Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reality Redux

Sometimes, my boyfriend and I will just be sittin' around, watchin' TV when suddenly, out of the blue, he's struck by a genius idea, or, in this case, a genius thread of ideas. He came up with some, shall we say, alternative concepts, for existing reality shows. I thought they were rather entertaining and somewhat offensive. In other words, I loved them. It would be a shame not to share...

Current show: Mantracker - a highly skilled wilderness dude chases city folk through forests and shit.

New show: Mancracker - women chase men with commitment issues through the urban jungle.

Current show: Survivor - a bunch of scantily-clad people hang out on a tropical island and try to figure out how best to vote each other off the island. The winner gets a big cash prize.

New show: Survivor-in-laws: a bunch of people kind of related to you but not really hang out in your house and you try to figure out how best to get them the hell out. Instead of money, you get your house back.

Current show: Love it or list it - couples decide if the home they currently own is best for them, and determine what they would need in a new home, if they decided to sell. They must then choose between renovating or selling.

New show: Love it or f*ck it: men decide if they really like a girl, or just want to f*ck her.

Current show: Holmes on homes - Mike Holmes, a very knowledgeable contractor dude helps out couples who've had bad-ass renos done by douchebag, sub-par contractors.

New show: Holmes on homos: Mike Holmes, a very knowledgeable contractor dude helps out gay couples who've had bad-ass renos done by douchebag, sub-par contractors.

Current show: My first place - the show follows first-time buyers and their realtors as they navigate the hell that is purchasing your first home.

New show: My first race - follows the transformation of people who have apparently switched races (think Michael Jackson: his first race was African American, his second was apparently an attempt at being Caucasian).

Why my boyfriend is not a highly successful TV executive is a mystery to me... that shit is GOLD.

Friday, August 26, 2011

She lives no longer...

It seems my beloved feline companion, Phoebe, ran out of lives. She never completely recovered from that respiratory infection / chronic kidney failure combo she had a couple weeks ago so we decided to put her down last Friday. She could no longer jump up on furniture or chase a fly, her quality of life had plummeted. She was a walking corpse.

However, her mental acuity never waned, not for a moment, and that's what made this decision so difficult. Mentally, she was still all there but her body just couldn't keep up. And I couldn't watch my once feisty, active cat wither away and watch life instead of participating in it. 

Not gonna lie, it was f*cking sad. The worse part is that I knew it was coming. When we put Phoebe's brother down a couple years ago, it was the same day we made the decision. He was in a very bad way and I felt we needed to act immediately. I could not watch my little cuddle bunny suffer any longer. However, with Phoebe, she didn't seem to be in any great physical agony, despite being very weak and emaciated due to her kidney condition. 

So we scheduled her appointment, and had to wait two days since that's when our vet would next be in. It was perhaps the longest, most agonizing two days ever. But it did give me the time to cuddle with Phoebe one last time, brush her and make sure she had a yummy meal before we took her in. Our vet was amazing and the staff at the clinic very sensitive to our situation. Considering the sad nature of the event, it couldn't have gone any better.

My boyfriend and I stayed with her to the very end. As with her brother, I had this strange feeling that, on some level, Phoebe knew what was going to happen, and was ok with it. She looked at me one last time, without a trace of panic or fear, as if to say it was ok, she understood. Then, within a matter of seconds, she was gone.

We decided to donate Phoebe's things to our local SPCA since we don't plan on having more pets for a few years. That visit was very heartening. We returned twice since we had forgotten some things the first time around, and on our second visit, some of Phoebe's toys were already out for the shelter's cats to play with.

I also noticed how these cats were brimming with energy and vitality, and when I picked up one especially enthusiastic young cat and lovingly held her, I was astounded by her energy, weight and healthy plumpness. It was then that I truly realized how sick my cat had been and that we had made the right decision.

It's still strange to come home to a pet-free house. It's quiet and very clean. I suspect we'll have more cats in the future but for now, I'll let myself heal from this loss. It's astounding how quickly those little furry creatures get under your skin and into your heart.

Goodbye my sweet little girl cat.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Plastic bimbosity busted

There are many reasons why I love Kate Winslet. She's a crazy talented actress, smart, beautiful, funny, etc... and she, along with Rachel Weisz and Emma Thompson, have founded the British Anti-Cosmetic Surgery League, promoting the idea of aging naturally, without plastic surgery.

It's nice to get a breath of fresh sanity every once in a while. 'Cause seriously, this plastic surgery thing has gotten way out of hand. I watched an episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills a while back and was astounded by the utterly homogenous appearance of these women. 

Blonde, tanned, fake boobs, oversized lips, immobilized faces. It was obvious each of these women had had a number of cosmetic "enhancements" and frankly, these did nothing to boost their looks. Circus freaks. That's the first thing I thought of when I saw them. 

Why do women think this is beautiful? Or that we should all look the same? If you're working in an industry that basically forces you to undergo cosmetic procedures to keep looking young, to stay "competitive", maybe you should reconsider what you do for a living. And if you feel compelled to go under the knife to retain the affections of a distracted lover, maybe it's time to take the trash to the curb, if you get my drift.

Most of the incredibly talented female actresses that come to my mind are natural beauties, untouched by a plastic surgeon's scalpel or needle: Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson. These are beautiful women, each having their own, unique features. And I remember them clearly. I can tell them apart. They've retained their distinguishing traits, in favour of accepting the body's natural aging process, rather than trying to retard it, and end up looking like, well, a retard. 

Barbie was meant to remain a plastic doll, not become the yardstick by which women measure their proximity to some warped perception of perfection. That false idea of "perfection" was lovingly planted within us at a tender age, watered and tended to by a plethora of corporations who make their money from our self-hatred. Who the f*ck is in charge here anyway?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Never underestimate a good ending

This past week, my boyfriend and I started watching the first season of Breaking Bad. I know, we're a little behind the curve on this one. Season 4 has already started airing and Season 5 has been confirmed, although it will be the show's final season. This already makes me sad and I haven't even started watching Season 2.

I had no idea how extensive Bryan Cranston's acting career has been. I just remembered him as Dr. Tim Whatley, a memorable reoccurring role on Seinfeld. It's a testament to his acting chops and natural charisma that he stood out in a show on which he only occasionally guest starred. He is, of course, sublime as Walter White, the title character in Breaking Bad.

I always wish that truly great TV shows could go on forever even though it's been proven time and again that nothing lasts forever and even good things must come to an end. This got me thinking of good TV endings and bad TV endings. So I thought I'd draw up a list. 'Cause everyone loves lists.

Great ending: Seinfeld
Seinfeld ran for nine glorious seasons and when it was announced that it would end, I was beside myself. How could this show end? It was at the top of its game. There had to be more stories about nothing. I couldn't fathom TV without Seinfeld

But to this day, I thank Jerry Seinfeld for deciding to go out on top, leaving us wanting more. Even the "reunion show" assembled for the seventh season of Curb Your Enthusiasm was great and didn't tarnish in any way the original show. It was pitch perfect.

Bad ending: Friends
As much as I loved this show, it should have ended after nine seasons. The tenth was basically a prolonged goodbye episode that sucked the life out of the show. It's like Friends took itself too seriously and got a little too narcissistic towards the end. It left a bitter taste in my mouth. It's as if the show was saying to its viewers "OMG, you are SO gonna miss me! What will you DO when we're off the air?" Umm, change the channel and see what else is on, that's what.

Great ending: Cheers
This beloved, long-running show was one of my faves. In 11 seasons, it never lost its gusto, and the last episode was appropriately touching, a perfect ending to a phenomenal run. Despite some major casting changes (Kirstey Alley replacing Shelley Long; Woody Harrelson stepping in for Nicholas Colasanto), this show thrived on an incredible ensemble cast and supporting characters. It will be remembered with much love and affection.

Bad ending: Roseanne
It pains me to put this show in the "bad ending" category since its first few seasons were rock solid. Relevant, bold storylines, great writing and lovable characters. However, this show lost its way well before it actually ended after nine seasons. One major mistake was to recast the role of Becky (originally played by Lecy Goranson, Sarah Chalke took over the role in Season 6; Lecy came back in Season 8 only to be replaced by Sarah once again in Season 9). 

Recasting is not always a death sentence for a show (see Cheers above). However, recasting someone in the SAME role will kill the show, either quickly, or in this case, over four seasons. Once that was done, I just couldn't buy it anymore. Sarah Chalke is amazing in Scrubs and has some real comedic talent but Lecy was, and always will be, Becky. 

I don't mind shows taking creative risks but the surreal nature of the final season just didn't resonate with me, and I suspect, with many other viewers as well, since Roseanne's rating plummeted from #1 in Season 2 to #35 in Season 9. This show got off to a great start but in the end, crashed and burned.

Great ending: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
After seven incredible seasons, how does one end Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Not to worry, Joss Whedon was on the job. The finale was everything we could have possibly hoped for, and for a show that could get pretty dark due to its subject matter, it ended on a very positive and inspiring note. A fitting end to such a formidable show.

Bad ending: Angel
We can't blame Joss Whedon for this one. Rumour has it he was informed midway through the fifth season that the show would not be renewed, so some major adjustments needed to be made to wrap up Angel much sooner than expected. And that's exactly the feeling I got watching the last half of the final season. The ending left me feeling empty, like it wasn't the proper ending. Something about it just felt... wrong. Kinda like the TV executives who decided to cancel this show well before its time.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hollywood's generosity knows no bounds

It seems the world, as we know it, is crumbling around us. The US is up shit creek without a paddle and now Europe is buckling under the weight of its debt. So, I was a little peeved when those annoyingly plastic Entertainment Tonight hosts (say what you will, no one beats the dynamic duo that was John Tesh and Mary Hart) were talking about Hollywood heavyweights taking a "pay cut" for their TV gigs.

Let's see if I remember this correctly... Ashton Kutcher is making $700,000 per episode for Two and a Half Men, making him the highest paid TV actor. Ashton Kutcher. Highest paid TV actor. WTF? Then we have Tim Allen, Ted Danson and Keifer Sutherland making something like $250,00 or so an episode on their shows. Man, that is rough. What a sacrifice.

What does a school teacher make? Approximately $30,000 a year or something? Or a nurse? Or a police officer? Or a firefighter? Or a soldier? I couldn't help but be somewhat disgusted by the gaping abyss that separates the ridiculously wealthy from the rest of us.

It's a slap in the face to say that these actors are taking a "pay cut". They're still grossly overpaid. Like corporate CEOs. Who needs that much money? When is enough, enough? The French had a little thing they resorted to called "une révolution" when their royalty got a little too greedy. The middle class rose up and started chopping off aristocratic heads. Don't think it can't happen again. London is burning. People are pissed.

Sure, the middle class has been complacent, much to its own detriment, and still doesn't seem upset enough to mobilize on a grand scale and throw corporate fat cats out on their asses. Which they could do, if they wanted to. But if things keep going the way they are, and the circus side show continues in Washington, the middle class will keep getting squeezed until they snap. I suspect, however, they'll have moved past the guillotine.

And if there's any sure sign that the US is in decline, it's Katie Holmes guest judging on So You Think You Can Dance. I'm sorry, there's just NO excuse for that.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

She lives!

Before I get to the story behind this post's title, I want to talk a bit about the wonderful game of golf. I never thought I'd be one of "those" people, you know, golfers. It was a little too hoity-toity, a little too mainstream for this artsy rebel. Well, I've basically sold out and don't have the energy anymore to be rebellious so I've taken up golf.

If there's anything I've learned so far it's that this game requires emotional fortitude because right now, I suck at it. My best game so far was actually my first game this season. From there, I got progressively worse. You'd think it would be the opposite. But as our golf instructor told us, golf is very counter-intuitive. I guess it's also counter-progressive too. 

It's the kind of sport you absolutely adore when things are going well. You feel accomplished and capable as you relish the natural beauty of the golf course. You feel you belong. However, when things start to go south, and you've lost your mojo, it becomes one of the most demoralizing exercises in perseverance. Gone is the sense of accomplishment, only to be replaced by utter despair and anger and it's almost as if you expect the golf police to come by and throw you off the course. "Come back when you can hit a straight shot, you flunky!", you imagine them saying. 

However, I'm not one to cower when faced with a hefty challenge and I will master this game. That pesky little white ball will bend to my will and I will be victorious. Mark my words, I WILL be victorious.

And now for something completely different.... (thank you Monty Python)

You know when you wake up in the morning and you go into your living room and find your cat sprawled on the floor, and you pet her a couple times but she doesn't move and it looks like she's not breathing and for a split second you think she's dead and your heart starts to pound and tears start rolling down your cheeks and then suddenly her little head perks up and she looks at you as if you've lost your marbles?

Well, that's what happened to me the other morning. You see, I have an old cat with a chronic kidney condition. She hadn't eaten in about a day, was quite lethargic and things were looking dire. Hence the immediate assumption that she may have passed away on my living room floor. 

However, Phoebe was still alive. So we called the vet and brought her in. Apparently, she had contracted a respiratory infection which was unrelated to her kidney condition. The vet gave her some subcutaneous fluids, a shot of antibiotics and got her to eat. If all went well, she would be better within about three days. It's about day two and a half and my cat seems to be on the mend. Yes, she still has her chronic kidney condition but she's perked up and is eating again. She's a tough old bird and is presently relaxing on our backyard deck.

Being faced with a cherished pet's mortality is not pleasant. I had to put Phoebe's brother down almost two years ago and it was one of the most difficult, heart-wrenching things I've ever had to do. However, Phoebe seems to have cheated death, at least for now, and my heart has been put back together.


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