Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fall TV Report Card, part 2

As promised, I continue with my take on my favorite new and returning shows this fall. Please note that my comments contain spoilers, so if you haven't gotten around to cleaning out you TiVo just yet, stop reading.

1. Ugly Betty - muy bien!

I love this show and the season premier did not disappoint. Our heroine is struggling to keep everything together as she deals with her family, her job, and her disappointment with the outcome of her relationship with Henry. She's burning the candle at both ends in order to avoid her feelings and everything is unraveling. Wilhelmina is acting as editor-in-chief as Daniel and Alexis are recovering from the car crash and reveling in her new-found power. Amanda has ballooned with her stress eating because of her discovery that Fey Sommers was her mother. Justin sneaked into the Mode offices, quoted Coco Chanel and got himself a summer internship.

The story that was the cheesiest was also the best because I chose not to try to predict it. When I watch the Betty, it's total brain candy. I turn off the brain. I watch other shows, like the procedurals, to engage my brain, but this is the opposite. So, I chose to go along for the ride, and while somewhere I always knew that Santos was gone, I let myself be taken along for the ride that he was holed up in Hilda's room talking about their future. Then, in a Sixth Sense-meets-Telemundo twist, we learn the truth. A

2. Grey's Anatomy

Meh. But not as meh as Private Practice. I'm giving the benefit of the doubt to Shona Rimes as she cleans up the mess of last season. I watched it twice just to make sure my initial reaction was right, and it was. There were good things and not good things.

Starting with the not good thing: Izzie working on a deer. Mercy, that was lame. As my favorite EW reviewer said, "Excuse me, Doctor. Can you help me? I've been hit over the head by the personal resonance of this story." Her speech to her interns at the end was pretty good, though. George declaring his love for Izzie at the end. I realize this season needs a triangle - that one's just not believable. It's not b/c T.R. Knight is gay, either. I can buy him in a straight role. Those two just don't have any romantic chemistry.

Good things: Meredith & Derek's breakup scene. Break up sex? Seems like a good idea. George's fledgling relationship with Lexie Grey, also good. Alex and Cristina's moment at the end with the bag of coins from Pica man's stomach and they declare how much they miss Rebecca and Burke. Bailey taking the high road with Callie. B-

3. Dirty Sexy Money

Surprisingly good. I've enjoyed Peter Krause since his days on Sports Night and he seems to get better with age. His character grew up with his father being the family lawyer for the richest family in the universe, the Darlings (natch). He hated that he was always second to their whims and so he grew being a poor lawyer for the less fortunate. The show opens with the death of his father and the Darling family patriarch (Donald Sutherland) offering him the job. Of course he first turns it down, but then accept as information comes to light regarding the death of his father, not the least of which being the tasty tidbit that his father carried on a 40-year affair with Mrs. Darling. The best performance came from the self-absorbed older daughter who is engaged to be married a fourth time, but who has never gotten over her crush on Peter Krause. She's brilliant. I look forward to seeing more of her. The son who's a priest is particularly vile, which is fun to watch as well. Another great show from Peter Horton and Greg Berlanti. A

4. Bionic Woman

Another great one. I was a huge fan of of the original with Lindsay Wagner. I used to watch it on Sunday afternoons between church services. This one is decidedly more badass and angst-ridden. Turns out, Jaime becomes bionic b/c she's in a bad accident and almost dies and her boyfriend just happens to be the scientist son of the man who invented bionics. This show also has and anti-Jaime, however - the first bionic woman, and she's pissed. She's slowly having all her body parts replaced so she can be entirely bionic, which is slightly crazy, but I can understand the appeal. Another difference is what happens when there's some damage to the bionic parts. Remember how in the old one, if something happened to her, she'd be all smoke and wires and have to go in for repairs? Not so with the new bionic woman. She regenerates. It's pretty cool. Unfortunately, the boyfriend was killed by the former boyfriend of Sara, the pissed girl, so Jaime is on her own to figure this out on her own. So far, there's no Oscar Goldman character, the kindly father figure who mentors her through her assignments. I'm looking forward to following this one. A

Next time: 30 Rock and Pushing Daisies

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fall TV Report Card, part 1

So far, I'm thorougly enjoying the beginning of the fall TV season. I've been anxiously awaiting both the new shows and the return of my favorites and so far, it's been a good week. Here are my ratings and re-caps for the week so far.

1. Heroes

A-maz-ing! I love me some Heroes already, and the season 2 premier did not disappoint. As many questions cropped up as were answered. We're beginning to discover the meaning of the ubiquious double helix-ish symbol from last season. What happened to Peter Petrelli and how can we get in to see his hair stylist? Why has Nathan checked out of his life? What happened with Matt's marriage? What's the deal with the white guy in 17th century Japan? It's going to be a great season! A+

2. Chuck - a keeper!

New show that I wasn't going to watch but was pressured into it by all of my favorite pop culture publications on the interwebs. The pre-show buzz was great, although the trailers didn't thrill me. Surprisingly, I actually liked it. Chuck plays the supervisor of the Nerd Herd, the computer repair division of electronic superstore Buy More. Through a series of events, he has goverment secrets downloaded into his brain and is hunted by both NSA and CIA agents. He doesn't know who he can trust, but at this point he's picked the hot blonde. Big shock. I'm looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. B+

3. House

He's back, baby! The biggest jerk in the medical field has returned. In one of the better moments of Tuesday's premier, when asked by Dr. Cuddy where he's come from, House quips, "Apes, if you believe the Democrats." House is now without a team and is determined not to hire one, but through a series of unfortunate diagnoses, he grudgingly acquieses to Cuddy and Wilson and goes about hiring a team. Unfortunately, he was told he could do it however he wanted, so he has chosen a six-week-long, Survivor-type method where he has 30-s0me candidates and will be eliminating several per week. Should be fun! A

4. Private Practice

Meh. I'm underwhelmed. The boys are pretty and the characters are ok, but the premier was pretty much Grey's Lite. It was the same type of stories you'd see on Grey's, just not in a hospital. A patient of the psychiatrist had a psychotic break in a department store. A woman tried to get the sperm of her dead, married boyfriend in a nearby hospital, but not in their central medical clinic. A girl almost died giving birth in the super nice birthing center. It may be that Addison may have to take the chief up on his offer to keep her job open as long as he can. She may be winging her way back up to the Emerald City. C

Next time....Bionic Woman, Dirty Sexy Money, Grey's Anatomy and Ugly Betty

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I have a new addiction

Baked Lay's Cheddar & Sour Cream chips. Damn you, Office Vending Machine! Damn you!

Monday, September 24, 2007

What could have been but shouldn't have been, so I'm glad it wasn't

Last week marked the birthday of my high school boyfriend, Robert. If memory serves, and let's face it - it does - he is 38. To my knowledge, he's married and I think has a couple of kids. As it turns out, he was almost married to me. When I was entering my senior year of high school he was finishing his last year of school for his chosen career and was pretty determined that we would get married right after high school. At first, I didn't give it much thought, because that's what my parents had done, and while it didn't seem "normal," it wasn't totally nuts either. However, I got caught up in the going-to-college conversations with my friends and decided that I wanted to do that instead. Robert and I had many conversations and after a few weeks, ended our two-year relationship. It was difficult but the right decision.

Had I gotten married at the ridiculous age of 18, I would probably have had an ok life, not gone to school, not worked, been a stay-at-home mom, etc. Certainly not a bad life at all. I don't think it would have been the right life for me. I've had the great privilege of education, travel, friends and a generally great life that I would not have had if I had gotten married. Yes, this is the person about which I have the recurring nightmare, but I'm proud of myself for making the right choice and, should that dream ever come true, I could do it again.

One of my favorite albums of all time is Come On, Come On by Mary Chapin Carpenter. It's one of those rare situations where I love every song on it. There's one in particular that applies to this situation and I think that making the choice to not get married helped me avoid this. Here are the lyrics:

He Thinks He'll Keep Her

She makes his coffee, she makes his bed
She does the laundry, she keeps him fed
When she was 21 she wore her mother's lace
She said "Forever" with a smile upon her face

She does the carpool, she PTA's
Doctors and dentists, she drives all day
When she was 29 she delivered number 3
And every Christmas card showed a perfect family

Everything runs right on time
Years of practice and design
Spit and polish 'till it shines
He thinks he'll keep her

Everything is so benign
Safest place you'll ever find
God forbid you change your mind
He thinks he'll keep her

She packs his suitcase, she sits and waits
With no expression on her face
When she was 36 she met him at the door
She said, "I'm sorry. I don't love you anymore."

For 15 years she had a job, but not one raise in pay
Now she's in the typing pool at minimum wage

Everything runs right on time
Years of practice and design
Spit and polish 'till it shines
He thinks he'll keep her

Everything is so benign
Safest place you'll ever find
At least until you change your mind
He thinks he'll keep her

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's not you, it's me...

Dear ER,

I've been doing a lot of thinking since last we saw each other and I've come to the conclusion that I think I need to see other TV shows. It's not you - you're great. It's me. I feel like the last year or two of our relationship I've just been going through the motions. I've recorded you, kept up with you, watched you, but I've not felt like it's been an entirely reciprocal relationship. I'm tired of always being the stable, grounded one, while you're constantly being blown up, shot up, lit on fire or taken hostage. A lot of my friends left you when you cut off Dr. Romano's arm with a helicopter. I've stood by you as interns and residents have come and gone, their storylines being written into corners so there was nothing left for them except to take a job in another country or be hit by a bus. Now I see in this year's premier, you're going to have some sort of terrible tragedy befall Neela. I'm afraid I'm going to have to set a boundary. We've had some great times, but all good things have to come to an end at some point. I know you'll carry on without me. Be strong. We'll always have Clooney. Can we at least be friends? Friends with syndication benefits?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Beyond Wrong

Whale Speaking Yoga Instructor teaches Naked Yoga once a month. That, my friends, is bad naked.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy Birthday, Lilyan!

Today is the birthday of my oldest friend. Not oldest in age, but been around the longest. We've known each other since the 6th grade and were inseparable in high school. We went to the same church, sang in choir together, took some college classes together, and are always returning to each other no matter how much time passes.

Lilyan was born in Ft. Worth, Texas, and has always been proud to share her birthday with Tom Landry. Later, she was elated to discover that she also shares it with Harry Connick, Jr. She is smart, tough, creative, loyal, and pretty freaking hilarious. There are many moments of my life that I could not have endured had she not been here. She moved to L.A. 10 years ago, and then a year later I moved to S.F. We're in the same state, but geographically the distance is the same as when I was in Phx.

She's been through a lot, has a completely crazy family, but navigates it all with great style and grace. Welcome to 35, my friend. I've been keeping it warm for you.

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

It's fall. Well, starting to be on the calendar anyway. I love fall - it's my favorite time of year, and here's why:

1. FOOTBALL, baby! Sunday night I got to watch the Cowboys (aka God's Team) beat the Giants. It was great. The Cowboys' defense didn't look great, but fortunately the Giants' looked worse. Great way to start the season - let's keep it up! The Giants were riddled with injuries, including a partially separated shoulder for Eli Manning which should keep him off the field for at least a month. It was so great to hear Al and John give the commentary. That John Madden slays me. Particularly funny was an exchange following a teaser for this weeks' guests on Jay Leno. Madden went off on how they get footage of the guests on the show for the promos if they've never been on before. He was baffled. Al didn't know either. They spent some time in conjecture, but never ended up with anything that satisfied them. Hilarious.

Last night, I watched the Cardinals lose unjustifiably to the 49ers in what ESPN's 3 Mikes called an "ugly game." It was ugly. The Cardinals led the whole time and then the 49ers scored with :26 left and then in the Cardinals' last possession, Leinart threw an interception. Awesome. So, the new head coach of the Cardinals goes down in history with the last 9 head coaches who have all lost their first regular season game. That Eric Green is a man to be watched - he and Leinart have the potential to be a great quarterback/receiver team.

On a sad football note, this weekend Kevin Everett of the Buffalo Bills suffered what doctors call a "catastrophic" spinal cord injury and is unlikely to walk again. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.

2. COLORS - I love the warm colors typically associated with fall - reds, browns, deep greens, etc. I love going to BeneFit and getting a new fall color makeover. This year will be particularly fun, because after next week, I will no longer need the eyeglasses, and I will be able to rock my full fabulousness. Along with the colors goes the wardrobe. New sweaters, comfy jeans, hoodies, sassy skimmers or trainers - big fan.

3. FOOD - we begin a season of candy, treats, dinners, parties, etc. I'm so excited! Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday and try to cook a big dinner whenever I can. Candy time starts now and goes through Easter, with colorful M&Ms for every occasion.

4. WEATHER - here in the Bay Area, September & October are our warm sunny months, and it couldn't be nicer! There are all kinds of outdoor concerts, movies, and great things to do. If the evening gets a bit chilly, I can light a fire in the fireplace and curl up with my favorite snack - hot chocolate and cinnamon toast. When I get home for Thanksgiving, it will be sunny, mild, and beautiful. Love it!

5. TV - This Sunday is the Emmys, which kicks off the new TV season. I'm anxious to get back to the happenings on House, Heroes, Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty & Brothers & Sisters. I'm also really stoked for new shows Bionic Woman, Private Practice and Pushing Daisies. Love that DVR.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

State of the Worship Music Union

I've been shopping for worship music because I'm really tired of the same stuff. A lot of things have come out and I've been scouring websites and magazines to find some new stuff. I don't want to find new stuff, though - I want good stuff. Believe me - there's not a lot of that out there. Case in point: One of the CDs I bought was from the C3 Worship Project in Atlanta. It has some good things on it, but there is one absolutely abominable song on there that is called Like a River and it sounds like a Jesus bootycall. It's awful. You can listen to it here. I realize it's tacky to call them out like that, but this must be heard to be believed.

I read a blog post the other day on The Search about what's wrong with modern worship music. I agreed with most of what the writer said regarding the contemporary music's lack of theological depth or musical creativity. He also dealt with the whole sacred/secular divide and how we should get rid of it. All great things. It was well-written, theologically eloquent and there were a number of comments supporting and expanding his ideas.

That's all well and good, but there was absolutely no addressing of practical issues. As a person who leads worship nearly every Sunday, I have many other things to consider alongside the theological and creative issues. First is singability. I'm dealing with a generation that has little or no music education. As music and arts education is the first to go in tough times, many folks didn't have any musical training, and they're used to singing along with the radio, which results in a very limited vocal range. Compare this to Martin Luther's time when he commanded the entire congregation to attend singing practices mid-week so they would sound good on Sunday. Popular music is simple and repetitive. That doesn't mean it can't be interesting, but let's face it: if I want people to participate in the singing in church I have to come to them to a great extent.

Second is the instrumentalists. I'm glad to be in a church that has a good number of very competent musicians, but that's not always the case. The musicians who volunteer in church are just that - volunteers. They're not professional, they don't have a lot of time to devote to rehearsal and study. They are good people who are offering the best they have as gift in the worship service and I would do them a disservice by presenting them with music that is beyond their capacity just for the sake of showing my artistic superiority.

In my opinion, the writer of the Search post, while making valid points, failed a bit in the logic department. He began with assailing the popular worship music styles and services and ended with the idea that valid worship experiences can be had anywhere, regardless of the "Christian" nature of the music or musician. If worship experiences can be anywhere at anytime with any kind of impetus, then who cares if the music at the central gathering is necessarily the most challenging, artistic, flawlessly performed, etc.? I would rather have my people present the best that they have (which they do) and also encourage the people in our community to seek to experience God everywhere in their lives. It seems to be the best way to teach people to live lives of worship.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I Love the Interwebs

Eureka...I have found it!

I have spent the majority of my 35 years looking for the right facial moisturizer. I have ginormous pores and extremely oily skin (thanks Dad). I've looked everywhere, tried many things, and have been content to live with the shine. Those days, however, are over. Enter the Gotu Kola Soothing Eye & Face Gel from Body Time.

Body Time is a local outfit based in Berkeley with shops in Marin, San Francisco and the East Bay. I was first introduced to them by my friend Lilyan who actually lives in L.A. who has a friend there who is into their stuff. Their most popular scent is called China Rain, and I used it for years, but have recently discovered one of the winners of an employee contest - Summer Sunset, so that is my scent du jour. But, back to the Gotu Kola.

I went in to the shop on Haight Street on Labor Day to get a re-fill on my Body Shampoo when I decided to check out the face stuff, I went with the Gotu, just to try, as it was recommended for my skin type. I have been pleasantly surprised all week as I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror to see a very nice matte finish. Seriously. Most of the time I'm all a-shine the moment I apply the makeup. No more. I'm now as dull on the outside as I am on the inside! Well done, Body Time!

And a note to one particular reader: I'm allowed to post stuff like this. I AM a girl.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

She Speaks Whale

Our regular Yoga instructor is on vacation, so we have a substitute for the next couple of weeks. She's very nice and has rockin' abs, but seriously - she speaks whale. There's no other way to describe it.

Monday, September 03, 2007

You know you're in an upscale grocery store when...

they have saffron threads for sale at the cash register next to the gift cards and magazines.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

God on TV

There are many wonderful things about summer. I love going to farmers' markets and getting fresh fruit. Going to the beach - not here, of course, but maybe in Marin. The one thing that isn't great is the TV. There is a lot of time between mid-May and the end of September to ponder the goings on at a certain Seattle McHospital, or with people with extraordinary powers scattered all over the world. Some networks, like HBO, TNT and TBS, have gotten wise and have new summer series. I also use it as a chance to catch up on shows that I would like to watch in the regular season but have already committed myself to too many shows.

I started watching The Closer last year because it's a new series in the summer. It's not a great show. It's entirely predictable, but it's something new to watch and I generally enjoy the procedurals. When TNT started showing previews for the new Holly Hunter show called Saving Grace, I was intrigued by the concept and decided to set my DVR.

Here's the premise: Holly Hunter (Grace - naturally) is a hard-working, hard-living Oklahoma City police detective. She's from a large Catholic family, and lost one of her sisters in the bombing. She's long since rejected God and church, drinks a lot, is sleeping with her married partner, among others, and is generally morally bankrupt. One night as she drives home from a bar, completely drunk, she hits and kills a pedestrian. As she stumbles out of the car and realizes what she's done, she mutters for God to help her. Lo and behold, who should appear but Earl (EARL) her last-chance angel. He encourages her to change her ways and to give God a chance. She reluctantly agrees, and so the show continues with Grace puzzled by questions of faith, stumbling in her personal life, all the while fighting crime in the OKC.

It's not a bad show, but more importantly, it's not a very good show. It's fraught with stereotypes, predictable outcomes and plot holes. The thing I like least about it is the fact that they use a lot of profanity, but it makes no sense. They say shit all the time, just because they can. Half the time it doesn't make any sense. It's as though the show runner came from a meeting with Standards and Practices and said, "Well, folks, they're giving us the s-word, so let's use it as much as possible!" Now, we all know that I'm prone to let fly when the mood strikes, and the s-bomb is one of my favorites. However, it has purpose - I've missed my exit, smashed my finger, seen a picture of George Bush. These uses make sense. But all the time? Ok. I get it. you're on cable, so you can cuss. Good for you.

Another show that I watch in the summer time to catch up is The New Adventures of Old Christine. I've been a fan of Julia Louis-Dreyfus since her time on Day by Day. You heard me. Day by freaking Day. It's generally hilarious - well written and well acted. Last week's episode was entitled Oh God, Yes, and I have to tell you, it was a riot. Christine's ex-husband and New Christine took their son Richie to church, and he was begging to go back. Christine then has to explore her personal objection to organized religion and it is rooted in some childhood experiences. She decides to face her fears and take Richie to church - comedy commences. While hilarious, it's a great picture of how people who don't go to church see church. Unfortunately, CBS isn't showing it online and I can't find that particular episode on other sites. If anyone out there finds it, please send me a link. Until then, it's saved on my DVR and anyone who wants to can come over and watch it.