Monday, April 26, 2010

TV Picks- Summer Lovin!

Last year Erin got rid of cable during the summer because she thought there was "nothing on." GASP! Even though summer gets its share of crap stuff, there is plenty to check out to keep you from being active, reading or having a life.

Here are my picks for Summer 2010 TV Season as well as commentary. (Please note CBS had not released its lineup as of 4/26)

Lie to Me, FOX: This show is based on the real life research of Cal Lightman (played by Tim Roth). The story lines sometime mirror actual events and have a good mix of drama, humor and intelligent dialogue. Lightman studies lies and can tell who is lying and who is telling the truth. One of the neatest features is the collection of real world, famous"liars" demonstrating the small facial ticks that the episode has highlighted. It is neat to watch and I guarantee you will study people more after watching. Returns June 7th

The Good Guys, FOX: The previews for this look really, really stupid and not in a funny way. BUT, J'adore Bradley Whitford so will probably give it a shot. Begins June 7th

Last Comic Standing, NBC: The first years of this were great. Then it became less reality and more a showcase for the less than funny comedians the network wanted to promote. So if The Good Guys sucks, I might check this out just to see if by any chance in hell the "talent scouts" actually put the really funny people through. Returns June 7th

Persons Unknown, NBC: I don't know much about this other than the creator is the same guy that did The Usual Suspects, which I loved. Alan Ruck stars and those two facts are enough for me to give it our usual three tries. Begins June 7th


Warehouse 13, SyFy: So this is probably the summer programming of which most think; light, fluffy, low production budget, but to me it is also fun and a little cheesy. Returns July 13


So You Think You Can Dance, FOX: I have watched this religiously since day 1. Judge all you want, but this show makes me happy. Returns June 2nd

Happy Town, ABC: This is a new drama which I will give my standard 3 episode try. A sleepy town begins to have unexplined kidnappings. The cast is noteworthy, starring Steven Weber, Sam Neill, Frances Conroy and Dean Winters. It begins April 28, so I'd check it out and go from there. Begins April 28th


SYTYCD Results Show, FOX: meh. Sometimes I skip this. I just want to know who got kicked off.

Burn Notice, USA: If you have not seen this show, you MUST. It is smart, funny, sexy and just a good time. If that recommendation doesn't sell you, I have one name for you: Bruce Campbell. I KNOW! This show is a must watch in my household. Returns June 3rd

Royal Pains, USA: If Burn Notice is a scoring home run, USA gets a double with Royal Pains....maybe a single. It is great Sunday afternoon couch TV. If you fall asleep while watching, no biggie. Returns June 3rd


Eureka, SyFy: My inner geek squealed when Shelia told me about this show starring hottie Colin Ferguson in a show about a town full of geniuses. Smart, hot boys? I'm in. Ferguson's character isn't a genius, but he is adorable and the show is a fun way to kill some time. If you haven't seen it, check out the Eureka marathon on SyFy on May 9th. Season 4 returns July 9th

Haven, SyFy: This is a new show starring Eric Balfour. I first remember Balfour from Six Feet Under but turns out he was in Kids Incorporated! and has worked steadily since 1991. I like him even though he oozes smarm, and I generally like SyFy's programming so will give this a 3 episode go. Begins July 9th.

(yep, I skipped Saturday. Saturdays are for catching up on all the TV I TiVo'd that week, movies and UFC fights) Sunday is a big day and I have to think HBO is to blame for this, since Sunday was the day for cool new programs. Luckily most of these shows air multiple times a week so TiVo will help me catch them all.

Weeds, Showtime: Last year was good. Last year's cliff hanger was great. Hopefully this season will be fantastic. Returns August 16th.

The Gates, ABC: Not a lot of details on this one other than it is a drama about a sleepy mountain town (or is it?!) and a family that moves into a gated community there. Drama and crimes ensue. Begins June 20th

Rubicon, AMC: I like James Badge Dale (The Black Donnellys and The Pacific) and think the shows he picks are smart and edgy. So I will give this one a go: (from AMC's press release, April 2010) "Rubicon" is a conspiracy thriller set in a NYC-based government intelligence agency, API, where nothing is what it seems. The series focuses on a beleaguered analyst, Will Travers, who, faced with a shocking tragedy, begins to uncover clues that point to a complex and
sinister conspiracy. Begins August 1st

Ocho Cinco, VH1: This might be trash or it might be great TV. Either way I am sure it is going to office water cooler worthy, at least in the beginning. Begins July 11th

Next Food Network Star, Food Network: I have watched this off and on for a number of years. Sometimes I care, sometimes I don't. I'll check it out and see if I care this year. Returns June 6th

Big C, Showtime: This is a new show about a woman who has cancer. I loved Oliver Platt in Huff and am a recent fan of Gabourey Sidibe after SNL 4/24/10 so I will check this out. Begins August 16

Top Shot, History Channel: This is a new reality game show that highlights those crazy shots that have been told throughout the years; William Tell shooting an apple off his son's head, Annie Oakley using a mirror to shoot a rifle over her shoulder. I am by no means a gun girl (they make me cry) but I am amazed with creative marksmanship so I will check this out. Begins June 6th.

Leverage, TNT: I like Timothy Hutton and the rest of this cast is watchable enough. The stories are OK and I put this in our summer TiVo rotation just in case there isn't anything on. Sometimes we watch it, sometimes we don't. So if you are bored, check it out. If not, you aren't missing anything amazing. Returns June 20th

So there are my Summer 2010 television picks. As soon as the Fall Schedules are released I will do a Fall Picks (usually in May). Happy TV Watching!

A Woman Who Inspires

Triathlon season is heating up again and I am VERY ready and excited to get back into some hardcore training. I wish it wasn't true, but I don't push myself as hard alone as with other people. Last year I stumbled upon the training group Tri It For Life. This women's only group is dedicated to inspiring women of all ages, sizes, backgrounds and abilities to develop healthy lifestyles through multi-sport training, mentorship and commitment. The group was founded by Alyse Kelly-Jones, a local OBGYN, wife, mother who went through medical school while raising children, and most recently Ironman 4th place finisher.

I have been in awe of Alyse because of the impact she has made on my life, my attitude about myself and what I can do. I share her passion about multi-sports and that anyone can do it. (Yes, anyone). Saturday I finally got up off my butt and joined a small group run on the parkway which included Alyse. After the 4 mile run we all gathered at Starbucks for some coffee, oatmeal, and post run stretching. One of the ladies there was passing around a program. Turns out that on Friday, Alyse and her husband attended a black tie affair because she was named one of Charlotte's Most Influential Woman. The article was a quick snapshot into her life. In addition to starting Tri It For Life, she also founded the Center for Sexual Health and Education. And did I mention she placed 4th in an Ironman? In case you aren't sure what an Ironman is, a participant first swims 2.4 miles in an ocean, then bikes 112 miles THEN runs a marathon. All in one day. I followed Alyse's progress the day she did her Ironman. I slept a little late and lazily flopped down on the couch as she was getting in the water. I watched a movie, ate breakfast and took a shower. I decided to run some errands as she was starting her bike ride. I spent the day grocery shopping, grabbing lunch and completing various other tasks. I was eating the last bites of dinner as she was finishing the bike ride. As I curled up on the couch for the night, she was BEGINNING a marathon. I watched another movie and was getting ready for bed when she finished. What different days we had. I am nervous at the prospect of running 13 miles and she did 26 miles AFTER being active for a full 10 hours beforehand. Amazing.

Actually, amazing doesn't begin to describe Alyse as there are a host of things I admire about her, but there are three that stand out for me.
  1. On Saturday she seemed almost embarrassed about her award and recognition. She is completely humble about her athletic success and the impact she has made on so many women.
  2. She has a belly and hips. If you saw her on the street you would NEVER think she is in supreme physical strength. She looks like any other size 12 or 14 woman, yet she is far from average. I was so nervous for my first swim session last year. I am pretty comfortable with my body (saggy boobs, dimples and all) but was still hesitant walking into a pool with triathletes imagining sculpted and defined bods. I was so glad to see fat women, short women, too skinny women. Body type does not determine health or ability. I am proud to be fat and fit.
  3. She has a full time job as an OBGYN. She is raising three children. She has a husband and at least two non profit groups that she founded (that I know of), and yet she trained and completed an Ironman. So many people say "Oh I can't do that" or "I don't have the time". Really? Please don't ever say that to me. If she can make it happen, so can anyone.

Today in a work meeting my boss was talking about change and told us a story of a man who was in his living room when the lights suddenly go out. Startled, he drops his keys. It's pitch black so he fumbles around but can't find them. He looks outside and sees a lamp post on and he realizes that looking in the dark is stupid so moves outside to look for his keys. (I know, bear with me). So he stands below the light and looks for his keys but of course he can't find them because they are inside. The moral: You are not going to find what you are looking for if you are looking in the wrong place. So many people look outside themselves when really the answer is inside them. My boss just ran a half marathon and said she is constantly amazed when people say "Oh I could never do that". Yes, you can. I felt the same way after I finished my triathlon; I honestly felt like I could have done anything. You know what? I can. All I need to do is set a goal, create a training plan, actually do the training, and execute the plan. Whether the goal is personal (to lose weight, run a marathon or perhaps do an Ironman), professional (get a promotion, change careers), financial (pay off debt, go on more vacations), it doesn't matter. The premise is the same. My birthday is in two days. I will be 36 and I feel more alive, happier and excited about the future than ever before. I owe a lot of that to Alyse's encouragement to do a triathlon, and what accomplishing that did for my self esteem.

My modest hope for the future is that one day I can be a woman who inspires, much like Alyse inspires me. Completing an Ironman is impressive and brag worthy. But to me the real accomplishment is that I now think I might want to do one. Me, the fat, un-athletic, lazy, slow person who watches way too much TV and sometimes eats ice cream sundaes for breakfast, is actually thinking about possibly doing an ironman one day.

We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside of us is something valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit. ---------e.e. cummings

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Love My Couch - Step 1 in Amy's Race Motivation.

Two months ago I signed up for my first half marathon. I paid the $75 entry fee and the $160 for the pre-race dinner at Kennedy Space Center. My name shows up on the website; it's official. On Sunday, November 28th at 7AM, some race organizer is going to expect me to be at the starting line. To celebrate I bought a new pair of running shoes, a new book on running and a training guide. Then I stopped running. To be fair, there has been a lot going on and a lot of weekends that I was just exhausted, or out of town, or otherwise occupied on my couch. That isn't to say I haven't been working out...I some ways harder than I ever have before. It just hasn't been running.

My half marathon is in Cocoa Beach, Florida and just so happens that I was there last weekend. As we drove around I stared out the window thinking..."wow in 6 months I will be back here, running this road. " I'll let you fill in what I thought after that. (Hint: It is not positive and rhymes with truck). So today I decided to admit I am completely scared of running this race (rather of NOT running this race) but that I am determined to do it. So today launches Amy's Race Motivation.

Step 1: Read tons of running motivational crap and share running motivational crap on blog.

The 53 Runner’s Commandments
by Joe Kelly

1. Don’t be a whiner. Nobody likes a whiner, not even other whiners.
2. Walking out the door is often the toughest part of a run.
3. Don’t make running your life. Make it part of your life.
4. During group training runs, don’t let anyone run alone.
5. Keep promises, especially ones made to yourself.
6. When doing group runs, start on time no matter who’s missing.
7. The faster you are the less you should talk about your times.
8. Keep a quarter in your pocket. One day you’ll need to call for a ride.
9. Don’t compare yourself to other runners.
10. All runners are equal, some are just faster than others.
11. Keep in mind that the later in the day it gets, the more likely it is that you won’t run.
12. For a change of pace, get driven out and then run back.
13. If it was easy, everybody would be a runner.
14. When standing in starting lines, remind yourself how fortunate you are to be there.
15. Getting out of shape is much easier than getting into shape.
16. A bad day of running still beats a good day at work.
17. Talk like a runner. “Singlets” are worn on warm days. “Tank tops” are worn to the beach.
18. Don’t talk about your running injuries. People don’t want to hear about your sore knee or black toe.
19. Don’t always run alone.
20. Don’t always run with people.
21. Approach running as if the quality of your life depended on it.
22. No matter how slow you run it is still faster than someone sitting on a couch.
23. Keep in mind that the harder you run during training, the luckier you’ll get during racing.
24. Races aren’t just for those who can run fast.
25. There are no shortcuts to running excellence.
26. The best runs sometimes come on days when you didn’t feel like running.
27. Be modest after a race, especially if you have reason to brag.
28. If you say, “Let’s run this race together,” then you must stay with that person no matter how slow.
29. Think twice before agreeing to run with someone during a race.
30. There is nothing boring about running. There are, however, boring people who run.
31. Look at hills as opportunities to pass people.
32. Distance running is like cod liver oil. At first it makes you feel awful, then it makes you feel better.
33. Never throw away the instructions to your running watch.
34. Don’t try to outrun dogs.
35. Don’t trust runners who show up at races claiming to be tired, out of shape, or not feeling well.
36. Don’t wait for perfect weather. If you do, you won’t run very often.
37. When tempted to stop being a runner, make a list of the reasons you started.
38. Never run alongside very old or very young racers. They get all of the applause.
39. Without goals, training has no purpose.
40. During training runs, let the slowest runner in the group set the pace.
41. The first year in a new age group offers the best opportunity for trophies.
42. Go for broke, but be prepared to be broken.
43. Spend more time running on the roads than sitting on the couch.
44. Make progress in your training, but progress at your own rate.
45. “Winning” means different things to different people.
46. Unless you make your living as a runner, don’t take running too seriously.
47. Runners who never fail are runners who never try anything great.
48. Never tell a runner that he or she doesn’t look good in tights.
49. Never confuse the Ben-Gay tube with the toothpaste tube.
50. Never apologize for doing the best you can.
51. Preventing running injuries is easier than curing them.
52. Running is simple. Don’t make it complicated.
53. Running is always enjoyable. Sometimes, though, the joy doesn’t come until the end of the run.

There is always something else to do. Work will always be pressing, the house and laundry will always need cleaning. I will always want to swim more than run. So after reading and re-reading this list, I am going to keep this promise to myself. I am going to do the best I can. I am going to run more than I sit on the couch (OK honestly, I'm not sure about this one). But I am going to run a half marathon and I am going to start taking this goal seriously. I will be a fat, fit and fabulously dressed finisher!!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I Guess I Suck At Breaking Up WIth People

It occurred to me that I have never broken up with someone. I guess I never really gave it much thought before, but this week has made me realize that I could have used some practice.

I have detailed the ending of my relationship with my friend Helen, or rather, what I thought was an ending. I had finally reached a point where I felt secure in my decision to end the friendship. I thought that having one person tell you to F**k off and then not speaking for 8 months was a pretty clear ending. Today I got an email from Helen and apparently I was wrong. Apparently it just meant that I was cold hearted, stubborn and judgemental. She asked how I could ignore our friendship like it had never happened and that she thinks about me every day. Her text telling me she was watching Sex in the City, thinking of me and that she would "be here all year" was her way of starting a dialogue to apologize. She thought I deserved more than an apology over email or text but I ignored her so she couldn't apologize. It was my fault we were no longer friends. Then came even more drama. Her sister emailed me to tell me she was also severing our relationship. A mutual friend emailed me to tell me that she had just found out about our fight but that Helen missed me. Another mutual friend told me about the night Helen spent in tears crying over our relationship. I was conflicted. I wondered how I became the bad guy then thought maybe I should just suck it up, tell her what she wants to hear and go back to being her friend. It would make things so much easier in a way. What is a friend if not someone to understand and support people through ups and downs? Maybe I AM a cold hearted stubborn, judgemental bitch. No, I was pretty sure I was right. Thinking about going back to friends made me feel icky, for lack of a better term. Yep, ending the friendship was the thing to do, but Helen missed the memo.

I needed to respond to her email and give her some closure, but I waited. I wanted to address all her points, to somehow make her understand how I felt, to make her understand how I felt like my heart had been ripped out and how my world was turned upside down. But I finally realized that it wouldn't matter. She is always going to be the victim; in our relationship, in life. I can either be taken advantage of or be a bitch. Unfortunately, there isn't an in between with her. So I wrote her back a very nice, polite, good luck on future endeavors email, telling her that she broke my heart and I couldn't do it again, but was very thankful for the part she played in my life and for the positive memories I had of us. I wished her luck in life and in her career...and almost hit send.

First I sent it to Margaret to review then I walked down to Shelia's office and asked if I was a cold hearted bitch. She laughed and said absolutely not. Margaret replied and told me it was nicer than she would have said and that I should send. Feeling better for a second I pulled up the email but hesitated.

Sending this email would end it for sure. There was no going back, no recovering the friendship after I hit send. Is that what I really wanted? I again thought of going back to her and my stomach hurt thinking of all the drama that she chooses for her life. Then something clicked and I got pissed. If I was dating a guy who treated me the way Helen did, my friends would uniformly tell me to break up and never speak to him again. There would be no way they would support a guy treating me like that. Why is that any different for girl friends? Do girls get a license to treat you like crap and then just say "if you are my friend you will understand"? Maybe the reason I never broke up with someone before is because I never had the self respect to demand more. I had a boyfriend actually tell me that he was dating me because I had a good personality "even though I was fat". AND I KEPT DATING HIM; I was just glad I had a boyfriend! To my 18 year old self I yell, "OMG ARE YOU KIDDING?! GET OUT AND NEVER SPEAK TO HIM AGAIN!"

Yes, friends should support and forgive and love each other for all the good and the bad. But I also think that people need to love themselves enough to surround themselves with people that are positive influences, that make you a better person, that push you to become the person they know you can be. When I stop being able to see the good in you, or stop being proud to call you a friend, it is not healthy for either of us to be in the relationship.

Shelia always talks about 'weeding the garden' and that makes so much sense to me. Life is about choices and I firmly believe that every situation has a positive and negative choice to be made. Well I choose positive; positive people, positive motion, positive events, positive attitude. That doesn't make me a bad person and certainly not a cold hearted bitch. I'm not saying everything is great and easy and happy all the time, but friendships shouldn't be hard, or make you feel icky. I thought about my small (and getting smaller) circle of close friends and smiled, remembering something funny about each recent interaction. There wasn't anything spectacular, just everyday joy and silly moments; Margaret singing on my voice mail, Shelia's face lighting up talking about a guy she took home, Erin's excitement over the A-Team trailer, Sandy's latest manventure tale. I cherish each of them and am so thankful they are in my life.

I hit send.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pink Elephant Party Part Two

Last year Shelia hosted the first Pink Elephant Party. Everyone brought a bottle of wine and a 10 song playlist. Incredibly simple and yet amazingly fun. I found a new wine I liked and a host of new songs.

Shelia's friend Krissie hosted the second PEP on Saturday. I have met Krissie a couple of times and really like her. She is down to earth, funny, loves music and runs. She is one of those easy people to get along with so it was easy to go to her house after only meeting her a handful of times. We also invited Charlie since he is one of the most musically inclined people I know. I brought the only wine I have ever bought for taste, Evolution (usually I'm a cool label kinda gal).

I had another great night and I can't really explain why this is turning into my perfect way to spend a night. We just sat around and ate (Krissie made far too much, but completely delicious food) and talked about the songs we brought, our opinions on others' songs and just life in general. I learned about some great bands, listened to some fantastically talented people and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Joe and and I are hosting the next one. I hope that Charlie comes again and I hope everyone feels as comfortable in our home as I did in Krissie's.

In case you were wondering, here are the songs I brought with some brief notes as to why:
  1. Kingdom of Rust - The Doves- One of the prettiest songs ever. They add notes as the songs moves along and it is just a gorgeous compilation.
  2. Soul Meets Body - Death Cab for Cutie - I am a late adopter, but huge fan of Death Cab. This is one of many of my favorites by them, and really, they have little I do not love.
  3. She's Got You High - Mumm-Ra - This was featured on the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack (see the movie if you haven't) and while Tender Trap's Sweet Disposition is getting A LOT of play, I think Mumm-Ra's song is by far the best song on the album. It is poppy, happy and a GREAT song for driving with the windows down and the volume up.
  4. Razor-Foo Fighters - This is the only Foo Fighters song I like and I heard it first in the movie Catch and Release starring Timothy Olyphant. As Charlie pointed out, yes, I love soundtracks. I am very aware of the music in a movie and it can make or break a film for me. I will also go see a movie that merely looks OK if the song in the preview is great.
  5. 5 Years Time - Noah and the Whale - I am going through a pretty heavy British Pop phase right now and this headbopper is a perfect example of that. It makes me smile and think of being on a beach.
  6. F**k You - Lilly Allen - I love Lilly Allen. This song's juxtaposition of cruel lyrics and cheery melody make me smile and generally want to hug her.
  7. I am Not a Robot - Marina and the Diamonds - She has a catchy song about how horrible America and Hollywood is, and despite the message, the tune stuck around in my head. This is a better message, just as infectious sound.
  8. What's It In For - AVI Buffalo - These kids were apparently the stars of SXSW this year. This song somehow manages to take a slightly irritating lead singer's voice and a slightly annoying music bed and combine them into a song that is quite perfect and makes me want to listen over and over again. Hopefully they won't break up and we'll get more from them.
  9. The High Road - Broken Bells - This is the lead singer from The Shins so it's not a surprise that I like them. I bought the entire CD, instead of just one song, and I have been listening to it nonstop. It's great.
  10. The Seed - The Roots and Cody Chestnutt - I followed Edward Norton when he ran the NY Marathon to raise awareness for the Maasai people. He published his running playlist and this song grabbed me and I bought it immediately.
I am mostly a pretty song person and rarely do the lyrics matter or jump out, or do I even hear them correctly. Shelia is completely a lyrics person; Joe is stuck in the 90s, Krissie is the new band showcaser and Charlie is an eclectic melomane. Together, we were a pretty successful night.