In which Lorin has a cold and begins speaking Latin

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, September 26, 2017 9:31 PM

I used to get a cold every Thanksgiving. I don’t remember when that stopped happening but I think it was when I started having less meetings. The less time you spend with other people, the easier it is to not be around germs. I’m no germaphobe, believe me. But I hate being sick. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had the flu (that sound you here, even through the internet, is me knocking on wood) and I think it was before I had Kevin. Since Kevin, I’ve had bronchitis once and a wicked case of strep throat, both of which cleared right up with antibiotics. Also a sinus infection. 

When I would get colds, or not necessarily feel completely 100%, my way of dealing was to ignore it. I would still go for a run. I would psych myself out of being sick and sometimes it actually worked. 

Colds are upper respiratory tract infections caused by viruses. These viruses are transmitted through microscopic droplets in the air when someone who’s already sick coughs or sneezes, laughs or talks. Evidently, a cold virus can also spread by shaking hands or sharing things like toys, phones, spoons; a glass of wine. For some reason, and according to the Mayo Clinic, people are more susceptible to colds in the fall and winter, though they don’t say why. They also say you can catch a cold any time, like if you’re at school or on an airplane; in other words a target-rich environment. I was on a plane (actually four of them) two weeks ago. I was with a bunch of people in a closed room. I’m also in school. 

But I don’t think that’s why I’m sick. I think I’m sick because I’m tired, which is not to be confused with sick and tired, which I also am, but in this case that particular fact is immaterial. I tend to welcome cold viruses with open arms, ears, mouth and nose when I’m rundown, haven’t been sleeping well, and just have too much going on.

To wit:
There’s work. There’s the house to take care of (though I have a phenomenal husband who more than does his part). I have friends that I love spending time with. There is school, which officially started yesterday. Did I mention work? Oh, and I somehow tweaked my back so I’m walking like an old person, and because it’s impossible to get comfortable when one’s back is tweaked, I haven’t been sleeping well, as in almost not at all. 

Today, I woke up with a stuffy nose to go along with my tweaked back, and just the hint of a scratchy throat. I am not happy. First, I don’t do the sick thing well, largely because I don’t get sick all that often (see the first paragraph of this post). Second, the whole idea of a cold is dumb. 

Allow me to get existential here for a minute. A cold is not caused by cold weather, which we currently don’t have. It doesn’t necessarily cause one to feel cold, or to have chills. Ergo, a cold is a misnomer. It would make more sense to call it scratch and sniff, or SAS. Scratchy throat – check. Sniffy stuffy nose – check.

The name “cold” follows the theory of post hoc ergo propter hoc. For fans of The West Wing, you’ll probably remember this scene:

After this, therefore because of this. I have a cold because I have a cold. Blah.

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live out loud

An occasional look into the television habits of your blogger

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, March 15, 2017 10:46 PM

The last few years have produced some exceptional television, some of it on networks and others on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. For Kevin and I, the great era of TV started with the first episode of The West Wing. It remains a favorite in this household and still holds up well. It’s more aspirational now than ever. We were also fans of The X-Files, and later 24. We loved ER, and Grey’s Anatomy; earlier there was Thirtysomething and then Once and Again. On pay channels, we fell in love with Homeland and The Newsroom. We found Longmire one Memorial Day weekend when A & E was running a marathon. We liked The Killing which started on AMC and then moved to Netflix. Recently, we’ve found House of Cards and The Fall also on Netflix. We have in the cue Bloodline, Narco and others I can’t remember right now.

Network TV takes a beating with pay channels and streaming, but in the past years they’ve put out some decent stuff. The Good Wife comes to mind, as does Parenthood. I loved Parenthood, which is interesting because I didn’t ever love the film on which it was loosely based. I think I started watching it because I loved Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore on Gilmore Girls. I didn’t think she was great in Parenthood, but the show was phenomenal. I remember crying like a baby at the incredible finale.

This year, my favorite new show has been This Is Us. I know I’m not alone in this. It is, evidently, quite the phenomenon. We watched the first episode because it was so hyped. We liked it; didn’t absolutely love it. Though interestingly we both thought it deserved at least another episode or two before making the ultimate decision. For no reason that I can think of, we never watched that other episode or two.

I’m online all day every day. I work, crafting whatever I need to craft for whichever client is screaming the loudest. And once I email said craft, I tend to surf through some of my favorite news sites to check on what’s happening and to clear my head. I write for different industries and it can be difficult to go from health care to asphalt paving to makeup without taking a brief interlude. One of the consistent stories I’ve seen, in addition to the horror that is the toddler in chief, is This Is Us and how phenomenal it is.

Last week while I was working on a big content upload project that required little creative brain power, I pulled the show up on Hulu. Hulu, like Netflix, is set for autoplay so as soon as one episode is over, it automatically starts the next and so it continues until I manually stop it. And I became completely hooked. Totally in love with the dysfunction and love and wonder of the Pearson clan, much like how I fell in love with the Parenthood Bravermans. Completely flawed individuals, people who are simply living their lives with no more or less drama than the rest of us. It’s incredibly written, beautifully acted, and very believable. 

Last night was the season finale. I watched it today while I was checking and answering emails. Nobody died even though everyone expected at least one of the characters to bite the dust. I guess we’ll have to wait until next season. 

Kevin Fallon who writes for The Daily Beast wrote this: “That’s been This Is Us’s strength all season, creating emotionally huge moments that should be manipulative and off-puttingly earnest, yet pinpointing their universality, no matter how ugly or devastating, and playing them in ways that we relate to in our lives. It’s why we can’t help but cry along. It was wonderful. But we still would have rather watched him die.”

We never watch television shows when they’re actually on for two reasons: we’re on Central Time which means shows start an hour earlier than they do on the east or west coast; and we don’t know when anything is actually on. We record a couple of things to watch later (Madam Secretary, SVU, Shades of Blue) but mostly we just watch on Hulu. This is one of the reasons we can get rid of satellite. We don’t need it. Television viewership has changed. Even ratings factor in both live watching as well as those on DVD or streaming. We’re part of the new way of watching, or not watching. We find what we like, we watch it when we want. And I like it. A lot.

In the future, “Nut, boy, get it on” is when I decided to eat all the cookies.

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, October 13, 2015 9:01 PM

I was and remain a huge fan of The West Wing. From the opening scene, neatly and succinctly explaining all of the key players and their personalities – Leo complaining about the New York Times crossword puzzle, CJ on a treadmill at 5:30 am budgeting her time, Josh asleep on his desk, Toby on an airplane defiantly using his cell phone, Sam with a call girl that he doesn’t know is a call girl – to the final scene of POTUS flying off into the sunset, it was nearly perfect. The last scene was a little hokey, but somehow it fit. Even after the brilliant and brilliantly arrogant Aaron Sorkin left after the fifth season and it dropped a bit in quality, it bounced back nicely in the middle of the sixth season and all of the seventh season as it shifted toward electing a successor to President Bartlet.

In the last episode of the third season, entitled Posse Comitatus, Bartlet who is running for re-election meets his republican opponent, Governor Rob Ritchie at a New York performance of War of the Roses. CJ has been assigned a secret service agent, played handsomely by pre-NCIS Mark Harmon, because she’s received death threats. The secret service finally catches the guy and the two are about to finally be able to see each other romantically when he is gunned down in a Korean bodega. When Bartlet who has just lit a cigarette encounters Ritchie in the bar of the theater, the two of them have a civil uncivilized conversation where Bartlet informs the governor what just happened. Ritchie, in all of his intellectual lightweightness, shakes his head and says: “Crime, boy. I don’t know.” Bartlet, in his intellectual heft, chastises him for a minute, before getting up to leave. At the door, he pauses and says: “In the future, if you’re wondering, ‘crime, boy, I don’t know’ is when I decided to kick your ass.” Then he flips his lighter to a waiting secret service agent.

It’s one of the lines that has always stuck with me. Kevin and I quote movies and certain TV shows a lot. We intersperse these quotes in our regular conversations and think we’re as brilliant as Sorkin and intellectually hefty as the fictional Josiah Bartlet.

Riley is in school for his anxiety issues. He has been diagnosed with suffering from MFGs, or major f#%&ing goofballs, and we have been instructed on how to talk him down. When the trash truck goes by and his MFGs flair up, we patiently call him over and get him to sit, which he does even while simultaneously attempting to escape his fur. He’s a squiggly, wiggly, sitting mess of a puppy who just wants a cookie. Which we give him. Then he tries to go back to see the truck and we call him again. And so it goes.

We do this with UPS and FedEx, too, and any other vehicles that dares come up the drive. We do it with toads out in the portico; and leaves. Anything outside the house that’s out of the ordinary which is basically anything outside the house. Focus, whine, stare, dance, whine louder.

Last night, we wanted to practice our MFG training but we couldn’t get him to nut out. We tried everything. It seems that Riley only nuts out when he wants to nut out. Kevin kept trying to entice him with cookies, but that had the opposite effect, which led to this witty exchange:

Kevin: Come on, come on. We need you to nut out. Nut, boy. Get. It. On.

Riley: You know what, dad? No. And in the future, ‘nut, boy, get it on is when I decided to eat all the cookies.

And so it went. I just wish I had it on tape.

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Afraid of the scenes

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, October 23, 2013 9:16 PM

As good as television has become in certain aspects, on certain channels, it is also equally bad in many respects. That’s why when we have a show that we love, we cling to it, sometimes irrationally, for too long. We did it with The X-Files, which, let’s face it was a mere shadow of itself in seasons 8 and 9, sans Mulder and the Mulder/Scully chemistry. We did it with Gilmore Girls after Amy Sherman Palladino left after season 5. We kept hoping for the magic to return. We did it with The West Wing after Aaron Sorkin had a meltdown and left his chaotically brilliant show after season 5. The West Wing, though, actually redeemed itself well by becoming about the next campaign for president after the beloved Jed Bartlet would depart to fly home to New Hampshire. It didn’t hurt that the redemption was capped with Jimmy Smits, a personal favorite since LA Law.

So when we find a good show, we savor it like a fine wine, sipping from its delectable dialogue and allowing it to swirl around in our mouths for a while. We wait anxiously every week for a good show. It becomes close to appointment TV, which is what The West Wing and The X-Files were for years. There could be no distractions during appointment TV. If the phone rang, too bad. We simply basked in the warm, gooey – sometimes literally in the case of The X-Files – wonder of great characters speaking great dialogue in believable plots. OK. Not The X-Files. But that show was never about believability. It was about the truth.

These days, appointment TV has dwindled to three, two of which still blow our hair back weekly; one of which is limping along and we’re still in the “it’s going to be OK” phase, hoping it will pull its plot-addled head out of its butt and get back on track. I watching you Homeland.

One of the two is the über-violent, sadistically vile and incredibly rapturous motorcycle scorcher, Sons of Anarchy. There is often no one who is even remotely likable in the cast. They kill randomly. They treat each other badly. They rage against authority even as they push a gun-running trade and pornography, only one of which is illegal. We can’t take our eyes off of it. Now in its 6th and penultimate season, it has become a show that we await anxiously. Is it September yet?

This season started off with a bit too much of a bang. For a show this exquisitely violent and blood soaked, the first episode was nearly over the top. I found myself wondering if we could even continue to watch it. While violence is what the show is all about, it took it to a place that was so abhorrent I worried they had finally gone too far. Being the loyal fans we are, though, we decided to at least watch the next episodes to give it a fair shot. They have come roaring back. The Shakespeare meme – it very loosely mirrors Hamlet – is on full display and I just know that Tara, as the stand in for Ophelia, is going to die and it’s going to unleash Jax in ways we’ve never before seen. Also, it too has Jimmy Smits.

And this is the guy who shot a woman in the head just last night and then ordered his “brothas” to clean it up while he went outside for a smoke. Because smoking inside is frowned upon.

Our other appointment TV is the simply exquisite The Good Wife. We’ve been watching it since its debut. Always good, this season it has veered into goosebump territory. It’s smart, intelligent, the plots make sense, the acting is amazing, the cast superb. We watched this week’s last night because Sunday nights get weird here, with time and football, and Homeland, so we watch Alicia and company On-Demand on Tuesday night.

At the end of this week’s episode, when the newly married Diane leaves Alicia’s office, stops in the hall, a look of realization washing over her face (dog bless Christine Baranski) and stands staring at Will, who is in his own office, meeting with a potential new colleague, Kevin and I were on the edge of our seats. Will and Diane have been in the process of dissolving their partnership and thus their firm of Lockhart/Gardner but as Will absorbed the look and immediately dismissed his colleague, the connection they have shared and continue to share was electric. He knew she knew something that she needed to tell him, animosity be damned. And she did.

Cut to black.

Cut to Kevin and I: Holy crap, batman.

Julianna Margulies’ voice came on and casually asked us to “stay tuned for scenes from our next episode.” Casually, like it couldn’t be a very big deal.

Kevin: “I can’t watch. I don’t want to see the scenes.” He was like a little kid putting his head under the pillow to escape the monsters in the room, only in this case, the monsters were the amazing talents responsible for this show. We were literally afraid of the scenes, afraid to know what was going to happen. At least until we watch it next Tuesday.

That’s good stuff. That’s the best kind of television there is, one that celebrates the audience’s intelligence even as that audience hides in the closet, quivering with anticipation.

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