Saturday, January 31, 2004

Fie, Plumbers, Fie!

I spent nine hours cleaning my apartment today.

Okay, that's a big lie; let's try again...

Nine hours elapsed between the time I started cleaning my apartment today and the time I finished. In between I converted a tape to CD, instant messaged quite a bit, ran to the store to buy a new mop (which I suppose counts as part of the cleaning process), ate an entire box of Entenmann's oatmeal raisin cookies (purchased along with the mop), wrote half of my next blog post, went to the gym (necessary after the cookies), and complained to anyone who'd listen about how long it was taking me to clean.

Still, I had to mop the living room and bathroom floors three times each to get up all the plaster dust left by the plumbers, and then I Swiffered (actually Clorox ReadyMopped, but that doesn't make a good verb) for good measure. Since I was too exhausted to clean up right away last night when I got home like I should have, the dust had been tracked onto the couch, and somehow my desk chair (which I don't tend put my feet on) so I spray cleaned the fabric there. The grit in my kitchen sink (lord knows what that even is or why it's there, as all the work was being done in the bathroom) fought me for half an hour, moving around the basin with great tenacity, before I finally got it all down the drain (where it will no doubt clog the pipes, requiring more plumbers -- let's hope it screws things up for my downstairs neighbors, whose leaky ceiling caused all this mess in the first place). There was plaster (not dust, actual hardened plaster) in a bowl -- one of my favorites and the last one from a set that has all been broken over the years. What the hell? I get that this apartment belongs to someone else, but all the stuff in it is mine, and my monthly rent check entitles me to a useable shower and toxin-free floors, and I just wish these people had had some respect. I also wish I'd known they were coming back -- I knew some work was being done on Thursday and had at least been able to move everything from on, around, and under my bathroom sink, but I didn't know there was a second round coming Friday and so I put everything away!

Any solace I'd found in knowing that I really ought to be cleaning anyway (as proven by the many things besides plaster dust I swept up, including a month's worth of sand and salt tracked in from the slushy streets) went out the window the first time I changed the water in the mop bucket. I may be messy, but I never leave anything on the floor that can't be picked up in one round.

The silver lining of a new bathroom floor has also faded to black. The old floor was made of dingy, closely-spaced hexagonal tiles, and what I never realized before was how well it hid dirt. I suppose to an outsider it looked dirty even when it was clean, but to me, knowing it had this effect, it looked clean even when it was dirty. The new tiles are blindingly white, with fairly large grouty spaces between them, and now I know that any tiny speck of dirt on them is all mine. Even as I cleaned the dust up, I watched in horror as the mop shed little black bits on it. I dread the mildew that is sure to form between the tiles no matter what I do. Why anyone in New York City would want anything white is completely beyond me.

Friday, January 30, 2004

And plumb they did

When I came home and found all of the contents of my bathroom once again in my living room, I got pissed off, but further inspection revealed that I have a brand new bathroom floor. Since the old bathroom floor was fugly, I'm pretty happy about this.

I'm also worried that they're going to come back next week, which would be bad, since I'll be in tech for my show and can't deal with coming home at 2 AM and having to clean my bathroom in order to be able to shower six hours later.

So there's grit in my tub, and my sink, and inexplicably in my kitchensink (and the dishes therein), plaster dust all over the bathroom walls and tracked throughout the apartment, and I'm getting woozy from some sort of fumes, all for a leak that wasn't in my apartment anyway, but the one below it and who cares about them, but at least I have a shiny new floor!

Makes up for the plumbing debacle

Airport wireless networking card: $79.00 at Apple Store

Airport card installation: $30.00 at Apple Store

New York Sales Tax: $9.40 at Apple Store

Discovering someone in your building (which is mostly populated by people who barely speak English and house families of 5 or more in one-bedroom apartments) has unprotected wireless internet: Priceless

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Plumb, you bastards, plumb!

There's nothing like coming home after a long day at work to find your bathroom window wide open, a fine coating of plaster dust throughout most of your apartment, your toiletries in all sorts of odd places, and (my favorite) concrete IN the bathtub.

Now, I knew the plumbers were coming, and I knew to expect a bit of mess, but is it really too much to ask that they leave the bathroom useable, take out their trash, and not track the mess all over the fucking apartment?

My favorite part of the picture is the broom, which usually lives in the kitchen, leaning against the bathroom door jamb. I can't imagine they actually used it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

But Not For Me

Today, from 11 to 3, the New York City Parks Department is providing free hot chocolate and sleds throughout the city.

I can't think about what a wonderful, generous, fun thing this is to do for the community.

I can only think about how much more unfair it makes it that I have to go to work.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

tick-tock...tick-tock...tick-yawn

Remember last week when I said that 24 was making me happy because it seemed like it was being well plotted and logically thought out in advance?

Yeah, I take that back.

Clearly, I'm becoming obsessed

Okay, so I'm watching American Idol, and Simon and Randy both just told a 17-year-old girl that she was "terrible," and that she "should never sing again." Which is all part of how this show works, of course, but the thing is she wasn't that bad. She wasn't Idol material, her voice wasn't mature enough to pull off "Fever" with any credibility, but she was a gazillion times better than some of the horrors on last year's show. Sure, the judges have now been through days of auditions and hotel rooms and jet lag, but why make this girl cry?

This contrasts starkly with one of the auditions I watched last night (from Atlanta, I think). A beautiful, built, blond man came in, and Paula immediately started to grin an even bigger grin than she grinned the first time Justin Guarini eye-fucked her in season one. Seeing this, Randy and Simon got up from their chairs and went behind the backdrop, leaving Prettyboy to kneel behind the table and serenade Paula "privately" with "Sunshine of My Life." He didn't suck. The male judges came back, and everyone made a big show of pulling Prettyboy away from Paula, who was grabbing his leg to keep him near.

This guy was obviously getting through to the next round. He's a decent singer and looks like a pop star. So why all the blatantly staged shtick? As if that wasn't enough, they then gave the guy some decent, constructive notes. Why couldn't they do the same for my girl in L.A.?

The more important question, I suppose, is why do I keep watching?

Okay, now I'm really done with people

Looks like I picked the wrong day to ride the subway.

On the way home, I got what looked like a very empty train. I entered the car and it smelled vaguely like vinegar. Well, I've smelled worse things in subway cars! No one was sitting on one entire side of the car. I looked at the bench and saw drops of water on the seats. All the seats. I'd looked before I leapt, but the nice people sitting on the other side were being kind enough to warn others not to sit down. I walked the length of the car, and not one seat was dry.

"It's on all of them," said a helpful passenger with a bemused smile.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Salad dressing," several voices replied. I gathered these people had been here when the dressing was splashed.
"Um, what happened?"
Many people shrugged, but no one answered. Oooookay... This didn't seem like an entirely unreasonable thing to have happened. Someone walked through the car with a leaky deli bag. Maybe someone a little off or a little stupid had been swinging a plastic bag around, unaware he was leaking. It takes a lot to surprise New Yorkers, and a little salad dressing is nothing.

I went into the next car, where the vinegar smell was even stronger. More people were sitting in here, but the vinegar smell was stronger. "Don't touch the poles," someone said, though not to me.

There was salad dressing smeared on the poles, and on the few available seats. It was thick and white (and looked rather like something else) and there was no question that it had been put there deliberately. I managed to make it to a clean, empty seat without bumping into anything, and I sat and watched as people throughout the car grabbed, leaned on, and brushed past the condiment-smeared poles and railings, and then discovered with annoyance the Creamy Italian on their clothing. The other passengers weren't nearly as good about warning people as those in the first car had been, but there was a pocket pack of Kleenex being passed around, and it made me feel pretty good about people.

Except for the person who poured fucking salad dressing all over at least two subway cars! I mean, what the hell????

I'm just done with people

This morning a woman sat down next to me on a bench at the train station while I was eating my bagel, and I immediately lost my appetite. The woman was middle-aged, attractive, well-dressed, not overly made-up, and wearing enough perfume to stun a nest of hornets. We were in the open air and I was overwhelmed. How does someone not know when she's done this? I can understand getting used to how you smell, or not realizing you have BO on a hot day or after working out. But how can someone put on that much perfume without choking? This woman didn't look dirty, I don't think she was covering up for lack of a shower or anything. She just apparently had no nose.

I wanted to say something, but what could I say? It was a public place, and no matter what she smelled like she had a right to sit there. I thought, "Can't you see I'm eating! How dare you?" but I suppose there's an argument to be made for eating my meals at home instead of during my commute.

I had a professor in college who we all liked very much, but we were often able to track her down like police dogs when we were looking for her, as she left a cloud in her wake. I once had to excuse myself from class because my eyes were stinging in the front row. This was a well-to-do, well-mannered, very together woman, and yet she just didn't get that she was wearing ten times as much perfume as she needed. I'll never understand it.

Anyway, the train came, and I was happy not only because it meant I could get away from Stinky Woman, but also because I could see several empty seats through the windows.

These seats, it turned out, were covered in mud. I don't think this was vandalism, as I've seen this happen all winter: small children often stand on subway seats as they fidget and look out the windows. I did it myself when I was little. But Parents of New York, I beg you, use some common sense. The ground is covered in slush and mud and salt right now. When your darling little ones put their nasty boots on the seats, they get that nastiness all over, so that no one can sit down for the rest of the day (maybe the week, who knows how often they hose these things down?).

And so I stood. And despite my best efforts to get to a different car, I stood right next to Perfume Lady.

I should have taken this as a sign of how the rest of my day would go.

Monday, January 26, 2004

More TV (no twist)

I just finished reading Entertainment Weekly's 2004 Preview issue, and was quite pleased to read about this spring's Fox dating show, Playing It Straight, in which a woman is wooed by 14 men, half of whom are gay. I don't think it will actually be any good, but for the people who got politically pissed off about Boy Meets Boy and said "They'd never humiliate a straight person like that," well, yes they would, and now they have. Though of course there's always the strong possibility that it's the gays who will be made to look like clowns.

I'm far less excited about Bravo's (not kidding) Straight Eye For The Queer Guy, though I suppose in the interest of equal time it's only fair.

I'm catching up on last week's American Idols, and I just can't figure out how to feel about them. I had just blogged about the producers building people up only to have Simon and Randy (and this season, even Paula!) knock them down, a girl performed appallingly, and was met outside the room by her friend who told her "They just don't know what real talent is." Now, I'm all for supporting your friends, but I think that support should often take the form of "Maybe you shouldn't humiliate yourself on national TV." So I just don't know what to make of these people. It's depressing to watch them cry, but it's funny to hear them sing. In the episode I'm watching now, Simon just said "You might as well call the third season, 'American Idol 3: The Deluded.' It's astonishing. We've run two seasons of this show now. I think it's safe to assume that most people understand that the people who've won the competition can sing in tune and can sing really well. And then you go out on the road, and these people turn up who can't sing a note in tune, and yet they believe that they are the second coming.... And I'm the one who's crazy." I'm with Simon. I want to feel bad for these people, but they bring it on themselves. I'm all for a healthy self-image, but when I, with my relatively low self-esteem and inability to sing a song in a single key, can be confident that I'm much better-looking and probably a better singer than most of these people, I can't feel a ton of sympathy when they subject themselves to the ridicule so freely and obliviously.

I guess it's just futile trying to bring a sense of morality to "reality" TV.

TV Wrap Up with Lime

I find I have nothing to say about this week's TV. I'm all caught up and it was a good week. I liked all the shows I like, and I've stopped torturing myself with the ones I don't like. I just have nothing new to say about the state of television.

So I thought I'd enter a new realm here at Judgment Call, and review a new food product:

Diet Coke with Lime is pretty tasty.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Does it count as a celebrity sighting?

I was in a bar last night and Adam from Average Joe was there. He looks exactly like he does on TV, except kinda short. This means that Melana must be teeny tiny.

He was with friends, clearly having a good time (lots of smiling with his bigteethbigteethbigteeth), and from a distance he appeared to be just as goofy and happy as he was on the show. If anything, a little more self-confident. At one point I heard him yelling, "That's not average! That's not average!" I wonder if he was talking about the prettyboys from his season, or the frighteningly below-average guys in Hawaii. Or, perhaps, something completely different seeing as how he has a life beyond the show.

It was a weird moment, because I got kind of excited, then immediately felt kind of dirty about it, because he's not a real celebrity. And yet clearly he is, because it was actually Boy, who'd seen maybe an episode-and-half of the show, who pointed him out to me. (Apparently his thought process went something like this: "Hey, it's K! No, it's just some guy who looks like K, but with bigger teeth. Hm, that guy from Average Joe looks like K but with bigger teeth. Hey, it's that guy from Average Joe!" But that's recognition no matter how circuitous.)

I called MCM, who wanted me to tell Average Adam that we'd been rooting for him, but I figure he gets that enough, and he was already having to contend with a group of drunk gay men doing a terrible job of pretending not to notice the insta-celebrity in their midst.

So I ignored him and his humungous teeth and went about my business, and thought about how I should blog about this and tried to come up with a witty or insightful conclusion about it. I failed.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Trapped, and getting fatter by the minute

I am, at the moment, trapped inside my building. I suppose this is better than being trapped outside my building, but it is still less-than-ideal.

Apparently, sometime in the 15 minutes or so between when I came home and when I tried to go back out, the doorknob fell off of the front door. I assume that people can get in to the building, as the knob isn't necessary if you have a key, and I'm pretty sure if someone buzzes you in with the intercom you can just push. But getting out is a problem. I could always wait around in the lobby for someone to show up on the other side, but it's really much more comfortable in my apartment.

This is not helping my general fear of fire one bit.

Fortunately, on the way in I picked up a box of new Entenmann's oatmeal raisin cookies, which I swear are laced with crack, so I have a couple of major food groups to live off of.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

It's COLD, we GET it!

I won't pretend the sub-zero weather we've been having in NYC is fun, but you know, we cope. I bought a new jacket on sale (because "spring" inexplicably starts in January in the fashion world) and life goes on.

Yet the local news has made this the top story for a week. We get interviews with window washers, hot dog vendors, and other hardworking people who have to spend all day outside. I feel for these people, understand that they need to work to make their money, and it makes me grateful for my heated, ground-floor workplace. But I also don't think it's very newsworthy that there are people who work outside. We can see that. It's not like when it rains they run an interview with some guy going "Hey, I'm wet!"

Yet this morning they interviewed a woman about ice. Not like some ice expert, just a random woman on the street, who had such helpful advice as "wear shoes with good traction," and "walk slowly." Woah! I never would have thought of that! That explains why I've been falling down all week!

That's really my favorite part of the news this month: the "tips" for staying warm like "dress in layers," "close your windows," and "don't use your stove for heat or you could blow up your house." Is there really nothing else going on in the world? Are New Yorkers really this stupid? And if they are, do we want them to stay warm?

I just don't think the media should be fucking with natural selection.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

My Pretty Blonde Moronic Fiancee

Since I wasn't really paying much attention to it last night, I missed a major point about MBFOF: "The Bride" (I love calling her that, because I imagine her lying in a pool of blood like Uma Thurman) signed up for the show without knowing the premise at all. This makes me feel a little better about her lying to her family, because she must have signed a contract before knowing what the show was about, and breaking the contract probably carries a monetary penalty much larger than the promised prize.

On the other hand, this makes me feel much worse about this woman being a complete idiot, because she must have signed a contract before knowing what the show was about. I mean, they could have made her do anything. She really kinda got off easy. How big a famewhore do you have to be to sign your life away to Fox of all places?

I recently read about a British show called There's Something About Mary in which six guys woo a woman Bachelorette-style. The final twist: Mary is a pre-op transsexual. Time Out called it Joe Vagina. Apparently, all the men are suing.

This is a show that needs to be imported, but that's not my point. My point is that with the stuff that goes on on these shows, anyone dumb enough to sign on to a "reality" show without knowing anything about it deserves whatever she gets. And her family would have had to at least sign release forms too, so I can't have much sympathy for them either.

And no, I'm still not gonna watch it. Really. I swear.

Monday, January 19, 2004

TV Wrap-Up, 1/6/04 - 1/19/04

So of course the return of new programming coincided with my return to a full-time job! Not that I'm complaining, mind you, I'm thrilled to finally be done with holiday specials and reruns, and to be employed! It just kept me from doing the weekly TV Wrap Up. So here's a quick look at the last two weeks of crap that I watch against my better instincts.

I still enjoy The OC very much, but the romance is starting to fade. While the equality given to the adult storylines has always been one of the great appeals of the show, it seems a little odd that the teenagers on the supposed heir to 90210 have become so boring so quickly. Worse, what seemed like such a fresh show over the summer is resorting to formula after only 16 episodes. I hate when a TV show plugs a band by acting like they're big superstars when in fact no one's ever heard of them. 90210 did it all the time too, and even Buffy succumbed once or twice. Some of the characters had never heard of them too, which allowed the writers to explain the unknown band to the audience, yet those same characters were then singing along at the concert. Far worse is the druggie-psycho-stalker plotline, which is just so David Silver. One of the things I love about The OC is that the characters are smarter than on your average teen soap. And when only Ryan, the dumbest of the bunch, can see that Oliver is completely nuts, well, something's just screwed up in the writers' room.

My Seth-love is fading too (which if nothing else should make my boyfriend happy). By playing up Adam Brody's sex appeal, they've actually made him less attractive, since it was his bumbling dorkiness that made him so cute to begin with. Sigh.

Even the adults have grown stale and predictable: As soon as you hear the words "Let's go to our favorite old restaurant one last time before it closes," anyone who's ever watched television before has to know that they're going to wind up buying the place.

The OC started high, so as much as I'm criticizing it this week, I still enjoy it very much. I'm just afraid that if the trend continues we'll be in latter day Creek territory all too soon.

24 has pretty much rocked since the break. I really like how the season seems to have been actually thought out ahead of time. Just when something seems about to go on too long (They have to spend 5 hours on what??), they give us a new twist that actually seems to be planned in advance and makes sense. Though not surprising thanks to the commercials, bringing Nina back was inspired (I know I should spoiler-proof that, but it happened two weeks ago so I'm hoping people are caught up). She's one of the best TV villains ever, and before we knew she was evil, she and Jack had better chemistry than anyone else on the show, so I can't wait to see what they do with them now.

My one complaint: Apparently the Salazars didn't learn the most important lesson from last season (aside from avoiding cougar traps): When you tie someone to the ceiling and torture him, you're supposed to strip him naked first! I suppose the producers didn't want to repeat themselves, but (no offense to Kiefer) I'd much rather see Chase's ass than Jack's.

Alias just rocks. I miss Lena Olin on the show terribly, but if we have to get a substitute, how awesome is Isabella Rossalini? The season's plot has finally gained some solid momentum, the actors are all doing excellent work, and I'm completely obsessed. Best show on television, possibly ever. Now that the first two seasons are out on DVD, you all need to be watching it.

Last week on West Wing they took my Stockard away, but they added the always-fabulous and perfectly presidential James Cromwell, and brought some much-needed humor back, as well as John Goodman and the actress who plays Leo's daughter, who hasn't been around since the first season. The new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is played by one of my favorite actors who works all the time but isn't famous, Terry O'Quinn, who also returned to Alias last week.

This week the First Lady returned, and political plots returned to the front lines in place of schmaltzy drama, absurd clowning, or inappropriate whining. I think the new team has finally moved out from the shadow of Aaron Sorkin. It's not the same show as it was and it never will be, but instead of trying (and failing) to mimic his distinctive writing style, the new team has found its own voice, remained true to the characters, and finally kicked the season into high gear. I've really enjoyed the last two weeks, though now more than ever I wish that Jed Bartlet were the real president!

The season premiere of Sex and the City didn't do it for me. Though Mikhail Barishnikov's character is growing on me (he icked me out at the end of last season), each of the other ladies had ridiculous, tired stories. Charlotte's was at least consistent with her character's tendency to take things to absurd extremes, but when Miranda (my favorite) was made a complete fool of for no reason whatsoever, I'd had it.

But last week's (which I only just got around to watching) was great, one of the highest-quality episodes they've ever done. The characters and situations seemed real, and for the first time in a long time I remembered and understood why these women were friends. There was a perfect mix of happy and sad, fantasy and reality. I hope they keep the quality up for the last few episodes. I can't say I'll really miss the show. I always enjoy it when it's on, but when it's off of HBO's cycle I hardly notice. But it'd be nice to see it go out on a high note.

Moving on to "reality...."

I know this will make some of you unhappy, but after two weeks I think I'm done with Average Joe Hawaii. I said this last season and it turned out I was a little bit wrong, but these guys are way below average. Part of the fun of last season was finding the diamonds in the rough, and I just see nothing but coal here. It's not about looks -- the casting people have stacked the deck so incredibly with losers, and some of them are downright scary. Last season, we had Adam and John, who were sweet and cute, and Zach who Melana at least seemed to like. Even Revenge-of-the-Nerds-ish Dennis was a total sweetheart.

The season we have Mike, "the most attractive out of the group," according to Larissa, who blurts out, "Jesus comes first in my life," and Thomas, who told her "You have the beauty of Wonder Woman," and then tells the confessional interviewer, "She's a lot prettier than Wonder Woman 'cause she's here in person...it's an actual girl!"

Nothing against Jesus or Wonder Woman, powerful and inspiring figures both, but this was the point where the show lost me. I'm embarrassed for the guys and in pain for Larissa who has to endure them. It's not schadenfreude anymore, it's schadentraurig. It's just making me sad. I'm won't pretend that I won't watch it again -- I'm admittedly curious to see who makes it to the end -- but it's off the DVR list and definitely not a must see. I think if I watch it every week it will destroy what little remains of my soul.

I watched the first episode of The Real World and was reminded of how good the show can be when the powers that be cast well and then leave things alone as much as possible. The premiere had almost no plot, it was just about letting us get to know the people. And this cast seems pretty cool and interesting. Letting them just roll without trying to force the editing to create a through-line out of nothing was really enjoyable. I was occasionally aware of the "wacky" girl's clothes changing more often than they should have, and became skeptical of the obviously made-up timeline, but mostly I was able to watch the show cynicism-free. Of course, by week two they were pulling out the tired Real World standby "I can't believe how racist you're being edited to look!" plot, and I was unimpressed.

"Reality" was redeemed in the unlikeliest of places. I didn't really think about this until I started watching the new season, but the last Surreal Life had a really sad quality to it. Poor little Emmanuel Lewis; ultra-honest MC Hammer; scary scary unbalanced Cory Feldman; and Gabrielle Carteris, always my favorite 90210 cast member (for real) holding it all together.

I thought I wouldn't watch the show this season, but then they went and cast it brilliantly. They got people who are used to enough privilege to make for good fish-out-of-water TV, but who are famous without ever having been beloved in the mainstream, and who were jokes to many even at the height of their fame. Unlike Average Joe, it's schadenfreude without guilt.

The show is a bit too wacky for me to write about sensibly (I just tried and failed), so here's a list of my favorite things about The Surreal Life premiere:
1. The music they used under Vanilla Ice's entrance because they couldn't get the rights to "Ice Ice Baby." Or, for that matter, "Under Pressure."
2. The fact that none of the other housemates knew who Trishelle was (she's from The Real World: Las Vegas.
3. Erik Estrada trying to teach the house parrot (don't ask) to say "Maricon."
4. Erik Estrada: "[This room] is kinda gay, but it suits me." Methinks someone has some issues!
5. Tracy Bingham: "I know I'm not a bimbo, but I'm also an exhibitionist…. I'm very anal about cleaning."
5. Ron Jeremy dying his chest hair.
6. Ron Jeremy referring to sex as "hide the bacon and shoot the sherbet."
7. Tracy Bingham refusing to flash Ron Jeremy in exchange for seeing his penis, and Ron Jeremy refusing to flash Tracy Bingham without seeing her breasts, even though she's posed in Playboy and he's a porn star!
8. Tammy Faye Messner

Touching on Average Joe again by way of a segue, I think maybe I've just lost my zest for public humiliation. Well, okay, I know that's not true. But I just watched the season premiere of American Idol as I write this, and I'm really feeling bad for the auditioners who were clearly strung along by the producers and told that they're great for several days and several rounds of auditions only so they can have maximum trauma in front of the on-air judges (it's common knowledge that this happens). One guy said "you wasted my time," and it was played for pathos, but the fact is probably that his time was wasted, quite badly, and all for the purpose of making him look like an ass on television. On the other hand, after three seasons, these people should know better, so I guess that makes it okay to laugh at them. Especially the woman who Simon bet could clear out a bar if she walked in and sang, and sure enough she did (even if they obviously had to pull people off the street to populate said bar at 11 AM).

Now My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé is on and it's awful. The "bride" knows the whole thing is a sham, but doesn't know the fiancé is an actor. Still, she is well aware that she's lying to her family. I suppose the payoff is that they all get money (family included) if she goes through with it, but this just seems like a hideous thing to do to people you love and I really can't deal with it. Normally in the world of Judgment Call, this paragraph would end with "So of course I'll be watching every week," but I think I can safely say that this is one to boycott.

Okay, well that was the longest TV Wrap Up ever, and I'm spent. That's as close as I'm getting to a witty closing line.

Monday Monday

With all due respect to Dr. King, Presidents Washington and Lincoln, laborers, veterans, and um, memorials, Monday holidays bug me. In theater, with very few exceptions, we work a six-day week no matter what. So either I work on a holiday, like I'm doing today, or it's my regular day off anyway and the holiday is meaningless. Except for the way I can't get anything done because everything is closed. I can't go to the bank or the post office, and the subways are running on an abbreviated schedule. If I'm not working on a show, I'm probably temping or working some other sort of hourly job, so the holiday results in a loss of income, since part time employees don't get paid holidays.

Clearly I'm still waiting for the world to start revolving around me.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Speaking of high school...

I've been thinking about the random things that fill my brain again. I was cleaning out old junk at my mom's place today, and among the many relics were notes from high school math and science classes. They might as well have been written in a foreign language. I looked at the pages of numbers and symbols and had absolutely no idea what any of it meant. It made me a little...almost sad, somehow. While I have no use for calculus or chemistry in my life and probably never will, and it's not like I feel any need to re-learn either at this point, the fact is that I used to understand those pages perfectly. I mean, I wrote them. And from the look of the homework and quizzes in there (I was a pretty compulsive pack-rat back then), I did quite well in those classes. Shouldn't we gain knowledge as we get older, not lose it? Though I don't suppose trigonometry is any more practical to me than the name of every character and actor on Alias, I just wonder where the information went.

Of course, I also found my journal from middle school, and I can say without hesitation that I am definitely smarter than I was when that was written!

Thursday, January 15, 2004

It's not often I wish to be in high school again, but...

My morning "routine" involves turning on news radio while I'm still in bed and hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock repeatedly while listening to the headlines and the weather. This morning I heard that my high school is closed for a snow day, and for one brief moment I was overcome with joy, all my tension and crankiness washed away, and I thought of all the things I would accomplish in the afternoon as I drifted back to sleep.

Then the alarm rang again and I remembered that I've been out of high school for ten years, I was already late for work, and I hate everybody.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

fuck shit fuck shit fuck shit fuck

For some reason, in the last couple of weeks I've been getting emails from the Christian Family Coalition. I can't imagine what mailing list I could possibly be on that they would have purchased (I have a couple of free accounts I use when I'm required to give a legit email address out but don't want to, and that's what I used on that gay marriage survey) but I'm kind of enjoying the irony. I'd like to e-mail them back and say, "I'm Jewish, gay, and a registered Democrat, you idiots! I'm what you're fighting against!" but if I did that, I wouldn't get vastly entertaining e-mails like this one:

We told you what was coming, and we were right. Wednesday night on the 2003 Billboard Music Awards, Fox allowed the use of the "F" word and two uses of "cow sh-t."

Nicole Richey, talking with Paris Hilton, said: "Yea, instead of standing in mud and cow---t. Why do they even call it the simple life? Have you ever tried to get cow sh-t out of a Prada purse? It's not that fu--ing simple."

The FCC's Stand? Basically: We have already ruled, earlier this year, that it is ok to use the "F" word anytime day or night except in sexual situations. (But expect FCC's ok for that soon.)

The only way the FCC commissioners will change their ruling is by letting them and others know that you want the filth gates closed! Now! Today! Send the email. Then forward this to others.

It is time to take a stand for the future of our children.


This is the funniest thing I've seen all month. I noticed right away that they misspelled Richie. I plan to start working the term "filth gates" into my daily conversation. Can someone show me where in the Gospels Jesus says, "Thou shalt not say Fuck?" I mean, I just feel like the Christian Family Coalition has bigger fish to fry. Perhaps if they spent some more time monitoring what their children are watching instead of monitoring the FCC, they wouldn't have to worry so much about my filth gates. It's a pretty safe bet that there won't be any bad words on 7th Heaven, and that there will be on The Simple Life. It's called a TV Guide, look into it.

Meanwhile, I'd like to petition Fox to start saying "fuck" more, and to have a hot sex scene between Seth and Ryan on The OC.

Monday, January 12, 2004

You're actually not supposed to shake Polaroids...

As much as I like pop music, I generally stay away from novelty hits -- disposable music, as I recently heard someone call it. I guess I don't listen to the right (or wrong, as it were) kind of radio or watch enough MTV to really be infected by songs like "Macarena," "The Ketchup Song," "The Thong Song," or "Tubthumping." And as catchy as these tunes may be, they're also pretty much BAD.

But last week I downloaded Outkast's "Hey Ya!" and I hate myself a little bit for it. I just couldn't resist its nightmarish pull. It seems like it's constantly in my head. It was referenced in an online comic I read; they played it on the middle-of-the-road top 40 radio station I listen to in the shower that would usually never play anything so "hard;" it's on Bravo, for god's sake! I just couldn't resist it.

Sadly, listening to it has not gotten it out of my head, nor do I know the words any better than before, as they are completely unintelligible.

The iTunes Music Store has been getting better every week, and in so doing it's getting more and more evil. I used to use it occasionally to buy popular songs, especially if I was afraid that someone might be monitoring a free download (not that I would ever download music illegally, of course). Now I've noticed myself going straight to iTunes no matter what I'm looking for, without even thinking about it. Moreover, I'm browsing when I'm bored, without looking for anything specific, and this is where it gets dangerous.

As the store gets more popular, they're adding content like crazy. They just added Billboard Hot 100 playlists, where you can get all the hits by year. There are iTunes Essentials playlists which, like anything that calls itself "essential" are spotty, but also totally fun to browse. New artists and older albums are being added all the time, and they're easy to find from the front page. They finally have a decent selection of cast albums (as if I need more of those!).

I'm not sure how I even ended up there, but something I clicked yesterday took me to Harry Belafonte. I have little to no interest in Harry Belafonte, but before I knew it I'd downloaded "Jump In The Line" (from Beetlejuice), and "Turn The World Around" a song I loved when I was little and he did it on The Muppet Show (with vaguely creepy African mask Muppets). For $1.98 this isn't bad, but it will be if I do it every day. I think I'm enjoying the instant gratification. Oh, I like that song, and in two minutes that song is on my Precious -- I mean my iPod. I don't even have to do anything to pay, it just shows up on my credit card (and therein lies the danger).

I'm just such a sucker for technology. I'm all about the digital revolution. I guess I just should have seen it coming that it would wind up costing me money.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Queer Eye for the EuroTrash?

I just heard on the news that Queer Eye has been licensed to several European countries.

Isn't that redundant?

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Bagels Minus

They called it Bagel's Plus, they called it Sunnyside Sports Cafe. But now I shall just call it Creepy Deserted Restaurant.

Yes, it's true, after all the name changing and remodeling, with no warning at all, my favorite little corner bagel shop closed. Well, not so much closed as stopped opening.

For all my complaining about their bad grammar and questionable customer service, the fact is that I'm very much a creature of habit and convenience, so I was very upset by this turn of events. And also fascinated, as it happened suddenly and strangely.

It actually started a while ago, just a week or two after I last blogged about them. One day, without warning, they just didn't open. And the customers apparently weren't the only ones unprepared -- it looked as if the staff had been abducted by aliens in the middle of the day. The new owners had installed security gates on the door and the new street-service window (which I'd never seen anyone staff or use), but the picture-windows around the corner were uncovered, and through them we could see set tables, menus, lit refrigerator cases, and food. The food was what caught my attention most, and day by day I looked as I walked past at the bagels slowly molding on the shelves behind the register. There were a lot of them, as if the morning shipment has been put away just before Mt. Vesuvius erupted and swallowed the shop.

After a week or two, I noticed that the cash register, and most of the cake and beer from the fridge were gone. A few days after that, the stale bagels finally vanished (or perhaps got up and walked out on their own). Two weeks later, the TVs were gone and a For Rent sign was in the window.

In all this time, I never saw the gate up, never saw anyone come or go. I don't know much about the business of running a restaurant, but to close so quickly after the change in management, and all the money spent on "renovations" and re-branding just doesn't make sense to me. I have to wonder if it was all a front for something shady, or -- far worse -- if they were shut down by the Health Department.

The end result for me personally is that I've had to find a new bagel place. There's one nearby -- actually closer to my apartment but in the wrong direction for the train (though the right direction for Manhattan, which makes me want to keep walking that way to the next station, because I hate backtracking) -- and I was thrilled to discover that they are a thoroughly traditional and unpretentious breakfast joint, and that they make their own bagels on the premises. Yum!

More importantly, they're run by Jews. I don't mean to sound racist, and I have nothing against the former owners of Bagel's Plus, but let's face it: my people know bagels. So imagine my disappointment when I tasted the sub-par supermarket-style lox spread! But hey, I won't quibble. After all, I only found one typo on the menu: On a placard advertising "catering," there's something called an "executie breakfast." I picture my boyfriend in a tie.

Now the only problem is all these carbs!

Monday, January 05, 2004

Haveragejoewaii

(Gimme a break, I used up all the good titles first season.)

It's only just begun, and already words fail me about Average Joe 2. The guys…defy description. At least, they do if I want to be kind.

I don't get some of these guys. It's one thing to be a nerd and be proud of it, to love your sense of style, or to be eccentric just because you want to stand out. That's all well and good. But several of these guys in their initial interviews seem really ashamed of their "other-ness," really bitter about being called a nerd in high school, really unhappy. So guys, why are you dressing like that? What's with the facial hair? Go to a barber! Okay, the short guy is screwed, and losing weight can be a lot of work, but shave! Watch Queer Eye and go buy some new clothes! Or if you're happy that way then be happy and stop putting yourself down!

I was a nerd in high school, and then I discovered some fashion sense and the gym and hair product and I changed some stuff. And I'm still a nerd, but I'm a happy nerd and I know that I'm either the best I can be or working on the things i can change. I'd never go on one of these shows, but if I did, I'd have to go in with some self-esteem.

Truthfully, it's making me sad. I'll clearly be watching every week.

Good News!

I've alluded to this a couple of times over the last couple of weeks, but the big news in my world is that I've got a new job! A "real" job, in my terms -- I'm the production stage manager for a new Off-Broadway play. I've been doing some work on it off and on for a couple of weeks, mostly phone calls, e-mails and paperwork galore, and rehearsals start this week. I've worked with a couple of the people involved before, and the ones I don't know are already proving to be interesting.

I won't give you any more details here, as blogging about a show I'm working on could get me in all kinds of professional trouble if someone happens to find it. Besides, the less I tell you about it know, the more safely I can (namelessly) write about it later if any really worthwhile stories happen.

So I'm psyched. As you know, it's been a very long time since I've had a full-time job that pays a livable wage. I'm hoping it lasts a while, but even if it doesn't, it gets me out of the temp doldrums and earns weeks towards my healthcare for at least a couple of months. It may cut into on my blogging a bit, but I think the world will survive.

Friday, January 02, 2004

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

So I was at the gym this afternoon, and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? was on one of the TVs. I wasn't really paying attention and didn't have the sound on for it, so I don't know anything about the contestant or her background, but I happened to look up and see the question, "In the Bible, the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are called the _____." The answer choices were Psalms, Gospels, Testaments, and something else I don't remember. The contestant used her 50/50 (where two of the wrong answers are eliminated for you), and then chose Psalms. And I was shocked.

Now, I'm Jewish, and have fairly limited experience with the New Testament (or, for that matter, most of the Old Testament, being as secular as I am), and I knew that the answer was Gospels without a second thought. I mean, who doesn't know that? I mean, lots of people all over the world don't, I'm sure, but from my mainstream American perspective (and I'm just assuming that any contestant on Millionaire is a mainstream American) it just seems like common knowledge.

I started thinking that maybe there's no such thing as "common knowledge," and that I take an awful lot of the things I know for granted. I also have no idea why I know them, or why I would ever need them. The next time I looked up at the TV, the question was something like "This singer had a theater built at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas for her show, 'A New Day,'" and I knew without the multiple choice that it was Celine Dion. I hate Celine Dion. So why do I know or care about her Vegas show? How much space in my brain is that nugget taking up that could be used instead for politics or science? Can I trade it in somehow? Can I wipe out all memories of Celine Dion altogether to make room for something else?

The other day a friend was talking to me about how he couldn't put a lot of MP3s on his computer because he didn't have enough memory.

"Do you mean disk space?" I asked.
"Oh I guess. What's the other thing? Not memory -- RAM."
"RAM," I explained with an exasperated sigh, "is memory. It means random access memory."

Why did I assume that everyone should know that? I feel like I learned what it meant sometime in elementary school when I started using computers, but why should anyone else know it? I guess I was taken aback because this friend is a really smart person. Much smarter than I am, probably, so how can he not know something that I know without a moment's thought?

It all makes me think that maybe I should try to be a little less judgmental and critical in the new year.

Or maybe I should just try to get on Millionaire and use my winnings to hire a staff who can screen everyone I interact with and educate them accordingly before I have to talk to them.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Substance Over Style...but still Foxerific!

I'm shocked but pleased -- the Hobbit won World Idol! I swear his voice just doesn't sound like it could come from his body. The voting was extremely consistent. Nearly every country put Kurt first and Kelly second, and had the three contestants who go by only one name somewhere in the last three. Kelly looked shocked, but at least she had better hair and makeup.

I didn't really watch last season's American Idol, but I can't deny I've caught the fever again. The commercials for the new season look fantastic. And there's something encouraging about the two contestants with actual talent winning this version. It's okay, it's not like I watch too much TV or anything.

There was also a commercial for a new show called My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé, in which a woman springs her obnoxious fiancé on her family, as well as the news that they've agreed to have the wedding and its planning televised. It's all a big punk; the man is an actor and the woman gets a million dollars if she makes it through to the "wedding from hell" without telling her family. I hate to admit it but it looks pretty funny. I do, however, want to say, Sanctity of marriage my ass!

(Not So Much) Fun With Playlists #4

I like to believe that my musical tastes are pretty diverse. I have around 400 CDs, and while there are certainly a great many cast albums and movie soundtracks, they coexist happily with the entire catalogs of The Beatles, R.E.M., Midnight Oil, Ani DiFranco and the Indigo Girls. There's classic rock, 80s pop, 90s alternative, some boy bands, some Britney, and even the Dixie Chicks. True, there's no real country, no death metal, no rap, but to look at the shelf I also wouldn't say that there's a predominance of any one genre.

My iPod apparently disagrees with me.

The thing about having so many CDs -- plus tapes, records, and downloads -- is that I never listen to a great many of them. It's not that I don't like them, I just never think to put them on. So now that pretty much everything (or at least highlights) is on the computer, I've been making a point, when I'm not in the mood for anything specific, to set My Precious on Shuffle and just let it go.

As if the Sondheim DVDs and that ancient mix tape hadn't made me feel faggy enough, here's a genuine sampling of what played on my trip to New Jersey last weekend (the trip wasn't as long as this list suggests, but there was a lot of track advancing):

Miss Independent - Kelly Clarkson
You're Nothing Without Me - City of Angels
Victim of Love - Erasure
Maybe This Time - Cabaret
Ain't Got Time - Zanna, Don't!
Mona Lisa- Guster
I'm Not That Girl - Wicked
Satellite - Dave Matthews Band
Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime - Erasure
In The Air Tonight (Remix) - Phil Collins
You Boys Are Gonna Get Me In Such Trouble - A New Brain
Lost Woman Song - Ani DiFranco
The Asteroid Field - The Empire Strikes Back
A Day In The Life - The Beatles
Both Hands - Ani DiFranco
You And Me And The 10,000 Wars - Indigo Girls
Pray - Once On This Island
Criminal - Fiona Apple
How Glory Goes - Audra McDonald
I Never Loved A Man (The Way That I Loved You) - Aretha Franklin
Destruction of Alderaan - Star Wars
Judas' Death - Jesus Christ Superstar (1996)
We Both Reached For The Gun - Chicago
Tomorrow - Me First And The Gimme Gimmes
Space Oddity - David Bowie
Ship of Fools - Erasure
Twenty-One - Tommy
Maria - Sound of Music
Not Guilty - The Beatles
Goodnight Saigon - Billy Joel
Oh l'Amour - Erasure
Stars and the Moon - Songs For A New World
Roasted Dude - Batman
Take My Breath Away - Berlin
Qui Gon, Obi-Wan and Darth Maul Continue Battle - The Phantom Menace
Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries - Fosse
Slow Like Honey - Fiona Apple
First Attack - Les Miserables
Why We Tell The Story - Once On This Island
Make Them Apologize - Ani DiFranco
The Million You Never Made - Ani DiFranco
Summer's Gone - Placebo
The Sun Always Shines on TV - A-Ha
At the End of the Day - Les Miserables
Blank Frank - Brian Eno
Sailing - Liz Callaway
Damned For All Time/Blood Money - Jesus Christ Superstar (1996)
Napoleon - Ani DiFranco
Imitation of Life - R.E.M.
Mack The Knife - Ute Lemper
Smash The Mirror - Tommy
Overlap - Ani DiFranco
Tear Me Down - Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Everyone Hates His Parents - Falsettoland
How Soon Is Now - The Smiths
99 Luftballons - Nena
You Learn - Alanis Morisette
Somewhere - West Side Story
Warehouse (live) - Dave Matthews
Do You Know What It's Like - Zanna, Don't!
All The Wrong Places - Taboo
I Sign For You - Camp
Harvester of Hearts - Rufus Wainwright
Oh Very Young - Cat Stevens
Waterloo - ABBA


I wish I knew more about math so I could figure out the odds of all this. Because I find it strange that, out of 4000+ songs, Erasure came up four times although I only have three of their albums, Les Miz and Once On This Island each came up twice though I have only one recording of each. Yet David Bowie and the Indigo Girls only came up once each, while I have 7 or 8 albums by each of them. If I were only slightly more paranoid, I'd suspect the iPod was making Amazon-like recommendations about what it thinks I like best.

But of course it doesn't do that, so I have no one to blame for my library but myself. So apparently, I listen to an excess of showtunes, really depressing pop-rock, and I'm a big nerd for Star Wars and lesbians.

Which I guess is actually pretty accurate.

Geographic Annoyances

So I'm watching a rerun of Friends, and Ross and Joey are supposedly driving from New York to Las Vegas. Ross and Joey live in Manhattan, yet the stock footage they use shows them on the Queensboro bridge. This would take them east, not west, and from one island to another...not very useful. Then Chandler later says that Joey kicked him out of the car on the George Washington Bridge. Which would make sense, had they in fact been on it. Is there really no stock footage at NBC of the George Washington Bridge?

This is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night.