Archive for January, 2007

Hot Flashes

Have you ever been in a room full of people and known that just about all of you are having the same exact thought? I had this experience the other day on an MBTA train in Cambridge.

What was I, a resident of Clinton, doing on a Red Line train? I recently changed jobs, you see, and along with my new job came a daily commute that involves a jaunt on the Red Line. In the words of Ren and Stimpy: “Happy happy, joy, joy.”

This story takes place at 5:45pm on a Thursday evening. The train was full of cranky commuters headed home after a long day, and my train car was standing room only. Seated in the middle of the car was a woman who was speaking about her kids, and about her job, to the person seated next to her.

Ordinarily, this would not be a problem. In this case, the woman, I shall call her Ms. Obnoxious, was speaking at the top of her lungs with the type of voice that, in a pinch, could be used to slice ham. Ms. Obnoxious did not stop talking for longer than 3 seconds at any point of the ride. I looked around and saw that every passenger of the train had the same look on his or her face: a look that said, “Please, please, just shut up.” I am fairly convinced that promises were made to higher powers in exchange for just a minute of silence.

If you have never been in a standing room only MBTA car, understand that it involves a certain degree of intimacy with those around you. There is almost an unwritten contract between the people in a subway car that no one will do anything to make anyone else miserable for the short time that we are all together.

Thanks to Ms. Obnoxious, I was miserable and counting the minutes until my stop when the train shuddered to a stop. I think that the conductor might have come over the PA system to announce that we were delayed, but I can’t be sure because the Voice never stopped talking and drowned out the announcement.

The train got underway in about 10 minutes, but it seemed like a week and a half. What made the delay even worse was that I had forgotten my book, so all I could do was stare at the floor and pray for the sudden onset of laryngitis. No such luck, so I waited until I couldn’t take it any more, then stood up and shouted at her, “YOU’RE KILLING US! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, ZIP IT!!!” then sat back down to a wild round of applause.

Ok, I didn’t really do that. In reality, I just gritted my teeth and stared at my shoes; after all, I wouldn’t want to be impolite…

…Just a couple of smarmy yet quick notes about the People’s Choice Awards (note, I didn’t watch them, I merely looked at the results):

  • Pirates of the Caribbean is the BEST movie and best movie drama of 2006? Really? Is that a vote you can submit and still look yourself in the mirror the next morning?
  • Nickelback won the award as the best group of 2006. Isn’t Nickelback one of those bands like Creed, Ugly Kid Joe, and Nelson, in that people will look back in 10 years and wonder why they were popular?
  • “Two and a Half Men” won Best Comedy. As someone who has watched that show since it began, I had assumed that their writers were on strike. That would explain why the show now goes for every obvious joke and jacks up the laugh track volume. There was a time when the show was funny and snappy, but that time has passed.

Speaking of writers, there should be a rule that every show must publicize a list of its writers (more than a flashing list across the bottom of a promo for the next show). The press should then report when writers are replaced on any given show. This would allow people to track the improvement/decline of their favorite shows, and follow their favorite writers to new shows. It would also allow great writers to receive the recognition (and cash) they deserve while making it more difficult for studios to hire crummy writers just because they work cheap. Wouldn’t a studio would be less likely to save money on writers if they knew there would be an audience backlash?

Since nothing kills a great show faster than bad writing, couldn’t we replace just one story in the mainstream media about Britney’s underpants or about Lindsey Lohan’s trip to a coffee shop with a story about this stuff?

If none of the media outlets will agree to replace their “pop star doing random stuff” coverage, maybe I can track down Ms. Obnoxious and get her to talk about it on the train.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 26 Jan 2007 No Comments

The Golden Globes

I missed the Sunday ‘24’, so on Monday night I decided to keep a running journal, Bill Simmons-style, of the 2007 Golden Globes awards (note:  the Golden Globes beat “24” in the ratings on Monday). 

8:03:  Ok, so I missed the opening because I was surfing around for something else to watch.  When I tune in, Jennifer Hudson is accepting the Best Supporting Actress Award for “Dreamgirls”.  Since I’m not yet married to the awards show, I try to change channels very quickly and my cable box freezes.  It does this sometimes when it’s feeling petulant – it just sits there and doesn’t respond at all.  It takes literally 10 minutes for me to bring back the awards show.  I called about this once and the cable support dude told me to unplug my cable box and plug it back in; I love my cable provider. 

8:18:  This year’s Miss Golden Globes is Jack Nicholson’s daughter, Lorraine (age: 16).  The camera pans over to the proud papa (age:  69), who adjusts his Blue Blockers and motions to the waiter for more scrod. 

8:24:  The camera pans over to Clint Eastwood, who immediately becomes the early leader for Tightest Face.  The camera then cuts to Will Ferrell doing a slow clap while staring into the camera.  He is the early leader for Best Afro. 

8:29:  Sean Combs, who apparently forgot to take the rocks out of his mouth before hitting the stage, mumbles something about Emily Blunt winning Best Supporting Actress in a TV Series, Miniseries, or Movie.  The shapely Ms. Blunt appears on stage wearing a gown that has clearly been applied with a paintbrush.  Take that, 24. 

8:31:  Hugh Laurie from “House” – He’s British!! – wins Best Actor in a TV Series over a Megger favorite:  Patrick Dempsey from “Grey’s Anatomy”.  I mention that Dempsey sucks the life out of every scene he’s in and get rewarded with a dirty look from my loving wife.  Cute men can do no wrong.  Meanwhile, House manages to pull off a decent joke about colonic irrigations.  He continues to be funny, until he realizes that the union requires him to dissolve his speech into the cliché list of people no one has ever heard of.  Early leader for Best Speech. 

8:47:  Meryl Streep wins Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.  Has she ever been nominated and NOT won?  The camera pans over to “happy to be nominated” Renee Zellwegger, whose face can only be described as “pinched”. 

8:56:  Ben Stiller pulls a Bob Barker by appearing on stage with a ton of grey hair.  I wonder if he’s going for “distinguished guy who still is not as funny as he thinks he is”. 

9:01:  Eddie Murphy, Jack Nicholson, Ben Stiller, Brad Pitt, and Mark Wahlberg are up for Best Supporting Actor.  Hmm…one of these men is a great actor, but which one could it be?  Not Eddie Murphy, who wins, and opens with “Wow, I’ll be damned.”  Yeah, I was surprised, too (disclaimer:  I didn’t see “Dream Girls”, but come on). 

9:09:  Bill Nighy, from “Shawn of the Dead” and “Love, Actually” fame, wins Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV movie.  Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV movie goes to Dame Helen Mirren for her role in “Elizabeth I”.  Mirren is wearing a gown that can only be described as “mature cleavage”.  It works, though. 

9:18:  Cameron Diaz is talking about something.  To quote The Megger:  “Her dress looks like a cake and her hair looks like she just got out of bed.”  To be fair, she did just break up with her boyfriend. 

9:24:  Tim Allen comes out with Vanessa Williams.  When he gets to the stage, he practically turns and slobbers onto her before he has to reel his tongue back in to read the nominees for Best Actor in a Comedy Series.  Alec Baldwin wins over very strong competition (Steve Carrell, Zack Braff, Jason Lee, and Tony Shaloub). Alec is great on 30 Rock and deserves the award…but didn’t he move to France 6 years ago? 

9:30:  Geena Davis is much, much taller than James Woods.  Best Comedy TV Series goes to “Ugly Betty”.  That show is all the rage, but both times I’ve seen it I didn’t laugh much.  I’m convinced that “The Office” was robbed…speaking of that, how is it possible that Dwight Schrute isn’t nominated for anything? 

9:39:  Clint Eastwood’s “Letters from Iwo Jima” wins for Best Foreign Language Film.  One question:  Does Clint Eastwood speak Japanese?  Not speaking the language has to raise the difficulty level by at least 20 times.  No wonder his face is so tight. 

9:46:  Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore take the stage to promote their new movie, which is apparently about a rumpled man with wildly uncombed hair and his date with the spray-on tan.  I am picking on Grant’s hair when The Megger reminds me that I am a huge Hugh Grant sap.  I will watch anything he’s in and enjoy it.  Fine, he’s great, but he should still comb his hair. 

9:51:  America Ferrera of “Ugly Betty” wins Best Actress in a TV Musical or Comedy over the entire cast of “Desperate Housewives”.  After her speech, America stands patiently waiting to be interviewed while the announcer prattles on, and finally gives up and starts to walk away before being pulled back.  The important question:  “What would you say to all of those people who said that you couldn’t play Ugly Betty?” 

Her answer:  “I didn’t know that there were any.”  Riveting. 

10:12:  Warren Beatty starts talking about Warren Beatty.  I secretly root for the crowd to start chanting, “OVER-RATED”, but they don’t. 

10:18:  Warren Beatty finishes talking about Warren Beatty and ends by thanking Annette Bening.  I wonder if he was drawn to Annette because of her performance in “The Great Outdoors.” 

10:22:  NBC is contractually obligated to show Jack Nicholson every 6 ½ minutes.  To his credit, I think he’s heckling the presenters.  Any chance we could point a directional mike at him next year? 

10:24:  Best Director in a motion picture is…Martin Scorcese for “The Departed”.  “He reminds me of an older Eugene Levy,” The Megger says. 

10:28:  Unlike Cameron Diaz, Reese Witherspoon looks just fine now that she’s single.  She announces that Sasha Baren Cohen wins Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for “Borat”.  He deserves the win.  Cohen takes the Best Speech Award in a landslide when he talks about the scene in his movie when a naked 300 pound man sat on his head.  The crowd goes wild.  Mark Wahlberg’s face is apple-red from laughter and he looks like he’s going to pass out. 

10:37:  Best Comedy or Musical goes to “Dreamgirls”.  Maybe I should see it. 

10:44:  Best TV Drama:  Grey’s Anatomy.  “There was no competition,” says the Megger, who is clapping her hands excitedly as her favorite actors, some people named McDreamy, McSteamy, and Izzy take the stage. 

10:47:  Mature Cleavage wins Best Actress in a Drama for her role as Queen Elizabeth in “The Queen” (The Dame is just unstoppable in roles where she plays one of the Queen Elizabeths). 

10:53:  Felicity Huffman announces Best Actor in a Drama.  Two quotes from the Megger:  “She looks like a man in drag” and, 10 seconds later, “I mean, look at her, she’s gorgeous.”  I’m confused.  Anyway, Forest Whitaker wins over Leonardo DiCaprio and…Leonardo DiCaprio and gets a standing O from the crowd.  Whitaker is a great actor, but I will never forgive him for “The Crying Game”.  Honestly, why would he do that to me? 

10:58:  Arnold hobbles out on crutches and does his best Tom Menino when he announces that the winner for Best Motion Picture Drama is…”Drabble”.  I think he meant “Babel”.  The stage hands then drag a dead horse and a club onto the stage so that Arnold can close the show by announcing that, “We’ll be back.”

The Day to Day Grind Tim 19 Jan 2007 No Comments

A Time of Shoveling

“Why didn’t I just buy a snow blower?” The thought repeats through my head as I push another pile of heavy snow down the length of my sidewalk. Did I actually think that I would get through an entire winter like last year, when I barely had to shovel at all? How much would it be worth to me right now to be pelting the side of my house with mechanically ejected snow, rather than pushing this wet stuff down my sidewalk?

Oof! I don’t know why I still get surprised when I get stabbed in the gut by a shovel that has hit one of the many patches of grass on the sidewalk, but I do. Good thing I’m wearing a puffy coat, or I could have ruptured something.

After being jolted by the same patches of grass over and over again, the shovel looks like it’s about the fall apart. The head of the shovel is held on by one small, loose, yet incredibly significant screw, and its rattle seems to threaten imminent failure every time I lift it. I can’t remember how many times I have asked this shovel to hold on for just this one more storm; and I’m asking it again.

I’m just about done with the sidewalk when the snow turns to an icy rain, which bounces off of my unprotected head. The Megger had told me to wear a hat, but I’m not any smarter now than I was at 11. The only difference then was that the final decision wasn’t really up to me. I feel the rain hitting my scalp, and I pause for a moment. It wasn’t long ago that the rain would have been landing on hair. I can’t believe I’m going to be a bald guy.

It’s not really fair. My father, my mother, two of my brothers, and my sister all have luxuriously full heads of hair that don’t seem to be going anywhere soon. Sure, my oldest brother is a little light on top, but if I was going to follow in his footsteps why couldn’t I have inherited his golf swing, or perhaps his easy way with people, and not his male pattern baldness?

Maybe the thing to do is just to shave it all off and march proudly into the Chrome Dome Society? The problem with this is that I have no idea how I would look bald. Other than my time in basic training, when I was too miserable to care about how I looked, I have never been bald. It is a distinct possibility that I have an ugly head, and if I were to shave it, then what? Walk around as a fat, male Britney Spears impersonator until I can grow my hair back? What if the hair gets offended and decides not to grow back? I’d be stuck. Even if what little of it there is does agree to come back, there’s no question that it’s only around for a limited engagement. It would only be a matter of time until I was bald again, ugly head or no ugly head, and this time it would be without my say-so in the matter. So shaving my head is out, at least for now. There is plenty of time for totally bald later on.

I keep hearing ads on the radio about hair implants, or maybe a rug? The problem, knowing me, I would go around telling everyone that I had implants or a rug, just to get a laugh. It might undermine the entire process of having a toupee if I was always taking it off to show people at parties. Plus, if I ever showed up at a family function with a suddenly full head of hair, I would never live it down.

A trickle of water has worked its way down the back of my neck. Lovely. I’m almost done heaving this slushy mess away the end of the driveway. My back feels like an overstretched elastic band, and I still have the entire driveway to shovel. There has to be some way to invent a plow that wouldn’t ruin every fresh shoveling job by blocking driveways with a freezing pile of slop. For now, however, the slop is getting the best of me, and daydreaming about miracle baldness cures isn’t helping.

I would avoid the whole issue and have the driveway plowed, but the driveway is too narrow to get the plow into without getting the cars out…and the cars can’t get out until the driveway is cleared. For some reason, people laugh when I tell them about this.

I finally finish shoveling, at least until the plow comes back. My back is singing a medley, and I am positively soaked with sweat. It’s time for the best part of winter in New England: going inside for a hot shower and something warm to drink…and to browse the internet for competitive snow blower prices.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 12 Jan 2007 No Comments

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