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Monday, January 16, 2017

Dead Zone

We finally saw Deadpool last night. We've reached a stage in our lives where we rarely go to movies in theaters and then sometimes remember to tape them off HBO ten months later, all right? It's not that exciting, but it does save a lot of money on popcorn, okay?

Anyway, it was fine. I kind of feel like everyone was acting like it's the best thing ever, but I just thought it was okay. I've always found Ryan Reynolds exhausting, like that guy from your high school who's always making jokes but has like a 15% hit rate with them. I feel like he is just desperate for everyone to know HE'S NOT JUST GOODLOOKING, when in fact there are models in ShopKo ads with better faces and less cloying personalities. And this movie was the perfect vehicle for him, in that it tried way too hard to jazz up a plot that really could have been summarized in about three sentences. There were some laughs, and some good action, but when it was over I immediately wondered where the hell two hours had gone. Such is life, I suppose.

Also, Morena Baccarin? I refuse to admit that is happening. She's like Ashely Judd, but without the colorful family drama and intense plastic surgery rumors.

We also tried to tape Batman v. Superman, but it somehow cut off the first hour of the movie, which we took as an omen. The lord works in mysterious ways.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Dry Spell

The other day I decided to stop by the dry cleaner after work to pick up my dress shirts. I was running a bit low on clean ones and thought rocking a tube top with my suit jacket might look weird. But I was in a hurry, because my dog is crazy and I thought she might burn the house down if I made her wait too long for dinner. Unfortunately, she was not the only crazy one.

When I got inside, there was a young lady standing at the counter, sighing heavily. You see, she wanted to pick up dry cleaning for her friend, but did not have the ticket, the number, or even a description of the items to be picked up. Apparently, she felt that the dry cleaner should have just let her jump behind the counter and take whatever looked good to her.

Anyway, that disaster was averted via text message, which is odd because text messages are usually the source of disaster. But with the number in hand, the clothes were obtained. That, however, was not the end of things.

When the woman's clothes arrived, along with her bill, she suddenly became surprised to find she was in a dry cleaner's. She never wanted the coat dry cleaned, you see. She merely wanted the zipper fixed. She told them that she would bring it back for dry cleaning at the end of the season. Didn't the ticket say that? No? Well, it was wrong. Also, how could the zipper cost that much? They told her it would be half that. Well, it was a different person. What did the ticket say? Well, it was wrong.

I was aging rapidly. But after only about ten more minutes of haggling, the woman agreed to pay for her broken zipper in exchange for the dry cleaning being comped. And then I executed my own transaction in two minutes flat and got out of there. And the house was still standing. Sometimes, she is in fact a good dog.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Bah Humbug

Every year I look forward to Christmas. I can't wait to get the tree up, bask in the glow of ridiculous Hallmark movies starring people who do nothing else for the rest of the year, and enjoy hearing (and judging) what all my friends and relatives are up to in their holiday cards. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Or the most holly jolly, depending on who you believe.

And then by about the second week of January I kind of just want to burn everything down. Maybe it's the pressure of keeping the dog from eating all of the ornaments, or the clutter from displaying cards from people I haven't seen in person in years, or the insanity that results from seeing Ice Sculpture Christmas sixteen times, but I'm ready to forget the holiday. And so we left everything up until my mom went back to Quincy, so as not to make her sad, but now it is coming down with maximum prejudice. We will probably be finding tinsel in our laundry for several months straight.

I'm sure I'll be back in the spirit by next November. After all, I'd hate to be haunted by three chronologically-ordered ghosts.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Golden Globes Wrap-Up 2017

Well, the Golden Globes happened. I kind of watched them, but I had a fair amount to drink and we kind of talked over long stretches, so it's all a bit fuzzy. I remember that Meryl Streep won an award and wore her bathroom tiles. She very delicately criticized our future president without mentioning his name, because of course he always responds so reasonably to things. And Ryan Gosling won something? I feel like I remember him looking ill at ease for some reason.

I was happy that Viola Davis won. She seems really nice, like someone who would be friends with my mom. And I like that she's not afraid to snot it up on camera when she cries. I also had good feelings about La La Land generally, because I like it when people sing for no reason. It bothered me a little that the director looked like he should be writing a term paper for his Freshman seminar, but pretty much everyone is younger than me now.

I haven't seen Moonlight, but I support its right to exist. I've heard good things, but don't really feel like it's crying out to be seen on the big screen. Journeys through adolescence generally come across ok on my flatscreen.

And the fashions? Yeah, I mostly didn't even notice them. Viola's dress was a bit... colorful. I think Emma Stone looked good? Pretty much guessing on that one.



Saturday, January 07, 2017

Days of Future Past

So big news first -- they're selling Crystal Pepsi at the Jewel near my house. It tastes pretty much the same as it did back when we were all watching Channel One in our Hammer pants. Which is to say not fantastic, but nostalgia is in and of itself a refreshing treat.

My new job is also a sort of a throwback. I'm back at a big firm, with all the free lunches and big piles of documents that entails. Lots of nice, vaguely attractive people who are always super busy. And a big office with an actual view, rather than a wall separating me from a food court. It's good! I'm sure it will have its moments, but let's savor the now.

And if all of that wasn't retro enough for you, tonight I'm watching The Artist with my mom. And since she's kind of a talker, it's not actually a silent movie. But it still beats going outside, since it's all of two degrees out. Even the dog is peeing in record breaking time just so she doesn't have to stay there.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The Bad Touch

I went for a massage yesterday, which naturally resulted in one of the most stressful hours of my entire life. I decided to try a new place, since my old place is much farther away now and, to be frank, occasionally somewhat skeezy. Things got off to a bad start when I couldn't get any of the lockers to open and eventually decided just to pile my clothes in a corner. They got worse when my massage therapist looked at the two medications listed on my introductory form and said, and I quote "dude, you got a lot of shit going on here." She then spent the next hour telling me I "needed to get off my meds" (which are for my skin and anxiety, by the way), and that I could do it if I would just learn to breathe deeply and relax. She repeatedly yelled at me for not relaxing, which obviously makes a person relax, and accused me of lying when I denied having pain in my upper back, because I did not. She said she could tell I was lying because she has a certification in reflexology and asked me to evaluated my (nonexistent) pain on a scale of one to ten (I said two). She then insisted that I wasn't breathing deeply enough to decrease my pain and that she would just keep pressing her fingers into my back (which actually did kind of hurt, to be fair), until I had reduced my pain through appropriate breathing. So that was fun. To top things off, she ended what was supposed to be a seventy-five minute massage after fifty-five minutes, which I certainly did not complain about since I was desperate to get away from her. And then she told me I should come back every couple of weeks so she could really get me to relax. Obviously, I am opting for visits on a bi-daily basis instead.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

'Tis the Season

It's that wonderful week between Christmas and New Year's where half the city is still on vacation and nothing is crowded or irritating. I can't tell you how much I love taking the train every morning without having to stand with my face in someone's armpit or listen to someone scream into their phone at someone named Lidonica. Walking to the gym during lunch I can walk without fear of ending up stuck behind a group of four admins in pantsuits and tennis shoes strolling to Cosi's for side salads with the dressing on the side. Even at work I am largely alone, with blessed quiet replacing the fearsome racket of '80s hair metal that generally emanates from the investigator's office two doors down. It's not that I hate people, it's just that I'm enjoying a lot of things that someone who hates people would enjoy.

Anyway, it's all ending soon. And next Tuesday I start my new job. Initially, I was supposed to have a week or two off in between jobs, but it turns out they just need me too much to wait. I feel special, just like my mother always told me I was.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Holidays!

It’s hard to think of something new to say about the holidays. I mean, at this point in our history it’s been pretty well established that The Holidays are Magical, whether they’re causing Macaulay Culkin’s family to suddenly regret their adorably negligent parenting or bringing Peter home to make Folger’s with his little sister, when in real life he would probably be on a skiing trip with that Tridelt he banged after the “Border Patrol” themed frat mixer. But at the same time, we all know that The Holidays are Dysfunctional, because we’ve all seen that Hallmark Movie where Lacey Chabert or AnnaLynne McCord or Shenae Grimes-Beech (none of these are made up names, I assure you) ruins Christmas dinner by bringing a fake fiancé or focusing too much on work at the holiday hat shop or putting on blackface. And let’s not forget recent favorite The Holidays are Ruined; pundits have been quick to let us know of the secret Communist plot to essentially travel back in time and punch Baby Jesus in his holy little gonads by convincing Walgreen’s cashiers to say “be well” instead of “All hail the one true Christ!” when you’ve finished purchasing your case of Dr. Scholl’s Foot Powder. Let’s face it: the holidays have been analyzed more than that blurry paparazzi photo of Jon Hamm that may or may not show the outline of his penis.

Nor are there many fresh takes to be found on the year that was 2016, which at this point has already been analyzed in everything from Dog Fancy to Butt Magazine. Certainly I have to mention Donald Trump, largely because I’m afraid he might deport me if I don’t, but I can’t add anything to the already plentiful national discourse, unless I happen to uncover new evidence that he earfucked the rotting corpse of Mother Teresa. I suppose I should also say something about the Olympics, unless I want the terrorists and Ryan Lochte’s hairstylist to win. And no doubt holiday card inserts are where you turn for nuanced analysis of the geopolitical fallout from Brexit, which only sounds like the name of the Pokemon you catch right before you get run over by a falafel truck. What can, I say, though? I’m just not a policy guy. I’m more of a binge watching Webster while eating an entire bag of Doritos Taco Explosion kind of guy.

I am, however, uniquely qualified to tell you about my own 2016, which combined the thrilling plot contours of a Sandra Brown novel with the complex characterizations of an episode of Access Hollywood. Ian and I moved to a townhouse in Old Town, Chicago’s home for mildly homophobic sketch comedy and gluten-free everything. Aubrey went straight to the top of her class at doggy day care, though to be fair the class seems to consist of ignoring other dogs and constantly scanning the perimeter for any possible means of escape. Our nephew Jack starting walking and talking, leading his parents to immediately wonder why they ever wanted him to do either of those things. And I went to Vienna with my law students, proving that travel is better when shared with millennials who have limited life skills and think that you are deeply lame. It was a great year, even if I was once again shut out of the People’s Choice Awards. Stupid people.

And, in the end, I suppose it doesn’t really matter if I come up with an innovative angle on the holidays, because their reliable sameness is part of what we enjoy about them. We like knowing that, for just one short part of the year, families will try to fight a little less (for fear of being denied Bratz dolls and HurryCanes, but still), television networks will re-air beautiful holiday specials created decades ago by people who took astonishing amounts of psychedelic drugs, and even Wal-Mart will close for approximately 2.5 hours. In a way, the holidays are just like NCIS: they may or may not be good, but at least we know they’ll always be there.


So, though it’s been said many times, many ways: Merry Christmas to you. And also Happy Holidays, because let’s face it, only seventy percent of this country is Christian, and easily half of those are kind of phoning it in, anyway.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry & Bright

I'm spending the holiday here in Chicago with my mother and two intransigent beagles. It's not incredibly exciting (Oprah is unlikely to stop by for an eggnog and a game of Boggle), but it's truly relaxing and enjoyable. I had a long, lingering gym visit this morning, followed by a longer and even more lingering trip to the salad bar at Mariano's. We took the dogs for a long walk this afternoon, since we seem to have a brief window where being outside isn't horrible, and we're planning to hit up the five o'clock mass tonight so we don't have to worry about it tomorrow. And then there will be binge watching. I'm not even sure what, but we're going to watch something until our eyes are burning. Truly what Our Lord and Savior would have intended.

It's nice; it's genuinely nice. In another week or two I'm going to be back working like there's no tomorrow, so I really don't mind having a little quiet time. I may even read a book or something. But let's not get too crazy.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hey There, Neighbor

Tuesday night when I got home there were about forty squad cars surrounding my block. Since my complex is mainly retirees and shut ins, I assumed all of this had nothing to do with me, and I made my way in through the secret trash room entrance. At which point someone shone an incredibly bright light on me and I heard a lot of shouting. Turns out there was a SWAT team in our courtyard and a delightful collection of snipers on the rooftops opposite me. And they were all absolutely delighted to see me.

Apparently, one my neighbors barricaded himself in his upstairs bathroom and threatened to kill himself with hazardous chemicals. And I assume he was not just talking about high fructose corn syrup. Why this required thirty of Chicago's most enormous police officers to spend the evening browbeating all of this gentleman's neighbors, I do not know. But I got to spend the night confined to my own home with a terrified beagle who kept peeing on the carpet. Glamorous does not even begin to describe it.

Later, though, I found out I actually got the better end of the deal, since Ian was barred from entering the complex by police and spent half an hour waiting on a warming bus where people who knew nothing were wildly speculating about what was going on. To hear them tell it, Muslim extremists from Topeka had kidnapped Jennifer Aniston for putting up her Christmas lights before the date specified in the condo agreement.

Anyway, everything has been resolved peacefully and no one was harmed. Which is more than I can say about life on the set of The Today Show, so that's something.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Professional Development

I am changing jobs! It's a bit great and a bit sad. I will definitely miss my colleagues, along with the perverse thrill of having a dead body involved in almost every case. How can I ever top the criminal mastermind who disposed of all the evidence of the murder he committed by throwing it into the river, forgetting that it was February and said evidence was not going anywhere? Or the ingenious mail bomber who wrote a series of letters to the authorities from the "real killer" but turned out not to be super great at disguising his handwriting? Or the guy who tried to drug his business partner by putting sedatives in her coffee, not realizing that they would turn the coffee pink? I can't possibly hope to encounter that much genius in my new role.

I won't, on the other hand, miss the dirty carpet that literally dated back to the construction of the building in 1980 and did not get vacuumed but rather buffed. Or the elevators that imprisoned me on more than one occasion. Or my windowless office that everyone kept telling me was a "good office" because it had a door. Production values were not a strong suit.

And so I'm going back to a law firm. A big firm, in fact. And I know I am going to work a lot, but I am actually ready for that. There is only so much Candy Crush to play, as it turns out, and I have come to grips with the fact that it was not my work schedule that prevented me from writing that novel, but rather my own lack of patience and the abundance of trash television. Plus, I'm fairly excited about the work and the people. And my giant, clean office with an actual view. Little things can make a big difference.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Unkindest Cut

I got my hair cut today, which ordinarily would not be cause for comment. Typically it's a pretty boring affair: my stylist shows up late, natters incessantly about yoga or tattoos or Humboldt Park, and gives me a fantastic cut in twenty minutes flat. But this time, she accidentally nicked my ear with the scissors, and all of the sudden we were CODE RED in the salon. She immediately started freaking out about how she was so sorry and this never happens and she can't believe she did it and it is going to bleed SO MUCH and do I have a problem with blood? I told her I generally don't, as she started pawing at my ear in the guise of "applying pressure" and awkwardly fumbled for a box of bandages. And then the blood really started, and she started freaking out more. Three different bandages failed to remedy the situation, at which point she started rifling through her door for some chemical she applied to amazingly painful yet successful effect. But all of the sudden I actually felt like I was going to pass out, which I made the mistake of telling her, which caused her to freak out again and sent her off and running for a glass of water. Meanwhile, I put my head down on the counter for a minute, which made me feel better, until she actually spilled the water on me. And then she resumed the actual haircut, only to ask me every ten seconds if I was okay or if she needed to stop, which was the last thing I wanted her to do. So about an hour later, we were finally done, I stumbled back to my office, and showed off the giant scab on my ear. It's not easy looking this good.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Telephone Hour

Last night my friend did something that I previously thought only happens in raunchy teenage sex comedies. She left her husband a voicemail telling him that she was "high as fuck" and describing in detail all of the weed and alcohol she had consumed, only to discover that it was not her husband's voicemail but, in fact, that of her boss. Apparently their phone numbers are directly adjacent to one another in her phone. And then she had like a two hour panic attack, although that might have been at least partially attributable to the aforementioned massive amount of weed. Fortunately, her boss has also entrusted her with the passcode for his voicemail, so she was able to delete the offending overshare, but it was a wonderful moment suitable for a Lake Bell or Eva Longoria. And one that made me very grateful to be such a clean teen.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Celebrity Sighting

There I was on the elevator at work this morning, minding my own business, jamming out to a little bit of Salt N Pepa on my iPhone, when all of the sudden I noticed a strange woman talking to me. Since I still had five floors to go, I figured I couldn't get by with just smiling and nodding in unhearing incomprehension, and took my headphones out.

"Has anyone ever told you look like, oh, I can't remember the guy's name, but that guy on Parks & Recreation who just yells at everybody?"

I immediately understood who she was talking about, but decided I wasn't going to make this easy for her.

"Oh, that does sound like me," I laughed. "Always going around yelling at people."

"I wish I remembered his name, oh, just that guy, he's from the other town, and he comes in and just doesn't get along with anyone, he's kind of erratic."

"Uh huh." Of course we were stopping at every single floor.

"I think it's like Tom or Kevin or something, I don't know. But you really do look like him."

"Well, thanks, I guess." At this point I wasn't even concerned about reaching my floor; plummeting to my death would have been just as good.

"No really, you have to check it out."

"I seriously will. I seriously will."

So I guess I add that one to the list, along with Edward Norton and the guy who played Cameron in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Elite company, indeed.

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