Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Sequel

Last week, I headed down to Austin for me second go-around with the ATX Television Festival.  It's no secret I love television.  It's my entertainment medium of choice, and I hold no aspersions of any refined taste.  I can love cheesy schlock as much as any critically acclaimed series, and I will never draw a line of distinction.  It's all wonderful to me.  OK, maybe not wonderful, but if I start a series and don't bail after a few episodes (which is rare), I'm with you until the end, bitter or otherwise.  In fact, I've been known to watch a series finale for a show I've otherwise never watched.  I'm that dedicated.

Someone on Twitter once asked what your dream job would be (training and salary notwithstanding), and my answer would be television critic, if not television writer outright.  How I didn't drift into this over the years is a mystery and sadness to me.  Eh, maybe there's still time.

Anyway, this time, I hopped in my car and made the trip solo this year (thank you, husband and parents).  I have to say, it's much better to have someone in the passenger seat and I hope I can rectify that in the coming years.  I made it in time to get all registered up and in line for the first panel I wanted to attend, only to see my friend and kind hostess Regan standing in the I Already Have a Golden Ticket So I Get in First line.  We texted (yes, texted - I am new to the 21st century and could finally do this) to make seating arrangements, and headed in.  

Now, listen.  Last year, I got mad at myself halfway through the weekend for not talking to the celebrities and panelists when clearly other attendees were doing just that and no one seemed to mind.  That's when I decided to toss my shy business to the birds and approach anyone I darn well pleased.  Did I look sound like an idiot sometimes? YES.  But I got some nice pictures and shook some hands (or uncomfortably hugged people, I don't remember) and got over my darn self, so WIN.  This was my approach going into this year.

Until this first panel about ratings and reviews (which was information and interesting and awesome), which included Tara Ariano or Mighty Big TV and Television without Pity fame (late of whom I've followed forever and admired for truly mining the essence of snark and the television recap, and well, I just couldn't.  I should have because she seems like a class act who doesn't think her sushi won't spoil, and I'm kinda bummed I missed that opportunity.  Tara, I think you're amazing.  I hope I get a chance to make a fool of myself in front of you another time.

There were other talented critics whom I enjoy reading as well, but I went fangirl for Tara (whom I'm calling by her first name because obviously we are best friends even though we haven't met).

The rest of the day passed with me feeding my parking meter, nearly spraining my ankle in a pothole, and developing a migraine that kept me from eating much at the awesome restaurant Regan picked (I am certain she now thinks I try to eat like a supermodel  when I was actually dying to munch down on the waffle fries she ordered), until it was time to drive across downtown to meet up with Jennie and her mom at the Friday Night Lights outdoor screening.  Let me make a long sub-story short (heh, like I'm slowing down on the overall story) and tell you that one of the circles of hell surely must be trying to park in Austin, Texas, on a Friday night.  I drove around for - no joke - an hour trying to find someplace I didn't think I'd get towed before I gave up and went back to celeb-watch in the hotel lobby.  Jennie assured me the evening was more about swatting mosquitoes than hanging out with actors.  I'm taking that cold comfort.

*Brisk clap* OK, Saturday.  Regan and I rendezvoused with Jennie, her mom, and Erica that morning, then went off to the screening we wanted to see.  First up for me was a conversation with Fonzie himself, Henry Winkler.  I felt like last year's luck was riding with me, and sure enough, I scored a front row center seat.  The man is exactly who you want him to be - kind, self-deprecating, truthful, and a fantastic storyteller.  He spoke for an hour and then took questions.  Remembering my new tactic, I stuck my hand in the air, ready to use the line I'd worked on a few days prior.  When he pointed at me, I told him that my husband had me promised that if I got to speak to him, I'd tell him that he was Chris's role model growing up, and what did he think of that title.  First, he asked my name and Chris's name, answered the question, and then said, "Give Chris my best."  Classy.  (There's a YouTube video of the talk and at 50:20, you can see the exchange.  Chris actually got choked up when I showed him.  Softie.)

 You look' at me? Wait, wrong show.

 The Fonz showed up for a moment.  It was greaaaaaayyyyyyt.  (Too much?)

They ushered us out of the theater before I could get a picture with the man, which is one of the great tragedies of the event for me.  Sigh.

Next was a reunion for the cast of Everwood.  I know you didn't watch t, but you've probably seen at least one actor in another role.  Treat Williams - heard of him?  He wasn't there, but he was in the show.  Again, I scored front row seats and lo, it was very cool.  So many of the cast came that I couldn't get them all in a picture, and those that couldn't come sent videos.  About three quarters of the way through, Chris Pratt, another cast member who couldn't be there, called via Facetime to David Hudgins, who was moderating, so we got to hear from him "live" as well.  What a neat little surprise.  And I asked a question again (pats self on back for hutzpah).

 Just a few of them.  No one has aged.

Isn't technology cool?

A note about David Hudgins.  He moderated the Friday Night Lights panel last year and Everwood this year, and he is just my favorite.  It's obvious why he is such a successful TV writer, plus he's fabulously witty in person.  I could with him for hours.  David, call me!  Heck, hire me! I work cheap and make good coffee.

That was all I had on tap officially, but Jennie and her mom (Peggy, I suppose I should use her actual name) were going to the Parenthood panel and could save me a seat since they had special golden ticketed and I didn't.  And it's a good thing because they had to turn people away from this one.  Why? Well, it's a really good show but also because Lauren Graham and Peter Krause surprisingly showed up.  This Q&A was entirely too short, of course.  Also, Ray Romano is on the show and was there for just about every panel, so bonus there.  (Love the man, but he seemed awfully uncomfortable talking to people about the work he's chosen to do with his life and also he could shave and put on a nicer shirt once in awhile since he's not inside his house.)

 I wanted to put these side by side, but apparently, this is where technology breaks down for me.

Then I did some people watching in the hotel lobby while Jennie and Peggy went back to their hotel and Regan and Erica were embarrassing Sean Astin at his show's premiere, and I finally scored a picture with some famous people.

Mission accomplished.  This is mostly for my dad, who watches Rookie Blue and Grey's Anatomy and therefore knows Gregory Smith and Sarah Drew.  I managed to get this by offering to take a picture for the girl who originally approached them and them asking her to return the favor.  Clever, yes?

I'd like to take a moment to award Sarah Drew the Connie Britton Award for Hair Excellence at this year's festival.

Sunday, I had a golden ticket to the reunion of the cast of Roswell (I know, you didn't watch that either), but I knew this was one of the biggest tickets of the weekend and it was in one of the smallest venues, so I wanted to make sure I was early enough to get a good seat.  That's when I had to brilliant idea to check out the Goldbergs screening which was happing immediately prior to the reunion in the same room.  I'd seen a few segments of the Goldbergs over the season, but this was the first full episode I's seen, and it's pretty adorable, and not only because it was about the son doing karate to his own neat kind of like Sammy.  It's charming and brought back a lot or memories for this 80s raised kid.  I think I'll watch more next season.

I saw Wendy McLendon-Covey at the hotel Saturday, and I didn't recognize her.  I thought I was watching some CW starlet get hounded by festival goers, and was shocked when I realized she plays a mom of teens on TV.  You go, WMC.

The Roswell reunion was good, although I think I'd prefer clips over the life of the show to watch the pilot in its entirety.  Another cast member (Jason Fehr) surprised the audience, and it was clear they all loved each other still (except for Katharine Heigel , who was neither there nor mentioned, so it makes you go hmm...), which makes for a nice experience.  The real cock-your-head-and-raise-your-eyebrow moment was when the last question asker turned out to be Snooki.  Yes, that Snooki.  I guess she has enough slush fund to fly down to Austin to reminisce about a TV show she once watched.  Key, whatever.  She's a fan.

They look the same.  15 years later, I do not look the same.
Another note: Jason Katims is a supremely talented showrunner and I'll watch almost anything with his name attached, but he should probably take a public speaking seminar.  

OK, enough recap.  I had a wonderful time staying with Regan and cannot thank her enough for giving me a roof over my head and coffee in the morning.  He children a ridiculously gorgeous and her husband very gracious to let a random internet stranger come into his house for 2 days.  I really wish she was my next door neighbor (and that Erica lived on the other side, she's just that awesome, too).  It would be the snark center of the world.  Ladies, you are the best.  Please come visit me anytime.  And Erica, I apologize for teasing you about your Ray Romano affection.  You have excellent taste and are not at all stalkery (he would totally talk to you).  I also loved hanging out with Jennie and Peggy some more and hope that continues when our book club get back up to speed.  Hey, did Snooki write a book?  Should we read that next?

Let me show you the fantastic picture of Regan and me:

And Erica and me:

And Jennie, Peggy, and me:

And Ray Romano and me:

Yeah, I failed big time on the picture and it pains me.  I WILL do better next time.
Which won't be next year.  It killed me not to buy an advance ticket with this wonderful ladies, but I already know I have a conflict next year.  Even though it's a REALLY good reason, it's still a bitter pill to swallow.  But you better believe I'm writing in 2016 in red marker on my calendar and tasking someone with buying my advance ticket when they go on sale at next year's festival.  Because my camera and I will be back, and I will be timidly yet certainly approaching Hollywood type people.  I'm coming for you.

Look.  Snook.

Friday, May 23, 2014


I wasn't tagged on this, but I'm going to use it as an opportunity to blow the dust off around here.  I mean, 1 post for this entire year when we're staring down the end of the 5th month is pretty darn sad. Let's let this serve as re-entry, shall we?  (Thanks, Jennie, for instigating this little push that I sorely needed.)

1. What is your favorite kind of cheese? I love ALL cheese. Half of my family is from Wisconsin. It's in my blood.

2. What are you excited about? For some reason, this is a tough question.  It's not that I don't have interesting and happy things happening, but I can't pinpoint anything in particular.  Maybe I'm trying too hard to find a Big Thing to mention and I don't really have any Big Things on the horizon, and that's OK.  The summer is starting to shape up (even though I don't yet have a trip planned for the family and I've got lots of eyeballs looking at me on that one, plus it's making me a little itchy), so that's pretty good.  Yes,  I'm looking forward to summer.

3. How did you celebrate your last birthday? I know I went out to lunch with my parents and my kids made me some lovely cards, but I was doing my level best to ignore my birthday, and it looks like I did a pretty good job because I remember nothing else.

4. What is on your bedside table? My alarm clock from 1998 (it says so right on the front - yay for longevity, boo for really ugly), a somewhat fancy box I keep all my manicure tools in, several books  that I own and may or may not read (but that do an excellent job of lifting up the ancient clock so I can see it over my pillows), several library books that I also may or may not read, a tablet for when I'm ignoring said books, a lamp and the telephone.  Perhaps this list will explain why I am ignoring my birthdays from now on.

5. What do you order from the movie theater concession stand? I am cheap.  I can't remember the last time I ordered from the concession stand.  But now I feel like I'm missing out.  But then again, I almost never go to the movies, and cannot, in fact, tell you the last movie I saw in the theater.  (That's not true - it was Frozen.)  Chances are I will be dragged to see X-Men 9000 or whatever it's called, so perhaps I will report back later.

6. Do you have a garden? What’s growing? It is tiny and currently consists of parsley and oregano left over from last year that by some miracle did not die.  It will soon include basil, which I bought a few days ago.

Quick story - earlier this spring, Sammy's scout troop needed to complete a gardening project, so I offered up out empty flower bed.  The boys planted 12 plants (tomatoes, basil, onions, carrot, among others).  Guess how many are living today?  Wrong - 1! At least until I check tomorrow and then you'll probably be right.

7. Any summer plans? Very good question.  I did finally find reasonably priced swim lessons not occurring with 200 other kids at the same time, so that's all set.  There's a week of vacation bible school in there.  And I just finished talking to all the teachers about what subject to work on with the kids over the break (yes, I'm that mom, but in my defense, they're those kids).  Chris desperately wants to travel, but he also wants new windows, so he's going to need to grow that money tree soon. 
I would also be more than happy to welcome any visitors (ahem).

8. Which TV couple(s) are you rooting for? Deacon and Rayna on Nashville, because he is all kinds of hot (even though I also remember him being goofy on Whose Line Is It Anyway? back in the day and my mind can't quite reconcile that). Please don't tell my husband.  I mentioning my List in passing the other day, and you'd have sworn he thought I was heading out to track a guy down that minute.  Simmer down, Husband.

9. What’s the last thing you bought? A t-shirt for Sammy that espouses my personal loyalty to Pluto as a planet.  I realize this is ironic because he'll be taught the new theory and will eventually reject my awesome shirt, but for now, I can use my son as a billboard.

10. What’s one thing you are passionate about? My kids.  I will fight tooth and nail for them.

11. What are you grateful for this week? I am grateful for the amazing school year this has been for both my kids.  They had the exact right teachers for them, and they blossomed.  And while Sabrina is lucky to have the same teacher (and class) next year, I am mourning the loss of the teachers Sammy will leave as he moves to the next grade and the very special teacher who is retiring.  We had a meeting today during which we all ended up praising and thanking each other, and it was just the best sense of right place, right time ever.  Retiring Teacher has promised to keep in touch, and is even going to send Sammy postcards from her summer road trip (you'll know when that happens because you'll hear his head explode).  And now that our "business" relationship is ended, I have no qualms making the other teachers bend to my will and be my best friends.  Maybe I'll invite them to book club (hey, book club, I have some great new people to include!).  But seriously, it has been the best year, and I'm so anxious for next year because I just can't see how it can be topped (here's hoping).

Tag, you're it.  Yes, you.

Friday, March 21, 2014

True Story

Well hello there.

(Blows dust off  the monitor)

I see it's been a little while since I've darkened these doors.  Every time I've remembered that, I've also simultaneously thought that I didn't have anything to write about, not anything that would interest anybody anyway.  Today, I decided that was rubbish and decided that if you're bored reading this, you can just wander away, no harm, no foul, and to get over myself already.  And so, a story.

We were riding along in the car and Sabrina started singing the theme song to Reading Rainbow.  Considering the show was a staple of my childhood but cancelled before she was even born, I was shocked to hear the tune coming from my baby's mouth, so I asked her where she'd heard it.  She said she'd watched it with her class.  My mind immediately flashed back to many, many days gone by, and I started reminiscing.

When I was in junior high, there was a contest asking kids to write their best limerick involving pigs and they place they lived.  The top three would be chosen, turned into cartoons, and shown on an episode of Reading Rainbow.  My mom, ever the creative writer, had me enter.  She helped me work out a little 5 liner about a pig from Dallas whose cowboy boots were a bit too small, and we sent it in.  And it won.  There, in the late 80s, alongside the illustrious Levar Burton, was my first television credit.

The Sabrina said, "I saw that."

Really? I gave her the hairy eyeball on that one.  Why in the world would a teacher choose a 20-something year old episode of a long-cancelled (but still beloved in many circles), public television series?  And how could it be THE ONE out of hundreds?

"There was also a story about Perfect the pig."

WHOA.  The centerpiece of every episode of the Rainbow was a reading (duh) of a children's book that showcased the theme of the day. Pig theme = Perfect the Pig by Susan Jeschke.  My parents gave me a copy when the show aired, to remember. (Also a copy of The Book of Pigericks, which inspired the contest.)

She really did see it.  Less than a 1% chance.

I sent an e-mail to her teacher to tell her about the bizarre coincidence, and a little piece of me hopes she tells the class that that last pig poem was written by Sabrina's mom.  It's my claim to fame, after all.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: Checkpoint

Around round up.  Here we go.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Took my baby to her first day of kindergarten.  Got on an airplane without my children or husband or any business obligations.  Helped my son prepare for and make his First Reconciliation and Communion.  Hugged members of the Dillon Panthers and the Bartlett administration.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't think I specified anything last year.  But I do have a couple goals I want to achieve early in the new year:

·         Organize and label all the digital photos from 2013 (I'm up to May) and make my 2013 photo album of the best shots.
·         Finish converting all my old VHS tapes to DVD so I can throw all those old cassettes out and use my bookshelf for actual books.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Internet babies abound.  I'm all about the virtual snuggles.  Also, Sammy's karate instructor's wife.  She brings the baby to the studio a lot, so I get to admire his squishiness frequently.  

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Last year, I said I hoped I'd be able to give this question a big, fat no.  And so it has come to pass.

5. What places did you visit?

Cross country road tripping again, so the usual.  And South Carolina.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

I always say money, and that's always true.  Patience.  I'd really like some more of that.  Chris being able to come home earlier in the evenings so he can spend more time with us.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

May 3, Sammy's First Communion.  May 22, Sabrina's preschool graduation, where she surprised us all with solo speech about the meaning of the day.  June 8, the day I got within 15 feet of Connie Britton's hair.  November 1, the day my grandmother moved into her new apartment.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I wish I had a big, bright, completed goal to put here, but I don't.  I finally got the carpets cleaned?

9. What was your biggest failure?

Lather, rinse, repeat, sigh: getting frustrated too easily and defaulting to yelling as the answer.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Knock all the wood in the world, we have all be relatively healthy this year.  But there are currently bouts of the flu and RSV being battled in my family, and there are a few more hours to the year.  I'm not counting anything out.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

It's so small, but it's made me so happy - a tiny electric milk frother from Ikea.  Instead of longing for fancy tea and coffee lattes that I'm not going to buy, I can make a pretty decent version at home.  In fact, I'm sipping one right now.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My kids' teachers. All my internet ladies.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Companies that employ many people and yet take no consideration of the fact that they are, indeed, people.

14. Where did most of your money go?

The yacht, the fleet of Rolls Royces, the mansion in Maui.  Just kidding.  Bills, mortgage, taxes, children.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Meeting these folks.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

Come on.  Is there any other answer than, "What Does the Fox Say?"

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier.
b) thinner or fatter? You think I'm stepping on a scale for this?
c) richer or poorer? I feel broke, but that's not true.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Taken a breath.  

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

"Sammy, stop biting your fingers!"  "Sabrina, stop touching things!"

20. How did you spend Christmas in 2013?

Well, Chris got stuck at work late Christmas Eve, so we couldn't attend Mass as a family, so that stunk.  The other three quarters of us went to my grandma's apartment to continue an old tradition in a new location.  Christmas Day was a blur of presents, food, and family.  We didn't get to celebrate with Chris's entire family as in years past, but we did spend a day with his mom and sister's family, and vowed to pull everyone together next year.  All in all, thumbs up.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?

This is a weird question.  Next.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

If I don't get to watch Scandal live, I get to it in the DVR as fast as possible.  The Big Bang Theory is the only show Chris and I watch together and we still laugh so hard every time.

23. What did you do for your birthday in 2013?

I ignored it as hard as possible.

24. What was the best book you read?

I read all of Rainbow Rowell's books, and I really enjoyed her writing.  Where'd You Go, Bernadette?  The Divergent series, although I am prepared to loathe the movie(s).

25. What did you want and get?

New TV/internet/phone service for less than I have been paying.  Tall boots and skinny jeans that I feel like might look not too bad on me.  A trip to Charleston with lots of lovely internet friends.  The right kindergarten teacher for Sabrina.

26. What did you want and not get?

A magic housecleaning fairy.  A truckload of cash backed up into my garage.  A significantly smaller backside.

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

Did I go to a movie this year?  Oh yeah, we saw Monsters University.  So, by default, that.

28. Did you make some new friends this year?

I got to meet Miriel in person, even though I probably terrified her with a random e-mail request and then brought my entire family with me.  And all the Blathering ladies I hadn't previously met.  I love them so.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

The ability to communicate anything to my children and have them understand instantly.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

Dresses make you look like you put in a lot of effort when you really didn't.

31. What kept you sane?

Running.  Sugar.  More running as a result of all the sugar.

Wait, sane?  I cannot claim that.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Kyle Chandler.  Sat 17 feet away from him (making room for Connie Britton's hair). He's handsome.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Healthcare. The craziness surrounding this is just ridiculous.

34. Who did you miss? 

Everyone I don't see often enough (which is most everyone).

35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

Whatever is bothering you, it will seem smaller with time.