An Etiquette Question

A short time ago I made a trip with several friends.  As happens when you’re traveling in groups and broke we all sort of got piled into beds and rooms together in strange combinations.  I wound up sharing a room with a couple of people I’ve known for a while, but not super well.  There was a guy and a girl, not in a romantic pairing, sharing the bed next to me.

I had a terrible time sleeping (very common for me when sleeping in strange places.  It both exacerbates the insomnia and the sleep paralysis).  But not being super comfortable with these people, I didn’t want to get up and read or do anything that might wake them, so I wound up lying awake in bed most of the night.

At one point he guy in the bed next to me got up to change from long pants to shorts (it was toasty in the room).  Figuring he didn’t want an audience I pretended to be asleep.  And then he did something very strange.  He sort of shook himself around, doing this strange little dance.  Then I heard a noise and realized what was going on.  He had gotten out of bed to fart.

At first I had to bite my lips to keep from laughing out loud.  Because that’s one of the crazier things I’ve ever seen anyone do, though I’m fairly certain I was not meant to see it.  I mean, is this something that we do now?  Is there official etiquette for this sort of thing?

But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed at least somewhat reasonable.  Keeping in mind that as far as he knew no one was watching, I think it was the considerate thing to do.  He was sleeping in a bed with a woman who was not his significant other.  Did he really want her waking up wondering what that god awful smell was?   Of course not!  So strange as the performance was, I support it.

I’m not saying we all need to get out of bed to fart all the time.  I share my bed with no one but my cat, and frankly given the way he smells sometimes he has no room to talk.  But obviously even when you have company you can’t always predict when things are going to happen.  And it might be you’re close enough to the person on the other side of the bed that you can fart in bed with him.  But I for one support sparing the unknowns this unpleasantness.

Time Vampire: “We’ll Be At the Airport Friday”

This Week’s Time Vampire is brought to you by my ex-patriot parents.

Who called me on Saturday evening.

To tell me that they would be arriving home Friday.

Here’s the thing:  I’m not a great housekeeper when I am NOT in the middle of a massive project that has me working weekends.

I had a very slight leg up on preparing for their return since I’d already started moving stuff upstairs for my winter hibernation period.  But that hardly made up for the vacuuming, mopping, sweeping, dusting, paper-clearing etc. that just hasn’t happened.

Normally, I have at least two weekends between the time I find out my parents are coming home and their actual arrival.  Not so this time.  And, to make matters more fun, I had a mid-week business trip scheduled already.  There went basically 3 evening’s worth of potential organization/dust removal.

So, all my free time has been sucked away by this effort, and–to rub a bit of salt in the ol’ wound–I do it all with the knowledge that no matter how much effort I put in, and how fantastic the house may look….I will get either sarcastic teasing and/or “helpful hints” from my mother.

It’s a wonder I give in to this vampire at all.

Movie Review: Being John Malkovich

We’re skipping my usual review format, because I’m finding it impossible to sort out my reactions to this film into categories.
Director: Spike Jonze
Writer: Charlie Kaufman
I have mixed feelings about the opening sequence; I get it was setting the theme for the whole puppetry idea, but something about it didn’t quite work.
I had a very odd moment when Craig first falls out of Malkovich’s head; he stands up and sees the World Trade Center towers. I realize this had very little meaning at the time, but for me… it was a long time since I’d seen that skyline.
It’s convenient how Craig’s first trip into Malkovich’s head involves a discussion about who John Malkovich is. But I’ll concede that one to exposition.
I remember at the time everyone being gaga over Cameron Diaz’s “transformation” in the film, but I didn’t really see it. Please note, Hollywood: a pretty girl in a bad wig is still a pretty girl. On the other hand, I didn’t even recognize John Cusack for most of the film.
Craig’s conversation with Maxine about his first trip to Malkovich’s head really captures the absurdity of the whole concept.
Looking back now, it’s really funny that the person Malkovich goes to see for help is Charlie Sheen.
Okay, so over all, this movie just made me feel like I needed to take a shower. The Netflix sleeve said something about raising questions about the nature of identity and consciousness. What about the nature of rape? Because I realize there’s probably no case law about it, but I’m fairly certain stealing someone’s body for the expressed purposes of having sex in it would fall under most definitions of rape. And that took me right out of the movie. Yes, I realize it’s all metaphorical and blah, blah, blah. I’m just not comfortable with rape being used as a plot device in this way and never acknowledged as such. It just really disturbed me. And not in the ways I think it was supposed to.
Rating: One and three quarters jars of peanut butter.

Posting From a Cell Phone

My relatively recent entry into the world of smart phones was prompted in part by the desire to miss fewer posts while on business travel.  I don’t do personal surfing or writing on the business laptop because I am all too familiar with the extent of the company’s rights to stick their nose into shit that really does not concern them if I use their equipment, even on off hours.  And traveling with my own netbook is not always feasible.

So, the phone should work, right?

Not so much.

Theory and practice decided to dine at different tables…hell, I think they may be at different restaurants….

Me and the touch screen have a poor history in general, but it only deteriorates as I try to key in a whole post with my thumbs on these make-believe buttons, with the totally unhelpful spelling suggestions changing every other word I type.  I have attempted this two other times and thrown in the towel.

Strangely enough, tonight, as I enter this after two beers consumed with my fabulous coworkers, I am doing better typing on the virtual keyboard than ever before.  I think my alcohol-slowed movements are just what I needed to allow the keyboard response and my typing speed to sync…

Or, after two beers, I just don’t notice the errors….

Either way, in my mind, I just achieved a goal for this smart phone ownership.  It may not be a good post, but at least I feel less like a slacker.

Drink Coffee Like a Pirate?

I figured since this blog didn’t acknowledge Talk like a Pirate Day last week, maybe we’d consider buying one a cup of coffee this week.

Would we drink coffee with Sir Francis Drake?

Kristy:  I’ll admit I’ve been back and forth on this one.  On the one hand, I’m not sure he sounds like a very nice guy.  On the other hand, he’s Sir Francis Drake.  Which means I think I have to say yes.  Though we may have to move the conversation to the bar as I’m not sure Sir Francis drinks anything with an alcohol content lower than 5%.  I’m not entirely sure what to think of the man:  I want to respect him for climbing his way up the notoriously slippery English social ladder.  And for being a decent military strategist.  And for having some seriously large huevos.  But then sometimes he just sounds someone who was looking for a fight and financial gain wherever he could find in, regardless of the results.  Then there’s the fact that every Sir Francis Drake I’ve known (I’ve known at least two) has kind of played the role like the Renaissance equivalent of a rock/movie star.  Which you have to figure he was on some level.  So maybe having a drink with him would settle that. And if nothing else, you know the man’s got great stories, and seems to have had a reasonable sense of humor.  And should things get out of hand, I’m fairly sure Mary keeps a shotgun behind the bar.

Cammy:  I didnt know much about ol’ Sir Francis prior to Kristy’s discussion above and my follow up googling.  I’m sure he’s likely to have cool stories.  And if he’s the kind of rock-star type, he’ll have groupies.  That being the case, I’m not sure I so much want to have a drink with him as just be in the audience when he gets enough hooch in him to go on a roll.  If I were more interested in military strategy, I’d rather have coffee with him sober to pick his brain, but that topic only catches my interest now and then (once in a blue moon) so for the most part, I’m happy to hang around and listen to whopping tales of the high seas (hopefully with some good defeating-the-Spanish-Armada recounting), but I don’t care much to do the small group setting.  And if Mary’s got the shotgun, I’m more than happy to operate it should the need arise.

Local News Part II: The Head Scratcher….

So, I already complained about the nutty local news inducing panic over space-trash.  But the fun doesn’t stop there.

This one, well, it’s not so much the fault of the local news as just a general head scratcher over the general incongruity of the other two big news stories recently.

Story 1:  Kansas City just opened a kick-ass performing arts center.  Some of you gentle readers who’ve been here recently were probably subjected to at least two views of the building as I took wrong turns around down-town trying to get places (and swearing profusely).

It’s an eye-catching structure (painfully modern, but what big project isn’t these days?)  and is the new home to the Kansas City Ballet, the Kansas City Symphony and the Lyric Opera.  All are things worth of nice digs, and help get KC back it’s old nickname “Paris of the Plains”, and since photography, painting, sculpture, etc. already have a great homes over at the Nelson-Atkins and the Kemper.

Also, it’s nice to see this after all the rah-rah over the Sprint Center which was basically built to attract sporting events.

All this sounds good, right?  World class art and culture?

The head-scratcher comes with Story 2:

The Kansas City school district just lost its accreditation.

Huh?

Yeah, KC’s school district is notoriously bad, and they’ve been teetering on the edge of losing accreditation for a while now.  They just recently tipped the scale to the negative, after a controversial “right-sizing” the schools and the sudden departure of the Superintendent.

So, we have schools that can’t cut the mustard to even the most minimal requirements of the state….and world class performing arts center.

I’m not going down the road of pointing fingers about how money should have been spent 0n the schools instead of the performing arts center.  I’m just left to scratch my head at how you wind up with fancy performing arts at the same time your schools are going down the tubes.

Actually, the demographics involved in these two stories explain 90% of it.  But the remaining 10% still confuses me.  You’d think that the school situation would have been on someone’s radar as they were anticipating that shiny new beacon to the arts.

Farewell (for now) Pine Valley

Yesterday was the last new episode broadcast on television of All My Children.  Though I have resisted the urge to turn this blog in o one all about ABC and its soap cancellations I thought the occasion deserved marking.

Before we get to the heart of the matter, to update you all on where things stand: Prospect Park has purchased the rights to All My Children and One Life to Live.  As of now the plan is for both shows to return in January as internet broadcasts.  Details are extremely sparse at the moment, but Prospect Park has reiterated several times their desire to maintain the high quality of the shows.  Rumor has it they are trying to resell to other networks such as Bravo.  They are currently in negotiations with actors.  Frank Valentini, OLTL’s Executive Producer who is famed for budget miracles has signed on with a title that is something like Head of Serialized Dramas.  Brian Frons, head of ABC daytime, continues to be an idiotic, misogynistic jackass.  My hate for him has grown to such levels that I will no longer allow Cammy to accept the blame for the Spanish Inquisition because it is clearly Mr. Frons’s fault.  Also the hot air coming out of his mouth and ass are what is melting the polar ice caps.  And the last name he was born with was Rochester.

But this post is not about how Brian Frons blows goats.

It’s about the fact that All My Children holds a very special place in my heart, and I am sad to see it go.

AMC reminds me of watching with my mom when I was home sick from school.

It reminds me of playing on the floor while my Mom folded laundry or sewed or did something else while watching.

I’m fairly certain, looking back, that the first time I was ever really a “shipper” for a couple it was Hayley and Charlie.

And the fact that, mock it if you must, the show has made major contributions to the history of American television.

AMC began by making the Vietnam War a central issue, when virtually no one dared even acknowledge it on television.  It was the first show in America to have a female character have a legal abortion.  It had a heterosexual female character with AIDS in an era where many people still called the disease “gay cancer.”  It wrote an actress’s facelift into the script so that it could deal with the issue of plastic surgery and all its implications decades before Nip/Tuck.  It gave daytime television its first (and sadly, one of very few) black supercouple.   It’s also been ahead of its time in its depictions of anorexia, homosexuality, drug addiction…

And on Monday, instead, we will have a show telling us such revolutionary things as, “hand towels can be used as napkins if your friends are slobs” and “fresher food tastes better.”  (Who knew?)

I’m hoping that AMC and its sister show will continue to blaze new trails, but regardless, I wanted to take this moment to remember.

“I’m rooting for Zurich”

So, just about every morning this week, my TV has cut on at o-dark-thirty to one local news station or another.  And every morning, it’s been the same damn story:

ZOMG, SPACE JUNK IS GOING TO HIT US ON THE HEAD!

Seriously?  All I can think of is the episode of The West Wing where Donna gets ahold of the NASA fax about a satellite falling from space.

A fax they get once a week.

Apparently, much like Donna, most of the rest of the media doesn’t know this either.  The only difference is, the current media had a chance to have watched The West Wing–Donna had nothing but Charlie’s hope that the Swiss would take the hit.

If I thought for a moment that we could get some destruction out of this falling space junk, I’d be hoping it would hit one of the fools who keep stirring up the masses with these stupid “news” reports.

As it is, you might get a nice light show and somewhere, there might be a charred little stone of something laying in a gutter along with some gravel and old cigarette filters.

Redirecting Time Vampire

Last week something strange started happening with my computer.  When I would do a Google search and click on my results I would be taken to some cheap looking advertising website instead of the link on which I’d clicked.  Now I don’t know anything about computers other than what I learned through osmosis living with Cammy and what I’ve learned through some Google searches (when I could do Google searches), but even I instantly realized that wasn’t good.  No way I want something taking my computer to sites I didn’t choose to go to—you never know where it might take you.  Also, it was really freaking annoying.

So I did some research and discovered it was a Google Redirect bug.  Most of these are annoying, but fairly innocuous—the person who created the bug is getting paid for the number of hits to the advertising websites where it takes you.  But some of them use their power over your browser to take you to malicious sites or gather information off your computer.  Clearly no way I wanted that to happen.  So I set about looking for ways to fix it.

Among other things, the solution I found online recommended downloading a free malware detection program.  I did, but it didn’t download correctly which meant it didn’t install correctly.  I tried to uninstall it, but it turns out part of what didn’t download was the uninstall file.  Great.  In the meantime the damn thing was sending me constant error messages because it was trying to work and couldn’t.  I tried simply re-downloading it with the same results.  Finally I discovered the reason it was all hinky was because I needed to install a Windows Update.  Which added to the time suck of it all, but I did it.  Then I had to reinstall the program again.

I finally ran it, only to discover that while the program was “free” all the free version did was tell you there was malware on your system.  To fix any of it you had to upgrade to the paid version of the program.  Clearly, by this time I was so frustrated with the damn thing I said, “Screw you!” and opted to go instead with another free program I’d used before.  But then the stupid not-as-free-as-it-pretends-to-be program decided my school’s network was malicious and it needed to block it.  So I couldn’t get online at school.  And I really couldn’t do anything at school because it decided it needed to notify me every minute (literally) that it was blocking said network.  So I uninstalled for good.

My newly reacquired, genuinely free program finally does seem to have caught the bug and stopped it.  But only after running it.  Running it while not connected to the internet.  Restarting.  Running it again while still not connected to the internet.   And running it again to make sure the fucker was really really gone.

So my Google seems to be working again.  And my computer knowledge has once again grown by a tiny, tiny bit.  But damn did that bastard take more time than I had to spare this week.

Musikalischer Mittwoch Making Me Wanna Make a New Dance Up

The first thing I thought of upon hearing this most recent earworm is, “Wow, shades of The Miami Soundmachine.”  And apparently I’m not alone because the very same day, CBC Radio 3 Bloggers and Radio 3 host Grant Lawrence were all voicing similar opinions of this new song from the band Hey Ocean!  It’s not a remake or anything, but the sound  brings back some great memories of “Conga” just based on the way the refrain is delivered in a kind of rapid-fire way.

On top of this, it’s very peppy and very upbeat.  It’s now at the top of my “Energize” playlist for those times when I find myself slowing down too much at work.  If you do not feel compelled to tap your foot to this song (at an absolute minimum), I recommend contacting your physician immediately.  It’s a song about dancing that actually achieves the goal of making people want to dance.

The lyrics are not overly deep or meaningful.  This is bubble-gum pop stuff, but that’s not a bad thing.  Saddling people with deep, thought-provoking lyrics would kind of detract from the way the music drives you to get up and move your ass.  Besides, Hey Ocean has plenty of other fantastic songs which have the lyrics covered–this one is fine to be fun based on pure sound.

As usual, you can hear the song at the CBC Radio 3 page, AND, at least for right now, Hey Ocean! has made this track available as a free download on their Facebook page (you can also stream some of their other tracks–I also recommend “Fish”).  Load it up, revel in the memories of 80s Miami Sound Machine Goodness in a shiny new Canadian package…and make a new dance up.