In the words of Stephen Sondheim…

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“I’m still here.”

I have not abandoned this blog, I promise. It’s been a crazy start to the year, with family trips, surprise party planning, movie making, and job stress.

But now family trips are over, party was a success, movie has been made, and job stress has subsided. So: Craziness over.

Now I just have to refresh my memory of the 4 episodes I watched back at the end of January. There will be a new post by this weekend, I promise!

In case you forgot, we will discuss:
Episode 9: Farmer Ted and the News
Episode 10: Have I Found a Guy For You
Episode 11: You’ve Got a Friend
Episode 12: It Was Fascination, I Know

“I did not come in third. I won.”

Rhoda and her crownHappy 2014, Retrowatchers! I hope the new year is treating you well. Mine has been smashing thus far. This week, we will delve further into the third season of Mary Tyler Moore. But first, I have to address something. It’s been bothering me since the start of the season.

I realize the ’70s was arguably the cruelest decade for fashion. Mistakes were made. The prints. The colors. The pants. None of it is good. Surprisingly though, I made it three seasons without being truly horrified by a fashion choice. Yes, there have been ridiculous dresses, intentionally and unintentionally. But even the frilliest, pinkest bridesmaid dress does not offend my senses more than Mary’s short, poofy haircut. I get that it was the style at the time, but still: WHY? It’s just wrong on every level.

For the love of god, why?

For the love of god, why?

With that out of the way, let’s get back into season three. This week, we discuss episodes 5-8, including:
Episode 5: It’s Whether You Win or Lose
Episode 6: Rhoda the Beautiful
Episode 7: Just Around the Corner
Episode 8: But Seriously, Folks

Continue reading

“You look like a cheerleader for the school of nursing.”

Season two highlights

Some season two highlights

Happy Thanksgiving, Retrowatchers! I hope you all had a lovely holiday. This year, I am thankful for my renewed interest in writing and blogging, Netflix’s massive DVD library (and  Hulu, when the DVDs arrived damaged), all of you who read Retrowatching, and of course, for Mary, Ted, Rhoda, Lou, and Phyllis*, James Burrows, Allan Burns, Treva Silverman, Martin Cohen, Steven Pritzker, and everyone else associated with the great Mary Tyler Moore.

*Ok, fine, in the spirit of the holidays, I can be thankful for Murray, too.

We’ve arrived at the end of season two. It’s been a long journey, and not necessarily as easy as season one, but I’d say overall it was a good season. We learned a little more about the kind of man Lou is in “The Six-and-a-Half-Year Itch.” Bess Lindstrom became a real character, had some wonderful scenes with Mary, held her own with Lou, and reminded us that Phyllis always means well. Rhoda continued to be her awesome self (with one exception, to be discussed shortly). Ted remained Ted, as he should, but we learned a bit about his upbringing and his insecurities in “Cover Boy”, “And Now, Sitting in for Ted Baxter”, and “Ted Over Heels.” And Mary continued to be a pushover just on the brink of annoyance, and a Golden Person.

818989380cloris-leachmanPerhaps most surprising of all (at least to me), is that Phyllis got several chances to shine, particularly in the last third of the season. You may recall  Phyllis was a character I took issue with almost immediately. One of the strengths of season two is the reassessment of her character. She’s still the Phyllis we first met – selfish, generally irresponsible, out of touch, and overcompensating – but she’s also more. Despite her unconventional ways, she is a good mother with her daughter’s best interest at heart. She’s also a good friend – not only to Mary, but I would argue also to Rhoda. (See: Their shared excitement for Mary’s big date in “The Five-Minute Dress” and her genuine looking out for Rhoda’s career in “The Square-Shaped Room”). Phyllis was used frequently in season two, and consequently, she HAD to become more than just the nosy and slightly annoying downstairs neighbor. I’m not going so far as to say that she is among my favorites, but she’s come a long way. I can see the beginnings of the character development that eventually lead to a spinoff.

So how does season two go out? Let’s find out. This week, we discuss episodes 21-24, including:
Episode 21: Where There’s Smoke, There’s Rhoda
Episode 22: You Certainly Are a Big Boy
Episode 23: Some of My Best Friends are Rhoda
Episode 24: His Two Right Arms Continue reading

The best of times is now: Our weekend with DHP

After six visits over the past two years, New York officially peaked for me last weekend. I suppose it’s possible to top the awesomeness/epicness of Oct 22-24, 2010, but it’s going to be damn hard.

This was actually over a year in the making. Summer 2009, Nicki and I met in New York for a trip to see Next to Normal. At some point, our mutual love of David Hyde Pierce came up, and we decided then and there that when he came back to Broadway, we would go see him.

Let me pause here and say that in case you don’t know who he is – and if you are reading this blog there’s a slim chance you don’t – he is best known for playing Niles Crane on my beloved Frasier, but he’s also a kick-ass and Tony-award winning stage actor, recently seen in Spamalot and Curtains (he won the Tony for the latter) as well as a ton of other stuff pre-Frasier. You can also check him out in the super twisted but hilarious film  Wet Hot American Summer, as well as Down With Love, A Bug’s Life, the weird yet intriguing Wolf, and the promising yet-to-be-released The Perfect Host (playing at a film festival near you). And if that’s not enough for you, check out the newest audiobook of The Phantom Tollbooth, which he not only narrates but also plays every single character.  (A mighty task as the book has at least 30 distinct characters.)

Flash forward a year, and it’s announced that Mr. Pierce is indeed returning to the boards for a limited run of the 1991 David Hirsen play La Bete. I don’t think it’s what we were expecting, but hey, it was a play, it was on Broadway and it had DHP, so we were there.

We got tickets way in advance. A few days later, I found out that Mr. Pierce would be participating in the 92nd Street Y Broadway Talks series the day after we were seeing him in La Bete. Obviously, we needed to see this as well. And so it turned into a “DHP-themed weekend.” Continue reading

Learning how to walk

Paul Hewson (also known as Bono) turns 50 today. This is hard to believe – not only because it means that U2 has been around for 30 years, but also because…Bono doesn’t seem 50. He doesn’t act 50. He doesn’t act 40. He still has the energy of a 25 year old, and the dreams and  ambition of a wide-eyed kid.

I could write a lot about what U2 and Bono have meant to me over the years. (Actually, wait, I have) I’ve loved them since I was 12, and will love them forever.  But I’m not the only one. U2 has meant many different things to many people. For me, they are the closest thing I have to religion. Seeing them live is like going to church. It fills me up, it makes me feel good about myself and the world, gives me faith in people. (I know, that’s weird. Unless you’ve seen them live. Then you know.)

I have lots of memories of U2 over the years – seeing them right after September 11th, seeing them live for the first time at Popmart, when my Mom thought the song was “Angel with a Hard On” instead of “Angel of Harlem,” watching Bono break down after singing “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own”. But what really sticks out (and I’m actually getting teary writing this) is when I first heard the album All That  You Can’t Leave Behind and the song “Walk On.” I was a sophomore in college, and very unhappy. I didn’t know why I was so sad, and felt like no one understood how I was feeling. How could they, if I didn’t even know?

I walked down to the local record store at midnight the eve of the release, stood outside with the few other devotees, and purchased the album. Got back to my room, popped it in my computer, and started listening. By the time “Walk On” came up (the fourth track), I was already in love. And then, Bono started singing about the daylight being a long way off, and what I got no one can steal, and how I just have keep walking, keep breathing, keep being.  He understood. No one else understood, but somehow, Bono did.

Flash forward a year. I’m home for the summer, after leaving school the winter before. In a few months, I’ll go to Illinois and have some of the happiest years of my life. I’ll learn how to make movies while also making lifelong friends. But first, I saw U2 live for the second time, with my best friend, Jenn. We sat in the second tier, and at the end of the show, Edge played the familiar opening notes to “Walk On.” I took a breath. Jenn looked over at me, and silently took my hand. She didn’t let go until the song was over.

Happy birthday, Bono.

Oh, Gilmore, you got me again

Happy Easter weekend, everyone. I hope you all had a good time, and enjoyed the gorgeous weather. (If you live on the East Coast, anyway – I’m not sure what the weather was like elsewhere.)

I got the weekend to myself, and had a perfectly luxurious time. I ran a few errands, cleaned up stuff on my computer, did some reading, and reaquainted myself with some old friends from Stars Hollow.

Now, those of you who know me know of my former major obsession love of the Gilmores. And you also know of my disenchantment, anger, broken heart, and temporary break-up with Gilmore during its final season. I eventually caved and finished out the season, but since the show ended, I’ve only watched a handful of episodes.

Until this weekend.

I don’t know if it was the nice weather, the resurgence of Lauren Graham on my TV again, the fact I had a weekend to myself, or my rediscovery of this* coupled with my rediscovery of a Lorelai mix I made three years ago, but I found myself jonesing for some Gilmore all week long.

You know how you have those friends who you used to be really close to and now, for one reason or another, you don’t get to see them very often? Maybe you live in different cities, maybe one of you got married, maybe you’re in grad school and have no time for a social life, but you’re just not as close as you once were.  Every once in awhile though, you get to see each other, and your bond is so close that it feels like you were never apart? That’s how this was. (Yes, I am aware that I am talking about a TV show, thanks.)

For me, Gilmore has always been a comfort. (Except when it wasn’t, but we don’t like to talk about that time.) It’s the TV-equivalent of pot roast and chocolate pie. And even though it’s been years, and things have changed, and I have changed, when I put in my season 2 DVD and started watching, it was as though I never stopped. I was back in my apartment in Chicago, watching my illegally-burnt copy of A Film By Kirk, pausing it to go get my roommate, because Sean Gunn dancing was something he had to see.

I decided to watch episodes I often skip over. I’ve seen Rory’s First Kiss and Last Week Fights, This Week Tights too many times to remember, but what about those hidden gems in seasons 2 and 3? I always gloss over seasons 2 and 3, in favor of season 4 (the ultimate season) and season 5 (because Luke and Lorelai are FINALLY together). So this weekend, I rediscovered hidden gems like Lost and Found, where Luke looks for a new apartment, and Dear Emily and Richard, which is both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. I watched Paris melt down on C-Span in The Big One and Emily battle it out with the original Lorelai in That’ll Do, Pig. These are episodes no one really thinks about, because they are episodes that don’t advance the plot much. Not a lot happens in these episodes, and yet everything happens.

So that’s how I spent my weekend. Should I have gone outside more? Perhaps. But I’m happy with my decision. I got reacquainted with an old friend, and remembered what made me love the show in the first place. I rediscovered the awesomeness of high school Rory, Lauren Graham’s amazing hair and beautiful eyes, and that Luke, was, on many occasions, a very funny man.

Now. The only problem with this is that…as many of you know…I had a…*slight* problem with Gilmore. As in, you know, some might say, a wee bit of an addiction. So my goal this week is to not spend it with my head halfway in Stars Hollow. I need to be in the real world. I think I can do it. I know I can do it. Because, even though I remember the girl who spent her nights locked in her tiny room in Chicago, watching those bootlegged DVDs, I am not that girl anymore. Really. I swear. I can stop any time I want to. Gilmore doesn’t control me, I control when and where Gilmore watching takes place. Seriously. Wait, stop. Don’t take the DVDs away from me. I can handle it! Where are you going? Stop!

Video of the Day: Enjoy some highlights from season 3. (Really, I forgot how much I love this season. If you have the DVDs, go back and watch. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.)

(*We’re never supposed to talk about it, but the Gilmore fandom produced a MASSIVE amount of fanfiction. Right around the height of it, I got my first post-college job – a job that required me to to absolutely nothing, and thus had a lot of free time on my hands between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. So, I got pretty familiar with the stuff – at least, stuff written from 2004 to 2006. A lot of it was crap, but that story is really, really good. So, if you have several hours to kill, check it out.)

The best thing you’re not listening to

People of the Internet: After you read this, get thee to Itunes and subscribe.

I recently discovered the best podcast currently running in cyberspace: The Tobolowsky Files, starring the man himself, Stephen Tobolowsky.

Who?

You know him. He played Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day (so I’m told; truth be told, I can’t stand that movie and only saw it once); Sammy in Momento; Hugo Jerry on Deadwood; Bob Bishop the gold man on Heros; and most recently, Sandy Ryerson on Glee. In other words, he is the ultimate “Hey! It’s that guy!” guy.

On the Tobolowsky Files, he tells stories from his life. I know this does not sound engaging, but trust me, it is. Tobolowksy, it turns out, has not only had a fascinating life, but is also a gifted writer and storyteller. I was hooked from episode one, and he had me crying by episode two. My only complaint is that the podcast just started in November, so there are only about 18 episodes so far. I got through the first 11 fairly quick, and have had to force myself to ration the rest out.

Not much else can be said about the show; it really speaks for itself. If you enjoy hearing interesting stories (and who doesn’t?) check out The Tobolowsky Files. It’s in real danger of knocking This American Life out of first place for my favorite podcast. And for those of you who know about my undying love for Ira Glass, well, that’s really saying something.

You can listen to all shows directly here, or subscribe to it on Itunes.

You’re welcome, Internet.