Thursday, February 26, 2009

Conan O'Brien.


Truth be told, I have hardly watched Conan O'Brien in recent years, although I feel badly about this. Often Kathy and I say to each other, "Hey, remember how we never watch Conan O'Brien? That sucks." (Although his recent departure from his 12:30 time slot has inspired us to watch lots of our favorite clips on YouTube.) Our late night watching has been fully taken over by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and even those we TiVo, and I'm usually not even that great at catching up on those.

But there was one point in my life where I did watch Conan almost every night, and it was around the same time that I was also reading too much fanfiction and spending too many unhealthy hours in general online and simply stayed up too late all the time: when I was an angsty teenager in high school. I learned in my Human Development class I took recently that it's actually normal for teenagers to stay up way too late because of some scientific chemical thing going on in their bodies, but of course for me it was just when I felt most right and comfortable and happily alone in my angst. & for my mom, who just wanted me to be in bed, it was probably just annoying. But anyway, in those days it felt like Jay Leno was the equivalent of my peers - enjoyable sometimes but typical; funny-ish in a normal-ish way, but when Conan came on, he was just so WEIRD, and quirky, and inappropriate, well, I just felt like he was my friend.

Watching him get choked up on his final show the other week, and how genuinely he thanked everyone saying "It means the world to me" - even to the White Stripes, who I thought were awful - I have no doubt that he is still one of the most real, down to earth, and simply funny people on TV, and I hope to goodness LA doesn't change him, and that he stays pretty New York, which I feel hopeful about because anyone who has ever known New York and LA knows that he is just very, very New York, and as enjoyable as LA can be, when you really want to laugh, like in a really really funny, weird way, you need New York.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Award shows.

I suppose I could have just titled this entry "The Oscars," since that is obviously what this is going to be about, but really any show which involves lots of people being really really happy and/or proud sucks me in and usually makes me cry a lot even when I don't know what I'm crying about.

I should also say before I start talking about how awesome I think the Oscars were that I know it is very popular to think that the Oscars are usually pretty un-awesome, and that the Academy and the whole thing is rigged and that things win just for political reasons and so on and so forth. & so everything I say henceforth may make me sound naive and silly to more hip, movie-focused people, but I'm okay with that.

So I thought the Oscars were really awesome! Kathy & I were highly entertained from the beginning of Hugh Jackman's musical number opener and continued to be throughout, although I should note that this all might have been enhanced by the fact that I brought home a bottle of wine to celebrate our watching of the award show, and we consumed said bottle pretty quickly, and we both drink so little nowadays that really just one glass each would have made us pretty silly. But anyway, so then I was teary by the first clip show of past emotional acceptance speeches during the very first award, which was Best Supporting Actress, and then when Penelope Cruz won for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which I saw and in which she was bilingually amazing even though bilingually is probably not a word, and she started talking about growing up in a small far away place where the idea of winning an Oscar seems very impossible, and something about the importance of art & how it brings the world together, and yes I know this is a long awkward run on sentence, well, I was very very teary by that point - this is about fifteen minutes into the show - because gosh, I am just such a sucker for this stuff. I mean I like really, really love this stuff. I don't think I could ever get enough of emotional inspiring acceptance speeches.

I loved the concept of past winners coming out in groups and presenting the current nominees - Sofia Loren presenting Meryl Streep, hello, amazingness. I loved the Return of the Musical number with Beyonce because let's be honest, who doesn't love Beyonce nowadays; when I think of the coolness factor of her and Jay-Z together I just feel overwhelmed. I loved the classiness of Heath Ledger's family when they accepted his award & how everyone cried during it. (And no, he didn't win just because he's dead, geez louise.) I loved, loved, loved Tina Fey and Steve Martin. I loved the clipshows that mentioned lots of popular movies from the last year, even crappy ones. I loved how happy and excited that kid from Slumdog Millionaire looked anytime they panned past him in the crowd. I loved that Milk won for things, & I loved the emotion of the gay writer's acceptance speech, & I really, really loved the anger about Prop 8 in Sean Penn's speech. I loved that Jai Ho won for Best Song because it was so triumphant and powerful in the movie. I loved how Alicia Keys was awesome at pronouncing foreign names. I loved how excited Anne Hathaway looked about just being there. I loved that the really, really crazy guy from Man on Wire was there. I loved Kate Winslet because who doesn't.

I think that, even if people think the many awards for Milk and Slumdog Millionaire are political, they are the two most important movies this year for the American people to see. The effect of Hollywood on the world is so important for our country, and I'm just so happy the world could see us celebrating the life of an openly gay politician and a tale of optimism from Mumbai, like maybe one day the world will be so much smaller, and better, and we'll know more about other cultures and every man really will be equal, and allowed to love who they want, and if this is the view the Academy wanted to portray, then good for them.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Robot Dreams.


Last summer I took a children's lit class, where I got to read lots of awesome books like Shiloh and Maniac Magee, although these are things I would have read on my own anyway (or already had). Mainly, I also read a crapload of picture books which I wouldn't have otherwise read, and had to write about the story & illustrations in each one - which always took longer than reading the actual book and became kind of a pain in the butt after the 20th picture book or so. But it was interesting, and what I remember most from the class is that I really, really loved the few wordless picture books we studied - I often found them more moving than any others.

Kathy is obviously of a like mind, because when we were at the library last week she picked up Robot Dreams by Sara Varon, which is a wordless children's graphic novel about a robot and a dog who become friends. She said as soon as she saw it she knew she would like it. I mean, obviously. It's a robot and a dog who become friends! What more can you ask for, really. You know you kind of like it already, too. I finally read it myself last night, and what you may not expect about a wordless graphic novel about a robot and a dog becoming friends is that it is SO. SAD. And awesome, but mainly, sad. Even though it is super cute and supposedly for children, like many things which are supposedly for children, it will also break your heart. Saying it better than I can is a quote on the back cover which says, "This graceful little book is one of the deepest explorations of friendship in any medium." To which I say, Fo' Realz.

So go look for it at your local library! And if they don't have it, just buy it. Seriously.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Anna's Taqueria.


Kathy & I are beginning to mentally prepare for our upcoming trip to Boston in April, which will be the first time we return to that grand ol' town since we moved a little less than two years ago. By 'mentally preparing,' I mean of course we have talked a lot about where we are going to eat. We haven't even had much contact with the friends and/or relatives on whose floors we are planning on sleeping, BUT, we do know that one of the first places we will stop is Anna's Taqueria.

Anna's has a few locations around the Boston area - one in Kendall Square in Cambridge which I never went to, one rather large location in Allston on Harvard Ave which I went to a few times, and a smaller one in Brookline on Beacon Street, and it is this one which we frequented the most and which is the closest to my heart. Our fondness for Anna's was a fondness shared by a large majority of Bostonians, and this Anna's was directly across from a C-line T stop, making it easy to hop off, grab a burrito, and hop back on to continue your commute home. This convenience also made it a somewhat scary place to be during rush hour, when the lines of customers were the longest and most East Coast-ish harried. You really had to be on the ball at Anna's because if it was your turn in line - this became confusing because there were often two lines and two different places where you could be called over to order and these lines could easily become mushed together - but if God forbid it was your turn and you didn't move forward right away or couldn't hear someone from another line calling you over and everyone behind you did, they would definitely tell you so. "GO," "Hey, it's your TURN," "Down THERE," with an impatient roll of their eyes, and you would immediately be shamed and embarrassed. And then if you weren't quite sure what you wanted to order, instead of shouting your order and moving down the line as fast as possible, you were in even more trouble. It is this kind of friendly good neighborly-ness you really don't get enough of on the West Coast.

Perfecting your order at Anna's was a well crafted art. Kind of like the way some people craft their perfect coffee order at Starbucks, but less annoying. All of my friends and I went through our first few burritos and quesadillas - 'quesadillas' at Anna's meaning basically a burrito but more smooshed down and fried - that tasted good, but not perfect, until we added or subtracted a few ingredients here and there until we had OUR perfect Anna's order, and we realized that heaven in our mouths had been achieved, and we proceeded to order that exact thing every single time we went, which was a lot. Even though I haven't eaten there in two years, I still remember Kathy, Steve, and Sam's perfected orders as well as my own, due to many "Oh, you're going to Anna's on your way over to the apartment? Want to pick me up some?" phone conversations.

There were a few people at the time who said, "Burritos? Oh man, wait until you try Chipotle!" (Chipotle, strangely, had not infiltrated Boston as of the time I left, I am not sure about now.) "It is soo much better than Anna's." Having tasted Chipotle now, which I definitely enjoy, I can also tell you that these people must have been certifiably out of their minds. There were also a category of college-age Bostonians who made it their mission to search out the areas best taquerias, and claimed there were others that were more indie, better, but I don't believe them either. There were also fools like Keegan who said Boca Grande was better. My loyalty will always stay with Anna's.

The employees at Anna's didn't speak much English and stayed in what are probably pretty sexist taqueria gender roles: the guys made the food, the pretty girls checked you out. (Cash only.) They all probably also worked 12 hour shifts, but there were a few guys who always seemed to be there whose faces I still remember, and who, everytime they called me up to the counter to order my black bean and rice quesadilla, smiled SO BIG, and just looked SO HAPPY, even though it must have been the 100th black bean and rice quesadilla they'd made that day, and every single time it broke my heart a little in a happy, American Dream-esque way.

The love we held for Anna's in our hearts grew to such ridiculous proportions that whenever I think about Boston and the things I miss about it, other than our friends of course, there are two things which immediately jump to mind: the T, and Anna's Taqueria.

Monday, February 16, 2009

How I Met Your Mother.

This is our recent favorite sitcom, which is funny to say since it's really the only sitcom we have watched in...um, forever, since re-runs of The Cosby Show and Roseanne probably don't count. (See: Future entries.) & I don't really count shows such as The Office or Ugly Betty 'sitcoms.' (See: More future entries.) So I guess I can't really call it our "recent favorite," but more likely "the only one." Kathy started watching it randomly and then became addicted, and then forced ME to become addicted, which is how it works with most things we watch. There are a few reasons for the awesomeness of How I Met Your Mother, the main one being Neil Patrick Harris, aka the grown up Doogie Howser (MD). I would post some amazing photo of him from the show if I wasn't worried about/understood more about copyright law. I am more & more amazed by him & his physical comedy pretty much every episode. Another reason is the couple of Alyson Hannigan and That Guy From Forgetting Sarah Marshall, both of whom I love and whose totally goofy and naive characters on the show seem so perfect together that I have begun to believe that they are real and really are in love. Another pretty good reason is that I think it's funny. Also, there was one episode about Ted being an architect and they played The Decemberists' Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect and I felt almost jealous that I wasn't a screenwriter/TV producer person and couldn't have made that decision because I would have felt really satisfied with myself.

Anyway, basically this is just a show about a really good group of friends, & in thinking about it I've come to realize that all of my favorite shows are just about really good groups of friends. & this one in particular deals with an age category similar to my own, of a group of friends who have at least semi-recently graduated from college and are now dealing with the Real World while still being pretty college-esque, and it makes me think about our very closest friends from Boston, and what it would be like if we all stuck around in the same place and could hang out every night with each other drinking beer at the same bar, & how amazing and hilarious our sitcom would be.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The doo-doo-doos at the end of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Suite Judy Blue Eyes."

Favorite Fact about CSNY: When they performed this song at Woodstock, it was only the second time they had performed live, anywhere. (I think it was the second; I am roughly remembering this from my Woodstock soundtrack which I haven't listened to since I bought it approximately ten years ago.) It takes seven minutes to get there, but the doo-doo-doos are so happy!

That's all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pine State Biscuits.


I read about Pine State Biscuits around a year ago in the Oregonian, when the word Cheerwine caught my eye. See, Kathy being a native North Carolinian, she had told me about her love for what is not a pretty happy wine at all but a cherry cola flavored beverage, loved by many a North Carolina child. Kind of similar to growing up by Scranton and drinking Cherikee Red. Only less racist. So you can imagine the excitement for her of being able to enjoy some Cheerwine all the way on the other side of the country. The story behind Pine State Biscuits goes that some NC State grads moved to Portland and started selling biscuits at the Portland Farmers Market and they were so popular they eventually opened their own restaurant, which is a cute little building on Belmont in Southeast. The inside holds approximately three tables and a small counter by the wall, which makes the idea of actually sitting somewhat difficult on popular mornings, although if you wait a little while, most people know the etiquette of eat-your-biscuits-and-go, or will let you a share a table with them in their friendly Portland hipster-ish way if the room allows. The South continues to come through in their serving some seriously delicious sweet tea in mason jars, and recently they've add NuGrape to their amazing soda selection - oh, and the Cheerwine also comes in fancy glass bottles! - although most of the Portland hipsters of course prefer the Stumptown coffee from a variety of fun mugs. But anyway, as for the actual food, I am a firm customer of the McIsley - a biscuit sandwich consisting of fried chicken, pickles, real mustard, and real honey, and nothing else, but it is DELICIOUS. And real messy. My favorite part is sopping up all of the fallen honey and mustard with the last bits of my biscuit. Sometimes you get a huge piece of chicken and sometimes it's more modest but it's always delicious; I've never had a sketchy-chicken-bite. Kathy gets their more famous biscuit sandwich, the Reggie, which is much more heart-attack-inducing - chicken, bacon, gravy, and cheese, and you can make it a Reggie Deluxe by throwing in a fried egg. Mmm, mm.