The Snarkist’s Guide to Surviving Holiday Gatherings Without Physically Harming Anyone (Including Yourself)!
December 22, 2011 § 5 Comments
“[W]hen Christmas rolls around, so too do the requisite family gatherings, events which unfortunately involve your family.”
Winter Solstice has passed, Christmas is just around the corner, and Hanukkah is already here. My friends over at Reasonably Ludicrous recently published a helpful post about how to survive the family holiday parties that your parents/spouse/guilt will force you to attend by identifying “The 8 Types of Annoying Relative (And Tips to Help You Avoid Them)”. Russ and Sam provide a list of defenses against your ego-tast-ical uncle who will blast your ears with loud announcements of the many accomplishments of himself/his law firm/his children/his Airedale, Howard, who understands commands in three languages and uses a human toilet; your political firebrand great aunt who thinks that Herman Cain had the right idea with that whole “electrified fence” thing, and that Sarah Palin is a great political mind of our time; and your advice-spouting grandfather, who simply wants to help you by pointing out that every decision you have made thus far in your life has been the wrong one.
I heartily agree with Reasonably Ludicrous’s inventive tips, but I think that there are a few awkward holiday scenarios that they failed to cover, as well as few they did that could use a female perspective, since I can’t usually deter my advice-giving relatives by wearing a suit. That would simply lead to a conversation about how gender roles are deteriorating in this country and how apocalyptically horrible said deterioration is, along with confusion if I don’t respond or shocked fury if I reply that I actually think the deterioration of gender roles is probably the best chance our society has for survival.
So, consider the following guide as an appendix to Russ and Sam’s tips. Or retroactively categorize theirs as an appen-dicks to my more gynocentric guide. (Yay! Puns! That one’s for you, Russ!)
Rather than identifying types of people you might encounter, I’m going to lay out some hypothetical scenarios that will have you gulping your wine whilst silently screaming, “Oh gods, get me the spork out of here!” — along with my advice for surviving the party without breaking off the bottom of your wine glass to use the stem as a shiv. Thus, I give you “The Snarkist’s Guide to Surviving Holiday Gatherings Without Physically Harming Anyone (Including Yourself)!”
Note: I heavily advocate lying in the following scenarios. You may have a moral problem with this. My parents always tell me not to lie to my relatives (well, they tell me not to lie in general); they are more fans of selective omission and careful wording. However, they don’t want me to tell the full truth because that would cause a lot of grief for everyone. (I got into trouble a year or so ago when I told my grandmother what I was actually studying — queer theory — in one of my classes. “What is this LGBD thing?”) While you can certainly navigate the mine-field of holiday parties and family gatherings without lying, I have to say, I think a few creative fibs make the whole thing more entertaining.
Note: Your first line of defense against any of these attacks should always be alcohol. However, drunkenness should be avoided, as it will only give your relatives more ammunition for detailing all your personal failings at the next family gathering. A buzz is a fine thing to cultivate.
Special Note: The Snarkist is not legally or ethically responsible for your choice to employ any of the following advice, nor for any consequences thereof.
The Snarkist’s Guide to Surviving Holiday Gatherings Without Physically Harming Anyone (Including Yourself)!
Situation #1: One of your relatives/your significant other’s relatives/a family friend/a complete stranger asks you about your career/life goals.
Solution: You are employed in a respected industry or vocation. You tell the truth. You wait for him/her to be impressed or express his/her support.
Alternate Scenario: You are employed in a vocation of which this person will not approve. My best friend K has chosen a career in social work, and her relatives never get tired of telling her how the residents of the girls’ home K works at are worthless delinquents that are ruining our society. She just loves seeing her extended family.
Solution: Tell the truth. Immediately launch into a story that will induce shock and horror, such as the crack dens you routinely spend time in so that you can get to know the girls’ parents. Mention your friend Da’shawn, who is a dealer that was arrested twice on counts of assault, but Big Jon totally jumped him first, and he had to make use of the weapon at hand to defend himself, and if that weapon happened to be a hatchet, so be it…
Alternate Solution: Tell the truth. Immediately launch into an explanation so filled with jargon and elevated-sounding terminology that you will sound as if you’re speaking Martian. Wait until the other person’s eyes glaze over, then excuse yourself to get more wine/help your father with the dog/use the restroom/get the fuck out of here.
Alternate Solution: Reply that you’ve taken a job with Amway and begin to make a sales pitch.
Situation #2: Your cousin/boyfriend’s sister/girlfriend’s actually-older-than-her niece has recently had a baby and the experience has TRANSFORMED HER ENTIRE LIFE THIS IS WHAT HER BODY WAS MADE FOR HER ENTIRE EXISTENCE HAS BEEN CREATED FOR THIS MOMENT. She expects you to regard her sticky offspring with the same near-religious ecstasy she does, and oh yeah, she also wants you to hold the thing.
Solution: Feign illness. Cough, wheeze, feign the urge to vomit, make any physical or verbal indication that you could transfer germs (!) to Her Precious Child, young and thus without a developed immune system. Try to include a story about recently being in a foreign country — not Italy or Switzerland, more like Guatemala or Thailand, somewhere she thinks of as third-world and imagines has children running around without shoes, licking the floor for scraps — and eating something suspect/touching strangers/visiting a village prey to an outbreak of Mysterious Fatal-sounding Illness. She will immediately pull Her Precious (Her preciousssss) away from your diseased fingers and run off because “I think I hear someone calling my name.”
Alternate Solution: If the new mother is not squeamish, or is well-traveled, or is a bad parent, she will not care about your purported illness and simply want to push her child into your arms so that she can run off to have her first 15 minutes of sleep in five months. In this case, you will need to hear someone calling your name. I suggest your mother, who, if she is anything like my mother, will have spent the last two days preparing a Christmas feast that could feed an entire battalion. Mention to your cousin/friend/significant other’s relative you just met that her strong, primal bond with her infant has touched you, and that you suddenly feel that you must find your own mother in order to give her a hug, thank her for all she has done raising you, and whisk her into a chair with a glass of wine so that she can relax while you finish the cooking.
Alternate Scenario: The person shoving the child at you is the child’s father, and he will be less impressed by your sudden need to go relieve your own father from his task of sitting on the couch drinking wine (even if he is having to talk to your conspiracy theorist grandfather) than the child’s mother was by your tearful desire to assist your own mother.
Alternate Solution: You have something in your eye. Reach toward the child making a cooing noise, then recoil with a shout of pain, placing your hands over your eye. Blast! An eyelash/particle of dust/2×4 has become lodged in your eye, and while you would love to hold the Precious Child right now, you simply must rush to the restroom to discover the cause of this pain, as it is simply too much to bear.
Potential Complication: You are a female, and thus even if you escape holding the child, you will, at this time or another, be asked about your own child-bearing plans. That biological clock is tick-tick-ticking away, you know!
Alternate Solution: If the child’s mother/father is a sensitive and politically liberal person, pause, then begin to say something about a miscarriage/abortion, then become choked up and break off your explanation. Excuse yourself to regain your composure.
Alternate Solution: If the child’s mother/father is not politically or religiously liberal, and you don’t care about scandalizing or horrifying her/him, perform the same routine as above, then run, and be prepared to avoid this person like the plague for the rest of the gathering. (Potential Complication: this person might try to talk to one of your parents about your unfortunate reproductive issues. If this would be a problem, do not use this solution. If your parents are reasonable, simply warn them either beforehand or as soon as possible that this emergency lie had to be used.)
Alternate Solution: If you are at the dinner table with many, many people and don’t wish to break out your Kate-Winslet-in-Revolutionary-Road-style acting regarding an unwanted pregnancy, begin to give an explanation about your admirable future child-bearing plans, then suddenly get something in your eye! Rush to the bathroom to examine it and rid yourself of this excruciating pain! Wait a few minutes, and by the time your get back to the table, the conversation will hopefully have moved on.
Situation #3: Your grandmother/uncle/happily-married-cousin/snotty nine-year-old nephew asks about your romantic life and/or marriage plans.
Solution: You are in a happy relationship with someone your relatives would approve of, but he/she could not be present for this gathering. Happily tell the truth about this person. (Congratulations, bitch.)
Alternate Scenario: You are in a relationship with the boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife that you have brought with you. If your relative has forgotten/does not know/thinks that person is some third-cousin-twice-removed whose name is unknown, kindly introduce your significant other. If your relative does not approve because “Forget about Orthodox, she’s not even a Jew! What?! Are you trying to kill me?! If your grandmother were alive to see this, etc. etc.” Both you and your significant other should quietly eat/drink/sneak away while this person becomes too wrapped up in his/her own ranting to notice.
Alternate Scenario: You are in a happy (or unhappy) relationship with someone your relatives would not approve of, or you’re in an unhappy relationship with someone they would approve of and you don’t wish to talk about this person. Or you are single and are just f-ing tired of being looked at with pity and told that eventually you will find someone, or that you are an independent person who doesn’t need a boy/girlfriend, or that you will never be able to stay married because no one will ever love you (Wait, only my grandmother says that to me on Christmas? Oh…)
Solution: Make up a significant other that your family would approve of, but say that you have just started dating and don’t know how everything will progress. Be careful not to make this person sound too good, otherwise when you are forced to reveal at the next family holiday gathering that you’ve broken up with your fictional girl/boyfriend (you can’t keep the lie up too long, or your family will want to meet Henry/Racquel), you will continue hear about this failed relationship for years. “Why aren’t you still dating that engineer from Harvard? He sounded so lovely. I bet he has a nice girlfriend, now. Someone who appreciates him. Yep, you snooze you lose, don’t you?”
Alternate solution: You like to fuck with people, especially your relatives, so you say that you’ve been seeing a performance artist named Sven who is best known in the art world for building a nest made of his own hair and then sleeping in it for a month in the field beside a gas station. Say you are thinking of moving in together (into his nest?). Ask your brother to pass the potatoes, and then refuse to discuss your relationship further.
Alternate Solution: Announce that you’re gay. Ask your brother to pass the potatoes, and then refuse to discuss it further.
Alternate Scenario: You are gay, and your family approves. Employ any of the above scenarios without their heteronormative trappings.
Alternate Scenario: You are gay and your family does not approve. Tell them you’ve decided to move to Beirut with your lesbian girlfriend Shauna, a fire-eater in the circus, or to take up a nomadic lifestyle with your Hell’s Angels boyfriend, Rick. He’s forty-nine. You are not. Enjoy dessert while your relatives scream and moan about how you are ruining your life.
Alternate Scenario: You are gay and your family does not approve and you want to get through this goddamn meal in peace, for once, for the love of God! Tell them you’re in a heterosexual relationship with a nice boy/girl named Thomas/Laura, with whom you like to walk to the local lake and feed ducks.
Alternate Scenario: You are bisexual or pansexual and don’t want to have to explain to your family what that is. Announce that you have recently started a heterosexual relationship with one of your professors, or your boss if you are no longer in school. If your boss is of your same sex, announce you are dating your boss’s wife/husband.
Alternate Scenario: You are bisexual or pansexual and don’t want to have to explain to your family what that is, but you don’t want to scandalize and horrify them and deal with the resulting years of radioactive fallout. Announce you plan to enter a nunnery/monastery and take a vow of celibacy.
Alternate Solution: Say that relationships seem so futile in the world today, considering global warming, the economy, high divorce rates, etc. Stare sadly into you peas as you speak for a minute or two about the depressing state of the planet, then excuse yourself to use the restroom. Terrified the evening will become a downer, the host/ess will have changed the topic of conversation by the time you get back.
Alternate Solution: Excuse yourself to use the restroom/remove the eyelash from your eye; while in the bathroom, swig from the flask you have under your skirt/in your jacket pocket, or from the bottle you stashed under the sink.
Alternate Solution: Excuse yourself to use the restroom/remove the eyelash from your eye, then walk out the front door, enter your car, and drive away.
December 15, 2011 § 2 Comments
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
No, that’s not a reference to Battlestar Galactica.
It is, in fact, a verse from Ecclesiastes. It simply means that thousands of years ago, God knew that by the twenty-first century, humans would be plum out of ideas and would start remaking existing things up the wazoo.
Remaking something bad into something awesome (a la Battlestar) makes sense; remaking Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with someone other than Gene Wilder should get you sent to pop culture jail. Yes, even you, Johnny Depp. And maybe if you’re incarcerated for a while you’ll stop making Pirates of the Caribbean sequels.
The new A-Team movie is based on a TV show from so long ago, it doesn’t even exist according to Hollywood. I mean, they’re already rebooting Spider-man, and while I support the production of any movie with Emma Stone, Spider-man 3 came out less than 5 years ago. Granted, it was a flaming train-wreck of awful, but I vividly remember going to see it. Hollywood, on the other hand, now has the memory of a goldfish, which (according to my Snapple top) is only three seconds long.
But I digress: this new A-Team movie exists, and I watched it. Alone. On purpose. This was not like the time I was sick and accidentally watched all of 27 Dresses despite the following: 1) I dislike “chick-flicks” more often than not and won’t watch just any rom-com. I’ll admit to actually liking The Notebook (probably due to Ryan Gosling’s magic power of never being in a bad movie. Seriously, watch any of his movies, even the ones from when he was like 19: not one of them sucks. Come on, man, be human for a moment) but other than that I’ve been hoping that Nicholas Sparks will be murdered in a creative way and then someone can make a movie about that that’ll be far better than any based on his god-awful books. 2) I severely dislike James Marsden. Not to be confused with James Marsters, who is a compact, bleached-blonde pillar of pure awesome. 3) I hate Katherine Heigl with the fiery passion of 100 gay suns. But apparently I was tired/ill/not-giving-a-crap enough to watch the entire thing.
What, you ask, would prompt me to watch The A-Team? For a while now, my best friend S has been telling me I should watch it. He and I like all of the same movies, television, and music, so I trust his recommendations, and his description of this film in particular really piqued my interest.
“Have you watched the A-Team?” he asked me.
“No. I heard it was bad.”
“It’s bizarre. It’s like two movies stitched together. One of them is this ultra generic, terribly written action movie and the other is a tongue-in-cheek action film with all these smart comedic moments — and there are too many of them for it to be accidental. Someone wrote these jokes on purpose.”
He also mentioned that The A-Team breaks one of the cardinal rules of film directing, or at least mainstream film directing: the characters talk all over each other. Multiple characters speak at once, saying different things, and the crisp break marking the transition from one person’s line to the other is absent. In real life, of course, people interrupt each other and overlap their speaking all the time, but in mainstream film and television, that aspect of realism is usually reigned in so that the audience can make out what the frak is being said.
S’s description left me intrigued, and considering that The A-Team stars Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper, along with Sharlto Copley, I was pretty willing to watch it anyway. While the South African actor hasn’t been in too many films, I really liked Sharlto Copley in District 9, and he happens to remind me of Jackie Earle Haley — something about how they both play mentally unsteady really well? — whom I adore (Little Children is one of my favorite films, and in it Haley gives a complex, heartbreaking performance as a sex offender returning to live with his mother after being released from prison. Also, Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson get naked if that appeals to you more than pedophiliac sex offenders).
I’ve mentioned my love for Bradley Cooper before, and I’ve actually liked him since he was in this WB show from the early 2000s called Jack and Bobby, which was about two brothers named (in a shocking twist) Jack and Bobby, one of whom grows up to become President, but somehow these brothers are not the Kennedys. It did not make a lot of sense as a show, but at the time I was willing to try out pretty much anything on the WB. I was still watching Smallville on purpose.
In Jack and Bobby, B-Coop played a graduate student who has a (romantic/sexual) relationship with his older professor and who was an adorable relief from the complete confusion that was the show’s larger story arc. Then, a few years later, he was hilarious in Failure to Launch alongside Zooey Deschanel and Justin Bartha (whom I adore in the National Treasure movies — “This car smells weird” — which I don’t particularly like in themselves). Failure to Launch is actually an enjoyable movie, provided you skip all the scenes with Matthew McConnaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker. So, the entire main plot. And then there’s The Hangover, which I will proudly say is one of my favorite movies of all time, which leads others to have conversations about me like the following:
Best friend K: Yeah, she’s obsessed with The Hangover.
K’s Friend: I thought she went to Stanford.
Sooo yeah. As for Liam Neeson, I’ve never not loved him, though I did find it distracting that he voices Aslan in the new Narnia movies. I’ve only seen the first one, but the entire time I kept thinking, “Liam Neeson is Jesus!”
About 1/3 of The A-Team is a great movie, but that 1/3 is scattered throughout the entire film, so it’s not like you can watch the first 30 minutes and then turn it off, like most Ricky Gervais movies (I want back the two hours I spent watching The Invention of Lying with my dad. That movie was so dull, a piece of my soul disintegrated like a Cheeto that Ricky Gervais sat on — before the weight-loss).
The good lines in The A-Team are not doled out equally, however. Many of the things that come out of Bradley Cooper’s mouth are gold. Nothing that comes out of Liam Neeson’s mouth is. Sorry, Liam. As the boss, the writers apparently needed him to explain in very overwrought language everything that the movie should simply have been implying. One thing audiences always love is being talked down to. Then again, Jack and Jill made $25 million its opening weekend, so clearly stupid is the new black. (Well, it probably has been for a while…)
The movie’s opening sequence of 15 or so minutes takes place 8 years before the rest of the story and exists as exposition establishing what to expect from each character and how such wildly varied personalities coexist. We learn:
Liam Neeson is a badass with a heart (he doesn’t shoot the dogs that are attacking him, which I appreciate). Also, a cigar.
Bradley Cooper will sleep with your wife and then say a lot of snarky things (assuming “you” are a Mexican drug lord).
The New Mr. T really likes his tricked-out van, and he doesn’t like flying. At all.
Sharlto Copley is a brilliant pilot but also certifiably insane. The team goes to pick him up from the psychiatric wing, from which he has escaped, allowing him to pretend to be a doctor and extract the bullet from New Mr. T’s arm, then sew up the wound with a bunch of stitches in the shape of a lightning bolt. Clearly Sharlto and New Mr. T will have some relationship tension to come.
Fast forward eight years. Near the beginning of the main section of the film, Hannibal (Neeson) and his crew have a school-yard name-calling match with their equivalent bad-guy crew, introducing the audience to villain Head Douchebag. The tussle ends with Head Douchebag spitting, “Yeah, well I make more money than you!” and Hannibal basically saying that money can’t buy cool.
Oh, and by the way, by “school yard,” I mean “Army encampment in Iraq.” Patrick Wilson is also there, as a mysterious CIA agent whose most pressing mystery seems to be what he is doing there, as Wilson stands around awkwardly flicking his eyes around for most of the scenes in Iraq. At times he also puts on and takes off his sunglasses. He’s been watching a lot of CSI: Miami.
Oh yeah, and Jessica Biel shows up as an Army captain whose actual job is incredibly vague but seems to consist of bitching out Face (Bradley Cooper) because they used to date and I guess it ended badly. I found myself saying, during their first interaction and then about every fifteen minutes until the movie’s close, why is Jessica Biel in this movie? The romantic subplot only receives lip-service
though it does allow the writers to give Bradley Cooper all the bad lines poor Liam spends so much time trying to make work, so Face may get some of the best lines in the film, but he also gets the most pathetic (and pathetically written) laying-my-heart-out-for-you scene. In a photobooth. Yeah.
In terms of plot, it’s basically this: the Team gets framed for a crime they didn’t commit (theft, murder, and insubordination, the last probably being the worst in Army think, if the murder wasn’t of their commanding officer) and are consequently stripped of their ranks and incarcerated in separate prisons (and one mental hospital).
Mysterious CIA Agent Patrick Wilson shows up again, acting more focused and less like a rabbit during Rabbit Season, perhaps because he gets to wear a suit instead of body-armor. He helps break Liam Neeson out of jail, and Liam/Hannibal frees the other Team members in amusing ways. Face, for example, has obtained an (upright? Is that a thing?) tanning booth in prison, and Hannibal wheels him out inside the tanning booth, while he’s pounding on it and yelling, which obviously no guards would notice. Baracus (New Mr. T) gets sprung from a moving prison transport van, and Murdock (Sharlto Copley) rejoins the team after they drive a van through the wall of his hospital, perfectly timed with a 3-D movie the patients are watching of a van driving at them.
The Team then set about trying to clear their names by catching the real killer/thief/traitor to the Armed Forces, which leads to their abandoning a burning airplane, inside a tank, which they then fly by taking advantage of the backward momentum provided by firing the tank’s guns.
Because this movie is this movie, the Team survives to fight another day. For the rest of the film, Jessica Biel shows up intermittently (why is she in this movie?) and Patrick Wilson is revealed to be the real bad guy, with Head Douchebag just a lower-level bad guy, if extremely violent and probably unhinged. As it becomes more and more clear that the Mysterious CIA Agent is the true villain, his character’s lines get better and better.
When he springs Head Douchebag from Jessica Biel’s custody, she yells about how the CIA doesn’t have any rules. Patrick Wilson responds, “The CIA has rules. Our rules are just cooler than yours.”
In order to demonstrate that Mysterious CIA Agent is a desk-jockey without experience in the field, the screenwriters give him a bunch of (pure gold) lines comparing real live violence to video games.
“Wow, that looks just like Call of Duty!“
The screenwriters, probably inadvertently, turn him into a hilarious commentator on the effects of our society’s violence-suffused entertainment culture (video games, action movies…) and of technological advancements in warfare that allow soldiers to be detached from the real people that they’re killing.
Twists are revealed, snark is snarked, Bradley Cooper’s naked torso is gloried in, things are blown up, and the movie progresses exactly as you expect it would, only with much smarter lines from Patrick Wilson than I could have dreamed considering his first five scenes in the movie. When it ended, I felt that I had been (intermittently) very entertained, but I mostly felt confused about the fusion of wit with terribly overwrought and clichéd language.
S, who first recommended this movie to me, voiced his desire to watch films written by the three screenwriters responsible for The A-Team and figure out which one was secretly brilliant and which simply sucked. It turns out that 1/3 of the team responsible for writing the Team is actually the actor playing Head Douchebag, and has never written a film before. The second 1/3 is the director for The A-Team, who has previously written Smokin’ Aces and Smokin’ Aces 2, among other things I’ve never heard of — though he’s apparently writing Liam Neeson’s upcoming action-thriller The Grey, which I like to think of as Liam Neeson vs. Wolves. Since he directed this hot mess, I just don’t see him being responsible for it’s small percentage of good parts, since he could have theoretically made it all good parts. The final screenwriter previously wrote Thursday (which I’ve never heard of), Swordfish (which is maybe theoretically good? All I have ever heard about the movie is that Halle Berry is topless in it), Hitman, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and is the in midst of writing Die Hard 5: A Good Day to Die Hard and two other movies.
I’m guessing, then, that the actor playing Head Douchebag (Brian Bloom) is the writer who is secretly hilarious — he does act pretty well and is sufficiently creepy and douchebaggy in the movie. So Brian, I look forward to more from you as a writer; hopefully the blog post required from your next film will be unequivocal praise, rather than the written equivalent of shrugging your shoulders and saying, “Eh?” while pointing to a picture of Liam Neeson and/or Bradley Cooper.
December 3, 2011 § 4 Comments
You know what they say: Success is the best revenge. And since all my peers were bitches to me growing up, I’m looking for success up the yin-yang. Thanks for helping me attain my goals, allenavw and Russ and Sam from Reasonably Ludicrous!
What I am talking about? This week I was honored with two different blog awards. There are blog awards? That’s a thing? I’m new to this whole blogging thing, so I’m learning by doing (like with alligator wrestling. No?)
Apparently the applicable blog etiquette is of the pay-it-forward variety. In the words of Miss Manners, “Whilst wearing ivory silk gloves — white is permissible in summer, black only at night — sitting with your back at a ninety degree angle from your upper leg area, craft the cyber equivalent of a delicate white lace and mint-colored cardstock thank you card. Then, presuming you have not soiled your gloves, necessitating the procurement of a replacement pair, create awards for other bloggers of elevated status.” She’s really adapted to the internet age well.
So thank you, Russ and Sam. Reasonably Ludicrous is a top-notch blog with hilarious stories from Russ and nifty drawings from Sam that sometimes include dinosaurs! Russ and I went to college together, and I can verify that he’s also pretty hilarious in person. There’s been some insinuation that my sexy personage may have had a slight influence on this award choice, so I’ll accept this award the way I accept all drinks/gifts/attention from male-type people: by smiling and then running away like mad. I have a lot of romantic success.
This one time I was biking and saw this guy I was interested in, at which point I biked straight into a bush. True story.
As for Allena (is your name actually Allena?) from allenavw, you’ve expressed your love of Bones and confided the fact that you have the majority of Friends episodes memorized (an accomplishment we share), so I pretty much think you’re the bees’ knees so far. You noted in your award that you just recently just got into my blog — well so did I! My baby blog is less than a month old. I’m getting really excited for when it learns to sit up by itself.
Russ and Sam’s 7×7 award contains an homage to In-n-Out Burger (a 7×7 is not the same as a 7 and 7, which is not my favorite drink) which desperately makes me miss California. . And yes, East Coasters, I’ve had Five Guys. It’s not as good. The fries are sub-par and where are the milkshakes?! Also, Five Guys is only open until like 9 pm – wtf?
I’m supposed to answer the following seven questions, which mostly seems like forcing you all to participate in one of those god-awful email chain letters from 2002, so I’ll be quick and painless. Like a firing squad.
1. Most beautiful post – My latest post has a lot of pictures of puppies. Also, attractive men. But mostly puppies.
2. Most popular post – Probably New Study Confirms Leggings Are Not Pants . Everyone loves fake science! Just ask Rick Santorum – he’s a Creationist!
3. Most controversial post – I actually seem to be pissing off way fewer people than I expected, so tomorrow look forward to a post entitled “Gay, Black, Figure Skater Jesus.”
5. Most surprisingly successful post – To come!
6. Most underrated post – I accidentally typed, “underratted.” Few to none of my posts have rats in them, which is good, because those little creepers are murderers. Ask 14th-century Europe.
7. Most pride-worthy post – I’m going to write one that solves the conflict in the Middle East using laughter. Actually, they mostly don’t speak English, so probably not.
Bored yet? Push through it!
This award prompts me to tell you 9.89 things about myself.
1. I had red cowboy boots as a little girl. Just like Ted Mosby.
2. I once met Emily Deschanel, and in my extreme joy and desire to shake her hand knocked her Blackberry out of her hand. I make super first impressions. Luckily, she was very nice — once she got over being terrified.
3. I was watching a band play at a club in Dublin with some friends, one of whom really likes to touch people’s hair when she gets tipsy. She kept talking about how she wanted to touch the lead singer’s hair, so when the band finished playing, I jumped up onstage, walked up to him, stuck my mouth against his ear, and said, “You played a great set. My friend really wants to touch your hair.” He somehow did not run away screaming and actually did let her touch his hair. Then he touched her hair. It was magical for everyone. Alcohol may or may not have been involved.
4. I saw the new Twilight movie opening weekend. Alcohol may or may not have been involved. That film had the special effects budget of a Geico commercial. Whilst watching a Geico commercial, never do I think, “Woah! There’s a real gecko talking to that man!” Breaking Dawn had a CGI demon-baby that apparently hadn’t had enough time gestating inside the computer-womb. Also, they appeared to have borrowed the wolves from Balto.
5. I hate cilantro, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee. (No, actually I like you).
6. I had a dwarf hamster as a kid. Her name was Sweetie and when I put her in the tiny bathtub in my dollhouse, I swear to Nutella she’d wash herself.
7. She also died on my eighth birthday. During my birthday party.
8. For years, I seriously intended to name my future son Lysander. Sandy for short. So the naming post is partially addressed to ten-year-old me.
9. I named my car. He is a boy car.
9.89. This one time I got kicked out of Disneyland because…
Oops, all out of space!
Now for the pay-it-forward part of this interminable post.
1. GoFugYourself.com – The only place to go for sarcastic appraisals of celebrity fashion rife with cultural references from the ’90s. Pretty much my favorite blog of all time.
2. textsfrombennett.tumblr.com – My best friend sent me this the other day; it’s fraking hilarious. Text conversations with a 17-year-old white boy named Bennett who seems to think he’s an inner city African American living in a rap video from the early 00s.
3. ASofterWorld.com – A sort of arty comic, infused with black humor and more than a pinch of philosophical thought.
That is all! Go forth and make the world a more hilarious place. Like Bennett.
December 2, 2011 § 8 Comments
My parents will tell you that my first words were “Mommy, Daddy, puppy please!” I think this is a bit of an exaggeration – but not much.
I’ve been wildly in love with dogs since I can remember existing. From the time I learned to speak until the 5th grade when my parents actually agreed to get a dog (a very specific dog, not “a” dog; they had many requirements the pet candidate had to fulfill), I pestered them nonstop, with only occasional breaks for eating, sleeping, and breathing – and I learned to talk much earlier than most babies. After around nine years of my begging for a dog and my parents trying to placate me by giving me stuffed animals and pet-sitting family friends’ dogs for even months at a time, I finally had a puppy of my own! Okay, “our” own, I had to share with my parents and younger brother, but I thought of our new puppy as my personal soulmate. I hugged her for about 12 months straight.
She was a tiny ball of fluff when we got her. We named the puppy Tara (long a), after the plantation in Gone with the Wind. A weird namesake, I know, especially when the namers are 10 and 7, but my younger brother and I had just finished acting in a musical version of the Southern epic – only with all the characters played by animals. The play was called Gone with the Wind in the Willows and was the story of Mr. Toad and his friends putting on their own production of Gone with the Wind. Plus songs, one of which was a stirring ballad called “I’ll Never Be Hungry Again!”
Do not ask me why – I was in a children’s theater company for years that put on the original musicals of our director, who I’m pretty sure decided which plays to write based on the pun potential of the title (Spam Spade: Pig Detective was another one). So, being a fan of human names for animals, of our play, and of the name itself, we dubbed the puppy Tara. Actually, in our play the plantation was called Tararaboomdeeay (or some other spelling of that – I’m going with phonetics), so she really got off easy.
Tara the puppy was so cute that she literally stopped traffic (people would pull over when we were walking her to ask what kind of dog she was and to generally squeal in admiration). Half Queensland Heeler and half Brittany Spaniel, as a puppy, she looked like a long-haired, incredibly fuzzy Dalmatian, because she had very pronounced black spots on a white coat, with a black mask across her face.
I don’t have a photo of her as a puppy on my harddrive, but this is what Tara looks like nowadays.
She’s incredibly smart, affectionate, and basically perfect. Okay, she can be a bit annoying if she’s not getting her way, but still, basically perfect.
I miss her like mad when I’m away from my parents’ house. I went to undergrad less than an hour and a half away from my childhood home, so I went home every few weeks and got my Tara fix. (You’re nice too, parents.) When I went abroad to Oxford my junior year of college, I started sobbing when I had to say goodbye to her. I can explain to humans where I’m going and why I’ll be away, but you can’t communicate something that complicated and abstract to a dog. It just kills me that she might think I’m abandoning her.
Now I live across the country from Tara (and my parents – hey again, parents! – and brother), and I’m so dog-deprived that I have to keep myself from screaming “DOGGIE!!!” and running up and hugging every dog I see on the street. I tell myself that these are strangers’ dogs, strangers who might get freaked out by a random girl running at them, or at the very least think it’s weird.
I desperately want a dog of my own, and I actually live somewhere that I could have one – a first since I’ve been living on my own. As much as it saddens me to admit it, though, I don’t think I’m at a stable even stage of life to care for a dog like it deserves.
I currently know multiple people my age who have dogs who I don’t think adequately care for them. I’m not of the “the dog can fend for itself most of the time” variety. I think dogs should be exercised daily, given affection, and if at all possible, not left alone for long periods of time. I don’t think I can currently promise that.
The fact that I’m not getting a dog, however, doesn’t mean that I don’t spend copious amounts of time fantasizing about having one, just like I don’t let the fact that I’ve never met Bradley Cooper get in the way of my plan to marry him. (He can cook! He got honors in English from Georgetown by writing a thesis on Nabokov! And, yep, he loves dogs! Bradley, call me.)
I am a medium to large dog kind of person; if I would worry about stepping on it, it’s not a dog, at least not one I’d be interested in owning (Chihuahuas, however, are definitely not dogs). Tara is around 37 pounds, and I wouldn’t really want a dog any smaller than that. Lately, however, I’ve been fantasizing about getting a small dog, but not just any small dog: a Jack Russell Terrier.
My love for Jack Russells started at the tender age of 7 or so. I was a mad fan of the TV show Wishbone on PBS, which featured a dog narrator that dressed up in human clothes and acted out classical works of literature. So basically, the best idea for a television show ever. PBS somehow cancelled it after only a season and a half, probably because they hate joy.
Wishbone was smart, funny, and starred an adorable dog pretending to be Mr. Darcy and Robin Hood. For a dog-obsessed book nerd whose mother enforced the rule that I was only allowed to read for one out of the three daily recesses in elementary school, Wishbone seemed like it was made specifically for me.
And the theme song was damn catchy too.
I definitely still remember most of the words. What’s the story, Wishbone? Do you think it’s worth a loo-ook? It kinda seems familiar, like a story from a boo-oo-ook!
(You still can’t buy the full series; only four episodes are available on DVD, and a few others are on VHS. This is a travesty of significant proportions.)
So the erudite Jack Russell Wishbone saturated my consciousness for much of my childhood, but what brought this adorably clever breed back into my ken was the sweet, offbeat film Beginners, which I saw over the summer. It also stars Ewan McGregor, who was my first celebrity crush when Star Wars: The Phantom Menace came out (even though he had that disgusting haircut with the short, jutting ponytail and that nasty mini-braid).
In addition to Ewan McGregor and a Jack Russell, Beginners also stars Christopher Plummer as a very enthusiastically gay man, as well as some adorable French chick (apparently her name is Melanie Laurent). Basically Beginners was massive amounts of adorable in one place. The only thing that has since come to rival this level of adorable is the Tumblr “Ryan Gosling vs. Puppy,” which asks the age-old impossible question, “Is Ryan Gosling cuter than a puppy?” This is the hardest question I’ve had to answer since I got Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Jake Gyllenhaal in a game of Marry, Bang, Kill.
Ah hell – I plead the fifth (I think how hard I find this question is incriminating enough.)
By the way, for those of you keeping score at home, the correct answer is Ryan Gosling AND a puppy.
To be fair, the correct answer is anything AND a puppy.
But moving on to the supposed point of this post: I want a Jack Russell. The one in Beginners is adorable.
Ewan McGregor’s character has recently come into possession of the dog, which used to belong to his (now deceased) father, and he can’t bear to leave it alone, so he brings it everywhere. He brings it to a costume party.
He and his adorable French girlfriend have breakfast with the dog (called Arthur in the movie; the actor-dog is named Cosmo – apparently Ewan McGregor went through Cosmo-withdrawal when they finished the film).
Arthur even talks! In subtitles! (He’s a dog; he can’t speak aloud. That’d just be ridiculous.)
This pup reduces me to a quivering pile of jelly.
Then I saw The Artist at the Virginia Film festival last month. Fantastic film, if you haven’t heard of it; it’s actually a modern-day silent film about the historical transition from silent movies to talkies. The Jack Russell in this one not only does innumerable tricks, but it saves Jean Dujardin’s character from a burning building!! That is love.
Basically, I need to get a Jack Russell stat – but I guess I’d settle for Bradley Cooper, Ewan McGregor, or Ryan Gosling instead.