I’ve been quite Glee-ful lately…

I’ve fallen for it- Glee. I’ve watched all the episodes (half of them on Hulu on one especially unproductive night). I’m following one or possibly more cast members on Twitter… which may be the most depressing sentence I’ve ever typed. And I’ve been alternating between having “Somebody to Love”, “Don’t Stop Believin'”, and “On My Own” stuck in my head for days now. I don’t particularly identify with the show, since I have no musical talent or inclination, have never had a Slushee thrown in my face, and didn’t even go to a traditional high school. Yet, I find myself totally smitten with this crew of 25-year-olds masquerading as teenagers, and their equally adorable teachers. Even the clueless and dorky Will Schuster – well, except when he dances. Don’t dance, Will. And then my favorite character of all- Emma Pillsbury. She’s a smart, quirky little redhead guidance counselor living in a world of blonde cheerleaders, and I adore her. Maybe there’s a little bit of redhead-sisterhood in me, after all. And if the actress portraying her is not a redhead in real life, I don’t ever want to find out. I couldn’t take the betrayal (yes, I’m talking about you, Debra Messing). So after that stupid World Series ends and Glee is back on the air, watch it— after all, how could you not love this face?Glee-glee-6211653-1922-2560

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Helping along the evolution of manners

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been looking forward to seeing acclaimed scientist/atheist/author Richard Dawkins at Portland’s Wordstock literary festival. Yesterday was the big day, and Dawkins drew a sizable crowd- so large that the beginning of his speech had to be delayed thirty minutes while a room partition could be opened to accommodate all the attendees.  Dawkins didn’t disappoint – his lecture was informative, engaging, and really funny. The first portion of his time was devoted to reading excerpts from his new book, The Greatest Show on Earth (which was included in the $22 admission – good deal!), the second half was spent on audience Q & A. Without going into minute detail, he was informative, charming, and I’d definitely see him again if given the opportunity.

On another note, I had a bit of a Larry David moment during the lecture. I was sitting next to an older man who apparently thought it was perfectly appropriate to suck loudly on hard candies in the middle of a quiet roomful of attentive listeners. And by “older”, I’m talking Dorothy, not Sophia- old enough to know better, without that possibly-senile license to allow such behavior. Seriously, this guy was disgusting, with his smacking away and slurping candy juices inside his mouth. Just gross. I had an ethical dilemma on my hands – he was ruining my ability to concentrate, infuriating my boyfriend on my other side, and visibly disturbing other people around us. His companions didn’t seem to mind, for some incomprehensible reason… so I felt as though the social responsibility was mine to shush him. But was that rude? Out of line? In any case, I reached a breaking point. I tapped his arm and said, “I’m sorry- that’s quite distracting. The chewing- it’s very distracting!” He stared at me silently like I’d slapped him in the face, but he stopped.

My reason for sharing this story is to encourage similar behavior. If someone’s parents never had the presence of mind to teach manners to their children, I think it’s appropriate for those of us who do know better to correct those errors, even if it’s sixty years past due. So come on, all of you who have silently endured such an annoying situation – speak up, in the name of manners and consideration. Speak up politely, but speak up nonetheless. While none of us are perfect, sometimes a person clearly needs to be called out on their rude behavior, and we should have the balls to do so!

Dawkins has his soapbox, and now I’ve got mine.

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This should be pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good!

seinfeld-reunion-curbOne of the funniest shows on television, Curb Your Enthusiasm, kicks off a plot arc tomorrow night that could possibly be the holy grail of comedy for our generation: a Seinfeld reunion. Larry David, in real life, created Seinfeld, and many of its off-the-wall plots and characters originated as actual events and people in David’s life. Now, David stars in Curb Your Enthusiasm as a version of himself, and this season (supposedly) finds him orchestrating a Seinfeld reunion as a part of an effort to win back his estranged wife Cheryl.

Entertainment Weekly ran an article a few weeks ago previewing this whole shebang, including some more serious notes on the participation of Michael Richards. For those who don’t keep scrapbooks of celebrity meltdowns, Richards basically went bat-shit crazy during a standup act a couple years ago and shouted a lot of racial slurs. He said some terrible things, and alienated a lot of people, but still – it’s Kramer. Schadenfreude aside, nobody wants to see Cosmo Kramer in that light or those circumstances. From the perspective of a fan, the following quote from Richards on the experience of being back in Seinfeld-world is just plain touching: ”It’s like, Larry and Jerry are in the front seat, and Julia and Jason are in the backseat, and I’m back there in the corner and I’m like a big dog. The window’s open, and my head’s hanging out the window and I’m feeling all that good air on my face. And I’m just so happy that we’re all together, going someplace.”

Awww. I’m happy, too.

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Abstinence only? Again? Seriously?

Not to be overly dramatic, but it made me sick to read that Orrin Hatch was able to get an amendment added to the finance committee’s health care legislation that restores $50 million in funding for abstinence-only education that Obama had previously eliminated. Seriously? Abstinence-only funding passing in a bipartisan committee charged with reforming health care? The American Psychological Association has asserted for years that abstinence-only education is not the best way to reduce teen pregnancies, abortions, and sexually transmitted disease. Obama made campaign promises, and followed through on them, to remove the federal funding enthusiastically granted by the Bush administration. Yet, here we go again.

In a lovely coincidence, this unwelcome piece of ass-backwardness legislation was approved the day before a newspaper in Austin, Texas, published an article outlining many of its area school districts’ plans to move away from abstinence-only education. These changes are due both to the program’s inefficiency and waning funding under the Obama administration. As the article noted, “More government money has been spent on the cause of sexual abstinence in Texas than any other state, but it still has the third-highest teen birth rate in the country and the highest percentage of teen mothers giving birth more than once.” George W. Bush’s home state is getting the message: abstinence-only doesn’t work.

After years of ineffective sex education, even red-state Texas is coming to its senses. Yet the Senate finance committee currently responsible for crafting health care reform legislation thinks this sex-education program is the right way to go. I’ll say it again – seriously? Prior to reading this news, I was losing hope that any real health care reform would happen. Now, I’m feeling especially frustrated and angry! This is a ridiculous sign of where our legislators stand. If these leaders are so conservative in their personal or political values that they ignore relevant statistics and expert recommendations, and push for abstinence-only education, what chance do we have that they will come up with a satisfactorily progressive health care bill? It wasn’t even just the Republicans on the committee who voted for this amendment – though all nine of them did – but two of the committee’s Democrats joined their side as well. Thanks, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, for your spirit of compromise – you’ve compromised the health and well-being of your youngest constituents. Keep up the good work.

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Rachael Ray – “So meaty!”

4022mchale_320I love Joel McHale, and I heartily dislike Rachael Ray. Joel McHale fearlessly mocks Ryan Seacrest (and many others) on The Soup, and Rachael Ray uses her TV show to show moms how to cook healthy meals like Beer-Braised Bacon Bacon Cheeseburgers. Watching their recent interview segment on Rachael’s talk show was difficult and mostly unpleasant, but worth it, entirely due to the salacious offer Rachael lets loose right around two minutes into their conversation. I’ll never look at Little Miss EVOO the same way again.

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Auntie Anne’s, eat your heart out.

DSCN4936When I came home from a long day’s work to find my boyfriend trying his hand at homemade pretzels, I was torn. I love pretzels- nothing is much better than the trifecta of beer, pretzels, and melty cheese. On the other hand, Marty is a notoriously messy cook. Especially when flour is involved. And my share of the work in the kitchen (for good reason) is to clean up his disaster zones. So when I weighed the potential of a tasty pretzel with the prospect of an hour’s worth of scrubbing and sweeping… I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy like he expected.

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But, when those pretzels came out of the oven, my doubts vanished. Crispy outside, soft and chewy inside – they were pretzel perfection. Not to mention the ridiculously delicious cheese dip he whipped up – let’s just say it was well worth the cleanup (which wasn’t so bad after all). Oh, and did I mention the homemade mustard? Even Deschutes Brewery’s amazing pretzel/cheese/mustard happy hour dish has nothing on the treat I just enjoyed.

I have a weakness for using Marty’s home-cooked meals as a photo op, so indulge me by admiring these pictures. And if you’d like to give it a try yourself, check out this recipe by the incomparable Alton Brown.

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I vote Megan Fox as Lila Fowler

I discovered today that Diablo Cody has signed on to write a new adaption of the Sweet Valley High books. Holy cow! Second to the Baby-Sitters Club, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield totally ruled my literary world between 1990-1997. I even watched that terrible TV version starring the Doublemint twins. Hopefully, in the hands of Juno‘s screenwriter, the product will be watchable. Check out the Variety article here. Sadly, this is my big, exciting news for the day.

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