Okay, better THAN requires a “who,” but this stuff is good enough it has to beat a lot of comers.
In-Season Specialties. Look out, it’s a Spargel Shack rumble. It’s not just vendors everywhere, it’s chalkboard restaurant signs proclaiming its presence, and bottles of wine labeled with a picture of the white stalks, trumpeting how well it pairs. One food, an entire industry. (It IS a pretty good word.)
Kitty Litter. Yes, seriously. We spend Euros around the corner on it, instead of cheap Tidy Cat at the PX. I don’t know what it’s made out of, but it must be like miracles and clump fairies.
The Gym. Okay, sure, the equipment is new, plentiful, blah blah. But there’s also a free beverage station, a coffee bar, a sauna, a tanning bed, a lounge area — and video rental.
Internet. I don’t know what this means, other than sometimes I download podcasts just to watch how fast it happens. I saw a tweet this week complaining about European internet — she must not be experiencing fine, German-engineered, AUTOBAHN WWW.
Gardens. Every single place you pass has carefully curated container gardens packed with pansies and manicured window boxes. Even the overgrown gardens have tulips mixed in with the wild, and forgotten street corners get surprised with daffodils.
And not to be forgotten…
Honorable Mention: Mustard.
I have five different kinds in my fridge as we speak. All the better to go with your very best beer and pretzels and pickels, OF COURSE.
Better. Just don’t talk to me about Target.*
*It’s been 294 days since I’ve set foot in one. Yes, counting. Yes, weeping.
“Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” and all that. Once you’ve gone to a place and lived there, there will always be that one hallmark thing that you miss most when you leave. The one thing you’ll wish came with you to each new home, like your Travolta-autographed paperback of “Battlefield Earth” and your Season 2 Columbo DVDs.
These are those; the Top 5 things I would mix together to make the ultimate.
- San Francisco: Sweeping views from urban nature. I will never get over the number of magical places in this city to hike to the top of, run to the end of, or meander down. There isn’t a single running route not worth a postcard from your turn-around spot. It could be the beach, a forested top of a mountain, or right under the Golden Gate Bridge, all without leaving that 7x7 tip of city.
- New York: Where everything happens. If Annie is in revival and Chuck Klosterman is signing books three blocks away, it’s a place where all your favorite things from stage to page will eventually show up. You don’t have to look for cool stuff to happen, you just have to stay put and let it happen around you. (Plus or minus a subway ride.)
- The Country: All the space you want. And at the precise opposite end, a place to run where no one is ever behind you, a place where no one is ever crowding you into a corner at rush hour, and a place where you’re never on display — except to a few cows, and they don’t require much small talk.
- Washington D.C.: In the middle of history. Past, and in the making. Motorcades and parades, legislation and diplomacy, when you’re here, the stuff of the world is getting done all around you. Plus, everywhere you go is a monument to what’s come before, and that’s pretty grand.
- Italy: Nobody’s in a hurry. The sun lasts for weeks and weeks, and there’s nothing wrong with spending entire days soaking it up. A towel, a spot, the water. Everything else can happen domani. Remember that summer I spent so long laying on a rock that I didn’t need sunscreen even at noon on the Mediterranean? I’m sure I will be reminded of it in the mirror for years to come.
Space and sky lines, energy and history, calm and culture…
Basically, I want all the cakes and forks to go with. That sounds about right.
First, the redemption: in this, the second year of the 25 Book Challenge, I read 38 books. (I finished the 38th ON January 1st, so apologies to the Rule Committee, but I’m counting it.) Last year, I ended with only 17 — but here’s where math gets fun! If you take the average of the two years, I’m sitting at 27.5 per annum, so look at me! AVERAGE!
However, the caveat to the redemption — the tally of books this year is thanks to A) Having a condition that demanded more time off my feet; and B) I read only things that I wanted to. It was Library Hedonism. I didn’t read anything to challenge myself or to teach me anything (more or less), I just read stuff that sounded good.
That is to say, it was mostly memoirs of regular people. There was a little variety mixed in, and some stood out — and so! Here are the TOP FIVE most SUPERLATIVEY Books of 2012:
- Most Useful: I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll (Except When I Hate It.) It taught me that Them Crooked Vultures is a supergroup, Christopher Cross won all four top Grammys in 1980, and called Rent an “HIV minstrel show.” The first two I used on the radio, the last one I didn’t.
- Most Malapropiest: Chuck Klosterman and Philosophy. This one I didn’t finish — for good reason. The book said “quaffed” when they meant “coiffed.” Yes, really. I didn’t count it toward the total, but it’s worth sighting/citing/siting.
- Best Famous Person Memoir: Kathy Griffin’s Official Book Club Selection. I might have liked it so much because I clicked through it on the beach in legit paradise, but I was sad when it ended. For someone who is as unguarded as she is about her life, there is actually stuff in there I didn’t know. Good read for the aforementioned beach situation.
- Best Regular(ish) Person Memoir. Queen of the Oddballs. I called her “the Forrest Gump of LA” and it’s true — a wacky read that seems just improbable enough to be true.
- Biggest Reach: Manhood for Amateurs. I think I started this because I thought I was having a boy, and because I can’t for the life of me get into his other big book that everyone is supposed to read. It was my attempt at reading a Big Fiction Writer. I remember a lot of details about Berkeley that I recognized. And…that’s about it. I’m sure the big book is great. Maybe someone can read it to me sometime.
- Honorable Mention: Most “You Have to Because Everyone Else Is”. Fifty Shad… NO. The Hunger Games. Plotting worth the hype, but don’t feel like you have to do all three. And as always friends — read the book instead of the movie.
We’re off to a good start this year — I already have a new favorite author.
Someone in my house is watching Ice Age 4. It’s noisy and I don’t understand it. My current favorite way to “watch” movies is to listen to reviews of them on Comedy Film Nerds. Then, you see, I don’t have to actually watch them. It’s like getting the director’s commentary without having to pick off all the stickers sealing up the case.
My old favorite way to watch them was until they wore out. True then as now, I don’t like any movie the first time through — too many unknowns (Ah. Which explains the review in lieu of feature preference.)
Though I’m sure some day I will have to learn to sit in the same room as the Ice Age Du Jour, there’s no reason that some of these threadbare, favorite, watched-in-excess-of-scores movies can’t sneak in there too.
The Top 5 VHS Tapes I Wore Out:
- Muppets Take Manhattan. “I’ll trade with anyone who has a Jacuzzi!” “Is chickens, is bears, is pigs, is peoples. Peoples is peoples.” Plus a wedding and Joan Rivers? Best of the franchise, hands down.
- Parent Trap 2. This is very important to note, NOT the original. Only the sequel. The original was all stodgey and unbelievable and there was no Tom Skerritt and no cookie-making scene. I did not know that the girl who played Mary died in 1997. Nikki is a recovering lawyer and a writer with a blog.
- Labyrinth. This one beat out Dark Crystal for number of reps and continues the theme that though all of these films were my childhood favorites, no animation. There were a few Disney shorts when we rented a VCR, but live-ish action seems key to being a favorite. Also David Bowie, being on the edge of terrified, and that dress.
- The NeverEnding Story. Speaking of unsettling, “Say my name!” Spooky in that “Let’s watch it again!” kind of way.
- Troop Beverly Hills. And of course, sneaking in under the 1990s wire, the legendary, watched-on-loop during the whole of the Chicken Pox Crisis of 6th grade, important enough that I felt the need to tell the director just such a fact, perfect classic.
And maybe I spent the last three years trying not to be Phyllis. Just maybe.
“Huh. I haven’t eaten cheese in six years.”
I’m not. It’s the easiest thing in the world, a decision I made six years ago today, and arguably the one practice an individual can undertake that has the greatest impact. Sure, vote, volunteer, do all that — but changing what you consume, reaches WAY beyond yourself.
Need more reasons to join me? Here’s five (give or take an archive):
- You’d Rather Eat Food Than Poop and Suffering. When Burger King acknowledges that the farming practices that supply their restaurants are bad enough to change, can you IMAGINE the rest of the stuff you’ve put in your mouth? Try it. Look here, then look at your scrambled eggs.
- You Will Not Feel Deprived. How could you possibly when you can make your own falafel and Ethiopian red lentils from scratch? “So what do you eat?” “Everything.” Animal products aren’t even a sliver of the pie chart of consumables. Mmm. Pie. (Yep, you can have that too.)
- You Enjoy a Habitat That Supports Carbon-Based Life. “More than two-thirds of all agricultural land is devoted to growing feed for livestock, while only 8 percent is used to grow food for direct human consumption…the global livestock industry uses dwindling supplies of freshwater, destroys forests and grasslands, and causes soil erosion, while pollution and the runoff of fertilizer and animal waste create dead zones in coastal areas and smother coral reefs.” Hey, if a 12 year old can understand and articulate the impact, how about we help out and not flood our planet with manure bogs. Unless you like that sort of thing.
- It’s Hard to Find a Reason TO Eat It. When the New York Times has to run an essay contest to come up with an ethical argument for eating it, isn’t it way easier to shun it than to try and justify your nugget? (I justified wearing this shirt today to celebrate my vegiversary on account that it’s true in a sense and also funny.)
- You Feel Like Not Being Sick. I am not allowed to donate blood. I am healthy with an often-needed blood type — but no one can benefit from it l because I lived in the UK after 1980. Mad cow. So, you can’t give blood if you have AIDS or if you’ve eaten beef. And yes, it was a dairy cow they found this week, but holes in your brain v. hamburger… Not to mention all the good fats, the good cholesterol, the actual fuel your body needs, don’t get spelled E-I-E-I-O.
- Honorable Mention: Vegenaise. Game, set, mayo.
Yes, hello ‘debate between flying and invisibility,’ it’s so nice of you to pretend you’re a relevant choice! It’s sweet. But come on now.
Except for an intense 1983 Aquaman crush circa “Super Friends,” I have little to do with the Super-funny-book characters — which is why I’m the perfect unbiased judge of this: Forget flying, forget turning paths into ice or throwing fire balls — there are actually useful, super-human traits out there.
This chart suggests otherwise. It advocates telekinesis (Tk) and magnetism (Mg) and the etcs. Barring my wine glass, I have no need to move things with the power of my mind. None.
That’s what your whiny voice is for.
And so! The Top 5 ACTUALLY Useful Super Powers…
- The Power of Not Sleeping: Oh, the things you could do if you never got tired. So useful. Those eight hours a night when you’re communing with the BFG? Is time you could spend being Super. Or picking up a shift at Cracker Barrel. Either.
- The Power of Persuasion: Aristotle came close — and its power is super enough that I majored in it. Getting ANYONE to see your way? Shut up, laser vision. This is unstoppable.
- The Power of Awkwardness Removal: The ability to time travel could put a band-aid on this by avoiding it, but barring that, the only way to solve that horrible feeling where no one’s saying anything, or you’ve put your foot in your mouth for saying the WRONG thing, is this. I believe it would appear in ray form.
- The Power of Appearing Interested: Think of all the thoughts you could think, the things you could do, if you could hologram mirage an “Interested Face” over your actual visage. It would be like interactive hold music. Comes complete with utility belt of small talk soundbites.
- The Power to See the Truth: All subtext would be close captioned, all intentions would be lit in neon, and deception would be impossible. This power is double-edged, like that X-Chick who can’t be hugged, but with great power comes great outfits.
Action figures, sold separately.
…That I’m Wildly Missing Out On, If it Wasn’t For the Internet.
Dr. Who. It is about a TARDIS and a relatively cute English chap in period costume and I get it mixed up with The Twilight Zone. Apparently, I should be watching it so I can appreciate the fan art.
This dude. He’s a verb now, apparently? Though for my money, it’s Timmy T, or get out.
Babies. Based on the calculations of wise Brittney, reminders of whether or not you have them has become digitally inescapable. Except for the “Unhighlight This Story” feature. It exists, that’s all I’m saying.
Rick Perry. I’m retired from politics. (Which doesn’t mean I can’t get a kick out of the fact Rick Perry was a cheerleader.) It does mean that I follow the debates in real time whether I want to or not.
The Hunger Games/Game of Thrones. I followed your Twilight hysteria. I think that’s all I have to give to costume/fantasy based serials.
WAIT. OMG BRB. STARTING A DR. WHO TEBOW CUTE BABY HUNGER GAMES BLOG. I will win the internet.
It happens once. Then it becomes a tradition. Then it becomes expected. And all of the spontaneous power it once held, is now lost to the ravenous maw of cliché. It don’t mean nothing anymore.
The Top 5 Things We Wore Out.
Live-In Reality Shows: Specifically the “meeting everybody, choosing rooms” part. That ship tipped by Real World: Hawaii. Everybody has seen how it’s supposed to go, who plays what part…let’s just skip it and watch Hawaii on DVD.
Gatorade Showers: I bet I could start a petition and get every coach of every sport requiring hydration with me on this one. Really? Do we really need to see this scene again? (For blame and/or pub trivia purposes: “The tradition began with the New York Giants football team in the mid-1980s. According to several sources, including Jim Burt of the Giants, it began on October 28, 1984, when the Giants beat the Washington Redskins 37-13.”)
Standing Ovations: It’s applause inflation, I suppose. A standing O used to happen when you were literally moved to your feet. Now it seems rude if you don’t.
Birthday Songs in Restaurants: It was wacky. An unexpected display of birthday humiliation and attention. Then it turned 1992.
The Crawl: In the US, it mostly broadcast urgent emergency info. No day needed that functionality more than September 11, 2001. And so it started, and never went away. Now the scroll wipes across our eyes things like how long Kim Kardashian’s wedding was. First it’s noticed, then it’s common, then it’s ignored.
Now if Kris Humphries had given Kim a Gatorade Shower AT the wedding? Then we could talk.
Of all the reasons to begrudge Mark Zuckerberg’s Fantastical Book of Faces, this is tops: It cultivates lazy internet.
Back in the Ye Olde Oregon Trail IIe Days, you had to work a little to publish something online. You had to think about it, put effort into learning the platform, and not everybody did it. Online Sharing wasn’t the compulsory course it is now, thanks to Zuck.
And because it’s everywhere, it becomes the default platform. Every vague, half-spelled passing fancy and photo of meal ends up there, every rant and opinion. And unless you’d write the same things in the margins of a phone book broadcast on a JumboTron, it really ain’t the place.
With great ease, comes great abuse.
Novels don’t belong on Post Its, some photos only your mom cares about, and therapy doesn’t happen in the town square. You don’t have to take it offline, but allow me to show you how to tell you might need a little more room for your needs.
The Top 5 Signs You Need a Blog:
You’ve Ever Started a Tweet or Status Update, “Dear Someone Not Reading.” Oy. A cliché that needs to die, but let’s unpack its hideousness. If you use this “Dear Airline, Thanks for losing my luggage,” nonsense in a status update it means either a) You have a story about your day which might actually be interesting if you spent a moment telling it, in narrative form somewhere else; or b) You should be writing that thought to the party you’re directing it to. Facebook does not forward complaints.
You Direct Tweets or Updates at Someone Obliquely. “You’ll never know how much you hurt me. I saw who you’re dating now. You’ve lowered your standards.” If you’re going through something, by all means WRITE. Get it out on paper or post, where you have room for it to actually be of service to you or someone similar. A brief recap in a status update makes that sentiment cringey and desperate. You’re fishing for attention from half your audience and the other half just looked away in horror.
You Have Political/Religious Opinions. We all get worked up about something. Chris Brown. Michael Vick. On a blog, people choose to visit. In a News Feed, all of your controversy goes everywhere. It’s understanding your audience, and your polarizing peculiarities don’t belong in the mixed and literal [work-based] company of Facebook.
You Want to Post 70 Photos of Your Kid Everyday. By all means, go for it. Let grandma see your baby all day everyday, that’s what the web is GREAT for. But if it’s not news to everyone, it shouldn’t go in your News Feed. And more to the point, your kids need more privacy than Zuck thinks. If it’s on the web, it’s there for everyone. Throw the endless photos on a blog and password protect it.
Most of Your Day Warrants an Update. Facebook should get the highlights, only the standout stories that keep people vaguely in tune with the broad picture of your life. If you want to give a play-by-play, your big fans will pay for the premium channel and visit your blog.
Finally, BONUS: You Have a Particular and Peculiar Obsession. By all means, run with it and start a blog. I want, nay NEED, more WillIFit.coms. Way more.
I am not homesick. That does not mean to say that there aren’t a handful of wonderful niceties about being a grown up in the U. S. of Americas that I wouldn’t hug and love and put a picture of on my nightstand right now. I might…kind of miss a few things.
This doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that it is the Eve of Getting Weighed by My Boss, which is a particularly odious hellishness that I wouldn’t wish upon even the most annoying.
Okay. It might, a little. So! Shall we self-medicate?
The Top 5 Things That Are Awesome About Being a Regular American Grown Up:
Delivery. Leave as many menus on my door as you want, as long as I can keep a whole drawer full of them. Food from one end of the earth to the other, a phone call and 30 minutes away? Gee Whiz Diner, I’m looking at you.
Places Open 24 Hours. Not that I’m ever up past 8 p.m., but it’s nice to know if you really needed Advil, a garden hose, or Chex Mix in the middle of the night, you’d be taken care of.
The Sound the Subway Makes When It’s Express. The lulling, rumble-whir clack of the Uptown A from Columbus Circle to 181st. I could loop it and listen to it all night.
Target. I KNOW. I said I’d be fine if I never saw another strip mall or big box store in my life, but… You know how sometimes when it’s payday Friday, and you find yourself there just wandering around with a cart in all of the cute seasonal housewares? It’s been six months. I am not made of decorative stone. Just give me an hour, I’ll be cured.
Getting Your Laundry Picked Up and Done. It sounds like a luxury, but you know what else sounds super fancy? Having your own washer and dryer in your dwelling. I have never had such a thing in my entire adult life. So yes, I still have my laundry bag from Crystal Cleaners in San Francisco with my address written on it. I use it and pretend.
Bonus: Movie Megaplexes. You can just show up at anytime and choose from any number of perfectly adequate and current flicks you can actually understand? One, please.