Monday, August 27, 2007

Big News

The big news in my life this week---are you ready?

I just recently purchased a brand new paper towel holder. Yes. It's true.

You see, I've never owned a paper towel holder. When I said this to my mother yesterday, there was a slight pause on the other end of the phone. Because life without a paper towel holder is something my mother cannot even begin to fathom. Growing up, there were always paper towels. Rolls and rolls of paper towels available for any situation. And there was always one primary roll cocked and ready in a paper towel holder in the kitchen. As a child, I just took it for granted that there would always be paper towels. I never worried they would run out. Never wondered where they came from. They were just there. Comforting. Secure. Right where you needed them at all times. In fact, every member of my family proudly displayed their paper towels in a prominent place in their kitchen---like a tartan or a family crest. It was who we were as a people. And the message our paper towels conveyed to the world:

Hey, sometimes we spill. Accidents happen. Oops.

To this day, hearing the phrase, "Oh, let me just get a paper towel" gets me a little misty.

Therefore, you can imagine my mother's shock at my revelation. After all, I'm a grown woman. I've been sent off into the world to represent the family name. She had just barely gotten over the fact that I didn't have an electric can opener. And now this? I found myself stammering long-distance into the phone.

"Well, I have paper towels. I always have paper towels. It's just...well, I kind of just put the paper towel roll on the counter and it just sort of stands there. Commando."

Silence. Apparently, I'd been living like the apes.

However, on the bright side, she was the first person I'd spoken to in a week who was as excited about my new paper towel holder as I was.

You see, a few weeks ago, I moved into a lovely new apartment. Well, frankly, it's just a nice studio apartment. But it's the nicest apartment I've ever lived in. Clean, pest-free. nothing falling apart, everything works, and my neighbours aren't murderers and/or psychopaths. It's a little bit of heaven. And it has an elevator AND a laundry room. Doing laundry is a breeze. I just put the laundry into the elevator and push the button and voila! There I am! Sometimes, I just get into the elevator and push the buttons and go up and down. It's like The Love Boat---exciting and new.

So my mission the past few weeks has been to create the most comfortable and convenient apartment EVER. Decor can come later. What I strive for now is complete and utter convenience. And nothing is more convenient than a paper towel holder.

For weeks now, I've agonized over every purchase. Even the smallest of items must be carefully chosen. I looked at dozens of toasters for weeks. WEEKS. I poured over office supply catalogs looking at hundreds of desks in a quest to find the perfect desk that fulfilled all my particular desk needs. I spent hours searching online for the perfect ice cube bin. And, yes, I finally found it---at The Container Store. Now, instead of banging the ice cube tray and sticking my fingers into the icy crevices each and every time I want a cube of ice---now, I simply empty the trays into the ice cube bin and when I want a cube of ice, I simply open the freezer door, reach my hand into the ice cube bin, and, with absolutely no physical effort whatsoever, I retrieve a cold cube of ice. It's like magic. This must be how rich people live.

Nevertheless, after two months of careful thought and planning, I still had not come to any decision regarding the paper towel holder. There were so many things to take into consideration. First of all, do I want a free-standing paper towel holder or a wall-mounted one? Not an easy decision. The free-standing one has the advantage of being portable, plus, it doesn't disturb the line of the wall. On the other hand, the wall-mounted paper towel holder generally dispenses the paper towels with more efficiency AND it doesn't eat up much-needed counter space. You see my dilemma.

Then, there is the question of colour. Am I going for your standard white plastic? Or maybe a wooden rustic sort of thing? Or perhaps something a bit more modern and chic would be fetching? How you display your paper towels says a lot about you as a person. And, up until now, my paper towel message said, "I'm single and afraid of commitment." After all, I can't even commit to a paper towel holder.

But I finally made the decision that I wanted the paper towel holder attached to the cabinet over the kitchen sink. What could be more convenient than that? You have wet hands---paper towel. Spill---paper towel. Right there handy. Sink---paper towel. Who wants to walk with wet hands across the room to the paper towel holder? No one. That's who.

I'm so excited about this new paper towel holder. It's completely changed my life. I even took pictures of my new paper towel holder. Okay, here is my paper towel holder without the paper towels.

Mmmm. Sleek. It's shiny and silver and it matches my new toaster. You can imagine my mother's happiness. I not only found my roots, I co-ordinated.

And here is a picture of my new paper towel holder in its brand new home with a brand new roll of paper towels!

Huh? That's what I'm talking about. Is that not the best paper towel holder set-up ever? You can imagine my excitement.

But, outside of my Mom, no one wants to hear about my paper towel holder any more. My friends are literally walking away from me as I begin to tell the paper towel story. I've emailed out-of-town friends my pictures of the paper towel holder, but have gotten no response. And just how many of these people have emailed me pictures of their ugly babies and I've immediately typed back a glowing baby review? I can't even count. In fact, I've been told, by one particular friend, that I've got to move on.

Okay, Fine. I get the idea.

So, this week, I'm thinking bathroom trashcan. Hmmm.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


What’s the deal with Beowulf?

I mean, seriously---why is it such a big deal?

I tried to read Beowulf. Three times. Count ‘em. Three. I’ve never been able to get thru it. But I know how it ends. Spoiler alert: Beowulf dies. How do I know? Skipped to the end. I just couldn’t take it. That was in grammar school. Sixth grade, if I recall. Why an 11 year-old needs to read a poem written in Olde English, I have no idea.

I bring up Beowulf, because I was in a conversation the other day with some friends and the subject of Beowulf came up. No, I was not hanging out with literature professors. It was me, a political comic, and a guy who works at the Italian Consulate. None of us dumb people, by any means; but none of us the sort who would suddenly leap whole heartedly into a conversation about Beowulf. And, frankly, who does? For no sooner did the subject come up, than it was quietly dropped. Someone mentioned Beowulf, and suddenly all you could hear were crickets. Why? Because no one likes Beowulf.

No one liked it in sixth grade. And no one liked it a few years later in high school when it was trudged out before us again like leftover fried liver. By the second time around, I’d come to the conclusion that even teachers realize that there is truly no time in life when knowledge of Beowulf will come in handy. Sure, they give a quiz. They have to. That’s their job. However, in order to pass it, there are just a few basic things you need to know.

Beowulf. It’s an epic poem. Beowulf is the hero. Grendel. He’s the monster. It’s in Anglo-Saxon. And, for extra credit---who wrote it? Anonymous.

And if you just know these few answers, you’ll pass. Because even teachers know that this is a complete waste of time. I generally consider myself an over-achiever. But with Beowulf, I was willing to settle for average. Why? Because there is no time in life that you will ever EVER need to know about Beowulf. Grendel. Anglo-Saxon poem. Anonymous. That’s all you will ever need to know about Beowulf in any conversation. Never have I been on a job interview and been asked about Beowulf. Never have I sat down to do my taxes and needed any knowledge of Beowulf in order to fill out the forms. Never have I had to quote anything from Beowulf in order to put together a bookshelf from Ikea. And I’ve hung out with intellectuals. Lots of them. They’ll discuss Keats, Jung, Nietzsche, Bloomsbury writers, The Zimmerman Papers, monasteries in England that no longer exist, whether The Raj Quartet was a realistic interpretation of colonial rule in India---but they will NOT mention Beowulf. Ever.

Nonetheless, a few years later, I decided to give it the old college try. No, it was not required reading for a class. I decided, on my own, to finally read Beowulf. I was in college. I was trying to be smart. Perhaps I’d missed something. With an open, mature mind, I picked up the book. And it was just as boring as ever. After a few pages, I put the book down, never to pick it up again.

Now, I’m not one to shy away from things that other people think are boring. I love Bach. So much so that I added a second minor in college---harpsichord. I’ve studied Hindi. HINDI! For god sakes, my favourite period in American History is the Industrial Revolution. I have no aversion to potential boredom. But Beowulf stops even me dead in my tracks.

As I thought about Beowulf, I realized that the ultimate proof of Beowulf’s lack of entertainment value comes from the Entertainment Capital of the World itself---Hollywood. After all, it’s been almost 1300 years, it’s a pretty good guess that Beowulf is in the Public Domain. So, where are the movies about Beowulf? Hmmm? I logged onto and typed in the most unlikely search ever.


But there it was. Beowulf. Someone has actually made a movie of Beowulf! It comes out in November! It stars Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich and Angelina Jolie! It’s directed by Robert Zemeckis!


I was in shock. Not only that, but there have been at least two other versions produced in the past 10 years. BEOWULF! None of them did very well. I can’t imagine why. After all, it’s Beowulf. Surely brings back some great childhood memories.

This can’t be right. This must be a drug front or some other sort of money-laundering scam. No one seriously puts money into Beowulf. I’d put money in the hands of the crackhead on the corner of 43rd and 8th before I’d put it into Beowulf.

Let me explain something to you---I have a weird interest in something else your average person might find boring---silent film. I know something about silent film. I’ve read a lot of books about silent film. And, from what I can recall, even the early silent film producers who made film versions of everything from The Ten Commandments to Uncle Toms’ Cabin never made of film out of Beowulf. They made films of Sarah Bernhardt doing Shakespeare---Shakespeare! Silent films of SHAKESPEARE! And yet they all had the good sense to pass on Beowulf.

But apparently, the good people at Warner Brothers decided to give it the green light. According to an article I read on this new version of Beowulf…

Okay, let me stop there. Yes. There’s press for Beowulf. Beowulf doesn’t just sell itself.

Anyway, according to this article, the script for the film was taken from several different sources of the Beowulf myth. And yeah, they admit they took some liberties with the Anglo-Saxon poem “committed to vellum sometime between 750 and 1100 A.D”---thus making it possibly the longest re-write in Hollywood history. But Beowulf?

Seriously, Beowulf? The Canterbury Tales has a better plot than Beowulf. What did they pass on? The Diary of Samuel Pepys?

Okay, call me crazy, but I don’t see Beowulf being the Blockbuster Hit of the Holiday Season. But that’s just a guess. Who did they test market this on? Druids?

However, I think the Beowulf Play Station Game---probably not so bad. I'm sure there are a lot of disgruntled sixth graders out there who can't wait to get the chance to kill Beowulf. In fact, the movie is most likely just a teaser for a kickass game.

Wait a minute. Wait just a minute.

Yes. I was right. With a Google Search that took approximately .11 seconds, I discovered that there is indeed a Beowulf XBox 360 game coming out in conjunction with the movie on November 13th. Well, it took 1300 years, but Anonymous finally got his big Hollywood break. I guess it's true what they say---there is no such thing as overnight success.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Why I Am Not On My Space

Let me start by explaining that I’m not a teenage girl, nor a forty-five year-old man trolling for teenage girls.

I am a grown woman. With grown-up friends. All of whom seem to be touting the joys of My Space. I know what it is. I’m highly capable of navigating the World Wide Web. I’ve simply had no desire to be a part of My Space. Until lately. You see, several of my friends have joined either as a career move, “It’s a free webpage to promote your acting/singing/filmmaking career, etc.” Or, they decided to join “as a goof”. Exactly what a goof is, I have no idea. I’ve only heard the word used in the past tense. As in, “I goofed up.” Which, to me, sounds like a blunder. A huge mistake. Way beyond “My bad”.

However, to my thirty-something-and-plus friends---a goof seems to be defined as more of a whimsical lark. What the hell. I have whimsy, too. I decided to give My Space a try.

Right from the start, I could sense it wasn’t going to work. The first question it asked was, “What’s your age?” This seemed sort of an abrupt start to the relationship. And highly inappropriate. Nevertheless, I filled in the numbers and clicked on my personal page. My Space. And there it was. My Age. Up on the Internet. For the entire world to see.

The second thing it asked---“Hey, give me a picture of you!” My age AND my picture? It immediately turned into the most humiliating thing I’d ever experienced. I scoured thru My Pictures file, hoping to find a decent (yet current and appropriate to MY AGE) photo that I could find.

And then began a barrage of personal (yet boring) questions:

What kind of music do you like?
What are your favourite movies?
What do you like to do in your spare time?

It was like the worst date ever. And then, it immediately pressured me into blogging. Tell me your thoughts. What do you think? What are you thinking now? How about now? And hey---put up some more photos! Maybe some music? Put up your favourite music. Oh my god, it wanted a Mix Tape.

And then, far too soon in the relationship, it wanted to meet my friends. I didn’t think I was ready for this kind of commitment. And before I even began to answer any of its penetrating questions like, “Who are your heroes?” I was immediately introduced to its friend---Tom. Yes, I am aware that Tom is the creator of the site and that Tom wants to be everyone’s friend. But this was way too much pressure. When it began to ask me about my job and where I went to school, my eyes started to glaze over. If you want to ask me these kinds of questions you've got to buy me dinner. Call me a bitch, call me shallow, call me “too picky”---but I knew I had to break up with My Space. Before I introduced it to my friends. Before I got in too deep. I went into the profile editor and cancelled my account. Phew.

You’d think that would be it. But no. My Space kept asking me if I was “sure I wanted to cancel my account?” Yeah. I’m sure. “Well, if you cancel your account, you’ll lose all your friends and everything about yourself forever.” That’s okay. I’ll take that chance. “Well, okay,” My Space answered back petulantly, “but you’ll have to wait and then you’ll get an email from me and you click on that and…” Am I going to have to come over and separate the CDs, too?

And then, My Space asked the question I was really hoping I could avoid: “Why are you leaving My Space?”

Eugh. I mean, couldn’t My Space see that it wasn’t working out? After all, I wasn’t answering its questions. I was evasive. Uncommunicative. It’s not like I made it a Mix Tape and led it on. Did My Space REALLY want to know? Could it handle the truth? It reminded me that if I was getting a lot of spam and that was why I was leaving…well, there was a way to fix that without breaking up. Here---just click on this link. We can work this out.

It wasn’t the spam. I think My Space knew that. But it kept prodding. PLEASE! I really, REALLY need to know why you’re leaving so I can become a better provider in the future. PLEASE! I need to know!

I hesitated before I wrote the old “It’s not you, it’s me” chestnut. And I certainly couldn’t use the classic, “I just need my space.” That would be a little too ironic. I tried to find a way to explain it to My Space without hurting its feelings. Finally, I wrote, “We’re just looking for different things right now.” Click. Send.

We broke up last night. So far, I’ve only gotten one email asking me to confirm my cancellation. Of course, once I clicked on the link to cancel, it started begging again. “Please. Don’t leave My Space. Are you sure? Are you really sure?” What do I have to do My Space? Hit you over the head with a hammer?

My friend Nina thinks I should give My Space another chance. Maybe keep him as a booty-call, she suggested. Someplace to go at night when you’re up late and bored and can’t sleep. But I couldn’t do that to My Space. It wouldn’t be fair. I could tell it wanted a serious, long-term relationship. She also knows Tom. Tom’s a friend of hers. And she swears that Tom won’t act weird towards me now that My Space and I broke up. I hope not. I have nothing against Tom. And if I saw him in a chat room somewhere and he said hi, sure, I’d say hi back. No hard feelings.

It’s been almost 24 hours now, and I haven’t heard a peep from My Space. I hope it realized it wasn’t meant to be. I hope it's moved on. But it’s still got all my contact information. God, I hope I don’t have to change my email over this. But I don’t think it’s the stalker type. Didn’t get that vibe. In fact, it was nothing but a gentleman. Which can only mean that six months from now, I’ll run into My Space online somewhere and it’ll be looking pretty darn good.