Could It Possibly, Possibly Be?

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We had one very warm day, and now it’s cooler again, but it seems inescapable: spring is in the air. Except for a few stubborn patches, the snow is gone, a few random piles of black, gritty ice stubbornly holding on, but they know their time is nearly up.

There are blue skies and brown grass, but the grass won’t stay that way for long. I haven’t seen the buds yet in the trees, but they’re coming. You can feel it.

This winter wasn’t as brutal as last winter, as ceaseless, as ready to take your soul and pack it away in the deep freeze. But still it saps you, the continuous cold under bleak clouds.

Spring is about beginnings. It’s about newness, about freshness. Spring is the mud you gather when you get going, the windburned cheeks and numb fingertips you know are a promise of warmth to come. Spring is seeds and tentative flowers and trees alive with crowded beauty.

Spring takes the browns and the beiges and paints the earth alive with color. It lets everything be new. It lets us be new.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ and Netflix World Domination

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If you haven’t seen it yet, you absolutely, positively must watch “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Netflix’s newest original gem. It is bright, it is funny, and it is infused with a bubbling hope that we can all use in our lives.

Briefly, (and as I typed ‘briefly,” I realized how insane the rest of this sentence is going to sound), Kimmy is one of a group of women held in an underground bunker for fifteen years, and when she gets free, she decides to start a new life in New York. Starring Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane (!) and Jane Krakowski, the incredible cast is only a fraction of what makes this show amazing. It’s also co-created by Tina Fey, so, you know, it’s got the hilarity baked right in.

While not even harboring a whisper of a lecture, there is an encouraging vibe to “Unbreakable,” the non-judgmental undertone that if Kimmy can dust herself off, time and again, maybe you can as well. It’s a bright show in all senses of the word: it’s intelligent; it’s optimistic, and it’s visually upbeat.

Can you tell I liked it?

I’ve read that Netflix mines its considerable data when creating original content. For example, with “House of Cards,” Netflix knew that users enjoyed the work of both director David Fincher and Kevin Spacey. Using that and viewership data for the original British version, and Netflix knew exactly what it had when it bought it.

I can’t decide if it’s genius or creepy. Maybe a little bit of both. Though Netfix is collecting the data regardless, I suppose we viewers might as well benefit.

The choice to buy “Unbreakable,” no doubt, came from the same wealth of information. Of the shows that Netflix actually produces, there’s only been one, I think, I didn’t like. Does that mean I’m on my way to being placated by the talking screen in my living room? On the doorstep of a Ray Bradbury world?

If I’m being honest, I probably went through the door, got myself a beverage, and found a comfortable seat a long time ago. Instant entertainment has become a way of life so prevalent, children no longer take a car ride without a show or a movie at their disposal.

Sure, Netflix could probably take over the world with its data. But at least it’ll give us great programming while it does it.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Time, Don’t Go Changing

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I don’t want to offend any time-change aficionados out there, but it just has to be said. Time changing is stupid. It’s just plain stupid.

And yes I’m cranky. I lost an hour and I haven’t quite gotten over it yet.

I will intellectually accept that the time displayed on the lower right-hand corner of my screen is the correct time for my little spot in the world. But my body is protesting, and it’s not letting this one go. I tried to get to bed earlier last night to make up for my previous lack of sleep/hour loss, and all that happened was a I watched TV in bed for a while. Somewhere around the point when I normally would go to sleep, I did.

See what I mean? It’s my body who has the problem.

It was nice driving home yesterday with the sun starting to set, turning the sky above the lake varying shades of pinks and purples and other pastels, all over the soft white remaining ice. I suppose that was a perk of the change, a sunset I otherwise wouldn’t have gotten to see.

But don’t think you’ve won me over, time change. I have no problem with you in the Fall, when you give me an extra hour. I’d be fine with just that, the gift of an extra hour every year. We could probably even adjust the timing of leap year to deal with the gain of an entire day every 24 years. Of course, there would be times when things got a little off-kilter, as the sun probably won’t keep track of our time shenanigans, but I’m willing to deal with it.

Oh well. At least it means it should be getting warmer. In theory.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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‘Real Housewives of Melbourne’ Back to Beginnings

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There is a certain magic to the first season of a Real Housewives show. And when I say “first,” I don’t mean a franchise, but rather the first one ever to grace the airwaves. Here in the U.S., it was “Real Housewives of Orange County.” In that first season, the women had no idea what the show would look like, how they would come off, how others would react to what they said. There was a certain almost innocence to it, as the cast said things that they thought would be amusing without a single consideration of the after effects.

Of course those days are long gone.

Unless you manage to catch the first season of the “Real Housewives of Melbourne,” that is. It. Was. Fantastic.

As the first Housewives franchise in Australia, it’s pretty clear these women had little idea what to expect. Unlike new Housewives here, they probably didn’t have the ability to talk to veterans beforehand, not the way the women can now. It was like watching the wheel be invented all over again.

Glorious.

What is so wonderful and so fleeting is the chance to watch self-awareness bloom. Not through the regular season, of course, since at that time, they’re still living it, and it’s amazing to watch. When you get to the reunion, you can see the beginnings of the transformation, because by then, these women have had an entire season to see what the rest of the world sees.

And there goes the innocence. Yes, by season 2, much weight has been lost, makeup notched up, and the uniform-issued false eyelashes applied. More structured facades have been built, with hearty patches over the bits that shone too raw the first go around.

They are entertainers, set to entertain. “Being themselves” is no longer the goal. Nope, now it’s the “storylines” and the screen time. Now they are famous people who feel they’ve earned their fame.

Granted, the more experienced Housewives here still have their moments, those cracks in the armor, the times when, in trying to be clever, they expose a part of themselves that they’d rather hide. But it’s not the same show as it was when they were all just giddy with the idea of being themselves on TV.

Now, for example, the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” is packed to the maximum FDA-approved Botox dose with professional actors. Not just aspiring actors. Professional ones. It’s impossible to know if Lisa Rinna’s lunging, wine-throwing, glass-shattering outburst in defense of her husband Harry Hamlin was emotion or great use of her soap opera days.

She was the iconic incarnation of Billie on “Days of Our Lives,” after all. RHOBH Cast-mate Eileen Davidson won an Emmy for her soap opera efforts. We already know there’s not a ton of reality in reality television, how do we know we haven’t shifted to scripted drama?

Does it matter? Well, yes and no. Until RHOM came along, I was still entertained, but had forgotten completely what drew me to the Housewives in the first place. It’s a reality TV version of the garden of Eden, before the apple of knowledge, a disappearing moment before the cast sees themselves as the world sees them and the gaming begins.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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Writing Class Again

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My previous writing class ended last week and it was straight into the second level this week. And I have to say, I’m excited about it. There’s a new teacher, a few new faces — many of my classmates carried on — and a more focused agenda.

Which, of course, it would be, given that it’s the next class.

I’m still not exactly sure what I’m going to do with the information from these classes. Mostly they are filled with people who ultimately want to perform, and I don’t know that that’s me. Nearly all of my fellow students have taken improv classes and/or acting classes.

I’ll learn more of the mechanics of comedy, and there’s no waste in that, even if my writing continues to be in novel form. But I admit there’s something irresistible about putting words in someone’s mouth.

Maybe I should consider speech writing. If that’s not comedy, I’m not sure what is.

So off I go for another round. Will there be a third? I have no idea, it’s much too early to tell. But so far, 2 has had a good start, and hopefully it will only get better.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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‘House of Cards’ Backlash Against the Queen

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Warning: this post contains spoilers for “House of Cards” and “Breaking Bad.”

It’s tough being the wife of an anti-hero these days. Actually, it’s probably always tough being the wife of an anti-hero, given that anti-heroes aren’t, by definition, nice guys. What I’m talking about, though, is the audience reaction to women who don’t want to be behind the man who makes the meth, or women who don’t want to be further marginalized in their husband’s murderous reach for ever more power.

I just finished the third season of “House of Cards.” Watching it in a social media vacuum to avoid spoilers, I saw a Claire greatly diminished from the one in the first season. For anyone who hasn’t watched the American version of this show, Claire Underwood, portrayed by the always, always brilliant Robin Wright, is wife to Frank Underwood, opportunistic power-seizer brought to chilling life by Kevin Spacey. Together, they have schemed themselves into the White House, a slew of bodies — metaphorical and literal — cluttering the path behind them.

But in this season, Frank tightened his circle of power to just himself, leaving out even his most stalwart co-conspirator, Claire. She has gone from a strong, ruthless head of a non-profit organization to now nothing more than a haircut and a smile, wearing what she is told to wear, standing where she is told to stand, saying what she is told to say. Slowly she has come to realize that her husband doesn’t see her as an equal partner, and she can no longer be certain that he ever did. No, she is one of his pawns, manipulated, her worth to him measured in polling points.

So she leaves.

And the internet complained. People were “tired of Claire.” They blamed her for Frank’s mistakes, as Frank blamed her for his mistakes. They thought she was hindering him. The thought that her timing, leaving during the presidential primaries, was unforgivable.

It’s reminiscent of the treatment Anna Gunn’s Skylar got in “Breaking Bad” when she wanted to leave her terrifying, homicidal drug-kingpin husband. She became the problem, she became the obstacle, she became the villain.

It seems that a woman choosing self-preservation over the toxic man to whom she is married is the ultimate act of selfishness, the ultimate betrayal. It’s insane, if you think about how these scenarios would play in real life, how they would feel in real life.

We are talking about male characters who, at the point their wives want to go, have no redeeming qualities. We aren’t even supposed to be rooting for them at this point, as their flaws have taken over, leaving something far more sinister.

These men are calculating murderers. They are entirely self-involved, entirely willing to do absolutely anything to achieve their goals. And yet the women are worse than they are because they want to leave them.

When women are in abusive relationships, people often ask why they stay. With these shows, the disdainful question becomes why do they leave.

Women are not possessions. Women are not garnish, as Claire was for most of season 3. We have a right to decide how we will and will not live.

Even when we’re fictional.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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A Case of the Mondays, or You Again?!

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I’d like to say that I’m starting this week with a snap in my step, with ready-to-tackle it spirit. I’d like to say that, but I can’t because I’m not.

Nope, it’s one of those Mondays. We all have them, when the week stretches ahead of you, and no shiny bits in the whole lot. Monday is Monday, and it arrives no matter how leisurely or hectic a Sunday you had (for the record, mine was leisurely. You’d think I’d be more Monday ready).

So should it matter how it is we’re feeling about Monday? Sorry to lump you in with me here, you could be all bright-tailed and bushy-eyed, raring to go, with your to-do list halfway done by now. You could be taking a very productive break, perusing the blogs as you sip your measured dose of caffeine or water or whatever, cheerfully almost through your most odious task of the week. You could, in short, be my wishlist version of myself, and good for you. Please don’t trip on the jealousy on your way back to the other half of your list.

Oh well. Enthusiasm doesn’t factor into it, not really, when you think about it. It doesn’t much matter how you feel about getting things done, it’s just the getting them done.

At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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