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Reality TV is my sports

I’m not a sports-on-TV person. This fact, I’m sure, pains my father deeply, since he is the type of person who will watch almost any sport on TV, including wrestling and volleyball, as long as his beloved alma mater Penn State is involved. My mom, having been married to my dad for close to 46 years, has become a sports-on-TV fan through a combination of osmosis and Stockholm Syndrome. But despite my parents’ best efforts to inculcate me into the proud tradition of watching sports from one’s couch, I’ve remained anti-sports-on-TV.

There are a couple of exceptions to my no-sports-on-TV rule, of course. I always enjoy watching big-time marathons, especially the last couple of miles, because those athletes are super-humans and watching them run is a thing of beauty. Also, whenever the Olympics roll around, I, like all humans, will watch whatever random sport happens to be on TV and briefly become an expert in all of the technicalities of said random sport. Two weeks later, I will have forgotten all of it, as if the entire thing were but a fever dream.

For the most part, though, I don’t care about sports, like, at all. I don’t follow football, baseball, or hockey. I have no team affiliations. I am vaguely aware of when Stanford’s football team is doing well, but I’m never going to sit down and actually watch a game. I can’t name a single player for the Washington Nationals. I don’t understand how football works. I’m just not into it, any of it. (Lucky for me, I married a man who also couldn’t give a crap about sports, and we remain blissful in our shared ignorance.)

Until recently, I really didn’t get why anyone would ever care about watching sports. While I understood, theoretically, that other people gleaned enjoyment from watching, say, baseball on TV, I didn’t really get it. To me, watching an entire baseball game in all of its ponderous glory is the fun equivalent of watching five hours of CSPAN: that is to say, PRETTY GOSHDARN BORING. And the idea of keeping track of stats, joining fantasy leagues, reading articles, listening to sports radio? Frankly, it baffled me. “Who cares?” I’d think to myself. “There are no stakes here. These are grown men playing a game. None of this matters. Why would anyone waste time caring about these outcomes?” (I know, I’m fun).

But then, the other day, I had this epiphany: reality TV is my sports.

I was on a walk, listening to a podcast, when it hit me. The podcast I was listening to is hosted by a blogger (Reality Steve) who writes about (and spoils) all of the shows in the Bachelor franchise. His podcast mostly consists of interviews with past cast members of Bachelor-related shows, including people from many seasons ago. As I walked, I was listening to an interview with a woman, AshLee Frazier, who had been a contestant on Sean Lowe’s season of The Bachelor way back in 2011. (I blogged that season, by the way, in case you need a refresher.) As Reality Steve and AshLee discussed all of the drama that went down that season, including Tierra’s infamous (fake) fall down the stairs, I had this moment of lucidity in which I thought, “My God. This is how I’m choosing to spend my precious scraps of free time? By listening to two people I don’t know rehash something that happened on a reality show SIX YEARS AGO?! Shouldn’t I be listening to a TED talk or something?”

…Nah.

And this, it occurs to me, is how other people feel about sports. Diehard sports fans, like us reality TV fans, share a willingness to bury themselves in the minutiae of a particular brand of social entertainment, despite the fact that, in the grand scheme of things, none of it matters. In both cases, reality TV and sports, there are no real stakes: it’s entertainment. And yet, we get so involved as consumers, it feels like it matters. (Although one can certainly argue that both sports and reality TV hold up a mirror to our society and expose our collective strengths and weaknesses. But it’s mostly just for fun).

The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much sports and reality TV have in common. Both involve participating in a shared social experience by observing. Ethical quandaries arise in both arenas (with sports, see: drugs, violence, rape culture; with reality TV, see: same). Tempers run hot. Memes are generated. People trade predictions, run the numbers, argue. You have your people that you root for and your villains that you hate. Sometimes you root for people that you know are never going to win. It’s always more fun to watch in a group. Alcohol and snacks add to the viewing experience. And I could go on!

After I had this (much belated) epiphany, I felt a newfound synchronicity with the sports fans of the world. Sports watchers and reality TV watchers should unite in our shared desire to waste our own time with televised frivolity. Because it’s not actually a waste of time: it’s fun, and sometimes, that’s all that matters. The TED talks can wait.

My (current) favorite comedy podcasts

Here’s a completely uninteresting fact about me: I love podcasts! I know, unique, right? Look, I realize that everyone and their mom listens to podcasts and you probably have a million and a half of them sitting on your iPhone right this very minute, but I am of the belief that one can never have too many podcast recommendations. Speaking for myself, a person who regularly cycles through podcasts — trying out new ones and rejecting old ones — I am always on the lookout for new recommendations. So, I thought I’d pass on some of my perennial favorite comedy podcasts, in case you, too, are looking to spice up your ear-waves.

  • Stop Podcasting Yourself: Two Vancouver-based comedians, Graham Clark and Dave Shumka, chat weekly with a comedian (often also Canadian!). For me, SPY is true comfort listening. In fact, this podcast was the only thing that made me feel better when I had typhoid fever (yes, I’ve been listening to SPY for four years; NOT TO BRAG). Dave and Graham are hilarious and, if you’re a Canadophile/hono(u)rary Canadian like moi, you will appreciate the many and varied Canadian references.
  • Ronna and Beverly: Ronna Glickman and Beverly Ginsburg are the alter-egos of comedians Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo. R and B are fifty-something Jewish mothers who live in Marblehead, MA, yet somehow land big name comedians, actors, and other assorted creatives for their podcast. For a highly detailed back-story, check out their Wikipedia page. Or just start listening from the beginning and get lost in Ronna and Beverly’s world.
  • Bitch Sesh: A Real Housewives Breakdown: I am a big fan of actor Casey Wilson, one of the stars of the dearly departed ABC comedy Happy Endings, so I was psyched when she started co-hosting a podcast about Bravo’s Real Housewives franchises. She and co-host Danielle Schneider bring on guests (including such gems as Adam Pally and Jerry O’Connell) to discuss the latest Housewives offerings, offer gentle critique on the ‘wives’ hair and clothes, and to complain about the filthy bathrooms at all of Lisa Vanderpump’s restaurants. Essential listening for any Housewives fan.
  • Mike and Tom Eat SnacksMATES was my first comedy podcast and will always hold a special place in my heart, even though I’m not holding out hope that its hosts will release a new episode any time within the next decade. Hosted by Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanagh (DREAMY CANADIAN ALERT), MATES brings snacking to a science. Unfortunately, now that Cavanagh is on TV again and MIB is hosting, like, six other podcasts, the guys don’t have a lot of time to bring us new MATES episodes, and that is a crying shame. I recommend diving into the archives with snack in hand.
  • Professor Blastoff: This now-defunct podcast was a true delight, and I’m so sad it’s no longer with us. Hosted by comedians Tig Notaro, Kyle Dunnigan, and David Huntsberger, Professor Blastoff was nominally about science and time travel, but that premise broke down steadily over the years. Anyway, it was hilarious. I made the mistake of listening to Professor Blastoff while running one time and I had to stop and turn it off because it was making me laugh too hard. Kyle Dunnigan, in particular, is a national treasure, and I will so miss hearing his characters in my earbuds (especially Del). Although Professor Blastoff ended last summer, you can still listen to the archives online.
  • Extra Hot Great: Yes, I am shamelessly plugging the podcast on which I have thrice been a guest, but you know what? It’s funny. I suppose EHG is not technically a pure comedy podcast, since its main focus is on television, but whatever. Listen to it anyway!

What are your favorite comedy podcasts? Any good ones I’m missing? (Please don’t say WTF with Marc Maron, but all other suggestions welcome).

 

My podcasting debut

As many of you know, I’m a contributor to the fantastic TV humor and criticism website, Previously.TV, which is home to the Extra Hot Great podcast. I was honored to be this week’s guest on the podcast, in which we discussed important topics such as The Bachelorette finale, the nineties-ness of Felicity, Season 1, what’s good on TV right now (my pick was PBS’s gross and fascinating Sex in the Wild), and much more!

It was so fun being on the podcast, and once I got over the revulsion of listening to the sound of my own voice, I was even able to listen to it and enjoy it!

If you’d like to check it out, it’s available for streaming and/or download here.

October

October is one of my favorite months, and not only because it’s the month of my birth. Actually, I used to think that my birthday subsumed the entire month of October. I have a really specific memory from when I was four or five years old of waking up on October 1, running downstairs, and announcing to my mom that it was MY BIRTHDAY. She gently disabused me of that notion and eventually I figured out how calendars work. But I still kinda think of October as “my” month.

No, but really, I like October for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with the fact that I have, for the last thirty years, stuffed myself silly with cake on the 27th of the month. For one thing, my husband was also born in October. He is exactly three weeks and one day older than me, which, in his book, automatically makes him far more worldly and experienced than I. “My eyes were already starting to focus when you were born!” he likes to reminds me. So, we’re both October babies, although my husband is a Libra and I’m a Scorpio, technically, although I am the most atypical Scorpio in the world, except for the possessiveness part, I guess? I’m really more of an uptight Virgo at heart, but what are you gonna do? The planets are aligned how the planets are aligned and thus, I must be, by definition, “jealous, obsessive, suspicious, manipulative, and unyielding.” Flattering!

Another thing I’ve always loved about October is that it’s the first month of the year that’s fully FALL. September, if we’re being real, is mostly summer. Sure, in September you go back to school and maybe a leaf or two turns orange, but only the last week of the month is officially fall. In October, though, there’s no pussyfooting around: fall is HERE. Leaves turn colors, the wind gets all blustery, it’s acceptable to wear cable-knit sweaters and boots, it’s time to start thinking about your Halloween costume that probably won’t happen, and, as if by magic, pumpkin-flavored stuff appears everywhere. Pumpkin spice lattes are to fall what crocuses are to spring: when they start popping up, you know the seasons have really changed.

Image courtesy of http://dankimredmango.tumblr.com

Image courtesy of http://dankimredmango.tumblr.com

The thing is, fall isn’t even my favorite season. Someone with my circulation can’t really afford to get behind a season that includes November, I’m sorry. I’m much more of a spring fan, personally. But fall has a lot to offer, and October itself is the best month of fall. Here’s why:

  • I have a real excuse to knit now. My compulsive knitting looks weird in the summer, but no one blinks an eye come October.
  • My birthday + my husband’s birthday –> plenty of excuses to overindulge. Like we needed them.
  • Pumpkin stuff.
  • Halloween. Even though by the time Halloween rolls around this year, I’ll be 31 and probably in a country where people don’t care about Halloween, I’ll still celebrate it in my heart.
  • It’s acceptable to watch It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown any day this month.
  • Best birthstone ever: opal. (And tourmaline, I guess). Suck it, November (topaz? Pshaw)!
  • Speaking of birth things, did you know that every month has a “birth flower,” as well? Actually, each month is assigned not one, but two flowers, since there is a British system and an American system. I smell a sinister, worldwide flower conspiracy afoot. Anyway, October’s flower is the Misty Blue Limonium under the British system, and the Calendula/Marigold under the US system. I had never heard of either the Misty Blue Limonium (which sounds like a kind of fancy floor tiling) or the Calendula (which sounds like an unsightly growth you’d get removed at the dermatologist’s), so I googled both. The Misty Blue Limonium is okay, and it’s actually purple. The Calendula, if nothing else, is fall-like.
calendula

So dewy!

  • It’s National Pizza Month. In America. In case I needed to specify where else one would celebrate National Pizza Month.
  • It’s also Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Adopt a Shelter Dog Month.
  • And Apple Jack month, whatever that is.

Okay, that’s enough reasons. If I haven’t convinced you that October is awesome yet, you’re unconvinceable. And so, on that note, I bid you all a Happy October (Merry October?) and hope that if you’re in a place with sweaters, leaves, pumpkins, and animals in adorable Halloween costumes, you take some time to appreciate it today and every day this month.

 

iMadeFace

I’m sure I’m way late to this party, since I am, as we’ve established on many occasions, old, but I just discovered the iPhone app iMadeFace and it is SO FUN, you guys. It’s an app that lets you make portraits of people, real or imaginary, by choosing from an array of facial features, hair styles and colors, and backgrounds. I am sure this will be the next DrawSomething, in that I’ll be so sick of it I’ll want to throw it across the room in approximately one week, but for now, I am into it.

Being a narcissist, I first attempted a self-portrait, which did not turn out looking anything like me. I tried different noses, different hairstyles, different eyes, but it turns out iMadeFace does not contain my unique blend of features (go figure!) so I came out looking like a generic (but pretty) white lady. Which is great, except I don’t look like that. My iMadeFace portrait is much cuter than I am, and that bugs me. Can I get plastic surgery to look more like her? Except with a neck?me

Photo on 2010-11-27 at  15.16

I had much better luck creating my husband.

Al

Al

NAILED IT. (Note: he always takes off his glasses for photos but wears them in real life, so I’m gonna go ahead and say that the portrait I made actually looks MORE like him than a photo. There, I said it.)

Next, I turned to making portraits of all of the main characters from my novel, which I justified as being a “visualization exercise,” rather than a complete waste of time. This was so much fun. Since 99.9% of you haven’t read my manuscript, these portraits will probably be meaningless, but I want to share them anyway, because they are fun.

Bernard

Bernard

Caroline

Caroline

Christy

Christy

Myrrh

Myrrh

Maria

Raj

maria

Maria

Don’t you want to read my novel now?

Anyway. I am done for the day; it’s 6 pm and I’ve had a hard day of making iMadeFace portraits, so I am going to sign off. Everyone go download iMadeFace and send me your best self-portrait!

Off to Swaziland

Happy Friday!

There’s no time for a real blog post today, I’m afraid! I am running around on this gray, rainy Joburg day to try and get ready for our weekend trip to Swaziland.  We’re leaving today at 1 pm and before that I need to go grocery shopping for four people, get to the gym to swim, shower, eat, pack, and pick Al up from work so we can get on the road.  Yeesh.

We’ll be back Sunday.  In the meantime, here are a list of things you can do:

  1. Send me a question to answer in my Sound Advice Thursday advice column
  2. Read all the archives of my blog and laugh uproariously, when appropriate
  3. Pine away for me
  4. Watch this video of a baby Bassett hound who does not want to go on a walk:

Enjoy your weekend!! See you Monday!

Off to Botswana

Al and I are going to Botswana today to look at some animals, and will be internet-less until we’re back.  So you’ll have to manage the first week of 2013 without me. But I’ll be back!

In the meantime, please enjoy this video of two adorable baby badgers playing with each other and SQUEAKING.