Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tivo-ing Life

I held off for a long time in getting Tivo because I worried it would only feed my TV-watching habit.

Even with cutting three shows out of my regular viewing schedule, I'll still be watching eight others come September: "House," "The Office," "Pushing Daisies," "30 Rock," "Chuck," "Ugly Betty," "Law & Order: SVU" and new show "Fringe." ("Mad Men" and "Project Runway" will be winding down by the time the fall season really gets going and "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" doesn't start again until November so I won't count them. "Lost" is a mid-season show.)

However, I justified purchasing Tivo in two ways: 1) my VCR was possessed by bad TV demons and would not record shows unless it was in the mood too; 2) with the fast-forwarding power of Tivo I get through shows twice as fast.

Speaking of fast-forwarding, I would like to thank Tivo for making my Olympic-watching experience a breeze. I could condense eight hours of competition into an hour and a half of viewing time. Swimming - good. Beach volleyball - click, click, click and it's gone. I discovered the joys of table tennis and the marathon thanks to the handy DVR.

I just wish I could Tivo my way past those election year sign wavers that stand by the road during my daily commute. I refuse to wave at anyone since I often don't know who their candidate is or whether I'd vote for him or her. But I feel embarrassed every time I pass them by and avoid making eye contact. And there's no click, click, click to speed by them.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Let's Talk Movie Etiquette, People

I went to see a movie this evening, on a weeknight when the theater had maybe 15 other people in it. And yet the following still happened in that small crowd:
1) A toddler was allowed to wander around the seats (though to the parents' credit, they took the kid outside when he started yelling). This was not exactly a family movie.
2) THREE people in front of me were texting with that annoying cellphone glow as a distraction.
3) Another person actually answered their cell and whispered through a short conversation (it did not sound like an emergency to me) during a relatively quiet, emotional scene.
4) There were the loud guffawer/commentators sitting off to my right.

What are the odds of all that happening in a small audience? Or maybe the offenders felt more at liberty to forget all movie-going etiquette because there were less people? I just don't know. It seems like common sense and respect to not text, talk loudly, let a toddler roam around or answer a cellphone during a film. I especially curse the day that texting became popular.

All I have to say is urgh.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A minor cooking success

DISCLAIMER: This entry falls under the "my roommates are still not back from summer break and I have no one else to share this with that would care other than my mother ... and I already called her" category.

I recently had a small kitchen triumph. I cooked a pork chop for myself and didn't burn it, cook it until it was too tough, or over season it. This may not seem like a big deal but for someone who is not a master cook, it was a successful hunk of meat.

Mark Bittman is responsible for my almost perfect chop. I followed the New York Times' Minimalist columnist's recipe "Sauteed Pork Chops (with Vinegar)," which I found in my copy of "How to Cook Everything." I read Bittman's column and print out recipes pretty religiously even if I haven't made half of his dishes. He makes cooking seem simple and he emphasizes basic ingredients and none of that prepackaged stuff, which he says doesn't really save you that much time. He hasn't completely convinced me of the latter but I can follow his recipes. His cookbook is also written like he's standing over your shoulder giving you advice.

Back to the pork chop. All it took was a little dry white wine, red wine vinegar, olive oil, butter, salt and pepper and rereading the recipe five times while I was preparing the chop to make it come out nice and firm but not tough or dry. OK, I did manage to set off the fire alarm when I added the wine to the sizzling hot pan, creating a billow of smoke that hovered in my house for the next ten minutes. And the chop might have been just a tad too vinegary, but overall I gave myself a pat on the back.

I happily ate the pork chop with a oil/butter reduction and some vegetables while watching "So You Think You Can Dance." It was a gloriously content little moment. After all, it's the simple things that make me happy.