Monday, May 31, 2010


I found this video about empathy in a blog post by a friend of mine about re-segregation in public schools, especially schools in New Orleans. Leaving alone the segregation / re-segregation issue, it raises a lot of interesting questions about fundamentals of what makes us human and how we, as humans, think and relate to others.

It's about 10 minutes long but I think it will be worth your time. Give it a watch and let me know what you think:

Friday, May 28, 2010

What is this world coming to?

I'm shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you. I was talking to the student workers at my office (average age: 20) and was quite dismayed to find out how little they knew about iconic movies in pop culture.

I made a reference to the truffle shuffle and got some blank looks. Okay, maybe not totally unexpected. While a favorite of mine, The Goonies is definitely a product of its time and not as eternally relevant as, say, The Breakfast Club.

I tried a Heathers reference. No luck. A little Dazed and Confused. Not even a glimmer of recognition.

Finally I said, "Use the Force, Luke." They knew that was from Star Wars but had never actually seen it.

My sibling tried to warn me but I just couldn't believe him. How can a whole generation of kids be growing up without the wisdom of John Hughes or the magic of George Lucas or Steven Spielberg? (they even flunked the ET "be good" reference.)

Have you tried to reference a movie only to fall flat? Which movie?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

summer t.v.

Summer t.v. is both wonderful and terrible. It's filled with entertaining, frothy confections such as Burn Notice, Leverage, Royal Pains and other cable network shows of that nature. Yay!

It's also the time when the main networks overload the airwaves with "reality" programming. Argh...

This summer, I plan on catching the remainder of Glee, Justified and Friday Night Lights, and new seasons of True Blood, Burn Notice, Leverage, Royal Pains, Pretty Little Liars (I know, you don't have to say anything), Make It or Break It and anything else interesting I may come across.

Jen, the Pop Culture Curmudgeon, talks about her summer choices here.

Alan Sepinwall of (and formerly of the Star-Ledger) talks about his summer plans here.

What are you planning to watch this summer? Have any recommendations?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Season's wrap up so far...

As the 2009-10 t.v. season draws to a close, I thought I'd briefly share my thoughts about the shows I watch and how they progressed during the 2009-10 season. If you have no interest in t.v., now is probably a good time to stop reading, lol.


Chuck - What more can I say? I love this show! Season three was such a gift from the network that I completely forgive the show runners for taking it to a much darker place. While not a fan of the Agent Shaw story line, I enjoyed season 3 more than not and Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski continue to have amazing chemistry. Add in the Buy Morons (more Jeffster is always a good thing!), the Awesomes and Casey, and you have a truly enjoyable t.v. experience.

Castle - Nathan Fillion is charming and amusing as writer Rick Castle who rides along with Det. Kate Beckett on murder calls for inspiration for his novels. The supporting cast is entertaining and the cases are interesting. I especially enjoy Castle's relationship with his daughter and mother.

24 - it was time for it to be over. And, they completely wasted Katee Sackhoff.

House - I'm tired of House. All of the episodes are the same. A patient comes in with a crazy illness, they don't figure it out, they almost kill the patient and then save the day. And this season it seemed like House was a supporting character on his own show.

Life Unexpected - I wanted to like this show - I really miss the old school WB shows. I LOVED the pilot, tolerated the next five or six episodes and then gave up on it. It was very repetitive plot-wise and some of the characters grew more annoying each episode because of it.


Let me just thank FX now for the amazing shows that are Sons of Anarchy and Justified.

When I first heard the premise for SoA, I was skeptical. Why in the world would I want to watch Hamlet on a motorcycle? Then I watched the first season on dvd and was hooked. The writing and acting are first rate and only got better with the second season.

I never would have guessed that Katey Sagel (Peg Bundy from Married with Children) would've had the chops to play such a meaty role. Ron Perlman, Charlie Hunnam, Maggie Sift and Adam Arkin all turned in excellent performances. If you don't mind violence and bad language with your drama, be sure to give this one a try.

Justified is the perfect showcase for Timothy Olyphant. It's about a throwback US Marshall that isn't afraid to draw his gun - until it starts to have serious repercussions on his career and personal life. It's based on a couple of Elmore Leonard short stories and the show writers do a good job of keeping his signature feel. The supporting performances are strong and there have been some interesting guest stars. As with SoA, give it a try if you don't mind violence and language.


MODERN FAMILY IS AMAZING. Thank you, ABC, for bringing back some quality sitcoms. If nothing else, be sure and try the Fizbo the Clown episode. Halfway through the season, I'd have told you this was the best sitcom of the year. This one didn't drop in quality but two others had amazing improvement, so I'm no longer quite so sure.

Cougar Town is a victim of its terrible name which really has very little to do with the show as it is now. It did start the season as a show about a newly single 40something mom who was on the prowl for younger men. After about 4 or 5 episodes, though, the writers realized that wasn't really working and changed the focus of the show to the lead's relationship with family and friends. It's now hilarious and quite enjoyable. Overlook the name and try this one again if you haven't already.


Thursdays are so chock full of goodness that I don't know where to begin...

Supernatural - The apocalypse was a bit of a snooze but there were some fine individual episodes, all filled with snark, pop culture references, good v. evil, crises of faith, familial love/relations, etc. It is beyond me why Jensen Ackles hasn't been nominated for an emmy yet. This has been one of my favorite shows in the past and I hope season 6 will see it redeem itself a little.

The Vampire Diaries - I didn't even give this one a try at first. I hated the books - just couldn't get into them and gave up after the first 100 pages. A friend talked me into giving it a try and I was hooked - something major happens and the plot progresses EVERY episode. There are no filler episodes. It's also the first time where I've started to pull for both sides of a love triangle.

Ian Somerhalder is obviously having a great time playing elder brother (and self-proclaimed bad ass) Damon. He's a lot of fun to watch. Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley are also good as the other two leads. And, for trivia's sake, supporting actor Steven R. McQueen is the grandson of legendary bad ass Steve McQueen.

Community - This sitcom has really come into its own - and turned out to be my favorite sitcom of the year. It's filled with pop culture references and the relationships between the study group characters are interesting. I think it's one of those shows that you either get and really love or you watch and are bored to death. I love it and come close to peeing my pants just about every episode. If you're interested, try Debate 101 or Modern Warfare. Those are two of my favorites, but they're all good. And, unlike a lot of shows, the little codas at the end are just as funny, if not funnier, than the rest of the episode. Be sure to watch them.

30 Rock - still funny but more uneven than in the past. I will say though that the Happy Anna Howard Shaw Day episode where Liz has a root canal and hallucinates her past boyfriends and mistakes a ficus tree for Jon Bon Jovi cracked me up.

Bones - I've been a huge fan of Bones since the beginning but after the 100th episode and then the season finale, I feel abused by the writing staff and have decided to break up with the show. It's been FIVE YEARS. Enough is enough. That's all I have to say.


Dollhouse came to an end. Parts of it were brilliant and I'm still amazed that the best episode was a dvd only selection. I guess I should just be grateful to Fox for letting Joss Whedon introduce Enver Gjokaj (Victor) and Diechan Lachman (Sierra) to the world. They're fantastic.

Friday Night Lights - It is with clear eyes and a full heart that I tell you that if you're not watching this show, you're missing out on something great. I've waxed poetic about it before, so I won't go on and on but in season four they've had to start all over, practically from the ground up. And it's just as good. Thank you, DirecTV, for rescuing this gem of a show.

What's your favorite show? Why? And, no, I haven't left Glee off - it's still running :)

obscure movie of the day

One of my favorite movies of all time is The Final Countdown with Martin Sheen, Charles Durning, Katharine Ross and Kirk Douglas. It's about a modern day air craft carrier in the Pacific fleet that's caught in a bizarre electrical storm and travels back in time to Dec. 6, 1941 - the day before Pearl Harbor.

Their dilemma is a tough one. A modern day carrier with its advanced weaponry, jets, helicopters, etc., is more than capable of taking on the Japanese fleet of 1941. But if they prevent the attack on Pearl Harbor, will it alter the course of history too much? And if history is changed, how will it alter the future?

I don't know what it is about this movie: the special effects are cheesy, the acting adequate but not spectacular, but I have to watch it every time I come across it on t.v. Do you have a movie like that, one that you have to watch anytime you see even a little portion of it?

Others for me include The Fugitive, Ghostbusters, The Goonies, The Hunt for Red October, any John Hughes movie, A Few Good Men, etc.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's a disaster - but then we knew that...

How in the world can BP possibly make good on the damage it has caused Louisiana and the rest of the gulf coast? The damage is far reaching on many levels and growing worse.

A friend of mine is a social worker for the state and they have been given special billing codes just for clients that are dealing with depression related to the oil leak.

What?!? Depression related to an oil leak? These are people whose livelihood depends on the Gulf and the wetlands: fishermen, charter boat captains, restaurant and hotel owners, shrimpers, etc. These are folks who rebuilt after being devastated by Katrina, knowing they had a tough road ahead. But they could see the future of things getting back to normal. No longer. Already substance abuse and depression rates are growing alarmingly as the people realize that their livelihood is gone, not just for a year or so but maybe forever.

And, let's face it, these are not educated people with a lot of opportunities for the most part. Their whole way of life just vanished in the blink of an eye. How can BP make restitution for that?

How can BP repair the damage to the wetlands and animal/sea life? They haven't even been able to stop the lead after a FREAKING MONTH.

The Advocate, the newspaper I work for, has extensive coverage available. You may want to check it out here.

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans also has coverage available here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Glee - Dream On

I should have known that any episode of Glee directed by Joss Whedon would be fantastic - and bittersweet. From Rachel's search for her mom (I KNEW Jesse St. James was up to no good!) to Artie's dream of being a dancer, I hoped right along with the characters and then felt their pain even though I could see how it was going to turn out coming from a mile away. I guess that's what good directing can lead too :)

I think my favorite bit was actually the Safety Dance flash mob scene from Artie's daydream. I've always had a fondness for that song, cheesy though it may be - it was the very first music video that I ever saw.

Be sure to check out Glee on Hulu if you haven't already seen it! What was your favorite part?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Who's the perv?

By now you've probably seen the video of the five 8- or 9-year-olds dancing to Beyonce's Single Ladies. If you haven't, check it out:

I've read a great many comments on different websites about this video, all of them arguing about whether or not it's age appropriate for the dancers involved. Is it the choreography? the costumes? Or are the people who have a problem with it the real pervs for thinking that way in terms of little girls?

While I personally think the choreography isn't appropriate for children that age, I also know that it's no different than what is being taught at hundreds of dance studios across the nation. Same thing with the costumes.

I think our society has a tendency to treat children as miniature grown-ups rather than the kids they really are. Just go look at the children's clothing area at Walmart or Target or Dillard's. It's like once the girls hit age 5 or so, all of the clothing available is for very small adults rather than children.

Several years ago, I drew my cousin Emma's name for Christmas. She was about the same age then as the little girls in the video. Her mom suggested that I get her some clothes from Mary Kate & Ashley's line. I had to look really hard to find clothing that didn't look like it would belong on a hoochie mama. I was horrified and have wondered ever since how parents find decent, age appropriate clothing for their children while not scarring them for life with unfashionable attire.

And, as for the folks who think it's pervy to even have this cross your mind, in these days of sexual and internet predators, you have to think like that in order to properly protect your family.

For the record, I think the little girls are very talented and obviously put a lot of work into their routine. I think the parents are at fault for allowing their dance teacher to plan such an age inappropriate routine and costume.

What do you think?

A small misunderstanding

Right after I left college, I taught the two-year-old class at my church's Mother's Day Out program. I loved that job - the kids were cute and fun to be with, I got to do arts & crafts almost every day (it's amazing what you can do with paper plates, btw.), I got along great with my partner, and just generally had a good time. I left because it was part-time with no benefits and the pay wasn't very good.

One of my favorite memories from that year involved a precious sweetie named Sarah. She was adorable with a brown page-boy haircut and rosy cheeks so round you just wanted to pinch them. Not only was Sarah a cutie, she was incredibly good natured with a smile on her face and a lisp when she spoke.

One day at nap time, I was sitting on the floor by another child rubbing his back when I hear, "Mith Katie, will you wub me too?" My heart just about melted right then and there. I replied, "Sarah, of course I love you." Sarah let out an exasperated sigh and said, "I know you wub me. I need you to WUB me." and preceded to rub her own back in demonstration.

My partner, Carroll, just about bust a gut laughing. She had to leave the room so she wouldn't wake the sleepers.

Friday, May 14, 2010

This is ridiculous...

I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it, but a Taiwanese kid is out singing Whitney Houston. Now, I'm not saying that this is better than Whitney in her heyday, but it is certainly superior to her current performances. Check it out:

Pretty amazing, huh? And not to pick on him, but does he remind anyone else of Pat from SNL?

Summer Reading List

I'm planning on making a trip to the Goodwood Library (one of my favorite places on Earth. I know, I'm a complete nerd.) and stocking up on new reading materials for the summer. Do you have any recommendations? Please leave them in the comment area below. I read a wide variety of things, so don't hesitate to make any suggestions - all are welcome.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Excellent action spoof / tribute

This past Thursday, NBC's Community aired its "Modern Warfare" episode. It is quite possibly the funniest half-hour tribute to action movies that I've ever seen. Off the top of my head, I saw references to Pitch Black, Terminator, The Replacement Killers, Cheers, Glee, Gladiator, and last, but definitely not least, Die Hard.

Check it out here.

What references did you see?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Second job

I've finally found a second job that I think will work well around my somewhat odd hours at the newspaper. I'll be taking customer service calls from home for a utility company on the East coast. Extra income is always a good thing ;)

To all of you who gave me advice, tips and support, thank you!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Betty White on SNL

As you probably know, Betty White was the host of Saturday Night Live on May 8.

While I didn't find any of the sketches mind-blowingly funny, it was a vast improvement over many of the efforts made this season. I got at least a chuckle at most of the sketches and laughed out loud at many of them.

Betty's opening monologue was quite funny and I especially enjoyed her pokes at Facebook users - especially since the Facebook campaign was instrumental in getting her to host. To my surprise, one of the other sketches featuring her that I quite enjoyed was the Scared Straight bit. I thought it was hilarious - and usually I just find that sketch monotonous. I'll never be able to watch Willy Wonka or The Wizard of Oz with a straight face again. The census bit was a hoot as well.

All of that said, the funniest bit of the night (to me anyway) was the Really?!? bit on Weekend Update. It was kind of sad though - it just shows how much SNL is missing the presence of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

All of the sketches are available on Hulu.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Good-bye, Sookie

Sookie Stackhouse, I'm breaking up with you. In print, anyway. I've long been a fan of the novels about you, but after the tenth in the series, I think I've had enough. And, I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I like the t.v. show better.

Actually, that's two vampire book series this year where I prefer the t.v. show to the books they're based on. I couldn't stand the Vampire Diaries series but love, LOVE the show. I tried to read the books three different times and couldn't get past the first 100 pages. This is very unusual for me. When I start a book, I finish it - no matter how good or bad it may be.

Much to the bewilderment of my parents, I've always been a fan of vampire stories. I can trace it as far back as Bunnicula in elementary school. Does anyone else remember the story about the vampire bunny that drained veggies?

And then, in middle school, I discovered Anne Rice. I was a pretty innocent 12-year-old and much of what she was writing about went completely over my head but I had older friends that were reading her novels and I wanted so badly to appear cool that I started reading them. Needless to say, it was an eye-opening experience. To this day, I can't believe my parents let me read those books.

When I think about it though, Mom and Dad were always pretty good about letting me read what I wanted. Whether it was Anne Rice, Ken Kesey, Kurt Vonnegut, Harper Lee or anyone of a hundred other authors, it was always my decision.

Boy, this sure didn't end up where I thought it was going to...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Attack of the Cable Company

Since the respondents to my poll were overwhelmingly in favor of a crazy call center story, I decided to go ahead and post it a little early. This took place while I was working for a call center which handled everything from after hours cable/utility calls to taking orders for infomercials.

Me: Thank you for calling [Cable Giant]. My name is Katie. How may I help you?

Caller: That (expletive) cable company is out to get me! They're only playing sounds in Spanish! I want my (multiple expletives) money back!

Me: I'm sorry this is happening. Please let me collect some information so I can let the office know you're having a problem.

Caller: No you stupid (bad word for female genitalia that starts with a c). I want my money back. I know they're doing this on purpose. They've been out to get me ever since I canceled my HBO.

Me: Please don't use such language or I'll be forced to disconnect the call. Let me collect some information and we'll try to get you back to normal, okay?

Caller: Okay.

Me: May I please have your name? address? phone number?

Caller provides information.

I walk them through the steps to turn off the SAP function on their cable box. (The SAP function allows Spanish language subscribers to hear dialog in Spanish when possible)

Caller: Well, I'll be! It's a miracle. How could this have happened?

Me: Not a problem - I'm glad we were able to get it fixed. Someone probably pressed the wrong button on the remote control.

Caller: I'm the only one here but for my eight-year-old autistic kid. I know it wasn't me - it must have been him. BRANDON! Get your a$$ in here! I'm gonna beat your butt! You broke the t.v.!

I then try and (POLITELY!) persuade the caller that there is no need to beat an autistic kid's butt. I think I was successful - they were a lot calmer when they finally hung up.

Can you imagine being ready to beat an autistic kid's butt because of something they may or may not have actually done? Crazy.

Have you had a nightmare experience with a customer service rep?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Quick Poll

Please take a second and answer the poll below :) It closes at noon Wednesday. Thanks!

Friday Night Lights

Don't tell me that you don't care about football - Friday Night Lights is about so much more than that. Whether they are exploring class/race issues, faith, religion and family values (or lack there of), or portraying quite possibly the most realistic marriage I've ever seen on t.v., it is an unflinching and honest look at small town America.

I guarantee that you will feel like you know and/or relate to at least one of these characters, whether it is the hard working Coach Taylor, the dedicated Tami "Mrs. Coach" Taylor, earnest Matt Saracen, injured Jason Street, tragic Tim Riggins, wheeling and dealing Buddy Garrity, super intelligent and funny Landry Clark, sweet (and slightly spoiled) Julie Taylor or straight-razor toting Tyra Colette.

When I recommended this show to my brother, he told me he wasn't interested because he'd already seen Varsity Blues. This show is so much more than that. Give it a try - you won't regret it. If you're interested, Netflix is streaming seasons 1-3 right now. Click here to get started.

It is with clear eyes and a full heart that I beg you to give this gem of a show a try. By some miracle, it has survived three seasons of poor ratings on NBC. The fourth season premieres on NBC Friday, May 7, at 8e/7c.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Deep Impact

No, this isn't about the cheesy late '90s flick with Elijah Wood and Leelee Sobieski. This is a rant about how BP seriously messed up the handling of an accident on a deep sea oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil spill itself is larger than the island of Jamaica and growing. It's now estimated that this will be worse than the notorious Exxon Valdez spill in the '80s.

Let me count the ways (and these are just off the top of my head):

1. Even with a history of accidents on said oil rig, BP failed to have a plan on how to handle a major spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It seems like that should be an automatic anytime you have a rig somewhere, whether it's at sea or on land. It doesn't take a genius to know this.

2. The families of the 11 men lost will never be the same. They will be effected emotionally and financially and children will grow up without their father.

3. The entire Gulf Coast will feel the effects on an environmental level. The fragile wetlands along the Louisiana coast may not survive, not to mention the sea and animal life that will be effected. The beaches all along the Gulf coast are expected to feel the effects. Which leads to...

4. The economic impact will be in the billions. This will effect whole industries - seafood boats, restaurants, tourism, etc. And the lawsuits that will come piling in... good grief, the impact might even be in the trillions.

Not to beat a dead horse, but all of this may have been avoided if they had just had a disaster plan on the books...