Category Archives: Television

How I’m Rolling Write Now: Breaks and Distractions

Somewhere between starting to write the first (of hopefully many) blog posts for my work’s website, reading and commenting on other blogger’s posts, and well, just the normal busyness of summer (please know I am not complaining here), I decided to take a week off from publishing a blog post.

Sorta like (ok, not really) the youths that had community service hours to complete at my food bank, who I found sipping lemonade in the staff break room a couple of weeks ago. These two pubescent boys had put in approximately 52 minutes of “work” (aka putting plastic grocery bags in their receptacles and a small bit of re-stocking shelves) and informed me they were “on break”.

I am not the supervisor so I chose not to tell them that this was not an “authorized” break and they needed to get back into the food bank and break down those damn boxes.

This is probably not the sort of anecdote to include on the work blog. Snark has no place there.

Okay, so back to the original point of this post. What did I do during this break?

Well, quite a bit of pondering. And writing in dribs and drabs. That’s kind of how I work with this blogging thing of mine. I sneak a few moments here and there and write a few words. I wish I had a whole day to do this though. I have this image of myself pounding away, fully bereft of a sense of time and possibly place, penning post after post after post. Banking them, if you will. Which is what my boss’s boss wants me to do with the work blog.

Wish me luck.

But I’m so prone to distraction. Radar is a major distraction for me. And it’s not because he’s continuously nudging my arms with his wet nose as I’m typing or that he’s ripping the house apart (though he’s fond of using the bath mat as a chew toy when I’m not paying attention). It’s because I want to be a great dog parent (I almost typed “owner” but that just seems wrong to me. He’s not my slave, after all. Not like I’m expecting him to make dinner for us or anything. Can you imagine?). But I digress. I did mention that I’m prone to distraction, correct? Bottom line-I believe he deserves as much care and attention as I can possibly give him, don’t you all agree?

20190721_175145

I will soon have a spate of days where I’ll be the only human in my house. Hubs has a work trip then shortly after that, he’ll be flying to Wisconsin to help his parents with home repairs. This will be my time. My time to 1) edit my blog’s draft folder (so much in the hopper, people!),  2) write like the fiend I am and 3) finally update my vision board.

Related image

I will of course, during this time, catch up on my favorite shows (you know, the ones Hubs does not appreciate). Like finishing where I left off on the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Finally watching “Wine Country” on Netflix (highly recommended to me by Spawn #2 plus it’s an Amy Poehler creation!). Season 9 of Shameless (gotta keep up with the godforsaken Gallagher’s).

May my t.v. watching not become too big a distraction.

But writing during this time will be my #2 priority after Radar.

Wish me luck!

Bingeworthy TV

I was planning on putting on my “reviewer of t.v. fare” hat on and wax on about how I love the Amazon Prime series “Catastrophe” and how you should all watch it.

But then I caught the Netflix series “Dead to Me” and decided you need to watch that one too.

First things first.

About Catastrophe: this show is, to me, the perfect blend of romance and humor. The writing is simply brilliant. And the very last episode was perfection. So unlike every other show that has a sucky last ever episode. Every single person who worked on this show in any capacity will benefit from this being on their resume.

Weirdly, the last episode included a joke about ceramic bananas (in reference to one of the main characters mom, played by the late great Carrie Fisher). While I believe one could posit that this is a great name for the next great rock band, in the vein perhaps of Greta Van Fleet, I related to it on a personal level.

20190625_070005
This ceramic banana bowl was bequethed to me by my grandmother-in-law before she passed. It now sits as a “catch all” atop my dining room table.

 

Short description of this show: it’s a highly relatable, humorous tale of a marriage between middle agers Sharon, from Scotland, and Rob, from the good old USA. It’s set in England. The two meet, get between the sheets in record time, and before you know it, they are married and Sharon is pregnant. They muddle through life together, have another kid, and presumably live happily ever after (that is why the last ever episode ROCKED.)

Here’s a clip that I think gives you a taste of how this show rolls.

 

Other factors at play throughout the series include both Sharon and Rob’s struggles in their careers (she an elementary school teacher, he an ad man), their periodically dysfunctional family members and friends, and Rob’s struggle with alcoholism. The two of them banter just like real life married people. I so heart this show.

Now onto “Dead to Me”. This show is about sisterhood. The two main characters, played by Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, are tied together by fate. One accidentally kills the other’s husband with her car (it was dark out and they didn’t see him in time), and they wind up in group grief therapy together. The two actresses play off each other so well. Their character’s personalities are quite different, which makes for interesting dialogue. There are twists and turns and plenty of drama, but plenty of laughs as well. I found it incredibly easy, not to mention enjoyable, to watch episode after episode in the span of a couple of weeks. This first season had a “holy shit” sort of ending which makes me so curious where the writers will take the story next. I can only assume there will be a Season 2.

I have recently begun watching “Little Big Lies”, which may be my next bingeworthy series. I was interested in watching it largely due to the actresses in the series: Nicole Kidman. Reese Witherspoon. Laura Dern. Shailene Woodley. Zoe Kravitz.

Now, I have only watched the first 5 episodes of Season 1 thus far, so for anyone who has seen the entire series: No spoilers, please. I love surprises!

My take on this show (aka why I find it bingeworthy): it is set in beautiful California. The camera work showing scenes of the ocean is spectacular. The characters live in beautiful homes and have fabulous wardrobes.

I think the opening credits provide an excellent example of the aesthetics in this show. And this song is gorgeous, right?

Beyond the aesthetics is the complexity of the five primary female characters. They are all dynamic, multi-layered, strong women. They are moms first; they fiercely love their children. They have love/hate relationships with each other and in some cases with their spouses. The superb acting and storytelling are highly compelling. I just know there are deep, dark secrets going on under the surface and I am looking forward to their unveiling.

So tell me, my fellow bingers, what shows are bingeworthy to you? Please share comments on the shows I mentioned if you have also found them bingeworthy.

I’m not really that much of a couch potato

I recently wrote this piece  on my blog. I stand by my conviction that quantity vs. quality should apply to those of us who fancy ourselves writers. I also continue to stand by my conviction that quality ought to trump quantity when it comes to consuming television while lounging on a couch like a damned potato. Though, it should be noted that potatoes don’t actually lounge. It seems more fitting to refer to this state of being as sloth potato, right?!

Image result for images for sloths
Bet you didn’t know you needed a pic of sloths in a hammock today!

While I have indeed been “slothing” it up this fall, enjoying some quality t.v. on my couch with and without the Hubs, I was entirely incorrect about the amount of time I wanted, or thought I actually had, for watching said quality t.v. My bad.

I actually said, in public (aka this blog) no less, that I had 14 hours per week to spend watching quality television. Geez Louise, I am such a silly goose sometimes.

It turns out that I have other, more valuable and indeed necessary, activities to accomplish in the evenings, which precludes me from having 14 hours to simply watch t.v. on my couch like a cute little sloth. Like chatting up my spawn. Like making food. Like checking my Twitter feed. Like reading blog posts and creating my own.

But I most certainly have found time to enjoy a handful of shows to enjoy in the evenings. The shows that, to me, are of the highest quality. The shows that enlighten and educate me, like “This is Life with Lisa Ling”, who recently featured the devastation that can be caused when people become addicted to technology.  How this addiction can change one’s personality and cause them to isolate and lose interest in the pursuits that once fueled them. I give big props to Lisa Ling for bringing to light issues that many of us had not been aware of.

Another t.v. show of high quality which I’ve been consistently watching with Hubs is “9-1-1”.  Actor Peter Krause, from one of my favorite-of-all-time-but-now-unfortunately-canceled shows, “Parenthood”, is one of the main characters. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is a fictional show about the Los Angeles Fire Department and their acts of heroism in the field, and the trials and tribulations of their personal lives. Some of the characters are police officers and some are 911 operators, and they are all connected to each other, whether it be through blood, friendship, or romance. It is exciting to watch and the acting is very good. I highly recommend it.

Then there’s “The Good Place”. Hubs and I have watched this since the very first episode and it never disappoints. In case you haven’t seen it yet, it is a one of a kind gem of a show. If I had to summarize it, I’d say it is a thought-provoking comedy featuring characters that all could be considered hot messes, who each die, go to “The Good Place”, learn that the “good place” is actually the opposite, try as a group in vain to get to the actual “good place”, then get to come back to earth, fully alive, where they have opportunities to make different life choices to redeem themselves so that when they die “for real” they will go to the for real “good place”. And this is all at the mercy of Michael, an “angel” played by Ted Danson. This show is a trip. It’s most definitely a show that you need to start from the very first episode, as Hubs and I did. Or it will make zero sense. Nevertheless, if you haven’t seen it, you should. It is epic.

Other high quality shows that I am making time for this fall include “This is Us”, another one that, if you haven’t watched it yet, must be watched starting from the first episode to make any sense. The relatability factor of the characters is incredible. It drew me in much like “Parenthood” did.

“Shameless” is the other high quality and for many, highly inappropriate show I make time for. Hubs and I started watching it, ironically, while sitting in a hotel room on a New Years getaway to Chicago (where the show is filmed), a few years ago. This was the last time I recall in my adult life I experienced the special hell that is being hungover. Binge-watching “Shameless” got me through that New Year’s Day. The acting on this show is incredible. The story lines are unpredictable. The show is pure dark comedy with heart.

I have continued to watch “Grey’s Anatomy” as well. I’ve watched this show since it started and I continue to watch it primarily because of the character Meredith. She’s such a good egg. She’s the character that we all want to be friends with. Unlike “9-1-1”, Grey’s Anatomy, to me, is much more about the characters as opposed to the medical emergencies they find themselves in the middle of.

I’ve essentially given up on watching “Dancing with the Stars”. Too much of a time commitment for me, as the first episode of the week is 2 hours long and the second episode of the week feels like it’s 2 hours long but I think it’s really just an hour. 

What with watching the news every night (God help us), in addition to Real Time with Bill Maher (thanks to 3 free months of HBO), and our weekly dose of Samantha Bee, these few shows above are the only ones I have time for.

What t.v. shows are you making time for these days, fellow couch sloths?

Quantity over Quality or vice versa?

I recently read a blog post, written by one of my most favorite bloggers, that turned my approach to writing on it’s head. For the longest time, I’ve been tied to the notion that I needed to focus on quality over quantity with my blogging. This has led to many hours of starting and stopping blog posts, editing and re-editing, and not a small amount of anxiety. Because in my mind, it will be the “high quality” (according to me, and why am I only considering my opinion anyway? Good question) blog posts that will launch my writing into infamy.

Thankfully, CJ set me straight. She explained so clearly in her post how writing more, producing actual crap, and then writing even more leads to improvement as a writer. Quantity begets quality, if you will.

The lesson of the students in the ceramics class being split into two, with one group being tasked to produce one “perfect” pot and the other group tasked to produce as many pots as they possibly could within a set time frame was spot on. When I began reading this post, I made the assumption (you know, making an “ass” out of “you and me”) that the group that was tasked with making the “perfect” pots were going to “win” in the end. Because they were going to be taking their time. Visualizing what the end result was going to look like. Focusing their creativity on one simple “perfect” thing.

I was so wrong.

Of course, the students that made multiple pots were the winners in this scenario. They learned from their mistakes as they created pot after pot.  They no doubt tried different techniques and let their creativity flow, being untethered to the idea of creating just one perfect pot. And I’m sure they had way more fun than the other group.

That’s what I’m starting to do with my blogging. I think it could also be referred to as “Spitballing”, a term of which I am especially fond. As in, writing like a madwoman on random topics or just random thoughts about random things and putting them out there on my blog (or not). Seeing what sticks. Being okay with those posts that end up not sticking.

download

Onto the next topic, which is slightly related. But maybe not. 

There are cases, of course, where quality should trump quantity. For instance, my t.v. watching habits. Because while I enjoy getting all comfy at night and gorging on the boob tube, my time is precious. I don’t necessarily need to thoroughly analyze each and every television show I enjoy and weigh their merits, but I think it behooves me to be a little thoughtful about it.

I figure I’ve got roughly 14 hours per week (is that high or low? I have no way to judge this) of time to watch television. There are several shows I enjoy watching. Some with Hubs. Some all by my lonesome. This 14 hours per week is not counting the approximate 1.5 hours daily of news/political programming Hubs and I always watch together (local news, MSNBC, and of course Full Frontal with Samantha Bee).

Perhaps I am watching too much t.v.

Image result for images of liz lemon
My couch potato inspiration, Liz Lemon

Anyhoo, here’s my list of quality television, according to me-don’t judge, that I will resume watching this fall:

  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • 9-1-1
  • The Orville
  • The Good Place
  • Shameless
  • This is Life with Lisa Ling
  • Dancing with the Stars
  • This is Us
  • SNL

So there is some room there for new programming. Approximately 4 hours per week  (perhaps more if I skip to the end on that second, mostly unnecessary second episode of DWTS, to learn who’s dancing abilities sucked enough that they are booted from the show) left. This is where my radar for quality television needs to be employed. I’ve been semi paying attention to the new crop of shows coming out this season, and so far the only one I’m certain to check out is “Murphy Brown”. I watched that back in the day and always found it smart, funny, and entertaining. The re-boot of this show is featuring the same four actors playing the same four characters but in current times, aka “The Trump Era”, which particularly piques my interest.

The only other show I can fathom adding to my list, based on my personal standards of quality  is “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. I watched the first episode when it initially came out and really enjoyed it. I suppose the only reason why I haven’t picked it up again is because it was too “chick flick-y” for Hubs. So clearly this is one to watch all by myself, on those odd days when I’m home alone or the nights when Hubs goes to bed extra early.

Time will tell if there will be other shows I check out.

Tell me, fellow bloggers, what is your take on “quantity vs. quality” or vice versa, in relation to writing and/or t.v. watching? This curious mind wants to know 🙂

My next random blog post

It’s Tuesday morning and I consciously made the decision to get stuff done around the house instead of spending an hour or more typing up the next blog post. Now I’ve got less than 10 minutes.

I also have not been particularly jazzed about writing about any specific topic this week. There are two ways for me to think about this: procrastination might be my friend. In other words, perhaps penning a post with a finite time limit will propel me to write something of substance, something I can be proud of. Giving myself a time limit will prevent me from over-thinking, which is a talent I sadly excel at. The other take I could have is that this could be an opportunity for me to “chill”. Remind myself that I am not in a race. Remind myself that I will not face any truly negative consequences if I choose to not publish this post on Wednesday, which is my typical publishing day. I could wait till Friday, or heck, even Sunday morning.

So here goes nothing. Or something. More likely something in between.

Image result for meme for the word spitball
My theme of the week

 

The other day at my volunteer gig at a local food bank, Santa donated several crates of Nutella. That kind of thing doesn’t happen every day, right? That’s why I love my job helping senior citizens and volunteering at the food bank. I’m interacting with loads of different people and no two days are the same! But for real, he did look like Santa and he shared that he performs as Santa professionally. Funny thing is, I actually know two other male retirees, both from our old church in Wisconsin, who are also happily enjoying gigs as Santa post-retirement. I love those little happy coincidences that life serves up sometimes, don’t you?

I had to acknowledge my age recently when dining out with Hubs in Denver, prior to the James Taylor concert (which was absolutely fantastic, btw). Unbeknownst to me, the  female servers at this restaurant/bar were essentially costumed as strippers. I’m talking bare midriffs, teeny-tiny short shorts, and heavy make up on their precious baby faces. The experience reminded me of those awful reality shows where the little girls are competing in beauty pageants. It was just really troubling to me as a mom.  I struggled to keep myself from telling these young ladies to put on a sweater, for God’s sake!

Lately, Hubs and I have been binge-watching “The Walking Dead”. I find it terrifically fascinating. We actually started watching it a few years ago, but at that time I only made it to the second episode due to the gore and violence. I surprised myself by agreeing to try watching it again, just a couple of months ago, with Hubs. For some reason, the gore and violence, while certainly disturbing, didn’t impact me as strongly as it had a few years prior. When I started getting a little heebie-jeebie-ish, I decided to remind myself that the scenes weren’t actually real (duh, right?) and instead to focus on the amazing make-up, special effects, and costuming that was being showcased. I got to thinking, how much fun must it be for make-up artists to work on this set? So with that little change in perspective, I found myself drawn into the predicament these folks found themselves in. Intrigued by the characters and how they interacted with each other. I think if I was a high school or college instructor of say, psychology, leadership (that’s a thing right?), or philosophy, I would frequently use clips from this show for my lessons. There’s so much material there.

In closing, and more importantly in the spirit of randomness, I present to you the best thing I saw on NPR this week. While it is indeed sad that Koko is no longer among us earthlings, this video made me smile. And it reminded me of what an awesome individual Robin Williams was.

 

Happy fun-day Sunday, blogging peeps!

DWTS Love: Next season’s star picks

I recognize that some of you may not be familiar with the acronym in the title of this blog post. For those people, it stands for “Dancing with the Stars”. This show is my not so guilty pleasure. And a new season is coming soon.

I believe DWTS is the best reality show ever. You’ve got three very different judges, all with years of dancing experience. You’ve got very attractive, talented, professional dancers. You’ve got two affable hosts, Erin Andrews and Tom Bergeron. And of course, you’ve got the “stars”.

I believe the creators of this show use the term “stars” rather loosely. But no matter; the “stars” I enjoy watching the most are the ones that I have not necessarily ever heard of. The ones that have a little spunk.  The ones that have actual dancing abilities or the clear potential to develop them.  Think Kelly and Jack Osbourne (two different seasons). Or Ricki Lake. Or MMA star Paige VanZant. From the most recent season, my favorite contender was the actor Frankie Muniz. He was a revelation. He was so relatable which made him easy to root for.  His confidence and talent increased exponentially each week. Of course, the teen idol from the Disney channel, Jordan Fisher, won-but hey, he was absolutely terrific so I wasn’t too terribly disappointed.

I’m especially enthralled with DWTS when there’s obvious sexual chemistry going on between the professional dancer and the “star”. That just takes the show to a whole other level. Like these two:

Heads up: this is the part of this post where I’m going to play as if I’ve been hired to pick the next batch of “stars” to dance their ways into our hearts on DWTS. Because that could happen, right? Ha ha!

I recently learned that the upcoming season of DWTS is going to feature professional athletes. This makes coming up with a slate of epic contenders challenging for me, a woman who pays minimal attention to professional sports. But  as a die hard fan of this show, I’m going to take a stab at it anyway.

Troy Aikman, former NFL star and current NFL commentator. Image result for troy aikman images

He’s quite a good looking guy who I am certain has some dancing ability courtesy of his football playing days. I’d pair him with Sharna. I could see them performing a wonderful Vienesse waltz together.

Image result for images sharna burgess

Serena Williams: Now who wouldn’t root for this woman? She is without a doubt a phenomenal tennis player, and I heard recently that she’s not planning to play in the next big tennis tournament. Australian Open maybe? Anyway, she recently gave birth to her first baby. There is a history on DWTS of female “stars” joining the cast after giving birth. Well, maybe not directly after giving birth. That would just be wrong on so many levels.

Image result for images for serena williams

Serena would totally rock those glitzy costumes DWTS puts the stars in, right? I’d pair her with that sexy beast Maks.

Tonya Harding: The disgraced former Olympic ice skater would certainly have the right moves and the determination to go all the way. Although I would hate to see her hit poor old Len in the shins if he gave her some negative criticism. Maybe I should scratch that idea. It would not surprise me in the least if she ended up on this upcoming season, however. The movie chronicling the attack on her competitor Nancy Kerrigan (herself an alumni of DWTS), from her perspective (I, Tonya-which I only want to see because of the amazing actor Alisson Janney) is getting lots of buzz, so for sensationalism’s sake I bet they do it. I mean, they did it before, with this douchebag.

David Beckham, professional soccer player/model/Mr. Posh Spice:  Boy, he’d be a bid draw, right? I mean, just look at him! There’s no doubt he’d have some wicked dancing skills.

Image result for images of david beckham

Without a doubt, I’d pair him with the gorgeous and talented Peta.

Image result for images for peta from dancing with the stars

Michael Phelps, a swimming phenomenon and most decorated Olympian of all time. He would be a fun pick. He does appear to be all arms and legs, so dancing may be a challenge for him. But as a professional competitive swimmer, I suspect he’d be up for the challenge.

 

Image result for images for michael phelps

I think he’d be best paired with the fun loving Aussie dancer Emma Slater.

Image result for images of emma slater

 

Danica Patrick, professional race car driver: I really think she would be fantastic. She’s got that competitive spirit and she is drop dead gorgeous.

Image result for images for danica patrick

I think the obvious choice for her dancing partner would be this handsome dancing devil. I would love to see the two of them tango their way to winning that Mirror Ball trophy.

I don’t know that DWTS fans will be lucky enough to have any of these athlete/stars on our screens this spring, but I will be anxiously awaiting to find out who will be cast.

In the meantime, dear readers, I would get some major enjoyment from any opinions you may have about future DWTS contenders that you want to see salsa-ing, cha-cha-ing, or paso doble-ing with the epically talented professional dancers on this show, whether they are athletes or not. Come on, play some “fantasy DWTS” with me!

Why Oprah shouldn’t run in 2020

I along with I suppose gazillions of people on earth watched the Golden Globes last Sunday night. Oprah’s speech was a major highlight, as she inspired us all with hope for the future. People cried, cheered, and many took immediately to Twitter, declaring “Oprah for 2020”.

I get it. If the election was held today, I would vote for her. She has earned the trust of the American people by her inclusiveness, her honesty, and her integrity over the span of many years. And I suspect she’d probably win by a wide margin, especially if she was running against Trump. 

While I could just as easily pen a post declaring the reasons why Oprah should run,  I maintain she shouldn’t run for POTUS.

Why, you ask? In a nutshell, I think she’s got more important things to do. I also suspect that in her heart of hearts, she doesn’t want to be POTUS. I’ve heard her say multiple times in interviews that she has no interest in serving our country in this capacity.

Oprah is an expert, in my opinion, of lifting others up. I loved that unlike some people, she used her podium in this speech not to talk about herself and her own accomplishments, but to lift up the #metoo movement, making sure to note that this movement includes women from all fields, all walks of life, who have been sexually abused or harassed by men in power. She lifted up Recy Taylor  (who I had never heard of before this-thank you Oprah) and Rosa Parks. She emphasized the need for all of us to speak truth to power in these tumultuous times. She said what I think we all needed to hear.

You see, Oprah has exquisite judgement of who it is that deserves our attention. Our support. Our loyalty. I think we need to pay close attention to who she champions as our next political leaders. The female leaders that have political experience. The female leaders that have the right combination of heart and intellect. The female leaders who have the vision to move our country forward, in a positive direction.

Oprah has the financial means and the social influence to shine a bright light on whoever our next candidate for POTUS should be.

That should be her role. At least for now. I would suggest that whoever is our next POTUS, that she appoints Oprah to her cabinet, perhaps as Chief Advisor. That’s something I could really get behind.