“My New Favorite Crime Show,” or “Wherein I Indulge Endlessly in Chatter about TV”

January 31st, 2009

It’s pretty well known I’m a bit of a crime show fan. I don’t know why this is, exactly. I never had any desire to work in forensics, law enforcement, or law. And I’ve never once fantasized about being some kind of criminal. But I do know this fandom is something essential to my being, and the WAY I know is that it has always been there. As a little kid, I loved Cagney & Lacey and Magnum P.I., and I snuck out of bed to watch Hill Street Blues “with” my parents, peeking out from the stairwell that led to the family room. Moonlighting, Remington Steele, CHiPs … I can still remember entire plot-lines.

As a pre-teen, home alone and scaring the shit out of myself watching Unsolved Mysteries in the dark basement of our house, my “thing” for this kind of show evolved. Robert Stack fed my irrational fear of alien abduction, and I was sure every manhunt-ee on America’s Most Wanted was hiding out in the woods behind our house. And do not even speak to me of The X-Files.

I have loved CSI since its first days, and while I don’t watch it regularly anymore, I still appreciate it for its camp depiction of crime solving and its fetishy plots. (I do need to catch up with the new cast.) I have watched an episode or two of CSI:NY, but I can’t get past that Kanakaredes robot.

Well, and then there’s my FAVORITE of the trio, Miami. You can’t criticize this show for being “over the top,” “a comedy,” or “cheesy,” because it’s completely self-aware. Its characters are two-dimensional stereotypes of themselves. I don’t think we’re meant to care about them, really, or see them as endearing, so much as to find them glamorous. Fifty percent of the plots center around the characters themselves; if not for the dramatically sunglassed Horatio Caine and his complicated personal life full of damsels in distress, it seems there would be little need for a detective force in Miami at all. And anyway it’s a proven fact that nothing helps a forensic scientist get the job done like a pair of boobs popping out of a blazer three sizes too small and long, gorgeous hair flowing all over the evidence.

Even non-crime-show fans love a good episode of Law & Order, and the new season is fantastic. (That would be Season 19—amazing.) L&O is tops at dangling just enough personal storyline about its cast of characters to make you interested in them, without the show’s being ABOUT them. I love that I can plug into any episode of this show, anytime, and leave it at the end not feeling like I need to watch the next one in order to know how something turns out. Just satisfied with the wholeness of the episode itself. The oh-so-obvious setups of rhetorical sides of debated issues are interesting to me, too, and I make no apologies for it.

SVU is still great, too, although I find it’s become a bit too much about the regular characters for me. And yeah, I do like Criminal Intent. I know it’s controversial to like, but it entertains me.

All I have to say about The Closer is: Don’t talk to me while this show is on. Because I will punch you in order to silence you so I can continue to devote my full attention to its gloriousness. It is as good as Homicide: Life on the Street, some of the best television ever made.

I have a real appreciation for the reenactment shows on A&E. Cold Case Files is like the grandaddy of crime shows in my book. American Justice is great. In fictional dramas, sexy medical examiners help out with, say, interviewing suspects, DNA comes back in an hour, newspapers write daily stories about heroic detectives. In the real world, not so much. A&E often puts together specials about serial killers and such, too, and these mesmerize me. Even the low-budget Oxygen shows—Snapped and Captured—as awful as they are, I could watch marathons of them.

So, to finally get to the title of this post. Just what IS my new favorite crime show? Is it The Beast? Um, no. So far, this show is pretty awful. A cool idea poorly executed—another In Plain Sight. The show I have fallen immediately in love with is Lie to Me. It’s got that House-esque main character, a complicated, flawed guy, who isn’t always likable and lives an ironic career (House is a brilliant doctor who can’t cure his own pain; Cal Lightman is a studied genius in the science of body language and expression who is a bit tortured by his knowledge of how much lying goes on). It’s got that CSI brand of “educating,” wherein protege Torres—a “natural” but without an education—is forever having the science explained to her, for OUR benefit. And it’s got Kelli Williams, beloved darling from The Practice and Medical Investigation. Will it be plotted like House? Who cares! Who doesn’t love House, despite the formulaic and ridiculously far-fetched plots? Will it be as inaccurate a representation of crime solving as CSI? Probably. I think we can count on these overworked crime-solving specialists to take a personal interest in every case, and to go beyond the call of reality to make things “right.” Anyway, I’ll be eager for every new episode. Love it.

Let’s see, others …. maybe you can help me complete my list.
Saving Grace—never seen it, but I hear it’s good.
Bones—only watched one episode, and it didn’t reel me in.
Crossing Jordan—I’ve watched way too much of this crappy, crappy show.
NCIS–ditto. Back to back to back episodes? Sure.
The First 48—not as into this as the other A&E shows, but I watch from time to time.
Veronica Mars—I know, I know, I need to watch this! I have no excuse; I even have the first season on DVD!
Monk—cute enough, I can take it or leave it.

Baltimore Trip

January 22nd, 2009

More on the trip soon … meanwhile, here are photos:


Dave’s Wedding Photos


There’s No Way Both of Us Are Making It Out of This Alive

January 15th, 2009

So, the bliss is wearing off some. It hasn’t been a good week so far here for us. Why, you ask? Weaning. Weaning sucks.

Sure, there were cons to nursing, things I had no idea I was in for. Things like having to wear giant, bra-shaped maxi-pads at all times so my leaking breasts would not flood Los Angeles. Things like the little-known hideousness of a nursing boob, on which gross veins, strange wiry hairs, and stretch marks appear. Nursing bras, the very sexiest of which would cause a Victoria’s Secret model to go blind. And the worm-like, elongated nipple itself after a session of breastfeeding (it is this very worm that made my sister, a woman who, while she did not breastfeed, is so hard-core she birthed a ten-plus-pound “baby” through her birth canal, with NO DRUGS, shrink in horror). But overall in our case, nursing has been nice. The cliche “bonding” stuff is real, and the hormone chemicals are great. It’s not for every mother, not for every baby, but for us, it’s been wonderful.

So why stop? Well, there’s the BITING. Then there’s my reflex reaction to biting, which comes up just short of a punch in the face. There’s her new-found mobility, something that both allows and compels her, while feeding, to crawl and wiggle all over the place with my nipple in her mouth—between her TEETH. There’s all the solid food she’s eating now, plenty of nutrition, and the doctor’s instruction that we supplement her diet with formula, since she was a bit on the small side there a while back (I know this ires you, Anne, and you’re right). There are a lot of opinions about how long a mother should/can nurse, and in the end, it comes down to its being the right time for both mom and kid. Let me remind you about the BITING. I wish to keep my nipples. That time is now.

So we have begun. Step one has been to limit feedings to night-time only. It seemed to be going fine. Then I got very irritable. VERY. IRRITABLE. My doctor said that while she does not know of any studies that correlate irritability and weaning, she sure hears about it a lot from her patients. So I have been irritable, borderline personality change. Let’s just say it: I’m bitchy pretty much all the time.

But Violet is a dream, right? For a bit, she still was. She was no challenge to my new, bitchy hormone cocktail. She deserved better than a cranky mom, but I could hold it together enough for her to—I hope—barely notice.

But then SHE got cranky, TOO. Turns out Vibble’s brand of cranky is what I like to call “the slaughter-house effect.” For much of the day, she makes the sound of one of two animals being slaughtered. The first one is a squawking duck. A very loud, repetitive squawking duck. The second is a calf with a head cold. Both are very loud. Both are very whiny. And quite irritating. In both cases, the natural thought is: Someone put that thing out of its misery.

This is Stevel’s reaction. When she acts this way, he often says, “Um, I think she wants to nurse.” He’s mostly right, of course. He knows his daughter and just wants her to not be sad anymore. I only say “mostly,” because it would be more accurate if he would say, “I think she wants to bite your nipple off and then lob this remote control at your face over and over while shrieking into your ear in the language of the devil.”

I’ve read I’m supposed to give her extra snuggling. But right now she spends a lot of the day clinging to my pants-leg, accepting whatever I offer her—toy, sippy cup, pacifier—and promptly chucking it at my face, or writhing on my lap. All of this while spewing the noise pollution of the slaughter-house effect. She also refuses to nap, which makes for a tired, even less happy-go-lucky girl. Isn’t this fun.

I spend a lot of the day resisting the urge to main-line chocolate and do shots of vodka. And thinking things like, Hey, maybe I’m not cut out for this after all … maybe I should get a job, put her in a fun daycare … but then she squawks or bleats, and I think, No, even if Ghandi’s cousin had a daycare, that sound would make any human being react in ways that would lose them their daycare license. Best we stick together and alternately hug and weep and howl at each other.

We leave for Baltimore on Thursday, and this is a trip I am both excited for and anxious about. Excited because Cindy and Matt are getting married, because I love Baltimore, will get to see my friends and family there, and can use a getaway. But I am anxious to take my internal Southern California thermostat, as well as my So-Cal baby, to a place where it is NOT 80 degrees this week, not even close, more like Holy-God-It’s-Inhumanly-Cold degrees. Anxious, too, because trips like this one are tough on Stevel, and I hate to see him suffer. He is sensitive to jet-lag and other things, like weddings and friends and family and places that aren’t home, where he gets to spend much too little of his time. Complicating this week even more is that my semester starts Thursday, too. Life, punish me. Please.

Anyway, we are doing fine and still enjoying life here and there. But I think we will be much better able to enjoy it from the other side of this weaning process. Especially since the other side is a place where there is no limit to the amount of chocolate and caffeine I can consume, and where I can have that shot of vodka any old time. And for Violet, I think, it is a place where she can both TELL me what she wants AND walk over and get it for her damn-self. (Any minute on both of those big steps for her, dear reader!) So you see, Baby, the party starts again SOON. Now GO TO SLEEP, or so help me, I will turn off Sesame Street AND iTunes AND your Fisher-Price “boom box,” and it will be QUIET in here. And then you will NEVER sleep. DON’T MAKE ME USE SUCH EXTREME MEASURES I AM THAT ON THE EDGE.

Ah, the Inexperienced Homeowner

January 14th, 2009

After five years with this dishwasher, I just discovered it has a trap I can remove and clean out. Had you seen five years’ worth of horrifyingly rotten food like I just did, you would no longer question where that odor in the kitchen—the one I keep obsessing over, and hunting for, and scouring things to try and exorcise—is coming from. It was like a giant light-bulb appeared suspended over my head, and it was bright and smart, and then it fell on my noggin, hard, and the sound it made when it hit was not [thud] but [duh].

More Photos

January 8th, 2009

David gave me his photos from Christmas morning, so I’ve added some pics to the beginning and end of this album < --- CLICK HERE, including this shot of what she is doing right now, as I type this.

Her First Little Cold

January 5th, 2009

It hasn’t affected her much during the day, just some cute runny-nose wiping stuff. But at night? You parents know. You non-parents don’t WANT to know. Round I of getting her to sleep involved a warm bath and some Baby Vicks Vapo-Rub. Not too bad. Round II required more strategic maneuvers—half an hour in the bathroom with the hot shower running to steam it up, and a hog-tied session with the nasal suction thingie. Still, all of this was surrounded by two hours solid of desperate, loud crying on her part. She just wants to breathe. Is that so much to ask? Now it’s 2:30 a.m. and I can’t sleep. Mind you, I haven’t really slept since two nights ago, but some artificial stimulus of a parental nature has me unable to fall asleep.

I had to send Steve to the other room to sleep—he has to return to work tomorrow. Boo. We’ll miss having him around all day. That’s been super nice.

More later from the other side of this cold. Not looking forward to Round III, Round IV, etc., but glad I can help her get through it.


January 1st, 2009

Enjoying a visit from Debi and Sam right now. Photos of that, plus Christmas morning, are here (click). Merry merry!

UPDATE! I have more to add:

So, on this visit, we did the aquarium, which Sam seemed to enjoy a lot. He is a fan of turtles and got up his nerve to pet some rays and sharks in the touch-pools. He aspires to be an oceanographer one day, so it was really up his alley. Violet, meanwhile, was enthralled watching all of the kids. She also seemed to enjoy the tanks this time—not a ton of enthusiasm, but she was interested. The only incident was when an adorable sea lion came over to the other side of the glass right in front of us to play, and Vibble freaked out—screamed, clutched at me, and began sobbing. Too dog-like, maybe. No matter how much I try to expose her to dogs in a gentle way, she fears them for the most part.

We also enjoyed a great day down at the beach by the pier with Sam and Violet. Vibble is very entertained by her big cousin.

For new year’s, Debi and Sam hung out with Violet here at No. 6 so Stevel and I could go out to dinner ALONE. This hasn’t really happened much in the last ten months, although it WILL be happening MORE. Anyway, we went to Akbar, of course, and enjoyed ourselves. We even got dessert (the Mango Surprise is BACK). When we got home, we all watched the ball drop on the East coast. As we debated whether to stay up until West-coast Midnight, we watched an episode of Hannah Montana, thanks to Sam. If you’ve never seen this show, it’s really something. Steve’s reaction? “Is this the end of civilization?”

Christmas was delightful. We spent Christmas Eve with the Kodjas and their other guests here in Santa Monica, trying some authentic Thai seafood. It was delicious, and I had never seen a big squid-head on a grill before. BUT NOW I HAVE. We played “Scene-It,” which I have to admit I always assumed was a dumb game, but it is actually great fun. Violet interacted with 8-month-old Joseph. He is a big, healthy kid with sweet pink cheeks. Mostly, they grabbed at each other’s faces. It was Mrs. Kodja’s birthday, which meant there was both a cookie-cake AND an ice cream cake. And champagne! Let’s just say I had to detox the next day, and not from the champagne. The Kodjas also brought us two pears the size of monkey heads for New Years.

Christmas morning we had visits from David, Jeremy, and Melissa. (Thus, additional photos shall be forthcoming.) We all enjoyed watching Violet experience her first Christmas. She did not seem to notice anything special going on and mostly, as we predicted, enjoyed playing in the discarded wrapping. David and I took a walk to get cake (well, I got cake, and David showed amazing restraint in ordering only a bottled water) and visit Sarah-Architect. Later, the Kadoshes (Eitan, Jacquelyn, and Charlie) came over for a nice, long, leisurely afternoon and evening of Rock Band, “Apples to Apples,” and junk food. Oh, man, GREAT DAY!

Happy new year to all. :)