Sunday, December 30, 2007

Should Old Acquaintance be Forgot...

Last week, someone had the fabulous idea to thank everyone important to him in a Christmas week post.  I decided to steal that idea, and give it a New Year's theme.  I've been trying to get this up for a few days, but--here's a newsflash--taking care of two kids is hard!  I honestly don't know if I could do this 24/7.  All of you stay-at-home moms have my undying admiration. Going to work is like a spa day by comparison.

To set the mood,  here is one of my favorite cheesy lite rock classics, "Auld Lang Syne" by the late Dan Fogelberg, who passed away just this month.  This song reminds me of being in the car with my mom as a kid, but as I've grown up, I've learned to appreciate it as a pretty awesome song, regardless of my nostalgia for the time it evokes.  

I know it's not exactly hip or cool, but then neither am I...just a fountain of useless information and, sometimes, a great big sap.  Hit play to have this lovely song accompany your reading of the following:

To my husband Mike.  You support me in everything I do, and this has been no different.  It's been a tough year for you, but the light at the end of the tunnel is very bright as we approach 2008.  Thanks for listening to me talk excitedly about stuff I want to blog, ideas for the site and putting up with all my freakouts about the damn computer (among other things!) It's hard to believe we're coming up on eight years of marriage and twelve years together in April.  I like to believe the even numbered years can only bring good luck and good fortune, even though I have absolutely nothing on which to base that theory.  Let's just go with it.  Love you, babe!

To my kids, even though neither of them can read this yet.  Hannah and Max, you are the best things I've ever done with my life, and I adore you both.  Even when you climb on the table or stall at bedtime.

To my parents, who are always there to listen and cheer me on.  Mom, it was a difficult year, to say the least, but your positive attitude got you through again and it will do so for many years to come.  You're a tough cookie, lady!  I love you both!

To all of my in-laws (I have two sets!), but I must especially thank my mother-in-law Donna. She bails me out time and again when I need help with sick kids, doctor visits and moral support on anything.  I honestly don't know what I would do without her.

To my siblings, both by birth and by law, who are also great friends to me.  I'm very lucky in that sense.  I must give a special shout-out to my brother-in-law Adam, who has actually posted comments, passed along ideas and checks the blog and the Bean regularly.  That's dedication!  

To all of my friends, who have taken the time to read the blog and let me know when they've found something funny or have complimented my writing, especially Joan and Mindy.  It really means the world to me.

To Don, who encouraged me to try this in the first place.  As a result, you also had to put up with all my silly questions, so thanks for your patience.  Also, thanks for your friendship, constructive criticism and collaboration.  I'm looking forward to big things for The Bean in '08.

To EJ, who completes our pop culture triumverate in the blogosphere and on The Bean.  I can't remember ever feeling such a kinship with someone I've never actually met, but now I know it's possible.

To the rest of the Spunkybean crew, whom I've also physically yet to meet, let's do that in '08, OK?

And finally, since this is supposed to be all about pop culture, here's a bit from one of the best movies ever, in my humble opinion; the last two minutes of When Harry Met Sally.  I just love when Billy Crystal jokes about the meaning of "Auld Lang Syne".  You'll have to suffer through the mushy stuff to get there, so just deal.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Back in the Race!

I feel like it's been eons since the last episode of The Amazing Race, since my DVR betrayed me a couple weeks ago and Survivor pre-empted it last week.  Well, tonight, my favorite competitive travelogue was back, and I was so excited!  I honestly was just enjoying watching them all run around outside in shorts and t-shirts (and Rachel in her leggings, which I'm thinking could run the race themselves by now), as it is so bitterly cold and windy here.  I also really want to go to Italy, so that was a bonus.  

I admire the hell out of Rachel and her boyfriend, Thomas Kyle (as his mother's message on the product-placed Blackberry revealed TK's full name to be).  They had setback after setback tonight and they didn't meltdown.  First, she left the clue at the cafe, and they scoured the car, then turned around to go back.  He never called her "stupid" or anything.  Then, he had to go up in that plane three times to everyone else's once before he saw "Vinci" in the field.  She never yelled "I hate you!"  Then, after successfully completing what looked to be the tougher detour, they got a freaking flat tire on the way to the pitstop.  Did they start sobbing, screaming or whining?  No, TK changed the tire and they went back on their way, with zero drama.  Can you even begin to imagine if this series of events had happened to any of the other teams left?  Nate may have killed Butt-Chin Jen.  Christina may have killed herself after her father belittled her to the brink of insanity.  And we did get a glimpse of Vixen having a mini-breakdown and Kent sniping at her, but I can't really blame her, given the degree of lost they were for most of the leg and the fact that she said at one point she'd been up for 30 hours.  I'd have driven into a ditch by that point.  I had to chuckle at how rough he looked by the end of the day.  Pity he had to waste all that purple lip gloss sitting in the back seat of a car.  This is definitely one of those teams where I wish she could stay and he could go.  He's such and annoying wuss and she seems like, under her stupid pink hair, she's a pretty cool chick.

Gotta love my boys Don and Nick, who each got a sweet "FF" tat and cruised in as Team #1.  I loved Don wishing they'd gotten a head-shaving FF.  Remember poor Joyce a few years back, and how kick-ass she was about losing all her hair?  To be fair though, those tats were pretty small.  It was like the Friends episode where Rachel and Phoebe got tattoos and Phoebe's was like, a dot, that she told everyone was the earth as seen from outer space.  (Rachel:  "I just got a heart.  Phoebe got the whole world!")

I had a very good feeling that it was a non-elim, and I'm digging on the idea of the "speed bump" ahead for Kent and Vixen.  Clearly, the producers have finally figured out the whole take all your stuff and make you beg for money thing was useless, and that's a good thing.  And I think this is better than a time penalty.

To all who celebrate, have a Merry Christmas!  I'm personally hoping to consume all the baked goods I missed out on at Thanksgiving.  

And, even though I don't know when you're going to read this, here's a big birthday shout-out to my best friend, Mindy, who is 35 today!  (And, yes, my best friend's name is really Mindy, I'm not schizophrenic.  Nor are we twins.  Ah, nevermind.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Little Slice of Heaven

My office closed early today, and today was a work from home day on top of that.  So, after doing some laundry, dishes, taking out the garbage and vaccuuming, I figured I'd earned some me time before picking up the kids.  So, I did something I've only done twice before: I went to the movies all alone.  The first time was to see American Pie 2 , which came out not long after 9/11. Remember that time when there was still nothing on TV but news and we were all losing our minds?  My friends wanted to see Captain Correlli's Mandolin...I knew better, and saw AP2 alone. Then, once I had a child, and just couldn't go to the movies as much as I had before, I decided to go see Something's Gotta Give by myself on a Sunday afternoon.  I remember thinking at the time that I should do it more often, but I just haven't.  

Since I've been dying to see Juno, I thought what the heck.  I was not disappointed.  The movie was absolutely fabulous, one of the best I've seen in a while, and just what I needed after a stressful couple of weeks.  The cast was uniformly fabulous and the story was entertaining, original and accompanied by some really cool music.  EJ's review of the movie on spunkybean is right here.  I loved the scene where Allison Janney put the snotty ultrasound tech in her place.  Really, there was very little about this film I didn't love.  I think Ellen Page is going to be huge.  And, I think I've made it quite clear how I feel about Diablo Cody, who wrote the film.

When the movie was over, I walked out very happy and relaxed, and proceeded to sit in the most insane traffic.  I mean, there's always a lot of traffic around here, but this was just silly. Luckily, I had my ipod, which on certain occasions, seems to be able to detect my mood and plays just the right mix of tunes.  This is no small feat for my ipod, since it contains a pretty random compilation of music.  I will now share with you the songs that came out of my ipod on shuffle from the time I got in the car until I got to daycare to pick up the kids.  Please don't judge me. The songs started out super mellow, and slowly picked up the pace as I neared daycare, like the music was letting me know I only had a few more minutes of me time.  I find the last song particularly prescient, as I spent the hour following pickup keeping my one year old from climbing up on the kitchen counter:

Only You by Yaz
Alison by Everything But the Girl
Handy Man by James Taylor
A by Barenaked Ladies
Shower the People by James Taylor
Reminiscing by Little River Band  
Tether by Indigo Girls
All About Soul by Billy Joel
You're Crashing, But You're No Wave by Fall Out Boy
Wild Boys by Duran Duran 

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Millenials revisited!

Back in early November, I posted my quick take on the piece 60 Minutes aired called "The Millenials" about the newest generation to enter the workforce. Now, an expanded version, in the form of a verbal sparring match between me and The Don is up for your reading pleasure at spunkybean. Y'all, I am so right on this, it's not even a contest.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Head Might Explode!

I knew this movie was coming, but now that I've seen the trailer, I don't know if I can stand all the hotness that will be on display in Leatherheads, the upcoming film about football set in (I think) the 1920's and starring my imaginary boyfriend, John Krasinski, and legendary stud George Clooney, a man I've adored since his stint on the later years of The Facts of Life.  I am a little jealous that the overhyped Renee Zellweger is the object of both men's affections, however.  Sure, she looks good in all those period clothes, even with that face that looks like she's always sucking on a lemon, but didn't she already hit the jackpot when she had Hugh Grant and Colin Firth fight over her in two Bridget Jones movies?  Spread the wealth, Renee!  Geez!  

Here's the trailer.  Please to enjoy...

This & That

I have a confession to make, and I think it may intrigue my husband and the large number of male admirers I have around the globe.  I'm in love with a woman.  And her name is Diablo Cody.

She is my new idol; a woman who quit her job at an ad agency, became a stripper for a year, primarily to get material, and created a blog about it.  Said blog was "discovered" by some agent in L.A. and, after she realized he was for real and actually responded to his emails, led to her being the new "it" girl in screenwriting circles.  I haven't even seen Juno yet, but I love it already.  And, then, I open my mail today and find my new copy of Entertainment Weekly.  Guess who their new columnist is?  Uh-huh, it's my girl Diablo!

Then, I get to the column itself, and she is writing about her publicity tour for Juno, comparing and contrasting it to being on a rock & roll tour bus, a la one of my all-time favorite films, Almost Famous!  I almost peed my pants!  It's like she's talking directly to me!  And she's so sharp and funny...oh, diary, I love her.  And I kind of want to be her.  I assume a restraining order is forthcoming.  

So, due to my unrelenting work schedule and other obligations this week, I have again been remiss in posting my Project Runway thoughts.  This past week's episode was notable for the loss of Jack from the competition due to a crazy staph infection that he had to treat aggressively, and the return of Chris March; sweet, lovely Chris who is so endearing personally, but designs everything as if he's working on the sequel to Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.

The challenge was to design for some "real" women (you know, the ones who don't look like clothes hangars) who'd recently lost a great deal of weight, using their favorite old outfits as the material.  This added something to the challenge, in that many of the fat clothes were made in terribly cheap fabrics.  Hell, Jillian didn't even use the original fabric, just some of it in the piping on her dress.  She is consistently good, though.  I really like her stuff.  

And, to prove I'm definitely not a fashion maven, the first time I actually like one of Christian's designs is when it's deemed (horrors!) "commercial".  I guess I'll never truly be hip.  More's the pity.  Kevin's model's love of her bustier and crop pants ensemble really sold the judges, but I suppose Christian was due for a win.  I must begrudgingly admit the guy is pretty good, even though I don't always "get it".

You kind of knew Steven was doomed from the second he got the wedding gown.  Not only did he have a fabric that was not very accessible, especially given time constraints, he clearly had a bit of a whack-job for a client if her favorite item of clothing to be repurposed for everyday wear was her plus-size wedding gown.  I know, I sound insensitive, but that's how I feel.  It seemed unlikely that Chris would be eliminated twice in a row, even though he made an outfit so costume-y that Michael Kors said it reminded him of what Shirley McClaine wore to play a "hooker with a heart of gold" (really, is there any other kind?)  And, Elisa didn't really execute well as far as the overall challenge, but her piece wasn't horrible.  Steve's was just badly made and boring, a deadly combination for this show.

I guess I have to watch this Clash of the Choirs thing, at least a little bit.  It's not like there's anything else on this week.  All I saw tonight was Patti Labelle's choir performing at the end of the first episode, and I almost converted on the spot.  (Don't worry, Mom!  Just kidding!)  I'm guessing either Blake Shelton or Michael Bolton (and his chest hair) will be the first to go.  

But, hey, looks like Jay & Conan are coming back live on January 2nd!  I'm not sure whether this will be a good thing, at least as far as Jay goes.  I think it's been a crazy long time since the man's worked without a script.  I have a feeling Conan, however, will rise to the occasion.  At least it's some kind of pop culture cannon fodder to look forward to after the New Year!  

See y'all later!

Friday, December 14, 2007


If there's one thing I want for Christmas (and I'm entitled to nothing, but whatever), it's an end to this stupid writers strike! I can't believe I'm going to have to go months without a new episode of this show.

In this episode, we're in guest star heaven, with Elaine Stritch (who just kicks all manner of ass) as Jack's mother, Colleen, and Buck Henry (who thinks Jack looks like an "Arrow Shirt model") and Anita Gillette as Liz's parents, not to mention the awesome Andy Richter as Liz's brother, Mitch, who thinks it's 1985, due to a freak accident. He even hits on Cerie by asking if she likes Wham!, since he's the "George Michael of his school." He doesn't remember poor Jenna, whom he's apparently slept with, and thinks she's a friend of his mom's. The Lemons are kind of like the Fockers in a way, all gushy and praising of their children to an absolute fault. Jack, whose family is the picture of dysfunction (when will Nathan Lane return as his brother? It'll be 2012 at this rate!), does not get it. He asks why Liz's mom referred to her as a "beautiful genius. Was she taunting you?" (Her dad calls her "Wilma Shakespeare")

Crusty Colleen (according to Jack, there are terrorist cells more nurturing than she), who managed to get to NYC by getting Jet Blue to take an Amtrak ticket, surprised Jack, who figured she was stuck in the hurricane devastating her hometown of Jupiter, FL. Evidently, he'd only invited her out of his "paralyzing Irish guilt" and at one point looks up at the destruction on the TV and mutters, "she should have been there". Ultimately, she ends up poking and prodding the Lemons until she cracks their perfect veneer and even jogging poor Mitch's memory of the ski accident that caused his little condition. It's a great scene.

The rest of the gang is wrapped up in the annual Ludachristmas party, and throwing out their corporate gifts of a Photo Scanner/Paper Shredder (do you see all the inherent problems there?). Kenneth is upset, naturally, at everyone's lack of the proper Christmas spirit, fondly recalling the holidays in his backwoods world, where they sat around a roaring fire, "waiting for the owl meat to cook", while Tracy is lamenting his newly acquired ankle bracelet that comes at quite the inopportune time (Ludachristmas, "Nude" Year's Eve and Martin Luther King Day all involve heavy alcohol consumption for Tracy Jordan...and probably for Tracy Morgan, let's be honest).

All in all, a fabulous episode of 30 Rock. And if that Disney cruise is still on for March, I'm in!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Golden Globe Reaction--TV Nominations

Since I'm always way behind on my movie watching, I don't feel I can comment on those Golden Globe nominations. What I can get into are the TV nods. Let's just do this like a TV Guide "Cheers and Jeers" column, but even less organized.

Yay for Big Love getting a Best Drama nom, and for Bill Paxton getting the nod for Best Actor. Of course, I'm bummed about Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays youngest wife Margene, not getting one also, as she had the juiciest stories in the show's second season and showed the most growth and range by far.

A Jeer for leaving both Lost (I hope EJ's OK) and Heroes off the best drama short list, that's just wrong. I mean, no one expects to ever see Battlestar Gallactica or The Wire get in there, but come on. And, obviously, no one was really watching Grey's Anatomy if we're to believe the steaming pile of dung they called last season earned that nomination. Even Patrick Dempsey has basically said he thought the show starting sucking the second stupid Meredith went into Puget Sound. I'll grant you that it's rallying now, but it's been down a long time. And if you're going to single out one cast member on that show, it needs to be Chandra Wilson, not Katie Heigl. Chandra is kick-ass each and every week, while I don't know anybody who doesn't want to strangle stupid, whiny Izzie.

Three Cheers for 30 Rock, including Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey getting noms. But how on earth do you put Californication in the spot that rightfully belongs to The Office? Now, I'll admit, I've never seen the show (except for the crazy long promos they ran during Big Brother After Dark last summer), but there's been nothing I've heard to indicate it was all that great. I don't even mind Duchovny getting recognized; he's very funny, always. But taking that best show slot from the Dunder-Mifflinites is unconscionable.

I can't quibble with the lead comedy categories; at least Steve Carrell got in, and I look forward to a win, so he can give another Nancy Walls-written speech, like he did previously. That was genius.

Um, why are there SEVEN lead actress in a drama nominees? And in the name of all that is holy, why is one of them Patricia Arquette?

As most people do, I simply hate the supporting categories, which lump together both drama and comedy, as well as TV Movie and Miniseries. There's no huge name actor nominated this year to make it a lock, but it's just the dumbest thing to combine such different crafts so arbitrarily. And, I like Entourage, I like it alot, but I'm not sure Kevin Dillon is really acting all that much. At least not enough to warrant an award. And who is that ham Shatner blackmailing to get all these kudos every year? Boston Legal is another show I don't watch (I remember when it was called Ally McBeal), but I've seen enough to know that he and his toupee are not doing anything special.

A final cheer for Mad Men getting all the freshman love. I don't know how Don feels about award shows, but I would imagine he'd be psyched that the show he raved about for months is getting some major props. I've got eight episodes sitting on my DVR, ready to go.

For a complete list of the Golden Globe TV nominations (and a link to the movie nominations), click here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

TV Talk Update

I know it's been almost a full week since the last Project Runway aired, but here's a brief wrap-up.

It was another one of the infamous team projects, and this was probably the most difficult challenge in the short but storied history of this show.  The designers were charged with taking outdated trends, picked individually and at random, and making them into a cohesive, three-piece collection.  Since there was no advance notice of how the challenge would work, it was chaos as far as the trends that got thrown together, and there was much angst in the workroom.  It was interesting, because usually in a group challenge, the leader has had his or her design selected by the guest or whomever to be executed.  This time, everyone's ideas were being created, but there was still a leader to blame if stuff sucked.  

And suck it did!  But more on that in a moment.  Jillian led Kevin and Rami and, despite some hand-wringing, the trio pulled off a very cool collection inspired by overalls, 70's flare and the poodle skirt.  My favorite was how they literally flipped the poodle skirt over, by using it as the neckline on two of the three looks.  Very cool and unique.  They won the challenge.

Coming in second was the Christian-led and self-named "Team Star" ("like celebrity!").  Hey, even though I'm liking Kit and Jack, I cannot overlook that they voluntarily worked with my nemesis Christian.  They had the daunting task of creating a collection that featured pleather, the zoot suit and fringe, and damn if they didn't pull it off.  It was a little safe in my estimation, but you don't have to win 'em all.

There were fireworks aplenty between Ricky and Victorya, who teamed up with Elisa to create a collection inspired by Neon, cut-outs and underwear as outerwear.  Victorya is a tad bit passive-aggressive, and was blaming the way her piece was coming out on Ricky's lack of leadership, rather than the fact that she had a particularly sucky trend and the piece was just lousy.  As a result, Ricky's piece was very badly made, since he couldn't spend much time on it. Of this group, and this was a shock, Elisa's was the best by a mile.  I'm glad she's actually competent, but I miss the crazy!

Last and, unfortunately least, was the team of Chris, Sweet P and Steven, who had to work a collection out of a baggy sweater dress, dance wear (is that really ever out?  what do the dancers wear now?) and--yikes--shoulder pads.  Chris could just not make lemons out of lemonade on this one, and pretty much looked like he made a garment for either a drag queen or an NFL linebacker.  It was hideous, and he lost out to Ricky, who, I'm guessing, was deemed better TV currency than our well-adjusted friend Chris.

Looking forward to Wednesday, since it looks like there's big drama afoot!

Also this week will be another episode of 30 Rock.  I think we only have one or two more before they're done, and I can't believe it.  I was doing OK on my Office withdrawl symptoms with 30 Rock standing by to bring the funny.  Now what am I going to do?  I could teach my one-year-old to say "Me Want Food", but he'll never say it like Jenna.  Maybe I can teach the five-year-old the "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah" dance.  I don't know.  Last week's episode wasn't quite the comic genius that was "Cougars", but it had some great moments with Jack and C.C. ("I like a woman with ambition.  It's like a dog wearing clothes.") which culminated in him introducing his "old lady" to the brass in the NBC commissary.  Tracy's subplot was funny, but it was bit too much Tracy in the end.  I did like the battle between Frank and Twofer over their personas; Twofer dressed up as Frank was classic.  I am banking on this week's "Ludachristmas" outing to be even better.  Don't let me down, Tina!

And, just a reminder, don't forget to click on over to spunkybean for great commentaries, reviews and more pop culture fun every day!  Queen out!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Happy Hannukah!

Just wanted to wish any of you that celebrate a Happy Hannukah! The holiday, which is 8 days long, began on Dec. 4th. The length of the celebration is due to the fact that oil found in the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem should have lasted only one day but instead lasted for eight. It was a MIRACLE! And so, we Jews eat potato latkes and chocolate coins, spin the dreidel and give lots of presents. We also like to find creative ways to send Hannukah greetings via email, just like everyone does for Christmas. I spotted this one in my office, and asked my co-worker to please forward it to me so I could post it here, because it rocks! My friend Robyn (not to be confused with my sister of the same name), sent me this video from You Tube, which pretty much encapsulates the season for our people. But, it a catchy tune and the kid has some actual musical ability

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Queen Bean

Well, I really never thought I'd be a Queen, but, hey, on the ol' world wide web, you can be anything you dare to dream, right? So now, in addition to this wonderful little blog, my ruminations and pithy insights on a variety of topics can be found over at! We're just getting started, but EJ, Don, Ryan, Ben, Anne and myself are very excited to put our collective voice out there for all of you to hear. We hope you'll check us out every day, like you do with your other favorite sites. Maybe with your morning coffee, maybe after the kids are in bed. Either way, we're always open for business. We'll have reviews, humor pieces, recaps and more, so tell everyone you know.

And now that I'm well again (damn you, strep throat, with your 103 degree fevers!) I'll have more of my thoughts on, well, whatever I feel like, posted soon. Plus, if you like Duran Duran as much as I do, a review of their new CD, by yours truly, will be up on spunkybean in a few days. See you soon!