At the end of every episode of her J.V. Club podcast, Janet Varney plays MASH with the guest. If you’re a woman around my age, then I can’t imagine you not knowing what MASH is. For anyone else MASH is a game little girls play to forecast their future. In the version I played as a kid you usually gave 3 choices for categories such as who you were going to marry, what kind of car you would drive, how many kids you would have, what your job would be, etc. The MASH part stands for Mansion, Apartment, Shack, or House. In the little kid version of the game like with the addition of living in a shack as one of your potential futures, whoever you were playing with would also pick out something bad for you in each category. Janet doesn’t do that to her guests, so unless they pick something bad for themselves the worst thing they might wind up with is living in a shack.

Janet plays an updated version with her guests with mostly non-traditional categories. She has a standard rotation of categories that she uses, while changing them up and also adding categories that might be special for a particular guest based on who they are or the conversation they had leading up to the MASH game. It’s really fun to listen to every week, and the guests always get so excited about playing and hearing their “futures”. Since every week I think about the answers I would give, I thought it would be fun to take some of her standard categories and write my answers for them here on my blog.

A Food You Can Have Anytime You Want

This is Janet’s favorite category. She always uses it. It can be a general food like pizza or a very specific food perhaps something you can’t get easily or at all anymore. I decided to go with foods that I loved that were from restaurants that have gone out of business, so I can no longer get them.

1. Cheese Danish from New System Bakery – This was a bakery that was in my neighborhood for decades. It sadly went out of business a few years ago. I still miss it and am sad every time I walk by their abandoned location. I used to eat a cheese Danish from there every Saturday. I think what sets it apart for me is that it had more of a sweet bread base as opposed to the more flakey danish base that is typical of well danishes.

2. White pizza with tomato slices from Alyssa’s – Alyssa’s was a pizza/Indian place (For some reason there are a number of these in Baltimore. It’s an odd combo I’ve never seen anywhere else and in my experience the Indian food at them is lousy as you might expect.) in my neighborhood. They used to have 1/2 priced pizzas on Monday, and a group of my friends and I used to go every week. Even after that kind of fell by the wayside my husband and I still used to get pizza from there for ourselves most weeks. We always shared a white pizza with tomato slices. Their white pizza had sort of a garlic/olive oil sauce on it as opposed to the bechamel sauce you typically see and which I’m not that found of. It was a really good pizza and I still miss it.

3. Chicken Burrito from Curbside Cafe – Curbside Cafe was one of if not the first food truck in Baltimore. They only operated for a little over a year I think, then deciding that the food truck life was not for them. I heard them say they had no desire to spend another cold winter sitting in the truck, a sentiment I totally get. I do really miss their chicken burrito though. They used to park on my block for lunch on Thursdays, which was the day I didn’t go into work until 1:30, which meant that most Thursdays I treated myself to a burrito before a late night on the reference desk.

A Band that Writes the Soundtrack to Your Life

I’m amused now that I’m looking at the artists I put down. I seem to have a type in that all of these gentlemen play variations of music that I would consider to be southern, alt-country, folk rock type music. The second key for all of these is that they will play a mix of music both fast and slow because if you’re going to have someone creating a soundtrack for your life you’re going to want them to be able to write music to fit the mood.

1. Tom Petty – Tom Petty was the first person that popped into my head for this. I’ve loved him since I was a little kid. He’s the only artist whose music I’ve owned a box set of, and American Girl is my theme song. There is no way that Tom Petty was not my top choice for this.

2. Jason Isbell – If you’ve been reading this blog over the past year and half and somehow didn’t think that Jason Isbell was going on this list, you’re nuts. People can continue to ignore me, but I will still keep trying to tell you that Jason Isbell was one of the best singer-songwriters we have right now. I love him so much. Too bad I feel too guilty to drag my husband down to DC for a second time to see him this February after doing it last winter, and I somehow haven’t convinced any of the rest of you people that he is amazing.

3. Ryan Adams – I love me some Ryan Adams. He’s a crazy prolific songwriter, so I have no doubt he would be an excellent choice to soundtrack anyone’s life. He has a great mix of fun songs and more poignant songs. His songs also vary from rock to quieter songs. He would be brilliant.

Where You Have a Vacation Home

1. A lake house in the woods – I have always wanted a lake house with a dock and a little speedboat docked at it. I would love to have a place far enough way to feel like you’re getting away, but still near enough that you could go for a weekend. Stupid Maryland that has no natural lakes in it makes this somewhat of a pipe dream, but in my imaginary future I have this.

2. Bora Bora – I have never been to Bora Bora, so I may perhaps hate it there, but I doubt it. I chose this solely based on the awesome looking place they stay at in the film Couples Retreat. It is not a good movie, but the place they stay at in the movie looks amazing. It’s these cottages over the water where you could jump directly from the floor of your room into the clear blue water. I don’t have enough money in real life to stay somewhere like that, but in my fantasy life I do.

3. London – I love water, which is evident in my first two choices in this category. I decided to mix it up a little bit with the third. I have been to London a number of times including living there for a semester while studying abroad. It’s a city I love and which has affords me many of the cultural things that I love to do without the overwhelming crowdedness I feel when I’m in New York.

Your Celebrity Spouse

This category is full of people who I think are both attractive, whose roles in film and television I generally like, and from what I know of them I would like them in real life. If you know anything bad about any of them please don’t tell me because I don’t want to know.

1. Matt Bomer

2. Zachary Levi

3. John Cusack

Your Superpower

1. Go-Go Gadget-ness – As a shorty I always wanted to be able to reach things or see over things. In my head that always seemed to be like something that would be so easy to do if I could just say go-go gadget arms or legs and make myself taller or my arms longer.

2. Teleportation – I like visiting other places and there are lots of places I wish I could just pop into and out of to do a specific thing, but the time and money it would take to travel there makes it impossible do as much as I want. Being able to teleport places would make that so much easier.

3. Ability to be 2 Places at Once – It always seems that there are multiple things that crop up that I want to do that fall on the same day or I go to a music festival and the bands I want to see are playing at the exact same time. If I could have multiple mes that got to all go to different activities at the same time life would be so much easier, and I wouldn’t have to choose between multiple things that I want to do.

My Future

Playing the game through I have a mansion that is apparently a lake house. I’m not sure how that works, but I’ll take it. I can call up a chicken burrito from Curbside Cafe at any time I want while I listen to Ryan Adams play the soundtrack to my life. I’ll be doing all this with Zachary Levi, and we won’t have to worry about getting back and forth to wherever our lake mansion is because we can just teleport to get there.

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