on tv

I’m not a big fan of tv shows, by and large. My parents had one of those little tiny tv’s, with only 3 channels (no cable), and an antenna. If you ran the microwave, the picture went all staticy and sad. This was in the 80’s & 90’s, when all my friends had big shiny tv’s and cable and tons of programs. Since the tv sucked and didn’t really work as a form of entertainment, I tended to read. Maybe I would have anyway, but I think the un-entertainment factor of my childhood tv helped that tendency along. Anyway, when I married my husband he came from a completely different tv culture. His family had (like apparently every normal family) the full complement of cable channels. They had the biggest tv I’d ever seen, and they ate family dinners around it. It was always running in the background, a flickering soft hum of white noise. It provided the music and underscore to his life. While we were dating, not a big deal. When we married . . . well, you know how it is. You marry and after a few months, all that love and luster isn’t so shiny, and annoyances start wearing through the glory of love. And for me, it was that flickering tv in the corner.
Eventually, John and I separated. It was not because of the tv — it was because of a whole load of other issues involving our in-law relationships and stuff. After 6 months of being apart, we started seeing each other again. And of course, we got along because we’re brilliant together. During one of our discussions about how to resolve our communication issues, John offered to get rid of the tv.
Tempting.
But, see, I knew that would be a jerkass thing to do. My view of tv was different than John’s, but that didn’t mean it was superior. So I suggested a compromise: We have a 3 bedroom house and only one kid. We don’t want more — when we bought the house, we were kinda thinking maybe in the future another, but eventually realized we’re happy with just one kid. So we have, essentially, a spare room. Now there were a few things we could do with it:
  1. Make it into a guest room.
  2. Make it into a storage room.
  3. Make it into a library/ office.
  4. Make it into a tv/ rec room.
Personally, I wanted a library/ office or guest room, but that seemed selfish. So I suggested tv/ rec room. And thus the tv was moved out of our living/ family/ visiting area and into an enclosed little room that John gets to decorate as he sees fit. And slowly my relationship with the tv began to change. I no longer resented it. The flickering light and constant noise no longer caused serious headaches and constant irritation, because they were cordoned off to a separate space. I could just get up and remove myself, without having to leave the family area entirely. We began watching more and more stuff on Netflix streaming or online, and eventually just hooked a computer up to the tv and canceled the stupid useless cable  tv bill. I found  myself voluntarily bringing dinner into the tv room so we could watch Dr. Who or Top Gear  instead of requiring John and Kidling to join me at the dinner table. I found myself for the first time in my life watching programs on my own — like Arrested Development or BBC’S Robin Hood. It was amazing. And I’ve come to realize there are certain factors to traditional — and yes, American — tv that cause me to dislike it so very, very much.
  1. I hate long commercial breaks (and channel surfing)Oh my god, so much. I have a very short attention span, and I absolutely hate when halfway through the 5th or 6th commercial, I suddenly realize I can’t entirely remember what show I was watching. I hate the channel-surfing long commercial breaks inspires. I hate that channel surfers will stop on other programs and start watching a new program 3/4 of the way through, completely forgetting about the other program they left and that unresolved story line that will now bother me for several hours.
  2. I hate networks that air shows out of orderI really hate this. Too many good — even great! — series have been crippled and taken down by this stupid tactic. On a related note, I hate when there’s a 2-parter to a series, and you have to wait a week or more for the second half. I also hate how regularly scheduled programming is never, ever regular and is constantly interrupted for stupid things like football season or the Oscars or the Grammy’s.
  3. I hate commercials on cable tvThis is more a matter of principle. I simply do not understand why consumers are charged upwards of $150 – $300/month for cable tv, yet subjected to constant advertising. WTF are they doing with all that money from consumers?
  4. I hate the reality tv and bad programming that pervades American tvYeah, I find more and more that I’m streaming BBC programs. I like the way they structure their series as “serials,” I like the whole mini-series thing, I like the history and science programs, and in general every BBC program I discover is more intelligently written, better acted, better filmed, and more thought-provoking than most American programs. Worse, those American programs that are clever and interesting suffer from two fates:
  • One, early cancellation (as in 1/2 way through the first or second season), so brilliant shows like Firefly or Wonderfalls disappear, but we have regular Jersey Shore and Survivor programmingor
  • Two (and this is worse) the beat-a-dead-horse syndrome. That’s when a truly excellent show comes out of the gate strong, stays strong for a year or two . . . then kind of goes downhill, but is still vaguely cool/ interesting, then gets a new infusion of life, then goes downhill, then gets a new-but-not-as-great infusion of life, then goes downhill, and so on. Until the tv executives are beating the dead, desiccated, zombie horse corpse of a program screaming, “Be funny! Work! Moar ratings!” and we end up with season 214 of Friends or The Simpsons or The Office. It almost makes you grateful that the good shows were cancelled before they were bastardized and cruelly raped of all their inherent intelligence and humor.

So that’s my rant-y thingy. More tomorrow, maybe?

Hilarious misinformation

On the hilarious misinformation front, tea partier’s in front of our local post office are claiming Obama is a British-Nazi agent, and that Britain funded the Nazi party.
It’s a little known fact that America, in fact, supported Hitler’s eugenics movement. It’s another little-acknowledged fact that America wanted nothing to do with WWII. Remember, the war started in 1939, and American didn’t join until Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941. That’s two years they refused to throw the might and power of the U.S. Military into a devastating war that ended up with over 55 million casualties. How did America justify this?
Well, first off, the U.S. had started a eugenics movement long before Hitler, complete with breeding programs. Second, the U.S. considered this war to be “Europe’s problem,” not America’s. They didn’t think the Nazi’s would ever reach America (post-war gathered intelligence indicates that, left unchecked, they would have). And finally, my understanding is that the general public — both in Europe and America — did not realize the extent of the horrors in the concentration camps until after the war.
That’s not an excuse, by the way. I frown on the Japanese internment and Guantanamo Bay, too. On principle, it’s just wrong to be interring perceived enemies “just in case,” and it’s too quick a path to dehumanizing and torturing the “enemy.”

I advised the booth-runner, a young lady who claimed Wisconsin and Ohio were also Nazi-British-anti-American’s, that it might behoove her to try reading a text book. She told me I just didn’t understand. I guess I don’t. See, I tend to think truth, honesty, and an accurate understanding of history is important. It is this lack of historical education that leads the GOP, “Truthers,” “Birthers,” and the Tea Party Movement to spout the sort of anti-union, anti-feminist, anti-civil rights, anti-social programs trash they do. If it weren’t for the fact that the rest of us have to live here, too, I would be more than willing to let them have their fair wages, union protection (even non-union jobs are protected by the employee standards set by unionized jobs), right to vote, freedom of speech protections, medicare, social security income, tax-funded libraries, tax-funded public parks, tax-funded roads, and various other rights taken away. See how they enjoy living in a country without protected, codified freedoms and tax-funded programs.

Oh, I would love to see that. Can we move them all to Texas and let Texas secede, then watch and laugh as it implodes in on itself?

the news today . . .

Heh. So I’ve had an interesting week thus far. On Monday, I filled up the oil (our car leaks/ burns/ somethings oil like a madmunchingoilmachine) in the Falcon. Then I head to work. After work, I take a co-worker home and go to put in more oil — which is when I discovered I had not put the oil cap back on. Doh!

So on Tuesday, I rode to work. John got off his job a few hours early and surprise met me at my job 15 minutes before I clocked off. We had a nice ride home (except for that jerk white Dodge truck in the left lane. Hello?! Left lane camper much?!? What did you gain by that, exactly, Mr. Dodge? What satisfaction or joy came into your life by endangering two motorcyclists?). I have found I really, really like riding after work, because my job is so just . . . ugh, and riding is a very effective (and admittedly somewhat dangerous) means of soothing the savage beast awakened by that company.

Then on Wednesday, it’s all icy and cold and awful out. John gets up at 6:45, same time as  me, and goes and buys me a nice hot coffee at the shop down the street. Then he puts heaters in the car to warm it all up and defrost the windows, which he then scrapes clean of ice before adding more oil. As I start the car to pull out, I say to him, “I’m gonna need to fill up today, right?” (the gas gauge in the car is broken). John shrugs, and I quickly count off the days since we last filled the car — Saturday, and we’ve driven to and from Olympia (30 miles each way) three times since. So it’s time to fill up. John and I figure I can probably do it after work, so I head out. As I pass by the Shell on the way out of town, I think, “Maybe I should do it now . . . ” but quickly dismiss the thought. I’m already cutting it close.

So I get on the freeway. The commute from my house to work along Northbound I-5 is sadly deficient in exits. There are approximately 6 total along the 30 mile or so commute, 7 if you count the rest stop (where there are no gas stations), four of those being in the last five miles. In other words, for about 85% of the commute, you have two chances to stop for gas — one comes about 1 mile after getting on the freeway exit from my house, the other 8 miles later. After that, it’s 11 miles until the next exit.

And I run out of gas at about mile 7 — right when I see the signs saying, “Next Exit 1 Mile.” In fact, I end up parked right next to those signs on the side of the freeway while I wait for John. The Falcon died at 7:30, and it was icy and cold out. There’s no heater in the car, and I still had to wait another hour. Kidling isn’t allowed on the school grounds until 8 a.m., so John had to wait at least 20 minutes before he could walk Kidling to school, then walk home, gear up, strap a gas can onto the back of his motorcycle, stop at the Shell and fill it up, then ride the 15 minutes out to meet me. He arrived about 8:43. I spent the time reading Mansfield Park on my Nook and notifying work that I would be late.

So he arrives, all covered in ice (not joking; his visor was so icy he had to ride with it up, so his cheeks were chapped and bright red from the wind. His rainsuit had thin sheets of ice coating both arms. Icy fog sucks the hardcore.) and put the gas in my tank. Then he adjusted my choke, because I flooded the engine and shut it. Then he follows me to 88 and makes sure I have a full tank before heading out (yes, yes, I know. I have an awesome husband.). Finally, finally, I head to work, arriving a full hour and half late.

At work, I find out three people were fired yesterday, one quit on ethical grounds, and they’re hiring a new person for the division I work in. Also, they change my schedule again (I work office hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour lunch. At least, I did for the first 5 months, unless they were dictating 10 hour work weeks, which they did for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Recently, they shifted my hours again, so now I work 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with a 1/2 hour lunch. Then today they changed them again.) After work, I go to Costco to buy motor oil and discover, much to my dismay, that I have magically lost my debit card between buying gas in the morning and working like a fool all day. In looking for it, I also discover that my drivers license is expired.

So it’s just been one of *those* weeks. I’m surprisingly upbeat, though. Almost hypomanic, but not quite. Just . . . blase, I guess.

birthday boy!

Today we went to Chuck E Cheeses for Kidling’s birthday. He had a blast, and I was really pleased. For $150, the group as a whole got:

Cheese pizza (and a hotdog for the guest who’s allergic)
A sandwich platter
A sample platter (cheese sticks, fries, celery sticks, and hot wings)
2 pitchers of soda with refills the entire time we were there
A birthday cake
Tokens for each guest
Chuck E Cheese gift/ prize bags
Free tickets (passed out during the birthday show)

And kidling got:

To be “star” of the birthday show
Stand in a ticket booth for 1 minute, grabbing as many tickets out of the whirling air as he could.
A birthday medallion
A birthday balloon
A picture with the Chuck E. Cheese mouse
Extra tokens

So that’s pretty cool. Almost everyone Kidling invited showed up — one kid, who’s parents grounded him from video games this week, did not come. Otherwise, we had the four other kids invited, though it was a near thing because his best friend’s mom didn’t get the invitation (e-mail, grrrr), so until I called her yesterday she didn’t know.

Kidling had a blast, and brought in a pretty good haul. He’s especially psyched about the x-box live gift card his dad bought him. Here’s the gifts:

The Complete Lego Star Wars Book (bought it at Costco), from mom.
Alienology (another book from Costco), from mom.
Maniac Magee, from mom. Yes, I gave him books.
Harry Potter Hagrid’s Hut Lego set, from mom and dad.
12 month x-box live card, from dad.
Blo Pens, from his friend
$10 for a lego set, from his best friend.
Two small ninjano lego sets, from his cousin.
A/C radio-control Battle Machines and punching balloons from his Aunt, Uncle, and cousin.
Various Chuck E Cheese ticket prizes

He’s currently driving the Battle Machines around the house and giggling with joy. He’s already opened and built one of his lego sets, and he’s called his grandparents. He seems to be having a great day, so all in all, a win!

Happy birthdays?

My birthday was this week. No, wait. Last week. Time is blurring, lol. We celebrated last weekend? Maybe the weekend before . . .

Anyway, we met up with some friends at Famous Daves in Tacoma. It was nice. It’s not often that I get to chill with my friends — we all have busy lives, and we’re all sprawled so far apart. It was brilliant seeing them. For once, we brought Kidling — I usually have a no-kids ban for adult gatherings, but he’s getting to an age where it just seems unkind not to include him in our birthday celebrations. He had a blast, and I was pleased to have him. He’s growing up so fast!

Speaking of growing up so fast, it’s his birthday this weekend. We’re celebrating it on Saturday, and I’m interested to see how it goes. It’s going to be a motley assortment of people, and the one thread they have in common is Kidling. Many of them haven’t even met. Those who have get along with John and I to varying degrees, but have little to nothing in common with each other — other than, of course, they all love Kidling. Plus we’re doing the party at Chuck E Cheeses. I’m not particularly excited about that — but it was a near escape, it could have been at the echoing warehouse of child-screeches and migraines known as Charlie Safari. *shudder* We ended up with Chuck E Cheeses because Charlie Safari charges $29.99 a head for their birthday parties, with a minimum requirement of 9 guests — Chuck E Cheeses only requires $12.99 a head, with a minimum of four guests. Believe you me, if I had $270 to spend on a kids birthday party, I’d hire a party planner and go full-out Jedi wars or something, not blow it on the mindless idiocy and bad food at Charlie Safari. Ugh.