When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon-Scented Garbage

I was watching TLC the other night and saw several commercials for “Craft Wars”.  For those of you who have enough of a life to have avoided seeing the commercials or TLC itself, allow me to describe what this craft competition show will apparently be about.

“Hi Tori! By the way, I’m a big fan of your work. Oh…Okay, well anyway, this piece is my interpretation of a happy jack-o-lantern. It will make a great door hanging or as seasonal decoration. The crooked grin gives it a touch of whimsy!” (Image from blog.craftzine.com)

Three contestants are given crafting supplies including all the hot-glue sticks and glitter they could ever hope for.  Then, the host says “Your time starts…NOW!”  The crafter-contestants, who by their very existence make me feel like a superior life form, all scramble across the set to get to the bins of crap that they’ll be making “crafts” out of.  This is essentially the same format that’s used on shows like “Top Chef”, “Design Star”, “Chopped”, “The White Room Challenge” and countless others.  As if watching these scrap-booking, swatch-pasting zealots isn’t bad enough in and of itself, the whole thing is hosted by massive has-been mega-talent, Tori Spelling!  The description above was gleaned from my having viewed a 30 second commercial several times, while I was busy watching some other inane offering on TLC.

It’s truly effortless to sit here and complain about what passes for entertainment these days.  I mean, they make it so easy.  So I sat down to write my rants about just that, but then a deeper thought occurred to me.  With the recent celebration of Father’s Day, I was reminded of what my Dad used to say;

“Turn off that damn idiot box and go cut the grass, dammit!”

Oh wait, wrong Dad quote.  He also used to say;

“If you’ve got a problem with it, then come up with something better or shut the hell up!”

Good point, Dad (My Dad didn’t actually curse that much, but I sure as shit do).  I put on my thinking cap and came up with some programming  ideas of my own.  I’m going to email these ideas to TLC, NatGeo, HGTV, Bravo and A&E.  They’ll be welcome to use any and all of my ideas without having to pay me a dime, but I do want the title “Creative Consultant” and a link to my blog in the opening and closing credits.  Here we go:

The Rolls Royce of Eternal Rest – this baby is a serious upgrade.(Image from Jawdrops.com)

America’s Next Top Mortician – Three morticians are given a challenging stiff to prepare for a viewing and funeral.  They will each have a fixed number of hours to fully prepare the corpse for interment.  Some of the challenges will include pushy, unrealistic family members who want Aunt Bessie to look “more life-like”, ill-fitting clothes for the deceased, and convincing the family they should pay for the up-graded casket.  Finally, what final-rest competition would be complete without the hearse-obstacle course?

Janitors Got Talent – Everyone knows at least one janitor who insists on singing or telling jokes while pushing brooms and emptying trash cans.  Here’s a chance for janitors to shine like freshly scrubbed porcelain!  Each contestant will have to demonstrate their unique talent while brushing toilets, running a floor buffer and refilling the soap dispensers in the women’s bathroom.

Cryo-Bank Tellers  24/7 – This gritty, up-close slice of reality will follow the challenges of round-the-clock employees at a St. Louis sperm bank as they deal with the crazy demands of such a bizarre work environment.  Hand held cameras will follow them throughout the facility with copious amounts of digitized blurring of clients faces, specimen jars and more!  At least once every episode, one of the tellers will lament “The sign on the door said ‘Unoccupied’, Geez I hate when that happens!”  Hilarity meets revulsion when new staff members are pranked and directed to put their lunches in the wrong refrigerator!

Bus Wars – Broad Street Local – Parking Wars meets Cash Cab as Philadelphia’s public transportation passengers are asked impossibly difficult trivia questions.  Contestants are frustrated, angered and embarrassed to realize they can’t possibly win any money.  Tempers flare when the contestants realize that the host/driver has ignored their stops while waiting for one of them to answer the question!

You turbo-charge this thing, put a chain guard on it and go to work. (Image from social.kidspot.com.au)

American Baby-Nose Pickers – Poor little Tyler and Brittany can’t do it themselves with their little bitty fingers!  Whether they use the squeeze ball, a Q-Tip or their own massive adult fingers, Moms and even Dads just can’t rest until that little hanger is out of their babies’ honkers.  The contestants will have to face tough challenges like booger-eating older siblings and the nausea of onlookers.  Tension builds as we close in on the final weigh-in!

My Biggest Fat Gypsy Rose Lee Loser – Theatrical directors and personal trainers team up to direct a community theater production of “Gypsy”, starring the morbidly obese who compete to lose the most weight while dancing and singing the hit numbers from 1959’s Broadway smash!  Wardrobe issues and self-esteem are on a collision course in this emotional competition!  Contestants are pushed to the brink when they have to keep their appetites and salivary glands in check while singing the lyric “..have an egg roll, Mr. Goldstone..”

That’s all I’ve got for now.  I’m going to go ahead and send the link for this blog to all those networks.  Keep your eyes peeled in the months to come, I think I’ve got a few winners here.  Listen up network execs, as promised, these ideas are there for the taking, and all I ask is the “Creative Consultant” tag and a plug for my blog.  Be warned though, my next batch won’t come so cheap!

Ruminations On House Hunters

I can’t help myself.  Despite my intellectual leanings, I have these horribly pedestrian addictions which I simply cannot go without.  One such indulgence is watching House Hunters International on HGTV.  It’s a guilty pleasure; like drinking milk right out of the carton or drawing mustaches on the missing children on the side of the carton (it’s called age-progression, you haters).

The show’s based on a simple formula.  A couple is moving to some exotic location.  Sometimes due to to job transfers, sometimes because people just want to change their lives.  To the best of my knowledge, they’ve never featured anyone from the witness relocation program.  The English speaking realtor shows the couple three potential homes and then they choose one.  The end of the show features a look into their new home some months later to see how well (or how poorly) they’ve decorated and acclimated themselves to their new country.

In this culture, wearing a gold blazer is a badge of great shame

After watching entirely too many episodes, and having bought and renovated a few homes myself, I’ve developed some pet peeves which crop up repeatedly on the show.  If watching H.H.I. is a guilty pleasure, then finding fault with it is surely my way of reconciling having squandered yet another half an hour of my life.

Here then, are some of the recurring annoyances from this addictive show:

  • Twin sinks in the master bathroom – An amazing number of people have a strange fixation with having two sinks in the master bathroom.  It’s as if they have a burning desire to share the bathroom with their spouse.  Residential bathrooms are meant to be private refuges – whether you’re brushing your teeth or dropping a deuce – not a space for marital bonding.
  • Paint color – People often have serious problems with the paint color of interior rooms.  How inept do you have to be as a do-it-yourselfer to be stumped by painting a stinking wall?  Would anyone who is about to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a house really get tripped-up over something they can change for the price of a gallon of paint?  Hell, if it’s that tough to do, hire someone to paint it for you – the labor’s probably cheap there.  You can probably get the whole place repainted for a couple of chickens and a few of those funny octagonal coins with picture of the old woman on them.
  • Will the dog like it? – Again, they’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars and these people are worried about whether the dog will be happy there?  The dog?!  I know a fair amount about dogs, if they can sit somewhere and lick their own butts, they’re going to be pretty happy.  If you’re really worried about Fido’s emotional well being, let him up on the furniture.
  • 90% of the shows end with the couple picking house number 2 – This isn’t really the fault of the house hunters themselves, but the producers follow the same pattern far too often – 1st house = flawed, 2nd house = flawed but much better, 3rd house = less flawed still, but too expensive or a 90 minute commute from downtown Reykjavik
  • This closet is fine – for me!  Ha Ha Ha!  The women in these twosomes love to crack this joke.  They find a giant closet and proclaim it will be great for her clothes, the man is relegated to sharing the linen closet with the dog.  Har dee har har!! You’re a laugh riot Alice!   [Author’s note: In the event of a gay male couple, the clothes-horse gets to crack this joke while his partner peers into the linen closet with a look of resignation on his face. In the event of a gay female couple, there is no joking]
  • Price change-aroo – After showing the 3 choices, the couple ends up buying the house which is way beyond their budget by offering substantially less than the asking price.  How was the viewer supposed to know the seller was so spineless on or that the buyers were so shrewd?  Who would have guessed that people who were such wusses about the paint color in the second bedroom could be such sharks in negotiations?
  • Guest room fixation – People are constantly whining about limited guest space for all the visiting relatives who will be dropping everything and flying to Slovenia to stay with them.  Simple answer; there are Motel 6’s all over the place, and if not, Aunt Sophie and Uncle Carl can damn-well stay home in Dayton.
  • Kitchens in the tropics rarely have ovens – Where will they cook the turkey for Thanksgiving?  My question; where do you get an 18 lb Butterball in Fiji?  More importantly still, why celebrate Thanksgiving when you’re living in paradise?   Go snorkeling instead!  Do you need me to explain how to enjoy the South Pacific?  How about I move there and you come stay in Jersey?
  • Not enough room to entertain – Entertain?!  It’s just you two and Mitzee the dachshund moving five thousand miles from home – who the hell are you going to entertain?!  Do you guys think that you’ll be any more popular than you were back in the U.S. of A.?  You don’t even speak the language yet!  It never fails that the entertainers always have guests over for the final scene of the show, and by “guests” I mean the realtor and his strange looking girlfriend.
  • Dwellings in many countries outside the US often have empty, unfurnished kitchens.  Buyers are constantly surprised by the lack of cabinets, appliances or even sinks in kitchens.  I know that this is often the way homes are sold abroad, just from watching TV.  Why aren’t these people aware of this?  They’re the ones who are actually moving to Turkey and they don’t have a clue!  If there’s even a slight chance you could be transferred to the Istanbul office, you should be watching this show and taking notes!  Do a little research, you dolts!  As long as we’re on the topic, why not consider going a little light on the kitchen cabinets so Mitzee has a little more room to run around?