Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Top Ten TV Shows

So, we were eating a lovely lunch out today for Mark's birthday (happy birthday to the love of my life!) and our family started talking about TV shows we like. I started listing my favorites and easily came up with 6 or 7, so I decided I wanted to think of more and come up with an even ten. I did it; hence, this post.

Criteria? Basically, if just about any episode of this show were on, I'd easily be sucked in and have to watch it. So, in no particular order:

1. Friends - This show is our most-oft quoted show. Our TiVo routinely tapes episodes in syndication and when we see favorites, we hit play and mouth along to it. We pretty much know every one verbatim. Great characters. Great lines. We quote this show at least once daily without even trying. This show is also responsible for helping us make some fantastic, real friends of our own. "Fajitas!"

2. Frasier - Fantastic show. Excellent writing. Interestingly, Frasier himself is, by far, my least favorite character on the show (reference my diatribe on shallowness below), but the supporting cast of this show is phenomenal - Niles, Daphne, Martin, Roz, and every, single other side character . . . all great. The writing on this show is so intelligent, so witty, so . . . Freudian! Personally, I love all the psychological references in this series. I think Frasier may well be one of THE most cleverly-written shows on television. And you can't help but root for Niles and Daphne, even if it does take him ten years to get the nerve to tell her of his love for her.

3. Gilmore Girls - Oh, how I love Gilmore Girls. Yes, so much that I did an entire post about it. There is a feel about this show. I want to live in Stars Hollow. I want to be friends with these people. I want to go to Luke's for breakfast. The writing is quick and snappy, full of great, sarcastic zingers and fast-paced wit. They even throw in deliciously obscure book, film, and music references. The characters are so likeable, both in their strengths and their faults. Mark and I watched all seven seasons in one summer and we loved every minute of it. I missed it completely when it was in its first run, but loved watching it all on DVD this past year. I have to really love a show to own it on DVD and I'm happy to say that this is one we added to our collection, because we like it that much.

4. The Big Bang Theory - Oh oh oh, how I love this show. SUCH. GREAT. CHARACTERS. Excellent writing, tons of geeky references, and more witty, erudite humor (a la Frasier). Sure, this one has a physics, rather than a psychology bend, but I still love it. This was a show that I thought I wouldn't enjoy given that I didn't used to consider myself someone interested in physics. I could not have been more wrong. I love the characters, main and side, and this is a show that gets better every season. I started to list my favorite characters and then realized that I was listing all of them. There's not a bad one in the bunch. I really think this is one of the best shows on TV in quite some time and I'm so glad we've discovered it. Mark got us started as part of our 15th anniversary celebration and it continues to be a big hit. Winning! "Bazinga!"

5. Modern Family - Oh wait! THIS is also one of the best shows on television in quite some time. This is a family favorite for us. We even have one of those daily quote calendars based on Modern Family that Santa was so wise as to put into my stocking. I love all three families and their respective dynamics. I love the Latina flair that Gloria's character brings us. I love that Cam and Mitchell are helping to bring gay families into the mainstream. And I love how all three families intertwine through the Pritchetts. Hilarious show with genius writing and great plot lines. We are so excited for this show to start up again next month. My favorite characters? Gloria and Cam.

6. I Love Lucy - This one is a classic and my all-time favorite show. It's a good thing that we watch TV deliberately (meaning we sit to watch something specific; we're not channel surfers at all) or I'd get sucked in to every old rerun that comes on. Fun fact - this show is always on, somewhere in the world, at any given time. It is arguably the most popular TV sitcom in the world. I do love Lucy and remember feeling so sad when Lucille Ball died back in 1989. I put a picture of her in my journal and wrote an entry about it. I always felt like I could relate to her crazy antics. When she wanted something, she'd just go after it, even if it took some kind of crazy scheme. That is so how my mind works. Lucy, Ricky, Fred, Ethel . . . I love them all. Every episode is a ton of fun, but my favorite one ever is the classic "Vitameatavegamin" episode. Great, great show. There is a reason it has such classic, lasting power.

7. Peanuts - Most people know about the holiday specials, but the entire animated series is even better. I didn't know about it growing up, but I discovered it in the late 90s in our first married apartment (we had free cable) and was quickly hooked. Years ago, Mark found the entire collection on DVD on eBay (in English as well as several Asian languages) and got it for me. They are great, great episodes. Charles Schulz was a master artist and had such great messages in his comic strips as well as the animated series. Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes are two of my favorite comic strips. I love the sparse backgrounds in all of his work. And his characters? Loveable. My favorites are Linus and Marcie. Excellent animated series. If you ever get a chance to see them, do it. You will fall in love with them.

8. Malcolm in the Middle - Oh. My. We have recently discovered this gem of a show (thank you, Netflix!) and we are hooked! I love Lois, Malcolm, and Dewey. Stevie and his family are also great characters. We have friends here who remind us of this family -- lots of loud yelling and craziness, but so obviously full of love. This is another show I completely missed during its first run. I'd heard of it, but hadn't ever seen it. I had no idea how great it was. A friend of ours recently mentioned it and then I saw it listed on Netflix, so we thought we'd give it a go. And . . . we have a winner! The plots lines are great (admittedly, I didn't care for the Francis-in-military-school story lines, but his plot lines have gotten better with progressive seasons) and the characters, again - main and side, are so hilariously likeable. We are currently on season 4 of 7 and are love, love, loving it. Plus, their opening song is by They Might Be Giants, making it even easier to be a big fan. We have many laugh out loud moments watching this show. Genius! Highly recommend.

9. Amazing Race - My favorite reality television show, no question. I've said it before - I don't like the reality shows that are essentially cameras in someone's home and private life (even though I'm totally a closet TMZ follower). I recognize that I'm a walking dichotomy in that I think paparazzi should stay out of famous people's lives, yet I love reading about them. Hey, at least I'm honest about it. :P Anyway! I don't like, and haven't ever really gotten into, shows like The Bachelor or Big Brother or even Survivor. As much as they can be interesting in their own way, any time I have watched a bit, I generally feel "empty" afterward, like "there's 20 minutes I can't get back." Sort of like the feeling one gets after too much time on Facebook, I suppose. I prefer shows like this one (and American Idol and X-Factor) that are more contest/talent/racing/skill/smarts based. And while I like the singing competition shows (we're also going to try The Voice this season) and enjoy blogging about them, I love The Amazing Race and look forward to it every season. Phil is a hottie and seeing all the different countries and cultures and tasks totally fascinates me. I love rooting for favorite teams and this show has taught us tons about world cultures and places. Love it.

10. Freaks and Geeks - Best. Show. Ever. This show is high school for the rest of us. This is another show that has a feel about it. Jason Segel, James Franco, and Busy Phillips (as well as the parents, the high school faculty, and all the geeks) are fantastic in this show. I'm going to go ahead and post something I wrote on our blog back in 2009:  "How in the world shows like Full House, Saved by the Bell, and Family Matters ever even air, let alone continue past one season while pure genius like Freaks and Geeks gets inexplicably dropped before it even completed one season is one of the greatest mysteries of the pop culture world. This show had brilliant writers and producers. Unfortunately, this show also had a lousy time slot and poor marketing. This show should've never been canceled. Never. Its cult following is huge (have you seen the show's ranking on and it is totally worth owning and watching again and again, especially if you're a child of the 70s and 80s. And that's coming from people who don't generally own a lot of movies or TV shows. This one is a gem. It's like "high school for the rest of us!" The selection of music on this show is nothing short of truly awesome. And every time we watch it (all 18 episodes, *sniff*), I swear I tear up a little at the thought that anyone could be so supremely stupid as to cancel this show. Seriously, that level of moronic ineptitude just makes me sad." See? Get it. Watch it. It's genius.


Popular shows that I like okay, but that do not make it in the top 10:  Scrubs, Arrested Development, Seinfeld, Simpsons

Reason: I can recognize every one of these shows as brilliant. I love the satire of Simpsons -- it's genius! Probably some of the best social commentary of our times exists in the episodes of this long-running show. Arrested Development is a great, inventive show that ended way too soon. People who don't get the humor of that show are probably people who don't, in general, share my taste in pop culture. I can sit and watch all three seasons in a row and I'm fairly excited about the upcoming movie. Seinfeld is another clever, quotable show. A show about nothing! And yet a show about everything. Seinfeld is also genius, but it doesn't make the cut. Scrubs. Probably the best, most realistic medical show on television ever. It beautifully captures the emotions of those involved in the health care industry, complete with great Dr. Cox rants, a hilarious and masterful musical episode, and great story lines, including one of the best finales ever, ever, ever, and and despite the random daydreams.

So, all that being said, none of these shows are ones that I crave or want to see every chance I get. I'm hardly ever in a Seinfeld, Scrubs, Simpsons, or Arrested Development "mood." I think the biggest reason is that all of these shows are FULL of shallow characters with very few redeeming qualities (Scrubs fits that description least of all -- there are some great, deep, emotional aspects of that show). And yes, I see that Lisa Simpson and Jason Bateman's character in Arrested Development both have redeeming human qualities that almost make up for everyone else in the show. And Seinfeld . . . well, none of them are redeeming; they are all incredibly horrible people who are shallow, shallow, shallow. For whatever reason, shows like that just don't resonate at all with me. Recently tried "How I Met Your Mother" and didn't like that one either for similar reasons coupled with really bad acting (which is a shame, because we love Jason Segel).

But the above ten shows? Love them.

What shows do you love and what shows don't you love? Based on this post, are there any more shows you'd recommend to me (to watch or to not watch)?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Big News!

So, there is big, exciting news around here. I've been meaning to share it for some time, but today is a good day to do it, because today is the big day!

We've been meaning to and wanting to blog for quite some time, but it's been very busy around here -- we had 8 house guests for 4 days followed by 3 days of straight birthday parties, followed by 4 house guests for 3 days followed by a few of us getting sick. And to top that all off, yesterday I'm pretty sure I broke my toe (another story for another time).

On to the big news. Thing 1, who you know is always reading and writing, just got an internship/gig/job with a major writing blog and her first column goes live today!!

It's an incredible story. In January of this year, I came across a fun article online about the heroes in Harry Potter. It was a cool article with a writing activity at the bottom of it. I found this and several other writing blog resources and emailed them to my lovely writer daughter. I mentioned to her that there was a list of the "Top Ten Blogs for Writers" and The Write Practice (where the Harry Potter article was located) was one of those top ten blog resources.

Well, Thing 1 subscribed to a bunch of the writing blogs plus some others she found herself. A few weeks into her keeping up with those blogs, she let us know one night at dinner that she had, of her own accord, unsubscribed to one of them. She went on to explain that while the occasional swear word or comment doesn't bother her, this particular blog was too laden with profanity and didn't have enough good information on writing to make it worth it. We're so proud of her for knowing herself so well and thereby setting her own boundaries. She is a fantastic kid.

Anyway, as she has kept up with all of these blogs, one has emerged as her absolute favorite and that is definitely The Write Practice. She reads every new post, comments frequently, and participates actively on the forum with other writers and bloggers. Very soon, she was sharing writing samples and receiving good, concrete feedback from other authors. Thing 1 gives people pointers on their writing and is remarkably open to receiving feedback on her own work.

In July, I went out on a double date with Thing 2. He and I joined a local grandma (a good friend of ours) and her grandson (a friend of Thing 2's) for movie and a pizza lunch. When I got home, Thing 1 excitedly announced that The Write Practice was growing and looking to add two permanent members to their writing team. She smiled back and told me that she was applying. I so admire her spunk and drive and I think it's great how she puts herself out there! I was a bit nervous about the possible rejection, but we've talked a lot about how rejection is part of the process when it comes to writing, and I figured there was nothing to lose in applying for the job. After all, applying, in and of itself, is a good, learning experience. I was so proud of her for just going after it totally on her own. She simply saw the job opening and wrote up her application, which included doing a sample post patterned after the ones done on The Write Practice. I'm in total awe.

Here's the thing. This site is NOT geared toward kids at all. It is geared for adult writers. The guy who runs the site, Joe Bunting, told her straight up that he was looking for adult writers but that she did such a great job applying and commenting on his site that he wanted to give her a shot and that he had an idea that he wanted to run past us, her parents.

He wrote to me and Mark and was very honest that he was kind of nervous to see a 12 year old on his site, participating so much and being active. But he also said that he is blown away by her maturity and talent and that everyone on the site loves her. So, he came up with a monthly column for her! He told us that he wants to protect her identity online and keep her safe and mentor her in her writing and such, so he hired her and copies us on his emails to her - totally on the up and up! We are so grateful to him!

Joe Bunting is a published author, ghost writer, and editor, so this is amazing! He is a great guy, based out of Georgia, who knows the ropes -- social networking, blogging, formatting, etc. -- and is teaching her all kinds of neat stuff. We are so grateful for him and for his being so open to coming up with the idea and giving her this amazing opportunity!

Okay, okay. Enough about the background story. GO READ HER FIRST POST!! Be sure to scroll down, too, to see her picture and mini-bio!

I love and am so proud of you, Thing 1!! This is one VERY proud Momma sitting here. It's like my fingers just can't type fast enough to spread the great news!!