Monday, September 28, 2009

The Beginning of Letting Go

I'm back to the blog. Why is this always such a long road for me? I spend my days thinking in prose with plans to write the definitive treatise on grief or saying good bye to my baby on her first day of school, but instead of writing I circle the computer, surfing Facebook, writing clever emails, and yelling at the Internet, feeling so uneasy that I won't even open my blog to have a look at what I last wrote about. A reminder of what I hadn't done. And here I am - finally - with more meta about writing. Or not writing. Maybe a treatise on writing about not writing is my niche. But let's have a go at the other stuff anyway.

I last wrote in May about the crazy my house was under. The summer in contrast, was calm and happy, laced together by my divine daughters dodging sprinklers, dock fishing and wave jumping. The summer between baby and big girl. Those beach towel cuddles growing ever less common. And then summer ended the way it does, with the first day of school. Up early, the girls put on their special first-day-of- school dresses and I braided their hair. We went outside for pictures; Mimi with her worried smile. And off we went. And a little bit of my heart stayed behind.

When I pick up Violet at school, she races into my arms and presses her cheek to mine, still fully surprised and thrilled to see me. It is the high point of my day. It is a primordial hug. It feels like the reason I was born. That's a lot for a 30 second hug, but this is my baby and she isn't home with me anymore and that makes me cry a little some days. She is so shy and I worried so much, but she's happy in school. She shares the stories of her day with such brightness and joy, sending my gut flip flopping with melancholy and satisfaction.

When I pick up Mimi at school, she flops her backpack and lunch at my feet, starts explaining why she didn't eat and can she go to the park and she's hungry and thirsty and hot and cold. Before all of this, I peek at her and see that serious face. So inside her own head. There are few running, leaping hugs from this one. It's the age maybe or the kid. She sat on my lap on the train recently and it occurred to me how rarely I get to hold her anymore. I also had a flash of missing Mimi the baby, the one that wasn't so complicated. The one that didn't need to clean up her own mess or figure out how to read and pronounce the, when th comes out zuh. The one that didn't get the impatient end of my patience.

This one sings school songs with her sister though and admits mistakes to her friends, inviting them to play after previously excluding them. She has held on to our secret mission to get frozen yogurt with a precious persistence, and she made a bookmark for a new friend, telling her she could change out the stickers or color it a different color if she wanted to. She's magic and mayhem.

I'm holding on and they are scrambling down my legs to go play. I push them out the door and they cry to stay home. Holding on and letting go.

Regina Spektor, rad singer, philosopher and writing muse, sings a deceptively peppy song about taking the best of what you are, loving it and then putting it into someone else's heart, and then doing it again and again. We listen to Regina while I cook dinner, which is a happy time of day for me, and as is often the condition with parenting, I don't think of Adam when I hear these lyrics (he who has so gracefully carried the best and the worst of me in his heart for 13 years), I think of Mimi and Violet.

I am home alone now. I am here to get a life of my own now. But their faces are always in front of me. I have tucked myself into their bursting hearts and now I wait.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blame Greensboro

My poor blog. I've let it down so. It was there for me. It was called Back to Me! It was a symbol of my reemergence into grown-up life. A life that included things like writing and, um, watching TV and cooking bulgur. Well, it's a symbol for sure. A symbol that the shit that moves me isn't necessarily the shit that comes first. (Clearly, I've honed my exposition skills since my last entry.)

When I wrote those early entries so full of excitement about the year and the start back to being a whole person, someone who might someday work at something other than raising decent children, I didn't anticipate that it might be something else that derailed me.

Did any of you ever find yourself with a man so good that you forget how good he is? You forget about the same train he takes to the same job every day to sit at the same desk to bring home the same bacon every day. The bacon he fries up every Saturday so you can sleep in? Did you ever flip through pictures of your kids as babies and see that look on your good man's face? The one that says, damn, this is a great kid. I've got a man like that.

And he's trying to figure out how to leave his cleats on the field. And this maybe means leaving our comfort zones. And we talk about this everyday. And my head could explode. And it's hard to write.

I probably shouldn't chat up Adam's life anymore than I already have, but needless to say, having endless conversations about big change is a lot easier than committing to it.

Some facts:

Am I spoiled princess that likes my yellowfin and lattes? A little bit.

Am I also 34-years old with two children and no career to speak of? Check.

Am I also trying to figure out how to be more than that. Check. (Well, I've perfected aging. It's the career part that is supposed be to going somewhere.)

Do I obsessively worry about this, but actually do very little to change? Very much so yes. And so does Adam. Obsess that is. You see how the endless conversations might be, oh, endless.

Am I doing that right now? Of course.

Do I want to leave my cleats on the field too? Some days more than others.

Does this cause a domestic collide? Some days more than others.

I've got this kid and she's 4 and she's quirky as hell and she yells 'scramble!' when you least expect it and she treats minor injuries like impalements, but during the free dance portion of her ballet class, she totally lets go. She feels the music. She uses the whole space. She's understands how to release her body and just be. She's free.

Around our house lately we've had a tough time being free.

We want more. More time; more creativity; more doing; more space. Less of the same-o. A little more life in our life. And maybe Adam wants it more than I do. For today, at least. And it casts a shadow. And so we turn away from the conversation and proceed as we have. The life we have is pretty nice and we are damn lucky. But soon we are going to feel the music and let go. Soon. At the very least, I know we will talk about doing it.

In honor of my birthday and all the agita 'round the house, plus the general wackadooness and code-talking in this post, I think a little Dr. Seuss is in order:

If we didn't have birthdays, you wouldn't be you.
If you'd never been born, well then what would you do?
If you'd never been born, well then what would you be?
You might be a fish! Or a toad in a tree!
You might be a doorknob! Or three baked potatoes!
You might be a bag full of hard green tomatoes!
Or worse than all that.....
Why you might be a WASN'T.
A Wasn't has no fun at all. No he doesn't.
A Wasn't just isn't. He just isn't present.
But you..... You ARE YOU!
And now isn't that pleasant?

In blogging news (yes, I am reinstating this feature): IDOL!!!! And FNL, Gossip Girl and maybe sad, dying Izzie and George.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Going, going

Aw, Riggins. You break my heart. 

You want it all — in that Dillon, Tx kind of way. You want the hero worship that comes with football. You want to not be the guy that's stuck in Dillon. You want the gorgeous girl. And bless your deep waters, you want to grow old sitting next to your brother at his chop shop, even if he literally takes a leak in the sink when the bathroom is occupied. 

After the Panthers lost the State Championships, our boy Tim took a few minutes to leave his cleats on the field. It was a hand on the heart moment. These characters are too real. This is all our lives. We come and we go and we break and we heal and we fuck up and we wonder who we are and where we fit and you can put us on Mars or in Dillon, Texas and we still want to do something and leave our cleats on the field and say, I was here and I did this and it changed me.

Want and change were certainly the themes of this episode. Tyra wrote the college essay to slay all college essays with the help of her good knight Lance Landry. Her dreams for her future had the weight and passion that I think is often missing from people who feel trapped and can't imagine their lives anywhere else. Her mom's pep talk last week, allowing that Tyra would and could surprise them and be more than a pretty face, was hopefully ringing in her ears. Her mom isn't much, but she got that right. The last line of her essay: "I can't wait." Go Tyra. 

As Landry was helping Tyra organize her thoughts, I (actually Adam) wondered if he would become a teacher and I think it fits. Landry is a very smart and kind kid. Maybe a bit of a pushover, but I'm sure Tyra repays him in sexual favors, since they did hook-up again in this episode. I assume that wouldn't happen with other students.

Also, Landry getting a touchdown was exactly as it should be. Sometimes I think it's a good idea for good things to happen to good people. Go Landry. 

What does JD want? The push-pull with his dad and his coach is tearing him up. Saracen got pulled in as QB for the second half of the championship game, because JD couldn't get his head in the game. He's furious at Coach and scared of his father and for his father, since CPS paid the family a visit. Tami was legally obligated to drop a dime on the McCoy parents following Joe's temper tantrum on JD's face. I felt for Tami. I think she wanted the chance to counsel the family and help them through what she hoped was a one time thing. I'm not sure where I stand. 

In this case it further pissed off Joe. Alienated JD from Coach and ended Tami's friendship with Katie. And that doesn't help anyone. In other cases, maybe it would be the intervention that a family in crisis needed. It looks like in the next episode Joe goes after the whole Taylor clan. I'm looking forward to seeing how Coach handles that one. Go Coach?

Last episode of the season coming up this week.  

Now what am I going to talk about ...

Oh, Lost! How amazing was Evangeline Lily last week? The sobbing at Aaron's bedside did me in. So good. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Resolution and Blog Check-Up

I am overdue for recaps. Clearly, I have become a bit bored writing them, hence the weekly delays. It's not that I don't love FNL and GG anymore. In fact, the last two episodes of Friday Night Lights have been outstanding.

The McCoy family has been fertile ground for all sorts of mind-blowing acting. I couldn't have been more wrong about poor, little JD. And I think Coach knows a little something about being JD. I think maybe Coach's dad wasn't so different from Joe. Just a hunch. Also, Janine Turner is killing. Seriously, she is perfect. Between bad TV movies and eye drop commercials, I forgot what this chick was capable of, but Maggie O'Connell broke my heart a thousand times, so I shouldn't be surprised.

I was very moved by her scene with Tami after Joe hit JD. She was just as surprised as we were (never mind that the previews show too much). She isn't afraid of Joe and he doesn't bully her. She speaks her mind; tells him to cool off, and as much as she might try to protect JD from his father's intensity, we have never been given the impression that she was choosing Joe over JD's safety in the typical TV-abuse arc. She really didn't see where it was headed, which made the whole horrible mess that much more brutal. In good news, FNL has been renewed! Hopefully, the great writing will continue as some characters move on.

Gossip Girl hasn't been so great lately, actually. There is something missing. It's not as fun. Blair and Nate have no chemistry, which makes them boring to watch. Although, Chuck and Vanessa do, which helps. Rufus has discovered information three weeks in a row, by reading someone else's mail, which is really pathetic. The writers seriously can't think of any other way for him to find something out? I don't have much else to say about GG right now. Maybe that's why no recap?

Quick American Idol shout-out: Adam Lambert is the one to watch. His version of "Tracks of My Tears" was the best performance of the season and one of the best on Idol ever. I like him in queeny mode too, but this broken-down version of a song we have all heard a 1000 times really laid him bare and made him a lock for finals. Now that I have someone to watch on Idol, I can get interested. Of course, the fact that it is on at the same time as Lost is still a problem. (Speaking of Lost: Holy shit, Sayid!)*

And now a recap of my resolutions. I'm scared.

1) Write at least 3x a week.

I was doing really well with this one for about five weeks and then it dropped to 1-2 times a week. I can still crank it out and enjoy it if I actually. open. the. damn. file. and start writing. It's getting from Facebook to there that keeps tripping me up.

I actually have a lot I'm mulling right now and I'm trying to figure out if I want to say it here. One of my favorite bloggers, that is also a mom, has been writing a lot about figuring out the woman inside the mother (she says it with much less cheese than that). This is on my mind too. Everything gets so mixed up in marriage and parenting and loving people, that it requires a surgical instrument to separate out what part of all of that is still, well, me, and frankly, sometimes I think I approach the project with a hatchet. Anyway.

2) Send one pitch a month to some sort of magazine about something.

Haven't done this. Need $. Will try harder.

3) Do 20 squats and 20 lunges everyday.

I actually have started doing this! Well, sort of. I've added weights, and plank exercises that I'm sure I'm doing wrong, that could almost make me cry, but I'm doing them! I've been enjoying working out lately, so that's a resolution I can be happy about.

4) With Mark Bittman's new cookbook, Food Matters, serving as inspiration, and to be both frugal and healthy — I want to cook more vegetarian meals. This is counter to Adam's resolution at birth to eat meat with every meal, so we will see how it goes. 4a) Cook more. 4b) Plan the week's menu every Sunday and try to use what is in the freezer. 4c) Go an entire month without eating out or ordering in or buying any food other than groceries and Starbucks (I have to live!). I think April is the designated month.

Wow, that was a big one. I am cooking a lot, using what I have on hand and being a conscientious shopper, and I've tried to make more whole grain dishes — I'm all about the bulgar salads these days. (It's like the oldest wheat ever.) I wouldn't say though that we are eating more vegetarian, and it's not even Adam's fault. It seems I am quite carnivorous. I will keep trying — after this week's Mexican pot roast, that is.

Alas, tomorrow is April 1st, which is when I am technically supposed to start my 'only eating in' experiment. I'm not sure I'm in the head-space to make this happen. Let's take it day by day, shall we.

5) Learn HTML.

Still just strike-throughs

6) Do more crafty stuff and baking with the kids. Winter-behavior has already started, and I want them to live to see spring.

The girls did live to see spring and they do help me cook a bit. Seriously though, they do enough crafts at school to fill half a closet. Literally.

* I didn't love Adam Lambert's performance tonight as much as last week. Not sure who I loved tonight.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bad Blair

This was the episode with Bad Blair, who sits in her negligee and drinks whiskey with scuzzy guy. Bad Blair also wears hot Herve Leger dresses and spills society secrets. But really now, Bad Blair and Everyday Blair are more or less the same. Obsessed with college; teasing Chuck; being a bitch to everyone? That's the same Blair as before, right? I think we are supposed to believe that in some universe, Blair was a good girl, but all of that was back when Serena was a bad girl. Hey, Gossip Girl, we weren't watching the show before it was, um, on television.

After all of the ridiculousness about Yale, I actually feel bad that Blair is college-less, although I can't believe that Constance Billard would let her only apply to one place. Also, the hazing of a teacher thing is so bogus. She gave Rachel the wrong time for the opera! And the whole "Dan Humphrey did the teacher thing," while not technically true at the time, was obviously prescient. That should count for something. I don't believe 99% of colleges would give a flying headband what Blair did.

Bad Blair — who kind of morphed into Sad Blair — hooking up with Happy Nate is an interesting development I suppose. His pep talk to her was very sweet and was the most Nate has spoken in months. I think he represents stability and comfort to Blair, which she is craving right now. This was all happening while Nate was reconciling with his blindingly rich grandfather, who apparently ditched him after the minor life-hiccup of Nate's coke-head dad losing all their money, running away to the Islands, leaving his family as squatters and ultimately going to jail. Nice one, Grandpa.

After a touch football game, in which I expected to see their blood run blue, and some group hugs, Nate got sucked back into the rich family vortex and left Vanessa and their planned Eastern Europe backpacking trip for an internship with Mayor Bloomberg. From what I can tell, Nate can barely read, so I'm not sure what he is going to do for the Mayor. It was nice to see him happy and in possession of an actual storyline though. He and Chuck are going to step though. Chuck wants Blair bad. Bad enough to turn down her offer for cheap, public sex at the Vandy mansion. He loves her. Awwww.

Who else was in the episode? There was an idiotic story about Rufus and Lily making lists of their past conquests. Lily's included Slash and Trent Reznor. Rufus' included 13 people, which is about as believable as two adult parent(ish) — where the f is Eric?— people making lists like this. Serena has probably slept with more people than Rufus. If Dan Humphrey keeps bedding the faculty, he could be up to 13 in no time. I was kind of happy that Lily didn't apologize or try to make too nice with Rufus. He's such a baby.

Dan Humphrey inexplicably got invited to all of Nate's family functions and can apparently play football. Not to mention ask his sister for something cold to put on his sore ankle! When I was Jenny's age I would have required payment to remit that sort of assistance for my brothers.

Dan Humphrey also got slapped by Serena for the costume-closet incident with Rachel. I've been thinking about these two and I feel kind of ripped off. They had this great courtship and sweet romance and one mad and one sad break up and since then have had lame reconciliations followed by lame break-ups with lame lovers in between. I know this is the model for the teen show, but it's sucking the wind out of Danrena.

Rumor on the Internets is that Serena is going to tap her inner Anne Hathaway and get involved with someone interested in creative financing. Timely yes, but I'm sure Dan Humphrey will save the day and we will have another tepid reunion to take us into the summer. I'm a bit like the GOP about this, I have no better ideas, just venting.

It looks like next week real life loves Vanessa and Chuck are going to attempt to make Nate and Blair jealous by hooking up. Jesus, I sure hope this group uses protection. Chuck alone could cause a terrible outbreak.

Sorry this recap is so late. I'll do better next week. Or not. xoxo

Monday, March 23, 2009

Status Updates

I'm just going to launch into this one without a lot of preamble. We all know what status updates are, even though it's called sharing now. We all know my blog is having an identity crisis, so let's play along. (And please allow a little creative license, while I stretch this conceit beyond the point where it makes any sense.)

Sarah is doing a lot of research about Greensboro, Alabama. Intrigued? Stay tuned.

Sarah is just finished a most annoying, but nicely written book, Breakable You, by Brian Morton. Am I losing my tolerance for reading books about middle class New Yorkers that are miserable?

Sarah is also not sure why she battled through Netherland. It was the 5-page long descriptions of cricket that did me in. At least Breakable You was an easy read.

Sarah is in need of a book she is going to love.

Sarah is worried about Sawyer's goodness.

Sarah is frustrated by Idol.

Sarah is happy that Grey's Anatomy seems to be making a comeback.

Sarah is in love with these chilean lime chips. They are cooked in avocado oil, which means they have 30% less fat than your average chip. Avocados are really good for you; chips are fun and these are really, really tasty. Super-salty, tangy, crispy and great with sandwiches. I promise they don't taste like cardboard. One caveat, the bags are smaller than an average chip bag, so the risk of eating the whole bag is high. Unfortunately, doing this would still be around 80 billion calories of chip consumption, despite their 'healthiness."

Sarah is counting the above item as a product review.

Sarah is obsessed with this perfect sandwich:

Soft grainy bread

Soft avocado, spread on one piece of bread
Goat cheese spread on the other piece of bread (if I don't have goat cheese, I just slice up gruyere or cheddar)
A couple slices of tomato
A few pieces of pancetta cooked until crispy

Smush it all together and eat. You can add egg for extra yumminess and obviously take out the pancetta for meat-free action.

Sarah is sure that TV bloopers watched on YouTube are the cure for any bad mood. The Seinfeld bloopers are really great.

Sarah is happy her husband is home.

Sarah is happy she blogged today and thinks she will do it again tomorrow.

And yes, I would like to share.

*photo by Adam Saynuk at StudioSaynuk

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mimi and Violet and Coach and Dan Humphrey, oh my

With the mister still out of town, my lazy blogging has veered towards blog-negligence. I endure though and instead offer small summaries of the goings on in my life and on television. This requires thinking and writing in tiny doses. Single motherhood has exhausted me, so tiny doses are good.

First, a shout out to my daughters. I'll admit that when Adam left for his trip I feared for my sanity, but they have been sweet and helpful and understanding that the schedule is a little different and Mommy a little more tired. Violet has slept with me most nights and even with her feet in my neck I love the softness of her sweet self there next to me when I lean over to hit the snooze button 5 times every morning.

This morning when I dropped Mimi off at school, she was already sitting at a table intently cutting out a shamrock before I had even left the classroom, and my heart ached a bit for the baby that she isn't anymore. I know she's only 4 and that later tonight when she is screaming in the bathtub, because a droplet of water splashed in her eyes, I will yearn for her to be older and self-bathing, but this morning I wondered where the time had gone.

I wish sometimes that I was more present for them in the present. We are always cleaning up or rushing out or getting ready for a meal, bath, bed, whatever the next thing is. I'm not a great player, so we watch a lot of movies and read a lot of books and I direct them to things that they can play with together. Lately we've been watching Beatles videos on YouTube, which has been fun. I just hope that they like the mother that I am. I also hope that maybe when they are in a different stage, I can like the mother that I am a little more or at least cut her a break. (sob)

That was heavy, dude. Let's move on.

Friday Night Lights

I am TWO recaps behind on FNL, for two reasons. One, time is not my friend lately and two, as much as I enjoy writing about the show, it either ends up as a straight up summary or my analysis ends up more or less the same every recap, because great as the show is, its themes don't change. It's about growing up, taking responsibility, messing up and fixing it — these things, when told well, are very moving, but difficult for me to write about in an interesting fashion every week. I think. Or maybe I just haven't had time! So, a quick run down. Street moved to Jersey, despite me telling him that it is too expensive. I found that whole story a little Pollyanna, but I loved him and Riggins male-bonding in New York.

Tyra's boyfriend turned out to be pretty suck. The pill-popping lead to the money-owing and the man-handling of Tyra and a lot of sweating. I still don't get where the baby mama from a few weeks back fits in? I guess he was lying about that and he is the father or she was trying to collect on someone else's behalf. I wish Tyra could get her shit together. I liked Coach in romantic mode, wooing Tami at the hotel, but I also liked him in protective mode, picking up Tyra and keeping the Rodeo junkie away from her. Coach is multi-awesome like that.

Saracen and his mom seem to be forging a nice bond, and despite her being a worthless mother for most of his life, she is at least there now, telling him to go to college and not give up his life for Grandma. I do love Grandma, though. She isn't trying to hurt Saracen and she raised him to be such a good guy. She's just scared. Saracen and Julie seemed to have settled into a nice post-coital romance. Looks like Coach gets an eyeful next episode though. I'm thinking that's going to be awkward for him.

Saracen is a wide-receiver* now and he and Riggins were making plays and getting it done in the play-off game. JD is showing his nerves a bit. I think that's a nice direction to take this kid. Anyone else think he is awfully little? I know quarterbacks aren't huge, but he is tiny. There is clearly trouble brewing between Coach and Mr. McCoy.

Riggins and Lila got into fight about Riggs going to college, but he stopped being a dumbass and appears college bound now. How is all of this going to come together if FNL gets renewed? I want more, but not if it means they all go to Dillon Tech together, 90210 style. But FNL: The Next Generation is weird too. Thoughts?

Gossip Girl

In theory, I'm so happy it's back! Woot! Woot! In practice, last night's episode was only a lukewarm lava bomb for me.

The Chuck stuff is so, so, so lame. I guess it was all a set up to bring back the scuzzy guy and show what a true heart Chuck actually, maybe, has. But does Chuck even go to school anymore? Does he even see his friends anymore? He's like 40 now. And boring. I got excited just seeing him sit and wait for Blair, hoping to get a little bit of pop to add to his fizzle, but nope. She's going to be with scuzzy guy now, because she is apparently embracing the fact that she isn't very nice. I appreciated her telling Serena not to try and convince her that she is actually a good person. She isn't particularly. And all of this Yale business has really brought out the worst in her and not even in a fun way.

The Age of Innocence is one of my favorite movies, so I found it cool(ish) that the senior class was putting it on as a play. The director storyline was just annoying, although initially I thought he might be Serena's new man and was pleased that he was so much hotter than greasy Aaron. He ended up being a dick and gay, so it doesn't matter.

Dan Humphrey and Rachel the Idiot Teacher were still getting it on and it was hot, but she was lame and I didn't understand how Dan Humphrey could go from someone like Serena to Rachel. I mean, brain-wise I suppose I see it, but we didn't have enough to work with in that department either. And she dressed so badly! I think I wore her professional version of mini, tank, cardi combo in like eighth grade. Dan Humphrey telling his dad to step back was pretty killer. I like a little bad-ass in my geek boys.

What else? Jenny still looks like a 25-year old Lower East Side bartender circa 1999. Nate and Vanessa have nothing in common, which is just shocking! Nate's assertion that Age of Innocence was 'heartbreaking' was about as convincing as Charles Isherwood actually liking the play the Gossip kids put on or Vanessa quoting Vincent Canby. Contrary to CW's belief system, there is something between neophyte and savant, be it film or literature related.

I'm intrigued by previews that show a possible Blair/Nate hook-up. I thought we had retired that couple. Also, word on the street is that Georgina is coming back. Not sure how I feel about that one. xoxo

This has run on too long for me to get into Idol business, except to say, no more dancing or Sally Jessy glasses out of you Danny Gokey!

In blogging news: When Adam gets home, I get back on track. That's the plan.

* The scene where Coach threw passes to Saracen as a try out for receiver was everything perfect about FNL. It was football; it was heart and it was funny.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More idle and Idol thoughts

We are headed into night 4 of daddy out of town and the kids and I are getting into a groove. The time change nearly derailed everything, but last night was better than the night before, so it's all up from here. After last week's total crapness, it is nice to be feeling better. With this new found joy, I thought I would share a little what's the what with my loyal readership of 12.

It's best to start with Idol. It still sucks. Even the contestants that were good didn't get me out of my seat. (Figurately speaking, of course. I'm no Paula!) I don't understand the judges. Paula has been so sharp all season, but last night she was off (or on) her meds again. I do find it interesting, that even in her diagonal state, she is the only one of them that actually gives advice. That's new this year.

I can't for the life of me figure out why Simon would say that Idol isn't the place to try new things, when just last May the winner of the competition changed it up every week. Billie Jean, anyone? Or Blake Lewis kicking Bon Jovi's ass two years ago? Wouldn't Simon get bored hearing the same bombastic crapola every week? Really though, it's not the contestants artistry that is the problem, it's that they are all tools. Well, maybe not Scott MacIntyre. He's just boring.

I'm going to disagree with Slezak's inital thoughts about Michael Sarver. I not only really liked his vocal last night, but I don't care that he is up there because Simon said he deserved a break. He does! This country sucks right now and if dude gets a few months away from the oil rig, and hopefully gets to go on tour, it will suck a little less for Michael Sarver. He's not hurting anyone. It's not like he got picked to be on the Secret Service. And he's a better singer than Jasmine Murray, who was a fembot last night. Even Jorge Nunez' audition for Fantasy Island performance of "Never Can Say Goodbye'' had more heart than Jasmine's performance. Jorge and Jasmine are my picks to go home.

I think two people are going home tonight, although there is some surprise that I couldn't get a bead on between Paula's slurring and all the cross-talk. I am sure it will be the kind of surprise you find on the bottom of your shoe after what you thought was a nice stroll in the park. That would be on par with the rest of the season.

Other quick impressions from last night:
Adam: Still gives me the creeps. Still hate his hair. Kid can perform though.*
Alexis: She wants it, but I think she's just alright.
Anoop: Wasn't as bad as the judges said. Not sure he has much of a voice though.
Alison: Acts like a 16-year old. Sings like, well, Ann Wilson. Love.
Danny: He's really growing on me. He's a good singer and I liked his big, funny family.
Matt: Don't remember him, so I'm going to say 'not memorable.'
Kris: Very cute. Love the guitar. He'll go far in the competition I think.
Megan: I love her husky voice and I don't care that she doesn't hit the notes (Brooke White didn't either — didn't care), but that has to be the worst song choice in Idol history. And did I see her flapping her arms like a chicken? Really, dawg?

In the category of idle — and random — thoughts, wanted to quickly share a kickin' recipe that I tried last night. It's flat bread that I made with garbanzo bean flour. The kids made theirs into pizza and I dipped mine in tomato sauce and hummus (I like chick peas with my chick peas) and ate it with olives and manchego cheese. I've been cooking a lot lately and this is one of the tastiest recipes yet. It's a Mark Bittman recipe. He's been my cooking boyfriend lately. Here it is and enjoy!

* Just watched Adam Lambert's performances of "Satisfaction" and "Black or White" again and I'm reconsidering him. I think he might be the grown-up of the group, and even with the Broadway stylings, he can kind of really rock. My skeeves might be fading.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tatiana and My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

It's been a colossally crappy week for me for a variety reasons, from family stuff, to not having my favorite mittens in the snow,* to Adam working late and preparing to leave for two whole weeks,** to having to cancel Violet's birthday*** party,**** because Mimi is illin', and last but not least, to the Hoboken St. Patrick's Day Parade generating a disgusting fraternity like atmosphere in our apartment building and a Seinfeldian parking nightmare — it's not though, that we couldn't find our car, it's that WE COULD NOT FIND A PLACE TO PARK IT! So a big eff you to the last 10 days.*****

There were however, some interesting TV developments.

American Idol

What is going on with Idol? Maybe I am overly influenced by Slezak over at, but this season is whack. It is the opposite of a molten hot lava bomb, wait, that actually doesn't sound like a good thing. Suffice it to say, it's been sucking and for a variety of reasons.

A) Kara. She is useless. She isn't dissenting or smart. She's just another seal clapper, who adds nothing. Her constant talk of how "commercial" an artist could be, is off-putting. I'm not naive. I know that they want a whole package deal, but nobody would have looked at David Cook with his bad hair and dorky sweater vests a year ago and called him commercially viable. Carrie Underwood had a perm! Picking Jasmine Murray over Felicia Barton for the wild card (and ultimately the top 13), because of her pretty face, is just cynical. Let's keep it a singing competition and see where we end up, k?

B) Simon. He's just being a jerk this year and I'm usually a Simon fan. He seems unhappy to be there and irritated by the show. Come to think of it, maybe he's just like me, waiting for the real Idol to please stand up, please stand up.

C) Season 8 of weird homophobic sexual innuendo between Ryan and Simon is about 8 seasons too many, especially when they drag the contestants into it.

D) Tatiana Del Toro. Clearly the judges knew who they wanted to advance to the Top 13 and they didn't want to make it difficult for themselves, so they gave crazy Tati the wild card, with her fake accent and kneeling before the judges, just so they could mock her and bat her around a little more. It wasn't funny the first 5 times. They chose her, because they didn't want their minds changed by giving a real talent with a real chance of advancing, another shot. Idol is off the rails, yo. What!?


Make no mistake, I am not usually a Lost prognosticator. I don't see or look up most of the Easter eggs. I remember much of the mythology very haphazardly and primarily I watch for the characters, which is how I came up with this thought: Sawyer is the most genuine character on the show.

I am generally a Jack fan, but during this week's episode, "LeFleur," it occurred to me that Sawyer loves and is loyal because he does and he is. It's not because the Island is telling him to, like Locke, or because his own screwed-up life has made him feel that he must protect at all costs, like Jack. He is just a good man. Yes, he was a con man and we still have to see what lengths he goes to in order to keep his new Dharma life with Juliet, but I think his good heart will win out in the end.

I'm not over Jack, I'm just taking a longer look at Sawyer.


Returning castmemberpalooza has been awesome. Loved seeing Morgenstern. George Clooney next week will no doubt send me into palpitations, but the Carter and Benton reunion? That's the good stuff. As unwilling mentor and student, they had great, roller coaster chemistry. That is a friendship I can't wait to revisit.

I'm out. I'm getting some sort of weird-weather cold. When will the bad juju stop? Time to watch Friday Night Lights. Will I recap? Who the hell knows.

I found them today, when it was 65 degrees. Thanks Random Spiritual Guide, in whom I only marginally believe in as it is!
** He'll be doing Project M in Maine for two weeks, which gets a big WOOT WOOT! I am so proud of him. We'll miss you, baby.
*** I can't believe my sweet little girl is going to be 3. Where is all the time going?
**** On a positive note, many excellent baked goods left over. My friend Joanne Laurie, made the most amazing Angelina Ballerina cake (see photo). She's the Martha Stewart of Hoboken, so look her up the next time you need cake or cupcakes.
***** On another positive note, my in-laws came to visit. That was lovely.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What Would Tami Taylor Say or WWTTS?

I haven't blogged in NINE days. 9. That's almost two weeks. Sort of. What is happening to me? Where has my mojo gone? What will become of all my hopes and dreams? Maybe Tami Taylor knows. She always has the best advice. 

First things first, wouldn't it be nice to be as wise as Tami and as hot? Connie Britton doesn't have children in real life, so she gets to show off boobs that haven't been destroyed by pregnancy and nursing. (Friday Night Lights is very fond of its female character's cleavage.) I've said that she and Kyle Chandler are the best actors on TV, they are also the hottest mom and dad. 

Tami's excellent marriage was on display when she and Coach went to Jamarcus' house to convince his mom and dad to let him stay a Panther. Coach was all football, while Tami managed to gently interrupt her husband, praise his skills with the young men on the football team, and convince Jamarcus' parents that football was a good cure for their son's lack of focus. Coach is a molder of men after all. They agreed to let their son play, and we were rewarded with a Jake Houseman-style* "you looked great out there."

How charming was it when Coach opened the car door for Tami when they were leaving? He knows how good he has it.

Also, in need of counsel was our hapless Landry. I've always been on the fence about Landry. The 'oops I killed a guy' storyline last year with Tyra, while exasperating from a storytelling point of view, was beautifully acted by all involved. (Including Glenn Morshower as Landry's father, where has he been?) We got to see Landry's courage and conscience. Also, he's pretty funny. But I still don't really care what happens with his character. Maybe it's Julie Taylor syndrome — I know he's going to be just fine, which is basically what Tami told him. Years from now when he is miles and miles from Dillon, none of what breaks his heart now is going to much matter. If only we could all go back in time and tell our teenage selves that! 

I'm all for more gay characters on TV, so I'm down with the cutie, lesbian bass player. Loved that Landry didn't go hater on her. He's got a good heart. 

I actually felt bad for Buddy Garrity this week and that never happens. The guy is a major asshole and he never learns and he would destroy just about anything, except maybe Lila, if it was for the good of the Panthers football organization, but I felt bad that his kids were being so hateful. He was really trying, in his Buddy way, to make their trip fun. The camping was a disaster, steaks and verbal assaults were launched and Buddy stalked off. Good on Lila for telling her sibs to knock it off. Buddy broke my heart a little when Lila picked him up and he said that the whole thing had been awful. Such honesty and embarrassment in that one line. 

Was it just me or did you think Buddy looked doubtful when Lila said "you still have me." He knows that Lila is graduating soon and sleeping with/in love with Riggins. He is going to be very alone, very soon, in a town of people that don't like him very much.

In other dysfunctional family news, poor JD McCoy. His father might be worse than Buddy. I can't believe he ditched his kid after the football game, because he played a rough first half. Thank goodness he has a decent mother. Mr. McCoy and Coach went head to head not once, but thrice in this episode. With McCoy winning the first face off at dinner and Coach resoundingly whupping him at practice and during half-time. Don't mess with Coach's practice or his players. You aren't daddy when the uniform is on. 

Another quick shout-out to Kyle Chandler, his "get the hell off my football field" was a throw away line, but so organic to the character. Sometimes, I think Coach is a real person.

Street and his society of half-wits actually managed to finish and flip the house. I don't know if I believe it would have happened, but all good things for Street and Riggins, so I will let it lie. Loved the open house. Billy Riggins should totally take up real estate sales. 

Street told Lila that he is going to make a go of it in New York. He needs to be closer to Erin and Noah and do more than sell cars for Buddy, but again, it strains believability a bit. Aside from the fact that it's insanely expensive, are there really sports agents that don't have MBAs from Wharton? But if it gives me Riggins and his cowboy boots and shearling coat strolling the streets of Manhattan in next week's episode, I'll let this one lie too. 

Lila and Street have been through it and back again. Their scene together was a nice conclusion to their arc. Classic FNL. As was the highlight reel that Street made for Riggins,' with Coach praising his toughness and Billy talking about the 'best day of his life' when the Panthers won the State Championship. Still waters run deep with Riggins — he is tough, but I also think maybe he is smart and despite my earlier predictions, maybe he won't become the ex-football- playing, town drunk. 

In blogging news: Clearly I owe to my legion of fan to make no predictions, lest they be disappointed. 

* Dirty Dancing of course.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's Oscar Night!

I'm quickly jotting down the movies that I have seen from this year's Oscar nominees. I listed them in the order that I liked them, but Tropic Thunder would be nowhere near my Top 10 normally.

I love the Oscars. It's a bit of a holiday in my family and I miss watching them with my dad and sister, but Adam has become a faithful viewer, even if he drifts off towards the middle.

I know my list is incomplete, because I haven't seen everything, notably Frost/Nixon. I did pretty well though and spent countless hundreds on babysitters to do it. That's movie love for you.

Here it is:

1. Milk — Loved. It. A nearly perfect biography of a fascinating man.
2. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
3. Slumdog Millionaire — The hype has actually made me rethink this one, but I was so charmed by it when I first saw it, that it stays in the Top 5.
4. The Visitor — I think it somewhat over-simplified a very complicated issue, but the tenderness and heart make that aspect relatively unimportant.
5. WALL-E — Always makes me teary and I've seen it 20 times. The soft-shoe that WALL-E does with the hub cap especially. I love those damn robots.
6. Vicki Cristina Barcelona — ScarJo sucks, but everyone else is perfect and the scenery is gorgeous. My favorite Woody Allen since Sweet and Lowdown.
7. The Wrestler — This could probably be higher on the list, but here it is. The Mickey Rourke/Randy the Ram meld is something to behold.
8. The Dark Knight — So much more than a comic book movie. Mainly though, if I don't put it within the Top 10, Jeff Labrecque will ban me from ever seeing his wife and children again.
9. The Reader — I adore Kate Winslet in nearly everything, but his was an odd character in a movie with a strange point of view, but it definitely had me thinking.
10. Rachel Getting Married — I was very surprised this one got so much attention. I thought Rosemarie Dewitt's hair was the best part of the movie. Also, the wedding scenes were moving.
11. Tropic Thunder — Biggest movie disappointment of the year for me. I was bored and didn't laugh but a few times.

Happy Oscar Night!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Make Love Not Football

It's been a whole two days since my last Friday Night Lights recap, but I am trying to get back on schedule, so here's another one.

Last recap I wished bad things for JD and now I feel bad. He's really just a robot-child under the control of his inventor father. He's actually kind of cute once you get a look at him and his mom seems alright. How excited was he when Riggins took him on the Riggins-eye view of Dillon? I'm glad Coach sees that this kid needs some real friends and a real life. I'm not sure he wanted him to go out and get hammered, but he clearly did not like Mr. McCoy humiliating his son after church, when he forced JD to apologize to Coach for his drunkenness.

He's trying to make these boys into men, and I think he realizes the benefits that a little independence and life experience can bring to the football field. None of which can be gained if your dad takes you to Applebee's after the game instead of letting you hang with the team — not to mention coming into the sacrosanct locker room after a game. I just love Coach's silent stare. It says a lot. So far though, JD is still a phenom on the football field, winning his first game as QB 1.*

Quick aside, loved when JD asked Riggins how many girlfriends he has. "Just the one," said Riggins, looking over at gorgeous Lila. (Does anyone know anyone that looked like either of these people in high school?) Anyway, sexy stuff that was.

I also said last recap that I wasn't too interested in Julie Taylor, but a lot has changed in 48 hours. Well, some things. I still don't think she's as compelling as the other characters on the show, but her first time (I assume, right?) with Saracen was the sweetest thing. The lake, the fire, the silly conversation, the kiss, the snuggling in the morning light afterwards, the sidelong glances in church — it was everything you want a first time to be. No regrets. I did wonder how Julie snuck back in without getting the wrath of Tami and Coach, but I will suspend my disbelief.

I think it's funny and telling, that despite JD's drinking and Julie and Saracen's debauchery, everyone made it to services the next morning. That's a small Texas town for you.

And now to the most important part of the episode. The wedding dress that Mindy plans to wear to her wedding. It has fairy wings and a tasteful amount of ass-crack showing. Seriously. While this monstrosity was being tried on Tyra was filling out college applications. Not only should she consider typing those, but she needs to shut her mother down. A woman whose life is apparently such a trove of happiness that she thinks Tyra should follow suit by skipping college and trying to find a good man to support her.

Of course, Tyra took money from Mr. Rodeo to pay for her college applications and bought his iffy story about the ex and her claims that she is owed back child support. I actually think this might be evolving as a stalker story instead of a deadbeat dad story, but maybe that's because I want good things for Tyra. There is still the issue of the pills and his general attitude about her school attendance. He's not good news, but maybe he's not as bad as he seems? Unlikely I know. Tyra's wistful look when she mentioned Landry was revealing. I don't think their story is quite over yet either.

About Landry, he is apparently in a sucky band that now has a cute girl bassist, who will probably audition for Idol next year. Whatever. This story doesn't interest me yet.

Jason Street's cockamamie plan to flip a house with his crack team of morons took a touching turn this week. Erin and Noah left for Jersey (It's very expensive here! Don't do it!), we saw that they are a family, albeit one that is at an impasse. Coach's pep talk to Jason to not give up on the house just because it wasn't going well, was needed, if a bit shouty and scripted. Loved that he was clearly helping Jason out with the place since he showed up late to the dance with paint in his hair. (Tami and Coach are some sexy stuff themselves. Woot woot.)

Jason singing to Noah on the phone was a nice way for the guys to see how badly he needs this house to work out. I have a feeling that maybe Coach and Tami are going to buy the place. Of course, for it to even get finished Billy needs to stop hammering nails in his hand. Billy and Mindy really are a match made in hell.

In blogging news: I make no promises!

* Kyle Chandler's laugh when Grandma laid into him for demoting Saracen, but said she could never stay mad at him, was adorable. I do love the men on this show.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Benched and Broken

It happened. Saracen was benched. It makes football sense, even if isn't what Coach's heart wanted him to do. He has an obligation to everyone on the team to win games, and JD helps them accomplish that in the most straightforward manner — he throws the football really, really far and it lands exactly where it is supposed to. I weep for Saracen though. I want so much for him to have a happy, peaceful, albeit fictional I realize, life. His mother is here now though, so maybe she is one door opening, while another closes. I'm waiting to find out that JD steals or snorts or something though, because I. do. not. feel. that. kid. No, I don't.

Julie gets a tatoo, which sends Coach and Tami off the deep end. I understand that this is upsetting to parents and I hope that if my kids choose to get tattoos, they hide them from me, but really, it's just a tattoo. It's not track marks. The reality, so far anyway, is that Julie is the girl with a slightly bad attitude and a few down-market friends, that still gets As and does all the reading. This is part of the reason that her character isn't all the interesting. I don't worry about what is going to become of her. I liked Tami's pep talk though. I like the image of her and Coach dragging one another out of chaos to a happy life, back when they were kids. 

Tami's real worry is Tyra. Our little striver, isn't striving so much anymore. She's nose-diving in school and getting in deeper with Mr. Rodeo, who is definitely a pill enthusiast. I guess hanging out with Riggins and her mother all of her life, has made her blind to people with substance abuse issues. Tami gives Tyra a talking to about the direction of her life and love, but before she gets a chance to let it sink in, Mr. Rodeo whisks her off — mid-school day — to a barn to see a freshly born baby calf. That old trick. It totally works and she swears to Tami that Mr. Rodeo is rainbows and sunshine. This isn't going to be good.

As for Jason Street, he is still working at the car dealership, and his baby and baby mama Erin, are not living with him. He is still living with Herc, which is pretty funny. I have never understood why Jason didn't go to college, maybe I missed an episode if someone wants to fill me in. His plan to flip Buddy's house is pretty pathetic considering the economy and the team of geniuses he has assembled to help him, although I am happy that he and Riggins are still friends. Man, does Jason have Buddy's number. He knows you can't appeal to the man's conscience or heart or morals, because he has none, but remind him that you were once a great football player and he gives in. Nevermind, that you are now in a wheelchair with a new baby and few prospects. Buddy needs to get caught in bed with JD. I kid. Ish.

Erin went back East, so the house thing didn't really get her attention the way  Jason had hoped. Maybe they will make a killing. Maybe doing anything with Billy Riggins ends in disaster. We'll see. 

I wouldn't mind a little Lila/Riggins action, um, tomorrow (sorry this recap is so late!) and I'm not the least bit surprised that Tyra's Mr. Rodeo has a very angry ex knocking on Tyra's door.

In blogging news: Another FNL recap, a bit of Oscar talk and that long awaited chip review. I'm building a real excitement for it I think.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Blogger: Love Thyself

Finally. A new post. I haven't blogged in a week and I should be writing my FNL recap, but I just need to write something.

Here's the deal with me (for the three of you reading this that aren't relatives): If something doesn't happen exactly as I think it should, I consider it a great tragedy that can never be made right. I haven't blogged since Saturday, therefore I should just shutter Back to Me and stop writing. But, here's the thing, I am becoming more self-aware as I get older. Isn't that exciting! And I realize that I have some good reasons that I haven't written all week. Also, I went to my blog and looked at the little list over there on the right, expecting to see the amount of blogging done per week getting smaller and smaller, which it is, but I also discovered that I blogged three times last week! That's on par with my resolution goal. And the week that I only had one entry, was the week I did my Top 10 list which was like writing 5 blogs. So, I'm ok. It's ok. This week was a blip. A pitfall. My blog will go on! Rejoice with me! Or just hang tight for my list of excuses reasons for missing a whole week of blogging.

• Everyone in my house has been sick and coughing. Mimi missed a day of school, so I missed my Starbucks Writing Time® and then I got sick and I just couldn't muster the energy.

• All of those Notes on Facebook take a lot of time.*

• Watching funny videos from Ellen. A good belly laugh should never be missed.

• Figuring out Lost. This could be a full-time job.

• Discovering strange play lists in my iTunes. I searched 'Lady' in my library and ended up with this list:
Lady by Regina Spektor
Just Dance by Lady GaGa
Lady Marmalade by Christina Aguilera
The Old Laughing Lady by Neil Young
Luck Be A Lady by Frank Sinatra
The Lady Is A Tramp by Frank Sinatra

• Coming to grips with Tatiana Del Toro making the final 36 on Idol killed a couple days.

• Violet's new school schedule hasn't opened up the writing opportunities I thought it would. It's hard to get settled once I drop her off and it's not as much time as I thought it would be. Also, it's made my life busier, which isn't conducive to the quiet time the inspiration for this blog requires.

• Oh, the inspiration it requires. Seriously, I do find that I'm at a bit of a loss about what to write. I have a list of product reviews I want to do, but they don't really get my creative juices flowing. I wouldn't mind the blog being strictly TV recaps, but that requires more time than I have. I clearly love to blog about myself, but, well, the world doesn't need anymore of that. In the course of writing these last six weeks, all sort of issues have crossed my mind, like the work/mom balance for one. It's been written about far more elegantly than I could ever do it, but perhaps I need to take on some longer term writing goals about these sorts of issues and throw them up here once they are done. It's something. And something is the goal.

What do you think?

Coming soon in blogging: The same stuff that was coming soon last Saturday.

* One of those notes, Scattergories, lead to a very funny back and forth in the comments section with my siblings. It was in real time and it felt like we were sitting around the living room. Sweet, comfortable, crude, silly, out of bounds, old times. It was good.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Tao of Coach

"You are a molder of men."* And with that Tami summed up the whole Friday Night Lights ethos. Coach is more than a coach; this is more than football. Every decision he makes for these guys, could change everything for them. But he also has a job that requires winning games, and after Saracen's shattering and game-losing fumble last week, the pressure is on to play snotty nosed, football-savant JD McCoy. Forgive me for not feeling him, but I like my sport's heroes less programmed. (Yes, Cal Ripken has been playing ball since he was knee-high to a grasshopper, but, but, well, he's Cal Ripken!)

I prefer my sport's heroes more like Smash. Who will never forget his mama, or the Coach that made him grow up. I don't know if I believe that a coach at a football school like A&M, would have let Coach Taylor bully him into letting Smash have a walk-on, but I don't care. We got our something good happening.

After Corinna's stern reminder to Smash last week that she is the mama, and that he needs to mind his own business about how she raises her kids, I wanted so badly for her to see her son fulfill his promise. I didn't want Smash at the Alamo Freeze forever. What joy and relief when he got that call from A&M!

I have enjoyed seeing the id-controlled Smash of past seasons, who couldn't imagine a future different than the one that had been laid in front of him, come to grips with the obstacles that tripped up that perfect path. He's quieter, more thoughtful. Maybe he won't be as good of a football player, but he will be a better man.

His good bye to Coach was really something. And the guys in the car and on the field. This show, I tell you. If you could see me putting my hand on my heart and looking at you in that knowing way they do in the movies, the look that says, this moved me so I have to put my hand on my heart, you would understand what these scenes do to me.

In JumboTron news (I made it twoish words for Tami, but actually it is usually spelled Jumbotron), Tami lost. And despite Coach's early misgivings about Tami's fight, he became the principal's husband, the one she was looking for last week, and told her she was right and he meant it. He knows better than anyone that it is what happens on the field that matters, and the kids in the game, not the big screen it's being watched on.

Poor Tami wasn't even allowed to get angry about the whole shameful situation. Her bitter tears ran for every frustrated principal that can't get a damn thing done.

I wanted to hear her embarrass the board, but we didn't get that pleasure. She did "volunteer" Buddy for the chairmanship of a silent auction though. I'm finding Buddy actually makes me yell at the TV screen this season. I realize as the booster-wooer, he has a job to do, but his complete disregard for the human impact of, well, anything, makes him the antithesis of Coach and Tami. He's not good people.

Saracen was, as usual, dealing with his 40-year-old man problems in his 17-year-old life. More than any of the actors on this show, this kid really carries himself like a teenager. A teenager with a Grandma Saracen on his back. His mom reappeared this week, looking to make a few things right. I like that they are taking it slow, and he has a lot of life ahead of him to have a mother that loves him, so I hope she doesn't let him down.

Coach decided to start Saracen, but alternate plays between he and McCoy. It's a nice compromise that will hopefully keep him playing through the rest of his senior year.

Tyra ditched Landry again, officially, I guess. Poor kid. The rodeo guy is hot though and doesn't seem like a total jerk although he might be a bit of a pill enthusiast. I'm beginning to think the odds of Tyra getting out of Dillon are pretty slim. She might be the one left in the spray of dirt and gravel when everyone kicks out of town after graduation.

I realize, reading back over this that I talk a lot in my FNL recaps about these young guys growing into good men. It is of course, an overwhelming theme in the show, but why does it move me so? I am a woman. I have daughters. My husband, father and brothers are not deadbeats — quite the opposite actually. Is it that I think we value men who make good money over men who make good fathers and husbands? Is it the lack of real leadership from the men that have been in charge of this country, that has me preoccupied? Is it that I like a bit of decency to win out? All of it maybe. Anyway, it resonates. Next week, we find out what kind of man Jason Street has decided to be.

In blogging news: There will no new fresh episodes of Gossip Girl for four weeks, so no new fresh recaps. Maybe Tuesday I will finally write a product review of the greatest potato chip of all time. Doesn't that sound tasty!

* Loved that they were having this conversation at a bar after Coach needed to stop for a "scotch-flavored drink."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Aflutter with Procrastination

I know I haven't done my Friday Night Lights recap. I might not this week. Recaps are hard and I live my life for the easy way out. This explains so much. Anyway, one of my favorite bloggers Marathon Mama* is also having a bit of blog block, so today instead of blogging about running, as I should be blogging about Coach Taylor, she set about listing what sets her heart aflutter.

This subject is wonderful for so many reasons. First, I love lists. Second, very Valentine's-y. Third, the word aflutter! I love the actual ache, skip, twitter, that something lovely or welcome brings to my heart. The mind/body slow dance is transformative. Duuuude.

On with my list (it's very interactive today):

My daughter's oven bellies. So soft and toasty, like fireside marshmallows. Also, handy for warming my hands on, which they find hilarious.
And Mimi saying 'I love books,' when we go the library.
And the way they say 'That's my mama" or "my daddy." Shout outs are always appreciated.

Kip and Hana from The English Patient. The novel, not the movie.

Darcy and Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice. The novel and the 1995 BBC miniseries.

These boots. Still.

Rows and rows of cherry blossom trees.

Beautiful note cards. Not that I ever use them, but I love them.

Robert Creeley's essay "Nothing New." Maybe it sets my mind aflutter, more than my heart, but I read it in college and it's always stayed with me. Very relevant for right now, personally and globally.

Vosges chocolate.


A great story — book, movie, TV. (A lifelong aflutterer for me.)

The sea. This lake.

Winning any board game.


This and this together. And just this.


In blog news: I hope to keep writing three times a week, but I've been lagging. We will see what motivates this weekend. Now go think about what gets your heart racing.

* I read her blog for the writing. I am most certainly not a marathon runner.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kubrick Out

Half way through this episode of Gossip Girl, I told 'he who does not watch Gossip Girl' that it sucked. It picked up eventually, but seriously, could the Chuck story be lamer? Could I care less? I don't think so. Oh wait, I care less about Nate and Vanessa. I've done the impossible!

Women in feathered masks and lingerie servicing the elite in a big empty house is so pre-recession — aside from the real estate problems the mysterious owners of what appeared to be Gracie Mansion are having. (Is Bloomberg selling his place?) I realize that there needs to be some time off between Blair and Chuck to make us miss them, but the diversion of the hot nanny slash escort slash orgy-organizer is so colassally stupid. And it seriously chills all the warm fuzzies I have been nurturing for Chuck. His sex life is skeevy enough without A) orgies that make me think of Tom Cruise and B) bringing his father's peccadillos into the mix. Blerg to all that. 

Also, Chuck didn't have a single good line the whole episode and he actually looked unnerved after the phone call about Elle's disappearance. This Chuck is all wrong. 

Speaking of all wrong, what is with Rachel Carr? She's the dumbest teacher ever. And renter of the nicest-first-apartment-rented-by-a-teacher ever. Why do Dan Humphrey and Serena know where she lives? Why does Dan Humphrey know her subway routine? Props to him for acknowledging what a pain it is to get from his place to the Upper East though. Alas, still no explanation as to how they make this trip so quickly and often and briefly. Why is Dan Humphrey having breakfast with his teacher? My breakfast in high school was a waffle eaten while running up the driveway to catch the school bus. Needless to say I didn't go to Constance Billiard School for Sociopaths. 

I accept that Rachel is trying to nurture her students, but after you've been accused of knocking loafers with those students, it's best not to have romantic dinners with them. Call me wacky like that. I also think talking trash about other students is a bad idea. And rolling your eyes when your breakfast with the student you are clearly hot for is interrupted by a student who clearly admires you as an actual teacher, also not cool. So basically, I'm all for her getting fired. And the scene with Dan Humphrey and her at the end was hot. He's hot. Woot woot. 

Not hot is Danrena breaking up again and here's why: It's not that I didn't see it coming, it's that I am expected to believe it is for the last time. I don't believe it. Rather, I won't believe it. Actually, Serena and her many coats (could she and her coat tower over Rachel Carr more?) were another boooooooooring part of this episode. She just mopes around trying to improve herself and fix other people's problems. What is she, 35?

What else? Nate and Vanessa* giggled at a piano and hung with Chuck while he wandered around the drrty house. And then sent mail. Or something. I do worry about chemistry deflation if Chuck and Blair ever get together. Gossip Girl is very good at the foreplay with couples, not so good with the deed. Even Rufus and Lily seemed to have settled into boring domesticity, chatting with the principal.

I was happy that Blair briefly got punished for doing something devious. I know she has a strict caste system, but I find it strange that she continues to have only feelings of disgust for Dan Humphrey. So much so that she would jeopardize his future for pointless revenge, that even the step girls agreed was pointless. Of course once their cell phones were taken away, all bets were off. Living in and around Gossip Girl-like environs or at least reading about them in my local paper, I know that taking cell phones away isn't so easy. Especially not at a school like that one. Anyway, glad Blair got busted, particularly when it was by her dad. And since I'm an after school special kind of mom, I also appreciated him reminding her that being a decent person has some value. And that's one to grow on. xoxo

In blogging news: FNL recap someday. Product review any day now. Review of my resolutions necessary!

* In real life Vanessa and Chuck are 'good friends.' Shocking!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Love Me. Love My Television

I’ve never been shy about my love for television. Some might even call me a bit defensive about my habit. (It’s hard not to be, when friends get all haughty about not watching TV except for Lost and The Wire, of course. Yeah, that’s TV friend.)

I’ll admit to wishing my kids watched a little less, but I could never, ever be one of those people that says “we never turn on our TV and don’t even notice.’ Oh, I’d notice. From the halls of Bellevue, I would notice.

In trying to think of my favorite shows of all time, I’ve encountered two problems, one being that I also want to make a list of my favorite characters and the other being that most of my list includes recent shows. I either have a short memory or I’m easily influenced. Or both. Or TV has gotten better. Or I take my TV way too seriously. Ok, that’s it.

First, reality shows I love, but don't want to include on the list: American Idol, Survivor, The Amazing Race, Real World: Seasons 2-5 and The Osbournes: Season 1.

Second, new shows I love that aren't ready for the list: Mad Men, Gossip Girl

And finally, the list (memorable moments may contain spoilers):

10. The Cosby Show

In the pre-Rodney King, post-racial 80s, The Cosby Show represented an upper middle class black family as commonplace as the Cleavers. It was a revelation for many baby boomers, which had not seen a family like the Cosbys on TV before, but for me, it was just a funny show. I had siblings that locked me out of the bathroom and parents that liked to hug and lecture and crack wise to help me learn my lesson. Bill Cosby brought situation comedies back to life and ushered in — and out — a television moment where race didn't matter.

Memorable moments: The singing and dancing performances for the grandparents, Denise picks Hillman, Denise makes a shirt for Theo, Stevie Wonder, the first episode.

9. Thirtysomething/Once and Again

This is a bit of a cheat, since I am listing two in one, but it's all part of the Zwickian oeuvre, which could also include My So Called Life, if anyone in my high school household had been quiet long enough to let me watch it consistently. Woe the days before DVR. Thirtysomething was the first grown-up show I watched (Moonlighting doesn't count), and I think it epitomized the emotional and intelligent writing and natural acting style that defined modern melodrama and even, in a way, a generation. They were yuppies, but not Gordon Gecko. They owned nice homes but weren't rich or poor. Their marriages and businesses failed and flourished; they got sick and had car accidents; they got well and moved on. It was the end of the 80s and Dynasty-era excess.

Memorable Moments:
Gary's death, Nancy's cancer, Elliott the cad, Elliott and Michael's agency going under.

Once and Again was Thirtysomething redux, only this time it was the early oughts and the adults were post-divorce, dating, marrying again and dealing with children that were nearly grown, but achingly struggling through teenage-hood. I am a major Sela Ward fan, so that is a big part of my love and sometimes everyone was too beautiful and expressive and teary, but it worked, because sentiment was often enough thrown aside for messiness and real life.

Memorable Moments: Lily and Rick meeting, Lily and Karen's face-off over Eli, the birth of Jake and Tiffany's baby, the wedding, Jessie's eating disorder.

8. The Daily Show

I almost didn't put this on the list, because truthfully I didn't watch it this election as much as last. I found myself watching the 'real' news more and skipping Jon, because while his intro is flawless, his interviews are not particularly. And I miss his old correspondents. But I decided to include it, because Jon's take down of liars, fools and douche bags of liberty is peerless. It was also, for a long time, the only show that dared go there and for that he has the thanks of a grateful nation.

Memorable moments:
Many, but the best was when then correspondent Stephen Colbert took all of his "doubts, fears, moral compass, conscience and all-pervading skepticism about the very nature of this war" and placed them in an empty Altoids box, until Iraq was liberated, leaving him more free time for yoga and travel.

7. Felicity

Felicity? Seriously. Mainly the first season, before Keri Russell got famous and Felicity got a cuter wardrobe. It was the smartest (and funniest) show about the way that college really is. About a time where you make mistakes and twist in the wind, and try to discover what you like separate from the comforts of home. It's a little weird that I picked Felicity over Gilmore Girls, of which I have seen every episode and quite loved, but I always kept Rory at arm's length and that last season badly, badly sucked, plus it's my list, I can do what I want.

Memorable moments:
Felicity's sweaters; Ye Olde Waverly Inn, Megan, Richard, Ben, Noel, Javier, Javier's wedding to his partner, characters that rode the subway and got jobs, Sean's inventions, "hey."

6. Sex and the City

The post-SATC world of war and economic disasters, makes watching the show now either a pleasant escape or a cringe-inducing cringe fest. The excess! The diaper shorts on Carrie! The total lack of any connection to the larger world! It can be a bit like visiting an old high school friend and finding you have nothing in common with her and that she laughs like Tatiana Del Toro. Having said that, in its prime it really was a wonderfully perfect show about friendship. I loved that Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte really laughed and cried and got angry, and though the clothes got increasingly more ridiculous and the Mikhail Baryshnikov story didn't really work (it pains me to say that), the show never lost its heart or intelligence.

Memorable Moments
: The death of Miranda's mother, the Way We Were episode, Carrie's down-payment spent on shoes, both Aidan break-ups, Steve, Big showing up at girls' night.

5. The West Wing

I remember after President Bartlett was shot, hopping up and down on my couch with excitement. I wasn't excited that he was shot, but I was so amped to watch the episode. I love politics and so did The West Wing. It might have been too smart (whatever that means) and too pedantic, but it wanted us to know that good people could work hard for their government and not lie (much). The writing crackled and popped; the chemistry between characters from the Oval Office down, was intoxicating and the prescience of Santos, a little-known, good-hearted, fiercely intelligent minority winning the White House, was icing on the cake.

Memorable Moments: Josh and Donna finally, the President's Rose Garden chat with Charlie during the MS scandal, Toby and the ball against the wall, Leo, Mrs. Laningham, Sam's tour of The White House.

4. ER

It's been on so long and had so many cast rotations, that people forget how good it used to be and (maybe) occasionally still is. And now it's ending after 15 years. Good bye to Mr. Rubadoux, Haleh, Doug on the dock in Seattle, Abby and Luka, Carter in Africa, Benton's rare laughter, happy Mark and Elizabeth and Kerry's cane clicking down the hallway. Lastly, a 'very special' good bye to those early, glorious days when characters ruled the show, not melodrama. It hasn't been the same without you.

Memorable moments
: Julianna Margulies' performance in Doug's almost last episode, the entire Doug and Carol arc, Carter and Benton, Kerry's coming out.

3. Friday Night Lights

I think I've made my feelings about this show pretty clear here on Back to Me. Eric and Tami are the best couple on TV, maybe ever. And if any show has used sports as a more effective metaphor than FNL, I couldn't begin to think of what it is.

Memorable Moments: Tami's sex talk with Julie, the Taylor family meltdown when Eric was in Austin coaching, Mrs. Smash, Saracen.

2. Lost

I don't have a clue how this show is going to be resolved. I don't think all of the mysteries will be answered. How could they? But the getting there is more exciting and unexpected than anything else you'll find on TV. When the show first began and it's mysteries unfolded one after another — the smoke machine, the polar bear, evil Ethan — I couldn't imagine what would come next. It's incredibly rare to find that on television. Not every twist and every character has worked. The tailies have been mostly a bust, except Bernard, but considering what J.J. Abrams and crew have thrown at us, it's amazing that so much has been so effective. There are critics that watch this show as an elaborate science project, looking for every Easter Egg and researching every character name for obscure reference. I just watch it. Call me old school, but the mystery is enough for me. (Also, Doc Jensen over at takes care of any questions I might not be able to resist asking.)

Memorable moments: The plane crash, Sawyer leaping from the helicopter, Desmond and Penny reuniting, Bernard and Rose reuniting, the Swan, the first whiff of time travel, Michael Emerson, and countless other WTFs.

1. The Wire

I know that being from Baltimore is part of my affection, but even still, there really is no other show that more accurately captures the pathos of urban life like The Wire. Or really, the pathos of life, full stop. I’ve heard complaints that it’s not good for the city, or accurate, that’s it hard to understand the characters vernacular. Bullshit. It’s just hard to watch, period. It’s gut-wrenching and serious and it will break your heart. The outcome of certain character's stories will leave you relieved and weeping tears of joy that you thought you had reserved for real people. It's also addictive, funny, and very entertaining.

Ultimately what is remarkable about The Wire is the understanding it gives you of the cops, users, bangers, hoppers, desperate people and sick, scared kids that exist in a very dark, nearly untenable life that doesn't care very much what happens to most of them. When Dukie asks Cutty, "How do you get from here to the rest of the world,'' Cutty can only reply, "I wish I knew."

Memorable Moments:
Randy, Dukie, Michael and Namond, Bubbles' recovery, Omar going out for cereal, Bunny's conversation with Weebay in jail, Bunny saving Namond, Keema's shooting, Wallace and Frank's deaths, Bunk and McNulty's conversations.

Honorable mention: Sopranos, Friends, Arrested Development, Roseanne, Homicide, Homefront.

So that's it. Man, this was hard! Hard to narrow down; hard to find time to write and hard to keep short. (I clearly failed at the last one!)

In blogging news, the Friday Night Lights recap will be up in the next couple days. In the meanwhile, what are your favorite shows and memorable moments?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Barack My World

I am a little late to the show with a post-inauguration blog, so instead of trying to craft a brilliant essay about this wonderful, wonderful moment in time like you might find here or here (I haven't the skill), or summarize a day you have all read about 80,000 times, which I regretfully did not attend, I think I will just highlight my favorite moments.

• I relished how diverse the audience was. It was very moving to see something happen in this country, that all of its citizens could feel a part of. I can't imagine the sense of pride that African Americans must have felt, particularly the Tuskegee Airmen, and those that worked for Civil Rights. At one point during Obama's speech, I saw John Lewis slowly shake his head; no doubt still disbelieving that this great day had come.

• I like Michelle's clothes. In fact I like Michelle. And Sasha and Malia are adorable. A friend of mine recently said, "I have a little bit of a huge crush on the whole family." Yep.

• I was angry that Rick Warren was asked to do the invocation. I thought it was a kick in the teeth to the gay community and their straight allies, particularly after Prop 8 passed. The fact that neither Obama, Hillary Clinton or John McCain would openly support gay marriage is such a disappointment to me, particularly given all the barriers that were broken in this historic election cycle. All of this has been gone over a thousand times, I know. But I think it can be said one more time that there is no reason to reach a hand across the aisle to bigots. Rick Warren isn't going to change and neither are his followers.

• I'm not a religious person at all, but Rev. Joseph Lowery's speech moved me. This in particular: "Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream."

• I loved the sight of W's airplane leaving for Texas. I really, really did. I appreciate how gracious he has been during this transition, and the speech he gave when he landed in Midland was pretty cute. He's funny. A lot of torture and misery might have been avoided, if he had been the wisecracking baseball commissioner instead of President.

• This: "Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage."

And this: "As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expediency's sake."

Obama wrote in Dreams from My Father of the impact that The Autobiography of Malcolm X had on him, noting Malcolm's many transformations "forged through sheer force of will." I know that there are many that don't admire Obama or believe that he can do much of what he claims. I know they think that we Obamaniacs are in for a rude-awakening and I realize there will be disappointments, but I also know that our country has been transformed, through the sheer force of will of the people. Peacefully, and against the odds. As Obama often says, "how about that?"

In blogging news, Gossip Girl was a repeat this week, but still to come: My top of the top TV list, and a Product Review. Look at me rockin' my resolutions!? Woot woot.