Culture Vulture 2014 – Winter Edition

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The Good Wife

One of my best gal pals has been telling me to watch this show for a long long time now. But I wasn’t interested because her taste in pop culture is….how do I put this…non existent. She watches minimal TV and when she does, it isn’t on Bravo. Sometimes I have to explain the cover of US Weekly to her, just sayin’. So this past week I was on a plane or at an airport for approximately 12 hours of my life…perfect binge watching environment. I gave the show a shot because frankly I’ve seen everything else (except Lost. Can’t go there). She was right. The show is fantastic! Move over Olivia Pope, make room for understated acting and writing. The show had me at Christine Baranski – and I haven’t even gotten to the Alan Cummings season. I hope Huma Abedin, Silda Spitzer and Jenny Sanford all watch this together.

All Is Lost

As you all know, after the holidaze my husband and I hibernate until Easter. There’s the odd get together here or there, but in general, we work and we stay home. Or go to a movie. This year we had a lot of good choices. We’ve seen almost all the ones that have been nominated – but my favorite so far is this little movie. Simple and complex, quiet and devastating. You don’t need any 3D glasses to feel like you are a part of this story. A man stranded alone on a boat after an unfortunate accident. There are a few voice over lines in the beginning – and a couple of words in between. Other than that there is silence and isolation. It’s like Castaway without Wilson or a neat, happy ending.

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From Scratch: Inside the Food Network

When I was little, my mother was obsessed with the cooking shows she found on TV – mostly on PBS. Paul Prudhomme, Julia Child, Martin Yan, these were the faces in our living room. She would never make a perfect roast chicken and I’m pretty sure she still hasn’t tried Chinese food – but she couldn’t get enough of those shows. I remember very clearly how happy she was when The Food Network started. To this day it’s her goto channel. Like a true mother’s daughter, I’m just as obsessed. This book isn’t about the celebrity chef drama – there’s no mention of downfalls or scandals. This is how and why the network got started. If you get off on back-of-house info like I do, this book is for you.

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Cupid is stupid

I’m just coming back from a week long work conference, physically and mentally just coming back.
I got home in time to see all the beautiful Valentine’s posts, read all the tweets of love and devotion, and see the Instagram shots of flowers and gifts. I love seeing all the love – but I could care less about the day. This got me thinking (in a Carrie Bradshaw kinda way)…
Am I dead inside because I don’t care about Valentine’s Day?
I know my husband doesn’t believe me, but I really don’t want to go to dinner tonight. Even after all these years he thinks it’s some sort of trap. I love flowers but I love them all the time. Not just today. And Forrest was right – life is like a box of chocolates – except you know exactly what you’re going to get today.
You know what I’d like for him to get me? Those bags from IKEA. The big blue ones that hold everything and cost 50 cents? I’d post pics of them all over the place.
Know what else he could do? Put the new shower liner on in the bathroom. If he did that I’d tweet a love sonnet to him (ok, a haiku).
Does that mean I don’t love romantic gestures? No. I just don’t want them or need them today – I’d like a rain check for a really crappy day in March if possible.
Cupid isn’t stupid. I’m sorry I said that. He’s just not my kinda guy.

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checking in…

So whatcha been up to? Hope you’ve been having some Christmas fun.  Here’s what we’ve been doing – non sequitur.

  • Started my Christmas shopping in September hoping to get ahead of the game, but the game won. I am still not done and it’s 2 days after Christmas.
  • Went to the ER the day before Christmas Eve (long scary story with a happy ending, all is good).
  • Made 12 dozen cookies. 12. Dozen. 144 cookies. Know what I learned? Even after making 144 cookies I still want to eat cookies.
  • Headed to NYC on Christmas Eve and came home with tons of great gifts and happy memories (and saw a truly ugly sweater, thanks Aunt Stacy).
  • Hosted a neighborhood gathering at our house a day after finishing my first week at a new job. It sounds stressful but it was so much fun. It was the perfect way to kick off our holiday fun – and I learned how to make eggnog. And I also learned that you can only drink about 2 cups of eggnog before wanting to throw-up!
  • Had some killer Chinese food on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Fa ra ra ra ra, ra, ra,ra ra.
  • Decided to cave in and get the kids a trampoline for Christmas. Look for future posts titled, “Why did we buy a trampoline?” and “Were we nuts when we bought the kids a trampoline? Yes!”.
  • Dropping off my girl for a session of winter camp today, sniff…sniff. It’s only 4 days but I really don’t like it when she’s gone.
  • Went to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Don’t listen to all those Rotten Tomatoes. It’s a sweet, visual, musical movie. Does it have anything to do with the short story? Nope. But it does make you want to visit Greenland and Iceland – so there’s that.
  • Only watched A Christmas Story 3 to 8 times, much less than last year.
  • Santa brought our son some more inappropriate Xbox games. What can you do, that Santa is a crazy mofo.
  • My girl wanted a saxophone for Christmas and we decided to go for it. Instead of buying it outright (incase she changes her mind like the guitar. or the ukulele. or the harmonica. or the…) we decided to rent it from a music and arts store. What happened next was a tragedy of errors that resulted in us going to that store 4 times. I have only one thing to say to the 8 dudes that work there,” dudes, wearing a skinny tie and having a hipster beard only makes you look smart if you aren’t completely incompetent and stupid. You morons.” Sorry. That is all.
  • After we drop off my daughter at camp, we head directly to my parents house for Christmas Part Deux. Time to push aside the figgy pudding and make room for the garam masala.

To go with the bullets that make no linear sense – here’s some random photos from the past few days! I’m sorry the boy has no shirt on – but that’s how he rolls in the house. Just keepin’ it real. xoxo

 

Here’s me wrapped up in a blanket reading my new cookbook (Pioneer Woman!) and my son looking like an angel playing a killing game. I have guilt. Can you tell?

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Can you guess which plate of food is mine? Hint: it’s the one that burns going down.

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Even in her “ugly” sweater she looks beautiful!

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Here’s my two favorite men. I think next year they can switch places in the picture :-).

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She loved her saxophone, no thanks to the dopes at the music store. Sorry.

 

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This is my kids exchanging gifts they bought for each other. Is there anything better than that?

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Tess McGill Moment

Day one of my new gig. Here’s the view from my office.

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I almost broke out into my favorite Carly Simon song, the one from “Working Girl”. The one I think about every time I see the Staten Island Ferry cause I’m a dork. Anyway all went well and I didn’t get fired. The commute wasn’t that bad and my family did just fine back home. 

On the other hand, I’m exhausted. So I’ll keep this short and sweet. Gotta get up tomorrow and do it again!

Game of Thrones, and death, and dragons, and death

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I wasn’t going to do a Game of Thrones (GoT) blog because:

  • There are a billion posts about his already
  • I know not everyone watches it
  • I don’t want anyone to know how nerdy I really am

But I have to. I can’t stop thinking about it. I never read any of the books so I wasn’t prepared for this. My husband and I started watching the show together the first season. He was in for a few episodes, but they started losing him quickly. By the time Melisandre gave birth to the shadow demon that killed someone (won’t say who) – he was out.  He loved the “imp”, the whole Stark storyline, and of course the gratuitous nudity – but add magic and dragons to the mix and he’s done.

I stayed with it. Who knew this many plot twists and storylines could be so entertaining. Who knew Daenerys aka Khaleesi would be the strongest female character on TV? Who knew main characters could die this easily and all the time! Here’s an excerpt of a Rolling Stone article that described what would happen if Mad Men were written like GoT: “imagine Don Draper has a fight with Roger Sterling. And then kills him. And then he kills Peggy. And Joan. And Peter..”

And it’s not all nudity and death. Well, it’s really a lot of that – but there’s humor too – and really good writing.

I know I’m on a slippery slope. I blame Harry Potter. If it weren’t for me buying into those dark wizards and muggles, it would have been harder to love all this Seven Kingdoms mythology. What’s next? Hobbits? Damn you Hogwarts!

Anyway – back to GoT. I’m not going to add any specifics for those of you who haven’t started the series. I’m almost jealous of you. Oh to have three full seasons of GoT to watch uninterrupted this summer. Do it! If you live close enough, I’ll do it with you. And I promise not to squirm and blurt out,”please don’t kill all the Starks!” like I do at home.

Fly Guy

I flew back home last night on a delayed flight that got me home at about midnight. So, approximately 14 hours at the airport, in transit and on the tarmac. Awesome.

But there was a silver lining. I met Leo. The French Australian gay man of my dreams. Here’s what I learned about him during our travels together:

  • He grew up in Versailles. He laughed when I made my Marie Antoinette joke and asked if he lived in the main palace or the petit appartement de la reine..  I’m completely sure he’s never heard that before.
  • His father and mother are both tailors. He has 4 sisters who are all still in France. He went to school to become an accountant but realized he wanted to join the family business.
  • He has lived in Australia with his boyfriend for 20+ years. They almost adopted a baby some years back but spent the money on a vacation instead.
  • He had a stroke at 30 and was blind for 4 months.
  • At one point in the conversation he said in a very thick French/Australian accent,” I ADORE your scarf.” Then I regaled him with the story of said scarf. Bought in Paris (kismet!) by my husband. It’s a beautiful blue with what look like dark boxes from afar. Close up they are TVs. Yes. TVs.
  • As we watched Safe Haven together on the flight (it was awful, I still cried at the end), I convinced him to download Sleeping With The Enemy – a much superior woman-runs-from-abusive-relationship-to-small-town movie. He admitted that he thinks Julia Roberts looks like a horse and he doesn’t know why Americans love her. I then spent 20 minutes talking about Pretty Woman, “incase I forget to tell you later, I had a really good time tonight”, “Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream?”. Come on. You can’t hate Vivian.
  • He asked for 2 inflight meals and polished off both in an instant – which was surprising because he was small enough to carry in my pocket.
  • When he first boarded the flight he walked right over to the seat and said, “hello friend”.  Like Little Bill. That’s when I knew I’d love him forever.

By request – pics of my scarf.

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In Defense of Gwyneth Paltrow

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She’s been getting a lot of flack lately. First her lifestyle website, GOOP, listed her top spring must haves.  A list that totaled up to well over $100,000. Then she was named People magazine’s most beautiful woman. This past week she showed up wearing a see-through side-paneled dress that showed all of her assets.

In the past she’s even been quoted saying things like,” I can’t pretend I make $25,000 a year because I don’t”.

She works out for 4 hours a day dancing around to Tracey Anderson – and now they’ve opened torture excercise schools all over the world. So we can all have tight, toned, dancer’s bodies. Ummm. Sure.

She named her kids Apple and Moses.

I get why she has haters.

But I have a soft spot for her.

I love all her horrible movies. I love all her great movies. Sliding Doors, Se7en, Shakespeare In Love, Sylvia – loved them all.

I loved her on Oprah talking about her perfect macrobiotic life and “mysterious” marriage to Chris Martin.

She’s absolutely ridiculous and out of touch. I know we could be besties. I really do.

There’s a ton of people who deserve haters; Kim Jong-un, Kim Kardashian, Mark Sanford – you get the point.

But why do people hate GP so much (that’s what dedicated readers to GOOP call her, fyi)?  Speaking of GOOP, her website, they’ve added a new feature. Every month they highlight a different, esoteric, completely-out-of-touch-with-the-majority-of-the-world company. This month it’s Foundwell. If your only worry is how to stock a vintage bar – and money is no object – it’s for you.  And although money is a huge, massive object for me, it’s for me too. Because that kind of flight of fancy doesn’t bother me. It makes me insanely curious. I dream about the people who really do go on the site and see the $950 sterling silver shot cup and say, “finally, I’ve found it”.

So give her a break will ya. She ain’t so bad. She can’t help her rich, untouchable life. She was just born that way.

Hair Apparent

It was the 80′s.

That’s my defense. I was so young, I didn’t know better. All the popular kids were doing it.  I was lured into it.

And by the way – where were all the parental figures in my life that could have saved me from this fate? Turns out, they were right next to me doing the same thing. Oh well. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – that’s what Kelly Clarkson told me. Anyway, it’s time to come clean now. To open up all my cobwebbed secrets and get them out of my head – or off my head.  It’s time you all know about my deepest, darkest time. Although back then I thought I was happy. I thought I was rockin’ life. I thought I was cool. Sigh. Don’t judge me, just learn from me.  I was addicted to my…

PERM.

Not a long, flowing ringlets perm. This was a short, tight, helmut head perm. And I loved it. I was 10 and delusional.

With all this Michelle Obama bang talk I started thinking about my hair through the years. I rocked my hair styles yo. Sadly, some of the those styles were hideous and scary in hindsight. But that’s normal right? Right?

Listen, I had dark black hair. I couldn’t bleach it or lemon it or turn it funky colors like my blond haired pals (I’m talking to you Kelly Jensen), the most drastic thing I could do was curl it. And boy did I.

Because I’ve been absent from writing for a bit I feel like I owe you all. Big time.

To you from me PinkyLee (any Grease fans out there?).  I added a recent picture of myself so you see that bad 80′s perms really do grow out and because I do not want that picture to be your lasting impression of me. Although it’ll take a while to shake the image from your mind’s eye. Trust me.

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Sorry the old photo is a mess, I had to dig it out of my drawer of shame.

Phew. Now I feel better. Now we are even. All debts are paid. In full.

Only Boring People Get Bored

Here’s a random list of all the things I’ve been doing/seeing/eating/buying/worrying about/disliking/loving/wanting in the last few weeks:

  • Every year, in prep for the Oscars, my husband and I try to see all the nominated movies (we’re crazy like that).  This year we’re almost there – minus his absolute resolve to NOT see Le Mis.  I saw it. I started crying during the first scene and haven’t stopped since. 
  • I’ve wanted a nutmeg grinder for a long time. Many a day I strolled into Williams Sonoma, coveted and then walked out. It’s not expensive. But then you start thinking about how much nutmeg you actually use in real life and how absurd it is to have a special little grinder for it – and then the $30 may as well be $3,000.  Long grinder story short – my secret santa gave me the damn grinder for Christmas. And I haven’t used it once. And I probably won’t touch it until next November. But I LOVE it and it makes me insanely happy. Insane being the key word. Picture below.
  • My sister-in-law hurt her leg and spent some quality time with us in the begining of January.  She was trapped on our couch with a giant bag of ice  and looking for a new show to watch – we asked if she had ever seen Breaking Bad – she hadn’t. You know what’s better than finding a good show to watch on Netflix? Watching a good show again with someone who hasn’t ever watched it. It’s like tv philanthropy.
  • Downton Abbey started again – oh happy day! Recent favorite Maggie Smith line, “Don’t mistake vulgarity for wit.” I vote for a Lady Grantham spin-off, who’s in?
  • I went formal dress shopping with my teenage daughter. This should be the name of a new horror movie. Just kiddin’…anyhoo.
  • Tried a new hummus recently. Bobbi’s Hummus. It’s basically 3 parts garlic to 1 part chickpea. Lots of lemon and freshly ground pepper. I love you Bobbi, and your heavy garlic hand.
  • I got a pedicure last week for the first time since hurting my foot – which is still a bit sore.  I went to my favorite nail place. Esther runs it. She’s a nice Korean woman who I’ve gotten to know well enough for her to tell me that her real name isn’t Esther and the other two girls aren’t Anna and Tina. Last summer her son came to work in the shop. We call him Tom but you get the point. Tom does all the pedicures. Just thought you should know.
  • I tried giving up bread for 2.5 seconds on Thursday, January 3rd. Epic fail.
  • Legos are the devil.
  • The end.

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Run for Zee Hills!!!

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Do you know what this map is? All red and pink and orange and scary? It’s the flu epidemic spreading across the country. I feel my throat closing up as I look at it. Lock up your kids! Don’t open your doors! Wash your hands with bleach! Just kidding. Don’t do that. Last night I went to CVS and there was a line out the door for flu shots. I was there for printer paper.  Have you had your shot? Are you prepared for flu-mageddon? Did you buy stock in Purell? I don’t mean to make light of a very serious issue but I feel like we are being worked into a frenzy. Listen, I’ve seen my fair share of killer disease movies – the classic Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman and the monkey, Contagion with Gwyneth looking uber chic as she spread a virus across Asia- I know when I should be freaking out. Once I see military tanks roaming the streets to keep order and Will Smith is in town, I’ll panic.

By the way, from the look of the map, we all need to move to Idaho, Delaware or Maryland.

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