Parent Trap

iPad the parent trapLeo’s homework tonight is practicing his songs for the first grade concert. The music teacher had not yet posted the link to the tunes so he has been muddling through in a less than totally confident way.

I wandered into the room when I heard his voice falter and stop. He was at the computer and had entered “Let’s get together” into the youtube search. Complete with capital and apostrophe. He was scrolling through picture after picture of Hayley Mills from the Parent Trap.

For those of you that don’t consider Lindsay Lohan a peer this was the British version of the twins separated by divorce who meet and become fast enemies at sleep away camp. Put together in a small cabin as punishment for their mutual pranks they bonded and eventually figured out that they were in fact sisters.

They plotted to swap lives to get to know the parent that didn’t raise them. After a big reveal they planned to re-unite their mother and father and all live happily ever after.

The little girl fantasy fodder is thick. First comes sleepaway camp with loads of friends in the middle of big woods. Then finding a separated at birth twin. Really, what could be more exciting to a twelve year old girl? Perhaps having someone to scheme with and knowing more than your very own parents. It didn’t hurt that both of these parents lived in the lap of luxury, one on an old California ranch with her dad, the other in a city (London? or is that just because haley never quite shed her accent?) brownstone of some sort.

Guess what? There was a girlfriend to expose as shallow and scare away with snakes. And staff and grandparents to let in on the trickery. That was such a great time. It all ended with the family getting back together. Singing in the golden summer light.

Leo was not as moved by the youtube clips as I was. It was a bit trippy to watch my kid watching the kid I watched as a kid.

A long time ago…

We used to be friends. But I haven’t thought of you lately at all.

Or rather I have thought of you almost every day for the last 8 months.

Those opening lines are the Veronica Mars theme song. I have always been a bit of a tv junkie. During “sick” days as a kid I would mark up the TV guide (remember the TV guide?) with a full day of television, at times marking first through third choices. This was before TiVo, hell, this was before remote controls, and I would sit on my parents “big bed” with my bunny puppet waiting for the Brady bunch to come on.

Although I don’t think Veronica Mars is the best show ever made for television it is certainly in my too ten, if not my top five and I have watched every episode twice. Once when it originally aired and again in the last month.

I contributed to the kick starter campaigns and read each of the updates carefully, as if there might be some secret within. Three times in the 86 updates there have in fact been secrets. First they announced which theaters would be showing the movie on 3/14 and two friends and I began plotting a road trip to. Either Boston or Montreal. Then that became moot when I realized one of my kick starter rewards was a free download code to watch the movie the SAME DAY it appeared in theaters.

Which was yesterday. One friend came over and with the sounds of smoothie making in the background we traveled to Neptune California to watch Veronica and Logan reconnect and solve yet another crime. In all honesty if you didn’t watch the show I don’t think you would be particularly impressed by the movie. But as Fans with capital Fs Maura and I were in a constant state of near glee as they kept the inside jokes coming as regularly as the pacific surf.

The third surprise I found I the. Kick starter update was the opportunity to donate $500 to Kristen bells foundations and receive two tickets to a 200 person screening tomorrow at noon to see the movie with the cast.

Being the well off dork that I am I went ahead and donated the money. Now I am in the dealt lounge at JFK waiting to board a flight to la.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

And you can say you remember me when….

The Voice

Its a little like a horrible headache. When you have one it spreads throughout your consciousness, blocking out everything else. When it is gone you can’t summon the feeling or the pain.

Each week for two nights I watch the Voice. I turn it on begrudgingly. I know what I will see. Blake will point at his head and make pithy comments in his twang, while rotating his wedding ring at hyper speed. Adam will push up and down his black sleeves, close his eyes to listen and tell Blake more than once that he hates him.

Usher will put his feet up, probably in metallic shoes, and he will point his finger high, anticipating notes in the upper octaves. He will hit his button only when they reach the register that he most admires.

Shakira will toss her blond waves, smile a gorgeous smile, and open her arms to many of the female singers; particularly those who are imperfect. She has compassion and wants to add value. The others pretty much just want to win.

The contestants will tell us that this means the world to them. They will describe their struggles to make it in the world of music. Some of them who are 17 years old will confess to the camera that they have been working their whole lives for this.

Their parents/sisters/boyfriends/wives will stand and cry and scream in their carefully selected outfits and overly styled hair. They offer hugs in sadness or congratulations.

There will be at least three references to Blake’s drinking, one reference to Justin Beiber, two references to Adam being the sexiest man alive and one or more about Shakira’s hips.

Once a show we will be surprised by someone’s age, gender, or background as their voice does not tell the same story as their appearance. I will wait for the judges to spin around and give their exaggerated shock.

Despite knowing the formula I watch it, and am surprised each time how much I love it.

I am thrilled by the judges banter, tear up at the contestants surprise at their own success, lean in to influence button pushes, nod along with the constructive criticism given to the performers who don’t make the show.

At the end I always want another performance. I stay tuned for the clips, chuckling with familiarity at Blake and Adam’s love/hate schtick and Usher’s moonwalk. I turn off the TV and my cheeks are hurting from smiling.

By the time I am upstairs the magic is gone. I don’t remember why I love this formulaic show so. But I will tune in on Monday for a full two hours of blind auditions.

Do you watch?

While you were in.

I have a huge task in front of me. But I am totally up for it.

As an official backer of the Veronica Mars movie kickstarter I need to re-watch all three seasons before the movie debuts in March. I thought I could move along at a leisurely pace until I received this call to action:

Project Update #67: Starting tonight: “live” online episode viewing + Q&A with our cast & team.

Posted by Rob Thomas ♥ Like


There’s a lot left to do this week, so I’ll get right to the point.

We’ve now got less than 40 days left until Veronica Mars hits theaters, and our cast and crew couldn’t be more excited. With the MTV Movie Brawl behind us, we wanted to give you something else to look forward to, and we think we’ve found a good solution.

A few updates back, I mentioned that the team at@NeptuneRising have put together a schedule to re-watch the entire series before the film is released, and have been encouraging fans to join them in “live-tweeting” and discussing one episode each night at 8pm EST / 5pm PST.

Well, once that happened, I started getting messages from our team, asking if it would be OK to join in. And I thought that sounded like a great idea, so…

Starting tonight, some of the Veronica Mars cast and team will join fans to live-tweet selected episodes, and stick around afterwards for a little bit of Q&A.

Last-minute changes are always possible, but as of now, here’s the current schedule:

This week:

  • Feb 3: PERCY DAGGS (@PDaggsIII), for Episode 2×12,Rashard & Wallace Go To White Castle.
  • Feb 4: AMANDA NORET (@amanda_noret), for Episode 2×13, Ain’t No Magic Mountain High Enough.
  • Feb 7: DARAN NORRIS (@golfstoomuch), for Episode 2×16, The Rapes of Graff.

Thats right. The synchronized viewing with LIVE tweeting started last night, with season 2. After all of my dedication, brand ambassadorship, and cold hard cash I was left out of the debut session. I had no choice but to get to work. So this morning I brought my tea up to bed, queued up Amazon Prime, and finished off season 1. Twenty two episodes, consumed in just a few days. Alas I am still behind. And not just on the show.

When I emerged from bed at 11:20 I may or may not have determined the following:

  • The person who I had invited to co work had said she would meet me. Three hours ago.
  • The Mariners tenant had written to tell me that the dishwasher was not draining.
  • The programmer who is coding our facebook app needed to get an answer on the UI, 2 hours ago.
  • My friend who I might or might not have been meeting for lunch confirmed that we were in fact meeting. In 30 minutes.
  • The washing machine that I had loaded with pee sheets was on tilt like a bad poker player. Three hours ago.
  • My children had left their notes for parent pick on the island. And would thus board the bus and miss Book Fair unless I intervened. 4 hours from now.
  • The structural engineer who was volunteering to inspect our bridge was trying to set up a time to visit, three hours ago.
  • The kids from Mrs. Piggly Wiggle’s town were having a parade in front of my window enticing me away from my screen with hand held cymbols and twirly batons. One hour ago.
  • The weather was a balmy 25 degrees and sunny. Warm enough to walk. But that had ended. One hour ago.

Its OK though, I needed to check in on Weevil and Mac, and Logan and make sure they all had backup.

See you

Frozen Caveman TV prescription.


I had dinner with a friend last night. The rare, one on one, for no reason at all, bread breaking. Neither of us were at our most animated but we covered lots of ground. I expected to leave and write a post about motivation, the difference between translation and interpretation, and how running is absolutely not like flying.

Instead I find myself coming back again and again to her throw away comment that she hadn’t watched any TV in 20 years. None. For the past few years she has begun to dip her toe in the water of current TV. So I will focus on 1990-2010. Good years.

Its a lot like the frozen caveman situation…but just about TV, which obviously is almost as critical. So I will prepare a prescription that will take not entirely 20 years. I’m  factoring in that she (and I) like relationship driven talkies. What that means is I have 90210 on here, and not Breaking Bad. Think of this as the chick lit of TV lists.

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So no one in the history of imdb has voted this onto a top 100 list. At least not the two lists that I used to steal the bulk of the images for this post. I understand this. It is not really good TV in any critical sense. As in…what critics might sense. But in the way that these kids (or the characters because the actors were famously in their thirties) were exactly my age, and I could totally hang out with them every thursday night whether I was popular or ostracized…that is critical TV. I will never go back and watch every episode of this show the way I did West Wing, My So Called Life, Veronica Mars or a few others…but I’m not sure any of those other great shows have ever made me feel quite the kind of nostalgia for a summer trip to Paris with a boyfriend who went on the be Superman that 90210 did, either. Plus I never had to light a float on fire to show my inner pain because…been there, done that.

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.47.06 PMI’m trying really hard not to call this the show about nothing. We all imagine we are imminently interesting to the people in our lives (see blog, Shelburbia) Jerry actually IS. Because he is fucking funny. Without Seinfeld we would never have had status updates, and social media would not be what it is today. Yada Yada Yada.



Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.47.51 PMMy love for Blue Velvet led me to Twin Peaks, and the first season was everything I never knew I wanted in TV. After a while I went from feeling as though I was watching a masterpiece to thinking maybe I was down the rabbit hole with the puppet master…but the performances, music, tempo, staging, timing, and strange midgets dancing are worth a season at least.


Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.48.28 PMThe smoking man’s in this one! Compelling as a weekly procedural because of the relationship between the leads (scientific skeptic, v believer with all the sexual tension you need) this show was the first to teach me how compelling a conspiracy theory threadline can be. Equally great stoned and sober.



Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.49.07 PM It is possible that MSCL has stood the test of time because there were only 19 episodes, so they never had to endure the irritating aging of cast members, or writers strikes. I watched it on network TV, and began running on my hamster wheel to create VHS tapes by episode 3. I had worn out these tapes by the time it aired for the first time on MTV about a year later and I finally got to record the first 2 episodes. You complete me. I was precient enough to know there would be a time that I would re-watch the show and relate more to Bess Armstrong’s character than Claire Danes’. That time is now. Perhaps that time was a little before now, but it is for sure still now. Oddly, I still want Jordan Catalano. Remember when we found out he couldn’t read? And “Brain” tutored him? If you don’t remember I gift you the utter wonder of My So Called Life.

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.51.06 PMThis is why I don’t loathe Sarah Michelle Gellar. She’s Buffy! She slayed vampires way way way before they were cool. The scary stuff isn’t so scary, and the daytime stuff is so bright and sunny they just as well could have named that high school Sunnydale high. It was so fun and fluffy that I got sucked into the dark and dank Angel sequel. A fate that twenty years later has kept me from watching “The Originals.” Pretty sure I made the right choice there.


Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.51.50 PMSo I had forgotten Billy. This show didn’t weave itself into my inner consciousness like some of the others…but if you can get around Calista Flockhart the other characters are all slightly cartoonish and FULLY awesome. And it helped me teach Leo what a wattle is. Even if I am not confident in the spelling.



Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.52.36 PMI almost left this one off, because the horrible movies have brought it past our era of TV darkness…but it is the best 20 something single woman material ever produced…and my friend who was 20 something and single during this era somehow survived without it. Doesn’t seem possible, but color me Mulder.



Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.53.26 PMNoel….Ben…. I was on team Noel all the way. Every freaking mumbling Ben minute. That only made the show better for its frustration factor. A super young Jennifer Garner makes a more than cameo…and it will also make you understand the the heat on Scandal has been simmering for a long long time.



Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.54.25 PMI thought I would like the freaks.

Instead I liked the geeks, but they made each other so much better.

And isn’t that the point? I mean, its the ultimate High School lesson. That and forging your parent’s signature.


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Dawson’s Creek

If it hadn’t had Dawson this show would have been first rate. But that little wanker had a name check, so every episode required between 12- 33 minutes of misery. The rest was the best though…and now there is pausing and fast forwarding ON TV. So go ahead. Give it a try. Pretend it really is Cape Cod.


Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.56.19 PMNow everyone knows who POTUS is. Not so at the beginning. When I watched West Wing in real time I read the paper every day. So I could understand the facts behind the incredible moral high ground that the show takes. Plus walking and talking, and Donna and Josh, and CJ.

I would vote for any of them.


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One Tree Hill. The step brother of Dawson’s Creek. It tries to be edgier, and admits that everything is filmed in NC. But it is worse in every way. With my big love for high school TV I can’t just ignore it.

If you watch only the first season you will not hate me. Anything after that is on you. Not good my friends, not good at all.


Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.57.38 PMThe Sopranos is the reason I can talk about being in therapy. Tony is a total badass and he benefits from therapy. Plus it features such touching family tales, with a little cheating and getting whacked for good measure. The show that made HBO, and was great almost until the end.



Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.58.30 PMThe first show to glamorize being 16 and pregnant, Gilmore Girls’ central fast talking relationship is between a 32 year old mother and a 16 year old daughter. Guess what? They are both old enough to date! Their small town has all of the charm and comfort of every other imaginary small town, with the wackiness you riff off. And Melissa Mcarthy waaaaaay before Bridesmaids.



Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.59.13 PMSkins makes American teens seem prude, or American media seem hopelessly naive.Both may be true.

I couldn’t keep my eyes off of skins then. It was like the movie Kids. But for longer, so you knew these kids, which made things even harder for you.



Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 8.00.26 PMI loved it. From the opening death scene, to the credits I was fascinated by the world surrounding death. How some characters were in the midst of grief while the others were just in the day to day grind. Weird to think about these actors in their new roles on Parenthood, Dexter, and that Sally Field show that just went off the air. You could play a pretty fun six degrees of six feet under game. If you wanted.



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Party Down is awesome and funny and if you are a male person or in a relationship with a male person they will hurdle beyond tolerance to enjoyment of this show.

Crazy LA parties, real comedy, cater waiters…

Plus Jane Lynch.


Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 8.02.37 PMJason Bateman was my original crush. The first guy I kissed looked so much like him that I tried to convince my friends that he WAS him. You can imagine how well that went.

About as well as the kiss.

Putting that aside this is a wicked, wacky, madcap good show.


Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 8.03.15 PMA long time ago, we used to be friends…but I HAVE in fact thought of you lately. Like today in fact when I read my kickstarter update. And yesterday when I wore my i heart KB t shirt, and the day before when I thought about a friend who I forced to watch the show who didn’t believe me that she would love Logan but obviously she loved Logan. Because. Logan.



Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 8.04.51 PMIts a medical mystery tour. As long as you dont border on the hypochondriacal…or get annoyed by medical mumbo jumbo…you should enjoy House. Hugh Laurie is brilliant. As is the character he plays. Its a bit of a weekly formula: Odd symptom, inconclusive tests, first treatment, precipitous decline, dual treatments one will save the other kill. Critical choice. Recovery. But the drama!



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I saved the best for last. I’m not going to say anything except watch it.


Clear Eyes, Full Hearts…



Playing with myself.

If you know me in real life you might want to skip this one.

Sunday Oliver teased me about my low level of playfulness. So I thought about it and determined that of my playfulness is totally internal. It might be an only child thing. I may not be all minecraft and monopoly, but there is tons of fun in here, in (what used to be) private. For your disgust and enjoyment I present to you…The games I play.

Continue reading Playing with myself.

Good Gatsby

Our house is on the market. This means that in addition to sweating every crumb, and seeing each loose hinge as a problem to be solved rather than a graceful, soulful aging we are frequently exiled. The call came around noon, asking us to be out that evening, a Sunday, and so we split up for a rare family movie night. By family movie night I mean the boys see something about someone in a costume saving the universe, I see a movie about grown ups talking, and Steve pretends he would rather be going with me while internally skipping down the aisle to Iron Man 3.

I headed to see the third most famous Leonardo woo Daisy.

There were 5 strands of interest for me in the movie.

  • The decor. Overlooking the general opulence I was drawn to details that could reasonably be repeated in real life, piles of jewel toned velvet pillows, billowing sheers, gilded framed paintings hung so close they became three dimensional wall paper.
  • Whether Gatsby was great. The idea of turning away from god to remake oneself for love, decadence as a mask and matadors cape at once. can you be great and be focused on someone…ordinary?
  • What had happened to Leo’s looks. Was his face just thicker? Was it the makeup? Why, if he was wearing too much makeup could I still see his pores? Was he doughy in Gilbert Grape? These questions need answers.
  • Most strikingly though was the camera work. The way it illustrated what I was reminded was my favorite part of the book, the concept of within/without.

The first explicit introduction to this thread is during a scene of daytime drunken debauchery where Nick is both reveler and observer. As the tinsel (more tinsel in this film than all the christmas trees in the midwest) and laughter rained down the champagne bottles and the camera spun to carry the viewers (amongst whom we can count Nick) out of the room to the street below. Here he stands, dressed more properly, looking up at his drunk self. Both within and without.

This visual and conceptual duality continue through the movie as Nick is observer, participant, recorder and judge. So many roles for just one man.

This morning in therapy I sat just shaking my head no. No no no no. It wasn’t forceful. More slowly, sadly overwhelmed. These things I am doing. (I need a stock disclaimer that I know there are real struggles on earth blah blah) Establishing new, healthy habits. Diets, Exercise, spending money only on necessities, meditating, noticing rather than judging, flossing. All so difficult. And yet I have chosen them…but not me really. It is the within/without of gatsby. My narrator self has listed these goals, and the participant me has to enact them.

No no no no.

Speaking with a friend today about writing practice she emphasized the importance of being clear about one’s goal is. For me the habit is the goal, not the output. Eating kale and eschewing chips, not a specific weight. This too, that the process itself is the goal is hard. No no no no. Give me a list. Let me cross things off of it. Doing something for an infinitely long time. No no no.

Gatsby’s goal was to get Daisy to show up. And she did. It didn’t seem like he had thought further down the line than that. Before their reunion he would gaze at the green light on her dock. After she had arrived at Gatsby’s castle Nick mused that there was one fewer item on Gatsby’s list of enchantments. The green light held no magic with Daisy on this side of the water.

I guess each of these goals, fitness (with its imagined endless energy), presence (with the bliss of right now), healthy oral hygeine (with twinkling white teeth), seemed like one day they would arrive in my life through magic. I mean, they are all things that grown ups do. One day I would be a grown up and I would have these things. Perhaps it is the opposite. Once we show up, when our within and without come together and the dreamer, planner, observer, and the live-er become just one self…then the enchantment is gone and the work begins.

No no no no.

I Know How She Does It!

The new Sara Jessica Parker movie “I Don’t Know How She Does It” comes out in theaters nationwide today. If you have not seen the trailer yet, here it is:


Though I have not seen the movie yet I am pretty sure I read the book on which it is based. I tear through those chick lit books at a pace as rapid as the trailer for this movie. We can all relate to the frenzied pace of SJP’s character and the tasks that she faces.

How do you keep your life together without losing it?

First of all you have to accept that everyone loses it once it a while. It is the bounce back from those low points, and the humor that you can take from your own wacky moments that separates the chaos from the calm.

Setting clear expectations for everyone in your household helps a lot. Reinforcing the idea again and again: we are a team, we sink or float together.

That’s the simple answer, but this takes practice.

For my family it starts FIRST THING in the morning. Everyone gets themselves up, dressed, fed, and packed for their day (if they haven’t the night before)  This way we can all enjoy a little free time before the mad dash out of the house to school or work.

We used a marble jar at the beginning to get out of the house in the morning. Now it is a learned habit and the jar doesn’t come into play.

Marble Jar Morning Routine

As I type this Steve is rearranging his fantasy football roster, and Ollie and Leo are distributing lego star wars figurine in some way that is apparently equitable for both sides. Number of weapons and epic battles factor in of course, but also relative scarcity in the household. The new Asoka seems to net 3 clones FYI.

Here we are in illustrated form practicing.

Here are the boys enjoying their free time RIGHT NOW

Boys enjoying free time in the morning