Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Friend the Television
            I watch an inordinate amount of TV.  I LOVE TV.  And TV loves me.  None of my recommendations should come as a surprise to you because EVERYONE says these shows are amazing.  But I have recommended them to you and will tell you if you will like it.  Here are shows you should watch:

If you have FREE TIME because you broke your leg and your neighbors aren’t murdering people and/or you do not have a rear window: LOST.  Because it is addictive and mind bending and high budget and you know you want to!  BONUS GAME: Watching with a buddy, the first person to scream, “I’M LOST” when the screen goes to black at the beginning before it says “LOST” WINS the game.  The game can be tied if the other watcher says “I’M LOST” first at the blackout before each commercial break.  If the winner says it, though, her victory is sealed.  I don’t think I really have to sell you on Lost because you’re gonna watch it someday.  So why not today?  And then continuously for about a week until the show is over.  Side note: both Ruby and Catdome have collars with their names and our phone numbers on them.  They also both say, “I’M LOST!” 

If you are okay with crying sometimes: Six Feet Under.  True story: I was at a funeral home arranging a funeral for my mother, and my dad, who is good at breaking tension, told the undertaker, “My daughter watches Six Feet Under so she knows the ropes around here.”  The undertaker, completely deadpan, with no humor whatsoever, gently looks me in the eye and says, “Well, it’s not quite like the show here.  The deceased people don’t talk to us.”   So…yeah he thought I was crazy.  The show is phenomenally written and each episode begins with a client’s death.  The finale made me so hysterical I cried for like four hours and then listened to Sia’s “Breathe Me” on repeat for like three weeks.  Then I rewatched the whole series from the beginning with the Doctor. 

If you have a serious commitment to nerdiness: Doctor Who.  Start in 2005.  POWER THOUGH.  Once you hit 2006 and you see the glory that is David Tennant quoting The Lion King and wielding a sword, if you still hate it…fine.  I understand that you are cooler than I am.  I have recommended this show to people who are going to be breastfeeding and need to kill some time.  Also to everyone else.  It is like sci fi Peter Pan and it is truly a magical show.  Always family friendly, it has some of the most ingenious world building I’ve ever witnessed.  Usually it is episodic and the crazy shenanigans they come up with in such a short time is impressive.  Neil Gaiman writes for it occasionally.  My favorite Tennant arc is probably the ones with “The Family.”  My favorite Smith one is “Vincent and the Doctor” which is about Van Gogh (which the Brits pronounce “Van Goth” and then cough a little at the end).  My favorite companion is DONNA.   Bonus for true nerds: Tennant and Catherine Tate (Donna) in Much Ado About Nothing.  Delightful.

If you love Jane Austen and are okay with crying A LOT this one time: Downton Abbey.  Why haven’t you watched this show yet?  My favorite thing about this show (besides Maggie Smith who is A TREASURE) is that DUDES totally love it (secretly).  When a told a group of friends I had started watching it, this one dude was like, “Is Mary your favorite yet?”  Another, totally separate dude, started referring to his pet as Her Ladyship.  THE THING IS, and no spoilers if I can help it, but SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS.  I mean, it’s tv.  I know it’s not real.  I know…it’s…not.  BUT THE PRODUCITON VALUES ARE SO GOOD I THINK IT’S REAL.  So something bad happens at one point (if you’ve seen the show you knooooow what it is).  And it upset me a great deal.  Because I identify with these people (I am a British aristocrat during The Great War, you know).  And I was very upset that something bad would happen to my loved ones.  The Doctor told me I could no longer talk about what I affectionately call “My Creepy Crawleys.”  So, buyer beware. 

If you want to continue to be my friend: Arrested Development.  If you started watching it and then you tell me, “Yeah I watched a few but I just don’t get it.”  I’m going to nod and then say something diplomatic like, “That’s fine.  To each his own…” but what I’m thinking is, “We have nothing in common.  Time to end it now.”  Best show ever.

If you have white people problems or like to make fun of white people problems: Orange is the New Black.  Blonde girl goes to jail.  Interacts with hilarious and sometimes depressing prisoners.  Has lesbian sex.  Something for everyone!  Seriously, this show has been recommended to me by super disparate groups of people.  Everyone loves it. 

If you like to be on the edge of your seat: Orphan Black.  The concept: Girl A sees Girl B kill herself.  THE TWIST: the Girl B LOOKS JUST LIKE Girl A.  Turns out THEY’RE CLONES.  That’s all I’m telling you.  Enjoy.  Ok one more thing: the one girl plays all the parts and has different accents and mannerisms for each one and is seriously amazing at it.  It is mystifying how she makes everyone seem like a different person.  
If you don’t know why Joss Whedon is such a big deal: Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Late 90’s goodness.  Twilight plot done correctly and with a little humor.  Girl heroine.  A MUSICAL EPISODE (Bonus Joss Whedon is Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog).  BONUS GAME: At the end of the episode (can be applied to anything in the Whedonverse including movies), yell, “JOSS WHEDON!” before his name appears on screen.  The prize, as with all TV games, is pride. 

If you have a thing for redheads and crazy people and think you could be a spy: Homeland.  Like 24, but even blonder! No.  It’s super addictive.  And, side note, my dad will not confirm or deny that he has the same job as Saul.  It’s about the CIA, sure, but it’s also somehow romantic…?  I don’t know why this show works so well but I watched every possible episode with the Doctor as quickly as humanly possible.  Not very PC Bonus game: cluck like a chicken every time the ginger prays to Allah. 

If you want to know exactly what my life is like: How I Met Your Mother.  It’s my life.  But I don’t have a Barney.  Does anyone?  But I have the rest of the gang at one time or another.  One guess as to who I am…
If you miss The West Wing but are too cynical about government to enjoy it now: House of Cards.  Oscar-quality TV all around.  A-list actors doing what they do best.  Writing that’s like a modernized Macbeth.  Cinematography that is too good to be TV.  Netflix, baby.  They are the way of the future. 

Shows everyone likes but that I don’t watch:

Mad Men.  I just dislike all the characters so much.  They are so awful.  I need a moral center!  PS: I totally watch Dexter and have no problem liking him, so this is saying something.  Yes, the Mad Men costumes are incredible.  Yes, it’s fascinating history.  DON’T CARE.  NEXT THING.

Breaking Bad.  I gave it a shot.  But it was TOO INTENSE FOR ME.  I’m not at all squeamish about TV violence or drug stuff.  But this show is too much for me.  I let everyone else watch it and then I can follow cultural trends from their facebook updates regarding it.

Game of Thrones.  The Doctor loves GOT.  I watch it with him periodically.  I like Aria.  Why can’t the whole thing be Aria and dragons?  But there are not nearly enough dragons and the nudity is…sorry men…boring to me at a point because it gets in the way of actual storytelling so I find myself confused constantly and then The Doctor calls me “Donny” and refuses to explain any more.  Also some of the family members look CRAZY like each other and some don’t so I get really confused as to who is related to whom. 

Okay that’s it.  Really there are a lot more shows I watch (Sherlock, Community, So You Think You Can Dance) but those will have to come in volume two.  This is a good list for when the apocalypse happens and we use our remaining generator energy to power the TV. 

Once upon a time there was a 7th grade English and drama teacher in Philadelphia.  Every day she woke up at dawn and hung out with 12 year old delightful nerds all day.  She loved it.  She was also very sleepy.  One day, dahling hubs graduated from dental school and the two moved to Portland, Oregon, the happiest place on earth (it’s nice here).  They got a house with a two car garage and WAY TOO MANY rooms to furnish (can we say house poor?).  Since they loved each other very much as your mother always said, they also decided to have a human child.  Because of this, she decided to only work part time and thus begins our story.


            Today is the first day of school for everyone else except me.  Well, clearly some people besides me don’t go to school, but most people I know do.  And this is my first year in a GENERATION (if you count preschool) that I haven’t gone to the first day of school. 

Things I don’t miss on the first day of school:

1.       Dressing myself: for some reason this was harder as a teacher than a student.  You want to dress up for the other teachers so you look nice and they will talk about you behind your back in a positive way.  Teachers are all mean girls…even…nay, especially the dude teachers.  You want them on your side.  I inevitably under dress in every way except shoes.  When it comes to shoes I always manage to wear ones that hurt so terribly I spend the afternoon barefoot, picking up allllll the germs off my classroom floor. 
2.      Being awake: the first day of summer, as a kid or adult, I always slept craaaazy late.  Like 14 hours.  Then, it was a slow progression of slothiness until the day before you have to go back to school.  My mom always made me get up progressively earlier in the weeks before back to school, but as an adult, I don’t have to do what anyone says!  So the first day back, I was always up about four to five hours before usual, barely dressed, and decaffeinated (no coffee breath the first day!).
3.      Boredom: kids, here’s a secret, when you have days off for “inservice,” it means your teachers have to go to school and learn how to be better teachers.  They DO NOT prefer this to actually teaching you.  Turns out, they actually like teaching you.  They certainly don’t do it for the money.  The first few days back at school for teachers is ALL DAY INSERVICE.  I have literally fallen asleep during one of these.  And it happened to be my first year when I had not only the normal first day sleep deprivation, but, as an added bonus, had just come back from a Vegas vacation.  In Vegas, nothing starts until 9pm and nothing starts back up again until after noon.  So I was on west coast + vacation sleep schedule on crack.  Also, at this inservice, I was sitting directly behind my principal.  It was brutal.
4.      The crippling fear: I still am managing to have back to school nightmares this week even though I know I’m not back at school.  You know the ones: you’re unprepared for class, everyone else knows what’s going on, you’re late, and you’re not wearing pants.  Those jitters you got the first day of kindergarten never go away…until this morning as I watched BBC well past 9am.
5.      The temperature fluctuations.  Because schools are run by THE GOVERNMENT, they have no money for things like climate control.  Thus, the main office is always FREEZING because it houses the only air conditioner in the school.  Anywhere else you go is DISGUSTINGLY BALMY.  This is another reason why dressing oneself is difficult.

Things I will miss:

1.       Everything else.  Damn it…I liked teaching.  I like other teachers…I like being a mean girl about so and so’s weird tan line (in between neck fat folds…I don’t want to be cruel, but that’s the reason I wear sunscreen).  I like my nerds.  I like having a CAPTIVE AUDIENCE (they all laugh at your jokes on the first day.  It’s fear laughter, but I’ll take it).  I like doing plays.  I like bitching about how early I wake up.  I like knowing that, even if my day was horrible, I was at least attempting to do something good with myself.  FOR THE CHILDREN.

But here’s the thing:

            Every year, kids with no filter ask me, “DO YOU HAVE KIDS?”  “No.”  I reply.  “WHY NOT?” They ask.  “I have you.” I reply.  They roll their eyes or fake an “awww.”  But I mean it.  I could not have done my job last year and also had a kid.  Case and point: at the end of the year, the Doctor’s car, a 1998 Oldsmobile Aurora, died.  This was fine as we were not going to take it with us back to Oregon.  But it meant that he came to pick me up from school most days.  In the car, he’d ask, “How was your day, dear?” and I’d grunt, my forehead against the window, somehow suddenly dying of hunger and desperately needing to pee (teacher bladder only turns on outside of the school building).  I was literally unable to muster the energy to speak after being surrounded by energetic geniuses for the last ten hours.  I needed at least half an hour, a snack, and some television before I’d suddenly come to life, spouting out, “TODAY TWO KIDS GOT INTO A SINGING FIGHT BETWEEN PHANTOM AND LES MIS AND LES MIS WON!”  The Doctor by this time would have moved on, leaving me for dead, and no longer wanted to hear about my day.  That’s because he’s quite nearly adult-like.  A child needs your attention…NOW.  And it’s always NOW. 
            So I decided to have one kid that I was in charge of all day every day instead of 100 that I see for an hour at a time.  And that kid is currently the size of a plum and will only let me eat pudding today.  Have I made a huge mistake?  No.  I am living the American Dream: house, kid, Doctor, lawn.  I am literally in my fuzzy bathrobe right now doing laundry.  I have time to write.  And read. 
            But I miss my nerds today.