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Category Archives: TV

Pamela Smart, TV murder and who’s writing your story in the New Year

by SweetMidlife
Bang your own drum, or be content with someone else doing it for you. And that means they get to pick the tune.

Bang your own drum, or be content with someone else doing it for you. And that means they get to pick the tune.

Leslie here! One of my New Year’s resolutions – yeah, they’re mostly poppycock, but hear me out – is to spend less time reading other people’s writing and actually writing myself. I’m a writer after all. Says so on my business card and my tax returns. It’s almost embarrassing how not proactive I’ve been, particularly when you consider that I always thought I was. But if you don’t take careful possession of who you actually appear to be, and who is telling your truth, you are doomed. Like, “doomed” if you were reading it in Vincent Price’s voice. Like you’re screwed.

I was reminded of this on New Year’s Day, watching “Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart,” a 2014 HBO documentary that’s not so much about the murder of a young husband by his wife’s teen lover and his friends that she’s accused of setting up, but why we think we know what we know about it. Smart, a former school New England school media coordinator who is serving life without parole for engineering the plot, still maintains her innocence, and director Jeremiah Zagar seems to think that’s possible. But that’s not what his movie is about. It’s about how Smart herself was set up as the unfortunate subject of a “ripped-from-the-headlines” culture in the early ’90s, before myriad studies on how media coverage effects both juries and public opinion. There were several books, a widely-scene TV movie starring Helen Hunt and even a wickedly excellent Gus Van Zandt movie, “To Die For” that was loosely based on the case. Even though the movies came after the verdict, there is evidence that they have tainted any chance Smart has of getting a new trial. Person after person involved in the case, from co-conspirators to reporters to even the filmmakers and writers who recorded it as history, admit that they have a hard time separating fact from fiction. They sometimes forget which details were in evidence and which were lines spouted by Helen Hunt on a TV set.

It’s eerie to imagine that a real woman could be sitting in jail for the rest of her life – she’s spent more than half of it there already – because she had the dumb luck of falling into a salacious situation of her own making. It possessed all sorts of nasty little made-for-Geraldo details like the seduction of a teen boy,  old found bikini photos made to look like they were taken explicitly to seduce the kid, a secret, damning tape and the like. Smart’s defense team, who decided that they didn’t want to try the case in the press, didn’t insist that she tell her own story. What they didn’t appreciate is that this story was going to be told for her, in so many televised testimonies and talk show punditry. Watching the court of public opinion bury Smart two decades later, in glorious early-90s big hair and shoulder pads, is claustrophobic, because of what we know now about how media can bury or salvage you depending on its whims. The case predated the present Casey Anthonys and even the Dalia Dippolitos – troubled women with a whiff of sexual inappropriateness and big doe eyes that make people either want to save them or smack them. Maybe they’re all guilty. But if they weren’t – like if there was video of someone else committing their crimes – some people would still refuse to believe it because we’ve all discussed it and decided that they did it.

So what I’m saying is this – whether you’re the First Lady or the lunch lady, you are a public person to someone. There are people who are curious about you, who are forming opinions about you based on your Facebook profile or your last ten Tweets, or your Pinterest boards or even what they saw you buy at the Winn-Dixie last week. They probably don’t even realize that these opinions are being formed, but they are being formed, all the same. I respect the right of everyone to have their own lives, to curate the details of those lives accordingly and to not have to justify anything they do to a bunch of strangers. But “Captivated” reminded me that if you don’t take an active role in telling your own story, it’s still being told. I will take that lesson this year as a person who posts about working out but doesn’t lose weight because I keep eating things you don’t see, as a writer who sometimes spends too much time watching TV someone else wrote and not writing herself. Stuff like that. I can say I’m one thing, in all the Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter I want, but if I don’t actively inhabit those things, I am not them. I am telling a different story. Be aware of who you are and how your life tells that story. It might be speaking louder than your words.


Things a mom thinks about at 2:25 a.m., five hours before she’s supposed to work out

by SweetMidlife
bed

Scene of the 2:30-something mind crime.

 

This is Leslie. It is 2:25 a.m. As the great Wanda Sykes once said, women’s brains are so full of tasks and thoughts and things we have to do that we can’t get to sleep because even the minute stuff like not being able to remember the name of a teacher we haven’t seen in 30 years just won’t leave us alone. This is happening to me right now. Here is the dumb, deep and sleep-depriving stuff in my head right now. I wish it was not in my brain, because I would like to go to bed now.

You certainly don’t want them in your head, too. But here you are – I have too much on the brain to be charitable at this point,. You understand, of course. You’re awake, too. Shouldn’t you be sleeping?

THINGS I AM THINKING ABOUT AT 2:25 a.m. INSTEAD OF SLEEPING

– “Why am I awake?

– “It has taken me four hours to get through this two-hour finale of ‘Secrets and Lies.’ I wonder if anyone watches this but me, Michael Ealy is fine. I’ve almost grown attached to Juliette Lewis’ character, and she’s kind of awful. i hope they don’t cancel this. They always cancel the shows I get attached to. Dang. Now I’m worried about ‘Blackish.’ Please don’t cancel ‘Blackish,’ Jesus.”

“Jesus doesn’t cancel TV shows, right? He’s busy, right?”

“I finally finished that assignment for work I should have done before I feel asleep. Win for me? Does procrastination count as a win? Whatever. Taking it. TAKING THIS WIN.”

“I am super hungry. I didn’t eat enough last night,. Didn’t I leave some veggie chili in the bowl? I wonder if it;’s in the fridge. Did I put it in the fridge? I wonder if it’s still good if I didn’t put it in the fridge? Or did I leave it on the counter? It’s got light sour cream on it. Is that real dairy? I wouldn’t get that sick, right?”

“Maybe I shouldn’t eat counter chili.”

“I love ‘The Affair’ even if I don’t like any of these horrible people. They’re awful. But they have great apartments. Great kitchens. I like my kitchen. It has chili on the counter.”

“I really ought to get off the stick and get a hotel for Disney this weekend. I canceled the one I had because I am convinced there is a cheaper one out there. Hotwire is an addiction and I need to get help. But…the…deals! There are deals out there and I shall find them. They are the Precious and I am Black Smeagol.”

“I am still so hungry. If I eat right now I can’t weigh myself this morning because it won’t be the real weight. Then again I had hash browns and bourbon for lunch so I probably tanked that thing already. I should eat.”

“I have to sleep, man. I have to work out at 7:15, and if I don’t leave on time the kid will wake up and I’ll have to take him, too, and that running stroller and him together weigh like 70 pounds and he’s a weight wearing an Afro, At least he holds the phone up so I can hear the Andy Grammar song he’s playing. He’s a little DJ.”

“I need to figure out how to make more money. Like, now. I should read that book my friend Kim had me buy about platforms, that I never read, thus I am sitting here at…what…2:47 a.m. now wondering how to get a platform to make money. She’s always right. And she’s got a platform. I bet she’s not asleep either.”

“Maybe I’ll write on that blog I never write on. That’s a platform.”

‘I wonder if that chili’s still down there.”


“This Is Us” and the importance of rituals, even if they seem weird

by SweetMidlife
Perhaps taking a Purple People Eater to a sports bar every week seems weird to you. But that's weird that you think it's weird.

Perhaps taking a Purple People Eater to a sports bar every week seems weird to you. But that’s weird that you think it’s weird.

SPOILER ALERT FOR A VERY POPULAR TV SHOW!

Leslie here! Lynne and I don’t live close to each other, so our Monday-morning quarterbacking of TV shows is part of our enduring togetherness (We also like talking, and seem to like talking about the same things, so we’ve found maybe the only other person who will endure in-depth 20-minute dissections of one episode of “Survivor.”) “This Is Us,” NBC’s next-level “Parenthood”-like exploration into emotional manipulation, is not one of those things that no one likes but us. EVERYBODY likes it, and cries about it, and then goes on Twitter and cries so more. Fans like us all seem to agree that it’s one of the best new shows this season.

But there’s something a lot of us can’t agree on, and that’s Toby, the too-enthusiastic love interest of Kate, a gorgeous, talented but insecure young woman who lets her lifelong struggle with her weight (and the baggage of her mother’s apparently early disapproval of it) make her hide her considerable light under a basket. Toby, who she met at a weight support group, initially seems like an encouraging factor in Kate’s life, pushing her out of her comfort zone to, say, use that gorgeous voice to sing to the folks at his aunt’s retirement home, or be chauffered around LA and be a star, like her sweet, pretty, famous twin brother.

But increasingly, Dude’s behavior has bordered, at best, on overbearing and at worst completely and insufferably creepy. He’s right that she throws herself into her brother Kevin’s life at expense of her own, but he seems to be mad that she doesn’t choose the whims of him, a guy she’s known for a week at that point, over her twin brother who also happens to be her employer. (He is, however, right that stalking and then accepting a job with his ex-wife is cray.)

On Tuesday night’s episode, Toby steps up the overbearing behavior to a disrespectful level, by ignoring something sacred to sports fans – the game day ritual. Honestly, it’s rude to ignore someone’s gentle but emphatic refusal to change the way they do something that means more to them than to you, no matter what it is. But when it’s about sports, whose personal importance is usually tied to deeply-seated details like national and regional identity and family tradition, you need to step off. I have a friend who broke up with a guy once for that same thing, and honestly, Toby deserves the same.

I feel strongly about this because I am related to, by blood and marriage, people with very strong sports rituals, that seemed quirky and inconvenient until they let you inside of them. My Granddaddy Streeter would retreat down the hall to his bedroom after dinner and lie in the dark to silently listen to Baltimore Orioles games on the radio. If we were very quiet, we were allowed to sit there with him, quietly bonding over strike-outs and home runs and the sparkling crack of the bat. It seemed like an inheritance. And anyone who ever met my late husband Scott knew that he had as many sports-related rituals as he did Ravens Jerseys, including buying football magazines before the NFL draft to study the upcoming picks, and then before the season to do his fantasy draft. He also brought a dancing Purple People Eater doll we called Purpie to every Ravens game he watched at Kirby’s, our local Ravens bar, and made it dance at every Ravens touchdown. It was fun, it didn’t hurt anyone and it was cool to have a thing.

Kate’s thing, apparently, is watching football by herself. That should be enough explanation, and she doesn’t owe anyone else more than that. But Toby decides that if he doesn’t get her motivations it must be sad, because Toby seems to need to worm his way into every part of her life in some supposed attempt to break her out of her shell. So he won’t accept “No” for an answer when she declines his invitation to watch a game together. Because Toby’s appointed himself Kate’s personal confidence guru, he can’t give her credit for choosing to do things he doesn’t get, because he doesn’t allow her the autonomy to know the difference between stuff she does to hide and stuff she does because she just wants to. She’s a person, not a project, loser.

Anyway, because he’s a pushy bastard, Toby does his usual public declaration thing that’s seeming less and less spontaneous and more and more like bullying, when he makes a homemade invitation to a supposed football party at his place, and passes it to Kate across their weight loss meeting. Nothing says “I respect your boundaries:” like involving a bunch of other people in it, particular because he assumes correctly that she’s easier to coerce when other people are watching. So she shows up, reluctantly, to his house, and he and the random friend he’s also invited yap through the whole thing and actually pause the game to keep yapping, so that Kate almost misses a touchdown.

So she bails, as you do when you aren’t having any fun at an event you got badgered into in the first place. Toby shows up at her house demanding an explanation, because how dare she not find his pushiness charming! So she explains that football, particularly Steelers games, was her family thing (she and her twin were conceived in a sloppy bar bathroom during the Super Bowl), and that they always watched together. Then she explains that they still do, in a way – her father Jack (whose absence in the show’s present-day scenes was, until now, a mystery) has passed away, and she sits with his urn and watches the games.

There are writers who think this is a sad cry for help, which seems awfully judgey. Everyone’s rituals are not yours. Everyone’s life is not yours. People keep their loved one’s ashes for a reason, and as long as they aren’t smoking, eating, or having untoward relations with them, I don;t know what is weird about silently enjoying an activity they would still be enjoying were both still alive. I was sometimes annoyed by his insistence on always having to watch Ravens games, even if we were traveling and it was a pain in the butt to find somewhere broadcasting them. Sometimes it seemed selfish. But he asked for one afternoon, once a week, for like four months, to be in his element, and it was OK with me, because he gave so much of himself to everyone else.

The people who love you should respect, if not completely understand, the things that are important to you. If they don’t, they don’t deserve you. Sorry Toby.


So much to say, so little blogging: Some thoughts while I’ve been away

by SweetMidlife
IMG_2327

How many times do you watch a kid’s movie before it burrows UNTO YOUR SOUL?

 

It’s Leslie! And it’s been a minute – several of them, really – since I’ve written here. I was up to a lot, including finalizing the adoption of my son, Brooks, who is almost three years old and more than almost awesome. He is all the way awesome. And super loud.

In that time, with all that stuff going on, there’s a lot I’ve been thinking about, some stuff that directly relates to motherhood (I’ve been raising him since he was six months old, but it’s just been official now.) Some of it is serious, some of it is stupid and some of it involves the proper number of times a day a child should eat macaroni and cheese.

– Is it wrong to tell your kid “We are not watching any more ‘Dora Into The City’ today because Mommy doesn’t like it and it’s making her angry?”

– How much mac and cheese will warp your kid and turn their blood into actual Velveeta cheese sauce?

– I realized this morning as I packed the kid into the stroller to walk him to daycare that we were out of lunch food so I walked past the CVS and put a Campbell’s soup cup, one of those plastic cups of peaches (but in real juice!) and a yogurt in his lunch bag. Not one thing was either homemade or even wrapped lovingly in a plastic bag by me. Am I a bad person?

– “Bad Moms” was actually funny but annoying because every one of these moms was upper middle class or at least well-off, where they could blow off their part-time jobs or stay at home or at least get drunk in the middle of the day and not once was one of their complaints “If I change my life at all I can’t pay my bills.” Because I know very few moms who don’t worry about that.

– Are you gonna watch “Dancing With The Stars” even if it means endorsing Ryan Locthe’s stupid butt? (I am! Because of Vanilla Ice and Babyface.”

– Does the cancellation of “I Am Cait” set back the transgender movement or just mean Caitlyn Jenner needs to be nice to Kris Jenner so she can get back on “Keeping Up With The Kardashians?”

– How much sleep do you need before you can’t function? Asking for a friend.


NBC’s “Strong”: Why my trainer and I wouldn’t win the show but are winning, anyway

by SweetMidlife

 

Not on a TV near you. But still rocking.

Not on a TV near you. But still rocking.

I am Leslie, and I watch too much TV, which is OK because sometimes it’s for work and the other times it’s so I catch up on my “Murder She Wrote” game and I refuse to be judged by you or anyone about that, OK? I WILL NOT BE JUDGED.

So one of the things that happens with all this TV, particularly if I’m too lazy to find the remote and bleep-bloop the commercials, is that I have to actually watch the commercials, which is why during “The Voice” a while back I caught word of “Strong,” which is what “The Biggest Loser” might be if every contestant had their own trainer, no one was really fat, the trainers had to compete physically right with their clients, and they all had to do a modified version of “American Ninja Gladiator Habitrail Thunderdome.” And somehow Sylvester Stallone was involved.

This looks intriguing, not only because I am over “The Biggest Loser” and its head games on people who probably need therapy more than they need to be shamed about “only” losing 5 pounds a week, and because the dynamics of the male trainers and female clients reminds me some of that between myself and my trainer, Victor Ayala. We’re not on the show, and I can’t see us jumping off scaffolding tethered to each other on a giant bungee cord, because Leslie does not do that. Also, I have no interest in being tired and sweaty on camera. I don’t even like being tired and sweaty at Walgreen’s on the way home.

But Victor and I do, at least, have that same connection that the pairs on “Strong” seem to have, with all the emotional connection and breakthroughs and whatnot, even if we’re not being paid big NBC dollars for our efforts. We’ve worked together off and on for about a decade, most intensely in the last several months, since the death of my husband Scott, who also worked with Victor.  We don’t have a network contract or the pull of the camera, but we do have that bond established by friendship and that time he looked me up and down and said “I swear to God, you’re doing this right this time, because I’m telling people I train you and if you don’t get in shape it’s on me.”

And that made sense to me, so I’m 13 pounds, a dress size and a half, and some inches down. I’m not sure why NBC went with the male/female dynamic – there doesn’t seem to be a romantic element to the pairings, but I can tell you n that at least in my experience, I work better with a guy trainer in general, and Victor specifically. I had a female trainer once, years ago, and as much as I liked her I couldn’t help comparing myself to her, even though we were a decade apart and completely different body types and fitness levels. I looked at her and thought “Why can’t I be a cute little blonde with no body fat?” I mean, I did not really want to be a cute little blonde, because I’m very happy being a black woman with blond highlights. But that’s the female fit body I saw every week, and it kinda messed with my head, even though I (temporarily) lost the weight.

I am not competitive with Victor, because I cannot compete with a man who ran a marathon in the South Florida heat in a sweatshirt, long fatigues and a weighted pack on his back. I can only hope to learn from him, when he’s yelling at me to not punk out on my stair runs, or sneaking up on my on the stair climber and saying “Why are you only on Level 6?” Or when he’s out of town and texting my workouts to me in sadistic bursts – “Do 1000 crunches. And then run two more miles. And I wanna see pictures when you’re done so I can tell if you’re actually sweating.”

He crazy. But our bond is about history, a shared loss, professional respect and a deep friendship where you need the other one to do well. For Victor, that’s pushing me to be the best, healthiest Leslie I can be, and for me, that’s not wasting his time and reputation. I don’t know if that’s something Sly Stallone would put on TV. But if there’s no bungees involved, we’d consider it.

 

 

 


Five good things about having to take a sick day. Really. They do exist.

by SweetMidlife
The view from my sick day couch.

The view from my sick day couch.

Leslie here, on the second day of a gross sinus situation that will not go away. This is also the second day that I am working from home, because I don’t want to spread my germs around and because my office prefers that I don’t, either. Still, stuff gotta get done, so I’m sitting on the couch working in my messy living room (We’re moving soon so I’ve started packing and sorting to the point that my toddler actually pointed to a pile of DVDs on the floor and said “Clean up, Mommy.” I offended a toddler with my messiness. That’s bad.)

As slow as I’m moving, I’ve found some hidden blessings in this less-than-healthy period. Because I’m a Girl Scout like that.

1) Having to slow down: I don’t do slow well, which might be one of the reasons colds eventually get worse and kick me onto my butt because I don’t stop to take care of myself. But when you’re achy and tired and can barely move because your body just won’t do that, you’re forced to take that nap you needed. I tell my toddler all the time that when he’s 35 he’s going to wish he could get all that nap time back.

2) Cuddle time: When we took Toddler to his two-year check up, they gave us a list of traits and milestones for this age range, one of which said “Do not expect sharing.” That could sometimes be the name of Toddler’s autobiography, honestly, but yesterday he saw me on the couch looking sad, brought me a bottle of water from the kitchen, said “Lie down, Mommy” and then climbed into my arms, patting me on the arm like a puppy. It was sweet seeing how concerned and attentive he was, and that he took a break from his usual favorite hobby  Grabbing random things and yelling “MINE!!!” and running away.

3) Couch time: I have a lovely leather couch and I like lying on it with a big blanket and being kind of inert.

4) Having to eat and drink healthy: I don’t drink enough water, and I know that this would help keep me healthier on non-sick days. But when I am sick I feel so parched my throat is desert-like, so I’m guzzling the stuff and remember how good it feels. I then remind myself to do that when I’m well. Maybe I’ll remember this time.

5) Catching up on TV: I swear I’m working (HEY BOSSES I’M REALLY WORKING!) but from my couch in my running shorts. So it’s been a good time to catch up with TV I needed to catch up on like “Jane The Virgin” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “Major Crimes,” Since I can’t really move very much, I have no choice but to sit and watch. Sitting good.

So what are your good things about taking sick time?


Lynne and Leslie Ask Each Other Random Questions About Randomness

by SweetMidlife

Howdy! So, a few times before, Lynne and Leslie have done this thing where we ask each other random questions based on a theme, like Christmas, or New Years. Today, we are going wild and just writing about whatever the heck comes to mind. We hope you like it.

Leslie with the Afro, Lynne with the locs. Hi!!

Leslie with the Afro, Lynne with the locs. Hi!!

First, Lynne asks Leslie a bunch of stuff.

Lynne asks: “You went to the 30th Anniversary showing of ‘Pretty In Pink’ a few days ago. Was it as good as you remember? As cute as he was, wasn’t Blaine, even though he was played  by Andrew McCarthy, who was my fake boyfriend, a huge drip?”

Leslie answers: I plan to write more about this at length, because at length is what I do, but Blaine was honestly being a teenage boy, even though it was distracting that the same actor had played a 23-year-old college graduate in “St. Elmo’s Whiners Fire” the year before. If he looked younger you’d probably go “Yeah…he’s a jerk. He’s 18.”

Lynne asks: “What is your favorite thing to eat on a cold day? You live in Florida, so when I ask you about cold days, that means 50 degrees. But let’s play anyway.”

Leslie answers: The answer is always cheese grits.

Lynne asks: “What’s the funniest thing the toddler who lives with you has done lately?”

Leslie answers: He has become obsessed with the theme from “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour” which reminds me that the Banana Splits were basically the Monkees. They even had dune buggies and a guy with a Southern accent. Sue them, Mike Nesmith. Sue them.

Lynne asks: “Who is your favorite ‘American Idol’ contestant and why? And wasn’t it lovely to see Ruben Studdard come back and sing last week? That dude is the real deal.

Leslie answers: Of all time? It’s between Fantasia and David Cook, because they both prove that talent and preparation are a baseline for success, whether you’re an illiterate single mom who feels the lyrics of a decades-old song because she approaches it as important, not just words, or a young guy who’s been gigging forever and has a vast musical knowledge he can draw on. There was joy in them. And that’s rare. Also, Ruben gets better. How is that possible?

Lynne asks: “Favorite 90’s love song?”

Leslie answers: There are so, so, so many. I have two answers – “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” by Bryan Adams is my favorite love song written in the ’90s, because it’s brilliant. But if you think of “90’s love song” as a genre, and I know that you do, it’s a tie between Backstreet Boys’ “Shape of My Heart,” which was actually recorded in 2000 but is the most 90s thing in the world; 4PM’s version of “Sukiyaki” which makes me weep, and “Now and Forever” by Richard Marx just because.

OK, so now Leslie asks Lynne some stuff and drinks her coffee and judges people. Silently through her coffee.

Leslie asks: “The Good Wife” is ending soon and it’s an attempt to clean up, in seven episodes, three seasons of crap done to a good show. What are, in your opinion, the best and worst show finales, in terms of wrapping up loose ends and telling the story that was meant to be told.

Lynne answers: Okay, it’s not the best or the worst, but it is actually an example of good and meh in one episode. I hope that saying this doesn’t get me banned from Gen-X membership, but the last episode of “Friends” was all over the place for me. When the show first started, I was crazy in love with it, because they were in their early-20s. and so were we, and I found so many things in common with them, like losing grandparents, and having the group dynamic of friends with good jobs who could order appetizers and dessert when you went out, and also having the friend (who I was one of) who drank water and made a meal off of the free bread. And as the show went on, the friends grew and went through things we all go through, like marriage and breakups and loss of jobs and being close to your friends and then not so close, and finding your way back and all of that. And by the last episode, I loved where most of them were, like Monica and Chandler adopting twins and moving to a bigger place, and Phoebe getting married, and Joey was headed off to his short-lived spin-off. But Ross and Rachel, the supposed great love story of the show, had, for me, become selfish people who had a daggone child together who you never saw. The show missed the perfect opportunity to show you how your life changes when you have kids, and that you can’t hang out like you used to, and how your friends have to adjust. But no, the show couldn’t break up the “6 people hanging out” aspect and baby Emma became a footnote. And that bugged me. And even though I am glad that Ross and Rachel were happy at the end, I also remember thinking that I really didn’t LIKE them as much because of all of the petty things they did to each other, and so it was a little bittersweet. Sorry, “Friends” fans.

Leslie asks: Onion rings or cheese fries?

Lynne answers: Onion rings covered in cheese

Leslie asks: I’ve been thinking a lot about history lately, and what to tell my kid and others about painful things in the past. What is the thing you are least looking forward to explaining to the toddler? (Deep, yes. But this coffee is good.)

Lynne answers: That’s deeper than I was thinking you were gonna go, twin sister. But there are so so many painful parts of history, and I think that the hardest ones will be where people are mean to each other. That’s so many ones. And I guess I will tell him that there are people in the world who do evil things, and I wish that they didn’t, but that I want him to be a person who doesn’t do those things, even when people tell you that it’s okay or warranted. That’s simple and hard at the same time.

Leslie asks: OK, so who is your favorite “American Idol” and why? Because it’s a good question I stole from you. Been caught stealing, once, when I was 44….

Lynne answers: LOVE THAT SONG. And I have several favorites. Fantasia, definitely, because she was just HER. She was polished but young, and polite and sweet, and had such a story filled with a lot of downs, but she made big ups from it, and even though she has had a bunch of ups and downs since then, she still seems like a real, genuine person who is still trying. And that voice is everything. My other all-time favorite is Kris Allen, and it’s not only because I think that he is just a great musician and a really nice guy, but also because he was SO not the favorite of the judges that year, as he was up against the AMAZING Adam Lambert and also Danny Gokey, who have both gone onto big careers, especially Mr. Lambert. And as you would point out, the judges would give Adam these huge production numbers with fire and stuff, and they would stick Kris out in the audience on a broken milk crate and a busted light bulb hanging overhead. And he would give these wonderful performances and the judges would be like “Are you still here?”, and he would take a a deep breath, because he knew what they were doing, and he would continue to knock out wonderful performances.

Leslie asks: Favorite karaoke song?

Lynne answers: It’s the former Disney-goddess combo of “Genie In A Bottle” by Christina Aguilera, and “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears. You can dance to them.. I went to a karaoke birthday party recently, and someone else selected the Britney for anyone to sing, and I got up and did it like “Wow, this song? Well, if no one else is I GUESS I will.”, and my bestie Johnette was like “You knew every word.” and I was like “Yeah, I may have practiced this before I left the house.” Because I did.


Would you be “Married By Mom and Dad?” Probably not. But maybe….

by SweetMidlife

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This is Leslie, and as you might have read, I was married until about five months ago, and then, completely involuntarily, I was suddenly not. (He was awesome but he passed away. It’s a whole thing. Read HERE for the sad story I don’t feel like telling over right now, because we were having so much fun, weren’t we?)

I’m only 44 years old, so I imagine that at some point I’ll hopefully meet some other suitable man – Unlike before I met my husband, I’ve got standards now! – but am still feeling so married to my other guy, and so weary of the whole prospect of falling back into the rancid sinkhole that was my pre-marriage Internet dating situation, that I’ve told my friends that when the time is right they’re gonna have to shake the trees and introduce me to someone. (Someone good. Again, I’ve got standards now!) I know now what a good marriage is supposed to be, and in what ways I’d gotten in my own way when looking the last time. I trust my amazing and brutally, brutally honest village of friends to steer me in the right direction.

But the question that TLC’s “Married By Mom and Dad” asks is whether a modern woman or man would let someone else – their parents, specifically – not only steer you in the right direction, but pick the destination, park the car, carry you up the stairs, select the room and then lock you inside with a key you don’t have a copy of. Four singles – Mitch, Marivic, John and Christina – allow  their folks to narrow down a list of potential matches, meet them, winnow them down some more and then suggest they marry. The situations vary – all of them are between their mid-20s and early 30s, never married and with different expectations. Marivic is a nurse who lives at home and seems, honestly, brattier and less cool than her parents. Mitch is a super-pretty Ken doll wine rep, whose dad and stepmom have reluctantly teamed with his mom, who they all went to high school with (!) to find him a woman. John, like Marivic, is sort of a blur when compared to his outsized, outdoorsy parents, and Christina comes off kind of lame and immature, honestly.

The show reminds one instantly of “Married At First Sight,” another reality show about people leaving their romantic decisions up to someone else, except here that someone else is not the parents who raised and know you, but some complete strangers who do science math calculation situations to find you a match. And the stakes are way higher – at least with mom and dad, you get to meet the person before saying “I do” – but here you don’t meet your spouse until you’re at the altar, and then you’re in a legally binding marriage that’s not annul-able (the scientists seem practically giddy when they say that, like “What you gonna do now, girl? WHATUGONNADO?”). This of course leads to panic and drama and ridiculousness that makes great TV and horrible real life.

The producers of “Married At First Sight” maintain that they are a more scientific and therefore better version of traditional arranged marriage, but I think they’re full of this. This is like letting that EHarmony algorithm and the dude in the commercials with the glasses do your profile, have all the conversations online and then drive you to the wedding, and after you sign the release, because you’re an idiot, there’s nothing to do but settle in for the discovery and the humiliation. I actually prefer “Maried By Mom and Dad,” even though I cannot fathom a moment where I’d let, say, my mom and my Uncles Lester and Andre arrange my marriage. I can’t imagine what that person would look like, talk like, do for a living or explore in his spare time, but I know one thing – the pickers in question love me. They saw my heart break this year and would never throw me at some person they did not truly believe would be a great fit not only with me, but with my family, my culture and my life.

Understand: YOU GIRL IS NEVER GOING ON “MARRIED BY MOM AND DAD.” But I can see why one would. One who is not me.


Your Weekly Dose of Twin Realness

by SweetMidlife

Hi!! Happy Tuesday from Streeter/Childress Studios, which is, in fact my kitchen in Maryland, and also Leslie’s house in Florida.

Random picture of fruit from my kitchen.

Random picture of fruit from my kitchen.

Below is the latest in our attempt to bring you the Lynne and Leslie Experience by way of video. We are getting the hang of it. I think. Come with us as we discuss why we would be bad contestants on “Survivor”, be injured on “The Amazing Race”, and why a toddler version of those things would be a money-maker.

Have you ever wanted to be on a reality show? Which one is your dream? And WAIT, have you ever BEEN on a reality show? Tell us so we can live vicariously through you.


Cold Turkey on the Cable. I’m Scurred, Y’all.

by SweetMidlife

Howdy. Lynne here.

At the end of this month, my family and I are joining the ranks of those thrifty folk who are cutting down on expenses by canceling cable and getting their television entertainment from an antennae for live network TV, and streaming services like Hulu and Netflix for everything else. And it’s making me nervous. Then I feel ridiculous about being nervous about it.

Because it’s just television, right?

I will say right now that I realize that this is like a fake problem: there are people who can’t afford a television, let alone cable,  and I know that we are blessed to even have this option. And we are doing this whole thing anyway to strengthen our budget and to not pay for channels that we aren’t watching. Plus, we spend too much time, and by “we” I mean “I”, on flipping stations just to watch just ANYTHING to fight off boredom, when I could be writing, or talking to friends. But I have found some really amazing things I never would have seen if I hadn’t been flipping, like a concert by the band OneRepublic, who I didn’t realize, until that moment, sing all of the songs you have ever heard ever in the world. And I liked it. I felt like it was a discovery. It was like when we first got cable in 1987 and watched “Vision Quest” like 10 times in a row just because we could. Matthew Modine! Madonna singing “Crazy For You”! Lots of curly perms. It was a feast for the senses. Ahh.

And when we got Netflix last month, I actually reminded myself of that, because I spent hours searching for non-threatening movies about pretty people falling in love where hopefully no one died, because I needed some happy, and I so want to tell you about this one movie I watched half of before I realized that the very beautiful character played by a very beautiful male actor that I like a lot was probably going to die because everyone was too happy and he had vengeful family members who never settled their score with him from 20 years earlier, so I went on Wikipedia and spoiled myself, and I got rid of that madness from my life. I won’t tell you what movie it was because you might want to see it but write me in the comment section if you want to know. Because seriously.

Wait, where was I? Hey, that actually shows you that it doesn’t matter from what buffet of televised entertainment you feast: you can still spend too much time gorging on it. I don’t feel bad about the fact that I love TV. I don’t. Nope. Love it. It’s a great release of energy, and a great escape. But if I don’t watch it, and all I do IS watch IT, then I am missing out on a bunch of other stuff, like eating and writing and working on my business and also talking to my child and husband, who are here somewhere.

So, in a few days, I will say goodbye to the 4 hour block of “Diagnosis Murder” reruns that comes on the Hallmark Mysteries and Movies network every weekday afternoon, and I love you Dick Van Dyke and Dr. Jesse Travis, played by Charlie Schlatter, who actually favorited a Tweet I wrote about my love for that show, and I will be missing all of the 65 new Christmas movies on Hallmark Channel that are filmed in Canada in June but are supposed to be in Wisconsin in December but nobody is wearing a coat, and I won’t see what my DVR recorded every night as a suggestion based on what we watch regularly. And it’s usually a lot of Law and Order, Caillou episodes, Japanese cartoons, and shows on HGTV where people fix-up their houses.

And that’s okay!

Because I will get to still watch many of the shows that I watch and love on Hulu and such and be actually proactive about what I watch, and I will still get to make discoveries of new things that I haven’t watched yet. Because it’s still up to me to regulate how much getaway time I have, so that cleaning my house and talking to people isn’t the getaway time from my TV watching. And we will save money.

Okay. I feel better now. Okay, gotta finish up so I can get other stuff done today so I can clean my living room when “Diagnosis Murder” comes on today, so I can clean and watch. It will be okay.

So how about you guys? How many of you have given up cable to go the streaming route for your television? Have any of you done it and gone back to cable?

I will survive. Hey, hey.

I will survive. Hey, hey.


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