Thursday, July 13, 2006


You know how you get addicted to stuff, and you know it's bad for you, and that it sucks, and it makes you a worse person for it, but you can't stop anyway?

I'm like that with The Pretender.

The Pretender was a largely lame television show which aired in the late '90s. I never watched it, because I was in college and busy doing more important things, such as finding out what happens when you mix Mountain Dew and orange juice and beer. (Answer: Very bad things.)

But Josh The Pilot has all the shows on DVD, and he showed me an episode, and I was like, "That was horrible. Put on another one." And he did, and I said, "I can't believe how much this show makes me want to jab a grapefruit spoon right into the side of my neck. What's the third episode like?"

We're halfway through Season 2.

What happens in The Pretender is, this guy named Jarod has escaped from The Centre, which from what I can tell is some sort of think tank on a wicked acid trip (you can tell it is evil from the -re spelling), and he's a genius and lost a lot of weight eating Subway and is able to take on any type of personality he wants. And so the people from The Centre are trying to catch him, and every episode he pretends to be somebody else and gets a job in the same industry in which a crime was committed (there always seems to be a job opening wherever Jarod would like to dispense justice), and he solves the case and then there is a montage in which Jarod lays a trap for his perpetrator-victim, and the producers lay in jazzy music to Get Revenge by, and the trap forces the perpetrator to experience the same thing as his victim and the bad guy is coerced into admitting to the crime and Jarod smirks, because--ha!-- he has been broadcasting the confession to large groups of people. Then Jarod moves on and the people from The Centre fail to catch him again! He is Perry Mason with a really good sound system. I absolutely can't stop watching.

Possibly because, even with my abysmal record with plots, I can always tell who the perpetrator is and how Jarod is going to make him cry like a small, small child. It makes pretend I am smart.

wirecutters please at:

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I would like to know who started this celebrity idiocy of going by only one name.

A singing group, yes. One person? No. Even Jesus had a last name ("Christ." Middle name: H.) So where does Cher get off with skipping a surname?

I stopped voting for Mandisa on American Idol when she apparently decided that... hey, I'm past making people take the extra half-second to pronounce my full name. Madonna, Shakira, Prince, Fantasia: All people not to be trusted.

When I worked at a concert center one summer, we were told not to talk to The Talent, upon pain of losing our $5.80/h jobs, unless we were specifically spoken to. Sometimes this would happen, mostly in the form of requests to bring water or sacrificial virgins or green M&Ms or whatever. I used to fret over this: I was raised to call someone with who I am not familiar by Ms./Mr., followed by the last name, until I was invited to do otherwise. What in the world would I do if Cher came to town? What would I call her? Ms. Cher? That sounds almost as stupid as "Believe."

those of us with two first names can never hope to achieve such pretentiousness at:

Monday, July 10, 2006


When I took voice lessons, at a year-end recital, I absolutely destroyed my semester grade by forgetting the second line of the second stanza to "The Rose." I feel strongly this was a mental act of self-defense, the brain vomiting the song right back up at me so as not to be contaminated with the likes of "I say love it is a flower, and you its only seed."

Evil irony, for I am a second soprano. We sing beneath the first sopranos, who get the dog-calling, upper-end notes, and above the altos, who do a lot of "ba-bum"ing beneath the melody. I love singing second.

If only I didn't sound like a very angry wombat with a sinus infection.

I tried, at Saint Mary's, having discovered female choral singing at my sister's high school concerts. I tagged along with my mother to pick her up from a late rehearsal one afternoon, and echoing down the hall was two-part a capella. I laid my miserable sixth-grade head against the doors, then slid inside and sat in the back of the theatre. The alto and the soprano melted and bent the musty air-- this was a bunch of fourteen and fifteen year olds slogging through "Alexander's Ragtime Band," and they very likely sucked, but the harmony slid over me like warm caramel.

I auditioned for--and clearly because few others had was admitted to--the World's Most Obviously Named Vocal Group, the Saint Mary's College Women's Choir. Few songs were in English, which seemed to be the rule for Serious Music. I didn't mind, because I didn't need to comprehend what we were singing to understand that the human voice, when properly struck against another human voice, provides a glorious sense of human tonal smugness. Screw you, piano and trombone! Look what we can do! Sometimes during rehearsals the director would sustain us in the middle of a note, arms raised: Hold it hold it hollllllllllld it.... and the thick female braid of sound wound about the room.

And sometimes we were placed in circle so as to check our pitch against the other vocal parts. The director stood in in the center, keeping time, slowly spinning, stopping before offending off-key singers. When she pointed at me--and she always did--I cringed into my sheet music and stopped singing, camouflaging my English major's voice by mouthing the syllables. Nodding at my sudden competence, she would move on to some other poor girl who had been in the bathroom when the Vocal Talent Fairy rang her doorbell. The voice lessons aided me in forming a water addiction but not much else.

The Women's Choir wore floor-length sapphire blue dresses fashioned by the cast of Dynasty. They had puffy sleeves and a pointy waist and nobody looked good in them, not
even after we started selling wine and beer in the lobby before concerts. When I was a junior we sang at a fundraising affair and an alumna was so appalled by them that she sat down and wrote the director a big fat dress-replacing check on the spot. "Big Blue" was chucked in favor of stretchy black dresses, which were somewhat less hilarious but not nearly as character-building.

We sang "The Belles of Saint Mary's" and "The Magnificat," and we never ever had hand motions, which disappointed me until I realized that few truly elite vocal ensembles throw synchronized shoulder rolls into every little thing. Once we performed a Latin piece in honor of the inauguration of a new College president, and it ended with a trio of shouted "Vivat!"s, and my desire to throw in in corresponding arm-pumps practically caved the stage in, but I clenched my music folder. I'd done enough to disgrace Big Blue already.

Previous Tastings