Shopping never end

30 03 2015

Bought the chair.

Assembled the chair.

Sat in the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Sat in the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Disassembled the chair.

Returning the chair.

~~~

I did want to like this chair—and not only because I’ll have to schlep this sucker to a UPS store and eat the return shipping cost—but it did not work for me. I don’t know that it would work for any short person.

The flip-up arms I liked? Yeah, it was nice that they flipped up, but when down didn’t go down far enough. I had to put a cushion on the chair as a kind of booster seat in order to rest my arms comfortably.

Synchro-tilt? Yeah, no. I don’t know what I was thinking on this—I guess that the there’d be more “give”, or something, but as a lounger, I felt bunched-up.

Lumbar support? Feh. Again, I like lower-back support, but this was, I dunno, aggressive? Or just badly positioned for a shrimp? Either way, even with an added small pillow, it was a no-go.

By the way, have you noticed that with a new chair I needed a cushion and a pillow for it even to approach comfortableness? Riiiiidiculous.

There was one review from a guy who thought the chair seat could have been a bit larger, but said, hey, I’m a big guy (6’4″), so, y’know. Well, given how massive the seat was, he was probably HUGE.

Anyway, this would probably work fine for someone who is, well, bigger’n me.

I’m currently looking at these two chairs. The first chair is more expensive (tho’ it’s available for less thru a different seller), but it really well-reviewed. The second chair, well, the second chair has no reviews—and on the manufacturer web site notes both that is has asynchronous and synchro tilt, so, y’know. . . .

Blegh. I hate shopping.

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The birds all sing as if they knew

10 11 2013

Yeah, they did it. Surprise, surprise: did anyone really think a mere church burning would stop them?

I’m talking about Brennan and Booth on Bones, of course. They got married. Of course. After numerous obstacles (because psycho-killer Pelant wasn’t enough of one) they married in a white tent, with Cindy Lauper singing “At Last.” Of course.

It wasn’t terrible, as these things go, but utterly entirely predictably predictable. I mean, why introduce the former-priest pal-o’-Booth at the beginning of the season unless he’d be the one to perform the ceremony?

Oh, about that: If these two were so tight, why didn’t we meet Mister Former Priest Bartender before this? And where were Jared and Russ? Did these brothers not even merit a mention?

Bitch bitch bitch, I know. I’m not hate-watching Bones—really! I’m not!—but it is true that I’m grumpy after almost every episode. Why am I even bothering?

One, even though it’s nowhere near as good as it was in the first 4 or 5 seasons, it’s still not bad. The plots have gotten pro forma, but the writing is still pretty good.

Two, I like the characters. Hodgins is my favorite, and I like his relationship with Angela (even if he is a bit too moony), and I like Cam quite a bit. Booth & Brennan may both be a bit stale, and Caroline has been softened too much, but she still gets some good zingers.

Sweets is all right, still slightly annoying, and Daisy is still very annoying—which kinda endears her to me. The rest of the interns are, whatever, interns, and it seems as if they dropped Mr. Southern Gothic from the line-up, which is fine with me. (I liked the actor just fine, but Edgar-Allan-Poe they overheated the character’s backstory.)

Three come Friday night I am not at all ambitious, so sitting down to watch Bones, even in its exhausted state, works for me. I’m mildly entertained, which most Fridays is enough.

That last may be the most important reason I’m still watching the show. There are other shows I will theoretically check out (Orange is the New Black, Scandal, Top of the Lake, The Bridge, Misfits), but I’m just really. . . lazy when it comes to getting to know a new cast & set of storylines.

Anyway, I keep thinking This season will be the last, so the coda-reason is that I want to be there not just at the end, but through the end.

If it ever ends. *Sigh*





The thrill is gone

6 01 2013

Bones should have ended awhile ago.

No, this isn’t a complaint about the eighth season—it’s like the seventh season, fine, not like the wretched sixth—but more an observation about exhaustion.

The show is tired, and that tiredness shows. The writers are practically shouting that Angela is going to leave the Jeffersonian, and the whole Cam-Aristoo thing? Hmpf.

The main problem, of course, is that Booth and Brennan have settled into domesticity with one another, and as much work-chemistry as the two had in the first five seasons, they have no home-chemistry. In fact, their lack of a home fire burning is dampening their work-mojo.

(No, I don’t hate that they’re a couple, although I would have preferred that they not be. I also think it would have been better, from a dramatic perspective, if they wanted to go with the whole Brennan-Booth-baby thing, to have had them either tried and failed to make a go as a couple, or have tried simply to figure out how to raise their kid together without the two of them getting together. But, y’know, they didn’t ask me.)

I still like all of the characters, and the plots, hey, the plots are fine, but the frisson has fizzled. There was an unpredictability in the early seasons, an unpredictability predicated in large part of the audience’s ignorance of the characters. As we got to know them, we settled into a kind of comfort with them, which is in and of itself not necessarily a problem.

But it did become one for the writers. Whereas before there was a sense of what if with the characters—a what-ifness heightened by or illuminated by the plots—now there is only a kind of here-we-go-again sensibility, i.e., the comfort with the characters’ quirks has deliquesced into laziness.

It was, I think, in reaction to the comfort that wrecked season 6:  the plots frantically tried to zap some zip back into the characters, so much so that I, as a viewer, thought, Shit, they’d never do that.

Consider the interns on an improvement kick: Clark tried to be more open, and Fischer attempted to find peace and happiness. Now, I’m not against change—trying to do a bit of that, m’self—but these attempts came out of nowhere and, more importantly, went nowhere.

And Brennan, well, Brennan they twisted around most of all, having her go back to patterns she’d dropped in the first or second season, upping her coldness factor and downplaying the curiosity that always took the edge off her clinical approach, and, worst of all, treating her emotions less as a dimension of herself with which she was not wholly comfortable than as something which occurred outside of her, afflicting her.

Example? There was an episode late in season six which involved a runaway deaf girl murder suspect. (Yeah, I know, but that’s part of the territory of police procedurals.) Brennan is just nasty to this girl, nasty in a way that she rarely was with any other suspect, and certainly more than she had ever been to any troubled kid. It took Sweets to remind Brennan of her own fraught childhood—something which never would have been necessary in the preceding (or succeeding) seasons.

Anyway, it seems in the current and last season that the producers figured out how they erred in season six, and returned us to the comfort the show had attained in season five. Clark is back to uptight, Fischer is back to dour, and while I still miss Vincent Nigel-Murray, the crew is complete.

Alas, completeness is the death of drama.

I still watch Bones, and will watch through to the end of the season. I just hope that this is the last.





Mayan campaign mashup 2012: Twisting round to make me think you’re straight down the line

14 08 2012

Let’s play pundit!

C’mon, it’s easy: Just take a stray thought (either your own or one you overheard standing in line for coffee or maybe from that always-wise taxi-driver) and expand it into a Theory of Everything, alternate wrinkling your brow with raising your eyebrows, slip in a cliche or two to assure your audience that you’re not straying too far from the reservation [see what I did there?]—and don’t forget at some point to say, “Look, . . .” And if you can, work in a hand gesture to emphasize your insights; it also helps to sell your sincerity.

Here we go:

“I think one angle which has been neglected is the question of comfort. Mitt Romney is a famously disciplined man, so is it any surprise that he would choose another man with a reputation for discipline? Ryan has, rightly or wrongly, the reputation of a man willing to do the heavy-lifting on arcane budget matters and to make the tough decisions. He’s also known for his punishing workout routine.

“Ryan also knows how to stay on message—a terrifically important factor to the machine that is the Romney campaign. Romney has to know that his running mate will reinforce his message, not step all over it, or, as President Obama once said about Joe Biden, ‘get out over his skis’.

“Romney could have chosen someone who contrasted with his image, someone like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie’s blunt talk would have served him well in the traditional attack-dog role assigned to vice presidents, and I think not a few journalists following the campaign would look forward to the jousts between the let-‘er-rip vice-presidential candidates.

“But it is precisely that let’s-wing-it approach to politics which likely put Romney off Christie. And, let’s face it, that Christie is overweight could be seen by Romney as evidence for a general laxity. Could you see these two men sitting down together—well, not over a beer [ha ha!]—to shoot the breeze? You can just see Romney cringe as Christie lets loose with a few choice words.

“Tim Pawlenty, I don’t think, was ever a serious contender. He ran a terrible campaign and quit far too quickly. I think Romney appreciates ambition and boldness, and Pawlently is conspicuously lacking in both.

“I have to say, I’m a bit mystified why he didn’t choose Rob Portman. Ohio is crucial to victory in November, and having Portman on the ticket might have made all the difference. Maybe a chemistry thing.

“Speaking of chemistry, could anyone really see Bobby Jindal running alongside Mitt Romney? Sure, a fine family man, but he’s been shrinking ever since his disastrous Scarecrow-sounding response to the president’s State of the Union speech. And Louisiana, hm, Romney is definitely not a laissez-les-bons-temps rouler kind of guy.

“And the women, well, the women I’m sorry to say were probably never considered due to the Palin factor. Nikki Haley is a first-term governor, as is Susan Martinez in New Mexico, and Kelly Ayotte has been in the Senate for less than two years. These women might be serious contenders in 2016, but putting one of these women on the ticket would draw comparisons the Romney campaign would prefer to avoid.

“It’s also not clear how comfortable Romney is with women. He has four, excuse me, five sons, worked in private equity—a very male, and, I should point out, a very white field—and as an elder in the Mormon Church hasn’t had a lot of exposure to women in powerful positions. Sure, his lieutenant governor in Massachusetts was a woman, but how much interaction has he had with women as equals?

“I mean, look at this campaign staff. It’s all men—all white men. Look, I’m not saying he wouldn’t have chosen a Hispanic candidate if that person was head and shoulders above everyone else, but Romney is clearly most comfortable with people most like himself.

“Paul Ryan is a lot like Mitt Romney. Intense, ambitious, disciplined. A religious man, a family man, and hey, with a nice head of hair [ha ha!] There may be a downside to having someone who seems to reinforce some of Romney’s more robotic tendencies than to soften them, but Ryan’s sincerity likely resonates with Romney’s own straight-arrow demeanor and, who knows, his earnestness may come across as endearing to undecided voters.

“None of this is to discount the policy implications of the pick, of course, or whether any of this will pan out in November, but I do think this pick tells us something about Romney and what kind of people he would surround himself if he does win the presidency.”

~~~

See how easy that was? Plausible, sober, and completely without recourse to any research whatsoever! I have no idea who his closest advisers are, and I know for a fact that there are some women high up in his campaign, but why bother with the labors of an internet search when I can just pull this stuff out of my navel? (Or, to be honest, from a shoot-the-shit conversation with T.)

Now, I did run a search for his campaign staff before I wrote the piece and found a handy sheet documenting his various staffers and advisers, but I didn’t look at it until just now. Whaddya know, there are a number of women in key positions (chief of staff to the exec director Kelli Harrison, deputy campaign manager Kelly Packer Gage, senior adviser Beth Myers, among others)—but hey, why let a few facts get in the way of punditry?

Besides, a really good pundit knows how to spin away inconvenient truths, noting that “it is well-known that his closest adviser is Bob White, and let’s not forget his campaign manager, Matt Rhoades, who’s been with Romney since the ’08 campaign. It’s not that women don’t have a role, but, with the exception of Myers, they’re all more organizational than strategic.”

Again, I have no idea if any of that is true. If I were a real political reporter and not just a Sabbath gasbag I would talk to people in and around the campaign, closely observe the candidate when he’s with his staff to see who he consults, see who’s quoted in the newspaper and who gives interviews, and then and only then, and based on a general background knowledge of what is expected roles of various staffers and advisers in any campaign, would I venture any suggestions as to the possible meanings of the Ryan pick.

But that’s too much like real work, and the evidence might get in the way of my narrative—and as a pundit, you should never let anything get in the way of your narrative.

That’s how the pros do it.





Feeling groovy

24 02 2012

How long does it take to carve oneself into a place?

I’ve been in New York for over 5 years, and only very recently has it begun—begun—in some small way to feel like mine.

This wasn’t something to which I paid much attention in my early wanderings. Madison was the first stop out of SmallTown and I loved it unreservedly, threw my whole self into what seemed the far shore of previous life.

Minneapolis? I did not love, less for its Minneapolisness than for the fact that a) it was not Madison (where my friends were having fun in their fifth year of school) and b) it was the location of graduate school, where I was not having fun.

Albuquerque was so brief—11 months—that it felt more like an interlude to life than life itself. I wasn’t particularly happy to trek back to Minneapolis, but I knew the place, had friends there, had more-or-less (mostly less) of a life there.

The 2 bus down Franklin to campus, the 52 back to Lyndale, or maybe a bus to downtown, then the 15 up Nicollet. The bike route past the convention center, through downtown, sneaking up to the West Bank from behind, then over the river and over the bridge to the gym. Or hopping into my car and on to the interstate to get to campus, scoping out the few all-day spots scattered around Riverside or at least trying for a 4-hour spot.

The diners at Cedar-Riverside, the bars at Seven Corners, Electric Fetus for cds and the 3 used bookstores in Uptown, this one good for memoir, that one for fiction and philosophy, the other one for history of science. Walks through Loring Park and over the bridge to the Sculpture Garden. Swimming in Cedar Lake. All of my friends, oh, all of my friends.

I never adored Minneapolis, but at some point I wore a groove into to the place, a path which became my life.

I did adore Montreal, had my routes and habits, but Montreal was so easy that I wonder if I ever really took my life there seriously at all. I could make my impressions—feet on sand, boots in snow—but a wave or a wind and I was gone.

Then again, with my departure built into my arrival, I was free to swim its surfaces, to rove over the island trying to soak in every last bit of its sublime beauty; I passed through Montreal and let Montreal pass through me.

Somerville and Boston? No, no chance, not for me.

And then, Brooklyn. Unprepared and upside down but determined to make this place stick, to make myself stick. I told a friend last night that it might have been a terrible decision to move here but it wasn’t a mistake. I had to know, I told her.

Still, while a part me locked into the city, there were many more parts which were just. . . alienated? uncomfortable? suppressed? I tried consciously to create habits of living, but that felt fake; I acted as if this were already home, but that was a lie.

I wanted New York to be home, and it wasn’t. It still isn’t.

Recently, however, I’ve noticed that my path is, in some places, noticeably smoother. There are places I know, places I count on without knowing I count on them, friends who are true friends.

Another friend told me, before I moved here, that New York is a hard place, and she was right, it is a hard place. But I can run my hand over this ground and feel, for the first time, the ground begin to give.





Darling what you have is enough

19 09 2011

I am trying to find my way clear.

More prosaically, I am trying to rid my apartment of unnecessary and unwanted things, and consolidating the rest into ever smaller, more tightly packed, containers.

This is a years-long process, one aided by moving (which I am not) and abetted by restlessness (which I am), and constrained by the dimensions of my junior one bedroom in lovely Prospect-Lefferts Garden, Brooklyn.

I didn’t really start getting rid of stuff until I left Minneapolis for Montreal. And, christ, what a vast amount of crap I hauled from Madison to Minneapolis to Albuquerque and back, and through all my apartment moves within Minneapolis. My friends bitched about moving all my boxes of books, but the real waste of their efforts was in moving paper and files I’d never look at again, clothes I’d never wear again, and assorted other nonsense that I kept for. . . no reason whatsoever.

I got rid of a lot of that when I left for Montreal, but, alas, not enough, a fact hidden by my beautifully large and sunny 2 bedroom apartment in that feline city. All that I had couldn’t fill that space, which seduced me into believing that all that I had was not too much.

I shed a bit more on my move down to Somerville and another large apartment—this time with storage space in the basement. Granted, most of what I kept in the basement were storage containers for the things two floors above, but, again, I found clothes to donate and tables to sell and books to give away.

The move to New York was. . . problematic in 18 different ways, among which was not knowing when I’d get my own place and thus, not knowing what I truly needed. Paid storage, the bane which appears a blessing, kept me in excess lamps, extra chairs, and the Buddha knows what else. Once I moved into this junior one bedroom in lovely Prospect-Lefferts Garden, I determined that anything which I couldn’t fit I wouldn’t fit, and as a result, got rid of those excess lamps, extra chairs, and Buddha knows what else.

Still, I tire of my things, want fewer things. The problem, of course, is that my desire to trim down runs into the recognition that I have already shed the easy excess, and that what remains may just be necessary.

Are all these books necessary? To me, for now, yes. I may at some point decide they are more trouble—and they are trouble, seeing as how they appear to multiply out of their shelves—than they’re worth, but now, today, I would be cutting off limbs to cart them away. (Okay, yes, there are some I don’t want and have designated for removal, but those are the few which will make hardly a dent in the many.) And my 800 or so cds? Well, shit, I have them, and while I haven’t bought any new ones in years and may never buy any again, that I haven’t put them all on my hard drive (and have no plans in the immediate future to do so), and that I long ago discarded the jewel cases and reduced them to two-and-a-half boxes, means that any space I’d save would not be worth all that music I’d be giving up.

Pots, pans, dishes—necessary. Clothes, shoes, jackets, hats and mittens—necessary. And while I stopped buying t-shirts, flannel shirts, or any oversized men’s shirts over a decade ago, my disdain for waste and willingness to wear clothes until they fall apart, as well as the fact that I’m pretty much the same size I was half a lifetime ago, means that I still have some clothes from half a lifetime ago. And I won’t get rid of what few business suits I have because, well, I might need to wear those damned suits and I don’t want to have to buy all new stuff.

I shouldn’t be surprised by this. Clearing away the detritus of my undergraduate and graduate years was a pain in the ass, involving hours hunched over a shredder and multiple trips to the recycling bin, but akin to raking up thick layers of leaves on the ground. Then came the digging into the dirt, then the hauling up of stones and fill, and now, now I’m at the hard rock, chipping away, chipping away.

I need the rock, of course, can’t keep chiseling my way down to nothing—not yet. Someday I may be comfortable with nothing, but today I’m trying discern how much something is enough without being too much.