Crossing the Stream: Day 3 - "The Goldbergs" Sn 1, Eps 9-12

I knew it was coming, but it still hit me like a ton of bricks. Day 3 can be described by fatigue, disinterest, and the desire to just stay in bed until I rot away. I didn't. I got up and made it to work, and made it to the gym. But boy howdy, it's not so much fun today. I did get a pretty good sweat in, and my endurance on my little ski trip to nowhere on the elliptical has improved. I would absolutely love to have either of these machines in my living room. No one wants to look at anyone else in the gym, especially the red-faced guy in the red hoodie who looks like he's going to keel over after only ten minutes of elliptical. So, why do I have that spine tingle that someone is watching me? Maybe it's all the mirrors.

The food temptations have started. This is how my fat guy brain works: for the first few days of watching what I eat, I'm not even interested in sweets, or lurid carb snacking. I'm all fired up, and can't be bothered. But about now is when I start having to slap my own hand when it reaches reflexively for some wayward ball of sugar. A nice young barista offered me a sample today, one of those little paper shotglasses filled with a hazlenut mocha something or other. I actually reached out, touched the thing, said "Thank you" and then my brain turned on and said, "You're not ingesting that, you moron!" I think the choice in words and the Jeff Garlin strain of the voice in my head means I've been watching too much of "The Goldbergs." I gave it back.

Want to hear something sad? My reason for giving it back was a hastily stammered, "Uh, I've got a nut...thing." Except, the thing of it is, I was at the grocery store (the Starbucks is inside the store), and my cart literally had a bag of almonds in it. I don't know why I don't want to tell people that I'm on a diet. Maybe I don't want that thing that large folks get when they start advertising that they are on a diet. That look of a little too much enthusiasm followed by something like, "Well, good for you!" I like telling other people like me, who react by sighing heavily like someone just died, and saying, "Well, whaddyagonna do?"

Further, a real sweetheart of a coworker left some Easter eggs on everyone's desk. Not only were mine filled with chocolate, I also won a voucher for five bucks at our team's little concession stand. I never win anything, and now? NOW?! Now I win a bunch of goodies that are going directly into my desk drawer. I chose to lock it up and eat the key. Why couldn't I win the big lottery ticket raffle from last month instead?

Food has been creeping back. Homemade tacos for dinner last night wasn't the most responsible thing in the world, but the portion was reduced, and even then they were light on the meat. I ate four street-style tacos (just beef, onion, cilantro, and green salsa) and some black beans, but I felt like I had eaten a pound of beef in one swallow. I need to keep a lid on not just the food itself, but how I eat it. In terms of snacks, I've taken to eating raw mushrooms as a sort of replacement for chips, crackers, or any type of "you can't have just one" snack. It works pretty well, especially since Rosely and the kids hate mushrooms. I'm something of a squirrel when it comes to snack stashes, and the thought of my baggie of mushrooms in the afternoon is keeping me from eating chicken parms in the office cafe all week.

I feel like crap. My stomach is a little achy, either from too much taco meat last night or not enough of it today, depending on your point of view. My legs haven't been sore until today. And I feel dehydrated, but that's because I needed an extra cup of coffee to make it through a meeting. I can never quite get a handle on Thursdays, I tell you. But it's okay, I'm sure I can power through this, and on Saturday I'm going camping and having a damn hot dog. But just one! And I promise to bury it under lots and lots of greens and mushrooms.

"The Goldbergs" Season 1, Episodes 9-12


No one can pick up the USS Flagg, Beverly.

And now we have guest stars! Dan Fogel as irresponsible Uncle Marvin, who drives a Delorean. Thanksgiving is kind of in the backseat of the episode, which focuses more on brothers Murray and Marvin and brothers Barry and Adam. I thought, with Marvin's apparent financial windfall and Adam's upset win in "Ball Ball" in the den, that the common theme would be how little brothers have to grow past the expectations of the older brother, or something. Instead, Marvin's Delorean is revealed as the shitbox it really was, and his new business is literally a pyramid scheme. So, I guess the moral is that brotherhood is always a study in balance. A balance of power, or responsibility, or just having each other's back.

I was just about to start bemoaning a conspicuous lack of episodes featuring Erica, and lo and behold we get a classic 1980s mall episode. Wait, no...never mind. It's a Beverly and Barry episode masquerading as an Erica episode. But still a pretty good one that dovetails off the already established running gag of Beverly's willingness to make a scene over a ten percent discount. Barry's bad luck and Pops trying to break him of it is pretty elaborate for a B-plot.

Luckily, we do finally get a big Erica moment at the talent show in Episode 11. I feel bad for Hayley Orrantia, week after week being the Abbot to everyone else's Costello, but Erica's nervous rendition of a treasured Pat Benatar tune was just the proud moment to unite the Goldberg family, which I maintain is when the show is at its best.

Episode 12 sees Adam literally growing up, and Pops figuratively growing up into his proper retirement. While Beverly steals her baby's epic 1980s toy collection back from the lucky little ingrate to whom he had gifted them, Murray's habit of taking the path of least resistance in every familial interaction blows up in his face. A thing about these Goldbergs, only when they are confronted directly do they manage to correct their behavior. Here I finally realize who the true heroes of the show are: the prop masters and set decorators. Every toy and decoration of Adam's room, saturated by pop culture, feels genuine to me. But hey, I'm the guy who wrote a wistful 1,000-word remembrance of the gigantic GI Joe aircraft carrier.

If there's one thing I can give to the show, it's that Beverly's antics are usually the plot catalyst. Too often television dads are the ones with wacky schemes, unhealthy obsessions, and delusions of grandeur, but here it is much more fun to see it from an indisputable rockstar of a mother.

Rating: B+

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