Well, it's been a heck of a year. In this season of change for me, here's another one!
Today, I'm happy to announce a bit of a twist in my career. I'll be joining the team at CNN as a CNN Political Commentator! I am excited about the future and the new team I'll be getting to know, and I'm elated to work with my friends S.E. Cupp, Amanda Carpenter, and Margaret Hoover. Not a bad crowd to run with, ladies.
But transition never comes without some tough good-byes.
It has been a professional honor and a personal pleasure to work at Fox News as a contributor for the last eight years. Over that period of time, I have forged friendships and built relationships with so many of my colleagues, both on and off the air. I am especially grateful to the entire team at The O'Reilly Factor, with whom I've worked — week in and week out — since the very beginning. I've often said that sparring regularly with Bill O'Reilly is the best communications boot camp on the planet. I am truly thankful to have been a part of Bill's massively successful program for such a long period of time, and that he gave me a shot so young. I especially loved my pairing with my friend Juan Williams, who is a class act.
From on-air hosts like Martha MacCallum, Bill Hemmer, Neil Cavuto, Gretchen Carlson, Greta Van Susteren, Dana Perino, Jenna Lee, and Kennedy to dozens of producers and bookers across two networks, to millions of wonderful, devoted viewers, to a first-rate team of executives, Fox has been my television family for virtually my entire public career. And never was the word "family" more applicable than in the aftermath of the personal tragedy my family suffered last fall. My colleagues at Fox could not have been kinder, more responsive, or more generous in my darkest hours. Their on-air and behind-the-scenes prayer and love for us were invaluable.
I am thrilled to be joining CNN's terrific political team. And, my friends at Fox will always have a very special place in my heart. So from the bottom of that heart, thank you.
I hope to see all of you around town, and Juan and I will continue to argue— just at baseball games instead of on TV.
Well, it's been a heck of a year. In this season of change for me, here's another one!
Every pregnant woman has been there. You've just found out you're expecting and you stumble on one of those "How Big is My Baby?" lists, informing you just how big your little bundle is from week to week. Each of these lists is seemingly required to be composed almost entirely of obscure seeds, fruits, and vegetables of whose size you are quite uncertain, some of which you can barely look at, let alone stomach, while pregnant. This list is different. This is a pregnant woman's list, for pregnant women, by a pregnant woman*. This is how big your baby is in junk foods. Enjoy, and I apologize in advance for triggering cravings you have to run out and satisfy today! (This list was compiled with the help of the Parents, BabyCenter, and Bump lists, Flickr Creative Commons, and a giant assist from my hormones.)
Week 4: Poppy Seed = Grain of Salt
In the 4th week, your baby is about the size of that grain of salt on your waffle fry. Like, a visible grain. Maybe a nice Kosher salt. It's implantation week, and your little grain is hanging out in the uterine wall, 'bout to get some nutrients.
Week 5: Sesame Seed (I will allow it)
This is the only comparison I will allow, as a sesame seed is an important feature of the hamburger bun— important enough that it's even featured in the classic McDonald's jingle about the Big Mac. There's not much better junk-food cred than that. In the 5th week, your sesame seed is making some serious headway, beginning to form a brain, spinal cord, and circulatory system.
Week 6: Lentil = Nerd
In the 6th week, your baby is about the size of a Nerd. Just four weeks from conception, the baby's neural tube closes, and the heart is pumping blood.
Week 7: Blueberry = Skittle
In the 7th week, your baby Skittle has a head and nostrils and is forming paddle-like arms and legs. (This comparison goes out to my friend Jenna Kim Jones, who loves the Skittles and is expecting her own Skittle very soon!)
Week 8: Kidney Bean = Jelly Bean
In the 8th week, your little Jelly Belly (one can hope it's not that heinous popcorn flavor) is starting to have visible eyes, fingers, and toes, and straightening out of the C-shaped curve of the very early days of development.
Week 9: Grape = Gumball
In the 9th week, your baby is about the size of a gas-station gumball you used to get for a quarter. Do they still cost a quarter or do children just order them with their AMEX on the Uber-for-gumballs app? In this week, your baby will grow arm bones and toes, and may be 3/4 of an inch long.
Week 10: Kumquat = Tater tot
In the 10th week, your baby is the size of a delicious tater tot you just picked up at Sonic. Your little tot's head is looking more distinct from his body and he may be about an inch long.
Week 11: Fig = Reese's Cup
In the 11th week, your baby is about the size of a Reese's cup! The little one might be as much as 2 inches long and weigh 1/4 of an ounce, and her head, though becoming more proportionate, is still about the same size as the rest of her body combined.
Week 12: Lime = Sorbet scoop
Welcome to week 12! In this week, your baby is about the size of one of those little scoops of sorbet you get at a fancy restaurant and think, "This is all I get for $8.50?!" Weighing in at about 1/2 an ounce, the baby has formed most of her major systems and will now start to grow fast. Her profile, if you catch it on an ultrasound, is fit for fridge-hanging and framing.
Week 13: Pea pod = McDonald's fries
In week 13, you're in the homestretch of the 1st trimester, and with luck, any nausea you've experienced is sloping off. Meanwhile, your baby is about the size of a modest mouthful of McDonald's fries. He is getting vocal chords and fingerprints and is almost 3 in. long.
Week 14: Lemon = McNuggets
In week 14, your baby is about the size of a Chicken McNugget. He now weighs more than an ounce, and has grown the layer of peach-fuzzy hair all over him that will help regulate his temperature in the womb.
Week 15: Apple = Baskin Robbins scoop
In week 15, you are solidly in the 2nd trimester and your baby is now the size of the Baskin Robbins scoop you would serve yourself if they'd give you the damn ice cream scoop already! Gone is that tiny sorbet scoop of the 1st trimester, and your little one is now moving around in there, even if you can't yet feel her.
Week 16: Avocado = Cupcake
In the 16th week, your baby is about the size of a cupcake. Your baby is about 4.5 in. long and weighs in at more than 3 oz. She may be able to hear your voice now and has a fully formed umbilical cord.
Week 17: Pear = Buttermilk biscuit
At 17 weeks, your baby is about the size of a biscuit. A flaky, buttery biscuit. She is busy putting on weight and you may feel her hiccuping.
Week 18: Bell pepper = Candy apple
In week 18, your baby is about the size of a candy apple, which I probably wouldn't even mention except it's fair season right now, so if I trigger a craving, you could actually go find one. Wait, come back and finish this post first! At more than 5 inches and over 6 oz., you may now feel this kid kicking if you haven't already.
Week 19: Heirloom tomato = Big League Chew
Yes, I made your 19-week-old in utero baby into a politically incorrect candy of the '80s. Embrace your nostalgia! Are you pumped to find out this little pouch of bubble gum's gender? You're creeping up on your halfway mark and the next big ultrasound.
Week 20: Banana = Doritos Locos Taco
In the 20th week, you are halfway done and your Doritos Locos Taco-sized baby has fully formed taste buds and weighs in at more than 11 oz. Mmm, Doritos.
Week 21: Carrot = Steak fries
Welcome to your 21st week. Your baby is now the size of a steak fry, but is on his way to becoming the size of a main course.
Week 22: Spaghetti squash = Pint of Ben & Jerry's
Did someone say main course? What about a pint of Ben & Jerry's? That's how big your baby is in week 22.
Week 23: Mango = Two Pop-Tarts
In week 23, your baby is the size of two Pop-Tarts, about 10-12 inches long and listening in on life outside the womb.
Week 24: Ear of corn = Pringles can
In week 24, your baby is as long as a can of Pringles, but can weigh a pound! So, maybe the size of two Pringles cans. Why not? You're pregnant. Once you pop, you can't stop!
Week 25: Swede/Rutabaga = I can't even
We're going to pause right here to recognize that this week's veggie comparison perfectly encapsulates what is wrong with every list of fruits and veggies that tell you how big your baby is. I'm a fairly intelligent person well-versed in fruit and veggie consumption. And, when someone tells me my baby is the size of a Swede, my first thought is "WUT in the baby-swaddling hell is a Swede?" Turns out it's a rutabaga, whose size I also don't know with perfect accuracy right off the top of my head. So, super-helpful. Also, check out that picture. We couldn't pick a cuter veggie, even? A turnip-like ball of variegated color and random hairs. Sure, if your baby daddy is Ren or Stimpy. Anyway, I can't even.
Week 26: Red cabbage = Popcorn ball
In the 26th week, your baby is the size of a giant popcorn ball and is practicing breathing air by breathing amniotic fluid after a recent spurt of lung development.
Week 27: Cauliflower = Big Mac meal
In week 27, your baby is the size of a Big Mac meal.
Week 28: Butternut squash = Kraft Mac & Cheese box
In the 28th week, your baby is the size of a whole box of Kraft Mac & Cheese— the original, orange-powder kind, not this less-orange kind they're trying to pass off as equally yummy these days.
Week 29: Eggplant = Cinnamon swirl bread
Ladies, you are now hanging out in the third trimester. Home stretch! Your baby is about the size of a delicious home baked loaf of cinnamon swirl bread. Welcome to the wonderful world of kung-fu baby kicks, increased heartburn, sciatica, and all sorts of crowding.
Week 30: Cabbage = Personal pan pizza
In the 30th week, your baby is the size of a Pizza Hut personal pan pizza. She may weigh almost 3 lbs, which is incidentally about the same amount of weight you'd gain from a night at the Pizza Hut buffet. But don't quote me on that. I'm not a scientist.
Week 31: Coconut = Cheetos bag
Look, I don't understand the order of these things. How is a coconut bigger than an eggplant or butternut squash? I thought about unilaterally bumping this back to about Week 28, but I'm not a doctor. Maybe they mean a coconut still in a palm tree? Don't those have a husk on them that make them even bigger? Anyway, I'm going with a bag of Cheetos.
Week 32: Kale leaves = Funnel cake
In the 32nd week, your baby has reached the sweet spot— the size of a funnel cake. The baby may be climbing toward the 2-3-lb mark and with luck has turned into a head-down position getting ready for delivery.
Week 33: Pineapple = Cotton candy
Before your bundle of joy is born, he's first the size a bundle of sugary cotton candy at 33 weeks. And, much like cotton candy, this kid can grow really fast and will continue to do so until he's born.
Week 34: Cantaloupe = Apple pie
It's week 34 and your baby is about the size of an apple pie, pushing 4 lbs., and can hear your conversations.
Week 35: Honeydew = Plate o' fried chicken
Seriously, week 35, and your uterus is huge, girl. With good reason—you've got an entire plate of crispy fried chicken in there! Kiddo can weigh over 5 lbs. and may feel like far more.
Week 36: Romaine lettuce = Movie popcorn
Getting both longer and heavier, your 36-week baby is the size of one of those ludicrously sized medium movie popcorns. She's shifting around but running out of room in there. Most of the baby's major systems could be functional if she decided to come early at this point, but most of them like to hang around a bit.
Week 37: Bunch o' leeks = Bag o' Cheetos Puffs
Seriously, leeks? Nope. It's been a while since your baby was a mini bag of crunchy Cheetos. Now, he's an officially full-term giant bag of Cheetos Puffs, weighing 6-8 lbs.
Week 38: Swiss chard = Rack o' ribs
Almost there! Your rack o' ribs is full-term but hanging in there to put a little more meat on his ribs. It's okay to feel a little impatient. These last weeks can be hard on mom as most of her body is devoted to this little one who feels not-so-little these days.
Week 39: Pumpkin = Bundt cake
Week 39 and your baby is the size of an iced bundt cake and just as perfectly formed! You've been staying healthy and making a whole human. Nice job! The discomfort of carrying this 6-9-lb. bundt cake around is a great way of helping you let go of anxiety for the time when the baby is actually born. You may very well be thinking, "Let's get this labor show on the road!"
Week 40: Watermelon = Three-tier Funfetti cake
You made it! And, what better way to celebrate than a baby the size of a three-tier funfetti cake? You'll soon meet this delicious little person, fall in love, and be exhausted. And, since we're on the subject of food, as pregnant ladies often are, you may be rid of your pregnancy food aversions and cravings post-birth. You'll also have more room to put those yummy foods now that your stomach is no longer residing in your esophagus, and if you happen to be breastfeeding, get ready to enjoy eating ALL OF THEM perhaps more than you ever have before. You'll need it!
*As for me, my baby is about the size of a Kraft Mac & Cheese box (28 weeks) and kicking like crazy. Due in early December, we look forward to the new addition keeping all of us, including big sister, on our toes! If you haven't seen me in a while, this may come as a surprise. Sorry 'bout that. Busy summer! (HASHTAGSORRYSECONDKID) Oh, and my husband knows the gender but I don't. Ha. Little miscommunication in the ultrasound room. No, he hasn't slipped up. No, I haven't bugged him about it. We're weird. You can take it up with him if you'd like, but he won't crack.
Super Bowl weekend is upon us. There will be much talk of football as we engage in this annual national ritual of carb-loading, commercialism, camaraderie and possible concussion. I like football. I also have many friends who don't care for it or understand it, but I'm glad they attend the parties!
The question is how to make sure those friends who don't care for football have a good time? A healthy supply of Velveeta and IPA go a long way, but after consulting this Venn diagram, I decided I should make a guide.
Basic Game Play
At the beginning of the game, a coin flip determines possession of the ball. The team that gets the ball goes on offense. While on offense, the team gets four chances to move the ball 10 yards or more as the team on defense tries to stop them. These chances are called:
Downs = Lady Edith's attempts at love
If they move 10 yards, they earn another four downs.
After three unsuccessful tries at 10 yards, a team will usually elect to use its fourth try to punt the ball (or kick a field goal, see below). Punting is generally a disappointing and unglamorous admission of failure that nonetheless allows our somewhat demoralized team to play another day, no matter how fruitless.
Yes, they're all sex- and marriage-related. Because patriarchy, y'all. It's "Downton." Deal.
Touchdown = Marriage
In football, a touchdown happens when the offense advances the ball all the way down the field using its downs, and by either passing or running, gets the ball into the end zone. A touchdown is worth 6 points, and is the object of much strategy by the entire team.
On "Downton," the focus of much of the characters' lives is a suitable marriage, on which hangs the fate of entire families, great fortunes, and the plot of the whole show.
Field Goal = Proposal
In football, a field goal is performed by a kicker, who attempts to kick the football through the field goal posts from a distance of usually 20-50 yards. A field goal is worth 3 points.
On "Downton," the proposal is less valuable and less firm than a marriage, but is nonetheless seen as a valuable step toward. Proposals are also frequently undertaken without success.
Red Zone = Engagement Period
In football, this is the last 20 yards before the end zone. In this area, there is a sense of impending success, as teams try for a touchdown, but also increased pressure and peril and increased scrutiny for failing to reach the ultimate goal.
Extra Point and Two-Point Conversion = Heirs
A football team is afforded two different ways to add points to its total immediately after a touchdown. The far more common of those methods is the Extra Point or PAT (point after touchdown), a very short-range field goal kick worth 1 point, bringing the scoring tally to a total of 7.
The less common and more lucrative play (worth 2 points, bringing the total to 8) is a two-point conversion in which the offense runs a play, and the team tries to run or pass the ball into the end zone again.
On "Downton," a couple is afforded two different ways to add to its marital worth post-wedding. In the world of "Downton," one is more common and less valuable than the other.
Infuriating but true to the world of "Downton." No wonder Mary wanted to kick Matthew's ass at first.
Safety = Jimmy getting down with the upper class
In football, a safety is a rare scoring play worth 2 points, which happens when a defensive player tackles an offensive player in his own end zone.
At Downton, Jimmy was found in the wrong endzone, upstairs with Lady Anstruthers, during the fire in Season 5. The penalty is dismissal.
Audible = Mr. Lang substituting as footman in wartime though he's trained as a valet
In football, an audible happens when the quarterback makes a change to the play he has called at the last second. It usually happens because the quarterback anticipates the defense's play and wishes to stymie them.
At Downton during wartime, Mr. Carson has to call audibles as able-bodied footmen go to war leaving him with limited options, such as the shell-shocked Mr. Lang. Trained as a valet, Lang could not fulfill these duties properly, which led to a fumble of the night's gravy onto Lady Edith's dress.
Chop Block/Face Mask/Horse Collar (Personal Fouls):
In football, a personal foul is when a player violates the rules of the game in a flagrant or potentially dangerous manner. This penalty is one of the game's most costly, with 15 yards given to the victimized team.
At Downton, a personal foul is pretty much anything undertaken by O'Brien and Barrow. In Season One, O'Brien causes Lady Crawley's miscarriage by engineering a fall on a bar of soap.
A false start is a penalty of five yards given to the offense when it is found to have moved before the official beginning of the play—the snap of the ball.
On "Downton," Lady Mary and Lord Tony Gillingham indulge in a week of false starting before marriage and are found out by the Dowager Countess.
In football, the man receiving a kick (punt or kick-off) can wave his hands above his head signaling that he will not run with the ball once caught, and the defense must then refrain from touching him.
On "Downton," Mr. Charles Blake executes a perfect fair catch when he gracefully concedes that Mary has chosen Lord Tony Gillingham over him, resigning himself to stand aside.
Hail Mary = Tom proposing to Sybil
In football, a Hail Mary is usually an extremely long pass thrown by the quarterback, often near the end of the game, when his team needs a touchdown as the clock winds down. Its success is unlikely, and a completion exhilarating if it succeeds.
On "Downton," the unlikely courtship of Lady Sybil by Tom Branson, the family's socialist chauffeur, ends in a Hail Mary, as he invites her to elope with him and she accepts, later marrying him with the Crawleys' grudging blessing.
Incompletion = The romance of Lady Mary & Mr. Pamuk
In football, an incompletion occurs when the quarterback passes the ball to a receiver in an attempt to gain yards, but the receiver does not complete the pass.
On "Downton," the dashing, ill-fated Mr. Pamuk famously croaked before completing his offensive play with Lady Mary.
In football, only certain players, in certain positions or designated by teams to the referees in special circumstances, can legally catch a pass.
On "Downton," poor Mr. Pamuk had not begun a courtship of Mary or proposed or married her, making Mary an ineligible receiver of his advances, subject to harsh social punishment had she been caught.
Intentional Grounding = Thomas' war injury
In football, a penalty is assessed when a quarterback is about to get tackled (or sacked, see below), if he passes the ball where there is no player to catch it in an attempt to avoid being tackled.
On "Downton," Thomas Barrow intentionally injures himself in order to evade the possibility of greater injury or death in battle during the war.
Interception = The affair of the note in London
In football, an interception occurs when a member of the defense catches a pass from the quarterback meant for a member of the offense.
On "Downton," during Lady Rose's coming out in London, a dishonorable card cheat intercepts a love note meant for Prince Edward of England that might bring scandal upon the monarchy. The Downton crew goes about intercepting the note again, with Bates snatching it from the miscreant's overcoat.
Play-action Fake = Lady Rosamund's romance
In the play-action fake, a quarterback pretends to hand the ball off to a running back while keeping the ball to pass it to a receiver.
At Downton, you'll remember a similar bit of trickery in which Lady Rosamund seems to be pursued by a Lord Hepworth only to catch him in a romantic embrace with her lady's maid. The two of them had been scheming to be together, using Hepworth's pursuit of Rosamund as a decoy.
Quarterbacks = Mr. Carson & Mrs. Hughes
In football, the quarterback is the offensive leader of the team. He calls plays, throws the ball to receivers, or hands it off to running backs in an attempt to gain 10 yards or more.
At Downton, Mr. Carson is the quarterback of the male servants while Mrs. Hughes is the quarterback for the ladies' maids.
Sack = Lord Grantham vs. Miss Bunting
In football, a sack is a play in which a defensive player tackles the opposing team's quarterback, sending him backwards in his quest to gain 10 yards or more.
At Downton, such a play can be observed when Miss Bunting delivers a particularly harsh rhetorical blow to Lord Grantham on his home turf, making Grantham understandably angry.
Two-Minute Warning = Downton Dressing Gong
In football, this warning is given at the end of the first and second halves of the game. After this warning, it becomes much harder to stop the game clock, therefore increasing urgency for a trailing team to run plays or regain possession of the ball.
At Downton, imagine the ringing of the Dressing Gong, which signifies an hour to dress before dinner. The clock is running on poor Anna & Bates and Co. to get the family in their finery before the dinner hour strikes.
How you feel when your team wins the Super Bowl:
How you feel when your team loses the Super Bowl:
Enjoy the game, everyone!
It has come time to inform all of you (and Jillian) that though there will be 30 days of Shredding, they may not all happen within 30 days. I am ashamed, but not as deeply as Jillian would like me to be, no doubt. Perhaps this is to be expected from anyone who is not actually Jillian Michaels. I mean, you're gonna miss a day every now and then, right? I had to go to New York for this work thing, and you know how it is! Traveling, amirite?
But I exercised even though I wasn't doing the Shred, Jillian! I jogged in 14-degree wind chill!
Yes, run. That's what I did. Jogging is lame. I run like I'm being chased by a beautiful, brunette hyena with caramel highlights. BECAUSE I AM. I should have been clearer. On another day, I ice skated! Woo, baby, my hip flexors took a beating.
And, I've only missed three days total.
Ooh, I can quit if I puke? I was not informed of this out.
Will do, Jillian! Maybe I can squeeze in a two-a-day. But I do have this chronic problem with my IT band. Makes lunges a little uncomfortable.
You see, it's in my left leg.
Right you are. I'm gettin' back on that horse, Jillian!
I think you've made your point.
I want to punch you in your pretty, snarly face.
Grrr. Promise to do more working out and more blogging this week, guys!
Day 4: There's a thing called a plankjack
Oh, Jillian. Today, you actually said to me, "I want you to feel like you're going to die." I don't think I've ever wished such a viscerally nasty thing upon an adversary out loud, and I do cable news for a living!
Serves me right, I suppose. After several work-outs on Level 1, I got cocky (a little ADD?) and decided to step up to Level 2. And, what awaited me there? Did you know there's such a thing as a plankjack? Imagine Rube Goldberg created torture devices. "Oh, this Iron Maiden alone just will not do. Shall we not also put our subject on The Rack and add a Pendulum?" It's like that but for exercise.
Learning from Natalie and Anita: Everyone deals with hating Jillian in her own way, and as I move through this journey, who better to take tips from than these ladies? Sure, they look calm as they glisten. But if you look long enough, which you will if you DO THIS WORKOUT FOR 30 DAYS STRAIGHT, you will spot the roiling rage beneath their placid exteriors.
Natalie: That smile, tho.
This is the look on Natalie's face through every workout. It reaches its height when Jillian is standing by her side poking at her quads. The smile says, "I am super-enjoying the activity in which I am engaged," but the eyes say, "I shall murder you in the style of the mythic Chupacabra and turn your blood into a fashionable martini."
Anita: Those abs, tho.
Sometimes the best revenge is being one of three things in the world rock-harder than Jillian, along with Bruce Banner and the face of El Capitan. Seriously, the rolls in Anita's tummy are smaller than my crows' feet.
Anita: "Is this a frat party?"
Anita: "Because I brought all the six-packs! Where's yours? BOOM!"
Anita: "Are we womenfolk down by the crick in the late-18th century?"
Anita: "Because somebody's got a washboard!"
Anita: "It's me. I have one."
Anita: "Do we have a first-aid kit?"
Jillian: "Yes! Do you need it?!"
Anita: "Yeah, because I'm SO CUT."
Jillian: "Goddammit, Anita."
Body: Level 1 definitely got easier over just a couple of days. Level 2 is harder, but more challenge makes the time go by faster. Toes remain numb. The connective tissue that holds my ribcage together is sore. Good, because rib connective tissue was one of my problem areas.
Equipment: I stepped up my weight level, too, because I couldn't find my Sorels. What was nearby today?
These happen to be heavier, much to my arms' chagrin.
Highs: I found the only thing Jillian Michaels doesn't look tough doing! Check out this delicate flower:
No, I would not say that to her face. Sure, she still looks fabulous, but slightly less cool than she usually does. Embrace her flaws!
Also, I found my kid's toothbrush while doing a walk-out push-up. Who knew it was under the entertainment center? And, in what I can only assume is some kind of karmic payout for working out, my child took a 2-and-a-half-hour nap today. THE GREATEST REWARD.
Lows: Did I mention there's a plankjack?
Day 1: Should my toes be numb?
- Start Date: Jan. 7, 2014
- Age: 34 (Mom of 1)
- Body Goal: Nothing specific, really, besides feeling stronger. I have a 3rd-floor walk-up and a late-walking toddler.
- Emotional Goal: Recapture that sense of camaraderie and discipline I had when playing team sports as a young woman by recreating my favorite parts—sweating while bitching with other women about sweating.
- Fitness personality: Manic Depressive. I'm either training for mountain climbing by running a marathon or I'm on my couch for months at a time watching every season of "Dallas" available on Netflix, WHICH IS TRAGICALLY ONLY 11 of 14.
This is not an inspirational story of change. This is not a quest for post-baby abs. This is not a journey to physical and spiritual health in the new year. If I gain any of those things, fine. But this is a bitchfest. And, its target is Jillian Michaels.
Do not weep for her. She looks like this in cut-off sweatpants.
I think we can all agree that part of what we pay trainers for is to hate on them liberally, and I just paid Jillian Michaels $9.99 on iTunes. Plus, Jillian wants me to succeed, and this will help me succeed.
I never understood why people did video work-outs in their homes. "The world is such a beautiful place! Get out there," I thought. "The living room is for watching 'Dallas'!" Then I had a kid, and in the name of actually working out instead of just planning to, I looked for a work-out I could theoretically do quickly, on a bed of Fisher Price farm animals, with a toddler hanging on my leg.
As I started this video, I admit to having some serious flashbacks to mercilessly teasing my mother as she did Charlene Prickett videos in the living room, circa 1984. I'm probably going to pay for that when my kid learns to talk. (Although, who am I kidding? My kid's gonna be buried in an iPad, not watching me work out. My mom was using the ONLY TV IN THE HOUSE. We had no choice but to stay and mock.)
Actually, that's pretty rad in retrospect. Watch out, Jillian! We also definitely owned this album:
How does that even work? Do you watch a video while listening to a record? Maybe attempting this should be my next experiment, after 30 days. Most of the work-out will be trying to find a VCR. But back to Jillian:
First impressions: Jillian, can we not use my $9.99 and the fortune you've made berating reality-show contestants to license some music? The Casio keyboard you've got running on Demo under one of those yoga balls in the corner is not cutting it.
Also, I swear this is Charlene's studio. What did you DO with her, Jillian?! She's in the lockers behind Anita and Natalie, isn't she? Isn't she?!!
Body: My toes are numb. Should my toes be numb? Something about jumping jacks is cutting off circulation to my toes. HASHTAG OLD. My hip is clicking. I'm gonna blame that on the kid.
Equipment: I have no weights. I used to go to the gym to find those. I'm using these because they were nearby when I started this video. One in each hand. Like a boss.
Highs: Getting started. That good sore feeling you get from doing things instead of the sad sore feeling you get from sitting in the wrong position playing Candy Crush while streaming "The Mindy Project."
Lows: An old friend told me, "You're gonna need to get to Level 3 to really get a work-out." This friend has not worked out with me in a while. Having to end my first day at minute 18 with a toddler straddling my stomach while I tried to do bicycle crunches.
Promises: Jillian says I'm "well on my way to beinging shredded." Uh-huh. I promise you I will bitch about it every step of the way, though maybe not a post per work-out. I encourage you to join me, both working out and bitching! If any of you decide to join me this week, I'll stay with the program for as many extra days as it takes you to finish up. Also, I will buy some proper weights.
The idea is to entertain myself and whoever's in into staying off our asses. Help me!
Fancy the Cat Ham died peacefully Dec. 19, 2014 at the good cat age of 12 and a half years. She was about as goofy and gregarious as a cat could get while remaining independent and low-maintenance in that wonderful cat way. She went mostly by Cat, since we Southerners like to confuse people by using our middle names. We made a good pair and I will miss her.
At the tender age of newborn, she knew adventure. She was saved from certain penury and near-certain, swift death after being abandoned somewhere in the countryside of Richmond County, North Carolina. Andy, Alan, and Crystal took her in and then gave her to me because she was, well, a rowdy, annoying kitten.
She was my first pet as a grown-up, though I use the term loosely as I was a month out of college writing obituaries and covering Hoffman town meetings (pop. 588). She enjoyed the somewhat itinerant life of an outdoor, country cat for a couple years, hunting and galavanting in the wooded areas near my house. But when I went to the front door and called for her, she’d always burst from the woods and sprint back home.
She was a superlative spooner.
She later made a seamless transition to sedentary, indoor city cat life. She still almost always came when I called her, though I’m probably lucky she only had to traverse a condo to do so. She would often meet me at the door when I came home. She loved to lounge on Jake’s chest, oblivious to the toll her claws took (or was she?), and she even let Georgia pet her about once a month.
She mighta been born just plain white trash, but Fancy was-a her name. And, she didn't let me down. Not once.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests you crank this:
Exhibit A: Elsa and Jack
Let's talk about a movie in which the menacing main character is a danger to family members, whose volatility increases after a long isolation inside a giant, ornate, high-ceilinged building in a cold, desolate landscape. Perhaps the acquisition of a brand new leadership position set off an unraveling this character cannot control.
Exhibit B: Anna and Danny
An innocent protagonist, touched by the supernatural, is locked out of a forbidden room inside a giant, ornate, high-ceilinged building in a cold, desolate landscape, and forced to play childlike games alone in its incongruously cavernous hallways.
Exhibit C: Olaf and Wendy
Hm, a somewhat goofy supporting character who knows our principal characters better than anyone and will sacrifice anything to protect our innocent protagonist from danger.
Exhibit D: Anna and Danny's injuries
As we are introduced to Jack Torrance and his family in "The Shining," the aspiring writer is preparing to take a job as the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. But before he arrives at the hotel, we are given a foreboding glimpse into Jack's character and past by his wife Wendy, who divulges the story of their son Danny's dislocated shoulder. The incident caused Jack to give up drinking, according to Wendy.
"Well, it's just one of those things. You know...purely an accident, um. My husband had oh...been drinking and he came home about three hours late, so he wasn't exactly in the greatest mood that night. And, well Danny had scattered some of his school papers all over the room...and my husband grabbed his arm, you know, and pulled him away from them. It's...it's just the sort of thing you do a hundred times with a child—you know, in the park or on the street—but on this particular occasion, my husband just...used too much strength and he injured Danny's arm."
As we are introduced to Elsa and her family in "Frozen," we learn that as children, Elsa injured her sister Anna with a frozen shot to the head, which forced Elsa to give up her cryokinetic magic powers.
Exhibit E : Kristoff & Sven/Hallorann & Snowcat
Oh, sure, you say, but what of Kristoff and Sven? Surely the similarities end here. Kristoff is a snowsuit-clad rescuer whose family experience with the supernatural (the trolls) gives him a special bond with Anna (once healed by the trolls). His years of experience in the snow allow him to bring Sven to whisk Olaf and Anna away from danger.
And, Overlook chef Dick Hallorann is but a snowsuit-clad rescuer whose family experience with the supernatural (the clairvoyant "Shining") gives him a special bond with Danny (also has the "Shining"). His years of experience in the snow allow him to bring a Snowcat to attempt to whisk Wendy and Danny to safety.
Imagine Elsa hitting Kristoff in the chest with a fire ax as he enters her fancy ice palace, and we have a match! But who can imagine Elsa so scary? She doesn't mean to hurt anyone. Right?
For those who are really familiar with both "Frozen" and "The Shining," I will note the parallels between Elsa's sanctuary—her ice palace on the North Mountain—and Jack's, the Gold Ballroom, whose walls and bar back are covered in iridescent, mirrored tile of some sort. Icy, one might call it. If only Elsa had had a bartender as good as Lloyd.
Exhibit F: Hans and Grady
This one's a little more figurative, so stick with me. Delbert Grady is the seemingly refined but evil, murderous caretaker of The Overlook who came before Jack Torrance. He killed his wife and two daughters. Hans is the seemingly refined but evil caretaker of Arendelle after Elsa runs away to the North Mountain. He is intent on killing his fiancé and her sister.
In "The Shining," Grady is pretty clearly a symbol of Jack's struggle with himself during his descent into madness. Their conversation in the bathroom of the Gold Ballroom pushes Jack to acknowledge and embrace his inner psychopath. And, when Jack has been locked away in the pantry by Wendy, it is the specter of Grady who pays him a visit before the culminating scene in which he chases Danny and Wendy.
In Hans' final confrontation with Elsa he adopts the brutal tone of Grady in forcing Elsa to reckon with the real damage of which she's capable.
Hans: You can't run from this!
Elsa: Just take care of my sister...
Hans: Your sister? She returned from the mountain weak and cold. She said you froze her heart. I tried to save her, but it was too late. Her skin was ice. Her hair turned white...Your sister is dead... because of you.
It is also Hans who visits the locked-away Elsa before the culminating scene, in which her icy power closes in on Anna and Olaf.
Exhibit G: The Escape
When Anna and Olaf realize they are stuck in the Arendelle castle as Elsa's power begins to throw icicle daggers in their way, Olaf throws open an upstairs window, and sends Anna sliding down the snow to the ground. Olaf follows.
In "The Shining," as Jack corners Danny and Wendy in an upstairs bathroom with his ax, Wendy throws open a window and sends Danny sliding down the snow to the ground. In this version, of course, Wendy cannot escape as easily as Olaf does.
Exhibit H: The End
You'll notice the characters who meet their icy demise at the ends of these movies don't match up. Because love. When Anna sacrifices herself to save Elsa—despite the fact that Elsa almost killed her twice—she is able to save them both, teaching Elsa that love can conquer a cold death and help her control her dangerous wintery outbursts.
I mean, it's not "The Shining," y'all. It's Disney's "The Shining." So, Kristoff doesn't get an ax plunged into his chest, Olaf doesn't have to face "Heeeeere's Johnny!" and Anna and Elsa and Olaf and everyone can live happily ever after.
Maybe if Danny had taken one for the team, "The Shining" could have ended a lot more happily. But that's not gonna bring Scatman Crothers back, now is it?
I rest my case. And, now I can take my rightful place among the crazy people in the documentary "Room 237," which chronicles wacky theories about "The Shining." My theory is of course that Stanley Kubrick, in his genius, was predicting with eerie accuracy the highest-grossing animated film of all time, 33 years before its release.
License To Drive
A young, disgruntled Heather Graham enters a typical '80s high-school party fed up with her older, Italian suitor's condescension and ready to be ogled by some Coreys of her own age, whom she will rope into her transparent plot device, I mean, the machinations of young love.
In this spandex, black-and-white, polka dot number, you too will be attracting the admiring gazes of multiple teen idols, but only if properly accessorized. Not only does sweet Mercedes (you see what they did there?) wear a polka dot bangle, but her meticulously embiggened hair sports a charming, chunky clip of black and white oversized buttons (not pictured). Take that, Paolo. License to drive me crazy!
The top, the jacket! She must be an agrarian, 'cause she got crops, y'all! The booties speak for themselves.
You could not ask to look sharper than this while your Formica countertop is channeling the occult, could you? I barely noticed the foreshadowing in the foreground because Sigourney is rockin' this comfy yet chic belted career dress and lilac striped scarf that transitions seamlessly from day to night hauntings with just a change of heels!
Sigourney is always what's hot, though she might have guessed there was a catch to this rental when the realtor showed her this comically large Manhattan kitchen.
Obvi. Created by legendary costume designer Theoni V. Aldredge, who won an Oscar for the Redford/Farrow "Great Gatsby," this tangerine and gold lame gown is the perfect look for those nights when you're possessed by a demon in front of a new love interest and want to look sexy but also need the freedom to levitate, bark, and writhe as needed.
Can we get another angle on that? Perfect. I love the way it falls. Zuulicious!
National Lampoon's Vacation
Ellen and Audrey Griswold , the cutest accessories to kidnapping and false imprisonment evah. White slacks and breezy button-up? Would wear. Rainbow striped blouse and pink shorts? So there.
Can't Buy Me Love
Yes, the iconic "Can't Buy Me Love" outfit is the doomed white suede, shoulder-padded suit with practical fringe bikini top, but if I know my audience, you're into deeper cuts. The establishing shot of this entire movie features these boots. You're welcome. Suck it, Cindy Mancini.
All of this. If you lament that there are fewer occasions for public leotard wearing now than in the '80s, I empathize. But it's not the times that are to blame. It is us. Occasions for public leotard wearing don't just make themselves, ladies.
"Ohai, guys. It's me, Shindy. No, Cindy. Cindy Manshini. MANCINI. I've had a lertle bit to drink. This suit is actually not that cool, but good ol' Shindy wants to take a moment to tell all of youuuuu you can't keep HER down! Did I wear my mom's white, suede suit to a high-school party and ruin it, precipitating my fake, disturbingly transactional relationship with Ronald Lawnmower? Yes, and I bet you didn't think I could pull off that sentence, but I diiiiiid. But is any of that gonna keep me from wearing anotherrrr white suit to anotherrrr high-school party? Nosirreee! Because when I drunkenly denounce erryone in a 3rd Act blow-up, I likes to look fab. Hiccup."
Formal wear. I would wear the hell out of that dress.
Rene, you are looking how I feel about your wardrobe in this movie. I suppose you are meant to be the classy, somewhat demure foil to our ball club of charming misfits. They can't have you prancing around in the sartorial equivalent of Wild Thing's fade, but this is the only thing that even came close to making this list. Yawn. The movie's villain, on the other hand:
Gurl. Say I were stuck between '80s Wesley Snipes and Charlie Sheen in a locker room, scheming to rip Cleveland's sports spirit out of its chest and move it to Miami. If I were an eerily prescient, super-hot metaphor for LeBron James, I'd definitely want to be wearing this. Looks good coming and going.
Again, let's dispense with the icons and move on. Obviously, we all should be wearing this, and probably have been since we took safety scissors to our Winnie the Pooh sweatshirts in 1st grade. And, we've already been over the need for more leotard activism.
This is the outfit everyone remembers, but does anyone remember what she was wearing before she alluringly disrobed in front of a rabbit-eared Zenith? You should.
The skirt is leather or leather-like, depending on a welder's salary circa 1984. The jacket:
Yep, I'd be smiling, too.
Down and Out in Beverly Hills
The Divine Ms. Jumpsuit, belted with platinum-dipped wings taken from the god Mercury himself.
The Breakfast Club
Solid, Molly. By the way, in perusing the '80s canon, I've discovered that Ally Sheedy is the Brat Pack icon most likely to be styled like Mrs. Doubtfire meets Delta Burke. "St. Elmo's Fire," "The Breakfast Club," and even her star turn in "Short Circuit," all marred by an endless parade of caftans, bulky sweaters, and twee lace details. She deserved better.
I mean, really:
St. Elmo's Fire
The director made a serious mistake in assuming we could pay attention to this dramatic break-up scene when Demi Moore is wearing that dress that is everything right behind them. It's a euphoric, pre-crash, coke habit in dress form.
EVERYTHING, I tell you.
And, one for the men
BEHOLD, everything Rob Lowe wore in "St. Elmo's Fire." That's all you need, guys.
And, that concludes this journey into the past. Dare to use these as your inspiration and go...back to the future. Crap, I forgot to do that movie. Leave your favorites and suggestions in the comments. Do I have comments? I think I do. Who knows? This blog is new. Anyway, holla!
I'm sorry, but it must be said. The goose is, by far, the least impressive of the large birds. There is no similarly sized bird that elicits less enthusiasm when spotted in the wild. Ostriches and emus, it could go without saying, are awesome. Owls, majestic. Peacocks, beautiful. Herons, elegant. Swans, graceful. Penguins, charming. Hawks, fierce. Eagles, 'Merica. Vultures, at least creepy. Turkeys, goofy and novel. Geese? Meh. Even their formation has seemed derivative since "Mighty Ducks." I think they give it up too easy, just hangin' out in large groups in highway medians. They need a brand consultant. Also, their "honk" sounds like a sad trombone. I'm not sure that can be fixed.
I've known Joseph Campbell since elementary school, and as I remember it, he's been over 6 ft. tall the whole time and built like The Bus. We used to hang around together in the after-school program, playing that stupid pencil break game (he was unbeatable) or thumps (I'm pretty sure he was too nice to use his full strength on any of us).
When we got to middle school, our social worlds grew apart, as they do. I was a buck-toothed, 55-lb band nerd and he was, well, substantially cooler. One day of 6th grade, still pretty unsure in my new, tougher school, I headed to lunch. Clarinet case in hand, I wore the uniform of an early-90s tween—neon biking shorts loose on my spindly legs and an oversized Gap turtleneck cinched at the hip in one of those clips. I'm sure I had a side ponytail, just to heighten my coming embarrassment, but I don't actually remember.
All of 6th grade was hurtling down the central stairway to the cafeteria when I lost my footing, skidded down half a flight of stairs on my shins and knees, and came to a stop on the landing, my ankle folded underneath me. As I thumped down, so did my clarinet case, bursting open and spewing the instrument's pieces skyward. I watched them rise above my head, a bright symphonic symbol of my low social status. A giant, neon Vegas arrow flashing "NERD" above me would not have been more clear than the mouthpiece and array of reeds of varying strengths now crashing to the floor around me.
And, then came the pointing and laughing. Sixth graders are not known for their subtlety, and I found myself smack in the middle of two flights of stairs, surrounded above and below with literal pointing and laughing. I determined quick escape was the best solution, scrambling on my knees to gather my clarinet, shove the pieces back in the case, and retreat...somewhere. The plan didn't really go beyond "GET OUT OF HERE."
But then I tried to stand. My ankle gave, and I fell again. I know! I know! Sometimes I wonder if I should leave out this part of the story because it's so truly pitiful. But I fell again. More pointing and laughing, with the cartoonish cruelty of the anonymously evil opposing teams of the Mighty Ducks trilogy.
I was trapped, no possible escape or redemption. Until. My old friend Joseph, who had since earned the nickname "Butch" for obvious reasons, parted the stream of guffawing classmates. Towering over all of us, he came down the stairs, easily picked me up in both arms, and carried me back up the stairs and all the way down two corridors to the office so I could call my dad. I remember a sort of sheepish silence as we went up the stairs.
He didn't have to do that. He could have left his old, nerdy friend sitting at the bottom of the stairs. It would have been safer and easier for him to join in with the others or politely ignore me. Frankly, in the cutthroat world of middle-school social survival, I would have understood and I would have survived. But wow, I was so lucky he was a bigger man than that, both inside and out. And, I don't think I've said thank you since that day.
So, thanks, Butch! Happy birthday! I hope I'm not embarrassing you by telling our middle-school business. Now, Joseph is raising a beautiful family of his own, and I'm glad there are three little Campbells running around Durham doing what's right. Their actions won't be forgotten, either.
Let me tell you a tale of 1994, as seen through the lens of "Reality Bites," as seen from way on the other side of angsty adolescence. First, you could smoke, inside, everywhere. In restaurants, in editing bays at TV shows, in hospitals! Depression has been upgraded by technology. Back then, when you had lost your job and were lying on the couch, you had to watch whatever happened to be on your standard-definition TV and rack up bills on a land line phone. Ethan Hawke (seriously, I'm not going to use their character names, which none of us know) is a whiny, whiny baby, and not nearly as attractive as I remember him, thereby rendering Winona Ryder's attraction to him even less advisable. If I imagine he's as hot as I used to think he was, he is still a giant mistake, but the kind of mistake it's okay to make when you're 22.
I know I'm supposed to think Ben Stiller is douchey but he's clearly sweet and doing his best by Winona, and is not intimidated by the prospect of her success, unlike some greasy-haired guy I know. Speaking of which, Winona is awfully high on herself and her Camcording skills to turn her nose up at an offer from Michael's TV network for her documentary. Doesn't she know there were only, like, nine channels back then? Not a lot of opportunities for distribution, hon. After the network ruined her artistic vision— where was she during the editing process, by the way?— she could have stuck with the project and probably could have massaged it into something she'd have liked. Ahh, well, she'll figure it out later when she's done making mistakes like Ethan.
This is Ethan's declaration of, what, exactly? I don't know. "You can't navigate me. I may do mean things, and I may hurt you, and I may run away without your permission, and you may hate me forever, and I know that scares the living shit outta you 'cause you know I'm the only real thing you got." Run away, gurl, he's not even close to hot enough for that mess.
With the glaring exception of the apparently unprotected sex with multiple partners, Janeane Garofalo has a decent head on her shoulders what with the holding down a job, getting promoted, and telling other people to stop acting like losers. Steve Zahn, I'm sorry but you have been brought into this script solely to fill out the sacred '90s trifecta of grungy sex symbol guy, AIDS scare, and coming-out story. Sadly, this movie doesn't give you enough. I want to know what happened with your parents! But happily, the movie is self-aware enough to make jokes about its attainment of the '90s-drama sacraments.
Janeane: "Every time I sneeze, it's like I'm four sneezes away from the hospice, and it's like it's not even happening to me. It's like I'm watching it on some crappy show like "Melrose Place" or some shit, right? And I'm the new character, I'm the HIV-AIDS character, and I live in the building and I teach everybody that it's OK to be near me, it's OK to talk to me, and then I die. And there's everybody at my funeral wearing halter tops or chokers or some shit like that."
I also wish there were more of Janeane and Winona together in this movie. Their moments—dancing in the gas station, fighting over The Gap, and making up at a diner—ring truer than most of the it. Also, their clothes are surprisingly unhideous and could be easily repurposed into hipster cuteness today. And, despite their counterculture cred, you kinda believe Winona's telling the truth when she says, "'Melrose Place' is a really good show." I can respect that.
Surprise cameos: Whole Foods, of which we knew nothing in 1994, but is referenced because the movie's set in Texas, Andy Dick seemingly sober, and David Spade playing the same character he always plays. Fun facts: Winona owes $400 to a psychic line, which would be $700 in 2013 dollars, and charges $900 to her dad's gas card, which would be $1,400 in 2013 dollars. In the end, color me surprised that I did not end up hating all these characters, and even saw the possibility of them living relatively satisfying lives. I still enjoy the soundtrack more than the movie itself (and even more now that I don't have to wrestle that effing impossible transparent tape strip of a chastity belt off a jewel case to get to it). But hold on just a second…I don't think "Stay" even plays during this movie!