Friday, November 30, 2012

The End of the World As We Know It...

Have you heard? The world is going to end on December 21, 2012*.

The Ancient Mayans said so.

That or they ran out of rock on which to carve their very groovy and ornate calendar.

Since what remained of their once-great civilization was ultimately destroyed in the 1600s, it's sort of hard to ask them.

Still, it's a good excuse for radio stations to throw that R.E.M. song into the lineup this month, which is a nice break from all of the Christmas music.

Plus, it makes those extra holiday pounds seem inconsequential.

And gives procrastinators a better-than-usual excuse for putting off their holiday shopping.

However, since the Ancient Mayans failed to predict the invasion by the Spanish, the chances probably aren't great that they nailed this one.

Nevertheless, let's pretend they're right and that we have only 21 days of existence left.

How would you spend them?

As this is only a drill, I don't advocate emptying out your savings account, running up your credit cards, and eating sticks of raw butter for every meal. It is, however, a good opportunity to practice, not merely surviving, but living each day – if not to its fullest, at least more fully.

For the next three weeks, treat every day as if it might be your last. Not as if it were definitely your last, but with a simple acknowledgment that it could be. 

Below is a suggested sample week:

Apocalyptic Indulgence
Sunday Spend 24 hours straight in sweatpants.
Monday Make a long, detailed To-Do list... then wad it up, chuck it uncompleted into the recycle bin, and couchsurf in front of MNF** all evening.
Tuesday Twos Day! Double down on dessert – because two cookies are better than one.
Wednesday Order in. Eat directly out of the delivery containers.
Thursday Thor's Day! Watch a mindless, fun, culturally insignificant popcorn movie.***
Friday Fried Day! If anyone asks, yes, you do want fries with that.
Saturday Vacation time! Sleep in until 7AM – Hawiian Standard Time.

Today's lesson: ...And I Feel Fine.

Next: Sorry, but “not planning blog posts” is also one of my Apocalyptic Indulgences.

*Unless, of course, it doesn't. In which case, Happy Solstice!

**Or the mind-numbing show of your choice.

***Though Apocalypse Now may initially seem an appropriate choice, while it is one of my all time favorite films, it is also neither mindless nor insignificant. Instead, for Post-Apocalyptic fun, I recommend Tank Girl

President Bartlet and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thank You Notes

Dear Dad,
    Thank you for always encouraging me to go where the water was a little deeper and the waves a little bigger... and for being right behind me as I did so.

Dear Mom,
    Thank you for finding it humorous and whimsical that occasionally I went out in public “in character,” (complete with fake accent) and for driving me to auditions and rehearsals rather than to the funny farm.    

Dear Brother,
    Thank you for (mis)spending countless hours of your youth hanging out with me on piers, eating tacos, and listening to rock albums older than we were.

Dear Husband,
    Thank you for being the type of man who will, without complaint, stand in the ladies' lingerie department and hold my purse while I shop for bras. (And then take me out to lunch to boot.)

Dear Cats,
    Thank you for allowing me to achieve my ultimate purpose as a human being by serving your every need/whim.

Dear Birds in the Tree Across the Street,
    Thank you for keeping the cats entertained long enough for me to write goofy blog posts.

Dear Internet,
    Thank you for providing me with all of the wonderful cat videos to watch when I can't come up with ideas for blog posts.

Dear Tomato Plants,
    Thank you for producing so many delicious tomatoes this year, in spite of my total incompetence as a gardener.

Dear Fermentation,
    Thank you for transforming good foods into great foods.

Dear Readers,
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

Michele Feltman Strider

Today's lesson: I have a lot to be grateful for.

Next: Something far less appreciative.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Below are 10 suggestions for movies to watch over the Thanksgiving weekend along with my brilliantly compelling reasons for doing so.

Adjust your Netflix queue accordingly.

Movie Why
Groundhog Day Because you are not a slave to the calendar.
The Shining Psychosis and homicide aside, it's nice to see a family spending time together.
The Blues Brothers After fighting the holiday travel traffic, the car chases* are quite cathartic.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory Give the kids a reason to fear sweets = more pie for you.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind Watch Richard Dreyfuss demonstrate proper mashed potato sculpting technique.
Waterworld It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a turkey.
Tom Jones You'll feel significantly less awkward about your own family dinner.
The Matrix Watching Keanu chow down on a big bowl of “single-celled protein combined with synthetic aminos, vitamins, and minerals” will make you feel a lot better about yet another day of leftovers.
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World It works equally well as either preparation for or justification against participating in the Black Friday sales.
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving It simply wouldn't be Thanksgiving otherwise.


Today's lesson: Making lists is fun.

Next: Probably not another list. Probably.

*Not enough? Check out Ronin. Thirty minutes of plot, an hour and a half of car chases. Bless you Mr. Mamet. Bless you, sir.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Big Deal About Small Talk

If you've been anywhere near anything with a speaker or screen during the past year, you've probably been subject to a lot of Big Talk – speechifying, bloviation, and politicking.

Exhausting though it may be, it's also not inappropriate. A presidential election is about big issues and big ideas and it has a big effect on all of us. It's a big deal and it's right to treat it as such.

In the midst of all of this Big Talk, though, let's not lose sight of the value of small talk.

From Merriam Webster: small talk: n. light or casual conversation, chitchat

Like a troop of baboons grooming each other on an outcropping of rocks, the idle chatter of small talk is important to our survival. We learn about dangers (The cookies from the bakery on the corner tend to be dry), food supplies (The ones from two blocks over are better. They use real butter.), new developments in the group (Barbara found a great recipe for peanut butter cookies.), and sexual availability (Hey baby, what's cookin'?). It brings us together, helps foster understanding, and gives us an excuse to have cocktail parties.

After being bombarded for so many months with so much Big Talk, you may have fallen out of the habit of making small talk.

You begin by asking another person about themselves – what they do, think, or feel – then actually listening to the response. The advantages are: 1) you might learn something interesting, funny, or important, 2) while the other person is busy talking, you have more time to enjoy your beverage or hors d'oeuvre.

In the end, a meandering twenty minute diatribe about German potato salad, Game of Thrones, and Gary Bettman's suspect IQ is more about the conversation itself than the specific topics discussed. It's not about convincing the other that the Red Wings are genius and that capers are not acceptable as food. It's about the laugh shared, the connection made. It's not about creating a conclusion or consensus, but a communion. 

Today's lesson: I'm fine. How are you?

Next: More picayune trivialities