Welcome back to "Ask Alex", where I answer all of your stupid questions with even dumber answers. Have a question you need answered? Tweet it, email it or submit it here and I will get to it (maybe) next week.
Ho! Ho! Ho! I’m dishing out Christmas Spirit over here like a crack dealer giving out little tastes at a high school basketball game…
And yes, I know that it’s Monday and this was already a week late last Friday. It’s a busy time of year and you’re just going to have to take what you can get. We are moving back home in the week after Christmas, so I am frantically trying to prepare for Christmas (anyone who would like to start my Christmas shopping is more than welcome) and pack, clean and get ready to move home with all the shit we have had with us for six months and get all the stuff we have in storage home. Plus year-end work stuff and yada, yada, yada...anyway, AskAlex is getting a little lost in the shuffle.
But, I am here now, and ready to dish out some love. Daryl thinks that MBTA sounds like a certain Village People song, which it totally should be. Proper Opinion admits that he may, in fact, be the Louis CK or Twitter and/or whatever workplace he spends his time in. Sicariothrax has another question about some fantasy world that I don’t know the first thing about but will answer anyway, and then Ingenious Firebrand needs help planning Christmas dinner. I mean, he needs A LOT of help...
Submitted by: Daryl
Have you ever sung M-B-T-A to the tune of a certain Village People song while riding the train?
You know, I haven’t, and I am kind of ashamed at myself for not never having thought of it. The words basically write themselves!!!
“Young man, we know that you’re late.
Young man, but so is your date.
You will, never get to bar
Because You. Are. Riding. The T.
Ignore. That guy who just puked.
He’s just. A regular Orange Line dude.
This is, just a normalish day.
Oh. No. Sig-nal de-lay.
Pew. Pew Pew Pew Pew.
It’s fun to ride on the M-B-T-A
It’s fun to ride on the M-B-T-A
It’s a great way to get, where you’re trying to go!
Unless there’s rain, heat, cold, clouds or snow…”
Can I tell you a story though? I know two people who are now married that met on the Green Line. There was a broken track (or something like that) one day probably ten years ago, and they ended up stuck between Hynes and Kenmore for about an hour. I can’t really describe how terrible it would be to find yourself stuck on a semi-crowded trolley for an hour...the best I can come up with is that it is just about as comfortable as spending that same hour underwater.
For some reason, though (spoiler: it’s cuz they are both super hot) these two started talking, hit it off right away, and when the train finally moved, they exchanged numbers. Their first date was that weekend, yada, yada, yada, three years later they were married! So, yes, delays on the T are too common and abjectly awful...but sometimes you are standing next to your soulmate!
Submitted by: Prop Op
As 2017 ends, and particularly with the continuously breaking sexual harassment news, should I seek to make amends to all of those (male, female, trans,...etc.)) that I may have inadvertently harassed over the year?
First of all, I don’t buy for one second that your litany of harassment allegation were “inadvertent” events…
You raise an interesting question, though...do we treat people any differently when those people realize their errors and seek forgiveness before they are forced to? Take Louis CK, for example. While the Spaceys, Lauers and Weinsteins of the world pretended to find Jesus and act a little remorseful after they were outed as serial sex predators, Louis reached a private reckoning with his own behavior several years ago and reached out to his victims to apologize without being prompted by public pressure.
That doesn’t make his behavior any better, but to me it makes his claims of personal awakening more believable. It is pretty easy to issue an apologetic press release after you have been caught red-handed and fired...it is a whole different level of commitment to reach out unprompted and admit you own failings. And were I the victim of that sort of behavior, I would be much more inclined to accept an apology from someone who didn’t have anything to gain by apologizing. If you are inclined to forgive someone for this kind of behavior (which you are perfectly reasonable in not doing) then it seems like an honest admission of guilt and regret from the perpetrator is a mandatory starting place.
We haven’t, culturally, made that distinction yet. At least I don’t think we have. And to be honest, we seem to have a little bit of a perverse relationship with acknowledgement, at least among politicians. Al Franken admitted to his failings only because he was caught red-handed, but he didn’t really try to deny the non-photographed allegations, either. He gave the same kind of forced non-apology that Matt Lauer gave, and then he had to pretend that it would cost him his job. Bob Menendez, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Roy Moore, meanwhile just continued to staunchly deny things for which there is overwhelming evidence, and save for Moore, none of them has really faced any personal cost. That’s kind of the opposite of where we probably want to go.
So, if you have harassed anyone, then yes, now would be a good time to make amends. But don’t expect anyone to treat you well for admitting this of your own accord. That, however, is part of what would make your amends so powerful.
Also...keep your penis inside your pants while at work. I can not stress enough how easy this should be.
Submitted by: Sicariothrax
What’s your opinion of the Nine Divines of The Elder Scrolls games
Usually, when you ask these ridiculous questions, I visit some random Wiki that explains it to me and then I make something up. But, honestly, I found an explanation of this and still have absolutely no fucking idea what it is or how to talk about it. They seem to be some kind of committee of Gods and Goddesses..? But they are also the central committee of a larger committee...I dunno, the whole thing sounds very Soviet to me.
But, I can rank them anyway…
Submitted by: Ingenious Firebrand
What’s the best meal to plan for Christmas Eve? Mine’s here, btw:
How great is the Steak_Umm Twitter feed? It is really one of the better Corporate Social Media accounts...they’ve managed to capture the brand’s voice in a Twitter feed really well. I’m not sure that it is as clever as @KFC following only 11 people...6 guys named Herb and the five Spice Girls...but it is really good.
That said, I do feel like you are maybe short-changing the baby Jesus a little bit. He deserves maybe a little more effort than frozen cheese-steaks and oven-baked french fries. I get that maybe you were going for the lowest-effort meal possible, but I am going to suggest that maybe you are going straight to hell if you don’t put in a little bit of effort here. So, let’s take this one course at a time…
Your pre-dinner drink is fine. I’d probably serve prosecco, but that is really a minor change...it’s a little lighter than the Chardonnay-based sparkling wines, and dollar-for-dollar it is much better. Also, it’s the twenty-teens and you need to get on board with what the hip girls are drinking, and we have moved on!
If you are serving beef for dinner, you have to be able to do better than Steak Umm. How about a nice rib roast? I know it’s pricey, but, c’mon...do you love Jesus or not? And let me also put in a plug for the merits of a lighter option at dinner. My sister-in-law’s wife doesn’t eat red meat, so my mother-in-law got in the habit of serving salmon along with the roast beef at Christmas Eve dinner (because my MIL was a saint). Originally it was so she would have something to eat (she’d have been perfectly happy to eat veggies and potatoes and whatever else there was) but it turns out that a pretty large portion of the dinner crowd enjoyed having both. Very few people ever complain about eating really delicious red meat, but a lot of them would gladly swap out a little of the red meat for something lighter. And if you have any Italian friends, you’ll know that making fish one of the meal’s centerpieces is hardly breaking new ground culinarily.
Red meat needs potatoes, but not bagged frozen potatoes. Either make a basic garlic mashed, or just do oven-roasted red or gold potatoes with plenty of butter and garlic salt. Cheap, easy and nobody will ever turn their nose up at them. About the only complication is that potatoes need a long time in a hot oven to cook, and a roast needs a long time in a cooler oven. The salmon can kind of go in either, but without two ovens, this is hard to pull off (unless you make mashed potatoes earlier and just warm them in a covered casserole dish in the oven with the roast.)
You’ll also need some vegetables, just so you can pretend that you care about a balanced meal. Also, my sainted Mother-in-law taught me the importance of a color-balance on the plate, too. Potatoes don’t bring color, but things like green beans, broccoli or Brussels sprouts do. And lots of butter so someone might eat them.
Dessert has gotta be a lot more ambitious than Moon Pies, too. Chocolate cake, pie with ice cream...there are like 100 different things you could do that are better than a store-bought preservative loaf. I learned how to make ganache this weekend...do you know how easy it is to make ganache?! You pour hot cream into a bowl of chocolate chips and stir it. That’s it! Then you pour it over a cake and let it cool and it looks super fancy and professional. If you just bake a Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker cake and frost it with that, you’re made a dessert 100 times better than a Moon Pie. Or, you know what? Let the local bakery take care of this one for you...just spend the $15 on a cake or a pie and enjoy.
I feel like your after-dinner plan needs some work, too. Not that Bourbon can’t be a part of it, but a lot of people aren’t going to drink whiskey of any sort, and even those that drink might not want something that harsh. I don’t really drink Bourbon at all...if I am feeling really boozy, I will drink Scotch or Irish Whiskey (lots of ice...I like it very cold and a little watery) long before I would drink Bourbon. And some people are going to want coffee, with or without a splash of something, or Port or some other dessert wine. There just aren’t that many people looking to have a glass of 80 proof booze after dinner, especially if they are driving home.
You are free to make some reasonably substitutions here...some people like Turkey or Ham for dinner, and that’s fine.
But, I think we can all agree on one thing: the only truly acceptable Christmas Day meal is Chinese Food.
Alex’s random old song of the week
I feel like we never got as much out of Fiona Apple as we should have. She was so good when she was so young...a talented and nuanced songwriter with unquestionable talent and a unique, soulful and magnificent voice. To certain girls from turbulent homes in rough spots who went through High School in the late 1990’s, her breakout album (written when she was 17 years old) was a remarkably identifiable volume. And then, after that, kinda nothing of note. She kept making music, some good, some weird and some with 100 word album titles, but none of it really resonated the way that first album did.
Her biggest hit was, of course, Criminal, and her debut album produced a couple other singles of note, including Shadowboxer and Sleep to Dream...but her masterpiece, if she has one, is the emotional, searing and haunting “Never is a Promise”. In case you ever feel like you are having a good and productive day, just remember that she wrote that when she was somewhere around 14 years old...
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.