« January 2012 | Main | March 2012 »

February 28, 2012

The return of the clean-crazy

I have been on a tear these past few days, bringing on a total terrorization of clutter. I have no idea where these moments of clean-crazy come from, but when I wake up feeling the deep desire to do a full closet purge it is a day of reckoning.

And I was ruthless in my editing, unloading some things I have been carrying with me for years. The psychic weight of that stuff is alarming, I didn't realize until it was gone that not only have I been holding onto the thing, I was also housing the memory of the time I got that thing, along with the hope that I would one day re-need that thing, as well as the anxiety that comes from having a thing I'm not actively using.

Good grief!

About a week ago there was a particularly disturbing episode of Hoarders that sent me over the edge. I can't bear watching that show when the people who hoard also have animals. Look, it's one thing if you're buck crazy and just want to hoard your old pizza boxes. But to make a child or animal live in that is obscene, a crime against living. This one episode featured a woman with a poop mountain and a dead cat and at the end instead of going to jail for animal cruelty, she got a makeover. How is that possible?

This is one of those times I wish TV were more like YouTube, so one could post a rebuttal video. I'm over here holding up the opposite picture: a person can have more than one cat and still have a clean and happy home. YES! Clean! Happy! My place is nothing fancy, it's true, but you could eat dinner off my kitchen floor. Why isn't that the image people have of cat owners?

The poor cats always get blamed on those horrible hoarder shows, too. As if it were the cat's fault the human was too lazy to scoop and sweep. That is like blaming a car for breaking down after you've failed to change the oil for sixteen months in a row.

Perhaps all of this was the impetus for my recent clean-crazy, just a terrifying television show. I know I'm not the only one in America who has to go scrub something after an hour of Weekly Hoarding TV.

- - -

When it comes to Hoarding TV, there was one show that got it right underneath it all. Back when Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) was still on CSI, his character Langston had a conversation with Nick after a case that involved a severely hoarded home. Nick was having trouble understanding how anyone could ever hoard a home. This was their convo:

Langston: The philosopher Erich Fromm forecast a society that was obsessed with possessions. He believed that human beings have two basic orientations -- having and being. A person with the having orientation seeks to acquire and possess things, property, even people. The person with the being orientation focuses on the experience. They derive meaning from the exchanging, engaging, and sharing with other people.

Nick: Sounds like the right way to be...

Langston: Unfortunately Fromm also predicted that a culture driven by commercialism, like the one we live in today, is doomed to the having orientation, which leads to dissatisfaction and emptiness. When you consider that in 1960 there was no such thing as public storage in America ... and today there are over two billion square feet dedicated to it, it makes you think he had a point. Things don't have to mean everything nor do they have to be devoid of meaning. They are one of the ways in which we can experience and enjoy life.

Nick: As long as they don't get in the way of living...

- - -

So there is my TV philosophy for the day. And for the record, people with cats can have VERY CLEAN HOMES. Oh doubters -- I challenge you to a clean-off. I am Inigo Montoya and you insulted my housekeeping, prepare to scour!

(Comments are open for a bit.)

Posted by laurie at 5:55 PM

February 25, 2012

All the things plus that time I almost burned down the building with a pop tart

The first thing you should know is that I paid almost $300 to have someone professionally install the new version of this software on my server, because upgrading from 2004 MT software to 2012 MT software is just so far outside my bowling lane that I literally deleted the entire database, whoops. But I HATE this new software. HATE. Loathe. Bad feelings. I finally discovered what the problem was with the comments, by the way. The "spam filter" (in ironic quotes) filtered out only the real comments and left the spam comments to free-for-all and make spam sex in my comments section. I do not know how I plan to address this. Just a few weeks ago I deleted over 12,000 spam comments. And that was just the tip of the crazyberg, there are something like 50,000 more. So ennui descended -- cue French music! -- and I just avoided this website which seemed like a good option at the time.

Thank you in advance for the solutions you are going to email me but I also have not read blog email since October. There should be a better excuse here, but I went on vacation with my family in mid-October with no email access, and when I got back my account was so overrun it was impossible so I just got irritated and opened a personal email account somewhere else. How do spammers even make money? How is it possible that the presidential candidates talk so much about so little yet they never mention spam? Spam affects ALL OF US. It also especially affects me so I will only vote for the person who officially offers to make spamming a federal crime.

Today I have a new strategy. I am just going to turn off all comments and go back to the tedious work of spam deletion and then figure out a solution at a later date with wine.

In some ways I imagine the way I feel about this website is the way a young wayward 30-something feels when she turns up one day unexpectedly pregnant, gets freaked out then excited and then happy, changes everything about her life, only to wake up eight years later to discover the child she is raising is a sociopath who does bad things to caterpillars. She still feels love for the child, but she kind of wants to institutionalize it and pretend it isn't hers.

So that brings us up to date! Hello, readers!

ALSO. There is good new news but I can't quite share it yet since I'm superstitious. So that comes later. In the meantime, a few things:

1) Funniest Dialogue Ever, from 30 Rock

Jenna, talking about Liz Lemon's surprisingly rich acquaintance uber-nerd:

"I don't know a lot about business, but he did an internet, now the computers like him, and Wall Street is Google."

Sadly, I may never be Google that way. [For reference, see: entire complaining monologue above about my own website.]

2) Chicken Chili, not even chili, but I like it, I like it, I really like it.
I realize I have written about this chili recipe 437 times and yet it is not even real chili. Real chili, as all Southerners know, is made from ground beef. You can make your "chili" from tofu or turkey or chicken or scrambled iguana eggs but the mean-spirited quotation marks stand. It is not real chili. Real chili is all cow. (WOW, coincidentally, did I pick a great day to turn off comments or what! Sorry, vegans, no comments for you today.)

Southerners are so crazy about chili that entire families have been torn apart by the controversial issue of beans. Do beans belong in chili? My family from Texas says no, by the way, though I myself am partial to the more bayou side and I like some red beans in my chili. My father's chili is all beef, no beans and it is often spooned over enchiladas. Whole 'nother ball of wax.

So this chicken recipe is just crazypants, but that is why I love it. You can add any old thing and it's still great, though not traditional, and maybe that is what makes it so great. It's all improv! I start with a whole chopped big brown onion, more than the recipe calls for. I add it to the pot along with a whole chopped red bell pepper and a green bell pepper. Tons of fresh garlic. Then I add finely chopped chicken breast (tip: freeze the chicken a bit before chopping, it goes so much faster when it's a bit frozen.) Add all the spices and stuff like the recipe calls for. But you can switch up the beans, I usually add one can of white beans and one can of mixed-up beans, the Ralph's store brand has an organic version of black beans, red beans and pinto beans mixed together and they are great. I also add in about a cup of very finely chopped green stuff -- maybe kale or chard, whatever is on sale. You can't taste it and it adds some nutrition.

At the very end of the cook time I add a tiny dash of cinnamon. Sounds crazy but it adds some warmth and coziness to this totally not-chili chili. The recipe makes a HUGE pot of food so you have plenty to freeze for later. It freezes great, too. If you get your chicken on sale this dish adds up to about $7.00 for ten servings. Not bad, Chad!

3) The Chocolate Pop Tarts are the dangerous ones
I have this cheap toaster that I bought God Only Knows Where and since I rarely toast anything it's not a big life issue for me, like spam or chili or television. I have very strong feelings about those other topics, but toasting is not really on my worry list.

Yesterday I was at the store getting the ingredients for my chicken chili and I found myself alone in the pop tart aisle and I had the chocolate goodness in my basket so quick and downlow you'd think I was scoring heroin on an episode of Intervention. I got home and dug the toaster out of the cupboard and plugged it in and set my pop tarts to toast and they toasted all right. The plunger thingy just stayed plunged. They never popped up like in the commercial.

I'm pretty sure I haven't consumed a pop tart in about ten years so I wasn't paying that much attention to the pop tart protocol and I was distracted, you see, and dusting the weird little vent at the bottom of the fridge and I could smell the intensity of chocolate pop tart but I didn't know it was ON FIRE until the smoke alarm sounded and there were flames -- yes, flames! - inside my toaster.

Lest you think this is a story with a sad ending, may I remind you that pop tarts comes in boxes of pairs, and there was a reserve waiting for me. So I used the microwave to heat my backup tarts. I know when a machine cannot be trusted.

I have at least learned that much.

Posted by laurie at 7:08 AM

February 13, 2012

In which I recap TV as if I were at the Entertainment Weekly staff meeting

Oh, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (Mondays, 9 p.m. Bravo TV, also in infinite repeats forever especially on sick days.)

I may be venturing to your Villa Blanca and I may be indeed loving your cruel assessment that both Malibu (where Camille lives) and Westlake Village (where Kim lives) are so, so far away from the city and the shoes and the fake eyelashes.

That's one of those inside-L.A. snob jokes. Like the time I tweeted about the insane paparazzi I'd just passed on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks outside Marmalade and some uppity nobody from nowhere informed me that "no celebrities worth photographing go to the Valley."

On that particular day at Marmalade it was Jennifer Aniston. Not to be outdone, just a few weeks ago Angelina Jolie and some of her tribe showed up for the Studio City Farmer's Market, so here's a big tongue sticking out claiming boo-yah rights at the goobernut who believes the Valley is full of nothing but auto detailing shops and gangland violence. Not that we don't love our auto body shops and smooth pelositos, but on the boulevard we are all about celebs.

So, Kim admits she's an alcoholic, Dana is normal but in this light looks crazy, Ken seems oddly hot and all I miss is Jiggy. Taylor pulls my strings -- I mean, I am a girl who sides with girls -- but something about her makes me wary. Brandi cracks me UP. I would totally watch Vanderfabulous spinoff with Brandi in tow. If only her name were Tanqueray, it would be so fitting.

Thus concludes another season of the Beverly Hills Housewives.


I Just Want My Pants Back
(MTV, 11 p.m. Thursdays)
The Parents TV Council wants MTV to drop this new show, obviously because it is funny and realistic-ish (still, the apartments are too big) and the Council thinks it's too racy for kids. My suggestion? CALL MY DAD. He never let me watch TV alone. We picked shows as a family and watched TV together. That is appropriate, people. When you are 12, you shouldn't be running nilly willy through the world of backdoor jokes.

Anyway, this show is funny and sweet, surprisingly. I love how it captures that time in your twenties before you become a jaded Dating Oracle with nothing but stories and wisdom left ... the characters still have their souls and their hopes and their funny love-hungry misadventures. It's solid. I like it. Make the Parental Control people just control their own kids, OK?


SMASH (Mondays, NBC)
Meh. I watched the pilot but the whole time I rooted for Megan Hilty and not Katherine McPhee. It's my cue that I should un-Tivo this one.


American Idol (FOX, Wednesdays and Thursdays)
I was SO BUMMED that we wasted one entire of Group Night and MY LIFE to see no singing at all last week. You are on notice, American Idol. To be a singing competition, people must SING.


Law & Order
Not realizing the width and breadth and prolific availability of 20 years of now-canceled Law & Order episodes, I started tivo'ing them last week. I was just in a mood. You understand. Now I go to bed each night thinking that theme, CHA-CHUM. But I like it. Who was your fave? Chris Noth? Lenny Briscoe? I liked Fred Thompson. I need justice to PREVAIL, people.


Revenge(Wednesdays, ABC, 10 p.m.)
Best new show of the year. I am soapified and sucked in! I love every aspect of this show, it is exactly what a nighttime soap should be down to the fabulous clothing.


Prime Suspect(never, NBC)
NBC canceled the one series I fell in love with this year besides Revenge. Sure the pilot was clunky, but as time went by Maria Bello was the finest thing on TV and a revelation as a soft/hard woman on the force. Screw you, NBC. I am so mad at you.


CSI(Thursdays, CBS, 10 p.m.)
Elisabeth Shue!
I was sad to see the departure of Marg Helgenberger, one of the strongest female leads in the long line of CSI: Dead White Woman Of The Week shows. But I loves me some Elisabeth Shue. Here is why I admire here -- she inspires me. She does some teeny movies in the 1980s, lands a big dramatic role in Leaving Las Vegas that tears your heart in two, and later re-surfaces in a Piranha movie. I really get that kind of career. I understand it. It makes sense to me. Keep in mind my Shakespearean oeuvres have lately been about hair removal or online dating, so choose your source wisely. But I am so looking forward to Shue classing up the joint.


Bones(Thursdays, FOX)
Just come back already! Thanks to my Twitter friends who helped me uncover the scoop, Bones comes back on (GASP!!!) April 5, 2012. I'll be like, old, by then.



Hoarders(Mondays, A&E)
I don't watch this show live so it may already be in repeats. I TiVo it and watch one episode each morning before I start a major cleaning effort. I can usually make it through 20 minutes of the show before I have to scour something, re-grout a sink or take a full Silkwood.

Once a long time ago some bloke left me an unsavory comment when he saw a picture of my cute cat FrankiePanky sitting on the table. He said something like, "I would never eat there..."

I wanted to email him back and ask for his address. I know and you know that I have some enthusiastic issues (read: OCD) with my cleaning binges. But the poster clearly didn't know that. I wanted to show up to his house in decontamination gear and a respirator with a clipboard. I can guarantee you that even with my cats sitting their fluffy hinds here and there my home is cleaner than any man's home, barring his own bout with OCD (manifesting in a cleanliness disorder, natch). I am living proof that people can have animals inside the home and still have a clean, sanitary, fresh home. Why? Because a sister be crazy for some Clorox wipes and a Dyson. But I don't judge others. I know I border on the Mr. Clean Crazy Spectrum. (Mr. Clean is so cute, a peloncito!) and we all do the best we can. You know my belief is that your best truly is good enough.

Hoarders has changed me in good ways, and that to me is a sign of good TV. While I freely admit to some clean-crazy OCD stuff, I also am a a level one hoarder. I try much harder to part with my hoarded stuff now, because cleaning and arranging all my stuff is exhausting. I recognize that I have Stage One clutter blindness: I may become blind to the mail piling up on the desk or the magazines neatly stacked in the corner. Or even to the shoes piled neatly in the doorway shoe rack.

So when I notice a pile I actually notice it. That's a good step. But most of all I realize how important it is to get even the most minor home repairs fixed immediately. All the TV hoarders seem to share the same fate ... the plumbing or the electricity has failed and they can't get anyone in to fix it. Or they put it off for so long it's impossible. But every hoarded home is the same: plumbing problems, bad wires, no sink.

Today I had the plumber out, he fixed the garbage disposal and a wonky shower stall lever. I mopped and cleaned beforehand, of course, but he left boot prints on the floor so I mopped after, too. Everything works tonight. That's how you know you aren't going to fall into hoarding. You make a point to do upkeep. You get someone out to perform a look-see after the wonky garbage disposal. That is what the show helped me see.

Get it done. And do it now.


Posted by laurie at 10:03 PM

February 4, 2012

Big Face


Comments are off site-wide until some of the issues with the new software upgrade can be addressed. In the meantime, Soba!

Posted by laurie at 2:18 PM

February 3, 2012

Ridiculous New Software

There are some problems with the software upgrade. I already know there are some issues so while I do appreciate the notes and emails and texts and tweets, of course, I already know that there are some little fixes that need to be made.

Unless you have MT experience and want to help a sister out with some code, though, definitely send me a line!

If we're all patient it will get sorted out eventually. Thanks!

Posted by laurie at 8:23 PM