What Hath TiVo Wrought?

I began responding to one of Clare's posts, but as usual, my comment started getting long enough to warrant its own post here.

I relate to Clare's TV dilemma. You have no idea how hard this season has been and will continue to be for me.

Monday: "Arrested Development," "How I Met Your Mother"

Tuesday: "Boston Legal," "Commander in Chief," "My Name is Earl," "The Office"

: ""America's Next Top Model," "Lost," "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," "Invasion," "Law and Order," "Veronica Mars"

: The original "Apprentice," "Everybody Hates Chris," "The O.C." (though, ick, really), "Reunion" (also ick, but addictive)

Friday-Sunday: "Saturday Night Live" and Fox's Sunday night lineup

Then there are the shows I'm interested in watching because my friends insist upon it: "The Amazing Race," "Gilmore Girls," "House"

Of course, there are plenty I flat-out refuse to watch because I'd lose more brain cells watching these shows than after drinking half a bottle of Svedka vodka: "Desperate Housewives," "E-Ring," "ER" (act like a gunshot victim and die already), "Ghost Whisperer," "Grey's Anatomy", "Inconceivable," "Joey," "Medium," "Survivor"/other reality shows, "Trading Spaces"/"Trading Spouses"/"Nanny 911"/Amy Grant types, the trash they're calling comedy on CBS*

Then there are those I have watched in the past and would like to do so this season but value six hours a sleep a night more: The Jerry Bruckheimer vehicles, the lineup of new thrillers ("Threshold," "Supernatural," etc.)

Add these to our daily viewings of "The Daily Show," "Jeopardy!, "Wheel of Fortune, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," various anime shows, Food Network programs and soaps, and I'm starting to feel like I need a hobby. (One I can enjoy from the comfort of my couch, of course.)

*Note to Charlie Sheen: Not only are you a miserable human being, but you're constantly being upstaged by an annoying fat kid, because guess what? YOU AREN'T FUNNY. YOU'RE JUST A SAD, PATHETIC OLD MAN. Then again, after rereading this post, I'm not feeling too great about myself, either.

09-28-2005 4:25 PM - comments (5)

Review: Hummus & Feta on Ciabatta.

Featured product: Hummus & Feta on Ciabatta Sandwich
Available at: Einstein Bros. Bagels, $5.29, comes with choice of chips or side
Score: 6.5 out of 10

Einstein Bros. Bagels has long been considered the poor man's Saint Louis Bread Co.(Panera if you're not from the Gateway City). Long on murals of a bearded-yet-charming Jewish man named Melvyn but short on schmearless cuisine, Einstein's is a great place to meet your boyfriend for lunch if you're coming from Saint Louis University and he's coming from Washington University and you've already ruled out India's Rasoi because they never seem to remember your favorite is navratan korma, and come on, dude, what's up with all that tikka masala in the buffet every damn time I come, and would it kill you to put out some fresh naan every once in a while? Also, there should be a quota on the number of Barnes-Jewish RNs allowed in the dining area at any given time, because I do not like being outnumbered like that.

While once-intriguing items like the Cobbie on Challah and the Low-Fat 100% Tuna Albacore Salad on Artisan Wheat have become standards of mine, I branched out today and ordered the Hummus & Feta on Ciabatta.

With its zesty feta pine nut spread and tangy red onions, this gives the complicated gorgonzola mayo/avocado flavor of the Cobbie a run for its money. I have to deduct points for the presence of cucumber, which is a poor substitute for cheese at any time of day. Also, don't be fooled by the promise of butter lettuce. There is no butter on this sandwich, and you know what, I don't think there was any lettuce, either. It's most likely a lie the marketing people devised to keep you coming back to Einstein's and away from India's Rasoi. I'm not saying xenophobia has anything to do with it, but I'm also not not saying it.

Insider's tip: Ask if you can have the ciabatta toasted; warm bread makes all the difference on a meatless sandwich such as this.

09-26-2005 4:28 PM - comments (3)

This Was the Best Sept. 24 Ever!

Why can I not stop watching "Saved By The Bell: The College Years?" It's like slowing down to watch a gruesome car accident but then realizing I'm the only victim.

Last night, after a margarita from Hacienda*, I demanded that Michael give me more presents. He told me to close my eyes and returned with a blanket filled with stuff. Stuff like a near-empty bag of Heath Bites that I bought for him, the first season of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" that he bought me three weeks ago and the toy mouse I bought for Elliott when we moved in, which is named Schmouse. The fur on that thing is holding on by a thread, people. I still shrieked and hugged him, because you know what? Any present is a good present.

All in all, we've had a glorious weekend of no work, no obligations and all catching up on the TiVo. The only good thing about the premiere of "America's Next Top Model" was that I learned "Veronica Mars" returns on Wednesday.**

*A woman I work with explained to me why their margaritas are particularly potent: They add vodka to the tequila-margarita mix conconction.

**Well, Kim, the Barnard lesbian, is actually not too bad. On the whole, these girls look more like runway models than in seasons past. But that won't stop the judges from crowning a winner who will never be taken seriously by the high-fashion world because they just don't get what high fashion means.***

***A reference within a reference. Awesome. Actually, I think I will say something here. I think I'm going to turn Ouranophobe into a review site. Not an "Ebert & Roeper Go to the Movies" kind of setup, but rather quick reviews of new products I try. Next up: Colgate MaxFresh With Mini Breath Strips toothpaste. I'm sure you'll be waiting with bated, bad breath.

09-25-2005 10:47 AM - comments (4)

Update from Spring.

My mom sent me this e-mail a few minutes ago:

"Dear Rachel,

Outside of your father, there is absolutely no gas to be had (Editor's note: Um, gross), so even though we may start out with a full tank, we would run out before we got to Buffalo. It is taking people 5 hours to get from where Gallery Furniture is to the Woodlands (Editor's note: That's usually about a 30-minute drive). They are estimating 24 hours from here to Dallas (Editor's note: Normally a four-hour drive), and there are no hotel rooms in Dallas anyway!

If we were going to leave, it should have been on Tuesday.

I think I told you my plans to wrap up all the glassware from the picture windows downstairs as well as the glass on the mantle and the hutch. I have some storage containers to put them in and can put the containers in our closet. Ditto with the lladro and Thomas Kinkade picture from the living room. I am having your Dad videotape every room so that we have records of what everything looks like in case there is damage.

We have three coolers with lots of freezer packs, and I am making ice constantly all day. I am also going to make some bread and rolls, since not one single grocery store or Walmart had any bread. It was so strange to see bare shelves in the stores. We have water, soda, chili, soup, potatoes, beef jerky, crackers, soup, peanut butter, pasta, and I am going to organize the freezer so that I can pull some stuff out and put it in a cooler once the power goes off. We have both propane cannisters full of gas for cooking outside.

It is a possibility that the hurricane might veer some more to the east, and that would put us on the "clean side" and not be a direct hit. Let's hope that is the case."

09-22-2005 11:25 AM - comments (2)


I made this last night for Michael, and it was terrific. I love cooking with foods I've never used before; this one calls for fennel, sweet Italian sausage and Cubano peppers. I highly recommend it if you're tired of the meat sauce/spaghetti, alfredo/fettuccine or vodka cream/penne thing.

I've also noticed that I have never had a bad experience with a Rachael Ray recipe. I know she imspires all sorts of ill will, but she really does come up with interesting meals.

09-22-2005 10:43 AM - comments (0)

Ways and Means.

Hurricane Rita has just been classified a Category 5 storm. I'm a worrier, so of course I immediately called my parents in Houston and told them to get the hell out of there.

My dad said they already have a plan in place -- to stay with Andy in Norman if the storm seems sure to hit -- and that he'll let me know what they decide when they decide it.

Since I was little, I've loved the idea of a road trip with some adventure mixed in. The 24-year-old me romanticizes being huddled under soft blankets, munching away on a still-warm cheeseburger and salty fries while someone else drives, leaving me to devour a new Jonathan Kellerman book or attempt the Times crossword puzzle. Part of the thrill is in the destination, but another part is anticipating the pleasure of walking into your own house after a week away, breathing in its familiar air and knowing you're home.

For the last few weeks, that fantasy has been juxtaposed in my mind against the images of those brave people evacuating New Orleans, casting their fate to the wind and to a government that has let them down time and again, not knowing where they'll be at the end of their long bus ride and not knowing if there will ever be a bus ride back.

It serves as a painful reminder of how far removed I am here in St. Louis, watching 24-hour cable news channels from my comfortable office and not needing to tell my family to pack up the Audi with prescriptions and bottled water and snacks and head for a safer place, because they will. But more importantly, they can.

09-21-2005 3:35 PM - comments (0)

My Extended Adolescence.

I'm a few months shy of turning 25, and I'm broken out like a damn 16-year-old. I'm guessing the second this problem clears up completely will be the second I start noticing varicose veins.

09-19-2005 10:56 AM - comments (0)

I Really Hate the Whole Magic Number Thing.

Can someone explain to me the thinking behind Tony La Russa's refusal to celebrate until one game after the magic number hits zero? If I understand his logic, why don't we just wait to celebrate until the last game before playoffs start?

09-16-2005 10:13 AM - comments (2)

Learning to Hate the Game.

Conservative talk show host/professional asshole (really, they're one and the same) Glenn Beck today proved once again why I would rather sell my soul to Satan himself than become a moral majority Republican.

Did you realize that the cages that sick Ohio couple made their adopted children sleep in were for the children's own good? Did you know we're being too politically correct about the whole thing and that kids don't need space -- or apparently blankets and pillows -- when they sleep? Did you know we should be thanking these loving parents for their commitment to children? Did you know we bleeding-heart liberals are spitting on good old-fashioned, Republican-style common sense once again?

This is going to anger some of you, but the only people who adopt that many kids -- and specifically, that many special-needs kids -- are incredibly moral and good-hearted or sick, perverted and abusive, and I'd put money on the odds that there are far more of the latter than the former.

Every last argument I've gotten into with so-called compassionate conservatives on the topic of abortion has ended with them screaming about the merits of adoption. "There are tons of parents who are desperate to adopt!" they recite. I believe part of that: There are plenty of parents desperate to adopt...as long as they're healthy, functional white kids. Those kids generally end up in loving homes; I know quite a few of them. But there are not very many people who go out of their way to adopt HIV-positive, fetal-alcohol, autistic or crack-addicted children. (For that matter, how many of them have even befriended a person like that?) When they do, this can be the result, and for every story like this that gets national attention, there are many, many more we never hear about.

And these vocal right-wingers -- almost none of whom have actually adopted a child because of their moral imperative -- think they have the right to tell a woman not to have an abortion? Is this why Glenn Beck is making such outrageous claims? Does he know the moment he attacks the parents or adoption itself, he's painted himself into a corner because of his anti-abortion views?

As a country, we have got to realize that there is such a thing as an unwanted child, even if we don't want to believe it. The "family values" hawks purposely misunderstand this, and they decry liberals as irresponsible, uncaring, evil human beings. They misunderstand because they don't want to acknowledge one of life's most horrible truths, and, more tellingly, they don't want to acknowledge one of their most fervent beliefs has potentially terrible repercussions. Women have abortions for a number of reasons, and no matter how selfish the reasons may seem, the decision usually comes down to the fact that life would almost certainly be miserable for the child if it were to live. It is not selfish to want to prevent misery in this oftentimes miserable world. It's not.

And when these women feel pressured to keep the child because of some privileged white person's self-righteous, irrelevant and hypocritical views, they either keep the child and are unable to provide for it, or they give it away, cross their fingers and hope for the best. And this is why we're hearing about these poor little kids locked in cages like animals. It's why we have so much violence in schools. It's why most of us know of someone who has been sexually abused or raped. It's why some of us are that someone. It's why poverty persists throughout the country. It's why drug addiction is an inescapable fact for an entire segment of our society. And while it's obviously true that kids who come from good homes are capable of horrific behavior (and, conversely, that kids from broken homes are capable of leading happy, healthy, productive lives), there's no doubt in my mind that most of the misery in this country is caused by children who were once unwanted. The solution is not to force unwanted children to live unhappy lives; it is to stop the vicious cycle of abuse and neglect to begin with, and that means preserving a woman's right to choose.

There is something terribly wrong when the people who so desperately want to protect the soul of an innocent fetus are the same ones who so desperately want to rid the world of the depraved criminal that fetus grew up to be.

09-15-2005 2:16 PM

Good Timing.

I was just telling one of my co-workers about how cool and outspoken my mom is when I noticed my mom had replied to the New York Times article I had e-mailed her about Barbara Bush's belief that the hurricane evacuees are better off now (David Brooks also takes on this topic, with mixed results).

It was one lone sentence: "And the slaves really did love their masters."

09-09-2005 1:49 PM - comments (0)


I'm a big fan of NPR's "All Things Considered," and I especially admire anchor Michele Norris for her balanced reports and terrific diction. However, listening to her "man on the street" stories this week from New Orleans, I'm surprised that she has been affecting an accent while interviewing hurricane victims, most of whom are black. Granted, she herself is African American, but this leads me to believe she either has to change her accent to be on the radio, or she disingeniously uses a stereotypically "black" accent when speaking to other black people. I really hope it's the former, and I really hope I don't sound like a racist right now.

09-08-2005 4:13 PM - comments (4)

Meatwad Get the Honeys, G.

When I found myself saying, "I relate to Meatwad, and you're the Frylock in our relationship" to Michael last night, I realized just how dangerous my newfound addiction to "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" has the potential to be.

09-07-2005 2:30 PM - comments (0)


This is truly amazing. Despite the desperation and the misery, the human spirit finds a way to prevail.

09-01-2005 4:01 PM - comments (1)