1.28.2008

First Classhole

MVP status continues to pay off with a first class upgrade on the flight from SEA to LAX. This was the view from my seat:
There was also plenty of visual entertainment, in the form of the woman in seat 1B. Look at these boots:


Unfortunately, given the close confines of the plane's cabin and my preoccupation with the supercute flight attendant (the 12:1 passenger to attendant ratio being much more suitable for conversation than the main cabin's 90:1), I was unable to surreptitiously snap a photo of the rest of this woman's person, which included a lot of black-tights and pirate-inspired, but not -quite-puffy shirt made out of some sort of what appears to be from my vantage point space-age polymer and a hairstyle best described as Palinesque, but with more height. And lots of makeup that was reapplied or touched up (not sure what the correct term is) twice (that I noticed) on the three hour flight.

UPDATE: I wrote that on the flight. As we were de-planing, I slyly snapped a few quick pics that illustrate the hair and shirt situation I was trying to describe above:


I love LA.

1.25.2008

Sleeping in Seattle

Today's 45-degree air and sunny skies felt sublime compared to the seven degrees/sheets of ice pretending to be roads/snow falling I left last night. Aside from the lovely weather, I am excited to be back in Seattle and staying with Andrew and Casey again, even if it is just a quickie.

This is the first time I've been back here since my convalescence, and things are a little different around the house. The guest bedroom has been moved upstairs to the room that was formerly part office/part burlesque studio. I liked the privacy and coziness afforded by the lower level room, but walking upstairs to pee in the middle of the night sucked. The room looks great too: It is decorated mostly with a few pieces of my Grandma Sylvia's old furniture with a fitting modern twist: an iPod/iPhone docking station. A really nice feature, if you ask me. Little touches like that are what keep me coming back here.

Also new is Andrew's Nintendo. Not a Wii, as most initially posit, but an old school NES. He is obsessed with his one and only game, The Legend of Zelda--a game we were co-obsessed with 20 years ago when it first came out (I was 12, he was 8). Some differences that make playing it Now better than playing it Then (aside from the obvious quaint graphics, simple repetitive music, and non-complex gameplay):
  • playing on a on a wall-mounted flat screen tv
  • drinking wine while playing
  • not having to stop playing to do homework
  • mom is not yelling at us to come down for dinner
  • cursing (at the screen; apparently many of the expletives (and combinations thereof) that we now throw about so casually were not in our youthful vocabularies
  • the Internet: Andrew plays with a laptop by his side and a web site open to a map of the Zelda world--something that makes navigating through the game much, much easier than it was when we were kids. This is not to mention all of the other information available about the game. For instance, when having to choose whether a special sword or a secret potion, a little Googling did the trick. No trial and error necessary. This also seems like a good time to mention that when we were kids we got our Zelda info from video game magazines and from our neighbor, Mrs. O. Mrs. O was a Zelda (and other games, too) master. She figured out all the tricks and would finish the games before most of us got past the first level. At the time, we were in awe of her prowess, not it seems a little weird that a nearly-40 year-old married woman with two kids was (a) so good at video games, and (b) that she spent so much time playing them.
Here are some pics of Andrew in Action:

focused

consulting the laptop

casey is otherwise occupied

1.24.2008

B-List

I'm off to LA (but first a 36-hour Seattle layover visit with Andrew and the Semi Sister-in-Law) for Law Camp 2008. This year there isn't a three-day trial skills training tacked onto the end of the conference and I don't have a brief to write while I'm there (Actually, I think I do. Shit.), so it will be much more relaxed. And I'm sticking around town for a day after the conference. I think a little SoCal is exactly what I needed.

If you want to re-live last year's Law Camp adventures in St. Louis with me, you can reminisce here, here, here, here, here, and here.

1.21.2008

Personal Touch

A few minutes spent perusing the Alaska Craigslist personals with Viv last night yielded these gems:
  • I get too depressed walking around at Walmart seeing all the 21 year old women with 3 kids and their eyes empty of life or hope!
  • I've been out of jail for 6 months and I need sex, if you are between 18 to 35 and don't weigh 300 pounds then let me know and we can get together for almost any sex act you want or could desire. So please resopnd I need to get laid soon.
  • We are looking for other healthy, stable, like-minded individuals to go exploring with us. Drama sucks, so do airheads.
  • I'm married so I'm not looking for a relationship at all. Just sex.

Crackhead

Seinfeld holds a special place in my heart. I watched it regularly in its pre-syndication days, and during a period of collective unemployment in SF with a high-speed Internet connection, my roommates Al and Justyn and I downloaded (in .avi format) and then watched obsessively (to the point where I could hear one line or look at one frame and identify the episode) every single episode from the show's nine-season run. I also identified with it on a personal level, having at times felt like Jerry (obsessing over minutiae), George (has what would appear to be genius-level intelligence but he can never access it because his mind is always so completely focused on sex), Kramer ("hipster doofus"/life is a fantasy camp: "Do nothing, fall ass-backwards into money, mooch food off your neighbors, and have sex without dating!"); and/or Elaine (can't dance; crush on Keith Hernandez), and often finding myself in situations that could only be described as Seinfeldesque. [1]

Last week I started re-watching those old episodes we downloaded back in the Winter of 2003. In one of them, during the show's fourth season, we learn that Kramer has given his TV to George because he was watching too much ("It was an addiction. It was destroying my brain cells."). Consequently, he kept wandering into Jerry's apartment to get his fix ("Is the Knicks game on? Are you watching Oprah--Oooh an hour with Patrick Swayze!").

I have a similar weakness. I've spent countless hours over the past few years watching (and humorously critiquing) CSI: Miami reruns, [2] pondering the intricacies of 24 with Hank and Big Poppa, and engaging in epic DVR-ed Top Chef marathons with Viv. There was also The West Wing, regular old CSI, The Office, The Sopranos, Big Love, Lost, Arrested Development, Law and Order, and whatever movie I had already seen 20 times on TBS/TNT/FX/HBO/ETC. And I can't forget all of the awful TV I watched Back In The Day, like some of the shows on this list. [3]
After spending November cable-less with Andrew and Casey in Seattle, I decided to keep the streak going and I did not get cable [4] in my new place. [5] I'm now on a solid 12-week stretch without access to hundreds of channels of less-than and quality programming in an effort to keep my habit in check. But the dangers of television--it's ability to suck me in and steal hours of my life--cannot be avoided by simply not signing up for cable, I learned. I have still managed to get hooked on TV. It started with watching the DVDs of the first season of Heroes in Seattle. Thanks to Netflix, Andrew, Casey, and I would wait impatiently every day for the mail to come so we could watch another episode. Before long, the series had taken over our lives. For instance, one night, after watching two or three episodes, Casey went to sleep around midnight, despite the fact that we had two more to watch, because she had to be up for class at 8:00 am. Andrew and I stayed up to watch them. The next morning I found a pajama-clad Casey on the couch, skipping class and watching Heroes.

We soon learned that waiting a couple of days for one or two (or sometimes three!) DVDs with a few episodes on each was for the birds. Other, better, options existed: Netflix has an instant viewing mechanism that allows you to immediately watch movies directly from the website, though that can be even more perilous. As Andrew wrote to me last month: "I started watching season 2 of Heroes on Netflix at 10pm last night. Went to bed at 2am. Slept on the couch. Woke up at 10am and watched the rest till 3pm. I’ve got finals next week. They are just as stupid and addictive as they were in season 1. I’m pissed."

Post-Seattle and sans cable, I still manage to feed my addiction. In the past month I've watched the first four seasons of Peep Show at least three times (there's only 6 episodes per season), [6] and Seasons 1-4 of the Wire. Sad or impressive, I'm not sure, but The Wire is fantastic.

Season 5 of The Wire is underway, but without cable I won't be watching it. I could have found a friend with HBO, but I don't think I can sit around and wait from week-to-week to watch a new episode. I need the immediate fix that only comes from having a full season's worth of discs in front of me. Though Neighbor Dave just told me that episodes 2 and 3 of this current season are on tonight, and he is going to watch them and he has a line on a bootleg copy of the first episode, so perhaps I'll get back on the wagon. Or off the wagon. I'm not sure which phrase is appropriate here.
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[1] In fact, just this evening, Andrew used a Seinfeld analogy to help me sort through something: "Maybe your expectations are too high. Remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry dated the gymnast? No matter what happened he was going to be disappointed. Sounds like you might be in the same situation."

[2] I wasn't alone in my CSI: Miami fascination, the fact of which makes me feel much less lame. For two years Em and I had a standing Monday night dog walk/CSI: Miami date, then when MaryLou and I were roommates we enabled each other's habit of staying home on the couch and marveling at the wonder that is David Caruso/Horatio Caine. For further exploration of this topic see the addendum below.

[3] The Master is on that list. I completely forgot about that show, but, boy, did I love it. And I didn't even know Demi Moore was on it--I was just obsessed with becoming a ninja, which, at the time, seemed like a perfectly viable career option for a fat Jewish kid in Brooklyn.

[4] And without rabbit ears, there is no signal and no programming whatsoever.

[5] I'm not sure what category of dwelling my new home fits in. I live in one half of a one-story duplex with a big backyard; it's more than an apartment, but less than a house. I'll stick with "place" for now.

[6] I've mentioned Peep Show before. Since then, Viv bought me the complete series on DVD for my birthday--but this was no simple task. First, we had to find a place that would ship to the US (the BBC and Channel 4 shops do not; amazon.co.uk does). Then Viv had to research how to hack my DVD player so that it could play DVDs encoded for European DVD players. Then we actually had to hack it. The whole process took about an hour, perhaps the most rewarding hour of 2007.

ADDENDUM: On Horatio Caine


My dear friend Em, who last fall left AK for The O.C., loved to discuss the brilliance/awfulness of David Caruso/Horatio Caine. Em discovered a thome on the emotional evolution one experiences on the journey toward truly appreciating the genius of Caruso/Caine. If you have ever watched CSI: Miami, this will make sense. If you haven't, this may be a bit confusing:
Continuing on that same thread, can anyone deny that David Caruso's portrayal of Lieutenant Horatio Caine in CSI: Miami is one of the greatest achievements in performance history? Hands on hips, tucking the jacket away behind him, dark sunglasses on, head slightly turned and slightly cocked (that's right, turned AND cocked, always turned and cocked), surveying the scene, then the glasses come off as he asks poignant questions, then he delivers some outrageous line as he puts his glasses back on, and then the WHO breaks into "Won't Get Fooled Again", Roger Daltrey's screeching nearly cutting Caruso off... gives me the shivers every time. Seriously though, this show blows my mind. Caruso has perfected the role of Horatio Caine so completely, that there are clearly definable stages of recognition one must go through in order to truly appreciate his genius. These stages are as follows:

1. Revulsion: Upon first watching, the viewer immediately realizes that Caruso is awful, and will have real trouble watching more than just a cursory amount. The length of this stage is crucial for the development of true appreciation in many ways. The longer this stage lasts, the less likely the viewer is to advance to Stage 2 (however it should be noted that those who experience a lengthy time mired in stage one only to miraculously advance to Stage 2 and beyond, have reported a more intense series of revelations as they progressed through to true appreciation). That being said, when the viewer is able to quickly adapt to Caruso early in this stage, a new world of enjoyment awaits just around the corner.

2. Amusement: No longer troubled by the reality of Caruso, the viewer begins to notice some of the positive aspects of the show. These are called Secondary Elements, and include things like overall budget and production value, the consistent and unrealistic hotness of the cast (this is obviously a relative thing... not everyone thinks those people are hot, but they're surely innumerable times hotter than the population of an actual crime lab in any given city), the cool effects, the hot cars and boats, the hot and spicy Miami night-life, the hot beaches, hot parties, hot, etc. These Secondary Elements are fun and appealing, and they begin to mitigate Caruso. The viewer can continue watching long enough to advance to Stage 3.

3. Acceptance: The Secondary Elements have allowed the viewer to absorb Caruso without really realizing it. The viewer suddenly notices that they are a regular viewer, and now know the characters' names, they recognize the sub-plots and story-lines, and are catching re-runs on Spike TV every now and again. Horatio Kane is much better than you thought. You can't remember why you hated him so much at first. But the hatred is gone, and you are ready to accept Stage 4.

4. Addiction: CSI Miami has a hold on you. You watch the new episodes every Monday night now, and the line that Horatio Kane delivers at the beginning of each show has become part of your weekly diet. You NEED it. What's he going to say this time? And what about next week? How can I wait that long to hear it? I want to hear it now! All these things the viewer is now saying. The viewer realizes that whatever doubts they once had about Caruso are ill-advised and incomprehensible now. Caruso's Caine can do no wrong, he takes no guff from scumbags, but is also vulnerable and sensitive, particularly when children are at risk. He will do anything to get his man, and to keep the people of Miami safe. These things are Primary Elements. Stage 5 is close at hand, as the light of Caruso begins to shine on the viewer.

5. Reverence: Caruso has become a god. A human sun, shining his light of justice and humanity to all those around him. There is no denying his power. To ignore him would be to ignore the sun itself. Impossible. Caruso is Horatio Caine IS Caruso. A Moebius strip of perfection. The lines he delivers are prophetic, enlightening, cathartic. You are a better person for having watched him. And you watch him always.

I have progressed through all stages and have come out the other side. I understand what Caruso is: he IS a human sun. For me, like the sun, he is omnipresent but not overbearing. I do not need to revere him all the time. I can revere him once or twice a week, and still be filled with light. I encourage everyone to give him a try. You surely will not regret the journey, nor the destination.

1.17.2008

My Two Dads*

During these heady days of major political party primary debates, we hear the standard refrain from both sides: laissez-faire this and laissez-faire that from the right, and a program for this, and an agency for that, from the left (I'm aware of the serious oversimplification). My politics fall somewhere in the middle: I'm a big fan of the free market, but we don't have one in this country (for many reasons, not the least of which is rampant government corruption**), and even if we did, I still wouldn't trust the market to adequately protect common resources like, you know, the environment. So, I approve of some state-sponsored control of things we all share. I like the idea that public money is used to fix roads and provide education, research what food is safe for us to eat (even if that whole process is rigged), enforce criminal laws, and defend said criminals against improper enforcement of said laws. But I work day-to-day to limit government intrusion into how we choose to live our lives. That means keeping the state from restricting what you can imbibe, inhale, and/or in any way ingest, from punishing you for what you choose to believe, or from interfering with personal relationships--whether those relationships be man/woman, woman/woman, man/man, woman/man/woman, woman/man/woman/woman/man, etc., or the special relationship that exists between parent and child. However, as I previously wrote, in some instances, state intervention into the parenting process seems appropriate. Like with these people:

1. Son won't wear Packers jersey. Father tapes it to him.

2. Father leaves to go grocery shopping. Takes son with him. Goes to strip club instead. Leaves son locked in van for three hours.

3. Britney.
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* Great show. Intro and theme song here. Have I mentioned how much I love the Internets?
** See, e.g., the State of Alaska.

1.08.2008

Responsibility Un-Shirked

"Why havent you been blogging? Don't you know you have a responsibility?"

So asked Casey, my semi sister-in-law [1] this morning. Well, Case, I've been busy. I didn't do much work-related work for the first three weeks after I came back from Seattle--I got caught up in moving, unpacking, regaining the range of motion in my hand, and just dealing with life back in AK. Then it was time for our country's favorite secular-esque holiday and everything slowed to a crawl. Before I knew it, it was 2008 and my to-do list was almost as long as the David Foster Wallace book I'm still reading. [2] But I have a lot to write about and around 20 posts in various stages of completedness that I will finish soon. In the meantime, to appease Casey, I am writing this post. And it's all about her. Here are a few pics of her from our trip to Arizona for Thanksgiving:

Casey's Feet

Casey learning how to read

Casey and Andrew trying to juggle

Casey not giving up on trying to learn how to read

Jeni and Casey
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[1] Recently promoted from "sort-of sister-in-law" because Andrew and Casey are living together again, though it is subject to debate as to whether they ever were living separately or if Andrew lived with her the whole time but had a fort he rented and slept at once every two weeks or so.

[2] It's been over two months and I'm only a third of the way through it. But ever since reading what the Hipster Handbook had to say about Infinite Jest in its "Hipster Literature: If You Haven't Read These Works, At Least Pretend You Have" list, I slowed down considerably, or, at least, didn't feel so guilty about reading only a page a night: "Actually, scratch this one. It's too damn long. Hipsters just hear that it's good. If they actually read it they'd see that Wallace is a poseur." [a]

[a] I disagree. DFW is brilliant, as I have already professed, and Infinite Jest is incredible. But I am comfortable justifying my lack of reading progress on these grounds. [i]

[i]
Yes, DFW would be very proud to see this, a fn. to a fn. in a fn.