Friday, January 22, 2010

I'm With Coco

So I just watched the last Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. I am one of those people who cares about this whole thing a great deal. Conan is like an old friend to me. Sure he's an old friend who has no idea who I am and likely wouldn't really have much to say to me if he did, but he's been part of my life for about 15 years.

My friend Ryan used to watch Conan every night in college. I spent a lot of time at Ryan's apartment late at night during my sophomore year because our roommates were dating. Ryan and I would stay up and fold laundry and watch Conan while they smooched or argued or whatever it was they were doing. And then, inevitably, Ryan would be enlisted to drive me and my Jeep and the laundry home in the freezing cold wee hours of the morning while our roommates road back in the comfort of the other guy's car. This sounds weird. What was the point? I think the idea was that parking was scarce at the girls' dorms and our safety was also a concern. Why I never left early and just let the boyfriend bring my roommate home, I am not sure. I think Conan had something to do with it. Conan is even better with friends!

After college, I was married and with child pretty quick. Conan did the bit from time to time where he sang lullabies to all the babies who were keeping their parents up late at night, and it was often the case that my own children heard Conan's late night lullabies. But even without a young baby, anyone will tell you that I am a bit of a night owl. And again, I tend to think Conan has something to do with this. I don't think I would have stayed up so late all these years if there wasn't something really too good to miss on TV. I mean, really, I love to sleep. But I love to laugh more.

So maybe I am being a little sentimental. I know he is still alive and will probably even have another show for us to watch this September. But I am just sad that he was treated this way. I really do think he was wronged, and I have read article upon article about it online, so I do know at least a little bit about it. Even if everything leading up to the suggestion of bumping The Tonight Show back and letting Leno come on earlier was well meant and "just business," when it got to the point where Conan said no, and the network chose Leno over Conan for the show and time slot that Leno (willingly or not) had already stepped down from, that's a bad decision, an unkind and unfair decision.

Furthermore, I do know that some of this is my fault. I mean, it's all about "ratings" and I haven't been watching Conan for over a year. *GASP* But we don't have TV; it's not my fault!! And anyway, I want to raise the possibility that the Nielsen ratings are inaccurate and arbitrary. Who do you know that has participated in them? Well, me, for one. We got the little log to fill in once a few years back. But I don't know anyone else who has. And I certainly don't know anyone who has the box on their television set. What I do know is that whoever has these boxes does not like any of the shows I like. It is the Arrested Development thing all over again. But in my defense, I tuned in to watch Conan online last summer when he first started and over the past few weeks since the "debacle" started. As with most shows, the episodes are posted the day after they air on the website.

Anyway, yesterday I had a sudden fit of loyalty in which I had to watch Conan's last show in real time (even though it is taped hours before airing it). So I called George on his way home from work and he went to Dickey Bub, some hilarious country store out here that outfits country people with all things needed for country living- mud boots, feed corn, and giant antennas that no one else carries- to purchase the aforementioned humongous antenna. I kid you not, it is the size of a small car. So without proper assistance, George was unable to actually fix the antenna to the roof, and he had to just lay it in the yard! But we found that even after hooking up this gigantic apparatus, we couldn't pick up any channels! It turns out, as we had suspected earlier, that the DVR recorder we received from my parents for Christmas in 2008 which has a built in digital converter, is defective inasmuch as the digital converter doesn't work. We figured this out around supper time and decided we'd get the kids in bed and then George would head out to Walmart (*GASP*) for another converter box. So around nine o'clock, George returns from Walmart empty handed. Evidently, Walmart doesn't carry converter boxes! (Well, well, just another reason on a long list of reasons that Walmart stinks!) This is where I tend to think that George should have picked up the phone and had me look around online to find the closest open place that did. I mean, it's 9:00, Conan starts in an hour and a half!! Instead, George drives all the way back home defeated. "Oh no, no," I thought to myself, "That is not how this ends."

So I searched around online and found that Target does carry converter boxes, made sure they had them in stock (love this handy feature on - two more reasons right here, on a long list of reasons to love Target), changed back out of my PJs and drove to Target for the third time in thirty hours (different Target each time though). And I still forgot the dish soap. But I did obtain the converter box and chit chatted with the checkout lady and the girl in line behind me about the grave injustice Conan was suffering and how we had gone to great lengths to see his final show. They didn't care nearly so much as I did, and I am assuming that none of you do either. I called my pregnant sister on the way home at 9:50 because I knew that even though she wouldn't care, she would understand that I do after hearing me talk about Conan all these years. Of course, she was asleep. I hope she has forgiven me if the phone ringing woke her up. I finally got home and George hooked up the converter box at about 10:15 with only about 20 minutes to spare for the beginning of The Tonight Show.

Well, you knew it was bound to be a problem, the antenna lying on the ground was not picking up the signal we needed. George went out about six times and moved it around- no small feat when you consider it is bigger than him- and ended up balancing it on our grill on the deck! It isn't as simple as moving rabbit ears around where you just look at the screen and wait for the picture to improve, you have to rescan the channels and see if the signal was picked up and then see if the signal is strong enough to actually watch the show. And by this time I had resorted to searching out sites that were live blogging because the show had begun! In the end though, we caught the show from the last part of the bit with Steve Carrell through the end of the show. I love what this blogger for the Chicago Tribune says about the final show. "Classy" is high praise indeed where I come from, and I would definitely agree. If you didn't watch it, first of all, why? And here is a link to change that. Here's a little bit of what you'll get: Steve Carrell, Tom Hanks, Neil Young (who played a beautiful and appropriate "Long May You Run"), and Will Ferrell (and cowbell) with a whole bunch of other celebs (including Conan on guitar) playing "Free Bird." And may I make a suggestion? If you are even sort of a fan, have a little bit of Kleenex on standby, just in case :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Out of it, but reentering?

Okay, so generally I am, and have been, out of it. Am I coming back? Well, I don't know. It's not that I ever plan to be distracted or out of touch; it's just how it happens sometimes. And I don't just mean on my blog anyway. No one outside of my daily routine has heard from me in ages. I haven't had any idea what movies were out or what has happened with who in the world. I seriously didn't find out about the earthquake until days later. But here I am today anyway- on the world wide web. You'd think this handy little thing called the internet would keep me from being so out of it. Let me make use of it today anyway and give you the full update of events in my world. "My world" just seems so small and insignificant. It hardly seems worth anyone else's time. But since you (or some of you at least) asked...

We have just been down to Alabama for a four day weekend. We had both Friday and yesterday off of school (Friday for teachers to get grades turned in and Monday for MLK), so we headed down to see our college friends at one family's farm on the river about an hour from Birmingham. We love to stay in this house. It is cozy yet spacious. It is somehow perfect for everything- quietly reading a book by the fire or going for a run on country roads (my run was 2 miles of lovely on Saturday) or gathering in a large group and shooting guns (why?!) or, the big draw, feasting, laughing, reminiscing and sharing time to reminisce over next year. It is definitely my family's home away from home. And really, that says a lot. Our own home changes at least every two years, but somehow "the River House" has been part of our lives for at least ten! It's an amazing ministry of hospitality that our friends and their family allow us to keep coming back. Not only do they house us, they feed us large quantities or amazing food and love us well. I have to say that I feel extremely cheerful today in spite of nearly eleven hours in the car yesterday. I also feel like my pants are fitting more snugly than usual! I come away from these friends built up and blessed every time.

Being built up and blessed by friends is no small thing. I have been very discouraged lately by the sad things in my own life and in the lives of people around me. This trip truly came at a perfect time. I spent most of Friday freaking out and delaying our departure. George called our hostess at noon and said "Well, Abby's mopping...." I was having major control issues. I know that makes me sound very Type A, which really isn't the case. It's just that there never seems to be time to do anything and nearly everything seems to be spinning wildly out of control. Mopping was a way to at least control the snowy, salty mess that had accumulated in my kitchen over the week. It wasn't exactly a good time to seize control over it, but it needed to be done. And once it was, I felt a little less like a terrible person (mother, wife, tenant), and more like it was okay for me to take the break from my regularly botched responsibilities at home.

And now I'm back and ready to botch everything up all over again. But it's okay. I really do feel better in spite of more bad news today. Will I ever get used to all of the bad news? Part of me hopes so, but most of me hopes not. May I never be cynical and pessimistic, no matter how much suffering I see the people of God encounter. "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living." (Psalm 27:13) I still expect to see the Lord being good to his people on earth in a way that makes sense. The important thing is to remember that even when it doesn't make sense, he is still good. Yet, I will confess that goodness I can comprehend, that I can feel and taste and touch, is what keeps me hopeful- from losing heart.

So, not as substantial as encouragement one gets from time with good friends, but here are a few tidbits to brighten your day or give you a little something to look forward to. Hey, I do what I can!

1) Jon mentioned a BBC miniseries called Lost in Austen on his blog that very much interested me. It also prompted me to do a little looking around. I discovered that the BBC's new Emma will be coming to PBS this Sunday! For those of us without TV, episodes will be available to watch online. I am not sure how I feel about Eli Stone's Johnny Lee Miller playing Mr. Knightly or Harry Potter's (also Wives and Daughters') Michael Gambon playing Mr. Woodhouse, but I think I know what to do. Guess who will be rereading Emma for the fourth (fifth?) time this week? It's the only way to keep from holding everyone up to the Douglas McGrath Emma (which I have seen at least two dozen times). And, I mean, it's not like it's a chore!

2) I'm also excited about Valentine's Day coming out in the theaters. I am sure it will not be the best movie I have ever seen. But I think the filmmakers are on to something. I feel stupid that I am falling for it in some ways. I mean, the comments on the YouTube page for the preview are very telling. It appears that a whole bunch of tweens and high schoolers are really excited about Taylor Swift being in a movie opposite some other guy named Taylor. I have no idea. I choose to remain "out of it" in that regard. However, I like the idea of lots of big Hollywood people coming together, playing a lead in a small story that is part of a big story. Basically, it's the Love Actually formula. And y'all know I love Love Actually. For one thing, if you don't like one of the story lines, it's no big deal. For another thing, if you do like more than one of the story lines, you get more than one positive movie watching experience. You get the happy feeling you get from watching 13 Going On 30 times four (or however many story lines delight you). Did I mention that I very much enjoyed He's Just Not That Into You? Yes, I did. Again, same idea: Ensemble cast. Light comedy. Happily ever after. Times six. Is it so bad that I, like every thirteen to twenty year old female in the country, am interested in this? Don't answer that. I'm going.

3) The preview to Valentine's Day reminds me that I like this song. And thinking of music reminds me that I am very happy to have the new Vampire Weekend album (you can listen for free). My children, Elspeth in particular, are delighted as well. I especially like that she sings falsetto along in "White Sky." Crank it up. It will make you merry (even if they are "the whitest band"- according to the Stuff White People Like guy).

4) This is not good news actually, but in writing this post (by way of clicking over to Stuff White People Like), I have discovered that Conan O'Brien is leaving The Tonight Show. It just seems to me that the NBC people, and Jay Leno in particular, are jerks. And I can't help but wonder if David Letterman isn't about ready to say "SEE?!! This is what I was saying!" This is all coming from someone who has no television reception, so I know nothing. But I already didn't like Leno. This just helps me along. I know I was trying to be uplifting. So here, have a funny Conan clip. Seriously, who is funnier than Conan? Okay, I didn't actually put a link to a clip because I literally spent hours yesterday watching and trying to decide which clips to put up. I highly recommend the Martha Stewart and the Jordan Schlansky ones. And I am so ready to post this.

I have a few books and recipes to recommend as well, but they will have to wait. Y'all have a good day! And I'll try to post more often if I can.

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