22
Aug

No curfews, Dad!After moving to California nearly 10 years ago, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. The farther away I was from my dad, the less he cared about my whereabouts.

It’s true. When 2000 miles away, I would sometimes go for more than a week without hearing from him. If I did manage to track him down via phone, I could barely keep him on the line for more than five minutes before whatever baseball/football/basketball/hockey game wrestled away his attention from me. However, when I would visit Chicago, my phone would blow up before I could even exit the plane. Once he confirmed that I did indeed make it safely into the Windy City, I would then be instructed to call him after getting my luggage. From there, I would be told to ring again when I got my rental car. Given that I hadn’t lived with my parents for many years, I’d typically rent a hotel room while in town. Inevitably, I would also be given orders to call after I checked in. One time, I stopped off to get something to eat. While waiting on my Subway Sandwich Artist to add a little sweet onion sauce to my veggie patty sub, I could hear my phone ringing. “You should be at the hotel by now.” My father’s tracking capabilities are scary.

Now that I’m actually living at home, his skills have only gained in strength. Should I leave to get groceries, grab a Starbucks, or even go for a run, I’m told ahead of time how long I should be.

“It shouldn’t take you more than a half-hour to pick up some Sprite and those Stouffer’s I asked for.”

“So, what? You’ll be gone until seven o’clock?”

“It’s getting dark. You’ll be back in an hour.” (Note, not a question.)

One of the reasons why I love what I do is because I don’t have a boss watching my every move. As long as I get my work done by the assigned deadline, no one is taking note of when I arrive to work or clock out for the night. To be honest, though, I was the one doing the watching and note-taking when I had my last office job. I didn’t even enjoy doing that for other people; hence, my decision to leave cubicle life behind. Now, a new boss is in town, and I live in his office.

Perhaps his behavior is in retaliation for my own militant antics. Pretty much on the quarter hour, you can hear me ask, “You okay? You need anything? You need a refill?” (He loves his Sprite.) My father has decided that the living room couch is the perfect place for mid-morning, post-noon, and early evening naps, so I’m usually drilling him with questions as I make my way to the kitchen for a bite to eat or my own refill. If he doesn’t answer me, I quite literally get in his face to see why. Apparently I’m not the twinkle toes I think myself to be because more than once I’ve startled him awake. “Huh? What? Yeah, I’m fine.”

Given that he recently received at-home oxygen, I’ve also become a fan of checking his O2 levels on a more-than-needed basis. This is in part because he could go unconscious if his oxygen runs too high. Also in part, I’m absolutely fascinated by how this tiny device can magically know how much oxygen is in your blood when clipped to the end of your finger. I test myself as often as my dad. When I hit 99, I feel as smug as if I just got a perfect score on the SATs.

My dad isn’t as mobile as he’s been in weeks past, which may also explain his ceaseless need to know where I am at all times. He’s still a dad, after all, so I’m sure there’s some protective thing going on. Given that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to accompany me for errands and the like, I think he just wants to know that I’m okay. And that’s cool. Probably for the better, too.

Did I mention that my dad is the worst backseat driver ever? I don’t need directions to the same Walgreen’s we’ve gone to at least 10 times now. Gah.

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

08
Aug

Back where I belong.

The tagline I thought up when I started this blog was “Tales of a Chicago girl in a LA world.” Well, this girl has found herself back home.

Two months ago, my father was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. A few weeks later, I packed up my suitcase, left Los Angeles, and flew back to Chicago with a one-way ticket. Hence, the radio silence for the last few months.

Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t think I would write about what’s been going on. For one, I didn’t want to betray my dad’s privacy. Second, I really, really didn’t want to spend more time writing about something that’s been on my mind every minute of every hour since May 31, the day I was told that a mass had been found in my dad’s lung. But I missed my blog.

Thing is, I talk about my life on the blog… and my dad for that matter. I knew that if I were to start writing again, it would be disingenuous to exclude my dad’s illness from my entries. So here I am.

I figured this was as good a time as any to restart the blog because this weekend my dad and I will officially become roomies. After more than a decade of living parent-free, I can only imagine the hijinks that will ensue once I move in. Why, you ask, after being back in Chicago for more than a month haven’t I already moved in with him? Well, I pay my bills by writing for the World Wide Web, and my dad doesn’t even have an email address, let alone a computer or Internet connection at his place. When I asked if he could set up wifi for me, he repeated, “Hifi? What’s that?” So for the last few weeks, I’ve been bouncing from house to house of no less than four crazyawesomeamazingwonderful friends who would probably just let me become a permanent resident at any of their homes if I asked. As of today, though, my dad’s condo is officially online. So now my nomadic existence comes to an end and a new adventure begins.

To state the obvious, cancer blows. My plan is not to focus on it – at least, not on the blog. Whether or not you have been touched by this illness, I think we can all agree that it’s horrible. I don’t know if I have anything original to contribute to the “how to cope with cancer” conversation. I’m still figuring that out anyway, so my strategy is to concentrate on everything else. Like how to cope with my dad’s incessant interest in watching golf. He has about a thousand channels – an Internet novice, yes, but my father is no stranger to the wonders of cable – yet if golf is on TV, he must watch it. To me, watching golf for five minutes is like getting stabbed with a million tiny tees for five days. I’m not so sure how this roomie situation will work out.

I’m also not sure just how long I will be in Chicago. For as long as my dad needs me? For as long as I can? Forever if it meant that my dad would be okay?

The other day he asked if I was keeping up with the blog. I tried to answer honestly without somehow making him feel responsible for why I wasn’t updating it. Then about as awkwardly as you could imagine, I asked if I could talk about his condition. His answer? “Sure. Tell everyone to send me a dollar.”

That’s the other reason why I decided to go back to the blog. My dad is awesome. I’m sure other people feel the same way about their fathers, and far be it from me to disagree. I don’t think dads being awesome need be an either-or proposition among sons and daughters. But instead of waiting until the day that I don’t want to think about to tell everyone of my amazing dad, I’d thought I’d start now. Plus, I promise it’ll make for much easier reading. If I were to write about how awesome my dad is in a single post, I might break the Internet. It’d be that long.

If you’d rather not read about some guy you don’t know, and many of you have never met my father, I get it. And to be honest, I probably won’t be able to help some sad stuff from creeping in every once in a while. I don’t blame you if you’d rather use your free time to look at kitten memes. But if I may offer a rebuttal… This blog is about the small, stupid, and sometimes happy stuff that happens in life. To be sure, my dad’s cancer diagnosis has made that mission harder. Though most definitely stupid, cancer is neither small nor happy. But even if he can’t beat his diagnosis, I will do my damnedest to make him and you and even myself smile in spite of it.

Image courtesy of phanlop88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

09
May

There's always a catch. Always.

It was just another day at the grocery store when I heard the distinctive screech of the intercom and a crackly voice call out: “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please! If you will kindly make your way to the back of the produce section at the end of aisle 17, we are about to hand out free gifts to our shoppers!”

This was unexpected. Is this what they do at Ralph’s every Wednesday night? I was slightly perturbed that perhaps I had been missing out on years’ worth of complimentary food. Like any other red-blooded American, I loves me some free stuff, so I instantly U-turned my way to aisle 17.

I didn’t have far to go, but by the time I reached the produce section, at least a dozen other carts and their eager owners were already waiting for their loot. I also noticed that I was a good 30 years younger than the other shoppers, and FYI, one sweet white-haired granny cut me off as she adroitly maneuvered her cart directly in front of the display counter.

Given that the display was rocking some serious movie premiere spotlights, I suddenly felt ill at ease regarding what was about to proceed. All I wanted was a free sample of whatever new flavored water I assumed they were trying to hype. What was with all the glitz and glamour? Must everything be for show in LA? That’s when the display lady made her entrance.

Display lady had a smile on her face that was much too joyous for 6:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night at Ralph’s. No way was she that happy to see us. Also, she didn’t have on a Ralph’s uniform, which further worried me. I began to suspect that my desire to get something for nothing was going to cost me.

“How is everybody doing tonight?”

The crowd gave a cool response, which only made her repeat her question. To avoid having to fake nice a third time, we mustered a decent yet insincere “good!”

Display lady then took out from behind the display counter a cantaloupe that had undergone some sort of Frankenstein-esque lobotomy. Though still intact, it had a series of V-shaped incisions along its exterior. This was our free gift? Produce rife with salmonella?

Confirming my worst fears, display lady then asked, “Who here loves fresh fruit?” I, for one, did not raise my hand, but several of my compatriots with no regard for their own safety did. That’s when display lady again surprised us with a monstrous creation from behind her counter of horrors. This time it was an oversized cucumber surgically reworked to resemble Jaws. I was equal parts awed by her cutting skills and terrified of what she would pull out next. I also came to the sad realization that I was just another sucker who was about to sit through this lady’s spiel to hock goods that were obviously not going to be free.

Remember the Ginsu knife? Or really I should put it this way: “Remember the Ginsu knife?” Because that was the next question out of her mouth. Seriously? That’s what this whole elaborate setup was for? I actually got duped into watching a Ginsu knife demonstration?

Apparently the company that made Ginsu knives has since retired the name. Why, I don’t know, since you’d think trading off such a famous brand would be a no-brainer. Regardless, now they’re calling their new knife the Master Cut 2. But because no one knows what the hell a Master Cut 2 is, they have to trap poor, naïve grocery shoppers who want free sh*t with their bait and switch tactics.

So for the next 15 minutes, I stood there in agony as display lady showed our group how the Master Cut 2 can cut through tomatoes, two-by-fours, and hammers. I swear. The woman made us watch as she sliced into a metal hammer head. Impressive. Most impressive. But I still ain’t gonna pay $29.99 for it.

I finally made my getaway when she asked who of our group liked BBQed steak. Given that I don’t eat beef, I feigned disgust at her obvious lack of respect for vegetarians and stormed away.

But to her credit, I did get my free stuff. It was a plastic thingamajig that apparently was responsible for the handiwork on that poor cantaloupe. So now I can perform my own deranged experiments on fruit. Totally worth the half-hour of my life that I will never get back.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

02
May

You hear me? You hear me now?Eavesdropping on other people’s conversations is fun. Though I have never tapped anyone’s home, I have on multiple occasions put my ear to a wall or door to get better acoustics. The best is when you catch random bits and pieces while standing in line at the airport or waiting for your drink at a bar. It’s a win-win situation. They don’t know me. I don’t know them. I will never see them again, so no matter what they say, I can’t hold it against them in the future.

Phone conversations are entirely different. Though people are just as likely to say ridiculous things over the phone, I’m amazed by how many people have uber private conversations via cell phone in completely public spaces. To make it all about me, it’s super awkward to listen to them. Last Halloween, my boyfriend and I had to suffer through a convo that some dude was having on the phone with his girlfriend in Party City. Because everyone was desperate to buy whatever cheaply made and overpriced costumes were still in stock, we were stuck in the checkout line for more than a half-hour as this guy professed his undying love for some chick. I’m all for being a lover and not a fighter, but I’m also an uptight American who would rather you keep in the bedroom.

Even worse is when someone’s arguing over the phone. You’d be surprised by how many of these conversations I’ve witnessed in Starbucks. Apparently paying $5 for coffee can make someone irritable. It’s hard to really know what’s going on in these conversations because both parties are working overtime to cut each other off, so all you really ever hear is “would you let me talk?” or “you’re not listening to me!” Perhaps the person on the other line isn’t listening, but I can guarantee you that everyone else is. The absolute worst, though, is when you are privy to a breakup happening over the phone.

Breaking up via phone is on my top five list of douchebaggery actions. Probably because it happened to me. If you don’t want to date someone anymore, that’s cool. But then man up and tell her face-to-face. Don’t call on a random Tuesday night and say, “My feelings for you have plateaued.” Not that that’s how it went down with me or anything.

Now most of the womenfolk I know are in complete agreement with me, so you can imagine my surprise when I overheard a chick doing the breaking up over the phone. I wasn’t at the airport, nor was I in Starbucks. I was simply jogging down my own street… and I could hear her a block away. You see, this lady wasn’t just ending a relationship; she was ENDING A RELATIONSHIP.

“WE ARE OVVVVVVVVEEEEEEERRRRRR!!!!”

I could hear her screaming this single phrase over and over and over again. At first, I thought I was hearing a Lifetime movie through someone’s open window. When I pinpointed the real source of the drama, I then became concerned that perhaps she was in trouble. (It was dark, so I couldn’t tell at first if another person was in the car.) But once I ran past her, I finally understood what was going on. She was a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

I tried to slow down to better hear what horrible things the guy on the other end of the line obviously must have done to deserve such rage, but her voice went all Charlie Brown “mwa, mwa, mwa” once her car was behind me. As I jogged on, I pondered the possibilities. Did he cheat on her? Did he steal money from her? Did he cheat on her with a hooker that he paid for by stealing money from her?

Then I felt bad. No matter how awesome you might feel in your moment of fury, breakups suck. I’m sure that underneath her wrath, she was silently mourning the end of her relationship… Nope. About forty-five minutes later, I was again heading toward her car. She was still there and still raging. In fact, I think she had gotten louder. And if I’m being really honest… it impressed the hell out of me.

Go on with your crazy self, girl.

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

28
Mar

Parents just don't understand.

Rarely do my shopping adventures take place beyond the confines of Target or Ralph’s. However, after three years of literally running them in to the ground, I decided that it was finally time to get some new kicks for my neighborhood jogs.

I was long overdue, but I blame the economy; the place where I got my last pair of running shoes shut down. I had only once patronized their store, but found myself oddly saddened by the news. They had recommended such an awesome pair of shoes… And even though my knees were now begging for mercy after each run, I was reluctant to put my Asics out to pasture.

After Yelping for five minutes, though, I came across a store in Brentwood that seemed to know the deal. None of this Lady Footlocker business, yo. I wanted my gait analyzed, my pronation inspected, and my shoes to fit like a glove. Or sock.

Upon entering the store, I was completely overwhelmed. It was a Saturday afternoon, so the place was packed with both people and shoes. I don’t do brand loyalty, so literally every single shoe on wall was a potential winner. Given shoe design nowadays, though, I wasn’t even sure if I was in the women’s shoe section as I perused my choices. I started doing that thing where you just pick up a shoe and stare at it with the hope that someone will see that you need help.

Enter Jerry.

For the record, Jerry at FrontRunners is awesome, people. Go say hi sometime. He immediately sat me down, then stood me back up, then asked me to walk, then even had me run a little for him. I was in heaven. Then off he went to find my next great pair of running shoes.

I had a few minutes to kill, so I turned my attention to the other customers in the store. Lots of moms. In fact, right in my line of vision was a mom and her 10-year-oldish son. All I could hear her saying was, “Are you sure? This is the pair you want? You’re positive? These fit you the best?” The kid giddily shook his head in affirmation. The mom then turned her attention to the saleslady: “How much are these?”

“$110.”

“$110?! No! No, no… We are not buying you shoes that cost over a hundred dollars! I don’t even buy myself shoes that cost $110!”

Awkward. I mean, on the one hand, I totally agree. I remember being a kid. Those growth spurts must be a b*tch for parents; I needed new shoes virtually every month. On the other hand, this mom was doing everything in her power to completely humiliate her kid. She even stood up to make her point a second and third time.

“Come on, we’re going. You’re not getting those shoes. What were you thinking?” I shifted my attention to the saleslady, who you know was silently fuming that she just wasted the last 20 minutes helping this chick.

Then Jerry returned. He had me try on a pair of shoes that truly made my heart skip a beat. So comfy. So light. I did a little test run around the store, weaving my way through the other patrons. Yep. These were my new shoes. I didn’t want to seem too eager, though, so I asked if I could try a few more pairs to compare fit. “Sure!” And off Jerry went.

I immediately scanned the store for cheap mom and her son. They were long gone. However, I soon became acquainted with TMI mom. I had noticed her while trying on my shoes, and now she demanded my full attention. Right as her sales guy sat down with a box of shoes, her phone rang. Strike one. I’m not fan of the peeps that try to keep a call going as they’re ordering their Starbucks, paying for their groceries, or engaging in any other activity where employees have to awkwardly accommodate their lack of manners. The store was full, this guy had plenty of other people he could help, but this chick thought nothing of making him wait on her.

Then she referred to the other person on the line as doctor so-and-so. Okay, I felt bad for a second. But then this lady launched into a detailed description of her infant daughter’s bowel movements for the last 36 hours. I didn’t feel so bad anymore. Instead, I stared in horror as she explained the consistency of her baby’s poop in front of me, the FrontRunners employee, and God. Strike two.

Look, I’m not a parent, but I can understand a parent’s fear that something might be wrong with her child. However, if you were truly worried that your kid is experiencing some kind of bowel movement crisis, would you be shopping for Nikes? Oh, and by the way, the only reason why she thought to contact her pediatrician is because her nanny informed her of Poop-Gate. This is Brentwood, after all. Strike three.

Thankfully, Jerry reappeared to distract me from hearing how zucchini can make for runny diapers. I tried on another pair of shoes, made my decision, and got the hell out of there.

But all is now right with the world. I have my new shoes. They are awesome. I run like the wind.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

21
Mar

I'm not gonna be ignored, Dan!I was late to jumping aboard the texting train. Though I knew of it, I long resisted this form of communication for two reasons. My initial beef with texting – and the one I used as my excuse for not doing it – was that I didn’t want to be so easily accessible to people. But my real gripe with it – and the one I conveniently kept to myself – is that it drives me up the wall when I don’t get a response. Oddly enough, that’s also the reason why I eventually caved in to this technological terror… Once my roommate told me that the weird buzzing sound coming from my phone meant that someone was texting me, I felt obligated to reply.

But there are those who don’t.

It’s cool. I get it. Texting is cas communication, right? But I fear that this casual attitude is overextending its boundaries, and I don’t like it. Not one bit.

An anecdote if you will… Not too long ago, a friend asked if I would talk to his niece about my beloved alma mater, Columbia College Chicago. Apparently she really wanted to attend CCC, but hadn’t the chance to check out the school for herself. Why? Because she lived in France. So it was up to me to explain not only the ins and outs of film school, but also the joys and wonders of downtown Chicago. I happily accepted my friend’s request and proceeded to write a book about everything from declaring a concentration to keeping your eyes akimbo for muggers. I even reread my Facebook message masterpiece several times to check for spelling errors and split infinitives. It was perfection. I hit the send button with a flourish and eagerly awaited her response.

I’m still waiting.

I got nuthin’. I never got a response, nor did I ever receive a thank you. I didn’t even get a “thx” or “ty!” I suppose some people would say that kids her age simply don’t have the manners that you and I were taught. Pardon my French, but that’s bullsh*t. If anything, we’re worse.

Social media is bizarre, and there’s no getting around it, so I won’t try. I’m not gonna get all crazy because you didn’t like my Facebook post or respond to my tweet. I might de-friend you, though. If you haven’t so much as liked a single photo or status update in however many years of being Facebook friends, I might end our online relationship, but I figure you probably won’t miss me much if I do. However, I hold LinkedIn to a higher standard.

If Facebook is the clingy creeper and Twitter the over-sharing loudmouth, LinkedIn is the respectable sister who tries to make good on the social media family name. After all, there’s actually a purpose to LinkedIn beyond stalking friends and telling the world who you think should get voted off American Idol. LinkedIn is supposed to be for professionals, dammit.

Though the site posts warnings about accepting invitations from people you don’t know, there comes a point when that’s exactly what you have to do. How else are you going to expand your network? It would be kind of awkward to tell someone that you’re not accepting her invitation until you meet her in person. Plus, if you live in LA, that could take forever. I have best friends living less than five miles away whom I’ve not seen in well over a year.

But I have no shame in saying that I will totally check out a person’s profile before hitting the accept button. And once I do, I automatically send the following message:

Hi ____!

Thanks for the invite to connect. It’s a pleasure to meet you!

Cheers,
Anna

Nine times out of ten, I get crickets. Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but I think that’s a touch rude. Now if we were on Match.com or OKCupid, sure, no problem. The sad truth to online dating is that you have to disregard your urge to be a decent person and ignore the peeps you don’t like. Otherwise, you’re just leading them on. I’ve been on both sides of that coin, and believe me, you’re only cruel to be kind. But ignoring someone to whom you reached out on a professional website?

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

14
Mar

I'll give you something to really cry about!

What do you do when your parents disobey you?

I may not have children, but I do have one troublesome mother and a very stubborn father who won’t listen to me. I don’t know how real parents do it. You know what’s best for them, but they refuse to heed your words of wisdom. You tell them something, and it goes in one ear and out the other.

The constant worrying has made me gray before my time. Or it could just be my parents’ genes. Yet another reason to be frustrated with them.

I’ve heard there was a time when smoking was considered cool and sophisticated. (See Mad Men.) It was even recommended for some medical conditions. (See The King’s Speech.) But Lionel Logue was onto something when he told King George that perhaps the cigarettes weren’t doing him any good, and as history has born out, we all now know that smoking is actually very, very, very bad for you. So of course all the cool parents want to do it.

In some regards, I can’t blame my mother. She’s from Europe. Anyone who has stepped foot on the European continent knows that the entire place is covered in a fog of cigarette smoke. Okay, that may not be true, but I’m willing to look a blind eye to anyone with a foreign passport. Like a passport, though, your excuse expires in exactly 10 years. My mom’s passport expired in 1965.

My dad on the other hand… He was born and bred in the heartland of America. Though I realize that plenty of people from his generation lit up like chimneystacks back in the day, the evidence was clear even during his youth that smoking can kill. And regardless of whether he chose to read the news, I was more than happy to keep him abreast of the latest medical findings.

As a kid, I launched my own anti-smoking campaign. I hated my dad’s cigars and made sure he knew it. Once while in a particularly defiant mood, I took his brand new box of White Owls and broke every single one of them in half. Needless to say, he was not pleased when he came home from work that evening, looking only to relax with a smooth smoke. I took his fury as a sign of victory. Pretty sure he just went out and bought another box later that night.

In its own weird way, my parents’ smoking devotion has had two beneficial effects: both my sister and I have never touched a cigarette. Actually, I can’t totally vouch for my big sister. I do vaguely remember a rebellious phase during her teen years that may have resulted in a puff or two. I, however, never had a rebellious phase. Quitting Latin during my last semester of high school was about as insubordinate as I ever became. And to this very day, never once has it crossed my mind to pick up a cigarette. (Though I do sometimes regret giving up Latin.) So in this respect, you might say that my parents are devious masterminds at getting their children to behave.

They refuse to do the same.

Despite bouts of pneumonia and high blood pressure and heart attacks and take your pick of any other ailment, they are steadfast in their smoking ways. It’s beginning to tick me off. Regardless of whether a child is 5, 25, or 50, she wants her parents. Age does not diminish the love you have for your family. The older you become, the more awesome things you get to experience. The more you experience, the more you would like your parents to be around to celebrate those moments with you.

Even though I’m not a parent, I’m trying to think like one. What exactly do you do with a disobedient mom and dad? If the roles were reversed – and I was 20 years younger – they would have the option to send me off to boarding school. So it looks like I have only one choice… Either my parents shape up, or I’m shipping them off to a nursing home. I hear they know exactly what to do with unruly seniors.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

28
Feb

This carpet is only for the beautiful people.
So last Sunday the 85th Academy Awards happened, and they were marvelous. All you people who take the higher moral ground and refuse to watch the Oscars, you totally missed out. The show was ridiculous and cringe-worthy and hilarious. Honestly, it was by far more entertaining than actual movies I’ve seen this year. (Ahem, The Watch.)

But don’t worry. I’m not about to go through a play-by-play of Meryl Streep’s attempt to free her wedgie on national television or Jennifer Lawrence’s face plant, though they definitely were some of the show’s finer moments. Another highlight was the tacky use of the Jaws theme song to boot chatty Oscar winners off stage, especially when the crew who won Visual Effects for Life of Pi were trying to bring awareness to the plight of overworked and underpaid VFX houses. Well done, time wranglers.

And though it sounds like I’m just another hater, I do it because I care. Really. I love the Oscars. I loved Christoph Waltz’s classy acknowledgement of his fellow nominees. I loved Jennifer Hudson’s crazy awesome – and live! – performance of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” (Sorry, Catherine Zeta-Jones, but the jig is up.) And there wasn’t a single moment of Daniel Day-Lewis’s acceptance speech that I didn’t adore. Can he just win every year?

But what I’m beginning to realize is that the Oscars broadcast isn’t the real entertainment. It’s the scathing next-day review of whatever celebrity had the unfortunate honor of hosting it. And apparently singing a truly rousing rendition of “We Saw Your Boobs” is not enough to endear Seth MacFarlane to the Oscar-viewing public. Who knew?

Um… Anyone who has ever watched even five minutes of Family Guy, that’s who. People, this is the man who wrote a film about a beer-guzzling, pot-smoking, girl-ogling stuffed teddy bear. And guess what? That movie has grossed more than $200 million in the United States alone. So it should come as no surprise that MacFarlane would come to the Oscars with his finest and crassest jokes in tow.

Since that memorable performance, I’ve seen numerous headlines calling MacFarlane sexist, misogynistic, a rape glorifier… Seriously? Instead of pointing fingers at the guy who simply called out the fact that some actresses bared their breasts on camera, why not question the filmmakers who felt that seeing those breasts was necessary to conveying their stories? Talk about shooting the messenger. Not to mention the fact that those actresses were likely paid handsomely for their roles. Not to mention x2 that if you look closely at MacFarlane’s bit, the cutaways to Naomi Watts, Jennifer Lawrence, and Charlize Theron show them in attire different from what they wore to the Oscars. Meaning, they taped it ahead of time. Meaning x2, those women were in on the joke. Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.

So can we all just lighten up a bit? Look, I’m not saying that singing about women’s breasts is the creative choice I would have made had I been hosting the Oscars. And given the high esteem in which the Academy Awards are supposedly held, it did seem rather odd to do a song and dance number about boobies. I can only imagine what Fred Astaire or Audrey Hepburn would have thought had they been in attendance. That said, I have no doubt that those who were in attendance were more than happy to swap out their indignation for their $50K goody bags and call it a night.

What I don’t get is why people keep signing up for this gig. With the exception of the fabulous Ms. Fey and the magnificent Ms. Poehler – because obviously they can do no wrong – most celebrities get destroyed by the public after hosting an awards show. I don’t think that Seth MacFarlane is misogynistic, though he may very well be masochistic.

Whatever floats your boat, Seth.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

14
Feb

"Where's that higher love, I keep thinking of?"

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! In the spirit of this fine Hallmark holiday, I have yet another tale to tell of my one true love… Target.

Yes, it’s sad that the most exciting stories of my life revolve around Target, but when you spend 165 hours of each week working, eating, and sleeping all in the same place, a trip to the store is très exotic. But today’s anecdote is actually relevant to Cupid and company. For as I was perusing the Advil aisle, who should I run into than Mr. Bachelor himself, Jake Pavelka.

For those who don’t know, Jake is one of the more notorious alums of The Bachelor. Like every other dude who comes on the show to make out with two-dozen chicks – I mean, to find his future wife and soul mate – Jake got down on one knee and proposed to contestant Vienna Girardi after knowing her for a whole two months. Shockingly, they split just three months after the proposal aired.

Naturally, as soon as I saw Captain Jake (trained as a pilot, he apparently still flies the friendly skies, because he was in full uniform), I immediately pulled out my phone to Facebook the world about my celebrity sighting. Before posting my exciting news, though, I did a quick spell check of his last name. And that’s when I saw it… According to the folks at Google, Jake is 5’ 10”.

Nuh uh.

Now, let me first say that I didn’t really regard his height when I spied him. My only thought was, “Must Facebook immediately!” But almost bumping carts with someone gives you enough face time to know where you stand with them, so to speak. And being a decently tall gal – not thyroid problem tall, but a respectable height – I weirdly take note whenever a guy is shorter than me. Which Jake totally was. And I am not 5’ 10”.

Why I was so surprised at the discrepancy between his real height and that which his PR reps tweaked, I don’t know. I’ve lived in LA long enough to realize that most celebrities are never as tall as you imagine them to be. I guess seeing them on the silver screen – or even the small screen – distorts perception. But it’s not just famous folk who lie about their height, age, and Botox.

Allow me to tell you another story… This one’s about a girl who once went looking for love online. She “met” someone. He was perfect. His profile was witty. His emails were sweet and funny. And his one cropped, possibly from 1995, picture proved that he was handsome, too. Oh, and he had listed his height as 6’ 0”, which was perfect since our heroine was a decently tall gal. They exchanged crazy long messages for weeks on end and finally set a date for their first in-person encounter. The girl was oh so excited. Maybe he was The One! She picked out the perfect outfit: a sexy but not sluttish dress, a clutch big enough to hold both makeup and money, and adorable kitten heels. Why not? He was six feet tall after all.

She arrived at the restaurant early and waited nervously for him. After many minutes of nonchalantly fixing her hair in the window and glancing at the doorway, she finally saw him enter. He was exactly as she had imagined… except about four inches shorter.

So I have to tell you something. That girl was actually me. And that date actually happened. Mr. Wonderful(ly Short) arrived, and it was immediately awkward. Not because he was short. That didn’t bother me. It was the lying about being short that was the kicker. Did he think I wouldn’t notice? Surely, he must have done the math. My height was also listed on my profile – my real height. Epilogue: we were seated as quickly as possible and stayed there far longer than any other patron in the restaurant – not because we were having such a great time, but because neither of us wanted to get up and confront the elephant in the room. Or in this case, the shrimp in the room. Oh, snap!

Needless to say, I never saw him again. And unfortunately, he’s not the only guy that I’ve caught in a tangled web of short man deception. In fact, I became so skeptical of the whole online height thing that sadly I drilled my now boyfriend on his stature before I ever met him. And for the record – sappy alert! – he is every inch of awesomeness that he listed on his profile. Hallelujah!

But still I scratch my head and wonder… Why do you fellas do it? Why do you tell boldfaced lies about your height? Unless you can cover your tracks ala Tom Cruise and custom-made shoe lifts, you will never, ever get away with it. Us gals will figure it out, I promise.

Now I know the knee-jerk reaction that most men will have to my inquiry. “Women lie about their weight all the time!” And you would be right. We do. All the time. Probably more than you think. But I will bet my girdle that we can hide our weight indiscretions way better than your tall tales. We have lots and lots of fun devices that will smush, pull, bunch, and smooth out those extra pounds if we don’t mind not breathing for a few hours. And when all else fails, we always have black clothing.

I hear that Jake is now dating Kristin Chenoweth. According to Google, she’s 4’ 11”. Sounds like a match made in heaven to me.

P.S. Hugs and kisses to my Valentine, DD… “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height…” Preach it, Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Image courtesy of Ohmmy3d / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

31
Jan

"Da da da, da da da, da da da da daaa..."

I guess you could say that some of today’s television shows have catchy theme songs. Most people could probably recognize the open to Modern Family. Unfortunately, I think just as many people would instantly know Two and a Half Men as well. But with few exceptions, most network programs have super boring or nonexistent opens.

What happened? Back in the day, the theme songs were just as memorable as the shows themselves. Sometimes more so. I couldn’t tell you a single plotline from The Facts of Life, but hells yeah, I could sing you the open. And Cheers. And Three’s Company. I bet I could do a decent rendition of Diff’rent Strokes, too. Props to Alan Thicke.

As with most songs, whether they’re sung on television or radio, you form lasting recollections of them because of the moment or time period they evoke. But perhaps more branded into my memory are not the theme songs from the shows that I watched, but rather those that my father liked. Which, by the way, were all totally depressing.

I always knew when my dad had tuned into M*A*S*H because suddenly I would be overwhelmed by an inexplicable wave of sadness. Given that the open to M*A*S*H is called “Suicide Is Painless,” I think my reaction to hearing it was entirely apropos. That said, I barely knew my ABCs when M*A*S*H went off the air, so I’m not sure if having such feelings of melancholy were healthy for a kid my age, especially on a weekly basis. And here’s a fun fact… M*A*S*H was Emmy-nominated 11 times… for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Same goes for Hill Street Blues. Not the Emmy nominations for being a comedy. At least the academy – or whoever decided the votes – had the sense to recognize that the show was as depressing as its theme song and called it a drama. What I’m referring to is the sorrow I would experience while watching it on the couch with my dad, blankie in hand and thumb in mouth. Coping mechanisms.

And apparently I’m not the only one who went through television-induced depression during my formative years. Just the other night, my boyfriend and I discovered that we both suffer from Taxi post-traumatic stress disorder. Taxi was the worst of the despondent 1980s theme songs.

Now I realize that all the songs I’m mentioning have received high praise for their quality and composition and whatever other musical terms apply. So I’m not saying that they’re bad songs. But I am saying that they made me want to throw down a few sleeping pills with my chocolate milk and call it a night.

The thing about Taxi is that the entire show was depressing. The theme song was only the precursor to what would be 22 minutes of miserable characters and an even more miserable backdrop. No wonder Christopher Lloyd was always drugged out. I wish I could erase all memory of Sunshine Cab Company, too.

I must have a very different sense of humor from adults of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Like M*A*S*H, Taxi was Emmy-nominated multiple times – and won most of those nominations – for Outstanding Comedy Series. In fact, it was up against M*A*S*H three times – and trumped the Korean War “comedy” each year. It also beat out Mork & Mindy. Whaaat?

But I suppose even the tried and true sitcoms of the 1980s had their darker moments. I still remember the Family Ties episode when Alex battled his grief over a friend’s death. And what about when Carol Seaver’s boyfriend died? I wept many tears over Matthew Perry that night.

You don’t see that too often in primetime television anymore. I can’t imagine shows like Parks & Recreation or New Girl tackling teen drunk driving. Maybe because there are no teens on either show, but that’s beside the point. To be totally honest, though, I prefer it that way. I like my comedy straight up, and after a long day of work, all I want to do is tap out to Leslie Knope’s bubbling enthusiasm and Jess Day’s adorkableness. Though shows like M*A*S*H and Taxi may have their place among the greats of television programming, I’m content to let others explore the depths of their despair with them in syndication.

Image courtesy of phanlop88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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