Fall 2012 TV Premieres – Week 1 Verdicts

I was finally able to sift through the slew of premieres starting this past week. Mixed bag really…

Up All Night – A 30-something couple has a baby. He’s a stay-at-home dad (gave up his law career). She works for an Oprah-esque talk show host. A modern look at creating a family. Funny, but not hilarious. Some clunky dialogue, like they were trying too hard. Maya Rudolph (playing the talk show host) stole the show.

Verdict – I’ll watch it again, but it better turn up the laughs if they want to compete in a world with shows like Modern Family and HIMYM.

Ringer – Sarah Michelle Gellar returns tv as a set of twins, one super-rich and heinous, one a trashy stripper on the run from the mob. I was so hopeful for this. I love me some SMG. The special effects were Saturday Night Live quality. The dialogue was forced. The plot was oddly paced.

Verdict – Awful. Awful. Awful. I’ll watch episode two just for SMG, but I may have to find a show to replace Ringer.

90210 – We start the fourth season with a slew of backed up drama. Teenager angst has become college-kid angst. Rich kids gone wild. Guilty pleasure. Strong start to a promising season. Even though they’ve been through three other showrunners, the show has the same vibe it did last season. Fast-paced, high fun.

Verdict – Excited. Regular staple returning in reliable form.

The Vampire Diaries – Of all the shows returning, this one is in my top five. I LOVED every episode last season. Well except for Elena’s raspy wheezy voice. Caroline and Tyler go at it. Matt is in the know. Jeremy (grew up and got buff) is seeing the ghosts of his dead ex-girlfriends. Stefan is bad. They killed a regular already! It’s delicious tv fare. Only hope the Klaus/Stefan road show doesn’t drag on too long.

Verdict – Winner of the week. Saucy. Fun. Entertaining.

The Secret Circle – A girl moves to town after a mysterious man kills her mother. Too bad she’s walked into the middle of a magical conspiracy. The whole town wants something from her, including a set of brooding sexy teenagers (who are really 20-somethings, so we can ogle). The parents vs. kids battle seems unfair, but the main star is promising. The water drop scene in the forest was well worth it.

Verdict – Good addition to Thursday night. Not as slick as Vampire Diaries, but it has promise.

Next week is even bigger! Much more to come.



2011 Fall TV Schedule – What to Watch

It’s that time again. One of the best times of the year. Ever since I was a kid, I felt more a second wind perk up my sails come September. The weather cools, Halloween approaches, but best of all, the NEW FALL SHOWS PREMIERE!

So without further ado, I present the Fall Premiere Schedule along with my commentary on what to watch, what to DVR, what to catch On Demand and if it’s missing, I don’t or won’t watch it.

Now You Can Stalk Me, via TV


Reviews to start next week!


RIP Borders

In between my adventures with a sinus infection (a constant symphony of nose pyrotechnics) and realizing my dog has crazy eyes, I read an email from Borders tonight. An email declaring the end of Borders. You can read all the CRM sadness below.

Borders Throws in the Towel

I have mixed emotions about Borders closing. Granted, I’m not a proponent of ANY bookstore closing. As more and more of the e-readers flash their wonton wares in my face, the more I revere the creak of a hardback’s spine, the smell of fresh pages, and the weight of a good story. I’m surrounded by books. They make me feel at home. As I write this, I can’t help but glance past my laptop to the bookshelf in my corner. I wonder how many kids will grow up without knowing the joy I had reading Goosebumps and John Grisham (I was a complex kid) during long car rides to the beach or during “quiet time” in grade school.

To be fair, I wasn’t a loyal Borders shopper. I used them as overflow. Barnes and Noble has always been my one true book-love. BN is one of my sacred places that I run to when I need a moment of me. I’ve always felt collected there and relinquished from the drawstrings of outside. Borders always felt fragmented. I didn’t feel like I could discover my next great book affair while peering through the shelves.

Preferences aside, Borders’ passing is something to mark in our collective memory. It’s one of the signs of the Digital Apocalypse. As we forget the ways of printed books to make way for digital tablets, we’ll lose some of the enchantment. Can you imagine reading the Harry Potter series on a tablet?

Goodbye Borders. May the world not lose the magic of books. May you go into the night peacefully with a trail of well-worn prose trailing quietly behind.


How USA Saved Summer TV

Some people get Seasonal Affective Disorder as Summer turns to Fall and Fall freezes to Winter. I don’t understand how anyone could possibly be upset during the Fall when you have night after endless night of brand new, cinema quality television to enjoy. Gossip Girl! Supernatural! Desperate Housewives! Chuck! The list goes on and on. I get so excited by the mere prospect of all that unbridled entertainment, I make and release a premiere schedule so I can keep up with them all!

And in turn, come May each year, my dread starts to rise. As the season (and gasp! series) finales churn out, I know what’s coming. Summer Primetime TV Depression. Or SPTVD. The lull one hits when there are no new shows on Primetime TV to enjoy. What do you do with your time? Read? I already do that after TV. Play outside? It’s 103 degrees. Talk to people? That’s why you have Facebook.

Okay. So I kid about some of that. But SPTVD is real for my family. In previous years, there was no cure other than the occasional dose of a Friday night big Summer blockbuster. But now, we see the light! We have hope.

Hope came to us in the form of USA Network. Monday-Friday of entertainment spectacle and quality television. This Summer, they’ve knocked it out of the park.

White Collar, Covert Affairs, Royal Pains, Psych, Burn Notice, Suites, Necessary Roughness. They could bottle those shows and sell them to me in pill form. They combine light Summer fare with witty pretty actors. They’re basically geniuses. TV crack selling geniuses.

And don’t think I forgot about the supporting cast. Showtime has Weeds and The Big C. TNT brought us Falling Skies. HBO has True Blood. SyFy has Alphas. FX has Wilfred.  ABC Family has some crap I wouldn’t admit to in public, but I DVR and watch every week.

Summer shows may not have the production budgets or flashy stars of their Prime Time counterparts, but they more than make up for it with creative storytelling and edge-pushing story lines.

So to my fellow SPTVD sufferers, we have hope again. We can use those three weeks in the summer to reflect on our lives (and re-watch Lost). Thank you cable and specifically USA for giving us our daily dose of entertainment.


The Tao of Oprah

I just finished watching the finale episode of Oprah. Ever.

She ended it the only way she could. No guests. No surprises. Just Oprah sharing her wisdom and learnings through the years. Oprah giving thanks to the audience and her crew.

I haven’t spoken much about Oprah in my life. I didn’t watch the show everyday growing up. I’ve watched plenty of it. Hundreds of hours even. But I wouldn’t consider myself part of the Cult of Oprah. All that aside, I find myself overwhelmed with respect for her. I respect her view of life, her effect on the world, and her careful and compassionate use of power. The Tao of Oprah is comprised of a few key ingredients: Compassion, Inspiration and Belief.

Compassion is a funny word. Compassion. We should use it more as a people. We should find more reasons to use it. We should create more instances of it. Oprah has embodied and shared  compassion with us for twenty-five years.She spoke about the energy we give off towards others through our feelings and actions. In many ways, it made me think of courage and fear. Isn’t compassion the ability to overcome fear and deliver good upon someone else? Isn’t it finding the strength to show comfort or support to someone or something different and frightening? Even if it’s little by little, we need to find the compassion in our daily lives. We need to do good with good intentions. We need to make the world a warmer, friendlier place. We so often see power wielded for such good as what Oprah has. She’s a shining example of how perfect imperfection can be. She’s taught us all to open our hearts to compassion. To invite it in to live within us.

She spun the wheels round my head, much like a thousand colorful frisbees thrown at once across a green lawn on a bright summer day. I could explode from the sheer amount of ideas she inspired in me. Oprah speaks of Inspiration in terms of passion more often than not. Find that passion for what you love. Find your calling. She reminded me how often I meet people who lack that inspiration.What excites you? What makes you feel tingly inside? What does good for the world that makes you happy? Being a parent? Being a husband? Dancing? Writing? For me, it’s creating. Creating stories through my words, pictures of actions. I’ve loved stories my entire life. Books, comics, movies, television. People think I’m obsessed with Hollywood or celebrities. Not at all. I’m obsessed with stories. They are my inspiration. Stories are the fire I have to birth. Oprah reminded me tonight what that feeling of completeness really feels like when you’re doing what is natural to you. What fuels you. I think back to my first corporate job out of college and how miserable I was. I could do the work, hell I even excelled. But I hated my life. So in my free time, I started writing chapters of a thriller for my colleagues. It was our end of day entertainment. My escape from torture was creating an adventure. I’ve been lucky enough the past few years to have a job where I’m part of that creation process. Where a voice is heard. It came so naturally to me compared to my previous jobs. Thank you Oprah for reminding me to always search out that inspiration and to let myself be inspired.

Belief. Oh man, Belief is a tricky one. Many years ago, a friend of mine brought me the Secret DVD. She insisted I watch it, as it changed her life. I’m happy say, it changed mine too. I remember Oprah getting a lot of flack for doing a show on the Secret. Naysayers questioned the idea that we as humans could make things happen through positive affirmation and belief. And therein lies the problem. We as a people and society so rarely believe in something or someone. And no, pious unquestioning faith in religion is not real belief. Belief is knowing something deep in your bones. Belief is taking a leap and not being afraid to delve into the questions you may have about it. Belief is cuddling up next to the idea and wearing it around you like a coat. We most often lack the belief in ourselves. And we do it to each other as much as we do to it to ourselves. I’ve been told I’m too young, too old, too smart, too dumb, too pretty, too ugly, too arrogant, not arrogant enough. It never ends. But we have to push past that. We control the movie that is our life, and we control who is in that movie. The script of our life is in our control. We just have to believe it. And through belief comes power to change the things you want to change. The hardest thing we’ll ever do is to fully believe in ourselves and what we can accomplish.

Oprah, my gift to you is littered within this post. Within the words and between the lines. You’ve charged a path of inspiration by believing in your mission and exercising compassion. I’m awed by you and your deeds. I’m thankful for you.


A Defeat

I’m not one to give up easily. In fact, I typically fight until I win, or I stop caring all together about the outcome. Achievement is ingrained in my being. I have to do well. I must succeed. I must be perfect.

Alas, I’ve met my match recently. I concede. And who is the triumphant victor? Try a what. Carbs.

But let me detail the war! Only then can history reveal the weakness in our battle strategies! A few weeks ago, a dear friend developed gestational diabetes and was put on limited to low carbs. In an effort of solidarity, I decided to join her. I knew I wouldn’t be perfect, as St. Patrick’s Day weekend was ahead of me, and it would involve mandatory green beer and other libations. But the ideas was sewn into my mind.

Details magazine released a new section called “Body”, and in the inaugural issue, they had a story about how we don’t actually need carbs at all. They wreck out body with the insulin stimulation, etc. And the wheels turned. Then Borders decided to go out of business near me, so I ventured inside. Low and behold, the South Beach diet book was 40% off! How could I object? I could tone up, and show my friend she wasn’t in this situation alone.

I started the South Beach Diet three days ago. Fresh on a Monday and from a trip to the grocery store. No bread, potatoes, pastas, chips, and so on. I’d have two weeks of meat, veggies, low-fat cheese and other nonsense to ingest.

My first two days went so well. I ate fish three times. Lots of salad. I did well at restaurants. Nary a carb went into my mouth. I lost a pound or two. I even thought to myself today, “Oh this isn’t so bad!”

What I wasn’t expecting was the total mental and physical crash associated with three days off carbs. I nearly fainted walking into my house. That compiled with a mountain of work stress, and I was a gibbering mess. My mom called, heard me for a few seconds and immediately kidnapped me.

Then the convinced me to go the way of the devil. She took me to my favorite Mexican restaurant, put a margarita in front of me, and demanded I eat real food.

I’ll tell you this, a margarita and quesadilla have never tasted so good in my entire life. By the end of the meal, I was licking my fingers. My headache was gone. I felt full for the first time in days. And the margarita took the edge off the work stress. Just what the mom-doctor ordered.

And so I’m here to say, in this battle of fitness. In the war of physical achievement, I concede. I’ll limit my intake to a few a week rather than a few a day. I’ll exercise 4-5 times a week. I’ll do what I have to, to achieve my fit goals. But I won’t give up my carbs. No way.

They won. The white flag is raised.


The Fifth

Friends of mine recently lost their grandfather, their last surviving grandparent. Rusty wheels, tucked away into a dark, quiet corner of my mind started turning as soon as I found out. Subconscious wheels, with their memories spinning  back into view a full day later. (I never said I was an internal person)

My first thought when seeing the news, All of mine have been dead for a while. All four of them. I shrugged the notion off. I never had the best relationship with any of them. My memories are haphazard patches, like the melting ice adorning Dallas. Stepping on them won’t crush them, but the passing of time seems to erode them away.

I do remember, I didn’t get the traditional grandparent experience. I didn’t get fresh-baked cookies. Or hand-sewn tokens of affection. My grandparents didn’t teach me family wisdom.

And I present…

Papaw – My dad’s dad. I remember the stacks of yellow and white napkins underneath the arm rest in his car. The smell of coffee. The still quiet of someone who uses words carefully. The escapes from my grandmother. The guilt I felt for how much nicer he was to me than, well, anyone.

Grandmother – My dad’s mom. I’d rather not remember. Neapolitan ice cream, and scooping just the chocolate and vanilla out. Broken chair. Plastic place-mats. The hot humidity of the attic.

MeMe – My mom’s mom. I remember chocolates. Yellowed playing cards stacked into impossibly high houses. Sandy floors. Tree swings. Muddy silverware. The way her voice could craft a story. A feeling of awe at how good she was at anything she tried. Hospitals lights.

Granddaddy – My mom’s dad. A cackle of a laugh. Black suspenders. Words that never really made sense. Nervous energy of someone always waiting.

As I was ready to close the book on grandparents, I remembered the letter “T”. It stands for so many things. My middle name – Thomas. It holds so much meaning, I barely reference it. It holds so many stories from what feels like a lifetime ago. I never realized how little I’ve told anyone about my family.

I was named after my Dad’s little brother in Big Brothers/Big Sisters. His mother was named Virginia, but she went by Kraft.  Like opening a box full of long forgotten photographs, the memories come racing back.

Fresh-baked cookies on the counter. Hugs and kisses every time. Juicy Fruit from her purse. The taste of strawberry candies from her living room. Watching The Sound of Music in her living room. Learning to grill on her patio. The extra yearly Christmas visit, and presents specifically chosen for us under the tree. The entire family relaxed around her. She beamed when we walked in to the room. She asked us questions, and she listened. The rosiness of her cheeks.

So I remember my fifth grandparent, the one not related to me, yet the truest one in every sense. May she rest in peace. May she know what an impact she had on me, and how thankful I am for knowing just for a little while what it was like to have a truly doting grandparent. May I embrace the Thomas in me, and never forget where it came from.

-Ry (Thomas)