Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Five: Stupidest Date Ideas

Last night, I realized, "Oh shit. Tomorrow is Friday. And I don't have a list idea." So, I googled list ideas, and I came across a site that offers fun date ideas. It even has it broken down into various categories: romantic, adventure, for teens, etc. But one in particular caught my attention: Dates Under $10. Given that my BF and I are trying to be wise with our spending, I thought this might be interesting. But then I read the list, and immediately became snarky, sarcastic, and critical. There are approximately 75 items. Here are some of the worst examples on the list: 

1. Be a counselor for a day camp: You know what we do during the day? We WORK. At day jobs. That are not camps. Unless you work nights, part time, or have summers off, this isn't even possible. But more importantly, IT'S NOT A DATE! What are the odds you'd even get to spend your time there together? Aren't you supposed to hang out and entertain/supervise your group of brats--i mean--kids?  

2. Climb a tree: How long does it take to climb a tree? Five, maybe ten minutes? I can just picture it: the two of us, climbing up the tree, laughing about the fact that we're climbing a tree... and then... "Hey, so... we' a tree... cool." WOW. THAT WAS FUN.  

3. Clean out a closet together: Well, if this is someone's definition of a good time, baby, I got window sills that need dusting, a stove that needs cleaning, and floors that need vacuuming. I'm gettin' hot just thinking about it. Aren't you? ...Babe? ...Hello?

I will admit that I do enjoy cleaning out closets, reorganizing, etc. But I am absolutely positive that it is coded in our DNA to NOT do these things together. A woman will nag her man to clean out his closets, drawers, etc. The man will do some form of this, which will not make the woman happy, they will fight, and she will re-do it to her liking. This is not something most men care about, and there is absolutely no way to make this activity fun. Trying to do this will cause a fight for sure. 

4. Dye your hair: Ok, A) My guy is bald. And B) I absolutely do NOT trust him with a bottle of hair dye (sorry, babe). But even if you both have dyable hair, and even if you both WANTED to dye it, having a hair-dyeing party is something girls do with their girlfriends or gay guy friends. I don't know who dyes guys' hair. If anyone knows, let me know. For now, I'm sticking with my awesome hairdresser, who I am certain will not get dye all over my ears, nose, and forehead. And neck. And shoulder. And one elbow.  

5. Watch construction crews working: Right after paint drying and grass growing?

Maybe guys are into this stuff because they like to see how things are built, and they like huge machines and stuff that smashes other stuff. The only thing I care about on a construction site is if there's any hot construction guys working, which would likely cause some discomfort on the date:
"Wow, isn't it cool how they use that (giant industrial vehicle thingie) to hoist those (giant pieces of construction material) up there?"
"Huh? Oh, sorry, I was looking at the ass on that one in the orange hardhat...."

If anyone finds any of these options appealing, I apologize for criticizing you.

Actually, I take that back. If you find any of these ideas appealing, I'll lend you $20 to NOT have to resort to these activities on your next date.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Five: Movies I Will Never Turn Off

In celebration of the first day of fall, which means days of hunkering down under a blanket and watching TV all day are fast approaching!

Whether you have the standard or the super duper holy crap cable package, one thing is certain: You will, on any given day, find a movie that you've seen nine million times and never turn off. But they are not necessarily your "favorite" movies. In fact, my favorite movie list and my "watch anytime it's on" list, are totally different, and I find the latter far more interesting than the former.

1. The Breakfast Club: I can recite this movie from the opening voiceover to the final voiceover and not miss one word in between, though I rarely catch it right at the beginning. I laugh at the same parts every single time I watch it.

2. You've Got Mail: Baffling, since I really don't care for Rom-Coms. I honestly cannot come up with valid reasons why I will watch it every time it's on. But there is shame here, I just want you to know.

3. The Godfather: Again, never catch it from the beginning. This movie was on at the gym one day and I spent an extra 25 minutes on the treadmill. It's the mafia vortex. You can't help but get sucked in.

4. Dumb & Dumber: funny. I find Jim Carrey annoying 97% of the time, but this movie cracks me up to absolutely no end.

5. Back to the Future: So quotable, funny every single time. I have, over the years, come to appreciate Christopher Lloyd more than I did when I was a kid. Comedy genius.

Runners Up: Empire Records (though this is a favorite movie), Independence Day, Gone in 60 Seconds, Sixteen Candles.

Which movies keep you glued to the boob tube?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

If My Relationship Status Isn't Posted on Facebook, Does My Boyfriend Exist?

I have been toying with a post about this for a while now, but today's endless string of complaints over some changes on Facebook sealed the fate of this post and it's creation. People are up in arms over some layout changes and the way that the newsfeed works. But, like every other change Facebook has made, everyone will be over it by tomorrow, and continue to post their statuses, links, photos, and videos. Myself likely included.

But there is a larger question at work here. I am consistently baffled, and sometimes amused by the importance that we place on Facebook. It's as if it wields some almighty power in establishing the solidarity of our relationships, friendships, and overall existence as a society. But I can't figure out why.

People get upset if the person they are dating refuses to post their relationship status on Facebook, accusing that person of wanting to deny their status as a couple. In-depth discussions are had when a couple breaks up about when they will change their status and "go public" with this information. If friends go their separate ways, it's not "official" until they are "defriended" on Facebook. And we seek revenge by deleting each other as "friends" in our list. I parted ways with someone who was outright shocked at the fact that I deleted him from Facebook after we said our goodbyes. He kept saying, over and over again, "But I didn't think it was like that!" Like what? How many meanings does the word goodbye have? Why would I stay connected on Facebook with someone I am choosing to no longer have a relationship with? He seemed more hurt by the deletion than the actual life-extraction. And there are questions on what is an acceptable amount of time to let pass before you delete a person and untag them from your photos. I remain baffled by this.

At what point did Facebook become the final word on all things social? It's shocking to me that people are surprised by the fact that my boyfriend and I don't have our "status" on Facebook. My answer to that is: If you are important enough, you'll know about him, regardless of what Facebook does or doesn't say. There are many aspects of my life that I don't choose to share on Facebook. Yet, I am the exception, not the rule.

What did we do for recognition of these levels of intimacy beforehand? When we acquired a boyfriend or girlfriend, we told people. When people got engaged, they called people and told them. I have found out about several engagements via Facebook. Maybe because it's "easier" to do a blanket announcement. But then we panic when our lives shift, and we have to "change our status" on Facebook. *gasp*  Because everyone will know.

We seem to have created a disconnect between instant action/reaction and consequence. We no longer think about what we post as a reflection of ourselves down the road. You might not care today that you professed your undying love for your partner in a status update, but if you break up, and all your mutual friends see your former partner tagged in someone else's photos, kissing not you, you panic. You didn't think about down the road, about what it means to have all your business out there in the world. We may post scathing status updates that lash out at someone who is doing us wrong, but we fail to see the repercussion of appearing ridiculous. Frankly, people who air their serious business on Facebook make me not want to deal with them, period. I respect their choice to do so, but I find I most often don't respect them for making that choice.

I don't think I will ever understand the importance that people place on Facebook and its statuses, of being included or excluded from someone's "friends" list, or the impulsive need to tell the world about our most intimate life moments. It's like intentionally leaving the blinds open and then getting mad when someone looks in the windows.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Five: Best Excuses for Late/Missing Work and Absences

Aside from the usual dead grandmother, crashing computer, and hungry dog situations, some of my students have been incredibly creative with their excuses for absences and not turning in work on time or at all. In the spirit of  wrapping up the Summer Quarter (the college I teach at operates on a quarter system, rather than semesters), here are the best I've heard during the past three years, and yes, these are absolutely true (in the sense that students actually used them). For the ease of my dear readership, I have translated these emails/conversations into proper English

1. .mys files: Professor, I wrote my entire paper and saved it on my flash drive, but when I went to open it at school, my computer saved it in some sort of mystery format, so I can't open it.

Ah yes. The .mys file. Amazing how Word will just change your file formats willy-nilly. And there's no program on earth that can possibly open it. Must be a Microsoft conspiracy. Against college students. During finals week.

2. Priorities, priorities: Professor, I can't come to class because my cousin is graduating and my aunt is having a party.

This student had already used the "death in the family," "car accident," and  "incredibly ill/emergency room" excuses. What's even better about this one, though, is that the class was a wednesday/friday class, and met from 9:50 to 11:35. IN THE MORNING. I don't know about you, but my family is also all about the quick, mid-day celebrations. Friday evenings? Saturday afternoons? No way, man. An hour and a half on a weekday is good enough for your milestone.

3. Overwhelming Pressure: Professor, I worked so hard on this paper, that I just completely forgot to submit it. 

I understand. Sometimes, when you work so incredibly hard on something, it's easy to forget that the end goal is to present it, submit it, or put it to use.
Incidentally, I compared the version that was emailed to me (the incredibly crafted one) to its previous draft. Shockingly... no changes. This is also the same student who felt I was so unfair in not accepting this submission (thus causing him to fail the course) that he sent a file to my department chair labeled GRAPE APPEAL. He must've worked very hard on that one, too.

4. WARNING: DISASTER AREA: Professor, I was working on my paper, when my cat jumped on my desk and spilled a glass of water all over my computer. It was smoking and literally almost caught fire from shorting out and I lost everything. 

Kid, you watch too much TV.

I'm not saying it isn't possible that she spilled water on her computer. We've all done that. But the whole sparking, sizzling, smoking disaster she tried to convey is highly unlikely. I even tried to find videos of this type of thing on YouTube. I found a video of a guy dousing his laptop with a garden hose while it was on. All it did was shut down. This could've been a plausible story if she left the theatrics out. And the cat.

5. Wrong place, right time: Professor, I am sorry I was not in class yesterday. I even got to school early and sat down in the classroom. But nobody came, so I thought class was canceled, and I left. It turns out I was in the classroom for my criminal justice class. 

If this was the first week, that's one thing. This was mid-way through the quarter. That's like going to work and sitting down at someone else's desk and not knowing it. Additionally, class cancellations are posted on the door and online. Sadly though, I could actually see this being true.

I'd love to hear some of the best excuses you've heard, whether from employees, co-workers, your kids, etc. Drop your feedback in the comments field. Happy Friday!

Friday Five: Sexiest Rock Stars

Friday are fun. Everyone is usually in a pre-weekend good mood, there’s goofing off in the workplace, and an overall levity to the day. So, in keeping with the vibe of Friday, I’ve decided to start a series: The Friday Five. Each week’s list will be made of something silly, fun, and light. I encourage you to share your picks with us each week. After all, what good is fun if you’re having it by yourself?

*Please note that these are not in any special order. Just the order in which they entered my brain.

1. Corey Taylor, Stone Sour/Slipknot: Big props to Corey for major hotness transformation. He wasn’t always. Once upon a time, he had scraggly hair, and if he had a nice body, it was hidden under baggy clothes, or in the case of Slipknot, a costume and mask. Then someone introduced him to a buzzer and a gym, and voila. Bald + tattoos + awesome body = bad ass sexy rockstar. Proof positive that bald/shaved head is sometimes a way better option than long hair.

Corey Taylor Before: Ick.            Corey Taylor After: YUM.

2. Rob Zombie: There’s such thing as “sexydirty.” Rob Zombie also produces some of the best background music for a night of “whiskey-a-go-go-meets-dark-and-devilish-fun”. He is also a movie producer and has done some amazing things in the horror genre. So I hear. He almost makes me want to watch horror movies. Almost.

I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. Zombie. 

3. Peter Steele, Type O Negative: The late, great Peter Steele made my little goth grrrl heart twitter in the mid-90s. At 6’6”, with jet-black hair, and green eyes, he could chew up Edward Cullen and spit him into a bottle of cheap red wine. Pete did a spread for Playgirl in 1995, and I distinctly remember the shock of my friend and I when we flipped the issue open: WOAH! Uhhh…wow.” Let me reiterate: SIX FOOT SIX.  

What grown-up vampires look like. 
Sidebar: In that same issue (it was the sexy rock star issue, I guess), there was a picture of Kip Winger in a bubble bath. I would like to share this traumatic image with you. First of all, women in a bubble bath = sexy. Overly hairy man in a bubble bath = uhmmm… no. Maybe man-waxing wasn’t trendy then, but I am more than certain there was some sort of Man Nair available. Grinning, clavicle-to-ankles-hairy rock star lying on his back in a mostly dissolved bubble bath with the bait and tackle floating on the surface. You’re welcome.

4. Jon Bon Jovi: Dude’s pushing 50, and can still rock the leather pants like nobody’s business. You could crack a walnut on the Jonny Buns. The smile, the voice, and his overall “regular guy” attitude complete the picture. I would argue that he has gotten sexier as he has gotten older. And the show that he and the boys put on is spectacular. He runs around, almost non-stop, for the entire 2+ hour show. That’s called stamina. We like stamina.

New Jersey's Contribution to Rock Hotness

5. Maynard James Keenan, Tool/A Perfect Circle/Puscifer: Bald? Check. Sick tattoo down his spine? Check. Writes music that makes my soul hurt and my brain percolate? Check. So unbelievably well-read, well-spoken, and brilliant? Check. He’s cerebral sexy. His intelligence is so impressive, it’s intimidating. Add it to the complexity of the music he and his bandmates create, the intensity with which it is created, and the voice that comes out of his throat, and you have sexy nerdrock.

Some say weird. I say sexy. 

Please share your top five sexy rock star picks (male or female). I'd love to revisit this topic with a Friday Five Reader’s Picks List. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Words empty as the wind are best left unsaid." ~Homer

A friend of mine posted on Facebook today that a rapper had some lyrics that offended the military. The exact lyric is "fuck da [sic] FBI & fuck all da [sic] army troop[sic] fighting for what? Be yo [sic] own man." Of course, an apology was demanded, and, of course, one was issued. Read it here. You can question its validity for yourself.

It got me thinking, not so much about things like the First Amendment, or whether or not words hurt, but we've become a society that constantly demands public apology, because it's not just "sticks and stones" anymore. But why? We have this lynch-mob mentality, as if we constantly speak kindly of everyone and never say anything controversial. But what is even more irritating to me is that, demanding apologies, such as the one that Soulja Boy issued, does two things:

1. It gives validity and power to what he said in his lyrics.
2. It coaxes out a half-assed, public-appeasing statement.

Who gives a rat's tiny, hairy ass about what this guy says about anyone?! Is the military so invested in the opinion of some rapper who is looking to sell a song that, (from what I gathered reading the lyrics) has NOTHING to do with the actual military? The song is presumably about how he is living his own life, and it's awesome, and he makes his own choices. The line might even only serve to make the rhyme work. Is he a powerful social or political figure? I think we'd all be a little more upset if, oh, I don't know, Leon Panetta (the Secretary of Defense) said something like "fuck the military." Google and read any of Soulja Boy's other lyrics, and tell me if you are willing to give a crap about the statements of someone who has a song called "Booty Meat."

I didn't think so.

Secondly, we go after someone like him, he issues some pretty little statement, and everyone forgets about it. Awesome. What was the point of that? Is that all we need? Are we all little boys and girls in the sandbox and when someone tugs our hair or throws sand in our eye, all we need is "sorryyyyy" and back to digging we go?

If Soulja Boy has to issue an apology to the military, he also owes one to the FBI (who, apparently, aren't offended). If Soulja Boy has to apologize, then all those yammering old bags on television who criticize the wardrobes of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin have to apologize. I now have to apologize for calling them old bags. Discover Card has to apologize to foreign customer service representatives named Peggy. MTV has to apologize for the Jersey Shore (ok, maybe that's not such a bad idea...).

An apology means absolutely nothing coming from someone who was forced to give it. I highly doubt Soulja Boy is going to be remorseful after all the extra hits this song gets on YouTube and iTunes. And I'm even more doubtful that any of the men and women who are serving in the military at this very moment really care about the lyric or the "apology" that followed. I think they're too busy doing something incredibly important with their time. Maybe we should follow their example. Stop caring so much about inane statements from insignificant people. Because the demand for the apology is just as ridiculous and insignificant as the statement and the subsequent "apology." Enough with the apologies.

Friday, September 2, 2011

“Brother, today I sit on the brick bench of the house, where you make a bottomless emptiness.” ~ Cesar Vallejo

I woke up this morning with my brother on my mind. I had intended to write something about him back in July, as that was the second anniversary of his passing, but I wasn’t ready to articulate. I feel today what I have felt on and off with fluctuating intensity during the past two years—a heaviness that surrounds his passing. And while it is, of course, one of a certain amount of grief, for me, it is more defined by regret.

I am fortunate to say that I don’t have many regrets in my life. I’m not a “what if…” or “wish I hadn’t….” kind of person. Good and bad things happen, maybe for a reason, and I am more inclined to look at what I’m supposed to learn from these happenings rather than wish they didn’t happen. You can’t unring the bell. But this particular situation holds regret for me.

My brother and I never really had a typical sibling relationship. I’m sorry to say we had barely a relationship at all beyond holiday/family gatherings, and the occasional sibling outing once we were all old enough to drink. There were 13 years between us, and for most of the first 13 of my life, we were estranged. Then all of a sudden, at 13 years old, I had an older brother.

We couldn’t have been more opposite. I was your typical straight-A nerd, regularly appearing on honor rolls. Never getting in any kind of trouble, following the rules, etc. He wasn’t that kind of kid. So, a 13-year age gap, and virtually nothing but genes in common, even as adults, makes it difficult to formulate a relationship.

I have a handful of memories of my brother and I outside the holiday/family schematic. And I have only one real “moment” between us. After I had taken my niece out for the day, my brother pulled me aside and confessed to me with desperation and pure panic in his face that my sister-in-law was expecting their third child. Their second child was only a couple of months old. He followed this up with, “Don’t tell anybody.”

I was more taken aback by the fact that he told me this secret. I often wondered if he told me simply because I happened to be there, because he needed to tell someone, and I was standing in front of him.

As I got older, got married, and started really being a grown-up, there was a bit more substance between us. He would occasionally make a comment that implied a bit of pride in me and what I’d accomplished, a bit of nostalgia from when I was a baby and he was a young teenager. He would make indirect comments here and there. We still never really “clicked,” so to speak, but when my (now ex-) husband starting working with my brother, I saw him more often. Several times a week he was at my house both before and after the work day, and on a day that I had secured a new job, he brought a celebratory pizza back to the house.

It seemed as though there might’ve been a relationship forming, or at the very least, that we were both well-aware of the gap, the disconnect, even the occasional awkwardness between us, and maybe now that we were seeing more of each other, maybe there would be an opportunity to connect in some way. But then he was gone.

After all of the formalities, the funeral, etc., I broke down in the presence of my cousin and my best friend. I wasn’t questioning why he was gone, why this happened, but angry at the fact that I would never have the opportunity to not only connect, but to also get some long-held internal conflict out, to ask certain questions, or to even just speak my mind to my brother about certain things that I didn’t like, didn’t agree with, wanted answers to, and so on. I would never get the chance to clear the air of that awkwardness, find out what it was made of and resolve it. The finality of this situation was devastating to me. The concept of GAME OVER was never so real as that. I could not change it. AT ALL. I kept crying to them, “I’ll never get to say any of it.”

Closure is something that is critical to me. I struggle with the fact that, if I am to have closure on this, it has to come from within. I have to take that finality, and resolve this with the fact that it’s unresolvable. Its lack of closure is its closure. Logically it makes sense. Emotionally, sometimes it’s not good enough.

A few weeks after he passed, my sister-in-law called me, saying she had something to tell me. She said that my brother had told her that he was really happy that he was working with my husband because he got to see me and spend more time with me. She said he seemed really excited and happy that we were spending more time together. On one hand, it was nice to know that he felt that way, that maybe we both recognized the gap and wanted to close it. On the other, it makes the situation that much more regrettable, as if we almost made it happen. As the saying goes, “almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” I’m pretty sure he’s the one who told me that.

 One of my brother's favorite pictures and a favorite family story: My brother and sister dressing me up like a karate baby. My brother called this "Lil Kung-Poo."