Monday, August 25, 2008

Let Me Hear Your Body Talk (Mine Says "Ow")

First the bad news: Once again Nintendo has failed to reliably stock its products in an amount even vaguely on par with demand. Now the good: This time I didn't have to personally commit to sleeping on the sidewalk or breaking and entering since I can just mooch off of my boyfriend's Wii Fit. I love relationships!

I was originally a little apprehensive about using the Fit primarily because I feared that the device would announce my weight each time I stepped on it (likely in a mocking tone while someone makes pig snort noises and/or moos in the background) and my weight is something I am only prepared to acknowledge once a week on Friday morning after a night of no liquids and a morning of peeing as much as I can. This is how I avoid going crazy over the theoretically insignificant fluctuations of a pound or two which might otherwise cause me to curl up into a little ball to watch an infinite loop of my imagined future 300lb self creating shock waves as she wobbles down the sidewalk. Luckily, the system allows you to easily skip the little step where you get weighed and have to spend years in therapy. Hallelujah.

Early on in the Wii Fit registration process (after cringing at your BMI but before you shed even one measly calorie) the game lets you pick a trainer. Your only choices are "girl trainer" or "boy trainer" which I thought would be highly disappointing -- how could the designers at Nintendo hope to create the dream trainer look for ever girl in the world with just one avatar? By making that avatar look exactly like my Olympics boyfriend Ryan Lochte, that's how! There is evidence that Ryan may be a bit of a douche (what is it with these swimmer dudes?) but as a trainer he's perfect. He constantly tells me how great my balance is, looks smoking hot (you know, for a digital representation of a hot dude) and encourages me by lying about how impressively strong my abs are. Still, a nice expansion to the standard Wii Ft might be a program that ups the trainer encouragement so that I can hear Ryan tell me over and over again how skinny and irresistible I am (a SUPER nice expansion might be him telling me exactly what he'd like to do with my well toned body...).

Though I'm sure I usually seem like a polite demure young thing I play video games the way my dad watches baseball. I jump off of the couch. I scream. I curse at the screen. Someday I will have kids who find Mommy a little scary when the console is on just as years ago Lil' Brianna felt like Daddy was replaced with an angry beast every time the Dodgers took the field. Save the joy of ogling Ryan it is fair to say that my first date with Wii Fit was a little rocky. It is possible that there was even more yelling than usual. The words "stupid fucking machine" may have been bandied about. My boyfriend, G, may have used the term hissy fit. I am, however, proud to say that I did not cry (G is likely proud to say that he did not laugh out loud at all of my pouting and thus avoided a fat lip/bloody nose/detachable penis). While I was able to stop the machine from announcing my weight to the entire room I could not stop it from picking up on how much I hate being bad at things. And lord was I bad at hitting soccer balls with my head, and running in place, and hula hooping. Especially hula hooping which I failed at despite wearing the national uniform of girls hula hooping on Wii Fit: panties and a tank top. I can only hope G has the self restraint to resist making me one more of the legions of girls swinging their scantily clad hips on youtube.

The Fit is a surprisingly good work out. At first most of the exercises (save the wailing and complaining) seemed unnaturally obsessed with my center of balance. Scoring for yoga, strength training and balance activities were calculated based on my ability to distribute my weight in a way that keeps a red dot in the correct area. The only sport that I can fairly claim even intermediate knowledge of is yoga and I was shocked to find that this method forced me to do the poses more accurately than I would have in a class or if I were to ever get off my lazy ass and do yoga on my own at home.

Due to the possibility that I might throw the wiimote at my boyfriend's head I eventually had to quit my workout in favor of brunch and dress shopping. An afternoon of stress-free bliss far away from obsessing over my center of gravity and Ryan tsk-tsking my uncontrolled attempts at slalom skiing was just what I needed to chill the fuck out and accept that Wii fit is only a game and no matter how often Ryan frowns at my pathetic attempts at athleticism I will not suddenly balloon to a size where TLC will make an hour long documentary about me trying to get out of bed in route to gobble down a 5lb bag of M&Ms (mmmm chocolate-y!). I rushed home to a gin and tonic and the most time devoted to hula hooping outside of 1958. I woke up early the next morning jonesing for some more hula action even though my lats were killing me(look at that! I just used a sporty sounding shortened name for a muscle group! I blame the Fit for that! Soon I'll be flexing in the mirror, willingly eating "goo" and telling everyone about how much I can bench).

Let's momentarily pretend that this real review of the game and not just me pontificating on my nerdy reaction to physical activity so that I might make some suggestions about how Wii Fit could be improved (you know, in addition to the brilliant Trainer Compliment Mode that I recommend above). Firstly, I know this has been mentioned all over the internet but I would really like it if the software included some sort of training routine. Moving from one exercise to another requires a lot of back and forth with the wiimote and the software which unnecessarily interrupts your workout. The need for a mode that walks you through a good 30mins of continuous exercise seems so obvious that I'm shocked that the smart folks down at Nintendo HQ failed to include this in the first release. Barring an update that allows me to work out without the wiimote ever present in my right hand I could use some sort of wiimote holster, in addition to freeing up my hands for balancing, grasping and wiping my brow this would also make a smashing addition to my panties and tank top work out look. A holster always adds that certain spark to an outfit -- I'm shocked we don't see more of them on the red carpet.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Biological Clock has Cold Feet

Despite my acute fear of getting knocked up I have always loved kids and though I was never one of those girls who listed "Mom" as my life's ambition (in fact I spent a good year mocking my brother because his pat 5 year old answer to "what do you want to be when you grow up?" was "A dad!" which, while cute was also ripe for 8 year old sister ridicule.) I did always think that I eventually wanted to reproduce if only because taking myself out of the gene pool could be considered an unfair attack on the future of the human race. You gotta respect the need of Darwinian evolution but as the expiration date on my ovaries looms I find myself more and more interested in selfishly spending all of what might have been diaper money on lavish vacations and booze (Ok, fine, we're not expiring over here. I'm 30, I know I have time but at most I have what? 7 years? 8? Honestly I think I need at least 10 just to mentally prepare for routinely having to get up before 8am on a Saturday).

Throughout high school and college I had reoccurring paranoid dreams about finding out I was 6 months pregnant the dreams appropriately ended with some serious freaking out and/or crying an/or getting grounded. My faith in birth control must have increased over the past few years because my dreams have ceased to resemble a surreal after school special despite a welcome upturn in activity likely to invite babies to my womb. But Monday night, deep in REM, my subconscious dreamed up a new version on the surprise bundle of horror craziness. In the dream I was happily going about my life when I suddenly remembered "Oh shit! I told Kajal I'd have twin babies for her and now I'm 4 months preggers!" Dream Brianna was deservedly annoyed with her expanding belly but in a striking bout of optimism decided that "at least I can go off birth control, it's probably bad for the babies anyway." Sadly, in the world of nightmares it turns out the you can get EXTRA PREGNANT and I quickly found out that in addition to Kajal's 6 month old twin fetuses my body was also home to a 3 month old fetus of my very own meaning I would be pregnant for an extra 3 months AND have to be a mom. Total bummer.

I never went through the all too common liberal college student "maybe I won't procreate at all!" stage. When friends would cringe at the possibility of crying and diapering and overpopulation I would counter with adorable baby shoes and reminders that babies grow up to be kids who will totally do chores for much less than minimum wage. I have always been the first person to volunteer for babysitting gigs or hanging out at the kids table and even today I can't help but dote on my niece to the point where my boyfriend occasionally feels a certain amount of present neglect come birthday season (things might improve if he'd just warm up to the concept of frilly dresses...). My deep desire to (someday) have kids has often made me super stressed out about my proverbially single status. I once even had a long phone conversation with my mother about how I would probably have to adopt a baby on my own since my poor sad pathetic whiny ass would never ever ever find a boy to lover her. I was 24 so you can understand my concern (I believe this was the same year that my EIGHTEEN YEAR OLD cousin commented that she thought it was sad that I would never have kids. You know, because I was a dried up old hag).

These days I know a lot of new mommies all of whom, unlike the mommies I knew in high school, are having bundles of joy under socially acceptable circumstances and their babies are cute and not on food stamps and very rarely annoying. My baby love has not waned and I love spending an hour or so eating their bellies and making monster faces until they giggle, but, unlike all of the babies I've thought about in my years of paranoia and day dreaming... these babies are REAL. Watching close friends of mine go through pregnancy and birth and motherhood has made the idea of babies suddenly very daunting. There came a point 7 months or so into one friend's pregnancy when I suddenly realized "Oh! She's going to have a baby! And it's going to be around all of the time. FUCK." This is when the new and improved freaking out started.

It's not that I no longer peer into my future and smile at the idea of a little blond haired terror of my own, it's that the future is coming at me at warp speed. The irony of waiting for babies until you're financially and emotionally ready is that when one really starts to think seriously about the reality of babies it becomes clear that no one in their right mind is EVER ready for this insanity. I'm convinced that almost all babies are born out of ignorance or denial. As far as I can tell the "Where to babies come from?" monologue should be edited so that it reflects reality:
When two people love each other very much and they pray really hard they slowly lose their minds and then they decide to go off of birth control and bring a child into the world. This child will make them stay home every night and spend all of their money on tiny spit up rags and environmentally conscious diapers and breast pumps and these two people will never again have a good excuse to spend $150 on one sushi dinner.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Finding the Land of the Lost

Last Thursday I went on the best date ever. Assuming that your idea of best date ever involves puppets and growling and big hunks of meat, but really if it doesn't you're lame and might as well stop reading now. The date activity and location were a surprise. I was just told to meet in front of the the Manhattan Mall at 6:30. While being guided out of the hubbub of Herald square I was told we'd be seeing "a little theater" right as we approached "Peep World" so my eyes were all prepped for the rolling when out of the Taxi clogged lanes of 7th avenue emerged Madison Square Garden's huge blinking sign announcing "Walking with Dinosaurs Live."

Walking with Dinosaurs, for those of you who manage to keep your Tivo off of the Discovery Channel (for shame!), is a BBC program staring Computer Generated dinosaurs engaging in everyday dinosaur things like snacking on the flesh of other dinosaurs and fleeing forest fires all while being fucking huge. The live version replaces CG with robots and puppets and the TV with 6000 screaming 6 year old boys.

It was very romantic.

My boyfriend may be a dinosaur loving fool, but he's not crazy enough to spend $100 for top shelf viewing, especially since he knows I'll give it up for midrange. Luckily our not-quite-nosebleeds were located directly behind the sound board so we were instantly upgraded to seats only a few rows back from the stage where the kids whose parents really love them get to sit. Pursuing the program preshow, I learned that the puppets were made with "muscles bags" and "voodoo kits." How could this be anything other than awesome?

The show started with a huge raptor-like beast chowing down on some cute widdle baby dinosaurs -- way to pave the road for the chorus of bawling children to come! Actually, for a show about creatures who regularly sucked the marrow out of eachother's bones, there was surprisingly little violence on stage. The dinos mostly meander around sniffing each other's butts and grunting. Save the hatchlings, there is no blood shed and the one meal of the 90 minute program shows up already dead and half eaten at the opening of Act 2. They never even charge the annoying guy playing the paleontologist time traveler even though everyone in the audience, even those under 5, spend the whole show dreaming of seeing him decapitated before he can utter another inane joke. This level of peace amongst giant lizards seems like a dangerous precedent to set. I can't help but think about what will happen when a time machine goes wacky sending a bus load of elementary school kids into the Jurassic where, based on the lessons learned in this play (and from Barney), the kids will stream from the bus hoping for some big friendly dinosaur hugs only to be greeted as tasty hor'dourves. As a society we should work harder at teaching all kids to cower in fear.

Sometimes the boyfriend refers to me as an amateur botanist because I'm constantly making him stop on street corners to ooh and ahh over foilage. The plants of Walking With Dinosaurs were each individual little windsocks that popped up proudly out of the edge of the stage and when a volcano spewed ash into the air withered up in a way that was vaguely reminiscent of a penis. While Variety's review of the show specifically mentioned being disappointed in the plants I loved them and am hugely grateful to the poor little stagehand who has to slump around stuffing each and every one back into it's little condom like holder between the acts.

Overall, the dinosaur puppets were amazing. Most were a robot/puppet hybrid. All were GIGANTIC. You're sitting there thinking, "yeah, i know, big, whatever," but seriously they were BIG -- their necks stretched out over the audience, their teeth were roughly 7 feet long, I believe the head of at least one creature extended well outside of the earth's orbit. The puppets were also impressively realistic, however many of the large motorized beasts looked like they were perpetually standing in a presquat crouch that seemed like it could lead to a dinosaur sized number 2 at any moment. The show eventually made the dreams of the entire audience come true when a stegosaurus rumbled and growled and shook until a compact and surprisingly clean looking 1 foot in diameter poo rolled out onto the stage. The six year olds went wild -- nothing pleases the savage elementary schooler like a good poo joke.

I give the dinosaurs, the penis plants, the poo and even the paleontologist at big thumbs up, even though AM New York (the trashy free daily for those you not living the NYC) found it lacking (2 stars? Am I to assume we're rating in binary these days?). My boyfriend is a lucky man to have found the only girl in New York who puts out for dinosaur puppets.

Our date ended at Dinosaur BBQ, because I appreciate nothing more than a good theme. And meat. All in all way better than dating a TRex.

This post is cross posted at Burt Reynold's Mustache

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Short Play About Being Almost 3

Kurt: Father (despite being Brianna's baby brother -- How did this happen?), turning 28 in 8 months (see? A BABY I TELL YOU)
Delanie: Cutest Little Girl in the World (despite being a bit of a diva in this particular play), turning 3 in 2 weeks.
Brianna: Doting Aunt (despite being treated like crap), encroaching on 31...

Scene: bicostal phone call/The evil domain of Verizon

Kurt: Did you want to talk to the bug?
Brianna: Why else would I ever call you?
K: Hey Delanie, wanna talk to Brianna on the phone?
Delanie: (yelling from the background) NO!
K: Ha, she said no.
B: I heard, I guess someone doesn't really want any birthday presents.
K: Hey Delanie, Brianna says that if you don't want to talk to her she might not buy you any birthday presents!

Brianna and Kurt chit chat for five minutes about the weather, family drama and if their mom will be openly mean to Brianna's boyfriend at an upcoming family event (probably not....). Delanie continues her coloring trying to concentrate while quietly pondering the possibility of no birthday presents....

D (Tugging on her dad's arm): I want to talk now.
B: Hi! How are you?
D: I was doing some coloring. I wanted you to talk to my dad.
B: I did talk to your dad -- what are you coloring?
D: I'm using blue.
B: cool! What kind of things are blue?
D: I like pink. And I like purple
B (laughing) ok...

Is everyone feeling the love?