Sunday, October 23, 2016

Series Finale

I don't know if you've heard, but the Cubs are going to the World Series! For the first time in approximately ten million years. I won't claim to be a hardcore fan, but I've certainly been a casual fan for my entire life. I grew up listening to the games on AM radio with my dad because we didn't get any TV channel that carried them. And we suffered through years of bobbled catches, horrible six-fingered closers, and scapegoated men in headphones. So I am happy that our long regional nightmare has ended and there will be still more October baseball in Chicago.

I am, on the other hand, terrified by all of the related festivities. Last night we went up to my sister's place, formerly known as my place, to watch the game, and we only lasted three innings. Now, part of that was because we feared Aubrey would burn our house down if we left her alone for too long since we were both out all day as well. But another part of it was because the crowds were so huge that you would have thought there was a Kenny Chesney concert or something. There were lines stretching down the block outside every bar, including the really terrible ones that are best known for being places where murders happened under a different bar name. I heard some places were charging up to a $100 cover charge for the pleasure of standing in a sticky mixture of urine and miller light and getting groped by an actuary from Elgin. So we caught the end from our own place, which was no less festive, if certainly less claustrophobic.

So yes, Go, Cubs, Go! But also feel free to continue to keep a safe distance from my house.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Carnival of the Animals

We took my nephew to the zoo this past weekend. I've always kind of ragged on the Lincoln Park Zoo for having a fake farm in it, since I grew up near actual farms and didn't need to watch DePaul interns pretend to know how to milk cows. But it turns out to be a lot of fun with a kid! Jack followed his first instinct around all the animals, which was apparently to hector them in unintelligible baby-speak. It was kind of like if Mussolini were an adorable tot rather than a power-crazed monster. And there were all sorts of fun things for him to play with, like giant tractor tires and kid-sized egg shells, and even a live turkey for petting, which I was not going anywhere near but Jack did not seem concerned about. We could have a future farmer of America here, if I weren't convinced that corporations will be owning 95% of all farms.

We also did the main zoo, which was a lot more action packed than I am used to. It seemed like all of the animals were actually moving around and making noises, as opposed to their usual approach of napping somewhere that is largely obscured from view. Jack seemed largely disinterested in the camels and the zebras, but the tiger definitely got his attention, although I was very much nervous about a potential Harambe situation. And the penguins really seemed to captivate him, until he became completely exhausted with no warning whatsoever and began screaming his head off. I am sure that was a lot of fun for my sister and the entire Clark bus on their way home.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Back Inaction

In a turn of events that will undoubtedly delight those of an age to find the pun in my title hilarious, I have done something terrible to my back. Of course I can't be completely sure of what I did, but in my head I blame it on sleeping with a dog shoving me off my bed all night. Aubrey is not, shall we say, the most generous of sleeping companions, and I spend a lot of time twisting myself into strange positions so as to avoid crushing her in her sleep. So that probably can't help my alignment.

Anyway, I am now walking around like an old man in an Aleve commercial. There has been some degree of limping, as well as an odd assortment of moans. The other night after work I lay down on the floor and tried to flatten my back out for a good twenty minutes. And I went to the steam room at the gym to try and loosen my muscles up back there, although the end result was just over the top sweatiness. What did seem to help was swimming, although that may have just been a hallucination brought on by ingesting pool water.

And yes, I know that I probably should just go to the doctor, and I probably will in a few days if things don't improve. But I've always been big fan of waiting things out, especially when there is a co-pay involved.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Fall TV Roundup

Is Fall TV even really a thing any more? I know it still gets a cover in Entertainment Weekly, but Entertainment Weekly is itself now barely a thing. New TV's kind of year round now, guys. And a lot of it is not even on the TV.

So things we watched recently. Stranger Things, which was perfectly enjoyable but frankly way overhyped. I'm up for a Winona career renaissance as much as anyone, but let's not pretend that faithfully recreating the eighties is some sort of accomplishment. Frat parties do it all the time. Fun, though. And the kid with the speech impediment grew on me.

Lady Dynamite, in contrast, I hear no one talking about, and it was amazing. Really funny and weird and unique. And it had pugs. Like five hours of your life total; you won't regret it.

Unreal was also good. Had some strange Lifetimey tendencies, but that's probably to be expected. One of the few shows I can say actually would have benefited from more nudity. Strong acting, especially from Shiri Appleby, who starred in one of my favorite Lifetime movies of all time, Unstable (coincidence?), in which a woman with a history of mental illness is gaslighted by a guy who looks like a woodchuck and a low rent version of Elizabeth Rohm. Kathy Bates is in it, too. Oops, now I'm talking about the movie and not the show. Maybe watch the movie first?

And I'm getting pretty into Westworld, which is totally unexpected. My mom actually recommended it, if you can believe it. It's just atmospheric and strange in a way that nothing has been since Lost, except there's still the promise that it may ultimately make some kind of sense. Pretty violent, which is tough for me, but I spend most of the time I'm watching TV looking at my phone, anyway. Sir Anthony Hopkins is some pretty easy listening.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Circus Circus

Politics this year has been both amazing and horrifying. Who would ever have thought that a tiny handed orange rage monster would have risen to the top of a national political party? I mean, it's the Republican party, which has previously given prominence to both a woman who tried to exchange chickens for medical services and a man who believed squeezing an aspirin between one's knees was effective birth control, but still. After a series of approximately three thousand and sixty four debates, the man best known to me for firing Vivica A. Fox over Leeza Gibbons ended up on the top of the heap. Funny how none of his competitors then ever managed to come across that video of his rather unconventional advertisement for Tic Tacs; it's almost as though condemning sexual assault wouldn't appeal to the party base. Wall building still plays though, which is strange to me, given how much they fear the Chinese.

Anyway, I've tried my best to ignore this election season, primarily because it reminds me of a particularly poorly scripted edition of WrestleMania. But it's almost impossible to do so; it seems like everybody from Entertainment Weekly to Black Jugs magazine is trying to come up with a hot take on the latest election news. So I know the basics: shouty evil billionaire takes on your high school civics teacher. And I've seen enough of the highlights to know that fat shaming is in and having pneumonia is the worst thing any human being can ever do. Accordingly, I am ready for it to be over. Although I do worry what Mike Pence will do afterwards; he can't go back to Indiana, and I don't think the Muppets are actually hiring.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

In Which Things Actually Happen

In an unusual turn of events, it's been a most exciting week around here. I started rehearsals for my amateur theatrical for lawyers, or as I like to think of it, field research on narcissistic personality disorder. This year's show has a Hamilton theme, so we're adding sixty year olds rapping into the mix. Of course, there's a Les Miserables medley as well, just to keep things truly topical. All kidding aside, I've made so many great friends doing the show, and not just because of the high rate of intoxication. You really bond with people when you dress as a Star Wars character alongside them, you know?

I also got my new iPhone this week, which is of course both fun and financially devastating. Despite all of the hysteria about the elimination of the headphone jack, it's actually pretty much exactly like my old iPhone, except with a lot more memory and thus no need to constantly delete everything like a Clinton preparing for a deposition. I had a brief scare when it utterly stopped getting wireless service the day after I bought it, but the guy at the Sprint store fixed it right away and explained to me how it wasn't anything to worry about in terms I utterly failed to understand.

I'm also working on a fun new Illinois Supreme Court case at work. Maybe "fun" is the wrong term, since there are sex offenders involved. But professionally rewarding -- I can certainly say that.

Plus, I totally forgot that I get Monday off for Columbus Day and therefore got to have an amazing surprise! Life is totally killing it right now.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

If I Get Down to Cleaning the Toilets, We're Really in Trouble

I've spent a good portion of the day coming up with other tasks to do so as to avoid blogging. Laundering all of my swimsuits, just in case a swim-related occasion comes up? Check. Going at the door out to the roof with hammer in a misguided attempt to fix the way it closes? Check. Opening the online account for the state benefits program I was enrolled in four years ago? That's a rock solid check. Clearly, I do not want to be writing right now.

I'm not sure what the issue is, frankly. Part of it is that I'm busy, but come on, I worked at a giant law firm for almost seven years and still managed to post rather consistently, even as I got screamed at about the placement of decorative lines on cover sheets and designated a section of my office floor as a "cry space." So it's not just a time management thing. I also frankly find myself not having anything to say, or at any rate anything interesting to say. Do you really need another Lifetime Movie review from me? Another account of the awkward things that happen on the train? Another hilarious medical mishap? There's a certain element of having seen (and described) it all before there.

Also, maybe? I'm 38. I'm settled down. Life pretty much centers around work, the gym, the family, the dog. I'm not exactly passing out in the back of a California Pizza Kitchen any more. Though I do still enjoy one of their take and bake pizzas on occasion -- now THAT would be a thrilling blog post.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Politics of Trash Bins

At my Lakeview place, we had a longstanding battle going on with our neighbors over the trash bins. It was a cold war, of course, given that we never actually met any of those neighbors face to face. But we spent a lot of time moving trash bins to their driveways, which they would then immediately move back. You see, for some reason there were approximately 10,000 trash bins in our driveway, most of which were not ours, and all of which served to make backing the car out impossible and provide homes for horrifying rat colonies that continually proved that Ratatouille lied to us. Once I even spotted a neighbor from across the alley walking over to our driveway to place his trash in the bin clearly marked with his address and then return to his own home. It was infuriating, but also kind of cute.

The new place doesn't seem to have any trash issues, but we do have condo association drama like you wouldn't believe. Within two days of moving in we were regaled with tales of mismanagement and malfeasance that seriously sounded like something out of  Tom Clancy novel. Then a couple of days later, the other building contingent approached us, basically shrieking "why can't we all just get along?" like the emotionally unstable mother in the PTA. I have no idea what's true and what isn't, but I do actually love the thought that our building management is potentially taking bribes for landscaping contracts and doing away with people's garden ornaments in the middle of the night. If they come for my trash can, though, I'm drawing the line.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Home Alone

So Ian was traveling for work last week, which meant that I had the place to myself for the first time in a while. It turns out I have sort of forgotten how to be alone. I lived alone for three years in law school, and I feel like I got pretty good at it. I worked my way through a list of weird and obscure movies I wanted to see and no one else did and ate Arby's pretty much whenever I felt like it. I even learned how to go to a movie theater by myself without freaking out and eating a gallon of popcorn. But now I'm not so great at it. Within twenty-four hours I was talking to the dog, and within forty-eight I was just straight up talking to myself. And I fell asleep on the couch not once but twice. On the plus side, I didn't have to fend off any comical burglars with booby traps made out of paint cans, so I at least have Macaulay Culkin beat.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Booze Hound

Yesterday while I was cooking dinner, I realized that Aubrey wasn't watching me, which is weird, because dinner is her favorite thing to watch that isn't Blue Bloods. So I called out for her, and I heard a jingle followed by a thump. I called out again and more thumping, followed by her staggering down the stairs, looking a bit like Liza Minnelli.

As a natural google physician, I quickly looked up her symptoms and found all sorts of terrible options: brain tumors, inner ear disorders, strokes. But there was also a chance that she ingested something bad for her. So I quickly checked around. Bathroom doors, closed. No signs of destruction anywhere else. And then, up on the top floor, a crime scene.

It seems someone got a chocolate liqueur out of our bar, chewed off all the gold foil wrapping, managed to get the top opened, and spilled it all over our rug. And then helped herself to enough to get her good and drunk. So off to the emergency vet we went.

They were very good and nice and only laughed at us a little. She had to spend the night there on IV fluids, which also meant they had to shave her legs in a few places, which should be punishment enough for her. She keeps licking at the shaved spots quizzically. I'm with her, actually.

But now we definitely have to reassess our beagleproofing strategies. If she can get into a sealed liquor bottle on a middle shelf on the top floor of the house, there's very little she can't do.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Code Name: The Cleaner

As usual, there's some drama with our cleaning lady.

We have a new one since the move, and she's great, she really is, but she now comes every other Wednesday, and Wednesdays are my work from home day. So last Wednesday I was literally awakened by her knocking on my bedroom door at 8 in the morning. Don't get me wrong; it was definitely time to get up, but I definitely prefer the alarm clock.

Then, we're somewhat alarmed by the fact that she keeps bringing us gifts. Every week. A jar of preserves, some weird dried fruit that we thought was potpourri at first before we decoded the Polish on the label, a box of chocolates. It's so nice, but at what we're paying her, it's totally not worth it. And she won't take more money, I've tried.

The worst part, though, was when she very emotionally apologized for "breaking" a cheap plastic clock in our bathroom. It was seriously $2 at IKEA and, by the way, it was still working. Apparently it fell off the wall and there was a little crack in the plastic, but I wouldn't even have noticed if she hadn't told me. But she insisted on paying for it. As in, I told her no and refused to take the money, but then found it on the counter after she left. And she left $15.

I think I'm going to buy her a diamond or something to make up for it.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Hard Labor

We spent the long weekend in the twin cities with Ian's parents. They're super nice and even tolerate Aubrey slowly destroying their home, but it's like a six and a half hour drive each way, so we're totally exhausted. Ian insisted on doing all the driving, but even just sitting for that long in a row is kind of a nightmare. Not to mention the long absence from internet access.

I enjoy both Minneapolis and St. Paul, though I'm not totally sure I could tell you with any certainty which is which. We didn't do anything particularly cultural this time, but we did eat and drink to excess, which seems to be popular there. We also stopped at the Mall of America and the IKEA, because we are idiots. The thing is, though, there just isn't a GAP anywhere else in the U.S. of A.

The lowlight was probably when I had to take Aubrey out for her pre-bed toilette in the rain and she just completely refused to do anything for like twenty minutes. Obviously I never actually want to shovel up her poop, but good lord was I praying for some action in this case.  She just kept looking at me like I was crazy, which I guess I was.

Anyway, we're back. I'm sure I'm going to be just a little dynamo at work tomorrow.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Get Real

We should probably discuss the Real Housewives of New York. That's a sentence that, for many people, can induce vomiting, and those people should probably get out of here now, before it's too late. Go polish off your Utne Reader or something.

Okay, now for the rest of us. This season has been insane. We had John the Sweaty Dry Cleaner's sudden and utterly unprovoked attack at the bra party. We had the Berkshires Christmas Throwdown, which was so intense Bravo felt we constantly needed reminders as to how long it had been going on. We had Mohegan Sun, a girls trip so pathetic that we didn't even get actual confirmation that they truly stayed overnight there. And then we had Lu's engagement party and its aftermath, because any event worth its salt on Housewives will naturally have aftermath. God, I'm exhausted just writing about it.

And of course the vaginal bleeding. We can't forget all of the vaginal bleeding.

It seemed to me like this was the season where they finally admitted that our ladies have aged a bit now, even though their many procedures have ensured that the opposite appears true on their faces. There were lots of trips to medical appointments and home decorating stores. There were lots of ample noshes. And there was settling. Lots of lots of people settling for what was, I guess, good enough for now.

It was fairly thrilling, as television goes. I wish there'd been a new song, but we can't have everything. And I'm still coming down from the high of the Southern Charm theme song, anyway.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Family Feud

Embarrassingly, I have recently become somewhat enamored of the Hallmark Channel morning show, meaningfully titled Home & Family. It's kind of like the Today Show, but if Matt Lauer weren't so punchable. Also without any news of any kind. And the addition of games. So yeah, it's not really that much like the Today Show. But it is amazing.

They usually have two or three celebrities on, except their celebrities are usually people who appear in Hallmark movies or in YouTube videos or something. (Sarah Michelle Gellar was supposed to be on once to plug a line of organic muffins or something, but she ended up sending her non-celebrity business partner instead.) And then they force the celebrities to stay around for the whole show, awkwardly participating in games and cooking demonstrations and stuff. Today some broad from Dancing With the Stars was required to participate in a superhero-themed game of Heads Up, which she was genuinely terrible at. Also there are crafts, many of which look like your aunt's Pinterest page threw up on itself.

Anyway, recently there has been some drama in that the wonderfully daffy (drunk?) menopausal lady who co-hosted the show was unceremoniously fired and replaced with Debbie Matenopoulos. She was absent for several weeks right after their week broadcasting from Dollywood and they just kept saying she was "taking some time." And then she announced on Twitter that she had been fired, and there Debbie was. As far as I know, no one who is still on the show has ever actually spoken of it. But man do I miss her often incoherent interjections.

At least we still have the correspondent who was suffering from separation anxiety after sending her son to college and decided to make pants for herself with pictures of him on them. Clearly this is a lady with a  future in the business.

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