Saturday, August 29, 2015

Why Do I Love Murder, She Wrote? It's a Mystery.

I've always felt that my tv watching habits fit outside the norm. When my co-workers sit around at lunchtime and analyze the latest episode of Bachelor/American Idol/Latest Primetime Network Drama/Housewives/Kardashian Barf/Sports Whatever, I have nothing to do but analyze my broccoli. Not only do I not watch these shows, but I have never seen American Idol or Bachelor or Housewives and I often have never heard of Latest Primetime Network Drama, and the day you catch me watching sports you should call the police because it would obviously mean I've been kidnapped and my kidnappers are watching sports. 

To be clear, I am not saying any of this with arrogance because my television habits are not any grander than yours or theirs. My almost constant companion is the Investigation Discovery channel, which is non-stop, twenty-four-hour true crime shows. I discovered this gem when I was unemployed, and I spent a good share of that year writing cover letters and filling out applications at my computer with Investigation Discovery in the background and exclaiming, "No WAY! He did WHAT? With her feet?! What a sicko!" while writing never-ending paragraphs about why I was the best employee ever. 

And as many of my friends know, my one true love is the Golden Girls, which I wake up to every morning and go to sleep with every night. It never gets old, it never feels stale, and it is my comfort blanket that I look forward to at the end of the day. I love my girls. (And I REALLY love my husband, who whole-heartedly supports my GG obsession.)

But there's a new guilty pleasure that has made its way into my living room. When I'm by myself, I close the curtains, I gather my animals and I turn down the lights. I don't watch this when my husband is home. I don't talk about it at work. Because this whole thing started out as a "I'll watch just one episode for funsies!" and turned into a shameful ritual of "I can't wait to get dinner ready so I can watch the next episode of Murder, She Wrote!"

Yup. Angela Lansbury. A silly piano jingle, violins, and lots of tubas for the opening credits. Bad hair. Ridiculous plot lines. Embarrassing fight scenes. 


I never watched Murder, She Wrote growing up. My mom thought it was just too far-fetched to believe that wherever Angela Lansbury went, a murder just happened to take place (and it is ridiculous). So I'm not watching this as a trip down memory lane or anything. It's all brand new to me. And I can't get enough.

I can't pinpoint exactly what it is I love so much. I'm terrible at solving mysteries, the writing makes me cringe, and while I adore Angela Lansbury, I don't love her enough to just plop my ass on the couch and watch her for hours if the show is sub-par. And in most ways, MSW is sub-par. 

The acting is terrible (except for Angela Lansbury of course), the writing is lame, and the direction...well, it was the eighties, people. It was awful. 

Of course, there are things that I love about the show (I mean, Angela Lansbury, come ON.). I love that MSW is a Who's Who of all the guest stars from the Golden Girls. I end up yelling, "Hey, that guy was Blanche's gay brother!" or "That's the married dude Dorothy had an affair with!" at least twice every episode. And there are lots of eighties celebrities who made their appearance on MSW (Bruce Jenner, anyone?). I love watching sweet, practical Jessica Fletcher played by Angela Lansbury and knowing that she had a filthy mouth worse than a drunken sailor in real life. But still, this isn't enough to sustain my loyalty. I've been trying to figure out why I find this stupid show so compelling.

But that's the thing, I guess. MSW is so silly, predictable (except for me because, as I mentioned, I'm awful at solving mysteries), and lame that it doesn't require analyzing. I think by the end of the day, I'm tired of asking why, I don't want to think about tomorrow, and I don't want to think about anything that's going to test my emotions. I feel like that's how I spend most of my day, and by the time I sit down to watch MSW, I'm tired of the day.

So I guess it's just nice to sit back and let Jessica Fletcher solve the mystery for me. In shoulder pads.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Minnesota Nice in Norway

I just got back from a 15-day vacation in Norway. Four years ago, my mom married a man, Leif, who is originally from Norway, and still has a lot of family there so he visits often. This year, my husband and I tagged along for the trip. 

While there, we stayed at Leif's childhood house, now occupied by his cousin and her grown daughter. When we arrived, there was also a guy there. I wasn't quite sure what to make of him. He looked like he was in great physical shape, had the sides of his head shaved, about thirty years old, and he kept looking at the floor with his arms crossed. After introductions, he finally piped up, in perfect English, "I'm from Minnesota."

Ooooh, like us! Fabulous. Someone to talk to, yay! 

Now, being from Minnesota, I'm used to all sorts of niceties, both surface and genuine. The general idea is that in Minnesota, there are lots of "pleases" and "thank-yous," lots of smiles, lots of "Oh-no-you-firsts," and always, always, the last bite of dessert will sit there until it grows legs and can walk away on its own because God forbid you take the last piece. 

In Norway, things are a little different. You'll get a little jostled at the airport. People do not introduce you to their friends. Smiles are rarer, and you better snatch that last waffle if you want it.

Not that people weren't friendly. They absolutely were, and I loved them. But it was just different, and it's always refreshing to run into someone from your home when you're far away from it.

Unless you run into this guy.

I don't remember his name, so let's just call him Douchebag.

Douchebag came to Norway to walk - walk -  from Oslo to Trondheim. He apparently is a friend of a friend in the United States, and this friend sent him to stay with Leif's cousin and her daughter, even though they had never met him. No idea why this friend of a friend thought Leif's cousin and her daughter should be punished. 

We settled down in the living room: Leif, Mom, Leif's cousin, her adult daughter, and Douchebag. Now, I don't remember the last time I sat down and had a conversation with a total asshole. It's been quite a while because after you've been an adult for some time, you figure out how to worm your way out of these situations, or just avoid them altogether. Unless, of course, you're staying at a farmhouse in the middle nowhere, in the middle of Norway. Then you're just fucked.

Being Minnesotan, I am forbidden to speak rudely to anyone, especially someone I've just met. My brain, on the other hand, was born in South Dakota, and South Dakotans can say whatever they want, just usually with terrible grammar. 

So Douchebag sits down with a beer and begins to regale us with stories of why he's so awesome. 


DB: "I loved shooting guns. Anyone who's not a fan of guns, I dare them to get behind a machine gun and say it's not fun to shoot guns. They're fucking awesome."

My brain: "Oh my God, I'm in Europe and I'm listening to an American say things that make all of Europe think we're idiots. Please in the name of Elizabeth Warren shut up." 


DB: "I'm Norwegian. 100% Norwegian."

My Brain: "Actually, your 100% American and no more exotic than me or any other person who's born in America, but go on."


DB: "Thank God I don't have any English or French in me. THANK. GOD."

My Brain: "Way to go, you just insulted my husband, who's of English and French descent. Although I doubt he's actually insulted since he probably stopped listening to you ten minutes ago."


DB: "I wouldn't be in anything but the Marines. Like the Army? Army's full of losers and drug addicts. All of them. Every single one of them. EVERY SINGLE ONE."

My Brain: "Huh. I guess he doesn't realize Leif was in the Army......?"


DB: "I mean, the Marines are picky. They don't take just anybody."

My Brain: "They took you, so yeah. They do."


DB: "Since I'm 100% Norwegian [oh my god quit saying that!], I decided to walk from Oslo to Trondheim."

My Brain: "You're walking because you're an unemployed grown-ass man who doesn't have a car."


DB: "I guess, technically, I still live with my parents."

My Brain: "You still live with your parents and your mom does your laundry."

Leif's cousin's daughter asks for a Coke. DB brings her one. She takes a sip and gags.

LCD: "This isn't Coke!"

DB: "Huh?"

LCD: "It has rum in it!"

DB: "Oh... I thought that's what you wanted."

My Brain: "You're trying to get her drunk to get in her pants. I assume you learned that in the Marines?"


DB: "I don't really have any plans."

My Brain: "Knock me over with a feather."


DB: "That's when I was stationed in Afghanistan where everyone is soooooo stupid. Afghanis are the dumbest people I've ever met. Oh my God, you wouldn't believe how dumb those people are."

My Brain: "Pot, meet Kettle. Do you seriously not notice how the room goes into immediate uncomfortable silence after you talk?"


I finally pretended to fall asleep on my husband's shoulder so we could make an excuse about being exhausted and go to bed. Which we did.

After that night, I was relieved to be back in the midst of Norway, and I was a little more appreciative of the jostling, the cool reception, and the waffle snatching. 

Because some of those nice Minnesotans can be such douchebags.