Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

Category: television

Ahhh, Fall

I love Fall. For so many reasons – the cooler air, the crisp bite of fresh apples, the faint trails of smoke on the wind once fireplaces start up…and… Fall TV. This year’s even bigger than ever, because I have several clients active on television and it’s important to know what is on, what’s new, what’s going to do well, and to avoid the inevitable bombs. (Hello, Animal Practice, I’m looking straight at you. Monkey sidekicks are a death-knell.)

It also means creative DVRing, because apparently Sunday nights are now going to be akin to flying into Atlanta after being re-routed for weather. It’s not helped by the fact CBS football always runs over, shoving Amazing Race back and requiring a safety cushion of 30 minutes over, sometimes adjusted to an hour. Because just hoping I remember everything is a thing of the past, this is what I do:

Because only the networks fit onto one page, I’ve got crib notes for the cable shows as well – even if they’re not starting tonight, I need to remember they’re coming. Sundays for cable are crazy!

New shows that have some promise – 666 Park Avenue (ABC, Sundays, 9p CST)  might be a good replacement for the Desperate Housewives set, though with a slightly more devilish twist. (It can always be dicey when you pull Satan on tv). We watched the premiere of the Mob Doctor (FOX, Mondays, 8p) and it was rather entertaining – plus Revolution seems to be doing well right out of the gate (NBC, Mon, 9p) and will probably be their winner of new prime shows.  The Mindy Project (FOX, Tue, 8:30) will do well, Nashville (ABC, Wed 9p) looks good as well. I’m excited for Vegas (CBS, Tues, 9p) – hello Michael Chiklis, you’ve been missed, as well as Elementary (CBS, Thur, 9p) because I don’t believe you can have too much Sherlock Holmes, ever, plus Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are easy on the eyes. The X Factor (FOX, Wed, 7p, Thur (Results) 7p) is actually quite good, because Simon has moved on and it’s a fresh(er) take on reality singing shows.

First shows to bite it will be The Neighbors (ABC) and as mentioned earlier, Animal Practice (NBC). My poor rep tried to convince me Animal Practice was going to make it and had no rebuttal for “It’s a horrid concept! WITH A MONKEY.” Guys with Kids (NBC) is probably not too far behind.

Returning sophomore shows I think are good and I try to catch on demand, or am just impressed at how they’ve succeeded – Grimm, and Once Upon A Time. Person of Interest is one we watch, I’m glad to see it return, and while I don’t watch Revenge, I have several friends who get very dramatic at just the drop of the show title. (“Reveeeengggge!” they all exclaim, with big eyes and great drama….)  2 Broke Girls is definitely doing well, as it’s now the 8p lead on Monday.

Cable shows I’m stoked for (already started or returning): American Horror Story (FX, Wed, 9p, premieres 10/17) – holy crap-my-pants is this one scary show. I have to wait until Saturday morning to even watch it), Sons of Anarchy (FX, Tues, 9p, premiered 9/11), Walking Dead (AMC, Sun, 8p, premieres 10/14) – that one will get recorded at like 1 in the morning, thanks to these returning favorites crowding in around that elongated Amazing Race setting:  Dexter (SHO, Sun, 8p, premieres Sept 30), Homeland (SHO, 9p, also premieres Sept 30) plus Boardwalk Empire has begun (HBO, Sun, 8p) Thank you, Oh Great On-Demand Options on the Holy Cable Box!

At least I’ve got PLENTY of yarn to knit with as I watch my newbies and returning favorites. Though Walking Dead and American Horror Story :do: make my gauge get noticeably tighter….

ATB: All Things British

It’s no secret. I love you Brits and your television shows. It probably started with Helen Mirren and the fantastic Prime Suspect series. Because combining crime procedural with British storytelling and accents? OMG, I just wet my pants.

Unfortunately, the Wo does not share this devotional level of interest. Here’s a little snippet of last night’s conversation:

Me: “We have a Netflix movie.”

Him: “What is it?”
Me: “Hmmm, I don’t know. Let me check. ‘Harry Brown’.”

Him, now looking at me with a head tilt, with suspicion in his voice: “Sounds British.”

Me: “No, I don’t know, maybe, um…..”
Him, reading little envelope sleeve: “MICHAEL CAINE? Uh, yeah. Gritty vigilante thriller SET IN ENGLAND? Some dude named IAN? Anyone named IAN and it’s British.”

Me, (as if this is the first time we’ve ever discussed this): “So…… you don’t want to watch it?”

We started watching 30 Rock, Season 4 on Netflix streaming, instead. Excellent compromise.

And in the meantime, I’ve gotten my friend Tim hooked on MI:5 “Spooks”, which is STILL running across the pond in its 9th season, and I’m on Season 4. (Season 3 nearly killed me. KILLED ME. Gah. I shan’t say another word, but I am turning to the right with my stoic face.)

Oh, and Netflix, you bitch, you better get Season 5 up and streaming because the discs say “Very Long Wait” and I’ll want to beat you with a cricket bat if I have to go that route. And I KNOW I’ll be watching ’em by myself.

Fuchsia Friday

Screw all this “Black Friday” stuff. I get it, it’s all about stores coming out of the red ink and into the black, but good lord, folks, you really NEED to trample your way in? I was thinking about all of this yesterday, as I considered reviving my tradition of going out shopping on Black Friday, wondering when it all turned from a shopping day with more excitement into a fuckin’ piranha tank.  There’s very little I need that would require me getting up at 3 am at this point in my life.  James even reminded me of this adventure (“Remember, you said you weren’t going anymore?”)

Oh yeah. And here I was, contemplating Joann’s AND CostCo. I still was, until I saw that I’d been looking at the wrong day, and that Joann’s didn’t open at 7 am, but instead, at 6 am. One hour was enough to make me really question if it was worth it or not. So I jumped online to calculate just how much I’d save on that damned OTT-Lite, and lo and behold? Joanns.com was having a sale. With a floor OTT lamp for $50, and free shipping if you spent $75. Since I was going to shell out over $100 on the lamp alone (with the extra coupon), I tapped in all my info, got a replacement bulb and one thing I needed to complete a gift. Grand total of $75.97, free shipping, bay-bee!

I did go out later, made a grocery store run and a trip to Westlake Hardware, and let me just say, I don’t know if they have a special training course at Westlake Ace for how to treat women when they come in? But the car industry could learn a LOT from these people.  I needed to get a few nuts and bolts, a new humidifier filter, and what I thought was a thumb screw. Within a minute of entering the store, I was greeted by two people, and the man working the floor asked if I needed help finding anything. Indeed I did, and within five minutes, we had all the nuts, bolts and washers I needed, at the correct size and length. He looked at the part I brought in, pronounced I already had a screw in there, but needed a tiny allen wrench (for thirty-nine cents) and I was on my merry way, with everything I needed and no frustrations.  As I left, I was reflecting on how awesome everything had gone (I had imagined myself digging through compartment after compartment of bolts, probably spilling some) and that my experience is like that every time I go. I don’t work for them, no affiliation, I just have to say, I’m either lucky, look unbelievably pathetic, or they’ve got some really good customer service, and I’m betting on the latter.

At CVS, I couldn’t help but stare at the woman who was checking out in front of me, and she looked back at me with some glimmer of recognition, but didn’t say anything. I pondered how Kansas City gets smaller and smaller each year, and sometimes people who work in other places I frequent will pop up (say, at the grocery store, and your mind struggles to place them.) I didn’t think much of it, but she returned, because they’d overcharged her for photos, and she had no photos. She looked at me again, and I finally had to say, “Do we know each other? You look really familiar.” And she said, yes, we did, and told me who her husband was, who is someone my husband got into it with during his last months with a local waterfowl organization, and so there we had it, not only did we have a connection but it was utterly fractured and stupid.  I was instantly regretting asking her who she was and realizing exactly why she didn’t greet me in the first place, and so we stood there at the pharmacy counter, awkwardly, like Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant and Mrs. Robert E. Lee somehow got stuck at the same tea table  (I’m playing the role of Mrs. Grant, btw, I don’t care what side Missouri fought on.)  I graciously told the cashier to handle her refund first, and we both stood there staring at her while attempt after attempt to credit her back failed. Then she had to call a manager, who didn’t show up, and she finally asked Mrs. Lee if she could take care of me real quick while they waited for the manager. I scrawled my name on the line and escaped as quickly as I could, wondering how in the hell they were now in our neighborhood. Like I said, small town, big city.

So it was a good day, no crazy shopping, though I’ve lived vicariously through others, as people post pictures of their giant tv’s and exhaustion from having to either work the sales or from still dealing with family. Me, I’m having a British crime procedural marathon, watching episodes of MI:5 (Spooks) and nibbling on cheese. If I were to paint the day a color, it would be the shockingly bright, happy magenta I love so dearly, making it a very fuchsia Friday indeed.

The (Self-Appointed) Spelling and Grammar Police Are Having A Week.

I don’t claim to have perfect grammar, spelling, or even spectacular sentence structure. I do, however, make every effort to use correct spelling and proper grammar, and I try to limit the number of sentences I start with the word “so”, as that is a particular weakness of mine.

This week has been a bit crazy, hectic, stressful, you name it – but I have been provoked twice now to actually yell at the television because of spelling and grammar. The Fox 4 morning news crew are a fun bunch, but a couple of them just cannot get the proper use of the word “good” versus “well”. I finally had to post on their Facebook page because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Don Harmon, the weatherman, had just finished saying “Slow..ly. Slowly. I think that’s right.” And then Mark Alford responded with something like, “It’s going good out there.”  My post:

Way to go, Don, properly identifying adverbs! (slow-LY!) You are correct!
Next, let’s get Mark telling the world things are going WELL instead of
‘good’, since that is not proper grammar and it makes me yell at him.
Thanks!

To his credit, Mark actually responded with humor, saying “im well with that!” I may have to go down there with a ruler and rap some knuckles. Actually, it would be rather fun to have a paintball gun and every time an egregious grammatical mistake is uttered, KAPOW! I would also shout what they should have said, since I’m quite good at that already.  The traffic guy should be very afraid if this comes to fruition.

Which brings me to this morning, when KSHB (NBC)  flashed up two different slides (the typed-up cards on their template background that accompany the anchors while they’re talking) with horrid typos. The first one was about the new television season, and that production had “haulted” on a show. Uh, wtf is that? You can haul things, but you don’t hault them. Then, THEN, the next story was about – wait for it – BOAL GAMES. This is not the closed-captioning system translating, this is someone typing it in for the day’s stories. Seriously, I think six-year olds know how to spell “bowl”.

I think what bugs me in all of this is that even though I don’t hold my local media outlets to the standards I would hold, say, the New York Times, I do expect a certain amount of accuracy and I expect a whole lot of proper grammar. This isn’t a reality tv show, this is the news. Manufactured, selective, tilted at times, sensationalist most of the time, but you are still THE NEWS. And in ignoring grammar and spelling, it feels like we are moving yet another ten paces closer to accepting an unacceptable level of national stupidity. Why not just start typing it all in phone-texting style? Hell, start doing shots of Jager during the news, why wear a tie, or a nice pantsuit (Katie Horner, I’m lookin’ at you), just wear swimsuits or dress like the cast of Jersey Shore? Talk smack, talk trash, why have standards at all? Editorialize while you’re at it!

Nevermind me, I’ll still be getting my real news from NPR. I have never heard Steve Inskeep say “Things are going good!” And I’m GREAT with that.

Oof! Ice!

James and I had a hilarious conversation the other night which will probably lose oodles in the transcribing.

He was going to bed and was very tired; I was standing next to our bed, and saying goodnight. He said something about did I see that Kathy Bates was going to be on a tv show in the latest EWeekly? I said, Yes, I did see that, what show was it?

At this point, he’s got his bipap mask on so he’s really drowsy and doesn’t want to have a big conversation. I start guessing various shows we watch.

“Big Love?”

shakes his head ‘no’.

“24?” (no) “Big Bang Theory?” (no) “Nurse Jackie?”

He makes the sign for “OK” with his thumb and finger. Now we’re playing charades. OK! OK? Nurse Jackie? (no)

O? O? Zero? He’s nodding. Zero. Then he makes the sign again. O? Zero – O. Huh.

He’s moving on.

Draws letters in the air with his finger. Except the letters are right-ways from HIS perspective.

P? NO! F? Yes!

ZERO OF?! NO!

Somehow we get some more letters. an I. C. E.

He’s lifting his face mask to tell me this is easy. I am laughing so hard I can barely speak.

NCIS?

NO.

Ice. Zero O O O O F

Ice.

My sides hurt and tears are streaming down my face, as I lean against the bed in pain. I declare I cannot understand how we watch any show named Oof Ice.

Finally, exasperatedly, he tells me. The Office.

Oh, yeah. The Office! OofIce!

And then I made myself a small dish of Tin Roof Sundae Ice Cream and proceeded to collapse in laughter all over again. rrrrrrrrOofICECREAMSUNDAE!

We’re weird, but hey. Laughter is good!

Super Sekrit Guilty Pleasure

My best friend Liz came to visit last weekend, and we did what we always do when Liz comes to visit: Haaaaang, knit, eat, and watch awesomely awesomely guilty pleasures television. We are destined to live in the same retirement community, but it better have a DVR/Tivo.

So we went out with our pal Katrina, and tried the buffet at Masala’s. Back up. Before that, we helped bring Kat a little closer to digital enlightenment, by replacing her browser with Firefox, and introducing her to “Dick in a Box”, because she doesn’t watch TV, nor is she schooled in pop culture the way some of us are. She loved it so much she had me bookmark it for her, which cracked me up. Of course, looking back, we probably watched it 100 times, so she does need to catch up and memorize the catchy little ditty. And it’s the right time of year! Back to Masala’s. Delicious. We sampled all sorts of things and they had a lot of selections for the vegetarians (Katrina & Liz). I’m not sure what they put in the food there, besides Indian Awesome Deliciousness, but it’s filling. Like, crazytown filling. I am capable of packing it away, and by no stretch did I over-indulge, but neither of us ate dinner that night, we remained so full. I suspect microscopic dehydrated sponges in the naan, it’s the only explanation. (Now, Taj Palace still rules on the Chicken Tiki Masala and Butter Chicken, with Taj Mahal running a close number two on those dishes, but I enjoyed the variety and spice at Masala’s.)

As we were knitting and hanging that evening, I stumbled on to my new decadent television indulgence. I’m almost afraid to put it into writing, as it will take away from just how AWESOMELY WRONG it is to love it so. Have you started to guess in your head? I was about to head to bed, but then this show started….. and the dialogue….omg. This show is the food equivalent of eating butter creamed with brown sugar, before you add the eggs and make chocolate chip cookies. An entire stick of butter, with a cup of brown sugar. If you could figure out how to fry that mixture, maybe it would be equal to this show. Yes. I am talking about Steven Seagal LAWMAN. I know, they don’t capitalize “Lawman” at A&E, but they should. The first thing I heard him say on the show (it was the second episode, I’ve since caught up with the blessed On-Demand), “If you can’t anticipate an attack…… you can’t defend against it.” He is SO DRAMATIC! And so Master Sensei to everyone about everything. However, here’s the rub: the dude actually is really good at martial arts, and a fucking crackerjack shot – so I have to put a little salt in my sugar-butter rub, because it’s not like Sensei Seagal can’t hold his own, despite being rather florid and doughy (I am florid and doughy, I can say this.) He just doesn’t seem to be involved in the throes of the fracas, as he kind of rolls up at the end of all these crises. But he’s there to issue pithy zen quotes! OMG. from Steven Seagal himself: “Steven Seagal can save (your) life,” as he’s imparting 40 years of aikido training in an afternoon.

Maybe the proper food comparison should be somewhere in the cheeeeese category.  I’m feeling charitable & won’t go straight to Velveeta – maybe a port-wine potted cheese product? Or the bacon-flavored one, yeah. Whatever it is, it’s great for casual entertaining.

The Best Show You’re Not Watching….

…. but you have a chance to catch it again, starting on Saturday.

Brick City, a documentary on the Sundance Channel, about Newark: the city, the mayor, the politics, the people. You will be riveted. You will see parallels to Kansas City, and you’ll see where we diverge. (Like having a passionate, gregarious mayor, for instance. I kept wondering while I was watching scenes with the mayor meeting with the police chief: does that happen here? And if it doesn’t, why the hell not? Why aren’t the mayor and the head of the police department AT the sites of the shootings, in front of the cameras, denouncing it? Instead we just get talking heads, relishing another if-it-bleeds-it-leads news night.)

Cory Booker will probably become a senator someday, and move on from Newark, he’s just that good. Which would be sad for Newark, because he cares SO MUCH about making it a better place. The world needs more people like him, like the Vice-Principal of Discipline at the school, like the police director. But at the end of the five hours, you will also be struck by how much needs to be done by the community. We saw a lot of parallels to the community James works in, a class full of freshman boys and they’re asked how many are being raised by a single mom. (Nearly all raised their hands.) Nobody’s teaching boys how to be men, so they join a gang, they have camaraderie and acceptance, they think that a life of violence is normal. To have to even confront that thinking, to have to TELL people, this is not normal, yet you watch the school principal do just this.

You can talk about how it takes a village – and it’s true, every bit of it – but the village has to be comprised of individuals who are going to step up and do the hard work. Monitor their kids and make them do their homework. Have consequences for bad behavior. Privileges taken away. It’s hard work, no doubt. Being vigilant, setting and enforcing boundaries – none of that’s easy.  But it has to happen, because very few are like Jayda, one of the other featured people in this documentary, who turned her life around and still had to suffer the consequences of her actions, years later.

It’s worth every second of your time. Forest Whitaker is the Exec Producer. Watch it. Episode 1 runs again tonight; the whole series starts re-airing this coming weekend. DVR it.  It’s on Time Warner Cable #285. Lots of F-bombs, FYI, strong language & violence.

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