Old Maid’s Memories

First of all, an announcement:  Some of you may have noticed that we went two days without posting.  We’re going on a brief hiatus here until Cammy and I can get to our respective homes.  Cammy is in another hemisphere without access to the interwebs and I am at my parents’ house where the internet is slower than dial-up (it has taken me twenty minutes so far to make this post).  We know you’ll miss us desperately, but try to be strong.

And now for today’s actual post…

I’m guessing our five readers are probably sick of reading my musings over being thirty years old and unmarried.  I really am okay with it.  I have a great life.  I haven’t found the right person.  And I am certain that it’s better to be single than married to the wrong person.  But there are certain times I really wish I had a husband stowed away somewhere I could roll out for important occasions.

Most of said occasions involve my family and holidays.  Christmas especially.

Families and family holiday celebrations tend to revolve around their youngest generation.  And that’s how it should be.  Christmas should be about the kids.  But being the one member of my immediate family without kids, this means that I no longer matter in holiday planning.  We had our family Christmas celebration on a night I had to work this year because my mother checked with everyone but me.  When everyone realized I was working there was no thought of changing things—it was decided I could just go to work from our Christmas celebration.  Keep in mind that my job involves tying my body in knots, so any sort of holiday culinary indulgence was off the table, so to speak.

I really don’t mind things revolving around the kids so much as I don’t understand why things revolving around the kids means my brother and sister are exempt from any work.  My mother and I do all the cooking for the big holiday buffet (actually two of them since there’s one for brunch and one for dinner).  My brother and sister don’t even bother offering to bring anything anymore.  Keep in mind that I’m brining one mouth to the table, my sister is bringing four and my brother is bringing five.  And while meals are planned around the tastes and distastes of my brother, sister, their spouses and children, my tastes are not regarded at all.  This year I helped cook shrimp for those people, even though the smell of shellfish makes me want o vomit.

Then there’s the present opening ritual.  My job at this point is to stand in the corner with a trash bag collecting wrapping paper (as the old maid spinster sister I open my presents at a different time when there aren’t so many people around).  It’s as though we’re following some sort of nineteenth century custom where spinster aunts suddenly become part of the household staff.

Don’t get me wrong; this is just venting.  I love my family and it’s always great to see them.  And the upside of working post-holiday celebration is it gives me a means to escape—I love my nieces and nephews, but there’s only so long I want to be in a crowded house with five children between the ages of eleven and three.

It’s just sometimes playing the role of spinster in the family gets a bit tiresome.

Not Dreaming of a White Christmas

As we have discussed ad nauseum around here, Cammy is currently in the Land Down Under.  Where it is currently summer.  Cammy was quite distressed about the prospect of celebrating Christmas during the Summer.  I don’t think I was fully able to comprehend why this was so distressing.  I was born in Hawaii and the first Christmases I can really remember were celebrated in Florida.  Cammy had plenty of warm Christmases living in Texas, but she’s used to at least some sort of seasonal change.  I’m a little more okay with things not working the way seasons dictate they should.

In fact, I’d be quite happy if things in Virginia were a little less seasonally appropriate.  I know everyone gets all twitterpated about the prospect of a white Christmas… they’re welcome to have mine.   It started snowing early afternoon on Christmas day and didn’t stop until sometime late last night.  All told we are under fourteen inches of snow here at my parents house.  And let’s be clear, where my folks live, they have no clue what to do with this much snow.  This means my brother couldn’t come over yesterday to untangle whatever the heck my father has done to his wireless connection that makes it run at dial-up speeds.  The trip to the local outlet mall is canceled.  Any further visits with my brother and sister before my Aunt leaves are unlikely.  Grocery shopping is an implausibility.  Oh yes, and we are under threat of power loss at any moment from falling trees.  Tons of fun.

While driving home from work Christmas night the song “White Christmas” came on the CD player in my mother’s car.  I admit to a little cynical laughter.  I was not dreaming of a white Christmas.  I was dreaming of an 80 degree Christmas.  Just like the ones I used to know.

A Little Holiday Filk for You

First of all, we here at It’s My TV, It’s My Peanut Butter would like to wish a happy birthday to faithful reader Bridget!  Hope it was a good one!

Second, a slightly updated version of a classic holiday song!

On the first day of Christmas
My Bloggers Gave to Me
A really lame entry.

On the second day of Christmas
My Bloggers Gave to Me
Two rotten tags
And a really lame entry

On the third day of Christmas
My bloggers gave to me
Three dead links
Two rotten tags
And a really lame entry

On the fourth day of Christmas….Four random photos…
On the fifth day….5 MP3s…
Sixth day 6 new categories…
7th day 7 comment responses…
8th day 8 crappy captchas…
9th day 9 login errors…
10th day 10 timeless tweets…
11th day 11 stupid widgets…
12th day 12 reasons not to read on…

Working Chirstmas

Once again, we here at It’s My TV, It’s My Peanut Butter would like to wish you all a happy holiday.  I’m rather exhausted, having just gotten home from work.

Yes, that’s right.  I worked on Christmas.

It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time I’m sure.  When you work in entertainment, particularly a type of entertainment people partake of mostly on vacation, the times when other people are off work are the times you get the most work.

Honestly, I don’t mind.  It’s good to have work.  And working on Christmas can often (although for me it didn’t this time) carry fringe benefits like higher pay rates or free food.  And cliché though it may be, customers tend to be in a better mood, which makes work a little more pleasant.

It’s possible that this whole working on a major holiday thing is a little easier for me to assimilate because my mother worked about every other Christmas growing up.  She’s a nurse and babies don’t stop being born because it’s a holiday.  As she well knows since she was herself born on Christmas day.

At any rate, there are worse things to do with Christmas than work.  But however you spent it, we just hope it was a good one.

Christmas Eve Day

We at MTV, MPB hope you are all having a cozy, comfy Christmas Eve surrounded by food, music, booze and people you love (who, hopefully, aren’t pissing you off).  It’s Christmas Eve Day!  In the words of one of the top 3 ficitional FBI agents ever, one Seeley Booth “Christmas Eve Day!  It’s both an eve and a day!  It’s a Christmas Miracle!”

Unfortunately, Christmas has always felt like it kind of jumps the shark on Christmas eve.  I always prefer Christmas Eve to Christmas Day because in my Mom’s family, Christmas Eve is the primary day of celebration.  There’s also my old church Christmas Eve service which was always one of my favorite services and was the first time I ever remember enjoying church.  Honestly, you let me stay up past my bedtime, you turn off the lights, you give me fire AND you tell me to sing Silent Night?  That’s a Venn Diagram of awesome when you’re 6.

It’s also that last chance to look forward to something.  Even when we opened our gifts on Christmas Eve, there was that potential for something else to come along or to happen on Christmas day.  You may not get anything else, but the odds are better than on most other days of the year.  And besides, there were people to visit and places to go on Christmas Day, so a little anticipation lingered.  But once you get to Christmas Day itself?  The anticipation is all gone.

And there’s no mystique to Christmas Day.  It is what it is.  No one tells stories about animals being able to talk on Christmas Day–it’s Christmas Eve.  Even the bulk of the events of the Christmas story itself take place on Christmas Eve, not on Christmas Day.  In fact, I was pretty convinced as a kid (and, what the heck, I still am) that to the extent that there’s truth in the Christmas story?  Baby Jesus was really born on Christmas Eve right before midnight.  Because it’s just cooler that way.

So, enjoy this Christmas miracle of Eve and Day colliding into one.  Stay warm.  Stay safe.  And try to remember there’s 12 whole days to Christmas and there’s absolutely NO good reason not to capitalize on that and extend the fun beyond this epic evening.

Critical Disadvantage

Before I go any further I want to pause to wish a happy birthday to my co-blogger Cammy!  Once again she is officially older than me!  And she gets to celebrate her birthday twice on account of that international date line craziness.  Does this mean she’s now two years older than me?  Anyway, Cammy, I hope you had a good one in the land down under.

On to my actual post.  Yesterday I went to go visit my sister’s place of employment which is putting on a great big Christmas Extravaganza.  This included, among other things, a whole bunch of Christmas themed shows involving music and dancing and all that cheesetastic stuff.  Since I danced from age six, minored in choreography, and work intermittently as an acrobat, my sister was eager for me to see said shows and let her know what I thought.

Here’s the thing:  One of my aerial dance teachers once said to me that once you acquire any sort of performance skill you become that person no one ever wants to see a show with.  You can’t not be critical.  And while people want to think that they enjoy your critical insight, the truth is, they want you to tell them that their opinions are correct.  My teacher had just been to see a touring Cirque de Soleil show—several of her non aerial dancer friends had been and couldn’t stop talking about how great it was.  She… was underwhelmed.  She could spot all the places where performers were cheating or just plain being lazy.  She knew that some moves were flashy, but deceptively simple.  She could see all the mistakes.  None of her friends were grateful for being enlightened on this.

My sister and I have been through this multiple times.  I see a show and I see where the choreography is disjointed.  Which dancers don’t know their parts.  Which male dancer needs to butch it up a little more if he’s going to play that part.  Which costumes don’t fit and worse don’t make sense.  The truth is, most of the shows were pretty frakkin’ bad.  But she doesn’t want to hear that.  She wants me to tell her that I loved the shows and found them charming.  The problem is, while I’m a good liar, there are times I’m just not willing to do it.

And while this added insight should be an advantage, it’s not.  It just annoys the crap out of everyone around you.  At the end of the day, sometimes I’d like to just sit back and enjoy the cute little show too.

Stille Nacht

In the Cammy Countdown of Christmas Favorites, Silent Night is, and always has been, number one.  And since it’s my birthday (at least it is on the side of the dateline  where I’m hanging out this holiday season), I find it oddly satisfying to get to discuss one of my favorite pieces of music.

Whether you believe the tale that Stille Nacht came into being because a snow-bound Austrian village suffered a broken pipe-organ and the priest and organist decided to team up and compose a fitting musical tribute to Christmas Eve that could be played on a guitar instead., or that  it was that the priest wanted a song that his congregation could sing in their native German tongue as opposed to the plethora of Latin hymns available, the song is, simply wonderful.

Emphasis on the simply.

It’s really not a complicated melody.  It’s simple, easy, versatile.  I’ll admit that I was shocked when I first learned that it was originally written to be far more upbeat and snappy than the slow lullaby-esque version most of us are familiar with.  It works either way.  Speed it up, slow it down, use a full bodied orchestral arrangement, or strip it down to a single vocalist with an acoustic guitar–musically, it’s the little-black-dress of tunes that works no matter the occasion.

Maybe it’s the flexibility of the tune that’s led to the spread.  It’s been translated in to dozens if not hundreds of languages.  I’ve heard versions in Norwegian, Italian, English and, of course, German.  It’s been a common denominator in a pause on a battle field (“Belleau Wood” by Garth Brooks being a fine musical take off on Silent Night in the Christmas Truce….just try to ignore the fact that the battle of Belleau wood was fought in June).  But mostly?  It gives me the warm and fuzzies like no other piece of music in the world.

So, no matter what your beliefs or non-beliefs, and no matter whether your share Cammy’s obsession with Silent Night, we here at MTV, MPB hope you all get the warm and fuzzies tonight, tomorrow night and every night throughout the winter season (onces it warms up, we only wish you fuzzies, not heat).

Review: Driving Lessons

Driving Lessons

Director:  Jeremy Brock

Writer:  Jeremy Brock

Have you all missed me writing reviews of movies that have been out for ages?  Yeah, I didn’t figure, but it’s back (briefly, I haven’t had time to watch more than one).  I was over at a friend’s the other night and we decided to watch a movie.  Having just finished finals season we all requested something funny.  He recommended Driving Lessons.

Now let me be clear: it’s not a bad movie.  And it has some funny moments.  But it’s not over all a laugh out loud kind of movie.  And it’s one that hurts a little.  Not exactly what we were looking for to de-stress.  It’s not quite as extreme as when I told Cammy I wanted something light and she picked out Australia (which is a good movie, but not that funny.  Cammy seems to believe that the scene where one of the guys shoots a kangaroo is hysterical.  I… didn’t think it was that funny.)  (Side note:  Like Cammy my friend J felt very guilty for recommending a movie we didn’t find that funny.  I told him the Australia story to make him feel better.  His response:  “Yeah, but isn’t Hugh Jackman really hot in that movie?”  It should be noted that yes, Hugh Jackman is extremely hot.  Just about all the time.)

Anyway, I had never heard of Driving Lessons before.  My friend M had and she said that she remembered it being advertised with “Rupert Grint can play someone other than Ron!”  The trouble is… Rupert Grint doesn’t really do a whole lot during this film.  Yes, the whole movie is about him, but he’s really a mostly blank canvas who has crazy things going on around him.  He sort of reacts to some of them, but not all that much, really.  This isn’t a criticism—he’s clearly written and directed to be that way.  It’s just not something that convinces me of his amazing acting skills.

I was drawn to the movie because part of the plot revolves around Grint’s character Ben dealing with an evangelical mother.  Having taught at an evangelical school for a year, I tend to enjoy things that make fun of evangelicals (humor often stems from recognition).  There are some funny parts related to that, but if this movie is any indication, British evangelicals are different than American ones.  Much tamer by comparison.  Having seen the genuine American article, it’s hard to be properly put off by their mild counterparts across the pond.

Over all, the movie is fairly British.  And while I know enough to understand the context, it doesn’t necessarily resonate.  Sometimes as an American it’s just hard to be shocked by behavior that the Brits consider outlandish.  The style of humor is something I associate more with British films—more The Office style than Monty Python.  A lot of it’s built completely on awkwardness.  And it’s a little grittier than American humor tends to be—it’s hard to describe, but you probably know what I’m talking about.  Even the funny moments have a little more an edge to them.

There are some things I loved about the movie.  For one thing, I appreciate that the Brits know how to use subtlety and that they trust their audience enough to believe they can draw conclusions on their own.  No one ever tells the viewers that Ben’s mum is a hypocrite, but we all figure it out.  No one ever sits down and explains to us that his parents’ marriage is falling apart, but we can tell early on.  Molly Weasley (yes, that’s what we’re calling her because as I write this I have no internet and no way to look up the actress’s name) is hysterical and endearing at the same time as has been actress Eve Walton.  She actually reminds me strangely of my grandmother (the good one).

Over all, it’s a solid film.  Just not one I recommend if your goal is to turn off your brain and veg.

Rating:  Three jars of peanut butter.

Nearsighted Advantage

Once a year, at Christmas, I appreciate my near sightedness.

Any other time of year, the fact that I can’t function without glasses or contacts is a real downer. But, at Christmas, it’s different.

At first, I thought it was just me. But Megan, a friend of Kristy’s and mine, affirmed this feeling, being near-sighted herself.

If you suffer from this affliction, find some colored Christmas lights, take off (or out) your corrective aids, and just look. Christmas lights are fun no matter what, but they take on a special beauty in the unfocused eyes of someone with myopia. I almost pity those of you with good vision. Camera work can sort-of recreate the fuzzy, glowing image, but not quite. You don’t get quite the layered effect. And it’s a very unique and personal scene–I’m sure Megan’s fuzzy Christmas light view is different than mine, if only because my eyes were weaker than hers (if the prescription on our respective spectacles was any indicator). I get the added bonus of twinkles in my view. As the muscles in my eye shift to try and bring the sight into focus (failing miserably), the tiny glowing balls of light twinkle, expanding and contracting as a I stare at the mix of red, green, gold, blue….

It’s a simple indulgence to dim the room lights, put on the Christmas music, remove my glasses and just sit and stare for a while. It’s better than any meditation or yoga, and makes me momentarily thankful for my visual handicap.

More Travel B*tching

Cammy has already made a couple of posts about traveling and all the things that drive her nuts about it.  I’m not posting about the costs and bureaucracy and all those things that drive Cammy nuts.  None of those things seem to bother me on the same level that they infuriate Cammy.  What drives me crazy are the people I have to travel with.  On two and a half hours sleep I traveled from Indianapolis to southeastern Virginia.  With a stopover in DC this means two flights:  one about an hour and a half, one just under an hour.  I’m good at sleeping on planes, so that was my plan.  Unfortunately those flights were so short I didn’t get much sleep to speak of.  Which meant I had less patience than normal with humanity.  So here are a few of the travel behaviors that irritate me the most:

1.        Cologne Fiends. Dousing yourself in cologne before flying is in no way a good idea.  Now, I don’t know, it’s possible that you’re going to be traveling for thirty hours like Cammy and without the benefit of your daily shower you’re concerned how you’ll smell afterwards.  Here’s the thing:  contrary to what the musicals tell you, perfume does not cover a stench.  After thirty hours, you’re just going to smell like BO + cologne.  If you want to absorb odors put some baking soda or talcum powder in your pockets or something.  It so happens that I’m allergic to a lot of cologne’s, especially men’s colognes.  But even if I wasn’t, there’s no cologne that smells good that strong.  And, you know, no matter how short the flight, it’s a fair bet that someone on the plane will want to breathe at some point.  Don’t get in their way.

2.       Ass Lady. My second flight was on a tiny school bus sized plane.  When we landed the lady sitting across from me stood up to get situated long before the door was opened.  For some reason she could not figure out how to do this without sticking her ass in my face.  Which was not small.  And judging by the smell, it’s possible she’s got some hygiene issues.  Then she stood there, for like, bloody ever, with her ass in my face.  She could have turned to face the front, pointing her ass down the aisle.  But no.  She kept it in my face.  It’s a wonder it didn’t wind up covered in my vomit.

3.       Seat stealers. Maybe I’m just ordinarily oblivious, but I swear I’ve never seen so many people just taking seats that weren’t theirs and just acting like there’s nothing wrong with it.  On my first flight I heard a guy ask a woman to get out of his seat.  Her response was, “I don’t think it really matters where we sit.”  Um… maybe not, but if that’s not your seat, and the man who booked it wants it back?  Get the heck out of it.  A woman stole my seat on my second flight.  I didn’t make a big deal out of it, seeing as it was only going to be half an hour to forty-five minutes and sitting in the aisle allowed me to extend my busted knee, but seriously?  All she had to do to make me stop directing angry energy at her for the duration was ask, “Oh, do you mind?” Yes, I would have minded, and yes, like a good passive aggressive southern girl I would have pretended I didn’t.  But I would have felt better about the whole thing.

4.       Seat hogs. I’m not talking about on plane behavior here.  I’m talking about people in waiting areas who take one seat for their ass and two for their stuff.  This is quite acceptable when there are plenty of seats, but when you start to notice the seats are all filling up?  Put some of those bags at your feet, jack ass.

The trip wasn’t all bad though.  National Airport does have awesome food courts and there was one right by my gate that supplied me with some California Tortilla action and a good dose of nostalgia.