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.

I Am A Man

Tami's right: Those Dillon boosters are sinister. I actually worried that Buddy was going to physically intimidate her. And the mayor threatened her! It looks like Tami is going to lose the Jumbotron money, and she gets a public town meeting in a few weeks to seal the deal. Even our good Coach isn't feeling Tami on this one. I am though, Tami. I'm here for you.

All of this over football! Yes, I know what the show is about. But these kids all need so much more than a Jumbotron. Like, how about a grown-up adult person for Saracen? One that isn't his coach or his ailing grandmother.

This poor kid. Grandma Saracen won't take her blood pressure pills and is descending further into dementia. Saracen's options are to put her in a home or become an emancipated minor and assume guardianship of his guardian. Alone and scared, Saracen is reduced to kicking boxes behind the Applebee's in frustration. I wanted his conversation with Julie to be so much more. I wanted her to give him all the answers, not just make a not-funny joke, then I remembered that they are teenagers on Friday Night Lights, not Dawson's Creek, and teenagers don't have the big answers. They just have awkward conversations.

Later in the episode Saracen and Julie share some longing glances. I'm guessing a reunion and Julie's FIRST TIME* are coming up.

After a very dear conversation with Grandma Saracen, where she tells him what a sweet boy he is, and he really is, Saracen goes to his never before seen mother and asks her to sign the emancipation papers. I wanted to punch her in the face. She has her pretty little bohemian house, not even a night's drive from Saracen, and yet, he is so totally alone. He's a heart-breaker.

In other heart-breaker news, Riggins ate raw pigeon and mumbled a lot at a dinner with Lyla, Buddy and the McCoys. Hello, Maggie O'Connell! Prior to this, we learned that Riggins can Google and that Oklahoma State is interested in recruiting him. Seriously? He's a 20-year-old high school senior, with a refillable prescription for Suprax and a drinking problem. Even if he were the greatest football player in the world, are we really thinking Riggins is college-bound?

I did enjoy Lyla's comment when Riggins tried to defend his sartorial skills, "you only know how to put on a plaid shirt and button one button."

I find this all a little played. The angry father — Buddy really needs to get a life — the uptown girl with the downtown boy, it's been done a lot. They have good chem though, so I'm happy to wait and see what happens.

When Tyra wasn't sitting around Riggins’ house waiting for her sister and Billy to finish "humping," she was running for class president on a 'get laid at prom' platform. This of course totally worked, but there would be no gloating. Tami told Tyra to find some self-respect if she wanted Mrs. T's help. As much as I think Tyra wants good things for her life and respects Tami's opinion, I also think Tyra is going to do what she needs to do. I don't expect her to change much.

Smash manned-up this week and got over his fear of getting annihilated on the football field. In classic Coach Taylor fashion, there was no hugging or belabored counsel, just an admonition to get over it and grow up. Loved Coach's interaction with Smash's family. He has a walk-on with Texas A&M in two weeks and my fingers are crossed for him. I want something good to happen.

In blogging news, I am going to ruminate about Obama Day a bit. Also, my Top 5 — or maybe 10 — TV shows of all time.

* For a lesson on how to have the sex talk with your kid or just a master class on how to write the perfect TV script, see last season's episode "I Think We Should Have Sex." It's available to watch on NBC and it earned Connie Britton an Emmy. Oh wait, no it didn't. It should have though. Times a million.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Danrena Out

* Just two weeks ago I was as happy as Rufus at a Blind Melon concert about Dan Humphrey and Serena reuniting, and now it seems they are kaput. Again. They certainly get easily distracted.

It's only been a month since Bart died and in that time, Serena has gone to Buenos Aires, dumped Aaron, hooked up with Dan, found out about the fake-dead love child, and tired of Dan. I understand that seeing their parents and for poor Eric, hearing their parents, make it all over Manhattan is a bit of a relationship-killer, but why reunite them at all? Gossip Girl goes back to the Danrena well when they have nothing better to say. And you know that they aren't really over over anyway. I'm a fan, but I'm getting easily distracted too.

In the meanwhile, it looks like Dan is hot for teacher. Why anyone that had taught with Teach America in Alabama, would then go on to teach the twits at Constance Billard School for Haters, is a Gossip Girl unsolved mystery — along with Jenny's hair, and Eric and Serena's father. Speaking of fathers, Blair's gay dads were back. Love them. Although I think a French Bulldog would have been a more Blair-friendly gift, even if it isn't mascot-accurate for Yale.

Of course, the new teacher is mentor to Serena and giver of a dreaded B to Blair, who then enacted some pretty weak revenge. A closed restaurant and fake start time for the opera?! NOOOOO! Not exactly Blair's most piercing attack, although she did have some classic lines ("Cancel the Nelly Yuki project now!").

Silly teacher, then went to the principal with her pain and Blair was punished not only with detention, but her spot at Yale was put on hold. A spot she got only because Serena declined her own acceptance. (Are college admissions really like this in Upper East Side land?) Serena's sacrifice didn't seem to bother Blair at all. I know Serena really wants to go to Brown, so it wasn't such a big deal but still, sometimes I wonder why these two are friends at all.

The look on Dorota's face after Blair emerged from the principal's office was priceless. Blair is going 'black ops' on teacher. I'm thinking more than a closed restaurant. Perhaps something to do with the emerging Dan Humphrey flirtation?

In other creepy and scary news, Uncle Jack turned out to be more than just a run of the mill scuzzball. To paraphrase 'he who does not watch Gossip Girl,' Chuck comes from such a slimy family. It seems Chuck is emerging from his crippling grief — at least he changed clothes in this episode — and is focusing his energies on bringing down Uncle Jack. Some of his attempts included planting coke in his gym bag, trying to buy anthrax with Uncle Jack's credit card and hiring underage hookers (classic Chuck). When none of that worked, he turned to Lily.

What ultimately felled Uncle Jack was Lily's adoption of Chuck (awwwwwwwww), making her his guardian and therefore CEO of the company. The ensuing physical attack on Lily by Uncle Jack, almost took Gossip Girl from fun, clever distraction to serious drama and I don't want that. Chuck saved her though. It was a great Chuck moment. And then she kissed and snuggled Rufus and I realized that they are a couple where the anticipation might have been more interesting than the fruition.

Oh, Nate and Vanessa made out in the Archibald box at the opera. And that's it. How long before Chace Crawford asks to be let out his contract to 'pursue other opportunities?'

Next week is a repeat. Boo hiss. xoxo

Will I blog Obama day? Still undecided.

* Chuck in his lady's trench from last week. Although that's Ed Westwick's smile. Chuck doesn't do smiling.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Friday Night Football

Full disclosure: I have been nursing an obsession with Kyle Chandler since I was 16. I had a letter to the editor published in Us Magazine in 11th grade, extolling his hotness, and in my yearbook's senior predictions I believe I said I would marry his Homefront character Jeff Metcalf. Strange? Perhaps. But also, kind of cool, because not many people know who he is, so it makes him more mine. Wait, I think I hear a cease and desist letter knocking at my door. For what it's worth, he did marry a writer and have two daughters. Coincidence? Yes.

Homefront was a gem of a show. His follow-up, Early Edition, was not and I didn't love him enough to watch it anyway. So imagine my relief, when he came back to television in the role of Coach Eric Taylor on critically-acclaimed Friday Night Lights, except that at first I didn't watch. Football and Texas are not necessarily my thing. (Except tonight - Go Ravens!) When I finally did tune in, what I found was a show only marginally about football and actually about everything else that makes parenting and growing-up complex and gritty and wonderful and sad.

After striking a deal with DirecTV, where the third season aired last fall, FNL was saved from the ax, and the premiere of Season 3 was on NBC Friday. It's the beginning of a new school year and Tami Taylor is the new principal; Coach Taylor is officially back to getting beat up on local sports' radio as the Panthers head coach; Smash suffered an ACL injury that cost him his scholarship and Lila has made the switch from raising herself up to Jesus to laying down with Riggins (and really, who wouldn't?). Tyra and Landry are on a break and Saracen and Julie are status unknown. I assume, as the season moves on we will see how Jason Street is managing the unexpected pregnancy from last season.

There is also the addition of a new freshman QB, whose talent could jeopardize Saracen's place on the team. The kid is talented, and even Grandma Saracen noticed.

Coach Taylor is just a regular guy with a family and a football team. He loves his wife (the impeccable Connie Britton) and two daughters, though they generally cause him a fair deal of confusion. He has high expectations for his players, but knows that Riggins is a drunk. He isn't above throwing a player off the team when he has to, or taking him back. He tossed Saracen in the shower last season to sober him up and give him the Coach lecture, only to find a scared kid, heartbroken at the string of people who keep leaving him alone. He might try to heal everything with football, but he endures and that quiet devotion is what makes this more than a football show.

Friday's premiere found him helping Smash get healthy. On a show soaking in authenticity, Smash isn't doing anything but working at the Alamo Freeze fast food joint. Football is everything. It's a ticket out of Dillon and to college. Without it, many of these guys don't have far to fall to the bottom. I have a feeling whatever Smash's future holds; it's going to make all of us weep to watch him and Coach sort it out.

Tyra was the other focus of the premiere. As much as I want her to get away from Dillon and her stripper sister and drunken mother, I also feel frustrated that she has to deliver speeches all the time. FNL doesn't really do speeches, unless it's Coach getting his team pumped for a game (Clear Eyes! Full Heart! Can't Lose!) And yet, Tyra had to deliver a speech to her counselor. It's not that he didn't deserve to be told off, but the best part of this show is the quietness and the struggle to find the right words. I did, however, love her assessment of Billy's engagement to her sister. Marriage, baby, divorce, fights over child support. Ouch. The boys aren't the only ones hoping for a better day.

Of course there was Tim Riggins — currently star football player and hot as hell; future washed up football player and town drunk. He and Lila are all flummoxed about whether or not to let on to Dillon and all of Tim's girls-on-the-side that they are a couple. They share a kiss at the post-game party that settles the issue for the moment, but Riggins carries the wounds and weariness of a man twice his age, so I think this couple has some hurdles ahead of them.

No Friday Night Lights would be complete without the perfection that is Tami Taylor. When she took Buddy's jumbotron money away so that she could pay for school supplies and teacher's salaries, I just about cried with pride. I think Tami the Principal and the Panthers might have a few disagreements this season. It's been so interesting watching this character come into her life. From her job as school counselor, to a surprise pregnancy, to navigating her marriage and Julie's high school years, to her new promotion, she has shown what it looks like to emerge from the shadows. It's messy and exhilarating. I will cherish her character as one of the best on TV — ever.

Next in blogging land: Gossip Girl and maybe the inauguration (looking for the words!).