Monthly Archives: February 2011

Jersey Shore, I love you, but you’re bringing me down

Usually my process for writing about “Jersey Shore” (alternate title: “Proof That We Can Even Trick Smart People Into Watching Anything!”) includes watching it once the night it airs, then again the next morning. The idea is that the first time through I enjoy the show and get the gist of what might be worth writing about. When I watch it the second time, I take notes and put together my piece. This time, though? I’ve been putting off watching it the second time. When I finally put it on, I got about 10 minutes in and I could barely stand it any more. I’m not totally sure why, but I think it might have something to do with the show being FUCKING BORING! Sweet lord, I don’t where we went wrong, but between this episode and last, I would rather watch Justin Bieber jack up three pointers during the NBA Celebrity All-Star Game than sit through the Shore. And that…that’s just sad.

I feel like I’ve been dating a super hot girl and after six months of getting drunk together, having mind-blowing sex and conceiving new safety words, the novelty is wearing off. We’re starting to spend less time in bed and more time watching “Outsourced” together without speaking. The conversations aren’t stimulating, and I’m starting to think “Eh, she’s not even really that hot.” In short: “Jersey Shore,” we need to talk. We’re not in “it’s not me, it’s you” (yes, that’s what I mean) territory just yet…but it’s close. I’ve been nothing but loyal to you, Shore. I stuck by you through the Angelina fiasco. When you brought D Rex into our shared life, I was skeptical, but I supported you and kept an open mind. When you subjected me to Ron & Sam death matches week after agonizing week, I hung in there. And now? Now it’s time for you to step up and start paying attention to my needs, Shore. I can’t be the only one in this relationship. Get your act together, or I swear I will cancel my trip to Italy with you. Understood? OK. Good. I love you. Let’s have make up sex.

All is not lost, however; there was one shining, glorious bright spot on this week’s episode. And no, I’m not referring to any of Pauly’s magical witticisms (“Time to go to work, Deena! Getcha weenah cleanah!”), although those were on point as usual. No, the spectacular phenomenon I’m talking about cannot be justified in words, but instead needs to be demonstrated in visual form:

What’s that? You don’t see it? REALLY? OK, let’s try cropping a bit:

There we go! No, not Ron’s dad, you jackass. His mustache! Look at that magnificent masterpiece of majestic facial hair mastery! I don’t know what Ron’s dad does for a living, but he sure as shit should be in law enforcement. If he pulled me over while I was driving, he could write me a ticket and I would be 100% convinced that he’s a cop, based solely on that mustache. I bet that thing has a mind of its own. I wouldn’t be surprised if while he’s sleeping, that mustache goes out and fights crime, or at least bangs models or something. Dude looks like the second coming of Keith Hernandez. I love that ‘stache so much I wrote a haiku about it:

What a cop mustache
traversing Ron’s dad’s visage!
Gaze upon and weep.

I’m considering making a print of that picture so I can carry that mustache around in my wallet all day in hopes that its powers would rub off on me. Uh…no homo. Or maybe homo. I’m so confused by the mustache that I don’t know what I’m feeling!

So, Shore, if you want to salvage this relationship, here are some tips: 1. More Vinnie. 2. More mustache. 3. Convince Situation to admit he’s gay. 4. While we’re at it, more JWoww in lingerie can’t hurt either. I’m giving you the chance to make it up to me. This opportunity doesn’t come along every day. Don’t blow it.

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Update: Breakup Notifier app shut down, Desperate people resume sobbing

Super-creepos everywhere were dealt a serious blow as Breakup Notifier, a Facebook app which notified users when their curshes became single, was shut down by the Zuckerberg Empire on Wednesday. Facebook cited overabundance of API calls as the reason behind the shut down, a result of over 3.5 MILLION weirdos creeps possible serial killers users subsrcibing to BN.

Well, there goes that. Sigh…seems like only yesterday I was writing about this little-engine-that-could app. At least I can stop checking my e-mail for a little while now…

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Bring your creep game to the next level

Remember that girl you went on 2 dates with last year? The one who accepted your friend request right away and things seemed to be going great, but then she stopped returning your calls? The one you cried over for two weeks? Remember how you told all your friends you were going to kill yourself when her relationship status change from “Single” to “In a Relationship With Donny Jerkoffenstein”? Of course you do; you’re a raving psycho! What’s more, you’ve definitely been scouring both your news feed and her personal profile several times a day since then, hoping against hope that one day you’ll see that magical little broken heart icon next to the update, “Bethany Bitchface is now single.”

It’s exhausting work. Between the late night Facestalking in between bouts of masturbating with your own tears — often in combination with the Facestalking — you hardly have any time to sleep. If only there were some way to automate the process! If only Facebook would tell you when Bethany finally wises up and drops douchy Donny. Well, your wait is over, slugger! That’s right, now you can passively stalk in peace, thanks to the new Breakup Notifier app for Facebook. Simply log in using your Facebook account, allow BN to access all your personal information (I mean, why not? It’s already all over Facebook anyway. My boy Drama’s baby son could steal your identity at this point.), choose who you’re interested in from among your friends (Choose as many as you want! Everyone needs a backup plan!), and then sit back and let BN do all the work, notifying you as soon as any of those folks (Note the non-gender specific plural noun here. Cause, who am I to judge?) breaks free from their respective significant other.

Just allow the app access to your Social Security number and you'll find true love! (Name and face censored to protect the innocent...OK, it was me.)

Is this really what we’ve come to? I beg of you, dear readers: are we really this lazy? It used to be in the good ol’ days that when you lusted for someone on Facebook, you checked their profile while you were drunk, stalked all their pictures, maybe sent an awkward and regrettable message or wall post their way, then masturbated to pictures from their beach vacation before softly crying yourself to sleep. Wasn’t that enough?

The logical progression is that after signing up for BN, you’ll compulsively check your e-mail and smartphone every 6 seconds, hoping to Jebus that you got that miraculous e-mail alert that one — because let’s face it, you picked like 14 — of the precious forbidden fruits of your love has fallen off the tree and is just waiting to be plucked up by a nutso stalker. And just think: you — YOU — could be that nutso stalker! Just as soon as you get that e-mail, Prince Charming. No? You didn’t get it yet? Try checking your spam folder, sometimes stuff gets caught in– no? Not there either? Are you sure you have the right e-mail address on your Facebook profile? Oh, you checked that already? Ten times? I see. Well, I guess she hasn’t come to her senses and realized you’re the only one for her just yet. Can’t imagine why; it’s a real mystery.

Maybe I’m just being cynical. That’s entirely possible; after all, I do hate just about everything. Let’s look at the best case scenario: you get the e-mail, you ever-so-coyly leave a charming wall post for the tender object of your desires, wait a few days, and — by the gods! — she does want to go to the batting cages with you! And OF COURSE she’ll go check out the new Dane Cook movie with you. She’s been dying to see it, too! Just a short time later, both of your broken hearts are mended as this budding romance makes you feel as though you could float to the moon.

So, uh– when do you tell her? You know, that part about how you used a Facebook stalker app to follow her — and the 13 other special ladies — for you so that you could know at the precise moment when she was available to be swept off her feet again? How exactly do you plan on broaching that subject, Romeo? If you have any conceivable approach that has more than a 0.08% chance of not ending with you having a hand print on your jaw, sore balls and one less Facebook friend, I would just love to hear it. Tweet at me, playa.

Then again, I suppose you always have the option of not telling her. That might be a smart move, because as everyone knows, all the best relationships are born from one grand gesture of not only general ickiness, but also brazen dishonesty. Oh, and to be clear, when she inevitably finds out, she will tell all her friends and put that shit all over Facebook. You just lost a girlfriend AND your shot at your 13 other true loves, plus all their friends.

Bottom line: best to go with the old-fashioned route by just constantly and obsessively checking her profile, occasionally leaving a witty comment on her status like the rest of us God-fearing American men do.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go. I’m expecting a very important e-mail.

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The More You Know!

Growing up, I loved to read “Calvin & Hobbes.” Every time my mom and I went to the bookstore, I would be sure to check to see whether they carried any C & H that I didn’t own yet (usually, not). I built an expansive collection over the years, which in retrospect must have been expensive, but my mom never denied me a new “Calvin & Hobbes” book…you know, cause she wanted me to know how to read. And because she loves me. And because one of those things would shut me up for at least two hours.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about a particular C & H strip, but actually not the one above. It’s hard to search the web for comic strips, especially when you’re dealing with one as voluminous as Bill Watterston’s masterpiece. No, the one you see is just one I did find and happen to like…but it’s not the one I’m referring to or about to describe. Got that? In the strip I’ve been reminded of lately, Calvin is playing baseball by himself. We see him pick up his bat, toss the ball in the air, and smack it into the outfield. Then he quickly puts his glove on, runs after the ball, and manages to get underneath it to make the catch. He’s elated at his accomplishment, yelling out, “I did it!” In the last panel, he’s looking directly at us, the readers, and saying in a small voice, “I’m out.” I think we can all relate to Calvin’s reactions here. We presume that this is not his first attempt at the feat, and, having practices and persisted at getting it right, he is undeniably excited at having pulled it off. But then, once he has attained the very thing he worked so hard for, the disappointment sets in almost immediately.

Calvin learned a valuable life lesson that day, just as I think I may have from last night’s episode of “Jersey Shore” (alternate title: “According to This Camera Work, We NEVER Pick Our Noses!”). You see, last night’s episode was — what’s the word? — FUCKING BORING. Good god it sucked. I would have been less bored listening to new parents tell stories about their baby’s first solid doodie than I was watching that episode. As I sat there, watching, noting the absolute lack of drama and suspense and completely otherworldly degradation that I love about this show, I wondered to myself: why? Why is this week so bad? What happened? We went from last week’s epic to this library film strip? How could this have happened? What changed?

The answer, of course, slapped me across the face like a JWoww backfist: Sammi. She’s gone, and she took all the drama with her. I sat in stunned silence for a moment as I reflected on this realization. For weeks — no, months — I’ve wanted her gone. She was ruining the whole show, I said. It was all about her and Ron and their psychotic nonsense. I, at various times, have called her a “human candle” and a “condom wrapper,” and compared her to both the aged Steven Tyler and an overstretched drum. Last week’s CABSAREHERE moment when she finally left our world was my moment of rejoice, but now? Well, now I just feel like Calvin. I finally got what I wanted, and it sucks. And the worst part? Now I’m mad at myself for not being content with what I got, and I hate Sammi even more for making me feel so conflicted. It’s a vicious cycle. I don’t know what to do. I’M IN A GLASS CASE OF EMOTION!

The good news is it’s probably temporary. The show suffered a little with the loss of Angelina, too, but it picked up again. I have faith in the crew to carry the show, especially Vinny and Pauly. This is their time. Sammi was Brett Favre, those two get to be Aaron Rodgers. (Speaking of, if the belt thing gets incorporated into “Shore” at some point, I will lose my shit with glee. You hear me? LOSE. MY. SHIT.) Even better, that’s not the only lesson to take away from this episode; there were plenty of other lessons to be learned. For example:

Lesson 1: The Situation, Jack of All Trades
The Situation claims to wear many hats: sometimes he’s Uncle Situation, Doctor Situation Chef Situation, Bang-a-Girl Situation — and that’s just what he tells us about. Your selling yourself short, Sitch; you’ve got way more titles than that. We can see from this one hour span alone that you have all kinds of skills. For example, when you tried to pull Pauly’s ex at Karma, you were Robber Situation. Not very creative, but accurate. Then, when that same girl declined your invitation to go back to the crib and instead snitched on you to Pauly, you’re spot was totally blown up: Blown Spotuation. Blowing up Vinny’s prank on Snooki by telling her where the crocodile is? The team accurately dubbed you Snitchuation. When you went Chef Situation style and grilled up some burgers, that was awesome. When you decided you just had to being a burger to Vinny while he was in bed, well, that was just an Awkward Situation.

You see, Sitch? You’ve got all kinds of skills up your sleeve. You are a true utility player, a wild card, a real-life version of a 5 tool baseball player. Ronnie even says you know how to drive a boat and fly a plane! But to me, based on the fact that we are now 8 episodes deep and you have yet to bed even one girl, coupled with the fact that you insisted on getting your brows done this week (“I gotta get my eyebrows done, man. It’s a process to be a Situation; not anybody can do it.”), to me you are and always will be The Situgaytion.

Lesson 2: Ron Knows Code
For the second (third?) straight week, Ron (Ed note: with Samantha gone, we will now resume calling those two by shortened versions of their names, rather than being so formal.  Good thing, too. That shit was annoying.) breaks out his knowledge of gender codes. Last week, he griped a lot about Situation’s apparent ambivalence for the Guy Code and his adherence instead to the Girl Code. This week, the Girl Code comes up again after the girls moves Sam’s stuff, Ron solves the mystery of whodunnit, and JWoww lies when he asks her. He knows she’s lying, but as usual, rather than call her out on it directly, he runs to the confessional and complains about the Girl Code, claiming he can’t trust anyone.

I must say, I am in awe of Ron’s knowledge of codes. He knows not only the Guy Code — which is actually required for all guys to learn before being allowed to lose their virginity — but also the mysterious Girl Code, which male scientist have been trying for years to crack. Based on his extensive knowledge, I must conclude the Ronnie missed his calling by becoming a reality TV star (term used loosely) and part-time diet supplement shill. Instead, he should have been a Windtalker, where his code-breaking skills could be put to good use. Or, since he’s so good and learning and recalling various codes, he could be a city building inspector. Then, dude could drop some ordinance knowledge up in this bitch. Although, I’m a little concerned about his respect for all codes. For example, he got pissed at Situation last week when he thought Sitch had broken the Guy Code, but then this week expected JWoww to violate the Girl Code for him. With his ethics still a question mark, that leaves only one possible occupation for a man with his skill set: NBA referee.

Lesson 3: D Rex Has Needs, Too
Poor D Rex. She such a victim. The others keep making fun of her. She’s constipated, they make fun of her. She gets sloppy drunk, they make fun of her. She falls down and starts crying, they make fun of her. She says she wants to go home because she feels “like a joke” and no one takes her seriously, they make fun of her. BUT WHAT ABOUT HER FEELINGS, YOU JERKFACES?? Sure, she gets naked for strangers. And she consistently uses terminology like “do sex” which may or may not be indicative of brain trauma. And she may or may not have a special fondness for chocolate starfish. But hasn’t she been a good friend? Is she so different from any of you? IF SHE CRIES, DOES HER MASCARA NOT RUN?

By the way, D Rex’s stock has been in a slow decline for at least two weeks. No character causes me to reconsider my opinion of them more than D Rex. I hated her, I hated to love her, I loved her…now I just know she’s there. Step your game up, D Rex. Someone’s gotta fill the void left by Sammi’s smoldering carcass. In the words of coach Herm Edwards, “WE CAN BUILD ON THIS!!”

Bonus Lesson: Not All Grenades Are Created Equal
Can we get Bubba from Forrest Gump in here for this one? Awesome, thanks for being here, Bubba. Can you just recite this bit for us, please? Thanks. “You got your grenades…grenade launchers…submarines…tanks…A-bombs…coconut grenades…grenade stew…grenade curry…that’s…that’s about it.”

Phew. I’m glad we got that cleared up. Now I know how to properly classify ugly people, which was something I’ve really been struggling with lately. (Am I the only who thinks “coconut grenades” sound kinda delicious?)

Double Bonus Lesson: Coffee Makes You Poop
I still remember the day my boy Drama figured this one out. He’s been much less irritable ever since. If only Snooki had told us a year ago that coffee will make it “flow out of your butthole like a frickin’ rain storm,” the world might have been a better place.

In sum, it’s like they tell every kid in first grade: learning is fun. Whether it’s cartoon characters or just real people who act like cartoon characters, there’s something to learn from everyone.

 

Update: Once again, loyal reader rook81 comes to the rescue, this time in the form of the actual “Calvin & Hobbes” strip I was looking for:

As you can see, I was a bit off in my description, but what can I say? I haven’t actually read it in over 15 years. The idea’s still the same. Thanks again, rook81!

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Bernie Madoff, STFU

(Ed note: I may or may not make “STFU” a weekly segment on Tiles. It depends on whether there are really enough people out there who need to shut the fuck up. Oh who am I kidding? It depends on whether I feel like writing on the same topic — other than Shore — every week. We’ll see. If you have a vote, cast it! I’ll accept votes via any means: comments, Facebook, Twitter, stripper gram, whatever.)

Famous criminal and guy-who-won’t-go-the-fuck-away-despite-being-in-federal-prison Bernard Madoff gave an interview to The New York Times on Tuesday. If, for some ungodly reason you care, the full article is available here, but I don’t recommend reading it. That’s not to say I read it and it was terrible. Quite the contrary, in fact; I didn’t read it, but only because I’m not feeling particularly masochistic. Coincidentally, that’s the same reason I don’t listen to Katy Perry or go to cosmetic surgeons who advertise on subway cars.

In the interview, Madoff said — among other things, I’m assuming, but I don’t actually care — that the banks “had to know” that his Ponzi scheme was going on. Read that sentence again, but don’t linger on it too long, lest you suffer a massive brain hemorrhage. Is that really the opinion he’s going with now? That there was some sort of wink-wink-nudge-nudge unspoken agreement on the part of the banks? Dude, that’s the kind of thing that happens when the guy behind you at the coffee shop peaks at your laptop screen and sees you’re pirating music, not when you’re fleecing people to the tune of over $20 billion.

Even if his assertion is somehow based in reality, so what? Seems like he’s implying that it would somehow make his scam OK. “Well, you see, there was another guy there who saw me stab the victim in the chest, so I kind of thought it wasn’t a big deal.” Growing up, my mom had a saying: “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Usually she was using that in reference to my brother and me jumping on the bed in a hotel, but the concept works just as well with massive Ponzi schemes. Take home message: even if someone else is aware of what’s going on, doing a bunch of illegal shit is still illegal.

And, if he knew that the banks were aware of his dealings, wouldn’t he have been well-advised to FUCKING STOP? Bank executives can be subpoenaed, too– if they figured it out, so could the feds. I don’t even have any advice for someone who proceeds with their criminal enterprise knowing that hundreds of people know about said enterprise. That’s dumber than people taking stock advice from 50 Cent. (Speaking of which, if I were Fitty, I’d be laughing all the way to the bank. People really listened to stock advice from a rapper on Twitter? You know what they say: a fool and his $8 million are soon parted, with the latter going straight to Curtis Jackson. Don’t try to tell that man he did something wrong. Figuring out ways to get money from stupid people is the backbone of capitalism.)

(Note that I want to make sure to put into this post, but doesn’t fit anywhere naturally: Madoff also described his cell in the interview. That sounds extremely interesting. Tell us about it, Bern! It’s small, you say? Oh, but it has a window? And you have a roommate? Yep, sounds like pretty much exactly what we were picturing based on every popular media depiction of a prison cell EVER. Thanks for that, asshole; we could have just watched Shawshank Redemption instead. Good luck sharing your phone booth for the next 160 years.)

All that aside, the real issue here is this: GO THE FUCK AWAY! Why are we interviewing this scumbag? Why do we feel the need to get answers and insight from criminals? We deplore this guy, that’s why we sent him away. He represents everything that the “common man” (whatever that means) hates about rich people. Immigration is un-American? Nope, but this guy is! So, please, I beg you: stop. There’s no reason for Madoff and others of his ilk to have a voice. He had a chance to make his contribution to society and fucked it up royally. Instead of giving him the attention of an interview — which he undoubtedly enjoyed — just stop listening. The only “behind the bars” interview I’ve ever had any interest in was with Mickey and Mallory Knox, and they A) were complete psychopath nutjobs who had killed a fuckton of people for no reason, B) would give an exclusive interview to one guy and one guy only, and C) were fictional. Solution for Bernie Madoff: be fictional. Then you deserve our attention.

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I wrote this with the lights off

Last Wednesday afternoon — as my followers on Twitter know — my Internet service went down. This was not my first go-round with this particular problem, and since the first time the problem was intermittent and corrected itself within a few hours, I just went to a coffee shop for the afternoon while I waited it out. Long story short (for once), it still didn’t work the next morning so I called up Time Warner and scheduled an appointment with a technician. They didn’t have one available until Saturday afternoon, so I would have to survive a few days with no Internet. As a freelance writer, I work from home, so this was not without its share of inconveniences. But, I muddled through, taking advantage of free Wi-Fi and using the opportunity to journal and read more. In addition to working being a little more difficult, I also found that I — for lack of a better term — missed the Internet. It’s  not like I was getting the shakes or anything, especially since I was able to use my Droid for Twitter, e-mail, Google Reader, Facebook, checking up on Tiles in a Mosaic, etc., but there were definitely more than a few times when I wanted to check something out online that my phone couldn’t handle (like a new writing website…or porn), and I would have that brief moment where my drive to do whatever it was turned to remembering once again that I couldn’t. In one of those moments, I put things in perspective by reflecting on my childhood, when life was significantly less technologically advanced. In this moment of reflection, I fired off the following tweet:

After this went out, I started to get some questions about whether this was actually true. People generally have a hard time believing that I grew up in a home without electricity, so I tend to get a lot of questions, most of them along the central theme of, “REALLY??” I have had so many conversations on this topic that I think this may be the single most interesting thing about me. And yes, as the parenthetical notation in that tweet specifies, it’s totally true….well, kind of. While I maintain that my family had no electrical service and had to improvise, the statement “I had no electricity” is correct. However, once I describe how we worked around the situation, some have argued that we actually did have electricity. So, I’ll let my humble readers judge for themselves:

Heat. We heated our home with a wood stove. No, not a fireplace. Fireplaces are actually woefully inefficient at heating a large area. This was a stove. As in, a big box with a chimney coming out of it that we threw wood into. We then lit the wood on fire. Think Ben Franklin. We would chop, split, and stack the wood ourselves every summer/fall. (The best part of the whole process were my dad’s endless November proclamations of “I wonder if we have enough wood” and “I hope we don’t freeze to death when we run out of wood.” Always left me feeling encouraged and inspired, but most of all optimistic.) Anyone who has ever heated with wood knows it’s an inexact science, so our house was often several degree warmer or cooler than ideal. This was especially a problem in the awkward spring and fall months, when it was cool enough that heat was necessary, but warm enough that any decent fire would quickly turn our living room into a Bikram studio. In these cases, we had two choices: turn on the propane wall heater (which sucked), or put a sweatshirt on. To this day, that’s why I always dress in layers.

Water. There was a well on the property. A propane generator pumped water whenever the pressure dropped below a certain point, keeping the supply of water in the house at an ideal level. The generator also powered the hot water heater. Sometimes the electronics governing the “auto on” for the water pump would fail. Usually this was right in the middle of someone;s shower, leaving them desperately trying to rinse the rest of the soap away before the rapidly dwindling stream of water inevitably gave out. When I was in 4th grade, the pump froze and we were without water from February to May. That got tricky. Fortunately, the snow/wood stove combo served us well for non-potable water, which could also be boiled for cooking or drinking in a pinch. We also this melted snow method to supply water for sponge baths, which I imagine might have put a damper on my teenage brother’s social life. Since I was still at an age where bathing every day was optional, I didn’t feel the burn too much on this front. My parents carried empty jugs with them everywhere and filled them up at any working faucet they encountered. As for using the bathroom, well…let’s just say there were some batches of snow we knew not to bring inside for melting.

Light. Wall-mounted propane lanterns were strategically positioned throughout the house. These had to be manually ignited with a lighter, so, since most of them were about 6-7 feet off the ground, I spent some portions of my childhood either climbing on chairs or simply in the dark. These lanterns were functional, and even provided a little extra heat, but they weren’t very bright. I blame them for my unusually large pupils…and the resultant conversations at summer camp when my counselors thought I was high.

Phone. There were no phone lines, so our phone used radio waves to receive from and transmit to an antenna about 3 miles away. This meant that technically my father was operating a radio station, and therefore had to have license from the FCC. As phones go, ours sucked. There were stretches of time when the transmission was so bad as to render conversation impossible. Even when the signal seemed clear, a slight interference — gust of wind, squirrel on the antenna, swamp gas refracting off of Venus — would cut the transmission off, usually right as you were trying to relay your most critical piece of information. My parents frequently had to call each other back to hurriedly decry “buy dog food!” They’ve since upgraded to some sort of space age system that uses cellular signals and also delivers high-speed internet, but I think this is why I’ve always hated talking on the phone…and still do to this day.

TV. My high school friends always asked about this one. Mostly because they were all knuckleheads who couldn’t imagine life without TV (If you guys are reading, don’t worry; I still love you). When my parents were designing and subsequently building our house (yes, really), they installed an array of solar panels on the southern exterior wall. These panels were connected to 12 volt car batteries, which stored the juice they collected from the sun. The batteries were connected to inverters to convert the DC to AC, and ta-freakin’-da: our TV (and radios, phone chargers, really annoying rechargeable R/C cars, and all other small electronics) came to life. People may be all about solar now, but the Atkinsons were on board with green power back in 1987. We could also use the generator to charge the batteries up. We especially had to do this in the winter when we got less sunlight. Over time, the batteries would lose their ability to hold a charge and have to be replaced. By that time, they had usually gotten so shoddy that we could only watch about 30 minutes of TV on a full charge, which meant that afterward we either had to turn the generator on or go read a book. We were always excited when we got new batteries, because it meant we once again had more TV-watching time available. New battery day was so full of hope and endless possibilities.

Large appliances. Our range was gas, as was the refrigerator. Yes, our refrigerator actually made food colder via combustion. How exactly that tiny propane worked in the refrigeration process is something I have never understood, but it did. We also refrigerated food outside a lot, using coolers and various wooden crates to keep critters away. The oven, microwave, dishwasher, and washer/dryer were all electric and therefore had to be powered by the propane generator, which my father had rigged an on/off switch for right in our kitchen. Often we would combine “generator tasks” in order to get the most mileage out of any time when we had to run it. So, my mom would often bake bread while doing laundry. Or, if my dad was running the generator because he needed power tools to fix something out in his workshop, we would take the opportunity to run the dishwasher.

That was how I lived from the time I was about 4 until I moved out for college at 17. There were some even more rugged years in my early childhood, before my parents got our house built, but we don’t really need to get into those. I barely remember them anyway. Over the years, my parents have made some upgrades to the system. They have high-speed wireless Internet at home now, and — thanks to an expanded solar/battery array, and my dad’s forethought about twenty years ago — there are even some electric lights in  the house. By and large, though, not  a lot has changed. There’s still no electric service (nor is there likely to be any time soon), the house is still heated with that same wood stove, and my parents still multi-task any time the generator is on. Maybe it sounds primitive, but I like to think that growing up in those circumstances is what has made me so resilient and resourceful, two things I pride myself on. I may not have had a toaster, but I know how to build a mean fire– you tell me what’s more useful. Then again, a pretty isolated childhood probably also contributed to me being so sarcastic and socially awkward, but hey, can’t win ’em all.

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Shots fired

As opposed to last week, when I vehemently refused to talk about Sammitch and Ron, this week’s post will be entirely about them. I can’t help it; their dumpster fire of a breakup this week (spoiler alert!) was just too effing good. It may have been the best episode of “Jersey Shore” (alternate title: “Seriously, You Would Be Waaayyyy Better Off Reading a Book”) EVER. It was so amazingly horrible that I actually felt twangs of guilt watching it. I laughed, I cried, I drank heavily, I prayed…it all adds up to those two meriting the lion’s share (anyone actually know where that phrase comes from?) of the attention this week. Also, I’ll be referring to them in the same manner they address one another. That is, by their full names —  Ronald and Samantha — just like everyone’s mom used to do when she was seriously pissed. Well, except my mom, for two reasons: 1, my name doesn’t get any longer, and 2, I never upset my mother. Which, of course, makes me better than you. Deal with it.

Ronald and Samantha have spent just about the entire season — not to mention a good chunk of last season — feuding, and this episode was the culmination. Just like every overdue breakup in history, it played out like a battle. Go ahead and get some Pat Benatar going to accompany while you read. Always helps me.

Opening salvo. Ronald gets an early start by telling Samantha first thing in the morning that what she said during their argument the night before as uncalled for. She does her usual “let me talk to you” routine, and he declares for approximately the 900th time that he’s “done talking.” We’re off and running!

Preparation and recon. Situation, seeming well-intentioned but at least a little skeevy, consoles Samantha and advises her to leave Ronald, tell her that “it’s never gonna get better” and she should “move forward.” Ronald happens to be in the bathroom and overhears the whole thing. Being the juicehead that he is, Ronald immediately overreacts. He takes the whole thing to mean that Situation is trying to play both sides and therefore has sold out his boy, sacrilegiously invoking the guy code. So, of course Ronald does the logical thing and confronts Sitch right then, so as to express his feelings and resolve the problem immediately. Oh wait– no he doesn’t. Instead, he says nothing to Sitch, calls him “a little bitch” in the confessional, then whines to Pauly and D Rex about it. Well played, sir. If anything Sitch did merits him being called a bitch, it was that awkward hug he forced on Samantha. It looked like a koala attacking a reluctant eucalyptus branch.

Return volley. Pauly and D Rex take Ronald and Samantha to the boardwalk separately to take their mind off of things. Again, I know nothing about how large Seaside or its boardwalk are (nor do I want to risk a trip to New Jersey to find out), but wouldn’t it have been a good idea to not take these two crash test dummies TO THE SAME PLACE? Pauly and Ronald couldn’t have gone to the gym? D Rex and Samantha couldn’t have gotten their nails done? No? They all had to go in two separate groups to place where they would inevitably encounter one another? The evidence for this show being scripted is mounting, and it pains me.

The dudes go on some rides and the girls settle in at a bar. Shortly thereafter, the dudes walk by said bar, and I FUCKING TOLD YOU THEY WOULD RUN INTO EACH OTHER. How was that not obvious?? Ugh. As the Lovebirds of Death exchange awkward waves in passing, Samantha is convinced that Ronald was with a girl (psyyyyyycho), so she immediately invokes a harem of dudes from the far reaches of the bar and initiates Operation: Dicktease. This is a classic maneuver. It’s an aggressive course of action and, if done properly, can cause an impressive amount of devastation. However, there are two problems here. One, Ronald wasn’t with a girl. Samantha just happens to be delusionally crazytown, and thought she saw a girl. He was with Pauly, who should be offended that Samantha just violated like that. Two — and this is important — Ronald wasn’t around to witness her routine. This is a short-range attack, people. It is predicated on causing psychological pain to the target, and therefore it only works when your target is close by to see that you’re being a whore. Wasted ammo, Samantha.

Consolidation of allies. Back at the house, Ronald is looking for Situation so he can call him out from that morning. Again, instead of handling it one-on-one with Situation like a grownass (had to add that word to my spell check) man would do, he talks about it over and over in front of the whole house, argues with Samantha for a bit, then when Sitch walks in the door, he immediately calls him out in front of everyone with a dickhead comment. Not a great strategist, that Ronald. I feel like he’d be the type of football coach who would just sling it deep every time and be amazed when the defense figured out his game plan. The ensuing argument is disappointingly and predictably anticlimactic, and ends with Sitch apologizing…and hugging Ronald…and kissing Ronald…because Sitch is gay.

(Anyone catch the promo for “Real World” in Vegas? How about this little chestnut from that spot: “Nadia’s totally attracted to my bad boy personality. Once she finds out I was in juvie, she’s just gonna like me even more.” Wow. Just wow. I’ve spent some time in juvie for work — you know, in my past life — and trust me, there is absolutely NOTHING attractive about being in juvie. A girl who’s attracted to the idea of someone spending time in juvie is a girl who’s probably also into pulling the goalie, if you catch my drift. That guy should watch his ass or he’ll wind up in a shotgun wedding.)

The Battle of Seaside. After Samantha and Ronald have their millionth “I want to yell at you about things you did a while ago because I’m too immature to process them any other way” conversation (highlight: “I had a reason to cheat on you in Miami!” Huh?) and Ronald once again confirms that they’re done, they go their separate ways to hang out with their respective groups.

Ronald returns to get something out of the closet, and Samantha asks what he’ll do if a girl comes up to him. He gives a predictable (and honest!) answer. In the words of Rage Against the Machine, “and then came the shots.”

This is the part where I simultaneously felt captivated and guilty. You know when you break up with someone and you spend the next month of your life mentally reciting all the terrible things you want to say to them, because you think only then will they feel as awful as you do? Have that happen out loud and sped up to fit in about a 10 minute window. Now throw in the five vapid friends halfheartedly trying to break the fight up, put the whole thing on TV, and you’ve got Samantha and Ronald.

He loudly and publicly calls shotgun on the smush room. She tells him he’s not worth the tears she’s crying. He starts taking her stuff out of the closet and throwing it across the room. The entire house tries to intervene as they keep yelling at each other. Ronald shuts himself in the smush room. Samantha, running on fumes and out of creative verbal daggers to throw, resorts simply to, “I hate you!” Ronald fires a retort of “you useless spoiled bitch.” Finally the guys are able to get the two separated.

In their separate corners, Samantha tells Deena she can’t keep living with a “psycho” like Ronald. Almost on cue, Ronald takes it upon himself to empty her share of their bedroom’s contents onto the porch. That man needs some therapy. In fact, after watching that scene, I’ll take some for myself. I think I have PTSD after that. My heart can’t continue to take this, Shore. Oh, and in case you missed it, Pauly had the quote of the episode just before the brawl jumped off: “They’re talking about fucking relationships, and my sneakers are dirty!” My man’s got priorities.

With the Wonder Twins separated, and each group going out separately, there’s a break in the action as each camp regroups and mobilizes. One problem: again, the two groups go out TO THE SAME PLACE. Am I the only one who realizes what a bad idea this is? Am I talking to myself over here? Although, on the girls’ part this may have been strategic, as Samantha soon initiates…

Operation: Dicktease II. She mounts her final offensive, vowing that she will “get Ron back, the best way I know how.” Her strategy is sound and her execution is effective, albeit not exactly elegant. She climbs up — on the bar? Stage? Table? What was that? — and repeatedly declares that she needs “a hot fucking guy right now!” Stay classy, Samantha.

Ronald tries his best to keep his shit together as the newly-single girl whom he still loves grinds her ass on a pasty douchebag. It looks fucking brutal, but I can’t say I feel bad for the dude. You called the tune, Ronald. Now it’s time to pay the piper. In the end, he concedes this round and leaves Aztec, but not before firing off one last “fuck you.”

Slash and Burn. Back at the house, Ronald continues to throw shit around. He throws her bed out on to the porch, declaring, “you wanna be a dog, sleep outside like a dog.” Does he have any other moves? Can he express his anger in any other way? This is like the fourth time in three episodes he’s resorted this routine, which basically amounts to a child’s tantrum. He’s either out of ideas, or has ambitions on a career as very specific kind of mover.

Parlay. Samantha, who expected Ronald to have continued his swath of destruction in her absence, is nonetheless still surprised at how far he went this time. She finds her broken glasses and tracks Ronald down, crying. When she confronts Ronald, he uses Operation: Dicktease II (well, not that exact terminology) to justify himself. You know, because that’s totally logical. You dance with someone, I destroy all your worldly possession. Quid pro quo, bitches. More arguing blah blah Sam belches blah blah you’re a piece of shit blah blah respect blah blah.

It’s clear we’re approaching the end here. Both sides are weary and battle-worn; they can’t keep this up much longer.

Exit strategy. Samantha decides she has to leave, announcing her decision privately. She talks first to the girls, then Vinnie, then Pauly. Situation? Well, he gets a nice “I’m leaving, Mike” in passing. His disingenuous reply indicates that the koala hug they shared earlier did not exactly make them best friends. When Vin leaks the news to Ronald, he tries to convince Samantha to stay, although apparently his plan was to repeatedly command her to “sit.” He’s taking this dog analogy too far.

Surrender. In the first moment all season that they haven’t spent fighting with one another, Ronald tells Samantha that he’s willing to let her go. One last “CABSAREHERE”  and Samantha takes off. In the confessional, Ronald says, “I miss her, I love her, and I regret everything bad I’ve ever done.” I think we can safely file that one under “too little, too late.” Where was that last season, you knucklehead?

There you have it. Samantha’s gone. As maybe her biggest detractor, I feel like I should be pretty pleased, but really I’m pretty ambivalent. I mean, the bitch is certifiable, and she looks like a human candle, but I can’t help but feel just a little less whole inside.

…OK, that passed. Fuck that bitch. I hope Ronald leaves next week, too. I’m getting tired of spelling out “Ronald” every time. Stupid self-imposed rules. I hope to God this means we’ll finally get some more run from Vinnie. That guy’s more underutilized than MySpace.

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