Posts Tagged ‘TV’

A Really Nice Gift

Posted: August 17, 2013 in Uncategorized
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December 9th, 2010

Okay, I was in my car the other day scanning for Christmas music (it was snowing; traffic was slow; I had just done some shopping).

I landed on Delilah on our local channel that plays some pretty good Christmas music this time of year. Amy Grant, WHAM, Nat King Cole…you get the idea. I’m not an overly big fan of Delilah, the semi-saccharin (IMHO) radio-show host…but sometimes she does draw me in with some story or dedication. THAT HAVING BEEN SAID, during this particular evening Christmas-song scan, I landed on Delilah.

A young woman had called into the program and shared how, in these economic times, she and her husband had been struggling. That she wanted to purchase some ‘really nice gifts’ for her family, but that they couldn’t afford it. That she had been baking cookies and the like to share with her family for the past couple of years as gifts, but that she wanted to get them something ‘really nice.’

Now, I’ll say right now, I am not opposed to Christmas gifts. I do my own share of shopping, although I’ve chosen, like other things in my life, to simplify this holiday. I bake some (kick-ass) chocolate chip cookies in the form of Christmas trees and distribute them to my siblings and their children during this holiday. It takes a lot of time, but I make a day of it…putting some Christmas shows on the TV and feeling the heat of the oven as it makes frosty patterns on the kitchen windows. It’s something that I think is pretty special. For me and for the recipients. A gift of love and toil.

I don’t hold anything against this young woman who called into Delilah. But my FIRST THOUGHT was, ‘gee, I think the fact that she took the time and effort to make some baked goods for her family IS a really nice gift. And I expected Delilah to chime in and point this out.’

INSTEAD, Delilah and her program did some kind of gift-award intervention, to rescue her from this unwarranted Christmas crisis. They made this young woman’s Christmas wish come true (by giving her some money and/or gift cards so that she could buy something ‘really nice’ for her family).

I don’t hold anything against the Delilah program. They, too, are giving, and that’s wonderful. This is the season of giving. What rankles me is the apparent misperception that giving of our time, our talents, our love, and our presence seems to rank lower on the ‘really nice gift scale’ than something purchased from a store. When did our American consumer culture get so skewed in its thinking that we don’t see the true meaning of Christmas giving?

Charles Schultz got it right. Just watch “The Charlie Brown Christmas Special.”

Dr. Seuss got it right. Just watch “The Grinch.”

Even an old, first season episode (and I’m going to lose some credibility on this one) of “Little House on the Prairie” got it right, when Half-Pint (aka Melissa Gilbert) was so grateful to receive one piece of candy and a homemade doll from her mother (Caroline, aka Karen Grassle), while she sold her beloved pony to Mr. Oleson (for Nellie) so she could replace her mother’s broken wood stove. A wonderful, loving sacrifice. The part that always brings me to tears is when Caroline tries to run to Laura, and Charles (aka Michael Landon) holds her back. Caroline tells him ‘But she loves that pony.’ And Charles says, ‘Let her do this for you.’

<Insert lump in throat.>

When did we lose the balance of what constitutes a ‘really nice gift?’ Somewhere between the prairie and Sex and the City, I think.

I challenge you to think about your own gift giving and receiving…and decide what you believe this Christmas season…to be a really nice gift.


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Soap Opera Hair

Posted: August 17, 2013 in Uncategorized
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August 31st, 2010

I sit here in the barbershop, looking over the posters of coiffed twenty-something men (boys, I want to say, but that just makes me feel older) and I feel it slip tenderly away. Tender, not like ‘gee, what a tender scene in Tarzan when he bids his ape-mother goodbye.’ Tender like ‘I smashed my finger in the car door yesterday and it’s still pretty damn tender.’

I will never be on a soap opera.

I will never have that feeling they all must feel. To show up on the set every working day and stand in the lights. To deliver those serious, soap opera lines to all the beautiful people while the cameras roll; to joke around with all of them when the cameras are off. To step outside the studio and maneuver through throngs of adoring fans on my way to drinks at a co-worker’s penthouse.

Honestly, it’s not like I had a real shot at being a member of a soap opera cast. It’s just that I used to have soap opera hair. Thick, ready-to-be-blown-dry, with just a hint of a wave. My full brown mane flowed naturally from my scalp, its growth rate causing my father angst every time he ‘shelled out another $7 for a haircut’ — a fee that he felt was a necessary evil in the inflating economy of the 70s.

At the beginning, I didn’t care. I was just a kid; hair was just on my head. But then as barbers segued to hairstylists in my teens and $7 became 12, the professionals started making a fuss. “I’d kill to have your hair.” “Oh you have such thick locks.”

My hair pride grew.

Around that time I joined my older sisters watching soap operas. As the World Turns, Guiding Light, and the family favorite, All My Children. It’s not like I really needed to be a part of the cast. But as I saw all the handsome guys with their own thick locks and their polished smiles, I liked knowing, somewhere inside, that I too had the hair to be on a soap opera.

Not the star, mind you…but maybe an alcoholic gay son of thrice-divorced parents. Or an adopted teen of the town’s rich-and-widowed matriarch whose kleptomania kept him from really connecting with people. You know. Soap opera.

For a while in my own twenty-something years, I carried a torn out ad from the TV Guide in my wallet. It showed a guy and girl from As the World Turns, standing at a wedding. “I want my hair cut like his,” I’d say to the hairstylist at Regis Cuts, or at JC Penny’s Salon, pulling out the folded, slightly torn photo. They’d nod and cut, as though everybody pulled out a TV Guide ad. As though everybody had soap opera hair. But twenty became thirty, and thirty became forty.

IT happened in stages.

First, the top of my head became painfully sensitive while on a summer vacation. I couldn’t figure out why. “You got a sunburn,” an older, matronly traveling companion told me, after I asked her to examine my tortured scalp.

THEN the hairstylists stopped commenting on the thickness of my locks. How much fun it was to blow dry. Whether I would like gel.

THEN brown became flecked with gray. More grew in my nose and less on my head.

THEN people started commenting, not on my hair, but on my lack of hair. “You look so much like your father,” my dad’s cousin said when I visited her one day. My dad. A balding, overweight, average guy.

Back in the barbershop, I watch my reflection and think about him, my dad. He never seemed like soap opera material. I never saw anyone on All My Children like him. My spirits sink.

But then, in the mirror, as the Vietnamese barber runs his electric trimmer (“So easy,” he comments, when I tell him to simply cut it all at a setting of “one”)…then…

I spot a big clump of my hair as it plops on the floor.

The clump gives comfort.

Somehow, it tells me I’m still producing.

I may look like my father.

But I see me in there too, that former potential soap opera character. Something inside my head loosens.

Maybe someday I’ll still write a bestseller like Stephen King.

Maybe someday I’ll still sing a duet with a famous performer like kd lang.

Maybe someday I’ll still have lunch at the White House for an as-yet unrecognized talent.

And maybe, just maybe, I still have the chance to feel fulfilled.

Even if I’m never on a soap opera.

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How Uncool it is…

Posted: August 17, 2013 in Uncategorized
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July 27th, 2010


…to say, after ten or so years, that I am still a tremendous fan of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer? And Joss Whedon, the writer/creator.


Work with me for a minute here.


You may have dismissed it, due to the juvenile name of the series. Or you may have thought “teenage angst, what has that got to do with my life?”


I just want to report that Buffy, The Vampire Slayer TV series has changed my life. Yes, changed my life. I don’t say that lightly; I don’t say it often. I even have a personal rule about ‘letting new television shows into my life.’ I don’t like wasting time watching television. And I know if I get hooked on something, I go all in. So I resist.


But my partner got into Buffy back in 2000. As a result, I’d catch a scene or two as I walked through the living room on my way to the kitchen. It seemed silly. Vampires. Demons. Silly makeup. Pretty people. I dismissed it, my normal reaction to new TV that I don’t want to entertain.


But my partner kept watching. And then…there was this episode…where Buffy was trying to save her younger sister from being killed. I honestly just sat down for a minute because I was waiting for the ice cream to thaw enough to get a scoop or two. And while the ice cream thawed, I watched a stalwart young woman fighting evil; protecting friends; offering humor; and risking all to save her sister’s life. She was thoughtful, which I didn’t expect, given the brief scenes of vampire teeth and lip gloss I’d previously observed. As the half gallon of ice cream melted on the counter, I got tears in my eyes watching Buffy offer her own life in sacrifice for her sister’s. In a swan dive to her death, she extended her arms and took the plunge, almost Christ-like.


I was hooked.


I later discovered this episode was deep into the fifth season. I got ahold of the earlier DVDs and started watching. Behind the teeny-bopper surface, I quickly learned that this television series deals with issues of friendship, life, death, culture, politics, religion, God, evil, family, depression, loss, responsibility, and, my favorite, the purpose of living.


Maybe you’re not aware of the depth of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, lost to you in the surface humor. Or maybe you’re not aware that academia has acknowledged the value of the stories. (Read this excerpt from Wikipedia: ‘Buffy eventually led to the publication of around twenty books and hundreds of articles examining the themes of the show from a wide range of disciplinary perspectives including sociology, Speech Communication, psychology, philosophy, and women’s studies‘).


Regardless…let me just say this. If you’ve dismissed it in the past, and are intrigued by what I’ve shared, consider picking up the series on DVD and deciding for yourself. If you stick with it through at least the first two seasons (approximately 30 shows), I suspect you won’t be disappointed.


Trust me on this one.




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I invite you to visit my stuff.