Thursday, July 28, 2011

Won't Someone Please Think of the Children

Oh, those words that get tossed about until they are rendered meaningless. The news had two non-default related things to talk about recently and, strangely, they both got the same word: tragedy. They got it right. Once.

If you are a Norwegian, you experienced a tragedy. In fact, you experienced a Tragedy. We're with you 100% as you try to come to terms with this.

If you are a highly publicized drug addict who is no longer alive, however, you are merely an inevitability.

Let's reserve tragedy for actual tragedies.

While perusing people's responses to said inevitability, something ungracious occurred to me: when a smoker dies of lung cancer, no one calls it a tragedy. That's because we all expect that smokers know they're going to die of lung cancer when they start smoking.

Pardon me, when they CHOOSE to start smoking.

Why, then, is one death brought about by a conscious choice less tragic than one, say, brought about by the CHOICE to do heroin?

If addiction is an illness, and I am not getting into that debate here, surely both the addiction to heroin and the addiction to cigarettes are both illnesses, right?

In only the most bizarre of instances is anyone forced to try a cigarette or try heroin the first time.

Yet the addict who overcomes an addiction to heroin is a hero and the addict who succumbs is tragic. Whereas the smoker who quits is an "it's about time," and he who dies "should have known better."

Where are the accolades for he who never tried heroin in the first place? Shouldn't there be some kind of prize for that?

Surely the collective fascination with drug addicts can't be attributed to their not knowing better. We can't possibly be saying that the smoker should have known better than to start smoking in the first place, but the tweaker couldn't help himself. After all, there was a day in both of those people's lives when they, for the first time, chose their poison.

And I'm not saying it isn't hard, once attached, to break up with one's addiction. But people do it. They're not heroes, they're making the right choice belatedly. And good for them!

Conversely, those who never make the right choice don't really get my sympathy, which I'm reserving for Norwegians.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Why New Yorkers Remain Globally Friendless

Because you just can't take us anywhere. See if this rings familiar:

"While you're visiting, we just have to go to Panda Dragon*. It is THE BEST Chinese food in all of Boulder!"

*Panda Dragon is not a real place. It was my lame attempt at naming anonymous Chinese restaurants which generally have either Panda or Dragon in the name.

One hour later and your hosts are looking at you like you'll never be invited back to their home because you vaguely picked at the gelatinous mess that was Panda Dragon's Kung Pao chicken.

Since moving to Greenwich, devoted partner and I have tried our hand at local Chinese (which is perilously more expensive than your de facto local Chinese in New York - I mean when was the last time your Chinese food main course cost more than 10 bucks?) and have decided that the best option is the anonymous, neon lighted shack on Port Chester's main street whose cuisine you lovingly refer to as "dirty Chinese."

As an aside, I don't know where this handle came from, but we've been using it for quite some time. Since I think it is a personal moniker, let me explain: "drity Chinese" comes from a place with one or two molded plastic bench/table combos, optional bulletproof glass separating your from the person making your food, and frequently serves such Chinese delicacies as fried chicken. Clean Chinese a) delivers, b) has waiters, and c) does not immediately assume you intend to rob the establishment.

However, despite my near-universal pessimism, I am still idealistic when it comes to CT food - I feel like I just haven't found the excellent food, not that it doesn't exist. So this weekend, a girlfriend and I hopped in the car and drove just shy of an hour to reach New Haven where "the best pizza" is. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is a New Haven institution, operating since 1925, and if you make with the google, it has an insane following of superlative gushers, touting it as the best pizza, not in CT, just THE BEST.

I like pizza. Many know that my last meal in prison prior to death sentence would be pizza. I think it's important to try as much pizza as possible. Driving an hour for pizza, especially the best pizza, seems a small sacrifice.

The good news: we managed to sneak in just shy of noon when there was no wait. Upon exiting a mere 30ish minutes later, the line was out the door and halfway down the block, forcing passers-by to imagine the best pizza is only a half-block line away.

The bad news: the "best pizza" is, for your New Yorker accustomed to an embarrassment of pizza riches, 100% average. There is nothing wrong with the pizza, but there is absolutely nothing special about it. It is thin crust pizza and if I had to rate it next to some of New York's thin crusts, it's in the Grimaldi's range (though Grimaldi's is better) and falls far short of, say, Patsy's in East Harlem (bonus note: the ONLY good thing about living in East Harlem was the proximity of Patsy's).

It's crust, which needs more salt, topped with bland but not objectionable tomato sauce, and the same cheese everyone else uses. I don't know why that gets the title "famous," but I assume it's the same kind of "famous" as Original Famous Ray's, Famous Original Ray's, Ray's Famous Original, etc. etc. The long and short of it is, it's flippin' thin crust pizza. End of story.

Having never lived in New Haven, I can't determine if it's the best pizza in New Haven, thereby earning a place in Yalies' hearts, but I do know that it would not remotely distinguish itself on the streets of New York where there is just a lot a lot of really good pizza.

Nota bene: in addition to being "famous" for their regular original famous pizza, Frank Pepe is noted for it's clam pizza. I, myself, would never eat clam pizza, nor would I judge a restaurant on it's clam pizza because if you're a pizza place, first and foremost, you need to make cheese pizza. It is the barometer. If your cheese pizza is good, one may be tempted to try your other flavors; however, if you can't make a cheese pizza, I don't care how much crap you pile on another pie, you gave failed in my eyes. However, my friend Julie DID order the clam pizza. She was unimpressed.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Suing My Friends For Damages

I've been a little under the weather this week, but thanks to the glory of Netflix on demand, I haven't been alone. Which brings me to the problem:

you people who have suggested I watch the series Damages must be seriously smoking crack!

I have now completed season 1 - and you might ask why I watched all the way through a season of something I didn't like. 1. I was bored. Seriously bored. 2. You guys said you liked it and I like and (mostly) trust you. So now that we've all watched season 1, I need to know what you liked about it. To help you formulate your answer, I will tell you what I didn't like about it.

1. There is not a single redeeming thing about any of the characters. Seriously. They all suck. I'm rooting for none of them. They are all legitimately BAD people. And not The Godfather bad. One-dimensional bad. Porno bad.
1b. Which made me (not a spoiler, you see it in episode 1) not at all sad that Rose Byrne's fiance got offed. Because he was a douche. Who was so clearly, stereotypically, threatened by his high-powered lady even before it was discovered her boss was a psychopath. He just sucked. Trust me, the fireworks that would have befallen this relationship had she been a rude bitch at a dinner party held by his Chief of Residents...

2. The Friends problem. The Friends could never have afforded the Friends' apartments. Never. The first-year associate and first-year resident were making 200K tops (I googled). They lived on Riverside drive in the 90s in what appeared to be at least a 3 bedroom pre-war apartment. Here you go 190 Riverside Drive and the too far north 222 Riverside Drive. I'll take the average: $3,399,000. EVEN IF Glenn Close got them a bitchin' deal or chipped in a mil on the down payment, they would still be in the hole over 14K/month on just the mortgage (assume the maintenance on a place like this would be in the neighborhood of 2500-3000). Or 17K/month all in. $200,000 salary after taxes = 120,000, give or take. 17K/month x 12 months = $204,000. See where I'm going with this?

Which leads to 3. If you have such an amazing house. I mean such a stellar deal of a lifetime house, wouldn't you LOCK THE @#&*()^$()&*($^)( DOOR?!?!?! Ok, I get people can be complacent about safety in a doorman building. After all, the doorman is there to make sure uninvited guests don't get in. But after, oh, I don't know, THE SECOND stranger ends up in your apartment, wouldn't you lock the door then? Or change the locks? Or both? I'm not saying creepy people couldn't still get to you, but they'd have to work at it.

I have as much sympathy for the victims of unauthorized home entry who don't lock their doors as I have for the victims of car crashes who don't wear their seatbelts. And these people went to many many many years of school (note: in addition to their 204K/year in mortgage and maintenance payments, one would assume that, together, they had somewhere in the neighborhood of 3-500K of student loan payments, just saying).

But the biggest gripe comes after watching more and more of the season. It's like one big M Night Shamalamalamalamalamalan movie. Oooh, everyone is involved, everyone is in on the conspiracy, trust no one, don't feed the gremlins after dark, it's a riddle wrapped within an enigma wrapped within a taco bell chalupa. Mwahahahahaha.

Adding more people to a conspiracy does not make the conspiracy more interesting. For an example of how to smartly add more people to a conspiracy, rewatch All The President's Men. Also, while watching, notice how assiduous Robert Redford is vis a vis door locking. You know like someone would be when freaky-ass shit keeps happening to him. Also, notice how shabby Robert Redford's apartment is.

So I don't get it, y'all. I've seen Glenn Close act better and be more convincing and have a haircut that looks less like she and Martha Stewart groom in tandem. That other guy, who's in all the tv shows, who's kinda cute, but always always flawed (wasn't he the guy from the O.C. who loses all his family's money?), isn't actually a good actor and, a la Clive Owen, only has that one face. Speaking of one-faces. Rose Byrne has one face as well. Eyes-staring-out, slightly-deer-like, but also in a way that is supposed to make you think all is serious and already figured out, face. Which is boring after thirteen episodes (two episodes). And you know what? As crappy as lawyers are, no one is this crappy. Suspension of disbelief when in the context of the real has to be at least a little believable. This isn't an alternate universe. This is Manhattan, circa 2007, and while there are lots of seriously bad stories one could find to tell, stories that would flip you out, make you reexamine your neighbors, etc. etc., this isn't one of them. This is too much. Too unbelievable. Too too too.

If I get sick in the future, I'll try my hand at Season 2, but only because a) I've already watched every single episode of Law&Order: SVU and b) No matter how many damned anime series Netflix adds, I won't be watching them!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Woah, Did You Miss Me?

I have no good excuse. Maybe sun affects my ability to type. Then there's the pressure of needing something really awesome to come back with (which I don't have). And I don't really think either of us wants a digest version of the last 2 months, so I'll merely report on things from the past 2 days or so.

Issue #1: Fine, uncle, I give. The Du-Yos have, in fact, produced a baby that is teh awsum. I will stop making it about me and how old childhood friends' babies make me feel and instead say that seeing childhood friends interact with their very own My First Spawn is frickin adorable. For anyone (Antonio) hoping this puts us on Baby Watch, sorry: I like that after I hold others' babies for a while, I get to return them and not worry about fevers and developmental charts.

Issue #2: How often does a Facebook friend have to say some totally wacked out shit before you drop him/her as a Facebook friend? I understand that a varied social circle may be a good thing, but sheesh. Maybe I just don't personally air my wackiest thoughts on Facebook so I am more sensitive when I see people that do, but my fear is that what I'm reading (which is wacked out to me) doesn't even scratch the surface of their crazy, meaning I am secretly friends with someone insane.

Issue #3: Devoted partner and Amy intimated (said outright) that I do not need a large gravy boat shaped like a swan. Thoughts?

Issue #4: I am a 1010WINS addict for no better reason than I cannot stand listening to NPR and FM radio is a wasteland of the same 20 songs. As a result, I do get a disproportionate amount of my news from a 22 minute radio broadcast. But I do feel like the coverage is about as neutral as possible. So when I hear 1010WINS referring to things as "tax hikes" I get concerned.

Devoted partner has long said that Israel just has better PR than the Palestinians which is why it is politically inexpedient to EVER be seen to sympathize. I get that. I think the political right in this country whups the ass of the political left in the PR wars. Because 1010WINS, a neutralish deliverer of news, refers to the removal of tax breaks as tax hikes. Whatever you think of the move, you must know that it isn't a tax hike. Think of it like the end of the introductory period of your credit card. Your APR at the beginning was 9.0, but you knew when you signed up that the ACTUAL rate for the card was 18.0. When your year of 9.0 expires, you're not experiencing a rate hike, you're experiencing the end of your promotional period. A rate hike happens when your APR goes from 18.0 to 21.0, And yet the PR machine of the political right has EVERYONE talking about tax hikes. I'd respect it, if it didn't twitch me so hard. Forget about how I feel politically about this, it actually pisses off my proper-word-use node more. See also: pro-life is the opposite of pro-choice.

Issue #5: I must now admit that I am totally crushing on the royal couple. Cannot seem to get enough of them. Want her hair. And all her clothes. And want to buy devoted partner a dozen navy suits.