Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thunder and Players

I've decided that my New Year's resolution for 2010 will be to write something on this blog daily. I'm not all that into the idea of resolutions, and I tend to not stick with them, i.e. I'm still fat having never finished my degree. However, I am OCD enough that starting something in the middle of the week/month/year drives me crazy, and that is why I am picking the new year to start.

Now, I know myself well enough that I know just how long it takes me to develop a habit, and it's a good month or two before I start making sure something happens every day. Therefore, I'm going to start trying to write something as often as possible, so when January 1st hits I won't be so distracted by the Twilight Zone marathon that I forget all about it. So enough of the boring exposition, and on to the boring dream.

I often wake from dreams upset that they are over. I have lots of dreams where I am buying armloads of Pez dispensers, and when I wake up with nothing, it's sad. Last night's dream was just odd, but not bad. I wouldn't have minded if I stayed asleep, but waking up wasn't a buzz kill.

A lot of the time the locations in my dreams stay the same, even though they are locations I've made up during the dream. For example, I've been to the same upstairs record store in my mind a few times. This dream amalgamated several different previous locations into one town, including a restaurant/deli that has been the setting a few times. In this place is where I wound up meeting Peter Weller.

My dream version of Peter Weller was a strange guy. He was taller and thinner than he is in the movies, and that's a feat considering his role as RoboCop was given to him partially due to the fact that he is slender enough to wear the RoboSuit. (That's IMDB found info, I'm not just making up geek stories) He jumped into a conversation I was having with my dad, and from the things he said it was obvious that he was trying to promote Buckaroo Banzai, as he spoke as though Buckaroo was a real guy. In fact, he told stories about his "brother", Buckaroo. Very much in an Andy Kaufman/Tony Clifton kind of way. We're not yet to the weird part.

Weller decides to round up some of the people who played Hong Kong Cavaliers and sing in this restaurant. Oddly, I was one of them. I never got around in the dream to giving myself a Blue Blaze code name. Perhaps I didn't mention it as I don't think telling them I go by Hanoi Xan is a good idea. So we sang. Well, I wound up being the primary singer, as I was the only one who remembered all of the words to the song featured in this impromptu performance. The song was "Earth Angel", and I wasn't particularly good. I was off key in places, and didn't have much volume. But I sang it and people liked it, and before Peter Weller had anything to say about it, my dream shifted to featuring Crispin Glover.

Now, the song "Earth Angel" makes me think of Crispin Glover. Even though I'd heard that song before, I'd never really paid attention to it until it's appearance in the movie "Back To The Future". And, I've always had kind of this nerd crush on Crispin Glover. He's very cute and has great hands. If you don't believe me, pay special attention to them in "Back To The Future" where he gently holds Lorraine's face to kiss her at the end of the song, and when he holds Socrates in the movie "Willard". Anyway, interestingly enough, I met Crispin Glover last week.

He was in Columbus to show one of the movies in his trilogy (due to technical issues he was unable to show the originally scheduled film, but instead showed another one) and for a book reading. Evidently, he does mash mixes of old books. He rearranges or adds text to turn an existing book into something completely different, and they are very neat if you ask me. I was more enthralled with the book reading than I was the film, but still, all in all a great night. Everyone has asked me "Is he as crazy as he seemed on Letterman?" The answer is no. The worst you can say about him is that he goes off on tangents, and who doesn't? He was very nice and very sweet to listen to my ramblings, and honestly, i think HE thought I was a little crazy. I asked him if he'd been to Columbus since he was here in 1983, and he gave me a very strange look and said "No, actually." in a very surprised way. I think he wondered if I was a little weird for knowing that. But come on, when you live in Columbus Ohio, it's not every day movie stars come to your town to shoot a movie, especially movie stars your mother adores.

Crispin Glover was in "Teachers", which was filmed at the old Central High School. Where COSI is now. He plays a troubled freaky kid, and at the end he's shot like so much Sal Mineo.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fatty Fatty Fat Fat

I went to a wedding last night. It was 2 lovely friends and a lovely affair, but goddamnit do I hate weddings. I'm almost always the fattest girl there, so I always feel conspicuous at the buffet. I also hate dressing up because I can never really find pretty or comfortable clothes. And my friends are all pretty girls who look good in their dresses with their hair done, and I'm like Violet Beauregard who can barely see to put on her makeup so who the hell knows how she looks.

I'll stop here and say yes, I know this was a wedding and no one is looking at or giving a rat's ass about me. I may be big enough to have my own gravitational pull, but I'm not THAT self involved.

It's just that this wedding was just another event where I feel out of place in the world. Honestly, I don't want to wear tons of makeup with my hair elegantly piled on my head. I've never been a pretty girl and as such, haven't had much patience for what goes in to trying to be a pretty girl. I'm the glasses and ponytail girl from all those Disney movies, the nerd. And I like being the nerd. I'm more comfortable in jeans at the movies watching sci-fi. Maybe I'd be more interested in fashion if I hadn't pizza rolled my way out of that scene, but thin doesn't automatically mean pretty, so maybe i'd still have the why bother attitude. Who knows.

Mainly, when I go places where the pretty people are dressed up, I feel like an ogre who isn't good enough for her amazing man. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that people think I went all Anne Francis on him and cast a spell to make him like me. He's amazingly handsome, and I'm.....not. Perhaps I should try harder to look nice, for him. When we're in a room with a bunch of girls who know how to dress and wear makeup and how not to be fat, I feel bad for him that he has to come home with me. Poor guy deserves better, I swear.

So often I feel like a fish out of water in this world. I don't think the social anxiety disorder helps, but I often don't feel comfortable. I wonder sometimes if anyone can see through my layer of blubber to the person who I truly believe is worth knowing, even if she isn't worth photographing.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My Ugly American Tendencies

As a foreign traveler, I'm pretty good. I don't simply speak louder English to someone who doesn't speak it, I don't complain that this food is different than the stuff we get back home, I don't say things like "this looks like Monopoly money!", and I don't spend all of my time looking for a McDonalds. But, I have some dark shameful ugly American traits. Well, mainly one.

Here in Aviles, Asturias, Spain, things are pretty green. The lights in most public places have motion sensors so when you go to the bathroom in a restaurant, the lights are off until you get in there. Also, there is very little water in the toilet, so not much is used during flushing. And I'm quite impressed with this. But, after a week of coming back to the hotel to a steamy, stagnant room that fills up with mosquitos if you open the window, I can't help but think that I would kill someone in front of their own mama for a window unit air conditioner. Seriously. I'm going to sit in front of one of the vents for a few hours when I get back home.

So there it is. Admitting it is the first step towards being healthy. I'm an Ugly American in that I really, REALLY love air conditioning.

Monday, September 7, 2009

An Open Letter to the Madrid Airport

Dear Madrid Airport-

It would behoove you to have a customs and security line specifically for those with flights leaving in less than one hour. Thanks to you, I experienced my first missed flight and first instance of lost luggage. Although this character building experience my be laughed at in years to come, but right now? You suck.

The smelly American

Sunday, August 23, 2009

An Open Letter to Geeks

Dear Geeks-

Please first understand that I am one of you. I have a house full of comic books, trading cards, and sci fi movies on dvd that i've purchased about 4 times now either during a format upgrade or because the newest version has a different commentary. I collect records and Pez, and if I'm watching television, 8 times out of 10 it's animated. I have a clay pinch pot full of 12 and 20 sided dice, and a collection of autographs. My wedding ring is engraved with my wedding date and "I Know", a reference to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. I know that Kryptonite comes in red, gold, and green, and that the moon left the Earth's orbit September 13th, 1999. My small silver car has a license plate of BDBDBD, and I've spent time thinking about the choice I would make were I faced with a Kobayashi Maru scenario.

But there is one thing only a few of us geeks seem to have learned. You know your favorite actor/artist/musician? The one you think owes you something for your being such a loyal fan? Well, they owe you nothing. You see the movie, buy the album, read the comic, trade the card, and then your transaction is done. They did something, you saw it/bought it, now you're done. They don't owe you anything else, and contrary to your belief, you don't pay their salary. Granted, the cost of your movie ticket or the amount you paid to buy their book or album contributes to the living they make, but because you spent $8 seeing a movie or $15 buying an album or $20 buying the trade paperback doesn't mean that you now own their soul and as a fan they must bend to your will and satisfy your whims. As a fan, I would think you would respect the person you admire a little more, rather than thinking you can own them in some way.

If you want an autograph from an actor and he's at dinner, then too bad. If you notice him going into a bathroom, use a different bathroom if the temptation to ask for a signed photo with the one hand he's not using is too great to bear. If he's on the street in Chicago with what you can only assume is his granddaughter, you just smile once you realize who he is and you keep walking. I don't care if it's Dustin Hoffman, he's having family time and deserves to have that time. And if Jerry Seinfeld happens to be in your hotel, just let him be. He's there to rest, not to be bombarded with people who have to tell him that they too are the masters of their domain.

If you meet your favorite musician, try to avoid telling them how you like their old stuff better. You don't sound cool and old skool to them, you just sound like an ass who hasn't given any of their recent work a chance because they just want so badly for the world to know that you were into the band way back when. And also, it's not nice to berate the rest of an audience because they don't happen to own the Australian import only album that's been out of print for 5 years.

If you commission a piece of comic art, understand many say that the cost for original art in any other medium is based on time, studio costs, size, materials, etc. So that $200 you spent on an 11"/17" Dr. Doom is a most likely a bargain. And, if the artist reminds you that they have a paying job that may very well be for a company with whom they are under contract and that job comes first, commission second, don't start emailing asking for your piece a week later. Especially if they tell you it may be 4-6 months. 4-6 months means 4-6 months, so don't start whining about where your piece is 3 months and 29 days after you commission it. And, if you want to art direct to the point where every square inch is meticulously scrutinized to the point where you request a do over, draw your own damn Batman. And you're not going to speed anything up if you threaten legal action because it's taking longer than you expected for your $100 drawing. Keep in mind that you'll pay more in legal fees than you did for the piece, and you never got it in writing that it would take a week, so try proving that one.

Keep in mind, assault is still a felony. And assault is a broad term. So is harassment.

And it's not cool to try and weasel your way into the business through a 5 minute chance meeting. Ridley Scott doesn't want to read your script, Weird Al can't use your idea for a parody, and that comic book artist you like so much? He can't draw your character for you for free only to have you use it as the cover of your self published comic. Remember too that actors aren't going to pass along your script or student film on dvd to their producer friends, and that writers aren't going to take your short story to the next meeting they have with their publisher.

Some of you need to remember that these are people, and these are businesses. There are professional and unprofessional ways of doing things, and you almost always fall into the latter. And several of you seem to forget that you are fans of people, not robots. They have jobs, families, and require food to stay alive, so it's not cool to bug them while they're eating or trying to spend time with said families. I'd say think of how you'd feel if you were interrupted during your time away from work that you chose to spend with your spouses and children, but I think several of you are too selfish to have been able to forge any sort of meaningful relationship with another human being, so I shouldn't ask much from your empathy skills.

So the next time you think it's appropriate to post on a newsgroup that some actor should never work again because he wouldn't sign your stuff, or that a writer should be fired from a series because the book is later than you thought it would be, or that you'll never buy another album by a band because they wouldn't play your request, say your thought out loud. Maybe once you hear it, you'll be able to tell how thoughts like that make you seem like an ass.

Thank you.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Kids these days....

Every few months or so, I get one of these emails about how kids today will never know about things we had as kids blah blah blah. These annoy me for several reasons. Not only do these come out more often than significant technological changes happen (magazines or bloggers do these every 6 months or so and they aren’t many new updates so it’s the same crap over and over again), but it also infers that people are only aware of the things that came into existence after their birth. Meaning no one ever learns anything historic. And if this is the case, we’re all screwed.

I will admit, I am defensive about this. As a kid myself I had quite a sense of history regarding culture. I watched a lot of silent movies and listened to a lot of classical music. I also was aware that things came before me. I also have a bit of a chip on my shoulder from my previous life as a record store employee. Many customers who noticed that I was younger than them were so shocked to find out that I was aware of bands that were from the past. I took it a little personally, and perhaps too personally, that someone would think that no way would a 30 year old know who The Ink Spots are. First of all, I’ve listened to the radio more than once in my life, and second of all, I did work in a record store with stock beyond the Top 40.

If a kid today has no idea of culture prior to their date of birth, I’m taking the Ooompah Loompah stance here and blaming their parents. Parents who have such a short attention span that all they ever do is jump on cultural bandwagons will most likely have children with no sense of history regarding their culture. My personal bias is that they probably aren’t big readers, either, but now I’m just being mean.

Where are the “when I was a kid” stories? And do households with children really have no records or VCRs still in them? I suppose that is what surprises me most. I can’t imagine that every household with children comes home and immediately throws away their old systems after buying a new one. Heck, even my friend with a 2 year old still has vinyl records in the house! Sure, I don’t expect anyone to still have a PC Junior or original Macintosh with the handle on top, but I would think that some of this would come up in family conversation at one point.

I could just be living in the past myself, keeping my records and cassette tapes. I just like my music and don’t feel the need to spend the money to replace it all at once. Maybe others either have replaced everything they wanted, or just got rid of it all before they had kids, I don’t know. But I just don’t get the idea that young people have no idea that anything existed before they were born.

So here is my rebuttal to the most recent one of these that I’ve seen, which I found at I’m assuming this list refers to kids now at the age of 16 (in the year 2009), which would make their year of birth 1993. I deleted the statements that reference something that is truly nothing that anyone has dealt with in decades. And to be fair, there were several deletions. For example, I do agree that no one has dealt with Super 8 film outside of film school for the last 20 years.

Here goes….

There are some things in this world that will never be forgotten, the moon landing, for one. But Moore’s Law and our ever-increasing quest for simpler, smaller, faster and better widgets and thingamabobs will always ensure that some of the technology we grew up with will not be passed down the line to the next generation of geeks.
That is, of course, unless we tell them all about the good old days of modems and typewriters, slide rules and encyclopedias …

Inserting a VHS tape into a VCR to watch a movie or to record something.
Come on, these kids would’ve been 5 in the year 1998. If they ever wanted to watch movies at home as kids, I’m sure the first ones they watched were on VHS. Kids were putting the movies in themselves by age 7, if the kids I babysat are any indication.
Now I can buy that these kids may not have recorded anything. Kids that age don’t get record privileges, and if they wanted to “tape” anything, mom or dad surely set it up for them.

Playing music on a tape using a personal stereo.
I owned a 2003 model car with nothing but a cassette deck and radio in it. Granted, many companies stopped making cassettes in the early 2000s, but the ones who kept up with them longer were companies like Sony Wonder, AKA kid’s music labels. Cassettes for kids made sense since they could be handled by grubby fingers that do not know their own strength and survive way better than CDs can. This is of course not to mention that books on cassette were still widely found in libraries and bookstores until only a few years ago.

See what happens when you give a Walkman to today’s teenager.
You probably just get a kid scoffing and saying “Um, where’s my iPod?” Again, a teenager now was a child in the 90s, and I’d bet most kid’s music they remember listening to was heard on cassette.

Vinyl records. Even today’s DJs are going laptop or CD.
Bullshit. Vinyl records are readily available in many indie record stores, and on It’s the indie record stores that are going extinct, not vinyl. Granted, the Mac Book Pro has made DJs different kinds of spinners, but the ones I see have 2 turntables and a Mac.

Scanning your radio dial and hearing static between stations. (Digital tuners + HD radio b0rk this concept.)
Right, everyone has nothing but Sirius or XM. NOBODY has regular old FM radio anymore. Cars don’t come with radios anymore. Um, okay. I can see this in maybe like 20 years when the FCC requires radio to be completely digital or satellite like they did with television, but not now. The fact that people can still buy FM transmitters for their iPods proves my point on this one.

3-D movies meaning red-and-green glasses.
When you buy a 3-D movie on DVD, do you know what comes with it? Folded up red and blue 3-D glasses.

That there was a time before ‘reality TV.’
When was this? Documentaries about families with multiple children or families suffering through the addictions of a loved one have been on television for decades. So have game shows. There was a time before the label “reality TV”, but these kinds of shows have been around since the Indian’s head.

Wires. OK, so they’re not gone yet, but it won’t be long.
Thanks for fessing up to this one. Again, kids in their teens now started playing video games as young kids, and everything up to the Playstation 2 had standard wired controllers. Wireless ones you had to buy separately. Besides, everything still has to plug into the wall.

Counting in kilobytes.
I’m being nit-picky here, but I still get emails less than 100K on occasion. Kids know what a kilobyte is, I guarantee you. Programs in kilobytes, sure, that’s gone the way of the dodo.

Blowing the dust out of a NES cartridge in the hopes that this time it will load.
Oh yeah, this takes me back. But I’ll bet kids today did the same thing when they were young with the cartridges for the N64.

Recording a song in a studio.
What? Not everyone just uses GarageBand for their music recordings. The process may have changed, but you can still find a music studio to go into to record your record.

Doing bank business only when the bank is open.
Banks still have banking hours because a lot of things must be done in person, like opening accounts and such. Thank you very much, Patriot Act.

Shopping only during the day, Monday to Saturday.
If you need something right now, as in you can’t wait for it to ship to you from an online store, you have to visit a brick and mortar store. Major retailers, such as Whole Foods, Target, Macy’s, Borders, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, Hallmark, Limited Brands, and about 1000 others are not 24 hours as of yet. Granted, the hours are later and these places are open Sundays, but still, the 3 dimensional world isn’t completely 24 hours yet.

Phone books and Yellow Pages.
Well, these still get delivered, but I can’t guarantee that everyone uses them.

Carrying on a correspondence with real letters, especially the handwritten kind.
Christ, even Hot Topic still sells stationery!

Waiting several minutes (or even hours!) to download something.
Um…. RapidShare isn’t always all that rapid. The thing is that if you want it fast, you have to pay.

Putting film in your camera: 35mm may have some life still, but what about APS or disk?
I’ll bet a lot of teenagers today have APS baby pictures.

Sending that film away to be processed.
Baby pictures that had to be sent away to be processed.

Having physical prints of photographs come back to you.
Fickr, Picasa and Shutterfly all have services where you can order prints. People don’t have their wedding albums online only.

Fax machines.
Faxes are still pretty common. Sending efiles is slowly becoming the norm, but there is a long way to go.

Vacuum cleaners with bags in them.
Dyson hasn’t taken over the world just yet. Not if Oreck has anything to say about it.

Taking turns picking a radio station, or selecting a tape, for everyone to listen to during a long drive.
No, but all the kids have to agree on a movie.

Not knowing who was calling you on the phone.
Privacy blocker keeps us still in the dark about who’s calling.

Actually going down to a Blockbuster store to rent a movie.
Well, maybe not the Blockbuster, but actually going to the RedBox is still pretty popular.

Toys actually being suitable for the under-3s.
So, babies just have no toys? No stuffed animals? No blocks? No xylophones?

Neat handwriting.
This is still graded in school.

Starbuck being a man.
Dirk Benedict knows Kara Thrace could kick his ass.

Swimming pools with diving boards.
I haven’t been to the pool in a while, but isn’t diving still an Olympic sport? Or is this one in reference to diving platforms rather than those springy boards? Like the one that almost killed Greg Louganis?

Hershey bars in silver wrappers.
Last time I checked, it was brown paper over a silver wrapper. Not sure though, I don’t eat chocolate anymore.

Having to manually unlock a car door.
When keyless entry batteries die, this is what we do.

Writing a check.
My piano tuner doesn’t take credit cards, and neither do Girl Scouts when the come to collect for their sweet, sweet cookies.

Roller skates, as opposed to blades.
Roller skates have made a big comeback. Blades are not nearly as hip as they once were.

So far, still the preferred currency of vending machines, drug dealers and even Auntie Annie’s pretzel stands in shopping malls.

Spending your entire allowance at the arcade in the mall.
I think it’s even easier to blow your allowance at Dave and Buster’s. And with Hot Topic and Sbarro still in almost every mall, I’m certain the wallets of young people don’t stay full long after a trip to the mall.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Unlikely Romance

Often in movies, there is an underlying romance between characters who are part of the main conflict of the story. Sometimes this conflict is quite severe, and people wind up dying during the course of the story. I was watching such a movie the other day which was of course complete with the happy ending of the romance flourishing. I wondered, do people who get together under such circumstances stay together? Do they get married? Does one have to comfort the other after one of them wakes up in a cold sweat after having nightmares of their ordeal? And if they do stay together, what do they say at parties when someone asks them how they met? This got me thinking, and I came up with some scenarios of possible answers that may be provided by these characters.

George Caldwell and Hilly Burns at a party, describing their meeting to a friend.

Friend-So Hilly and George, you two have been married for 8 years! Congrats, but, how did you two meet?
Hilly-Well, it's quite a story actually!
George-Yes, QUITE a story! I started out looking to relax, and THAT for sure didn't happen!
Hilly-Oh George, people will get the wrong idea if you say it like that! What he means is that he decided to take the train from Los Angeles to Chicago to have some down time. We met on that trip, on the train!
Friend-On a train? How romantic!
George-Yeah, at first! I met Hilly who was on the train with her boss at the time.
HIlly-Yes, he was working on a book about Rembrandt, and his new research was causing quite a stir.
George-Yes, enough to get him killed and thrown from the train.
Friend-What the hell?
Hilly-Oh yes, it was terrible. He was being pursued because of what his book would reveal. And poor George got caught in the middle of it all. The killers tossed him from the train too.
George-Oh, I was on and off that train so many times....
Hilly-What was it, dear, like 3 times?
George-Sounds right.
Hilly-That's how you met Grover, right? One of those time you were off the train? Grover was our George's best man.
George-Yep, Kansas City I think. He helped me get back on the train. Well after stealing my wallet of course.
Hilly-Grover, such a card!
Friend-So why didn't you just go to the police?
George-Well, no one believed me about what I saw, about the murder that is. Except for Hilly, of course.
Hilly-Of course! I knew George could never hurt anyone.
George-Then the police printed a fake story saying I was the killer so I would be found and taken in, but when Grover saw the newspapers, he disguised me so I had no idea anyone knew what was going on and was looking for me until we were like 200 miles outside of Chicago.
Friend-So what happened? Did you ever get back on the train?
Hilly-He did! He rescued me, in fact! The police had this plan to stop the train before it got to Chicago, but the mastermind of this band of killers....what was his name, George?
Hilly-Yes! Devereau! Devereau had taken me hostage and held a gun to the conductor to keep going and not stop after a shoot out at the train station.
Friend-Oh my gosh!
George-It was very wild west, I must say.
Hilly-Oh, it was a nightmare! Devereau knocked out the conductor and made sure the engine was going full blast so nothing would stop it, but George detached the cars so we were safe.
Friend-So what happened to Devereau? How did the police catch him? Is he in jail now?
George-Well, he looked out of the window just as another train came by, and he was beheaded.
Friend-I think I'm gonna be sick...
Hilly-Oh, it was awful. Poor George had nightmares the first 2 years we were married.
George-To this day you won't find me with my head out of a window. It's dangerous anyway!
Hilly-So we spent a week or so in Chicago, then went back together to Los Angeles, and have been inseparable ever since!
George-We flew back to LA, of course.

Joan Wilder describes how she met her husband, Jack T. Colton while at a book signing

Fan-Oh, Ms. Wilder, I just love your stories! You must have had such a romantic life to write such tales! But sometimes, such terrible things happen to your characters. Why do you do that?
Joan-Well, sometimes stories with happy endings don't have happy paths to start out on.
Fan-But my goodness! What your characters go through just seems so out there sometimes! I mean, when Jesse climbed that flat wall to fight an alligator, I was on the edge of my seat but still, that's pretty fantastic.
Joan-Do you want to hear something crazy? That actually happened.
Fan-Come on. To who?
Joan-To me. And my husband, Jack.
Fan-You're kidding!
Joan-Not at all. I met Jack in South America when I went to pay a ransom so to speak for my sister.
Fan-Oh my goodness, what happened?
Joan-Well, I apologize in advance, this is a gruesome story, but her husband was an antiquities dealer, and was murdered after coming into possession of a map to a treasure.
Fan-A treasure map? Are you for real?
Joan-Real as you and me. Anyway, he tried to get the man who killed him off his tail, he mailed the map to me in New York, but he was killed anyway, and my sister was taken hostage by another band of criminals who wanted the treasure as well.
Fan-Was the map the ransom?
Joan-It was supposed to be. I was supposed to deliver it to her kidnappers, but the man who killed her husband got to me before they did then sent me on the wrong course. I didn't speak the language and had barely traveled, so when he helped me I thought he was just a resident being kind. So I got on the wrong bus which went way the hell out of my way, and the bus was later ambushed in the jungle by the private army of this murderous fiend.
Fan-So how did you get back?
Joan-Well, during the ambush, Jack who was living in the jungle at the time, got caught up in the drama. That's how I met him. He promised to get me back on track if I paid him $500, so he helped me through the jungle.
Fan-$500? Wow, not exactly chivalrous, was he?
Joan-Well, I bargained with him and got the cost down to $375 in traveler's cheques.
Fan-So what happened with your sister?
Joan-Well, Jack had the idea that we should find the treasure rather than deliver the map, you know as a way to have the upper hand. But after we found it we got separated and when we were supposed to meet up, he'd been captured instead by the man who killed my brother in law.
Fan-Oh no!
Joan-He was fine, but when it came time for me to drop the map for my sister, her kidnappers and her husband's killer were going head to head to find the treasure. Which by the way was this enormous emerald.
Fan-So where does the wall and the alligators come in?
Joan-Oh yes. Well, in the course of everything, after taking the emerald away from Jack, the man who murdered my brother in law had his hand bitten off by an alligator. His name was Zorro or Zolo or something, I try to forget him. While his army was fighting my sister's kidnappers, she and I ran up to the roof of one of the ruins, and he followed us, intending to kill us too. I yelled for Jack, and the only way he could reach us was to scale the walls of the ruins.
Fan-How did he do that?
Joan-They weren't very flat walls, they had some chunks missing from the masonry so he said it was like climbing one of those scaling walls.
Fan-Did he get to you in time?
Joan-He didn't need to. Zolo, I think it was, that sounds right, had me pinned and I grabbed a piece of wood and smacked him right on his stump where his hand had been. He'd tried to do a tourniquet for himself with his cravat, but he was losing a lot of blood. He recoiled in pain, tripped and fell on a lantern, then into a pit filled with alligators. He didn't get up after that.
Fan-So what happened to your sister's kidnappers? Is your sister okay?
Joan-She's back home in New York now, and is still in therapy. But she's doing fine considering all she's been through. The police came and arrested everyone, but Jack left before they got there, and I never thought I'd see him again.
Fan-How did you find him?
Joan-He found me. He'd always wanted to get enough money saved to buy a boat and sail around the world, and when he did it, he showed up in front of my apartment, with the boat if you can believe such a thing.
Fan-Oh, that is so romantic! See I knew your life had to be full of epic romance! Where did he get the money living in the jungle?
Joan-Well, he found the alligator that ate Zolo's hand, and the emerald was in his hand at the time the alligator attacked, so when the alligator died, basically from being unable to digest a 9 pound emerald, Jack had him skinned and made into boots, and kept the emerald.
Fan-Ms. Wilder, that is the grossest and most romantic story I've ever heard! I met my husband in high school, such a boring story! Did he sail around the world?
Joan-We did, and it was beautiful. We had some troubles, though. When a man goes from fending for himself in the jungle to just floating with his romance novelist girlfriend, he tends to bore easily. We decided to take some time for ourselves, and I went to do a guest appearance in the Middle East, where Jack and I eventually married. I've always had fans in unexpected places.
Fan-The Middle East? Wow, sounds like you could've had worse trouble there than in South America!
Joan-Oh, I did, but trust me, no one wants to hear that story.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Talking to the mirror

John Hughes, the man who basically shaped my musical mind, has died at the age of 59. Tonight, in his memory I watched "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and am in the process of making a playlist for my iPod. Since many of his films did not have soundtrack albums, over the years I've collected songs on my own from other collections, Napster, iTunes, etc. There are a lot of things I want to add, but I need to convert then from vinyl records. Specifically "Turn to the Sky" by The March Violets from the soundtrack to "Some Kind Of Wonderful".

Anyway, it will be nice to have a good playlist, as I love all of this music. I was checking his IMDB listing to make sure I was getting the best from the best movies, and learned that he wrote the story (screenplay was someone else) for "Maid in Manhattan". I'm not so embarrassed to like that movie anymore.

And I think it's ironic that his death occurred the day before my class reunion. It's like the fates needed to bring it home that my childhood is GONE.

Way to take someone else's tragedy and make it your own, Xan. Dork.

I'll be rocking out to some of the best music of the 80s and quoting for the next week or so. And I'll be talking to myself in the mirror, I'm sure. I'll start now with the quoting:

Kenny'd talk. Alex? Alex would be okay, but Kenny, Kenny'd talk, he'd crack.

They don't close Florida, Clark.

Sweets? You couldn't ignore me if you tried.

How about a nice, greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray?

Only the meek get pinched, the bold survive.

You beat my face!
You grabbed my nuts.
That you?
Yeah, "that me".

You're completely full of shit, and she knows it.

You look good wearing my future.

I washed all my major crevices including in between my toes and in my belly button. Which I never did before, but sort of enjoyed.

Friday, July 24, 2009

An Open letter to the woman dating Jon Gosselin

Dear Woman Who Is Dating Jon Gosselin-


The Woman Appalled That She Watched The New Season Separate Sofa Special In The First Place.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Last night I wasn't feeling very well, so I spent a lot of time on Facebook doing quizzes. The ones I took were particularly brainless, quizzes like "Name That 90s Movie", and you had to choose from photos that were stills of the most famous scenes in the movies, so they were not challenging at all. Just mindless fun while I wasn't feeling up to much else. The fact that I aced all of these dumb ass quizzes got me thinking about my knowledge of popular culture.

The older I get, the more embarrassing it gets that I know every episode of The Simpsons, or that I can recite the entire "Rush Rap" from "Roll The Bones" as well as the Vincent Price rap from "Thriller". I can also recite the "Can You Read My Mind" poem from Superman as well as about 95% of the dialog from Ferris Bueller's Day Off. While these skills never made me cool, they did make me quirky, and I enjoy quirky. I get made fun of a lot, especially when I quote The Simpsons, and some people can be pretty ruthless. I've learned to reign it in a bit because of this, but I have a really good memory so I can't help memorizing quotes.

If I hear something twice, I've learned it. Song lyrics, dialog, even when I learn a new piece on the piano, once I've played it 2 or 3 times I know it by heart. As such, I'm very bad at sight reading music. I of course can help quoting out loud, but I'm a quoter. I pull quotes out as responses, and I have friends with whom I can have total conversations in just quotes. And while I find this an interesting statement about my memory and I love to meet another quoter, this is not always appropriate behavior. Quotes just come to me when I hear something that reminds me of them. People can always tell when I am really tired because I start talking in all quotes.

This comes from a good memory. I have a very good memory, which my friends tell me is both a blessing and a curse. Often, I tend to agree with them. For example, I remember driving on Schrock Road with 1994 with my boyfriend at the time, and he told me that a weeping willow is his favorite tree. Why do I remember this? I have no idea, but I do. I'm not one of those people like Marilu Henner who can tell you exactly what she did on any date., but I remember lots of weird stuff. Including pop culture facts, some that I really didn't wish I know. Things like Danny Wood, Jon and Jordan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, and Joey McIntyre. I really don't want to know that kind of stuff, but I do.

Since my brain is full of pop culture, I'm seen as kind of a doofus. Other friends who have Phds in English know every fact every about Robin Hood, but my knowledge is seen as useless. I'm not a stupid person by any stretch, and I do know a lot of not only useful things, but things that are seen as actual knowledge. I'm pretty good with the periodic table (the atomic weight of cobalt, or Co, is 58.9) and I love to read. I also have a lot of music theory knowledge, and although I can't sight read, I can read music. I don't have the Kochel listings memorized, but I know some stuff.

I started to think about how classical music, plays, and poetry are considered culture, whereas biographies of living actors, movies, and song lyrics are considered pop culture. Keeping in mind that Shakespeare wrote plays for the unwashed (literally) masses in his time and now you can't even get into the Folger library without a PhD, I think the answer is time. But how much time must pass before something is considered culture and worthwhile knowledge rather than pop culture trivia? 30 years? After all, Bob Dylan is seen as a poet now rather than a young hippie upstart. Does dying young help transform you from a flash in the pan to a cultural icon? Case in point James Dean who went from having been in a couple of movies to one of the most celebrated icons of the 1950s.

Time served and death before one's time are a common aspect of all things labeled as culturally valid, but how do you obtain such validity while living? Not everyone has to wait 30 years before they are seen as credible. How does a living writer get onto the path of the writer who is assigned reading in literature class rather than being sold in grocery stores? How does a contemporary director get his work considered "filmmaking" rather than being shown 3 nights in a row on TBS?

Does controversy help? Is it location? Does the credibility of the work reflect in how nice people have to dress to attend? I haven't quite figured out the formula. I think a major factor has to do with the collective consciousness, and there is no predicting that. But from what I've seen, if I live long enough, I'll be considered a scholar rather than a well of trivia.

Monday, June 29, 2009

John Jay Smith

I don't think I'll ever get sick of watching the video for "Thriller". Or "Scream" for that matter. And probably "Bad". Because you ain't bad, you ain't nothin'! You ain't NOTHIN'!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An open letter to the dad I saw earlier today

Dear dad I saw earlier today-

B-dubs may serve food, but it's still a bar. Is it really the best place for 8 year olds?

Just wondering

The girl leaving the parking lot

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Timothy Dalton

It's a bit after 1AM and I'm watching Flash Gordon. I used to stay up late watching it on tape in my parent's basement when I was in high school, and this is bringing back memories. Anyway, Timothy Dalton just swashbuckled on screen to announce that the jewels Prince Vultan was presented as a tribute were in fact stolen from Prince Barin and the other of Arboria. First of all, that is one hell of a voice. Second of all, Dalton is very good. I think he's extremely underrated. I had a discussion a few months ago with my friends Daryl and Nebbie about the different actors who played James Bond. Everyone agreed that Dalton was a fantastic Bond, but the scripts for his movies were just kinda "meh". I think the meh kept me from realizing what a good Bond he was.

He also is fantastic in Hot Fuzz. He did such a good job in that movie, and he's still quite dashing. He has a real Errol Flynn thing going on, but he's better looking than Flynn was. Sorry, Robin Hood.

Ooh, he just said "Lying bitch!". This movie is so great. I love anything touched by Dino De Laurentiis. Come to think of it, a lot of people in this movie are a bit underrated. Richard O'Brien and Chaim Topol to name a few, and of course Brian Blessed. I'd add Max von Sydow to the list, but I don't think anyone underestimates his awesome-ness. Even in short films such as this. Sheesh, who in this movie DOESN'T have an amazing voice? I even love Philip Stone who plays the preacher who marries Dale and Ming. He's the creepy ghost of Grady in The Shining and Alex's father in A Clockwork Orange.

Anyway, back to Dalton. Well, there really isn't much else to say. He's really good and really underrated. That is all. I think I'll watch Hot Fuzz next.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saavik was right...

....I never have faced death.

Not like this.

What is it about death that makes us finally step up to the plate and start living? And on the flip side of that, what makes us go back to our old habits and routines? I think what we sometimes see as our rut is our comfort zone, and no matter how much we think we should do something else, we're in it because we like it that way. If no one was to judge us and how we live, I think as humans we'd be even less motivated.

I'm asking myself these questions because tomorrow is my cousin Ingrid's birthday. She would have been 31 had she lived to celebrate it, and all I can think about are how many birthdays I missed. I wasn't able to celebrate her 30th with her, and oh how I am wishing I had. I'm wishing I'd done a lot of things. The other night I was in the middle of doing some beadwork, and I just broke down crying because it made me remember a jewelry party Ingrid once had that I didn't attend. I'm thinking about all the cards I never sent, the phone calls I never made, and the opportunities to visit I never got off my ass for. And not just with her, but with everyone. I've missed a lot of things, and I look back and I feel a sense of regret, but something made me miss them at the time that seemed more important. Right now I am thinking that nothing in my life could have been more important, but I'm only thinking that because I found out so unexpectedly that my chances were extremely finite. We all prioritize things and we work around what we consider to be solid and unchanging things, or more to the point what we think is unchanging. It's all those stories of people who live their entire lives in New York but never go up in the Empire State building or visit Ellis Island until they've moved away and return to visit. We never seem to take advantage of what is right in front of us.

Ingrid and I were family, and everyone thinks family is always there. For example, Ingrid's wedding was the same day as another friend's that I'd already committed to, so I missed her wedding. She missed mine. We both missed a lot of things. Since we became grownups, it's not as easy to just do anything whenever, and I don't think either one of us ever thought much about it, since hey, we're family, we'll hook up at some point. Working retail for so many years made it hard to do much at Christmas, so I just got in the habit of missing most family holiday festivities.

Before Ingrid died, the closest person to me that died was my friend Sara's father, Greg. His was another very unexpected death, and he was a truly wonderful man. A talented artist and wonderful father and husband, he was the kind of guy who left a positive mark on anyone he met. For example, growing up the house Sara's family lived in was next to a small corner grocery store. They left that house and neighborhood about 10 years before he died, but the owner of the grocery was at his funeral. I mean, everyone loved this guy. After his funeral, some friends and I said that we would make it a point to see each other more often and stay in better touch because we don't want another decade to go by without contact. This vow of course lasted like a month. One of these friends was in law school, the other med school, and things just come up. Life gets in the way sometimes, and no matter how much we swear we won't let it, it just does. It's the same thing that keeps us from keeping New Year's resolutions. Life gets in the way of life, or as I said to my cousin Kane, being a grownup sucks. There isn't always time to take advantage of every chance.

Like today, for example. I went to the Columbus Arts Festival with my friend Kerensa who I haven't seen in real life in like 20 years. We've been connected via the internet and phone calls, but it's been a long time since we've seen each other in person. We had a lovely day, but in my old age it seems like me+heat=migraine, so here I am in bed (and probably shouldn't be) writing this blog. Am I at the movies with my friend Tim? No. And will I look back on this and say "Dammit, I should have gone to see Plan 9 From Outer Space with Tim!"? Probably. Will I remember this migraine? Sure, but it won't seem like much of a reason if Tim ever moves more than the 3 hours away he is currently. Like my friend Kevin who lived 3 hours away for most of the time I knew him, until he moved to Brisbane. Did I take full advantage of his relatively close proximity? Nope.

When we want change, it can be such a good thing. But when we aren't ready for it, it is horrible and we spend so much time searching for a way to capture what is lost just one more time. It never happens. I think this is why I'm fascinated by stories of time travel. Time travel makes it possible to go back and take full advantage of every missed chance, and allows you the wisdom to know how much of a missed chance it is if you don't take it. I wonder what brings more wisdom, experience, or knowing what you missed by not experiencing?

Monday, June 1, 2009

An open letter the guy sitting behind me at Bob Evans

Dear guy sitting behind me at Bob Evans-

First of all, if you are watching your weight, you shouldn't really eat pie regardless of the carb content. Also, no one has used the phrase "suck face" since On Golden Pond.

To answer your question, you kinda made it my business by talking about it so loud.

Just FYI,

The girl who ordered the chicken club

Friday, May 29, 2009

Desert Island Discs

What albums would you take to a desert island? The logical answer would be the ones that would get me off the island, but that's really not the point of the question. The point of the question is to think about what albums could you not live without if you were to be stranded with no access to the rest of your stuff or new items. I've thought about this a lot, and sometimes I think I might not want to take my favorites since I know them backwards and forwards and can conjure them at any second. I also wouldn't want to have those albums associated with the memory of being marooned on a desert island.

But this question always makes me think of albums that I'm crazy about. There are some that I just love beginning to end, and they remind me of a certain period and when I hear them I'm right back there. I hope you're dying to hear what they are because I'm dying to talk about them! I'm sick in bed and typing is about all I can do right now, so here goes. These are 18 of them in no particular order, just in the order they came to me.

Tears For Fears, Songs From The Big Chair
This was the first compact disc I ever owned. It came out in 1985, but I didn't own it until 1991. It was my last day of school present from my parents. I'd known and loved the singles, but when I purchased it I fell in love with the whole thing. It's one of those that only sounds right if I listen to it all. I still love it and I just bought the deluxe reissue with extra tracks and it's just that much better.

The Stone Roses self titled album
If anything can be the soundtrack to my high school experience, this is it. I first heard this album during a Saturday stagecraft session. We would all bring out own music to listen to while we built and painted sets, and I cannot remember the name of the girl who brought this one, but I immediately loved it. I had a dub (remember that back in the day of cassettes?) from the library for about a year until I found it used at Used Kids, and I still have that copy. Chris had a copy of it too, and when we got married we had many duplicates in our collection when we consolidated them. We sold all of the duplicates besides this one, I just couldn't get rid of one. I thought we needed a backup copy.

Prince, Sign O' The Times
Too bad I can't make a peace symbol. That is what the "O" is on the album cover. This is my favorite Prince album to this day. Granted, Prince has made some amazing music since then, but this album means the most to me. I got this album sometime in the 6th grade. I can't remember if it was a birthday or Christmas, but I am pretty sure it was a gift because it was a double album and I can't imagine affording that myself. I was never good at savin' up. This album is amazing. From the adorably quirky "Starfish and Coffee" to the romantic "Adore", I love every song on here. Even "The Cross", which I like the least (it slows the album down big time) but I still love it because it's so different. I never skip a single song on this one, and I love to say "Shut up, already. Damn!" whenever I get the chance. One time I went up to my friend Georges because I needed to ask him something, and I said "Question-". Before I could respond he replied with "Does anybody know about the 'Quake?" This album brings out the awesome in everyone.

Beastie Boys, License To Ill
This was my first album with the "Parental Advisory" label. I got this one when I was in the 5th grade from the Buzzard's Nest in the Graceland Shopping Center on High Street. Buzzard's Nest was a great record shop, and I still miss it. I had friends who owned this record, and I loved the song "Paul Revere" so much that I had to own it myself. I had only the tape so I missed out on the awesome photo that was on the gatefold vinyl edition, but I was a big fan of the portability of cassettes. Again, the Beastie Boys have put out lots more fantastic music, but this one is a big deal to me. My first rap record and the first time Tipper Gore warned my parents about the evils of having more juice than Picasso has paint.

Billy Bragg, Worker's Playtime
One late night in 1991, David Letterman featured a musician named Billy Bragg. He came out in black jeans and a flannel shirt and sang a song called "Sexuality". The next day I was at the library finding whatever I could by this young man. Back then, dubbing from the library or friends was the most economical way to get new music for jobless high schoolers. I found an album called Talking to the Taxman About Poetry, and one day after school I made Juice drive me to Camelot Music so I could purchase the Don't Try This At Home album. When I started going down to Ohio State's campus area record stores, I found a used Billy Bragg album called Worker's Playtime and it soon became my favorite thing ever. This is another where every song is a song I love, and I once listened to only it on loop for a 4 hour road trip and never once got sick of it. This album is also very special to me and Chris, but that's a longer story.

Kate Bush, The Kick Inside
My old roommate Steve used to say that the jerks who robbed us got punishment enough if they watched the Kate Bush videos they stole from me, but don't listen to him. She's amazing. My first year of college I became completely Kate obsessed. This was also around the time the whole internet thing was becoming a very common thing, so I was constantly online on Kate message boards, back when I still did the message board thing. I purchased her best of, The Whole Story during one of my major used record buying binges, and I loved it so much I decided to start from the beginning and work my way up. I purchased The Kick Inside and as with the rest of these albums, practically wore a hole in it. And this is not possible with a CD. This is one of those albums where the songs all flow into each other so I really find it's best to listen to it from start to finish and not put it on random. There was something about this album that made me feel feminine to listen to it. Coincidentally, it was around this time that I began wearing skirts again on a regular basis. I still can't decide which is my favorite song on this album, but depending on the day you ask me I'll either say "Strange Phenomenon" or "Feel It".

Elvis Costello, Imperial Bedroom
Everyone knows I am a huge Elvis fan. When asked who is my favorite musician, I always say Elvis. And while I can't choose a favorite album of his since they are all fantastic in their own way, this one was one of those that was played non stop for a few months. This one also has a really cool cover that is good for staring while in your room listening to this album about 3 times before doing anything else. "Almost Blue" was perfect fodder for my teenage angst, so was "Town Cryer". When I got into Elvis, like REALLY got into him, I was a sophomore in high school. And when you don't have a job and you want nothing more to own every album by man who has released one every year since 1977 and by this time it was 1991, this was a daunting task. I got what I could when I could, checking out Half Price Books and Used Kids whenever possible. As such, I wasn't really paying attention to the order in which I bought them, but rather making sure that however I did it, I bought them all. I only knew like 3 other fans while I was in high school, so dubbing wasn't much of an option. So when I got around to Imperial Bedroom, I was so sucked into it that I really would just sit on my bed and listen while I read the included lyrics. I so wish I had that kind of time again when I buy records. Just to lie on my bed and listen to an album while reading the lyrics and liner notes.

Bryan Ferry, Taxi
Let's get this out of the way-I LOVE Bryan Ferry. I'm not sure there is a sexier male voice in the history of recorded music. And although Taxi quickly found it's place in the cutout bins and can almost always be found used in the cheap bins, I really really love this one. Sure it's overproduced in a way that makes it seem like it belongs under the label of "Adult Contemporary", but there are some gems on this one. His version of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" is this wonderful, ethereal song and the first time I heard it, I cried. Seriously. Not only do I love this song (it doesn't preach the prudishness, and it addresses the concern of "am I just a conquest to be tossed out after this" in a very poetic way. Carole King's words and Bryan Ferry's voice is a soul touching combo. I'm sounding cheesy I know, but my first listen to this album was a blissful experience.

The Clientele, Strange Geometry
I forget what led me to The Clientele. They were suggested for me by either or iTunes, I forget which. The first album of theirs I purchased was God Save The Clientele, and I loved it, so when at Christmas I got an iTunes gift card, I decided to check out more Clientele. I used my gift money to purchase Strange Geometry and I went crazy. I would pull up this album on my iPod and it would be all I would listen to for hours. The Clientele has this very mellow, almost ambient, 60s pop feel, and the music grew on my like kudzu. The second song on the album is the beautifully melancholy "I Can't Seem To Make You Mine", and the second to the last song is the captivating spoken piece, "Losing Haringey". Listening to the description of being transported back to 1982 after looking at a photo will sell anyone one The Clientele. I'm listening to this song as I type this, because just talking about it made me have to listen to it. My iPod Shuffle has nothing but The Clientele on it right now, and I call it the Clientelepod.

Leonard Cohen, I'm Your Man
This album is so fantastic I don't think any explanation is needed to describe the awesomeness of it and why it grabbed me in such a way to make it one of my favorite albums of all time. I was first exposed this album when my friend Troy put "Ain't No Cure For Love" on a mix tape for me. This is the kind of love song I can get into. It has that classic pop song lyric theme of being in love and not being about to do anything about it, but with his low voice and that great sax and bass, it seems much deeper. And the album starts out with "First We Take Manhattan", and this is a great way to immediately grab the attention of the listener. There is no way you won't want to listen to this whole thing after that.

Edwyn Collins, Gorgeous George
Back in the 1990s there was a little movie called Empire Records. It was an indie flick that didn't have much steam at the box office, but the soundtrack was an alterna-rock best seller. This soundtrack was the mainstream introduction of Edwyn Collins to the American alterna-listener. Edwyn is a Scottish musician who in recent years has had some health issues keep him from recording very much, but whenever he does I pounce on it. Anyway, as well as being on the soundtrack, his song "Girl Like You" was on his Gorgeous George album. Not being all that into the other songs on the soundtrack, I bought his album and it was one of my better choices I've made in my life. The album starts out with "Campaign For Real Rock", which is basically Edwyn bitching about Lollapalooza. It's droning drums and opening minor chords let you know that this and all that comes after is going to be your new favorite thing. It sure was mine. I've still never seen the movie, but I think I got the best thing out of it.

U2, The Joshua Tree
Good gravy is this an amazing album. I wore the cassette that I got in the 6th grade out to the point where it did that thing where it would flip in the middle and start playing the other side. I listened to it so much that for a while I wasn't able to listen to it as it would remind me of doing last minute book reports. I seriously listened to this album every night during home work for about half of my 6th grade year. Not having done a book report in decades, that association is gone and I can listen to this one all day long on repeat.

Simple Minds, New Gold Dream
Jim Kerr is just about the only person who could get me to ignore my husband at a party. The crush I had on him beginning in 1985 is still going strong, as is my love for this album. This is 80s new romantic pop perfection. While Simple Minds are considered a one hit wonder in the US thanks to The Breakfast Club, they have a lot of good music that came before and after. They have a new record coming out soon actually. When I got this album which was handed down to me from a friend of the family, I had only been exposed to "Don't You (Forget About Me), but I loved it so much I was eager to try more from the band. My only copy of this for a long time was vinyl, and I do swear you can see through it since I played it so many times. To listen to it now reminds me of being young and figuring out who I was and what my tastes were.

Colin Hay, Topanga
In 1995, VH1 ran a special about 80s musical artists called "Where Are They Now?" Colin Hay was in the 80s band Men At Work who in my opinion put out 2 of the top 20 best albums of the 80s, Business As Usual and Cargo. That 20 best list is a list for another time. Anyway, since Men At Work won the Best New Artist Grammy in 1982, the next logical step was to fall completely off the map as most Best New Artists do. Such a weird category, either you win it when you are new and you break up 2 years later, or you're U2 and you win on your 5th album. Or is it 6th? I think it depends on if you count Under A Blood Red Sky or Wide Awake In America. Anyway, Colin Hay was on this show and I learned that he was working on a solo career. And since I love Men At Work and Colin Hay's voice, I picked up his solo album Topanga when I was in Tower Records in New York City on my 21st birthday. I think it stayed in the CD player until my 23rd birthday and returned to it's constant spot of play after my 24th birthday after Colin Hay sang to me. I went to see him with my friend Shelley and we were almost hugging him we were so close to the stage. I said something to him and somehow the conversation got around to the fact that it was my birthday the next day, so he not only sang "Happy Birthday" to me, but also played my request, "Waiting For My Real Life To Begin". This is my favorite song off this album, and I consider it my theme song. And of course, one of the best damn birthday presents ever.

World Party, Goodbye Jumbo
This album, along to a lesser extent the 10,000 Maniacs album Blind Man's Zoo, is the soundtrack to my freshman year of high school. If I had my Walkman with me, I had this tape in it. This is one of those special albums where every track is my favorite. When I purchased this one I was about a month into my high school experience. I went to alternative high school, so the music my classmates listened to was very different to that of what my junior high classmates insisted on at dances. This being so different made me feel like I was really growing up and learning who I was, not just who I tried to be at school. I to this day go through periods where this is all I listen to for about 2 weeks straight. "Sweet Soul Dream" is a love song that can sell anyone on the band.

Joe Jackson, Look Sharp
Joe Jackson was one of those names I'd heard, but never knew much about, and a customer at Media Play actually got me to check out his music. When I did, I realized that he was one of those musicians I knew lots of songs by, I'd just never given too much thought to the fact that they were all done by the same guy. I found a copy of the cassette of this album for $1 at Used Kids Records, and this seriously never left the car. I actually bought a vinyl copy of this so I could have a home copy and a car copy, I loved it so much. So even if there was a rare occasion that it left the cassette deck, I still had it in the car so it could go back in at any second. This was my first car, and I remember listening to this album while driving around looking for my first apartment. I got to see Joe Jackson on my 32nd birthday, and it was amazing beyond description.

Nick Lowe, The Convincer
Back when Columbus had a Virgin Megastore (we have a lame Crate and Barrel now), Chris and I used to go there and spend hours thumbing through the racks and listening to the new releases. I've always liked Nick Lowe, but had never owned much by him other than the "Cruel To Be Kind" 45". When I saw that he had a new album I decided to check it out and i put on the headphones. After about track 3 I had the album in my hand and was ready to buy. This album is amazing. The songs are so well written and well produced, and it is another that didn't leave the car for months after I bought it. The love songs are deep and sweet, and the songs that are bitter are only so underneath so the songs themselves are quite enjoyable. His cover of Johnny Rivers' "Poor Side Of Town" is worth the cost of the album alone.

Yaz, Upstairs at Eric's
My friend Nicole introduced me to Yaz in 1992, and I've been obsessed with them (and Alison Moyet) ever since. Yazoo is known to Americans as Yaz because of a name conflict with another band. This album is the soundtrack to my sophomore year of high school for sure. I think this is the only thing that got the World Party tape out of the Walkman. I listened to this constantly, and I love Alison's voice so much. When they reunited in 2008, they played New York and I was lucky enough to go see them with friends. My memory of their performance of "Only You" is a blurry one since I cried through the whole thing as I was so excited to be hearing it and seeing them live. I've become a teen in my 30s as I kinda dress like Alison now, and that's kinda on purpose.

An open letter to Wal-Mart customers

Dear Wal-Mart customers-

Seriously, you can't throw your drink away when you're finished with it? Do all of your cups have to go on the ground in the parking lot? Have ANY of you noticed the garbage cans placed at the entrances of businesses?

Just wondering,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coronet films

One of my friends posted a link on their Facebook page to a YouTube video about Facebook etiquette that was in the style of one of those 1950s films about manners or hygiene. I've always thought those were hilarious, maybe because I grew up watching Pee Wee Herman specials (no Mr. Bungle in THIS lunchroom!) and MST3K. I did see some of these as a kid, and I also found them to be rather goofy since the ones I saw were mainly from the 1970s and very, very dated from the clothing. In the 80s there wasn't much funnier to us than bellbottoms.

After seeing this Facebook etiquette video, I checked around YouTube for actual films from the 1950s. I found quite a few, and some that I've seen as MST3K shorts. This one is my favorite so far.

This was produced by Coronet Films which if you ask me, is the gold standard for hilarious educational films. This one is called "What To Do On A Date", and there is something so charming about the squareness of these ideas. I'm all for creative ideas for first dates, something other than dinner and a movie. A movie is fine as a first date as long as you do something else too since you can't really talk during a movie. But a swim meet or a square dance? Adorable! I'd be totally cool with setting up the scavenger sale, but when I was a kid, it was considered uncool to do too many activities organized by the community center or school. It was considered more grown up to come up with your own ideas, and being at a chaperoned activity was a total buzz kill. But from this video, it looks like the adults of this town trust these clean cut kids to set up the scavenger sale and take a bike trip by themselves.

I also love Kay and Nick's playful banter. And when Nick says he always thought that girls only wanted guys to take them fancy places and spend lots of money, Kay answers with "Not THIS girl!" She's a good egg, that Kay.

All in all, this one has a good message, but doesn't give very good examples. Something creative and not too fancy is a good idea, but a weenie roast may just be a bit too Girl Scout camp for me when it comes to a date.

There is another Coronet film that I liked, but I don't like the message. This one is called "Shy Guy", and it's on YouTube in 2 parts. Part 1 can be found here.

While we were watching this one for the first time, once we saw the "star" Chris said, "Is that Darren?" And lo and behold, this one stars a young Dick York who is just adorable as usual. He's a shy kid who dresses in suits and likes to tinker with radios, and has just moved to a new city and school. He's finding it hard to make friends, and is too shy to put himself out there. His father tells him to watch what the outgoing, aka, popular kids do, and see how they differ. Fortunately, Dick York's new school is full of polite and kind popular kids, so he actually picks up good habits. These kids are helpful and polite. If my dad had given me this advice, I'd have learned how to act dumb to get the football players to like them, or chew gum too loud while making fun of people's clothes.

Anyway, this film is too one sided. All of the burden is on the shy guy to conform and be like everyone else. There is nothing about how everyone else should be tolerant of the shy person and not make up stories about why they are so quiet. Granted, about a decade later Coronet did a film about understanding other people and their personalities and feelings, but in this on it just sounds like "Snap out of it, Shy Guy! Wear the same kind of clothes and be more like the rest of the gang and they'll like you!" Nothing about being yourself and finding others like you. Oh well, I grew up in the middle of the Marlo Thomas "Free To Be You And Me" era which says you are who you are, and we need to tolerate everyone.

One sided as it is, I have a new favorite quote that I'm going to be saying all the time. When the Shy Guy is observing the outgoing people, he hears one boy tell another about a book that will help him prepare for the exam. Shy Guy is mad at himself for the missed opportunity, and says "I knew about that book! I coulda been the guy who helped a guy!" Next time I need help, I'll ask someone "Hey, can you be the guy who helps a guy and give me a hand with this?"

There is something so charming about what people in the 1950s wanted everyone to think was the way to be. I'm sure way fewer people were really like this than Coronet would have us believe. Bettie Page and John Willie prove that. But the squareness is so cute. Too bad the squareness hides the intense intolerance. These are the palest short films you'll ever see.

Monday, May 25, 2009

An open letter to eBay sellers of candy dispensers

Dear eBay sellers of candy dispensers-

Klix aren't Pez. No amount of keyword comparisons will suddenly make me want to sully my Pez collection and buy your Klix.

Nothing against Klix, they are a fine product. They just aren't Pez.

Thank you,


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Where does the past belong?

This weekend I've been drowning in nostalgia. And I think I'm ready for some air.

I went to an alternative high school that was part of the main Worthington school system. The Linworth Alternative Program, or AP as we call it, is a small school that students apply to for acceptance. It's a public school, but it's not like regular high school. My friends who didn't go there call it my "nerd school", since the teaching model is very much in the style of university with small discussion based classes with grades depending on papers and exams, rather than daily homework, small quizzes and other such busywork. Our classes were very small, as was the school. The school was for grades 9-12, and the total of students from all 4 grades rarely got above 150. I think one year the school had 175, and that was considered a huge number. As such, when we have reunions, they aren't class reunions, they are reunions for anyone who ever went to the school. After all, when your graduating class has like 50 people in it, considering the low turnouts anyway, this isn't much of a gathering.

I'm bringing this up because students who went to Linworth were assigned a "Home School", which was one of the 2 main high schools in the district. This was the school a student would have gone to had that student not applied to the AP, and it was based on their location in the city. There were 2 high schools, and even as AP students we still had classes at the main campuses, since not everything was offered at the AP, and we didn't have separate extra curricular programs. Anyway, the graduating class of my main campus had their 15 year high school reunion last night. I know that was a lot of backstory to say that I went to a high school reunion, but I felt the explanation was necessary.

Now since I went to the AP all 4 years of high school and only ventured to the main campus for French and Theatre and that one year for Chemistry, I didn't know anyone outside of those classes. I did take Music Theory, but that was a lot of Theatre crossover. I didn't do the football game Friday thing, nor did I go to dances and such. Nothing against them (granted, I hate football), I just didn't know the people there. And the ones I did I knew from middle school or even elementary school. So there were a lot of people I saw this weekend who I haven't seen since the 1990 trip to Washington, D.C., let alone high school graduation.

So long story short, last night was weird.

I went because there were some friends from theater I hadn't seen in a very long time, and people who I've been chatting with on Facebook, so I had a nice time. But there were a lot of guys who remember more about my dad from when he was a wrestling coach. And while there are sometimes I feel very nervous to go to AP reunions (I know those people better and I don't exactly have a squeaky clean past), I was not at all nervous to go to this one. I had no interest in impressing these people, and I was just there to say hey. It was nice, but weird. It felt again like I was out of place and somewhere with people I don't really know. But we share a part of our past, and so it was nice to see that everyone is doing well.

And as I said to my friend Amelia, adulthood is the great leveler. We're in our 30s now and living in a big world where the popular kids aren't popular anymore. Any drama we had in high school with anyone is gone. At least, it should be. There is no reason to hang onto crap for this long unless something really, really bad happened. I've become extremely forgiving in recent years.

Today, Chris went to Mansfield to a toy show with our nephew, and I stayed home as we had guests coming today. And this being the 8 days of the 80s on VH1 Classic, I watched 80s videos all day long. Like from letter L to letter R, flipping during sucky videos over to Die Hard on Cinemax. And I started thinking how this weekend was a really good example of how much I live in the past.

When I was a manager of a music store, I hired a lot of young people since someone needed to know what the kids were listening to these days. One day, one of my employees came in and asked me about a commercial he had seen with an 80s song in it, and he asked me who the band was. When I told him, he said "I KNEW you would know!" And this one statement made me feel very very old. I thought, I do really listen still to a lot of 80s music. I haven't gotten into many new bands lately, and I'm becoming one of those people who haven't added much to their record collection since college. And this scared me into spending hours on iTunes and Amazon clicking from suggestion to suggestion trying to find something new.

I do get a bit stuck on things which eventually become old things. Like I've always said that movies I've seen a million times are like good old friends. You know them really well and they can put you in whatever mood you need to be. But lately I've been finding that the same old movies don't have the same old effect on me anymore, and I think this means I'm ready to find a more current repertoire in all aspects of my life.

I need to find conversation topics that don't involve past shenanigans. I need to become obsessively passionate about a new band. I need at favorite movie released after 2005. And when I pick up again with the people I knew long ago, I need to interact with them as we are now, and not try to hold onto how we used to be. And I need to be okay that things are going to be different, even if I was not ready for the change to happen. I need to look ahead rather than cling to what is behind me, and not feel the need to revisit so much. The past isn't the best place to be, it's just what I'm used to. I need to remember that what is in front of me is what I make of it, and if I want to I can make it rule.

By the way, it was The Cars.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

An Open Letter to Dr. Denis Leary

Dear Dr. Leary-

May I begin with congratulating you on your recent honorary degree! I've always hoped I'd do something famous enough to have such an honor bestowed upon myself. Thing is, I don't think you get one of these unless you actually graduated from someplace. I wonder if I could get so famous that I could say to the Ohio State University "Well, I always intended to return to finish and get that Women's Studies degree once I got out of the debt that prevented me from continuing college, does that count? I could just save everyone a lot of time and go straight to the honorary doctorate. After all, isn't an honorary degree about as useful as a Women's Studies degree?"

Honestly, that wasn't a dig at you. It was a dig at myself and my complete and total inability to finish anything. If we want to discuss this, we can start with my unfinished degree and work our way down to the repair job I promised 4 years ago to a co-worker at a job I don't even work anymore. Her mother's pearls and the vermeil and the intentions are all still sitting getting dusty in my repair job bin on my beading table. Hell, I'll be lucky if I ever finish this letter.

I really was congratulating you. Honest. I think you deserve way more recognition that you get, and certainly more than Rescue Me provides you.

I'm writing because I am in the middle of reading your book. And before you say to yourself "Christ, here's another one!", just hear me out for a second. I'll just get it out of the way right now so you won't think you're reading another pissed off letter: I love your book. I think it needed to be written and it all needs to be said, and I'm glad you're doing it, since I don't really think anyone remembers your speech from Demolition Man even though that was the best thing about that movie.

I've seen Judgement Night too, and I quote Lock and Load all the time. See? I like you!

Anyway, back to your book. I think your book is going to piss off a lot of people that really need to be pissed off. Anyone who can't handle the truth and blames the person who brings it up is a pain in the ass. Sure, the truth hurts, but it's still the truth. I don't think there is any reason to bring things up only for the purpose of being hurtful. Statements like "Geez, why are you still wearing that shirt, you know that's why Julie left you!" or "I'll bet watching Vera Drake was hard for you, what with the 3 abortions you have under your belt." There's no reason to bring up hurtful stuff and hide behind the phrase "What, I'm just being honest!" But that's not what you're doing here. You're telling general truths and they are truths we need to face and deal with.

I should tell you a little bit about myself. I'm 33, married with no children or desire for children (I pause here to take my birth control pill while I'm thinking about it) and I'm fat. I do have more to my personality (I collect Pez and enjoy live music and independent film) but nothing that really gets talked about in your book other than my weight problem. And trust me, I know it's a problem. I'm not going to sit here and talk about the unrealistic standard of beauty portrayed in the media and how everyone of all sizes can be beautiful. Granted, there is a bizarre standard of beauty that basically says unless you are a dead ringer for a Rodin sculpture who is no older than 28, you're hideous. We all know this is bullshit (although it would be nice to be that in shape, I must admit), but that's not the point I'm trying to make.

The reason I mentioned that I am fat is because it's about the only thing I think you're book is going to target. And I just wanted to get it out of the way and admit it and let you know that I really don't mind you targeting fat people. While I don't think I should be made a pariah due to my size, I also don't think I have nothing wrong with me. I eat too much cheese and barely exercise, and I love ice cream. I know what those 3 things combined will create. Sure, when you talk about fat people in your book, I feel a little bad about myself, but I don't blame you. I don't think "Damn you Denis Leary! You have no right to talk about me like that! You don't know me!" What I am thinking is "Jesus, he's right. Do I even know where my gym membership card is? Do I even still belong to the gym? Dammit, that's one more thing I have to do tomorrow." And then I eat some chips and go on reading.

You mention in your book that stereotypes exist because they are true, and I agree with you. No one ever says "You mean to tell me you actually saw a white person in a pickup truck and a cowboy hat? In the CITY? Wait, you talked to him and he said he lives in an apartment and has never owned a cow? I don't believe it! Something new every day!" Or you don't ever hear "Damn, I was shocked to see the woman who bought all of those scrapbooking supplies get into a minivan of all things!" Stereotypes aren't there because only 2 people fall into them. One of my goals in life is to stay out of a stereotype as much as possible. Sadly, I'm a fat girl who loves science fiction and comic books, so I fall smack dab into the middle of a stereotype, and won't get out until I drop a few pounds. I do shower daily so this puts me in the upper echelon of this group.

What I'm not going to do is get angry at your book for pointing out that I fall into a stereotype. Granted, stereotypes are no reason to pay someone less or not hire them or not allow them to receive benefits or something. And sure, it's not nice of people to judge everything about a person based on where they fall into a stereotype, but hey, that one part of them still fits the stereotype. Okay, maybe you have a PhD in philosophy, but if you have those really long nails with the earrings in them, I'm going to have a pretty good idea about your sense of taste.

So I'm preaching to the choir here, I need to stop. You know what I'm saying, you've already said it all in your book! You know that the fair thing to do is to give someone a chance, but you also know, as I do, that you will likely not be surprised by someone. If you are, great, and count them as one of the good ones. But more often than not, what you think about a person is usually an accurate assessment. People as a whole are extremely facile, and nowhere near as interesting as they would like to consider themselves. In my experience, the ones who are loudest in their declarations of their own uniqueness are the plainest of the bunch. They'd rather talk about how unique they are rather than do something that makes them unique.

So long story short, I'm a fat leftist American female, and I love this book. Cross me off the list of possible people to be offended, because the truth isn't offensive. You're not one of those white guys making unfair assumptions based on the one person he's ever met, you know your shit. You may offend someone who says "Hey, I'm a (fill in type) and I don't do (whatever you said that type does)!", but you can always come back with "Sure, maybe not you, but you know that others in your similar ilk do exactly what I described, right?" and the answer will always be something like "Well.....yeah....I guess...."

Nice job. I think this book should be required reading for teenagers, to help them avoid becoming just another sucky American asshole. A great song by the way. "I like football and porno and books about war" is so descriptive, I know exactly who you mean.

Yours in Christ,
Xan Sprouse

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Joss Whedon is my new They Might Be Giants

I attended high school from the years 1990 to 1994, or in terms of epochs, this was the heyday something called college rock. I don't think any bands are classified as college rock anymore. Anyone who would have been in the early 90s now just falls under the blanket category of "indie rock", even if they are on a major label. Maybe the term "alternative rock" still gets used, but since I gave up the quest to be the ultimate music snob about a decade ago, I stopped paying attention to labels. If I like something, I kinda don't give a rats ass how it's labeled by the industry. Unless it is considered emo, in which case my old snobbish ways would most likely rear their ugly heads and make me think twice about wether or not I want to be the girl in her 30s buying emo records. So far, this hasn't been an issue.

With my formidable years being the early 90s, I was lucky in that college rock was readily available where I grew up. Columbus had (and still has) some pretty decent radio stations that play such music, so we don't have to get Sirius in order to have a choice other than country and top 40. I also went to a very small high school which meant I was around the upperclassmen more than had I gone to a bigger school. As such, I learned about new music from the seniors, wether it was because they told me about bands or I learned about a band by noticing their name on t-shirts. And since I went to an alternative high school with my only exposure to the "main campus" being theater, we're talking about kids who were into the college rock thing. My freshman year I learned about bands I'd never heard of before, but still love to this day like The Pixies and The House of Love. Sophomore year, I spent a lot of Saturdays doing stagecraft for theater which meant hours of mix tapes made by the other stagecrafters. Theater stagecraft was where I first heard the Stone Roses, and They Might Be Giants.

Well, that's not entirely true. I'd first heard They Might Be Giants when my friend Sara came to visit and brought her cassette of Lincoln, which to date is still my favorite of the TMBG albums. I loved this at first spin, or spool I suppose since this was a tape, and dubbed it from her. I'd heard of them, but never knew anything about them until Sara played me Lincoln. So I had no idea that this was not their most recent album. After Lincoln came an album called Flood which was released in 1990. This was the album that contained the alternative/college/whateverthehell rock stapes such as "Particle Man", the classic "Istanbul, Not Constantinople", and the odd but lovable "Minimum Wage". To this day I can't say the words "Minimum Wage" without singing it to myself and hearing "HYAH!" after it.

Anyway, in alt rock circles, Flood was huge and my high school was certainly in said circle. It was played during most stagecraft Saturdays, parties, and people sang songs like "Birdhouse In Your Soul" while on the bus to and from the campuses of our school. And truth be told, I got a little sick of it. Now I'm not reverting back to my music snob ways and saying the classic snob declaration of "I like their old stuff better", because that's not true. I like Flood, I just don't like to be drowned in it.

Sorry about that.

But I do like Flood. It has a lot of really good songs on it, and so do the albums that came after Flood. I think I have a soft spot for Lincoln since it was my first real exposure to the band, and Sara and I have been singing those songs together for 18 years now. But even with my nostalgic feelings for Lincoln, a little of TMBG goes a long way for me. I can maybe listen to about 5 songs in a row, but after that I start to get sick of it. This has never been a band where I can put all of the albums in a CD changer or on my iPod, hit shuffle and listen all day. I won't change the station if a TMBG song comes on the radio, but if it's a 5 song rock block I might start looking for another station around song 4.

Yet I've met several people who can listen to TMBG all day long. They love this band, almost disciple level devotion. They're not like Cure fans or anything, but still, devoted beyond what I can offer. Some of these people did stagecraft with me, so a lot of my Saturdays were inundated with TMBG. Sadly, I think listening to this extremely this peppy music a 9AM after a long walk in the cold to the shop was a big contributor to my inability to listen to this band for more than 30 minutes at a time.

I have seen this band live, and live is different. I had no trouble at the concert with the exception of being pickpocketed, but I didn't have the tapes playing in the car before or after the show. And while I own albums by them and genuinely do like this band, I just can't provide the level of devotion others can to them. Sure, I had a crush on John Linnell and sure I've purchased the Lincoln album at least twice now due to changing formats, but I never was as obsessed with this band as others I've known. My first inclination when I'm in the need for dairy that is out of my reach is to say "Please pass the milk, please", so it's not like I can't ever stand this music or like to sing it myself.

A few years ago there was a Hellboy miniseries called "Conquerer Worm", and every time I said that my brain wanted to sing it as "They call me Conquerer Worm/Good morning how are you, I'm Conquerer Worm/I'm interested in things"...... you get the idea. I could go on with examples of how other such TMBG references are locked in my brain, but I digress.

Something I did become obsessed with in high school however was a movie called Buffy The Vampire Slayer. This movie came out in 1992 and I was all over it because it was the first thing Paul Reubens had done since his unpleasantness. It also starred Rutger Hauer who I consider to be extremely fun to look at in spite of the fact that he often plays really really mean characters. And at the time, the casting of Luke Perry as a punk mechanic rather than the bad boy with a pompadour he was best known for from 90210 was relevantly ironic. Keep in mind this movie also featured future Academy Award winner Hilary Swank as well as the always fantastic Donald Sutherland. Of course, Kristy Swanson as Buffy was wonderful as well. "I am the chosen one, and I choose to go shoppping." I love this movie.

I was not however into the idea of this being a TV show when it was released in 1997. With the exception of M*A*S*H*, the idea of turning a movie into a TV show is rarely a good one. My initial feelings towards Buffy were no exception. I thought "Why ruin this good thing by making a TV show? This can't be good!" I had no desire to watch Sydney from Swans Crossing take over the role I thought had been expertly portrayed by the girl who tells Ben Stein that Ferris Bueller is sick. And, I would get excited when flipping through the on screen channel guide when I saw Buffy listed, only to be disappointed that it was just the show, not the movie.

I successfully avoided Buffy for a good 6 or 7 years. I had tons of friends who loved this show and tried and tried to get me to give it a chance, but to no avail. Not until my husband started buying the DVDs did I even consider it, and even then it took a year or two for me to want to see what this show was all about. So one night, we made some snicky snack food and settled in to school me on Buffy the TV show. Surprisingly, I found myself really enjoying it. I think we made it through 2 seasons in 3 days.

Everything everyone had told me about it was true. It's very different from the movie, so they can be separate entities and one won't taint the other. Sarah Michelle Gellar made a good Buffy, and her new Watcher Giles played by Anthony Steward Head is fantastic. The writing was clever, and I did love the friends Buffy had on TV much more than the friends she had in the movie. Hilary Swank's Oscar notwithstanding, those girls were bitches.

The clever writing I learned was thanks to the show's creator, Joss Whedon who had been a contributing screenwriter for Toy Story, which I loved. Around the time I finally began watching Buffy, the Angel spinoff had begun and so had the short lived but much loved Firefly series. And since I liked Toy Story and Buffy so much, I tried out Angel and Firefly, and really liked both of those as well. However, with the exception of Firefly (which was only barely half a season), I started to realize that I might be overdosing on Joss Whedon related programming.

I think it took about 2 weeks for Chris and I to watch up through half of season 5 of Buffy before I started to get sick of it. This was around that whole Glory storyline which I did not really get into, and it even started to feel like effort to watch episodes of Angel. I had to give it a rest, which I did for like 3 or 4 more years. If there was an episode on television when I couldn't sleep I'd watch it, but I wasn't making my way through the season sets of the DVDs anymore.

I'm going to segue here but I promise it leads somewhere.

In 2007 and 2008, I returned to my obsession with Doctor Who that I'd had in high school and college. Chris and I hadn't been keeping up with the new series, but what I'd seen I'd loved so we decided to get caught up before the 4th season started. I became so obsessed with this new show that it took me about 3 weeks to watch all 3 seasons of Doctor Who and both seasons of Torchwood. After I was done with these, I started getting the old episodes from the library and Netflix, trying to get mainly old Dalek episodes since those were my favorite. When the Daleks made their first appearance in the new series, I actually yelled "No way! That's what I'm talking about!" to the television. Alone in my house. Sad.

After I'd exhausted the Doctor Who that was readily available, I wanted something else to watch and remembered that I'd never finished all of the seasons of Buffy. I decided to just start season 5 over again since it had been so long, and so I grabbed the box set and threw the disc in, and lasted about 2 episodes.

I was still burned out on Buffy. I tried Angel as well, but still, I just couldn't get into it. To this day I've only seen about 5 episodes total from seasons 5-7 of Buffy. One of those was the last one, so I have my closure. And Angel, I've seen a bit past Doyle's death and the Muppet episode, but that's about it. I've also yet to sit down and watch Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog, and I've not watched a single episode of Dollhouse even though my DVR faithfully records it every week. I also have a larger than I'm proud of stack of unread Buffy, Angel, and Spike comics. Worse yet, I've read only the first 2 issues of Joss Whedon's X-Men. And, I have pretty lukewarm feelings about that musical episode of Buffy.

Now to some, what I just admitted is completely and utterly unthinkable. The thought that there is Joss Whedon material out there that is unseen is cause for an epic quest not to be abandoned until all Whedon has been watched, read, or heard. And to them, I must seem like a heretic.

There are some Joss Whedon fans who have a devotion to his work that is admirable. It's fun to like something that much. Said fans will tell you their 5 favorite shows are Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and maybe Tru Calling and Bones because they star Buffy alumni. They own the issues and the trades of the Joss Whedon X-Men, and probably read their Buffy comics in the car after they pick them up. And while I enjoy the work of Whedon, and while I am friends with fans like this, I cannot share in this obsession. The same way I cannot share the obsession with my They Might Be Giants fan friends.

Again, don't get me wrong, I really do enjoy this stuff. Firefly and the movie Serenity that came after are both amazing and I love them. I still dust off my copy of Lincoln and rock out to "Cage And Aquarium" like it's 1991. But I'm not setting my schedule around the Dollhouse time slot, and if I have to hear "Santa's Beard" at Christmas again I think I may scream. And I know I'm not the norm here. I wouldn't be so dismissive as to call myself a casual fan, but I'm not a hardcore one either. Maybe like with my music, I don't like labeling my levels of fandom. I'm just simply a fan, even if you won't catch me at a midnight sale for a new TMBG release or in line weeks ahead of time to get the first ticket to the first showing of a new Firefly movie.

Although if we ever find out that Wash isn't really dead, I'll be the first to throw a party. Oh, and John? Wink.