it, and never deleted the post from my drafts folder. I’ve decided to publish it now, exactly as I wrote it that day, so that it may serve as both an historical artifact and as concrete evidence that I am a weak finisher. Also, I haven’t written anything in three weeks and I can feel how depressed you are from watching the speech from Brian’s Song over and over so I need to put something else on the top of the page.
Anyway. Here. Enjoy or something.
Last night I saw The American starring George Clooney and some other people who are not as attractive. I didn’t know what this movie was about before I saw it, and now that I’ve seen it, I still don’t know. There are several reasons for this.
1. There’s not that much dialogue.
2. Not all of the dialogue is in English.
3. There are subtitles for the non-English dialogue, but the subtitles are only about 1/4 the size of normal subtitles.
4. Also, the subtitles are white, which is an excellent choice considering all the scenes with snow and white stucco buildings.
5. So basically, I only tried to read the subtitles about half the time.
6. Even aside from the subtitles, I wasn’t paying that much attention.
7. I’m not all that bright.
So! The movie opens with a long shot of a small cabin in some very snowy woods. The subtitle reads, “Sweden.” Inside the cabin, Clooney is staring into the fireplace with a glum look on his face next to a woman who looks pretty happy probably because they’re only partially clothed and one of them is George Clooney. Next they are fully clothed and walking outside in the snow where the woman points out some tracks which she identifies as “illegible.” So I stopped the movie, and went upstairs to get a different pair of eyeglasses since the ones I normally wear around the house are old and at least three prescriptions out of date. In general, I find slightly fuzzy vision to be more relaxing because the world is an ugly place.
Back on the couch — my couch I mean, and Clooney and the woman are still walking around in the snow, and the woman says something about how there should be two sets of tracks. I still don’t know what kind of tracks these are. Maybe they’re lobster tracks. Lobsters usually travel in pairs. Clooney then takes note of the single set of lobster tracks, grabs the woman and runs toward a tree or a hill or a buttress or something as someone begins firing shots at them. Clooney pulls a gun out of his pocket and fires back. The woman says, “why do you have a gun!?!?” And Clooney replies, “in light of the fact that someone is shooting at us, I think the more pertinent question is, ‘why don’t you have a gun?’” Okay, not really, but that’s what he should have said. Instead, he stands there quietly and the guy shooting at him is all, “huh. That’s weird. I wonder where he went,” and steps into view, at which point Clooney shoots him dead. Clooney walks over to check the body, while the woman stands there freaking out. He orders her to go back to the cabin and call the police. She begins to run back to the cabin and Clooney shoots her in the back of the head. Suddenly, he’s seeming less attractive to me. There was also another guy who was with the first guy, and Clooney shot him as well, but I can’t remember the details.
Now, Clooney steps off train and makes a call at a pay phone. I stop the movie to check the DVD case to see what year this movie was made. Oh, 2010. Well, that’s weird then. A man named Pavel answers the phone and when Clooney says, “it’s Jack. I’m in Rome,” Pavel lets out the world’s longest sigh. “Heeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” Oh, well pardon Jack for living, then. Pavel tells Clooney to go to a town called Abruzzo and something something something (I wasn’t paying attention).
Clooney drives to Abruzzo, and stops on a street where a woman is outside with a broom. Clooney gets out of the car and stares at the woman with the broom. The woman with the broom stares back. Clooney gets back in his car and drives away. That certainly seems germane to the narrative.
Sometime later, Clooney walks out of his house in Abruzzo headed somewhere or other. A priest stands on a street above him and watches.
Clooney sits in a nearly deserted restaurant, drinking coffee. There are 90 more minutes in this movie and at least 40 of those minutes will consist of Clooney sitting in a nearly deserted restaurant, drinking coffee.
Then a bunch of stuff happens, involving a vending machine, a prostitute, two lambs, the priest, and a whorehouse. None of it means much of anything.
Clooney buys cheese. Really. There’s a whole thing with him buying cheese. He spots a woman he seems to recognize and follows her to a nearly deserted restaurant where they sit at separate tables but right next to each other because that always fools everyone. He agrees to provide her with an automatic weapon that has the range of a rifle and a sound-dampener that will disguise from which direction the shots were fired. I still have no idea who any of these people are.
Clooney has dinner at the priest’s house. The priest is cooking stew, but it looks like dog food if you ask me. On the mantle, there’s a picture of the priest with a young man. Clooney and the priest sit down to eat their Alpo and the priest says, “oh hey, you should go see this guy Paulo or Fredo or Frodo (I wasn’t paying attention). He’s an auto mechanic.” Wait, what? Why does he need to see an auto mechanic? Oh, let’s just keep going.
Clooney is driving down a country road, stops, gets out of the car, and kicks the bumper loose. I think that’s a rental car, so I hope he got the insurance. He drives to the mechanic where he meets Frodo, who is the young man in the photo with the priest. They’re standing outside next to the car but go into the garage to talk and stare awkwardly at each other. After a few minutes of this, Frodo says, “So! I’ll just go outside, you know where we were before we walked inside for no apparent reason, and look at your car!” While he’s outside, Clooney walks around the garage picking up various metal things and has his hands full of Frodo’s property when Frodo returns inside. “Uh. Someone said I could have this stuff.” Frodo is, like, oh okay, cool!
Back to the prostitute. Her name is Clara and she lets Clooney kiss her on the mouth so this is how you know they’re in love.
The next day, Clooney is sitting in a nearly deserted restaurant drinking coffee. Clara sees him through the window and she and another woman enter the restaurant. She introduces the woman, but I didn’t catch her name. According to the credits, that woman is either “Anna” or “Hooker #3.” Clara informs Clooney, “Anna/Hooker #3 and I are going to go see an American movie. Anna/Hooker #3 is learning to speak English,” at which point Anna/Hooker #3 says, “I WOULD LIKE TO GO TO AMERICA SOME TIME!” See, this is very convincing. People who teach English always talk loud and slow. It’s all REPEAT AFTER ME: WHERE IS THE BUS STOP? I WILL HAVE THE HAMBURGER AND FRENCH FRIES. HOW DO YOU DO? all the time. And if a person’s English is not that great, English speakers also talk to them like they’re deaf. SHOW ME YOUR PAPERS? DO YOU HAVE PAPERS? WAIT HERE WHILE I CALL HOMELAND SECURITY. No wonder non-English speakers think this is how we all talk. Anyway, Clara asks Clooney out on a regular date, but he doesn’t catch on right away because he’s like, “oh, at the whorehouse?” and Clara says, “er, no. At a restaurant.” Later, at the restaurant, Clara gets all pissy with the waiter because he asks her if she wants sparkling water when duh! obviously she wants still water! So
That’s where I stopped. I got one word into the next sentence, realized I was only about halfway through both the movie and my entirely pointless post, and said, “aw, screw it” apparently. That was two years ago, so I can’t remember now what happened after Clooney and Clara had dinner in the restaurant, but just guessing, I would say that there were a few more scenes of Clooney drinking coffee alone in a nearly deserted restaurant and then a shootout and then someone dies. I don’t know.
I apologize for this post. Let me make it up to you by showing you this picture of George Clooney as a tween.
Today was the first day of school for kids in Seattle. I know this because the teachers threaten to go on strike every year, so for a week before the start date, there are breathless news stories about why your kids can’t read and won’t be learning how anytime soon. I guess the teachers decided not to strike because this morning at 8:00 AM, Cameltoe and Humpy’s son was standing on the sidewalk outside their house wearing a 40 pound backpack on his tiny little 7-year-old body. Unfortunately, Cameltoe and Humpy were also there, screaming at each other. Evidently, Humpy thinks Cameltoe is “TOO EMOTIONAL” and “DOESN’T LISTEN,” and Cameltoe thinks “WHATEVER!” Humpy feels they need to “TALK ABOUT THIS” whereas Cameltoe feels that Humpy should “SHUT UP AND GO BACK IN THE HOUSE.” Meanwhile, the poor kid is standing there staring at his shoes, which wasn’t easy considering that his backpack was holding him more or less in a fixed upright position. He looked so defeated and sad that I wanted to go out there and give him a hug and a Pop-Tart, but I don’t have any Pop-Tarts and also I am afraid of Cameltoe and Humpy. After a while, a car pulls up and Cameltoe and her poor kid get in the car, Humpy opens the car door and continues to yell at Cameltoe, Cameltoe continues to yell at Humpy, the driver (Cameltoe’s mother, I think) starts yelling, and then my furnace guy arrives for the yearly tune-up, which is why I was looking out the window in the first place, so I don’t know what happened after that.
Breeze, the abandoned orphaned foal, and his best friend Buttons, the stuffed bear.
I don’t know if you have Grocery Outlet stores where you are, but we have them here, and I’ve never been inside one, but I suspect it’s a good place to go if you’re not feeling sad enough. It’s probably one of those stores that sells slightly off-brand merchandise, like “Frenchie’s Mustard” or “Gif Peanut Butter” (and if you don’t pronounce it with a soft G, the manufacturer gets all pissy about how you’re saying it wrong). They even have their own off-brand muppets. I got a flyer from them and they’re currently selling a two-pound jar of grape jelly for 99¢. If this doesn’t make you want to cry, you have no feelings.
One time I went to Winchell’s Donuts and they only had one donut left. It was a maple bar.
When I was in law school, the building I lived in was owned by the school and everyone who lived there was a student. The apartments weren’t the nicest — they looked like the apartment Robert Blake lived in on Baretta — but this was San Francisco, and I was paying $600 a month for a place that would have gone for $1500 on the open market, so the two-burner stove, spongy carpeting, and steam heat radiator were a fair trade. One day in my third year, I was in the lobby waiting for the elevator and my classmate Rudy came in with several bags of groceries on a moving cart. This wasn’t unusual; we were in the middle of the city and usually had to park at least a couple of blocks away so people were always hauling stuff in and out on those carts. Rudy and I were friendly, though not what I’d call friends. We lived in the same building, worked on Law Review together, and took a few of the same classes. We would often make small talk about things of mutual interest, like the Restatement of Employment Law or Celebrity Deathmatch. On this day, I happened to notice that one of his bags contained five loaves of bread. Ordinarily, I would not comment on what food a person is buying or eating because I think that’s rude, but Rudy lived alone and I guess I was surprised by how much bread he was buying so I blurted it out before thinking.
“That’s a lot of bread.” I said.
Rudy’s face immediately went dark and he said nothing. I better fix this, I thought.
“Hey! Do you ever go to the farmer’s market on Wednesday?” The farmer’s market was held across the street from our building.
“Yes.” He still looked mad.
“There’s a baker there who sells bread.” Oh my god, shut up about the bread already. “I haven’t tried it, but it looks really good.”
He didn’t say anything, the elevator arrived, and we rode up in silence. After that, he was never friendly towards me again.
You never know what’s going to offend a person, is my point.
The mayor and city council have stated that the crime rate in Seattle is down, which is patently untrue. They make these claims with an asterisk.
“Good Citizens! Crime is down 100%!* Reelect us!”
(* “at the one house we’re talking about. Last year, it was burglarized. This year it was not. 100% reduction in crime! Reelect Mayor McGinn! He shares your views! Whatever they are! He will change his views to your views! To all of your opposing views! He agrees with all of you!”)
The overall crime rate in Seattle has remained steady over the last five years, and violent crime downtown and in neighborhoods south of downtown is up about 7% from last year. Confronted with these pesky fact-like facts, the official response was, “That’s only if you count assaults. If you don’t count assaults, it’s only up 4%. Because why would you count assaults? Let’s just eliminate assaults as a topic of conversation.”
Last week in downtown Seattle, a guy boarded a Metro bus and didn’t pay. The driver said, “hey, you have to pay,” and the passenger said, “naaaaah.” So the driver said, “no, really. You have to pay.” So the passenger shot him in the face.
Then there was this guy:
He was fun.
A few days before that, there was a report of some dude just walking around downtown punching random people in the face.
These are just the incidents I’ve heard about in the last three weeks or so. According to The Seattle Times, which used to be a newspaper I think, there were 119 reported incidents downtown over the past month, meaning about four per day. This is why I do my shopping at the mall.
You are probably wondering what the police department is doing about this. I am so glad I pretended you asked! I actually don’t know. But I’m going to guess … nothing? Yeah, let’s go with nothing. Not that they’re not busy, mind you. Yesterday, they ran “Operation Orange Fingers,” in which they gave out bags of Doritos at Hempfest, the annual festival for the mush-mouthed, slow-witted segment of our citizenry that favors smoking it up over things like non-inertia or speaking in coherent sentences. You might think I’m making this up, but you would be incorrect.
Supposedly, this was meant to educate the Hempfest attendees on what is and isn’t allowed since Initiative 502, legalizing recreational marijuana use in Washington, passed last fall. It was an excellent plan, really, because as I recall from high school, it was the stoners who were always the most interested in education. The SPD enriched the minds of Hempfest attendees via a sticker on each bag of Doritos and a sense of humor the likes of which you haven’t seen since, well, since high school, when your “cool” teacher would talk like a Conehead.
Photo: Graham Johnson, KIRO7
They say no tax dollars were used, but really that’s the least of the problems there. The apostrophes alone are an affront to society.
To add another layer of stupidity to the whole thing, there was this:
Please ignore maliciously false reports that we're giving out Bugles at @seattlehempfest .We would never, ever do that.
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) August 14, 2013
All righty then.
Despite rampant public smoking, selling, giving, and dear lord, shotgunning at Hempfest, no arrests were made. Hempfest has been held every year since 1991, and the police stopped making arrests or issuing citations there about ten years ago. So the lessons are these: first, if you want to break a specific law, create a festival celebrating it as the Revised Code of Washington apparently does not apply to festivals. And second, you should probably not go to the Public Urination Expo. It’s just a bunch of guys peeing.
If you are someone who thinks about me all the time — which I assume you are, as why wouldn’t you? — right about now you are probably wondering what thing in my house is newly in need of repair this week. I AM SO GLAD YOU ASKED!
The new non-working thing is the air gap from my dishwasher, which is this thing:
(Photo ganked from the internet-at-large. I would have photographed my own air gap, but my camera isn’t working either.)
Question and Answer Time
Q: Is it supposed to be spewing water like that?
Q: What are you going to do about it?
A: STOP PRESSURING ME.
In fact, I have already done several things.
- I said, “Oh, fuck me, the plumber was just here last week. The plumber was here twice last week. Fuck. Fuck. … … … Fuck.”
- I also said, “God damn it” a few times.
- I Googled “dishwasher overflow thing” to see what it’s really called.
- I Googled “dishwasher air gap leaking.”
- I watched a YouTube video entitled, “The Diswasher Air gap – how to clean it and why it’s important.”
- I wondered if this was the film that all the fifth grade boys were watching while all of the fifth grade girls were watching, “The Story of Menstruation – how to clean it and why it’s important.”
- I did the first of three things that Internet Plumber suggested.
- And now I have to become Catholic and go to confession.
If you watch the video (and if you’ve landed on this page because you Googled something to the effect of, “why does that martian-looking thing leak water when my dishwasher drains,” then see my update below where I conclude that the video may be performance art*), which I am guessing you won’t because in terms of cinematic entertainment value it’s not exactly Ghostbusters, but if you do, you will see that the first of three things Internet Plumber suggested was to remove the cap from the air gap, place a paper towel roll over the gap, put your mouth over the other end of the tube, and blow.
Oh, so it’s like that, is it, Internet Plumber?
The theory is that it will dislodge any stray corn kernels or coffee beans that have lodged in the smaller tube in the air gap, but since I scrape and rinse all my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher (as should you because you know who says it’s not necessary? People who sell dishwashers, that’s who), I was pretty sure this wasn’t the problem. And it wasn’t, but boy was that ever fun. I can’t remember the last time I got to climb up on my counter, put a paper towel roll that I fished out of the recycle bin on one end of an open drain pipe and then put my mouth on the other end. And because I was worried that I couldn’t get enough air pressure built up in the long tube, I also repeated the procedure using a toilet paper roll, which was even more fun because your face is closer to the drain pipe and also you have your mouth on a toilet paper roll. Oh, what’s that Kate? You just gave birth to the future King of England and now your husband and nation adore you even more than before? Well, I have a corn-free air gap!
So that didn’t work, which means I have to go on to This is a Disgusting Task Part II: The Sliming. I need to go buy a bottle brush and cram it down the air gap, and when that inevitably does nothing but defile my new bottle brush, I will have to actually go under the sink to remove the drain pipe that goes from the dishwasher to the P-trap and clean that out by, I don’t know, putting my mouth on it or something. Incidentally, thanks to last week’s fuckwittery, I now know what a P-trap is; can the Duchess of Cambridge say that? Oh, she can’t? Well, then let me just laugh in a superior way until I break down into sobs of bitter envy. (I don’t actually want to be a princess; I just want to stop looking inside of drain pipes.)
So. Tomorrow is another day. I cannot tell you how excited I am by that fact. I really cannot tell you.
*SUPER EXCITING UPDATE: Well, it’s fixed, and without calling in Real Plumber and His Pleasant But Dense Trainee. But if you’re here because you are looking for instructions on how to clear your air gap, first, may God have mercy on your poor desperate soul. Second, welcome! Third, ignore the video I linked to above. I mean, you can do the paper towel thing, and it might work if you have good lung capacity and your problem is a small bit of food jamming up the works, but if that doesn’t do the trick, don’t shove a brush down the gap. Unless you have a very narrow, 3 foot long brush, it probably won’t work and you might damage the drain hose. It’s much easier and more effective to simply disconnect the drain hose at the bottom end and clear it out with a plumbing snake. If you don’t have a snake, a long stick wrapped in a rag would probably work too. It’s still gross, but it’s effective and relatively safe. After reconnecting the hose and before running your dishwasher again, pour water down the air gap to make sure that the hose doesn’t leak where you reconnected it. You can do it! I believe in you! (But just in case, do it on a weekday morning so that if things go south, you won’t have to pay a plumber overtime. My belief in you has its limits.)