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Season 6 of The Office is The Worst Season

Here’s the thing: like many Millennials who overly rely on pop culture “blankies” for comfort, I watch The Office constantly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cycled through the show, always watching from beginning to end, never picking random episodes. Part of the palliative magic of the show is the overarching narrative: watching Jim and Pam fall in love, Michael’s growth from the almost unwatchable cringe of Season One to the boss who cries with Jim on his last day in Scranton, Dwight ascending from ARM to Regional Manager, over and over and over again. It’s deeply comforting.

I might not know when I’ll get to visit my elderly parents again because of a global pandemic, but I do know that I will be dazzled by the slow burn of Jim and Pam’s love story every single time I watch it, and sometimes I need to forget everything but that.

But even as a die-hard Dunderhead (my dad recently discovered this term in a bathroom reader and told me about it), there is one season that I positively dread during each re-watch cycle, and it’s not Season Eight, or Season Nine. (Yes, even with Season Nine Andy.) No, the worst season of The Office is Season Six.

It’s absurd that this season is able to fail so spectacularly, even when I take into account:

  • It actually starts out great with “Gossip”! That’s a really fun episode.
  • The aforementioned Seasons Eight and Nine
  • How much I adore Jim and Pam’s wedding
  • Date Mike and Recyclops, two of my absolute most favorite Office things
  • The fact that “Murder” is probably in my top five favorite episodes

Despite of all that working in its favor, I still struggle to watch Season Six every time it comes around, and here are some reasons why:

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: “Scott’s Tots” is a 100% unwatchable episode. We all know and acknowledge this universal truth. On top of the positively supernatural cringe factor (laptop batteries; really?!), not even the subplot is enjoyable. Dwight setting Jim up with the employee of the month prize is so contrived; I hate it, I can’t watch it, burn it with fire. This entire episode is so bad, so unwatchable, that it alone could bring down the season, I think.

But it had help. Plenty of help.

My next huge problem with this season is the Jim-as-co-manager plotline. The entire arc feels really out-of-character and awkward. Jim, whose entire personality revolves around being a slacker, is suddenly a task-master as co-manager? I hate him during the “Koi Pond” episode, and don’t get me started on the sheer ineptitude of deciding who to give raises to. WITH BOSTON BAKED BEANS. Absolutely none of this vibes with the Jim we’ve come to know and love, so it all feels wrong on a deep level. Nobody wants to watch bad-guy Jim, and we definitely don’t want to watch incompetent Jim.

Pam’s reaction to Michael dating her mom is extremely hard to watch. It’s not that it’s not understandable that she would be upset, but again, it feels out-of-character for her to be so mean about it. Are we supposed to blame pregnancy hormones? (I’ll admit; one bright spot comes from this episode: Michael’s face when he sees Toby teaching Pam how to throw a punch is a GEM.)

Michael appears to really like Erin for all the episodes up until “Secretary’s Day,” when he claims that he thinks she’s “kind of a rube.” It’s simply a terrible continuity error. He supposedly dislikes her so much that he doesn’t want to take her out to lunch, which is so ridiculous because all Michael ever wants to do, ever, is go to lunch with his employees. It’d be like if Leslie Knope suddenly turned down a waffle. It’s just fundamentally wrong for the character.

Now for some random, smaller issues:

  • I find the “Delivery” episodes to be way too long. They did not need to be a two-parter! Stretching these out just really feels like pandering to Middle America.
  • Dwight referring to Isabel as “a bumpkin” is SO WEIRD. This is Dwight Schrute, borderline-Amish beet farmer with an outhouse, calling someone else a bumpkin. It makes zero sense. Later on he almost gets engaged to “an actual milkmaid,” in his own words, but gorgeous, normal Isabel is “a bumpkin?” Okay, whatever, Season Six. Go home; you’re drunk.
  • Michael is so H O R R I B LE during the Christmas episode (when he gets angry about Phyllis getting to be Santa Claus). And I know the whole thing is that Michael is always horrible at Christmas and that’s the joke, but still. I find his Jesus thing funny for about one minute and then it gives me a headache.

There’s just so much that happens in Season Six that feels off. It’s not as much fun as the other seasons, and I dread watching it. Even “Murder” and Recyclops and CREED GRABBING HIS CROTCH WHILE DANCING DOWN THE AISLE can’t save it, which is a tragedy. Those moments all deserved better seasons. Kathy M-F-ing Bates deserved better.

All right, time for you to sound off. Do you agree? Disagree? You’re wrong if you disagree, but I’ll listen politely. Comment below with any of your Office Season 6 thoughts!


Why I Love Disc Golf

During the past few years of my life, I keep falling in love with things I never, ever thought I would be into. I spent years making fun of people who love the Grateful Dead, and now I’m a total Deadhead. You ask me my favorite Dead album, and I’m not gonna tell you a studio album; I’m going to name a specific performance recording by date and venue (Harpur College 1970). I even make a special trip to go see Dead & Company perform every summer (except this one, THANKS PANDEMIC). 

Same with NBA basketball; I haven’t been into pro sports since growing up in the Atlanta suburbs in the early 90s, when literally every single person was a Braves fanatic. Things changed in November of 2016 for, uh, reasons, and my husband and I threw ourselves into watching the Oklahoma City Thunder as a way to distract ourselves from the dumpster fire federal government. It was Russell Westbrook’s historic MVP year, and we fell HARD. I’m going on my fourth year of watching the Thunder religiously and I can’t imagine my life without the NBA now.

The latest of my unlikely loves is none other than disc golf. Yes, frolfing; the hippie sport much maligned by Pam Beesly (and turns out, disc golfers hate when you call it “frolf.”) I don’t entirely know how it happened; my husband tried a few rounds with a friend and then implored me to try it with him. I was dubious but went along for the ride, and I ended up loving it. 

I not only fell for disc golf; I’ve become a total disc golf evangelist. That’s why I’m writing this blog post about Why I Love Disc Golf, along with the soon-to-come second part, Why Disc Golf Is The Perfect Pandemic Activity. Let’s get to the list!

1. Low overhead: My husband and I have talked about trying golf for years, but it’s a real financial commitment. Clubs, shoes (or the cost of renting them), green fees, and then possibly finding out that you don’t even like the sport after spending all of that money. It’s just a big risk to take to try a sport that might not work out for you. Disc golf, however, is hardly a risk at all. If you know a disc golfer, you could ask them to borrow some discs (that’s how my husband tried it out), or you can buy yourself a starter set of discs for around 25 bucks and you’ll be set. A basic starter set of discs will include a driver, a mid-range, and a putter, but don’t worry about knowing what that means. If you just Google “disc golf starter disc set” you’ll find plenty of ready-made and affordable options. Speaking of affordable…

2. Free to play (usually): Most disc golf courses are totally free to use, just sitting adjacent to (or integrated with) one of your local city parks. Just search for disc golf courses near you, and you’ll probably find at least one option, if not several. There are paid courses out there, but there are more free ones, and the free ones are great. It’s so casual, too; you just show up, find the first hole, and get to it!

3. Easy to try: You can either have an experienced disc golf friend show you the ropes or just look up some beginning disc golf videos on YouTube to figure out how to play. Sure, you’re not going to look like a pro right out the gate, but you can learn enough to get on the course in just a few minutes. Watch a video or two on form, a video on which discs to use and when (generally, you’ll use your driver first, your mid-range second, and your putter last), and read up on the general rules of the game, and you’ll be ready to go in no time. I know you might be worried about making a fool of yourself, but luckily…

4. It’s an extremely welcoming community!: I have yet to feel like I’m unwelcome at a disc golf course as a beginner. Sure, I might feel nervous about making a putt if there’s a group playing within eyeshot, but it’s not because I actually feel like they’re judging me. It’s just my own nerves and perfectionism kicking in. The disc golf community is seriously a great group of folks; if they see you wandering around on the course looking confused, they’re kind enough to ask if you’re looking for the next tee and point you in the right direction. It’s kind of a hippie-ish sport, and the people who play are pretty chill, like you’d expect. Even if you’re a woman, which brings me to my next point…

5. Women are welcome and also competitive: Women are not looked down upon in disc golf at all. It’s one big happy family, the more the merrier. Women do compete separately (not always) but it’s mostly a mechanics thing; they just don’t have the strength that men do, so they’re going to have a higher stroke count. There are, however, exceptions to that rule; Paige Pierce and Catrina Allen are just two of the absolutely badass women disc golfers who are entirely capable of giving the men a run for their money, and they are highly respected. Again, as a woman, I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. I love the sport, so I belong.

6. It’s athletic, but not intense: I mean, it can be intense, especially if you’re competing. And if you try to play full rounds a couple of days in a row, you’ll get sore enough to realize that it’s definitely a legitimate sport. But really, disc golf can be pretty chill, and you don’t have to be a super athlete (or an athlete at all) to start playing. It’s kind of like hiking or walking in the park, but with a game along the way. And you have to use your mind as much as your body when you’re strategizing your drives or planning your approach to the basket. 

7. It’s super fun for travel: My husband and I love to take road trips to hike at national parks, wildlife refuges, and state parks, but adding disc golf to our repertoire has really opened up our travel options!. Now we can look for fun disc golf courses to try when we want to hit the road, and as a travel activity, disc golf is immersive rather than touristy. You can really get to know a place and its landscape by disc golfing, and you’ll fit right in with the locals on the course. Unless you can’t find the next hole, but again, other disc golfers will help you out in a jiffy.

I really can’t recommend disc golf enough! If you’re curious about it, seriously, just get out there and give it a try. I’ve sprinkled links throughout this post, but I’m going to list some resources down below if you want to learn more. Please comment if you have any questions, or tell me if you’re a disc golfer, too! And watch for my next post on why disc golf is the perfect pandemic activity.

JomezPro: Fun YouTube channel with tournament coverage, tutorials, and more.

UDisc App on Google Play and Apple: Great, free resource to look up courses near you, keep score, rate courses, and more.

Definitive Guide to Disc Golf Book: Straightforward, enjoyable book of the history of disc golf, how to play, etc.

Brodie Smith YouTube channel: Brodie Smith is an Ultimate Frisbee Champion who has switched to playing disc golf. He has a lot of fun videos to watch of him and his hilarious, adorable wife, Kelsey, out on the course together. It’s an inspirational look behind the scenes of a beginner who is improving his skills fast.

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In Somewhat Belated Defense of “Murder Hornets”

Consider this my “Leave Britney alone” moment. But with bugs.

There’s a lot of news these days to have a rage stroke over, but the one that really got me was “murder hornets.”

I mean, I found myself stewing over “murder hornets.” I started conversations on G-chat with the ominous lead-in: “Can I go on a rant real quick?” I monopolized dinner conversations with my already-quarantine-weary husband who was just trying to watch some Try Guys videos in peace. Even thinking about it now, after a couple of weeks, I’m starting to grind my teeth.

Let me take you back to a moment in time: It’s July in the Texas panhandle, and to say it’s “hot” is an understatement of monumental proportions. Also of monumental proportions was mine and my husband’s hubris in thinking we should try some real hot weather camping and then choosing Caprock Canyons State Park soon after Independence Day for the venue.

We had a lot of surprises in store that weekend: Suffering through the hottest hike we’ve ever done, I learned that sometimes it’s so unbearably sweltering outside that you might not be able to outpace heat exhaustion, no matter how much water and Gatorade you guzzle. I was pouring liquids down my throat almost constantly and yet I still ended up feeling sick for the next 24 hours. Once we got off the godforsaken trail and started trudging our way along the park road back to our campsite, absolutely desperate to hop in our car and blast the A/C for a few environmentally irresponsible minutes, we happened across a bison.

Living in Oklahoma, this was nowhere near the first bison that we’d encountered, but this one was different. Standing by the shimmering asphalt road, chewing the cud in the blazing heat, and staring directly at us, it was clear that this bison wasn’t in the mood for our shit. This bison was pissed off, the vibe rolled off him in waves, and we weren’t going to push our luck by trying to pass.

So we stood by the side of the road in a standoff with the bison we came to refer to as Beavis. Beavis chewed and chewed, never flicking his malevolent gaze away from us. I had thought there wasn’t anything that could keep me from the precious air conditioning waiting in the Subaru, but turns out, the threat of death by goring would do it.

After about ten minutes, we saw a little coupe approaching, and it’s a testament to our desperation that even as two introverts living in a culture that won’t even make phone calls to friends without a warning text, we shamelessly flagged these strangers down and begged for a ride past Beavis. “Please, our campsite is just over there in the north loop,” we panted. The middle-aged couple inside kindly obliged and dropped us off down the road at our car (my cheeks were so red that the woman, a nurse, expressed profound concern for my condition) where we jumped inside, cranked up, and moaned obscenely as the chilly air hit our faces held against the vents.

Nature is a bitch, basically, and it’s ridiculous to think we have any control against her. Whether she decides to send you ungodly heat, a curmudgeonly bison obstacle, or a global pandemic, your only real option is to stand down and say “uncle!” You just have to deal with what she doles out the best way you can.

That morning before setting out on the trail, I spotted a glint of iridescent green in the desert scrub outside the campsite clearing. “Hey,” I yelled at my husband, who was fiddling with a tent stake. “Come look at this giant beetle!”

J made his way over and peered at the specimen crawling through the grass, only to jump back almost immediately. “Get away from it,” he warned. “That’s not a beetle. It’s a wasp.”

“What?” Instead of backing up like he had suggested, I leaned forward for another look at the shockingly large insect. Sure enough, the giant wings were tucked down close to the body, similar to a cockroach, which is why I was fooled. Upon closer examination, however, there was no mistaking the menacing stinger curled beneath the bug’s backside as it crawled over the dirt. I turned tail then and got the hell away.

The wasp, J informed me, was a tarantula hawk. The only reason he knew about it was because he had recently watched a YouTuber intentionally sustain a sting to demonstrate the effects of the purported second-most painful insect sting in the world. Being stung by a tarantula hawk is so incredibly debilitating that experts recommend simply lying down on the ground and screaming until the pain passes, usually in about 15 minutes. Seriously. It hurts so much that it’s actually dangerous for a person to remain on their feet because they’re likely to trip and fall and injure themselves further. Stop, drop, and scream; that’s the official advice.

It was alarming to find out that this diminutive visitor was capable of such destruction, but the tarantula hawk continued on his merry way, seemingly unaware that he had scared the shit out of a couple of humans. They’re called tarantula hawks, by the way, due to their enormous size and also because of their prey. The wasps paralyze tarantulas, drag them back to their lairs, and lay an egg on the spider’s abdomen. The tarantula hawk larva, once hatched, then feeds on the spider, careful to keep it alive for as long as possible. It’s total horror movie shit.

They’re elusive and rare – the naturalist in the video I linked above had to go looking for one in the desert for a couple of days – but we somehow ran up on another one during our hell hike an hour or so later. This one was flying, so it was even more frightening, but ultimately it went on its way, unconcerned with us. We aren’t tarantulas, and we’re too heavy to drag back to their burrow.

Back to the “murder hornets.” As soon as I started seeing the headlines (and they must have been everywhere for me to see them; I am extremely news-averse), I knew that something was up. Even a cursory glance over the news articles proved what I suspected: that this was a blatant attempt to cultivate fear (and thus generate fear-clicks) in a populace that’s already crippled by existential terror and anxiety.

The articles trumpeted death tolls from these “murder hornets” (real name: Asian giant hornet) of around 50 per year, but really glided over the part about how those deaths were primarily from allergic reactions, not from homicidal intent or any intrinsic murderousness of the sting itself. It’s like calling them “murder peanuts” because of potentially fatal allergic reactions. It’s ridiculous.

Yes, there are valid concerns about the arrival of Asian giant hornets in the U.S., mostly because of the threat to bees, who already have enough to fucking worry about.

I guess after encountering our own, native tarantula hawks in the wild, I have a healthy respect for giant, terrifying stinging insects with the potential to cause immense pain. They are truly not trying to “murder” us; they just want to be left alone.

I’m not saying they can’t be devastating (or even fatal to some); I’m saying that the threat is actually so limited. You’re not going to run across an Asian giant hornet or a tarantula hawk while walking down the street (unlike a certain virus #WEARAMASK).

If you’re going to run into a potentially deadly wasp or hornet, it’s probably going to be during an ill-advised hike in the extreme heat, and in that case, you’re already fucked because you went out in the Texas desert in July. That’s on you.

That’s nature, folks.


Zucchini Bowtie Pasta

Do you have a go-to recipe? You know, the one that you’ve made so many times, you’ve not only memorized it, but you don’t even have to *think* about it anymore? The one you could make in your sleep?

This is that recipe for me. It looks unassuming, yes, but I have yet to serve it to someone who did not immediately ask for the recipe.

My mouth is watering.

This is a perfect recipe if you do #MeatlessMonday, especially if you, like me, try to force vegetarian recipes on an unwilling family. My half-British husband who, true to his lineage, loves nothing more than meat with gravy on it, loves this pasta. Everyone loves this pasta!

Zucchini Bowtie Pasta

  • 16 oz farfalle pasta
  • 1 lb zucchini, shredded
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of shredded parmesan (see tips & tricks)
  • salt to taste

Cook pasta in a large pot according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted and the oils are starting to form tiny bubbles, saute the zucchini for 3 minutes. Then add the minced garlic and saute for one minute. Add the crushed red pepper and saute for one minute. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.

Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Add around half of the pasta to the skillet and mix with the sauteed zucchini, then add all of that back to the pasta pot. Stir all the pasta and zucchini together. Add half of your shredded parmesan cheese to the pasta, stir to combine, and then stir in the remaining cheese. Salt to taste and serve!

Sauteeing the zucchini

Tips & tricks:

– You may shred your zucchini by using a cheese grater (large holes) or a food processor with a shredding attachment.
– Packaged shredded parmesan will do the trick, but if you really want to elevate this dish, buy a chunk of decent parm and shred it yourself with the cheese grater. You won’t regret it. You don’t even need to buy the super fancy stuff.
– I’m going to clarify this just to be sure: this recipe calls for *shredded* parmesan, NOT grated parmesan. As in, do not even LOOK at the plastic container of powdered parmesan cheese. That is not the cheese you’re looking for. *waves hand to perform Jedi mind trick* Seriously, though, you can buy shredded parmesan in the refrigerated aisle with the other shredded cheese at most stores. Or, again, you can shred it yourself.
– Do not accidentally buy cucumber instead of zucchini. I did that once, and somehow got through the entire recipe without realizing my mistake, and it was disgusting.

Okay, seriously, get thee to the store for ingredients and make this pasta! You will not regret it!