Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Yes, I now own a Snuggie

There are occasional moments in your life when you step back and ask yourself, "What the hell am I doing?" Sometimes it's over a major thing, and other times over something minor. Last night I asked myself this question over a minor thing when I found myself sitting in front of my laptop wearing a Snuggie.

I need to explain why I now own a Snuggie. I really do. At no point did I ever watch the infomercial and exclaim aloud, "A blanket with sleeves? By golly I could sure use that!" No, like every sane person in America, I simply wondered to myself, how does this differ from a robe exactly?

Then a few weekends back, the bars at Mt. Adams held it's second annual Snuggie Bar Crawl. I'd seen photos of the year's previous bar crawl, and thought that any opportunity to run around town dressed like a crazy person in a group was not something to be passed up. A friend of mine who'd received a Snuggie as a gag gift a while back was also down for it.

So, I had to buy a Snuggie. I opted for one with a UC Bearcats print all over it, because I figured if I'm going to look crazy, i might as well sport some school pride while I'm at it.

Unfortunately, for various reasons we ended up not doing the bar crawl, so now I had a sleeved blanket on my hands. My initial reaction was to return it, but it struck me as just being one of those things. You know, something that's all the rage for a few years, then twenty years later your kids look at you and ask, "No really, you need to explain why people would buy a Pet Rock, and did you ever own one?"

I decided that someday I will look at my future children and say, "Yes, I too bought a Snuggie, and someday it will be yours."

Okay, actually I thought it'd just be a fun thing to leave around the house. A conversation piece. If a guest came over and complained it was too cold, before turning up the heat, I could throw them the Snuggie. (This might have actually come in handy the year I threw a Superbowl party and realized that no matter how high I turned the main thermostat up, my basement still needed a space heater.)

Once the decision had been made that I would keep the Snuggie, the next logical thing was to try it on. I stood in front of the mirror and decided that yes, I looked like a crazy person. A crazy person who was a Bearcats fan. After that it made sense to see if there was anything about wearing it that felt more comfortable than say, layering up or wearing a robe. So, I sat in front of my computer wearing the thing, meaning to leave it on for a few minutes only.

Then twenty minutes later, I realized I was still wearing it.


It felt like I had somehow legitimized the existence of a perfectly useless product.

Well, twenty minutes wasn't going to be any worse than a half hour more. I decided to use as advertised: on the couch, remote in hand, a snack by my side.

One thing they fail to mention in the ads is that the Snuggie is not meant for walking around in, unless you're Kareem Abdul Jabbar. The fact that it covers your feet may be convenient when you're on the couch, but if you need to walk about, you have no choice but to hike that thing up and trot about like a geisha wearing a backless hospital gown.

I would love to have seen how intoxicated people bar hopping in Mt. Adams managed while wearing them.

Once on the couch it turned out it was comfortable and practical; more comfortable and practical than I should really admit. Then again, I haven't yet subjected it to a true test. A chilly basement in the spring is nothing compared to one in winter.

I guess I'll have to wait another nine months to find out if a thin layer of synthetic fleece around the arms is that much more convenient than reaching over the top of a blanket.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thoughts on Best Picture

Seeing how movie-centric my blog has become, I figure I might as well weigh in on this year's entries for Best Picture. So, in my opinion, this year's best picture should be...


You thought I was going to say Avatar, didn't you. I'll admit, considering how glowing my earlier review was, it seems like it would have been my logical choice. While it was good, I think I was still riding some kind of buzz caused by the 3D IMAX when I wrote that. If it were another year, Avatar probably would have emerged as the clear winner, but this year was such a good year for movies.

Even with the Academy boosting the nominees from five to ten, it still feels like some movies got left out, like The Brothers Bloom or (500) Days of Summer, which is apparently a fictionalized account of why I'm in love with Zooey Deschanel and why she would probably break my heart if I went out with her.

Anyway, I'm getting off track. So why Up and not a record breaking blockbuster like Avatar or a critically acclaimed sleeper hit like The Hurt Locker? Though the special effects of Avatar may have been breakthrough, the premise did feel like old territory. And I'm not saying The Hurt Locker wasn't a fantastic movie either, but the lack of a central storyline did leave my mind disengaged on occasion.

But with Up, that was definitely an original piece of cinema from start to finish. We're talking about a movie about an old man and a little boy dragging a house across South America. I can't even think of what movie you could compare that to.

The film has such a wide range of characters, all of whom are so well developed. Just look at Carl's wife. Her entire life story is told from childhood to death over a five minute montage, and yet she feels as integral a character to the story as everybody else onscreen.

As for the characters that are onscreen for the bulk of the film, you have to give credit to filmmakers that can throw an little boy, an old man, an older villain, a pack of talking dogs and a giant bird together in the same movie and not have it feel like it's geared only towards children.

I'll admit, it's not the greatest animated movie of all time, and some would argue that only a movie that's achieved that status should be the one to be the first cartoon to win best picture. That status probably goes to something like Ratatouille, The Iron Giant or Wall-E, just to name a few recent ones. But best of the year doesn't have to mean best of all time, and I just think it would be nice of the Academy didn't define "Best Picture" as the most intensely dramatic movie with lots of crying and shouting and shooting of guns, but rather as the movie people will still be watching in large numbers a decade down the road.

I should also admit that I haven't seen all of the nominees. I have yet to see The Blind Side, An Education, Precious or Up in the Air. Maybe if I get around to those, one of them will blow me away as being an unmistakably original piece of cinema that should be watched in large numbers ten years down the road.

But for now, my money is on Up.