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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Fun & Games

The Olympics are here again, which I love because now I can indulge both jingoism and my love of dramatic personal backstories. It may well be that people who are not naturalized U.S. citizens have some sort of athletic ability, but I don't need to know about it, and NBC is certainly not going to let me. But they will make sure I'm aware of every asthma attack, cold and distant parent, and third grade election loss of each and every American headed to South Korea for the games. It's perfect, because I'm a busy man, and don't have time to make my rooting decisions based on a nuanced understanding of facts and circumstances. Show me a flag and I'm all set.

In all seriousness, though, I do enjoy the Olympics. I think it's mainly because by and large these are not sports or athletes we'll be seeing the other three years and 341 days of any given four-year period. I like relearning the rules of curling each time, only to have it gently lull me to sleep within twenty minutes. I'm genuinely blown away by the abilities of all the people on snowboards and skis who fly through the air, generally intentionally, in dozens of different ways, even if I somehow can't manage to bother to watch them any other time. And I love that sports that aren't just knocking into people or barging past them are actually getting a little bit of attention, even if I know it won't last. It's a nice change of pace.

Of course, I'll also be fine when it's over, because I manage to feel guilty about how much of it I'm missing, just as I do with just about everything. If only I could quit my job and just watch TV all the time. Said everyone always. Ah, what a land we live in.


Saturday, February 03, 2018

LA Ex

I was in Los Angeles for work all week. It's always weird being anywhere solely for work, because the character of a city seldom lies in its conference rooms and airport lounges. But I actually do enjoy those aspects of LA -- walking to work in 80 degree weather in January is fine by me, and unlike at, say, O'Hare, you won't find 15 people gathered around a single charging station. And my hotel room this time was straight up amazing, as the Intercontinental gave me a free upgrade to a huge suite with a giant, comfy leather couch and windows and balconies the whole way around. That must be how social media influencers feel all the time.

Anyway, I saw very little of LA, unless you count the "upscale" food court at the Westfield Century City mall, which has like two places you can get poke but not an actual sandwich shop. I did have one free night, which I decided to spend making a series of weird unforced errors. I saw that there was one museum that had evening hours, so I took a cab there, only to find that most of the exhibits were closed, such that I saw pretty much everything in 45 minutes. Then I decided to walk back to my hotel so I could "see more of the city," but somehow took a route that exposed me only to dingy-looking Indian restaurants and sad squat office buildings. Also I got a giant blister on my foot. So yeah, next time I'm just going to one of the Vanderpump restaurants, even if that will just mean me eating goat cheese balls by myself while checking my phone and wishing Ariana were there.

So I was gone and I'm back. Pretty impressive, right? 


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Golden Grams

The Grammys are tonight. I'm not really planning to watch them, but I might, depending on what Hallmark Movies & Mysteries is serving up. I can't really be bothered to check. But I can be bothered to make some ironclad predictions based on my knowledge of roughly 1/3 of the nominees in any given category.

Record of the Year: Bing, the search engine that my computer keeps making my default over my intense objection, predicts this one will go to Despacito, and who am I to argue with that? I'm assuming this is an award for being a song that you can never, ever get out of your head, short of by, say, stabbing yourself with an icepick.

Album of the Year: I always forget how this one is different from Record of the Year, but I'm going with Lorde's Melodrama, because I thought her first album was hella boring, but that one song off this one was kind of my jam. And if you think my reasoning is any less sound than your average Grammy voter's, you're kidding yourself.

Song of the Year: Okay, wait. How is this different from the first two? Anyway, my pal Bing is going with something I've never heard of that's a 1-800 number, but I'm going to give it to Bruno Mars, because even thought I hate him for no real reason, I feel like he's going through something right now, based on the cover art.

Best New Artist: Can I just say Jessica Simpson? I know she's not nominated, but she could definitely use the career boost.

Best Pop Vocal Album: I legitimately want Kesha for this one, because even though she seems like that friend you realize you have nothing to talk to about when you're not drunk, I'm never mad when she shows up on my iTunes. I do want her to bring the dollar sign back, though.

Best Pop Performance: Anyone but Ed Sheeran. He's like if Troll dolls became sentient and oddly self satisfied.

Pop Duo/Group Performance: Good lord there are a lot of categories here. I'm going with Feel it Still by Portugal. The Man solely based on cover art.

Best R&B Song: Bing is giving it to Bruno Mars, and given how much Grammy voters seem to love non-threatening black people, I can't disagree.

Best R&B Performance: Bruno Mars again. Which is probably what people will be saying all night. Along with "wait, seriously, there are still more categories?"

Best R&B Album: Ok, really, Grammys, you need to get over yourself here. It's like you're trying to make sure everyone gets an award, except for like Snoop, since you've made your feelings about him clear. Enough with the categories already.

Tune in to the Grammys tonight on CBS! Or don't! I actually don't care at all either way!


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Old Town Funk

It's that time of year when I get into a little bit of a funk. The holidays are over, winter seems like it will never end, and I don't really want to do anything except lie on the couch and watch Frasier reruns in my sweatpants. Even putting on my coat to take the dog down to the corner so she can do her dirty sinful business seems like way too much effort. (Of course, driving to the Chili's in the suburbs so I can house an entire skillet queso by myself remains no problem.) Sometimes I feel like it would be better to just hibernate until April or so, but then I realize I'd miss out on a lot of meals. And daddy needs his chicken pot pies.

Some years, I've kind of managed to trick myself into not having the funk by, for instance, starting a new job or scheduling a fun trip during this period. It's hard to feel unmotivated when you are under the threat of professional death or, in the case of my Mexico trip, literally death by low-budget Mexican airline. But this is not one of those years. I'm starting to create a couch groove, and it's not even in a size I like.

So I choose to force myself to get up, get out, and do something. I'm not quite at the marching on Washington level, but I am at least getting myself to the gym. And the office. And the occasional bar. Because life may be cold and miserable, but at least it is life, which I have to assume beats the alternative. At least as it was depicted in that Robin Williams movie. Who knew the afterlife would be so overproduced and underdirected? 


Saturday, January 13, 2018

Happenings

It's 2018! Our New Year's was a super classy affair, complete with a sleeping baby and a surprise delivery of Taco Bell. And we stayed out until nearly 1 AM, at which point we were greeted by Aubrey machine gun barking at us and pretty much waking up the entire neighborhood. So the tone was pretty much perfectly set for the year.

Since then, we've kept it pretty casual. Obviously, there has been a lot of Netflix involved. We finished Season 2 of Stranger Things, which had no real reason for being, and knocked out a few more episodes of Black Mirror, just in case the current political environment had left us some sort of hope about the future. We've also been hitting the Hallmark movies pretty hard, as they transition from Countdown to Christmas to Winterfest. Lots of career women learning the value of a simple life as they fall for small town hunks. 

Oh, and we saw Hamilton, finally. This is going to be a controversial opinion, but it was good. I actually thought the guy who played Hamilton might even be better than Lin-Manuel Miranda, who sometimes comes off a little bit punchable to me. Some of the tempos seemed a little brisk to me, but on the other hand they did bring it in under three hours, which I can't be opposed to. Also, somehow we were seated directly behind a group of ladies who appeared to think they were trying out to be Real Housewives, sippy cups of wine and all. So I very much appreciated that the theater was very strict on getting those house lights down right on time.

Anyway, we made it into 2018, and that's something. No promises as to 2019.


Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Year in Review

Much as 2017 was kind of a blur, I think it is actually a legal requirement at this point that I do some kind of year-end retrospective. It was a year of big events for me, for instance a new job, which has turned out to be pretty great. My previous experience at a large firm left me, well, nearly dead, but so far I've really enjoyed my new gig. There's lots of free soda, which is important to me, and I have an adjustable-height desk that makes a fun whirring sound as I move it up and down for no real reason. The access to office supplies is top notch and, oh yeah, I actually generally like what I'm doing. So there's some year in review for you!

Ian and I also got married, which changed pretty much nothing, other than giving me an excuse to continue to be derelict on developing an estate plan. It was a courthouse wedding, which I made extra romantic by scheduling it for the day of my office move so that I could be sure no one would be trying to reach me. Oh, and there was Olive Garden catering! Three kinds of pasta, three kinds of sauce, three kinds of meat, dozens of breadsticks, and a big old vat of soup. That's how all of the best marriages have started -- look it up.

What else, what else? There was Hawaii, but I've probably already said way too much about that. And it's subzero here now so thinking about it depresses me. There was this year's Bar Show, where I wore a bald cap that made my head look like a giant tumor. There were a lot of fun social events, which probably wouldn't fare well in transcription. It was a fun year.

And then there's culture. GLOW was a lot of fun, even for those of us who aren't into ladies beating on each other. Master of None was more like Master of FUN, and I can't think of any puns about Lady Dynamite, but we liked it. On the drama side, we loved The Deuce, despite the presence of James Franco, who I consider to be America's most punchable celebrity. Mindhunter made serial killers fascinating without having to resort to anybody wearing anybody else's skin. And a show that was the opposite of that in pretty much every respect, Vanderpump Rules, pretty much made my entire year.

So that's 2017. Minus all the politics and news and stuff, because frankly who can bear it? 2018 has such a much better sound to it, as years go.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Merry Christmas, Baby

You may have noticed that, from year to year, my life generally stays about as consistent as Lisa Rinna’s hairstyle. I haven’t “taken a break” from the corporate world to go “find myself” (and likely Typhoid) on a tour of Southeast Asia, nor have I moved to Portland to open an artisanal mouse pad store. I don’t have a mistress whose single about Instagram I’ve agreed to produce, and I rarely, if ever, burn anything down for insurance money. My life generally consists of work, dogs, friends, Netflix, and the occasional legally-themed musical comedy show. I’m good with that. I’m unlikely to inspire an episode of Locked Up Abroad anytime soon, but at least I’m not the real-life impetus for the hit CBS comedy Kevin Can Wait, starring professional fat man Kevin James and that lady who hates Scientology.

This year, though, has been eventful! I left behind the glamorous world of appellate arguments before half-awake septuagenarians and prisoner briefs written in feces to join the white collar defense and investigations group at Seyfarth Shaw LLP. For all you non-lawyers, this means I now represent people who are being threatened with imprisonment for accidentally putting a decimal point in the wrong place at a large, private firm where, unlike at the state, paper towels are not viewed as a BYO item. So far, I like it a lot, though I’m still far from that Ally McBeal dreamscape of dancing babies and courtroom attire that allows the jury to see one’s uterus. Personally, Ian and I finally got married this year, in a darling courthouse basement ceremony alongside pregnant teens in their Quincenera dresses and the alarmingly continuous sound of running water. Immediately, of course, everything changed, and he became the Eric Roberts character in a Lifetime movie. We honeymooned in Hawaii, a place so beautiful and relaxing that even my obsessive-compulsive instinct to map out every single minute of every single day on a series of Post-Its had to yield. And just for good measure, we’ll be returning to Vienna in March with my Northwestern students, who will spend their evenings drinking liquors not yet legal in the U.S. and their days arguing international arbitration issues and wishing they or I were dead.

So that’s a lot, for me, and I’m happy to have the holidays as a time to pause and reflect. And by “pause and reflect” I mean eat the “Cookies & Scream” M&Ms I stockpiled from Halloween while binge watching Westworld episodes I’ve already seen with my mother. You see, Ian spends his holiday with his parents in Minnesota (which is the most Midwestern phrase of all time), and my sister and her family travel out to New Jersey to visit with the Bates relatives, so my mom and I are on our own. With three dogs, who could easily overpower and kill us. But it’s actually kind of magical just to have some time off to relax and do nothing of any importance, other than continuing to add to my mental list of resentments against our neighbors, of course. That Santa you’ve dangled from your balcony looks like a hanging victim, okay? Children will have nightmares, and not just the ones caused by our now-constant threat of nuclear war.

Speaking of which, I’m certainly not trying to pretend that everything this year has been sunshine and roses, even though that sounds like a new fragrance from Jennifer Love Hewitt. I’m as much a fan of civil liberties as the next person, unless that next person is Susan Sarandon, and I’d prefer not to be shot in the head during a 7:15 screening of The Emoji Movie. But at the end of the day, my own conduct is all I can control, and I try to make the world a better place, one dog costume at a time. Or one holiday greeting, for that matter. Happy holidays and best wishes to you and yours for a great 2018!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Marked

It's that time of year again -- the time when Hallmark Channel shelves Jessica Fletcher and The Golden Girls for a couple of months in favor of Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. Now, if you've seen the commercials where Candace Cameron Bure or Alicia Witt explains what doesn't actually need explaining, you already know that Hallmark actually has two channels, one of which shows touching dramas (i.e., extra Jesus) and one of which shows lighthearted romantic comedies (i.e., B-list actresses doing slapstick). But what you may not know is that if you actually watch Hallmark Channel for the entirety of this period, you will likely go insane.

This year's new offerings, I must say, aren't super compelling. There's something where Rachel Boston plays an angel who falls in love with a human while saving Christmas; the only real shock is that it looks like there's something on her face the whole time. We also got one where Alison Sweeney runs an inn of some sort where families inexplicably want to spend time together and seem to talk about egg nog a lot. There was some sort of madness involving allegedly magical Christmas ornaments, I guess because they've run out of other things to randomly declare magical. And there was something with real life married couple Alex and Carlos PenaVega somehow demonstrating less sexual tension than the average episode of the Property Brothers.

The new Cameron Bure is kind of a wonder, though, in that she plays mismatched twins, both of whom come off prissy as hell because, well, Cameron Bure, but are very different because one is a suburban mom while the other is a city-dwelling businesswoman. There's a trading of places, some crap about party planning, mutual respect discovered through madcap mishaps. It's a definite recommend.


Saturday, December 02, 2017

Another Op'nin, Another Show

I've been MIA for a while, I recognize. I always hate to open posts that way because it is 1) fairly obvious and 2) not interesting, but it is sort of the elephant in the room, isn't it? Or maybe I'm being presumptuous to assume that anyone cares if I'm not dissecting the Housewives on here on the reg. But regardless, yeah, I haven't been posting. Instead I've been working on an amateur theatrical for lawyers, which might actually be an equally useless deployment of time. But it is what it is, am I right?

Since the powers that be for the show consider themselves to be a sort of aspiring The Capitol Steps (google it, then marvel that anyone would aspire to be something that you have to google to know what it is), this year's production has taken on that orange Trumpish tint. And so I am playing James Comey, who happens to look just like me but in an FBI jacket that arrived from Amazon a week late and missing two buttons. Speaking of which, I am also playing Jeff Bezos, which means I am wearing America's saddest bald cap. And I am playing Jon Stewart, who strangely has the same wig as Barack Obama had two years ago. Why are all my character descriptions so weirdly hair related? They do say the hair is the window to the soul.

Anyway, that's what I'm doing. I'll be back. And undoubtedly better for it. Nothing builds character like doing jazz hands to Broadway hits of the 1970s for inebriated attorneys.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

That Mahalo Lifestyle 

More on Hawaii! This time with pics. Here's the ATV tour:


Can't you tell how hardcore we are? The sky blue sunglasses are an especially dangerous look.

Then there was scuba scooting. It's kind of like scuba, but with a scooter, so it requires little or no effort. Those fish can be pretty terrifying when they're eating bread out of your hand, though. Did you know they have teeth?


It looks like maybe we could be in space or from the future or something. Maybe we are. You don't know!!!!


This is from one of the hikes we did. So yeah, maybe this one was an asphalt trail all the way up, but it was still very steep. That's what the lady in the wheelchair who also did this one thought, at least.


Did I mention I had a celebrity sighting? This is me and good old Barack, sharing a Hawaiian shaved ice. He looks smaller in person.





Saturday, November 04, 2017

Aloha!

So we went to Hawaii! It was pretty great. The house Ian's company has there had its own infinity pool and hot tub (or "spa," as the controls classily called it), so we were able to spend a good bit of time just relaxing in the sun. Or on the amazing inflatable swan my friends Hillary & Troy brought for us. I did fall off of it face first into the water on several occasions, to be sure, but it was so comfy that I kept saying I was going to sleep in it and then not doing so.

It was beautiful most of the time we were there, so we were able to do three different hikes, all of which were cool, though potentially deadly. The last one in particular was pretty much straight up the side of this giant hill (or mountain, or volcano; I'm not a geologist) so I was constantly envisioning myself plummeting uncontrollably. Of course, other people had brought their children for the death-defying climb (and then failed to pay even the slightest bit of attention to them as they went romping across the summit), so maybe its just me.

We also did an ATV tour, which was super fun. They showed us where they filmed Lost and Jurrasic Park and all that, which was all well and good, but the real attraction was driving an ATV at top speed through mud puddles and across bridges over and over again. I definitely did become airborne once or twice, which I take as a testament to how hardcore I am. We were, by the way, told we would have to complete a training course before the tour or we could be denied our own vehicles; you can imagine my surprise when whatever the "training course" was just led straight into the actual tour without any sort of pause or discussion of the lady who kept trying to rear end me. 

Anyway, there's lots more to say, but we actually have dinner plans tonight and I also want to draw this out as much as possible for when I can't think of anything else to write about, so I'm going. Aloha.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Arts & Culture

Last night we went over to my friend Liz's for pizza and a Lifetime movie. Well, playing with her adorable daughter, dissecting the Harvey Weinstein situation, pizza, and a Lifetime movie, but same difference. We have been a fan of the genre for some time now, well before Rob Lowe really perfected the form with his stunning turn as Drew Petersen. (Why Lifetime doesn't have its own version of the Emmys, I will never know.) For anyone who loves film, Lifetime serves as a sterling example of all the many and varied things that can go wrong.

So last night's exemplar was "Stage Fright," a recent release starring Jordan Ladd as an opera singer who has gone into retirement and seclusion after being attacked by a stalker. There were a number of notable things about it. One, the main character announces that she has a habit of hiding guns all over her house for self defense, which led me to imagine flushing the toilet and having a revolver fall out. Two, the actress who plays the main character's daughter shakes her head back and forth pretty much every time she talks, leading to rampant speculation as to whether she in fact has some disorder. Three, although the movie does not purport to be a period piece, in involves both numerous landlines and a music store with rows upon rows of CDs in those tall, skinny security packages. Four, the theater where the main character is making her comeback performance apparently has miles of tunnels underneath it, despite not being the Paris Opera House. And five, the identity of the stalker is patently obvious from the minute he arrives on screen, and not just because he wears his shirts buttoned all the way up to the top. Subtle it is not.

At the end of the day, I'm not sure I can say it any better than IMDB reviewer lordkrythic, who said "this movie simply lacks everything that makes a movie a movie." I don't wholly agree, as Stage Fright clearly features lighting, cameras, and sets, but the larger point is well taken.


Saturday, October 07, 2017

Hawaii 5-0

Did I mention that we're going to Hawaii soon? (Potential robbers, note that I am not saying exactly when, and also that we have both an alarm system and exceedingly nosy neighbors.) Ian's company has a house there that they're letting us use, and it looks pretty amazing -- it's right on the water and faces out on what I assume is a volcano, although I don't meet a wide range. Oh, and it has what I believe they refer to as an infinity pool, even thought it does not actually extend to infinity, because that would be weird. So this is exciting, right?

It's an unusual trip for us in that it's more for relaxation than anything, so I have not planned everything down to the minute with itineraries and maps and guidebooks. We plan to spend a good deal of time just laying about reading back issues of Us Weekly. I've barely even peeked at the tourism website, although I can admit that Pearl Harbor is definitely on our list. What's a vacation without a little bit of national tragedy?

And because everyone always asks which island we're going to, I should tell you that it's Oahu. Normally people follow that up by telling us we should try to do a side trip to Maui or Kauai so we can check out this super cute sushi restaurant or sarong store they found, but we're pretty much planning to stay put, thanks. Ian claims he is going to go skydiving, but I predict that will end with sobbing in the jump seat of the airplane, if not sooner. And I will definitely be staying earthbound for my part. My everyday life is "extreme" enough as it is.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Emoticons for Dummies

Listen, I know that it's sometimes difficult to decide what the appropriate emoticon for any given situation is. But what are you going to do, communicate with someone in person? I'm here to help with this handy breakdown.

SITUATION: You've been caught flying a chartered jet to various chili cook-offs and family reunions at taxpayer expense.
EMOTICON: Grimacing face.

SITUATION: You've had your bail revoked after making vaguely threatening and deeply weird comments about Hillary Clinton.
EMOTICON: Face with dollar signs for eyes and on tongue.

SITUATION: You've been granted parole after serving nine years in prison in connection with a plot to steal your own sports memorabilia that is unlikely to serve as the basis for an extension of the Ocean's series.
EMOTICON: Smiling cat face.

SITUATION: You're picking a Twitter fight with the victims of a hurricane.
EMOTION: Clown face. 

SITUATION: Your cameo on the Emmys didn't go over quite as well as you thought it would.
EMOTION: Tossup between crying face and face that appears to be based on Edvard Munch's The Scream.

SITUATION: You're a celebrity announcing your pregnancy mere days after your equally famous and underserving younger sister.
EMOTICON: This is a tough one, but I'm going with Black Santa Claus.

SITUATION: Your company got hacked, which may or may not have resulted in the release of millions of people's sensitive personal information, but you're still getting a multi-million dollar golden parachute.
EMOTICON: Winky face with tongue out.

SITUATION: You used to be the biggest celebrity in the world, but now your big new release is neck and neck with the fourth weekend of a movie about a scary clown.
EMOTICON: I don't know, disco dancing man? I'm starting to miss the days of T9. 

That's all for now. I hope this has been helpful. I live to serve, of course. 


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