Thursday, September 20, 2007

Kid Nation Not as Scary as I'd Imagined

Last night CBS debuted its latest "reality show", Kid Nation, where they take 40 kids, aged 8 - 15, and stick them in a "ghost town" in New Mexico called Bonanza City and tell them to build a society. When I first heard about this, I imagined what kind of coked-out parents would let their children go run amok in the deserts of New Mexico with no adults and no, um, I don't know... survival training?

But thank god it's way less Lord of the Flies and way more Double Dare than I'd feared. There IS an actual adult, a kind of cute-in-a-goofy-way man who looks about 30 who just has to say "Hey kids!" and they all come running and suddenly behave. He helps them out. He gives them challenges. He's the teacher, the surrogate dad to a bunch of latchkey kids with a mission.

They have teams, a town council, they have to figure out how to cook, and there's "laundry", which I can only assume is actual 21st century laundry complete with LG or Kenmore washing machines and dryers. The kids have normal kid clothes. The only cowboy kitsch are their hats and bandannas. The 15 year old boys are jerks (complete with 15-year old boy chalk graffiti pranks), but once they realized that good campers got $20,000 prizes, I think we're going to see a change of heart next week.

So, CBS is not as douchey as I thought they'd try to be - this isn't Survivor Pre-Teen. At each town meeting - which seem to happen every 3 or 4 days - the kids get a chance go say they want to go home. Last night 8-year-old Jimmy, from New Hampshire, wanted to go home. He had repeatedly said he was too homesick. He missed his parents. He thought he was too young to be doing this stuff. And if an 8-year-old boy thinks he's too young for something, chances are, he's right.

On a side note, I'm really not sure who they think the audience for this show is going to be. There weren't ads for the first 30 minutes or so, but towards the end, there was one for Vagisil cream. Apparently their intended audience has vagina problems.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Donovan McNabb Needs Glasses



If that guy had been LESS wide open, as in NOT SURROUNDED by FOUR Redskins players, I could have imagined throwing the ball to him in a life-or-death situation in a football game. As in, if I screw this up my team is toast, or I make a good play... I know! Let's choose the shittiest play imaginable! Oh wait. I already did that.

I hate football season.

It gives me so much anxiety and rage. This is a picture of my team failing me. (See photo of ball slipping from Eagle hands...)

FOR SHAME B*TCHES. PLAY SOME FOOTBALL.

There. Ugh. I'm disgusted. You guys are going to give my dad a heart attack, and then I'm going to be SUPER pissed.

Oh yeah, and I once gave up going to see a Redskins v. Giants game on the field with the Washingtonpost.com's photographer because I wanted to see my "boyfriend", who then informed me he wasn't my boyfriend.

See? I have horrible luck with football.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Leo

On 9/11/07

It has been six years since that morning I woke up to hear the radio commentators going "A plane has apparently hit the World Trade Center" and then made it to the television just in time to see the second one strike.

I didn't live in New York then, but in Boston. Where we were suddenly very afraid of our airport and of flying anywhere. I had a friend who bought a fancy bed for a song from an Arab man who had to sell everything and get out of town on Sept. 10. It does make one wonder. Can that be a coincidence?

Today, New York City is gray and it is raining. It's like the city is crying. Sirens roared past my office and I shivered. A crash of thunder made my stomach crash. Sometimes, while I know it's irrational, I am afraid. And I hate that.

Maybe it's the endless re-hashing people seem to need to do on days like today. Anniversaries of tragedies are delicate times. It's important to us to remember the past and keep alive those we loved and the things we lost that were precious to us. But it's also important to remember that dwelling on suffering isn't a good way to live, and that moving on doesn't have to mean something in the past was not significant. Life-changing. Defining. I wish America had used its chance to define who it would be after that tragedy for something noble and good, rather than for a war of _____ (fill in your own depressing word). I'd call it a war of convenience if it seemed at all convenient. Every day we sink further into the mire, and every day I'm a little bit sadder that being an American isn't such an honorable thing anymore when you cross our borders.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Taxi Strike Strikes Back...

Maybe it's because I'm a lowly writer, but I tend to take the subway most of the time to get from here to there. Yesterday morning when I heard it first on the radio, I didn't give a hoot about the taxi strike, apparently in response to being GPS tagged so that they would be tracked... I guess on one level it sucks to be tracked, but on another, you're being a taxi driving people around. What's the big deal if you're able to leverage GPS to track where everyone is? Isn't it a semi-dangerous job?

Either way. That's another story.

This evening, I attended a Rock show. The kind that begins with a capital R. My friend Andre fronts a most excellent yet very loud band called ism that played in the Village this evening. My dear friend Carrie and I ate at Otto (I had the incomparable Carbonara) and then trekked over to the Lion's Den to see ism rock it out. Wait. I mean Rock it out...

So, awesome rock show. Chillin with old friends. Reconnecting with people I've missed for longer than necessary. Then Carrie and I jump in a taxi. I notice when we get into the taxi that there's a strange young blond man sitting in the passenger seat. And the driver has yet to turn on the meter... We've gone a few blocks... Um, I ask. Are you going to turn on the meter?

Random slurred words meant to obscure the understanding. He's not using the meter.

How much to Park Slope?

THIRTY DOLLARS, he says.

It doesn't cost $30 to get home from LaGuardia. It doesn't cost $30 to get home from 96th and Central Park West. It is NOT $30 from here.

Then I realize the blond man in the front seat is a passenger, and he's suddenly all "Yeah, how much are you charging me?" We decide as a collective, the passenger coup, that we're getting out. F*ck that.

So, now Carrie and I are cab-less. And I'm wearing new flats that are chaffing at my heels, used to wearing the flip flops. I limp. We make a last ditch effort after several blocks to catch a cab near the Prince Street subway station. A silver minivan with a paper sign that reads "Taxi" in the window pulls over. "Yeah, I'll go to Brooklyn!"

"How much?"

"However much you want to pay ladies!" rings a jolly Jamaican accent. I'm not saying all Jamaicans are Jolly, but this one definitely was.

The dashboard is lined with bobblehead dolls, a model 3-masted sailboat, and other weird dolls and hanging figurines. There is a giant Jamaican flag taped to the ceiling with masking tape. A back-seat facing TV screen is taped up with the same masking tape. There are 2 "no smoking" symbols also affixed to the ceiling with masking tape. (Like Ghostbusters, but with a cigarette instead of a ghost, for those born between 1973 and 1982). There is reggae.

Carrie asks who's singing.

Duh, it's Bob Marley, Carrie. She's so cute.

So, we're in this minivan that looks like an exploded doll house/carnival/mode of transportation, and listening to some reggae, and the dude is laughing like a hysterical hyena.
Oh crap. Is my driver on the drugs? In a moment of sober (I was actually, the whole somewhat-bad-decision-making time) I take my cell phone out of my purse and just hold it in my hand, ready to call in my own abduction.

But driver remains kind of super cool. He's hilarious. He's really f-ing happy. He's giddy and loves loves loves that he's driving two ladies to wherever the ladies want to go. I hold my phone, laughing about how NYU students are tools with the driver, who also loves them because he works there.... Apparently he plays taxi when driving home from work. At midnight? Humph.

In spite of my reservations and clutching my cell phone, he took us to where we wanted for what we offered to pay (market rate essentially) and he took our money, continued to giggle with us, and then drove off.

It really was a nice guy with a van who wanted some extra cash so giggled as he listened to Bob Marley and drove home harmless ladies.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Sailing the Wine Dark Seas


I've been back in the States for about 24 hours now, and so far I've attended one dinner party, tried 9 new wines and painted one hallway (before: black::now: orange) and now I'm sitting, satisfied with my week of adventures and wishing I were still at sea.

This year's voyage aboard the HS Kybele was as delightful as I'd imagined it would be, although I did a lot less reading than I thought I would. I got in about 50 pages of Don Quixote, 100 pages of a book on evolutionary psychology and then 25 pages of The Ominvore's Dilemma. I dragged all that stuff 5,000 miles for nuthin. I didn't even finish this month's Oprah magazine.

What did I do while at sea? I did quite a bit of swimming. A bit of napping. And lots of eating delicious, fresh foods prepared by the ship's unparalleled cook, Hassan. Kofte, moussaka, lamb chops. Fresh feta and tomato for breakfast. Nescafe instead of real coffee. Dessert of fresh fruit, watermelon, grapes or figs. Salads of onion, tomato and cucumber dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. We ate well.

And slept well.

Each night we'd drag our pillows and blankets up to the mattresses lining the deck of the ship (for afternoon lounging... or morning lounging...) and sleep under the bright stars of the Aegean. Although sometimes the full moon shined so brightly it made falling asleep difficult. A few times I even woke and saw the sunrise. Delicious.

Vacations when you can reconnect with what makes being alive special, because that's all you're doing, are something everyone should get to experience. Being alive and savoring the earth, the sky and the sea. Feeling your body move in the salty water before you've had breakfast. Sleeping under an afternoon sun. Laughing your ass off at something someone you find brilliant and engaging said. Sharing stories with new friends. Gossiping with old friends that know you well enough to know that you do love figs but don't like fish... Good times is an understatement. Thank you Ayse and Zehra for a splendid, rejuvenating week. I can't wait til we do it again next year.