And We’re Not Talking ET WHY?

Amidst the hue and cry over the ripple effect of Ireland’s economic situation, the tension over N. Korea chuckin’ stuff over borders and Wikileaks proving that the government’s been saying and doing exactly what most people have assumed they’ve been saying and doing, there’ve been less public rumblings about ET.

That’s right.  E-bloody-T.

Honestly, who the frak CARES if the current administration was talkin’ smack about Iran behind their back (although c’mon, their leader only recently gave up on his Members Only jacket).

The skinny is that NASA is going to be giving a press conference on Thursday–the topic?  “[A]n astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.”

Any self respecting geek knows that means we’re gonna talk ET.  Maybe the single-cell, dumbed down version, but ET nonetheless.

How this was not what everyone was talking about all day is beyond me.  Why worry about North Korea when you could start a mass panic about our new extra-terrestrial overlords?  Kick off a few debates on how this will impact fundamentalist views of religion?  Maybe fire up the conspiracy theorists who put it up to as  one big sham, like the guy on the moon was a dude on a sound-stage?

Even without any of that overblown, ancillary crap, any evidence of life off of good ol’ Earth is pretty friggin’ newsworthy.

If wikileaks wanted my attention, they’d have had that little tidbit out sooner.

Coffee with… Anna Russell

Would we drink coffee with Anna Russell?


Kristy:
Absofragginlutely!  Are you kidding me?  Of course, I’d drink coffee with Anna Russell!  Granted, I’m gonna go for an iced coffee because I totally anticipate it coming out my nose before the meeting is over.  We are talking about someone who was once called the funniest woman in the world.  And with good reason.

My main source of knowledge about Ms. Russell comes from a podcast of an interview with Shelagh Rogers that Cammy put on a CD for me.  At the time of the interview Anna Russell was already in her 80s and still feisty and hysterically funny.  Totally the kind of old lady I want to be.  It’s also amazing to think of all the things she lived through and everything she achieved as a woman from her time.  The entertainment business is still male dominated and comedy even moreso.  I’d love to hear her take on the business and all that.  Plus, think about people watching with this woman!  Basically… I just want to listen to her while trying to not snarf my coffee.

Cammy: YES!  Anna Russell is hi-frackin-larious and absolutely brilliant.  I was introduced to her by the same Shelagh Rogers podcast I shared with Kristy–CBC Sound’s Like Canada’s Digital Extra.

Her best known work is basically turning classical music into sketch comedy.  Her most famous piece–and one included in the Digital Extra–was The Ring of the Niebelungs (An Analysis) which crams the entire Wagner Ring Cycle into a 30 minute sketch that nearly made me pee my pants laughing, and yet, was basically spot on to that massive operatic work.  And it’s not just verbal–Russell was a trained and talented musician who basically give you a greatest hits collection.  If you know Wagner, you’ll find it hilarious, and if you’re new to opera you will find it far less intimidated after this, I guarantee.  And that kind of broad appeal is evidence that this woman was made of awesome.

But more than her work, the interview revealed that this woman was just as much of an entertaining character in real life as on stage.  She treats the telling of her own life story with the same kind of hilarity as the telling of the Niebelung Saga.  And with the kind of history she has (involvement in the early days of radio, doing time in an English boarding school, immigrating to Canada….) the wealth of information she could turn into gut-busting comedic performance over coffee is basically endless.   She claims more than once in her telling of the Niebelung Saga “I’m not making this up, you know!” — she doesn’t need to make it up, because she makes it funny.

Kristy: I just feel like one of us needs to say, “But that’s the beauty of grand opera–you can do anything so long as you sing it!”

The Advent of Good Ideas

Apologies to the non-Christian readers among you, but today is the first Sunday of Advent, which is, traditionally, the beginning of the liturgical year in Western Christian churches–prep time for the Nativity, if you will.

It’s also the time of year when you get to start playing with those really cool calendars which count down to Christmas.  This is where I get interested.  I like surprises.  The idea of opening a little door and getting a tiny surprise is kind of awesome.   If you’re lucky, you’ll get one with pieces of chocolate behind each door.  Personally, I think every calendar should give chocolate for each day.  Double chocolate if it’s a crappy day like April 15.  And Election days (yes, I’m happy to vote, but I’m rarely pleased with the choices).

The only trouble is that the doors are so tiny, there’s only so much you can get back there.  Sometimes it’s just a picture (or a part of a picture).  Or that bite of candy (yeah, because I’m not eating enough over the holidays).  It would be tough to cram my own personal Mr. Darcy back there, sadly.    Sure, I know it’s only supposed to build up to Christmas (Mr. Darcy in a box under my tree?  Huzzah!), but would it kill ’em to bump those calendar’s up a bit?  Say, an iTunes download?

We thought of rigging up an Advent calendar here at MTV, MPB, but we never came up with an idea worthy of our readership (translation: we procrastinated too long to come up with a good idea).  So your Advent surprises this season?  The joy of clicking the link to see what manner of semi-entertaining crap we’ve given you for that day.

Oh, and a daily wish of virtual chocolate.

A Proposal for Ethical Lying

I have a confession to make.  One that I suspect will shock very few of our readers.  I am a liar.  I am a lying liar to who lies.

No, I’m not confessing to any particular lie.  As far as I can recall I’m not currently obscuring any lies from any of you… Okay, okay, Bridget, if you’re reading this:  Remember how all of our bread disappeared that one time and I told you that there was a leprechaun who appeared in the dead of night and forced me to make him grilled cheeses?  Yeah… that never happened.  I was just going through a grillie phase.  Wow!  I feel better now!

Anyway, I know that Bridget will understand about my lying because Bridget is also a liar.  Once again, I’m not accusing her of any particular lie.  I just lived with Bridget long enough to know that, like me, she has a natural tendency towards dishonesty.  Also, like me, she’s damn good at it.

Here’s what you all may not know, assuming you, gentle reader, are not a liar:  it’s a serious hindrance to be a good liar.  Take Cammy, for example—she’s a horrible liar.  Trust me, I’ve seen her try.  As a result, she knows she needs to be honest (more or less) because if she tries to lie she’ll get caught.  Her decisions are made for her.  Me?  I have a lot more options in how to handle any given situation, and the easiest option is often to lie.  Except then I have to remember what lie I told to who and it just ends up being a big hassle.

How good am I at this whole lying thing?  As a child my mother was once trying to get the truth out of me and she did the whole “look me in the eyes and say that” thing.  Which I did, no problem.  She scrutinized my face for a moment before saying, “You know, with your brother and sister I can always tell when they’re lying.  I can’t tell with you.”  (Side note:  Mom, why would you tell me that?  I didn’t need encouragement!)

I’d say something about how I try not to lie, but that would be a lie.  The problem is I’m not really bothered by lying.  That whole honesty is the best policy thing… I just don’t know I can be that absolute about it.  Because sometimes a lie can prevent hurt feelings, conflicts, etc.  And without causing any harm.

On the other hand, there are douchy liars.  I recently learned that someone I knew in passing had created a whole fictional life for herself.  I’m not authorized to go into detail, but the long and the short of it were that her lies wound up causing pain to some people I care about.  When I heard the whole story I had two thoughts 1)  I would never do something like that 2) I wouldn’t get caught.

Most of the time my lies are completely pointless.  I make up boyfriends from time to time.  I used to lie to customers at my place of employment about where I was from, what I did when I wasn’t at work.  Because lying is a skill like anything else and you have practice in order to say skillful.

With that in mind I would like to propose a framework for ethical lying.  One should never lie to hurt someone else.  I’m not big fan of lying for personal profit, unless you’re in sales and it’s your job.  But it’s far from the worst thing in the world to lie to make someone feel better or to smooth things over or to get out of trouble (as long as you’re not pinning that blame on someone else).  But you might want to keep a list somewhere so that you can keep track of them all.

Gentle Readers, Start Your Christmas Musik

Okay, folks.  By now we’ve all consumed Thanksgiving dinner, which, in the world of Cammy, means it is now kosher to make with the jingle bells and crank up the Christmas tunes.

For those few of you who may not have known both members of My TV, My Peanut Butter for Christmases past, the official kick-off song of our holiday playlist is an obscure and hilarious bit by a fellow called Kølig Kaj.  The song is “Kaj i kanen” but we prefer to simply call it “Juleman.”  Not familiar with this Christmas ditty?  Allow me to explain it very, very simply:

Danish.

Santa.

Rap.

The only source I know of for the song is a European compilation known as Absolute Christmas 2–an album I’m still trying to get my hands on.  You see, the entry of this piece in our lives had a lot to do with shared files on a campus network which resulted in completely random things ending up on one’s hard drive.  Most of them were things long ago ditched, but in the midst of all the renditions of “Jingle Bells” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” something as unique as Danish Santa Rap is an absolute gem that you can’t allow to escape.

I love remakes, new takes, variations and alternative renditions of all kids of Christmas music, but even my love for hearing a new take on an old tune gets tried by mid December.  It’s a shame there aren’t more explorations of funky jewels from non-English speaking sources.  So, gentle readers, before you berate the repetitive nature of Christmas tune-age this holiday season, give a shot at branching out into new and uncharted territory, and when you find your own Juleman, share it with good friends and spread the multi-cultural holiday cheer.

And if Christmas isn’t your thing, then break out the sounds of the winter holiday of your choice and share with the class already.  What?  We’ve heard all about baby Jesus already–give us something else to work with here!

MTV, MPB Gives Thanks

Okay, so Cammy and I have been bad about posting this week.  She’s been busy and I’ve been traveling and… yeah.  But we wanted to make sure to send out a Happy Thanksgiving (sorry to our Canadian readers for missing your holiday) to our gentle and not-so-gentle readers.  Because it might be my television and Cammy’s peanut butter, but that’s no reason we can’t share a celebratory meal, a nutritive communion if you will, together.

I’m here at Cammy’s house where we’ve just had our Thanksgiving dinner.  Not being turkey people we had ham (not Virginia ham, but good nonetheless).  Cammy made cornbread dressing (not stuffing since it wasn’t stuffed in anything).  I made carmelized cauliflower and sweet potatoes with olive oil and Italian seasoning.  And I just had canned cranberry sauce for the first time in my life (Cammy has this thing about slicing it on the lines).  Oh yes, and fried green tomatoes.

Long story short—it’s been delicious.  We’ve also just polished off our third glass of wine (one each of Indiana Foch and two of Missouri Norton).  We’re watching Dogma (well, I’m watching Dogma, Cammy’s asleep.)  Cammy’s cat Truffles has been snuggling on my lap on and off.  Definitely a day to be thankful for.

Oh yes, and lest anyone forget, the first recognized Thanksgiving celebration in what is now the United States was in Virginia.  Not Massachusetts.  (Yeah, we did it first, we did it better.)

We here at It’s My TV, It’s My Peanut Butter are thankful for you, our readers.  We’re thankful for kitties.  We’re thankful for wine and delicious carbs.  And that there will be ice cream later.  Mmmm… carbs.

So have a happy holiday.  I’m thinking of the day as a vacation from my life.  Or the three papers I should have been writing today (although Dogma bears more than a passing resemblance to Middle English Romance.)  May you all indulge in whatever it is you like to indulge in so that you may go back to your real life fortified enough to make it through to the next celebration.

Three Things I Don’t Want To Blog About…And One I Do

I’ve been wracking my brain for something to post (especially since I’m coming in off missing multiple posts now), but the truth is, I can’t find anything I want to blog about.  All I come up with are things I don’t want to blog about.  So, while this is obviously self defeating:

1) Korea:  When you talk about unstable parts of the world that closely resemble a powder keg, or, for those of you more into explosives, a big pile of RDX, N. Korea comes to my mind before most others.  So when the news cranks up with them lobbing shit back and forth with their South Korean neighbors?  I worry.  It’s not the cold war type fear of being assimilated, but the fear of dealing with the international equivalent of Crazy Harry from the Muppet show with his explosive plunger.

2) TSA Bullshit:  I have lots of opinions on this.  Strong ones.  So strong my blood pressure shoots up.  Blogging on this one is probably a health threat.  Suffice to say I don’t feel safer knowing the new measures are in place, no matter what anyone says, and at least porn stars get paid for being shown naked and fondled.  Maybe someone could work out a refund deal where the TSA covers those fucking check bag charges.  It would be a small start.

3) My Job:  I’m just not going to go into detail about the level of stupidity I deal with out of certain key individuals.  Just not going to.

The only thing I have left to blog about is that Kristy came out to visit again, and that’s always cool.  Sadly, number three has taken time away from visiting.  And without a chance to really visit, must as I’d like to blog about it, I can’t .  How is it that I could, conceivably, blog at length about crap I don’t want to, but when it comes to a pleasant topic, I draw a blank?

Black Thumb Chronicles

Okay, okay, what’s happened to my poor little herbs since we checked in:

Well, my rosemary plant died for no good reason.  I have replaced it with a new one which so far (knock on wood) is doing well.

One of my basil plants (the one that had previously been the largest and healthiest) did not survive the inch worms.  Bastards!

Sometime week before last I was horrified to discover aphids on one of the two remaining basil plants.  What’s with all these pests on indoor plants?  Annoyingly, there seem to be ladybugs everywhere but on my plants where there’s a feast laid out for them.  I was so busy that I very foolishly waited a day or two before I got the chance to mix up some garlic chili water to spray on the plants.  That may have been the death of that plant.  I’m holding out hope, but it’s a slim hope.  There’s a little green left in the stem, but it has lost all its leaves.

My final basil plant got aphids too, but I was able to I was able to stop the infestation earlier.  It’s looking a little ragged, but I’m marginally more optimistic about its chances of survival.

Meanwhile, we’ve been getting no sun.  I mean, ordinarily my apartment doesn’t get much, but at this point it’s a little ridiculous.  It’s been grey and cloudy every day.  My poor plants that are trying to recover their strength need sunlight!

It’s a conspiracy, I tell you!  The universe is conspiring to deny me fresh basil!  It’s not fair!

Suspending Our Regular Program

Alright, if you’ve been paying attention to the rhythm of this blog, you know that when Friday is my day to post, I usually post a BSG list.  But this week there’s a wee problem.  We only have one list left and I seem to have misplaced it.  So until I find it or we reconstruct it and/or write more (though it might be time to stop beating that dead horse for a while) the BSG lists are on hiatus.

Instead we’re going to talk about a little issue I have.  Suspending disbelief.

Clearly I don’t have an overall problem with suspending disbelief.  I mean, I love Sci-Fi, fantasy and musicals.  And soap operas.  In general, I’m all over suspending disbelief.  I’m an incredibly uncritical viewer.  But there are moments that break me.  And not the ones you’d think.

For example, Stargate SG-1.  Magic portal that transports people to the other side of the universe?  This I will accept without blinking.  And anthropologist that looks like Daniel Jackson?  Okay, seriously?  I’m not sure I can buy that.  (And I’m not alone on this one.  When I pointed to the character and explained to faithful reader Mary that he was an anthropologist, she snorted and said, “No, he’s not.”)

Another example:  Lord of the Rings (the movie trilogy, I think the moment in question happened in The Two Towers)—the moment where Sam and Frodo fall down the hill outside the gates of Mordor and Sam gets stuck in the gravel.  Frodo throws his cloak over them and the soldier that comes over to investigate mistakes them for a rock.  There’s something about the camera work in this sequence that makes it impossible for me to believe the guard doesn’t see them.  Again, the whole “magic ring has the power to cover the earth in darkness” is totally believable in my brain.  But this moment?  Pulls me out of it, every time.

Sometimes my reactions aren’t even on base.  Take my soap opera of choice, One Life to Live.  We’re talking about a show where people come back from the dead with a fair amount of regularity.  Where the “good” characters go through a dozen marriages or so.  But when the show revealed that Jessica and Natalie Buchanan were twins but had different fathers I went, “Okay, OLTL, you’re really reaching here.”  Thing is?  It turns out it’s actually possible (the real world kind of possible) for twins to have different fathers.  My mother’s even seen it happen.

So anyway, long and the short of it is I don’t really understand why these moments jump out at me.  And yoink me out of my happy fictional world.  (Okay, I really do think in my second example camera work has something to do with it)  But I feel like it needs to be said.  For the children (so long as they aren’t hot anthropologists or half-sister twins).  I don’t think I’m the only one this happens to, but it seems to be different for everyone.  One of my old roommates always said the part about Lord of the Rings she couldn’t believe was the whole Frodo being willing to give up his life for the good of the world thing.  Clearly she and I are different.

Do a Time Vampire a Favor

The Family Favor is a time suck which damn near prevented me from posting (and is currently preventing me from getting to bed on time).

It happens to all of us.  You’re minding your own business, planning on a quiet evening of eating nachos and watching Bones and then in comes Mom/Dad/Brother/Sister/Third-Cousin-Once-Removed Wally.  If you’re lucky, they start out by flattering you.  “You are such a sweetheart!”  “Have I told you lately that you’re a genius?”

I say lucky not because the flattery is any good, but because at least when that happens you have a  warning.  A split second to bolt from the room or “accidentally” hang up the phone before….

“Could you do me a favor?”

Shit.

How do you turn down family?  Sure, there’s the obvious, “No, I’m sorry” which will earn you a hellish amount of payback for many a family holiday to come.  And the guilt of thinking “They’re family!  They’d do it for me!”  (Really?  Are you SURE?)

So much for nachos.

First there are the things that you somehow got known for, whether you meant to or not, and which you will never be able to shake, no matter what.  For example, that brief and ill-advised stint of time you spent in junior high track?  Congrats, you’re the family expert on sports injuries now.  Owned a telescope when you were 9?  You are the go-to for all questions about space exploration.  Played piano for 5 years about 15 years ago?  Well, naturally you can teach little Lucy to be Mozart.

And heaven help you if you choose a career path that’s got large amounts of practical application to the average person.  Even though everyone else in your profession would get to tell these people that they needed to wait until office hours so that you could properly deal with them, you as a doctor/lawyer/plumber/it-professional get to diagnose phlegmy coughs, evaluate cases so far out of your jurisdiction that you cringe, try to explain how to get a crap-clog out of the U-bend from two time zones away and figure out how to explain to your 80 year old Great-Aunt Milicent the concept of “dragging” a window on the desktop so that she can see the photos her friend Glenda sent of her new coon dog, Coco.

And, at the end of it, you’re frustrated, tired, and questioning whether the wasted evening was worth the effort.

Then you remember how it feels to be on the receiving end of a nearly lethal dose of family passive aggression over the course of a 4 day Thanksgiving feeding-frenzy/reunion.

Maybe it was worth one evening after all.