What would Don Draper do? Scratch that, what would a NINJA do?

My parents recently discovered that the best way to watch television shows is to wait until they’re about six seasons in and then buy the first five seasons and watch them in a row without commercials.

Which also means that my parents are now shut-ins who haven’t left their house in six months except to forage for more complete seasons of Dexter, Mad Men, The Big Bang Theory, and Gossip Girl (don’t ask. Trust me).

At first, I found this amusing. Then sad. Then amusing again. Then sadder. And then horrifying.

Because my parents tried to lure me into their shut-in, complete-seasons-of-television-watching lifestyle by offering me the dvds when they were done with them. And as they dangled free shows in front of me like a carrot in front of a horse, it dawned on me that this is how cults begin.

But I fell for it anyway, because free stuff is free stuff. And until my book takes off, I’m poor. In fact, because I buy so many pairs of shoes, I’m SO poor that I can’t even afford the whole word “poor.” I’m just po’. Which means that my shopping addiction has even cost me my ability to speak proper English. I’m three more pairs of shoes away from just being p’.

So primarily to keep myself from thinking about shopping, I started watching Dexter.

Three days later, I had seen every episode. Some of them twice.

Four days later, I was caught up to the current season of 30 Rock. (I’d never seen an episode before that. Too many shows are on Thursday nights to dvr them all, so I stuck with the ones I was already watching. Plus I used to have a life.  Now I have Liz Lemon.  It’s a fair trade.)

And I’m now working my way through Mad Men.

However, I encountered a major problem.

My parents are ALSO working their way through Mad Men. And I’m caught up to where they are. And they don’t want to let me watch the third season before they do. Which is COMPLETELY unfair. I mean, yes, they paid for the dvds, but they’re not chronic insomniacs like I am and therefore waste precious hours that they could spend watching Mad Men sleeping. Which I think makes them fair-weather fans and therefore they should forfeit their right to the third season until I’ve watched it. And besides, what am I supposed to do when I can’t sleep if I can’t find out who Don Draper is going to be sleeping with in the next episode?

So I asked myself, what would Don Draper do in this situation?

Which wasn’t all that helpful. He’d steal someone’s identity, then lie for twenty years, and then cheat on his wife with someone new once a week, all while drinking an old fashioned, smoking a cigarette, and coming up with the perfect campaign for a new Sterling Cooper client.

That wasn’t going to get me any dvds.

So I asked myself, what would Betty Draper do?

That wasn’t very helpful either. I drank a lot of wine, chain smoked six packs of cigarettes, and tried to look the other way.  Then I snapped and broke a chair.

No dvds in that strategy.

What would Peggy do? Well she’d be really frumpy, then get really fat, then turn out to be pregnant and not tell anyone for two years.

No thanks.

Joan would work her feminine wiles, but I’m 100 percent sure that that wouldn’t work on my PARENTS. And it’d be beyond icky if it did.

So even Joan failed me.

Then I wised up and realized that acting like a character from Mad Men wasn’t going to get me any closer to season three.

So I asked myself, what would a ninja do?


I spent the next three days learning martial arts on demand (seriously, they have EVERYTHING on demand these days. I took a break from my training montage and learned how to make crème brulee, change a tire, and churn Amish-style butter, all courtesy of on demand programming). Then I dressed in all black, painted my face black, dyed Rosie’s fur black, and snuck over to my parents’ house in the dead of night.

Once there, I climbed up onto the roof and lowered myself down the chimney Mission Impossible style to steal the dvds.

Maybe I should have just let myself in the front door. I mean, I do have a key. Or maybe I shouldn’t have brought the Mission Impossible theme music with me. Or it could have been because I brought Rosie and apparently schnauzers don’t like being dyed black then lowered down a chimney in the middle of the night, even when they’re highly trained ninja schnauzers.

But whatever it was that I screwed up, somehow my parents figured out that they were being robbed, which resulted in my dad chasing me through the house in his underwear with a baseball bat until he realized that it was me. Not a pretty sight.

Of course, when he realized that it was me coming to steal the third season of Mad Men, he woke my mom up, she grabbed an axe, and then they BOTH chased me while brandishing weapons.

And as I learned the hard way, apparently learning to be a ninja from on demand television does NOT actually prepare you for combat with deadly weapon-wielding parents who are defending a complete season of Mad Men.

My parents won that round.

But I didn’t give up. Oh no. I’m no quitter.

They thought it was the snow last week that knocked out their electricity. I’m not saying that I went over there with a pair of wire cutters. I’m just not saying that I DIDN’T go over there with a pair of wire cutters.

No, not really.  I had nothing to do with the epic failure that is Pepco.  They managed that all on their own.

What really happened is my dad went out of town and my mom wasn’t going to watch the third season without him, so I convinced her to let me borrow it on the condition that I return it by the time my dad comes home.

Which means if I don’t get through another two discs by tomorrow night, my parents are going to launch an attack that’s going to make the situation in Egypt right now look mild. We’re talking cutting off the whole country’s internet, looting, extreme political unrest, the works. 

Hell, they’ll probably make the biblical problems in Egypt look mild, complete with rivers turning to blood, locusts, frogs, cattle disease, slaying of the first born, and (horror of all horrors) the destruction of my entire shoe collection.

In other words, I’m potentially endangering the free world by taking a break from watching Mad Men to write this. See how dedicated I am to you? Feel special.

And I get to go through this all again when season four comes out on dvd.  Which leaves me a few months to perfect my ninja skills.  This time, I WILL defeat my parents in the epic battle.  But until then, it’s back to Mad Men

Shh.  It’s starting.

Guns don’t kill people, I do. With my mind.

I think my next-door neighbor died.

Now before you get all, “aww that’s so sad,” on me, I should warn you, he was basically Mr. Heckles from Friends.

But meaner.  He was mean and cranky and used to slip anonymous and insulting notes under my door saying that my tv was too loud and he was going to report me. Of course, I got one of those notes when I hadn’t even been home for several days one time, so I so don’t think that my tv was actually that loud.

He’s also the reason why my dog, Rosie, had to wear a bark-control collar that shocked her when she barked. He’d left a note under my door saying that he was tired of listening to her crying in the morning after I left for work and if I didn’t do something about it, he was going to report me.

I went out that day and spent $100 on a shock collar, then left him a note saying that I’d taken care of it. The next day I got a letter from the condo association saying that I needed to get Rosie’s barking under control.

Because he told on me the same day he issued the warning.

Clearly, he was not my favorite person in the world.

In fact, whenever I talked about him, I usually would conclude with something along the lines of “God, he’s so awful, why doesn’t he just go die already?”

Which is why I felt pretty bad when I came home from school three weeks ago and saw ten paramedics who weren’t in a hurry and who all took the time to talk to me and pet Rosie before going into his apartment. They didn’t tell me what happened, and I didn’t want to be creepy and stand out in the hall, but logically, if the paramedics were going to someone who was alive, they A) wouldn’t need that many of them, B) would be hurrying instead of flirting with me, and C) wouldn’t want dog on their hands.

Ergo, he is dead.

And the worst part is that my first reaction wasn’t to feel bad. It was to assume that Rosie had tunneled through the wall Shawshank Redemption style and killed him to retaliate for the bark collar situation.

My second thought was that now I can watch tv as loud as I want. Which was pretty fantastic. Because it was a Tuesday.  Glee was on.

THEN I felt bad.

And I realized that I’m pretty much going to hell.

I’m also not looking behind any of the pictures in my apartment in case Rosie DID dig a tunnel through the wall. If she’s guilty, I’d rather not know.

But I started thinking about it. I’d spent a lot of time and energy wishing him dead. So if Rosie DIDN’T kill him, it means I did. With my mind. Which, if I can channel that power, would be awesome. I decided to test this theory out and spent a few minutes concentrating on the thought, “I REALLY wish Bruce Springsteen would show up at my door.”

Unfortunately, that didn’t work. I think I need to practice with this power if I want to use it for good (or for evil—muahahahaha).

But until then, I’m never saying that I hope anyone dies ever again, even when I’m kidding.

A lot of people have been asking me why I don’t just go knock on his door and see if he’s alive. Which I would probably do if he wasn’t such a crotchety old codger.

But right now, my desire to not have any interaction with him is slightly greater than my desire to know if he died or not. So I’ve been trying to come up with passive aggressive strategies to see if he’s alive or dead. 

Strategy 1: Look for an obituary. Negative. But in the five-and-a-half years that I’ve lived in my current house, I’ve never seen anyone other than him go into or out of his apartment. So who would have put an obituary in if he DID die? That was therefore inconclusive.

Strategy 2: Run to the door and look through the peephole anytime anyone walks by. The laundry room is right across from my door, so if he’s alive and wants clean clothes, he’s got to pass by there sometime. But no luck… which points toward him being dead because not only do dead men tell no tales, they also don’t need clean underwear or socks.

Strategy 3: Find a phone number and call him with my number blocked. No luck. If he has a phone, he’s not listed. Which makes sense, because why would a mean old man want people to be able to find him? Again, inconclusive.

Strategy 4: Stick a camera on a pole and hold it out over my balcony to take some pictures into his house and see if anyone was moving. One of my students came up with this plan, and I liked it, but it has two MASSIVE flaws: 1) if he IS alive and caught me doing that, I’m pretty sure he’d press charges (and an arrest record is frowned upon when you’re a teacher… even if it’s NOT for doing something super shady), and 2) what if he IS alive and is one of those sick, twisted individuals who walks around his apartment naked? I’d have to gouge my eyes out, Oedipus-style and then kill myself. I mean, it’s fine if I walk around MY apartment naked, but I’m not an old man. And my desire to not even take ANY chances that could result in me having to gouge my own eyes out is FAR stronger than my desire to see if he’s still alive or my desire to not talk to him. So that plan was out.

Strategy 5: Engage in all the activities he usually complains about. I’ve been cranking the volume on my tv every night, fully aware that if he IS alive, he would DEFINITELY complain about the noise, but I haven’t heard from him. Which, other than the paramedics and the fact that I haven’t seen him since before Christmas is my strongest evidence that he’s dead. Because threatening me seemed to be his sole source of entertainment in life.

I thought I lucked out on Wednesday night, because the condo association put notes on everyone’s door about some construction that’s going on. I figured that would be useful, because dead men can’t take flyers off their doors. And when I came home from school today, his flyer was gone. But so was the flyer on the door of the empty apartment down the hall. So again, inconclusive.

Of course, as several people pointed out (because I’ve been live tweeting my attempts to find out if he’s alive or dead), if he IS alive and reading this blog/my Twitter updates, I might wind up being the dead neighbor. But I’m not scared of him. Unless he IS dead AND is reading this, in which case, I’m very, VERY frightened.

But the moral of this story is simple: don’t piss me or Rosie off. Because one of us might have the ability to kill you. I just don’t know which one yet.

If you call me during Jersey Shore, you’ll be president of the IFF!

I love Jersey Shore.

I’m not proud of this.

But I cannot deny my love for this show.

I don’t watch ANY other reality tv. And I think that’s the point. Jersey Shore is SO far from reality that it deserves its own category on television. I mean, you couldn’t make that stuff up! Oh wait, actually, you could. Okay, you couldn’t REALLY have that stuff happen in real life.

Which is why I love it so much.

Don’t get me wrong, I HATE four of the characters with a passionate and irrational, all-consuming rage. I hope Angelina dies. Like literally. I hope JWoww kills her. I don’t hate anyone in my own life with the vehement fury that I have toward that backstabbing Staten Island whore. But she causes so much drama that I can’t look away.

That’s what the show is. Drama. It’s a trainwreck. But it’s more extreme. Like a train wreck/airplane crash/natural disaster all rolled into one. So imagine an airplane crashing into a train wreck, while an earthquake is occurring, a volcano is erupting, and a tsunami is hitting, while the Hindenburg explodes overhead. THAT, my friends, is the level of ridiculousness that can only be found on Jersey Shore.

 I wish it were on every day.

Although if Sammi takes Ronnie back one more freaking time, I’m going to lose it. I don’t ACTUALLY care if they’re together or not. Honestly. If she’s stupid enough to keep taking him back after the stuff he’s said to her, then she deserves his dumb ass. But I’m worried for the fate of humanity. If those two morons reproduce, the world will end within those children’s lifetimes. I promise. That level of stupidity would bring about the end of the world.

And I know that I’m in the minority here, but I can’t stand Vinny. I don’t get the appeal. I don’t think he’s cute. I don’t think he’s smart. I don’t think he’s funny. And he’s a mama’s boy. I see no redeeming qualities except that unlike Pauly D and the Situation, he’s never hooked up with Angelina. For that alone, I hate him less than the other three characters whom I hate. But he hooked up with the Situation’s sister, and she looks JUST like the Situation, which was super creepy. And I mean that in the skeevy sense, not the hitting on girls sense.

But for how much I despise those four, I love the other four characters in equal measure. (Technically, they’re probably not considered CHARACTERS. But I’m convinced that the show is scripted. Because NO ONE is that dumb. I hope. I really, really, REALLY hope no one is that dumb in real life.)

Snooki is probably the most famous at this point.

I have no idea why.

She’s awful. I know she’s awful. But I can’t help but love her. I love when she does her whiney, “WAAAAAHHHHH,” when things don’t go her way. I love that she wears her hair high enough to double her own, admittedly miniscule, height. I love that Weekend Update compared her to Garfield because she’s fat, bright orange, and loves lasagna.

If anyone else did any of the things she did, I’d probably murder them. But Snooki pulls it off. And I know it’s horrible, but I find it hilarious that she gets her ass kicked so often. Poor Snooki.

Then there’s Pauly D. My favorite Pauly D moment was when he explained to the Gelato Shop owner that his hair doesn’t move when he’s going 150mph on a street bike on the highway, so he doesn’t have to worry about it falling in the ice cream. And he’s proud of that! I could have lived without knowing about his special piercing in the first season, but I still find him hilarious.

My second favorite is JWoww. She’s total white trash. Have you ever checked out her website? It’s awful. Half of it is misspelled, and she’s got a link to her plastic surgeon on there. She actually does. And she sells those crazy, gravity-defying shirts that she wears too. (I’m not gonna lie, I’m tempted to buy one. I’d never wear it in public, but I’d seriously wear it just while watching the show.) I love JWoww though, because she’s a badass. If someone does wrong by her or one of her friends, she’s going to kick their ass. I respect that. And who can forget her drunken confessional session in which she revealed her love for eating ham and drinking water?


And because I saved the best for last, that brings us to The Situation. He’s an arrogant jackass. But he knows it. And, believe it or not, he’s actually the smartest one on the show. He has a much better sense of humor than any of the other cast members, can take it when people make fun of him, and can make fun of himself. I’m not remotely attracted to him, and I wouldn’t hook up with him if we were the last two people on the planet. But I would love to be friends with him. Any guy who can make fun of himself this well, would be fun to be around, even if he IS a misogynistic jerk. And hey, he cooks!

So Thursday nights, between 10 and 11pm, you’d better not call me. Because I’m going to be watching my favorite (and least favorite) guidos and guidettes, with my hair poofed up and an inch-thick layer of bronzer on. And if you interrupt that by creeping on me to ask if I’m DTF, you’re going to replace Ronnie as the president of the IFF. Can I get a fist pump?