Tag Archives: Advice

Life Hack: How to Gym

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As 2013 winds down (thank GOD) and New Year’s resolutions come into focus, there will be plenty of people venturing into previously uncharted self-improvement territory.  They’ll sign up for that French class, swear to read books more and Facebook less, scrupulously count calories, chew countless wads of Nicorette.  They will also swell the ranks of gym memberships.  For the first three weeks of the year, my Zumba class is going to be packed, and time on the treadmill or arc trainer will be at a premium.  And then?  Newbies will start to fade away, because gymming it hasn’t worked out as they expected.  I’ve seen it happen the last two years.  I’ve done it myself.

This is all true.

This is all true.
Image from loldamn.com

Working a lifestyle change into a daily schedule is hard enough in the best of times, never mind a change that thrusts you into a new environment where your vulnerability is at its peak. You’re publicly declaring that you’re flawed and want a change, and you don’t know the people around you/how to Zumba (or lift, or Step, or what the hell is an arc trainer?)/your own limits.  And you’re around a bunch of people who seem like they have it together within this strange new world.  What’s not to be scared of?  What’s not to find intimidating?

I get it, I do.  I’ve got a lifetime of avoided workouts under my belt and a bunch of unhealthy living I’ve had to undo.  Thus, I am here to help the intimidated, the uninitiated, the lost-at-sea-in-the-weight-room.  Here are five tips to help you gym it like a veteran and approach this sweaty domain with a more positive, less “I am an athletic freak show”  perspective.

1) You aren’t going to be able to do everything the instructors (and gym/class regulars) do, perfectly, from the start, every time.  And THAT IS OKAY.  It’s more than okay; it’s expected.  That’s why they have instructors, see?  We weren’t born downloading Zumba routines into our brains from the Matrix, and we didn’t spring fully-formed to life in the gym with the innate knowledge of a clean-and-press.  These things take time and practice.  I’ve been doing Zumba for two years so I can rock it with the best of them, but in Step class?  I am the low impact derp.  But I’m getting better every time, and that’s what matters.

Fact.

I know this all too well.
Image taken from pinterest.com

And speaking of Step class…

2) Try everything.  You may think you just want a place with weight machines and a treadmill, and then find you love kickboxing.  Mixing up your workouts prevents boredom, which is an attendance killer.  Plus, different workouts push you in different ways.  I thought I would just want Zumba and for the longest time gave the hand to Step classes.  I broke my ankle a few years ago, I’m a little bit clumsy on the best of days, I was afraid of stepping and jumping and falling and re-injuring.  Then I got talked into Step classes.  Now I look forward to them, and regularly test my limits.  That doesn’t happen all the time; Body Attack still makes me want to stab myself in the face.  But I feel that way about it because I don’t like it, not because I’m afraid of it and haven’t tried it.

p.s. I did fall once, in Step.  And I survived.  I do Body Attack if it’s the workout that fits into my schedule.  And I survive.  Lesson = learned.

3) DO. NOT. ROLL. YOUR. EYES. AT. ME.  Don’t roll your eyes at me, don’t roll your eyes at the instructor, don’t roll your eyes when staring down a difficult exercise.  The instructor’s job is to challenge you.  Your job is to work toward that challenge.  If you don’t like it, go home.  Do NOT try to make me your eyeball-rolling ally, because it will not happen, newbie.  I’m there to work my ass off, not be your sister in snark and give you tacit permission to opt out.  Now go squat.  SQUAAAAAAAAAAT.

Also, don’t talk over the instructor when they’re trying to tell the class something.  They usually have information you’ll want, so listen to their tips on correct form or how to adapt an exercise for skill level, and really?  Do you have to text while you’re on the bike in Spin class?  Really?

If you feel like you’re not getting anything out of going to the gym, ask yourself how much you’re putting in, in the first place.

But you've got to take part to get there.

You’ve got to do your part to get there.
Image from wineandbutter.com

4) Joining a gym with a friend is good.  Making that friend the only thing that gets you to the gym?  Not so much.

Here’s the story: I joined my gym because my friend Amy goes there, and yes, it’s easier to walk into a gym with a buddy at your side than without. But if you walk through those doors solo, nobody’s going to hit you with a stick, I promise.  As life goes, Amy and I have wildly different priorities.  Example: she has kids.  I don’t.  Sometimes, she’s got to go to tae kwon do or Girl Scouts or a birthday party and can’t make it to the gym.  So…if she can’t go, does that mean I shouldn’t go?

The answer, for those playing at home, is no.  Of course not.  When our workouts can coincide, that’s great and we have fun, but when they don’t, I still want to feel great and have fun.  Zumba is ON!  Amy doesn’t have to walk around in my skin, feel my sluggishness when I’ve not gotten exercise, deal with my couch potato bloat.  I do.  And as much as I like having a gym buddy, it’s still my responsibility to myself that should matter most.  Have I relied on friends to get me to the gym when I’m feeling unmotivated?  Absolutely.  But the person that’s gotten me to the gym on a regular basis?  Is me.  It’s what happens when you make yourself a priority instead of a dependent variable.

5) Stop.  Worrying.  About what other people think of you.  About what you think other people think of you.  You know what the other people in your gym think about?  They’re thinking about their own workout, about how their lungs are in their throats or how their arms are reaching that fatigue point.  They’re thinking about their next water break or their form.  What they’re not thinking about?  Is you.  Unless they’re the people who are worrying about what you think of them.  More often than not, we get in our own way.  Stop looking around.  Don’t look at me, don’t look at the guy next to you, and for the love of all that is holy don’t look at the clock.  Look at the person in the front of the room, whose job is to help you.  Let your ego go and be in the moment.  You’ll be fine.

The Oatmeal can explain it all for you.  (Click here for the full comic (this is just the first panel), and you should because it’s worth it.)

the oatmeal gym

Notice, it’s all what we imagine, then impose upon ourselves.
Image from theoatmeal.com

Happy gymming!  See you ’round the arc trainer!

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Bad Fashion Ideas, Fall 2013: This Isn’t Funny Anymore, OK?

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Omigod.

OK, so, I just went to the mall to check out what was happening in the anchor stores, what’s being marketed to women, what is determined by corporate buyers as completely appropriate and (at least on some level, I would hope this was a goal) aesthetically pleasing for the American woman buying clothing today.  And usually the clothes kind of suck but they’re also often a little funny and you know, even though you wouldn’t want to put this stuff on your body, maybe, at least you could kind of chuckle about it.

Today?  Not chuckling. Not even a little.

It’s rare that I leave the mall pissed off…I mean, really, really pissed about what I’ve seen in shopping land, but this trip was like a blight unto mine eyes.  For reals. I thought…whaaaaat…the fuuuuuuuuuck…are some of these midrange price point designers/buyers thinking?  If you ever need convincing there’s a secret war on women then come see me ’cause baby, I got the proof.

Usual rules apply: no clearance, all multi-state and/or national (U.S.) chain stores, so the distribution for these beauties is wide-ranging and a recipe for despair.

Let’s just start with this.  How did the conversation with the buyers go?  “Well, you know, that simple red sheath dress is so…sane, and practical.  Have you got any spare material laying around?  Because I’d really like to see this with enormously expansive side panels that add girth to the wearer, make no sense, and look like colorblocked bat wings.  Hail Satan.”

Done and done!

What. Is. This. About.

What. Is. This. About.

Though I’ll grant this: at the very least, this dress is trying.  It’s nightmarish in its efforts and the only message it would convey is that the wearer is either insane or on a mirror fast but, on some sad level, this dress attempts to define a person’s style.  Sadly, this was not the case with much of the clothing I saw in the stores this season.  There was an uncomfortable amount of pre-layered clothes, which are bad because you can never change the look of a shirt (ummmm…it’s better to let some faceless designer at a drafting table express yourself for you?) and the layers wear differently, so if one shitty, poorly constructed layer gets pilled/stained/stretched out of shape, the whole shirt becomes useless.

Though I would argue these shirts are pretty useless already.

Not even copious amounts of rum could ease the pain this shirt brings.

Not even copious amounts of rum could ease the pain this shirt brings.

For those fancy days at the office...

For those fancy days at the office…

100_7952-001

Ladies, repeat after me: NOBODY looks (or smells) good in unstructured 100% polyester.

And if a two-layered look isn’t good enough for you, then let me present you with a triple-layered shirt.  Because WTF.

Come on, seriously?

Three layers?  Seriously?

Worse: there are stacks and stacks of this crap.

Grim.

They suck your life and energy right out from under you.

Grim.  Please, buy separate pieces, people.  Because freedom, that’s why.

There was also a trend in “I Give Up” wear.  A phrase I totally stole from a beloved TV show, I Give Up wear is clothing for people who know they must adorn their bodies with fabrics in order to not get arrested, but don’t care/don’t know how to dress themselves/don’t have faith in their appearance/think for some reason they don’t deserve to look good.  Sad?  Certainly.

Nobody feels great wearing any one of these tops. Not really.

Because nobody feels great wearing any one of these tops. Not really.

And yet, I Give Up wear is alarmingly prevalent. There’s a study out there supporting the theory that zombie stories gain popularity during times of economic downturn.  It speculates about the nature of mindless consumption.  Is this a similar trend?  The economy is bad, the news is grim, we seem to be mired in endless war…just gimme a frigging shirt and STFU or I will eat your entrails off a spike.

I know I’ve talked about this before, but I have a deep and abiding hatred for seasonal applique, which is total “I’ve Given Up” wear because people misguidedly think seasonal applique allows them to opt out of thinking about their clothes.  Of course you’re appropriately dressed, right?  It’s the end of August and your boxy, shape-free T-shirt has school buses and apples stitched onto it, so that must be right, right?  Wrong.  It’s not good or whimsical or fun; it’s a hollow bill of sale that makes the buyer think they’re “having fun” without actually…you know.  Having any.  If you see anything that looks like this (or jingle cows or halloween cats or soda-drinking polar bears)…

...RUN...

…RUN…

Try and avoid anything that makes you look like the prison matron from the movie Chicago, no matter how fierce Queen Latifah is in real life. Or anything that makes you look like you’re wearing one of those decidedly un-sexy retro gym suits that were mandatory in US high schools until the 1970s.  Or something that is a combination thereof, as the poorly designed item in the center of the photo below demonstrates. Unless, of course, you have a prison-drab fetish and if so? Then you can pair this blight with the shapeless blue-grey cardigan on the right for a full-out visual declaration that you don’t like yourself even a little.

It's a pity the actual prison matron costume has the most style.

It’s a pity the actual prison matron costume has the most zazz.

Here’s some quick rules by which you should abide when shopping this season. Or any season.

When buying skin-colored leggings (and this applies not just to the Caucasian variety, as the leggings depict but rather, any woman who buys leggings that are fairly close to her skin tone), be careful about the texture.

Because ew, that's why.

Because ew, that’s why.

Exercise extreme prejudice when facing down a short-sleeved sweatshirt with a pearl-embellished closed placket.

Kill if you must.

Kill if you must.

I don’t mind plaid shirts. I don’t mind crocheted lace insets. I DO, however, mind when these elements are all part of one confused shirt, which tries and fails to be cowgirl-sexy.

Poor confused shirt.

Plaid tie front and lace epaulets = a sad and lonely shirt.

Let’s not forget…

ruffles-001

*sigh*

And then there’s…

OH COME ON.

OH COME ON.

I give up.

I mean, I really give up.

There’s no coming back from this.  I’d like to present you with a few more things, just to drive the nail in the ol’ coffin of widely available women’s clothing this season.  First, here is the ultimate “I give up” ensemble.  Oatmeal-colored pants, washed out wallpaper-print pattern.  I even found shoes to match.  Please note: the shirt and pants were merchandised BY PROFESSIONALS as a potential outfit. SOMEONE THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA, AND PUT IT ON PROMINENT DISPLAY.

This is the newest uniform for greeters in Hell.

This is the newest uniform for greeters in Hell.

Seriously. I give up.

But it does make me wonder…these clothes are so, SO bad.  How could this be?  How could one season be so horrifically, pathetically ugly?  I’d even say the clothes this season actively work to undermine women’s confidence and sense of well-being, they are that bad.  How does that happen..?

Wait…

I think it’s coming clear to me…

Do you see it?

It's right there...looking at me...

It’s right there…looking at me…

It’s not…no…it couldn’t be, could it?

As a matter of fact…

...I think it could be...

…I think it could be…

That would explain so much.  I understand now!  Dark Lord Designs for the Fall 2013 win!

Soapbox Sunday: You Do Know You’re Speaking Out Loud, Right?

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I just need to vent a little spleen about a weird scene that happened when we were out to dinner last night.  George and I went to a local restaurant, and it’s a fairly small one, so bear in mind that all diners are in a roughly 25×20 foot space.  As happens in restaurants, after splitting a bottle of wine and supplementing that with a few glasses of water…ummm…nature called.  It’s not uncommon, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been there.  So.  George got up to make use of the men’s room.  He was gone no more than five seconds when he earned the ire of a popped-collar douche at a neighboring table, who stood up at about the same time George did, but was busy being all aggro-bro at his table and so did not move in any direction–towards the men’s room, towards the exit, whatever–because he had to get in a couple of manly fist-bumps.

Popped collars. Don’t let this happen to you. Image from intothisworldgame.blogspot.com

Suffice to say he did NOT call firsties and make his way to the men’s room (who knew it was a footrace?) and, once he realized George the Usurper had gone in before him, started to complain about his audacity to use the men’s room.  And he started to do so, quite loudly.

“Oh, man.  I can’t believe it.  Someone else is in the men’s room.  Hahahaha…that means I get to use the ladies’ room, right?  Isn’t that right?  I get to use the ladies’ room, since I can’t believe some other guy went into the men’s room before I got there.”

Hahaha.  OMG CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THAT THE REST OF THE WORLD DIDN’T FALL TO ONE SIDE AND LET YOU IN YOUR INFINITE GLORY PASS BY?  Clearly, by standing, he telegraphed his intentions to the universe.  WTF, George?  How could you?

Seriously, though.  These are the things I want to know:

1) Are you an infant?  Do you lack the capacity to control your bladder and need immediate access to lavatories at all times?  Have you consulted your doctor about this?  Because it should be well under your control by the time you enter school, or learn how to drive, or go out drinking with bros in public.

2) Did you eat lead paint chips as a child?

3) Do you realize that the whole world does not, in fact, revolve around you?

4) Do you realize that the term “Manifest Destiny” does not, in fact, in any way relate to your access to a public rest room?

5) You do realize it’s possible to have an internal dialogue without vocalizing the thoughts in your head, right?

6) You do realize that sometimes–oftentimes–it’s preferable for you to NOT make your internal dialogue known, right?

7) Should you choose to vocalize your inner thoughts, you do realize you are under no obligation to make sure everyone in the bar, restaurant, clothing store, or whatever establishment you are patronizing at that moment knows what thoughts have lumbered through your brain, right?

8) You’re not funny enough for comedy. Leave it to the professionals, who are way more insightful, bitter, and relevant than you.

Sad. True. All of it.

Sad. True. All of it.

9) One last thing: do you realize that every time you opened your mouth, the entire restaurant (including your friends) hoped you choked on a bag of dicks?  Next time, bro, STFU.

That is all.

Zamboni Lady Commiserates with an Advice Seeker

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DISCLAIMER: The Zamboni Lady is not a doctor, nor does she play one on TV.  She is, simply, a busybody who wants to know everyone else’s business.  The advice, while well-meant, is not meant to substitute for legal advice or protection, indicate a definitive way to live one’s life, or in any way imply that you should take her advice any more seriously than you would the advice of the bestie of your bestie, given out over a long and tear-soaked evening of nachos and margaritas.

***

Bad advice.  It’s everywhere.

Though the following isn’t bad advice so much as it is advice not to make waves and cause a potentially embarrassing family problem, which all things considered isn’t all that terrible (who needs a rift?), but then again…the family in question seems like they need a verbal kick in the ass.

I really felt like the lady who wrote this letter was looking for someone to commiserate with her.  And I?  Am just that gal.  :)

So.

Here is the letter as it appeared in an advice column:

Dear Advice People: My husband is a high-ranking officer in the military. He has worked hard to achieve his current position and is highly respected.

The problem is, his family treats him like a child. In a few months, there will be a formal ceremony to mark his change of command. My in-laws will be in attendance, and they are certain to embarrass him. They insist on calling him by his unusual childhood nickname (he cringes every time). They talk down to him and give him gifts meant for children, such as books for teen boys (last Christmas), a small child’s backpack (last birthday) and now a child’s piggy bank, which they intend to present to him in front of his unit at the ceremony. These gifts are not intended as jokes. My husband is always gracious on the outside but horrified on the inside.

Is there some way to remind his family that he is indeed an adult and has certainly earned the right to be treated like one? — Proud Military Spouse

***

And Zamboni Lady says:

Seriously???

I’ve italicized the advice this woman was given, with my responses in regular, rant-friendly font.

Dear Spouse: It is difficult to change ingrained behavior without the cooperation of all the people involved.

No kidding, it’s difficult!  Especially when the people involved are infantilizing control freaks.  Part of the process of being a relative (aunt, parent, older cousin, sibling, similarly aged cousin, childhood friend, whatever) is accepting that your relationship is going to change with taste and propriety as you both get older.  Stevie McPoopypants might gain control of his bladder and probably won’t always love dinosaurs.  Unless Tooter goes into the world of fashion design she’ll probably lose interest in Barbies.  ShellyBelly won’t want to be ShellyBelly any longer, dig?  Look…I have a niece with an embarrassing childhood nickname.  Should we slip and call her that hated name (which I think is adorable but hey, it’s her call)…even when there’s wine involved, and it’s late at night, the doors are locked and the windows shuttered…we still have to face her wrath.  And that’s OK, because her decision to not want to be called an embarrassing childhood nickname in no way reflects on me.  Unless I’m the asshole who keeps calling her a name she can’t stand.

Your husband apparently has determined that the best way to handle his parents is to leave things as they are. That is his choice.

His parents have apparently decided the best way to handle their son is to pretend he’s never grown up.  Books for teen boys?  Child-sized backpacks?  I get your anger, sister.  There’s some serious neural misfirings there.  Assuming they’re not mean, terrible people whose only joy in life is derived from humiliating their son, I have to ask: do they realize he’s an adult?  Do they know he doesn’t have the same taste in things he had twenty years ago?  Is his room still decorated in the Lone Ranger wallpaper of his youth?  Did nobody read The Dead Zone?  Don’t you people know what happened to the infantilized Frank Dodd?

While we appreciate your desire to be supportive and protective, you might also be adding to his stress because your reaction is one of anger and embarrassment.

Yeah, advice people, you’re right.  It’s not the toy piggy bank they want to give him in front of a room full of the soldiers he commands that stresses him out.  It’s the wife who wants to see his parents give him the respect they would any other adult that causes him anguish.  Yup.  You troublemaker.

Ask your husband whether he wants you to talk to his parents.

OMG, advice people!  You’re infantilizing him all over again!  This is like saying your mom should call the mean kid’s mom to talk about that unfortunate incident on the playground.  (Nuh-uh, Mom!  Don’t call!)  Honestly?  My guess is “talking” to his parents will be equally as effective as talking to the cat about learning how to drive.  I don’t think it will result in anything good.  Here’s how I picture it:

Wife: Hi, inlaws?  Yes, this is your DIL. I’m fine, thanks.  Listen, you know how you always get “Bob” gifts more suited for a nine-year-old?  And he hasn’t actually been nine in a really long time?

Inlaws: What are you talking about?

Wife: Well, you know how you get him age-inappropriate books and toys and things, right?

Inlaws: No, dear.  He’s always liked those things.

Wife: Well, actually, that’s where you’re mistaken.

Inlaws: I’m afraid I don’t understand, dear.

Wife: Some of those things are a little young for him, see?  And it’s embarrassing.  And you call him “Snoodgiepants” in public.  That’s embarrassing.

Inlaws: Do you PRESUME to tell me how to behave with my own son?

(this is where the trouble starts, because what do you say?  “Yes” = WW3 territory, and “No” = defeating the entire point of opening this dialogue)

Annnnd so on, until you’re so frustrated you hang up on them and drink gin straight from the cat’s bowl, while they call your husband behind your back to tell you what a busybody you are.  If they’re the arrested-development, controlling weirdos they seem to be, then take care that you don’t get painted as the interloper trying to ruin their happy family.  The last thing you need is for them to try and tear at your marriage, too.

If he says no, we urge you to separate their behavior from your husband’s reputation.  His patient tolerance of their inappropriateness says many positive things about the strength of his character.

I’ll give them this.  Everyone has flaky relatives they have to deal with.  Unfortunately for him, his happen to be his parents, but he seems to have grown up well despite them.  The problem is, the person who really needs to say something to his parents, is him.  It is ultimately his decision as to how he conducts his relationship with his parents.  No matter how much you may hate it (and I hear you) and no matter how much they piss you off (and I’m with you), it’s his call.  Let him be the adult in this situation, and decide how his parents are to be dealt with, without your stepping in.

Advice grade: C-.  Ultimately reasonable advice (let him conduct his own relationship with his parents), but doled out in a really dumb way

Meanwhile, At the Restaurant: How to Get the Bartender’s Attention

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Having spent an unreasonable amount of time in food service, in several different states in the US, I generally think that I’ve seen most of what can be seen (though I do realize that claiming I’ve seen it all does a grave disservice to “it all”.  But really, people.  I don’t need to know).  Despite the quasi-iconic public concept of the surly bartender who hides in the corner and has to be coaxed out like they’re a mouse and you’ve got a pocket full of cheese, most bartenders do want to offer their customers timely and friendly service in a welcoming atmosphere.  In a tips-based economy, it’s the smartest way to make money.  And in my time in restaurants and bars, I’ve encountered a vast and often confusing array of ways customers deem acceptable to get a bartender’s attention.  In the interest of public service and to help out my bar brethren across this great land, I give you the do’s and don’ts of:

Ta da!

Ta da!

THE DON’TS

The Tapper

mwatr01

The Tapper thinks the most effective way to get his drink refilled is to tap his empty glass repeatedly on the bar as though he’s tapping out distress signals in Morse code.  Unless you’re warning me about icebergs dead ahead, this is an inappropriate way to communicate.  I can let you tap all day.  Plus, if you’re that anxious that you need to bang your glass on the bar until you get another drink, then you don’t need another drink, and I would recommend trying some yoga, or perhaps taking up meditation.

The Barker

mwatr02

The Barker thinks that raising his voice above the din of a bar is a surefire way to entice a bartender over.  The Barker doesn’t seem to realize that he is the human equivalent of WRITING IN ALL CAPS and as quickly as I will delete the email written in that manner, so will I dismiss the person who behaves in this manner.  He may express himself in a way that seems callous (Hey, you!) or try to sound charming and/or endearing (Hey, honey, sugarplum, dollface!).  But no matter how you phrase it, he’s still the obnoxious drunk yelling at you from across the bar.  Avoid whenever possible.

The Whistler

mwatr03

Very closely related to The Barker, The Whistler shares the sentiment that making loud noises to attract the bartender is effective.  The problem is, The Whistler chooses the same manner in which he calls his dog in for dinner.  The Whistler doesn’t always necessarily whistle, per se, but he will clear his throat repeatedly or make “Pssst!” sounds.  One memorable time, the owner of the bar I worked in was on duty when a customer tried to attract his attention by making that repeated “psst psst psst” sound you make while trying to convince a cat to come near you.  The owner turned around and, without missing a beat said, “You’d better have some Friskies in your pocket if you’re calling to me that way.”  At least that once, the errant customer grew momentarily embarrassed enough to stammer out an apology before asking for a refill.

The Grabber

mwatr04

If I’m ever back behind the bar, do not–and I mean DO NOT–ever reach all the way across the bar and touch me.  I will wreck you.

And so we come to the end of my general guidelines for DON’T bar behavior.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a good place to start.  Do note that the “DON’T” behaviors are generally demeaning and/or hostile and/or aggressive.  Use that as your measuring stick for what not to do, and you should be off to a good start.

THE DO’S

The Cash Presenter

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Most bartenders, you see, are fairly bright, and understand that being attentive to the people standing or sitting at the bar impacts their tips.  If someone stands at the bar with money in their hands, bartenders will generally investigate such an event because people don’t randomly walk around holding money.  In a bar, it’s a specific signal that means, “I want something and I’m ready to pay.”  Yes, it’s true.  Money talks.

The Discreet Signaler

mwatr0501

You can gesture to your bartender, so long as you’re chill about it.  If your bartender looks like he’s in the middle of a conversation and isn’t likely to end it any time soon, you can gesture.  If you want to get drinks ASAP for yourself and that fine individual you’re successfully chatting up, you can gesture.  Or if you realize you need to leave, you can do the universal “I’m pretending to sign my name” gesture.  Gesturing does, for the most part, imply necessity so don’t go overboard pointing and waving at will!  Then you become the barfly who cried wolf, and your gesturing just becomes a silent extension of The Tapper and nobody needs to cross into hybrid signals because then everyone is unhappy.

The Empty Glass Bearer

mwatr0502

The Empty Glass Bearer is the mellowest of all patrons and has an inherent understanding that a bartender intends to do his job to the best of his abilities.  A bartender who’s even half-paying attention knows that an empty glass requires some sort of attention.  Empty Glass Bearers tend to be easy customers for bartenders to deal with–they’re not overly demanding, they don’t need babysitting, and their lack of aggressive behavior towards the bartender generally means the bartender will like them.  Bars are a great place to have a high-fivin’, belly-bumpin’ good time, but not necessarily with the bartender, who has five or fifteen or sixty other people to manage simultaneously.  Have faith that the bartender will get to you.  While people may think the squeaky wheel gets the grease, when you’re in a bar it’s the quiet glass bearer who gets the best consistent service.

It’s true.

I’d love to hear about other bartender-approach behaviors that I might have forgotten or have blocked from my memory.  Feel free to comment!

Zamboni Lady Encounters the Worst Sex Advice Ever

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DISCLAIMER: The Zamboni Lady is not a doctor, nor does she play one on TV.  She is, simply, a busybody who wants to know everyone else’s business.  The advice, while well-meant, is not meant to substitute for legal advice or protection, indicate a definitive way to live one’s life, or in any way imply that you should take her advice any more seriously than you would the advice of the bestie of your bestie, given out over a long and tear-soaked evening of nachos and margaritas.

***

Recently, I’ve come across the worst advice I think I’ve ever seen in an advice column, and this is for real.  Here’s the problem:

Dear [Advice Columnist],
My boyfriend of one year and I are both recently graduated twentysomethings living at home like true millennials. While this has caused a few bumps in our love life, his mother is very open, liberal and allows me to spend the night at their house with him. Usually his mother gives us plenty of space, except for insisting on making us coffee and breakfast some mornings. The other day as we were being intimate, his mother called him on his cellphone. She often calls even when she knows we’re in the house so as not to barge in. This time, he answered the phone and continued to have sex with me as he talked to her. I was livid and disturbed, not to mention feeling cheap in a very Oedipal way. We talked it over at length and he recognized that it was inappropriate and immature, and he apologized. But I can’t help feeling that this should send a self-respecting young woman packing and running. Am I overreacting?

—Don’t Answer

OK, seems pretty icky, right?  And pretty straightforward.  There may, legitimately, be a time or a reason for answering the phone mid-sex but when that time comes, all booty should stop.  When your boyfriend answers the phone during sex and keeps getting down, it seems to me that he bought himself an express ticket to the curb.  But that’s not the advice this person was given.  Instead, she was basically informed that her instincts preserving her sense of self-worth were off and ultimately, she’s an insignificant tart.  Read on, as I interpret the subliminal context of this woman’s advice.

Dear Don’t,

Obviously what he should have said was, “Mom, we’re in the middle of coitus, so don’t interrupt us.”

I mean, what else was he supposed to do?  He can’t stop having sex because he decided the phone was more important than you!  He’s a guy, if they don’t get that sort of release the sperm backs up and it gets really painful.

Millennials assert that one of their distinguishing characteristics is the seamless ability to multitask, and if you accept the thrust of that argument,

HAHA!  “Thrust”, get it?  Get it?  Get it?  Yeah.  You got it, all right.

then your boyfriend was only demonstrating his prowess.

More haha!  “Prowess”, get it?  I feel absolutely justified in abusing you to your face and telling you that you should count yourself lucky to have your phone-answering man.  Why? Because your question has quickly become invalid; you’re a dirty whore having sex in your boyfriend’s mother’s house.

You’re also looking at the wrong Greek myth to explain what happened.

I need to make you feel stupid whenever possible.

I don’t think the events revealed an attraction to his mother, but to the siren song of the cellphone, a device to which people of all generations often feel more intimacy and loyalty than to their human partners.

So suck it up.

I’ll also offer the following excuse on your boyfriend’s behalf since he neglected to: Maybe when he realized it was Mom calling, he worried that since she knew he was home, if he didn’t answer she might go looking for him and find herself barging in flagrante.

Mother is so sexually naive that she lets you spend the night, but thinks you spend it sleeping.

Alternatively, being in his childhood bedroom may have kicked in the Pavlovian response that when Mom calls, he responds.

A boy’s best friend is his mother, Norman.

Whatever his subliminal thought process, of course his answering the phone ruined your mood. But this is just a tiny hump

HUMP!  OH MY GOD I AM ON A FUCKING ROLL!

in your relationship and not a reason to flee. I’m sure he’s learned his lesson, but the next time you two get romantic, make certain to lock the door and turn off the phone—don’t even let him think about leaving it on vibrate.

Because a phone that’s turned off will completely deter a worrisome, barging-in mother.   VIBRATE!  *tee hee* p.s. I hate your taut young vagina.

I am not making this up.

So let me do what I can to correct an egregious wrong, though I don’t know if the person who asked this will ever see it.  Your boyfriend absolutely took you for granted in the most fundamental and dismissive way possible.  At that moment, you were no more emotionally relevant to him than a fleshlight.  If, weeks later, you still feel betrayed, that’s understandable, and you need to take the time to figure out if you ever think you can trust him again.  Will he always jump at his mother’s call?  Will he always put his cell phone ahead of you in his priority list?  That is not OK.  Start to watch his other behaviors–does he tune you out in favor of Facebook/Halo/Game of Thrones while you’re trying to have a conversation about your day?  Can he leave a text alone?  Is he always like that with other people, or does he only do that sort of thing with you?  I can’t tell you whether or not you should bring your relationship to an end, but I can tell you that if his behavior doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, then you seriously need to reconsider if he’s worth your time.  Good luck.

Bad Fashion Ideas: Springtime of Psoriasis

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I have to admit, I was surprised when I was at the mall the other day.  The women’s clothing had…well, I can’t quite say there was a dearth of ugly clothes, but…a relative dearth of ugly clothes…for sale.  Shock me shock me shock me!  Though you can rest assured, dear reader, that there were indeed unattractive and unflattering items out there aplenty.  Imagine if you had a hundred things, and five were great and five were OK and the other ninety things were crap.  That’s how it normally is out there in anchor store mall land.  This weekend, it was more like, if you had a hundred things, five of these things were great and TEN were OK, and the other eighty-five things were crap.  A slight change for the better.  Slight.  I will consider it a blip.

As always, these pictures were taken at anchor stores, all chains, most of them national.  Despite my normal, self-imposed “no clearance” rule, I have included one clearance item in this selection, but only because it was too ugly not to immortalize.  In fact, before we even get involved in this season’s fashion miseries I’ll post the clearance, just to get it out of the way.  Though, maybe I’m being too hard on the clothing.  I mean, what girl wouldn’t want to look like she’s wearing a shirt flashing code from The Matrix?

You are in the Matrix, in more ways than one.

You are in the Matrix, in more ways than one.

Thankfully, this was on the $2 clearance rack, so there’s some hope for humanity.

Now.  Let’s get down to business.

First up: pants!

I know shopping for jeans can be a brutal process.  It can be frustrating, even devastating, if you feel like you can’t find pants that fit well and look nice.  But for the love of all that is holy, WHYYYYY am I seeing a preponderance…a disturbing amount…of elastic-waist jeans.

Stop this.  Right now.

Stop this. Right now.

They won’t fit correctly.  They won’t make your ass look fantastic.  They will make you look like you’ve stepped into a Hefty bag, cinched it at your waist and cut in some leg holes.   These are “I’ve given up” pants, the kind you wear because you know you must drape something over your body to avoid arrest.  Don’t give up!  You’re better than that.  And frankly, I’ll have to look at you wearing them, and you’ll look like this:

Worst. Mannequin. Ever.

Worst. Mannequin. Ever.

Yes, those really are elastic-waist pants on display.  The unfortunate taper in the legs led me to believe so on sight, but then?  I checked.  Display people, please!  Get off the crack, and stop prominently displaying ugly clothing!  It leads the underinformed shopper to think this sort of thing is acceptable.

Patterned jeans are coming back into fashion.  I remember them from about a thousand years ago, and they can be fun.  Or, they can look like you sat in sherbet.

What the hell?

Sherbet-stained jeggings.  All-around design fail.

They could look like you put them on and rolled around in wet sidewalk chalk.

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Jump through these and you can have a tea party with Mary Poppins.

Or, you can get one confused print that would look more at home on wallpaper in two–count ‘em, TWO!–pant lengths.  Way to use that overpurchased lot of material, Gloria Vanderbilt!

These would make even Kate Upton look frumpy.

These would make even Kate Upton look frumpy.

I can’t even express how deeply, how profoundly I believe that Gloria Vanderbilt needs to be stopped.  More on that soon.

Of course, if you go to a store and select this:

Dear designer: why do you hate women so much?

Dear designer: why do you hate women so much?

Behold! A double-knit, shrimp-pink, cropped, elastic waist, cargo pant.  Never in my life have I seen so much wrong in one item of clothing.  If you go to the store and deem this acceptable?  Hopefully, your family is reading this and contacts me so we can stage an intervention.  Help is out there, family!  Be strong.

So, back to Gloria Vanderbilt.  The only thing that gives me any sort of comfort regarding her current line is that it’s been sold to a design group and GV herself isn’t responsible for what they produce.  Because I cringe–cringe, I say!–at the thought that the mother of a gay man would reintroduce the velour sweat suit to the world.

Aaaaaggggggghhhhh!  My eyes!  My eyes!

Aaaaaggggggghhhhh! My eyes! My eyes!

Whoever did this should be pilloried in the town square.  Stop it.  You’re hurting people.

And so.  On to shirts.

Shirts, this season, seem to suffer from design mashup.  Perhaps there’s a glut of newbies in the design departments.  Perhaps an order came down from Upstairs that said they have to find ways to use up all the bits of odds and ends floating around the design shop.  Perhaps the hat department is getting a little too free with their mercury.  Whatever the reason, shirts are a discombobulated mess.

For example, Judas Priest-esque studs do not belong on a career separate button down rayon blouse.

Imagine your bank teller in this.

Imagine your bank teller in this.

There is, apparently, a picture of Alexa Chung wearing a remarkably similar shirt to a NYC screening of Inglourious Basterds in 2009.  Even fashion icons can have an off moment.  It was a bad idea four years ago; it’s a bad idea today.

Nor do studs belong on a…well, have a look for yourself.

Let me count the ways.

Let me count the ways.

I imagine the conversation about the design of this shirt went something like this:

Can you give me a sweatshirt cut, and make sure we use a gray knit emulate that classic sweatshirt look?
Check!
Great.  Let’s leave the seams unfinished on the upper.
OK!
Hey, don’t we have an assload of mini gold studs?
Yeah.
Let’s stick ‘em on the shoulders.  Ladies like glittery shoulders.
They do?
Yeah!  Of course they do!  Great big glittery shoulders, like they have hollowed out disco balls over their arms.
Oh.  OK.  [a minute later] Hey, boss.  We have a problem.
What’s that?
We don’t have enough gray knit material here to make a full order of shirts.  We only have the rayon left over from those studded white button-down shirts that  didn’t sell.
Uh…

What should we do?

[thinks for a minute] [snaps fingers] I know!  Keep the upper sweatshirt-and-studs design!  Then block it, and make the bottom half rayon.
What do we do when we get to the bottom of the shirt?
Use as much of the leftover material as you can.  They say “boxy”, we say “flowing”.
But it will be so ugly!
So?
Ummmm.  OK.  What price point should we set it at?
Hmmm….twenty bucks will make it seem chintzy.  It will be tough to get people to pay eighty bucks for a sweat shirt.  Split the difference!  Fifty bucks!
Forty-nine, sir.  This way the customer won’t feel like they’re spending fifty bucks on a shirt.
Yes, yes.  Excellent.  Use psychology against them.  I like it.  You’ll go far in this business, young grasshopper.

Because really.  What other explanation can there be?

This fancified sweat shirt theme was prevalent in the stores; you can see it here in washed-out orange.

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It’s as though this shirt has a beautiful infestation of spangled tapeworm.

And here, in colorblocked blue.

And make that horizontal line go straight across the waist, so it looks nice and wide.

And make that horizontal line go straight across the waist, so it looks nice and wide.

Or…oh good God…

Now this is just being mean.

Now this is just being mean.

Prints were also kind of a mess, from the joyless…

It is so glum it even swallows the glitter from the studs embellishing the neckline.

It is so glum it even swallows the glitter from the studs embellishing the neckline.

To the garish

Do you have something that would make me look like a youth pastor for matadors?

Do you have something that would make me look like a youth pastor for matadors?

To the poorly executed.

Can you make those yellow remembrance ribbons loop right over my nipples, please?

Can you make those yellow remembrance ribbons loop right over my nipples, please?

And then there’s this.  If Eeyore were magically turned into a peach and gray, paisley print, jersey knit, zip-up cardigan, he would look like this.

I just want to give it a hug.

Thanks for noticing me.

And normally, I love everything about Paris.  Except this.

*find a happy place, find a happy place*

*find a happy place, find a happy place*

But the look I saw in clothing this season that shocked me the most?  There are far, far too many clothes made from material with such unfortunate texture that they would make the wearer look like she was suffering from some kind of skin disease.  There’s fish scale disease.

Note the scaly mosaic and the "dirty" look.

Note the scaly mosaic and the “dirty” look.

This unfortunate crepe shirt bears a striking resemblance to the full-blown effects of leprosy.  I’ll let you Google full-color photos for yourself, if you want to be completely freaked out.

The resemblance between this shirt and a leper's skin is pretty alarming.

The resemblance between this shirt and a leper’s skin is pretty alarming.

Of course, if you prefer to not resemble something contagious, you could always choose to look like you’ve been in a fire.

Only you can prevent this look from going public.

Only you can prevent this look from going public.

And of course, there is the shirt that for all the world emulates the lumpy plaques that are the heartbreak of psoriasis.

People.  No.

People. Stop the madness.

All I ask is that you think before you buy.  There are other shirts out there, you don’t need the psoriasis shirt.  Or the Eeyore cardigan.  Or dismal Paris.

And I swear on my grandmother’s grave…You.Do.Not.Need…or want…elastic waist jeans.  Exercise your freedom of choice!  Don’t settle for ugly!  Don’t let them tell you something is fashionable when you know it isn’t.  When you shop, imagine you have a little Grumpy Cat on your shoulder.

...Be the grumpy cat...

…Be the Grumpy Cat…

It’s a tough world out there.  Let’s dress it up in style.

Happy shopping!

How to Stay Motivated During a Workout

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This pretty faithfully retraces my thought process during a particularly difficult workout.  Or maybe I was just kind of whupped and didn’t want to do it, I don’t know.  Works particularly well for Zumba.  And don’t think I didn’t put this to use this very morning in BodyPump.

Thanks, three-year-old!

Clearly, the mentality of a three-year-old appeals to me.

Funny, where inspiration comes from sometimes.

Have a great workout!  No tired.

Dinner is Served! Cooking with Campbell’s Soup (1970)

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A dear, dear friend of mine, knowing my deep and abiding taste for kitsch, sent me a copy of the Campbell Soup Company’s Cooking With Soup: 608 Skillet Dishes, Casseroles, Stews, Sauces, Gravies, Dips, Soup Mates and Garnishes.  Once I picked myself up after having major swoonies, I thought…Good Lord, food photography has made tremendous strides in visual appeal over the intervening decades.

*blergh*

*blergh*

Feast your eyes (if not, surely, your taste buds) on the cover, which features a photo of the Penthouse Chicken.  I can only imagine that it’s deemed “penthouse” because it will make the diner feel as though they’re eating the swankiest of chickens in all the land and not because you want to put it up high, far out of reach of the unsuspecting who might get their hands on it.  Mmmm, where can I get mystery meat covered in congealed red glop, garnished with cross-sections of femur?  Let the noms begin!

I’ve never been a fan of cooking with soup, unless the thing I was eating was actually soup.  I mean, I’m not a big eater of processed foods to begin with, though I do confess to a weakness for chipotle chicken Lean Pockets and do indeed keep a few canned soups on hand.  Hey, I must eat in order not to die and like everyone else, can be lazy in my hunter-gathering.  I’m no stranger in looking for things that adequately meet my needs.  Canned soup provides a heaping dose of adequacy; it adequately keeps me alive, it provides adequate flavor so I don’t want to kill myself out of boredom, it keeps me adequately full until my next meal.  It also provides–and I say this looking at a can of Healthy Request tomato soup–sodium (normally, in relatively high amounts), high fructose corn syrup, potassium chloride and monopotassium phosphate (both of which are also used as fertilizers).

What it doesn’t provide is excellence.  Granted, there can only be so much excellence one can expect from food flavored with fertilizers.  The kitschmonger in me has gone berserk over this book.  It’s got the space-age sensibility that one truly CAN open up a bunch of packages and make things easy for Mom in the kitchen; it gives the feeling that we’re only a few short steps away from a food-o-matic a la The Jetsons.

Image from smcbydesign.com

Image from smcbydesign.com

I love the pithy word play, the recipes for “Souper Saucy Meat Loaf” and “Spread-a-Burgers”.  I can’t look at the section called “Soup on the Rocks” without flinching.  I rejoice over the inclusion of a recipe for THAT tuna casserole…you know the one, with the frozen peas and the cream of celery soup and the crumbled potato chips on top?  In this book they call it “PERFECT TUNA“.  *killing me*  Conversely, the foodie in me weeps as I page through the Great Big Book of Adequate. with all 608 recipes chock-full of nothing special.

Though “special” is a word that can mean many things.  And I think I am wrong.  I think I need to redefine what I consider to be “special”.

There were a few recipes that were particularly notable in their horror.  In all fairness, I just got this book yesterday so there are probably more than a few recipes that should strike terror into the hearts of readers, but two really stood out in their ability to churn the stomach and ruin the appetite.

Meat Shell Pie!

Meat Shell Pie!

Bonus!  You get three recipes here for the price of one.  But yes.  Meat shell pie, so lurid it inspired my boyfriend to write a song about it.  What you do, see, is you press out the ground beef to make a shell, and then you press halved hot dogs into said shell so it looks like a clock.  Then you top it with soup and sauteed onions, bake, and then top with Velveeta and bake again.  It upset me that the good people of Campbell’s didn’t include a picture of said meat shell pie and so, I drew a diagram.  So you could visualize the majestic nature of…the Pie.

Mmmmm...MMMM!

Mmmmm…MMMM!

Hot dog eaters take note: the color I used for the frankfurters (since I lack a light pink marker) is called “greyed lavender” and really, it’s not far off from a hot dog’s natural color.  I’m not judging, I’m just stating the facts.

Who wants seconds???

I was floored when I was thumbing through this book and realized they had included a desserts section.  I will grant that one may use canned soup for many things–casseroles, sauces, apparently cocktails–but the concept of using soup in dessert had eluded me.

You can only have this once you finish your meat shell pie!

You can only have this once you finish your meat shell pie!

Look, it’s lovely, isn’t it?  Looks all moist and delish.  Walnuts.  Candied plums for garnish.  What could go wrong?

Oh, right.  It’s made with tomato soup.

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

I can’t decide whether to be strangely comforted or plain-old revolted by the option to add raisins.

I appreciate cooking short cuts.  I’m no stranger to making food and freezing it for another time or another use entirely.  Opening a can of soup is a viable lazy-night alternative for sure but it’s no substitute for a real meal.  I blame cooking like this for our mental distance from the reality of our food, and where it comes from, and how it’s prepared, and what’s in it, and what it does to us.  When we cook like this, we cede control over what goes in to ourselves and the bodies of the people we love.  Take back control.  Understand your food.  Cook fresh, when feasible.

Let me put it this way: Were I to host a dinner party in Hell, this would be on the menu.  And if you think this book was written in 1970 and so, is outdated and nobody cooks like this anymore, let me remind you, just for starters…

http://busycooks.about.com/od/startwithseries/a/cannedsoup.htm

What I’m Watching: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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I went to see The Hobbit last night.  It was…OK.  Purists, I’ll spare a thorough discussion of if it sticks closely to the book or not (though, it doesn’t really and it’s not like I can help myself to make some comparisons) and it’s the genre of movie (elves, swords, gruesome antagonists, magic) that you either like, or you really really don’t.  Though I do have a few things to say about it…

1. The movie is long and far too padded.  I know Peter Jackson (from hereon known as PJax) and co. are planning to turn it into a trilogy, and for that I say shame on them and call greedy shenanigans.  It is a good book.  It is even a great book.  It is also a simple story written for young readers, and has few of the complexities of plot that followed when JRR Tolkein wrote The Lord of the Rings.  I can see a two-movie deal, but not three.  Breaking it into a movie trilogy does a disservice to the story by diluting (or inventing new) action and creating a series of movies that can’t stand independently; part of the genius of the LOTR film series is that, while clearly connected in the telling of an epic tale, they are all still different films.  This is like a TV miniseries I can’t see the end of for another two years.  Feh.  Dirty pool.

2. It is gorgeous.

I mean, really.  Look at that place!  The mountains, the lush forests, the patch of farmland that’s become The Shire…perfect!  Set design?  Costuming?  The accessories?  The swords?  Unimpeachable!  It is 166 minutes of pure visual feast, well done indeed.

3.  Except for when it isn’t.  In the book, the character of Radagast the Brown only appears once, delivers information, and goes back into the wilderness.  He’s absolutely portrayed as a hermit-ish loner who is much more comfortable around flora and fauna than he is around things that talk and drink tea.  He wasn’t portrayed as the caricature of some high-strung eccentric adventure-hippie.  (Nor did he have a rabbit-drawn sleigh; see “long and padded”.)  But.  I could deal with that.  The bird nesting in his hair?  I could deal with that.  The pseudo-comic relief of magicking the hedgehog back to life?  I could deal with that.  It was the matted line of bird shit from said nesting bird that ran down Radagasts’s face and was all in his hair and beard that sent me over the edge.  I kind of couldn’t look directly at the screen when he was on and literally (in a grammarian-approved way, absolutely and sadly not figuratively) threw up in my mouth a little at one point because of it.  It’s not like I can’t “handle” grim things on a screen.  I didn’t mind the giant goiter and bepustuled look of the Great Goblin.  I didn’t mind Azog the Defiler and his weird gaping scars.  I even wanted there to be a bit more gore, because they dispatch a ton of enemies–especially in the goblin caves–with precious little blood.  But Radagast’s portrayal was expanded into something so…weird…and unpleasant, that I completely fail to understand.

4.  Martin Freeman was born to play Bilbo.  I’ve enjoyed him in everything I’ve seen him in (and I just looked at his filmography; I still have a lot of watching to do), though he will always have a place in my heart for his work as John, the tentative, sweet, entirely vanilla body double who meets the equally tentative Judy while working on a porno together.

In The Hobbit, Freeman manages to bring Bilbo’s complexities to life; he is a homebody who wants to be back in his hole while having an adventure and becoming a loyal, trusted member of his company.  His life has been sheltered, but he is still brave.  I believe him when he gets the look on his face indicating that he’s facing something he clearly doesn’t want to do, but goes in and does it anyway.  Bilbo embodies a difficult combination of characteristics: he is stodgy, clever, fussy, warm, well aware of social expectations and still has a deep-seated global interest.  Freeman finds a way to express all of this while making him entirely endearing.  Thank you, Martin Freeman.

5.  I can’t believe PJax included some of the songs.  I mean…seriously, Hobbit fans…who among you has not skipped past all the singing in the book?  None of you?  Yep, me neither.  Did we really need “That’s What Bilbo Baggins Hates” in the movie?  It’s not like when I think of dwarves I say, “Oh, they’re such a musical people.”  Come on.  I kept expecting David Bowie to wander over from the set of Labyrinth and bust out a little “Magic Dance“.

6.  Wargs are badass.

7.  What.  Is UP (underline, underline, underline)?  With the hot dwarf?

Hellooooo, Thorin.

No no no no no no no no!  They’re lumpy and bulbous, not fricking leather clad-moody hero-Richard Armitage-long, meaningful stares-buckling some swash-level of hot.  Now I have to go and rethink my entire concept of the sexuality of Middle Earth.

8.  Andy Serkis should be knighted for his portrayal of Gollum.  Check him out reading the part live, to an audience.

Damn, son.  Those are some serious chops.

Would I see it again?  Would I recommend it?  Will I see the sequels?  Oh, heavy sigh.

I will see it again, when I own it on Blu-Ray, because I am exactly the person PJax knows he can manipulate out of her money.  Which is exactly why I will also see the sequels.  He’s got me by the shorthairs, damn him.  But no, I wouldn’t recommend going to see it, not as a story, not on its own.  There are some wonderful points to it, but I don’t believe the story is successfully told.  It’s too padded.  There’s too much exposition and not enough plot and character development.  The movie would be much tighter if it were done in two parts…I mean…it’s not like they tried to break Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into a stand-alone trilogy. Why would this merit three parts, unless it were to extract a third viewing out of my pocket?  Oh, PJax.  I thought you were awesome, once.  I loved your vision, once.  Now?  Meh, not quite as much.