Friday, December 17, 2010

Bottom Ten

Top Ten, Schmop Ten.

Every year around this time, they're everywhere. And every year, though I find them reductive and mostly dull, I read 'em (okay, skim 'em), think I'll actually buy one or two of the books, download some of that music, see that weird Indie film from March that I missed. Then I don't. Or I decide I just Really Don't Understand Movie Critics because that shit just wasn't that good. Except for number 7, which should have been number 1, you jackass.

And then I do the same thing the following year.

What we need--okay, what I need--is a bottom ten. Cause the good stuff? Frankly, we all know about it already, we've all (sort of) agreed, in some collective unconscious way that That Thing Is Good. (Even if it's not to our taste; fine, it's "quality".) But the bad stuff? Really, we can't call it out enough. It needs the bright light of criticism--and shame--shone upon it so it will wither and die. Please.

So: Here are the ten ubiquitous things from 2010 that we--okay I--am really fucking sick of. Stuff that needs to Go Away in 2011. (Seriously, for the children. Okay, for me.) I provide no category. No tiny fiefdom to prove my specific expertise, throwing in just enough obscure crap to impress the shit out of everyone, just enough popular successes to prove I'm not a snob. Screw that. When it comes to shit I hate--I'm a generalist.

1. Sarah fucking god damned shit-for-brains Palin. She has her own TV show. How did this happen? No one gave Dan Quayle a second thought, much less his own TV show. Want to talk about Jack Kemp? No! Of course you don't! It's ludicrous that someone who's had so little actual impact on the actual world, through her actual...actions (not other peoples' assessments of her and her "profile" on the "scene"), gets as much play as she does. She's a willfully ignorant, venal, fame whore. She needs to go away. And take her clod-headed children with her.

2. Joel McHale. I know some of you love him. But really, isn't it time he wiped that smug grin off his face? Does someone that tall and good looking really need to push the superior, hipper than thou, glib thing? He's handsome! He's over six feet! He's funny! He has two shows! He's so much better than you in every way! And he knows it! It's piling on a little, isn't it?

3. Jersey Shore. Not the actual show or their stupid "books" or even the people themselves--I really couldn't give a crap. But as a cultural reference/punch line. If I hear one more smart person (the President for god's sake) say their ridiculous names for easy laughs and street cred...enough. Let's do better. A tiny little show like this on a psychotic, desperate and dying cable network really doesn't require this much attention. Let's not speak of it/them again, okay? You can watch them, if you must (who am I to talk; I watch The Real Housewives of New York), but let's just not make mention of them.

4. Harem pants. They weren't pretty or flattering the first time around, they sure aren't now. Back away from them, people, you will be so embarrassed in five years.

5. Rhymey, pop culture portmanteaus. Take one word. Take another word that modifies it and mash them together to make a new word that sort of somehow rhymes with the first word. You're a fucking genius! No, you're not. Put fucking "bromance" and "sheconomy" and "sexting" and "slackademic" back in your fucking desk. Your magazine's going under and this shit isn't going to save you.

6. Inception. It wasn't complex. It was incoherent. Let's stop pretending otherwise, okay? It's possible we're actually embarrassing ourselves.

7. Those floppy, flaccid, crocheted, beret type beanies all the young ladies are wearing. They're clearly not keeping anyone warm, and the way they're always sliding off the side of your head? They're trying to escape. Buy a smart fedora for style, a cozy woolen cap for warmth or call it a day. These just look dopey.

8. Enough with the fucking vampires and zombies. Seriously. Do we really need this many iterations of...anything? A gazillion freaking vampire movies, two vampire series currently on TV, how many books series, all these zombie books and mash-ups and movies and shows? Do we have to beat to death (pun: intended!) every single god damned trope any possibly well intentioned writer decides to play with? Let's try leaving well enough alone for once, please. (That said, if a real zombie would like to eat Sarah Palin...I got no problem with that.)

9. My Spam. Not all spam. I'm sure some spam is okay; slightly annoying, but ultimately harmless, like paper cuts and 1-ply toilet paper. But my spam is really ticking me off. For some reason, the spam gods have decided I desperately and pretty exclusively need: ink & toner cartridges, business cards and replacement hips. For the record: I do not. I would like, for 2011, new spam. Even spam hawking different prosthetics would be okay (condyloid joint? fine!), though I'm really hoping for some out of the box thinking by the spam jockeys. Try selling me taxidermy chemicals or refurbished car batteries. Just because why not.

10. Packaging. When did we start having to encase even the most benign consumer goods in titanium strength plastic, affixed with the kind of industrial adhesive that keeps rockets from breaking up when they hit the earth's atmosphere? Seriously? It's eyeliner, not the crown fucking jewels. And the giant box that holds a small bottle, which is in turn half empty? Just...why? Not only does this smack of a looming ecological disaster, it's just fucking annoying.

And I really don't need to be any more annoyed. As I'm sure you can tell.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

For most of my life, I have had a perfect romance with sleep. It was basically love at first sight. I caught a glimpse of the bewitching netherworld of Morpheus and promptly fell.


I've always loved going to bed, staying in bed, sleeping in, sleeping late. As a kid, I remember being so happy to be in bed, I would swaddle myself up tight and--despite being a person who tends towards melancholy--actually smile. Even (weird, but true) squeal with something that I can only describe as: joy. (At some point, the inexplicable word, "Cozy-co!" became part of the proceedings as well.) My favorite toys as a kid were stuffed animals--sleep buddies. For a time in grade school, I would set my alarm clock for 2 or 3 am, just so I could wake up and then fully delight in falling asleep again. I remember vividly as a teenager not hoping I'd never feel the invariably inappropriately timed, painful, full body exhaustion of adolescence--but that I would feel it when I was near a bed. How glorious that would be! To not have to fight the super-villain "Drouser" in 8th grade study hall, but just surrender, give in, fall into that sweet silence. And once I got to college and experienced the sometime sleep deprivation that goes with studying long hours at the wrong time, all I wanted to do on school breaks was sleep until I couldn't sleep anymore.

In fact, though, sleeping until I couldn't sleep anymore seemed a crazy, nonsensical desire. When would that ever happen? When would I not be able to sleep? Coffee with lunch? I see that and raise you a double shot espresso at 11pm. Two hour snoozer in the middle of the day? Pshaw, it was just a prelude to the bliss. Jet lag? What, exactly, is that? Nothing that would ever keep me awake.

Because nothing ever could keep me awake. I could sleep in cars (only as a passenger--usually), at loud parties (literally, once, right next to a pounding speaker the size of a water buffalo), on the subway (yes, I missed a stop once), while having my hair blown dry (many, many times; so warm). Sleep was my constant companion, my most reliable friend. The Calgon that could always, no matter, what, take me away. When I'd see a movie about someone trapped in solitary confinement, chaffing every moment, scratching at the walls, I'd think, "Come on; why not just have a nice nap?"

But then. What happened? I'm not sure. At some point (it's fuzzy, frankly; I was half asleep), night became...complicated. There was waking. More than once a night, and without my alarm clock purposely set to 3am. This wasn't a loopy trick orchestrated to birth a second slumber; this waking meant business. This waking meant staying awake. A half hour that turned into 45 minutes, that turned into an hour that turned into rage that turned into sanctimony. (I was up! From 2:10 to 4:45! And I'm awake and walking and talking now! Do you feel sorry for me? I really wish you would.)

Suddenly a nap in the afternoon always meant an interrupted night's sleep. The idea of getting 8 hours, deep and straight, became a chimera, as hard to capture as a dream. After a lifetime of reveling in sleep, luxuriating in sleep, loving sleep unconditionally and being loved unconditionally back...I find myself, well: getting dumped.

Sleep is dumping me. I keep hoping--tonight we'll be happy together! But it never really, truly happens. For the most part...sleep is distracted. Only half there. Sleep just won't commit; I can't get sleep to settle down with me. We're not on the same schedule. We've grown apart. Sleep doesn't understand my needs.

Sleep's heading out for a pack of cigarettes. And I'm pretty sure he's not coming back.

And now I'm getting mad. Every night, I wait for sleep, more and more angry and tense, awaiting an arrival that, if it comes, will be obligatory at best. "Fine. Go. I'm over you." But really, inside, I'm thinking, "Wait! No, come back! I need you!"

Naturally, here, as in the third act of any romantic melodrama: we turn to drugs.

Ah, the drugs. The Tylenol PMs, the Ambiens, the Lunestas. Nice, helpful for a while, cozy but...ultimately, in the end, sad substitutions for the real thing. Like a last ditch, desperate attempt to save the marriage by booking two weeks in Cancun. Yeah, you get a little of that old magic back's temporary. It's false. It's forced. In the end, it...ends. And you have to wake up and smell the coffee. Of course--it's morning already.

So: sigh. I'm not sure this is a break up I can get over. I can't decide: screw sleep. I'll be happy Miniatures. Home beer brewing.

But I won't be. Sleep is irreplaceable. Like oxygen and talking and basic cable. Without it, I'm nothing.

So I just have to keep trying to make it work. Every. Damn. Night.

No matter how tired it makes me.