Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday Grab Bag Scramble

When I got back from paternity leave a few weeks ago, my oblivious co-worker (Ms. Nonsense) was mysteriously absent. There were also some new hires clearly in the midst of settling in, so I assumed Ms. N. was no longer with the agency. Turned out she had actually taken a month-long vacation, and she returned this past Monday. And don't get me wrong, good for her, life is short and if you can manage to save up four weeks of leave and then put them to use, more power to you. But clearly her recent world travels did little to broaden her horizons.

I say this because I overheard her this week talking to one of the new hires, and the subject under discussion was the vending machine in the office kitchen/break room. The vending machine happened to be completely empty at the beginning of this week because it was in the midst of transitioning out of our office, to be replaced with a bigger, newer machine. So, first off, Ms. N. assumed that it was simply never going to be refilled again, and so she was waxing rhapsodic about how really great it was back in the day when they stocked the vending machine. She specifically mentioned how it used to have "Fritos, and M&Ms, all kinds of stuff ..." with an abundance of nostalgic wonderment.

Fritos. And M&Ms. Seriously? I defy you to pick more ubiquitous or more prosaic snack foods than those. There are numerous delis and convenience stores physically connected to this office building which sell both. It's not as though having a machine close at hand that vends Fritos and M&Ms is some kind of rare treat. I can understand being excited to the point of talking it up with your cube-mates if you found a vending machine that sold a specific regional treat or obscure brand of chips or candy, or likewise being sad if said magical portal to alterna-grub were abruptly taken away. But Fritos and M&Ms? That's like being excited that a restaurant has Heinz ketchup.


I can't actually watch movies or tv or read books or comics while I'm sitting at my desk at work, but I can surf the web, especially news websites, and I've gotten fairly addicted to entertainment news. For years and years I've read more reviews of new films and novels than I've gone to the cineplex or picked up a best-seller. And lately I've been following all the extremely inside-industry behind the scenes news about shows getting picked up or cancelled or whatnot.

So, I confess, I spent a great deal of time yesterday refreshing certain newsfeeds to see if there was any word on Community being renewed for a fifth season, because I knew an announcement was due around that time. Sure enough, about 9 p.m. last night as my wife and I were already early to bed and I was making my last interweb rounds on my phone, I saw that the word was yes.

I was at peace with the idea of this week's episode being the series finale, or I thought I was, but when I learned of the impending fifth season I almost woke my wife up to share my excitement. (I thought better of it and told her this morning.) I will probably do a long post sometime soon about the finale, the fourth season as part of the overall series, and various random thoughts, but for now, I'm just enjoying being optimistic about where the show goes from here. So, time to celebrate!

I guess?


So how about that baseball, huh? My wife and I were just talking about the ever-changing landscape of the AL East standings the other day and she admitted that she doesn't actually check the standings every single day this early in the season. To which I could only respond, why else do you think they update them every day, if not to obsess over them almost hourly? But apparently that's just me.

In my defense, I was struck during the pre-season this year by one of the Orioles' announcers (the Jims) making a prediction that the first team in the AL East to have a win-loss record 10 games above .500 would go on to win the pennant. That mark could come as early as 11 games into the season or as late as mid-summer, and I kept it in mind as the first few weeks of the season came and went. And sure enough, a week (or so?) ago, the Red Sox were 10 games over .500. They were also alone in first place, but they no longer are either one of those things, so hopefully in this case the Jim was wrong! The future remains to be written!

But it has been a slugfest so far between the Sox, Yankees and O's for top of the division, and I imagine that is going to be the case for quite a while to come. I have to hand it to Baltimore, though, the three teams are within a game of each other but the O's have managed to hang tough while playing far more road games so far than either New York or Boston. That's impressive in itself.


I feel like I missed making a particular point in Wednesday’s post about how many non-canon films I’ve seen in my life, so please indulge me in correcting that oversight now. The entire reason I brought up the phenomenon of watching movies more than once was to address the overall idea of uses of my time. I’ve definitely seen 200 movies in my life which have been deemed 1001-worthy. I’ve probably seen 500 different movies in my life, total (give or take). But I’ve taken the time to watch some, most or all of a movie … I don’t know … 1000 times? Maybe more? My lifetime total movie familiarity could (and arguably should) extend farther than it actually does, because of all the time I’ve spent watching the same movies over and over again. Every encore viewing of a flick I already have memorized represents a brand-new-to-me film I could have watched, but didn’t.

Which, granted, is kind of a “yeah, duh” point to begin with. But honestly it is one that occupies my mind, in some form or another, quite a bit. It actually constitutes an entire sub-category of conversations I frequently find myself having with my buddy Clutch, wherein we attempt to answer difficult questions: if we believe that life well-lived involves seeking out and enjoying new experiences, why do we keep doing the same things over and over again? In his case, it's playing through video games that he's already beaten; in mine, it's channel-surfing and getting sucked into movies I've already seen. We could be doing better things with our time! Designing new gaming systems! Writing the great American novel! Adding to the culture instead of mindlessly consuming the same pre-digested bits of it! Why can't we break these habits? I still don't know, but in some small way it bugs me.

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