Next Up: Shoe Shopping With Andy Rooney.

So I'm officially a crotchety old person. An avid Wheel of Fortune watcher (Yes, I'm a Wheel Watcher), I was livid that KSDK "Only On Newschannel FIIIIIVE" Newschannel 5 decided to cut in to tell me about a tornado, like, 50 miles away RIGHT DURING THE FINAL PUZZLE. So I leapt up from my couch, called the newsroom and bitched to some poor girl that this kind of behavior is completely unacceptable. I told her every other channel runs warnings across the bottom, so what makes them so special that they can ruin my evening?

I told her I wasn't the kind of person who would normally call to crankily inform the newsmen, "Look here, sonny, stop interfering with my program!" but then, sadly, I realized I was. And at that point, we both kind of knew it.

03-30-2005 6:56 PM - comments (1)

If This Was Success, I'd Hate to See Failure.*

On Slate.com today:

"U.S. News links Schiavo's case to the anti-abortion movement, and claims that 'The future of the culture wars may ride on whether the religious right's success in the Schiavo case is a harbinger of future gains or a spark that ignites a backlash from the rest of the country.'"

Um, maybe I'm missing something, but what success would that be? She's going to die, the protestors want to hang Jeb in effigy (even though he's been a total shill for them), Bush's approval rating has slid considerably and 65 percent of us (obviously not just Democrats) think the religious right is absolutely wrong this time.

*Quoth the Michael

03-28-2005 4:50 PM - comments (8)

Leave Immediately!

All weekend long, some stupid alarm has been going off in my building. Specifically, right next to my apartment (I'm on the bottom floor, right next to the "concierge's desk" and the damned piano).

BURGLARY, BURGLARY
LEAVE IMMEDIATELY!
YOU HAVE ENTERED A RESTRICTED AREA
THE AUTHORITIES HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED

It started happening on Friday night while I took a nap. It happened again during a relaxing bath I was having on Saturday night. And it happened about 3,000 more times on Sunday, culminating in one final shebang (yes, yes, not the right word) at 4 a.m. this morning.

Some important things to note:

1. Who uses the word "burglary" anymore? What is this, 1905?

2. The person on CSI who does that phony voice recognition would have a field day with the guy who lends his voice for this alarm. He kind of monotonely says "Burglary, Burglary" and then follows up with a limp "Leave immediately!" like, "Oh my God, guys! I mean it! Get out of here! My parents are going to be here soon!" It also sounds like someone affecting the voice of a homosexual (the very offensive, stereotypical lisp and high pitch).

3. What restricted area? The concierge's office next to my apartment that contains little more than an old-timey fan, some cheap coffee grinds and a ham radio? Surely no one's actually "burgling" that.

4. "The authorities have been notified?" Again, what is this, "Batman"?

5. I really think the best kind of alarm, especially given I live in the city, would be, "Hey, @*&%#@%*&#$%! Get the %^$# out of here before I beat your $#%&*^% #$@! Yeah, you heard me, $%#@&!"

6. This combined with the piano-playing I am treated to not once, but twice nightly (once as they're leaving to get drunk and once as they come back in, mission accomplished) by the drunken idiots who think being able to play the first nine notes of "The Entertainer" makes them the next $%&*$#@%$ Liberace or something means I haven't had a good night's sleep in my apartment in a few months. And the "concierge" wonders why I'm never here.

03-28-2005 7:19 AM - comments (2)

Friday Night Highs.

Christie and Nas were in town on Friday. I recommended the City Museum to them, and they went but realized that, like, every single child in St. Louis had decided to go, too. They're going to do it smarter next time: at night and under the (an?) influence.

It made me realize how alienated I've been feeling in this town. I do feel more connected to it than I did when I moved here after graduation, but I'm still so far from my best friend and my family (though I'm convinced I get along with them better when I'm half a country away).

And then there's the small matter of Christie and Nas being one of the funniest couples I know (well, besides the obvious). Christie's always getting on him for having these weird prejudices against people of different nationalities -- the guy really hates the Irish. (Which cracks me up, because he's half-Pakistani. But everyone hates somebody, I guess.) So he very proudly discloses that Christie has a thing against Asian women, which she really doesn't, but she has accurately pointed out that indie guys always seem to date Asian girls ("half-Asian girls," Michael corrected me. Sorry, Weezer). I believe the term she used was "Asian arm-candy."

As much as I laughed then, I laughed much, much harder when he told me later on (while getting ice cream at the new Ben & Jerry's on the Loop) that if he were to ever develop Parkinson's, he would become a break-dancer. Of course, he was totally joking, but the concept was really more than I could handle.

The new Nine Inch Nails song ("The Hand that Feeds") is pretty good. Probably good to dance to.

**Those Ben & Jerry servers are really, really competitive with the Cold Stone Creamery and Maggie Moo people. Unhealthily so, like in a way mininum-wage earners should probably not be. I shudder to think what they would have done if I had brought up Marble Slab.

03-27-2005 6:04 PM - comments (7)

A Long Time Ago, We Used to Be Friends.

A long time ago,
we used to be friends
but I haven't thought of you lately at all.
If ever again a greeting I send to you
short and sweet to the soul I intend.

Come on now, honey
Bring it on, bring it on, yeah
Just remember me when you're good to go.
Come on now, sugar
Bring it on, bring it on yeah
Just remember me when.

It's something I said,
or someone I know
Or you called me up;
maybe I wasn't home.
Now everybody needs some time,
and everybody knows
The rest of it's fine
and everybody knows now.

Come on now, sugar
Bring it on, bring it on yeah
Just remember me when you're good to go.
Come on now, honey
Bring it on, bring it on yeah
Just remember me when.

--The ubitiquous "We Used to be Friends" by the Dandy Warhols, which is in my head all the time these days.

03-25-2005 4:00 PM - comments (0)

The (Untold Love) Story Of My Life.

I just watched the American version of "The Office." Being a huge fan of the British series, I had very low hopes for this one. And I was right. Sadly enough, it's much better than most other American sitcoms, but the overwhelming sense of (not-as-funny) deja vu killed any chance that I would really get into the series.

The actors playing Pam and Jim are also not nearly as good as the ones who played the original Dawn and Tim. I suppose I'm biased; I don't know that I've ever been so affected by a (fictional) romantic pairing as that one. That show was able to depict an honest and powerful love story without the prepackaged drama and glitter we've come to expect of the movies.

Secretly in love (and utterly miserable because they could never be together), they were probably the real reason I loved the original series so much. When Dawn chooses her fiance over Tim in the finale, I think my heart broke. It breaks just remembering it.

I'm not sure I could go through that again this year, especially if it's not as good this time around, so I doubt I'll be watching any more of the new version.

03-24-2005 8:58 PM - comments (1)

Republicans For Voldemort.

I am so ashamed of our government right now I could spit. What a horrific, disgusting abuse of power. I've lived long enough to see more of those than I care to count, but this has got to be one of the worst.

Does anyone even care about the Constitution anymore, or has the Bible become the new law of the land? And if it has, don't our moral authorities, I mean legislators, care at all that they have completely missed the point of "Thou shalt not kill"? You know what? Fine. Don't kill. That means you have to stop starting wars. That means ending the death penalty. That means that EVERY life is worth the same. For God's sake, the lives of a fetus and someone in a persistent vegetative state are NOT WORTH MORE than those of actual living, breathing, moving, thinking and acting individuals. It is time we saw reason and real compassion in the legislative process instead of knee-jerk, moralistic, self-serving posturing.

The irony is that while Republicans claim to care so much about this woman, they are busy passing laws that will:

1. prevent people like her from suing a doctor for malpractice when something like this happens
2. stop people like her from getting much-needed health insurance that might help her family pay for this disaster
3. deny people like her the right to declare bankruptcy when those bills become too great

There's a reason you will never see a bumper sticker that says "Democrats for Voldemort." It's because Democrats aren't evil.

03-21-2005 4:43 PM - comments (3)

One More Thing I Hate.

People saying "social" when they mean "Social Security Number."

03-20-2005 9:44 PM - comments (0)

Well, Uh Uh, Baby, I Ain't Got No Plan.

You can say that again. Do you (would you) understand?

03-20-2005 9:31 PM - comments (0)

You Sweet Talk Like a Cop (And You Know It).

Spoon's ancient "The Way We Get By" is one of my most overplayed songs. It's on just about every mix CD I make for people, and everyone tells me this, yet I never get sick of it. Goddamn, why can't someone perform this on "American Idol" and redeem my interest in the show and in the song? (OK, that's a huge risk, granted.)

I have no one but Christie to blame for this.

03-20-2005 9:25 PM - comments (2)

For Me, Man, That Was a Little Bitchy.

My thoughts on the remaining American Idol contestants:

Anthony Decent voice, lame taste in music, needs to cover up that sympathy hole in his neck. I think turtlenecks are still sort of in, right? Those and Bermuda shorts, I've been told. I dug the Jon Secada song the first time he performed it, but two times was going overboard. Also, I feel bad because I thought his weird voice was because he was from Brooklyn. He'll be voted off about midway through.

Anwar I wouldn't mind marrying this guy and having his kids, but I guess Paula's already in line. Really sweet voice, though not particularly powerful, and seems like an all-around great guy. I'm definitely rooting for him; I think if we have to have an American Idol, it should be someone with a little humility and maturity. Plus, he's from East Orange, just like my dad. He's in my top four.

Bo This "rocker" counts Sheryl Crow and matchbox 20 among his favorite bands. Why can't we ever get a singer who actually likes good music? But he's definitely confident, and I don't foresee him screwing up or being "pitchy." But he's got kind of an ugly warthog face.

Carrie "Been there, done that, London," as Wagenheimer's shirt said. But really, she's sorta pretty and has a sorta pretty voice and she'd be a great sub-par country singer. She has nothing interesting to offer me. She'll be voted off earlier than everyone thinks.

Constantine The wild card, in my opinion. One week I find him and his weird double-chin to be horribly repulsive. The next I am struck by how much more stage presence he has than any other contestant. His voice isn't really very good, but he has creepy eyes, which should put him in the top four.

Jessica I know it's cruel, but she needs to drop 15 pounds and get that mole removed (I just know that thing's teeming with hair). False sense of sexuality plus fetal-alcohol-syndrome eyes = me wanting to strangle her, yet she has a pretty good voice. She'll be off soon.

Mikalah She and Constantine are in that same "hate them/am sort of intrigued by them" category. Whenever she opens her huge mouth, I am treated to an uncanny Nanny impression all we need is that cackling, through-the-nose, Urkel-esque laugh. Drop the exaggerated New York, nasally, personality-on-fire routine and show me why you could be the next Barbra, because that's really all America wants from you. And while you're at it, stop looking like a drag queen. Because you do. And that's why all of my gay friends love you, but it's why the rest of America won't. I predict she'll be in the top four.

Nadia OK, I know she's the favorite to win, but she freaking looks like she's constipated whenever she sings. Stop scrunching up your face and stretching your arm out and pointing to the camera like you're the long-lost black female member of the Backstreet Boys in their "I Want it that Way" video (and if you want to continue this horrid gesture, at least have the decency to wear a loose-fitting white collared shirt and stand on a beach). She has a good, powerful voice as it seems many African-American women do, which I realize makes me sound prejudiced or something, but I honestly mean it as a compliment but she has a gross face and I kind of hate her.

Nikko OK, I'm hugely biased here, with him being from STL and all. He's not the best singer, nor does he have the best stage presence, but I've been entertained each time he's performed, and he has a natural confidence I find endearing. Plus, he blew me away with his rendition of "Georgia on My Mind."

Scott Been there, done that, Ruben. Really. This guy is sweet, but I know I wouldn't think so if he weren't overweight. So sorry, guy, but you'll be voted off soon.

Vonzell She looks like a walking corpse, but I like her personality and she's got an OK voice. She suffers from one of the (many) diseases Lindsey suffered from she can't pick a decent song to save her life. She'll be off soon.

Other general comments:
When Simon remarked last Wednesday that America must be listening to him when making their choices, Paula sounded like she was going to die laughing. The thing is, Simon is not just the barometer, but the primary influence on how people vote. So laughing at him especially when you're a washed-up former pop star who once sang a duet with a bobcat and whose idea of show preparation is a downing a healthy blend of Quaaludes and whiskey sours, sans the sour is just plain embarrassing. Paula Abdul, I am so not proud of you right now. You are just way too unique to yourself.

I think Mario Vas-kwez would have won had he stayed in the competition.

I think it's pretty much down to Nadia, Constantine and Anwar.

03-18-2005 2:43 PM - comments (3)

A Well-Timed Fiesta.

So my vacation plans have finally been cemented, and wow, did they work out well. As you might recall, Michael and I have been struggling to come up with something fun, not too expensive and not during either of our busy periods at work. We played around with the idea of going to Punta Cana in early March, but realized that would have given us a week or two to prepare. Then there was the ill-fated Chicago plan last weekend, which we canceled because we were both horribly sick.

Finally, we had settled on going somewhere in October, because hurricane season unsurprisingly renders hotel rates somewhat reasonable. I was somewhat reluctant to go with this plan, for reasons too innumerable to get into here. (One I will tell you is that I get very antsy waiting for trips like that to happen. The ideal vacation takes place maybe a month or two from the present day, which is enough time to lose 10 pounds, find a great bathing suit, learn a foreign language and save money.)

Hello, Fate or Buena Suerte or whatever you're called. A couple from St. Louis are getting married at the Iberostar Paraiso Beach on Cinco de Mayo, and they want a reporter from my magazine down there to cover it. So Michael and I will be staying there (or possibly at one of the sister resorts, the Paraiso del Mar, the the Paraiso Lindo or the Paraiso Maya) from May 1 through May 8, me for free and he for the price of the chartered flight and the taxes. The best thing about doing it this way is that we can spend a little money on excursions, like going to Chichen-Itza (which, oddly enough, I have never done, despite my many trips to Mexico), Xcaret and Xel-Ha, or, more likely, parasailing and getting beachside massages.

I wonder what taking a vacation with a boy is going to be like.

03-16-2005 10:29 AM - comments (0)

Leaving My Wings Behind Me.

Got no place to go
but there's a girl waiting for me down in Mexico
She's got a bottle of tequila, a bottle of gin
And if I bring a little music I can fit right in
We've got airplane rides
We got California drowning out the window side
We've got big black cars
And we've got stories how we slept with all the movie stars
I may take a holiday in Spain
Leave my wings behind me
Drink my worries down the drain
And fly away to somewhere new.

Counting Crows, "Holiday in Spain"

03-14-2005 11:14 AM - comments (0)

Viruses Suck.

So for the last seven days and nights, I've been incredibly sick with the flu. I can't blame it on Sally, even though she and I went out the night I started to feel icky, because I'm pretty sure it takes more than two hours to show signs of illness after being infected (there's got to be a better word than "infected," but my brain is still fuzzy from the medicine).

Of course, being sick put a real kink in my plans for this last week. I was scheduled to go to the Missouri Association of Publications magazine summit thing at Mizzou, and I still managed to, but sweated and froze the entire time and my notes look like they're in a different language. The speakers were pretty fabulous Ellen Payne, director of ops for Hearst Magazines (Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire [which she pronounced "Mary Claire" each time, making me wonder why the hell it's spelled "Marie" if it's supposed to be "Mary"], Harper's Bazaar, Esquire, I think, and some others) talked about how to cut printing costs by going InDesign and eliminating some of the pre-press stuff. It sounded fascinating I'd love to have an imaging specialist on staff just to do color corrections but unrealistic for a magazine as small as the one I work for. She also talked about audience, diversity and the order of things in a magazine (TOC, front of book stuff, well, end of book stuff) and said some of her mags are rethinking that order and lumping things together by topic, which is interesting. I asked her about paper weight one of my very favorite topics and she said she envies O Magazine.

At the dinner, which was quite possibly the most disgusting banquet dinner I've ever had the misfortune of having to try to eat, Samir Husni ("Mr. Magazine") spoke. Incredibly entertaining little Lebanese fellow who seems to know everything there is to know about the industry. I had no idea magazines went to so much trouble to create different sell lines for newsstand issues than they had for their subscription versions. And that some even regionalize their magazines for the different major markets. And that there's a magazine totally devoted to shopping with (and for) your cat. I had a nice chat with some girls from Primedia, who sounded like they really enjoyed their workplace but thought their work was boring, and then promptly coughed up a lung and decided to skip the wine and dessert "networking social." (Am I the only person who finds the concept of "networking" to be incredibly disgusting and soulless? They might as well rename it to "getting to know people for the sole reason of using them in the future for your own personal and professional gain.")

I proceeded to germify Christie's entire apartment and woke up simultaneously sweating and freezing and coughed my way to the shower. The shower turned to a bath when I realized I couldn't stand up. I dragged myself to the rest of the conference (classes on e-newsletter campaigns and elements of good magazine design) and headed back to Christie's, where I took the longest nap ever. She came home and offered to run out and get me ice cream (best friends rock) and watched "I Heart Huckabees" with me until I felt good enough to drive home. I was so disappointed I had been looking forward to having a fun weekend with her all month.

On Tuesday, I canceled our reservations for our hotel in Chicago. I'm really upset I should be in the car with Michael right now on the best road trip ever but there's no way I could shop up and down Michigan Ave., admire the Art Institute and enjoy pizza and Second City feeling like this (and knowing it's going to be below freezing all weekend there).

Ugh.

03-10-2005 11:20 AM - comments (2)

Exactly.

"The important thing to remember is why the right wants privatization. The drive to create private accounts isn't about finding a way to strengthen Social Security; it's about finding a way to phase out a system that conservatives have always regarded as illegitimate. And as long as that is what's at stake, there is no room for any genuine compromise. When it comes to privatization, just say no."

Paul Krugman in yesterday's NY Times

03-02-2005 11:41 AM - comments (0)