Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Please Stand By!

In the 1970s, on a somewhat regular basis, while engrossed in a favorite television show, the screen would go blank and the following message would appear:

We are experiencing technical difficulties. Please stand by.

And that would be accompanied by a ridiculous watercolor rendering of someone with long hair operating a camera. Since it was the 1970s one would assume it was either a hippie or a testament to the feminist movement and someone had set out to depict a stocky woman doing a predominantly male job. Nonetheless, you had to stare at this image indefinitely until the station got its act together and put your show back on the air. By then you'd usually missed most of it.

In the high tech, digital age, technical difficulties mean something entirely different and usually something server or network related. I actually have no computer problems at the moment, but what I will be experiencing for the next five days is a visit from my mother.

This will mean a pause in all things television and blog related. My mother is actually a fantastic TV watcher, however she doesn't much go for The Search for the Next Doll, Top Model, or Work Out, even though she's a Project Runway fan and recently confessed to having watched all of The Real Housewives of Orange County, reunion included.

But, while I'm sure I'll be tuning into some random television in her hotel room, I am usually a trembling ball of exhaustion when maman (cuz she's French) descends upon Seattle from New York like the Tasmanian Devil, whirling dervishing her way through my days, leaving no time or energy for the likes of careful and considered blog post writing.

I will return to my regularly scheduled programming next week. Please stay tuned!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ghosts of West Wing Past

I'm supposed to be writing a post about last week's premiere of Work Out. You will notice that these pictures are not of anyone from Work Out. Or from a gym.

Herein lies the rub: my beloved Jackie Warner (Stu's a little worried I might leave him to *join her gym*) has returned to TV and I was delightfully happy to see all the peeps at Sky Sport & Spa and I took copious notes about items I could address in a post as I watched my TIVOed episode on Friday night. But for some reason, no matter how many times I've sat down to write, I haven't been feeling it. I am feeling remorse for eating a DiGiorno four cheese pizza while watching the trainers perform incessant squat thrusts--ON THE BEACH...IN THE SAND--(although in my defense I had just worked out) and I most definitely feel immense sadness for the loss of Doug Blasdell (I had no idea), but other than that, not much is happening.

What is happening though is that Stu and I are twelve episodes into Sports Night and we are being haunted by ghosts from the past, present, and future: to us, Sports Night appears as the ghost of The West Wing past while in reality it was the ghost of The West Wing future, but watching Studio 60, The West Wing, and Sports Night all within a matter of months, well, you can see how it all adds up to one ghoulish present. Ebenezer Scrooge is nowhere to be found, but Aaron Sorkin's stable of actors, producers, directors, and composers are bedeviling us at every turn.

At the outset, aside from already knowing that Sorkin wrote Sports Night and The West Wing, his scripts seem rather ghostly. Watching Sports Night after The West Wing is like seeing what is to become mature Sorkin dialog with training wheels attached. The screenwriting in Sports Night has the breakneck speed and snapping wit, but it's underdeveloped, not yet fully formed, and definitely not ready to ride on its own just yet.

Delve a touch farther into the opening credits, and we've got numerous episodes directed by Tommy Schlamme, familiar name as executive producer of The West Wing. Hell, if you read through all of the credits on IMDB, you'll see that Timothy Busfield directed a couple of Sports Night episodes as well. And I thought he merely entered Aaron's life as Danny Concannon and is about to leave it as Cal Shanley

And once you see the name W.G. Snuffy Walden flicker across your screen you'll never forget it. So it wasn't particularly shocking to see he was responsible for Sports Night's score as well. It lacks the majestic feel of The West Wing's opening music and whimsical quality of what plays over The West Wing's closing credits, and it sounds a bit too 1980s for something that aired in the 1990s, but it's a catchy Snuffy tune nonetheless!

As for faces on screen, here's where it gets scary. We already knew Joshua Malina (pictured above as Jeremy Goodwin and Will Bailey) went from sports show producer to deputy communications director, but he merely lulled us into complacency so that we were unprepared for the personnel scares that were to follow. If you have heard screams of terror echoing through our apartment, fear not, they are merely shouts of recognition as Stu and I identify actor after actor who we have seen in the future that is really the past and vexes our present:

- Every time I see Ron Ostrow's name in the Sports Night credits, I am certain that I have seen it before, but can never remember where. I finally looked him up, only to learn that he was a reporter in The West Wing's press corp. Ahhh. I feel so much better.

- A pre finally-had-sex-with-Josh Donna appears as a wardrobe assistant who puts Peter Krause's Casey McCall in his unappreciative place. Stu and I have been wondering where Janel Maloney's been since leaving the White House. Apparently she played Amber Frey in a 2005 TV movie. Quite a long way from the oval office...

- Immediately following Janel's cameo (Although it can't really be a cameo if the actor's not famous yet. For Janel it was probably a very exciting bit part.), we watched an episode in which there was to be a blind date for Casey, and a female substitute co-anchor for Dan. I turned to Stu and said, "how much do you wanna bet one of those women is going to be someone we've seen somewhere in Washington D.C.?" Sure enough, there was Lisa Edelstein, high-end call girl/law student/friend of Sam Seaborn, sitting next to Josh Charles (And speaking of ghosts past, here's a fun fact: I went to theater camp with Josh when I was fourteen. What'd ya want? I'm Jewish and from Long Island. It's the law.).

-And in the very next episode, who should appear as a redhead with a cute little bob? If you guessed the next first lady (we wish!), Helen Santos, you would be correct! Stu likes Teri Polo with the kicky cut on Sports Night while I prefer the long, blond, political hair. Maybe it's just that she looks better standing next to Jimmy Smitts. Who wouldn't?

With a season and half left to go, I have the feeling Sports Night will continue to frighten the bejeezus of out of us. And I haven't begun to discuss how many themes and plot points are exactly the same in all three Aaron Sorkin shows (let alone the enormous crossover between The West Wing and Sorkin's movie, The American President). SCARY STUFF!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

What Goes Around Comes Back Dead

In 1980 I was ten years old. It was the birth year of MTV and I began my adolescence when it began its toddlerhood. It formed my formative years. I wanted my MTV and got it. Sometimes, I still get it. Despite my advanced years, I still skip on up to MTV just to check it out, just to keep up with, of course, the dance music (you know how I love "the dance"), and just to see what's up with those crazy kids these days. Largely I just end up getting roped into one of those True Life or Made shows. Amazingly I've yet to succumb to The Hills or Laguna Beach, but I have been known to sit through an episode of My Super Sweet Sixteen, which always makes me thankful that I've decided not to reproduce. And let's not forget the fact that I watched the first ten seasons of The Real World. By MTV's standards, I'm so old that one of my college suite mates was asked to be on the first season when we were seniors. Actually, we're so old that she was a Club MTV dancer--before Julie Brown wubba, wubba, wubbaed as the host.

But sometimes, lo and behold, I get to see a video.

I'd been waiting for Justin Timberlake's What Goes Around Comes Around video for several weeks. Not only did I read about Scarlett Johansson's starring role and was most curious to see how that would play out, but also, put plainly and simply and unequivocally proudly, I am a ginormungous JT fan. And I don't mean just because he brought Sexy Back. I mean because he was Justified (I thank the Girl from Hickopolis for buying the cd for my birthday that year, against her wishes at the time. She's since come around to the wonder that is JT.). I suppose I should be able to say that I've been with him since he was 'N Sync with the teeny boppers, but I wasn't doing much bopping in my mid-late twenties. However, if during those years I had been forced to identify the cutest member of a boy band, I knew enough to know his name and pick his blond fro out of a line up. But ever since the Mouseketeer grew up, got duped by Britney, and cried a river, I've been there. Oddly though, my passion for JT is not like the desire I have for anyone on my "list" (Clive Owen, Sean Bean, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Matt Damon). There's just something I like about the entire JT thing. I like the whole of him: the music, the image, and it goes without saying, the dancing. Of course, always, the dancing.

I had purchased Future Sex/Love Sounds (I still don't know what the hell that's supposed to mean) the day it was released, and like everyone else, immediately went right for the melodic What Goes Around, yet another Brit dis, which gives one pause as to why JT still feels the need to have another song that laments his being cheated on since he already wrote an album full of bitterness on the last go round. Clearly he's still working through something and perhaps there is more to the the Diaz debacle than Justin's needing to be free to be with Scarlett and Jessica Biel. But no matter. I love the song and couldn't wait to see what was sure to be its sultry visual rendering if the advanced shots of Scarlett in her lusty attire were any indicator.

I've finally managed to catch the video twice now and after two viewings, even though I graduated cum laude from a fine institution, I'm still not quite sure what (open air quotes) "message" (close air quotes) JT is attempting to convey.

The song section of the video shows Justin singing in some high end, upscale 1930s circus scenario. Actually, there's nothing circus-like about it except that there are women in clown-like unitards, dancing with flaming hoola hoops. It's nuanced, and yet, not nuanced at all. What goes aROUND comes back aROUND. Hoola hoops are ROUND. Is this song not about a cycle, a circle, the circle of love, life, fidelity, infidelity, and ultimately death, the end of all cycles and/or circles? We shall see...

As for the narrative of the video, the first verse establishes that JT and Scarlett are hot and heavy (as well as living in some decade that is suffering from an identity crisis between the present and the 1930s in which Justin is continually performing). But perhaps, Scarlett is a bit-- unbeknownst to JT--unstable. As she drowns in a pool, apparently deceased, JT rushes into the water to save her only to find that it's a joke. Scarlett bursts through the water's surface, assuming she has been delightfully amusing by playing dead. Not so much for Justin. He is not amused in the least, but his anger is short-lived because of course, when someone tries to mash her lips against yours while you're attempting to yell at her for giving you a coronary because you thought she had lost her life in an untimely and tragic drowning, making out will immediately quell your fears. Hot sex with a psychotic can be very distracting.

In the following verse, Justin is out with a male friend at a club when Scarlett approaches. She kisses Justin passionately and greets the friend. The chemistry between Scarlett and JT's pal is palpable! Scarlett's vampish stares kinda give it away as well. More singing and threesome chatting ensue until we cut to Scarlett in a make out session in a stairway with...NOT JUSTIN! Is it...is it...why yes, it is none other than Justin's buddy!

Justin casually enters this stairway, which seems odd as it looks like some strange warehouse stairway that no one would ever casually enter because I don't think it actually leads anywhere. But enter nonchalantly JT does, and naturally, stumbles upon his unfaithful girlfriend and apparently not-all-that-good-of-a-friend friend. Justin is rightfully livid and begins to pummel his amigo. Scarlett tries to put a stop to the violence but gets palmed in the face like a basketball during March Madness (so appropriate or perhaps Freudian as Stu is downstairs watching the Tennessee/Ohio State game right now). She is upset and dashes out of the stairwell, out of the building, and into to her sports car. And I can't tell what decade that thing is supposed to come from either. Justin runs after her and speeds off behind her in his own timeless sports vehicle.

The roads are dark. The cars are moving too fast. The drivers are reckless with heightened emotion. If memory serves, Scarlett crashes into a car that had previously crashed and is now in flames--and one might have thought Scarlett could have seen that from a mile away. Well, as Bill Murray says to the squirrel in Groundhog Day, "Don't drive angry!" In slow motion, Scarlett's car is air born and tumbling through sky, Justin looking on in terror.

We then come to the vocal breakdown wherein Justin sings/talks of "paint[ing] a picture" of a cheating KFed for Brit. When the brief monologue is over and the song draws to a close, we see that Scarlett is dead on the road. Unlike her earlier play at drowning, she does not revive herself, and oddly enough, despite what looks like a particularly horrific car crash from which she was thrown through the windshield, she lays with her perfectly alabaster skin sans a single scratch (where were last week's Top Model make up artists?), which leads me to the following conclusions about the video's intentions and message:

If you scare the crap outta your boyfriend by pretending to drown in a pool and then he catches you cheating with someone he introduced you to, you'll probably get into a flaming car wreck and end up dead for real.

So even though the song is about Britney's screwing with Justin romantically, we're really bypassing the issue of infidelity and taking on mortality. Don't mess with the gods. If they see you play dead, you might actually end up dead. What goes around really does come around!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Death and Taxes

Death becomes Jaslene, whether she's the killed or the killer.

They say that death and taxes are the only two things in this life of which you can be certain. However, if you've watched eight cycles of America's Next Top Model, by now you've learned that there are just a few more things to be sure of in this world:

1. That the smart girl who left Dartmouth to model and is $9K in the hole to Daddy (And not Sallie Mae? There probably won't be any creditors knocking at her door any time soon after graduation.) and was accused of not being a model in the previous episode will do her *I'm-determined-and-that's-why-I-got-into-an-Ivy-League-school-
and-can do-anything-I put-my-mind-to* best and win $40K worth of bling in a test of modeling agility. (How cool is Benny Ninja, the posing coach? Where can I get a name and job like that?)

2. That Whitney would have to linger before opening her box after everyone else, which clearly held the winning bling because a) everyone else's boxes were already open, and b) who couldn't see that coming from beyond the laser maze, out past the doors of the warehouse, and into the Los Angeles street? And how poorly acted was Whitney's gasp of shock and surprise over the bracelet's being in her box as if she OMG just could not believe it! Thank god the acting lessons are merely a few episodes away--another thing of which you can be sure.

3. That the girl who claims destitution, but who's been labeled the beeyatch of the house, will, despite her mounting debt and dreams to provide for her husband and child, not only not win the $40K diamond bracelet, but, great efforts aside, stink to holy hell at the challenge, just to take her down a peg or two.

4. That when destitute Renee is left alone with her failure, she will profess to not being able to handle her own broken spirit and cry to her husband to come get her and take her home, where she should be. Well, yeah she should be at home with her child and not traipsing about on a reality television show, but that's a point I'll stop making eventually.

5. That Renee was most certainly not going home, and was gonna turn herself around and crank out the best photo of the week. Tyra loves a turnaround!

6. That in every episode until her elimination (and you can be sure there will be an elimination), Natasha will say something that's either a sign of stupidity or a language barrier. This week Natasha thought she was going to be deported by the Voguing D.O.T. officer.

7. That if Felicia has to ask if Tyra has a fierce picture they can look at, you can bet your Pussycat Doll ass cheeks she's going home. Seriously--I called that one before Felicia had the crappy photo shoot. First of all, isn't every picture of Tyra fierce (according to Tyra)? And second of all, isn't the house filled with pictures of the woman? Need Felicia wonder aloud if there's one--fierce or not--to gaze upon for inspiration? Like god creating man (you know, if you're down with that creationism thing), Tyra created that house in her image. Oh wait, not in her image, but decorated in her image. My mistake.

8. That if someone has just gotten news of the death of a close friend, the photo shoot will involve...DEATH! Remember Kahlen in a coffin as wrath the day her friend died? Suspicious, no?

9. That the minute Renee decided she wasn't going to tell a soul about her excellent photo shoot, Jay was gonna turn around and tell the entire dressing room. Has he ever done that before? Did you not figure out he was gonna do it the minute Renee said she wouldn't? Indeed, Top Model's consistency in contrivances is as certain as death!

10. That if Felicia insists that she has had a fabulous photo shoot and jumps up and down in her underwear shouting "I'm not going home! I'm not going home!" she's going straight home come time for Tyra to only have two photos in her hand.

11. That Sarah is going to mention her experience as a photographer in every episode. She reminds me of Star Jones who, during her stint on The View, began her every response to every question with "Well, as a lawyer..." You could ask her what her favorite pre-gastric-bypass flavor of ice cream was and she would reply, "Well, as a lawyer, it's got to be Chubby Hubby."

12. That in cycle eight of Top Model, Tyra is going to wear some form of a head scarf during every judging panel.

13. That I will deliberate on every model:

Brittany: Is she ever gonna take a bad picture?

Diana: So many girls had good shots this week, Diana included, that I'm not going to comment on every single picture, but god knows there's always something good to be said about something someone did. For Diana, it was showing us that she had a tad of insight when she said she wasn't buying Renee's seeming 'tude change. Perhaps she's not the dolt I imagined her to be last week.

Dionne: Here's what I loved about Dionne this week, bottom feeder status aside: Right before she started the laser maze, Dionne went on and on about how the hell she was gonna get through that thing and what the hell and oh my lord jesus there was no way she was gonna figure out how to get to the end. What's the first move she makes? A drop-to-the-floor split.

Felicia: Even though she had a clear grasp of the meaning of "oxymoron," which I found highly impressive, her knowledge of the contradiction of looking alive while pretending to be dead just didn't translate in her photo. Baby Tyra is outta there. BTW--have you ever seen Tyra give exit advice before (unless you count the infamous Tiffani tirade)?

Jael: I still can't stand the fact that this girl couldn't open her mouth all the way if her life depended on it, but when you can actually understand what the hell she's saying, I fully appreciate that she says crap like, "I acted the damn fool but had such a good time." Dark girl's got a sunny side. Go figure.

Jaslene: Bringing it in another awesome photo and bringing the oomph to panel. Now if someone would only bring her some nachos. That girl is just ridiculously skinny. But I love her anyway.

Natasha: The only girl who can only model upside down.

Renee: Never let it be said that I don't give credit where credit is due. I didn't think she looked particularly dead in her shot, but it was a beautiful shot nonetheless. I still don't have to like her, do I? You saw the clip from next week's show. You know she can't change her beeyatch ways.

Sarah: "As a photographer..." get over yourself Star Jones Reynolds!

Whitney: She's keeping the bracelet. Yeah--I didn't think she was all that concerned about that nine grand she owes her father. Her photo shoot was a little floppy for my tastes--as in she just kept flopping from pose to pose, I think, in an attempt to make it seem as if she had just landed in that position post model attack--but quite an improvement from last week and I'm still rooting for the big girls. Can't wait to see her get into it with Renee next week!

And until next week, you are still in the running towards becoming America's Next Top Model!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Notes on a Pussycat Doll Search

This post is dedicated to kick ass women like Pat Benatar and that lunatic Dame Judi Dench played in Notes on a Scandal who's really more crazy than kick ass, but it works for the post and it's funny, so I'm running with it. Also, I just realized that the sucky CWTV site is not putting up new photos of the show and I'm gonna get tired of the available pics pretty damn soon, so this week, we're going with Pat and Judi!

To that end, a la Dame Judi's scandalous diary, I present my notes on tonight's episode of The Pussycat Dolls Present The Search for the Next Doll:

March 20, 2007

Seated on my couch, notebook in hand (I most certainly cannot remember absolutely everything that transpires between these girls if I don't put pen to paper!), thusly begins another episode of The Pussycat Doll show, which is what I much prefer to call it. I find the entire title completely abhorrent. I refuse to use it on principle and in fear of repetitive stress injury from typing so many utterly unnecessary letters.

Ah, tonight's theme: personality or persona, as Robin Antin seems to enjoy mixing it up a bit by using the two interchangeably, lest we tire of the constant use of one of the words. What a pity that throughout the entire episode, I saw not one thing that demonstrated that any of the potential pussycats actually had a personality, or persona, except perhaps Sisely, who's overarching persona seems to need quite a bit of time for sleep and rehearsal.

Here, I must address my great elation regarding the choice of Pat Benatar's Heartbreaker as one of the songs to be performed! One of my greatest influences in my youth was Benatar's oeuvre, including In the Heat of the Night and Crimes Passion. At nine years of age, I knew not about what she was singing when she belted out "You're the right kind of sinner, to release my inner fantasies!" But I knew that I would one day have my own inner fantasies (Clive Owen) and thought it wise to run around the house in a unitard shouting to everyone who would listen that someone, one day, would indeed be the right kind of sinner (Clive Owen).

On this next matter, I have not much to comment, however I feel it is my duty to remind you, dear diary, of choreographer Mikey, swiveling his hips in a lurid fashion and shouting out "push push push push push push push!" I shall relive it incessantly.

An imploration to Ms. Antin: under no circumstances, should you ever--and I must reiterate--EVER, jump up and down in a fit of excitement. It was rather horrifying and I beg of you, should you find yourself announcing a makeover to an assemblage of giddy girls who believe your brother to be some sort of hairstyling Svengali, please contain your clearly insincere enthusiasm and stand perfectly still. This will be to the benefit of all.

I am quite certain that I have never seen more posteriors than on this show. Must all the girls flounce around in cotton hot pants with their ass cheeks visible to the entire world at all times? Is this what the skinny girls wear on a regular basis? I recall when I was able to clothe myself in a size zero, while I was attired in some rather constricting denim trousers, I did not reveal my--excuse my Yiddish--tush on national television. Granted, I was not afforded the opportunity, but I think I make my point quite clear.

These makoevers are a complete travesty! I believe it slipped someone's mind to inform Mr. Antin that the term is "makeover," and not, "make-look-exactly-the-same-as-before." The one exception to this seems to be Chelsea who looks far less ogre-like with her newly coiffed bangs. And yes, her vocal performance actually did stand out, which was no feat, but garnered her a spot in the next round nonetheless.

I do believe that if Sisely utters the words "sleep" and "rehearsal" and Jamie lets fly out of her mouth the words "confidence" and "persona" one more time, I shall find a very large shovel, beat them both over the head with it, and bury them in rather shallow graves in the garden behind my home. Of course these are two of my favorite pussycats, so I will do no such thing. I was merely expressing my exasperation at their relentless discussions of these concepts. In addition, I own no shovel nor home and have not a garden, so carrying out this task would be of the utmost difficulty.

A word of advice to Ms. Sisely--and I say this with great love--if you are so deeply concerned about the quality of your voice and preserving said quality in light of much missed sleep, perhaps you should not be screaming at the top of your lungs at the newly banged Chelsea, who was clearly coached by some off screen presence as to how she should best inhale deeply and glare at Sisely before a cut to commercial.

And speaking of off screen coaching, who is behind Anastacia's seemingly choreographed eye movements? When her performance ended, she posed along side her pole and glowered murderously at Melissa S, who had possibly earned that glare as she had won the earlier challenge, likely inciting much jealousy in her fellow pussycat contenders. Moments later when it was announced that Anastacia's group had won and all would be safe from elimination, Anastacia's eyes seemed to be attempting to seduce Mariela into some sort of bi-lesbian-chic scenario. Mariela was so overcome with joy and pride during this episode that I sense her highly emotional state might allow her to be lead down such a path.

As for this challenge wherein Melissa S. was granted immunity from elimination and Mariela tearfully proved to herself that she had vocal capabilities, the very thought of tossing the girls into a studio and merely replacing the vocals of Don't Cha (what sort of madness is this spelling?) only serves to remind me of how I used to sing to the instrumental B-side of Madonna's Live to Tell. It also brings back fond memories of the vocal booths available at Six Flags Great Adventure where in pre-karaoke days, one could choose a song out of a book and enter a similar recording booth and have oneself recorded crooning his or her favorite tune. I opted for Bette Midler's The Rose. Oh, the pathos.

No pathos in that performance of my beloved Heartbreaker, however. For all of her punk rock abilities, Sisely was horrifically off tempo. She looked quite the part but apparently lack of sleep and rehearsal...well, enough said on that note, I imagine!

But in the end it was my lovely little kicky Jamie who was told she was not to become the next Pussycat Doll. Life is indeed cruel, and well edited if you live your life on a CWTV reality show, as it goes without saying that dear Jamie was asked to hang up her boa because of her lack of personality. Oh, the irony.

Until next week, dear diary, may we all loosen up those buttons and fling our pink boas about!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The End of an Era.The End of a Two-Term Presidency. The End of Another Five Months.

Last night, Stu and I sat down to watch the final episode of The West Wing. The red Netflix envelope had been on our coffee table for a couple of days and I'd been eyeing it with extreme enthusiasm and utter dread. For five months we'd revelled in the phenomenally good episodes (and they were some of the best television I'd ever seen), slogged through the painstakingly bad ones (and they were just abysmally, horribly, awfully, ridiculously bad), fell in love with the incoming and outgoing characters (okay, that was mostly me falling in love with Josh, but Stu really, really liked Donna), and I even went so far as to take a practice LSAT on line just to see if I should consider pursuing a mid-career transition to law and politics (it's still up for discussion). And at the end of it all, we were about to be freed of our five month servitude in the West Wing. Much like C.J. Cregg herself, we were about to walk out of the building with equal amounts of elation and depression.

After the final credits of our final episode, I sat on the couch, unable to let go of the roll of toilet paper we'd needed as makeshift tissues. Stu picked himself up and began maneuvering through the apartment, picking up a piece of mail here and a water glass there, the evening progressing along. I still hadn't moved and I still hadn't stopped crying. Stu looked at me, "Are you afraid that if you get up, it will really be over?" I nodded pathetically. I was so excited to learn the fate of the characters in whose lives I had become so invested (the reason I insisted we sit through the horrid post-Sorkin seasons--I needed to know everything that was to befall my beloved peeps!), but I was devastated by their being extracted from life, yanked from my day to day existence with a shocking and painful rip and pull.

And that's the thing about watching a show on DVD, the episodes piled up one on top of the other. You live and breathe these people's lives, inhaling their every experience. The first show Stu and I watched on DVD was Sex and the City. I was attempting to write a sitcom pilot at the time and wanted to watch a show after which I thought I might like to model mine. I strode to the video store with great purpose and came home with DVDs of Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Larry Sanders Show, and Sex and The City (clearly, I was going for that HBO, no laugh track thing.). After gobbling up the first season's episodes like they were pink M&Ms (They have those now. You know, breast cancer awareness candy!), Stu and I noticed that we would both constantly dream about the show and its characters. I remember tossing and turning in my bed, night after night, thinking of nothing but Big and Carrie, Miranda and Steve-o, high fashion and non-stop brunches and cocktails.

The same thing happened when we started our second DVD series, Dawson's Creek. Our watching this was the result of Stu tearing his rotator cuff while on vacation in Mexico. Spending much of his time in the hotel room, he became quickly addicted to the English reruns of Dawson's Creek that were on every day at 5PM. I will never forget his shouting to me as I showered off the day's sun block and sand, "Honey, you gotta come watch this!" "What is it?" I yelled back. If you know Stu at all, you would understand my shock and amazement when his answer was, "Dawson's Creek!" More shock and amazement would follow were you to learn that not only did we rent the entire series upon our return from South of the border, but also purchased several of the seasons and downloaded the rest of off TIVO. Midway through the shows, my nights became nothing but eight-hour long deliberations: Pacey or Dawson, Dawson or Pacey! Must decide. Must decide!

I sobbed and wailed equally as hard at the end of Sex and the City and Dawson's Creek. It was all so bittersweet: Big and Carrie finally together! Steve and Miranda finally married! Charlotte finally adopting! Samantha finally clear of cancer and able to hold someone's hand! But, MAN, nothing topped Jen Lindley DYING on the Creek. WTF?!?!? I had become so attached to these people and they seemed to disappear from my life as quickly as they had appeared on my television screen.

That's the thing about watching a show unfold over several years on television versus watching them over a few months on DVD...

There's no other series finale as renowned as M*A*S*H. I was only thirteen when the series ended, but my sister and I, both devout fanatics, cried our adolescent eyes out over the 4077th's goodbyes (Not to mention the irony of Klinger's being the only one who would actually remain in Korea. That just about killed us.). But we had spent years with these people (No, I didn't start watching the show when I was two. Reruns and syndication, people!). We had been through so much with them over so long a period of time. It was shocking to think they wouldn't be with us anymore on a weekly basis (But how happy was I to see Hawkeye return to TV on The West Wing? Sure he was a republican, but whatever...Hawkeye Pierce!), but after eleven years it's time to let go, devastating as it might feel. And I felt the exact same thing and shed the same amount of tears when Cheers and Friends ended.

But when you watch a show over only a few weeks and months as opposed to years, the characters become close friends of yours in a very short amount of time. The relationship you have with them is so intense, not diluted and spread out over manageable increments, your emotions kept in check by the passage of all of your lives. With a weekly show, you age as they age. You progress with your life while they progress with theirs and you reconnect once a week, and generally take summers off from one another. But when you watch a show on DVD, there are no breaks, and while the show's character's lives progress by years, yours only progresses by days and weeks. It's a very odd dynamic, so that when you're done with the show, its vanishing from your life seems tragic and premature.

So with the swiftness with which the White House staff has packed up President Bartlett's belongings and moved in President Elect Santos' things, Stu and I have been shoved out of the West Wing. We are like C.J. walking away from the gate and blending anonymously into the crowd, off to a new life, a new set of experiences, and a new set of friends.

All I can say now is thank god the Netflix envelope containing disc one of Sports Night showed up this morning! It's only two seasons and it never quite ended so it's final moments shouldn't be all that painful...should they?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

There's No Crying in Baseball!

Penis, er,I mean ice cream, anyone? Phallic symbol aside, I'm actually just posting this pic so I can continue to fulfill my new lifelong goal of annoying the crap outta Renee. This week Brit seemed to get Renee's goat, so, way to go, Brit!!

Was the entire cast of America's Next Top Model PMSing this week? There seemed to be an inordinate amount of crying. I'll cut Jael all the slack she wants cuz, well, dead friend and all. That kinda trumps everything and the girl can shed as many tears as she's got.

Brittany, on the other hand, excellent model though she is, needs to dehydrate and stop producing so much fluid from behind her eyes. I'm sure it sucks to get a painful weave that looks awesome. I'm sure it sucks to win the challenge when you feel like puking. I'm sure it sucks to worry about being nude while holding ice cream in your apparently very sensitive hands and then take the best picture of the week. All of these things HARDSHIPS. We feel your pain, girl. But please--and I quote Melissa Manchester whom I believe said it best-- please, "don't cry out loud." For all of our sakes, "just keep it inside and learn how to hide your feelings."

Now at one point, Whit BROKE IT DOWN for Brit (Don't you like how I broke down those names so they totally rhyme? Sure, Whitney and Brittany rhyme too, but it's just not quite as clever, now is it?). Whit told Brit that where she comes from people cry cuz someone got shot, not cuz their new hairdo was bothersome. However, a mere thirty minutes later during panel, Whitney cried like she had the weight of every plus sized model on her shoulders. Did you see that crazy crying face? I thought she was upset because her fellow plus girl was a bottom feeder, but she cried equally as hard when Cassandra was sent packing.

Of course by then, the entire damn cast was sobbing uncontrollably, hence my original question. Is it PMS week on Top Model or what?

And of course, we could continue this line of questioning and use Renee's ongoing beeyatchedness as further evidence of the lunar cycle. In this week's episode of Hall & Oates presents "Bitch girl" (Yeah, I know the song is "Rich Girl" and the lyric I'm referring to is actually, "it's a bitch girl," but "bitch girl" is technically a direct quote, just out of context. I'm so ready for a job with real media.), Renee is soooo bored by Brittany and will stop at nothing to tear her down, including telling Brittany she needs to get off of her pedestal for not expecting a house full of girls to talk smack about her behind her back. Sure Renee makes a pragmatic point in pointing out that a house full of caddy girls can only result in gossip and back stabbing, but somehow she twisted her own logic and made herself look stupid. Way to go! Brittany came back with the only possibly retort: "I'm still kicking your ass in this competition!" Indeed.

Screwing herself again, Renee noted that in Jael's time of mourning, she "didn't need any fake bitches being her friend," and proceeded to offer no support to Jael whatsoever. So basically, Renee is implying that by abiding by what she just said, she herself is a fake bitch because if she wasn't she should have offered support to Jael. Either that or Renee is admitting to being the most unsupportive bitch around. There's an LSAT logic question in there somewhere.

On to deliberations (makeovers and photo shoots!)!

Brittany: She may be holding ice cream on a prick, but this girl always knows what to do with her face and body. And the painstaking weave looks like it was worth every grueling minute.

Cassandra: The 'fro looked good, but that was pretty much the only thing that did. I'm sure she's a delight to be around, but as Jade said two cycles ago, "this is America's Next Top Model, not America's Next Top Friend." I am loathe to quote Jade, but she had a point there and it was one of the few sentences she spoke in coherent English.

Diana: Is it just me, or is Diana a dolt? I hate to be mean, but I think I heard her call the non-plus-sized models "straight girls." Seriously. And when she was asked why she was so nervous and uncomfortable with her body she vacantly replied, "oh, I don't know..." You could tell even Tyra was with me on the dolt thing. Tyra replied quite sarcastically, "Some self-reflection then maybe." Diana was just like "oh, okay." Hello! Anybody home, McFly?

Dionne: Lovelovelove the short haircut on her and lovelovelove that during the photo shoot she shouted out, with all of the happiness and sincerity she could muster, "You know what, Jay, I think I'm more comfortable naked!"

Felicia: I'm just gonna say the same thing about her every week. She is nice. She is lovely. She is nice and lovely. And while the dark hair and bangs make her stand out a bit more than she did before, I just don't ever see her as anything more than nice and lovely.

Jael: I'm kinda crushing on Jael right now. As much as I abhor whining and excuse making, the opposite is also true in that I adore maturity and professionalism and all around stepping up when it's necessary. Jael did that and more. Not only did she suffer through an eight hour weave only to have to suffer through having it removed and then totally rocking her crop cut and then kicking ass in her photo, but she dealt with the loss of her friend with a hell of a lot of grace. And in a moment of seriousness, a la Tyra with her enlarged, understanding eyes of sympathy, I do send my condolences to Jael and her friend's family. If you've ever lost anyone close to you, you have to acknowledge it when someone else goes through it, even if they're on a stupid reality show.

Jaslene: Still rocking the photos but can't get it together in person. Surely after Tyra's insightful lesson on culture and ethnicity, Jaslene's Latino spunk will spring to life again.

Natasha: Great pin-up shot until you got to those squinty eyes. What was she doing? The dark hair and bangs are fine cuz she's a beautiful girl, but...waiter, vodka, straight up, please!

Renee: I so dislike Renee that I can't even comment on her picture. If she were a spectacular model I would cut her some slack for being so heinous, but she's at best mediocre so what's the point? Linda Evangelista seems like a raving bitch, but at least she's stunning and an amazing model and doesn't get out of bed for less than $50,000 a minute or some such number that's the equivalent of what I make in year (The actual quote is in the page I linked to. It's far less dramatic that I what I just wrote for her.).

Sarah: Excellent shot and her know-it-all narcissism was pretty in check this week. The dark hair is fine, although I preferred the blond pixie.

Whitney: That skin is to die for, but the face...relax, girl! You're pretty, you're smart--sure you look weird when you burst into hysterical tears, but other than that, you know, go with it!

Until next week, you are still in the running towards becoming America's Next Top Model!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

They're Off and Meowing!

Oh, Search for the Next Doll, how art thou like America's Next Top Model? Let me count the ways:

1. Both shows are like watching porn movies. You really just want to see the photo shoots and performances so you sit through the rest until you get to the good parts. And with the Pussycat Dolls, when you get to the performances, it actually is kinda like porn, so this analogy really works, with all due respect to the porn industry.

2. Both shows are hosted by icons of their industries. I might debate Robin Antin's iconic status but as Next Doll is trying to make us believe that the Pussycat Dolls are some enormously influential cultural force (I believe Mark McGrath referred to them as "the biggest girl group of all time" with which I might beg to differ), we'll let them run with that. However, Robin's understated and downright chilly demeanor is no match for Tyra's faked orgasms of interest in her models. Robin lacks Tyra's narcissism, but she also lacks the joy that goes along with it. Crack a smile, woman! Tyra may only be smiling because she sees herself in all of her girls, but at least she looks happy in her own reflection!

3. As second-in-commands, Top Model has a snarky, platinum blond creative director in Jay and Next Doll has a snarky, bald choreographer in Mikey. Mirroring their commanders, Jay seems like a warm snuggly puppy compared to Mikey's cold, wet, and dead-fish personality.

4. On both shows, the contestants must share a lavishly decorated home (and by lavish, I mean abundant furniture and decor from IKEA) and scream wildly upon first sight of every pillow, faucet, and doorknob. Extra points for the Next Doll's house: no pictures of Tyra AND they have a dance studio. Score!!

5. Both shows give instructions as to next tasks via mail. Top Model has the now legendary Tyra Mail while Next Doll just has generic Mail. However, Next Doll smartly anticipated the potential low I.Q. of their girls and their mail is actually a video with someone spelling out the details of the coming activities as opposed to Top Model's producers still having yet to understand that their girls just cannot decipher any code or riddle.

6. In this particular season, both shows have a young mother who has weepily left behind her toddler so she can spend the entire season crying about how she's pursuing the dream of being a (fashion) model or (sex) dancer/singer for the benefit of her child. I think we all know how I feel about this.

7. Both shows attempt to teach their girls something concrete (walking!) or conceptual (confidence!) and then put them up to a challenge that reflects all they have learned from the day's hard work. Both shows declare a winner of said challenge, but ah, Next Doll has gone all Project Runway on us and declared that the winner of the challenge will be "safe" from that week's elimination.

8. Both shows take great pains to introduce their judges and offer some biographical data. Mercifully, Next Doll only has three to get through. And no judge on Top Model has ever had as much plastic surgery as Lil' Kim. No prizes for Next Doll to announce (we all seem to be clear on the one), but that means no waiting for Tyra to announce what we've already heard one million times while we watch the models react as if they're hearing them for the first time, every single time.

9. Of course, both shows have judges' deliberations! And of course, both shows will have mine. So for this week's dolls:

Melissa R.: Not as strong as I might have liked, but I still think she's got what they're looking for.

Brittany: A fine nuance and distinction, to be sure, but I do agree that her sexy dancing was actually LESS classy than the Dolls. Plus her attempting that solo vocal run kinda blew. You're outta there!

Asia: This chick is a Knicks girl!? Screw the Pussycat Dolls--the Knicks City Dancers, baby!!

Sisely: I know this girl can sing and maybe last night's song wasn't the best for her voice and maybe she's not the best dancer, but there's something about her that makes me think she's gonna KICK IT. Soon.

Anastasia: I'm just gonna start calling her the Towering Inferno cuz she is so damn tall and hot. She could use a little more chutzpah on stage, but with some work, she could be a burning building of a force to be reckoned with.

Mariela: She's the fab ballet dancer I adore for no other reason than that's she the fab ballet dancer I adore. Oooh--circular logic!

Chelsea: Surprisingly good singer. Not surprisingly bad dancer.

Melissa S. Eh. That's all I want to say about her. So I'll say it again. Eh.

Jamie: There is something about this girl that I lovelovelove. She's just cute and kicky and I want her to win. And yeah, she's pretty good at the dancing and the singing, but really, one should win just for kickiness, shouldn't one?

10. Both shows dramatically call out the names of those who get to remain on the show for at least one more week. Models get their photos handed to them. Dolls, don't forget those boas! Models hear "You are still in the running towards becoming America's Next Top Model." Dolls hear "Congratulations." Someone's getting the short end of the stick here.

11. Both shows make a ginormous deal of pointing out the flaws and mistakes of the last two girls to be called, one of whom is getting the high-heeled boot. I like to call the last two girls "bottom feeders."

12. And finally, we come to the ceremonial closing of each week's episodes. When a Top Model has to hit the road, she is directed to "pack up her belongings and go home." A rejected Doll is told she "will not be the next Pussycat Doll. Please hang up your boa." Hugs all around for both models and dolls alike. Can you feel the love tonight?

At the end of a Top Model post, I always tell readers that until next week, they are still in the running towards becoming the next top model! I believe it is time for what will be my weekly Doll closing, in honor of my love for the song Buttons as well as my burgeoning obsession with the boas:

Until next week, loosen up those buttons and fling those pink boas, baby!

From Rags to Riches, Bel Air to Brooklyn, en Route to Miami

The Malloys go from traveling bandits to gated-community residents in The Riches.

This post is voyage of sorts—a journey of the mind and the soul and of the remote control. It is not, however, a journey of the body, unless you consider the flight of my ass cheeks from one side of the couch to the other, possibly the result of early onset rheumatoid arthritis in my hip joints.

The journey began at 10PM last night when I sat down to watch the much anticipated premiere of The Riches. I was in a rather chipper mood, despite my STILL being sick and having spent my third day in a row in the apartment. I was still hacking green things out of what felt like my left lung, but I was looking forward to a new television show, a good night’s sleep, and at very least, a day where I might make contact with the outside world.

Sadly, as of 1:25PM the following day, none of the above has yet to occur. Firstly, I did not enjoy The Riches and the only reason I can come up with is that I’m just not much for the crime genre. I can’t get into any of the Crime Scene Investigation Shows, Missing People Shows, or Sexy Coroners Solving Crime Shows (except for Quincy M.E. cuz that show was awesome, way better than Diagnosis Murder because as much as I adore Dick Van Dyke, can you really top Jack Klugman when it comes to sexy, surly crime solving?). It seems the only crime related shows I’ve had brief fixations with are Homicide and Law and Order, which if left to Dostoevsky, would imply that I was far more interested in punishment than crime.

So while, I thought The Riches was an excellent production with a compelling script and great performances, I didn’t take to it. But of course, I wanted to write about it. But I just couldn’t figure out what to write. At 11PM, I took some cough suppressant, thought I’d hit the hay, sleep on it, and come up with something on my way to work in the morning. Unfortunately, I never slept. I believe there must have been some stimulants in that cough suppressant that touted “non-drowsy” as a selling point. Usually I steer clear of such things with my heightened sensitivity to all things caffeine-like, but I had taken it mid-day and napped rather nicely. Although, now that I think of it, that was probably due to a drug combination issue, Nyquil having remained in my system from the night before. So, despite exhaustion, sleep was no where to be found and I lay on our guest room futon from midnight to 5AM, cough fully suppressed, thoughts racing and churning, worrying about what to write about The Riches.

Come 5AM, I finally felt sufficiently sleepy enough to join Stu in our bed. Needless to say, the moment I placed my head upon my pillow, the itch in my chest began, the mucus started moving, and all coughing hell broke loose. I popped out of bed, Stu asking me if I was okay. I burst into tears.

I relegated myself back to the guest room futon, sitting at its edge, refusing to lie back down on that brick of a mattress, coughing, crying, and cursing simultaneously. I sent Stu back to sleep and did the only logical thing. I went downstairs to watch TV.

After viewing several minutes of a few of my favorite infomercials (The Magic Bullet, Hip Hop Abs, and Proactiv Solution), I settled in on, yes folks, a very special episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I know the joke is to say that every episode of The Fresh Prince is a special one, but this one really was. It was the one in which Will, exhausted by the demands of school, work, sports, and romance, is offered some speed by a classmate. Unwilling to take the drugs himself, he puts the bottle in his locker. During the senior prom, an unsuspecting Carlton ingests the pills, believing them to be Vitamin E tablets that will reduce the size of a rather sizeable pimple. A bout of unconsciousness and stomach pumping ensues and we all learn a very valuable lesson about the dangers of drugs (and of doing the Running Man at high speed to I Will Always Love You).

While everyone loves The Fresh Prince, special episode or not, it is particularly special to me because when I first moved to Seattle in 1995 with my dear friend L, and we got our first apartment together in our new city of residence, we made dinner together every night and sat down to watch a 7PM rerun of The Fresh Prince. We also watched a lot of other TV and we didn’t realize how that would be frowned upon in the holier-than-thou-we-don’t-own-televisions Northwest. We were so berated for our TV viewing habits that we started telling everyone we were a Nielson family, forced to watch hours of TV out of civic duty. Imagine my thrill when one day I actually was asked to be a Nielsen watcher and received $1 for filling out that weekly journal. Don’t ever say that dreams don’t come true.

Next up at 6AM, The Cosby Show! Say what you will about Bill, the man will always be a comedic idol and aside from my own love of his stand-up, I will always have fond memories of watching The Cosby Show with my father. My dad thought this show was genius—and it was, for a time—and would actually allow me to watch it with him, despite its time slot of Thursday nights at 8PM, clearly a TV-on-a-school-night violation. Unfortunately what I caught at 6AM this morning was one of the episodes from that final season in which Rudy is too old to be the cute one so she’s been replaced by Raven Symone. In this episode, Denise throws a birthday party for the ridiculously adorable Olivia. She has several friends come to the Huxtable residence and you can tell it’s that phase in which Bill Cosby has become completely enamored of any child’s innate comedic abilities. Sure, a five-year-old in a bow tie singing Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger is funny, but it’s contrived and obvious. But with Bill in the room, it doesn’t matter cuz that man’s reaction to anything is always hilarious. It was one of the worst episodes I’d ever seen and I hated that Bill had that Kids Say the Darndest Things show, but I laughed my ass off at his every facial expression anyway.

And, rounding out my wee hours of the morning viewing--you know I love it--back to back episodes of The Golden Girls on Lifetime! You know what? This show is still funny. But this morning I realized why I love it so much. Yes, I love Dorothy’s caustic wit, Rose’s heartwarming stupidity, Blanche’s insatiable lust, and Sophia’s kicky wisdom. But most of all, I love their cake. These women are old and care not about their midsections and I love them for that. They eat cake in every episode, any time, night or day. In the first episode, they had cake at midnight. In the second episode, they ate what looked like the last episode’s remaining cheesecake at noon. Later that same day, they had a brand new cake for a dinner party, and you know the leftovers were coming out for a late night kitchen conversation. Sigh. It’s never too early or too late for cake with your best girlfriends.

By the time the cake revelation occurred, it was just about 7AM and I was finally getting sleepy again and the lung hacking seemed to have subsided. I switched over the Today Show, thinking I’d get some shut eye and some news at the same time.

You know it’s a sad day when you’re falling asleep to the Today Show rather than waking up to it and you’ve already watched two hours of television. I opened my eyes at 8:30AM and called my boss to let her know I was couch-bound for another day.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

There's No Place Like Run's House

Today I turn thirty-seven (Happy Birthday to me!). Am I too old to petition for Rev Run to adopt me? I'm fairly photogenic--it's not like I'd muck up the family portrait. Sure, I'm a pasty, white, Jewish girl, but it could be like Diff'rent Strokes, new-millennium style (I'd even consider converting! It's not like I was ever bat mitzvahed...).

About three months ago, I was, as usual, on my ass watching TV. It was a Friday night and Stu was out and I was home alone when I stumbled upon my first episode of Run's House. MTV was running a mini-marathon (Is there anything better than the mini-marathon? They turn shows into Lays potato chips. You can never watch just one.) and at first I rolled my eyes, exasperated by another show jumping on the bandwagon of family reality programming. But I quickly realized this was the best family show EVER. It even made me reconsider my life long dream of being a Brady. I kid you not.

That night I watched about six episodes in a row and spent the next week asking everyone I knew if they'd seen this masterpiece. Not a single soul had been to Run's House. Every time I turned on the television, I desperately searched for an airing. I checked the TIVO for upcoming episodes. Nothing. No one had seen it and it was apparently never to be seen again. The heaven of the Rev's house seemed to exist only in my imagination.

But then today, of all days, my birthday, on which I have been quite ill, bedridden since Friday night, so I gotta tell ya it hasn't been the best birthday weekend, the Rev returned to me! Yes, they were all back on my screen: Rev Run, Justine, Vanessa, Angela, JoJo, Diggie and Russy. And it wasn't just one episode. No, the programming gods smiled down upon me and for my birthday they gave me FIVE HOURS of Run's House as the most glorious present ever. Clear out the pool house, Simmonses (which they did in one episode, The Rev demanding that Justine ditch all of her saved issues of Oprah Magazine, insisting that she didn't need to keep them since the same photo appeared on the cover of each one), I'm moving in!

In one of the thousand episodes I watched today, Angela begins an internship at Baby Phat (owned by her aunt, Kimora Lee Simmons, causing Vanessa to earnestly shout out, "hey, nepotism is alive and well!"). She has a rough first day, as all interns do, and when she returns to her lush suburban home, dad senses her disappointment. He says to her, "If that were me, I would have outworked every intern there. I would have walked in an intern and walked out the owner."

Yes, he would have. And come to think of it, so would have my father. Whenever my dad dropped me off at school, he used to say, "knock 'em dead and give 'em hell!" It was his battle cry and he gave a lot of hell to a lot of people. Clearly, so does Rev Run. Perhaps that's why I want to be his adoptive daughter. Not only would I get the much-missed motivational nudge I used to get from my father, but more than that, The Rev would probably fill the spiritual void I have in my life due to the lack of a religious upbringing. I told you I was never batmitzvahed, and MAN, I am a sucker for the Blackberry mini-sermons The Rev gives from his bubble bath every morning. If you've never seen the show and have no idea what I'm talking about, well, you've got to see it to believe it and to be moved to live the most fulfilling life you possibly can cuz that's what the Rev's preaching and I am in the front row of the choir!

And, with all the rap and hip-hop, can you imagine how much dancing I would do? My dad could cut a rug, but he never quite made it past the bossa nova.

Rev, get the lawyers and the adoption papers ready! I'm coming home...to RUN'S HOUSE!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Changing Demographics: Happy Birthday to Me

If you’ve noted this blog’s tagline and acknowledged the reference to Carol in my profile, it will come as no surprise when I admit to being a Brady Bunch fanatic (click here to read about my Brady obsession and my chance encounter with Florence Henderson). When my passion for watching Brady Bunch reruns whenever humanly possible began, I was about the same age as Cindy in the earliest episodes and it seemed to me that there was not only no one cooler than Greg and Marcia Brady, but no one older. Sure, Carol and Mike were far advanced in their years, but they were parents. I couldn’t relate to them at all. But Marcia and Greg, at sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen, they were something to which I could aspire. It seemed like it would take a lifetime to get there, but I knew I could and would be as old as they were. Someday, I promised myself, I would be just like them: private room in the attic, cheerleading captain, dates with football players (even though my school had no football team) and all.

When I was a bit older and settled into the routine of secret Mary Tyler Moore Show episodes after school, I realized that as far as idolatry was concerned, Greg and Marcia would only take me through late adolescence. That was still a long way off and I could still barely imagine making it to eighteen, but I knew there was more. When my age hit the double-digits, I knew I wanted something other than groovy prom dates in my future. I knew I wanted a career. I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, but I do remember my make-believe games involved rushing around the house with folders rather than baby dolls in my arms, imagining I was routing very important information between very high level offices. With her typing, phone answering, and rushing to and from Mr. Grant’s office, Mary Richards seemed to have exactly what I thought I would want in my future as an independent woman. She worked in television as a glorified secretary under the guise of an associate producer and she got to hang out with some really cool guys (yes, I refer here to Lou, Murray, and Ted). Thus, my new hero was selected.

More than a decade later, when I had my first job after graduating from college and my own apartment to go with it, I walked home after work every evening feeling just like my childhood idol. It felt like I was gonna make it after all!

Flipping through the channels one weekend afternoon in my beloved studio, I came upon a Brady Bunch rerun. Needless to say, channel flipping ended immediately as I’ve never bypassed a Brady episode in my life. At the time, I was about twenty-four and I watched the show not only with nostalgia but also with amazement. It suddenly dawned on me that I was six years older than Greg Brady at his oldest. I had thought that for sure, the minute I had turned eighteen, I would have made a mental note of having finally achieved the milestone which I had always been waiting so long for. But no, I had let the moment pass me by and I had surpassed the eldest Brady without realizing it at all. Oddly though, Greg and Marcia still seemed older than I was, stuck in their own syndicated time zone so that whenever I saw them, I was six years old no matter what my true chronological age. The realization that so many years had gone by was slightly shocking, but no matter, I thought. I’d still never be as old as Mary Richards, my true working-woman hero.

At twenty-five, I became an avid Friends watcher. Not only did Monica Geller and I share extreme Type A personality traits, but I was exactly her age and Monica, Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Phoebe, and Joey’s trials and tribulations mirrored my and all of my friends' issues: constant angst regarding relationships, careers, parents, relationships…The Friends were living our lives, only with better dialog. It was nice to see my own age depicted up there on the small screen rather than constantly imagining what I would one day become. The Friends seemed to be exactly what I already was.

Eventually, twenty eight rolled around. I had been waiting to be twenty-eight for what felt like eons. Twenty-eight was the age, I had one day decided, that some of my favorite kick ass heroines, Kelly Garrett of Charlie’s Angels and Diana Prince of Wonder Woman, surely were at the height of my adoration for them back in the day. I had yet to kick anyone’s ass since I was neither private detective nor super hero, but I had a job that I adored and I was cohabitating with a man whom I adored and who proposed to me that year, so things felt on track. It felt okay that at twenty-eight I was what I once thought of as pretty darn old, cuz, well, so far, so good.

Eventually thirty came and went and I embraced my early thirties wholeheartedly, determining that thirty-something was better than twenty-something any day. And that was true on most days.

Until this one day.

A familiar scenario: me on my ass in front of the television, thumb mindlessly depressing the remote control. I stumbled upon a Mary Tyler Moore Show rerun. Ahhhh. I thought about my age, perhaps thirty-two or thirty-three at this point. I was positive that the one character’s age I would never surpass was Mary Richards’. So mature, so wise, so with it—there was no way I could ever be at her level.

The episode I watched that day involved Mary’s birthday and the revelation that she had moved into another television research demographic. She burst into tears when she realized she no longer belonged in the eighteen to twenty-four year-old bracket. She had just turned twenty-five.


The remote fell to the floor with the thwack of plastic hitting hard wood. I blinked several times. I looked around for someone to confirm the information I had just gleaned or at least to come to my medical rescue once I fell into an epileptic seizure, the result of the major shock and trauma that had just befallen me.


Mary Richards, associate producer at WJM-TV was TWENTY-FIVE? Sure, it was one of the earlier episodes, but the show was only on for seven years which means at the very end of it she was still only THIRTY-TWO. My entire world instantly shattered as I realized that I had surpassed the age of the Mary Richards in that episode ALMOST TEN YEARS AGO.

Five years have since passed and I have come to terms with many things about my age. This weekend I turn thirty-seven and I have a tendency to walk around telling people that I’m pushing forty. I find this ridiculously hard to believe. I find myself wishing I’d paid closer attention when my mother watched Thirtysomething in the 1980s. Surely there were some valuable lessons I had missed that would be helpful as I screech towards a new decade. But to this day, whatever Hope, Nancy, Melissa, Gary, Elliot, and Michael went through still seems impossibly adult: adultery, divorce, illness, mid-career transitions, child bearing and rearing. But now, I stop and realize: I have friends who have gotten divorced, who have dealt with major health issues, who have ended fifteen-year career trajectories, who have children, multiple children...

So now, who is there left to look up to? Whose age can I use to comfort myself knowing that their issues are still decades in the future, nowhere near my own concerns? Who can I be not as old as…yet?

Thank you for being a friend…and for being a lot older than thirty-seven!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The Dog Ate My Homework

As long as Jaslene keeps kicking it, I'm gonna keep posting her pics. OR, as long as Jaslene keeps annoying the crap outta Renee, I'm gonna keep posting Jaslene's pics, because hopefully, by the transitive property (which surely, I learned about in high school), I would then be annoying the crap outta Renee, who is annoying the crap outta me.

Those of you who know me know this, and those of you who don’t, I suggest taking note: there is very little that irritates, aggravates, and infuriates me MORE than EXCUSES. So after tonight’s episode, I need to get something out of my system..


Obviously, that had Renee’s name all over it.

If you will permit me, a tale: once upon a time, I worked at an advertising agency. One day, in this fair agency, I purchased an ad in The New York Times Book Review. Several days later, it had come to light that while I had bought the ad space, actually having the ad produced had completely slipped my mind. Now, bear in mind that it was 1994—slow computers, no internet, no email, and no digital images. At this point, we still marveled at the thermal paper fax machine. With the deadline mere hours away, the non-existent ad had to be designed, sent to a printer, produced on velox paper, and messengered over to the Times. Before the chaos of emergency ad production began, my boss looked at me from behind her enormous wooden desk and inquired as to why I had failed to create a work order and pass it on to a designer. “There is no reason,” I replied, “I forgot and I apologize.”

Come to think of it, a similar thing happened at work today, thirteen years later, when a sales rep called me on behalf of a bookstore who had not received an order placed a month ago. Turns out, I never forwarded the email order on to anyone. Just sent it right to my trash. Oops. I said the same thing to the rep that I had said to my former boss, “I forgot and I apologize.”

So clearly, this points to either my admirable integrity or my horrendous memory. On the other hand, I can tell you who played the ad agency boss on Bosom Buddies (Holland Taylor, thank you very much—and no, I didn’t just look that up. My friend once tried to stump me on TV knowledge with that one and she’s never gotten over the shock of realizing that I carry this information around with me all the time.), so perhaps this merely indicates my lack of interest in my day jobs.

In any event, I’m sure by now, you see what I’m driving at. I HATE EXCUSES. Needless to say, I hated Jade from cycle six, a terrific excuse maker, but she barely lived on the same planet as the rest of us, so at least there was entertainment value. Renee, on the other hand, is causing me to hyperventilate and there is potential for loss of consciousness should I have to hear her whine one more excuse for why she might have done badly during her class clown photo shoot.

“Wah—I wanna be the ho!” No comment.
“Wah—Jaslene always gets the good things!” Oh yes, always, since there’s only been one other photo shoot.
“Wah—I was the only girl out of her element!” Because I’m sure Jaslene was totally alternative in high school.

I’m so riled up, I can’t even talk about anything else that happened in the episode. Oh but I will say (Who am I kidding? When can I never think of anything to talk about?) that I thought the walking wasn’t too bad, on the whole, but for the LOVE OF GOD…choreography, people!! It wasn’t that hard.

On to deliberations!

Brittany: She rocks it again! Challenge winner and class valedictorian on many levels. She could be the silent killer. She doesn’t stir up much controversy or draw much attention, but she’ll end up being one of the last two standing without anyone having ever noticed…

Cassandra: Eh. Low hanging fruit. She’ll be one of the earlier ones to go. How could you possibly make cheerleading look that boring?

Diana: Lovely face, good pose, a touch of the dead eye though (for those of you who remember my favorite Tyra lesson from the first cycle: “live eye v. dead eye.”)

Dionne: She barely said a word this episode (what, no jalapeƱo peppers?) but her bad girl pose said it all.

Felicia: Quite nice. Again.

Tyra: I have to pause from our regularly scheduled deliberations and talk about Tyra for a second. Is she on prozac this cycle? Aside from the oddness of her wearing a head scarf for the second time, she’s so subdued. Her monologue regarding Felicia’s not looking like her (yes Tyra, we know it’s all about you) was fairly engaging and humorous. And even her pretending to stab Nigel in the back, which usually would have come off as nothing but embarrassing was utterly tolerable. And with her newfound restraint, I’m finding that I’m riveted to her modeling advice. Without the din of her self-importance as a distraction it’s far more interesting and instructive. How refreshing!

Jael: I gotta give props to Jael. She absolutely nailed her photo. However, if she acts shocked whenever someone compliments her work one more time, I’m going to kick her self-deprecating ass. There’s a difference between humility and a grating lack of self-confidence. Perhaps Jael can figure out the difference in one of those books.

Jaslene: Okay, so she was abysmal on the runway, but the photo, my god the photo. Spectacular, especially since, contrary to Renee’s belief, I’m quite certain Jaslene was not in her element as the weird girl.

Natasha: Where’s the vodka I told you I was going to drink large amounts of as a result of Natasha’s driving me insane? Please don’t ever let her read the Tyra Mail again, and please, send her home. Preferably not via mail order…

Renee: I’ve probably said enough already, but let’s point out how her photo was more or less fine after all of her pissing and moaning. Even more reason for her to SHUT UP.

Samantha: Still stunning, but you kinda knew she was a goner the minute she uttered the words, “I’m never gonna forget who I am.” That doesn’t ever bode well. At least we also got to hear her say, “I’m a lesbian! No, I’m a ho!” Good stuff.

Sarah: There’s just something about her—even her conversing with the make-up artist about eye shadow was irritating. She’s evidently watched one too many cycles and thought it wise to attempt to work product into her conversation. Save it for My Life as a Cover Girl, which I’m quite certain she’ll never have the opportunity to do (btw—Caridee is excellent in those ridiculous ads!). The photo was coy enough, but there was something pedestrian about her interpretation of flirting.

Herbal Essences: Speaking of corporate sponsors and massive product placement, let’s welcome Clairol’s Herbal Essences to the show! Bottle colors looked good and they seemed to make good use of their coloring, angles, and lighting, but I’d like to see a little more emotion from them next time.

Whitney: Some times the smart girls can’t quite cut it cuz there’s too much going on in their minds and not enough happening in their faces and with their bodies. There’s still potential though.

Next week is episode #3 and we all know what that means, don’t we?! Haircuts and tears galore! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Until then, you are still in the running towards becoming America’s Next Top Model!