Tuesday, May 31, 2011

You know all those blogs that are dedicated to materialism and covetousness?

This post is going to be like one of those.

I give you the, And Then She Was Like Blah Blah Blah: I Want That Edition.

I would like some sweet custom maps of New Denver, Fake Austin and ... umm ... London 2.0.

And a giant mirror.

And a cake dish shaped like a beehive. 

And an iMac.

And Diet Coke dispenser. 

And shutters that go on the inside, like so:

(For the sake of full disclosure, I make no money off this blog, do not know any of the people I have just linked to, and while I aspire to corporate whoredom generally, do not currently believe there is the remotest likelihood that I would ever be given a fancy oven just because I blogged about all the happy feelings double ovens give me.  I did work at Deseret Book once, but I'm just going to go buy the cake dish even though I don't have the employee discount anymore.)

Sometimes it's nice to just get aspirational and pretend I could afford all these things.  Off to make a spirit board collage now.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I just realized something magical

This is my first summer in two years when I haven't been studying for a bar exam.

I knew I had a special feeling about these coming months for a reason.

Happy Memorial Day people - cross your fingers that this summer is going to be a good one for all of us.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Arbitrary goal alert

Sometimes when I want to accomplish A, I do B instead and hope that will force me to do A by default.

I want to get in shape, I buy a gym membership.  (Or a bottle of HCG drops, whatevs.)  I want to "get out there more," I set up an online dating profile.  (Always a mistake, people.  Always a mistake.)  I want to read more for pleasure, I get a Kindle.  I want to be that person who cleans every Saturday morning instead of just when things get really tragic, so I get a lot of cleaning supplies and cute rubber gloves. 

This has always given me mixed results (somewhat more in shape ... technically more "dates" ... a few more pages turned ... a slightly tidier apartment ...), but never quite what I'd imagined when I set out my brilliant "Gain Willpower By Default!" plan. 

The last month or so has been kind of rough on my writey ambitions.  Blogging has been mostly fine, but blogging is sometimes just a way for me to feel like, "Hey!  I did write something non-legally today, I'm doing just fine!" when I am certainly not doing just fine.

Now, there are a bazillion good excuses I could offer (really and truly I could) but they'll just depress me and bore you.

So instead I will just ask for your feedback and what is likely just yet another arbitrary round-about goal.

I want to finish my current piece (for whatever reason, I refuse to call it a W-I-P)* this summer.

So I will register for the Southern California Writer's Conference in LA this fall.  With a deadline of September 3rd for all crititique submissions.

Game, set, match, self.

Thoughts, criticisms, concerns?  Good plan, or more like my order the "Carmen Electra Stripperobics"  DVD plan?  (That one was both for getting in shape and getting out there more.)

* I do this all the time.  The 1L Reading Room at law school had (what I considered to be) a fairly dorky nickname.  I refused to call it that for nearly a year, and cracked only when I finally realized I was the only student out of roughly 300, plus teachers and administrators, who didn't refer to it as "The Gibby."  And then I crumbled like the Berlin Wall.

I hate nicknames and abbreviations.  I don't know why. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Some people learn Italian in their free time

But I over-analyze movies and TV.

Is it possible to jump a gap of freeway in a speeding bus?  And even if it is, why did none of the screenwriters of Speed say, "Hey, I know we have to keep raising the stakes of this movie, but maybe we should come up with something different for the subway scene?"

(FYI, despite a few gaps in logic, Speed was totally my favorite movie in fifth grade.)

And regarding The Vampire Diaries -- something just occurred to me about the penultimate episode of season two. 

(Yes, I'm totally going to discuss the ending of season 2.  Don't go further if you don't want its badassery ruined.)

There were two Klaus Killing Options. Plan A, Bonnie kills Klaus and hopes that using all that witchiness doesn't kill her.  (Risky for Bonnie.)  Plan B, Elena allows Klaus to sacrifice her and two other individuals, and Elijah and Bonnie take out Klaus post-ritual when he is in a more weakened state.  (Less risky for Bonnie.  Will almost certainly kill Elena or turn her into a vampire.  Will definitely kill two other people.) 

So why does Elena want to choose Door Number 2, again?  Yes, she's super self-sacrificing and would risk dying for her friend -- but did she just forget the part that the sacrifice also involves the guaranteed murder of another vampire and werewolf?  And that the original plan was for the vampire and werewolf to be her childhood friends, Caroline and Tyler?  And even after it seemed like Caroline was sorta-safe because Klaus had kidnapped Katherine (whom no one but the viewing audience likes), Tyler was still on the chopping block, since he was one of only TWO known werewolves in this show?  And ultimately even when Caroline and Tyler were rescued, other relatively innocent people (Jenna and Jules) ate it so Elena could save Bonnie?

Ok, I can see why it's easier to say, "Hey, I choose death-death to two currently-unnamed individuals over almost-certain-death to my best friend" in the abstract -- you don't really know who is going to be toast, whereas you hang out with your best friend all the time. Yes, it is super sad (and ironic, in the Alanis Morissette sense) that one of those people turned out to be her aunt -- but can she really be surprised that it was someone

But this is what I really don't get.  Why didn't Damon--the number one proponent of Plan A--ever point out to Elena that her Save Bonnie! At! All! Costs! plan would certainly involve the deaths of at least two other people?

It seems like that's something he should have tried arguing before he force-fed her vampire blood. 

Just sayin.

Thoughts mid-Memorial Day Weekend

1. Upon re-reading the Harry Potter series, I have concluded that JK Rowling is even better than I had at first realized.  Who knew a brief reference to Gregorovitch in book 4 was going to matter by book 7? It's not just a fantasy series -- it's such an elaborate mystery that I had no chance of ever figuring out the ending.  Well done, madam.

2. The McDonalds Rolo McFlurry = better in theory.  Stick with Oreo, McDonalds.

3. Why is wasabi-colored paint not the color of wasabi?  Is this one of those things where foodies are going to inform me that only Americanized wasabi is bright green, and authentic wasabi more closely resembles dirty dishwater?
4. Trivial Pursuit Bet You Know It better be the greatest game ever, because it's the first game I've ever bought.  I feel so grown up--"grown up" in this context meaning, "capable of throwing a dinner party complete with entertainment."  I'm this-close to buying a frilly apron. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Picky picky

I have some fairly finicky requirements to get through life -- but because I don't live in a sitcom, that doesn't make me endearing but difficult, so I try to keep most of them to myself.

This is why I am not sympathetic to the picky stranger phenomenon.

If I have to accommodate a picky friend's needs, I can and will do it -- even if it means every time we invite law school friend Sally out to dinner, we can only go to Zupas, Red Robin, or Chilis.

But strangers can just go to hell.

I am currently trying to find someone who will take my apartment lease off my hands at some point this summer.

I don't understand people who don't understand that an apartment is not a woven blanket at some street bazaar.  You don't dicker over an apartment.

Now, it's fine if you want X, Y or Z, or can only afford to pay Q.  Those are facts of life. But if you realize that I don't have X, Y, Z, or that my apartment costs Q+1, then just get over yourself or move along.  But don't respond to my description of a newly remodeled kitchen just to say, "I much prefer hardwood and a gas oven."  (For example.)

You see, I prefer that the world only be filled with puppies, Diet Coke, sushi rolls, and people with IQs over 110, but we can't always get what we want.

(Yup, I've got a case of the grumpers this week ... along with your average run-of-the-mill sickness.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Be the uncarved block

So there have been a few panic attacks in Ru Land lately.  Some paranoia.  A pinch of hysteria.  Typical quarter-life crisis stuff.

In honor of my current cycle of insomnia-driven lunacy, I dug up an old column I wrote, despite the Internet Eating Monster that made most of them invisible to the googling eye. Sometimes it's nice to remember the wisdom I had at 22 and recommit to a life of overall meh-ness. So let's say some ohms and reconnect with our chi, shall we?   

Don't try so hard.

This is my advice to all incoming students, and undoubtedly your parents will say, "Don't listen to that devil woman! Achieve! Excel! Become upwardly mobile!"

But I say, nay, listen to me, wee freshmen.

Many a first-year student will come to the U with dreams of triple majors, entering the CIA, hunting down Osama, becoming Secretary of Defense and saving the planet.

I have an example of one such first-year student. Let us call her Crazypants. Crazypants had to get perfect grades. She had to keep her perfect boyfriend. She had to have three jobs. She had to be in 40 extracurriculars. She had to be a size two.

Crazypants had a mental breakdown halfway through sophomore year. 

True story.

In the 1800s, the goals of the average Utahn were simple: Don't die. Accordingly, 'twas a simpler time.

Now, our goals are so numerous that what should arguably be the ultimate goal--don't die--probably won't even make the list:

• Maintain close relationships with friends.
• Achieve maximum hotness.
• Find significant other (who has also achieved maximum hotness).
• Get good grades, but don't forget to…
• …pad that resume! Join that frat! Plan that service project! Look for internships! Get a job! Become important!
• Buy a Hummer.
• Plan for retirement.
• Become socially aware. Sell Hummer. Buy Hybrid Accord. Rent "Crash" on the way home.
• Achieve self-actualization.

Yep. After all that, there's definitely no room for "don't die." But hey, aren't our lives great? High divorce rates, crippling credit-card debt and more people in therapy than ever before-talk about the American dream.

By reducing our goals to only the most basic, we can lead happier, more fulfilled lives. By overreaching, we just make ourselves unhappy.

In The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff wrote, "From the state of the Uncarved Block comes the ability to enjoy the simple and the quiet, the natural and the plain. Along with that comes the ability to do things spontaneously and have them work, odd as that may appear to others at times. As Piglet put it in Winnie the Pooh, 'Pooh hasn't much Brain, but he never comes to any harm. He does silly things and they turn out right.'"

I know what you're thinking--"But I can't be like Pooh! My brain isn't filled with fluff!" (and to all you overexerted pre-meds out there, jumping up and down, begging to be asked what, exactly, our brains are filled with--in accordance with my new credo of underachievement, I've given up on trying to reach you).

You don't have to be simple to simplify. Even the important and powerful could do with reducing--or at least clarifying--their goals.

Take President Nixon. Nixon opened diplomatic relations with China, pursued d├ętente with the Soviet Union, combated domestic inflation and removed the U.S. from the gold standard. But he is primarily remembered for the Watergate scandal. Had Nixon just limited himself to one simple goal--say, "don't commit malfeasance of office," perhaps--he would have been much better off.

So commit yourself to living a life of non-purpose while in college. Learn to be content with your own mediocrity. Say the Serenity Prayer. Do things because you want to, not because they conform to your 10-year plan. Stop using exclamation points so much. Accept the premise that if your "best" sometimes has to be "good enough," the logical individual saves himself or herself the trouble and just stops at "good" in the first place. Stop seeking success and let success find you.

I'll be honest--as much as I have tried to live by these precepts, I sometimes start daydreaming about being nominated to the Supreme Court and having improbably beautiful children (twins, in fact); but while I was in Washington D.C. this summer, I witnessed an exchange that may have finally convinced me of the importance of keeping a life simple. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee was in the middle of a rather contentious hearing. Back in the anteroom, a Republican staffer noticed that a Democrat staffer had a sour expression on his face.

Their exchange went a little something like this:

Republican: Are you feeling OK? You look a little…off.

Democrat: I'm always upset when our civil liberties are being trampled on.

Republican: (Pause) I was just wondering if you wanted a glass of water.

While I agree it is important to worry about civil liberties, it is also important to maintain proper hydration. When presented with the choice, sometimes it's best to just take the water.

(Published by The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Monday, May 23, 2011

So what is Game of Thrones like?

This is a conversation I had the other night at pub trivia -- also the setting for this conversation.

My friend Lulu and I (yep, "Lulu") have not read the books, but we have been glued to HBO every Sunday evening.  I can't really tell you what, exactly, is so good about it.  Honestly -- I tried to recap an episode for Hannah once when she had to miss it, and it went something like, "Ummm, blond girl is preggers ... and that hot bastard* is still up on the Wall ... and I think Prince Joffrey might be gay ... also, winter is still, apparently, coming."

Despite that oh-so-eloquent explanation, I assure you, it's good watchin.

So when someone asked, "So what is Game of Thrones like?"  Lulu and I both agreed -- it's sexy Lord of the Rings.  But no magic.  But ... maybe magic.  Actually, I think we may have to wait and see on the magic.

Of course, this led to the conversation about who is the hottest character in Sexy Lord of the Rings (which is what I'll be calling it now). And mock me all you want, but the hottest character is definitely ...

(drumroll, please ...)

Tyrion Lannister.

Yup.  The "angry elf" from Elf

If you haven't been watching it, I guess there's no explaining it, but seriously.  As Lulu put it, "Dude's got swagger."

* It's not a pejorative.  Pretty sure "hot bastard" is his name.

(Sigh.  It's not.  It's Jon Snow.)

1/20/12: Psst!  Since a lot of people seem to find this blog from googling, "What is Game of Thrones like?" I figure I'd also send you here for Part 2.  This post is shockingly unhelpful and I do apologize. Though to be entirely honest, Part 2 is only mildly better.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

But there are so many things I haven't done!

As you all know, the Rapture is this Saturday, and it's causing a lot of people unnecessary stress.  As Diego wrote on facebook tonight, "The world is ending and I'm totally unprepared.  My room is a mess, I have a stack of books and TV shows I need to finish, I never got to travel by hot air balloon, and I have a ton of unused coupons.  Can we get a little more notice next time?  This is really inconvenient."  

But never fear, my non-wacko friends, because a little known fact about the Rapture is that all that's going to happen is the wackiest and most irrational of Christians will be taken up into heaven, leaving the rest of us (regular Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrianists, agnostics, atheists, etc.) to endure months of torment before Judgment, which has been penciled in for sometime this October.  So plenty of time to use those Groupons.

In the meantime, do your good deed of the week and promise to dog sit for anyone who happens to be Raptured this weekend. Now is the time we all have to band together, people.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Conversations in Nerdville

Text from me to lil brother Charlie:

At pub trivia tonight, best team name ever: fu** the maid, marry Maria Shriver, kill John Connor.

Text from Charlie to me:

That's a good one.  But technically he was never programmed to kill John Connor.  Still an asshole though.

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be lawyers

I went to dinner the other night with some lawyer homies.  As was inevitable, we started to complain about our jobs.

Rodrigo has a case where the litigant writes, "LIES LIES LIES!!!" all over the pleadings whenever he disagrees with a statement.

Aidan has one where a pro se opponent ends every pleading with, "Let justice be had, let justice be had, let justice be had."  That same litigant poses and answers rhetorical questions in his pleadings.  Example: "Is this justice, I say?  No!  It is not justice!"

Sally had a client call her after she filed a complaint to ask, "So, um, do we have to prove all this with evidence at the trial?"

And when Sally said yes, the client said, "We can always amend the complaint, right?"

Lacey has had dozens of clients come to her with super sad stories that get her incredibly enraged.  She is the person who went to law school to help people and then ACTUALLY HELPED THEM, after all.  But you can imagine it might be frustrating to do a whole bunch of work and research on a case, and then find out ... "Oh, so you punched your boss in the face, then he said that racist/sexist/homophobic thing.  Yeah, he can still fire you for that."

And Jamie once had to run to a temporary restraining order hearing as a personal favor.  Jamie didn't want to to do it--who wants to argue a TRO she didn't prepare?--but it sounded like a dire situation.  (Another lawyer, who was not going to be able to attend, told her an ex-boyfriend was threatening to kill a teenage girl.  DIRE.)

Of course her clients didn't arrive on time to let her know the basis of the TRO.  (So much for the dire situation, I guess.)  An hour ticked by as Jamie desperately tried to call someone else's clients.  When they did show up, it was fifteen minutes from the hearing and Jamie was thisclose to losing her mind.

For all the non-lawyers out there, TROs are hard to get---but even if they weren't hard, no baby lawyer like us wants to go in front of a judge and explain ANYTHING, much less something difficult, much less something difficult that you know nothing about

So Jamie told her client to quickly explain the basis for her TRO, and the girl and her family launched into a litany of complaints.  He threatened to kill her!  In a text!  And then on the phone!  And it was speaker phone, so I heard it too!

And when Jamie began to explain all this to the judge a few minutes later, the first question he asked was, "Do you have the text messages?"

Jamie turned to the client--Do we have the text messages?!--and the girl promptly handed over her phone.  Jamie raced it up to the judge.  

The judge looked down at the phone.  "'Don't come around here anymore, or I am going to fu**ing remove your head from your ass,'" he read.

He looked up at Jamie.  "Anything else, counselor?" he asked dryly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blog behavior that displeases me

In case you can't tell from the fact that I have a blog, I like blogging.  It helps me to have a writing outlet aside from my lawyerin.  More importantly, I view the internet as the real world embodiment of John Stuart Mill's marketplace of ideas.  (OK, yeah, a lot of the ideas are kind of inane or dumb or -- to quote an old journalism advisor who was really into trying to shock us but hardly ever succeeded -- masturbatory.  Sigh.*) 

I put some thoughts into InternetLand.  People agree or disagree.  I have the opportunity to defend my thoughts, which allows me to either strengthen my previous opinion or recognize its flaws. Human development!

Sure, maybe my original thoughts are about puppies or zombies or chicken fingers or feminism or bus etiquette, and maybe I get the most google hits from "corn husk dress" and "fantastic mr fox quotes," but I read your blogs, you read mine, comments are posted, and we are all awesome.

But there are a few things that just, I don't know, bug the bajeebers out of me.  So please, if you do these things ... stop.

1. Stop complaining about the anonymous comment.  Yes, it's kind of annoying, but isn't everything on the internet anonymous?  Why should I be more offended by anonymous telling me I'm an idiot than ButterflyGirl Loves StudMuffin telling me I'm an idiot?

When newspapers print letters to the editor, they print the person's full name and city of residence.  (In the case of my old student newspaper, we substituted year in school and major for city of residence.)  Are you willing to put your full name and address on a comment?  No, of course not, and you'd be stupid to do so.  So stop pretending that the person who didn't log in to blogger before leaving a comment is somehow a bigger coward than the rest of us.  The internet makes cowards of us all.

2. Oh for the love, stop complaining generally.

(A) If someone writes something that is critical of your opinion, it is NOT critical of you.  LEARN THE DIFFERENCE.

(B) If someone writes something that is actually critical of you, you are not a better person merely by virtue of having endured it.  In fact, the more you complain about it, the more it looks like you are also being personally critical of the criticizer, at which point it's a wash so who cares anyway.

3. If someone comments on your blog to disagree with you, don't respond to say, "You missed the point."  Ninety percent of the time, that just means YOU missed the point of that person's comment.  The other 10% of the time it's going to be incredibly obvious to even a casual reader that the commenter is picking grass out in left field, so don't worry about it. 

4. If someone takes the time to engage with you, ENGAGE BACK -- or close your comments because you obviously only want fawning adoration anyway.  Either option is fine.

5. If you're going to allow comments, allow comments.  Don't stop allowing comments once they become critical.  If you don't want comments, then no sweat - don't allow any.  It's your blog, do what you want.

6. Be prepared for any response.  If you were bold enough to hit "Publish Post," be bold enough to take whatever comments or emails you may get in return. 

7. Ask yourself - do some of my posts make me look like a giant bitch/heartless bastard?  OF COURSE THEY DO.  That's the fun of InternetLand.  Tone doesn't translate right, a bad day blows things out of proportion, and even if you were perfectly crystal clear, a brief essay does not capture an individual's character or personality.

So remember -- that if that's true of you, it's true of other bloggers. And while you're at it, remember it twice before you rip on a commenter for being a giant bitch/heartless bastard.  You want people to give you the benefit of the doubt when they read your words out-of-context, do the same for others.

8. Value the people who bother to read what you write, regardless of whether they liked it or you. Otherwise, your writing is just--to borrow a phrase--masturbatory. 

* Sorry, professor.  The shock factor might have worked better if we hadn't grown up with South Park.  Nice try, though.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Passion smashion

Do not ask me what I am passionate about.

Do not do not do not do not.

These are my reasons:

1. The word "passion" is gross.

2. I am not passionate about anything.  If I were, I would be working with the Peace Corps or writing a novel alone in a cabin the woods.  But I am not.  I like TV and Wingers and naps.

3. The follow up question can only go one of two ways:

(A) You start rambling about what YOU are passionate about, which is what you wanted to talk about the whole time.  This is fine, but you should probably find a better way of incorporating it into the conversation.  Like, just bringing it up, perhaps.


(B) You aren't passionate about anything, either, in which case I don't know why you though I would be any different.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A miracle that made me employable

(This was posted yesterday, but given that Blogger may have eaten it, I am reposting.)

When I was in college at The Blessed U, I wrote opinion columns for The Daily Utah Chronicle.  I have no idea how many, just that I started working there the summer after freshman year and continued until I graduated.

I loved my time at The Chronicle.  Seriously loved it. 

And yet, I'm kind of grateful no one can find any of my old columns.

You see, a few years ago, The Chronicle redesigned its webpage, and when it did, something happened to the electronic archives.  It messed up formatting and removed bylines.  So instead of being able to google "Ru's Real Name" and finding dozens of inflammatory, inane, or otherwise problematic columns by moi, you find a bunch of boring stuff.  Which is how I like it.*

Does it make me sad that I can't easily find roughly three years' worth of work online?  Sometimes.  But at the same time, I'm pretty sure at least a few of those columns mocked my current employer.  So some things just work out for the best.

* Do you think I'm being ridiculous with this non-googlable manifesto?  Do you think I have internalized too strongly the message of infinite career counselors and law school deans who only sort-of understand social media to begin with that literally ANYTHING can come back to haunt you?


But what I do know is this: A few months ago, I had to work with someone on a relatively sensitive project.  The first thing I did was google him in an effort to figure out why he was so high-strung better understand where he was coming from.

And let's just say it took me all of five minutes to find something that made it difficult for me to keep a straight face around him from that point forward. Difficult, though not impossible, since I am as professional as the day is long.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The new social contract

In general, I feel like everyone should stop whining -- even though that would significantly decrease the amount of things I have to talk about.  But since the cessation of whining is probably unrealistic, I have a step-down proposal.  It's kind of like Nicorette gum.  

1. Stop whining about being judged for having a social advantage.  

Notice that this rule has two elements--mere whining about a social advantage (My hair is so thick and lustrous, it takes 40 minutes to dry!), while annoying, is still allowed for now. (That's step 2.)  It's when you take it one step further (I'm so tired of people being intimidated by my thick and lustrous hair!) that you have crossed the step 1 line.

Other examples of behavior that violates this rule:

A) If only I had a disability I could get into law school.  (Implication that you are negatively assessed for being an able-bodied individual.)

B) When is heterosexual awareness day?  (Implication that because you are straight, you are negatively impacted on the one week a year the gays get to throw a parade.)

C) People used to bully me for being so skinny.  (You know, I don't believe you, and no one else does, either.  But let's assume that kids did bully you--you're no longer a kid.  You must accept that even if you dislike your skinniness, it is a social advantage as an adult that overweight people or even average people do not have.  I don't want to hear about how many protein shakes you have to drink to bulk up--I'm not sympathetic, and no one else is, either.)

D) Wealthy people bear the bulk of the tax base, you know.  (So what?  You're wealthy.  Don't try to act for one second like you would trade your assets and tax rate for a school teacher's paycheck because you wouldn't.  Being wealthy is awesome so stop complaining.)

E) Cops pull people in nice cars over at a higher rate, you know.  (One, totally not true.  Two, even if it were true, you still chose to buy the nice car, and therefore it must not be that big of a burden.  You want people to be sympathetic to your minorly burdened purchase of an Escalade?) 

Is everyone clear on what sort of behavior violates step 1?  Exellent.  Moving along to step 2.

2. Stop whining about having a social advantage.

We are now upping the ante on our anti-whining campaign.  Examples of behavior that would violate this rule:

A) It's so hard finding size-zero jeans/shirts that cover my huge ta-tas.

B) I just hate being so tall, looking down on everyone all the time. 

C) I'm so tiny and adorable that people don't take me seriously.  (Yeah, at the liquor store.  You're tiny and adorable the rest of the time too, so shut your face.)

D) You know, it's hard being this pretty.  (No, it isn't.  Please shut up.)

E) Because I'm naturally thin to begin with, it's much harder for me to lose five pounds than it is for an overweight person to lose five pounds.  (Drop a dumbbell on your foot, please.)

There are a few, very minor, situational exceptions for this rule.  The tall may complain on airplanes, since everyone is uncomfortable on an airplane in a different way.  A tiny, adorable woman can complain about her vacation to Saudi Arabia.  But that's it, people.

Feel free to add some step 1 or step 2 suggestions in the comments, people, but please--if you're going to complain about how hard it is to be white/male/straight/good-looking/wealthy/skinny/or healthy, just internalize, please.

Monday, May 9, 2011

those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it

1. I love the Noodles and Co. on 400 South.  They mess up at least 10% of orders, but when you point it out to them, they cheerfully give you free food.  In the last two weeks I've gotten a second entree (they forgot I asked for no mushrooms), free giant rice crispie treat (they forgot I asked for my lunch to-go), and a free side of parmesan crusted chicken (because they accidentally gave me regular grilled.)

2. Brothers and Sisters, you have been on the air for what seems like forever.  Your characters have allegedly been siblings for even longer.  You cannot describe a season 5 episode as, "The Walkers learn the true meaning of family."  The show is called Brothers and Sisters, shouldn't they have figured that out by now?

3. In general, NBC should shoot an entire season of a TV show and then ask themselves, "Is this really what we want to do?"  Horrible first seasons of The Office and Parks and Recreation could have been avoided and we could have moved directly into the more-hilarious second seasons. 

Problems with gaydar

So a lot of attention gets paid to single Mormon folk.  Did you know this?  Well, now you do. 

It was actually a big topic of conversation at the last General Conference -- get married, get married, get married.  Wait, what are we supposed to do?  Kidding, kidding, I heard it.

Mormon oldies put a lot of thought and effort into how to make us all pair off and make babies, which inevitably reminds me of the scene in Keeping the Faith where Ben Stiller's rabbi character blurts out, "There's a reason why pandas don't mate in captivity!" Anyway, I have come up with my own solution.

Closeted Mormon gay boys?  Please just come out of the closet.

I have been on a date with a gay Mormon boy before.  Probably more than one, honestly, but only one that I am positive was a Kinsey-scale 6.*

I know I have a lot of gay friends, and therefore maybe I see gayness where there is none.  But this kid?  It was like being on a date with Carson Kressley.  He managed to cock every joint in his upper body--wrist, neck, elbow, hip--all while sitting down.  When he asked me how my week had been going and I admitted to being busy and having some trouble sleeping, he patted my hand and said, "Oh sweetie!  Ya do look a little ragged."

(For the record, I did not look ragged--I had a particularly cute outfit on.  But I was so blown away by the utter gayness of that sentence that I didn't even realize it was also rude for about ten seconds.)

The problem comes in when you go on a date with a guy and think, "I am 25% sure he's gay."  Or, "This one's at least 75% gay."  Or, "You know, he's a complete toss up."  In general, I find Mormon men a little bit more effeminate than your average Joe. It's something about the culture, I guess. And the ones who aren't that effeminate? Well, let's just say a sizable chunk of those remind me of Chris Cooper's character in American Beauty.** 

Hint.  Hint. 

But if all the truly gay ones would just come out of the closet, then I wouldn't have this problem anymore. (And yes, once again, it's all about me.)  Even if a guy was questionable (in the effeminate or American Beauty sense), I could feel confident in thinking, "Well, if he were gay, he would have said something by now.  And also not have asked me on this date."

You're welcome for the idea, General Authorities.

* For the record, it was a blind date.  No, I don't regularly accept dates from gay boys.  Yes, I wanted to strangle the match-maker in this case.

** Just in case the question is prompted ... yes, I know a lot of non-effeminate, non-compensating Mormon men, including friends and relatives.  I'm just saying the overall percentages are higher, and that makes for some awkward dating experiences. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Am I a double oven kind of girl?

For various reasons we will not discuss now, I am in the market for large appliances.

I have to tell you, as someone who likes to shop, I totally understand the happy-blissy feeling that accompanies the purchase of new shoes or an extra soft cardigan.  But people -- French door refrigerators?  So much better than that.  Oh, French-door refrigerator ... I would crawl up inside you and take a nap if that episode of Punky Brewster hadn't taught me not to.

But not everything is as simple as the feelings of lust 27 cubic feet of refrigerated goodness can inspire in me.  No, other things are like, "Did you even know that dishwashers could be portable?  What is the advantage of a portable dishwasher, do you think?  And what's this--a TWO-DRAWER dishwasher?  That would solve my suspicion that the top rack of dishes are not getting quite as clean as the bottom rack." 

"Compactor?  I think I want a compactor, if only so I can have another sleek black-and-stainless-steel shiny thing.  A matched set!  But whatever would I compress?  And won't that just make the trash super heavy on trash day?"

"Why is this gas cooktop so much more expensive than this other, substantially similar gas cooktop?  And why do I feel compelled to believe that the more expensive appliance is the better appliance?"

And, "If I was going to be raised in a community that hit me over the head with gender roles at every corner, why did no one ever tell me whether it's better to have a range or a double oven?  I could bake so many cookies!  And yet lose so much cabinet space!" 

It gets worse when you move into laundry appliances.  "I really want this front-load washer, partly because I heard it gets laundry cleaner, but mostly because it looks AWESOME.  But why is the front-load dryer that costs the same as this washer so much bigger?  Is it better to have a bigger dryer than your washer?  Won't that look funny?  I can't imagine wanting to dry a sleeping bag or small sheep.  And what is the advantage of the gas dryer versus the electric dryer?  And when did that become a difference?  Why have I lived on this earth for 27 years and never been informed of this distinction?"

Also -- does anyone else find it sort of odd that we call washer and dryers "washers and dryers"?  Maybe it's just that I've said the words "washers and dryers" about four thousand times this week, but it's a little caveman to be calling a noun after the verb for which you use it.  No, these aren't my sneakers -- they're my "walkers."  This isn't a keyboard, it's a "typer."  No?

Paint chips are so much easier.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reading Recommendation: The Fifth Witness

I like to think I have pretty eclectic reading taste.  (Pat myself on the back.)  Today I want to encourage you all to go check out Michael Connelly, one of the best legal/crime writers EVA.  (It's truer if it's in all-caps.)

You may have noticed some trailers for a certain Matthew McConaughey (Fact: I have never successfully spelled "McConaughey" without googling) movie called The Lincoln Lawyer.  (Fact: I am a little embarrassed that I have had multiple occasions on which to spell "McConaughey.")  It was a pretty solid film and I was surprised that I didn't hate Mr. No-Shirt playing Mickey Haller.

Well, The Lincoln Lawyer is also the first book in series by Michael Connelly, and one of the few legal thrillers where I didn't immediately get annoyed by something.  Of course Mickey--the Lincoln Lawyer himself--manages to accomplish feats that no other criminal defense lawyer probably could (or should), but it's all within the realm of believability.  He even talks about DISCOVERY.  Everyone skips over discovery, mostly because it's the most boring part of legal practice imaginable, but somehow in this book it was fascinating.  The rules of evidence and ethics also get some shout-outs.  I participated in an Inn of Court (lawyer thingy) as a law student and they ended up discussing the ethical implications in the book.  (There are many.)

To be honest?  The whole thing makes me want to buy a Lincoln towncar and run a practice out of my backseat too.  Of course, I'd also need to find a former-gangbanger to drive for me ... eh, future goal.

So after The Lincoln Lawyer you have The Brass Verdict, The Reversal, and the one I finished last night -- The Fifth Witness.*  Thumbs up, all around!  And while technically each one is a standalone, it's kind of fun to see where all the characters have come and gone previously. 

Here's a brief synopsis:

Mickey and his motley crew (ex-wife/receptionist Lorna; her new husband/ex-biker gang member/investigator Cisco; and Jennifer "Bullocks" Aronson, first-year associate and graduate of a bottom-tier law school) have now begun doing foreclosures in addition to their normal criminal defense. Enter Lisa Trammel, the most annoying client on the planet.  They have been successfully fighting her foreclosure for nearly a year, and boom--the bank executive in charge of her account has been murdered, and Lisa is charged with the crime. 

Go-fight-win!  Eh, mostly.  The great things about these books is you rarely like any of Mickey's clients, and it's rarely clear if they did it or not.  Mickey himself, of course, doesn't care--unless he gets actually duped by a prosecutor or client, and then he's pissed.  (Wouldn't you be as well?)   

Anywho, go forth my friends!  Download, check out, or buy as your reading habits allow.

* Mickey also pops up, really briefly, in Nine Dragons, a Hieronymous Bosch novel.  If you also want to read about Mickey's badass half-brother Harry the cop, go for it, he is also awesome -- but a real downer.  (I get it, you CARE.)  Just as a forewarning. His books are The Black Echo, The Black Ice, The Concrete Blond, The Last Coyote, Trunk Music, Angels Flight, A Darkness More Than Night (probably my favorite), City of Bones, Lost Light, The Narrows, The Closers, Echo Park, The Overlook, The Brass Verdict (the first book where Harry and Mickey overlap), Nine Dragons (the second book where they overlap), and The Reversal (the third book where they overlap). 

Phew, that's a lot of books.  Maybe start with The Lincoln Lawyer ones.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On advice

I am obsessed with reading advice columns.  If some mysterious stranger were to walk up to me today and ask, "Would you like to write an advice column?", I would shout, "Yes!" without even asking who are you?/for what publication?/will I get paid?  In short, I would probably accidentally wind up singing a contract to be the woman's advice columnist for Al Jazeera and spend the rest of my life explaining that (a) Al Jazeera is not associated with terrorism and (b) I am not a terrorist.

There's just something about people writing to you with their problems--both legit and not--and trying to hone in on the issue and address it in less than 100 words.  I love reading people who do that well.  I even kind of loved a book about a woman who did it (The Breakdown Lane) despite some pretty grim subject matter and a fairly bizarre twist at the end.  (No, not that twist.  The other one.  Oh damn it, scroll down to the * if you want to know, but avoid if you don't want to be spoiled.)

The problem is that I've realized every once in awhile I slip into Advice Speak.  Like when a friend is telling me a story and then I burst in with, "Well, blah de blah de blah de blah, here's my unsolicited opinion!" 

And then I have to think, "Oh dang, that was really pompous.  Whoopseydaisy."

* The Breakdown Lane is about Julie, an advice columnist and former ballerina, whose husband Leo has a midlife crisis and leaves her with a teenage son with learning disabilities (Gabriel), a rebellious teenage daughter (Caroline), and a toddler (Aurora).  Oh yeah, and she also gets diagnosed with M.S.  My pops refused to finish it because he couldn't handle one more bad thing happening to this poor woman.

It also has a great scene between Julie and Leo's mom.  As soon as they find out what has happened, Leo's parents Hannah and Gabe Sr. come to take care of Julie and the kids and provide the majority of Julie's support system as she copes with her illness and her dwindling financial resources.  (Yup, that Leo was a real tool.)  Initially, Julie resists accepting their help.

GAA, I get teary-eyed just thinking about it.  So I'll just type it.  It would be better with the whole set up, but whatever.  You can read it if you want.

Hannah  sat perched on the edge of the bed, straight-backed, perhaps a hundred pounds soaking wet, pert in her khakis and UW sweatshirt, her still-black hair short and brushed back like a boy's.  "You know in the Bible, Julie, about Ruth?" I nodded. "Well, Ruth refused to leave Naomi. She was in danger, and she wouldn't leave. And she said the thing that is probably the only thing anyone knows from that story, which was, you know it, of course, 'Wither thou goest, I will go. Whither thou lodgest, I will lodge' ... Sometimes people think that Naomi was Ruth's mother."

"Yes," I said.

"But she was her mother-in-law."

"Naomi wanted her to go," I said.

"But Ruth was too loyal for that.  And it all worked out," Hannah told me, brushing back my hair with a hand that smelled of fabric softener.

Now here come the spoilers ...

The twist at the end people will probably think I'm talking about is that in the final chapter, the two first-person protagonists (Julie and Gabriel, the son with learning disabilities) reveal that they are "real" and have written this book after changing all the names.  (No, they're not real.  Hence why the "twist" is kind of wacky.)

But the twist I am actually talking about comes when this book about family and redemption and all that jazz suddenly becomes a traditional romance, with M.S. mom meeting up with a high school sweetheart and falling in love.  I'm not saying I didn't like that she ultimately got a happy ending -- just that I felt it was (a) abrupt, and (b) a little too moralistic, given that the douchey ex-husband who had ruined all their lives in the pursuit of his own happiness suddenly found himself in a miserable situation just as Julie is suddenly super happy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ok, just so we're clear

So literally NOTHING Pres. Obama does will make some of you happy, right?

You aren't happy when he wins the Nobel Peace Prize.  You aren't happy when he gives the order to kill Osama bin Laden. 

You aren't happy when he keeps campaign promises.  You aren't happy when he breaks them.

You aren't happy when he doesn't release his birth certificate, you aren't happy when he does.  

I saw someone on facebook yesterday who wasn't happy that he ended his speech with, "God bless America," and no, this person wasn't even an atheist.*


You don't have to agree with him politically.  You don't have to like all of his decisions, or even most of his decisions.  But you really can't give him credit for even ONE thing? 

I just have to say, if he is a big secret terrorist/socialist/Kenyan/New World Order agent, now would be the time to blow his cover and enslave our men, sterilize our women, and force our children into training camps because damn, even with a basketful of puppies he's never going to win some of you over anyway.

(I know I said I was taking a break.  This is a break from the break.)

* Not that all atheists are complain-about-everything-loons like that, but you'd think at least someone with an anti-God position would be the person to take issue.