Friday, January 29, 2010

4. Some sort of pop culture babbling.

In my First Post of 2010 I listed off what had been running around in my head but wasn't actually getting posted. Number four was "Some sort of pop culture babbling." So, being one for always wanting to cross items off a list, I give you the top five week in review - pop culture edition. Hopefully I'll get around to my holiday recap sometime before Easter.

1. Found
You know what starts on Tuesday!? The final season of Lost! I can't wait! And yet I'm a little sad. It's kind of like the first day of my senior year of college. I couldn't wait for it because I knew I was in for a great ride, but I didn't want it to start because I knew it would be over all too soon. I just hope it paves the way for other television programming that is smart and complicated and doesn't involve elimination ceremonies, crime labs or Jay Leno. My fingers are crossed.

2. The universe, she is cruel.
The trailer for Robert Pattinson's new movie, Remember Me, is out. My first reaction as I started watching it? Yum. Soon after that? Argh! No! Make it stop! Why? Well, who would that be playing his father? Yeah, that would be Pierce Brosnan. And while my crush on "Remington Steele" ended many years ago, it's still pretty fresh in the ole memory bank. Does this officially make me middle-aged? It was hard enough when I noticed the dads in commercials were getting hotter, but it creeps me out a bit when both the dad AND the son are swoon-worthy. I need a drink...

3. Please excuse the bits of grey matter on my TV screen.
Have you noticed those beautifully edited and narrated commercials that tug at your heart strings while they tell you all about the integrity, nobility and environmentalism of the American Farmer? Oh wait, correction... the integrity, nobility and environmentalism of the American Farmer all thanks to MONSANTO!? Nothing on television has made my head want to explode more since those high fructose corn syrup ads from this summer or when one of our local news anchors responds to the frigid weather forecast with "What global warming?!" Anyway... you want to talk about how much Monsanto loves American Farmers? Or farmers anywhere in the world, for that matter? Click here and start reading. It's only a drop in the bucket.

4. "You know how picky I am about my shoes, and those just go on my feet."
There's a new adaptation of Emma that began on Masterpiece last Sunday. So far I like it, but I didn't care much for the BBC's Kate Beckinsale version or the Hollywood, Gwyneth Paltrow version (although Jeremey Northam makes a very nice Mr. Knightly) so we'll see if I make it through all three parts of this one. My problem with the others is that Emma was played as a spoiled, prissy, know-it-all who messes with everyone's lives because she feels superior and so she won't have to deal with her life. This new Emma is still very flawed - as she should be - and you still want to choke her, but then you want to hug her because she is genuinely well-intentioned (or as we say here, "she don't mean no harm.") Anyway... enough of indulging my inner English major - this is supposed to be about pop culture! Now, watch how quickly I revert! Because if we want to talk about the BEST adaptation of Emma - for me, it is Clueless. Absolutely no question.

5. "Oh, I love Jeff Gordon - he's the world's fastest Christian."
Which reminds me... I never mentioned how very sad I was - and still am - about Brittany Murphy. So tragic. She was such a quirky, talented girl. As Luanne Platter on "King of the Hill" or Tai in Clueless, she provided me with endless amounts of quotable joy and will be missed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Questions Questions

The ever-lovely Emotional Mullet sent this my way and it looked like a fun way to start my morning. Feel free to answer them yourselves.

1. What is your occupation right now?
Lackey / Whipping Boy Communications coordinator for an environmental non-profit organization.

2. What color are your socks right now?
Dark blue with hints of tan and white dog hair

3. What are you listening to right now?

4. What was the last thing that you ate?
Leftover pizza

5. Can you drive a stick shift?
Yes. An automatic? Surprisingly not so well...

6. Last person you spoke to on the phone?
My goofy friend, Donnie.

7. Do you like the person who sent this to you?
I do, indeed.

8. How old are you today?
38 and 3/4. Eek.

9. What is your favorite sport to watch on TV?
College football. College basketball is a close second.

10. What is your favorite drink?
Caffienated: strong black coffee or Diet Coke; Alcoholic: Yazoo Dos Perros (local brew), Jack and ginger, gin and whatever; Healthy: pure cranberry juice and sparkling water or Naked juice - the green one (it's especially good if you've had too many selections from the alcohol list...)

11. Have you ever colored your hair?
Yes. It could use it right now, actually.

12. Do you like cake or brownies?
Either. I do like chocolate brownies better than chocolate cake. But there are few things better than carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

13. What is the last movie you watched?
Avatar. Well... all but the last 15 minutes of Avatar because the big fancy computer that runs the IMAX broke down right before the end.

14. Favorite day of the year?
The peak of fall, whenever that happens to occur.

15. How do you vent anger?
Crying or avoiding it until I accidentally snap at someone I'm not angry with. If I'm being slightly more productive and healthy I will gripe about it to someone or write about it. I'm trying to be better about confronting the source directly, but sadly I'm an avoider. It sucks.

16. What was your favorite toy as a child?
My Winnie-the-Pooh. Record player. And we had a bunch of Star Wars stuff that was fun - I think the Millenium Falcon was my favorite.

17. What is your favorite season?

18. Cherries or Blueberries?

19. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back?
In general, or this list of questions? I didn't email this to them, but any email from them is always welcome. Unless it's a request to join the damn Facebook!

20. Who is most likely to respond?
Maybe Katie.

21. Who is least likely to respond?
Not sure.

22. Living situation?
Blueberry cottage in East Nashville with two heathen dogs.

23. When was the last time you cried?
One day last week when I was being a pissed-off avoider (see #15)

24. What is on the floor of your closet right now?
Ugly tile from the 50s. Boots and fancy shoes in clear plastic shoe boxes. Chucks, clogs and trainers in a pile. Laundry hamper. Tiny folding step stool. (This is all much more impressive if you know that my closet is 3' x 3 1/2').

25. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending this to?

26. What did you do last night?
Loaded and ran the dishwasher, cleaned off my desk, groomed two very uncooperative dogs (ears, nails, teeth and coats), did a little work while I watched "Castle," and then fell asleep on the couch watching reruns of "The Office."

27. What are you most afraid of?
What are we talking here? Clowns? Or, like, dying alone? Either way the list is endless and keeps the pharmacy at Target here in business...

28. Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers?

29. Favorite dog breed?

30. Favorite day of the week?
All have their merits, but I do enjoy my weekly Friday night dinner with friends and family and a pint or two of Dos Perros. Saturdays involving pancakes and/or college football are also good.

31. How many states have you lived in?
Technically three, but I was too young to remember one of them. Sorry, Kentucky.

32. Diamonds or pearls?
I wouldn't turn down either, but am partial to pearls.

33. What is your favorite flower?
Peonies and hydrangea. I also like a good daffodil or iris.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

...and the Trojan horse you rode in on

So. On the ride that has been the Big Orange Emotional Roller Coaster, let's recap:

Last year my beloved state's university hired a new head football coach. I took an instant disliking to him. Among other things, he was very young, mouthy, wore a sun visor, was rumored not to like the color orange and was married to a woman who went to Florida.

Yes, I know these are not legitimate reasons to dislike someone, but when combined with my gut instinct, these things didn't help. Being loyal to a fault, however, I vowed to get on board and at least be supportive.

That fall our team started out pretty shakily. But the coach said he was standing behind our quarterback, made some adjustments, and things started to turn around. I began to appreciate his methods and the new enthusiasm in the team.

The coach continued to be mouthy and was playing harder and faster with the rules than I was used to. I decided that I was maybe being too critical. Change is always hard and maybe his style wasn't bad - just different.

So I lightened up. And in the Vanderbilt game, when big, ole Wes Brown (arguably the sweetest, most dedicated player on our team at the end of his last home game ever) intercepted that pass and on two destroyed knees and with a Vanderbilt player clinging to him for dear life, lumbered into the end zone for a touchdown, the Tennessee bench erupted with pure joy and so did the coach. And that sealed it for me. He was our coach. He was officially a Tennessee man. (Brown's TD was, hands down, the greatest moment of the season - watch it here.)

And then it all changed. Last Tuesday night I came home to discover that the coach I had decided to like against my initial instincts and better judgement proved me wrong. Or right. Whichever.

Now, I'm all for people following their dreams. And apparently we weren't his dream job. Fine. For some reason coaching USC is his dream job. Fine. You do what you have to do. But when you do it - you need to try to appear that you have at least a tiny ounce of respect for the team and the school and the state that hired you and embraced you in spite of yourself. And, while we're at it, here's what you don't do:
  • You don't allow our players to find out from ESPN that you're leaving before you tell them.
  • You don't announce you're leaving in a 90-second press conference after the evening news so that you can slink out of town under the cover of darkness.
  • You don't show up to the press conference in a baggy golf shirt and shorts.
  • You don't allow your assistant coach to stand at the back of the room on his cell phone during your press conference and try to poach our new recruits.
  • You don't show up the next day for your new job at a big, live, fancy press conference - in a suit - and tell them that you really had no choice but to leave because our coaching job is "a top 15 job," but this new one is "a number 1 job."

Oh, but he did all of those things plus other devious and rodent-esque things that have come out since.

The silver lining is - as tends to happen in these situations - the worst behavior of a few has brought out the best behavior in many. Because being a team in the SEC is much like being a brother in a family of twelve large, unruly, brutish boys who are hell-bent on beating the crap out of each other all day. That is, until the bully from down the street tries to pick a fight with one of you. Reading the comments on the posts at my favorite Tennessee sports blog warmed my little orange heart:

(From a KY fan) "I hate it for you guys, honest.... you didn't deserve this."

"Gators Fan Here. I never liked Lane Kiffin at all, but this goes beyond the pale. I feel badly for you guys and can only hope karma kicks in sooner rather than later.

"From a Tide Fan: Good riddance to that egomaniac. Your school deserves a lot better than that."

"From a Dawg Fan... I am sorry for ya’ll. It’s a cold wind on Rocky Top tonight, but it will get better."

But the icing on the cake didn't come from the SEC. Surprisingly it came from the PAC-10. Turns out, there are many UCLA fans who have now sworn allegiance with the Volunteers. I think I'll be doing the same in return:

"A Bruin Fan here: Vol fans are some of the best opposing fans I’ve come across and I can’t believe you guys have to deal with this kind of spineless, soulless, gutless BS...You guys will bounce back and it’s going to be a joy to watch."

"From Bruin fan: Keep your chin up Vols!!! I admire your passion for your team. I was not able to travel to Knoxville for the UCLA/UT game but had many friends that did. They all had nothing but great things to say about TN. With that being said, you guys will be better off without Kiffin. Please join the BruinNation in enjoying kicking the crap out of USC and Kiffin!! Best of luck to you guys!"

And I have to admit - this one had me a bit verklempt:

"Let me first say that my family has a place in their heart for the wonderful hospitality of the Vol Nation when we visited Neyland stadium this past year.

Before, during and after the game we were blown away by the truly royal and gracious treatment we were given. From the Rocky Top welcome of the football team by the band and thousands of fans, to the zeal of Neyland stadium, to the unbelievable class of your fans in defeat, we could not get over the entire, wonderful, Tennessee experience. That’s what college football should be about, and you guys and gals are all class.

Just remember, you’re better off. He would have tainted your program forever. No doubt you will replace him with a better man very soon. Don’t worry about revenge. Leave that to us back here in Bruintown. It will be our pleasure. GO VOLS!"

So, Mr. Kiffin, I guess what it comes down to is this - if you don't want to be here, then we don't want you here. Eventually I hope to see it in such simple terms and can say it without grinding my teeth. Until that time comes... I hope you enjoyed our Southern Hospitality while it lasted. And I hope you enjoy your new job while it lasts.

But most of all, I hope you remember what you said at the beginning of last season - about how you couldn't wait until you got to hear "Rocky Top" all night long. Because I have a feeling the UCLA band is practicing it as we speak.



Friday, January 15, 2010

Zen and the Art of Jetta Maintenance

While I continue to wait for my seething anger to subside about suddenly-former and down-right weaselly UT football coaches, I thought I would attempt to regale you with a story. It sort of sums up how my life has been lately.

To set the scene: we had one helluva cold snap here over the holidays and into the new year. It eventually got so cold that I was too cold. And that never happens.

In addition to the cold, we also were expected to get the Blizzard of 2010 two weeks ago. Instead we received a mere dusting of snow that Wednesday night. It then drizzled rain all day Thursday and that, combined with an 8-degree night, meant that Friday all of our side streets were skating rinks.

I still thought it wouldn't be too bad since I only have four blocks or so before I get to a main road that would be clear. So I bundled up and started the Jetta and headed out. Unfortunately there was a wreck blocking my short trip to the main road and I had to turn in the other direction. The noise beneath my tires was making that scrapey, crunchy, tires-on-ice sound, but they were also spinning a bit. And, despite all the complaining I do about dear Jetta Who Will Not Be Named, there is one thing it does well and that is drive on snow and ice.

But alas it was early and my brain was foggy and since I was already in the car I kept going down a short hill and then tried to turn left. That's when I realized that the scrapey, crunchy noise wasn't tires-on-ice, it was FLAT tire-on-ice.

I then vaguely recalled the guy at the oil change place maybe telling me I might have a slow leak in my front right tire that I should maybe keep an eye on. I can't remember. I mean, really. I wasn't listening that closely to begin with and, well, it's been several weeks since then... But I stopped, got out, and wouldn't you know it, a week of below freezing weather and a slow leak in your tire equals one very, very flat tire.

I tired to turn around and drive it back to my house until the weather warmed up enough to fix it, but going back up the hill was not an option. So I parked the Jetta on the street and trudged home.

Saturday came and it warmed up above 20-degrees so I walked back down to the car intent on changing the tire myself. I had a couple of offers of help from friends and family, and/or their AAA service, but it was too frickin' cold outside to put someone through that when, had I used any common sense to begin with, I would not have been in this predicament in the first place. Plus, it had been a particularly demoralizing week at work and I really just needed to complete something - that had some degree of difficulty to it - with my own two hands and one brain and not be scrutinized or berated about it.

So, I arrived at the Jetta and proceeded to remove the cute little tire-changing kit from the trunk and my very impressive-looking full-sized spare and went to work. Lemme tell ya - it was a gigantic pain in the ass and it was SO COLD. But I was determined. I took off the crafty German-designed hubcap cover thingy (that I had to look up in the damn manual how to remove). I loosened the bolts. I got the car all jacked up and was starting to remove the bolts when an SUV stopped. Inside was a kindly-looking Good Samaritan in his mid-to-late 50's. He rolled down his window.

GS: You need some help?

Me: Thanks, but I'm okay.

GS: [laughs] I wasn't expecting that answer. Here, I'll give you a hand.

He pulls his car off to the side and gets out. Part of me is really annoyed that he just assumed I would let him take over and change the tire. The rest of me is freezing its ass off. GS kindly finishes removing the flat tire and puts on the spare. Which turns out to also be flat.

Me: Good grief.

GS: Well, I think it's enough to get you to the gas station at the end of the street.

Me: Okay. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate your help. Have a nice day.

We shake hands and exchange names. I then drive on my slightly deflated spare to the gas station's air thingy, which is, of course, out of order. I curse, look up, and then realize that GS has followed me to the gas station.

GS: Is it out of order?

Me: Yes.

GS: Aw, man. Do you want to try the next gas station up the street?

Me: Sure.

I take off and he kindly follows behind me with his hazards on. We get to the next gas station's air thingy. Also out of order. I curse, smack my hand on the steering wheel and prepare to head down the street to the next station on what I'm sure is now a much more than a slightly-deflated spare.

GS: That one's out of order too?! Are you kidding me?!

Me: I know! Can you believe it?!

GS: I've got a buddy that works at the used tire place just up on the other side of the street if you want to go there.

Me: Okay! Thanks!

So we head up the street a short bit and turn into the tire place. GS goes inside for a moment and then emerges with a moderately scary looking dude named Mike with a cigarette dangling from his lip. He walks past me, mutters something I don't understand and then crouches down beside the car to find the leak in the spare. He finds it and goes about fixing it. I start to chat with GS again.

Me: Thank you so much - I really appreciate your help. But it's cold and I'm sure you have other things to do so please don't feel like you have to stay here.

GS: It's no problem.

Long pause.

GS: You married?

Me [to myself]: Who asks that question when they first meet someone?

Me [aloud]: No.

GS: Kids?

Me: Um. No.

Mike: It's fixed.

He then gestures gruffly to me to open the trunk. I hope it's because he wants me to get the flat tire out of it so he can fix that as well and not because he plans to knock me in the head and put me in it. But I decide to take my chances and quickly open the trunk. He pulls out the flat tire, fills it with air and then points to where I can hear air escaping from a little worn area in the side wall.

Mike: You need a new tire.

Me: How much?

Mike: Cash?

Me: Yes.

Mike: $27.50.

Me: Sounds good.

Mike leaves with my flat tire and mutters something to some other scary-looking dudes with cigarettes dangling from their lips. They look up at me, mutter back to him, and then take my tire inside.

Me [to GS]: Again - thank you. You've been very nice, but I'm fine now, I don't want to keep you.

GS: So you're not married?

Me [light bulb FINALLY goes off over my head]: Oh. Uh. No.

No-So-Good Samaritan proceeds to try and make small talk and no matter how many times I mention that he doesn't need to stay - HE WON'T LEAVE. I become annoyed. And am freezing. I reach into my pocket and pull out my phone and start to text one of my gays: "Plz come get me @ tire store by CVS. BTW - try to look big & scary when u get here."

NSGS: So are you single?

Me [finally with my wits about me]: No!

NSGS: Boyfriend?

Me: Yep.

I then cringe internally because I know the next questions will be "Well, if you have a boyfriend, why wasn't he out there changing your tire?" and because I know that if I do have to resort to calling in backup I will never, ever, ever be allowed to live down this little ordeal. Having Mike knock me in the head and put me in the trunk does not sound like such a bad alternative at the moment...

NSGS: Well, Mike will be finished in a minute so I guess I'll head on.

Me [internally]: Praise Jesus.

Me: Okay. Well, thanks again. Have a good weekend.

NSGS leaves and Mike returns shortly with a new tire. Well, a new used tire. And shoves a bill at me with $27.50 scribbled on it. I hand him two twenty dollar bills and he grumbles (dude, you just asked if I had cash - not if I had exact change. Let it go!). He digs around in his pocket and comes up with change. And then hands me the tire. I realize that $27.50 only covers parts. Not installation.

So I drive back to my house on my fully-inflated spare and then spend the next 30 minutes continuing to freeze my ass off while I change the tire in my driveway. Happily. Alone.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

First Post of 2010

I've been mulling different posts around in my head for a couple of weeks now, but as of yet I obviously haven't gotten down to the business of writing them. To date, the list includes:

1. The Top Five Review of all of the chaos and festivities of the holidays.

2. The list of new year's resolutions that will inevitably not be followed much past Ground Hog's Day.

3. A manifesto about the state of my job and my boss' ridiculous behavior that I'm sure would end with me stating that I should just suck it up, be thankful I have a job at all and then proceed with me continuing in the same crappy state of mind for another six months.

4. Some sort of pop culture babbling.

5. Several posts about the crazy-assed goings on with my state's football and men's basketball teams. Most notably and arguably the most crazy-assed being last night's development that - just beware - I will most certainly be ranting about in the near future. For now I will only repeat what I have been muttering to myself since about 10:30 last night: Youhavegottobekiddingmeyouunfuckingbelievablesonofabitch.

But, after a brief reality check, I decided that instead of writing about any of these things right now I am only going to post links to where money can be donated to relief efforts in Haiti.

A moment ago I channelled the effort I was exerting with my cursing into donating to Episcopal Relief and Development. For what its worth, ERD doesn't go to other countries to proselytize or baptise anyone. They provide disaster relief and support existing organizations and efforts within communities that are already doing good things with regard to clean water, sustainable agriculture, education and so on.

If you are looking for a place to donate and don't want to be churchy about it, Treehugger had a post today that listed other reputable organizations already working in Haiti who also have an environmental focus:

Architecture for Humanity: helps to design and build safe and clean living structures in developing countries that also protect the resources of the communities. They are taking donations now to help provide shelter for earthquake victims in Haiti.

The Lambi Fund of Haiti: works for economic justice and sustainable development in Haiti through community water projects, reforestation, mico-credit lending for entrepreneurs, and food security for the poor.