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For more about Allison and her books visit her website at http://www.allisonsimon.com/. For now, please relax and brace yourself for the occasionally coherent ramblings of Allison's mind.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Product Review: Outdoor Fireplace Lawn Ornament

In memory (and celebration) of the destruction and disposal of our outdoor fireplace lawn ornament, I’ve decided to write a review of one of the most useless products on the market.

We’d been looking for an outdoor fireplace for a while and immediately fell in love with the look and price of this one. We brought it home, presented it with its own throne in the corner of the patio where it could reign forever as the majestic focal point of the yard. It fit perfectly. Then everything went sour.

It’s not that it was ugly. It was actually very classy and beautiful. It was a nice addition to our patio and artfully hid the weeds in the flower bed behind it.

It’s not that it was expensive. We actually got a great deal on it. It was on clearance in the lawn and garden department. Now we know why.

The problem is…it wasn’t supposed to be a lawn ornament. Yet, that’s essentially what we got. A giant, attractive, useless lawn ornament.

What we bought, without knowing it, was an outdoor fireplace that really couldn’t handle burning anything or be exposed to the elements. Yes, that’s right. The directions clearly stated that after each use we were supposed to lug our 200lb stone fireplace into a shed or garage because it could not be exposed to rain, snow, or cold air. Right. Like that was going to happen.

For a while we tried to compromise with the thing and wrestled with a hideous blue tarp to protect its sensitive little fa├žade from the nasty-wasty wain. In a little over half an hour we could have the sleek faux stone successfully hidden beneath a cheap plastic liner and packaging twine. Now, instead of gazing out the window at a backyard park oasis, we locked eyes on a slightly unsettling blue monstrosity that bore just a little too close of a resemblance to a giant body bag. The effort involved with the tarp, however, was too much, and eventually the blue mound just became a permanent fixture in our yard.

Every so often we’d take the plunge and try to use it, mostly out of guilt. This mistake exposed major problem number two: the basic design. Instead of having a single chimney to exhaust the smoke out the top and away from people, this brilliant piece of equipment had an identical front and back opening – perfect for a face full of smoke regardless of where you sat and which direction the wind blew. At least everyone on the patio was equally miserable. We were always reminded once again why we hated it and put the tarp back on indefinitely.

Finally about a year ago we decided since it was completely useless as a fireplace, but looked nice, we might as well embrace it as the lawn ornament that it was. Thus, we removed the tarp once and for all and enjoyed many evenings of gazing at it in adoration and dreaming of what could have been.

As the seasons passed, and our fancy faux stones were exposed to the natural elements that any piece of patio furniture should be able to endure, it began to chip and fray as promised in the instruction manual. It provided a nice mansion for the local rodents and still did an admirable job of disguising the weeds.

Then, one day, it wore down to the point where it no longer passed as an ornament. It had lost one too many bricks and the rusted metal begged for a toxic encounter with our preschooler. It was time.

The expensive, heavy, cumbersome, useless lawn ornament made its way to the curb on trash night and we said goodbye. There is now a bare, desolate corner of our patio framed only by a messy, but functional, mint patch.

Yet, I am strangely relieved more than anything, knowing that our sad, delicate fireplace is no longer suffering in the harsh outdoors, struggling daily to be something it wasn’t. May it find peace and happiness in the next phase of its life which is hopefully in a capacity that’s more true to its nature than a fireplace. A scented candle showcase maybe?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Agora Review: We All Suck, But At Least We Suck Equally

I generally try to stay away from religion and politics in a public forum like this. I want anyone to feel welcome and engaged here regardless of background or belief system. There are enough universal truths for us to discuss without jumping onto the landmines. (Just wait for the upcoming outdoor fireplace review. Worst. Product. Ever.)

The film Agora requires me to stretch my rule, however, if not break it altogether. Bear with me. Agora is the best movie I’ve seen this month, so oh well. Here it is. Hopefully I escape with limbs still intact.

Religion, science, and history haven’t historically been friends. In fact, religion and history haven’t gotten along well at all. It’s a curious fact, really, considering most religions preach love, respect, and peace. Seems like we should all be able to get along pretty well. Then again, maybe it’s not surprising when humans clearly latch onto any justification for their own selfish ambitions. Religion is a perfect cover for the conflicting evil inside us and immediately draws supporters, unifying the ranks of misguided warriors. Agora illustrates this principle brilliantly while preserving the human element always behind shifting paradigms.

We meet Hypatia, a brilliant female philosopher in Roman era Egypt. To describe the plot further would make it sound trite, completely unfair since it’s anything but. The story is set against the backdrop of violent conflicts among the growing numbers of Christians, the existing population of Jews, and the followers of the ancient “gods” and philosophers. Hypatia and her followers (including members of all three groups) seem to think that they can all co-exist, and that spiritual beliefs and the pursuit of knowledge are not mutually exclusive. The powerful leaders of the warring parties covet control of the city. Therefore they disagree.

The film does a decent job of distributing the blame for the violence that ensues on all parties instead of taking the typical epic movie copout of labeling a clear good guy and bad guy. The manipulative, self-serving leaders of each group distort the very principles they supposedly represent in an effort to achieve their own pursuit of power. The masses follow blindly, devout sheep to the slaughter. I’ll let you discover where that leaves Hypatia who refuses to attach herself to any side.

Sadly, time hasn’t tempered our egocentrism and distrust of those who are different. We still fight each other in the name of piety and principles, even though those very principles preach against such hatred and violence. We define a group by the few misguided extremists that capture the public eye, sparking collective resentment and animosity. We apply what we see in a weak, imperfect person to the belief system they profess to follow, even though we don’t recognize our own hypocrisy.

Maybe we don’t whip rocks at each other anymore, but we’re pretty quick to throw stones. We’re all hypocrites to some extent because we all betray the code that guides our lives at times, whatever it may be. It’s not fair to judge a creed by its followers. For every power hungry zealot driven by errant hatred, there will be many devout believers whose sincere desire to improve humanity actually accomplishes that impossible task one good deed at a time. Those people don’t make headlines. Those people don’t write the pages of history. You can find some of those people in Agora.  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Back to the Basics: Preschool Lessons for Adults

So we’re watching a sickly sweet turtle lament the destruction of his brand new jacket thanks to the careless antics of a neighbor bear. It didn’t have to end that way, but the bear just couldn’t keep his hands to himself. It makes more sense in context. Really. See, the thing is, you’re supposed to be careful with your friends’ things. And if your friends ruin your stuff, you’re supposed to forgive them and accept their apology. That’s what the singing owl teaches us anyway.

This got me thinking, the annoying show has a decent lesson. I know some adults who could benefit from a refresher course in discerning intent and offering forgiveness. Then I realized all my son’s shows have lessons that we were supposed to learn as children but a lot of us have forgotten. Here are some other common preschool themes from which adults could benefit.


#1 Share your stuff.

Nobody likes the stingy, nearsighted pill bug who hoards all the juneberries. Nobody likes Jerry in Accounting who hoards the medium tip red gel pens. Generosity isn’t just for the receiving party, it’s for the giver too. If you want to keep your life in the proper perspective and your priorities straight, give. Don’t just loan, give. Money should be a means to an end, not an end in itself. Objects should bring enjoyment, not be a trophy. There’s no better way to demonstrate that and remind yourself about what’s actually important in your life than to be generous with the stuff that shouldn’t be. And besides, you’re going to want to be known as the giving grasshopper not the greedy pill bug when you could benefit from a helping hand one day.


#2 Whining won’t get you anywhere.

All they wanted to do was have a nice camping trip, but the grumbling pig princess ruined it for everyone. She didn’t like camping, you see, so she made sure no one else did either.

Hey, let’s face it, we all have our moments. We seem to be genetically predisposed to complain. But just remember this next time it’s “so hot your face is melting.” Psychology 101 tells us that we cut ourselves a whole lot more slack than we cut other people. What does that mean? It means you can easily convince yourself you’re perfectly justified in your rage that the drive-through guy forgot your straw, but your coworker will think you’re a lunatic. Before you complain to those around you, imagine how your “problem” will sound to others. How do their “problems” sound to you? Didn’t you think Frank sounded crazy whining about the broken window on his yacht? What about Cathy’s stolen lawn ornament?

If you’re still tempted, imagine how your struggles would sound to a survivor from coastal Japan, or a resident of the flood and tornado ravaged south, or a poverty-stricken parent watching their children starving to death. The truth is, you may be talking to the equivalent and not know it. The people with the biggest problems tend to be the ones who keep quiet about them.

So you said your piece about the straw and the heat. Now what? You still don’t have a straw and it’s still hot. And now you look like an idiot.


#3 People move away. Deal with it.

It’s amazing how many preschool characters have friends, aunts, cousins, and classmates who move. After a half hour of drama, the child (or animal, or unidentifiable talking thing) is basically told to suck it up. Things change. Move on.

This one ties in well with #2 above and #5 below. Something didn’t go well for you? You can either let that define and destroy you, or take away its power and move on. We give our problems their power and we always have a choice. Even if we can’t change our circumstances, we can choose our reaction. We tell kids to suck it up and get over their dilemmas all the time. Why shouldn’t that apply to most of our problems?


#4 Don’t bite your friends.

Just don’t. That’s gross.


#4a Don’t lick your friends.

Also gross.


#5 No one likes a sore loser…or a sore winner.

If it shocks you that things won’t always go the way you hope, then you have either lived a very sheltered life, or are the luckiest person on the planet. For most of us, we lose more than we win, and half the time we don’t even recognize a win until well after the fact. You can either be the koala who takes his ball and goes home or the miniature, weird-looking tiger who’s victory makes everyone else want to go home. You’d probably benefit from taking neither approach. Be the rational one who remembers every victory leaves a wake of jealousy and resentment. Every loss will only compound if you let it consume you. Remember cutting yourself slack? Others won’t, so watch your perspective.


I’ll stop at five. You get the idea. And I’m not preaching (#8). I’m as guilty as the next person of breaking these rules – with the exception of biting and licking your friends. I haven’t done that in awhile.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Allison: Acknowledging the Acknowledgments

We’re under no delusions here at the blog that people actually read our ramblings. But every so often, someone pokes their head into our monologue and makes our day. We had a formal reader appreciation day not so long ago, so don’t worry, we won’t bore you with another, but we did get a couple formal shout-outs from fellow bloggers that we’d like to shout back to.

First, a special thanks to Christine Murray for her kind words about this blog a couple weeks ago. Christine is also a writer and more organized than I could ever hope to be. She frequently sets goals and largely manages to meet them or comes close. Her blog offers her thoughts and perspective as an aspiring writer.

We’ve also been tagged by Kathryn Long over at the Writer Teacher blog. Her award came with homework. For some reason the blogging world thinks it’s safe to instruct an ever-spreading web of bloggers to share random facts about themselves. We’re the crew that turned the dissemination of random thoughts into a verb…and a noun…and an adjective. But sadly, the instructions limit us to 7, so here goes.


#1: I play the harp professionally. Well, at least I do when I have a gig. I used to play a dozen or more weddings, receptions, dinners, and other special events a year. (Lately, I’ve just been dusting it a dozen or so times a year.)

#2: I lead a basement rock band called Penchant for Red. We’re better than we sound. Really.  But we have no ambitions to leave the basement. We just do it for the fame. Ok, no, not really. We just really like to play and write our own music, but we all have actual lives and jobs. Plus, with the exception of one of us, we are all way too old to be aspiring rock stars. Real rock stars, maybe. Aspiring ones, no. We did record some practice sessions though with a mid-range field recorder. You can check us out on Facebook. I think our page is still up. In fact, my first dabbling in the blogging world was as our band’s web voice.

#3: I like cats. I own two of them. I’ve owned cats my whole life. I’m allergic to them. I’ve felt like I’ve had a cold for the last twenty-eight years.

#4: For a family reunion many years ago, my relatives traced my ancestors back to Conrad Meckes who emigrated from Germany in the early 1700’s to what became the Pennsylvania region of what became the United States. That side of my family is still based there 275 years later. We’re not a very adventurous clan. My husband’s side is the opposite. His father emigrated from Germany. He was born and raised in Canada. And now his son is American, born in the Pennsylvania region of the United States.

#5: I am kind of a vegetarian by default. I have no moral or physical objections to meat, I just have a pathological aversion to gristle, veins, or any of the normal parts actually found in meat. I can meticulously pick my way through a grilled chicken breast, but at the first sign of any obstacle, the meal becomes my husband’s. It’s easier for all parties if I stick to the other food groups.

#6: The red streaks in my hair are not natural.

#7: This one is the reason I cannot formally accept the very award I’m acknowledging. I understand if they would like to replace my name with someone else and still appreciate them thinking of me. When I was a little girl, I used to get very stressed out by chain letters. I’d be so concerned that Jesus wouldn’t love me because I didn’t pass on a letter to 7 friends or my house was going to collapse because I didn’t give 9 people hugs by noon, that I found it necessary at an early age to establish a very strict no-chain letter policy. With the advent of e-mail and the flood of such requests, it has served me well into adulthood and I have followed it religiously my entire life. I don’t want to have to choose which chain letters are worth risking my eternal soul and which aren’t, so I don’t pass on any. Yes, that’s right, I’ve singlehandedly stopped every chain letter in existence. I don’t want to know how much bad luck I’ve accrued over the years, but at least it’s egalitarian. Still, my policy has brought me peace and serenity in the face of even the most gruesome descriptions of what will happen to me and my loved ones if I don’t forward some random message to 25 friends I don’t have. Since this award is basically the blog-version of a chain letter, my rule will not allow me to pass it on. I really do apologize for breaking the chain, but for every normal, perfectly rational person on this planet, there is a Me.



So thus ends our acknowledgements of our acknowledgements. Thanks to everyone for reminding me every so often that I’m not the only one reading my posts.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Allison: Mother’s Day, huh?

There you are about to sit down to your family picnic. Birds belt their chorus. The breeze styles your hair. Squirrels frolic. You’re admiring your brand new Kitchen Aid mixer and your kid’s drawing of a horned something or other for your desk at work. Then we go all Allison’s blog on you.

We’ve been so warm and fuzzy here lately that I’ve gotten a couple cavities. It’s time to regain our edge and what better way than by issuing an ill-timed rant against that most innocuous of holidays, Mother’s Day. Sorry. It was inevitable. You knew it was coming.

Now, don’t worry. I’m not really against Mother’s Day. That’s like being against kittens. I’m just not on board with the Sunday Sale commercialism that’s replaced it and the cop-out one-time acknowledgement it affords.

First off, I love my mom. She’s the best. Second of all, I am a mom and I love being a mom. Now that we’ve dispensed with the disclaimers, let’s abandon tradition and commence with reason.

I don’t get Mother’s Day. Not in the way Michael doesn’t get spring. More in the way a tree is probably confused by Arbor Day. We all like to dance around and celebrate trees one day a year, but where does that leave the tree: “Dude, what about the other 364 days. How about you put down your trowel, stop planting tulips around my base, and go for a hike instead. You want to celebrate me? Don’t treat me like crap the rest of the time.”

That’s Mother’s Day. I’m pretty sure Hallmark won’t be interested in my resume.

One day a year we get BBQ chicken on the grill. We get a sappy card supposedly from our kid who can’t read yet that we know Daddy grabbed from the cash register rack at Home Depot that morning.  We have permission to leave the dishes in the sink until Monday. We don’t have to clean the bathroom until next week. Fantastic.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bitter, I’m blessed. I have a great family which is very close and respects each other. That’s the point. I don’t need a $5 card and slapped together potato salad to tell me that. I’d rather have the fact that I’m appreciated implicit in the dynamic of our daily interactions. I need more than one day a year. We all do.

I don’t know the origin of Mother’s Day. It probably has something to do with a Saint. Or the pagan goddess of blooming planters. Or maybe it was just the result of a game-changing Hallmark power meeting. Don’t feel like you have to write to me to explain it. I’m sure it makes perfect sense, and brings joy, prosperity, and promise for countless retailers, florists, and jewelers. That’s fine. But my husband and I kind of have an understanding about these things.

Mother’s Day happens several times a year for us. Whenever mom needs a day to recoup. Father’s Day is when Dad wants some time with his buddies. Grandparents Day…really? Let’s pretend that one’s not on our calendars. (Good job, Hallmark.) Our anniversary is the day that has the same date as the one we got married – and manage to forget every year. Birthdays are for children who still find magic and lessons in anticipation. Christmas is about family, reflection (and for us, our Faith). Valentines Day is the day we cringe because we forgot to write names on lollipops for our son’s preschool class. In other words, the calendar doesn’t have much of an impact on our family. Our year is full of special days, but we see no reason why they have to be the ones chocolate companies dictate.

I’m sure there are many mothers who count down the minutes to Mother’s Day because it’s their one island of appreciation. I’m sure there are fathers who can’t wait to catch a break for one day a year in June. That’s sad. I hope that’s not you. I hope your respective day is a little extra bump in a year of countless ups with the downs. I hope it’s no surprise to learn you’re appreciated. I hope you won’t be surprising your loved ones with the same fact.

If you do feel the need to celebrate a spouse, or a parent, or a tree, or whatever matters to you for one day a year, I challenge you to do it in a way that captures the point. If you’re standing in line at Home Depot and your kid who can’t read yet points out the card rack next to the cigarette lighters, you may have missed it.

Call me, Hallmark. You’re going to love my idea for Car Service Day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Allison: Bittersweet Good-Bye to FNL

They were stacking up on the DVR and I knew it was time. There’s a finite amount of space on our box and it wasn’t fair that I monopolized every GB simply because I didn’t know how to say goodbye. Alas, Friday was perfectly suited for the moment and here we are. Today we say hello, and begin our goodbyes, to the best hour of television for the past five years – Friday Night Lights.

Every season I wonder if I’m going to watch it again. Not because the quality slipped. Not because I had a better option for my Friday nights. Friday Night Lights is like my mom’s orange creamsicle cake.  I wonder if I really want a slice, decide to take the plunge, then remember it’s the friggin’ best thing on the planet.  That’s FNL, and I go through it every year. It’s an exhausting show, and I mean that in the best possible way.

It’s exhausting because life is exhausting, and FNL captures life better than any other show out there. Ok, sure, I know they’ve practically turned the Hail Mary pass into a premeditated game plan. And yes, they had to cram every obstacle, triumph, and misfortune on this entire planet into a few characters. But no one does the impossible with the honesty and punch of FNL. How many dramas today still offer us a stable, functional marriage five years later? Who wouldn’t want to have the Taylors in their lives? I’m still crossing my fingers for an invite to one of their famous rib nights. Man, I love ribs.

You don’t even have to like football to appreciate FNL. You just have to like being a human. (There are plenty of shows for those who don’t, too. Start with Vampire Diaries. Or True Blood if you have a stomach of steel and think humanity is a waste of oxygen.)

FNL thinks we’re flawed but redeemable with the right amount of effort and support. It thinks our character is shaped by the fight to be a better person in whatever circumstances life throws at us. It thinks it’s still important to stand for something, that poor choices reap consequences, and making a mistake doesn’t make us monsters, only as messed up as everyone else. It doesn’t mean we should stop trying.

We’re all in this together, navigating life the best we can, and it’s our responsibility not only to make our own choices, but impact the choices of those around us. It’s not good enough to look out for number 1. You need to leave your part of planet better than when you entered it. And I’m not talking about recycling or picking up your dog’s donuts. FNL is about community, compassion, redemption, suffering, and forgiveness.

If you’ve never checked it out, I suggest you drop what you’re doing. Go rent season 1. Carve yourself a generous slice, dig in, and remind yourself that there’s still a lot worth fighting for in this world even when things seem dark.

I had five episodes stacked up on my DVR yesterday. Today I have none.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Allison: In Defense of Robert Pattinson

This may surprise you, but today I’m writing in defense of Robert Pattinson.

I’m not a huge fan of the Twilight franchise, and I don’t mean “not a fan” in the derogatory sense, just the literal one. The Twilight movies were ok, which, as you’re learning in Allison blog world, means we’re glad we saw them… don’t need to see them again. I haven’t read the books, but the excerpts I’ve seen indicate they’re probably not my thing.

I’m also fairly ambivalent about Robert Pattinson himself. I actually had to look up Mr. Pattinson’s name to verify the spelling. He’s a decent actor, but he hasn’t reached must-see status where I’d watch a film simply because he’s in it. (Unlike James McAvoy. I’d pay theater prices to watch him shop for a loaf of bread because I know he’d somehow make it fascinating). Still, something has really bugged lately me about Pattison’s situation and I will use him as today’s token soapbox to rail against our propensity toward hero worship.

Entertainment bloggers, fans, film critics, and everyone else it seems are all speculating about whether or not he can have a career after the unfortunately fortunate blockbuster success of the Twilight films. Will he be forever branded as Edward Cullen? Has the actor suffered the career death of becoming the character? (The fact that we even waste so much brain power and server space on that topic is a massive issue for another day.)

I recently saw Remember Me. It wasn’t a masterpiece, it wasn’t terrible. But I only thought about vampires for the first ten minutes. I also tried to watch How to Be a couple times when it came out. I really wanted to like it which is why I gave it two chances, but I have to admit that I didn’t. Still, vampires didn’t enter my head even once in that one. Can he act NOT like a vampire? I can answer that question. Yes.

But that’s not the problem, is it. You and I both know that. The 10-year-old neighbor girl who swears Edward is her boyfriend despite what her friend Amanda tells everyone knows that.

Hey, it’s no secret I love movies. I’ve seen hundreds if not thousands of films that cross many genres from all over the world. But when they’re over, I’m happy to return to the frequently overwhelming version of my own life. I barely have enough time and energy to keep that one on track. I know I’m not alone. We all have our challenges, ambitions, responsibilities, fears, and circle of supporting characters in our own stories. Why do we add fake versions of Robert Pattinson (and many other celebrities) to them as well?  Why did we collectively turn a good-looking 24-year-old young man from London (almost 25!! OMG! Happy Birthday, Rob!) into a hundred-something vampire? That’s the disturbing part. That’s what we’re talking about here. He agreed to act like a vampire for a few hours and we decided to make him one.

Fiction is fantastic. I hope to have a career in it someday. But we have to preserve that wall between fiction and reality. I have no problem when fiction leans against the wall, peeks over it, or even punches a fist through it, but when the screen goes black, we absolutely have to turn around and start our journey back to our own stories. Every. Single. Time. The wall allows Robert Pattinson to have dinner with his buddies on one side while Edward Cullen like, totally woos Bella on the other. We need to reinforce its power. Not for his sake, but for ours.

Robert is not Edward, and it’s not fair to him or our daughters to imagine he is to the point where we have to ask: Can Robert Pattinson have a career after the Twilight Saga?

I’m begging you world, please let Robert Pattinson have a career after the Twilight Saga. It’s too depressing to imagine we’ve created one where he can’t.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Allison: Weekend Recap

Everyone’s been very busy these last couple weeks and hasn’t had much time for blogging, but I’d like to toss in a quick update of some of the topics we’ve been discussing.

Cassie wants you all to know that the NHL Playoffs are interesting so far. The Flyers won their first series in a tight contest, but didn’t get off to a good start in the second one. Hopefully, tonight goes better because her brother Colin is really irritating when they lose. She still has a crush on Claude Giroux who’s playing well, but the real news is that thanks to Manuel Neuer, she is now an avid Schalke fan of the German Bundesliga. (I didn’t have the heart to tell her all reports point to Neuer signing with Bayern Munich when his contract expires in 2012. She’s actually following football. I’m not about to rain on her parade.)

Holly says she’s working on a follow-up to her “Game of Thrones” review, and the second episode was better than the first. Evil-Lanyard-Ken-and-Barbie are still evil and grating, but doe-eyed white-haired girl is taking control of her situation and not as nauseating to watch. The Noble Viking family is still very likeable with the exception of the snotty tween sister who inexplicably has eyes for the prissy, spoiled Lanyard prince. Since Peter Dinklage and Holly’s favorite strong-but-melancholy-young-man-who-just-wants-to-make-something-of-himself are headed off together to join the black-caped crew at the big wall, she’s most interested in that storyline. They’re also the ones most likely to encounter the creepy glowing-eyed shadow monsters which she’s looking forward to seeing again. She hasn’t watched this past Sunday’s episode yet but will post her comments when she does. Oh, and she now knows one of their names. The head dad of The Noble Viking Family is Ned.

Kevin didn’t have much to say about anything topical, but seemed very disturbed by the current state of contemporary music. He doesn’t understand why every popular song out there basically recycles the same 10 words and slaps them over a slight variation of an annoying dance beat. He says there’s a lot of good stuff out there, but it’s not getting air time except on specialty alternative radio stations. He can’t even go to a store, social event, or gathering of more than five people without “having that crap shoved down [his] throat.”

Sam was unavailable for comment but his assistant said he prefers a good Cobb Salad to just about anything on the menu.

Michael isn’t thrilled that I’m now learning bar chords on the guitar and finds himself reminiscing fondly about the good ole “Wonderwall” days.

I don’t know where Jesse is. Let’s hope he’s off working on an incredible post that will shock us with its brilliance.