Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Doomed TV shows, why do I love thee?

I have developed what I am concerned may be an unhealthy relationship with TV shows: I don't watch them until after they've been cancelled. Rather like the shy kid who launches into passionate 2-week love affairs at summer camp while remaining a wallflower during the school year, I'm willing to become involved with a TV show only when I can know exactly when it will all tragically end.

I am definitely not downplaying the exquisite pleasure of these tragic liaisons. In the last month I've watched loved--and lost (figuratively)--the DVDs of two fabulous shows that were both cancelled after one season, and I wouldn't trade those viewing experiences for anything.

First there was Freaks & Geeks, the 1999 show about high school students in small-town Michigan in the '80s. It has all the delicate pathos of My So-Called Life or Dawson's Creek plus the uncomfortable hilarity of Mean Girls or, I don't know, The Office. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me want to call my mother and learn to disco-dance (all in the same episode--watch the last one.)

Then there was Firefly, the 2002 show created by Joss Whedon of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fame about a bunch of cowboy outlaw types on a spaceship in the dystopian, corporate-controlled future. I loooooooved this show, and am looking forward to Serenity, the movie based on the same premise that comes out this fall, so much that I am taking the immense and unprecedented step of not reading reviews of the movie so I won't find out what happens. True (doomed) love!

However, I realize that cancelled shows are not the only worthwhile programming. Among the currently-airing shows that I know are good and would probably watch if they existed only on DVD: Arrested Development, The Wire, Smallville, Gilmore Girls. It's not that I'm a snob for unavailable pop culture (see, e.g., obsession with TomKat and the fact that I didn't know who Coldplay was until earlier this year), it's just, I think, that I can't deal with the commitment of starting to watch a show that could end in two months or could continue for five years. Maybe I'm still not over the cancelling of Buffy. I suppose the healing process will take awhile, and, while I wait for that to happen, I'm going to go add (the recently-cancelled) Joan of Arcadia to my Netflix list.

New Orleans

The news articles about New Orleans are just heartbreaking. I'm very relieved to know that my peeps who live there left (with their cats) last week, but it's just overwhelming to think of all the people who are still there, and how much this will affect the lives of everyone who lives there. I guess it's hard to appreciate non-flooded land and drinking water until you don't have them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Diane and Keanu: Weirdoland!

It's not in the same Stratosphere of Weird as TomKat, but the apparent coupling of Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves certainly deserves at least a summer cottage in the Land of Weird. Yes, that's right, Ted of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is hooking up with Kay Corleone from the Godfather! Annie Hall is kickin' it with Neo from the Matrix!

Hehe. It's not the Older Woman With Younger Man Thing (she's 59, he's 40)--I'm cool with that. (Did you know my dude is younger? By 4 months. Sometimes it's not easy, but we work on it.)

It's just that Diane and Keanu are both such enormously weird people that the combination of the two of them seems destined to create a kind of nuclear reaction of weirdness, and as with all instances where mankind's curiosity gets ahead of its knowledge, who knows what the results could be?

Diane's Big Weird Thing is that she almost always covers up her entire body, including her hands--like, she wears gloves, in California, all year. Is it leprosy? Scales? O.C.D.?

Keanu is possibly Even Weirder, although in a somewhat more subtle way, namely: He has not changed his facial expression in 15 years. I can't even come up with any possible explanations for this.

Anyway, perhaps they know better than we do the ways in which their unique quirks will work together to create beautiful weird harmonies. All the best, Dianu! (That does sound pretty good . . . )

Mr. Cakelove becomes celebrity, breaks hearts

So, for a lot of this year my man-friend (that's not him on the left) has been kind of obsessed with Warren Brown (yeah, that's who that is). Brown is a former disgruntled attorney who weaned himself from the teat of Mama Law and followed his dream by opening Cakelove, a very successful bakery, on U Street in D.C. a couple of years ago. Since my fella has been having a touch of disgruntledness himself, Mr. Cakelove's story was kinda inspirational (not to mention yummy).

Last night, though, everything changed. Whilst watching Alton Brown on the Food Network, we saw a teaser for a new food show starting in the fall called Sugar Rush, hosted by none other than Mr. Cakelove.

My boyfriend was crushed. He went through the seven stages of crushedness within a few minutes: shock, disbelief, factual acceptance through Google search, staring at wall, depression, decision that Cakelove cupcakes aren't really that good after all, changing channel.

Why, you might ask? If a former lawyer with a bakery is an inspiration, why isn't a former lawyer with a bakery and a TV show even more of a role model? After many seconds of contemplation, I have to conclude it's because now Warren Brown is no longer a real person; he's morphed into a celebrity, a superstar (yes, it's just a Food Network show, but this is D.C.) and unless you are kinda crazy, becoming a superstar does not seem within reach.

So, fly high, Mr. Cakelove, but in your shiny new life with the Food Network, take a minute to think of all the disgruntled lawyers whose hope you've taken away. Perhaps you could compensate us with a free cupcake.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Wherein I return from vacation

When I didn't post anything for almost two weeks, you might reasonably have assumed that I had given up on blogging because it was cutting into my VH1-watching schedule. However, in fact I was on vacation, and failed to post anything warning you about this fact due to a combination of a temperamental home internet connection and the shocking development that people wanted me to get work done before I left. Sorry! Nice to see you again!

Anyway, now I'm back. After 8 days away from TV, the Internet, and English-language tabloid magazines, I was afraid that I'd suffer that disturbing sense of cultural dislocation when I returned, like all of a sudden Britney would be cute again and I'd feel like I was an alien in my own country. I remember having this in a major way in the summer of 1994, when I was out of the country when Forrest Gump became popular--I thought "Forrest Gump" was the frumpiest-sounding phrase I'd ever heard, and was concerned that perhaps this meant that frumpy was now cool, and if that were the case, how could any of us find our way in the world?

Luckily, though, no tremendous cultural changes seem to have occured in the past week. Here's my checklist:

All is right with the world!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

America hath no sweetheart like a woman scorned

Jennifer Aniston's appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair and every single other magazine in the universe this month--in flattering pictures, no less!--is the latest example of how America loves nobody better than a woman whose man has cheated (emotionally or otherwise) and/or broken her heart.

In the article (they're basically all the same, and yes, I basically read them all), Jen lays out the Scorned Woman trifecta:

  1. She makes clear that she was the dumpee and is heartbroken ("Am I lonely? Yes. Am I upset? Yes. Am I confused? Yes"), but
  2. Also bravely asserts that she's gonna be OK ("But I'm also doing really well"), and
  3. Says she won't say nothin' about that no-good lyin' cheatin' bastard ("I love Brad; I really love him. I will love him for the rest of my life").

Then she ups the ante: she throws down the How-Could-People-Say-I-Didn't-Want-Children-Of-Course-I-Want-Children-I'm-A-Woman-Aren't-I gauntlet ("I've never in my life said I didn't want to have children. I did and I do and I will!"), and for good measure she tosses in the Even-After-I-Saw-The-Pictures-Of-Brangelina-Cavorting-On-the-Beach-I-Still-Trustingly-Believe-That-He-Didn't-Cheat kicker ("I choose to believe my husband").

Quite a doozy! Jen will now take her place among the other jilted ladies who have seen their stock skyrocket after being publicly humiliated: Nicole Kidman, who became a bona fide movie star after Tom "Seemed Less Crazy Then" Cruise dumped her on her tootsie after 10 years of marriage; Elizabeth Hurley, who is no Nicole Kidman but who only started to get movie roles after Hugh Grant got caught with a hooker; and Hillary Clinton, who got a Senate seat but no movie roles out of Bill's Lewinskinanigans (whether this was a good deal or not depends on one's priorities, I suppose).

Sienna Miller may soon join the club, too--after Jude Law cheated on her with his kids' nanny, she got back the role as Edie Sedgwick in the "Factory Girl" movie--the one for which she was previously considered not famous enough.

Of course, men get cheated on, too--but there really is no male equivalent to the Sweethert Scorned Woman phenomenon, I think because it culturally doesn't work as well for a man to cry to an interviewer and such. For instance, Justin Timberlake's Britney-Cheated-on-Me video "Cry Me a River" started off with the I'm-heartbroken theme ("You told me you loved me/Why did you leave me, all alone"), but then quickly moved into the stronger You-Wanted-Me-Back-But-I-Wouldn't-Take-You postion ("Now you tell me you need me/When you call me, on the phone/Girl I refuse, you must have me confused/With some other guy"), and then jumped to the straight-up macho fuck-you ("Your bridges were burned, and now it's your turn/To cry"). The video threw in a freaky stalker theme and thus made Justin into the aggressor, not the victim.

So, what can we conclude, boys and girls? That if you're Katie Holmes, you should pray to God (or, now that you're a Scientologist, to the alien galactic leader Xenu) that Tom Cruise dumps you so you can become the next Marilyn Monroe. Otherwise, you should keep in mind that breaking up sucks, and is not worth it.

Damn: Britney didn't shoot the paparazzi (or the deputy)

I'm no NRA booster, but when I first saw the Defamer headline "Is It OK To Shoot The Paparazzi?" next to this image of Britney Spears, I had a nice internal giggle at the mental image of an uber-pregnant Mrs. Federline hauling off and shooting a photographer with a BB gun. It would be a nice shout-out to the scene in Sugar and Spice where the armed cheerleaders dressed as pregnant Betty dolls rob a bank, combined with an interesting echo of last fall's (unarmed) paparazzi-smackdown by Britney's ex, Justin Timberlake, and his new squeeze Cameron Diaz.

But my intrepid celebrity-incident-parallel-drawing skills are of no use here, because it was apparently some property manager, not Britney or her bodyguards, who shot the paparazzi. Alas, a girl can dream . . .

Monday, August 08, 2005

Baby panda: cutest thing evvvverrrrrrr

I promise I will return to celebrity gossip once I get my strength up (it's Monday, dontcha know), but in the meantime, please amuse yourselves with the most adorable thing ever in the history of man, a.k.a. the as-yet-unnnamed baby panda at the National Zoo. Awwwwwwww!!

(Picture courtesy of DCist)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Red Swingline luv

I would just like to share the newest source of joy in my life, namely, the Red Swingline 747 stapler that I got for my birthday. (Thanks, mom!) It's sitting on my desk right now, looking sleek but substantial, like a 1950s toaster or car. In person it's an even more lovely cranberry red than in the picture. It staples like a dream. And what's more, every time I look at it I think of Office Space, (Tagline: "Work sucks,") the brilliant and timless cinematic portrayal of a mind-numbing workplace and a few brave souls' attempts to escape it. I don't want to ruin the movie for anybody who hasn't seen it, but I think I can safely say that the stapler plays an important role as the trigger for a dramatic, subversive act. It brings a little smile to my face to know I've got a teeny piece of revolution sitting right on my desk. :)

Jen Lav rocks on with CHER!

I am just so excited that I may explode: As this article from the Birmingham News says, Jen Lav is not only the best disability lawyer in the nation, she is a publicity genius who has attracted donations for her client from CHER! And she and Cher are becoming fast friends, and are going to spend the weekend in Dollywood together, and will invite me! (The article doesn't say that explicitly, but it's in the subtext.)

Go Jen! :)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Blogthings says I'm 60% weird

I had heard of this Blogthings, um, thing, before, but didn't really get what it was. Now I see the light: it's a way to take quizzes, tell people the results, and get them to take the quiz too. Like what Emode used to be before it got consumed by and got all lame. Awesome! So, I am 60% weird. Take the quiz and let me know how weird you are. It's like Friday arrived a few days early!

You Are 60% Weird

You're so weird, you think you're *totally* normal. Right?
But you wig out even the biggest of circus freaks!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Google stole my idea, thank God

I have a long track record of having great ideas, doing nothing about them, and then years later noticing that someone else is making a profit off them. I'm not bitter, though--I recognize that (as previously mentioned) I'm just lazy, and I appreciate that other people have entrepreneurial spirit, because otherwise I would have to live in a cave with no electricity and no Entertainment Weekly, eating only dinosaur meat.

However, that doesn't mean I can't talk myself up! Here are some examples of ideas I had well before they became reality:
  1. Beer with caffeine. I thought of this in the late '90s (in college, natch); Budweiser came out with its proposterously named, but, I think, still brilliantly conceived, "B-to-the-E" in 2004.
  2. Microbrew shampoo. (Is there a theme here?) Another college brainstorm--I worked in a restaurant that brewed its own beer, and I thought, "People like microbrewed beer, and beer is supposed to make your hair shiny--somebody should make a microbrew shampo." I don't know when this happened, but you can buy it here.
  3. A resurgence in the popularity of legwarmers. OK, so this one hasn't really taken off, but it's only a matter of time, mark my words.
My point is, just today I found out (thanks to BlondeJustice) that it's happened yet again! A few months ago I was trying to obtain some basic information via the Oh-So-Twentieth-Century system of Calling Information because I was in Virginia and needed to find the closest Crate and Barrel store. (Desperate times . . . ) The person said he could only look for a Crate and Barrel in a specific town, so I found myself asking in exasperation, "Can't you just Google it?" The answer is no, apparently the poor souls who work at 411 just have a phone book, or a sundial, or something.

Anyway, I started whining to anyone who would listen, "Why doesn't Google have a phone line?" And now they do! Well, sort of--it's a text message system called Google SMS (Short Message System). You can text with, like, short messages, and it will give you the answers! Never again will I have to drive randomly about Stripmall Land looking for a Crate and Barrel! Thank God for Google and its blatant stealing of my brainstorm!

TomKat Lives in our imaginations

TomKat has been strangely silent of late--it's been almost a month since Tom dissed any well-loved actresses for courageously getting help for their suicidal depression, and weeks since Katie showed she is a few cans short of a six-pack in an interview for W. I was starting to miss their antics. (Also, as you may have noticed, their absence was causing me to think more about work than about celebrity gossip--always a dangerous trend.)

But, thank God, helpful surrogates have stepped in to fill the void that the real TomKat has left in our lives! For your reading pleasure, I present McSweeney's "A Wedding Toast by Katie Holmes's Former Best Friend" (not really written by Katie Holmes's former best friend):
Well, um, hi, everybody. I'm Becky, Katie's oldest friend from Toledo. It's just so great to be here celebrating Katie and Tom's marriage. I mean, I can't believe it! Tom Cruise! I mean, I totally remember a picture of him she had hanging on her bedroom wall. Well, I guess it was more of a side-column interview next to this totally HOT feature on Brad Pitt, but whatever. Oh my God, we had such a crush on Brad! Do you remember that, Katie? Huh? Oh, right, I mean, yeah, it was a really long time ago . . .
(Thanks for the tip, Andrea!)