HE SAID: Grocery Shopping

December 29, 2009

I excel at many different aspects of my life.  But for everything I excel at, there is something I suck at as well.  The thing I suck at the most, is probably grocery shopping.  I go about once a week, and pick up more or less the same type stuff every time: some salad fixings, bread, a rotisserie chicken, cheese, a few apples and bananas, some soup, maybe a frozen pizza, and some form of a snack (this week it was mint milano cookies, last week it was chewy chips ahoy).  Ok ok, none of you giving a flying eff, but the point is, the things I need is not exactly extensive, and yet somehow I manage to screw it up each and every time.  I mean, I even screwed it up writing this blog, I usually pick up some thin spaghetti and pasta sauce as well.

People tell me that I should make a list.  Clearly, as exemplified by my stupidity above, that would do me absolutely no good.  If I make a list, there is no way I’m deviating from it once I get to the grocery store, I simply don’t have that mental capacity when it comes to food.  Get me on a tennis court, and I can go from plan A to plan B to plan C, get me in your local Shaw’s Supermarket and I’m like an eight year old that wanders into the middle of a movie, I have no frame of reference.  At least if I go into the market without a list, I have a fighting chance of somehow ending up with everything I need in my cart.

Ok, now that I’ve got most of the food I need, I’m ready to head to the checkout lines.  This is always a complete shitshow.  I usually have just enough food where using the self-check just is too much of a pain in the ass.  Besides, most people that use them seem to turn into Ritards once they have to scan their own items.  There should be a general IQ test that screens people before they use the self-checkout (a bit hypocritical, I realize, given I can’t even properly shop, but at least my issues aren’t holding anyone else up).

With the regular lines, the issue seems to be a lack of baggers.  Maybe it’s due to the economy, but I feel like up until about two years ago everytime I bought groceries, a bagger would bag them.  Now it’s more like a 50/50 shot.  Bottom line is I, like most people, can bag my own groceries.  The difference is, I am not nearly as experienced and thus much less effecient at it.  So are most other people, and as a result, the lines get clogged and my fudgesicles start to melt.  Oh yeah, I probably forgot to mention I get fudgesicles too.  Eff it, to anyone reading I’ll pay you to be my personal grocery shopper.

SHE SAID: Grocery Shopping

December 29, 2009

I love food, and eating and cooking, but I’m not a huge fan of grocery shopping.

Grocery shopping can go from being a quick run, to a 45 minute stop if you go to your local store at about 4 – 5 o’clock and run into everyone you know … and their mother.  And while I’m happy to see people and catch up, it’s not my favorite spot to do so.  Plus, add a hungry/antsy toddler into the mix and literally all hell can break loose.

Someone once told me that grocery stores are designed to disorient and confuse people.    Consider that there are few windows, some lame lyric-less music is playing softly in the background, florescent lighting with high shelves and the produce aisle is usually furthest from the door.  You may walk in with the best intentions of getting out of there quickly and with what’s on your list, but I can guarantee that some randoms are going to end up in your basket.  And if you aren’t like a trained rat in a maze, that you’ll spend some time wandering, gazing at product after product and completely zoning out.  At least, I do.  Which means that, due to the layout, I am very monogamous to my local store because I know where everything is and my chances of spending less time inside the store are way higher.  And so I respect the designers of these spaces because they are highly successful at squeezing more time out of shoppers and the odds of more good being purchased are higher.

My biggest pet peeve about grocery stores, however, isn’t the cashing out, the expired products that haven’t yet found their way off the shelf, running into my best friend’s, cousin’s, step brother’s sister in law in aisle 5, but the whole rewards program they offer.  You have a card that has to be scanned and if you’ve forgotten it because you were out the night before and don’t have your huge wallet, but instead just threw your debit card in your pocket, you don’t get 2 milks for the price of one.  Just offer the deal or don’t.  But adding another card into my stack is a pain in the butt and having to give you my license number when I forget it is even more of a pain.  This isn’t making me a more loyal shopper, but it is making me a more annoyed less likely to shop here shopper.  Plus, maybe I don’t want to be added onto your program and give you all my information so you can track me somehow.  I’m buying lettuce and grapes and bread … why does Shaws need my email address?

My sister was living in Chicago a few years back and there was a delivery service.  This sounded like heaven to me.  Not only could you order on line, but it was dropped off at your house.  No standing in line behind someone wanting to buy lottery tickets.  No hoping my fellow shoppers would tolerate a miserable child because I didn’t want to buy marshmallows today.  No wandering aimlessly.  Unfortunately, they don’t do that in Northern Vermont.

SHE SAID: White? Or colored?

December 22, 2009

I’m involved in a heated debate.  No one’s sleeping on the couch … yet, but neither party is even close to conceding.  And the point of contention is the lights for the Christmas tree.

Who knew that people were so adamant about lights?  I mean, I know I’m oddly particular about things and also frustratingly stubborn, so it’s not that surprising that I’m hooked on my tradition, but it seems that everyone has a stance on this subject.  A Facebook post asking for opinions ended up with a smattering of exclamation points and general disbelief that someone would even consider opting for the other alternative.

I, personally, opt for colored lights.  I love the kitschiness of them.  And I’m talking, the big bulbous colored lights.  I have no love for the smaller ones.  I love the eightiness of the huge ones (fittingly, this was the time period in which I spent Christmas Eves trying to catch a glimpse of Santa).  And while the white lights are beautiful and I can appreciate why people would lean in that direction, something about the colored lights keeps me coming back year after year.

White lights are too perfect.  Too clean.

Nothing about white lights reminds me of the actuality that is family.  Or at least my family.  They just don’t go with my father’s annual frustration with wrapping presents.  My mother in the kitchen, covered in flour, begging us or one of us to come help and frost the cookies.  My uncle, a few beers in, trying to assemble the surprisingly intricate pink Barbie car for my niece.  White lights don’t mesh with fleece footie pajamas and morning breath and uncombed hair sometimes sticking straight in the air while hands too fast for the mortal eye to see break into presents.

But colored lights, especially lights where the bulbs have been replaced and so there might be two orange ones right next to each other, remind me of the intimacy of Christmas morning.  Of sitting on the balcony, clutching the rails and waiting for my parents to wake up so we can start in insanity.

And maybe the families with the white lights are cringing at my description of our holiday … and maybe that’s where the divide is, where the misunderstanding stems from.

But I imagine that everyone would have a hard time switching to the other, and I also find it hard to believe that people would expect themselves to be so attached to their tradition.  It kind of sneaks up on you.

So, who knows.  Two trees? Do we alternate every other year?  Has anyone else come up against this one?

HE SAID: White? Or Colored?

December 22, 2009

First off, thanks for not posting during my Hanukah season, it was a welcome break.  Secondly, have you put any thought into the title of this post Nifer?  Hopefully we don’t get a ton of white supremacists reading our blog.  Actually, who am I kidding, we need the readership.

I know this is a bit of a cop out, but the simple answer your Christmas query is there is no answer.  It’s kind of like Mounds and Almond Joy, sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.  Even though most people probably assume I shouldn’t have any say in this matter, and that I grew up a lonely Jew on Christmas, you are blatantly wrong.  Up until the age of about 7 we had a little plastic tree that we used to decorate and my brother and I would open up a few presents Christmas morning.  Then my sister was born, and for some reason, we stopped doing it.  So, like most fun things I experienced when I was young, my sister managed to ruin.  Yet I digress…

There was a house in my hometown growing up that used to go all Clark Griswold on us and decorate the shit out of it for every holiday.  For Christmas, they used multi-cultural lights (‘colored’ is not very pc anymore I believe).  I used to drive by it every day and was absolutely entralled by the site of it.  I even remember saying to my father at the age of 5, “wow, this house is absolutely enthralling to drive by.” I had a very advanced vocabulary.  It has somewhat regressed.  I would venture to guess that by about the age of 13, I thought it was incredibly tacky.  Of course, the Christmas when I was 13 was just a couple of months after I became a man (my Bar Mitzvah was that October, I didn’t become a real man until much, much later unfortunately).

Personally, I’m still at the current stage…I prefer the simplicity of classic white lights.  I don’t mind a few blue ones sprinkled in, but I think something like this, while impressive, is obtrusive and lame.  But at the same time, I can’t really be upset or angry at anyone who chooses to do that.  Isn’t that what the holiday season is all about?  The non commercial aspect of it anyway.  Wow, that made me sound very idealistic, but I don’t care.

At the end of the day, do whatever the eff you want when it comes to decorating your house, tree or RV for all I care.  Although I will finish by saying if you have children, their opinion should count for more, unless that child is color blind, in which case it shouldn’t count at all.


December 4, 2009

As I too often do, I found myself getting nostaligc last night, and in an effort to avoid studying for a final (which I’m furter doing by writing this post), I was watching old music videos on youtube.  Seriously, watch this video, power players like Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder, singing together on a beach and in front of a bonfire. Epic.  Then I remembered my first experience with MTV.

When I was but a young pup, and MTV was not part of normal cable packages, they offered a free preview weekend.  My father, recorded a two-hour VHS tape of it for me.  Was it filled with shitty reality shows?  No, it was filled with music videos.  Terrific music videos like Jump by Van Halen (David Lee Roth era, eff you Sammy Hagar) & You Might Think by the Cars (talk about creepy).  Now, even back then it was not music videos 24 hours a day.

The first non-video music related show I can remember was Remote Control.  That show kicked some ass.  Talk about programming that was ahead of it’s time, at least for me anyway.  It was a quiz show that focused on music and movies, I would have rocked that like Tiger rocked that fire hydrant.  It also helped launch the careers of Adam Sandler and Colin Quinn.

Then came Real World, or as I like to call it, “The Beginning of the End.”  That is not to say Real World, at least the first half dozen seasons or so, was not entertaining.  Eric (from season 1 later starring in MTV’s The Grind) taught me my original definition of the word D-Bag, Stephen taught me the proper way to slap a woman (just kidding…although there may have been a few slaps thrown my sisters way at one point in time, when we were young, promise), and finally Puck taught me that it was ok to be a homophobe.  Ok ok…so maybe lessons learned from the Real World were not terrific, but luckily I have not turned into an abuser or a homophobe, d-bag still pending.

Since that show was so successful, it lead to the demise of MTV (and perhaps the demise of all tv with all the shitty reality shows).  Check out some of the programming that has been on MTV – The Osbournes, Pimp My Ride, Undressed, Newlyweds, Real World (seasons 10-whatever effing number they are on today), RW/RR Challenge, The Ashlee Simpson Show, Laguna Beach, The Hills, My Super Sweet 16, Punk’d, and Two-A-Days.  If you are wondering – Yes, I had to look those up.

I realize that I’m leaving out some entertaining stuff, like Beavis & Butthead and the Tom Green Show.  That’s not my point, those shows can be supplemental to cool music videos.  Instead of supplemental to other shit TV programming.  Of course, cool music videos would require cool music, and considering for the most part that doesn’t happen too much anymore, we might be screwed.


December 3, 2009

For years, MTV defined cool.  I spent one weekend, when EMF came out with their video for Unbelievable, with which I was mildly obsessed, in front of the channel, afraid to leave the room in case the video (or that for Faith No More’s “Epic“*) was played.  It was one of the few channels my friends and I watched, and the release of a video was almost as important as the song for a few years.  Not that a bad video would ruin a good songs marketability, but a good video could sell a terrible song.  And did on many occasions.

MTV created another artistic outlet that tied in with music, an industry that has continued to churn out more and more artists and less and less longevity.  The music video gave the artists and the record companies a completely new way to serve up their product and a new way for it to be enjoyed by the consumer.  A brilliant idea, and an ingenuous one that I can appreciate even now that I’m not sitting on the edge of my seat crossing my fingers that EMF’s opening bars play next.

I understand why MTV felt the need to change.  Why tune into MTV when you have youtube?  MTV saw it’s monopoly on the music video slipping away and tried out something new.  While I hate what the programming has begun, I understand why they considered it a good business decision.  They did try to jazz it up a little without completely giving up music videos with the viewer commentary that ran along the bottom.  A painful and short lived addition because it devolved into shout outs to friends (hey Cory and Amanda!  love you guys!) and insightful lines like, I really like this video.

With the ability to watch any video from any time at the click of a finger, why would I spend a weekend in fear of missing the 3 minutes of glory that was the Unbelievable video?  Generations before watched events like the Kennedy assassination and civil rights protests and defined those as monumental televised events.  With MTV, my generation was able to add the release of the Thriller music video to our list of monumental televised events.

MTV stands for Music Television.  Perhaps they should have started another channel (NOT MTV2) and run the Real World and it’s illegitimate step children there.  There would have been viewer crossover, the music aspect of MTV could have evolved without having to share the stage with an unrelated act, and they could have remained true to the definition of their acronym.

As it is, there is no longer any music played on the Music Television channel, and so if there were a funeral for the channel, as there should have been years ago, I would be a pallbearer.  I have no issue carrying the coffin that holds MTV.  Maybe with my help, we can get it in the ground faster.

*Side note: I went back to view this video and I’m a little upset that I did because now I realize what terrible taste I had and the song and video that I thought RULED is actually quite terrible (lighting bolts and florescent MC Hammer pants!!!?).  In my defense, the top three songs of 1990 were Wilson Phillips-Hold On, Roxette-It Must Have Been Love, and Sinead O’Connor-Nothing Compares 2U (she would have been a fan of our texting abbreviations post) … the pickings were slim.