11

Masterpiece YouTube: Team StarKid, “The Trail to Oregon!”

Happy July 4th, y’all! I haven’t shared a fun YouTube in almost a whole year (September 30th, 2015), so I figured I’d share one of the most American things of all time (or what should be): musical theatre mixed with American history, so…here’s the full cast recording of Hamilton!

Just kidding, and yes, I am sick of hearing people obsess over it, it’s kind of like…have you ever seen a musical before? Ever? Anyway, here’s another fun musical.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 22: Team Starkid, “The Trail to Oregon!” (2015)

Any true American who grew up in the 1990s played Oregon Trail, the original educational, low-graphics game designed to teach kids about Manifest Destiny but mostly ended up teaching kids how to shoot a buffalo, die of dysentery, and an excuse to make up obscene family names.

I remember I was scared of the game when I first encountered it in fourth grade, because the trend was to name your characters after your family members and friends, and I got it in my head that if you died in the game, that meant you died for real, or were going to die soon, which led to many, many nightmares about my family members being buried in the Wyoming wilderness or eaten by wolves. Eventually, though, I got over that silly fear and joined everyone else in making sure that Jelly Head, Pantyhose Nose, Donkey, and Princess Bunny make it to the Willamette Valley. And if they didn’t, oh well, at least you could write a dirty epitaph on their 8-bit tombstone.

But enough about nostalgia, back to the video. Team StarKid, the University of Michigan-based student acting troupe behind A Very Potter Musical and its sequels came up with The Trail to Oregon!, a brilliant choose-your-own musical adventure that eventually made it off-Broadway. Five characters play the basic family members your game gives you: the dimwitted Father (Jeff Blim), the stressed-out Mother (Rachael Soglin), obnoxious Son (Lauren Lopez, AKA Draco Malfoy from AVPM), easily-distracted Daughter (Jamie-Lyn Beatty, AKA Ginny Weasley from AVPM), and stereotypical oldster Grandpa (Corey Dorris), who doubles as Cletus Jones. The remainder of the parts, including a deformed ox, a fast-talking general store owner, and a horny bandit, are played by Joey Richter, AKA Ron Weasley from AVPM.

If you have two hours, or even if you don’t, it’s worth a watch for all the witty lyrics and low-budget fun. You even get to pick who dies at the end: I’ve only clicked on the Mother one and the Daughter one, but eventually I’ll watch the other three.

My favorite numbers are the two that open the show, “Gone to Oregon,” especially with all the bad rhyming, and “Independence,” a perfect selection for July 4th, especially with the “YMCA” tribute towards the end. Even though the talk of it being a “family vacation” is a little cringey – it was actually a complete lifestyle change, it’s not as if they were going to take tacky tourist photos and then turn back around and head back to Illinois, although that would be an interesting twist. The only part where it sagged for me was the story line with the Daughter and the bandit, I felt it was too melodramatic and one-note for the rest of the production despite Beatty’s brilliant acting and singing. “It Pays to Be an Animal” and “Speedrun” are also fun numbers. Anyway, enjoy!

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube was brought to you by AMERICA.

Advertisements
16

Oh Puh-Leez….

With the release of new cast photos from the upcoming revival-esque sitcom Fuller House, everyone on the Internet has gone completely nuts. Ever since Boy Meets World got reincarnated as Girl Meets World, 1990s sitcom fever has been all the rage. Now, even though the constant rumors of a reunion movie that persisted throughout the 00s has come to fruition, with all the cast on board with the hopes of inspiring a new generation of wholesomeness. And the gang’s all here, except for one noticeable and completely predictable absence: Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen as Michelle, the youngest daughter.

I grew up watching Full House every day after school. Since I am about the same age as the Olsens, I don’t remember the early episodes from their original airings, but I watched the later ones when they were originally aired and VHS tapes/reruns of the earlier ones. Like many other 90s kids, I’ve seen every episode, and, like many other kids, was devastated when it was cancelled. Even though the adult actors (Bob Saget, John Stamos, and Dave Coulier) really drove the show, and some theorize that it was actually all about Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), the middle child, it was, of course, Michelle, played by the Olsens in a dual role, who earned the big bucks both onscreen and off, getting paid on an increasingly higher scale due to their cuteness and wild popularity. After Full House they went spinning off into their own franchise of dolls, merchandise, and straight-to-VHS movies, becoming teenage millionaires, arguably having more success than any other cast members. Even through the darker periods in their career, like Mary-Kate’s hospitalization and their sometimes questionable looks, they’ve consistently been at the top of the fashion world despite having left the “industry.”

And now, everyone’s up in arms because – shockingly – two women who have clearly moved on don’t feel compelled to return to a past career.

30 GIFs Of Michelle Tanner That Are Your Life

This amateur pop culture theorist is not surprised, but has opinions of his own as to why the Olsen twins are doing it right.

Let’s look at the given circumstances here.

1. They became Michelle before they were potty-trained. Unlike the other cast members, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen had much less of a choice in their initial casting as Michelle. From what I’ve heard, they were basically among the only sets of twins who wouldn’t constantly cry on camera and didn’t mind crawling around a set in front of strangers. In fact, another rumor has it that their parents were worried they wouldn’t have a normal childhood and almost took them off the show after the first or second seasons. They grew up calling their co-stars by their character names so they wouldn’t slip up during a taping. None of these experiences are comparable to even what Jodie Sweetin, the next oldest kid, endured. All of the other cast members, (with the exception of the boys who played Jesse and Becky’s twins) auditioned for their roles and knew what they wanted out of the experience. The Olsens stayed on for the whole show, but maybe had things played out differently, they would’ve pursued a different path in life. Speaking of which…

2. They’re not acting anymore. Other than an appearance on Ellen a year or two ago, they haven’t been on screen in the better part of a decade, when they’re so recognizable that they could have probably returned to acting whenever they wanted to. They chose careers in fashion design, a choice that suits them better than what they did ages ago as kids. They probably could have even balanced careers in both areas, but actively chose not to.

But still, fans are angry that they decided not to return. Here’s what they’re saying whining about, and here’s why I think that they are wrong.

1. “They’re so ungrateful to their co-stars and fans, they think they’re so much better than them, it’s like a giant middle finger to America.” That last part might be an exaggeration, but I have never heard anything about them putting down their past or their co-stars, or demeaning Full House in general. Even though they have had their strange moments, they’ve never gone the route of Amanda Bynes and bashed people on the Internet, or gotten arrested/served jail time like Lindsay Lohan. Growing up without those things is a different topic, but even after reading all the recent press, I still don’t hear them saying anything about their reason for not returning as being above their past cast members.

2. “They’re filthy rich and don’t need the money.” Partly true, they do have a lot of money, but that’s kind of a non sequitur; I don’t think that Candice Cameron Bure is hard up for cash or that Dave Coulier is on food stamps. Even though the Olsens are more visible, it’s how they present themselves and how they’ve consistently stayed in the public eye for so long that their status is legendary.

The main point of it all is that they’re just not interested, and the fact that acting is not exactly like riding a horse; you can’t just get up and go without preparing for it first. Even though some of their co-stars took breaks and did other things, they’ve been on TV at least some time in the past five years, and the Olsens haven’t. I mean, look at the alternative; if they did go for it, and ended up doing a terrible job, not being “the same Michelle” or seeming “miserable,” their stock would go down. And you know that every blog, magazine, and newspaper would just have to comment. Bad publicity = bad business, and their image and fashion empire might take a blow; a small one, but a blow nonetheless. The way that the producers seem to be handling it – by saying that Michelle is off in New York being a fashion designer – is totally legit and way more respectful than either acting like Michelle never existed or killing the character in an off-screen accident. And hey, there could still be hope – if the show gains traction, it would be a pleasant surprise to have, say, one of the next-gen Tanners become Skype buddies or FaceTime with “Aunt Michelle” for a quick cameo. The producers could easily manipulate the viewers into thinking that Michelle is totally out of the picture, and then just pop her in there; Full House hasn’t always been realistic, but being a show about family, it’s not completely unrealistic to have a distant family member. (As I typed that last sentence, I realized that in my family, I’m that distant family member, having been in Baltimore for all of one month in the last fifteen months, collectively).

What I am sure of, however, is that if they do come back, they should be welcomed. Compare it to the Spice Girls and their reunion at the Olympics in 2012. Everyone was buzzing about Ginger Spice not returning due to her early exit from the group, and Posh not returning because she’s Victoria Beckham, but they were all there on top of those cars, performing together. Even if naysayers say that Posh Spice didn’t want to be there or was offered an outrageous some of money to “do it for [the team, the group, England, the world].” Had she not wanted to be there, she simply would have stayed home. But she was there, because she wanted to do it, and had she not been there, people would have understood (or wouldn’t), but she obviously felt like she a) wanted to do it and b) could do it, so that probably made her decision easier. When you don’t have the desire or the ability to do something (Kristy McNichol and Julie Andrews as prime examples, respectively), you don’t do it, not necessarily for others, but for yourself. And that’s fine.

Say what you want, but I’m excited for February 26th. “Everywhere you look….”

Oh, and I forgot to mention, thank you to my 1200th follower, Jen of Bierbaum Bookworm! Go visit her!

And for the first time in 2016, shout-outs to all six continents for visiting: North America (Canada and USA), South America (Chile and Venezuela), Europe (Germany, France, Greece, and UK), Asia (India and Brunei), Africa (Botswana and Mauritius) and Oceania (Australia!)

6

Quick, Best Way to Get from Manila to London? Laayoune, Western Sahara!(?)

As if I needed another mindless, addicting Internet game to distract me, along comes archive.org’s DOS games. Playing old DOS games on the Internet was not new to me; ever since my ex in Israel showed me Abandonia, I spent many hours pressing the space bar on my childhood favorite Where in Europe is Carmen Sandiego? and all those figure-it-out, travel-adventure games. Eventually, the mindlessness got me bored, so I forgot about it for awhile, but when archive.org went viral recently, I checked it out again, and found…

Bush Buck: Global Treasure Hunter.

An understatement, Emma Stone.

 

I mean…hello? Where was this game when I was in elementary school?

Because this shit is awesome.

Bwahaha! You’ll never catch me and my bright yellow coat, bitch!

The premise of the game, kind of like the Carmen Sandiego series, is to follow clues and go around the world, only you don’t have to deal with the whole “making a dossier” thing, you just get to find stuff and bring it back to a home base for points. It’s almost like you’re the villain! SWEET.

There are three levels. At beginner, you just fly around the world picking up stuff, which gets boring once you get the hang of it. At the intermediate level, you get fewer flight points, harder clues, and you compete against Natasha, a not-so-bright villain herself who mostly flies around in circles, constantly checking clues so you don’t have to.

But then, I tried the advanced level…and hoo boy. An actual challenge. There is some devious stuff going on.

At the advanced level, you have no choice; you’re pitted against Otto, who can make super-quick, super-long flights, like from Southern Africa to Northern Europe; redirect your plane if he wants; steal one of your items if he wants (bastard), and says nasty things to throw you off. It took me a good few hours (and the average game lasts about 10 minutes) before I could beat him at his own game, and I finally did once yesterday, but then resumed losing to him until just now, twice: first, when he ran out of tickets somewhere in India chasing down the final object, a pomegranate located in Shanghai, and I had exactly enough to make it there and grab it, and then a second time when we were looking for the final two items, he found his somewhere in East Asia and I found the last one two turns later in Kuwait, automatically giving me the win. Even without Otto, it’s a challenge notwithstanding; almost every country in the world is represented with at least one city, even often ignored places like Malabo, Equatorial Guinea; Nuku’alofa, Tonga; and Vaduz, Liechtenstein. A few territories are represented too, like Martinique and French Guiana. More popular/sizable countries like Germany, China, India, and others have a few cities to choose from. The only countries not represented are those that did not exist when the game was created – the game includes 3 cities in the USSR, Belgrade in “Yugoslavia” – or those that hadn’t become independent yet, like Eritrea, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. The objects themselves are kind of odd too, and some are very vague, like a sled, which could be anywhere from Novosibirsk to Anchorage, or a box of chocolates, which could be almost anywhere. Or it’s something I’ve never heard of before like a pocketful of dobra, a bottle of chibuku, or a sastruga. Also, each city has multiple possible objects; in one game, I had to go to Tokyo for a samisen, and in the next I had to go there for ikebana. And then there’s the flight situation – you can’t always fly to the closest city, sometimes you need to go through another country or another continent. This does make some cities more convenient than others; never would I have picked Laayoune, Western Sahara, to be the main route between the Americas and Europe/Northern Africa, or have to go through Vancouver or Honolulu to get from Anchorage to Los Angeles. There are occasional clues, but you have to remember where things are, how to get there, and how to do so before running out of tickets, which you can pick up for handing in correct objects or lose for flying in an ice storm or a typhoon.

I started working on this blog post the other day, before I was able to beat the game, so I could walk you through my frustration through screencaps. As I said, I ended up being able to beat it a few times, so if you’re too busy to play the game (or fear that you’ll  but still want to come along for the ride, let’s do that right now.

Screencap 1:

bushy2

I got a pocket, got a pocketful of dobra…

 

So, we’re starting out in good ol’ Manila. I have no clue what any of these items are, but I’m thinking that the metical might have something to do with Africa, so I’ll head there first.

Screencap 2:

bushy3

Are you trying to be Russian or Slavic?

Oh, Otto, go home, you’re drunk.

Screencap 3:

bushy4

I hope these screencaps are not Hanoi-ying yet.

Okay, on my way to Africa. Yay, I get to fly to Hanoi, Vietnam! There’s a little song that plays and I can watch myself fly over Southeast Asia, but I can space bar through that.

Screencap 4:

bushy5

I got, three tickets to paradise…

Onto Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar), I get the gift of three free tickets! Yay!

Screencap 5:

bushy6

Get a load of that retro bitmap font, and the pixelated pagoda. Some designer spent literally HOURS drawing that.

Oh, and every time you land somewhere, you get a little blurb about where you are, the history, what to do there, etc. Good to know, in case I want to come back and visit “the world’s largest book” or I run low on cash and need some diamonds to trade.

Screencap 6:

bushy7

Metical: Not a Pokemon.

After a random clue appears and my co-pilot Wikipedia confirms, I head south and west to Maputo, Mozambique. After I dig around, score! A metical appears! One point for That’sSoJacob!

I think I got tired of pressing print screen, but I did jot down in Word that after this, I remembered that the dhow was from the Persian Gulf, so I hop around there trying to find it in different cities, finally landing on it in the last place I look; Doha, Qatar. I’m running low on tickets to I head back to Manila to turn in my items when two others show up. One of them is a magnifying glass from Baker Street, and since Otto’s somewhere in South America, I head from Manila to London via Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Western Samoa, the USA, Western Sahara, Spain, and France (remind me never to do that in real life, that sounds awful and expensive) and grab the magnifying glass. By now, a few more items have been revealed, including a hazelnut cake, and the clues point somewhere in the Middle East, so I look through Tehran, Baghdad, and Kabul before I realize I’m running out of tickets and drop the magnifying glass in Manila, revealing that another hidden artifact, Mack the Knife. Guess I gotta go to Germany.

Screencap 7:

bushy8

Oh well, at least I got some frequent flier miles.

I go back the way I came to get to Germany, but oh noes! I land in Leipzig only to run out of tickets, and that’s the game.

Other than that, I actually did manage to get some stuff done today, like getting new gloves at Kohl’s (women’s size large, don’t judge me), Batteries Plus, Goldberg’s, Best Buy, the post office, Starbucks, and dinner with my best friend. I drove around York Road so many times I felt like I was on my own treasure hunt.

Oh, and I just passed the 600 follower mark with Dottie Daniels, aka The Write Perspective, so visit her blog now.

And if you play this game and enjoy it, post some screen caps and link me so I don’t feel so weird and alone flying around the world in my bedroom.

5

Masterpiece YouTube: Bob Saget, “Danny Tanner Was Not Gay”

2015. Wow. We are halfway through the decade which will be known as the 2010s. Scary stuff. What’s even scarier is that the 1990s are two decades behind us. Growing up in the 1990s, I thought that music from the 1970s, like the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, Bob Marley was the “oldies,” and now if I turn on an oldies station on the radio, I’m just as likely to hear Hanson, the Spice Girls, and the voices of preteen America in the 1990s: The Backstreet Boys. BSB was like a religion to some of the girls in my class. Never N*Sync, only BSB. From my experience, people didn’t like N*Sync because of Justin Timberlake, and now look who’s brought sexy back. Just saying.

Anyway, the 90s wasn’t all about music; there was TV, and among the most dominant shows of my childhood was Full House, starring Candace Cameron; the ever-youthful John Stamos; the “You Oughta Know” guy, Dave Coulier; Jodie Sweetin, pre drug-addiction; some blonde twins who probably didn’t do much with their lives; and keeping it all together, Bob Saget, playing Danny Tanner. Little did America’s youth know that America’s favorite dad was actually a stand-up comedian with an extremely dirty streak. I would like to think that this was our reward for suffering through a decade of sagging jeans and plaid flannels, but he was like this all along; we just didn’t know it yet. Bob Saget is, in fact, one of the rare few who brought us up as children and continue to entertain us as adults, although in a very different way.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 17: Bob Saget, “Danny Tanner Was Not Gay”

The beauty of this song is in its simplicity, and how Bob Saget ties together one of the theme songs of the decade with one of its iconic characters. Accompanied by himself on guitar (side note: he’s actually neither a bad singer nor a bad guitarist), he tells the world how his character, Danny Tanner, was indeed, not gay.

I watched Full House before I knew what “gay” meant, but looking back, Saget brings up a lot of good points. They did live in San Francisco and were bachelors for much of the series, save for Stamos, whose character got married midway through. Danny Tanner kinda got screwed; at the end of one of the seasons, he proposed to girlfriend Vicky Larson, but the actress who played her decided not to renew her contract once it expired, so the character was gradually written out of the show, first through a transfer to Chicago and then just dropped completely. I (along with others) thought she should have stayed and become a part of the regular cast; she seemed like the cool older character that could knock Lori Loughlin’s character Rebecca Donaldson-Katsopolis down a peg or two. But even after Full House ended and I grew up, I never made the connections Saget did; I guess I just viewed him as a single dad who couldn’t catch a break.

Probably the best part of it is when he mentions his ex-wife, and the song comes full circle. And his dig at Dave Coulier at the end; he just wouldn’t be Bob Saget if he didn’t get a joke on Joey in there somewhere. Oh, and the Kimmy Gibbler reference. Speaking of Gibbler, I wouldn’t be surprised if she comes back as a lesbian if they do a reunion show, possibly married to a now-gay Steve, and are each other’s beards. Now that’s a Full House that I think Bob Saget might go for.

But until then, enjoy this song, given to us by Bob Saget, the voice of a generation.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube was brought to you by not wanting to write a sappy New Year’s post like everyone else in the goddamn blogosphere.

2

Masterpiece YouTube: Lauren Ireland, “If American Girl Dolls Were Real Dolls,” 2014

I usually don’t do this for recent videos, but this one is a particular masterpiece.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 16: Lauren Ireland, “If American Girl Dolls Were Real Dolls,” 2014

I was on BuzzFeed, because who isn’t, and I came across this video. Being a child of the 90s, (yes, even a boy who had a sister in the 90s and had enough female friends to know who the American Girl dolls were), I was curious about this. Personally, I hadn’t thought of American Girl dolls in quite some time. Well, actually, that’s a lie, because I recently learned that American Girl’s headquarters are in Middleton, Wisconsin, which is about ten minutes down the road from where I currently live; actually, just about on my street. So I’ve been kind of curious about that. But then, I found this video, and I’ve been thinking about them ever since.

To tell you the truth, I have not kept up with American Girl over the years. I remember when there were just five – heck, I remember when there was just four, Addy was introduced when I was in elementary school – and other than the Hispanic one, who entered the scene just as I stopped caring about liking everything my sister liked, and Kit, the Great Depression doll, because of the movie that they made about her. Apparently, according to the article above, American Girl has now been taken over by Mattel, who also own Barbie, and the dolls have been “Barbie-fied,” that is, more emphasis on accessories than history, which is kind of what separated the American Girl dolls from Barbie in the first place, the fact that they actually stood for something historical, as opposed to Barbie, who couldn’t even stand upright if she were a real person.

But, the video. It’s a comedy bit about the American Girl dolls out to lunch, or tea, or something, and the great thing about it is that it goes exactly how I thought the American Girls would actually be like. Of course, Samantha’s gotta have the first word, and at 00:15, I spotted the first error: Samantha refers to Grandmama, when from the books, I distinctly remember that she called her Grandmary. And I’m right, so one point for me. The girls are all over the place with their hilariously mistimed orders, and Molly kills it with her “canned tomato soup” comment. The waiter’s not impressed, and asks them if they’re American Girl dolls, to which Samantha (of course) goes, “Well, we are American Girls.” At 01:06, though, there’s another error, when Kirsten doesn’t know what a doll is, which I found kind of curious since I assumed that Kirsten would have probably had a doll herself, and I’m right again (two strikes, Miss Ireland). Then there’s the Addy bit, which is funny because it is true, she was kind of boring. And then Kit comes over as the manager, and Samantha throws some shade her way Regina George-style. I can’t say that I’m surprised. And of course, Samantha gets the last word, “I’m an orphan!”

In spite of two factual errors (Well, let’s face it; there were plenty of errors in historical fact in the dolls themselves. Just ask Addy.) this is pretty funny, and shows just how awkward 90s girls were and that I was not alone in thinking that the American Girl dolls were probably weird in their own time as well. I’m not too sold on the Kirsten impression, but then again, Kirsten was kind of a loose cannon all along her story arc. This video is a masterpiece because it shows that comedy is indeed collectible. I hope that she makes more shorts like these – I wonder what would happen if, say, Felicity tried Uber, or Kirsten faced an ATM, or Samantha got called out for having resting bitch face or something.

This video actually made me try to imagine what the American Girls would do today. So, imagine a Friends-type scenario, if you will:

Samantha is definitely the high-powered business type. She has a 9 to 5, and plays tennis and golf on the weekends. She is constantly on her cell phone. Her pastimes including going on moderately successful dates and then coming home and complaining to the rest of the girls about how there are no good men out there, and how she’ll be perpetually single. She has a very obvious crush on one or more of her male co-workers, despite her “independent woman” front. Her wardrobe includes power suits and pumps, and on her days off, she’s in power suits and pumps (she does, however, alternate between slacks and skirts of a tasteful length). She’s definitely a Sarah Palin supporter, but when questioned, deflects to any other topic. Her drink of choice is a dry martini.

Felicity has a B.A. in English and is pursuing her Master’s in Creative Writing, perpetually in school, with a quill pen on her person at all times. She works at Planned Parenthood to pay the bills, but her heart is in mentoring the troubled teenage girls she meets there. She is generally calm, except for when you ask her about her career plans, and when you gently suggest she quit writing and go for a degree in public health or counseling or something, she scorns you to no end. Generally the happy-go-lucky peacemaker of the group, she enjoys yoga and is training to be a Zumba instructor in her spare time. She would have cats if only her roommate, Samantha, wasn’t “allergic.” Samantha and Felicity work well as roommates because they balance each others’ personalities out, and when it comes to personal politics, well, they agree to disagree. Her drink of choice is kombucha.

Molly lives across the hall from Samantha and Felicity (Never Felicity and Samantha, always Samantha and Felicity). She’s the rational one of the group, and is constantly untangling the other girls from their messes. She works at an independent bookstore/coffee shop, and although she loudly decries Starbucks every chance she gets, she secretly adores their caramel macchiatos and peppermint mochas, and disguises them in her refillable coffee cups. She’s into theatre and sometimes runs stage crew or stage manages for community theatre productions. She loves watching sports on TV but would rather not play because of, you know, her glasses. The other girls talk her into contacts, and she gives in for a brief period of time, but only wears them when begged to. Her drink of choice is cappuccino.

Addy lives with Molly, who she found through a Craigslist ad. She teaches middle school, and is completely overworked, doing things like coaching the girls’ volleyball team, heading up the pep squad, representing on the PTA, and basically whatever her principal throws her way. She is a pessimist and hates her job, but has a soft spot for the kids. She looks great in pretty dresses, but prefers sweats. She’s constantly trying out new names, and will one day get around to changing hers; she’s narrowed it down to Ghebremariam, Tyleisha, or Crystal. Her drink of choice is apple juice with a little something extra.

Kirsten is one of those people who you look at like, “what the hell is up with her,” but little do you know, she’s got her whole life figured out but is not telling anyone. She’s always hanging out at one of the two apartments, sleeping on Samantha/Felicity’s couch until she drools or drops some olive tapenade on it one day and is banished to Addy/Molly’s, who take care of her for awhile, but then somehow manage to move her back across the hall. No one is quite sure what she does all day, or where she actually lives. She does do her fair share of the cooking and cleaning, though, wherever she is, and she’s pleasant to be around, so nobody really minds her that much. She has been seen dumpster diving, and she makes a lot of jewelry that no one really wants or needs. She seems to make friends everywhere she goes, and she may or may not have a boyfriend. Every so often, one of the girls will walk in on her either in the bathroom or hidden in a corner, talking in angry, rapid-fire Swedish, and when she notices, she turns red with embarrassment, hangs up, and asks how the weather is outside today. Her drink of choice is water from the kitchen sink, or just straight vodka.

3

It’s Gonna Be…Read Like Crazy Month!

Today is April 30, and you know what that means?

Yes, that, and also, all seven million (read: maybe seventy or so) of my books will be due at the library, with only a few of them renewable.

So…in honor of the mountains of books in every room of my apartment, 1990s boy bands, and tomorrow being the first of May, I am declaring this next month as Read Like Crazy month. Expect book reviews, Flip The Script, and hopefully book-a-licious posts over the next thirty-one days. Also, if you post a particularly book-tastic review on your blog, I will do something I don’t normally do, give your a link/reblog/trackback (if I can figure out how to do those things).

Also, That’s So Jacob gives a warm and sunny bienvenue to its first visitor from French Polynesia, and since I may have overlooked them, also several hits from Zambia, so big welcome to you as well.

4

Groove Is in the Car

So, two summers ago, I went on a family trip to Germany. By family, I mean myself, my sister, my dad, and two cousins, because my mom’s ideal vacation is preferably within walking distance of our house (okay, my dad came up with that one), but you get the picture. The first part of the trip involved flying into Frankfurt, spending a day there, then renting a car and driving around Bayern (Bavaria) to see the house where my grandmother was born and the town she and my grandfather lived in as a married couple (which was also his hometown; people didn’t go too far to meet their spouses, kind of like Tinder, only with more actual tinder since they lived in the countryside). Also, to visit the gravestones of our great, great-great, and great-great-great-grandparents, which involved some breaking and entering (but that’s another entry). So it was basically our death tour of southern Germany. We joked that Christians go to Europe on church tours, and we Jews go to Europe on the death tours. We would then get rid of the car in Fuerth, which was incidentally where my aunt was born, and take the train across the border to Prague, Czech Republic for Phase II of the trip, which still managed to venture into death tourism. But more about that in another entry.

We arrived in Frankfurt sometime in the afternoon and checked into our hotel to catch up on sleep, so we could check out and get the rental car first thing in the morning. I’ll point out that I was not as tired as the others, since I decided to pack everything in one large backpack as opposed to a rolling suitcase. A rolling suitcase is better for the back, but – shocker! – Europe is the land of stairs and cobblestone streets, especially in Germany, and I’ll never forget bounding up the stairs out of the metro station in downtown Frankfurt with two weeks’ worth of belongings strapped to my back like nobody’s business, only to realize that I was standing alone on the street level, looking down at everyone else who were trying to lug their suitcases up, step by step; unfortunately, a recurring theme throughout the trip of me waiting at the tops of staircases. But I was probably tired anyway, so I slept.

The next morning, we eat breakfast, during which time my dad and one of my cousins goes to get the rental car. I’m kind of excited; this might be my first chance to drive in a foreign country, as all of us on the trip except one cousin had licenses. After a long, long, long time, they come back with good news and bad news.

First, the bad news: the car is a stick shift, and my dad is the only one of us who knows how to do that.

Then, the good news: since my dad hasn’t driven stick in a long time, my cousin got to laugh at him attempt to figure out how to do it.

This was clearly going to end well.

So, we grab our stuff and troop around the corner to the rental car lot, and load in. That was the easy part. Then came the task of turning the car on and driving it out of the parking lot. We had a couple of backfires and rocky starts, but before any nausea could set in we were off on the road.

And that’s when it got worse.

I don’t know much about driving stick, but apparently there is gear switching involved, and other things, so my cousin told my dad when to shift gears from the passenger seat, while my dad was driving down the open road and attempting to navigate us toward Wurzburg. If you’ve ever driven in Germany, constantly stopping and starting the car on the road is never a good thing. One minute we’d be sailing along, then it would get clunky for the gear shift, then it would settle out again. All the while, my dad is not watching the road as closely as he should, so we have a few close calls and swerves into wrong lanes, and plenty of honking German drivers. Plus, there’s the fact that we’re in a foreign country and we don’t know where we’re going.

Eventually, my dad gets accustomed to the car, but by this time we’re a little off course. We have the voice GPS on, but she’s speaking in German and we can’t figure out how to switch her over to English. Also, it’s getting stuffy in the back, and we need some A/C, so my cousin hits the button, and what comes out isn’t air, but…

“I couldn’t ask for another/I-I-I-I-I/I couldn’t ask for another/I-I-I-I-I/Groove is in the heart…”

And I broke out laughing.

Because when you’re driving down the roads of rural Bavaria at 9:00 in the morning while trying to figure out how to work a stick-shift, the perfect soundtrack is 1990s one-hit wonder “Groove Is In the Heart” by Deee-Lite. It was just such an irreverent moment, and the spontaneous remergence one of the most awkward songs ever really captured the zeitgeist (German word, yes!) of the moment. Not to mention that the song is probably still on the German pop charts.

Sometimes things are upsetting and funny all at the same time; and then that moment hits where the right song comes on.

And of course, I had to awkwardly do hip hop while belted in the middle seat, between my cousin (who was not born when this song was a hit) and my sister (who does not approve of dancing in the car).

Nice to see that song still has relevance.