Saturday, January 08, 2011

In which I take a nap

A day like this only comes together by some serendipitous alignment of schedules. When they happen, I imagine myself like one of my Jack Russell Terriers when allowed the rare treat of lying on the bed -- they roll around and snuggle in with the pure, physical joy of it all.

Saturdays are half days for work usually followed by cleaning -- not my usual after-work cleaning where I make strange little deals with myself to get out of doing it all, as it should be done in a house with five dogs. No, Saturdays are everything days.

Thankfully, this is a tiny house and, once I pushed myself to get started, it didn't take nearly as long as I had built up in my mind.

And there I was, all alone in the house, having put in a good amount of work, a dusting of snow on the ground and my ABE order that I bought with the portion of my Christmas money that didn't go toward Dirtman's gift or bills. I hadn't opened it, since I figured it was my reward for getting my work done.

And so -- flannel jammies (the infamous FJ with the Popsicles on them that Heir1 considers my Oxymoron jammies), Elizabeth Goudge and...

...what for dinner?

Ohhhhhh....nothing aggressive. This was not the evening for culinary acrobatics. Something simple; mild; comforting -- macaroni and eggs.

I had a beloved aunt who did not know much about cooking. Whenever I went to visit, I cooked or we went out to eat. But during one visit, I came down rather rapidly with the flu and she made me "macaroni and eggs." It was the one dish she knew how to make.

Basically, you boil some sort of pasta (if the kids were still little, I'd have the perfect pasta on hand -- pastina -- which I used to smuggle out of New Jersey when visiting the self-same aunt; we can now get pastina here, but I didn't have it handy -- I used boring old elbow macaroni) but, when it's almost done, instead of draining all the water, you leave a little water in there, toss in some butter and salt; then, just as it's done, you slowly add a beaten egg or two, tossing the whole thing as you do.

And there it is.

The quintessential comfort food.

And so -- the oxymoronic flannel jammies, Elizabeth Goudge ("Pilgrims Inn," for the aficionados), macaroni and eggs, a comfy couch with fuzzy blanket and cuddly cat that makes no more noise than little beeps and rumbles. All I would have needed was Itzhak Perlman to be performing Vaughn-Williams' Lark Ascending in the corner to convince me I'd achieved the ultimate salvation of heaven.

There were no Israeli violinists performing early 20th century classical music, though, so I'm still among the living. But I did read a bit, nap a bit and dream a bit, all luxuries in my book. And that night I slept for an unprecedented nine and a half hours -- I haven't slept for that long since the days when my in-laws would be gracious enough to take my two toddlers for the weekend.

Heir 1 arrived home from staying with a friend at 12:30 in the morning. Heir 2 arrived home this afternoon. Two different genres of music compete with each other from their respective rooms, along with the sounds of video games and laughing friends. All the Linguinis are "in the house," so to speak.

And that's lovely too.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Whooooo are you?

Who, who?

Who, who?

I've lost track of who's who in Hollywood and, frankly, I'm mighty proud of it.

Clicking around the internet lately, trying to break up a particularly tedious task at work, I realized it was equally tedious trying to find someone I cared about in the entertainment field -- or even knew.

The most obvious reason for this, as far as I can tell, is the glut of "celebrities" who are famous because of reality programs; meaning, talentless. You can go into any select group of people and find a troublemaker, a drama queen and a gossip -- turn on the cameras and let the soap opera unfold. Snore. It helps if they just happen to be sluts willing to give each other Brazilian waxes on national television (...and if their last name starts with a "K" and their dead father made them really rich even by Hollywood standards so it gave the illusion they are somehow important -- and relevant -- to anything...).

Yet, I've come to accept this because the existence of the aforementioned freaks can pull even those in the depths of the deepest depression -- so deep that they actually watched programming featuring the aforementioned freaks for an entire 10 minutes -- out of their beds and back into the world with the hopes of balancing out the imbecile population who are succeeding in keeping the aforementioned freaks in the limelight. I apologize if you are one of those imbeciles -- okay, no I don't. But I figure, if you are one of those imbeciles, this is way too far for you to read anyway.

What is alarming, though, are the amount of "young actors" popping up all over the place, probably because there are now a gazillion cable channels and an equal amount of baby boomer babies to sit around and watch them. Is anyone else creeped out that they all look sort of the same? (I still think Keira Knightly, Natalie Portman and Winona Ryder are all the same person.)

Now that I think of it, why wouldn't they all look alike? In this day and age where trends and tastes are so closely monitored, of course you end up with what will please the most people. Hollywood has always had it's stable of "types." Types have their place, so you don't end up having to do character development for minor characters. Unfortunately, it's come down to there being nothing but "types" so the audience doesn't have to work their brains too hard or...focus.

I think that's why the reaction I have to my lost summer is guilt over having wasted so much time watching so much television; you know, that slightly guilty feeling you get when you promised yourself that, if you bought the pint of Starbuck's Coffee Ice Cream, you'd dole it out to yourself in sensible, half-cup portions over the course of four days and then end up scarfing the entire pint in one sitting. Because Starbuck's Coffee Ice Cream is expensive and, probably after the first half-cup, your tastebuds were so frozen they weren't really tasting the ice cream anyway -- yet you couldn't make yourself stop and basically wasted the rest of the pint. And this summer was wasted on something even more tasteless and unhealthy.

Oh, I know, I know: "Stop yammering on about the television, Sisiggy. Just turn it off and leave the rest of us alone."

And, honestly, I would -- if the trend wasn't creeping into other areas of my life. Movies (please, somebody, revoke Disney's license to make movies); Broadway (please, somebody, revoke Disney's license to make musicals); music (does everything have to sound like a revival of Riverdance?); and even food (let's ban the word "chocoholic," for instance. Yes, there are times only chocolate will do, four days out of the month in particular. But, other than that, there are so many other flavors and STOP ADDING CHOCOLATE TO THEM!).

So, while we think we have a variety of choices in all we do, the types of choices we have remind me of going to Golden Corral for a meal: It looks like there are all different kinds of things to eat, until you actually taste the food, at which point you realize all the savory stuff tastes about the same and all the sweet stuff tastes about the same and, really, by the looks of everything, it all should have tasted really good. Instead, though you are stuffed and bloated, you don't remember actually enjoying any of it.

I'm just afraid that pretty soon Golden Corral will be all there is because Golden Corrals make money for the franchise while making customers think they're getting a great deal -- and they are, if they're not picky about things like...well...taste.

Did you honestly expect anything but a food metaphor from me?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Waiting for the last ball to drop

I can't remember a year I didn't watch the ball drop in Times Square. But this is the first year it dawned on me that I could barely see the ball for the tower of advertising. In fact, the path the ball travels has been shortened so much by the advertising, they have a problem doing the countdown before it hits the bottom -- which really isn't the bottom or anywhere near it anymore.

Overall, ringing in the New Year on television has become an all-around depressing proposition. I was one who stuck with good ol' Guy Lombardo to the bitter end; none of that new-fangled Dick Clark's Rockin' in New Years Eve for me! My last memory of Guy Lombardo at the Waldorf Astoria is of watching the ancient couples, dressed to the nines, crammed on the dance floor. There was a bittersweetness about it that sort of summed of the idea of New Years Eve.

But Guy, the Royal Canadians and their audience weren't ... uncomfortable ... to watch -- just outdated and just a little goofy. With all due respect to Dick Clark's past accomplishments and his battle to overcome the debilitating effect of his stroke, even the brief time I saw him last night was painful (I was, after all, focusing my evening on the Marx Brothers over at TCM).

In the end, Dirtman encouraged me to switch over to NBC where the countdown was being emceed by people I didn't recognize, but who seemed to think, in the last minutes before the New Year, we wanted to hear about their irrelevant (to a national broadcast of an worldwide event) life stories.

Then they all counted backwards from ten while most of the screen was taken up by flashing lights trying to sell me Japanese electronics.

Next year, I'll just use my cell phone. Happy New Year, every one; may it be as commercial-free as possible...