Daily Archives: April 14, 2011

11 posts

Ode to a Guido

As our brave Snookis and DJ Pauly Ds prepare to wash up on Italian shores for season 4, let us celebrate them in verse:

With hair looking all gelled up and spiky
your name is probably Joey or Mikey

or Cousin Paulie or Anthony
(Though you pronounce it Ant + Knee).

Everyone else calls you a guido,
but you think you’re all pretty neat-o.

Your tan’s slathered on, your T is too tiny
and for some strange reason your jeans are all shiny,

and by the way, nobody believes the jacket’s Armani;
it’s made in a sweatshop by an Azerbaijani.

You keep protein powder over your fridges
and come Friday, cross Manhattan’s tunnels and bridges

to hit the clubs and Gallagher’s 2000
before returning to your house and

ordering up some eggplant parm;
you’re a simple guy, you mean no harm

catcalling to every girl within earshot,
telling her what she needs is what you’ve got.

She’s getting away! There’s no time to be subtle!
Better yet, on to the next before her rebuttal.

You’re oblivious to the city’s despise
and second-person plural is always “Youse guys.”

Wow oh wow, your friend has on a nifty striped shirt
and if someone spills beer on it, they’re gonna get hurt.

Hey look at that! A fancy gold chain!
Does the 7-pound cross cause you neck strain?

Does it remind you of Jesus’ cross?
Was it a gift from a Mafia boss?

Come summer, you’ll be at the Jersey Shore
causing a ruckus with girls dressed as whor…nevermind.

But you just want to meet a nice gal
to make her your wife. You’ll find her! You shall!

She’ll have bangs so high and nails like talons
and she’ll spend half your paycheck at the local salons.

She’ll send four kids down her birth canal
before leaving you for your cousin Sal.

But tonight is for partying, hell yeah muthafuckas
and inspiring jealousy in the rest of us suckas.

Meet the Little Flockers

My life has been rather crazed as of late, so I apologize for the absence of chicken updates. This has been a rather inopportune time to have new babies in my charge, but it has also been a welcome distraction.

Chicken Mailer
This box is smaller than 8x11

The twelve chickens arrived via the United States Postal system in this box:

Yes, they were all jammed in there the day of their hatching and then shipped out. They had plenty of wiggle room, but I am sure they huddled together for warmth. Immediately upon getting them home I had to teach them how to eat and drink by shoving their heads into the water and food dispensers under the warm glow of the infrared brooder box I made with a Trader Joe’s Box and a red infrared light to keep them a toasty 95F.


The stress of the travel and new home gave the chickens a bad case of pasty butt, which is very Pasty Buttcommon. For those not in the know, pasty butt is when the poop of the chickies blocks their vent — the place from which they both poop and eventually lay eggs.

Sort of goes against the whole idea of don’t shit where you eat, but that is Mother Nature for you.

This is life threatening so you must remove the pasty butt. The babies hated it as I needed to dunk their rear ends in warm water to soften the poop up and then remove it; usually with some feathers or down. Lots of struggling went on, but when a baby weighs about 4 oz, I was able to show that poop who was boss.

After curing the pasty butt and preventing further occurrences by giving them ground-up golden flax seed, life on the farm proceeded as it does during spring time — noisily. I had to move the babies to a bigger brooder box because they outgrew the initial one. Each week I will raise the infrared lamp up a touch to lower the brooder box temp. The chickens no longer need it to be 95 F because they are growing feathers at a rapid rate. They will head outdoors once they are fully-feathered which should be in the next two weeks or so.

We had a naming contest a while back. Frankly they all looked the same,  so it was useless to assign a name at that time. Now that they are getting feathers, it is easy to tell them apart. Below are the winners. Meet the new flock!  


Elizabird Taylor is a Salmon Faverolle (MotherGooch).

Elizabird is beautiful, gentle, loving and supports AIDS research. On the down side, she is likely to steal her best friend’s cock.  

Mushpickle is a Speckled Sussex (BBQCornuts’ son).

Mushpickle loves to snuggle. It is fun to say “Mushpickle is a Speckled Sussex.” Go on, say it like 10 times, really fast.

Margaret Hatcher is an Silver Cuckoo Maran (TackyTick).

Margaret is stoic and supports Trickle Down economic theory. She also misses The Gipper. She is one of my faves.

Henifer Lopez is a Buff Orphington (DogsofWar).

Henifer is needy and will get a big rear end.

Maude is a Naked Neck (Homoviper).

Maude is noisy.  

Nuggets is Buff Orphington (Dahl and The_Obvious).

Nugget loves to sit in my hand. I bet she’d like honey mustard.  

Foxy is a Silver Cuckoo Maran (DidacticTactics).

Foxy is going to be a pretty bird, but I found it distressing to name a bird Foxy given we lost north of 12 birds last year to a fox.

Cadbury is an Easter Egger (Dancing Queen).

Cannot wait for Cadbury’s blue or green eggs. She also tends to hop about.

General Tso is one of the wildcards and I haven’t figured out which breed she is yet (The_Obvious via Dahl).

I am looking forward to figuring out what General Tso is. I wonder if, once I find out what she is, if I will become hungry again.  

Camilla is a Salmon Faverolle (Six Thirty).

Camilla is sweet-natured and gets bullied by Maude constantly. Where is Gonzo when you need him? Men.

Mavis is a Speckled Sussex. (EDIT: I forgot to credit Cornflowerbleume)

She has a fondness for cocks with big chins.

Gayle is a Speckled Sussex (Dancing Queen).

Her best friend will be a Black Orphington named Oprah.

Other notable names that didn’t make the cut:

From BaldwinP a very long list of chicken dishes including A la King, Kiev, Tikka and Vindaloo. BaldwinP had lots of Fonzes (yes, I think the Fonz should be a proper noun), but I couldn’t figure out for which name. So sorry BaldwinP, you lose. DidacticTactics thought Dix (as in Dixie Chicks) would be a great name so we could have lots of dick jokes. I have to agree and my husband thought it was a most excellent idea — maybe the next batch of birds.  Someone who clearly doesn’t know me well suggested Justice Ginsberg; aside from the fact she physically resembles a bird, that name would never do at chez momof3.

I say Boy
Boy, I say Boy!

Of course, if I ever get a rooster it will be named DearBrutus as he has a big cock as he proudly told us all. However in my experience, those who crow the most about their size tend to have {ahem} performance issues.

*A special thank you goes to my 10-year old daughter Megan who snagged most of the chicks for me before school today so I could photograph them. Although she will never read this post and thank you due to all the cock references.


Top image via Fishboy

Is Your Power Meter Trying to Kill You?

Last month the California Public Utilities Commission issued a ruling that limited the powers of Pacific Gas and Electric in dictating the kinds of technology customers were required to have in their home. At issue were Smart Meters, a digital monitoring technology that allows the PG&E to more accurately monitor gas and electricity usage and reduce the need for manual meter readings. The utility company has already installed  thousands of the meters in Northern California, and plans to roll out thousands more over the next few years. PG&E claims that the meters will be more efficient than traditional meters and will allow for more sensitive pricing which will increase efficiency in energy use. Now because of the ruling, PG&E must offer different metering alternatives for customers who do not want smart meters.

However, critics argue that the meters are a health hazard and violate customer privacy. Opponents of the meters assert that the meters cause headaches, heart problems, insomnia, and nausea because of the communication technology used to transmit data from the home to the power company. Smart meters are wireless devices that emit small amounts of electromagnetic radiation when they transmit. This raises protests from people who consider themselves “electrosensitive.”  According to advocacy groups for the electrosensitive, radio and microwaves, even in trace amounts, cause certain people to become ill when exposed to technology like smart meters.

However, the problem with these arguments is that smart meters have been found to be well with in guidelines for safe usage in homes and businesses. While there are legitimate concerns about wireless technology (particularly cell phones), there has been no conclusive evidence that wireless technology is unsafe in any way. The issues found with cell phones are only when the phones are within centimeters of the brain and smart meters are installed on the exterior of buildings, well away from where people keep their brains.  Furthermore, there is simply no evidence that electrosensitivity exists at all. While opponents of smart meters provide anecdotal evidence, there is simply no science to back up the claim that radio waves make you sick.

The conflict over smart meters is nothing new. It is the same fear advanced by opponents to radio and cell phone towers, as well as electric power lines. There is no evidence that any of those things make you sick either, but that has not stopped opposition from the public to these forms of technology. The reality is that the concerns of a few misinformed but well-meaning people are stopping the universal adoption of smarter energy policy. These efforts may be crucial in our struggle to make efficient energy policies and reduce the impacts of global climate change, which could kill lots of people through increased skin cancer rates, decreased food production, or geographic displacement. In a desire to stay personally healthy these individuals may not be able to see the technology forests for the trees, and may be missing the long term risks of bad energy practices. While PG&E has no choice to accommodate its customers, this issue underscores the need for a wider public discussion about emerging technologies and about what constitutes good public science and policy.


Crass Gossip Roundup

Hello Crasstalkers. Here’s a roundup of the week’s biggest gossip stories so far. If I’ve missed anything, please share in the comments and I will update the post throughout the day.

  • Um, what? Benicio del Toro and Kimberly Stewart are expecting? How do these two even know each other? [People]
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones’ opens up about her struggles with bipolar II disorder. Best wishes to her and her family, who have gone through a lot in the past year. [People]
  • Bret Easton Ellis tweeted this the other night: “I like the idea of Glee but why is it that every time I watch an episode I feel like I’ve stepped into a puddle of HIV?” WTF dude? [E Online]
  • Lindsay Lohan’s next role: playing Victoria Gotti. I guess that’s what she can land with her family connections. [PageSix]
  • Blind Item: “Well, we finally have an explanation as to why she keeps popping up with seemingly random celebrities. She doesn’t just want to be a famous actress. She wants to be taken seriously as an actress. Yes, folks, she’s aiming for Oscar gold! To that end, she thinks that the more Academy Award winners she kisses (at least four), sleeps with, attends parties for/with, etc., the more seriously people will take her. Girl, Oscars aren’t won by osmosis. if you want to be taken more seriously, dye your hair brown, put the twins away, and try doing more than one film a year. Oh, and try to avoid getting knocked up by men to whom you’re not married.” [Blind Gossip]
  • Kobe Bryant will appeal his $100,000 fine for calling a ref a “fucking f*gg*t”. Stay classy, Kobe. [IDLYITW]
  • The saddest spinster that ever was, Jennifer Aniston, and bearded man Bradley Cooper are apparently “getting reacquainted.” Whatever that means. [OMG!]

Image from LinaRojas.

The Nor’Easter

My upper arms ache all the way up through my shoulders. It hurts to sling a pocketbook over my arm. My hips hurt. My lower back hurts to the extent I can’t sit in the same position for more than ten minutes. My thighs? Fuhgettaboutit.

God Bless You, Advil. Because tomorrow, I’m going to do this to myself again.

I don’t look like a fighter. I’m female. I’m fat. My boobs are more suited to Playboy (trust me) than the ring. I’m clumsy—my body currently bearing the scars of a recent bike crack-up. I fall off curbs and down stairs. I have spatial problems and can’t quite remember what is left and what is right. I know jab and cross, through.

I started boxing a few years ago, as a joke. My husband was taking classes, and the instructor was offering a try-it-free session. He wrapped my hands, and I fell in love.

Throwing a punch felt very foreign, and very wrong, at first. I was the kid on the playground who usually got tripped or smacked or tortured. “Stand,” the instructor said, his gold teeth glittering under the fluorescent lights of the gym, “with your left shoulder forward, your knees only as wide as your hips.” Karim said, “bend those knees. Lower your head. Twist your torso. Now hit, baby girl. Hit.”

I threw like a baby girl at first, too, embarrassed that the heavy bag barely trembled, let alone swung, under the laughable non-force of my sad jab-cross combination. I kept at it, even when I was pretty sure the big boys with the barbed wire bicep tattoos at the gym were laughing at the fat girl attempting to become a fighter. “Don’t look at them,” said Karim. “You and me, we’re the only ones who matter here.” He’d put on the punch mitts and have me aim my punches at them, not getting pissed off when I accidentally hit him in the face. “That was a good one, baby girl!”

I didn’t get hit by an instructor until I’d moved on to Church Street Boxing, an old-fashioned boxing gym by the World Trade Center site with actual spittoons placed around the floor so the Golden Gloves contenders had a place to spit their blood after being hit in the mouth. Antonio hit me after I didn’t leap back to action at the sound of the bell, because I was engaged in conversation with a fighter with a nose as flat as the floor about the condition of Farrah Fawcett. “That bell goes, you go,” said Antonio, “or you get smacked.”

This was no girly kickboxing class. Church Street was another universe.

I thought I’d feel uncomfortable there, at Church Street. I have never felt more welcome at a gym in my life. Usually, as a chubby female not known for my grace, I feel like a pigeon among blonde birds of paradise with eating disorders. Not here. This was a land of broken noses, of dreams that had fallen in the ring and gotten right back up, of careers that had collapsed on the ropes and untangled themselves. This was a gym that kept a mop handy to soak up the occasional bloodstain. This was a gym where Golden Gloves contenders threw punches next to people like me attempting to learn the art; where taut 19 year olds readying for the featherweight title trained next to amateurs, like the 76 year old man who said he liked to feel powerful.

The trainers at Church Street coaxed the tiger in me to the surface. You must run, they said. You can’t last a round if you don’t run. So I ran. I put my fears of being humiliated aside, laced up my New Balances, and ran as far as I could. At first it was half a block. Then an entire block. Then two. I’m up to three and half miles now, which is nothing compared to a marathoner, but is a miracle for me. What astonished me is that I wasn’t a laughingstock as I ran down 35th Avenue in Queens, from my place in Jackson Heights to the edge of the Grand Central and back. The occasional truck full of landscapers or electricians would slow down next to me, the elephant lumbering along as the gazelles sprinted past. “Good for you, honey!” I’d get a thumbs up. The men doing maintenance at the housing project by the highway said they wished they had the motivation to run. When I said it wasn’t far, they pointed out a marathon is run one mile at a time. Wise men.

Now I do my rounds on my own back patio. I bought a stand up bag, the type you fill with sand, to beat up several days a week. I named him Karim, in honor of the man who introduced me to boxing.

I put on my t-shirt that says FIGHTING SOLVES EVERYTHING across the back, roll the bag, filled with about 200 pounds of sand and gravel onto the cheap faux grass carpet I bought to cushion it against the concrete, clip my portable Everlast round timer (three minutes on, one off) to the laundry line, crank up the headphones heavy on the gangsta rap, and get to punching.

I gave myself a boxing nickname, drawing on my New England roots and my history of covering snowstorms. The Nor’Easter.

The kids at P.S. 212 next door are fascinated by the Crazy Fat Lady Boxing Show. They were first drawn by the slamming sound of the bag rocking back from my cross, coming down on the concrete. They press up against the wrought-iron fence separating our properties, watching as I work through combinations and grunt with the force of the punch hitting the bag. I took off my headphones fast enough as the timer went off to hear one kid yell to his friends, “she’s got a TIMER!”

The people in my building have gotten used to my odd hobby. Some have had to learn about it the hard way—the building’s super once tapped me on the shoulder to say hi when I was mid-round. I came thisclose to clocking him. My husband knows to get my attention from the far side of the patio. The neighbors who live right above the patio are tickled, often leaning out the window and their pumping their fists. The man who lives next door stopped me in the street and said he couldn’t figure out what those long strips of cloth—my hand wraps—were, until he saw my gloves.

I love it when the sweat pouring from my head splashes against the bag. I love it when a kick ass song by NWA pops up on the headphones and I throw punches like the world is about to end. I love it when I have 20 seconds left in a round and despite my pain, I keep going. I love it when I’m rolling up my wraps at the end of 12 rounds and my shoulders ache like I’ve been battered myself.

Sometimes I beat up my husband. I’ve beaten up my boss. I’ve beaten up my editor and various co-workers. I’ve beaten up former and current friends. I’ve beaten up my mother. I’ve beaten up my father. I’ve beaten up Julie Gallagher, who made my life miserable in second grade. I’ve beaten up ex-boyfriends. I’ve beaten up the economy.

A remarkable thing happens when you’re able to do that. Another boxer at Church Street told me that people who don’t box don’t understand. It’s not about aggression. It’s about being able to leave everything you’re angry at on the floor, letting you be a calmer person.

Intellectually, I know I look like a four-star dork in my workout gear—complete with nerd sweatband!—when I box. I know I probably look somewhat silly, especially when I really get into it and start screaming my way through punches. I know it’s geeky to have the theme from Rocky on my boxing playlist. I know being proud of a strained shoulder and sprained wrist is a little ridiculous.

I don’t feel that way, though. I feel strong, and tall, and powerful. For the first time in my life.

American Idol Recap: Movie Magic – UPDATED

Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Is it to sing a song from a forgettable movie? You’re in luck! American Idol will promise you the world and then crush your dreams, in one fell swoop. Elvira is there? Is she going to be revealed as Seacretin’s mother? She truly is the Mistress of Milking of 15 Minutes of Fame. Take lessons, Idol Singtestants, because we won’t remember any of you in 6 months.

Reaching for the stars and catching them:

Witch! She’s a witch! Lauren made me like a Miley Cyrus song. I love that Kelly Clarkson is on tonight because you will understand what I mean by the comparison between Lauren and Kelly – The Greatest Idol of All Time (TM). I hope there’s a grand sing off a la

VH1’s Divas Live. Dammit I miss that show. I mean, really. Dream pairings of real life divas sanging their ayasses ouff. BOW DOWN! BOW DOWN BEFORE THEM (not because you want to see what scraps Aretha left behind…Yeah. I said it!)! The trailer battles on 42nd Street. The hapless interns running to and fro trying to get the starlettes out of their ego-induced comas.

What I’m getting at is that Jacob took on one of the most incredible songs written and performed as demonstrated here and here (pass the tiss-ewes). So Jacob sang it with the restraint of a forewarned and humbled singtestant and took us to church. Apparently, his voice comes “from the place it’s supposed to come from” as Jenny from the Dump said. Where is that, exactly? I would have said it’s supposed to come from the baby of Whitney and BOB-AAAAAAY! But we know that’s not what happened. So, I guess she means it’s supposed to come from Fatburger.

Stefaaaanooooo. Weeeeelcome to Lavender Hill (*whispering* – I’m not wearing any panties). Really, I would have thrown mine onto the stage (despite his moon boots). I wanted to catch a rose that he tossed from the stage in me teeth. I wanted to go backstage and “surprise” him in his dressing room. Marry me, Stefano. We will have babies with great ass…ets.

I had some help this time in reviewing the show and that helped tremendously because I would have turned off Overgrown Baby Gay Kurt’s performance after the first two seconds. BUT! My headbanging friend jumped right in and sang the lyrics to the chorus as if OBGK was speaking English. I didn’t have a clue what that guy was screaming. Let’s not kid ourselves, having Ozzy’s guitarist out there was the tits and pretty much made that performance what it was.

I don’t know why the The Old Lady thinks it’s appropriate to continue to hit on the girl you hated in high school but he does. I thought Haley the show’s resident ho was pretty darn good belting out “Call Me.” Maybe she was singing it straight to The Old Lady so that she can get a “record contract” after she goes home because the other judges hated it with two snaps in a circle.

Did you see that advert for So You Think You Can Dance? Hooooo doggy I cannot wait to recap the shizzle out of that show!

Sleeping with the fishes:

Muuaahahahahaha! Goodbye, Scotty Alfred E. Newman Baby Lock Them Doors! You stunk up the stage worse than a circus elephant just off the Tallahassee to Nashiville train! No! No! No! Don’t tell me that he will not be in the bottom three! Nahnahnahnahanahaaa I can’t hear you.

Fozzie Wozzie was a bear. Fozzie Wozzie was not there. I thought we had established that close-ups of Fozzie’s eyes were NOT a good idea. Yet, I could have been his aesthetician at more than one point last night. Aside from him needed a good pore and pupil reducing treatment, that was way too Esperanza Spalding for Idol AND ESPERANZA SPALDING RULES! But she also got death threats for beating Justine Biebette for Best New Artist at the Grammy and now Casper the Floating Head Gingerbreadman will be ded. Ded, I say. Stoopid judges for their stoopid standing O.

The Sanjaya of season 10 is still there. I refuse to talk about him.

Bottom three: That guy, OBGK, Gingerbreadman.


Hallaleezy praise Weezy! Before we get to the good news, I’m going to drive to LA and punch the Idol producers square in their necks for continuing to pair up Alfred E. Newman and Trisha Yearwood for a good ol’ ‘Murican hoedown. Just have them sing “Islands in the Sea” and get it over with. And then what in the name of Sarah Vaughn and Louis Armstrong what that? I’m tired. So tired. Because he was part of the last group of singers, I’m going to ignore their weird rendition of the evil and delicious “Sound of Silence” and “Here’s to You Ryan Seabiscuit.”

After The Greatest Idol of All Time (TM), Kelly Clarkson schooled them fools on how to last in the bizness, Seabiscuit dimmed the lights to watch someone go, like he has so many times before. One, two, three, they went off to the cheap seats – Haley the Show’s (well, you know), Peeping Tom McCreepster, and the little prosciutto, Stefano. Would the female tweenie-boppers of America send another chicky packing? We would have to wait until Hip Hop Ragedy-Anne sang something about how she wants a California King bed (can’t she just order one?).

So! Who was going home? Take off your rose-covered suits, kids, because it’s now in the safe recesses of McCreepster’s suitcase. Good bye, Paul! The only way you out-shined the rest was with your neon sign-bright teeth! Maybe you can go be Rod Stewart’s understudy while he is on tour. He’ll probably break a hip within the first couple of weeks, anyway.

A Mind with a Mind of Its Own

The worst time to get stuck behind the Waterfall was right before a newscast. There I’d be, ready to go on the radio, and I’d be unable to do anything besides stammer as I’d reached for words. My program director would come in after one of those disasters and ask what the hell my problem was, and I couldn’t tell him.

The cornerstone of my life is writing. I’ve kept a journal since I was a girl. I write short stories and essays. I crank out buckets of copy every shift I work, breathing life into the clay that is radio, making people see, feel, taste, and experience a story they can’t see or touch. However, I couldn’t explain an epileptic seizure to my doctors. Those epilepsy junkies at New York Presbyterian told me, as I sat before them with electrodes glued to my head, that no one describes a seizure the same way. Fyodor Dostoevsky—one of Western literature’s finest scribes—was an epileptic, and wrote:

“For several instants I experience a happiness that is impossible in an ordinary state, and of which other people have no conception. I feel full harmony in myself and in the whole world, and the feeling is so strong and sweet that for a few seconds of such bliss one could give up ten years of life, perhaps all of life.

“I felt that heaven descended to earth and swallowed me. I really attained god and was imbued with him. All of you healthy people don’t even suspect what happiness is , that happiness that we epileptics experience for a second before an attack.”

Well, close.

Stand at the edge of a flight of stairs, let go of the banister, and look up. That sense of vertigo is the first sensation.  Then the water begins to fall. It’s almost like I’m standing behind a waterfall, thick and fast, trying to reach through it, trying to speak through it. I can’t walk through the water; it would knock me down. I can’t hear you, as the water is too loud. And you can’t see the waterfall at all, so you have no idea what the hell my problem is.

When the strange feelings started in high school, I attributed it to my consume-nothing-but-Dexatrim-and-then-eat-dinner-with-the-family-diet. (NOTE: Not a good idea.) Sometimes the Waterfall came several times a day, always followed by a spectacular headache. Doctors said, it’s most likely a migraine aura. I dealt with it. I dealt with it when the Waterfall showed up while I was driving. I could feel it starting, and always had enough time to pull over. One time, it showed up at a job interview. I didn’t get the gig; I can only imagine the poor woman thought I was drunk. I’ve missed my stop on the subway because I couldn’t get up and make it to the doors. The waterfall showed up once while I was en route to work in Midtown Manhattan. I stood quietly at the intersection of 57th Street and Broadway, in my high heels and holding my pocketbook, until the water stopped. It was not an easy shift.

I dealt with it, until I awoke with a goose egg on my head and a broken toilet seat in the bathroom, not long after I’d moved to New York. “What the hell did you do?” I asked my now-husband. “You tell me,” he replied. “I’m not the one with a bump on my head.” “My insurance doesn’t kick in for another two weeks,” I said, “I can’t go to the doctor.” “You’re going,” he said.

Thus was triggered the yellow brick road of medical tests. Brain tumor? Some other form of cancer? Minor stroke? All would very rare in the case of relatively healthy 28 year old. Are you sure you weren’t drunk? High? Enough blood was taken to sate any vampire. The blood pressure cuff was wrapped on often enough to leave bruises around my bicep.  The mystery persisted, until my now husband saw his future wife suffering a grand mal epileptic seizure in her sleep.  Having lived alone for ten years, there had never been anyone around to witness me shaking in my sleep.

Seizures vary, a veritable rainbow of brain problems. My usual choice in seizures—The Waterfall—are classified as partial seizures, where I simply slip away for a few seconds. The Grand Mal, which I’ve only experienced in sleep and never fully remember, are the full-on shake, rattle, and roll routines. In both cases—and this is an extremely amateur assessment—the brain’s neurons misfire, skipping over the brain the wrong way, requiring the brain to kind of reset itself, like a computer that must be restarted. The partials are the sneaky little bastards, the unschooled not recognizing them as seizures.

My last seizure was a grand mal. I don’t remember the seizure itself, but, for the first time, I remember awakening from it. I was at my sister’s house in Massachusetts, and for some reason I insisted on working through the incredibly dizziness and standing up.  I had to pull myself up using the ironwork on the dresser like a ladder to get from the bed to a standing position.  The floor rolled like a ship; the room spun.  I felt like I was going to be sick.  But I stood.  Worse came to worse, I probably figured my sister’s St. Bernard could drag me to help.

The treatment has been relatively simple and cheap — two pills, popped twice a day.   It took some time to find the right dosage and only now, about seven years after being diagnosed, have I gone a year without a seizure.   My memory has improved, because my brain isn’t going postal anymore.

All is not rosy. I’ve had to cut off my career at the knees, because I can’t work overnights anymore.  Not good for a freelance broadcaster. But having a work schedule snake all over the clock isn’t good for becoming and staying seizure free.  I’m going to have to give up the work I’ve always loved.  I’m networking, building contacts, and moving towards public relations.

We don’t know where the epilepsy comes from.   It could be genetic; it could have come from an old head injury.  No one on either side of the family confesses to be epileptic.  Then again, I didn’t know what the odd sensations were; perhaps they don’t either.

When I was last in the hospital for testing, with electrodes glued to my head so computers could capture my brain’s every move, New York Presbyterian’s head of epilepsy came to tell me they think they found the problem — neurons in the left temporal lobe that appeared to be behaving differently than the rest of the brain.   I asked him to pause while I, ever the reporter, reached for my pen and notebook.  He laughed.

“What’s so funny? I want to make sure I got it right,” I said

“I’m not laughing at you,” he said.  “I’m laughing because I know I’ve got it right.  People with left temporal lobe epilepsy will take notes on everything.”

I looked at the three notebooks I’d brought with me for my four day hospital stay.  Well, I said, I am a reporter.

He said that cinched it.  “People with your type of epilepsy usually work as writers.”

Yes, I made a note of that.

Canceled! Ten Television Shows that Needed Another Season

Inevitably in your television viewing life you’ll come across a show that’s so totally engrossing and so addictively good that you’d sell your left liver lobe to see the complete ending. But of course like the trolling execution horde that it is, network television can snatch the show right out of your grasp after weeks of sucking you in until you’re firmly committed. And then that’s it. It’s over. No explanation. No nothing. Your new favorite show is canceled. Crap.

Here are a few that had many of us screaming at the heavens, and wishing for just one more season.

Commander in Chief

What Made it Great: Geena Davis and Donald Sutherland. Watching these two play cat and mouse was exhilarating. Davis’ sharp edges and disarming charm together with Sutherland’s smooth but lethal cunning made a match in television series heaven. This was the sort of drama that worked hard to create some semblance of reality like its predecessor the West Wing. Of course when we looked at Mackenzie Allen, played by Davis, most of us saw Hilary Clinton, despite fervent denials by the show’s producers. And since this was the absolute first time a woman helmed the White House on a scripted series, the stakes seemed to run high. The stellar depiction did win Davis a Golden Globe for her portrayal of the no-nonsense leader. So then, what went wrong? It seemed like the show was riding high.

Why it Failed: American Idol. Yep, that little show starring Ryan Seacrest’s shoe lifts was the demise of this great show. Due to getting its ass kicked in the ratings, a lot of rejiggering happened behind the scenes. Creator Rod Lurie was fired and in came Steven Bochco who succeeded in making the show a sudsy soap opera in attempts to make the show less abrasive, smart, and interesting thereby dulling it down into chewable pieces young people could relate to. What to do with grandma? Move her into the White House! Hey, the Chief-of-Staff is kind of evil. What do we do? Make him a loveable taskmaster! The First Gentleman has no real purpose. How do we fix it? Let’s make him an advisor! Hey, we don’t have a smarmy guy. What makes sense? Mark Paul Gosselaar! See?

What took its place?
The Good Wife.


What Made it Great: Suspense, suspense, and ever growing tension. These are usually markers for the start of really great dramas, especially sci-fi dramas. The premise was intriguing — a hurricane, people lost for hours, and something, no one is sure what, has happened in the midst of that storm. The show led by hunky Eddie Cibrian certainly had great build-up, and the performances of the cast were very good. From the intersecting lives of the characters to the calamity of what nature wrought, it all made for the perfect environment for an Invasion of the Body Snatchers type show. The set up was there. You were never really sure who was other and who wasn’t.

Why it failed: Pacing, and timing. It was really no match for its lead-in show, Lost, if you can believe it. I would think the behemoth that became Lost just swallowed up all the mystery suspense in the room leaving little left over for Invasion. Watching this little show, extremely developed and detailed (perhaps overly so), was like watching a tortoise slowly stick its head out of its shell. And sadly by the time the show really started to get going, it was all over, and people were clicking away after Lost finished…probably because they were exhausted by the layers upon layers Lost heaped on your plate.

What took its place?
Lost…a no brainer. And now V, urgh, whatever.

The Class

What Made it Great: In those confusing years after Friends went off the air, we were all scrambling to find the next twenty-something friend sitcom. In walked The Class. It depicted the lives of several former third-grade classmates as they tried to navigate life, love, relationships, and each other. It was an honest little show helmed by up and coming talent, many of whom have gone on to other, better, shows. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who played Richie, is now Mitchell on Modern Family; Jon Bernthal, cast as Duncan on the show, is deputy cop wolf-face on The Walking Dead; Lizzy Caplan, who played Kat, went on to play Casey on Party Down; and Jason Ritter, who played Ethan, was last seen doing double duty on NBC running around on The Event and Parenthood. The Class was awkward and fun, silly and lovable, and cut too short for many of us to fall totally in love with it. But it had potential.

Why it failed: Laugh track. Yes, yes, I know, CBS thoroughly enjoys a laugh track. It was also set right in-between How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men. So it was veritable sitcom-chum in the midst of those CBS whales. Your twenty-something thing is covered with HIMYM, and your uncomfortable realizations and comic situations all wrapped in the mind of a twelve year-old are more than covered with Two and a Half Charlie Sheen Speedballs. Disastrous.

What took its place?
NPH in his charmeuse suit pajamas. Not sure anything else tops that.

Once and Again

What Made it Great: Sela Ward and Billy Campbell. If you were a little too young to really get Thirty-Something, than this was a great new entry in that same vein. The show explored the intimate elements of divorce, the family dynamic, and what it meant to fall in love again. It wasn’t anything like the light-hearted Brady Bunch. No, this show had deep, poignant moments played expertly by Ward and Campbell. Even younger cast members Shane West and ingénue Evan Rachel Wood’s heartbroken, tender, misunderstood moments were compelling to watch. Definitely an introduction to what would come later from the young actress. The black and white vignette confessionals where the characters spoke about their feelings was a new twist and complimented the show’s finer moments.

Why it failed: Despite a Golden Globe and Emmy win for Ward the show still garnered low ratings. Like other beloved shows, news of its cancellation resulted in a battle cry from viewers. The actors and viewers all pleaded with the network for another season to allow the show to meet its mark. It didn’t happen.

What took its place?
The show that probably comes closest to the heart of Once and Again is another ABC family drama, Brothers & Sisters.

Wolf Lake

What Made it Great: The show was an updated take on a horror genre long left dormant. It was slick and stylized and there was a good mix of werewolf lore (Native American skinwalkers) and the assimilation of modern day shape-shifters into today’s society. At the heart of the show was a mystery. The viewer wasn’t sure who was a wolf and who wasn’t. It starred Lou Diamond Phillips as the dogged investigator and Tim Matheson as the sheriff with a family secret. The early 2000’s marked the continuing trend of movie stars transitioning into television actors. Given the cast, expectations were high that the show would be a success. Short of Oz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, werewolves on television hadn’t been readily shown since 1987’s Werewolf series starring Eric Cord. This comeback so to speak was unexpected and interesting.

Why it Failed: Theorists say that the show was really before its time. Remember when vampires and werewolves weren’t synonymous with the quintessential teen movie? Well, that’s when Wolf Lake aired. It aired in a time that really didn’t have a place for a niche program that spoke to such a young demographic, one that clearly didn’t exist on CBS at the time. As the show began airing in September of 2001, some believe 9/11 also impacted ratings, understandably so.

What took its place?
The Vampire Diaries and the short lived ABC drama, The Gates.


What Made it Great: Joss Whedon does a space western. Well, that’s certainly an endorsement of greatness. A finely nuanced, smart, witty, dynamic, expertly done science fiction. It’s mentioned in the same breath as the big greats, Star Trek and Star Wars. The characters are all uniquely different, all quirky and lovable, even hard-assed Jayne. There was really nothing else like this show, not before or after. I’ve extolled Firefly‘s virtues ad nauseum. No need to continue more of it here. You guys get it.

Why it Failed: Because Fox is insane. Well, we know Fox is insane, but it was really bonkers for taking this show off the air. This isn’t just my opinion — this is collective fact. The show got poor ratings, but also Fox aired episodes out of order like maniacs…so, uh, yeah. Can’t really blame Whedon for that. Despite all the follies of the network, the show lives on for forever. The original series has aired on the Sy-Fy network and is now shown on the Science Channel. There was a theatrical release, which catapulted the series into further cult status. The actors would all love to come back and strap on their thigh-guns. This browncoat has firm belief it will happen.

What took its place?
Nothing. Nothing, at all.

Kindred: the Embraced

What Made it Great: It was a sprawling vampire drama based on the role-playing game called Vampire: The Masquerade. Some may have referred to it as the vampire version of The Godfather meets Melrose Place. Aside from that paltry description, it was more about the vampire bond, family, and the masquerade of blending successfully into human society. The show revolved around Julian Luna, the Prince of the City, and the various vampire families he controlled. Essentially if you broke vampire law by killing innocents or turning them against their will, you were marked for “final death.” Creepy. It was a cool look at the genre. Sure, Dark Shadows was the traditional gothic soap opera. Kindred: the Embraced had the potential to join its ranks with its swirling story, nefarious creatures, and addictive presence. With only eight aired episodes it was cut far too short.

Why it failed: The untimely death of Mark Frankel who played Julian Luna. The show was already slated for cancellation before Frankel’s death, however. The Showtime movie network was in talks to revive the short-lived series, but didn’t move forward after Frankel’s passing. He really was the best thing about the show. Not that there couldn’t have been someone else who could fill his shoes in the last fifteen years. I’m still waiting.

What took its place?
See everything hence that involves Vampires.

Misfits of Science

What Made it Great: It was pure fantasy superhero geeked out awesomeness. We’ve all wondered what you would do if you had superpowers, what kind of person you would be. Would you save the world, fight for justice and so on. Well, in 1985 with the rise of The Greatest American Hero and Manimal, crime fighting reluctant heroes were all the rage. This is where we were first introduced to Courtney Cox, well, as an actress. (The spastic movement muscle shirt and jeans thing she did with Bruce Springsteen is a story for another day.) Any kid that was captivated by science-fiction (Hello, me) watched this show mostly for the moments when they all had to use their powers to defeat a foe. It was really sort of like the first foray into live action X-Men.

Why it failed: Aside from general cheesiness…yes, I admit it. There weren’t enough Misfits. Not saying that a group with a laundry list of powers that you can’t keep straight was the solution. Nobody wants to see Shrimp Man or Dust Buster Molly, but you need more than just lightening bolts, telekinesis and a shrinking giant. Nonetheless, this was a different type of sci-fi show, which is why most of us loved it. It just wasn’t one man or woman who had abilities, it was several, and that left the door open for many possibilities. The show was also up against Dallas, and well, there was no stopping Dallas.

What took its place?
NBC tried again twenty-years later with Heroes to marginal success.


What Made it Great: Before Ryan Murphy saw the light of musical genius and created Glee, there was Popular. It was the precursor to Mean Girls, and it also had some elements of Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, with its heart and quirk. The show did deal with some real issues like popularity, surviving high school and discovering who your real friends and enemies are, with a recurring theme that most kids share some if not all of the same basic fears deep down. It was a well done show. Funny, poignant, unexpected, and smart.

Why it failed: A cliff-hanger ending that never gets a conclusion…urgh, bad move, Network. This isn’t usually done today. It seems when a network knows a show is destined for the chopping block the writers are at least given the chance to wrap it up, thankfully. This show just ended after the second season with its main character in a hospital bed. Bad form. WB is basically the culprit. The show was moved to Fridays, therefore no one watched, and it was canceled, just like that. Murphy was promised another season and the network reneged, and then the Network became the CW, just like that.

What took its place?
What? Oh, of course. Glee.


What Made it Great: Joss Whedon. He’s spectacular at this genre. And I don’t give this praise lightly. Angel was a delightfully compelling spin-off from the Buffy flagship. We watched the tortured vampire with a soul investigate supernatural crimes and attempt to right his wrongs — one saved innocent at a time. Oh, it was glorious. Brooding David Boreanaz, beguiling Charisma Carpenter, and the never more brilliant Julie Benz, who played Angel’s sire, Darla. In my opinion it was Buffy, but kicked up a notch. The story, which kind of started as a supernatural procedural cop drama, turned into something more with heart and soul with the addition of a son and an increased number of romantic relationships on the show. The heroes were great heroes and similarly the villains were insanely evil and dastardly. A great mix.

Why it failed: Some wonky writing (Joss can get trapped a bit in his own head) caused the ratings to slip slightly, but the show was still a strong WB powerhouse. In a totally unexpected move, after a long drawn out fight that had everyone from the viewers to Joss Whedon and the actors themselves pleading to stay on air, the WB canceled Angel. Many suspect to make way for a new vampire series (rumored to be an updated Dark Shadows). Petitions ensued to bring it back, a whole online movement happened that had viewers blitzing the Warner Bro. offices with pleas for a sixth and final season or minimally a miniseries to wrap up the beloved series. It was a no go, and then the WB became the CW, just like that.

What took its place?
See everything hence that involves Vampires.

Do you agree? You’d be crazy not to. If not, tell us in the comments, and while you’re at it, share your all-time favorite shows that were canceled before their time.

Thursday Daytime Open Thread

Today we celebrate utterly pointless excess.

Back in the early 1980s, Honda unveiled an absolutely batshit motorcycle called the CBX. It came with a six-cylinder engine. In the illustrious history of two-wheeled transportation, no motorcycle has ever needed six cylinders (most are either two or four). As you can see from the picture, the engine was way too wide for the bike’s chassis. No matter, I’m glad those Japanese geniuses built this machine because the sound of that engine is pure music. Continue reading