Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Complaint: I'm Not Done Complaining Yet

I must rail on about Lost.

It bugged me so much it interrupted my sleep, dammit.

Why did they have to end it in such a lame-ass, sheepish, pathetic way?

I mean, couldn't they have come up with something better than the purgatory hug-fest? That left so much dangling, it wasn't even funny. Or maybe it was. But if it was, it was only funny to the show's creators. As they laughed all the way to the bank. The bastards.

I was definitely not amused. The show spent so much time showing us these different and inter-connected realities, and exploring all that Jacob/Man in Black crap, and then, poof, gone. "Hey everybody, when we die instantaneously at the beginning of this show, let's all go and meet up at that inclusive church in Los Angeles! And let's be sure to leave the audience hanging out to dry, the chumps! Don't answer any questions!"

This reminds me of a film I saw back in the 80s called Jacob's Ladder. It was a war movie, set in Vietnam, I think; it was about a guy who (quelle coincidence!) is named Jacob. We see all the trials and travails he undergoes post-war. He is a mess.

Then, SPOILER ALERT: after all this shit he goes through, it turns out the whole thing was a massive hallucination while he lay on the operating table on the battlefield, dying.

So rude.

Others have compared this to Bob Newhart Show's dream-within-a-show sequence. But Lost can't pull a Bob Newhart; it's not a comedy and it never will be, unless you find it amusing to watch years' worth of interesting tangents and threads shredded and left dangling in the breeze.

And the closing credits, which I nearly missed because they automatically minimized on Hulu, show the plane wreckage with NOBODY around, implying that everyone died at the beginning of this massive charade, so the whole thing was bullshit.

How rude.

Seriously? I feel totally ripped off.

If I had the power to be a smoke monster, I just might use it.

Protect the light, my ass.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Complaint: Lost Finale? Lame.

I could go on and on, but the web is full of people kvetching and moaning about it, and probably in a wittier manner than I could muster after having sat through that sappy and annoying (yet slightly expected) ending that revealed nothing except for the fact that the people who thought it up came from the Master of the Obvious School of Screenwriting.


Let's hope Flashforward doesn't pull this happy-death-reception-in-a-universally-accepted-church-like-building when all is said and done.

Because then I'll be DONE with ABC, I tell you. Done.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Complaint: It Used to Be About the Music, Man

What the sam heck is up with Glee?

It's all tear-jerky and intense. What the hell's going on?

Stop making me cry, whimper or sigh!

I just want to see you sing and dance and make darkly humorous remarks.

Where is Brittany and her gay shark?

Where is Finn being a lovable dufus?

I'm sorry, but enough is enough. Turn the sap tap OFF.

Bring back the Madonna episode. Bring back Sue Sylvester. Please.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Complaint: What is it Good For?

So I was having an FCC (Facebook Chat Conference) with the head writer over at The Solipsist, and it turns out that his post about Los Lobos of a few days ago, has garnered a significant amount of snarky, snippy responses. Check it out.


So he made the outrageous, apparently totally offensive and unbelievable claim that Los Lobos were kind of okay as a band, and not fucking brilliant. And apparently this pissed off a lot of people who have nothing better to do than read blogs and then post complaints on them. Some of them were even kind of personal and mean, in spite of the fact that nobody who posted said complaints actually knows The Solipsist at all.


Really, guys, gals, come on: there is so much hate-filled speechspewing forth out there, and people choose to select The Solipsist's amusing, well-written and acerbic remarks to piss further upon?!

Puh-lease. Why do people have to be so hare-trigger bitchy?

I've never understood the mentality of someone reading something, then complaining vociferously about it for all the world to see but still remaining ANONYMOUS. What's the point?

Isn't life complicated and short enough to not spend time bitching and kvetching about something that isn't a big deal? Aren't most things not that big a deal?

And on that note, I'll stop kvetching.

Rock on Solipsist, and peace out.

(I've never said peace out before in print. It looks kind of dumb. It's probably hipsterspeak circa 2005, but whatevah.)

P.S. How meta is this that I'm blogging a complaint about complaints?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Comment: Glee Made Me Cry

I'm talking about last week's Glee. So, LATE SPOILER ALERT.

The whole Kurt Hummel thing. That young man, Chris Colfer, who plays the role is AWESOME. His emotional musical number kicked ass. He is super talented. I really hope fame doesn't mess him up. I hope that for all those plucky Glee kids. Hey, I sound like a teen fan zine! OMG!!! He is totally CUTE!!!!

Honestly, I generally prefer my Glee dark and humorous, but this episode was pretty touching.

Who knew Fox was capable of such a thing?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Complaint: So Depressing

Boy, I bet that title really makes you want to read this, right?

I just spent the day subbing for one of the third grade classes at my kids' over-priced but generally very lovely school.

And it sucked.

I mean, it really, really sucked.

I taught high school in Los Angeles County and the kids in this posh and pampered atmosphere today were way meaner, ruder, and more disrespectful to each other and to me than anyone I've encountered in all my years of teaching.

I miss public school.

It makes me really want to just take my kids out of the school. But I know I'm over-reacting. Still, a school that purports to be about values like honesty and integrity and respect for others feels kind of like a sick joke after witnessin the behavior I saw today.

And bear in mind that I've been called a bitch and have had a kid transferred into my class who threatened to blow up his other teacher's car. I've had kids in gangs. They're much more polite.

It's the constant stupids, shut ups, idiots, kicking, throwing things, talking back, crawling over furniture, major insubordination, bad attitude, lack of respect for others that makes my skin crawl. We're paying for this and we're putting up with this? Oh hell, no.

Now look, I know for a fact that this does not go on in my kids' classes. I've subbed there, and that shit is not tolerated. The school is still overall an excellent place.

But it depresses and angers me to see kids treating everyone around them so poorly. What does that say for our future, and theirs? They don't care about each other and they don't care about themselves. They see nothing wrong with their behavior. And it makes me feel sick to see how mean these kids are allowed to be to each other without a second glance.

Really sick.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Comment: Strong, Manly, Soft

I just saw an ad on Hulu for a new iteration of a Vaseline product called Vaseline MEN Body and Face Hand Lotion. The tag line involved the word STRONG, not soft.

So I guess if you want to strengthen your skin, you use the MEN product, but if you want SOFTER skin, you stick with the girly kind. WTF?

And in case you think I'm making this up, there's a whole website for it:


Did you know that guys have thicker and oiler skin? Imagine.

You could learn a lot from the marketers at Vaseline.

Are they going to come up with a brand for other specialty sub-markets? I mean, is there a specific hydrating formula for premenstrual women, or metrosexuals? Bored SAHMS? Overworked teachers?

Don't get me started.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Comment: Managing Expectations

I had a profound thought today: because I was noticing how absolutely delightful, helpful and loving I am being to my sister's dog, (he is very easy to love) and then I realized that I'm not being as loving and delightful and helpful to the other people living with me.

I mean, how is it that I feel irritated and put upon when my daughter asks me to help her wipe her butt, and yet I cheerfully carry around bags of Max's poop with nary a sigh or complaint?

I figured it out: expectations.

Because I expect my five-year old daughter to not need my help in the bathroom, I get mildly irritated when she does. Because I expect my husband to take out the overflowing compost to the composter because the dead food totally grosses me out day after day, I get irritated when he doesn't.

What do I expect of Max the dog? Nothing but companionship. I don't expect him to clean up after himself, or express his innermost feelings, or have a temper tantrum, or tell me witty anecdotes, or listen to my complaining and give a proper response, or make his bed, or buy his own food, bus his own plate, or clean up his own shit, literal and figurative.

So I don't have high behavioral expectations of him: I don't expect him to read my mind.

And it dawned on me today as I ran (with the dog as my companion, natch) that I really shouldn't expect ANYONE to read my mind. Ever.

I mean, it's not fair. To assume that people will do what you want them to do without some prior discussion is kind of crazy, really.

I have all of these artificial expectations of my family members, and if they fail to meet them, I'm annoyed or let down. Guess what? The same is probably true in reverse: I'm not the only person to have expectations, so I'm also a person who lets people down without even knowing it. A good part of the time, I'd wager.

I find this slightly depressing, but also slight liberating: if I can drop my expectations and just expect pure companionship from my loved ones, that should absolutely be enough. I need to cut the people I love as much slack as I cut the dog I love.

I mean, it's only fair.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Complaint and Comment: Tangrams?! WTF?!

I subbed for first graders today, and we did tangrams in math class. You know, you get about seven different two dimensional shapes and you're given a picture of something and you have to recreate it with the little shapes? Like a cat, a rabbit, or a house? O.M.G.

For someone spatially challenged like me, they're HARD.

Damn hard. Embarrassingly hard.

They're not easy for first graders, but they gave it that college try, so to speak. They weren't as intimidated as I was, at any rate.

On those childhood aptitude tests, when they showed you a folded box and you had to choose which illustration represented the completed figure? I thought it was some kind of sick joke. Why would anyone need to handle such situations? I mean, if you HAD to, like if it was the last job in the world, maybe you'd try to get good at it, but otherwise? Forget that noise. I just thought it was abominable to have to consider these things. I wanted to write stories about brave and plucky girls with great imaginations who turned out to be good looking AND smart. I wanted to wear dress-up clothes and prance around pretending brimming with confidence.

I mean, those test questions made no sense to me. All I could do was guess blindly. And it showed in my test results. Nobody told me I should design or build ANYTHING, EVER, if you know what I'm saying. I'm pretty sure I got my Tinker Toy AND Lego privileges revoked, too.

Which reminds me, and it really is a related tangent, you must read "King Dork" by Frank Portman. It's just this awesome book, a sort of modern day "Catcher in the Rye" and it's hilarious. Have I mentioned this already? If so, forgive me. I'm a little tired.

Those tangrams really kicked my ass.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Okay, I haven't watched this week's Glee yet, but I did watch this week's Lost.

Personally I enjoyed Alison Janney's performance as the Witchy/Freaky/Groovy Mama Bear, although it really wasn't very sporting of her to keep killing people. Not cool.

We got the whole Cain and Abel thing. Yawn. Come on, J.J. Abrams et. al., you can do better than that! Sheesh.

The main thing I took away from the show this week was, wow, they have good casting directors, because the young Jacob and He Who is Never Named/Man in Black/Converted Smoke Monster Due to Overexposure to Bright Light Cave REALLY looked like the grown up actors cast in the same parts. Impressive.

And I always enjoy the moviesque soundtrack.

But of course I still have a few million questions. If The Original Man in Black was killed, did the smoke monster he became come BACK and fill up his dead body? If so, then why did Jack and Kate and Locke find two corpses if MIB was inhabiting one of those two bodies at the time? And when/why did he switch to Locke's body? Can Smokey only inhabit recently dead people? And when did all those scenes of the two brothers playing mental chess happen? Was that when Smokey re-inhabited the original MIB's body? Or have I slipped through a rip in the space time continuum too? Is this some kind of you-can-check-out-any-time-you-like-but-you-can-never-leave scenario? Because there are to be NO EAGLES songs in the final episodes. I'm serious.

And Jacob is suddenly not so lily white, is he? All this moral ambiguity feels like a set up for a very inconclusive conclusion.

But it's been nebulous and wicked murky all along, so why change now?

Only two more episodes, I think; but one of them is probably going to be like four hours long. They need to tie up a few hundred loose threads.

Good luck with that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Comment: Baby on Board

No, I'm not pregnant. (it's water weight, shut up!)

But there is a baby (of sorts) in the house for the next six weeks.

I'm watching my sister's beloved and intrepid pooch, Max, while she is the chief scientist on a geologic expedition around the Galapagos Islands. (Apparently there is no Lido Deck on her cruise, nor a perky cruise director with a coke habit. Ahh, the 80s; good times.)

Having a dog is so much like having a newborn, it's not even funny. Or maybe it is.

In the past three days, I have been immersed into the world of little Max: his eating, walking and sleeping habits, medications, grooming, and such. I want to do the best possible job taking care of this job because (a) I love my sister and (b) I love this dog and (c) I'm not made of stone.

So the family is rallying in support of this new arrival. And caring for him feels a little familiar somehow.

Because I remember being absolutely immersed in the new way of life that comes with a new life. And even though Max is not a puppy, he is dependent on us to take care of him completely, just like a newborn. And I have these vague memories of newborn days when I was all attention and exhaustion, elation and anxiety.

Today, on my first day solo with him, I watched his every reaction to noise, food, the kids (all good) and to the rain (not an issue). I watched him mark his territory until there was absolutely no way on this earth he could have a drop of urine left in him with which to mark. And still he performance peed on every shrub, bush and fire hydrant.

I checked the frequency and the consistency of his bowel movements. It's been years since I've done that. No wonder this feels like deja vu all over again.

And just like I settled into parenting, I know I and my family will settle into caring for this dear creature. At first it's nerve-wracking, because you don't know what to expect, but over time it becomes lovely and feels natural, and you can't imagine not having this being in your house with you.

And yes, a sleeping dog is pretty damn cute, too.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Complaint: Spoiler Alert, Lost Fans

Okay, maybe it's not a spoiler alert if you actually watch shows when they air, but me? Well, let's just say my viewing pleasure was spoiled by the lack of warning in a certain Entertainment Weekly magazine that arrived yesterday.

Jin, Sun AND Sayid? Man, three main characters have been killed, just like that. Pretty laissez-faire, J.J. Abrams and company. I even know how it's going to happen! Damn you, Entertainment Weekly!

EW's most recent issue does indeed spend most of its space on Lost, which I appreciate. They even attempt to recap all the seasons, which is no mean feat. They even mentioned Nikki and Paulo. (Though they shouldn't have bothered.)

What we get, though, is a lot of actors speculating and being vague.

And that's where I'm afraid the whole series is going to end: vague, speculative-worthy stuff that will probably piss most people off and definitely won't answer all the questions that have been raised.

I mean, we know The Island isn't Purgatory, since one of the actors said that was his guess (him and a million other people).

We know it's the age-old battle of good versus evil.

What I'm looking forward to being irritated and dissatisfied with is the explanation for the FlashSideways.

How are they gonna explain that, huh? Seriously.

They probably won't. They'd just better not go on Sopranos on us and do a blank screen. Or make it all Hurley's hallucination at the mental institution. Or Jack's dream.

And now, I'm going to watch the episode in which three of my favorite characters bite it. There will be no suspense.

All I can say is, there'd better not be any music by Journey in the finale.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Question: What do you do when someone friends you whom you do not know?

In people's eternal quest for more Facebook Frendz (TM), people who either met me once or have never even met me at all have recently asked to friend me.

What's the protocol on this?

I don't want to be rude, but just because we know the same people doesn't mean we have to be connected, too. Or does it?

Some day, we'll all be friends on Facebook, and the sun will shine and the stars will align and ...um, I don't think so.

You don't have to be friends with everybody.

And I'm not just talking about Facebook anymore.

Moving three times in three years has taught me something very valuable:

(a) You don't have to be friends with everyone who wants to be friends with you.

and its corollary

(b) Not everyone you want to be friends with wants to be friends with you.

These are hard-learned lessons, people. So take heed: you don't have to be friends with everyone who asks you out, so to speak; but of course you DO need to be nice to them. No need to be an asshole.

It's easy to waste a lot of energy on a match that isn't even made in purgatory; sometimes you click with people, and sometimes you don't. And note bene, you usually know pretty damn fast if you click with someone.

As for (b), there are going to be those friend crushes that just go nowhere. I had me one of those recently. And it hurt like a minor break-up. When I see her, I still feel kind of lame. But hey, if she doesn't get me, then she doesn't get me. If her friend inventory is full, it's full. She has her rights; see (a).

So you move on. And you go on friend dates and you wait to see what gels and what doesn't. And sometimes, things suck a bit. Or a lot. But other times, they click.

And that's magic.

So what is the protocol on Facebook? If you know there's no click there, or you don't even KNOW the person, are you supposed to take a chance on them or just get on with your life?

Seriously, I'm asking.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Comment: So Addicted

Oh man, I am so hooked on Glee. Is there crack in their music or something?

I can't get enough of the music or show, and some of it hasn't even aired yet, but I've pre-ordered the CD like a rabid fool.

What does this say about my life?

I think in an earlier post, I talked about how I was a snobby ACTING MAJAH in college, and that my friends and I were pretty elitist about musical theatre people.

Just give me a minute, I'm choking on a few dozen words.

I wish I'd done musical theatre, so I could be a semi-triple threat, instead of a monomaniacal slight disturbance. Or something.

But back to Glee.

This last episode (SPOILER ALERT!) took the one-hit wonders we and VH1's viewing audience love to mock, and it ROCKED.

Total Eclipse of the Heart? Check.
Run Joey Run? Check.
Ice, Ice Baby? Check.
Physical? Check and mate.

It couldn't have been more fun.

I guess that's the bottom line about Glee: I (we) love it because it's fun. Not saccharine, high school musical fun, and not dark as a Coen brothers movie, but sweetness with a sharp little razor blade hidden in it.

Come on, have you ever seen a character as outrageous as Sue Sylvester, who says things like, "You should be wetting yourselves in shame" to her students? And then does a Madonna video (and pretty well, at that) and says she hates Will Shuster?

I really wish they'd cover Midnight at the Oasis. I'd love to see Sue say "Send your camel to bed" with a straight face.

I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Comment: Gym Class Memo

Okay, I know I promised not to talk about the half-marathon, but while I was running, so many things were going through my head. Don't you want to hear all about it? Are ya sure?

I loved being part of a big group doing something athletic.

Because that NEVER happened growing up or once I hit adulthood and got into cruise control. My setting was NON-JOCK pretty much since birth. I've been known to bruise with no memory of an event, and to smack my head pretty damn hard on occasion. (A charitable person once told me I was a small person trapped in a large body, and thus couldn't control my over-sized limbs. I really do have long arms. I saw this picture of my mom, grandmother and I, and I had my arm around them, and I mean it was AROUND THEM. I looked like Partial-Elasti-Girl.)

What I'm saying is, I'm not known for my athletic prowess.

Gym class was torment for geeks like me. We played a particularly sadistic form of dodgeball called "Chasse Aux Canards" (Duck Hunt) and "Chasse Aux Ecureuils" (Squirrel Hunt, even worse). It was, natch, hell.

But I was just thinking, if my fascist and annoying phys ed teachers could see me now, they wouldn't nearly fail me. No Ds for me, no bronze patch in the Canadian Test for Physical Fitness. (The bronze patch just looked BROWN. Sad.) I have a fucking medal, bitch! (and bastard, let's include them ALL)

So suck it, gym teachers of my past! I'm not a complete klutz.

There, I feel much better now. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Comment: A Goal Post (Hyuk. Sorry.)

I realize I'm milking the whole half-marathon thing, but a person doesn't always have things to crow about. And I'm a-crowin'.

One of the challenges of being the Primary Caregiver Monkey in a relationship (Ayun Halliday's term; fabulous, of course) is there's always a lot to do but not much recognition at a good job done.

So many PCM moms and dads do a lot of thankless but important things that are vital for their offspring's health and happiness. They often do much for their partner as well.

But the thing about parenting is, there's no grade. You don't get paid, you don't get promoted, you don't earn any gold stars or medals. (Did I mention I got a medal at the half-marathon? I really like it.)

And something that really makes a person happy, according to much of what I've read, including Kristin Maschka's book, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be, is achieving a goal. Maschka's definition of ambition is the ability to master a skill and be recognized for it. We all have ambition. It's part of who we are as a species. We all want to be recognized for achieving something that challenged us.

Parenting does not hold that recognition. (At least, not for many years.) ( And that's if you're lucky.)

So deciding to do something challenging, but with a clear goal and strategy with which to achieve it, has been really quite delightful.

If you had told me last year that I'd run a half-marathon this year, I would have scoffed.

Truly, a great scoffing would have ensued.

But I did it. And I'm happy about it.

Because it's something I didn't know how to do; I worked at it, and got recognized for it.

And that's just nice.

I'll write about something else tomorrow. I promise.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Comment: More Marathon Musing

Okay, so it was super duper fun to run a half marathon. Way more fun than I expected.

Probably because of that whole, get a goal, work towards it, achieve it, be satisfied.

Then start the whole cycle again.

This seems to be a recipe for general happiness.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I'd write more, but I'm exhausted, and my daughter needs me to re-tuck her in.

More musing later.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Comment: Shout Out to Midge AND Triumphant Comment: Suck it, Middle Age!

I did it.

I ran my first half-marathon. At age 43. In the rain. So badass.

Impressed yet? Doesn't matter. I did it for myself and I am happy for myself.

I claim this marathon in the name of middle-aged hotness and fierce strength with sexy calves.

It was seriously so much FUN.

And a big part of that was because my sister came with me. She drove eight and half hours to be here for about 18 and then she drove back. That's seriously badass. It was the best gift ever, and she's really good at giving gifts, btw.

We pretty much talked the whole way. And we held hands when we ran down the hills, and across the finish line.

It was seriously one of the best times of my life.

So I dedicate this post to my sister: Midgie, you're the very best there is.

And at the risk of sounding like a cheesy yearbook entry, thank you for the greatest run ever!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Comment: A Cure for Boredom

Transitions are always difficult, even when they're positive ones.

I'm finding myself at the cusp of multiple transitions: my children are growing up and needing me less, I am having more time to myself, and quite frankly, it scares the crap out of me.

Okay, I'm exaggerating. (I always do.)

But what I'm also seeing is that we've now lived in our new adopted city for nearly a year, and the hyper-get-up-and-go of the first six months is long gone, and the dreary winter is just gone, and suddenly the summer is looming.

And I see my kids doing all sorts of things, while I...wait.

For a job, for a playmate my own size to come over while my kids play, for a project to become my passion.

Because that's what I need: a project.

My husband, ever the pragmatist, suggested I paint the inside of the house.

Not a bad idea. It would certainly keep me busy.

But I guess I was kind of hoping for something that wasn't solitary.

Am I going to have to like, start a book group, or something? And would it be so bad if I did?

A summer self-help group for moms who are in transition? (I believe Mothers and More has that covered, at least technically; how I miss the Pasadena chapter! The only chapter out here is in the burbs, and urban mamas such as myself are not going to schlep all the way out there to hear a nutritionist tell us what to feed our kids.)

So. Hmm. I guess I'm going to have to get some inspiration and get off my ass and do something.

Which would be interesting.